Below are brief summaries of my published work. For reader reviews, check out my Amazon Author Page.
The Evangelical Experience
I am a former Evangelical Christian. Although I am grateful for many ways this tradition has shaped me, I eventually outgrew this conservative brand of faith. In 2015, I published The Evangelical Experience. In it, I tried to do two things. My first goal was to simply describe modern Evangelicalism really well. To that end, I detailed core doctrines of the faith, matters of debate within the religion, and the primary marks of Evangelical culture. The effects of accepting Evangelical doctrine, both positive and negative, are also addressed here.
My second goal was to document my own journey into, and ultimately, out of, the faith. I included the stories of my conversion, development, experience in seminary, deconversion, and thoughts on possible ways to move forward. As an appendix, I included a journal entry written in the midst of my deconversion which details many of the reasons I felt forced to leave the faith, including my perceived issues with the coherency of the Christian scriptures, the apparent apocalyptic expectations of the early Church, and difficulty reconciling conservative Christian theology with the realities of day to day life.
Hopefully this book can be a resource for those outside the faith who are looking for a better understanding of Evangelical Christianity. I also hope it can be a resource for current Evangelicals who have some of the same doubts and may be exploring other religious options.
A Great Tragedy
"Love makes the ego lose itself in the object it loves, and yet at the same time it wants to have the object as its own. This is a contradiction and a great tragedy of life."
– D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism
A Great Tragedy is based on the quote above, which comes from the Zen tradition. In this short book, I tried to show not only how we can subtly take the people and things we love and turn them into simply one more thing to please us, but also, more generally, how easy and natural it is for us to create lives centered on self.
The term "ego" is a hazy term and is often used in different ways by different authors. In the way Suzuki and similar authors use the term, "ego" is roughly equivalent to attachment to self-will. In this sense, the book's main character, Tony, is truly ego-centric. He spends his time over-analyzing what will or will not make him happy. He sees people and things mostly in terms of how they do or do not benefit him. He does the things he likes; he avoids the things he doesn't like. He regrets his actions which cause him pain, and he doesn't regret his actions which bring him good. Although Tony may not seem to be an overtly bad or self-absorbed person, he is designed to show how normal and easy it is for us to interpret the world only in terms of what it can offer us. Tony, mostly, is supposed to be an "everyman." The small cracks in his interpretation of life through the lens of self-will come either when he realizes that he has hurt someone outside of himself, or when he loses himself in love or simple acts of service to another.
The alternative to ego-centric living is to lose oneself in something greater than oneself. In an abstract sense, from the perspective of the contemplative traditions, this often means "giving yourself wholly to the Will of God," or, from a Buddhist perspective, "losing all attachments" and thus gaining the ability to live with lovingkindness toward all things, without needing to possess or use those things for one's own gain. In more concrete terms, it might mean dedication to family, vocation, or one's neighbor over self. The contemplative ideal is summed up in the title of a Kierkegaard work – Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing. According to Kierkegaard, a pure heart wills only the good, or what some would call the Will of God. Sometimes what you would naturally want for yourself (i.e. "self-will") is part of that, and sometimes it's not. Breaking attachment to self is what can allow one to live from this broader perspective.
An Introduction to Centering Prayer
An Introduction to Centering Prayer is a short tract which introduces the reader to the discipline of Centering Prayer.
In it, I discuss: (1) The History of Centering Prayer, especially its connection to the anonymous 14th Century work The Cloud of Unknowing; (2) The Method of Centering Prayer as presented by Thomas Keating, including observations and commentary on each of the steps; (3) possible Theological Paradigms to understand the practice with including the Divine Therapy model, the "Union with God" model, and the True Self/False Self model; (4) Natural Effects of the prayer, including control of the mind, distance between "you" and your thoughts, decreased worry and anxiety, non-attachment, and present moment awareness; (5) Centering in the World and the use of the sacred word during the active life; and (6) The Shape of the Journey, especially emphasizing the possible experience of "dark nights" which are associated with this practice.
This tract is simply intended to provide a very brief overview of the practice and lead the reader to further study. A list of Centering Prayer resources is also included, and several of these resources are also found on the Centering Prayer page of this site.