Looking ahead in 2023

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As is customary I’m beginning this year with a “look into the future”. Here’s what I’m thinking about Urban Mystic for 2023. I’ll update as the year goes and plans unfold and develop.

We’ve really been enjoying our “conversational pilgrimage” in Season 5 of The Podcast of the Urban Mystic. The first thing on our shared agenda is to complete this series. It’s proved challenging completing the series last year between Steve and my work schedules, availability, and late night energy levels. We’re committed to staying the course and teasing out “relational spirituality” around “intimacy with God” as an alternative to “formative spirituality” which is mostly an intra-relational journey. Both Relational Spirituality and Formational Spirituality involve an inward journey, yet the former can remain in the realm of limerence with ‘faith as the relationship’ and the other stands or falls on the foundation and fulfilment of reciprocal engagement.

My Research Proposal for my PhD is tentatively approved – and I got there in 3 months! What a milestone. The next step is to present to the academic department, defend my proposal, and then receive feedback to consider. After the presentation, defence, and feedback I’ll produce a Podcast in video for YouTube and audio podcast for Podbean. I believe this to be the best investment of my time and energy.

On the foundation of this research I’m looking to establish an Institute focused on Relational Spirituality and grow a team offering courses for small groups, spiritual direction/accompaniment for individuals, and coffee chats online and in person. I thrive on this and others do too! The downside is that because “wisdom” can’t be packaged it is a choice between charging for my services or representing God and relying on God’s gifts, which cannot be charged for. I’ve been risking the latter, being committed to God drawing near in Person to meet with people. And providing the support needed for people to cultivate a practice of the presence of God, which rests more on wisdom and desire than on teaching. It can’t really be packaged. I’ve made a link available via PayPal to support Urban Mystic and invite once-off and regular support.

I’m in need of additional funding to continue my research, the podcast, and the work I do with individuals. At present I work but don’t charge for my time or services. I’m shifting to a “pay what you can/want” model, which means making a PayPal link available but not making a thing of it. This is the most direct way for me to get support and saves the additional costs of having to transfer to PayPal and then to clear to my bank account. The truth is that most of those I work with just aren’t in a position to pay and when it comes to Relational Spirituality it is not something I should charge for. I invest my time and energy missionary for the benefit of others, which makes charging for it as a “service” not the right thing. And it’s hard to quantify “wisdom” and this stuff certainly can’t be packaged as a course. Within myself I know I’m called to this yet keep feeling like that 9-year old standing at the church begging and being told I don’t belong (for those who listen to my story on the Podcast). This inner stuff is tough!

Thank you for journeying with me. All the best for 2023.

S05E17 – Our core values – Storytelling

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“I want to be right there at the coal face of meaning because I think that’s the truest true: to be there in the meaning at the depths of the relationship.”

– Steve Carter

In this episode we dive into one of our key values: storytelling.

Storytelling is vital to Relational Spirituality as its vital to relational depth. We all live in relation to stories, and yet we can live more in relation to stories than to the people those stories are about. And, we also often live more in relation to our own story and so can bound to it and lost within our own self.

The art of storytelling lies in self-discovery and then the sharing of this discovery with others. Through storytelling we can arrive at the true depth of living and loving and enter deeply into  our relationships.

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S05E15 – Preaching and Process – Part 3

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We continue tackling this foundation block of preaching in this second exploration of preaching and process. Preaching is often seen as a non-negotiable when it comes to church/spiritual community practice, with a huge value placed on it’s ability to transform individuals and groups.

This episode considers the difference between preaching and process. We explore the way that trust rests in the preacher with preaching and with the participants and God with processes. We also explore how process can be added to or fit into the context of church as is, and yet that there’s a need for and hope in a new paradigm centred on process and participation.

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S05E14 – Preaching and Process – Part 2

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We continue tackling this foundation block of preaching in this second exploration of preaching and process. Preaching is often seen as a non-negotiable when it comes to church/spiritual community practice, with a huge value placed on it’s ability to transform individuals and groups.

This episode considers the relation between preaching and the presence of God.

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S05E13 – Preaching and Process – Parts 1

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Following the episode on the Bible, Tim and Steve tackle one of the next foundation blocks in institutional religion: preaching. It is often seen as a non-negotiable when it comes to church/spiritual community practice, with a huge value placed on it’s ability to transform individuals and groups.

  • Why is it seen as the pinnacle of so much community practice?
  • Why the high value attributed to it’s transformative ability?
  • What are some of our personal experiences of preaching and it’s impact?
  • What are some of the possible egos and agendas at play in a church dynamic that keeps preaching at the top of the practice pyramid?

This episode puts down some thinking and possibilities on which a subsequent episode can build and focus on how process and embodied relational spirituality may provide much more than preaching in both it’s transformative efficacy and self & community relational integrity.

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S05E10 – Steve’s early experience of God

Steve and his family 🙂

We’re sharing our own experience of God. This is by way of example of how deep and real these conversations can go.

In this episode Steve share’s the story of his early experience of God. In telling our stories in this way we gain insight into an enriching spirituality connected to God’s attentive, active, and relational presence.

If you’d like to explore your journey with us, contact us via the form on our website. The link is below.

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S05E04 – Mystery and Presence

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In this episode we explore the transition in Christianity from presence to mystery. In the primal expression we find high concentrations of engagement with God in small communities of Christ followers. Such experience is non-negotiable. After the creation of the institution of the Church we then find ridiculously low concentrations of relational engagement with God amidst a vast population now defined as Christian by citizenship and birth. Ever since relational engagement with God has a not been considered essential nor has it been required. The result is that we believe, behave, and belong as those raised Christian in a mostly Christian world.

In this episode, we explore the shift from presence to mystery and the challenge of trying to engage God relationally in the context of a life and faith defined by mystery and silence.

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Podcast Bonus Episode – Wayne Jacobsen – Lifestream

Wayne Jacobsen

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.

When we finished recording, I sat back in my desk chair, a bit overwhelmed by what we had talked about and so excited that it was recorded. This is the message I most want to leave in the world.

Wayne Jacobsen

It’s really humbling to hear this conversation described this way. We’re looking forward to continuing conversations with Wayne.

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Podcast – Season 4 Episodes

We recorded a min-series on Open and Relational Theology and engage with emerging thinkers who wrestle with the experience and presence of God.

  • S04E01 – Season Introduction. This is a short miniseries. In this intro we look briefly at why we took this tangent into Open and Relational Theology, and how we came across our four wonderful guests. Episode link.
  • S04E02 – Delvyn Case III. In this first episode of the miniseries, Delvyn Case joins us in conversation on his first experiences of God, his work and ministry in ecumenical spaces. Del is a musician, educator, writer, scholar and speaker. You can head across to his website to connect with some of his current work, or connect with him on Facebook. You can find out more about Del on his website and listen to via the Episode link.
  • S04E03 – Rory Randall. Rory the Center for Open and Relational Theology joins us in conversation on this week’s episode of the podcast. Rory has published a book recently entitled, “An Open Theist Renewal Theology: God’s Love, the Spirit’s power, and Human Freedom“. We asked Rory to share some handles with which to understand this emerging theology. As usual though the theory is woven into the backdrop of life story, and so Rory shares his first experiences of God within the telling of his life story. Towards the end of the episode we return to the question of how we experience God and what it means to ‘practice the presence of God’.  Episode link.
  • S04E04 – T.C. Moore. TC Moore joins us this week on the podcast for a conversation about Open and Relational Theology. Of course, we start by digging into his life story and first experiences of God – and it’s a fascinating story. We also spend some time looking into TC’s ROSE acronym which he offers in contradistinction to John Calvin’s 5 points of Calvinism – most often referred to by the TULIP acronym. You can access the Youtube link hereto a longer and deeper dive into TC’s work on Open and Relational Theology. Episode link.
  • Bonus Episode – Tim’s FaceBook post. This is a bonus episode we’re squeezing in between conversations with our miniseries guests. It arises from a Facebook post Tim wrote (link) about healing and how we follow the Kingdom of Jesus behaviour to go in an ambassadorial way into the world to do as Jesus did/does.  It is a stand alone conversation, though in many ways it connects deeply with so much of our thinking and conversing over the past year.  At the root is a desire to take seriously the God who speaks and acts in this world, and draw near to that God, to self and to others in a way that acknowledges the living presence and desire of this alive God. Episode link.
  • S04E05 – Robert D Cornwall. In this week’s episode we squeeze in one final guest to our exploration of Open and Relational Theology. Tim stumbled across an article Bob had written and so we decided to extend the series and include our conversation with him. Bob has also published a number of books, some of which he speaks to in this conversation. You can find his work here if you would like to dig further into his thinking. Episode link.
  • S04E06 – Season Conclusion. This is the final episode of our miniseries on Open and Relational Theology. Tim and I wrap up our thinking following all of the conversations with our guests and take aim at some of what we hope the future holds for us. It is also our book giveaway episode. Thomas Jay Oord, of the Center for Open and Relational Theology, was kind enough to send us some copies of his new book to giveaway to some fortunate listeners. Thank you for listening, we look forward to hearing from you. Episode link.
  • Bonus Episode – Phil Drysdale. This episode we speak to Phil Drysdale from The Deconstruction Network. With deconstructers standing as perhaps the fastest growing spiritual movement in the west, this research is tremendously important. Phil is among those doing research into deconstructers which evidences a different picture to what institutional supporters paint them out to be. This is a bonus episode that best slots in with Season 2 where we spoke with fellow deconstructers. Episode link.
  • Bonus Episode – Wayne Jacobsen. In this episode we speak to 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. Episode link.

In this season we continue our exploration of the tension between faith and experience in relation to thinkers wrestling with Open and Relational Theology and the presence and activity of God.