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Posts tagged "Henri Nouwen"


A (Low-Anthropology) Guide to Quarantine Prayer and ‘Loud Time’

Recently, over coffees and 1000-calorie donuts the size of our heads, a couple of friends and I discussed our morning spiritual routines. I expressed frustration, for the thousandth time, that establishing a morning routine of Bible reading / journaling / prayer / whatever is very difficult for me. And that I consistently feel shame as […]

“A Story Unleashed”: Jesus Couldn’t Keep a Lid on the Gospel, and Neither Can We

Grappling with a Gospel that Stubbornly Defies Reduction

Finding Our Way Home to Jesus, Again and Again

Henri Nouwen’s Encouragement in an Age of Anxiety

Whatever It Takes: Friendship and Avenging the Fallen

This one’s for Kristin and Anna; Andy, Blake, Caleb, Chris, Jeff, Nathan, Reed, and Trevor. Some spoilers follow. “If a man should importune me to give a reason why I loved him [his friend, Etienne Boetie] I find it could no otherwise be expressed, than by making answer: because it was he, because it was […]

Psychic Disintegration in Jordan Peele’s Us

Unfortunately, there is no doubt about the fact that man is, as a whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. – Jung Nighttime: inside a secluded beach house, a family […]

An Advent Lament for Burnt-Out Teachers (and Our Needy Students)

He laughs. He kicks his bright spade in the earth and turns it over. – Andrew Hudgins, “Christ as a Gardener” Being a teacher is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Midway through my fourth year now at a high-poverty public middle school, I can say with gratitude that it has certainly gotten better—and […]

The Stories We Tell

For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband Jason and I opted out of the traditional romantic candlelit dinner scenario and, instead, took a too-seldom trip to the movie theater to see Black Panther. As with Wonder Woman before it, I had high expectations due to pre-release buzz surrounding the film. Also, I was just excited […]

Religious Experts vs. the Cross: On Reading the Book of Job

In the first chapter of The Crucifixion, Fleming Rutledge explains that modern Christianity shares the same widespread rival as early Christianity: gnosticism. She doesn’t mince words bringing the dusty historical term back down to the ground: “All the various forms of gnosticism are grounded in the belief that privileged spiritual knowledge is the way of […]

Harry Potter, Cursed Children, and the Sins of Their Mothers

I remember my entrance into the world of Harry Potter: I was in college and babysitting overnight in a house that contained the series-so-far, The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets, on its bookcase. Playing nearby on the floor, my charges gloriously ignored me while I dove into the pages of the first book. I […]

The Difference Between the Minister and the Doctor

I have always been a bit skeptical of the “comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable” adage deployed in many an evangelical circle. It’s not just the implicit condescension it lends to the ‘minister’ in any given moment. The main skepticism has to do with the supposition that anyone is actually comfortable in life–that, beneath the […]

Stranger Things and Upside-Down Kingdoms

“These men…have turned the world upside down.” Acts 17:6 My husband and I recently binge-watched Stranger Things on Netflix. And by binge-watched, I mean that we finished the series in about ten days, taking into account my propensity for falling asleep mid-episode and stretching a couple of the chapters over multiple viewings–like the last one, […]

The Ministry of Personal Concern

From Henri Nouwen’s classic The Wounded Healer, this excerpt seems to describe pastoral care (and relationships) 101: the power of one’s own inner-archaeology to “break the fourth wall” with another; to actually reach out and meet another by first reaching in.

ec85f5bc2fe180880ec3f2c022986e5687045070_mIt is not just curiosity which makes people listen to a preacher when speaks directly to a man and a woman whose marriage he blesses or to the children of the man whom he buries in the ground. They listen in the deepseated hope that a personal concern might give the preacher words that carry beyond the ears of those whose joy or suffering he shares. Few listen to a sermon which is intended to be applicable to everyone, but most pay careful attention to words born out of concern for only a few.

All this suggests that when one has the courage to enter where life is experienced as most unique and most private, one touches the soul of the community. The man who has spent many hours trying to understand, feel, and clarify the alienation and confusion of one of his fellow men might well be the best equipped to speak to the needs of the many, because all men are one at the wellspring of pain and joy.

This is what Carl Rogers pointed out when he wrote: “…I have–found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to believe that what is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others. This has helped me to understand artists and poets who have dared to express the unique in themselves.” It indeed seems that the Christian leader is first of all the artist who can bind together many people by his courage in giving expression to his most personal concern.