Across half-eaten bagels and enough coffee to float a whale we poured out ideas and images, confessed and confided, scribbled and dreamed about questions like, Why is it so hard to feel at home in the kingdom of God? Will my two warring natures ever sign a truce? And, why does becoming like Jesus seem difficult every day and impossible on Mondays?
Over time we came to appreciate more fully that there was something healing in the conversation itself. The very act brought hope and a sense of healing community. Words from Tolstoy’s Confession come to mind:
I was listening to the conversation of an illiterate peasant, a pilgrim, about God, faith, life, and salvation, when a knowledge of faith revealed itself to me. I drew near to the people, listening to their opinions of life and faith, and I understood the truth more and more. So also was it when I read the “Lives of Holy Men,” which became my favorite books.
Yes, honest dialogue is healing. Pouring from oneself into another gives life—whether the words are audible or in print, whether they are found in the mouths of peasants or the lives of saints.
So the more we talked, the more we dreamed. And after a while, most of the dreaming was about a bigger table where others could sit too and join in: Orthodox and Pentecostals, Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, liberals and fundamentalists, pulling up chairs and putting differences aside to discuss what they hold in common—the desire to live life in love with God and each other. The desire to be transformed into a thinking, feeling, willing, behaving, and relating image of Christ.
And there was the genesis of this new periodical: a forum not for professional pontification but for simple dialogue among friends. Honest conversation about the most important matters in the universe.
But don’t be misled. The conversations you will find in these pages are not light or shallow. Who would want to pull up a chair and join in with that? No, we want substance, not cliche´; realness, not saccharine-sweetness. transparency, not guardedness.
Let us be more precise with you about both the broad background and the specifics that you will find on these pages.
Conversations has been created to provide spiritual accompaniment and honest dialogue for those who long for radical transformation in Christ. It is designed to both stimulate hunger and to illuminate the path by:
- Drawing on classical wisdom and practice.
- Exploring the vital role of community.
- Illustrating the journey with realism and hope.
In keeping with the idea of the soul as a unique representation of unity and diversity, the format of Conversations will include five continuing themes or sections. Each theme represents an enduring aspect of the person—thought, emotion, behavior, relationship, and intention—and is presented as a reoccurring section of the journal. But each section is written with an eye toward uniting principles—authentic transformation of the soul and ultimate unity with Christ.
Presented below is a listing
of the five sections with several potential features, columns, articles, or essays. While an attempt will be made to provide a minimum of two entries under each section, flexibility will prevail.
The Five Sections
I.Transformational Theology: Forming the Soul
Each issue will begin with articles and essays that unpack the wisdom of theology and psychology relevant to the dynamics of spiritual transformation. Standing categories in this section will include articles concerning the following:
Pivotal Issues and Important Questions.
Accessing Wisdom: Book Reviews Where You Meet the Author
II. Honesty About the Journey: Dark Nights and Bright Mornings
This section will be built around interviews and first-person narrative articles. The style will be fresh and intimate. Reading this section will be like having an honest conversation with those who are freely sharing about their spiritual journeys. Standing categories will include:
Self-Disclosure: Honesty About the Journey
Interviews: Heart to Heart
III. Classical Spiritual Exercises: Habits that Transform
In this section 2,000 years of history and tradition will be mined to provide practical spiritual exercises. Attention will also be given to the life-stories of the developers of specific exercises and to increasing the reader’s motivation for practice. Features will include:
Classical Spiritual Exercises—explained with a personal voice that gives attention to themes such as tension, process and effect.
Motivational/Understanding Articles (First person accounts about the importance of spiritual disciplines)
IV. Life Together: Friendship and Direction
This section will focus on the broad spectrum of spiritual accompaniment—from casual friendship to formal direction. Special attention will be given to settings and sources for spiritual development that are often overlooked. Here you will find topics such as:
Stories of Christian Community
Formation at Home: Reclaiming the home as a place for transformation.
Input from the Arts: Creative ways of using the arts in facilitating the process of authentic transformation.
Transcripts from spiritual direction will occur on occasion.
V. Streams of Living Water: Wisdom and Energy for the Soul
The final major section will be devoted to a celebration of the unity and diversity of the spirituality of various streams of Christianity (Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and the broad spectrum of Protestant denominations) with an eye toward the common element of willingness and surrender.
Streams of Life : Classical Writing
In addition to the above five sections, subsequent issues will feature “Front Page” and “Back Page” articles as part of the continuing format.These may be dialogic or editorial in nature and will be written by the executive editors.
For Whom Is This Written?
The target audience for Conversations is purposefully broad: all thoughtful, seeking followers of Christ who long for a profound transformation of soul and rich restoration of His image within. It is the intent of the editors to produce words that will inspire both those who seek help themselves and those who are helping others.The audience is also envisioned as being international, ecumenical, and interdenominational.
So if you think you’d like to be part of the conversation, pull up a chair. It’s a big table, and you are an important guest.