Our latest episode kicks off the new season of the podcast of the urban mystic.
In this episode, Tim Victor and Steve Carter talk about the season and what’s ahead. This is our most ambitious season yet and we’ll be establishing Relational Spirituality in concept and in practice. As a model of spirituality it differs to devotional and introspective spiritualities which grapple with the mystery of God in activities. In contrast, Relational Spirituality focuses on God drawing near and withdrawing. It is focused on the presence of God rather than the mystery of God as behind the scenes.
Here is another bonus episode for you of quality conversation with a wise and humble guest, Wayne Jacobsen. Wayne generously gave us an hour and a half of his time to explore his experience, his thinking and current work and life. Wayne leads us to “new spiritual trailheads” as he works with “hungry people” – hungry people who are interested and yearning for engagement with God. It is a conversation which covers more than 40 years of life history; so a rich and insightful tapestry.
It’s really humbling to hear this conversation described this way. We’re looking forward to continuing conversations with Wayne.
We’re hard at work planning, recording, and editing some bonus episodes and Season 5 of The podcast of the Urban Mystic. Through the previous seasons we’ve really found our voice, gained clarity on our value for intimacy with God and problems associated therewith, and will focus directly on the experience of God this for Season 5.
We’re really tuned into exploring the tangible experience of God and developing a relational spirituality. By the ‘tangible experience of God’ we mean the experience of God showing up in Person to speak and act. And by ‘relational spirituality’ we mean something different to spirituality as character formation arising from the doing church paradigm, the devotional paradigm, and the Christian Wisdom Tradition. We’re thinking of relational spirituality as about entering deeply into living and loving in all our relationships yet as rooted in a value for intimacy with God and therewith relational engagement with God.
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 on the Mythic MasculinePodcast calls “dominator culture” and we need what’s after that to emerge from the ground up in “relator culture”. 
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much to those who currently support the work of the urban mystic. Without your support it would not be possible to continue this work. This year I’m looking to step out further and increase the work—to go from being a small fish in a small pond to a small fish in a bigger pond. Starting a Patreon is an important step to expanding the work of the urban mystic. I discern that the next step is not only to keep going with the Podcast and add Video via YouTube but also to facilitate groups and develop a post-church community. I feel ill-equipped for this. Nervous. Scared. Much of the time I feel that God has made a mistake calling me to this. But the urge is there and won’t leave me. So I’m going with it. Here Patreon offers an opportunity to connect with people and receive support. This will enable urban mystic to develop a team who connects one-on-one with people and produces digital content as well as hosts online and face-to-face groups.
In the next few weeks I’ll launch our Patreon page. Kindly consider supporting the work of the urban mystic. But even if not, know that the work will stay de-commercialised. All our courses, our one-on-one work, podcast, upcoming YouTube material, etc. will stay 100% free. We’re not looking to establish any kind of transactional relationship.
Today I responded reflexively and harshly to a post by one of my FaceBook friends. I have sent an apology and asked to delete my response (and may in fact do that myself anyway). I know they’d simply reposted this as a nicety from within a Christian world(view) to suddenly experience me barreling in like a bull on a china shop (Adam Savage’s experiment aside). Yet it is something I want to explore a bit further as this kind of post is symptomatic of the paradigm I’m critiquing and urging others to reflect on.
Many Christians are raised to believe in a God they don’t experience where the evidence for God, to themselves and others, becomes their belief in God despite all evidence and simple logic to the contrary. And this is considered faith!? And though this God proves both silent and absent it is further believed that such behavior, such a proving of faith, such a ridiculous and dysfunctional hide and seek, is faith? Here it is often quoted that “faith is the evidence of the unseen” as though an address in a book may be quoted with enough authority to override Jesus’ clear example of what a relationship with God looks like.
Let’s consider a rebuttal and I’m going to stoop low with recourse to the same textual legalism:
In 2017 I returned to making the problem of God my professional focus and therewith transitioned from a ten-year break doing whatever my hands found to do. Before that break my primary work was with people on the same trajectory, albeit with different faith commitments, wrestling with the problem of God. Some were people starving for an authentic relationship with God within the church on their way out. They were tired and frustrated and many were abused and exploited by the church. And they would experience God draw near in Person and find some refuge in other churches and home groups. But I mostly spent my time with those who had long deconverted from Christianity and were now wrestling with what to do and make of their belief that “God is not” now that they had experienced God. And by “experienced God” I mean they had experienced God draw near in Person to speak directly and immediately to them and even bring healing to some.
I thoroughly enjoyed all sessions including courses, seminars, cuppas and gatherings with people. But part of the process was transitioning people over from the work I was doing to the regularity of church attendance. Both kinds of people, those finding God as Christians and those finding God as the long deconverted, experienced a strong discrepancy between wanting to further develop a relationship with God and the expectations and demands of the church that people not only do church but make church synonymous with worshipping and hearing from God. They were in church to pursue a relationship with God and rejected for being questioning and self-educating and for actually expecting to be meeting with God in and through church. But they were disappointed. It took from six months to a year for people to come back to me and not that “church is not about God”. And not only were they right but I agreed with them. Their tragedy was devastating for me. I’d see people literally transformed and renewed by experiencing God leaving as emaciated and frustrated as they were before that. But few supporting were willing to explore this and everyone beloved the answer was to plant yet another church.