Magic, Miracles, Metaphors and Meaning

ORDINARY LIFE - Thoughts and Ideas to Help You Live a Happier Life

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Summary for November 4, 2018

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Dear Folks -

There is still time for you to register for the Michael Dowd event that will be held November 17 & 18. Here is the final version of both the title of the event and a description of the material that will be covered:

The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness
Awakening to Grief, Gratitude, and Inspired Action

Description: A deep-time big picture is vital for staying sane and sober in confusing and contracting times. Such an evidence-based “sacred realism” — one that honors ecology as the heart of theology — can help us accept what is inevitable, avoid what is futile, and be a blessing to friends, family, and neighbors in a difficult and uncertain world. This series of 8 dynamic 20-25 minute multi-media presentations by renowned eco-theologian and TEDx speaker, Michael Dowd, bridges the gap between head and heart and celebrates the convergence of science, inspiration, and sustainability. Special attention on Sunday morning will be given to distinguishing unnatural (anti-future) and undeniable (pro-future) interpretations of key Christian concepts and mythic insights.

Dowd’s presentation seem expressly tailored to fit the current theme of Ordinary Life - Living in the Gap Between The “No-Longer” and the “Not-Yet.”


If we are going to construct a more viable future, we have to be able to deconstruct or let go of the past. This week in Ordinary Life I spoke to the matter of how magic and miracles got introduced into human consciousness and, then, into the religions that were constructed thousands of years ago. This time I used the model of Spiral Dynamics to help us understand where we are in the developmental process. Then I began to cite how miracles got introduced into the Judeo-Christian scriptures and tradition. I called the talk -

Magic, Miracles, Metaphors and Meaning

I personally think that the audio version is better than the written text.

You can read or download the text from which I spoke, view the presentation slides, and listen to the audio of the talk by using the links below.

If you are reading this, I want you to know how grateful I am for and to you.

Be well and much love,

Bill Kerley

To download or read the text of the talk, click here.

To view or download the presentation slides, click here.

To listen to the audio version of the talk click on the player below.


Becoming Answering People

ORDINARY LIFE - Thoughts and Ideas to Help You Live a Happier Life

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Summary for October 28, 2018

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Dear Folks -

This Sunday was my first time to speak since taking a month off. It was so good to see those of you in the Houston area who showed up on Sunday. I am grateful to Wayne Herbert for managing these e-mail messages twice a week, keeping the Ordinary Life community up to date on who was speaking. And, for maintaining the website. If you are interested in knowing more about how we spent some of the month off, go to the website and read the blogs I wrote about our trip to and through the Balkans.

Actually, there is a whole team of people who make Ordinary Life work. If you show up on Sunday, or watch the live-stream or video of the class, you’ll see them. They are the ones who make sure things work - like the audio-visual setup, making announcements, keeping up with the money you give, making sure it is used responsibly and transparently, etc. There are nine people on the Steering Committee and right now they are putting a lot of time and energy into making sure the Michael Dowd Event goes well. “Thank you!” to all of them.

On Thursday, November 8, the Ordinary Life Women are hosting a special luncheon titled “Family Reunion - Meeting Our Cousins 1,000 Times Removed.” The group has invited a number of Jewish and Muslim friends to join our Ordinary Life members in a wide ranging discussion featuring Moses, Jesus and Mohammad. Bring a food to share and join in a large discussion that will break into smaller facilitated discussion groups. In light of currently national and world events, very timely.

As for this past week in Ordinary Life -

We live in a disturbed and disturbing world. Religion has gotten involved in politics in a way we have not seen for decades. Uncertainty is the key psychological reality of our time. Our goal, in my opinion, is to aspire to become practitioners of the core values of Jesus. These are peace, love, joy, patience and humility. Also, in this talk I give an overview of the territory I hope to head into and cover in the weeks and months ahead. We will focus on the questions of Jesus as found in amazing stories told about him and amazing stories he told. In this talk I looked at the story about Jesus turning water into wine. I called the talk -

Becoming Answering People

That is a very brief summary of the talk offered this week in Ordinary Life.

You can read or download the text from which I spoke, view the presentation slides, or listen to the audio of the talk using the links below.

If you are reading this, I want you to know how grateful I am for and to you.


Be well and much love,


Bill Kerley

To read or download the text of the talk, click here.

To view or download the presentation slides, click here.

To listen to or download the audio version of the talk, use the link below.

To watch the video of the presentation, please use the player below.


Loving Conversations 2: Living in the Gap

It’s been kind of awesome and terrible to hold these two realities together lately. I really do believe the more we investigate within, and show up willing to engage in authentic relationships, the more hope for healing we create. I feel really fortunate to have a husband and community with whom I can wonder aloud, “How shall we live into compassion and healing?” We’ve got much work to do on the whole, and I feel strongly that the work of justice is all of ours to hold. As mine and Josh’s stories merge into where we are today, it gives me great hope that we can continue to lean forward into the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

Holly’s ancestral story:

In 1609 John Chandler departed the Isle of Wright in England aboard a trifecta of ships under the command of Thomas West, Lord Delaware. West received word that the nascent colony at Jamestown was not faring well due to illness and dismal conditions. He wanted to see for himself, and set three ships to sail full of supplies. John was aboard the Hercules of Rye, bound for Virginia. The boat looked something like this:

He had no relatives traveling with him - not entirely unusual as West banned women and children from the voyage having got word of “savages” and rampant illness. The voyage alone was grueling and many died of dysentery. It is said that 75% of the original Jamestown occupants either died or returned to England between 1606 and 1624. After months of travel, the fleet arrived on June 10, 1610. John Chandler was 9 years old. His is considered one of the great if not miraculous stories of the early Anglo-American colonization. 

By 1618 - age 18 - it is widely assumed he received a land grant. He again beat the odds in the Massacre of 1622, when Native Americans (no doubt angry, confused, and offended by what they may have considered an invasion) killed 1/3 of the English Settlers. By1624 he was listed as a servant (which likely meant a paid personal assistant). He married widow Elizabeth Lupo and her sizable estate in 1626. By 1636 he had over 1,000 acres of farming land and became a prominent man in the small colony. He had two sons who worked, then inherited, then passed on his land and property.

His story is one of survival and triumph. 

And...there is a shadow. As my Aunt put it: “With 1000 acres of land, you needed someone to farm it. Indentured servitude didn’t work because they wanted their own land. So they imported labor. Money was in land and slaves.”

My earliest ancestors owned and inherited African slaves. They came to America with a certain amount of hope and a pioneering mentality. I have benefited from their 400 year legacy that in part built on the backs of slaves. 

Josh’s Ancestral story:

The first slaves were reportedly brought from West Africa to Jamestown, VA in 1619 - the same port where Holly’s ancestor John Chandler arrived in 1610. By this time John Chandler was 18 - not yet a land owner. 

I know the names of my great great great grandparents, born close to the mid 1800’s in Mississippi - during slavery. Their names were Simon Lewis, born in Mississippi circa 1862, and Cecelia Charles, born in Louisiana around the same time. We can assume that my ancestors were picking cotton and sugar cane in Mississippi and Louisiana as that is where the majority of my family wound up. Before that it gets fuzzy as names were changed and I’d have to know who owned my ancestors. Meticulous records were kept but slaves were recorded as property bought, sold, and traded - not as named individuals. As far as I know, my maternal great aunt T was the first person in my family to own property in the lower 9th ward in New Orleans, LA. She bought her home sometime around 1960, almost 100 years after slavery ended. 

My ancestors came to America with a certain amount of fear and despair. They were taken from their homes, taken from their families, transported to a strange land where not a single soul spoke their language. Barbara Holmes writes, “Each person lay in their own human waste and anxiety.”

Theirs are also stories of survival and triumph in the worst set of circumstances. 

The query I am currently sitting with is what will be birthed as we hold both the Grief and the Hope of our shared histories? What offering do we have to shepherd us into the ‘not yet?’ Can the fractals of our existence realize they are part of a whole? If I’ve learned anything from nature and from my studies in cosmology it’s that the illusion of separation - though seductive - is false. We are already One. It’s the Truth I want to live into, but our reality is not yet there.

I hope you will listen to the entirety of our dialogue. There were some beautiful shares that came from it as well.

To listen to or download the audio recording of the conversation, click on the player below.

To watch the video of the conversation use the video player below.


Kind Hearts, Peaceful Minds, Skillful Hands - Michael Lerner

ORDINARY LIFE - Thoughts and Ideas to Help You Live a Happier Life

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Summary for October 14, 2018
By Wayne Herbert

Dear Folks -

Bill and Sherry are back home in Houston after their vacation in the Balkans. Bill continues his sabbatical from Ordinary Life, and will return to us soon. Meanwhile, if you haven't already done so, you might want to take a look at Bill's Balkan Adventures blog. You can read it by clicking here.

Our guest speaker last Sunday was Michael Lerner, author, therapist, and co-founder of Commonweal, a California based center for health and healing, art and education, and environment and justice. His talk was titled -

KIND HEARTS, PEACEFUL MINDS, SKILLFUL HANDS
Living lives of service in the Anthropocene, or Human Centered Age

Michael drew on the teachings of Richard Rohr to discuss first the idea that a gospel that doesn't take into account the rights of human beings is simply an instrument of power.

Michael then turned to Rohr's teachings about the power of love and meditation and prayer as a way to connection with God. Michael also discussed Rohr's seven core teachings and how they relate to the ideas of love, justice, and human rights.

Michael concluded his talk with a discussion of the enneagram, Rohr's interpretations of the enneagram, and how the nine enneagram types are reflected in many spiritual teachings, including the Jewish mystical tradition of the Kabbalistic tree of life, the 7 deadly sins of Christianity (plus 2), and even with the lands Odysseus visits on his way home from Troy; they occur in the same order as the enneagram.

You can find the audio and video versions of Michael's below, as well as the Michael's presentation notes.

If you have not registered for the Michael Dowd event, I strongly encourage you to do so before all tickets are sold out. To register, click here.

Rob Landes will be in concert this coming Sunday, October 21, 2018, starting at 4 p.m. You really don't want to miss this performance. Rob has performed frequently at St. Paul's both as organist and pianist. This will be a benefit fund raiser for Michael Dowd's appearance in November. There is no charge for this benefit concert and all donations are gratefully received. For more information, click here.

In order to read or download the text of the talk, click here.

In order to listen to or download the audio version of the talk, click on the audio player below.

To watch the video of Michael Lerner’s presentation, click on the player below.