What is Visio Divina?

“Jesus came to drive a wedge in the status quo and create spaces where new life can happen,” says John Perkins. Our personal lives, the zip codes where we receive our mail and shop for groceries, and the globe we inhabit seem to be spinning out of control. How can we create spaces where the status quo can be exchanged for this new life?

Visio Divina is a practice of seeing, and praying with images or other media. I’ve used photography as a critical, and now almost indispensable support, as a spiritual discipline. It’s helped me through very dark times but also mountain top experiences. While Lectio Divina is a method of praying with scripture, Visio Divina (Latin for “divine seeing”) is a method for praying with images or other media. While many Christian traditions have long practiced praying with images through icons, Protestants, and more specifically evangelicals, have been less comfortable with this type of prayer. But as a cursory glance through scripture will show, images have been an important part of God’s way of communicating. Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones, and Peter’s dream on the rooftop in Acts 10, as well as the many parables of Jesus, are just a few important examples of how God communicates with us visually.

My yearly photographic calendar invites you to take a journey using my photos in the spiritual journey. Each month I feature an important quote, thought or spiritual habit. You are invited to pause with the visuals and the reflective thoughts. These “stations”, or habits, on the journey fall into some of the classic spiritual disciplines observed by spiritual directors, pastors and mystics through the centuries. I feature one each month. This is not a “program” or complete list of things to do but merely an invitation to pause, reflect, to gain perspective, to find water for your journey.

If this seems like religious gobbledygook, or just too much like the Christianize you’ve come to despise, let me gently offer this as an invitation to be more spiritually attuned to a new hope that is emerging from the margins. It’s my effort to influence a world that desperately needs more spaces and people where new life can happen. Maybe you can become part of the solution, instead of the problem.

Follow this ongoing story here under the tag “Visio Divina”

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
― Ansel Adams

What is Worldly Holiness?

This is the synopsis of my dissertation which I completed in 2007 and the fodder for a book I’m working on called, “Confessions of a Recovering Evangelical.” These ideas have been seminal for me for nearly 15 years in my post graduate studies and ministry of peacemaking and serving as a pastor. I welcome your thoughts and questions in the comments section below. Thanks kindly, Andy


Final Project Dissertation Proposal

Worldly Holiness: Recovering a Missional Spirituality for Our Times

In Company with Jesus

Doctor of Ministry

School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

Thesis: This dissertation will identify some of the ways in which the American church is presently found in a compromised position with our culture in both our inner as well as outer lives, and suggest a way out of our captivity into a vital spirituality that embraces the world in a missional posture as we follow Jesus. (Worldly holiness is an integrated approach to spirituality which cultivates a deep inner life, attentive to the holy as given by God, while fully engaging the issues and concerns of daily experience. It is an effort to lift up the biblical mandate to live an integrated life of following Christ with head and heart, hands and feet, to be both heavenly minded as well as earthly good, to be a tree firmly planted by streams of living water that bears fruit in its season).

Jesus showed anger at the sight of the barren fig tree and severe judgment of the unfaithful steward, both metaphors of an unfruitful and unfaithful church. I will explore ways in which the church today in America, domesticated by our culture, has lost its sense of purpose in God’s mission to the world.

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Finding Peace

“After many years of great mercy, after tasting of the powers of the world to come, we still are so weak, so foolish; but, oh! when we get away from self to God, there all is truth and purity and holiness, and our heart finds peace, wisdom, completeness, delight, joy, victory.” Charles Spurgeon

#mercy#morninglory #flower #holy #holiness #purity #peace #joy #fruitofthespirit

What is Visual Peacemaking?

Philosophy behind “Blessed Are The Peacemakers” Movie and my larger work in Visual Peacemaking

Throughout history people have fallen into the trap of making enemies with, demonizing, stereotyping, and fighting the “other.” There has been a flood of conflicts based on ethnic, cultural, and religious identity in the post-cold war era that have ended the lives of millions, destroyed economies, and torn apart families.  Much of this has been fueled by the growing availability of technology, especially photography and videography to portray our other in the worst possible light. While the written word carries an expectation for honesty, there is a void regarding the ethics of images due to their subjective nature.  This void has opened the door for photographers and others to exploit people’s desire to confirm their thoughts about the “other”—mobilizing innumerable people towards slander, violence, and other fear-based responses.

Currently, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, combined with a broad and growing frequency of conflict and terrorism around the world, seem to support the idea that the entire world is caught up in a clash of civilizations. There is growing widespread fear and anger. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see others, our fellow human beings who are different than us, as regular citizens trying to make a living and care for their families. Xenophobia is on the rise. It seems that nobody from the other camp wants, let alone desires, to work for peace.

This is exactly why I am committed to what some are calling Visual Peacemaking: creating visual media that works to break down stereotypes and prejudices, instead of propagating them. I believe it is only when we recognize the connectedness of all humanity and see the beauty and dignity in others, even in real conflict, that we can truly begin a journey toward peace and reconciliation.  As a visual peacemaker, I use my camera to build bridges of understanding, in an effort to create a basic building block for peace across ethnic, cultural, and religious lines through visual communication and oral storytelling.

For more information go to my GoFundMe “Do Peace Now” to learn how you can help me make a 6 session study guide, expanding on this effort to make peace in Israel-Palestine.

A Local Church Pastor Comments

“Through personal storytelling, biblical preaching, and literally getting us out of the church and into a mosque, Andy walked alongside our church with the question, “Compelled by God’s love, what does it mean to love our Muslim neighbor?” Wise, gentle, and prophetic, Andy doesn’t just talk about peacemaking–he lives it.”

Rev. Ted Burrows
Modesto Covenant Church, California
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