The Living Church Podcast explores ecumenical topics in theology, the arts, ethics, pastoral care, and spiritual growth — all to equip and encourage leaders in the Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion, and beyond. A ministry of the Living Church Institute
Live streaming and worship. Zoom and Bible study. Outreach and TikTok. For the average congregation, we used to think, never any of these twains shall meet. Now, if you work at a church, you'd better be on your iPhone and Facebook game. And, if you're ordained, you had better know how to use a tripod.
A couple of weeks ago we started a series on "Hybrid church." What is hybrid church, should we embrace it, is it theologically sound in part or in whole, who seems to be responding to it? Which technologies might work best for certain contexts, and how?
Today we talk to someone whose journey might be helpful to other digital ministry skeptics.
The Rev. John Mason Lock is rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Red Bank, New Jersey, and he is passionately committed to traditional Anglican worship and liturgy, with a particular respect for the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
And this is his story, his words of advice for rectors and other church leaders on how and why to adopt digital techniques for ministry today. And we also get his theological take on why it might be good still to keep the side-eye on all this hybrid stuff, so our tendency to avoid the challenges of embodied experience doesn't get out of control.
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Preachers, teachers, and Christians across the globe have found the passionate, pastoral, and psychologically astute writings of St. Augustine of Hippo fresh and relevant century after century. New City Press asked themselves, um, why hasn't anyone produced a really rock star translation of all of Augustine's sermons in English? And of course, being a publishing company, they did something about it.
Their latest in this series is a new translation of St. Augustine's Homilies on the Gospel of John. (See link below.)
June 8 TCLI co-hosted a master class and live Q+A session with Rowan Williams and Augustine scholar John Cavadini, focusing specifically on Augustine as a preacher, what we can learn as preachers from him, and on his homilies on John 6.
Today we're pleased to present the audio of this master class to you.
Our moderator is the Rev. Dr. Paul Kolbet. he is the author of a book on Augustine’s preaching, Augustine and the Cure of Souls: Revising a Classical Ideal. He is also Lecturer in the History of Christianity at Yale Divinity School, Co-Chair of the Augustine and Augustinianisms Group of the American Academy of Religion, and Interim Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Chelmsford, Mass.
Our first guest is Dr. John C. Cavadini, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, where he also serves as McGrath-Cavadini Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life. He specializes in patristic theology and in its early medieval reception. He has served a five-year term on the International Theological Commission (appointed by Pope Benedict the 16th) and received the Monika K. Hellwig Award for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Intellectual Life.
Our second guest is the Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams. He served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012, and then as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge until 2020. He has published numerous books on theology and spirituality, including On Augustine (2016) and Christ the Heart of Creation (2018). A new volume of Collected Poems will be published later this year.
Read new translations of Augustine by New City Press.
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In the words of the old Pentecost hymn, where does "the Holy Spirit make a dwelling"? This is the question of our episode today.
The Spirit is the person of the Trinity who conceives and animates the flesh of Christ and his body, the Church. How are these realities related, and how do we recognize them?
In 1998, the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College, published a book called The End of the Church, a spicy title that refers to the egregious reality of disunity and failure in Christ's body. Given that, the book asks, doesn't death in the body indicate the Spirit's absence?
In 2019, Dr. Radner published another book on what he sees as our contemporary misreadings and misunderstandings of the Spirit's work in the world and our lives, and that book is called A Profound Ignorance: Modern Pneumatology and Its Anti-Modern Redemption.
Are we given the gift of the Holy Spirit in order to fix, or even alleviate, the world's problems and sufferings?
How do we know what the Holy Spirit is up to, when faced with vague or conflicting claims of the Spirit's work?
Where is the Holy Spirit in our failure?
The Rev Dr. Wesley Hill and I sat down for a conversation with the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner about just these questions. We were delighted and challenged. Enjoy listening in!
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Church leaders, how do you welcome technology into congregational life after the pandemic? Are you excited by all the new possibilities? Or does the word "virtual" within a mile of the word "worship" make you cringe?
Wherever you're at on this, very, very few of us are not asking questions about "hybrid church." A couple weeks ago we set some framework with Dr. Sara Schumacher in a conversation about spiritual disciplines and the personal and communal development of Christlikeness and virtue as it relates to technology. Today we're going to get a different perspective from a rector who's been engaging technology for some time in pastoral care and evangelism, and especially social media and the internet, not only as a tool, but as a place for encounter.
The Rev. Tim Schenck has been rector at St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, MA, since 2009. He's also served parishes in New York and Baltimore. In a former life he was a political campaign consultant, public affairs officer, and a paratrooper.
Father Tim is the author of five books including, most recently, Holy Grounds: The Surprising Connection Between Coffee and Faith (Fortress Press). He is also the mind behind the online devotional Lent Madness.
Should we embrace "hybrid church"? What the heck does that even mean? Today begins a two-part conversation on this topic.
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How many Zoom meetings, Facetime calls, Netflix hours, and general hours on a screen have you had this week? This experience is so common these questions have become a trope.
But they're not really new. Don't forget:
Before the pandemic, we were getting an avalanche of research about the risks and harms of screen time and digital technology. We were starting to hear about screen fasts and not letting our kids even see a smart phone until they reached a certain age.
And then, suddenly, screens became a window to the world in a whole new way. Digital technology has enabled, sometimes powerfully, sometimes feebly, connection with other people and places: a way to go to school, keep tabs on family and friends, have game night, date, and even (maybe?) go to church.
Today we introduce a series on just this tension, between what we're told we need, or actually need, in terms of digital tools and screen time to live faithfully as Christians in this moment, and the need to practice wisdom and discernment when it comes to choosing how to engage digitally with the world.
We're setting up a little philosophical framework today with Dr. Sara Schumacher. Sara is Academic Dean and tutor & lecturer in theology and the arts at St. Mellitus College. She's also author of the booklet Reimagining the Spiritual Disciplines for a Digital Age.
We had her on the show to talk about how the spiritual disciplines—particularly solitude, simplicity, and Sabbath—can help us to prepare to make choices about our use of digital technology, break addictive habits, and recognize when technology itself shows us where its limits are in helping us do what God calls us to.
Check out Sara's book here.
Sparkling waterfalls. Sacred wells. Talking animals. Is this a fairy tale? Or Celtic Christianity?
We love to explore all things Celtic. Celtic prayer services, Celtic Christian art, like the Book of Kells. Celtic pilgrimages.
We can get a little romantic about Celtic Christianity. The visual culture. The deep connection to creation. The sense of humor. And of course its wonderful panoply of saints.
But what is "Celtic Christianity" actually? Is it helpful, or even correct, to lump together Irish and Welsh Christianity like that? What do we get wrong? What distinctives do we miss? And what is actually unique about what God was up to on those wet, cold, beautiful coasts? And how do Welsh people feel about all this?
Well, today we'll be joined by:
Dr. Sarah Ward Clavier, senior lecturer in history at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and a scholar of Anglicanism and early modern political culture. Her forthcoming book is entitled, Royalism, Religion, and Revolution: Wales, 1640-1688.
We're also joined by her husband, the Rev. Dr. Mark Clavier, residentiary canon at Brecon Cathedral, and the author of Reading Augustine: On Consumer Culture, Identity, the Church, and the Rhetorics of Delight.
Our conversation is led by Dr. Hannah Matis, Assoc. Professor of Church History at Virginia Theological Seminary.
Now grab your handcrafted Iona coffee mug and hold onto your prayer books -- for this fascinating conversation about the complex and surprising history of Celtic British Christianity!
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He is risen!
Today we've got an Easter gift for you. Every so often we have an episode of the podcast we call "Classic Texts," kind of like a mini audiobook, in which a special guest comes on and reads an excerpt from a good book, usually a spiritual classic, for us to enjoy.
Today there are several special guests, and several kinds of goodies in the Easter basket. Today we'll hear fiction, sermons, theology, and lots of poetry. If ever there was a Christian season for poetry, it is Easter, amen?
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Our very warm thanks to our guest readers:
Novelist Heather Cross reads an excerpt from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (by kind permission of The CS Lewis Company, Ltd.).
Poet and priest Malcolm Guite reads "Easter" by George Herbert.
The Rev. Dr. Katherine Songerdegger reads "Come Forth" by Wendell Berry, "An Altogether Different Language" by Anne Porter, and "That Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection" by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry reads an excerpt of No Future Without Forgiveness by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Dr. Jane Williams reads an excerpt from a sermon by Lancelot Andrewes, preached Easter Day 1622.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams reads "Hymn of the Resurrection" by William Dunbar.
Mother Samira Page reads "Recognising You" by Amy Scott Robinson and Richard Lyall.
Our hope for this reading today is that it might usher you more deeply into the presence of the one who comes and seeks us out, in the garden where we weep, in all our locked rooms. May you find him, may he find you, may the hope of the resurrection touch you and give you joy, in these readings today.
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Do you remember that episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, where he goes into the crayon factory, and we see all the crayons getting made? SO GOOD. And, call us biased, but we think today's episode of The Living Church Podcast is kind of like that episode of Mister Rogers.
Because today we've pulled together six different guests to take us behind the scenes of the Living Church, to the colorful variety of folks who influence our identity and our business operations. Today we'll meet some folks from our Foundation, the people who have a big impact on shaping TLC.
Editors Mark Michael and Amber Noel talk to TLC's five newest Foundation members. If you want to see all the fascinating stories and delightfully varied backgrounds of this amazing group, you can go to livingchurch.org/foundation.
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Guests today include:
Heidi J. Kim
The Very Rev. Dr. Paul F.M. Zahl
The Rev. Clint Wilson
The Rt. Rev. Samy Shehata
The Rev. Colin Ambrose
Chances are if you're listening to this podcast, you're a reader. And you may have had at some point or another a profound experience with a book, probably with more than one. Books shape our lives, and they shape our spiritual lives. In fact, books have become particularly apt tools in the Christian toolkit for spiritual formation.
What is your relationship to reading and growth in the spiritual life?
Do books have to be great or deep in order to bear spiritual fruit? What makes reading a uniquely powerful avenue for spiritual growth? What are some of its dangers to the spiritual life? What is a Christian way to read, if there is such a thing? Do books and reading make us too "ivory tower" for the "real world"? Can books ever help divides between those with more access to elite education and those with less?
Today we'll hear a really fun conversation I had with the Rev. Dr. Lauren Winner, where we looked at some of these questions. Dr. Winner is a well-known Christian author and Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Duke. She's also Vicar of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Louisburg, N.C., and self-proclaimed book lover. (Book addict?) Our conversation takes us from childhood to incarcerated communities, to a top 5 of some of the books that have had a spiritual impact on her life.
Some of the books we discuss in the show:
Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy
At Home in Mitford
Reading Is My Window: Books and the Art of Reading in Women's Prisons
The Making of a Sonnet
Pilgrim, You Find the Path by Walking
Gentile Tales: The Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews
In This House of Brede
Shakespeare Behind Bars: the Power of Drama in a Women's Prison
Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin
Kristin Lavransdatter (trans. Tiina Nunnally)
Catherine of Siena
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If you're an Episcopalian or Anglican, chances are you've probably heard by now of the release of the landmark project on human sexuality and marriage, Living in Love and Faith. Today, we're going to dive into this project with one of its architects.
LLF is a suite of resources just put out by the Church of England — it includes videos, a book, study and teaching materials — and what does it do? It does a lot. It shares the massive results of research, history, storytelling — theological, anecdotal, traditional, scientific, sociological — and it begins to really closely analyze the sources of convergence and divergence between people who have differently formed consciences and viewpoints on marriage and sexuality to try to come to a truly new place of communal discernment.
LLF is not a project intended to give answers. And that may be frustrating to some folks.
So what is the goal of the project? And what's the end game? How do the people who directed the project hope it will serve the Church? How might it likely relate to Lambeth 2022? Is it really new, or is it just a bunch of old news packaged in a new way? What has it uncovered exactly? And how can people, from dioceses to local congregations, use it?
Today we get to hear from the Rev. Canon Dr. Andrew Goddard, who was part of the team who built LLF, interviewed by the Rev. Canon Dr. Jordan Hylden.
"There are no five easy steps to trusting God in darkness."
Let's go back in time a little. Let's not talk about 2020 for a second. Let's talk about 2017. I don't know how things were for you in 2017, but in 2017, the Rev. Tish Harrison Warren had a terrible year. And it inspired a beautiful book.
The book is called Prayer in the Night: for Those Who Work or Watch or Weep; and it takes up the subjects of pain and grief, in all their opaqueness, in all their dailyness, and our vulnerability in the face of them. It also takes up the way pain can shut down the very things we need most when pain comes: prayer, and a sense of God's presence. And yet, it's also a book about "average suffering" and "common heartache" -- it's not about a pandemic; and it's not a memoir. It's about the things most if not all of us will go through in our lifetimes, whatever the state of the world around us: the loss of people we love, loneliness, tragedies that don't space themselves out politely but come in a quick succession. And it's a book shaped around the practice of Compline. How do the prayers of Compline face and pray through the darkness and dangers of the night?
Tish joins us today to talk about her book, and about her story. She is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America. Along with Prayer in the Night, she is the author of Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, which was Christianity Today's 2018 Book of the Year. She has worked in a variety of ministries: as a campus minister, an associate rector, in ministries to those in addiction and poverty, and has most recently served as writer-in-residence at Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a monthly columnist with Christianity Today, and her articles and essays have appeared in many places including the New York Times.
She interviewed here by the Rev. Dr. Wesley Hill, Associate professor of New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry.
Purchase Tish Harrison Warren's new book, Prayer in the Night.
Register for the free Lenten course, Grace in the Wilderness.
There are basically four options. When you meet someone you disagree with, you can either kill them, create a system to coerce them, run away, or do politics."
That is one of several quotable quotes in our conversation today on democracy, socialism, and Christianity. Even if you're not Political with a big P, meaning maybe you simply don't want to get into it with Uncle Terry on Facebook, both our guests today would probably venture to say it's not easy to avoid being political with a little p. That is, if being political just means finding ways to negotiate our common life together.
Historically speaking, Christianity is in the very root systems of democracy and socialism. What philosophies, and what Christian ideals, are at the heart of both of these systems of organizing common civic life? How have they actually played out?
Our guests today approach democracy and socialism, not as buzz words, but as ways of enhancing and guiding how we think of each other and how we approach citizenship in the communities and countries in which we find ourselves. And they uncover some fascinating history, like:
Why and when did established churches make the turn toward supporting democracy, a system that sought to de-establish them as nationally governing bodies?
Why were some of the great socialist figures in earlier generations also Anglicans?
What does this mean as we make decisions for how to live in our times?
Listen and find out.
Our guests today include:
Dr. Luke Bretherton, Robert E. Cushman Professor of Moral and Political Theology and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke Divinity School, and the author of Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy.
Dr. John Orens, who is the Professor of European History at George Mason University and author of Stewart Headlam’s Radical Anglicanism: The Mass, the Masses, and the Music Hall. (Gotta love that title.)
Our conversation is moderated today by Covenant blog author Dr. Stewart Clem, assistant professor of moral theology and director of the Ashley-O’Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership at Aquinas Institute of Theology.
Books, coziness, and Anglophilia: what die-hard Anglicans love about Christmas can also teach us about Advent. We talk with novelist H.S. Cross about her books, English boarding schools, suffering, and nostalgia as "edenic longing."
Explore titles by H.S. Cross.
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The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart and the Rt. Rev. José McLoughlin are seasoned law enforcement officers. Now, as Episcopal clergy, they share their uniquely insightful perspectives on current policing practices as well as hope for change.
Learn more about The Living Word Plus.
Learn more about the Center for the Study of Faith in Justice.
In a time of fear and pandemic, how do we face the reality of our own mental health and others' while continuing to share the hope of Jesus? Join us in this honest and powerful conversation with the Rev. Rob Merchant.
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What does it look like to approach spiritual perfection? Writer and laywoman Sarah Cornwell reads excerpts from the "Seventh Mansion" of St. Teresa of Ávila's classic, The Interior Castle.
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Register for Reading Augustine in a Time of Crisis with James K.A. Smith.
Amber Noel interviews Wesley Hill about his current projects and why he's been so captivated by the Lord's Prayer lately — especially by the words, "Our Father."
Click here for information on Hill's book, The Lord's Prayer: A Guide to Praying to Our Father.
Enjoy these classic musical texts introduced and played by theologian Ephraim Radner. Violin "readings" from his home are interspersed with reflections on discipleship and prayer.
Songs played in this episode: "Brother James' Air," "Praise to the Lord," "O Food to Pilgrims Given," "Modeh Ani," "Is There Anybody Here," Telemann's "Fantasia," Biber's "Passacaglia," "Come Down O Love Divine."
Music opens us to God. But what can we do if it's dangerous to sing or play? Dr. Marty Wheeler Burnett, president of the Association of Anglican Musicians, joins us to talk about current best practices and new normals. More research can be found at NFHS.org.
Click here to renew or subscribe to the Episcopal Musician's Handbook.
Bishops Carol Gallagher (Cherokee Nation) and Michael Smith (Potawatomi Nation) join us to talk about what it means to be Native American and Anglican, with its insights, tensions, and joys. This continues our series on Multicultural Anglicanism.
For more resources, see Bishop Gallagher's books, Coming Full Circle: Constructing Native Christian Theology and Reweaving the Sacred.
Acedia ("sloth") is a tricky vice. Most of us face it daily. Does it really mean "laziness"? Dr. Stefana Dan Laing invites us to stay spiritually alert (and stay still) with the help of St. Evagrius.
Click here for more resources on acedia.
How are we caring right now for our youngest siblings in Christ? Dr. Robin Floch Turner joins us to talk about loving children well and adapting children's ministry to current challenging contexts.
Click here to find further children's ministry resources for both parents and pastors.
Healing can be a tricky topic to navigate — especially in times of great suffering. Fr. Sean Charles Martin of the Aquinas Institute joins us to talk about research around healing in the Old and New Testaments and how it relates to our current situation.
Josh Larsen, co-host of the Filmspotting podcast, joins us to talk about how to be a better movie-watcher, the vocation of a film critic, and a "Top 4" list of films to engage the spiritual life. We encourage you to check out his new book, Movies Are Prayers (Intervarsity Press). SPOILER ALERT: for those who listen on the go, here's that the "Top 4" list: 12 Years a Slave (2013, Steve McQueen), Tree of Life (2011, Terrence Malick), Star Wars: A New Hope (1977, George Lucas), and My Neighbor, Totoro (1988, Hayao Miyazaki).
Today we address some of the most pressing financial questions for churches, getting into the nitty-gritty of planning, budgets, PPP, and more with Bill Campbell of the ECF and business analyst/church treasurer Seth Cutter.
Click here to view a sample cash forecast document prepared by Seth Cutter. Other resources mentioned can be found at episcopalfoundation.org and presbyterianfoundation.org.
From wilderness to farms, cities, and households, Scripture has a powerful word to speak to our current ecological crisis. Fr. Will Brown interviews Dr. Ellen Davis on land, climate change, biblical wisdom, and hope.
How do you keep your Christian life from getting “stuck”? Mockingbird Ministries founder Paul Zahl has written a new book for Boomers, but his surprising and inspiring stories and insights apply to any stage of life.
What happens when your cultural or racial identity feels at odds with your religious identity? Is Anglicanism truly "multicultural" because it's global? Esau McCaulley, Mark Clavier, and Christopher Wells discuss the future possibilities of multicultural Anglicanism.
What does the gospel have to do with animals? Prof. David Clough, author of the systematic theology, On Animals, calls for more Christian reflection — especially in our time — on the way humans use, eat, raise, and relate to non-human neighbors.
In 1373, a little book was written which would deeply impact 20th- and 21st-century Christian spiritual literature and devotion. An anonymous reader gives a beautiful rendition of excerpts from St. Julian's "homely" visions.
The Rev. Jeff MacDonald, journalist and UCC pastor, shares what he's learned in his in-depth research of mainline parishes with part-time clergy and shares why vitality doesn't depend on a full-time payroll.
Prison chaplain Hannah Bowman shares about her work, digs into theological and practical frameworks behind prison conditions in the U.S., and presents Christian presence in prisons as a way to meet Jesus.
Pamela Lewis, an Episcopal lay leader in NYC, reflects on the new poignancy of Jesus' words in the garden in light of social distancing, and then on her own experience of the pandemic and what finding a "new normal" might mean.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams joins us to talk about his new book, The Way of St. Benedict, and what the implications of the saint's Rule might be for our current questions and crises.
How does a priest slice an onion? No, it’s not the start of a joke. It's the beginning of a surprising contemplation. Fr. Zac Koons gives a superb and leisurely reading from Robert Farrar Capon’s Supper of the Lamb.
Dr. Elisabeth Kincaid and Fr. Stewart Clem discuss the moral questions that have been brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 crisis — including the hidden ethical groundwork guiding current debates and decisions.
"Son of David" — those needing desperate help in the gospels tend to give this name to Jesus. Fr. Mark Michael reflects on a timely prayer in the BCP that uses this name in a cry for mercy that can often lead to a revival of faith.
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde joins us to discuss how she's looking toward a post-COVID future. We talk about how she's negotiating the safety of all in her diocese in conversation with health experts and local officials.
"You can't always get what you want. But sometimes…" Fr. Ron Rolheiser (author of The Loneliness Factor, among many others) knows about digging deep when you can't change your circumstances. He talks with Abigail Woolley Cutter about maintaining and growing in spiritual health in the middle of loneliness.
Chris Domig, founder and director of Sea Dog Theater in New York City, talks about the state of the arts in the time of COVID-19 — specifically, how theatre folks are suffering, coping, and finding their way — and how the Church can be supporting the arts and artists right now.
Only recently in human history have we expected so much from marriage. The pressure (or temptation?) to rely totally on one's spouse for companionship, emotional support, etc., etc. is not so easily resisted when you're at home 24/7. Dr. Gordon Bals shares practical words of wisdom.
Think the von Trapps meet 21st century Anglicanism. This is how one family (the Flanigans) pray Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (1979). This prayer guide/mini-concert features songs from their music project Liturgical Folk, including Psalm 100, Song of the Three Young Men (Canticle 13), the Apostles' Creed, and The Lord's Prayer.
These are anxious times. Dr. Monique Reynolds breaks down for us the phenomenon of anxiety — how it feels, what causes it — and practical approaches to dealing with it while continuing to care well for others and yourself.
What are some of the benefits and dangers of being alone? How can solitude build up love? Fr. Mac Stewart presents and reflects on an excerpt from a chapter in Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation: “Solitude Is Not Separation."
Screens, emergency solutions, and stillness. Fr. Jeff Hansen and Neil Dhingra talk with Ephraim Radner and Bishop Daniel Martins about theological and pastoral responses to the pandemic while posing some challenging questions.
Abigail Wolley Cutter interviews podcast host and TLC writer Amber Noel about some nitty-gritty "rules of life" she's developed for working from home. Much of it is about attitude: embracing the opportunities of the cloister.
Only a few days ago, working parents became instant homeschool teachers. Um — help!? Abigail Woolley Cutter interviews Susan Wise Bauer, educator and historian, on how caretakers can pull together methods for keeping their kids' education on track.
In this flagship episode of the Living Church podcast, we hear a dispatch from the Rt. Rev. Dan Martins, Episcopal Bishop of Springfield, about worship and the Eucharist. What do we miss when we can't gather for Communion? Bp. Dan breaks it down.