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Alt-Quiet Time

4 June, 2003 10:59 PM

Is it time for some 'Alternative' Quiet Time/Devotional material to be developed? Does anyone know of any personal devotional material with an edgy, creative, alternative and post-modern feel?

Shortly after I made the decision to 'invite Jesus into my heart' as a young child my Dad sat me down one night as he was putting me to bed and gave me a colourful little book that looked something like this. It was a daily devotional book for kids complete with cartoons, stories, prayers and activities. Dad told me that one way I could grow my friendship with Jesus was to have something called a Quiet Time or a Daily Devotion. From that time I endeavoured to have one every morning.

Through the years my devotion to devotions varied between being once per day to being once a year (if that!). I used all kinds of material. As I got older the material I used got a little more hip and mature. When I got online I even found ways of having a quiet time there.

In more recent years I began to grow dissatisfied with some of the printed and online material I'd found. Often they seemed so packaged - a short reading, an easy question or two and a prayer to read just didn't cut it for me any more.

As with so many other GenXer Christians I began to experiment with some ancient forms of prayer and reflection. I've also tried some newer forms of journaling. These have been amazing for me - they've re-ignited some of the passion for Jesus that I'd lost over the years but they've also left me thirsting for more.

There seems to be a lot of resources being developed 'out there' for corporate prayer and worship experiences - alt-worship has been a dynamic and growing movement in the past decade or so. But I wonder if there is much being developed in the area of personal devotional material with an edgy, creative, alternative and post-modern feel? I'm keen to find some if you have any ideas - I'd like to develop a bit of a resource page for it if there is any out there....and if there isn't, perhaps some of us should put our heads together and develop some!?!



Sounds like a real need to me, Darren. Personally, I've gotten quite tired of the standard fare found in most of the "devotional books" today...most resemble some sort of Oprah-style "inspirational" pick-me-up more than a guide to deeper spiritual development. I took a "Curriculum Development" class in college for my Christian Education degree...good class, but still, we basically just learned how to create stuff for the same old format that everything else uses. I would love to see some work on moving towards a more wholistic, "ancient-future" approach to "quite time" materials etc...

Jonathan » 5 June, 2003 12:40 AM

All I know is that when I went search for new devotionals all I found were ones that didn't challenge me, didn't make me work and gave me all the answeres in the writing (It was so easy perhaps I could have got away without doing the reading). I notice that a lot also gave examples that you would need to be married or have children to understand... So bring it on!!!

Rachel » 5 June, 2003 9:36 AM

good stuff, darren. for me, i've found that just meditating on the past sunday's sermon for the entire week - making sure it gets worked down deep inside and becomes part of my motivation going forward - that's usually fairly deep stuff.

rick » 5 June, 2003 10:51 AM

I've talked to a few other friends today and they have similar reflections.

One of the things I like about the monastic ways I've studied is the rhythm of life that they develop. They don't have A quiet time as such - but rather develop routines and rituals that help them to see and engage God in the every day (and all day) of life.

This is the type of stuff I'm interested in finding or developing. And not just something that is a 'nice pat on the back' type resource but one that shakes the user of it up a little...something that can confront....

Darren » 5 June, 2003 11:54 AM

I like the idea of the rhythms, routine and rituals of life. I think it was the Celts who had prayers for washing, cooking, etc recognizing the holiness of even the most mundane. Yet, I still need specific times in my life (day) where I deliberately make space for God. (I guess that's the point of the spiritual disciplines.) Those experiences overflow into the rest of my day.

ronz » 5 June, 2003 3:58 PM

Darren et al -

You might want to check out http://www.jesuit.ie/prayer. Sacred Space is an amazing daily prayer site.

Lisa » 5 June, 2003 4:07 PM

thanks for that lisa....I had accidently seen that site yesterday....I like it too. Reminds me alot of Examen.

Darren » 5 June, 2003 4:23 PM

the 'imaging the word' books are a nice resource to use in your personal devotions...

si » 5 June, 2003 5:01 PM

I'm for a more DIY kind of approach to spiritual disciplines. I have really struggled to use other people's stuff - but give me a Bible and a bit of space...

I wonder if we should be encouraging a range of disciplines rather than a daily devotional concept?

hamo » 5 June, 2003 5:56 PM

Thanks Si, will try to check that out.

Hamo - Yeah - I agree with the DIY approach, that is what works best for me too. However over the last 10 or so years of working with young adults and youth I've found that many have no idea where to start with disciplines. They don't even have some basic tools as to how to read their bible, or how to approach prayer.

I think something written on disciplines (like you suggest) that gives some basic yet edgy, creative and challenging tools would be worthwhile.

Darren » 5 June, 2003 8:09 PM

These are really good suggestions, Darren. In high school and college, I had the DIY quiet times that Hamo described -- me + Bible + quiet room + closed door. As marriage and family made life busier, those times went out the window. Now I try to work in some alone time with the Lord two or three mornings a week. I have used some traditional devotionals, which are just so-so. Sometimes I work through the Bible study we are doing in small-group.

I think some more creative approaches are called for. I'm a word person, but many are not. They might relate better to drawing a picture or creating a dance in response to a Scripture reading.

We also need some kind of encouragement to keep the conversation with God going throughout the day, practicing the presence of God, so to speak.

Lee Anne Millinger » 6 June, 2003 2:04 AM

I am more into the DIY stuff myself but have visited Sacred Space and used it for probably 2 years now. I think I posted on it months ago and Richard from Connexions and a couple of others picked up the link.

I'm away from my own computer at the moment, so don't have my list of links. There's another one on praying the breviary which gives structure to the day. I'll post it next week. I don't always agree with everything on it, but use it as a basis for the day.

I agree with you about young people. I write stuff every year for a conference of senior High age. Some are brilliant and absolutely organised. Most don't have a clue.

I prefer to work systematically through a bok, but do find Sacred Space good because it uses methods I might not think of by myself. I too am a verbal person rather than visual, but am challenged by going past that.

Jan » 6 June, 2003 8:17 AM

hi. northamerican guy here. i have a small amount of hope that some within the 'traditional' christian publishing industry here in the u.s.a. may gradually move toward accepting edgier material. i've been involved at christian writers conferences since the mid-1980s (yeah, i'm that old, so everything i do is ancient-future...), and this 'industry' is exactly that, slow-moving, not very innovative, catching the crest of the wave when it's just crashed on the shore. i don't know whether to be encouraged or not that now they realize they're behind the times (again) and many publishers are scrambling to catch up and find the next 'postmodern poster boyz.' which means a certain definition of 'successful' which may be commercial but not necessarily the emerging edge of culture beyond all-the-usual-suspects-in-the-postmodern-debate.

two recommendations: first, there's a set of small books, i think put out by Youth Specialties, that are alternative and edgy - because they engage more than the mind. they bring in scripture, but also ask more questions than most devotionals do and also suggest concrete activities that get us moving and doing, sometimes based on ancient practices like labyrinth walks, etc. if i can locate the exact names, i'll be right back to post that.

second: i think we have much to learn from a group of very paradoxical, very literary writers of the next older generation. like Mike Mason (The Mystery of Marriage) and Christopher de Vinck (The Power of the Powerless) and Irina Ratushinskaya (Grey is the Color of Hope). these are brothers and sisters who help interpret reality by seeing beyond the surface of things and into the sacredness of life, love, suffering, and being human. some passages in their work take my breath away, which certainly hasn't happened in any of the theology books i read at seminary ...

sorry if this was way too wordy. we writers need editors ...

brad » 6 June, 2003 2:40 PM

hi. brad again. i found it, and it was Group Publilshing, not Youth Specialties. check out their series on "experiencing the trinity." each small book has 30 experience-oriented devotionals. this is miles ahead of anything i've seen any other american christian publisher doing ...


a quote to note that helps explain why i think these are good, as are the very vivid, provocative writers i mentioned in previous comment:

"A basic trouble is that most Churches limit themselves unnecessarily by addressing
their message almost exclusively to those who are open to religious impression
through the intellect, whereas ... there are at least four other gateways the emotions,
the imagination, the aesthetic feeling, and the will through which they can be
reached." A. J. Gossip (1873-1954)

this is the only time i'm allowed to pass along Gossip. go and do likewise ...

brad » 6 June, 2003 2:58 PM

We've started to take one discipline a month, commit to using it a couple times a week and then talk about how it's going. Our goal is simply to build familiarity with various disciplines as tools to use to make space for God in our lives as needed.

Here's online experience similar to Sacred Space: http://www.sacredgateway.org/. Online labyrinth is at: http://www.yfc.co.uk/labyrinth/online.html. Here's a yoga site useful for quieting your soul and get focused: http://www.llangley.com/yoga/wisdom/rightnow[2].htm

ronz » 7 June, 2003 4:56 AM

Thirteen years of my life have been devoted to researching and publishing (22 titles) on the Biblical roots of early A.A. when it had a 75 to 93% success rate. Tops in the program then was Quiet Time which involved a new birth (Romans 10:9); Bible study, prayer, seeking God's guidance, use of devotionals. In the first decade of A.A., cures of alcoholism were common place. As AAs moved toward the "any god" and "higher power" nonsense, success rates plummeted. My mission as a writer, retired attorney, Bible student, and cured A.A. has been to unearth the vital facts and offer people today the same chance to be cured by the Creator that A.A. pioneers had. God Bless, Dick B.

Richard G. Burns, J.D. (author Dick B.) » 22 October, 2003 1:13 AM

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