Year-in-review, 2018 (and an overture for 2019)

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Wowza… Here we are, another year, gone by.

2018 was a wild one for yours truly. My life (and thusly, this blog) has taken several interesting twists and turns. Here’s a quick chronology of 2018 (in bullet format so as to not get too ‘wordy’) in case you missed anything…

  • In the fall of 2017, we moved from rural Nevada to Chicago so I could pursue a ministerial career in the New Thought tradition. For a year or so prior, I’d been enrolled in a home-study interfaith theology certification program required for New Thought ministers and a friend gave me an opportunity to help him open a spiritual center as assistant minister.
  • Things didn’t work out. It’s hard to start and grow any business, let alone a church. But it wasn’t just the church. I started having strong doubts and differences with that form of secular spirituality altogether (you can read here about my beef with ‘The Law of Attraction’ — a big tenet of that version of spirituality).
  • In early 2018, I decided I was done with pursuing a path in ministry. I was going to settle in to my freelance copywriting work and view this blog as a fulfilling side project.
  • I changed the name of this publication from Higher Thoughts to Cricket Hill so as to distance myself from spiritual writing and instead write more personal stories and secular life anecdotes.
  • Since our background was Roman Catholic, my wife and I decided to check out the church right behind our apartment on Sundays. It was so nice not even thinking about becoming a minister (unless I wanted to leave my family and enter a vow of celibacy, of course).
  • I fell back in love with traditional liturgy and ‘high church’ (robes, incense, hymns, etc.).
  • Buuuut it was still the Roman Catholic church. My wife and I are both a bit dismayed with them (even if this particular church was fairly progressive in nature, etc.).
  • I found the work of Lutheran Pastor, Nadia Bolz-Weber and was blown away by her message. As I learned more about the Lutheran church (at least the branch of it that she was a part of — the ELCA), I was surprised to see that they considered themselves Catholic (just not ‘Roman Catholic’), held a traditional liturgy, allowed pastors to marry, were open and affirming to LGBTQ (married gay pastors were allowed in the clergy), and contemplative in nature.
  • We went to a small Lutheran parish near us in Chicago and immediately felt at home with both the clergy and the congregation. Suddenly, the ministry light turned back on in my mind. The ‘call’ was still there.
  • I changed the name of this publication from Cricket Hill to On Living so as to turn things back towards a more spiritual/contemplative theme.
  • I learned that there was a Lutheran seminary in Chicago, so I went down to visit and learn more about the program. Unlike my previous home-study theology program, THIS was the real-deal seminary with classes, professors, historians, people walking around in clerical collars, a cafeteria, student housing, a library, and the works. I’d been a Lutheran for two weeks and here I was inquiring about seminary. It was confirmed that I am insane.
  • I changed the name of this publication to one I’ve wanted since its inception, but people have been persuading me otherwise: The Jonas Chronicles. I’m done trying to make something ‘bigger than myself’ and am owning the fact that this blog is just me — not some bigger entity — and that’s just fine.
  • After much mental/emotional gnashing of teeth and inquiry with mentors, I decided to commit to seminary. It’s the most terrifying yet exhilirating decision I’ve made in years. I’ll be taking one class in the spring and then — if all goes well — will be starting full-time in the fall.
  • I’m terrified and have no idea where this path will lead me. I’m just fortunate to have a healthy group of mentors and friends to guide me along and a motley crew of readers such as yourself to share the journey with.

In short, I’ve been all over the place in 2018. If you’ve been reading my work for more than a year, I’m endlessly grateful for you sticking with me through it. At one point, I announced that I was writing off spirituality forever and here I am, closing 2018 as an enrolled midlife seminarian. Life. Is. Crazy.

Mission for 2019

As I step into year number five of this blog, I feel I’m starting to get my footing. It’s taken a few pivots to find my ‘niche’, if you will, and as terrifying as it is, it’s just as liberating.

My mission for 2019 is to help people revive the babies that may have been thrown out in the bathwaters of the Christian faith.

The Christian faith was never meant to be a way to divide or exclude. It’s an ancient practice and way of life that emerged from radical mercy and love, not from bigotry and ignorance. It’s a faith that’s meant for the dinner table, not just for the pulpit.

The Jesus message is inherently non-dual and impossible to grasp with a Western rationalistic perspective and dualistic stance. This is why we’ve made such a sh*t show out of the Christian faith since its imperialization a couple hundred years after Jesus died.

Living a wholly (holy?) Christian life is impossible without a contemplative perspective (which results from a contemplative spiritual practice).

Because of my new journey as a Lutheran seminarian, I hope to share a healthy dose of insights that I glean along the way (Martin Luther — as flawed as he was — was a maniacal genius, fascinating to study, and gave the world many gifts).

I look forward to stepping things up in a big way in 2019 and growing beyond this blog into offering workshops, classes, book studies, gatherings, etc. Stay tuned for more (a big announcement coming in a matter of days).

Top 10 posts of 2018

  1. Why the law of attraction is bullsh*t (and why that’s such a great thing)
  2. On trusting love
  3. Your past self you will thank you for letting it go
  4. Jesus as wisdom teacher rather than personal savior
  5. On checking your phone… Again (for no reason)
  6. Why I’m enjoying being a bad Catholic
  7. I’m a Christian (and Jesus is not the only way)
  8. A layman’s introduction to centering prayer
  9. A case for magical thinking
  10. Spiritual self-helplessness

Favorite books of 2018

I’ve covered these in previous newsletters, so I won’t belabor you with descriptions below, but these books have been the ones to shape me the most this past year. I hope you pick up one or two yourself and that they have an impact on you as well.

Heart of Christianity 
by Marcus Borg

Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time 
by Marcus Borg

Pastrix:The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
by Nadia Bolz Weber

Wisdom Jesus
by Cynthia Borgeault

Any Body There?: Worship and Being Human in a Digital Age 
by Craig Mueller

Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer 
by Richard Rohr

What is the Bible? 
by Rob Bell

In Closing

Looking forward, I promise you a way more focused and less frantic 2019. Thanks again for your attention and support — I hope I continue to serve you well into the future.

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Until next time, as ever…