Monday, February 27, 2012

Kristina Robb-Dover, Interview #165

Name: Kristina Robb-Dover

Where you live: Atlanta, Georgia

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Minister, Writer and Blogger

Your two favorite books: The Bible and Brothers' Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Your two favorite songs:
A very hard choice, because just about anything that Bruce Springsteen sings I fall in love with; but of late my two favorite songs would be "The Cave," by the band Mumford & Sons, and "Come Down O Love Divine"

Why you are interested in spirituality?
I'm interested in spirituality because for me "spirituality" is all about what it means to be truly human and in relationship with God. I'm curious about how the Holy Spirit works in the world and how we as human beings respond to and are transformed by Her work.  These days I'm working on a book for those who would call themselves "spiritual but not religious": "Grace Sticks: The Bumper Sticker Gospel for Restless Souls," is a spiritual memoir told through the lens of bumper stickers; I guess I'd like to think that even the most ordinary of things, even something "cheaper by the dozen" like a bumper sticker, can in all of our comings and goings mediate God's grace for us in the form of purpose, truth and life.

Your favorite quote:
"It's the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it." -G.K. Chesterton

Your favorite web sites:
These days "favorite" for me translates as the site I spend the most time on, which, as it turns out, is my own: "Fellowship of Saints and Sinners," hosted by the online magazine, Beliefnet, is a virtual "church" for real people with real questions about God and life.

Your hero?
Marguerite Porete.  She was executed in 1310 by a corrupt church hierarchy wedded to money and power.  Her crime? Writing a book, "The Mirror of Simple Souls," which was a labor of love for spiritually hungry souls who sought to know and experience God's love in their lives.  Ultimately, Porete's crime, as I see it, was to really believe in the full import of Divine Love, which did not depend on a church to mediate it.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
I would like to learn more about how to experience the joy C.S. Lewis speaks of when he writes that we, when offered "infinite joy," are like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slums because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea."  The joy I'm talking about here is a kind of grounding in God's goodness and love that doesn't depend on the level of pleasure or pain in my life.  I would like to get to a place where I am able to experience this kind of deep joy regardless of my circumstances.  I think it's a bit along the lines of what the apostle Paul speaks about when he writes that he has learned to be "content" in all circumstances.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
I have felt most spiritually connected in two places: in a refugee camp working with south Sudanese widows and orphans and seeing their faith, hope, and love in the midst of the most trying of circumstances; and hearing good live music, whether it's at a very cozy, local music joint called "Eddie's Attic," where various bands play, everyone is welcome, and you come as you are, or in a huge amphitheater with Bruce Springsteen crooning away at a high decibel level. (Good) music heals spirits and brings people together, I think.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Brad Karelius, Interview #164

Name: Father Brad Karelius

Where I live: Laguna Niguel, Orange County, California

Vocation: Associate Professor of World Religions at Saddleback Community College, Mission Viejo, California since 1973; Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles since 1970. Recently retired as rector of Messiah Parish in the Logan Barrio of Santa Ana, California after 30 years. The parish is located in the city with the highest percentage of native Spanish speakers in USA. One-third of parishioners are very low income Latino, many are undocumented. Most live in very dense housing situations, e.g. in a three-bedroom apartment there can be three families. The parish has almost 70 persons with doctoral degrees. On the one hand: highly educated and affluent; on the other hand, many with less than elementary school education. The parish founded an afterschool tutoring center, the Noah Project (more than 50% of youth in area do not get past 9th grade) two high quality early childhood education programs for the poorest families in Santa Ana (Hands Together---a Center for Children), and a program for homeless mothers and children (Morning Garden).

Your two favorite books: The Desert Padre: the Life of Father John Crowley (in 1920’s and 30’s he was the priest with a circuit to all the little desert towns near Mt. Whitney and Death Valley); Land of Little Rain, by Mary Austin, the seminal work of a famous writer on the desert and Native Americans.

Your two favorite songs:Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys" (Willie Nelson); Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart)

Why are you interested in spirituality: I like Ron Rolheiser’s definition of spirituality as “the fire that burns within us.” Our deepest longings. Although I had been a parish priest for many years, the awareness of my deep longing for connection with God became most acute during the health crises of our son Erik, who was stricken with encephalitis in 1987. Our life was forever changed that day and Erik has been through a lot of suffering. Today he is mentally a four-year old inside a 27-year old body with chronic seizure disorder. In 1990 I began working with a spiritual director on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. This involved daily meditation with scripture, weekly meetings with my director over 12 months. In the process I encountered my faith in God and scripture in a new way as I also began to deal with addictive behaviors and expressing more honesty and transparency in my life, both with God and my friends. I began to take five day retreats in the California desert during Advent and Lent. In the desert, the place where most world religions have been birthed or nurtured, I experienced the Holy in a deeply personal way, enfolded in love and grace. Spirituality for me means renewing a daily connection with God and the Holy.

I wrote a book, The Spirit in the Desert: Pilgrimages to Sacred Sites in the Owens Valley, as a result of these retreats. I share an honest narrative of the twists and turns of my life, the movements away from and toward God, and our family’s struggles to care for Erik. The book is an invitation to other spiritual seekers to contemplative encounters in the Owens Valley near Mount Whitney, California. I guide the reader to eleven Euro American and Native American sites and connect the landscape to the history of the people who lived there. All the sites provide solitude for reflection, but are not far from major highways.

In the process of sharing copies of the book with other writers on spirituality and sacred landscape I have made many wonderful connections.

I am now finishing the Spirit in the Desert II: Encounters with the World’s Religions on Highway 395 in the Owens Valley. I apply some of my reflections on world religions over 30+ years of college teaching, as I indentify very-little known sites of the different world spiritualities: a new Cambodian Buddhist Temple emerging out of sagebrush emptiness; a hidden Hindu ashram in a pine forest at the foot of Mt. Whitney; echoes of Mohammed’s encounter with Allah in a cave/mine shaft in the Inyo Mountains; encounters with Shinto spirits at the Manzanar World War II relocation camp; and meditations with Lao Tzu beside a mountain stream in Cottonwood Canyon.

Your favorite quote:Spirituality is more about whether or not we can sleep at night than about whether or not we go to church” (Ron Rolheiser, the Holy Longing)

Your favorite websites: (terrific resource for the study/experience of the world’s religions through Harvard Univesity); (Roman Catholic monk’s weekly meditation which is both mystical and inclusive of the world’s spiritualities).

Your hero: our son Erik: he has suffered so much, but continues to radiate and reflect the love that has been given to him; he continues to instruct me in how to live gratefully in the Present Moment.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn: to live in this present moment with a heart that is grateful to God.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected": the Desert (in fall-winter or spring), especially the desert spaces of the Owens Valley near Mt. Whitney, California, the ancient palm desert oasis near Palm Springs and the Mojave Desert.

Brad's book can be found here:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chris Stemp, Interview #163

Name: Chris Stemp

Where you live: Arlington, Virginia

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I try to stay away from defining people by what they do rather than who they actually are.  However, everyone has to pay the bills and for that purpose I am employed by LivingSocial.  A year ago I co-founded Smart People Podcast with a childhood friend of mine and it has grown into an amazing company, ranked as high as #26 on iTunes.  I also recently joined a start-up non-profit, the United States Healthful Food Council as the Director of Social Media.  

Your two favorite books:
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan.

Your two favorite songs:
Up and Down by The Donnies The Amys
Wonderwall by Oasis

Why you are interested in spirituality?
Spirituality can take on many forms and interpretations, which is fascinating.  My interpretation is that we are all here together, all part of a larger whole.  We are tied to this Earth and each other and the quicker we realize it the better we will be. 

Your favorite quote:
"I will lose my youth, my health, my loved ones, everything I hold dear and, finally, life itself by the very nature of being human."  - The "Five Remembrances" that Buddhist monks chant each day

Your favorite web sites:

Your hero?
My brother

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
How to completely appreciate others

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"

The forest

Editor's Note: Catch Chris' Smart People podcast:
and/or follow him on Twitter: @SmartPeoplePod

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lori Marie Triba, Interview #162

Name:   Lori Marie Triba

Where you live: Park City, Kansas

What you do as a vocation or avocation?   Artist

Your two favorite books:  
The Holy Bible ~ and a recently read Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle

Your two favorite songs:  
Oh my, so hard to answer! Today I'll say "Lightning Crashes" by Live and "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.

Why you are interested in spirituality?  
This quote sums it up: “You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Your favorite quote: 
My favorite quote by myself is:
"Despite its moments of despair and pain, how utterly, incomprehensibly beautiful Life is "~ Lori Triba

Your favorite web sites: 
My website for hairstylists; 
and ~ It's my happy place!

Your hero? Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?  
To be able and well equipped to heed and fully trust in this COMMAND of God;  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"  My church ~ The United Methodist Church At Park City (found on Twitter @ChurchParkCity)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Raf Adams, Interview #161

Name: Raf Adams

Where you live: I live in Shanghai, China for 5 years (I am originally from Belgium)

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I am an Entrepreneur in China, running workshop on happiness, the meaning and purpose of life, dow. to earth spirituality in China, Hong Kong and Singapore, I do executive coaching for Fortune 500 companies business leaders to help them lead with purpose and vision, I speak professionally for universities and non-profit organizations including TEDx. I’ve also published my new book The Suited Monk: A Guide to Life Purpose and Happiness (available on Amazon).

Your two favorite books: Built to Last by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras and Success Built to Last by Jerry I. Porras, Stewart Emery, and Mark Thompson

Your two favorite songs: Unforgettable by Nat King Cole and Over The Rainbow from Judy Garland

Why you are interested in spirituality?
Because life gave me a wake-up call to stop pursuing my corporate career, to start my life all over again 2 months before the financial downturn in 2008, because I found true love, my life purpose and had an awakening without consciously searching for it. After these experiences I started to dive into spiritual teachings and practices and teaching my experiences to others.

Your favorite quote: The Tao that can be told is not the Eternal Tao.

Your favorite web sites: google

Your hero? Anyone who is brave to follow his or her life purpose and is true to himself / herself

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? How to teach what I know

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
When I am delivering workshops and teaching from my newly released book The Suited Monk.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Arnaud Saint-Paul, Interview #160

Name: Arnaud Saint-Paul

Where you live: France

What you do as a vocation or avocation?

As a Spiritual Teacher, I have a passion to help people find their own true path. Beyond the shadows of their thoughts lays the path of their dreams, in their heart.

Your two favorite books:

While I Was Learning To Become God-Roxana Jones
For the light that spreads out from its pages

Conversations with God - Neale Donald Walsh
For this book allowed me to shift into Me and revealed to my eyes who I really was and my life purpose.

Your two favorite songs:
too many to count :)

Why you are interested in spirituality?
This has been my life path since I came on Earth. Understanding and falling in love with oneself is the best adventure there is on this planet.

Your favorite quote:
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote a few centuries ago
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience. "
This seemingly counter-intuitive thought is the base of our reality and also the one I used for my 1st book.

Your favorite web sites:
Mine of course :)
But also, the inspirational quotes "Thoughts of the Heart" that help me every day.

Your hero?
Roxana Jones for showing me the clear path toward my Heart and all the ordeals she has had to go through in order to awaken to herself.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
Enjoy more and more of each now moment and be totally grateful for it.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually connected?
Wherever I am...
There are special places also like for instance Sedona, AZ