Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza: Silence and Activist Theology (Part One)

Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, the author of Activist Theology, joins our conversation this week. Born to a Mexican woman and an Anglo man in Northern Mexico, the Republic of Texas, Dr. Robyn moved to Chicago, IL for graduate school, and completed a master’s degree in theological ethics at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Clinical Pastoral Education at a Trauma II Chicagoland hospital. Following graduate school, Dr. Robyn worked in domestic violence & sexual assault fields before joining the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.

This is part one of a two-part episode. Part two will be released in our next episode.

In 2009, Dr. Robyn began doctoral work at the University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology studying constructive philosophical theology & ethics, & completed a graduate certificate in Latinx Studies.

As an activist-scholar, Dr. Robyn travels the country doing activist theology and continues to write, using the tools learned in both academy and activism to stand in the hybrid space of faith communities, academy, and movements for justice — curating activist scholarship with deep intention of bridging with difference.

Dr. Robyn‘s life has been lived with the ongoing challenge to remain grounded in the center of their own difference as a non binary Trans mixed-raced Latinx. This has required the thoughtful intention of bridging with their white ancestors and Mexican ancestors and with those in the queer community. As a result, their life’s vocation is one that is committed to the deep relationality of bridging with difference.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Some websites to visit include Dr. Robyn’s personal site, iRobyn.com, the Activist Theology Project, and Imaginarium.

We can’t repair relationships without being embodied. — Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

Episode 83: Silence and Activist Theology: A Conversation with Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: December 10, 2019

Happy Birthday, Encountering Silence

Happy Birthday, Encountering Silence!

This week marks the two-year anniversary of our first episode (listen to it here). To mark the occasion, we recorded a few thoughts about how the podcast has surprised us and expanded our own sense of both the beauty and power of silence — and the challenges that silence faces in our noisy and wounded world.

Silence is the meeting place for knowing what we have to say when it’s time to speak up and speak out. — Cassidy Hall

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Silence is so beautiful that we have to speak out against its abuse. — Carl McColman

Episode 82: Happy Birthday, Encountering Silence
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: November 25, 2019

Words can’t capture the fact that silence can hold everything, and somehow hold it in gladness. — Kevin Johnson

An Orientation to Silence

If you are interested in the spirituality and psychology of silence, but are new to the idea of intentional silence, where do you begin? How do you orient yourself to the world of silence that is always available to you, right here and right now?

Silence perpetuates its life as being wordless, empty, and nothingness; and at the same time, everything, and whole. Not only does it make it infinite, but it points to its wholeness. — Cassidy Hall

Today’s episode of our podcast explores a concept that arose from an interaction between Kevin and a new listener of the podcast, that recently took place on Facebook. Realizing that we did not have a single episode that functions as a kind of orientation to silence (as something more than just the mere absence of sound), we set out to record this episode to fill that gap.

An orientation of silence centers around these questions of, “Is silence a silencing? Is it an opening? Is it an invitation?”… When you orient toward silence, maybe the first orientation is toward ambiguity.” — Kevin Johnson

We hope that if you are new to the podcast (and to intentional silence), that this episode will help to you get a sense of where we are coming from, and our philosophy behind why silence matters. But even if you have been listening to us since our first episode almost two years ago, we hope that this will be a helpful conversation — since we are all, always, continually invited to recalibrate and reorient ourselves to the gifts that silence has to offer us.

We find silence, paradoxically, in the absence of silence; that there’s something about the absence of silence that can pivot us back deeper into it. — Carl McColman

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Carl, Cassidy, and Kevin

Episode 81: An Orientation to Silence
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall
Date Recorded: November 25, 2019

Walter Brueggemann: Silence and the Prophetic Imagination (Part Two)

This is part two of a two part episode; to listen to part one, click here.

The Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann is the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading Christian interpreters of the Old Testament and is the author of numerous books, including The Prophetic ImaginationSabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of NowFrom Judgment to Hope: A Study on the Prophetsand his most recent book, Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out.

Anybody who is not in touch with the pain of the world probably is not a truth-teller. — Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann

Dr. Brueggemann recently joined us via Skype to talk about his understanding of both the challenge and the possibilities associated with silence,  especially the importance of interrupting coercive or repressive silence and the status quo in this world of chaos and oppression.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 80: Silence and the Prophetic Imagination: A Conversation with Walter Brueggemann (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Walter Brueggemann
Date Recorded: October 14, 2019

Walter Brueggemann: Silence and the Prophetic Imagination (Part One)

The Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann is the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading Christian interpreters of the Old Testament and is the author of numerous books, including The Prophetic ImaginationSabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, From Judgment to Hope: A Study on the Prophets, and his most recent book, Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out.

He recently joined us via Skype to talk about his understanding of both the challenge and the possibilities associated with silence,  especially the importance of interrupting coercive or repressive silence and the status quo in this world of chaos and oppression.

In his latest book, he writes:

“Silence is a complex matter. It can refer to awe before unutterable holiness, but it can also refer to coercion where some voices are silence in the interest of control by the dominant voices.” ― Walter Brueggemann, Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out.

Some other quotations to ponder:

“Multitasking is the drive to be more than we are, to control more than we do, to extend our power and our effectiveness. Such practice yields a divided self, with full attention given to nothing.” ―Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now

“No establishment figure wants to tolerate affrontive poetry that exposes the failure of the totalizing system and claims it contradicts God’s will.” ― Walter Brueggemann, Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out.
“We have seen in our own day in so many liberation struggles that the first cry for mercy does not succeed. The silencers are powerful and determined. Among us the silencers are the powerful, who have a stake in the status quo and do not mind some poverty-stricken disability, and those who collude with the powerful, often unwittingly. The work of silencing, like that of this crowd, is variously by slogan, by intimidation, by deception, or by restrictive legislation. Emancipation does not succeed most often in a one-shot effort. More is required.” ― Walter Brueggemann, Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out.
This is part one of a two part episode; to listen to part two, click here.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 79: Silence and the Prophetic Imagination: A Conversation with Walter Brueggemann (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Walter Brueggemann
Date Recorded: October 14, 2019

Adam Bucko: Silence, Sacred Activism, and the Spiritual Imagination (Part Two)

Our conversation with the Rev. Adam Bucko continues in this episode, the second part of a two-part interview. To listen to part one, click here.

In the summer of 2019, the Reverend Adam Bucko was appointed as a Minor Canon at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, NY, where he serves as the director of the Center for the Spiritual Imagination. Although he is a newly ordained Episcopal priest, Adam has been a prominent figure in new monastic and contemplative Christian circles for some time now.

Before going to seminary, he was an activist and spiritual director to New York City’s homeless youth. He is the co-author of two books, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation (with Matthew Fox), and The New Monasticism: A Manifesto for Contemplative Living (with Rory McEntee).

What we discovered was that homeless kids were not interested in talking about spirituality, but they were very eager to experience what would feel like a break from all the chaos that was present in their lives. — Adam Bucko

Adam grew up in Poland during the totalitarian regime, where he explored the anarchist youth movement as a force for social and political change. After emigrating to the US at 17, his desire to lead a meaningful life sent him to monasteries in the US and India. His life-defining experience took place in India, where a brief encounter with a homeless child led him to the “Ashram of the Poor” where he began his work with homeless youth.

This trans kid who started coming every day to learn meditation, he simply said, “Every time I show up here, I feel like I need to go into the meditation room. Once I go there, once I sit and get quiet, I feel like I just need to tell God about all of the pain in my life, and then just rest there, and be silent.” And so my response to that was, “Why don’t you just do that — every day.” — Adam Bucko

Upon returning to the US, Adam worked with homeless youth in cities around the country. He co-founded The Reciprocity Foundation, an award winning nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of New York City’s homeless youth. Additionally, Adam established HAB, an ecumenical and inter-spiritual contemplative fellowship for young people which offers formation in radical spirituality and sacred activism.

Contemplative prayer for me is very much about heartbreak and aliveness. I gather all of the stuff of my life, all of the stuff that I experience in this world, both my heartbreak but also all of those things that make me truly alive, and I bring them to God and I sit there, in silence, awaiting God’s response.  — Adam Bucko

Adam speaks movingly about growing up in the repressive society of totalitarian Poland (where priests he knew were killed by the government), and then discovering contemplative practice through Hindu spirituality, before discerning a call to integrate his spiritual life with a commitment to social justice and sacred activism.

To learn more about Adam, visit www.adambucko.com.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 78: Silence, Sacred Activism, and the Spiritual Imagination: A Conversation with Adam Bucko (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Adam Bucko
Date Recorded: September 23, 2019

Featured image: Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City, NY. Photo by Dmadeo. Used by permission under the Creative Commons License.

Adam Bucko: Silence, Sacred Activism, and the Spiritual Imagination (Part One)

In the summer of 2019, the Reverend Adam Bucko was appointed as a Minor Canon at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, NY, where he serves as the director of the Center for the Spiritual Imagination. Although he is a newly ordained Episcopal priest, Adam has been a prominent figure in new monastic and contemplative Christian circles for some time now.

Before going to seminary, he was an activist and spiritual director to New York City’s homeless youth. He is the co-author of two books, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation (with Matthew Fox), and The New Monasticism: A Manifesto for Contemplative Living (with Rory McEntee).

What was my contemplative practice? My contemplative practice was to become aware of everything that was alive in me, both the joys, the heartbreaks, you name it… simply gather that, bring it to God, and sit there in a state of receptivity and listening, inviting God to hold me. And just sitting there in a state of curious not-knowing, consenting to whatever work God wanted to do in my life. — Adam Bucko

Adam grew up in Poland during the totalitarian regime, where he explored the anarchist youth movement as a force for social and political change. After emigrating to the US at 17, his desire to lead a meaningful life sent him to monasteries in the US and India. His life-defining experience took place in India, where a brief encounter with a homeless child led him to the “Ashram of the Poor” where he began his work with homeless youth.

I remember as a kid, just being enveloped by this Loving Presence, and it felt like, even though everything around me was falling apart, nonetheless there was this something, almost like a motherly presence, that is holding me, and therefore it’s okay for me to be here, to be alive, and to continue with my life… — Adam Bucko

Upon returning to the US, Adam worked with homeless youth in cities around the country. He co-founded The Reciprocity Foundation, an award winning nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of New York City’s homeless youth. Additionally, Adam established HAB, an ecumenical and inter-spiritual contemplative fellowship for young people which offers formation in radical spirituality and sacred activism.

I went to India to get out of this world, but I was brought back into it — especially into the world of pain; and that was a huge gift, it changed my life and it allowed me to work with my own pain, my own trauma. — Adam Bucko

Adam speaks movingly about growing up in the repressive society of totalitarian Poland (where priests he knew were killed by the government), and then discovering contemplative practice through Hindu spirituality, before discerning a call to integrate his spiritual life with a commitment to social justice and sacred activism.

To learn more about Adam, visit www.adambucko.com.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 77: Silence, Sacred Activism, and the Spiritual Imagination: A Conversation with Adam Bucko (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Adam Bucko
Date Recorded: September 23, 2019

Featured image: Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City, NY. 

Silence and the Wisdom of Henri Nouwen: A Conversation With Gabrielle Earnshaw (Part 2)

Our conversation continues with historian Gabrielle Earnshaw — the founding archivist of the Henri Nouwen Archives in Toronto, Canada. She has been the adviser to the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust for eighteen years and is consulted throughout the world on Nouwen and his literary legacy.

This is part two of a two-part interview. Part one was released last week.

She is the editor of several of Nouwen’s posthumously published books, including Love, Henri (a collection of Nouwen’s letters), You Are the Beloved (a collection of daily meditations), and the newly published  Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety, based on lectures Nouwen gave at Harvard University in the 1980s.

Gabrielle Earnshaw

In our conversation, Earnshaw shares not only her insights into the spiritual and literary legacy of Henri Nouwen, but also her own journey into the spirituality of silence — and how curating Nouwen’s archives helped her along the way.

Henri Nouwen spoke about silence in every book; it’s not like he had one book on silence — it’s in every book… it was really important to him… one of the most important themes in his writing. — Gabrielle Earnshaw

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

This is part two of a two-part interview. Part one was released last week.

Episode 76: Silence and the Wisdom of Henri Nouwen: A Conversation with Gabrielle Earnshaw (Part Two)
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall
Date Recorded: September 6, 2019

Featured Image: Henri Nouwen at his New Haven apartment circa 1981. Photo courtesy of Jim Forest via Flickr Commons.

Silence and the Wisdom of Henri Nouwen: A Conversation with Gabrielle Earnshaw (Part 1)

Historian Gabrielle Earnshaw is the founding archivist of the Henri Nouwen Archives in Toronto, Canada. She has been the adviser to the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust for eighteen years and is consulted throughout the world on Nouwen and his literary legacy.

She is the editor of several of Nouwen’s posthumously published books, including Love, Henri (a collection of Nouwen’s letters), You Are the Beloved (a collection of daily meditations), and the newly published  Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety, based on lectures Nouwen gave at Harvard University in the 1980s.

Gabrielle Earnshaw

In our conversation, Earnshaw shares not only her insights into the spiritual and literary legacy of Henri Nouwen, but also her own journey into the spirituality of silence — and how curating Nouwen’s archives helped her along the way.

Henri Nouwen with his dear friend, Sr. Sue Mosteller

Henri Nouwen spoke about silence in every book; it’s not like he had one book on silence — it’s in every book… it was really important to him… one of the most important themes in his writing. — Gabrielle Earnshaw

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

This is part one of a two-part interview. Part two will be released next week.

Episode 75: Silence and the Wisdom of Henri Nouwen: A Conversation with Gabrielle Earnshaw (Part One)
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall
Date Recorded: September 6, 2019

Bushi Yamato Damashii: Silence and the Peaceful Samurai (Part Two)

Bushi Yamato Damashii returns for the second part of this two part interview. Click here to listen to part one.

Bushi Yamato Damashi is the founder of Sangha Bodhi Christo (a Buddhist-Christian student and practice community), and directs the Thomasville Buddhist Center in Thomasville, NC. He is a student of Buddhist teachers Lama Rod Owens and Lama Justin Von Bujdoos. Like many American Buddhists, his practice is eclectic, drawing from the Daishin Zen and the Vajrayana lineages.

Bushi, who also is known as Heiwa no Bushi, or “peaceful samurai,” speaks and teaches on topics such as “The Making of a Christ Sangha” and “Celebrating and Integrating Inter-Spiritual Energetic Healing Modalities.” Joining us on the podcast, he shares his insightful wisdom not only on Buddhism and Buddhist-Christian dialog, but also on the psychology of spiritual growth.

Jesus and the Buddha did the same work. Were they different in their lineages or where they came from? Yes. But I believe that  Jesus and the Buddha both understood… we must become a very intimate people with one another, and then our books will begin to make sense — and not the other way around. — Bushi Yamato Damashii

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Never hold yourself or anyone else too seriously. — Bushi Yamato Damashii

This is part two of a two-part interview. Click here to listen to part one.

Silence became pretty much the foundation for the rest of my living with the life that I have; the foundation for the rest of my living. — Bushi Yamato Damashii

Episode 74: Silence and the Peaceful Samurai: A Conversation with Bushi Yamato Damashii (Part Two)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: September 6, 2019