Flourishing

I type these words with a mixture of sadness and joy. This Front Page contribution for Issue 12.2 will end my formal editorial involvement with Conversations,  and I will join my friends David G. Benner and Larry Crabb in “retirement” to the masthead as a founding editor of this publication.

I love the design phase of new start-up projects much more than the administrative grind that follows. For me, the cycle for actually working with an idea, once it has been hatched, has typically been about three to five years. But engagement with Conversations  has been so much fun over the years that I broke that mold. I wanted to stay involved—long after my attention had been diverted to other new ideas. But now that I’ve passed two perfectly good biblical numbers as possible stepping-away points, I need to call it quits with Issue 12—or else I’d have to wait for Issue 40 to roll around. It seems appropriate on many levels that this issue is built around the theme flourishing . It is a term that comes to us from the relatively new fi eld of positive psychology and implies living in an optimal range of human functioning that includes goodness, happiness, love, creativity, and growth. A flourishing plant is well rooted, vibrantly alive, growing, and fulfilling its life mission. It is the same with human beings.

I remember sitting around a table in a restaurant of a hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, just over fourteen years ago. Larry Crabb and David Benner were my tablemates, and we were lamenting that psychotherapy was much more focused on remediation than flourishing. Of course, we were not using that particular word at the time, as it was still years away from notoriety in the field.

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Front Page: Lessons From A Snake

When lovelessness is present, we become wounded. Woundedness can give rise to the two basic forms of evil
in relations to others—assault and withdrawal.

— Dallas Willard

Fear and love are the warp and woof of the universe; opposites—both physiologically and spiritually. Neither can be fully alive in the presence of the other; emotional oil and water.

I learned some of this from two encounters with snakes.

Have you ever met a snake—so close you could see the black in its eyes?

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The Nearly Perfect Crime: How the Church Almost Killed the Ministry of Healing – And How to Get it Back

After it was released and kept being miss-filed in the mystery section, the volume was re-released as The Healing Reawakening. Following our time with Francis MacNutt, we’ll have a brief conversation about healing and Spirituality and Health Research with Harold G. Koenig, the Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University. So please join us at the table for a frank conversation about healing with a noted practitioner and leading researcher on spirituality and health.
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Healing Body and Soul

Do you believe that a minister can cure disease by praying and putting a hand on someone’s head? Careful before you answer, a very similar question is on a test used by mental health professionals to diagnose psychopathology, and to affirm that particular item will increase your score on a scale that will make you appear, to state it succinctly, crazy. (more…)

The Way of the Mystics

After performing at the Ozark Mountain Folk Fair in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in 1973 John Michael Talbot began to reconsider his life. What seems so remarkable about this was his age—nineteen—and the fact that most would say he was on top of the world. After all, he and his brother, Terry Talbot, were the heart of a country-rock group known as Mason Proffit, which had fronted for some of the biggest acts of that era, including the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. Nonetheless, John Michael had the sudden revelation that his life
was empty and sad. (more…)

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