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Coffeehouse Contemplative

Coffeehouse Contemplative

By Jeff Nelson
A podcast that explores Christian spirituality beyond the walls of institutional religion, for those both inside and outside the church.
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Anatomy of a Call

Coffeehouse Contemplative

Aw Hell, There's More
If the concept of hell in the Bible isn’t as clear cut as many Christians believe, what do we do with it? Can we, or should we, retain the idea of hell at all? Most importantly, does hell mesh logically with the idea of an all-loving God who shares God’s grace unconditionally? Given how damaging the idea of hell has been for so many Christians and non-Christians, it’s worth spending more time with to consider how worthwhile it really is. Romans 5:12-19 The Divine Comedy Episode 6: Palm Sunday Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
June 7, 2021
Aw, Hell.
Where did the popular concept of hell as a place of eternal torment come from, and how can we reconcile it with the idea of a God who loves humanity unconditionally? This week begins an exploration of the concept, including a brief treatment of the primary places in scripture on which the idea is based. Love Wins by Rob Bell Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
May 24, 2021
A Theology of Star Wars, Part 2
After publishing last week's episode on a theology of Star Wars, I started thinking that I wanted to continue focusing on the subject. There is so much possibility in just how the Jedi and Sith each approach the Force, that I wanted to explore it more. In particular, the Jedi tend to discourage focus on one's emotions, which ends up having devastating consequences. What can we learn from the mistakes of the Jedi to better incorporate emotion into our spiritual experience? A Theology of Star Wars My books on spirituality and popular culture: Wonder and Whiskey: Insights on Faith and the Music of Dave Matthews Band The Doctor and the Apostle: Intersections Between Doctor Who and the Letters of Paul Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
May 17, 2021
A Theology of Star Wars
Star Wars is one of the most beloved and enduring pop culture franchises ever made. And it's worth asking what we might learn from it theologically. One podcast won't be able to do so exhaustively, but we can at least begin to explore the rich possibilities of this series. My books on pop culture and theology: Wonder and Whiskey: Insights on Faith from the Music of Dave Matthews Band The Doctor and the Apostle: Intersections Between Doctor Who and the Letters of Paul Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
May 9, 2021
I didn't have time to write and record a full episode this week, so instead I take a few minutes to process out loud what it was like to attend my first public social gathering in over a year, thanks in part to becoming fully vaccinated. Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
May 2, 2021
The Call Cycle
There are many signs and symbols that we need to watch for in order to discern our call. But after we begin pursuing it, there come times when we may need to recalibrate, and decide between recommitting ourselves or taking a different path. In that sense, calls can be cyclical, and recognizing where we are in the cycle can help us choose what to do. Anatomy of a Call Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
April 25, 2021
Anatomy of a Call
What comes to mind when you think of the word "calling?" Do you believe that you have found yours, or are you still searching? What goes into seeking a call, anyway? The answers to these questions may not be straightforward, but there are certain signs and elements that we can watch for. Hearing God's Call by Ben Campbell Johnson Coffeehouse Contemplative: Spiritual Direction for the Everyday Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
April 18, 2021
We Should Talk About Burnout
Have you ever walked into your workplace or some other place to which you've been dedicated, and realized you no longer have the energy to be there? Can you name something that you used to approach with energy and passion, that you now regard with cynicism, apathy, or despair? This feeling is called burnout, and we need to talk about it. Just Do Today Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
April 11, 2021
Just Do Today
So many of us live closely by our schedules and to-do lists. But those schedules and to-do lists come with worries and an overdeveloped preoccupation on what comes next. We have both the possibilities and limitations of any given day, and both can be gifts. Matthew 6:25-34 Practice Makes Proficient Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
April 4, 2021
Palm Sunday
Christians know Palm Sunday best as the beginning of Holy Week, during which they are invited to reflect on one of the stories from the Gospels of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem a few days before his crucifixion. It tends to be a celebratory day, as well as a lead-in for what comes later in the week. But the story's implications carry so much more than what we may tend to see. Mark 11:1-11 Coffeehouse Contemplative: Spiritual Direction for the Everyday Prayer in Motion: Connecting with God in Fidgety Times Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
March 21, 2021
A Pandemic Lament
After months of watching lockdowns begin in other countries, it was the United States' turn in March of 2020. Now here we are a year later, and we have experienced and lamented so much. Have we allowed ourselves to grieve over this past year? Will we allow ourselves to deal with lingering effects of grief even after we begin to return to a post-pandemic existence? Psychology Today, When Grief Gets Physical Shoma Morita, Morita Therapy The Endgame of Grief Wanda's Grief Psalm 22 Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
March 14, 2021
Practice Makes Proficient
If you were asked, "What's one thing you wish you were better at," you may actually be able to name more than one thing. We all have activities we wish we could do better, or habits we wish we could develop or break. We may recognize that the key to all of this is more practice -- "practice makes perfect," as the saying goes. But the pursuit of perfection may sabotage us before we even begin. Fortunately, there are other ways to think about practice that are more reasonable and achievable. Austin Kleon, 31-day Practice and Suck Less Challenge James Clear, Atomic Habits One Word 2021: Practice Prayer in Motion: Connecting with God in Fidgety Times Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
March 7, 2021
Everything Is Already Different
It's been about a year since the pandemic lockdowns began. Events have been cancelled or postponed over and over, and life in general has been turned upside down. This entire time--and more frequently now that an end slowly appears on the horizon--many have been talking about going "back to normal." But will everything really be exactly as it was, and will we really want it to be? Ed Prideaux, How to heal the "mass trauma" of Covid-19 Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
February 28, 2021
The Second Lentiest Lent
All the COVID-related lockdowns and cancellations began during Lent 2020, leading someone to create a meme that read, "This is the Lentiest Lent I've ever Lented." This year, we are still faced with going without many of the same things, and questions of where hope and new life may be found are still with us. With all that we've been through and all that we've learned, how might this Lent be a source of renewal rather than added despair? Related blog post: Five Reminders for a Meaningful Lent Benediction: Blessing the Dust by Jan Richardson Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder Find more about my writing at
February 21, 2021
Let's Begin with a Story
The inaugural episode of my new podcast. Many across the spectrum of religious experience and belief carry with them a question: “Where is God beyond what I know? Where is God beyond the walls of my place of worship? Where is God beyond the pages of my sacred texts and songs?" There is no one answer to that. I figured that the best way to begin would be to tell a little of my own story, and why I'm passionate about finding the spiritual in everything. My books: The Doctor and the Apostle: Intersections Between Doctor Who and the Letters of Paul Prayer in Motion: Connecting with God in Fidgety Times Wonder and Whiskey: Insights on Faith from the Music of Dave Matthews Band Coffeehouse Contemplative: Spiritual Direction for the Everyday Music: "Reflections" by Wild Wonder
February 16, 2021