Saying Goodbye to the Naked Tennis Ball

Because really, don’t you think it’s time to move on to more serious subjects?

So my mind was made up. Destroy the little stone house. Throw the tennis ball back into the woods. Move on with my life. Find something better to write about. Something, I don’t know, theological. I do have a seminary degree. And I think I have some notes somewhere on an idea I had about the fragmentation of evangelical ecclesiology in post-modern America.

Okay, I’m warning you before you read any further. This situation is about to get freaky.

Click here to read the rest of this post at the Laity Lodge website. Continue reading

A Baptism of Tears

When I began blogging as Pilgrim, I shared with you that after I left the pastorate, I had a hard time feeling engaged with worship on Sunday mornings. I maintained a cerebral connection to Christianity, but I was emotionally numb. Nothing moved me. I wondered if this detachment might be a kind of penance that I had to pay for all the years I spent planning worship and, consequently, not really worshipping myself.

That hard and dry season has now passed. I feel myself opening once again to the joy and wonder of our faith. A good thing has happened to me, and I want to tell you about it.

Here are a couple of details that you should know about me: First, I was a Baptist minister, so I was part of the family of faith known as evangelicals. Second, I left my congregation in February of 2010. My family and I started attending churches all over our city. We went to many kinds of churches from various Christian traditions.

And I felt dead inside every Sunday.

For two years….

Read the rest of this essay at the Laity Lodge Website. Continue reading

Dale Bruner’s Bible

And now I want to tell you about another beautiful thing that I saw and experienced at Laity Loge. In July of 2012 I saw Dale Bruner’s Bible in the Great Hall. I first saw it from across the room as he was preparing to lead a session. He turned a page and I saw notes and markings in the margins. I recognized it as a well-worn tool of a New Testament scholar. After the session I asked him if I could hold it.

And he let me. Can you believe it?

Read the rest of this essay and see pictures of Dale Bruner’s Bible at the Pilgrim blog found on the Laity Lodge website.

Return of the Naked Tennis Ball

Yes, this is another post about the naked tennis ball I found at Laity Lodge. I’m going to ask you to trust me with this. I’m following my instincts. When it comes to things of the Spirit, sometimes you pay attention to what catches your eye or your heart. It is not always given that you should understand. Only that you should follow….

Read the post here…

Continue reading

Stone Prayers

I went to Laity Lodge on June 7th, hoping that if I remained open and worked hard at listening, I might hear from God.

What follows are excerpts from the journal I kept that weekend.

Thursday – 6:00 pm

As I emerge from the river, water streaming from my car onto the dusty road that winds upward from the bottom of the canyon to Laity Lodge, a thought comes to me. If I have come to this place with a desire to hear from God, then I should be prepared to pay attention to everything. Whatever happens to me will be my reality. And in any reality there is the possibility of lessons learned and messages received.

My first vow of the weekend is to accept what comes to me and to seek meaning in all things great and small.

My second vow follows logically from the first. I vow to allow myself the luxury of believing that God might have a message just for me.

Read the full essay here.

Station Nine: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Sunday, March 11th. The third Sunday of Lent.

Station Nine: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem. Luke 23:27-31

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’

Jesus, my friend, on this day of your great trial, somehow you still had room in your heart for others. Your cross helps me see how sin has warped my life. It takes a cosmic redemption act to set things right. Did you say “Do not weep for me” because you know that I must live in a world that requires such an act of redemption? Create in me a servant’s heart, that I too might see past my own pain and find the strength to care for others.

Chef Kokopelli

Sunday, March 4th. The 2nd Sunday of Lent.

I posted something as “Pilgrim” at the Laity Lodge website. It will serve as my lenten writing piece for today.

“In Tim you will find a strange combination of archetypal trickster and master chef. I call him Kokopelli – you’ll have to ask him why. It’s as if Puck came down from the stage of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and started serving hors-d’oeuvres to the audience…”

Click here to read this essay at the Laity Lodge website. If you leave a comment, please do remember that I an anonymous there.

Gordon Atkinson

Lumos the Light Dog: A Meditation on the Speed of Light and the Problem of Evil

A new pilgrim post is online at

My wife and I were at the Laity Lodge New Year’s retreat at the end of 2011. Jerry Root, a C.S. Lewis scholar from Wheaton College, was the speaker. He did a couple of sessions on the classic problem of evil, using Lewis’ thoughts primarily from his famous book, “The Problem of Pain.” In the morning session on Saturday he said something that I’ve been thinking about ever since.

Jerry said that when we speak of evil and suffering, the conversation is challenging because our perspective is always changing. A thing that seemed terribly bad when you were twenty might not seem nearly as bad when you are forty and looking back on it. Something that seemed positively evil to you when it occurred might be revealed in time to have been only painful and not especially evil at all. Maybe it even turned out to be an essential part of your growth as a human being.

Which perspective is the right one? The immediate perspective or the one years later? The latter is wiser but the former is more in touch with the painful reality of the moment…

Read the rest of this essay at the Laity Lodge website.