The Stations of the Cross - for Downtown Flagstaff

Hi Friends,

Years ago while Sarah and I were living in Philadelphia, we were part of a really great community of folks that called themselves Circle of Hope. One year, they decided to host a Stations of the Cross, but instead of doing it inside a church building, they hosted it outside, and wrote up a guide to works of art and murals around Kensington that generated our reflection together. It was an amazing experience.

I lodged that idea away in my mind, and this year I had the time and energy to write one for us in Flagstaff - so here it is, the Stations of the Cross for Downtown Flagstaff. All the scripture comes from Luke, and I added a short meditation and breath prayer for each one. 

I hope you dig it! It's my hope that next year a couple of us can come together and revise it - it will only get better and better with more of you involved in it. 

Let me know what you think!

I pray that you encounter the Christ who loved us all the Way to the cross.

Download it HERE (right click, and "save as")

**Also, my dream is to write up versions for Kids/Parents, and a non-specific-to-Flag version - if you'd like either one, contact me! It'll be good motivation :)

Reading the Bible the Lo-Fi Way, Part 2

This is part 2 of a two-part article! Go read part 1 first!

Eventually, I created a third question in the Lo-Fi Way, it started with a triangle. 

Stories have what storytellers call a story-telling triangle - there’s a fluid relationship between the storyteller, the story itself, and their audience - the teller has a relationship to both the Story and the Audience, and is trying to make a positive connection between the two. Stories, understood this way, are more like an "event" than a static piece of writing. 

Let’s mess with that a bit, thinking about how that helps us understand the Bible:

The triangle helps use remember that everything in the story-telling process is Particular: a particular storyteller, wanted to convey a particular message, to a particular audience, so they told a particular story. Ancient writers didn’t write religious texts just to keep a record of facts - they wrote because they believed people they knew needed to hear the story. 

We often fall into the mindset that we just need to read the text, and that the text will tell us what we need to know, but to really understand any story, especially the Bible, you need to take a moment to think about the author’s connection to their audience.

And, remember: YOU are not the audience. I’m sorry, but Ezekiel and Mark did not have American Christians in 2017 on their minds. 

We are, however, "audience" to the "event" of the story’s telling. 

In case you are confused, here’s an analogy:

I have a five-year-old boy, and a few months ago, we let him watch the original Star Wars for the first time. I didn’t watch the move almost at all - I spent most of he time watching my son. It was so great to see how he’d react to each scene of the movie - which ones scared him (the Wolfman in the Cantina), which ones were funny (R2-D2 getting zapped by Jawas), which ones amazed him (Darth Vader entering any room). My experience was observing his experience. 

Now, one step further: My boy is now old enough to absorb really bad messages/role models/ideas from tv and movies, so we have to pay attention to what he watches. He’s also old enough to have the ability to re-imagine anything remotely scary he sees on TV when he’s in bed hours later. 

My son the primary audience, but I have a role as audience to his experience as an audience

That’s what’s happening when we read the Bible, and if we get mixed up and imagine that we are the primary audience, it can really make a huge mess (plus, it’s just arrogant)

The third question in the Lo-Fi Way takes our role as “audience-to-the-audience” seriously, and asks, simply: 

“Why would the author tell THIS story?”

The authors of the Bible could write anything for their audience, but why did they think this story was important enough to write down? What was the connection between the audience and the story that they hoped would be made? 

It’s often helpful to ask it from the other side: 

What was so good about this story that the audience decided to keep it around? They could have dropped it any time, but they passed it down. In the case of the Bible, why would people re-tell this story, now, for thousands of years?

It’s trickier than the first two questions, because it often requires some homework - you have to dig into the background of the part of the Bible you’re reading and learn about who the writer and the audience were. But, history leaves us with some holes, so there’s always some speculation at play as well, so you have to stay humble along the way. 

It’s a good thing there’s huge nerds like me, who had the time to go to grad school, have male bookshelf space, and who love digging into the history for you. It’s why I created the Lo-Fi Lectionary podcast - I’m here to help as best I can. 

Let’s dig in.

Reading the Bible the Lo-Fi Way, Part 1

About a year ago I started developing a new way to read the Bible that would make reading it fun, and give me a better chance at getting something good out of the story. It started with giving myself one rule:


I started reading the Bible really, really slow - only one chapter a week, re-reading it every day. This was actually really hard because not only do I have an American work ethic that always tells me I should be reading quickly and “getting through” the material. Moreover, my religious upbringing had a rule of thumb that the best Christians read the most Bible. 

Surprise! Once I slowed down and stopped treating the Bible as a way to prove my religious worth, I started observing a lot more great qualities in the text. Crazy how things get better when it’s not about you. One of the things I had time to notice, now, is that the stories are STORIES - there’s a plot! And characters! And recurring themes and literary devices! Rad.

So, I thought, if we’re dealing with stories, how can I break them down as we go along? 

Well, since we’re dealing with the Bible, these are (mostly) stories about God - God is a character that does things. And then the human people are characters too. Each writer of a book in the Bible is telling a story about God and people, and what happens with them.

Crazy idea: what if instead of trying to read the Bible and figure out what the “right” meaning is, what the right ethical or moral teaching is, what the right belief we are supposed to believe is… we just looked at what the God character and the People characters are like?

This is how I ended up with the first two Lo-Fi Questions:

  1. What is God like?
  2. What are people like?

Suddenly I saw all kinds of new dynamics between all the people in the story, and between them and God. I’d been taught that reading the Bible is all about learning to believe the right beliefs, but never paid much real attention to the story and the character of God, first. 

Also, I realized a dark lesson: you can come away with great beliefs or moral lessons from scripture, but along the way, if you ignore the story, you miss God’s character. Even worse, you can get the character wrong, and end up with beliefs that seem right, but make God a monster

The more I messed with this simple format, the more I loved it. It was easy to remember, stripped down, and took the raw material of the story more seriously. Focusing on these two questions alone doesn’t require bringing a lot TO the text, or require trying to get to much FROM it. It felt punk rock - no baggage of production. It felt Lo-Fi, hence the name.

And I thought: you don’t even have to be religious to approach the Bible stories to answer these two questions. Anyone who is willing to read the text can do it. 

If you haven’t been able to really enjoy reading the Bible, I invite you to give this way a try. Read it slow, and just look at the characters - what are they like? How do they relate? When God shows up, which characters do well with God? What kind of people are they? Which ones don’t do well, and why? If “God” isn’t active in that part of the story - what are the people like to each other? What’s their personality?

And be ready to be surprised at what you find. 

The Bible? Eew. (Why I Created "Lo-Fi Lectionary")


It’s strange when you get to a point where you just don’t enjoy the things that you love anymore.

Maybe you had a favorite movie that you watch all the time as a kid and LOVED. Then, you revisit it as an adult, and you realize that the acting is terrible, and the plot is full of holes. Or, the director goes on to make a bunch of other movies and starts putting himself in them as a actor, and forces these weird twist endings into every script that just don’t make sense. Or, you go to film school, and learn all about the intricacies of writing and directing and cinematography, and now you can’t turn your brain off and just enjoy the movies any more.

Or, worse, someone reboots it 20 years later, and the director takes the thing you loved and decides they want it to “say something” new, and makes the characters do things they’d NEVER do, and everything is CGI, but it makes a billion dollars now little kids are running around wearing shirts of the new version….

The things you love can get skewed. They get talked about poorly, and misused. Things you once really enjoyed can get so complicated that you start to hate them because there’s no joy left.

I loved the Bible, but I got to a point where I stopped reading it. I mean, I’d talk about it often, but sitting down and reading it became a chore. I always felt guilty because I wasn’t reading it “enough.” I always got angry because of the way it got abused by abusive people in sheep's clothing. I started to worry so much about reading and interpreting it “right” that I was missing the stories that had once inspired me to do great things.

There’s a great moment on The Simpsons where Bart is pretending to read a book to look like he hasn’t been causing a ruckus, but then realizes what book he accidentally grabbed:

“Wow, time really flies when you’re reading… THE BIBLE?! Eeeeeewww…”

...and he cautiously sets the book back down on the table. I know it’s one of those jokes that’s a poke at religious folks, but it’s always made me laugh hysterically. It’s the truth told in the way that only that show could (at least, the way only that show could during seasons 2-11). 

Often, like Bart, we avoid the Bible like the plague. Even religious people seem to look at reading it more as task on a To Do List - something we have to set New Years Resolutions to get us to open it - than something that we are really fascinated by, love, and enjoy.

But, what if all of us - religious or not - could actually ENJOY reading the Bible? What if we have made it too complicated, too rigorous, too political, and just sucked out the feeling, turning a super book into a super drag?*

Maybe we can find a way to read it again that might actually make it interesting. I’ve found a way that works for me - and I’m hoping it might help for you too. That's why I created "Lo-Fi Lectionary" - a podcast that will take us through the Bible and let us either re-discover a lost love in the text, or possibly love it for the first time.


*see what I did there?