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Posts tagged "Paul Zahl"

PZ's Podcast: Bay of Angels

PZ’s Podcast: Bay of Angels

Episode 242

I’m always surprised when proponents of One Way Love fail to apply it in concrete cases. In other words, we can talk a good game — about how Christ is always there, gets there first (!), when we are at our lowest ebb, in our worst place of sin and paralysis — how no sin, no sinner is ever beyond the reach of His “saving embrace” — but when we or someone close to us — someone we really KNOW, in other words — is lying there bleeding to death from a self-inflicted wound, well, then… I just don’t…

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PZ's Podcast: Urgent

PZ’s Podcast: Urgent


People are so good at minimizing the human situation. I’ve encountered this throughout Mary’s and my ministry, right from the very start, in Silver Spring, MD.

The religious “professionals” detested my message, that the world was in incomparable conflict with itself, and that each human being experiences comparable conflict inwardly. People would say, your message is too “down”, and I just don’t like it. It’s too dark, or depressing, or gloomy.

But what actually happened is that a majority of the people listening tuned in fast! And then they started inviting their friends.

It’s not that the human condition is hopeless. With…

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PZ’s Podcast: 8 Days a Week


I don’t talk about romantic love because it is worshipful in its own right. I talk about romantic love because it is the closest signpost we have to God.

Whether it’s the Beatles (“Eight Days a Week”) or Hugo (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”) or Wagner (“Tannhauser”) or Jimmy Webb (“Wichita Lineman”) or James Gould Cozzens (“By Love Possessed”), the inspired listeners of the world have not failed to miss the Back Story, underneath all our ‘narratives’ and front stories, of the noble search for love and merger, the absolutely right and proper desire of every human person to merge with another human person. This Back Story underwrites every natural life. If you won’t see it — because everybody can see it — then your life will end on a note of unconquerable wistfulness.

Yet romantic life is never quite right! It is always a little “off”. This is because it calls the almost-Absolute — i.e., another human being — the Absolute — i.e., God. Romantic love, when not subsumed to God, i n e v i t a b l y disappoints, because it takes place between bodies, which decline and die; and it takes place in time, which “must have a stop” (Shakespeare/Huxley). In other words, romantic love is an almost exact dress rehearsal of the Real Thing, but not the Real Thing itself.

That is why this podcast begins with “Eight Days a Week” but ends with “Tell Me Why (You Cry)”. LUV U!

Unordained in the Diocese for the Sake of Porcupines: Some Thoughts on "Detachment" in Ministry

Unordained in the Diocese for the Sake of Porcupines: Some Thoughts on “Detachment” in Ministry

“I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” was how I started the conversation with my buddy’s wife. And yes, I was quoting Zoolander, but it was the perfect description for my experience of being friends with her husband. I felt awkward talking to her about it, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. I remember we were sitting outside their home, and I was fiddling with a leaf plucked off some landscaping, making my own ersatz fidget spinner. That particular habit has proven to be a fantastic way to discover which plants cause me contact dermatitis. Quite a few as…

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Let's Not Talk About Money (With PZ)

Let’s Not Talk About Money (With PZ)

I’ve got stories, good ones, I mean, good ones. Working behind the scenes in church ministry for over a decade, even as a layperson, you build up a huge archive of unbelievable things you’ve seen. I’ve often thought they would make for a good book. Here are a few sample chapter titles:

I’m 99% sure the tech volunteer is in the witness relocation program.

Household idol trafficking in the church parking lot.

At this point, fewer guns in the sanctuary would be a win.

And many, many more. The thing is — I can’t tell these stories, because, honestly, I don’t want to tell…

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PZ's Podcast: A Disease I Do Not Have the Courage to Name

PZ’s Podcast: A Disease I Do Not Have the Courage to Name

EPISODE 239: A Disease I Do Not Have the Courage to Name

This Christmas cast is about communication between people, and God. Moreover, it’s about the cost of poor communication, which can be suicide, let alone habitual alienation. And the rich advantage of good communication, which can be the difference between life and death, let alone satisfaction and personal happiness.

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PZ's Podcast: Motivate!

PZ’s Podcast: Motivate!


This is a short talk on motivation and love. What motivates a person to do something — to REALLY do something. As opposed to remaining endlessly exhausted and trapped, within a cycle of inner conflict and desuetude.

As usual in PZ’s Podcast, love is the answer. But how? And why? Karl Barth’s decisive mistake is exposed — without animus. Parishioners’ failed self-knowledge, let alone my own failed self-knowledge, is exposed — by experience.

You have to start with experience. It doesn’t mean you have to end there. But you have to start with your own experience.

Simeon Zahl never tires of saying…

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PZ's Podcast: Psychosis & One Monkey

PZ’s Podcast: Psychosis & One Monkey

EPISODE 236: Psychosis

“Psychosis” is a very strong word for a cultural phenomenon. But it allows us to speak of a fissure over against reality, when groups of people see things around them in a way that is divorced from the facts.

You can apply the phenomenon of group fissure from reality, to anything you like. I can see it in the way a very specific historical reality, the Anglican Church as the English expression of legal and official Protestantism, has been so completely buried by a different “narrative” that it is as if the reality never was and never existed.

So completely,…

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"I hate you Dad! Oh, I mean Reverend!"

“I hate you Dad! Oh, I mean Reverend!”

An old girlfriend of mine—let’s call her the Girl from Ipanema…no, on second thought, we better not—had a type when it came to men: blond hair and blue eyes. That worked out well for me—for awhile. Then a ghost showed up—taking the form of an ill-fated previous relationship with a man who looked remarkably like me. That, children, was when I was introduced to the wonderful world of transference.

Frank Lake describes transference in his book, Clinical Theology:

The displacement of feeling from one object or person to another, and particularly the process by which the patient shifts feelings and attitudes primarily…

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PZ's Podcast: Turning Point & The Year We Make Contact

PZ’s Podcast: Turning Point & The Year We Make Contact

EPISODE 234: Turning Point

This theme of the insuperability of at least one problem in your life continues to absorb me — and in the light of hope and hopefulness.

I tell the story of a woman who recently attended a meeting of church executives, almost all of whom are absorbed by current issues and questions of identity in political terms. This person said to me afterwards, “It seemed like a voice spoke to me, as I listened to the virtue-signalling: ‘This form of Christianity has no future.’ ” What she meant was that there was no SAVING being proffered, nothing related…

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Can These Bones Live?

Can These Bones Live?

The greatest American theologian since Jonathan Edwards died this week. His name was Robert Jenson. But to his friends he was “Jens.” Jenson wrote scores of books. His impact on Christian theology will be felt for generations to come. He was a theologian’s theologian with a pastoral heart and a subtle missiological eye. He was one of the great ecumenists of our time, one with deep convictions; we don’t often associate the two. We think of the former as watering down particularity of belief in order to go along to get along. The latter we might admire but don’t invite…

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PZ's Podcast: Question (LIVE), On the Road to Love & Easier Said Than Done

PZ’s Podcast: Question (LIVE), On the Road to Love & Easier Said Than Done

EPISODE 230: Question (LIVE)

The fact that the mainstream churches are hiding their Light under a bushel is the primary reason for their atrophy. The fact that most of our churches are “missing in action” when it comes to the seemingly insuperable pain of living that we bring to them and to their representatives — well, that, I believe, is the main cause of their numerical decline.

Today I want to posit an alternative to this almost willful but in fact mostly unconscious suppression of the Primary (i.e, the Gospel Word) in favor of the secondary (i.e., “issues” of the day) and…

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