• Why I Am Giving Up Empathy for Lent

    Have you noticed the uptick in the broad use of the words empath, empathy, empathetic over the past several years? Honestly, in a lot of ways, it feels as if the recent rediscovery of the word allows one to hint at being psychic …ish… without sounding all too irrational, metaphysical, or pseudo-sciencey. Calling one’s self empathic evokes something much closer to a Myers-Briggs personality type than a super-power, but still carries with it an extra air of authority. Does it not? It certainly seems like a more interesting, if not a more powerful claim than merely being a sympathetic person. I am not sure how I would begin to count…

  • Higher Definition, Higher (new year’s) Resolution(s)

    I have to admit to you, somewhat reluctantly, that I have a rebellious streak in me.   I am slow to admit it because everyone in my family that watched me insist on never matching my socks for 25 years will say “duh,” and others of you will know that when I see a sign that says keep of the grass, I ardently and deliberatively… ….comply and keep walking without trampling the grass even a little.   I am a “good kid,” but the kind of good kid who likes to break very specific sorts of things.  One of the effects of the rebellious streak, however, is that whatever behavior…

  • Advent 2018 – Welcome to Our World

    Advent: Introduction- Hospitality of the Heart. This year in Austin, our group – Austin Parable- has been meeting regularly in the hope of starting a community in the spirit of L’Arche, Jean Vanier, Sue Mosteller, and Henri Nouwen. So much has emerged and grown this year and we are taking some leaps of faith in the near future to set some concrete things in motion. As it happens, one of the biggest challenges in front of us is not fundraising, legal loopholes, non-profit status, “recruiting” members and assistants, CPR training, nor even securing real estate. The greatest task in front of us as a group is to develop the character and the…

  • The “Thoughts and Prayers” of the Outpatient Monk

    I  am happily reintroducing the Outpatient Monk blog after a long period of consideration. We have redesigned a few things, and even more importantly, I have taken some time to cultivate a heart and voice capable of speaking clearly in a time of awful and intentional muddiness. We can do better. I am thrilled if you are willing to read any of the upcoming posts, but I am honestly much more drawn than ever to developing a conversation with you. I am convinced that listening and thinking matters and is one of the acts of rebellion of our day. So if you have a thought or topic you would like…

  • Reflections on My 30 Years of World AIDS Day

    Almost exactly 30 years ago, in the fall of 1988, I was attending high school in a suburb of Los Angeles when I caught the acting bug.  In that part of the world, wanting to be an actor was more of a rite of passage than a particular vocation.  A lot of us went through some kind of acting phase. Nevertheless, I took myself quite seriously at the time, so I dropped out of high school, took an acting class, and landed my first paying gig saying two lines in a sex education movie for high schoolers and youth groups.  While my performance was… ahem… not Oscar worthy, the crew…

  • Album Review: We Sing Together by Rigel Thurston

    Review: We Sing Together, by Rigel Thurston December 1st Release Date   I promise you this, Rigel Thurston’s new recording, We Sing Together, is your new favorite Christmas album. Thurston has crafted something scarce here merely by having faith in the music he is playing and his ability to play it. Because of that faith, his songs are generous and endearing without any of the sentimentality and cheap manipulation that plagues almost every other Christmas recording of the last few years. If you aren’t already sold, keep reading. I am willing to make my case.

  • Unreading the Gospel of Mark

    The year during lent I have been making 1 hour videos walking through the Gospel of Mark in a way the recovers some of the shock and awe of how it would have originally landed on people’s ears.  If you were going to watch just one, this would be the one to watch. Mark chapter 8 remains one of the most influential pieces of literature on my life.   Buckle up, and sorry I get all emotional at the end. Unreading, Mark Chapter 8

  • The Dangerous Vulnerability of What Comes Next

    I can think of two particular stories to illustrate how I have been feeling this Christmastide.   The first s the famous ending of the classic movie the graduate.   Dustin Hoffman dramatically storms the church and steals his love, Anne Bancroft away form the altar where she was almost tragically married to some other dude.   The two board a passing bus and the camera lingers on them…a little too long, just long enough for those of us watching the scene to realize that starry eyed feeling of them staring in each other eyes quickly becomes awkward and uncertain in hardly any time at all, in less time it…

  • It’s Not About the Chocolate:self improvement in Lent. UPDATE

    I like to repost blog entries from earlier years, not only because I like to revisit what I was thinking at the time but I like to consider how changes in our context changes what is important to say in an particular moment.   When I wrote this, I really wanted to underscore the need for grace, in the sense I wanted to emphasize that what happens in lent at its best is a gift of God and not a mere matter of will-power as I am sometimes tempted to think. This year is different. This year I have been experiencing how this is true on a visceral level. I…

  • What is so Magical About Christmas?

    I recognize that, theoretically speaking, there isn’t anything that is more special about tonight than any other night.  so.  there. At least  December 21st, the winter solstice, has some astronomical significance.  But there is nothing about the sun, moon and stars that seem to put Christmas Eve, Dec 24th on the “Big Deal” calendar. Historically speaking, it was Emperor Julius that declared December 25th the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but actually the calendar itself has changed since then.  In fact, in Russia, the orthodox church still celebrates Christmas on January 7th (which would be December 25th in Julian’s Calendar.)  And even if you’re looking for the actual feast day for…