Welcome to The Academy Podcast, a podcast dedicated to sharing rich content for the purpose of spiritual growth. The Academy Podcast is brought to you by The Academy for Spiritual Formation, an international ministry of The Upper Room. The Academy is dedicated to creating safe space for people to connect with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world. To learn more about our Five-Day and Two-Year retreat offerings, visit academy.upperroom.org. We’re glad you’re here.
Living as God's Beloved with Larry Peacock
In this Academy Podcast episode, Rev. Larry Peacock reminds us of our essential nature as God’s beloved. Larry is the Director of the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Milwaukie, Oregon, has led retreats and workshops for groups and churches across the country and is the author of "The Living Nativity – Preparing for Christmas with St Francis," and "Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Sages, Psalms and Prayer Practices" and many articles on liturgy and spirituality. He pastored United Methodist churches in England, Michigan, and California for 30 years before moving to Massachusetts to become Executive Director of Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center. After being a participant in the Academy for Spiritual Formation, he became a retreat leader and faculty presenter for the Academy. He is trained as a spiritual director and has made pilgrimages to Assisi, Iona, Taize, walked the last 100 Km of the Camino de Santiago and taught at Boston University School of Theology. He is married to author Rev. Anne Broyles and has two children and one amazing granddaughter.
As you listen, receive this blessing: May the truth of our belovedness usher us through the doorway into a hurting world. May God’s delight in us not only blush our cheeks, may it be the fire in our belly that will sustain us as we invest invest in new possibilities for a changed world.
Prophetic Imagination: Seeking a Liberating Consciousness
In this episode, we have the gift of hearing from Rev. Grace Imathiu, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois. Pastor Grace is a citizen of the world for whom ‘the world is her parish’. As an African who is married to a European and is raising an American son, Grace is fluent in three languages, was educated in Kenya, U.S.A., in England and Israel. She has preached in Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Togo, Liberia, Denmark, Australia, Malaysia, Brazil, and all throughout the United States. Grace has a passion and gift for inspiring and nurturing prophetic communities of faith to live out loud the Jesus Story. For Grace, the quintessential expression of the resurrected Lord’s presence is a community whose very DNA is a radical hospitality which births a loving and a healthy tension that is ideological, theological, racial, ethnic and cultural. She thrives on diversity. Grace is married to David Jones and together they are the parents to Erik.
Pastor Grace will invite us to hold the posture of a prophet as she encourages us to imagine a new future. If it is true, what Einstein said, that“Imagination is more important than knowledge,”— then the task of prophetic ministry is to “to nurture, nourish and evoke imagination” Brueggemann.
Pondering with Mary: Making Space for Transformation with Lê Xuân Hy
Our host, Shalom, reflects at the beginning of the episode saying “As I listen to this previously recorded lecture from Academy 38 in Nebraska in 2017, I’m struck by the bite size and yet weighty spiritual truth present in the text that bears witness to the Resurrection.”
Dr. Hy has a doctorate and post doctorate in the field of psychology. He has taught at numerous universities and his research and writing has been reprinted as a classic in a developmental psychology book. In his lecture, teacher Hy spends time deconstructing what it takes to participate in healing. are we first assaulted then instantly healed? do we move immediately from jarring events to feeling free and confident?
Teacher Hy, who is quoting Ronald Rollheiser, would say the difference lies in amazement versus pondering. Listen on dear ones. And as you listen, hold, carry and transform the tension that Naturally builds up from being a part of this world. May you experience God, yourself and your own pain in ways that will lead you to ponder anew.
Created for Interdependence: Cultivating an Earth-affirming Christian Faith with Susan MacKenzie
Spring has sprung. New life is teeming. Resurrection Sunday and Easter tide are right around the corner. We also celebrate Earth day this month. Even as we witness biodiversity waning and people going hungry for lack of nutrition the earth is crying out. In this month's episode, we hear from Susan MacKenzie. Susan talks about sustainability as the long term environment where all things, all creation may flourish and achieve their highest purpose. Sustainability never sounded so good. Sustainability never sounded so much like the beloved community. How can buying locally sourced goods or eating seasonal produce or reducing single use plastic lead us to new life in mind body and spirit? How can these practices help us to build the beloved community?
Susan speaks on this in more at a previously recorded 2019 Five Day Academy that took place in Iowa.
God’s Way: Relinquishing Divine Power through the Incarnation with Marjorie Thompson
In this month’s episode, we hear from Marjorie Thompson author of Soulfeast, a spirituality classic and best seller. For many church workers this is a seminal book on spiritual formation. Marjorie is ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA and brings to her ministry over 30 years of experience in retreat work, teaching and writing, and Christian spiritual formation. Marjorie considers writing a central dimension of her vocation. For 12 years Marjorie served as director of Pathways in Congregational Spirituality with the Upper Room. In that position, she was chief architect of Companions in Christ, an innovative small group resource series for adult spiritual formation. Currently she works freelance, offering retreats, lectures and spiritual guidance. Marjorie deeply supports the Academy for Spiritual Formation and has served as faculty for both Two Year and Five Day models. In this episode we hear a portion of one of her lectures to church leaders in 2017.
Sacred Texts as Doorways: Turning Words into Wisdom with Rabbi Chava Bahle
In this month’s episode, we hear from Rabbi Chava Bahle at a Two-year Academy in Nebraska on the topic of Hebrew Spirituality and Holy Texts. Chava Bahle is a twice ordained rabbi and maggid, a Jewish inspirational storyteller. Her current work is to live into the teaching of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, her teacher, of blessed memory, who taught that we can and should find nourishment in traditions other than our own. She earned her Doctor of Ministry from Catholic Theological Union at Chicago, where she focused on mystical aspects of interreligious dialogue. Chava writes book reviews for academic journals, and since a brain injury in 2018, focuses her life on study and prayer. She is currently pursuing study for an ethical biography of German expressionist actor Conrad Veidt.
Rabbi Chava explains that to imitate God is not only to give life, but to Sustain, nurture, and enhance life. Our host, Shalom, asks, “Perhaps sacred texts are doorways, invitatioons the Holy One urges you to pass through into an experience with the mystical. Perhaps there are Living Words around you even now, not text but image that is drawing you in in the same way. Can we pause long enough to first receive the invitation and then follow through?”