Conversatio Divina

Part 2 of 20

Join the Conversation

Doug Whallon

Stories of Change

Dear Reader,

Like any group or organization, the staff of Conversations Journal, has our own jargon. Some of them are original (like the way we respond to Gary’s jokes during conference calls) and some of them are lifted liberally from respected friends and colleagues.

You’ll find one such phrase—“the elephant in the sanctuary”—frequently in the pages of this issue, and we have to admit that we stole it from Dallas Willard.

Both he and we use that phrase to refer to the issue of “non-transformation” in the body of Christ. This issue of Conversations not only aims to make that elephant a little more visible (and a little harder to ignore), we hope that it will provide examples and experiences of transformation that will refuse that elephant reentry. We, like you, desperately want change. We want to be transformed ever increasingly into Christlikeness. We know you do, too.

We extend the invitation, as we do in each issue of the journal, to join in the conversation, this time about how we change. We want to hear your stories. How have you seen change in your life? Where have you been frustrated by its absence? Where are you seeing Christ’s work take root within you? Your family? Your church? We have created space for you to dialogue about change on our website forum and our Facebook page, but feel free to e-mail or write us too! In the fall issue we will print some of your stories of transformation.

While on the subject of change—you’ve likely noticed that the journal you’re holding has undergone some change of its own. Not in the spiritual sense—we like to think that we still have the same great content—but it has gotten a fresh, new look. We’re excited about the changes, and have been glad to hear that you are, too. Some of the types of things we’ve heard about it are:

I honestly wouldn’t have guessed you could significantly improve the quality of your journal so much, but I truly believe your new changes have done just that. I have eagerly recommended Conversations Journal to many, via face to face and online interactions, over the past couple of years, and I have been so thankful to be able to “follow” the Conversation. Now, I am grateful for the opportunity to more fully engage in the Conversation. Tara, Gary, Mindy, Cindy, Jan, Emilie, and Joannah Thank you for faithfully seeking and obeying The Spirit’s voice as you produce this rich resource for fellow seekers and conversationalists on the journey with Christ. And thanks for genuinely inviting and hearing my voice. –Roger Butner

This was the first Conversations Journal I have received, or at least remember receiving. It was the “new look” that apprehended my attention and lead me to be interested in the inside. What a great gift! So perhaps part of the reason for all of this is to “catch the eye” of those unfamiliar with the quality of writing awaiting. It served me well so I thank you for all the hard work and effort. I immediately subscribed after reading this copy. And I find it completely fascinating and a little scary that we could “join in the conversation.” I am all for it. –Jo Spangler

Finally, in our last issue we invited you to discuss “A Call to Spiritual Formation.” That discussion is still ongoing on our online forum, but we’d like to share an e-mail we received from one of our readers:

I have grown very appreciative and grateful for your Journals. Thank you for the care, purpose, taste and depth reflected in each issue.

Having invited response to the article “A Call to spiritual Formation,” I thought I’d convey two thoughts:

First, during my initial reading, I was delighted in the call, the underlying concepts and emphases. Even the word choices and terminology (some of the best from the realm of spiritual formation) added to the challenge and inspiration. Very fine.

Second, while it is filled with biblical phrases and ideas, and while it entreats people to rely on and respond to the Spirit and grace, and Jesus and God, it is strangely silent about the benefits of the Scriptures.  Yes, there  is the clause “including Word and sacrament,” but the meaning there doesn’t appear to be synonymous with the Bible.

Friends, I am not a wooden literalist or cultural fundamentalist. However, the inability of the “Call” to invite people to be transformed through God’s gift of Scriptural revelation strikes me as a limitation, in fact a severe limitation.

Take the same “Call” and include a clear reminder of God’s delight in transforming people’s minds, heart, character, relationships and activities through the Scriptures and then we’d have a long-lasting and invaluable challenge. This one, unfortunately, has a fatal flaw.

Thanks for listening (or reading),

—Doug Whallon