Author Archives: Steve Harper

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Day One: December 2020

This month’s “Day One” post comes after the “In-Sight” post because I wanted the December “In-Sight” to be about Advent. So, I posted it on November 28th. If you have not seen it, it’s the one immediately before this one … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Don’t Hold Back

I am posting this a week early to connect with the Advent Season… Whatever else Advent is, it is an annual season in the Christian Year that invites us to make a fresh start. All four readings contain the keynote … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Expansive Living

I never thought that a song I learned in Vacation Bible School nearly seventy years ago would be one that can take us where we need to go today, but it is. “Deep and Wide” is about as good as … Continue reading

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Day One: November 2020

Welcome to November! Our Golden Rain trees are aglow in our back yard with a deep amber that shouts, “Fall is here!” Photos from other parts of the country tell a similar story. I’m guessing you are on pins and … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: On the ITMS Group Page

The “Merton’s Prayers” series will now post only on the International Thomas Merton Society Group Page on Facebook. I really want you to find the reflections there, in the midst of a rich feast of other writings with respect to … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: January 16, 1941

More than a year has passed since Merton included a prayer in his journal. But I must emphasize that the intervening months contain ample evidence of his prayerful life, largely shaped by Roman Catholic liturgy and the liturgical calendar. Merton … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Originalism

​Once again the concept of Originalism is being heard in the land. It is essentially a legal hermeneutic which says a contemporary law must express the intent of “the founding fathers” around the year 1789. The late Supreme Court justice … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: December 21, 1939

“Blessed Saint Thomas, who are blessed because, seeing the risen Christ and handling His wounds you believed in Him: pray to Him that I, seeing His body and the blood of His wounds each day may also believe Him, and … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: December 19, 1939

“Now we faithful glorify  the Holy Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit  and we give this triune Lord  all the taste of the salt  all the love of the heart  all the fervor of the soul for ever and … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers

October 22, 1939 “Pax Tecum Filumena” (“Peace be with you, Philomena) [1] Between his last recorded prayer and this one (two months) Merton accepted a call to the priesthood and consulted with friends about how best to fulfill the call. … Continue reading

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Along the Way: The Root Problem

​I agree with those who point out that social media can be a place where rage overtakes reason, where emotions overrule education. And I confess my own failures along this line in some of the things I have posted. It … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Fluid Formation

​Years ago, Richard Foster and I were visiting over a meal. It happened to be at a time when my daily devotions were tepid. I asked him about this, hoping he could share something that would “jump start” my prayer … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: August 24, 1939 #2

August 24, 1939 “Christ, have mercy on us. God save you, Mary, full of grace.” [1] Merton entered a second prayer into his journal the same day that he included the first one. It was a response he had to … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: August 24, 1939

​“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our … Continue reading

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Merton’s Prayers: Introduction

​In my classes on Spiritual Formation, I had the opportunity to refer to a host of saints, canonized and otherwise. I made it a point to say that when studying persons, the best way to get to know them is … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Living on the Edge of the Inside

Some of you will immediately recognize the title of this post as one of Richard Rohr’s phrases to describe where he believes God calls us to live.[1]  I have intentionally used his words, because I agree with him, and because … Continue reading

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Day One: October 2020

Thanks to those of you who have recently subscribed to Oboedire so you can automatically receive what I write. And thanks to those of you who have encouraged me to continue writing. I hope a new pace will provide me … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Dethroning Evil #3

​This is the final post in this mini-series. I have made use of Ephesians 6:10-20 to commend Christian resistance to evil. In the first post, we looked at the motive for resistance. In the second one, we explored the mindset … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Dethroning Evil #2

​In the first post  on this subject a few days ago, I voiced  my conviction that the November election is ultimately about dethroning evil.[1] It is not about Donald Trump losing and Joe Biden winning (though that is a necessary … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Dangerous Education

A lot of politics in general and some of the president’s words and deeds in particular are beyond my expertise, even though sometimes I can’t keep myself from commenting about them. But when Donald Trump wanders into certain territory, he … Continue reading

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Along The Way: Dethroning Evil #1

It’s time for me (you decide if it’s time for you) to push through the “fluff and stuff” and cut to the chase: the election on November 3rd is no longer about candidates or parties. It is about the dethronement … Continue reading

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Along the Way: The Formative Flow

I am grateful to Richard Foster for his development of a spiritual formation paradigm: vision, intention, means ]1] I use it often, and remind you about it occasionally. Today, I had another opportunity to think about it as I read … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Ordination

Yesterday, Deacons and Elders were ordained by Bishop Ken Carter in the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. [1] This annual service is a highlight and a reminder that God calls every Christian to a discipleship ministry, and … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Mystic-Prophets

Last month I said we are living in a Micah moment, and using Micah 6:8, I explored the kind of life that God calls for in such a time.  But embedded in all this is the question,“What kind of person … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Day One: September 2020

​Beginning today, the differentiation between my Facebook page and Oboedire site is in effect. I am grateful to those of you who have subscribed to Oboedire, and I want to create this “Day One” (first day of the month) communication … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Living in a Micah Moment

The Book of Micah has become one of my go-to resources for getting perspective about the time in which we are living. Micah looked at Israel and Judah and said in effect, “We are in deep trouble.” It is easy … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

In-Sight: Spiritual Life in a Pandemic

Honestly, this is a post I hoped I would not have to write. But we remain in the grip of a growing pandemic, one that now weaves together the threads of virus and violence—medicine and morality, disease and dis-ease. This … Continue reading

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The “New” Oboedire

I want to thank those of you who took the time to offer suggestions about what Oboedire might become.  Whatever that means, I want it to be something you look forward to reading when a new installment hits your inbox. … Continue reading

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Past, Present, and Future

It is difficult for me to realize it has been ten years since I began Oboedire. A tenth anniversary is an especially good time to thank you for taking the time to read my posts. Some of you have done … Continue reading

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In-Sight: John Wesley and Emancipation

In solidarity with the message of emancipation which Juneteenth communicates, I offer this link to John Wesley’s championing of freedom for black people in his day…. Interestingly, in the midst of renewed racial turmoil in our country, Michael J. Gerson … Continue reading

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Love: Ilia Delio

​I have chosen to include Ilia Delio in this series in order to point to those who are seeking to lead us into fresh discoveries of God, and are doing so using a theology of love.  Sr. Ilia’s core conviction … Continue reading

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Love: Oscar Romero

I turn to Oscar Romero as another witness to love because the more I have read him, the more I see love at the center of his life and ministry.  Indeed, one author described him as the voice of love … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Overwhelmed

One of the greatest dangers in life is to feel overwhelmed. Many of us have felt that way during the pandemic. But even before it, we found it easy to feel overwhelmed in a world of enormous challenges, and in … Continue reading

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Love: Martin Luther King, Jr.

​Since it was published in 1963, Martin’s book ‘Strength to Love’ has been one of my constant companions. [1]  I read it the first time as a teenager trying to understand the insanity of the sixties and seeking to discern … Continue reading

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Love: Dorothy Day

​If life is love expressed, as we saw it last week in Gandhi, then we have no better example of it than in the life of Dorothy Day.  Like Gandhi, her soul force was the force of love. Dorothy Day … Continue reading

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Love: Mahatma Gandhi

​This week, we look outside Christianity to see the universality of love, using the witness of Gandhi as our illustration.   He is also a good follow up to our look at Teilhard de Chardin last week, because Gandhi too saw … Continue reading

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Love: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

​Looking last week at E. Stanley Jones’ all-encompassing theology of love provides us the opportunity to see the same thing scientifically through the writing of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who saw love as the physical structure of the universe. Love … Continue reading

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Love: E. Stanley Jones

​I have previously identified E. Stanley Jones as the overall most major influence in my theological and spiritual life.  His influence only increased when, years ago, I discovered that he wrote an entire book on love, ‘Christian Maturity.’ [1]  Like … Continue reading

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“You will laugh” (Luke 6:21) is the only time Jesus referred to laughter, but, but it is certainly not the only time he laughed.  He went to many parties, and you don’t do that without laughing a lot.  He told … Continue reading

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Love: Evelyn Underhill

​For the sake of time, we move from the eighteenth century (last week in the post about the Wesleys) to the twentieth century, continuing our look at love through another Anglican, Evelyn Underhill.  In her writing, we easily detect the … Continue reading

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Love: The Wesleys

​When I write about the Wesleys, I do so from within the tradition which has most substantially shaped my Christian faith.  Fortunately, the Wesleyan tradition is ecumenical, itself the child of other streams of Christianity, and one which invites us … Continue reading

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It’s 1984 Every Day Now

The dystopian world envisioned by George Orwell is coming to pass right before our eyes. The pandemic did not create this, it only exposes it. The origins are as old as Cain’s murder of Abel and his denial of responsibility … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Love: Thomas á Kempis

​The ‘Imitation of Christ,’ published  in 1441, is said by some to be the most read Christisn book other than the Bible.  But whether or not that’s true, the assertion speaks to the incalculable influence of this devotional classic.  Thomas … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Golden

​I have postponed this month’s In-Sight post until today because it is Jeannie’s and my 50th Anniversary.  Coming on a Friday, it’s the same day we were married five decades ago. Most of all, I begin this post by saying, … Continue reading

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Love: Julian of Norwich

​During a time of severe illness, Julian (1342-1413) had a series of sixteen “showings” that all revealed to her some aspect of God’s love.  These were great comforts to her, and when she wrote them down, ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ … Continue reading

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Love: Sts. Francis & Clare

​When we come to Francis (1182-1226) and Clare (1193-1254), we see another mountain peak in a theology of love.  Each of them sought to be instruments of God’s peace, sowing love in a multitude of ways throughout their lifetimes. Looking … Continue reading

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Love: Bernard of Clairvaux

​When we come to Bernard (1091-1153), we arrive at the highest point so far in church history with respect to a Christian theology of love.  He not only incorporated everything we have looked at previously, he also added new brush … Continue reading

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Love: Benedict’s Rule

​Written in the sixth century a.d., the Rule of St. Benedict soon became the guide for cenobitic (communal) monasticism, and I write about it today because the Rule continues to direct the common life of many communities to this day.  … Continue reading

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Love: Abba/Amma Love

The early Christian spiritual guides were called abbas and ammas, people who incarnated Trinitarian (”Abbba/Amma”) love.  Their central teaching was perfection (completion) in love in keeping with Jesus’ teaching of it in Matthew 5:48. The context for their theology of … Continue reading

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Love: The Didaché

​The Didaché is the oldest surviving catechism, likely written between 90-110 a.d. The centrality of love is seen at the beginning, where the “two ways”—life and death—are described.  Concerning life, it says,  ”Now the path of life is this — … Continue reading

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