Author Archives: Steve Harper

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Engage: The Wilderness

Brueggemann’s reintroduction in the revised edition of this book is worth the price of it because “the wilderness” is where we spend so much time in our journey to the common good. We live between what should not be and … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Now I See!

Sitting at the gate, I see things I did not see before. Many of those things cluster around the word ‘injustice’—things that were going on right before my eyes but I did not see them. Things that created a lopsided … Continue reading

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At the Gate: The First-Christians Hermeneutic

Sitting at the gate, I look one more time at “the Gospel says” interpretive declaration. Following Jesus, it is not surprising that the first Christians interpreted the Hebrew scriptures (and then, Jesus’ teachings too) as Jesus did. Sadly, this did … Continue reading

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At the Gate: The Jesus Hermeneutic

Sitting at the gate, I continue to see the necessity of interpreting the Bible through the lens of the Gospel. My post this past Monday, “The Gospel Says,” described my thinking in this regard. But in doing so, I recognize … Continue reading

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Engage: Journey

We begin reading ‘Journey to the Common Good’ (Revised Edition) tomorrow. I want to offer an introductory reflection today. The metaphor of journey is arguably the main way that Scripture and Tradition describe the spiritual life and its formation in … Continue reading

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At the Gate: The Gospel Says

Sitting at the gate, I see the need for us to be rooted in the Gospel. An article by Walter Brueggemann (9/21/22, link below) has moved me to see and affirm this. To get the full impact of Brueggemann’s article, … Continue reading

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At the Gate: The Power of a Few”

Sitting at the gate, I see the importance of a few ordinary people engaging in the advance of the common good. As you know, the Oboedire community begins a group reading of Walter Brueggemann’s book, ‘Journey to the Common Good” … Continue reading

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At the Gate: CRT

Sitting at the gate, I see the necessity and urgency for critical thinking. Without it, our survival is at stake. Tragically, we are living in a time when critical thinking is in short supply—and worse, when it is discouraged and … Continue reading

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Engage: Oops!

Should have read “scroll down to the post on January 20th to learn more.”

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Engage: Group Begins Next Week

Just a reminder that we begin a common reading of Walter Brueggemann’s book, ‘Journey to the Common Good’ (Revised Edition) on February 1st, with monthly Zoom meetings to share what we are experiencing. You can scroll down to the post … Continue reading

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Wesley Windows: Methodism Considered

When the foundation stone for the New Chapel in London was laid (today called Wesley Chapel) on April 21, 1777, John Wesley preached the dedicatory sermon. In it he addressed the question, “What is Methodism?” He responded,It is “no other … Continue reading

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At the Gate: No Longer Strangers

Sitting at the gate, one of the most encouraging things I see is that religion and science are no loner strangers to one another, that each discipline has reduced its competitiveness toward the other so that a symbiosis can occur. … Continue reading

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Engage: New Group to Start

From its beginning, I have had no intention of conducting an Engage Group on a continuing basis, but only when it seems the experience might serve a useful purpose. In that context, I am announcing a new round of Engage … Continue reading

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At the Gate: The Power of Love

Sitting at the gate, I see the power of love–the power to create, sustain, and redeem. It is the power inherent in the nature of God (1 John 4:8), manifest in Jesus (John 14:1), given to us through the Spirit … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Beyond Beliefs

Sitting at the gate, I see how my concept of belief has been distorted through the lens of the Enlightenment. [1] The distortion is not easy to describe because over time it has manifested itself in the Church in a … Continue reading

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Wesley Windows: Introduction

A window is a place to stand or sit and look out on a larger reality. The Wesleys lived and ministered in ways that have become windows through which we can see life in Christ and live it inwardly and … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Imagineers

Sitting at the gate, I see how life is enriched by imagination. Living about halfway between Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center, I follow the news media which is ripe with stories that chronicle the ventures of those who … Continue reading

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Oboedire 2023

Happy New Year! Here we are, at the start of a journey into 2023. I pray that it will be a good year for you, and I hope that Oboedire will play a small role in making it so. Accordingly, … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Inviting Space

Sitting at the gate, we experience the sacredness of space. Some see space as protective, living with a “keep your distance” mentality. And of course, there are times when that’s good advice. In a dangerous world, space can be a … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Re-Framing

Sitting at the gate, we have the opportunity to see things differently and use the new sight to grow inwardly and outwardly. The biblical word for this is repentance, looking at life in a larger perspective (metanoia). But it is … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Wholeness, Our Hope & Work

[Note: The length of this post indicates the degree of importance that I give to the topic of wholeness. The longer-than-usual footnote list is meant to take you much farther into the topic than a blog can do.] Sitting at … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Word Wounding

Sitting at the gate, we hear all sorts of conversaions. Some are formative; others are deformative. Some build up; others tear down. Whoever coined the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Woke Does Not Die

Sitting at the gate is an act of seeing, observing, and paying attention to life. The gate is a panoramic place where we see the breadth and depth (diversity and wonder) of life. It is no accident that “the recovery … Continue reading

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At the Gate: Jesus Enlarged and Enriched

Sitting at the gate as an elder is a posture that creates the time and space to explore new things, and grow. I have previously noted that the most significant expression of this opportunity has been an enlarged Christology. I … Continue reading

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New UMC: The Future is Now

With the election of new bishops, the emergence of the new United Methodist Church moves farther into its future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11). We have hope that the Council of Bishops will lead us with magnified wisdom and courage, … Continue reading

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Oboedire at 75

Well, no….Oboedire is not 75 years old, but I am. I hit that number a few days ago. It is a marker for me to think about Oboedire in a new way. I want to keep the site active, if … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Healthy Religion

Reading Brian McLaren’s latest book, ‘Do I Stay Christian?’ has been a good experience for me for multiple reasons. [1] In this post I look at one of them: the importance of embracing and expressing healthy religion. At first glance, … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Communion Spirituality

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Along the Way: Theological Diversity

The current theological hurricane in which we find ourselves (in both the society and the church) is complex, rendering a singular cause/effect description impossible. But like meteorologists, we can identify and explore particular factors that contribute to making the storm … Continue reading

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“Engage” Meeting Tomorrow

I’m looking forward to meeting with you tomorrow (Thursday) at Noon (ET).

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #13

Read: In Summary In this final chapter, Rohr stays with Pauline thought to gather up all he has been saying in the book into six closing statements. He calls the summary “the redemptive plan of God” (p. 98), calling to … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Soulship Enterprise

“I have been attentive to the soul and to things related to it for a long time, with memories that go all the way back into my childhood. To use Star Trek language, I have viewed my soul as the … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #12

Read: “Holding the Tensions” In this chapter, Rohr expands on the Hegelian thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectical methodology: a form of nondual thinking necessary if we are to overcome evil with good. He uses the concept of “third-force thinking” developed by G.I. Gurdjieff … Continue reading

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Along the Way: No-name God

“I have recently had the opportunity to revisit the fact that in Hinduism, Judaism, Taoism, Christianity, and Islam, God is nameless. I began thinking about this again when I read Moses’ request to know God’s name, and God said, “The … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #11

Thanks to a gentle nudge from a group member a little while ago, I realize I did not post the weekly “Engage Group” memo this past Monday. In the spirit of “better late than never, here it is. 😃 Read: … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is All in All #6

“Let’s Be the Church” Paul’s words in Colossians 3:11 are the basis for the Church. Because Christ is Lord and universally present in everyone and everything, we can gather in his name, and he will be with us (Matthew 18:20). … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #10

Read: “Love and Forgiveness” The way of God is the way of love. We always love in the midst of life as it is–rarely, if ever, loving in ideal conditions when everything is as it should be. Often, we love … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is All and in All #5

“Christ is Reality” Taking Paul’s two-part sentence as-a-whole, we see that he was saying, “Christ is reality.” E. Stanley Jones said the same, “To be in him is to be in ultimate reality. To be in him is to have … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do With Evil? #9

Read: “How to Survive and Even Thrive” The idea of overcoming evil with good can sometimes seem impossible, given the systemic and pervasive nature of evil. Paul questioned the possibility in Romans 7:14, 23. Rohr connects our questions with Paul’s … Continue reading

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Wesley’s Way: The Grand Reunion

Among the missional senses that the Wesleys had for the Methodist movement was this: the conjoining of knowledge and vital piety, which John said had been too long divided. He incarnated that grand reunion through his integration of theology and … Continue reading

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Along the Way: When Deception Becomes Reality

My psalm reading this morning took me to these words of David describing someone living under the influence of evil, “Your tongue devises destruction: it’s like a sharpened razor, causing deception.You love evil more than good; you love lying more … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is in All #4

“Our Provider” Paul’s words are not only revelations of Christ’s person, but also of Christ’s provision. Christ’s “allness” offers us the opportunity to live abundantly (John 10:10). Just a few verses before this one, Paul summed it up: Christ is … Continue reading

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Along the Way: A Hard Look on the Inside

My last “Along the Way” post dealt with the evil of fundamentalism/nationalism, looking at Jesus’ call to have eyes that see as a way of naming it, resisting it, and overcoming it with good. The problem is, when the eyes … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do With Evil? #8

Thanks to those of you who joined our Zoom meeting last Friday. The group was a bit larger this time around and included some new people. We will meet again on Friday, August 5th. I will include the link in … Continue reading

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Along the Way: We See You!

The caricature and denigration of “social justice” by Christian fundamentalist/nationalists is not only an abberation of the Gospel, it is a revelation of how wedded the Christian right is to the “dirty rotten system” (Dorothy Day). [1] Fundamentalists/nationalists reap enormous … Continue reading

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Engage: Zoom Tomorrow

Just a reminder that our second Zoom meeting to discuss Richard Rohr’s book is tomorrow (Friday) at Noon, Eastern Time USA. I hope you can join in. Here is the link… Please click this URL to start or join. https://us06web.zoom.us/j/9314085719?pwd=ZXhGc1dtMXlWRkFHUnZZem1SZDRQQT09    Or, … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #7

Read: “The Spiral of Violence” This chapter shows the inadequacy of retributive justice. Punishment does not overcome evil because it only addresses the effects of it, not the causes of it. Punitiveness is not transformative. It leaves “the filthy rotten … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is in All #3

“In Every Moment” When we affirm that Christ is in all, we easily connect the statement to people, places and things. The previous meditations have done this by noting Christ is in everyone and everything. But there is more. Christ … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #6

Read: “A Way Out and Through” Having laid a good foundation for understanding the nature and expression of evil, Rohr begins to lead us out of it, offering a way through it that he further develops in the rest of … Continue reading

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Along the Way: The Hard Work of Hope”

Earlier today I read an article by Dr. Walter Brueggemann in which he used the phrase “the hard work of hope.” [1] The phrase stuck to the velcro on my soul, putting words to a sentiment I have had for … Continue reading

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