in print
58
Of Gods and Men
“Once they were gone all we had left to do was live. And the first thing we did was, two hours later, we celebrated the Christmas Vigil and Mass. It’s what we had to do. It’s what we did. And we sang the Mass. We welcomed that child who was born for us, absolutely helpless and already so threatened. Afterwards, we found salvation in undertaking our daily tasks: the kitchen, the garden, the prayers, the bells. Day after day. We had to resist the violence.” - Brother Christian de Chergé from “Des hommes et des dieux“ (Of Gods and Men”)
“Once they were gone all we had left to do was live. And the first thing we did was, two hours later, we celebrated the Christmas Vigil and Mass. It’s what we had to do. It’s what we did. And we sang the Mass. We welcomed that child who was born for us, absolutely helpless and already so threatened. Afterwards, we found salvation in undertaking our daily tasks: the kitchen, the garden, the prayers, the bells. Day after day. We had to resist the violence.” - Brother Christian de Chergé from “Des hommes et des dieux“ (Of Gods and Men”)
Connecting Spirituality

I am not very good with structure. Perhaps it is a subtle resistance against the Confucian emphasis on order, but my preference for spontaneity started young and it did not bode well for my spiritual health as assessed by churches that prioritized spiritual disciplines.

Learning to Bring my Body to Worship

There I was at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the underground room traditionally considered the very place where Jesus was born.

The Promise Box

New York City is one of those places where you never know what you’re going to find. During my time as a graduate student, browsing through old antique shops became a hobby of mine. I often felt like a child on a treasure hunt searching for hidden gems on bookshelves.

How Zen Buddhism Helped Me Find Christ

In July 2015, after graduating from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in religious studies, I decided to become a resident at a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. I wanted to experience first-hand what Zen Buddhism was about.

Why Liturgy Matters

I’m a freshman church planter. But New Abbey, our small congregation, is not your typical church plant. Every Sunday, we follow a liturgy: We read texts from a lectionary, corporately confess our sins, hear words of assurance, recite the Apostles’ Creed, partake in communion (which has a formalized order), and pass the peace.

A Church Split
Sitting with the Pieces

Two pastors whom I trusted decided to leave my church five years ago, and I found myself caught in the crossfire between two groups that formed in the fallout of their decision — my beloved church and a house of prayer — that separately asserted they were truly following God.

Re-booting my Quiet Time

Two years ago, after 14 years as a college professor, I took some time to reflect on the highs and lows of my career thus far, and how to build on some hard learned lessons.

This Coconut Cracker is My Body
Learning to Partake of Communion in the Form of Southeast Asian Foods

As a child, I often rubbed the paper texture of the dry cracker during communion and wondered if such a thing really represented Jesus’s body. Maybe it was the wafer’s ability to create a satisfying “kurrrch” sound as I cracked it — maybe this was what brokenness sounded like, a reminder of Jesus’s broken body and sacrifice before a rushed prayer of thanksgiving and repentance.

Drawing Out a Prayer

I anxiously fidget as I sit cross-legged on the floor of my church, Ekko. Soft background music is playing to create an ambiance of peace and mindfulness in the room. I begin to indulge in my nasty habit of picking at my brittle nails as my thoughts run rampant with all of the ways this could go wrong.

Rest in Guilt and Gratitude
A Guilty and Grateful Rest

I told my partner one morning that despite going to bed early and sleeping in, I was still exhausted. We chalked it up to my recent responsibilities emceeing a conference, but upon closer examination of my calendar, we came to a different conclusion.

Making the Invisible Visible
An Iconographer’s Path of Prayer, Paint, Presence, Perspective, and Perseverance

Prayer has always been a focus of my personal relationship with God and my discipleship. So much so, that as a ministry, I have spent the better part of my life helping people pray. In addition, as a created being, my own creativity has most directly been expressed in the visual arts. Being an iconographer brings the streams of prayer and painting together for me.

This is Us Serving Together

Serving together with my family has been a privilege and a blessing. It is like getting a glimpse of heaven that keeps me wanting more. It also makes me want others to experience that blessing, especially my kids.

Coming Home

I eagerly returned to my alma mater, Fuller Theological Seminary, in May of 2017. I arrived early, thankful that the light rail prevented me from having to seek out parking.

Getting Off the Fence
How Eastern Catholicism Got me Intellectually Unstuck Through Hong Kong’s Occupy Protest

I became Eastern Catholic because I was a bad intellectual. And I wanted to become a better one. I did not know that my intellect was in such bad shape until I finished my doctorate. Professionally, I have a Ph.D. in geography. My dissertation is on Cantonese-speaking Protestants and how they engage with politics and social issues.

The Freedom to Converse with God

I used to rarely voice my opinions. As a 1.5 generation Korean American, my identity formation called for me to be ambidextrous: one hand learning through written and spoken English in American society, and the other hand learning through unspoken and unwritten means in Korean environments, absorbed through (in)attentive observation and time spent in a Korean home and in Korean immigrant churches.

Prayer

Recently, I had the chance to officiate my friends’ wedding in Havana, Cuba. Those gathered came from numerous traditions: Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, Santería, Yoruba.

When A Pastor Can’t Forgive

“Oh my God. I feel so white.” My white friend said this to me during a break at a disastrous anti-racism training at my seminary. I looked at her, incredulous and wondering what exactly I was to do with the information she just presented to me.

I am not very good with structure. Perhaps it is a subtle resistance against the Confucian emphasis on order, but my preference for spontaneity started young and it did not bode well for my spiritual health as assessed by churches that prioritized spiritual disciplines. Shame, guilt, and alienation pervaded my efforts for the personal piety I was taught to pursue.

However, as I’ve learned more about the ways in which I experience the divine, my understanding of spiritual practice has shifted from a personal discipline-oriented to a community-oriented ethos. Rather than a performative function, I see spiritual practices as avenues of connection to my inner wisdom, other people, and a higher being. To me, this connective thread is sacred and a life-giving force amidst overwhelming disconnections in our society today.

I see spiritual practices as avenues of connection to my inner wisdom, other people, and a higher being.

This past summer, I realized a need for spiritual practices during my chaplaincy internship at a reentry organization in Harlem, New York. I bore witness to the evil forces of mass incarceration as formerly incarcerated individuals shared about economic suppression and the police state in their neighborhoods of origin, inhumane conditions in prisons, and intergenerational ties to incarceration. In my overwhelming feelings of helplessness to offer pastoral care to people who were suffering deeply, I needed a way to prepare my spirit for each day at my site.

This practice was the Examen, a daily, prayerful reflection process within the Jesuit tradition. Comprised of five steps that guide the practitioner toward contemplation and action, the Examen provided a space to slow down and recognize areas of need and areas of strengths, when incorporated into my daily routine. My attentiveness to God’s presence in my daily life allowed me to be more present for people seeking spiritual care.

I also wove the Examen into communal spaces at my site, using a restorative circle-inspired setting that mixed personal reflection and group sharing times for a more “inductive, collective, and inclusive” approach to spiritual care. This provided a space in which an individual’s truth-telling among peers and the group’s witnessing of the sharer’s story became acts of forging connections within atomizing and isolating systems.

Spiritual practices are much more than personal pietism. They lead to deeper connections not only with a higher being, but with oneself and with other people. 

Spiritual practices are much more than personal pietism. 

As we consider the multitudinous spiritual practices shared in this issue, may our imaginations seep into personal and communal rituals to give space and care for our individual and collective sufferings. 

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Learning to Bring my Body to Worship

There I was at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the underground room traditionally considered the very place where Jesus was born.

Why Liturgy Matters

I’m a freshman church planter. But New Abbey, our small congregation, is not your typical church plant. Every Sunday, we follow a liturgy: We read texts from a lectionary, corporately confess our sins, hear words of assurance, recite the Apostles’ Creed, partake in communion (which has a formalized order), and pass the peace.

This Coconut Cracker is My Body
Learning to Partake of Communion in the Form of Southeast Asian Foods

As a child, I often rubbed the paper texture of the dry cracker during communion and wondered if such a thing really represented Jesus’s body. Maybe it was the wafer’s ability to create a satisfying “kurrrch” sound as I cracked it — maybe this was what brokenness sounded like, a reminder of Jesus’s broken body and sacrifice before a rushed prayer of thanksgiving and repentance.

Making the Invisible Visible
An Iconographer’s Path of Prayer, Paint, Presence, Perspective, and Perseverance

Prayer has always been a focus of my personal relationship with God and my discipleship. So much so, that as a ministry, I have spent the better part of my life helping people pray. In addition, as a created being, my own creativity has most directly been expressed in the visual arts. Being an iconographer brings the streams of prayer and painting together for me.

Getting Off the Fence
How Eastern Catholicism Got me Intellectually Unstuck Through Hong Kong’s Occupy Protest

I became Eastern Catholic because I was a bad intellectual. And I wanted to become a better one. I did not know that my intellect was in such bad shape until I finished my doctorate. Professionally, I have a Ph.D. in geography. My dissertation is on Cantonese-speaking Protestants and how they engage with politics and social issues.

Prayer

Recently, I had the chance to officiate my friends’ wedding in Havana, Cuba. Those gathered came from numerous traditions: Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, Santería, Yoruba.

When A Pastor Can’t Forgive

“Oh my God. I feel so white.” My white friend said this to me during a break at a disastrous anti-racism training at my seminary. I looked at her, incredulous and wondering what exactly I was to do with the information she just presented to me.