In this episode John and Gregg are again joined by John’s good friend Charlie, now from Portland OR. During this meeting
Following their previous discussion Gregg expresses his excitement about how Charlie experienced more self-awareness, a greater sense of connection with others, and a greater sense of connection with God through his time in San Francisco (where he was involved with Storyline, counseling and Bible study actually).
Gregg explains that he sees the three components as, at least in part, representing the three main orientations that are promoted in the Biblical text: understanding what / who God is, what / who we are as human beings, and how the two are best to relate to each other. In Gregg’s view, the result of cultivating these understandings is that people are better able to develop right relationship with God, with oneself, and with others.
Charlie notes how his focus was on his own personal story, and how this particular time in his life was unusually conducive to the connections that he was seeking. John suggests that one way of doing this would be having people on the podcast to tell their personal, “untangling” stories.
John wonders about Charlies’ experience with spiritual disciplines and notes his reluctance to embrace such things because they seem pious and like a way of simply “trying harder.” Charlie reflects that the Jesuit practice of categorizing one’s actions and involvements either positively (consolation) or negatively (desolation). Charlie sees this as somewhat overlapping with categories such as happy or sad, and energizing as de-energizing.
John explains that he finds that starting the day with silence and occasionally simply focuses certain parts of the Bible, but does not find that those activities actually create a sense of connection with God. Both John and Charlie find that certain translations of the Bible are definitely more approachable than others.
Gregg notes that he really does not engage in any particular practices designed to enhance a sense of connection with God but, instead, aims at maintaining better connections with himself, others, and the world around him (such as eating well, exercising well, playing well, sleeping well). Gregg frames his orientation as “waiting openness,” where he combines the above practices with a good amount of time each week to research issues related to various Christian perspectives.
Charlie wonders if this amounts to proper “integration.” Gregg agrees, and sees this integration as being particularly between our understandings and our experiences, such that the feedback gained from experience has a necessarily determinative impact on how Christians read and interpret the Bible, just as their readings and biblical interpretations necessarily help determine how Christians live their lives.
From this point Charlie raises the problem of evil. Gregg suggests that this is the place at which any discussion about evil ultimately arrives. Gregg then argues that everyone has an answer (or at least a response) to this question, whether we are aware of our solution or we like the solution, whether our solution is “to” the problem or allows us to circumvent the problem.