Jesus offered his followers the fullness of life. That is to say, he offered them everything, but he also demanded everything of them (see Matthew 13:44-45; Luke 18:22). It is the pure-hearted, not the half-hearted, who enter into the reign of God (Matthew 5:8). The same applies today. Enabling people to recover a meaningful, life-giving vision in the face of contemporary challenges will require a holistic response on the part of the Christian community that engages people in every aspect of their being. Below I offer some resources to stimulate the thinking of Christian communities about what it might look like to invite this kind of total transformation.
Converting the Mind and Imagination—Art and Education
The deep meanings that guide our living reside arise out of concrete experience and reside at the level of feeling and imagination. For this reason, recovering the meaningfulness of life requires modes of education, formation, and transformation that touch these deep places within us.
- YouTube channel with discussions of relevant cultural issues and the SEE approach among other topics.
- Sample lesson plans and learning activities
- Paul Lakeland’s book The Wounded Angel: Responding to what he perceives to be an impoverishment of religious imagination in today’s world, theologian and veteran teacher Paul Lakeland writes about his experience of rehabilitating college students’ imaginations by engaging them with works of fiction.
- Christopher Pramuk’s book The Artist Alive: Through critical and contemplative engagement with classics in music, film, literature, and visual arts, Pramuk envisions a way of seeing, hearing, and praying through some of life’s most enduring spiritual and theological questions. His book highlights the vital role artists play in nurturing the religious imagination.
- Storying Faith: A site devoted to bringing faith formation alive through digital storytelling, including a collection of videos for facilitating theological reflection.
- Art and Theology: Blog entries on contemporary art, music, and poetry that enable us to see God in new and different ways.
- The Bible Project: Video summaries of the stories of the Bible organized by book, series, and theme.
- Seeing the Word: A program of guided reflection for praying with images from
The Saint John’s Bible, a Bible beautifully handwritten and illuminated by Benedictine monks.
Converting the Heart—Prayer, Liturgy, and Community
As James K. A. Smith says, we are what we love. However, there is only “one necessary thing” (Luke 10:42), one Love that rewards our total devotion by leading us into fullness of life. The following are some resources for facilitating the work of transforming what one loves and desires.
- Ten Ways to Pray: A helpful starting point for expanding the ways that one communions with God.
- Imaginative Prayer: An article/guide to Ignatian-style imaginative prayer.
- Contemplative Outreach: The great spiritual guides of the Christian tradition teach that prayer culminates in contemplation, that is, silently resting in God’s loving presence. This ecumenical group offers resources and a community for facilitating transformation in Christ through the practice of Centering Prayer.
- School of Community: Weekly meetings organized by the Communion and Liberation movement and dedicated to the work of examining how God is at work in the world and in our lives.
- Ronald Rolheiser’s book The Shattered Lantern: Renowned spiritual author Ronald Rolheiser offers an analysis of the features of modern society eroding genuine faith among believers as well as spiritual guidance for nurturing awareness of God’s presence.
- James K. A. Smith’s book You Are What You Love: An exploration of the formative power of culture and how Christian practices can shape our loves and longings to better align with the reign of God. Smith’s approach offers a valuable liturgical complement to my pedagogical approach for transforming the imaginations of contemporary people.
- Sharon Daloz Parks’s book Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Utilizing a similar psychological framework to that in Converting the Imagination, Parks shares her experiences of “mentoring communities” capable of supporting young adults as they grow in their ability to make meaning of their lives.
Converting Our Living—Spiritual Practices
It is not enough to merely know about God’s reign. Because we are a unity of body and soul, we must develop habits that enable what we know to sink into our bones. The following offer some guidance for living into these realities:
- Dorothy Bass’s books like Practicing Our Faith: Along with Craig Dykstra, Bass for many years has made the case for why Christian practices like forgiving, hospitality, signing, grieving, bodily care, and honoring the Sabbath are so important for living into the fullness of life to which Jesus calls us.
- Christian spiritual practices website: An online introduction to Christian spiritual practices with recommended readings and suggested resources.
- Spirituality and Practice: This multifaith and interspiritual website is devoted to resources for spiritual journeys. It offers recommendations for spiritual practices, films, reading, and much more.
If you would like to recommend a resource, please email me at email@example.com.