Faltering starts, but stepping out again

Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on Pexels.com

My life story includes a rich trove of mystical experiences. This includes the Divine Instigator prompting me to connect with people, not always telling me why, and a shit-ton of just awkwards. Having deconstructed from this I’m stepping forward again. “/Hello World.”

For a while I pushed boldly into the immediacy of relational engagement with God over the classical “evangelism”. And though the commercialism of the HLF and church enabled this it was also disabling. I ran into frustration with the broader church experience of people and for myself. The deconstruction necessary wasn’t possible within churches and I’ve come to believe does not lie in repeating ecclesial or monastic structures. These things are rooted in what Ian McKenzie in Mythic Masculine calls “dominator culture” and we need what’s after that to emerge from the ground up in “relator culture”. [1]

My deconstruction around this has been longer than my deconstruction of the institutionalism of the church. It’s been more personal because as it includes my own wants and the complexity of my inner life and intimate engagement with God. I’ve not been able to “want” to hear from God or own my “desire” to see people experience face-to-Face encounters with whatever follows from that. My level of expectation is tremendous. I’m continuously told by most that it’s too much; in dreams that it’s too little. The tectonic tension within tremendous as I both want and don’t want the expectation and desire. I internalised and ended up traumatised and re-traumatised by the constant criticisms which layered onto deep relational trauma.

I’ve taken a long gap from this, around 15 years, to deconstruct form the institutionalism and pursue the inward life. This gap includes a deliberate deconstruction from the institutional heritage of doing church and the “charismata” as crisis encounter following into what I’ve always felt a disingenuous and immediate transaction pushing a commitment to Christ. It just seem so non-relational. But what’s the alternative?

This deconstruction has been through a period of holding back on dreams, holding back on nudges (some speak of synchronicity, others of the leading of the Spirit, yet both are from the same Divine Instigator), holding back as much on information and guidance as on transformative power. I admit that some have slipped through! I can’t help loving what I love or escape the gravity well of my calling. It’s been a form of fasting that’s proven richly invigorating for me. I see and applaud others pushing into this and yielded my cheek to their criticism that in deconstruction I’m not “doing the stuff”. I’d love to sanctify this as humbling and spiritual. Truth be told, “fuck ya’all”. It’s not that I don’t want to do the same. Any of my stories are on par with theirs. It’s just that I don’t want to do it within the language and constraints of the institutional model and as serving the institutions over cultivating intimacy.

Returning to missional work in 2017 consolidated the layers of deconstruction and by mid-2019 it’s been clear that co-labouring with the institutional structures is not possible. It may be for others. It’s not for me.

Starting the podcast and pushing into research has been the first real steps as post-institutional. I remain as committed as ever to deep relationships and the Divine-human encounter not as and through myth or scripture but as face-to-Face and in the tapestry of our lives.

This month I’ve begun a re-embrace of hearing from God and stepping out. It seems fitting putting this on WordPress and FB. So far it’s mostly a few false starts. It’s like stretching my wings and tripping up because I remember how I used to fly. Now I want to fly higher and further than ever before! I just need to acclimate. I’m finally able to embrace that I’m not just among the lunatic fringe, I am the lunatic fringe! I’m still wrestling for the language and shapes of expression (there’s no one box fits all). And instead of having to own the form I’m free and able to push into presence to myself, others, and God. Where will this lead? I don’t know. The only thing I do know is that it will be co-created. 

[1] https://www.elephantjournal.com/2021/07/words-have-power-changing-the-toxic-masculinity-conversation-tracy-brownlee/

Podcast – Season 3 Episodes

The mic of the urban mystic

We’ve been privileged to engage in deep, authentic and vulnerable conversations with incredible guests. This series has been deeply enriching and is littered with profound personal revelations. It blends gloriously autobiographical reflection with the desire to not only pursue direct and immediate experience of God but also cultivate a deep and intimate relationship with God. We’ll keep pushing this into Season 4 and beyond.

  • S03E01 – Welcome to Season 3. Episode link.
  • S03E02 – We’re launching a Patreon page. Episode link.
  • S03E03 – Karl Teichart – Calling and journey into ministry. Episode link.
  • S03E04 – Karl Teichart – A cry for intimacy with God. Episode link.
  • S03E05 – Jean-Ray Knightonfitt. Episode link.
  • S03E06 – Michael Ward – Early experience of God. Episode link.
  • S03E07 – Michael Ward – The Sixth Sola. Episode link.
  • S03E08 – Jared Byas – Love Matters More. Episode link.
  • S03E09 – Thomas Jay Oord – Open and Relational Theology. Episode link.
  • S03E10 – John W. Morehead – Multifaith Matters. Episode link.
  • S03E11 – Richard Kearney – Anatheism. Episode link.
  • S03E12 – Christo Lombaard – Postsecularism. Episode link.
  • S03E13 – Derek Morphew – Kingdom Theology. Episode link.
  • S03E14 – Costa Mitchell – Personal Journey and Stories. Episode link.
  • S03E15 – Greg Farrand – Second Breath. Episode link.
  • S03E16 – Episode Finale! Episode link.

In Season 3 of the podcast of the urban mystic we tease out the tension between ‘faith and experience’ as between ‘faith and relationship.’ This is an allusion or nod to the complex subject of experience and significant conversations about it. At first I’d wanted to push this following the research of Karl and company – specifically the expressed and unmet need of church leaders as that of intimacy with God. If those schooling people into ministry and running churches aren’t experiencing intimacy with God this is a significant problem! This research confirms something I’ve been wrestling my whole life with. Yet to pursue this just didn’t fit with the autobiographical nature of the episodes. So we changed track and explore this indirectly through holding the tension open, meaning that we don’t define it or press it directly. Instead we allowed what ‘faith and relationship’ means to unfold organically through as our guests reflected on their first experience of God and how it leads into their professional contributions. This richly nuances and expands what it means to experience God directly and immediately. And it helps us better understand how to move on to press the issue.

S03E16 – Season 3 Finale

An actual shot of Tim’s microphone 🙂

With this episode we arrive at the end of Season 3 of the podcast of the urban mystic. What an incredible journey. I’m so deeply appreciative of our guests and wonderfully enriched by the conversations. (And still can’t believe we’ve had such incredible guests.)

With Season 2 we were able to record many sessions and then gather them to form opportunities for reflection during the season. This hasn’t been the case with Steve moving countries and myself moving cities. These big life challenges have been geographic and yet found an equal mirror in the noetic terrain of our inner lives. On one hand we’ve arrive at a point of theoretical saturation with guests chewing through the tension between faith and experience as between faith and relationship through reflecting on their early experience of God and how this ties into their magnificent contributions. On the other hand these conversations have really helped Tim Victor and Steve Carter arrive at clarity about where they’d like the conversation to go. It seems natural, albeit perhaps crude or abrupt, to draw Season 3 to a close here. We both trust that this will somehow make sense as we stumble ahead toward Season 4.

After a short break we’ll be back with Season 4. In the meantime, thank you to all our guests and listeners. What an incredible journey this is. Thank you for sharing it with us.

S03E15 – Greg Farrand – Second Breath

Greg Farrand

Our guest for S03E15 is Greg Farrand, Executive Director of Second Breath. We are privileged to get to know Greg as he shares the story of his early experience of God, the cultivation of a contemplative practice in the context of marriage and ministry, and his evolution toward the broader Christian Wisdom Tradition.

We highly recommend Second Breath’s app which is available on Google Play and App Store. The app is for anyone looking to cultivate a great presentness their self, others, cosmos, and God.

Urban Mystic

website | patreon

S03E14 – Costa Mitchell

Costa Mitchell

In S03E14 our guest is Costa Mitchell who served as head of the Association of Vineyard Churches South Africa until retirement. Costa is a Leadership Coach, specializing in the development and growth of leaders wherever and whatever they lead, whether business, board, team, department or family.

Costa is the author of Learn to love yourself: Developing a healthy self-image and Giving leadership: Taking others with you on a journey to destiny.

We get to speak to Costa about his experience of God, life journey and ministry, and dive deep into the Vineyard Model of Ministry and the need for a relational theology and spirituality.

Urban Mystic

website | patreon

S03E13 – Derek Morphew

Derek Morphew

In S03E13 our guest is Derek Morphew. In this conversation we explore Derek’s early and ongoing experience of God and delve into his recent work titled The Kingdom Theology.

You can follow the links below to Derek’s works on Amazon:

And you can follow this link to Derek’s website: kingdomtheology.net

Urban Mystic

website | patreon

S03E11 – Richard Kearney

Richard Kearney

In S03E11 for this episode is Richard Kearney, a philosopher and theology with deep mystical leanings. He is the author of Anatheism: Returning to God after GodReimagining the sacred: Richard Kearney debates God, and Radical hospitality: From thought to action, with his recent work Touch: Recovering our most vital sense (no limits).

In this episode we get to know Richard’s early experience of God and dive into his work.

Urban Mystic

website | patreon

S03E10 – John W. Morehead

John W. Morehead

In S03E10 we’re joined by John W. Morehead, Director of Multifaith Matters. John’s religious diplomacy approach takes people past “us vs. them” intergroup conflict, and in this conversation his interest in cognitive and neuroscience shine through. John us as we explore John’s experience of God and the conversation that emerges as we explore his work.

You can dive into John’s contributions, among others, in A Charitable Orthopathy: Christian Perspectives on Emotions in Multifaith Engagement, andEncountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach, and Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue.

Urban Mystic

website | patreon

S03E09 – Thomas Jay Oord

Thomas Jay Oord

In S03E08 week we’re joined by Thomas Jay Oord, a philosopher, theologian, and scholar who directs a doctoral program in at Northwind Theological Seminary and the Center for Open and Relational Theology. Tom has authored a number of books, such as God Can’t and The Uncontrolling Love of God. Join us as we get to know Tom through his life story and thinking about God and his new book Open and Relational Theology.

Follow any of the hyperlinks above to connect with Thomas or to find his books on Amazon.

Urban Mystic

website | patreon