Deconstructing with Natalie Simmons

Our guest for episode 1 and episode 2 a former pastor with three wonderful sons. She has taught English for the past 12 years in both junior and high school. She loves reading fiction more than non-fiction. Join us as we get to know Natalie Simmons.

Find out more by reading her blog You can read her blog http://nataliesimmons-eanutbutterandhoney.blogspot.com.

It is refreshing to feature female voices on the podcast of the urban mystic. Natalie brings several issues into perspective not touched on by any of our earlier conversations. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this conversation as much as we did.

“I’ve seen him do things I can’t explain.”

The cover to The art of Mandalorian written by Phil Szostak and cover by Doug Chiang

“I’ve seen him do things I can’t explain.”

Din Jarin

These are the words spoken by Din Jarin to Ahsoka Tano about Grogu, an infant, in Season 2 Episode 5: The Jedi of The Mandalorian. Jarin is a Mandalorian and Bounty Hunter and Tano a former Jedi now renegade vigilante. Their commitment to the good that results in their landing as misfits within their socially and politically complex world. And it is this layering of themes such as fall and redemption, humanity and inhumanity, spirituality, stratification, and interaction between young and powerless and those capable that makes Star Wars* a complex and compelling universe to explore. The same can be said for Sci-Fi in general and we see similar themes in the likes of The Expanse**.

Continue reading ““I’ve seen him do things I can’t explain.””

Deconstructing with John Eliastam

Our guest two episodes is the visionary behind a national worship event called the Newsong Festival and planted the Newsong Vineyard Christian Fellowship which used to meet at the River Club in Observatory, Cape Town. Newsong was untypically progressive and successfully homed people in their 20s and 30s during a period where this demographic was unlikely to stay in church. He went on to pastor Kenilworth Vineyard Christian Fellowship untill 2010.

Join us for Part 1 and Part 2 of our conversation with John Eliastam.

Deconstructing with David Hayward

Our guest for this episode is the author of several books, hosts a number of courses, and creates a cartoon every day. He holds a Masters in Theological Studies, as well as Diploma in Religious Studies and Ministry, and University Teaching. His art expresses the stories and struggles of spiritual refugees and independent thinkers who question, doubt or oppose the confines of religion. Each piece encourages difficult conversations and acts as a catalyst for critical thinking. 

David Hayward is the NakedPastor. After 30 years in the church, he left the ministry to pursue his passion for art. His work challenges the status quo, deconstructs dogma, and promotes critical thinking.

Find out more on https://www.nakedpastorstore.com/.

Deconstructing with Brian D McLaren

Our guest for two episodes is an author of several books including “A new kind of Christianity”, “Faith after doubt”, “The secret message of Jesus”, and “The great spiritual migration”.

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. Brian is the author of several books including “A new kind of Christianity”, “Faith after doubt”, “The secret message of Jesus”, and “The great spiritual migration”. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people for the common good.

Be sure to catch Episode 1 and Episode 2 on the podcast of the urban mystic.

Find out more on www.brianmclaren.net.

Season 2 – Emerging patterns

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

In Season 2 of the podcast of the urban mystic we feature phenomenal guests in order to get to know them and their journey. We use the same basic framework and a patterns naturally emerge. There are a lot of episodes so far with more to come. So far two cycles of deconstruction are well represented and we are about to begin the third. This makes it a good point to provide an orientation for those entering the conversation late. You may want to explore a particular kind of deconstruction and, if so, this kind of orientation will be helpful.

The series so far naturally evidences:

  1. Those who deconstruct their calling, reinvent their careers, and stay committed to the institution of the Church. Here the contributors insight into the institution and the problems therewith are not only insightful. You can, literally, hear their deep emotions as they reflect on their journey as professionals in ministry. They both recognise that their calling differs to their careers as professionals in ministry within the institution of the Church and go about redefining themselves. There is a real heartfelt tension between their career as template provided by the institution of the Church and their calling by God. Contributors include Christopher Harrison (link) and Dion Forster (part 1 and part 2).
  2. Those who deconstruct both their calling and the institution of the Church. This is a cycle that takes people through the deconstruction of their own calling and into deconstructing the machinery of the Church. Here they recognise the institution as denominational machinery and business machinery. And though we call this machinery “church” it is, in fact, not who the church is. And so they deconstruct their calling and the institution of the Church and offer alternatives. Richard Jacobson who best known for his thinking around unchurching, which mirror the concept of unschooling. Richard has long focused on stripping off the institutional dimension in order to focus on people in face-to-face community without the institutional and business machinery. Listen to his TED Talk (link) and the podcast (part 1 and part 2). John van de Laar is perhaps still best known as a Methodist minister, but has left the Church in order to explore community online for people leaving the church. John is at work building an online community. He recognises that genuine community takes place wherever people meet, including online. You can catch our conversation with him (part 1 and part 2).

Being the conversationalists we are, we continue our conversation in light of the conversations above. We pick up from our conversation with Chris and Dion to reflect on why we deconstructed our own calling (link). And we pick up on their shared critique of spirituality to deconstruct spirituality (link). We will be sharing our conversation following on from the second cycle of deconstruction next week.

Be sure to catch the upcoming episodes of the podcast of the urban mystic.

The mystics is a cosmologist at heart

Humans have a longstanding love of the cosmos, the environment in which we live and wherein our earth finds its home. We have progressed from our earlier cosmology toward a contemporary cosmology through adopting technology enabling observation, modelling, and representation.

Back in 1493, this was the Christian Aristotelian understanding of the universe, which I found here:

Here the geocentric thinking of Artistotle and Ptolemy won out over the heliocentric thinking of Aristarchus of Samos. This set us back 1 300 to 1 700 years! Thankfully the Copernican Revolution set the ball rolling enabling us, relatively recently, to create a new and more accurate representation of the cosmos. Fortunately the thinking of modern detractors pushing back against the Copernican Revolution and later scientific contributors serves as a voice on the fringe to the mainstream. There’s simply no chance that modern detractors can set us back in our thinking. Hence we arrive at a new modelling and representation of the cosmos.

And now we have a similar representation, which I found here:

What’s remarkably similar within each is the perspective and the work of understanding the cosmos by integrating available knowledge. We (meaning humanity and the earth) are centred, roughly, in each artwork. This really brings home that our view of the world and view of the cosmos is really our view thereof – our world(view). It is a representation in our hearts and minds that’s communicable visually. Yet tons of in-depth thinking and numerous contributors guides the artist as aggregator in producing each. There is an interplay between talents of understanding and representation brought together in order to produce the maps above.

And though, in each case, the map is not the terrain, they are the vantage point wherefrom we are driven toward the Transcendent. It is here on this earth and within each of us that we discover our centre which serves as orientation on the mystery of the Transcendent and God.

The mystic is, really, a cosmologist at heart.

Deconstructing with John van de Laar

Our guest for two episodes is a writer, musician, public speaker, composer, poet, liturgist, graphic and web designer with a Masters Degree in Theology. He recently resigned from serving as a Methodist minister. He has over 40 years of experience in spiritual practice and ministry seeking to establish a new kind of spiritual community that breaks free of the limitations of geography and specific times for the community to gather. EvoFaith turns spiritual practice into an on-demand, 24/7, global experience.

You can find out more about EvoFaith and get to know John van de Laar through our conversation over two episodes airing Thur 6 November 2020.

Find out more on https://evofaith.com/. Listen to Episode 1 and Episode 2.

John van de Laar

Deconstructing calling and spirituality

In episode 6 we deconstruct the notion of a calling and in episode 7 we deconstruct spirituality. This is a conversation between Steve Carter, my cohost, and myself. It is split into two parts. It was inspired by our conversations with Christopher Harrison and Dion Forster in Part 1 and Part 2. It was such a privilege to hear their stories and get to know them.

The first kind of deconstruction represented on the podcast of the urban mystic relates to the professional career in the ministry. Our first guest, Christopher Harrison, deconstructed his own career in ministry and now works as a missional coach enabling others to develop a broader, more creative and relevant approach to doing ministry. Our second guest, Dr. Dion Forster, likewise deconstructed his career in ministry and now serves as an academic for the church. Both conversations are richly layered with their experience in life and work.

Deconstructing with Dion Forster

Our guest for episode 3 and episode 4 is an academic for the church who holds two doctoral degrees – a PhD in Systematic Theology and a second PhD in New Testament Studies and Empirical Theology. He is the former Dean of John Wesley College, the seminary of the Methodist Church in South Africa. Dion now serves on the full time faculty of Stellenbosch University, as the Departmental Chair of the discipline of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, the Director of the Beyers Naude Centre for Public Theology, and as an Associate Professor in Systematic Theology and Ethics. 

His recent books are entitled “The (im)possibility of forgiveness?”, “Between Capital and Cathedral: Essays on Church and State relationships” (available here), “African public theology” (available here), and “Reconciliation, forgiveness and violence: biblical, pastoral and ethical perspectices” (available here). You can find out all about Dr. Dion Forster on http://dionforster.com/.

A snappy photo of Dion 🙂