Insourcing and the Spirit

David Gruesel brings an interesting comparison between the return of insourcing and our spiritual life.

What Foster and Willard (and others) have helped us to realize is that our bodies can cooperate in our spiritual development, or be a hindrance to it. Renewed interest in spiritual disciplines like fasting, daily prayer and service has helped reconnect our bodies to our beliefs in the same way that insourcing has helped GE reconnect manufacturing know how with its design and marketing expertise.

While I have little to say about embodiment, particularly in the time of Advent, nonetheless, I think we may be missing  the point of the return of manufacturing. What is returning is the knowledge gained by practice. It’s not only that one can make the product faster but that the firm also adds an internal capacity of understanding the nature of the problems. I would suggest that the Christian analog to this is the work of mission.

The congregation (and individuals) often out-source their mission and discipleship. some one else does, not me, as it were. The way to grow in Christian life is to engage in the work of discipleship and mission. And that means more than my devotion to spiritual disciplines and my private growth. I learn by doing, by engaging this world, by the practice of listening and doing.

It’s not a program, it’s a process. It’s social; it’s congregational. Like a Body.

You Say It like That’s a Good Thing


Karl Smith suggests that perhaps it’s all a matter of numbers. That is, with sufficient numbers in the system at least one person will win the lottery. And that one person will be sure that his or her achievement is the result of personal virtues, even though it can best be explained by random selection.

To expand the thought, the problem of a meritocratic system is that those inside naturally believe that they have achieved by their own efforts, even if the circumstances are in fact random.

This, of course, is not much help to those of us would-be strivers. We want our accomplishments to be from our own efforts. And that in turn is the mystery of it, only by surrendering the sense of “I earned it” can we actually begin to possess. To have means not to hold, etc. Life, in other words, is a gift. And a life of giftedness creates a politics very different from that generated by the notion that one has “earned” it. Very different.


I used to think of the ashes as a sign of separation, how far I am away from what God wants. But in the spirit of Philippians 2, the ashes spoke something else, not only how far away I was but also that I was not alone. At Ash Wednesday I not only own my mortality and the gap of sin, but receive a mark, a reminder I have a Companion who can and will walk with me, all my forty days.

Lenten Gaps

Jeff Munroe explores the gap between leadership and followers:

What fascinates me instead is the gap that I believe the administration initially stumbled over – the gap between what the church teaches on the one hand and the actual belief and behavior of most Catholics on the other. I’ve been wondering if there are similar situations in the RCA and CRC, wondering what gulfs exist between official church policy and the actual beliefs and behavior of the majority.

And asks,

What gaps do you see between what we officially say and what we actually do?  How do you account for these gaps?

 Jason Lief  brings an interesting response

I love the gap. I think we should embrace the gap. I prefer to call it the “wink.” As we announce the ideals upon which we stand we give a little wink and a smile. The beauty of lived reality is that the gap exists in every area of life. What we’re “supposed” to do and what we actually do is a beautiful dance of generosity and grace. This is not hypocricy – it’s the recognition that life cannot be lived in the realm of lofty ideals. This is the gospel – maybe we should interpet the incarnation as the divine “wink and a smile”?

Call it a gap or a wink, but there is also something Lenten about this. Lent’s focus on recovery through discipline speaks to the lack of integrity in our lives, corporately and individually. We’re always saying two things. Or three. In this, the mix-up on contraception shadows our own mixed-up lives, the desire to do right mixed with the desire to establish ourselves a little better; likewise, there’s leadership on one side, the pew wandering in its own way. Or perhaps it’s like the sweets we put away Tuesday, the gooey music that’s so much fun and can fill a mouth with joy, but we know it really isn’t that good for us. Yet.


So here comes Lent with its challenge to die, and in so doing to catch a glimpse of what it can mean to be a little more whole, be a little more integrated. I open the hymnbook, scan the latest addition to political outrage only to hear my heart’s tug and know the gap opens wide in me, as well. What else can I say, but give me an open ear, soften my heart, help me to open this still-clenched hand.

Heal this wounded soul.

The Work We Do

The post by Deb Reinstra (and others) on vocation have had me thinking (and muttering to myself) this past week. While I share in Deb’s distrust of the word, I think we need to sharpen vocation’s  outline  before we can search for another model of being in the world.  I would point to three worthwhile aspects of the concept.

First, behind vocation is  the call itself, a kind of compulsion, how can I do anything other than this? So Jeremiah; so the Psalms on occasion: I hear and I must speak lest I burn up. The difficulty here is that while such calls may be for a lifetime, our own experience may be that they are of limited duration.  The secular sense of “gift” flows from this deeper charismatic and prophetic reality. Vocation may also  hide a desire to preserve that first love. Like Moses veiling his face because the glory has left him, the memory of being called to a task lingers like the fondest, most fragrant thing in our life. We want that all the time. So vocation is not only response, but also hope that Presence continue with us.

Second, with vocation there is a freedom. Continue reading “The Work We Do”

Casualties of the Cultural War

‎*applause* He makes a good point… ppl have idolized a text to the point of becoming rigid, grinchy parrots, and display none of the attributes the same text recommends….
The Bible & Homosexuality: Enough with the Bible Already – Pomomusings
[I know many will not agree with this post. I know many will say I’m on the slippery slope, have rejected Scripture, thus rejected Christ, and I am teaching things against the Gospel. ..

I probably share some of your viewpoint, especially on the focus on displaying the attributes of Gospel living (tho’ I prefer the word “discipleship” or practices). A post like this always gets me nervous because it so often is the sort made as one is heading out the door, so to speak (not that the author is). As we go into the secular we let go of those things, and so we write something or pick up something that warrants as it were, the decision of the heart.

The tragedy in this struggle is the way that it not only sends some people out, but also hardens the hearts of those who stay in.

other comment: There’s much more to be said here. The underlying essay is one more instance of how biblical texts alienate as much as attract. The alternate to using text as club is not a wish-away but an openness to God and to the other person. If we are not shaped by the text, it is hardly likely that we will be able to respond; if we are not rooted in what God gives, we are also unlikely to be able to offer the spiritual hospitality that the person in front of us seeks.