Tag Archives: emotions

worship: all of the above

If the options are:
a) “Worship needs to be more theologically sound!”
b) “Worship needs to be more bodily participative!”
or c) “Worship needs to be more emotionally authentic!”
Then I choose
d) “Yes.”

Kirsten Guidero critiques James K.A. Smith’s push (summarized here) for ’embodied’ forms of worship.  Both her and Smith (count me in too) are in pursuit of ways, patterns, habits and yes ‘forms’ of worship that are ‘formational’.  Smith’s beef (and it’s delicious!) is that we are always being formed by the embodied practices that we are always practicing – even in ‘cultural liturgies’ like the sports stadium, the shopping mall, the university, etc.  Even small or ‘thin’ practices, when habitual, become ‘thick’ shapers of our lives.  Smith’s view is that the gospel offers an alternative story to the many stories of culture, and that this gospel story needs to be bodily embodied (that was deliberate) at worship, which it a central way that we are re-formed week by week.  Guidero is a ‘liturgical Christian’, and endorses Smith’s main points, but wants to push back against what she sees as an over-emphasis in Smith on the body.  She argues that:

if one’s mind is not involved—as far as possible—in one’s liturgical participation, liturgy becomes only an empty shell, similar to the Christian propositions devoid of application that Smith so decries.

It seems clear to me that worship needs to engage the whole person in order for the whole person to be swept up in the gospel’s redemptive subversion of the world and cultures we inhabit.  And if human persons engage in a) thoughtful and rational reasoning and believing, b) visible and embodied postures and gestures, and c) passionate and affective feeling and emoting, then worship needs to explore the space of all three; put roughly – mind, body & emotions.  I’ll describe them briefly, using titles that are normally used pejoratively, to signal that each emphasis really is negative when divorced from the other two.  I also acknowledge stereotypes for each one, which of course always are there for some reason, but also always need to be critiqued.

‘Rationalistic’ worship perhaps finds a stereotype in the ‘new reformed’ movement. Whatever emotions or bodily postures that accompany this stream of worship, the obvious priority is on the rational affirmation of propositions, truths and doctrines.

‘Ritualistic’ worship perhaps finds a stereotype in the ‘liturgical’ tradition.  Whatever theologies or emotional states that accompany this stream of worship, the visible priority is on the formational practice of postures, gestures, and historic rites.

‘Emotionalistic’ worship perhaps finds a stereotype in the ‘pentecostal’ tradition.  Doctrinal allegiances and visible gestures will be present, but front and centre is a palpable, impossible to ignore focus on an authentic passion and heart for God.

You may have already observed that various combinations of these exist.  Some ‘pentecostal’ churches may have a ‘reformed’ vibe for example.  But arguably a nice blend of all three may be quite rare.  It makes me wonder if lurking behind our worship ‘preferences’ may be the reality that there are parts of us that we are more willing to be transformed than others.

Lord, I am passionate for your holy truth, and I will show it by unashamedly sitting and standing for you in church.
Lord, look on my beautiful liturgy and orthodox creedal confession, but please ignore my heart which is a private matter.
Lord, I have award-winning passion and high hand-lifting, but please don’t make me describe what I’m passionate about with any degree of specificity.

What might an integrated vision of worship look like in practice?
Well… I reckon something like:

  • Large amounts of scripture (Bible readings and biblical preaching) and regular usage of affirmations of faith and/or Creeds.
  • Delicious moments (within a clear overarching structure) of emotion and intimacy, through such things as singing and prayer.
  • A rich ‘sacramental’ practice, most of all Baptism and Eucharist, practiced to link with wider church history and tradition.


head and heart, thinking and feeling, rationality and emotion, yeah?

I’m interested in ideas/responses to the following four questions…

(Read ’em slow enough to actually properly think and feel!  And also… even though they obviously relate/overlap/interlock, the questions aren’t meant to flow on from one another, but rather are meant to be stand-alone… ish.)

  • What do you think about how you feel?
  • What do you think about what you think?
  • How do you feel about how you feel?
  • How do you feel about what you think?

Any thoughts (head) or feelings (heart) about thinking and/or feelings that come to mind reading these?

on science/faith blogging…

miscellaneous thoughts…

  • if the time we spend is to be at all worthwhile, we need to accept that words matter enough to use them and work at our use of them (some key words in science/faith include: ‘knowledge’, ‘evidence’, ‘explanation’, ‘natural’, ‘reality’, etc).
  • it occurs to me that aiming for mutual understanding is infinitely more helpful than aiming to ‘win’.
  • it seems a good idea to avoid the trap of straw-man argumentation, or presenting someone else’s perspective in its worst form – which is often (mostly?) done with little quips or with sarcasm (often the more sustained an argument is, the less ‘straw-man-ish’ it is).
  • don’t post a comment while you’re angry/frustrated (and this obviously does not mean that comments should be –or even could be– totally void of emotion).
  • that is all for now (and I don’t claim to do all these all the time)…

caption competition

I thought it would be a bit of fun to put this INCREDIBLE (but I’m not biased) picture up and let people try out some captions for it…
Have fun! Continue reading


I admit it.  I began to tear up at the end of this 15-minute short video called ‘validated‘ (couldn’t work out how to embed it) …  :)


There are different ways of understanding what a worldview is, or what questions it seeks to answer or how it is gained or what it is shaped by.

When people of different perspectives, beliefs (and yes, different worldviews) discuss what a ‘worldview’ is, it is easy for their own worldview to influence things.  I freely admit the likelihood of my Christian worldview/perspectives/beliefs to influence me in this process, and I’d hope others would admit the same tendencies. Continue reading

here’s looking at (our) kid

(Click the post title to see the 19.5 week scan!)  :) Continue reading

oh baby…

Now that we’re out of the 12-week ‘danger zone’, I can (happily) share that my wife and I (well, really just her!) are expecting a baby in late Jan / early Feb!!!

The little guy (we actually don’t know the gender – and might not choose to find out before birth – but I’m going with ‘boy’ all the way!) is about 5cm at this stage… :)


I briefly met someone recently who was supervising a group of youth who were attending the ‘Get Smart’ conference in Auckland, NZ.  He asked if I had been attending the conference.  When I said no, he replied, “Oh man, it’s great.  We were just there and when we left things were still going.  Carnage, man.  Just carnage.”

I was genuinely confused.

“Carnage?” I said.

“Yeah man,” he replied, “Carnage.  Kids everywhere.  All over the floor.”

I — having realised now that I had (unfortunately) learned a new piece of spiritual mumbo-jumbo jargon — bit my tongue.

I’ll keep this post short and to the point.

I see no reason whatsoever to believe that people rolling around on the floor in ecstatic states of consciousness is anything close to the kind of human behaviour that moves the heart of God.  I have no reason whatsoever to endorse or support such behaviour, much less encourage it.


the groaning language of prayer

The other day, a friend of mine at Carey college was sharing with me and a few others how grieved he’d been lately (due to various tragic things happening to people close to him). He mentioned lying in bed and trying to pray, not knowing what to say, and eventually just offering an extended, rumbling, inward groan to God…

Now, prayer is both a simple and mysterious thing. It’s simple – in that it is simply a giving-sharing-offering of one’s thoughts, concerns, feelings, stresses, hurts, anxieties, etc. to the One who we believe ‘hears’ prayer (more on ‘hearing’ in a moment). But it’s also a complex and mysterious thing, complicated by various (mis)understandings about both God and prayer (not least the popular ‘magic genie’ [or fairy] idea of God). Continue reading