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Inside Scoop on New Dictionary of Christian Spirituality


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      Members of the Bethel San Diego Spring 2011 Class on Spirituality & Prayer

 

Zondervan Q&A with Glen Scorgie, general editor, Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

 

Congratulations on the publication of the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. In terms of the writing and editing, what kind of work hours do you think the project represents?

The Dictionary project took four years of focused effort. The workload ebbed and flowed across these years, but I’d estimate it involved 10-20 hours a week on average. The other editors and I managed to keep organized with an Excel spreadsheet; each entry involved 17-19 discreet steps.

 

Writing for this book was certainly not a sensible strategy for getting rich. Sometimes I cajoled reluctant contributors to join the company of the cheerfully exploited. Usually that phrase won them over. But I must say the whole project, from start to finish, was an absolute delight. For one thing, the DCS team got to interact with some of the finest people on the planet. I’ve often said that without the excuse of this project, how else would I get up the nerve to bother Eugene Peterson in his cabin up in Montana, or Dallas Willard or J. I. Packer?

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Walking Away from Church

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Americans don’t attend church like they used to. But that doesn’t exactly make the United States another mission field of unreached people. A striking recent discovery is that most unbelieving outsiders are actually old friends, yesterday’s worshipers, children who once prayed to Jesus. They walked away for a number of reasons, including this: the church from which they have walked away appears to be broken.

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Please, Help Me!

 Taoism


One of the near-universal functions of religion is to solicit help from the Higher Power to meet our needs. The main function of prayer, it seems, is petition—asking, begging, making promises and cutting deals, in order (we hope) to get stuff. I saw this dynamic alive and well at the White Cloud Taoist Temple I visited in a slightly scruffier part of Beijing. People kept arriving with gifts of fruit and flowers for the various deities (idols), and lighting incense sticks before kneeling before the images to ask for favors. It got me wondering how the prayers that Christians tend to ask are really much different.

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Liturgy of the Rolling Stones

Shine a Light, a film about the Rolling Stones, opened last week. It’s a rollicking tribute, by Academy Award winning director Martin Scorcese, to one of the most legendary rock groups ever. For over two hours viewers are in the front row of a high-decibel Stones concert in New York City. I may not know a lot about rock and roll, but I know a liturgy when I see one. And this was a liturgical celebration of the raw vitality of life.

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Our Current Worship Crisis

Our worship problems have been looming for awhile. But they aren’t looming any more. Churches in America are into a full-blown worship crisis. This is serious, because worship is the God-directed, soul-nourishing center of the Christian life. When worship is not functioning well, it’s like a deep-sea diver getting a kink in their oxygen supply line. It’s not good.

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