Category Archives: The Ordinary

Let’s Go X!

A simple blog entry today.  A tribute to my Jesuit brothers from Norwood and my favorite college hoops team:  The Xavier University Musketeers.  Tough task vs. Minnesota, Tubby Smith has a National Championship under his belt.  But it’s all about Jordan Crawford today, time for him to show his star power.  The role players do the complimenting work, Love, McClain, Dante Jackson, Holloway.  This is not their deepest nor their most talented team, but as usual come tournament time, they are balanced inside and out.  A great tournament for them would be 2 wins and into the Sweet 16, to me, that’s the goal.  They win when they rebound and play smothering defense.  They’ve won close games this year with making their free throws down the stretch, they may need that again.  I need to find a way to take a long lunch today.  So that’s what’s on my mind today.

X . . . A. . . V. . . IER!  Let’s Go X!


March 2006, a dark season


I am reposting here my blog from March 10 2006 and  another that followed.  Chad Canipe having passed and Mark Palmer slipping away from our grip at the same time.  The darkest season of my life.  When it was all over, I was left with a broken heart that still to this day is not fully healed. 

March 10, 2006“As of about 7:00 this morning, my friend Chad Canipe crossed over to Kingdom fullness. We’re incredibly sad, confused and hurt, but Chad has gone before us. We yearn to be where he is. We’re making plans for a memorial at around 10:00 a.m. at St. Elizabeths in Norwood on Sunday. He was an amazing friend to me, so solid, so loyal.Please pray for Renee, Colon and Aidan. Pray away the darkness so that they can mourn in peace. Its so overwhelming to lose someone like Chad, don’t let the enemy bring despair to their hearts. Pray for peace, pray for presence, pray for Kingdom space to heal.Tonight we gather to remember and celebrate life, the way Chad lived with us. 


March 12, 2006“Today at 10:00 at St. Elizabeth’s here in Cincy we had the Memorial service for Chad Canipe. It was pretty amazing. The worship just lifted the room, the stories brought laughter and deep truths, the communion shared together made us realize the thin place between this world and the next. A huge thanks to all who made it happen, there are so many. The hope in the room lifted the cloud of darkness and gave room for the family to grieve in peace.Yesterday, 10 of us gathered at 64 King in Columbus to pray for Palmer and give counsel to the Landing Place kids. It was a very fruitful time of community and intercession. At times our prayers were intense and in the Spirit. Palmer spent the night in the hospital and he is there now in great suffering. They are trying to make him comfortable, but his body is not responding. Amy finds herself alone at times to wait with him, please lift her up. I have not been released by the Holy Spirit to pray for anything else but his rising out of this sickness. So even tonight in my exhaustion, I pray for God to touch him and cause him to RISE. And when He does, we will let it ring over the earth.There is so much to share from this weekend, but I’m so tired. In the midst of our suffering, God’s Kingdom was exploding all around us. It is so rich to live in the ways of Jesus, suffering can’t even touch it. I’ll share more when I’m rested.For tonight, Lord, let Palmer RISE!amen.” 

I have to admitt, the pain from this season still hurts today.peace,marshall

Sea World saw too much


I felt a personal connection to this tragic story yesterday of this altercation of the whale and its trainer.  My parents were at the 12:30 show just before this happened.  My Mom said the whale was not cooperating at their show and refused to perform.  Apparently they should have given it the day off. The show the altercation happened at was a special show for those with birthdays.  The kids there must have been horrified. It seems easy to pile on Sea World here on this story, and maybe rightfully so.   Don’t think I’ve ever sided with PETA before, but this may be a first.  I guess the question is, are we entitled to our amusement?  Does our consumerism never end?  Things I’m thinking about today.peace,marshall

Going for it

So, we are dead middle in the symphony of the olympics and we revel in the glory of the accomplishments of these quite talented athletes.  They have worked incredibly hard for their entire lives at a shot for their goal, their end game.  I was completely glued to the TV last night watching Shaun White, what an incredible talent.  So here is my question:  Are they the only ones who get to play?Yes, they are going for it.  But what about you?  Are you at all touching the deep place within you that harnesses a passion just waiting to be revealed?  Is there a dream on your heart that you have never even considered making an attempt at?  In short, are you going for it?  And if you haven’t gone for it, have you really even started living yet?One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was the loss (death) of 2 of my best friends some 4 years ago now.  Both in their young 30’s and so full of life, both taken by sickness.  They taught me that life is actually short.  Nothing is guaranteed.  So with the time that we have, why not go for it?  Why not start believing in yourself?  Why not put some feet on the dream that has been buried deep inside you?  What’s the worse that could happen?If you fail, you at least had an experience in something you love and that by itself has a very satisfying result.  And winning, well that has its own rewards.  So I guess I’m saying tonight, take care of your responsibilities but don’t settle,  Don’t sit on dreams, they are present within you so that you can live them.  In short, go for it.  Life is just too short not to.peace,marshall

New Ink


This is my new ink, thanks to Jeremiah and Mother’s tattoo.Elpida is the modern Greek word for the New Testament idea of hope.  This word has carried a lot of meaning for me for a long time.  I got it etched in initially about 5 years ago, and Jeremiah touched it up to match the rest of the design here.Resurgam is Latin for “I will rise again”.  The monks of old used to have this put on their tombstone facing east towards Jerusalem and where they believed the 2nd coming to happen.

Ezekiel 47:1 The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side.3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea.  When it empties into the Sea,  the water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

This passage is my metaphor of what church is to be on earth.  More accurately, this is what I think Jesus meant when he said:  “may your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”.  The church is the people of God, those whose hearts belong to him and desire to be continually transformed into his image.  It is not a place, an event, a belief, a feeling . . . it is a people.  You can make a free choice to jump in this river and become a part of the movement of this people.  The power of the Kingdom of God is present on earth.  It’s very spirit is flowing from the temple into our world, first brought with the birth of the Christ in Bethlehem.  Since then, the Kingdom is accessible through the source, which is Jesus.  Through our mystical union with Christ, we are carried into life change.  Transformation of ourself and transformation of everything we touch and choose to do good in.  We are the trees planted on the sides of this river and since we are connected to the source (the river flowing from the temple), we teem with life and everything we touch teems with life.  The spirit of the Kingdom of God is infectious, and we are carriers.  We carry the virus of the hope and resurrection life of the Christ who is within us.  We are participating in the eternal Kingdom of God both now and the world not yet.  This river is our center, as long as we stay connected and nourished in it (John 15) then we will renact the Kingdom of God on earth.  If we choose to do our own thing, we find ourselves lost.Frankly, when I read the Scriptures for myself, I do not resonate with the “gospel” I grew up hearing.  One that was about a cognitive belief in historical information about Jesus who died for me thousands of years ago.  And to be a good christian boy, just try my hardest to not make him mad.  The whole point was to go to heaven some day and “being good” in the meantime was kind of like extra-credti work if you felt like doing it.  Understanding more clearly the Kingdom of God, I have a relational connection to Christ.  When I remain in the stream of this river, I am full of life and power.  My life has meaning and context now.  I am participating in the ongoing creation of a new heaven and a new earth that Christ is returning to unveil.  I don’t think we’re supposed to be “good, safe, little girls and boys” as Christians.  I think we’re supposed to be a part of the conspiracy, the rebellion, the resistance.  This world and the enemies of God are active upon their destruction, who are the people that embody a rebellion to its cause?  Here is where we live as the Church.  We oppose wars, hatred, evil, loneliness, fear, isolation, suffering, hunger, poverty, abuse etc. etc.  In a world of destructive voices we exist to SCREAM a bit louder.  In a world of death, we ARE the people of the Resurrection.  In a world of fear, we offer Hope and a home.So, in short, this is my mantra for what I believe the Church is all about.  Hope and life is our rebellion, and it’s a beautiful rebellion.Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,marshall

Brian McLaren is not the anti-christ

Start here  (Mike Morrell does a good job of summing up the explosive issue here)

BRIAN MCLAREN IS NOT THE ANTI-CHRIST.  There, I said it.  Phew, glad I got that off my chest.  In fact, I may even go as far as to say that my experiences with Brian have revealed a Christ-like character (GASP to my fundie friends).  There, it’s out now, I’m out of the closet.  I think Brian is 1) just a guy  (not  lucifer’s son)  2) a good thinker (though I don’t agree with everything) and 3) most importantly someone I consider a friend  (he’s the shrimp in the left back corner of this photo behind my sasquatch-like friends at Mayhem in Cincinnati 2003)A few years ago, the last time I talked with Brian, we were on a panel discussion together with George Barna and a few other leaders in Seattle at an Off the Map Conference.   (Notice that while I am sitting next to him, I am not punching him in the face as some suggest is the right etiquette.  Most notably this guy). Brian has just released a new book, “A New Kind of Christianity” .  I have not read it, I may not, I haven’t read any of Brian’s books in about 5 years or so.  Not because I deeply disagree, I just have got the jist of who he is and what he is suggesting.  There are parts of it, the stuff I read 10 years ago or so that was absolutely lightning in a bottle for me.  Liberating, provoking, dangerous and full of life.  I loved it and read a lot of it while shaking my head in affirmation.  At some point I got the jist and moved to other authors and other viewpoints.I am not a card-carrying member of Emergent.  That’s another post altogether of why I’m not but in general, many of them I count as friends and would break bread with them regardless of where we put our emphasis in.  Me and my friends, we’re mostly practitioners, trying to work it all out in community and in context, we’re not thinkers first.  We spend our time doing and surviving, we don’t have time nor funds for conferences and think-tank sessions.  But I certainly don’t debunk those who do or can, the emerging church is not any one thing, idea or set of people, that’s for sure.I probably agree with about 50% of what McLaren has been suggesting/teaching of late, of what I’ve read, and that’s cool.  I mean, how much do we have to agree on to be friends or brothers?  How many of you like everything your biological brothers have to say?  But the character slander out there of a guy is not exactly intelligent dialogue, let alone representative of the Christ you claim to be defending. Here’s the bottom line to me.  I met Brian and worked with him on some projects at a time in my life when I was considering giving up completely on the Church and my voice in it.  I was vulnerable, broken, abandoned by my fundie church background, persecuted by my christian brothers because I was thinking differently and more creative about how to do church in the future.  I was seeking something more communal, more connected to the historic christian roots and something honest.  When I had no spiritual fathers, Brian came alongside me and believed in the gifts that were within me.  He spoke words of affirmation that have carried me to this day.  He used his platform to speak grace into my life.  He was a blessing and a fountain of living water in a desert period of my life.  Since then, I have sought to be that sort of influence to others.  I fully admit, for believing in me when no one else did, I am fiercely loyal to Brian McLaren.  I don’t agree with all his ideas/thinking, but I deeply believe in Brian the person and Brian the brother in Christ. I guess my point is, stop with the immature character assasination and maturely deal with the issues/ideas.  The anti-christ may be the one in the mirror.peace,marshall

the re-launch


“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years” – LL Cool JThanks, LL.From 2003-2008 I had a blog hosted elsewhere and I have deeply missed it.  Today I am glad to be back at it, at least getting re-started.  It will be a work in progress for a bit but I suspect it won’t take too long to grow some legs and start walking.  This blog is about the questions I ask, the stories I want to tell, the people I think should be known, the issues I care about, some answers I find a long the way and the desire to find like-minded sojourners.  My pursuits are authentic community, true spirituality, honest reflection, contemplative living and paying attention to the people around me.  It is relationship that matters.  We get to be the artists and creators of our own lives (at least our response to life’s circumstances) and these are the practices that I want to pursue on purpose.A couple of things you should know about me:- I’m Irish.  I love the legacy of Celtic Christianity.  The life of St. Patrick has deeply influenced me.  At times I’m fiery, emotional and passionate . . . if you’re looking for only reserved reflections, this is the wrong blog.- I like questions more than answers.  I believe in wonder, particularly in the things that matter.  I think good teachers should wonder more and conclude less.- I really care about the historic Church.  It’s mission is written in my DNA.  I am most basically a follower of Jesus but I am mostly uncomfortable with the traditional labels of Christianity.  The labels are loaded with cultural assumptions that I am not sure accurately reflect the intent of the ancient Scriptures.  Most basically, I believe in the truth of the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus.- I believe that fundamentally, all truth-seeking will eventually end with Christ and His Kingdom.  Therefore all truth-seeking is accepted and respected.  Truth-seeking is a round table and all are invited.- I really care about the cause of orphans around the world.  You will find me advocating for them here in any form or function.- I believe the best kind of learning happens on the other side of tension.  I guess you can fill in the “no pain, no gain” cliche here.  I like a good fight, if done respectfully.I really look forward to connecting again with readers and fellow thinkers as we pursue the truth of our lives.peace,marshall