Posts Tagged spiritual

Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography. Harold Ivan Smith.

Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography. Harold Ivan Smith. Westminster John Knox Press. ©2017

My review is also on

This is truly an outstanding look into the spirituality of a remarkable player on the international stage. Eleanor Roosevelt discovered early that her narrow Episcopal faith could not contain her growing acceptance of the many faith traditions that she encountered. She believed that since we were all created by the same God that we should treat each other as brothers and sisters. She believed as did St. Paul, “That we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The one glaring flaw in her spirituality was perhaps due to her strict Protestant upbringing and the aristocratic family circles in which she moved. She had a strain of anti-Semitic misgivings. She overcame them to a large extent later in life. She always regretted not doing more for the Jews.

Eleanor had a truly miserable childhood. She was forced to become her own person. She had the saying from Saint Francis of Assisi posted above her desk and she carried another copy in her purse, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”  Eleanor’s brand of personal Christianity won her unfaltering condemnation from the religious fundamentalists who were certain that she had not been “born again.”   According to Smith, “Eleanor took the Bible too seriously to take it literally.” Although FDR’s unfaithfulness hurt her deeply, they came to an understanding that allowed them to become the world’s most influential couple ever. Louis Howe is the one who saw Eleanor’s potential and helped her hone her skills as a leader. He was also a major player in FDR’s success.

Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography, may get a little wordy at times; however, it is an outstanding work.

Tags: , , ,

Where Spirituality and Illness Meet: The Middle Ground – Rev. George Rossi*

Some people need to become more human.  Some people need to become more spiritual.

Wholeness is found in the middle ground.  It’s the place where the coastal sea water from the Atlantic Ocean meets the black soil of the South Carolina coast.  It’s a rich and fertile place where marsh grass thrives, shrimp populate the grassy reeds, and redfish troll the high tides for dinner. The meeting and convergence of water and land is much like the meeting of the physical and the spiritual.  It’s the place where one has to merge with the other and something magical and something important becomes reality.

As a minister my growing edge is on the “becoming more human” side of the equation.  Just recently I read an excellent tweet from Twitter that was trying to “normalize” (eliminate shame) the fact that humans become physically ill, experience terrible disease processes, and eventually face difficult medical challenges.  For some that happens very early in life as a neonatal baby, and for others in their 20’s, and the much more fortunate, those in their the 50’s and 60’s when one has to carry more daily medications in his or her briefcase just to take care of themselves one more day.  Here’s the point of the tweet I mention and my point now:  Having illness is “normal” because it is reality and we have to find ways to talk about it more and to recognize our humanness, our fragile bodies that depend on equilibrium and homeostasis.  Yet, sometimes we are anything from feeling even-keeled or living in a good equilibrium.  A recent prescribed dose of antibiotics confirmed my disequilibrium as my stomach rumbled and tried to cope with the antibiotics.

Honoring our imperfect bodies is a way to honor our deep connection with God.  It means looking to God for grace so that one can “gracefully age.”  Sometimes prayers and reading and reflection can help one “accept one’s humanity which does eventually include illness.”

I encourage you and me to find fellow strugglers who are able and want to live in the middle.  In my case, the goal is to accept my humanity, find true physical and spiritual wellness, and to live a balanced life.  Illness can send that balance out of orbit with one abnormal lab result for sure.    I think we need more ministers, more medical professionals, more people who can help others and themselves to “normalize” the experience of illness and give people space and time to make sense of it.  I venture that healing will happen as people balance medical challenges with an alive faith and in that find health and meaning and purpose for living.

GeorgeM Rossi* at 1:28 AM George is a counselor at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Tags: , , , , ,

Civility: Os, David and ME! – Doug Hunter* – CSU – Whitfield Center

Doug HunterSeveral years ago, I was part of an international conference of Christian business leaders for which Dr. Os Guinness was a primary speaker.  His first message focused on his book The Call, which, for many in the room, myself included, had been a personal affirmation of their own c all to business as their platform for ministry.  It was one of the first clear articulations of the value of business – as well as other non-church related callings – as ministry, and essential to the building of the Kingdom of God.  The message received a standing ovation and rave reviews.  It affirmed all of us.

His second message also focused on one of his books.  This time it was The Case for Civility, and the response was somewhat different.  If you have read this excellent work, you know that Os has one primary theme:  Unless we learn to listen and converse with those whose opinions and worldviews are different than our own, it won’t matter what “truth” we want to get to the table for consideration.  It won’t be heard because of the noise of our biases and acrimonious ways of communicating.  Os’ call for “a naked public square” where we leave religious, political and other identities at the door, and come only to examine truth claims based on their own merit and the fruit of living them out was challenging to say the least.  To that group of business leaders who were fighting to be able to express their faith through their businesses – and, most of whom are wired to be strong willed (maybe “opinionated”?) – it was hard not to hear a message seeming to say civility calls for “being nice” and letting other have their say – no matter how wrong they might be.  However, Os was reminding us that “To be human is to have deep and abiding differences with other humans over worldviews and values” (The Case for Civility, Page 180), and that civility “is a tough, robust, substantive concept that is a republican virtue, critical to both democracy and civil society” (The Case for Civility, Page 3).

Dr. David Dockery, former President of Union University and now President of Trinity International University, often used a term that is helpful to this consideration when he spoke of “Convictional Civility.”   Generally defined as “a lifestyle of bearing witness for Christ and of contributing to the common good.  From the pulpit to the public square and from the campus to the courtroom, followers of Christ are to demonstrate Christian virtues through winsome civility and Christian values through wholehearted conviction.” (Convictional Civility, Page vii-viii)  Or, as I hear Dockery saying, the robust hard work of engaging in evaluation of truth claims and contending for those I believe to be real truth is best accomplished when it is accompanied by a life or lives that demonstrate the power and actual results of those particular truth claims … living out what you really believe to be true.

Of course, this is nothing new.  Ever see any lack of civility in the pages of the Bible – even from the “good guys”?   And William Wilberforce’s second great purpose after the abolition of slavery was “the reformation of manners”, which had a distinctly civility-related impact on England.  Nevertheless, our need to restore civility to the public square here in the United States is perhaps the most understated, misunderstood and yet essential challenges we face if the truth of the gospel is to get the kind of culture-impacting hearing we all desire.  (Note:  Please don’t assume I am discounting God’s ability to shine the light of truth anywhere or at any time He chooses, e.g. dreams and visions in the Middle East, etc.  I am simply contending for our role in stewarding His truth.)

Let me conclude this post with several things I have been convicted to do as I ask God to work on my own civility.  Perhaps they will be helpful for you as well.

  • Understand that true civility is a spiritual discipline, and requires work and practice.
  • Understand that true civility is not possible for me apart from the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Learn to listen and work on hearing what is being communicated
  • Understand that just because I speak the loudest or hold the floor the longest, that does not mean I have communicated or “won” my point. Civil discourse is never a monologue.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak what you are thinking even if you are not sure how to say it clearly or you are afraid of the response it might receive. Robust conversation includes working through bumps in clarity and in conflicting ideas/worldviews
  • Don’t just read or study an idea or issue – take time to think and to listen to God. It’s amazing what God can say to a mind open to and focused on hearing Him.
  • Balance the comfort and encouragement of being with and hearing from people who are like minded with the need to be challenged by the company and ideas of people who don’t think like or look like me
  • Ask God to give you the wisdom to discern when and the courage to interrupt a conversation when it is clearly not laced with civility or leading to a God-honoring conclusion.
  • Be sure your spouse knows she/he has permission to speak into your life about your own display of convictional civility.

*Doug Hunter – Executive Director, Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership and International Programs 

Charleston Southern University    

Doug Hunter began his business career in the vertical transportation industry in 1971 with Carter Elevator Company, being named its President and Chief Executive Officer in 1987.  As a Christian CEO, Doug became involved with the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International (FCCI), and was invited to join FCCI’s board of directors in 1992.  When he sold Carter Elevator in 1994, Doug moved to Atlanta to work full-time with FCCI.  In the years that followed, God developed his heart for international ministry by allowing him to work, speak and influence business executives in over 30 countries.  He participated in ground-breaking ministry in both Mongolia and Vietnam, became the Founding CEO of Media Asia – a project utilizing sports television in China as a platform for the gospel – and worked with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  In 2002, Doug joined the staff of Perimeter Church in Atlanta to lead Business Partners International (BPI), a strategy to facilitate the global kingdom impact of men and women through the use of their business skills and passion … building on the belief that Business IS Ministry and Business IS Mission … and that the “call” to business is as essential to building the Kingdom of God as any other calling within the Body of Christ.  In 2007 Doug returned to FCCI / Christ@Work as President and CEO, and saw God expand its ministry of equipping and encouraging Christian business leaders both throughout the US and to 30 countries across the globe.  He stepped out of that role in 2011.  Doug currently serves as a consultant and member of the Global Leadership Team for the Global Cities Project of Campus Crusade for Christ International / Cru.  He is also engaged as a member of the Lausanne Workplace Network, the Global Think Tank on Business As Mission and serves on the Leadership Teams of Call2Business and the National Faith & Work Association.  In February 2013, Doug was named Executive Director of the Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership (WCCL) at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina. The WCCL is seeking to be at the leading edge of the movement to provide a steady flow of next generation leaders – whatever their vocational calling might be – who are equipped and committed to learning, leading and serving from a distinctively biblical worldview.  At the same time, Charleston Southern is uniquely positioned to be a resource for marketplace / professional leaders whether they be in Charleston, the Southeast or anywhere in the world.  In September 2015, Doug assumed responsibility for strategic leadership of CSU’s new International Programs. Doug has been married to his college sweetheart, Janet, for 46 years.  They have 4 grown children and 3 grandchildren.


Tags: , , ,

What Writing a Spiritual Memoir Can Teach You

While speaking at the Village in Summerville, South Carolina, Dr. Mitch Carnell was asked  what he learned while writing his most recent book, Our Father: Discovering Family, published by Wipf and Stock.

“When I started writing the book,” Carnell stated, “I had two questions stemming from an amazing experience at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. How did my spiritual development bring me to this point from where I started in a small provincial town in South Carolina? The second question was what am I to do with the remaining years of my life.”

Mitch continued, “As usual God had a much bigger idea. He wanted to expand my vision as to who is in God’s family. God always has a bigger plan than we have. I am reluctant to put words in God’s mouth, but it is as if he were saying, Mitch, you can’t understand me until you know who is in my family.

The process lead me to two conclusions. First, I needed to drastically expand my understanding of God’s family and second God had been preparing me all of my life to be a voice for fostering better understanding and communication between Christians and between Christians and the rest of the world. We need a more civil dialogue and that became my mission.”

The book is best described as a spiritual memoir. Mitch grew up in the segregated South where learning about the brotherhood of man wasn’t easy. He struggled through the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention and a church split. He gives credit to his late wife for challenging all of his provincial ideas in a loving way. Her death was an unimaginable tragedy. Dr. Thomas McKibbens, interim pastor of the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote the Foreword. Don Kirkland, former editor of the Baptist Courier of South Carolina, and Fifi DeGroot, alumni consultant at Mars Hill University, both wrote brief reviews for the back cover.

Mitch is the founder of the Say Something Nice Day listed in the Chase Calendar of Events and the Say Something Nice Sunday Movements.

This is his fourth major book. It follows, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, published by Smyth and Helwys. Our Father; Discovering Family, is available at most book stores and at, Barnes& and

Tags: , , ,