Author Archives: Steve Harper

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Shepherd’s Care: Creativity

I believe the future of the Church turns on how creative we are willing to be. The pandemic has suspended “business as usual” for institutional Christianity. If we return to it as things open up, we will have failed to … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: Virtue

Episode 18 (9:18) The spiritual life is important because it cultivates virtue: inward character, outward conduct, and healthy community. We thrive when these three qualities define and direct our lives. https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Vision-e12025m

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Shepherd’s Care: Contemplatives

The idea of contemplation can be explored in depth. [1] Today I want to look at it in a more short-and-simple way. I am writing about it because I believe the way forward for the Church is for it to … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: Vision

Episode 17 (6:35) The spiritual life is important because it gives us vision–the vision that we are God’s beloved children, and that we have a place in God’s plan. We look at these two things in this episode https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Vision-e12025m

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Heart Sounds: Vitality

Episode 16 “Vitality” (7:27) The spiritual life is important because it increases our sense of “aliveness.” In this episode we look at vitality from the vantage points of expansion, wholeness, and hope. https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Vitality-e11oqu6

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Heart Sounds: Why Is The Spiritual Life Important?

Episode 15 (7:14) This episode begins a new round of visits in which we will explore the significance of the spiritual life–looking at its importance in relation to intentionality and growth. https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Why-Is-The-Spiritual-Life-Important-e11bcho

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Heart Sounds: Conversations #1

Episode 14 (8:48) Periodically, I will step out of the thematic flow of the podcast and interact with you about things I am hearing from you. Today, I respond to inquiries about the vision which gives rise to “Heart Sounds,” … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: Community

Episode 13 (9:07) In this episode we look at one final aspect of the Grand Story: cosmic community, manifested in our interbeing, individuation, intercommunion, and interdependence. We have lost this aspect of the Grand Story, and in doing so we … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: Joy

Episode 12 (8:16) Continuing our look at the Grand Story, we focus in this episode on joy, exploring its inward and outward dimensions in the spiritual life. https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1

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Shepherd’s Care 2.0: Clarification

Every denominational system has a small-to-large ladder, with varying factors that enable every congregation to be placed on it. The intent is to move clergy “upward” as time goes by. The intent to “promote” pastors is a sign of institutional … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: Desirability

Episode 11 (8:20) Continuing our look at the Grand Story, we explore desirability in this episode, learning that the spiritual life is not imposed upon us. It arises from us. Psalm 42:1 is the focal text for this episode. https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Desirability-e10efbh

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Heart Sounds: Mystery

Episode 10 (8:51) In this episode we look at a second aspect of the Grand Story: mystery, and how it enriches the spiritual life. https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Mystery-e107uva

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Shepherd’s Care 2.0: Context

In this season when many clergy are moving, or deciding to stay put, it’s good not only to have confidence that God is at work, it’s also good to remember the context in which God works: here and now. Years … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: Singularity

Episode 9, “Singularity” (6:56) “Heart Sounds” Episode 9, “Singularity” We continue looking at the Grand Story. Today, we focus on singularity. Ultimate Reality (God) is one. In this episode we show how singularity enriches our view of God and our … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: The Grand Story

Episode 8 (7:36) Our longing to live a spiritual life is older than any of the world’s religions. Before there were stories, there was the Grand Story. We look at it in this episode. https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/The-Grand-Story-evos4s

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Shepherd’s Care 2.0: Confidence

Jeannie and I are reading the recently-published biography of Eugene Peterson, ‘A Burning in My Bones.’ [1] We are reading it the way Eugene and Jan read books, out loud to each other. The book is great; the way we’re … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: Spiritual But Not Religious

Episode 7 (9:31) Today we explore a phrase many are using to describe their hunger for God while being honest about their disillusionment with institutional religion. This episode offers some ways to live when we feel this way–things we can … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: Spiritual Formation

Episode 6 (7:01) Spiritual formation is the way we enrich our spiritual life. In this episode we look at why it is important and how it occurs… https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Spiritual-Formation-ev9kvj

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Shepherd’s Care 2.0: Challenge

While in seminary decades ago, I came face-to-face with the great challenge of ministry: careerism. I heard it from a chapel speaker who said simply, “Don’t turn your calling into a career.” [1] Around that same time, a professor told … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: “Spirituality_

Episode 5 (7:52) When we use the word ‘spirituality’ we mean various things. This episode looks at four of them. Listen here, or on other platforms: Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breakers, PocketCasts, or RadioPublic. The “Heart Sounds” facebook page supports … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: “Life”

Episode 4 In this episode we look at “life,” the energy of the spiritual life. We explore its two fundamental dimensions and our need to grow in both of them. https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Life-eur8d0

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Shepherd’s Care 2.0: Calling

I remember the morning it happened. A Sunday morning. Opening the door to my study, I found that an envelope had been slid under it. I opened it to find an unsigned, type-written letter that said essentially, “This church will … Continue reading

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Heart Sounds: “Spiritual”

Episode 3 The soul is like a diamond refracting the basic “colors” of the spiritual life. In this episode we look at the color “spiritual.” https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1/episodes/Spiritual-euitli

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Heart Sounds: Living from the Heart

Episode 2 https://anchor.fm/steve-harper1

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Heart Sounds: Intro

I have been in discernment regarding whether or not to follow through on the suggestion of friends the past year or two: to begin a podcast. I have decided to give it a try, and today “Heart Sounds” launches with … Continue reading

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Holy Love: The Eunuch Revelation

In my book ‘Holy Love’ I offer an affirmative theology for LGBTQ+ people, and an advocacy for their full inclusion in the church. [1] In the book, I wrote a bit about eunuchs, but since then I have found the … Continue reading

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In-Sight: “Religious Evil”

Evil never advances better than when it “gets religion.” When it claims to “have the blessing of God” upon it, evil can justify whatever it says and does. Evil is never more insidious and dangerous than when it operates through … Continue reading

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At the Gate

Question: I am 66 years of age. I need to think more about living as an elder. What does this mean for you? Response: I must begin by saying that I don’t think there is a one-size-fits all pattern for … Continue reading

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In-Sight: January 2021

“A New Normal?” Living in the pandemic for a little over a year, we find ourselves asking, “Will there be a new normal?” As I have read articles in which the question is raised, it is an expression of anxiety, … Continue reading

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An Ending

Four years ago, I ended Oboedire. I had the sense that it had run its course. I honored that sense, even though I reactivated it ten months later as we moved into a time of national turmoil, bringing a more … Continue reading

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Day One: December 2020

This month’s “Day One” post comes after the “In-Sight” post because I wanted the December “In-Sight” to be about Advent. So, I posted it on November 28th. If you have not seen it, it’s the one immediately before this one … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Don’t Hold Back

I am posting this a week early to connect with the Advent Season… Whatever else Advent is, it is an annual season in the Christian Year that invites us to make a fresh start. All four readings contain the keynote … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Expansive Living

I never thought that a song I learned in Vacation Bible School nearly seventy years ago would be one that can take us where we need to go today, but it is. “Deep and Wide” is about as good as … Continue reading

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Day One: November 2020

Welcome to November! Our Golden Rain trees are aglow in our back yard with a deep amber that shouts, “Fall is here!” Photos from other parts of the country tell a similar story. I’m guessing you are on pins and … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: On the ITMS Group Page

The “Merton’s Prayers” series will now post only on the International Thomas Merton Society Group Page on Facebook. I really want you to find the reflections there, in the midst of a rich feast of other writings with respect to … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: January 16, 1941

More than a year has passed since Merton included a prayer in his journal. But I must emphasize that the intervening months contain ample evidence of his prayerful life, largely shaped by Roman Catholic liturgy and the liturgical calendar. Merton … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Originalism

​Once again the concept of Originalism is being heard in the land. It is essentially a legal hermeneutic which says a contemporary law must express the intent of “the founding fathers” around the year 1789. The late Supreme Court justice … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: December 21, 1939

“Blessed Saint Thomas, who are blessed because, seeing the risen Christ and handling His wounds you believed in Him: pray to Him that I, seeing His body and the blood of His wounds each day may also believe Him, and … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: December 19, 1939

“Now we faithful glorify  the Holy Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit  and we give this triune Lord  all the taste of the salt  all the love of the heart  all the fervor of the soul for ever and … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers

October 22, 1939 “Pax Tecum Filumena” (“Peace be with you, Philomena) [1] Between his last recorded prayer and this one (two months) Merton accepted a call to the priesthood and consulted with friends about how best to fulfill the call. … Continue reading

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Along the Way: The Root Problem

​I agree with those who point out that social media can be a place where rage overtakes reason, where emotions overrule education. And I confess my own failures along this line in some of the things I have posted. It … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Fluid Formation

​Years ago, Richard Foster and I were visiting over a meal. It happened to be at a time when my daily devotions were tepid. I asked him about this, hoping he could share something that would “jump start” my prayer … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: August 24, 1939 #2

August 24, 1939 “Christ, have mercy on us. God save you, Mary, full of grace.” [1] Merton entered a second prayer into his journal the same day that he included the first one. It was a response he had to … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: August 24, 1939

​“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: Introduction

​In my classes on Spiritual Formation, I had the opportunity to refer to a host of saints, canonized and otherwise. I made it a point to say that when studying persons, the best way to get to know them is … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Living on the Edge of the Inside

Some of you will immediately recognize the title of this post as one of Richard Rohr’s phrases to describe where he believes God calls us to live.[1]  I have intentionally used his words, because I agree with him, and because … Continue reading

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Day One: October 2020

Thanks to those of you who have recently subscribed to Oboedire so you can automatically receive what I write. And thanks to those of you who have encouraged me to continue writing. I hope a new pace will provide me … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Dethroning Evil #3

​This is the final post in this mini-series. I have made use of Ephesians 6:10-20 to commend Christian resistance to evil. In the first post, we looked at the motive for resistance. In the second one, we explored the mindset … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Dethroning Evil #2

​In the first post  on this subject a few days ago, I voiced  my conviction that the November election is ultimately about dethroning evil.[1] It is not about Donald Trump losing and Joe Biden winning (though that is a necessary … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Dangerous Education

A lot of politics in general and some of the president’s words and deeds in particular are beyond my expertise, even though sometimes I can’t keep myself from commenting about them. But when Donald Trump wanders into certain territory, he … Continue reading

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