“Intentional spiritual practice is the key to true peace and clarity in your life.” TJJS Ep 8

ep 8 cover

An ex-pastor and an atheist walk into a podcast… and have a mutually respectful and delightful conversation about spiritual practice with a lot of common ground?

Bill Todd isn’t your ordinary Christian spiritual director, if there is such an animal. Whether you are religious or not, there’s useful and sweet ideas all over this episode.


Show notes!

  • Your definition of “spirit” will vary…
  • … but there are some similarities with the practices.
  • The abysmal track record of change from the outside in
  • The bundling of all spiritual practice under religion
  • What does a spiritual director do, anyway?
  • Prayer, and contemplation, and then getting your hands dirty
  • Dallas Willard
  • Compassion, patience, love… all learnable skills, right here right now
  • The inarticulable longing for more
  • Alternate names for the podcast: The Mutual Admiration Society
  • A secular spiritual practice?
  • Mindfulness as an anxiety management tool, with delightful benefits
  • Vespers, muezzin, and… kazoo?
  • Structure, and the emptying of ritual? Sport players violently disagree!
  • Again, moving from a religious box to one that we all fit in nice and comfy
  • DIY intentional spiritual practice
  • Coming from a tradition that has abandoned embracing tradition
  • How do you make it work, either inside or outside of a religious framework?
  • Brennan Manning and Henri Nouwen
  • Tracing the influences of your inspirations, the same way you do with musicians you love
  • Going on tour!
  • “I heard a familiar language that I had never heard spoken before.”
  • The universal experience of resonance
  • “Who are the people that strike that resonant tone in you?”
  • “What are the things that have shown themselves to be worthy over time?”
  • Never trust a spiritual director who doesn’t have their own spiritual director
  • The Jesuit 30-day retreat, and how to do it without going to a monastery
  • “It takes a certain amount of bravery to say, “I’m going to let this change who I am.””
  • The skill to be silent, and the payoffs
  • Why Catherine shaved her head
  • Phil Stutz and Barry Michels: The Tools
  • Stretch time! YES YOU.
  • Running towards the things that scare us, and what you do when you can’t run any more
  • “Making a business is a leap of faith so profound that the need for some sort of spiritual push-ups to support you becomes pretty much immediate.”
  • The isolation of making a new thing
  • The “I have the skills, but I don’t know what I am doing” problem
  • The contractual obligation to pray versus a place to find answers
  • The profound relief of “I don’t know”
  • … and learning how to swear
  • Shedding the old constraints and then creating much better new ones
  • “resonance archaeology”
  • Being upfront, not exclusionary, through your descriptions
  • Richard Thompson, who really is as good as Bill says.
  • Getting dissed for being a pastor (by a doofus)
  • Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Do the labels matter less the more you dig into an intentional spiritual practice?
  • “The more comfortable you get with your own self, the more comfortable you find you are able to be with people.”
  • Callback to the first episode!
  • Women have maybe an advantage here? Tragically?
  • What is Bill’s spiritual practice?
  • Context, including hidden nuns, Phyllis Tickle, and the always-moving wave of prayer
  • “Can I understand this? Can I get access to it?”
  • God in Search of Man : A Philosophy of Judaism
  • Reading scripture with your imagination! WHAAAAAAT
  • Asking to be shown, to enter into it, not just observe
  • Using someone else’s experience as a lens to understand your own better
  • The same difference between practicing alone and jamming with a band
  • Again and again, the externalities don’t seem to matter much
  • My best impersonation of a bored checkout chick, plus Brother Lawrence and The Practice of the Presence of God
  • Sacred potato peeling
  • There exists a version that is right for you, if you go looking for it.
  • Bonus music geekery about Australian pub rock
  • And, as promised, below is the must-listen playlist.

Bill’s playlist of Aussie pub rock

Angels – Liveline
Angels – Darkroom
Screaming Jets – Hits and Pieces
Choirboys – Choirboys
Sports – Don’t Throw Stones
Rose Tattoo – Scarred for Life
Hoodoo Gurus –  Mars Needs Guitars
You Am I – #4 Record
Midnight Oil – Best of Both Worlds (Live)

He adds: Obviously this is just a skim across the surface. AC/DC broke worldwide, but these bands I had to search out – pre internet.  Dodgy music magazines, cut out record bins, and tape trades.  Although I do love the instant access to music, I miss the digging and detective work to track down a tape of a band that you have only heard of through a single sentence in a magazine article.

I made a YouTube playlist so you can hear the sound of these bands. Since I wasn’t going to pubs much in the 80s I often chose tracks from later in their careers than the albums Bill references, but it still works.

I even added one vital band he didn’t mention. Bonus track!

Thoughts? Musical conversation? Come to the comments!