Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shirley Paulson, Interview #68

Name: Shirley Paulson

Where you live: Glenview, Illinois (near Chicago)

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I am in the healing ministry of Christian Science practice. It's hard to say whether it's a vocation or avocation, because I love it passionately. I also give talks all around the country, explaining Christian Science in university classrooms or churches, because so many people misunderstand it.

Your two favorite books:
The Bible
is always #1 for me, but does that count? As a companion to the Bible, I love Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. If I could mention one more, it would be The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Disciple, by Karen L. King.

Your two favorite songs:
Something Wonderful, from The King and I; Touch of the Master's Hand, by Mindy Jostyn

Why you are interested in spirituality?
Some people confuse my spiritual thinking with gnosticism. But from what I understand of gnosticism, it implies a life apart from here and now. However, I think of all things of God's kingdom as spiritual, and they're relevant, real, and powerful here and now. Finding the spiritual substance and meaning of things, I can trust God's present control and goodness. That's the very foundation of my healing practice, and it brings not only physical well-being but moral strength and life purpose into view. Some healing I've experienced for myself include infection, arthritis, and probable fracture, to name a few. And with those physical healings came more spiritual maturity and grace. I want to bring this kind of spiritual awareness and joy to everyone who wants to hear of it. It's not religious proselytizing, but compassion. It's hope for the oppressed and freedom from suffering.

Your favorite quote:
Jesus: "You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment." And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Your favorite web sites:; wikipedia; facebook; youtube; and if I may, a little plug for my own website -

Your hero?
Since I think so much about the human mission and work of Jesus, I think of him as my hero -- the one I want to follow and learn from. That's why his quotes are my favorite.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
I want the spiritual wisdom and courage to detect the subtle arguments of evil that present themselves as my own thinking. Treating others as I don't want them to treat me, for example; or blaming, doubting, fearing, when I should have confidence; and on the other hand, being naive when I ought to be wary -- these are the things I want to detect before they govern me. With genuine repentance, I trust I can find the freedom to love generously, wisely, and honestly.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
The issue for me is not so much "where" as "when." So the answer is, wherever I am when I first awaken in the morning. My first thoughts are looking for God. Before the phone rings or others make demands on my time, I want to listen and love God and stay there until God is finished talking with me.

I blog occasionally on and

Most of my work is on my own website,

Friday, January 23, 2009

David E. Nelson, Interview #67

Name: David E. Nelson D.Min.

Where you live: Kansas City, MO

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Appreciative Inquiry Coach. I partner with people in different situations and from different religious and spiritual traditions discovering and nurturing what is best in them.

Your two favorite books: Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All; Eboo Patel, Acts of Faith

Your two favorite songs: "Wild World (Yusuf's Café)" Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens); "Imagine" John Lennon
Why you are interested in spirituality?

1. Because I am curious.

2. Because it is life changing.

3. Because it is liberating.

4. Because it is necessary.

5. Because it is so much fun. (If you want a longer expression of this visit our CRES Newsletter at page 9
Your favorite quote: "It is never too late to have a wonderful childhood."

Your favorite web sites: Bill Tammeus Blog at;;
Your hero? "Curly" who after 18 Winters was given his father's name "Crazy Horse," the greatest American warrior

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Where I can be more compassionate to my sisters and brothers in the Human Family.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" My LoftNest inside, my Zen Deck outside, and my hammock.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ashley Jonathan Clements, Interview #66

Name: Ashley Jonathan Clements

Where you live: Melbourne, Australia

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I work on advocacy in humanitarian emergencies for World Vision. I'm part of a team called the Global Rapid Response Team - a group of people on permanent standby who get deployed in the early days of a natural disaster or man-made emergency. My job is about identifying the main problems that affect people - particularly children - during an emergnecy, and convincing the right groups to take action to address these issues. Sometimes it's governments, sometimes it's political groups, and sometimes it's communities themselves who need to make changes.

Your two favorite books: Andre Brink's An Instant in the Wind - a beautiful book about love, fear and prejudice set against the backdrop of South Africa's harsh wilderness - and Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls - a book of strength and conviction, and a total belief in a cause for which one is willing to give everything.

Your two favorite songs:

Nina Simone, Sinner Man

Counting Crows, Mr. Jones

Why you are interested in spirituality? Spirituality, rather than religion, I see as forming a vast and largely misunderstood realm in our world. Many of us accept the teaching that the world is rational and explained and explainable by science and logic; but it simply isn't. For many of us, spirituality is our most immediate and tangible channel into a neglected element of our world that governs emotions, morality, belief, and relationships. Spirituality is integral to my beliefs, my motivation, and gives me the moral compass that I rely on for my work and personal life. Your favorite quote: "An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all" Oscar Wilde

Your favorite sites: - as an enthusiastic photographer, flickr never fails to offer me inspiration - top tips for daily life for everything from technology to traveling to getting things done efficiently.

Your hero? Woodrow Wilson - perhaps the single most influential figure in establishing the League of Nations, which continues today as the United Nations. Severely flawed and at times wholly ineffective, for me the UN is the physical manifestation of mankind's recognition of meaning, morality, and a sense of right and wrong.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Forgiveness - how to, when to.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" The souks of Marrakech - most people I imagine would choose an isolated vista. But for me, the souks - Arab market place - of Morocco's ancient city of Marrakech are so full of life, history, ugliness and beauty that one cannot fail but to marvel in them.

twitter account: ashclem

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rodney Curtis, Interview #65

Name: Rodney Curtis
Where you live: Troy, Michigan, USA, Earth
What you do as a vocation or avocation? I am a photo editor by day. But by night, I am not at liberty to discuss my crime-fighting alter ego.
Your two favorite books: Illusions by Richard Bach and the entire compendium of Tom Robbins' books.
Your two favorite songs: Pride, (In the Name of Love), by U2. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, by The Police
Why you are interested in spirituality? It's an attempt to make sense of what's really going on in the world. My WASP upbringing was pleasant and social but it didn't get to the heart of my questions:
1. What in the world are we doing here?
2. Is there a true, overarching deity and what's his or her cell number?
3. After we die do we continue on in some form, or cease to exist?
4. Why were there two Darrins on Bewitched?
5. Does any of this really matter?
Your favorite quote: "Rodney, you're an author!" by one of my publishers, John Hile, when he successfully uploaded my book to Amazon.
Your favorite web sites: YouTube, obviously. RottenTomatoes for the consensus movie reviews. Facebook because it's a new experiment in community building. CNN especially during political season. And of course I've got to plug my own site
Your hero? My mom because she's put up with me for 45 years without wincing and because of the way she treats people. She has been my greatest teacher and sage.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Nothing less than the meaning of life. I know it's shooting for the moon, but why settle for anything less?
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" The Lake Michigan shoreline. The California coast. A very solemn genocide grave in Yerevan even though I have absolutely no Armenian blood coursing through my veins.

You can find out more about me at

Thursday, January 8, 2009

David Crumm, Interview #64

Name: David Crumm

Where you live: Near Ann Arbor, Michigan

What you do as a vocation or avocation? My vocation is spiritual connection. I'm a lifelong writer who devoted 30-plus years to journalism and scholarship with a specialty in writing about religion. Through many years and many travels around the world, I have seen how vital, creative and hopeful faith can be at its best. I'm devoting my life now to making spiritual connections with the help of emerging forms of media.

Your two favorite books: Collected Poems of Robert Frost, who understood both the depths and the heights of the human spirit better than most. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, who also explored those depths and heights.
Your two favorite songs:"Be Thou My Vision," a hymn. "Simple Gifts," a Shaker hymn and widely reproduced melody.
Why you are interested in spirituality? The three greatest spiritual questions of our time flow through each day. They are:
Why should I climb out of bed today?
How can I make it through another stressful day?
At the end of the day, what truly mattered?
These are echoes of the timeless questions, voiced by Tolstoy and so many others in their search for meaning, for compassion and for peace: Why are we here? How shall we live? What is the resonance of good and evil in the world? Spirituality is as close as the next breath we take. How can we not be interested?
Your favorite quote: Robert Frost's "The Pasture," which opens with these words ...
"I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha'n't be gone long. You come too."
It's the first poem I memorized at home as a boy of 9. At the University of Michigan in the 1970s, I studied this poem with Joseph Brodsky, who eventually won the Nobel Prize in literature. Brodsky assigned me to study the poem in parallel with the ancient Psalm 90. This Frost poem is oh so simple and yet it embodies responses to all those spiritual questions I raised a moment ago.
Your favorite web sites:

Your hero? Frederick Buechner — brave, brilliant and eloquent writer on spirituality, who came from a traumatized home and yet soared in circles of literature and spiritual reflection. I have had the privilege of interviewing him a number of times over the years, but it really is through his books that he felt like a wise uncle to me and to thousands of others over many years.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? How to help people see the world more clearly in an era when popular culture passes, so often, for the illusion of clarity.
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"So many places. I feel as though Scotland and the isle of Iona is a second spiritual home to me. Walking the streets of Rome humbles me. I feel at home in the streets of old Jerusalem, but also I am drawn to Asia, where I feel connected to Indonesia, China, Thailand and Singapore.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Betsy Robinson, Interview #63

Name: Betsy Robinson

Where you live: New York City
What you do as a vocation or avocation? I write, edit, blog (“Notes from a Crusty Spiritual Seeker” on my website, jump on my trampoline, play with my dog, and generally try to stay sane.
Your two favorite books: The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger), A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole)
Your two favorite songs: That changes from week to week. I LOVE music, and when I find something I like, I listen to it over and over for weeks.
Why you are interested in spirituality? I think it’s the only thing of worth to do with my life — investigate my spiritual nature and try to merge with the God/Creator/Grand Intelligence and Compassion within. Try to see it everywhere and in everyone. I don’t always succeed, but I’m doing better and better.
Your favorite quote: I can’t remember quotes. I’ll hear things that I love, but I don’t write them down. I kind of digest them, they become part of me the way nutrients do, but then I don’t remember their source.
Your favorite web sites:
my own —
Your hero? My mother. She was an incredibly flawed woman who was braver and funnier than anybody I have ever met. She was my best friend as an adult, and even though she died in 1990, I talk to her all the time.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Patience — with my slow, flawed practice. Compassion — for my imperfections. Acceptance — of all that is.
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" The woods. My living room. Anywhere I am with my little dog, Maya, who was named by her rescuer in Puerto Rico and listed on Maya means the grand illusion in Sanskrit, and I adopted her after I read a guru’s essay about the necessity to fall in love with the illusion, not eschew it. It was as if light bulbs burst on in my head. I realized I’d been trying to disconnect from the illusion that is my ego’s reality, when what was really needed was to fall in love with it, and by falling in love, you move through it to the God it’s imbued with. Maya, my dog, personifies this journey and all the sweetness of God.