Invitation

If you’re not already getting The Merry Mystic, I’d like to convince you to sign up.

I wish I could offer you a really compelling freebie here—you know, one of those life-changing how-to offers: how to attract wealth, how to get into heaven, how to lose ten pounds overnight.  But, alas, I can’t promise that The Merry Mystic will change your life.  What will happen when you sign up is that you’ll receive a short video with some of my best work every week.  There’s music and story; there’s food for thought, for prayer, and for laughter.  If you’re a progressive spiritual seeker, whether or not you’re a Christian like me, I think you’ll find these worth your while.

The Merry Mystic is free, and it always will be.  It comes with a password to my Free Stuff area, which includes lots of my free sheet music and other resources.  You can unsubscribe any time you like.  I hope you’ll give it a try by entering your email address in the form on this page.

If you need more convincing, read some of The Merry Mystic‘s recent posts below.  And best blessings on your journey, wherever it takes you.

Rime of the Ancient Magi

The Merry Mystic Speaks for the Joy of Being Alive

I was about thirteen years old when I had this little epiphany: I realized that I needed to speak for the joy of being alive. Forty years later, I haven’t made all that much progress! The problem is, I can tell the truth, or I can make sense, but not both at once.

Sermons just don’t seem to work for this.  (Actually, I think the sermon is a highly overrated form of communication!) And rational language in general can be pretty inadequate for the task; “I too am untranslatable,” as Whitman said in Leaves of Grass. Whitman said this as well (this is from With Walt Whitman in Camden, Horace Traubel et. al., p. 56):

After culture has said its last say we find that the best things yet remain to be said: that the heart is still listening to have heart things said to it—the brain still listening to have brain things said to it—the faith, the spirit, the soul of man waiting to have such things of faith, spirit, the soul, said to it. Books won’t say what we must have said: try all that books may they can’t say it.

I dare say I’m not the first to experience the compulsion to say what can’t be said.  Here’s a poem about it.  (Poetry helps—a little!)

Thankfulness, Past and Future

A Writing Exercise from The Merry Mystic

Here in the United States, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving Day this coming Thursday. Today, I’m getting an early start. I’m practicing thankfulness, using a little two-part writing exercise that I’d like to share with you. First, I’ll go through the exercise myself; then I’ll say a little bit about how you can try it too.

Part One: Thankfulness Past

It starts with thankfulness. The first thing that comes to mind today is that I’m thankful for a certain place I used to live—a place I still think of as home, though I don’t live there any more. It’s Princeton, Illinois. I went to high school there, and I met my wife there. With a group of friends, I helped to start a church there: the Open Prairie United Church of Christ. I love those people, and I love the vision we shared. I’m thankful for those friends and for that experience.

I’m thankful today for the seminary I attended, the Earlham School of Religion, where I learned things that are still moving me forward. You know, I used to have an academic career; I’ve studied at three colleges and taught at three others; but among all those institutions of higher learning, it’s the Earlham School of Religion that has a special place in my heart. It was a remarkably accepting and generous community. I felt like I could really be myself there, myself with full force. I had some great teachers there, and some good friends, and we all helped each other on the journey.

I’m thankful today for the training communities, the Karatedo Doshinkan dojos, where I’ve been a member. I was blessed to train with some life-changing teachers—Shihan Dr. Dean Lillard and Shihan Dr. June Pilcher, especially—and the communities around them were exciting and empowering. My friends in those communities trained hard, and they made it a key practice to help each other learn.

And I’m thankful today for my birth family: my remarkable parents, and my remarkable brother, and my remarkable sister. When I was a boy, I didn’t realize how lucky I was. I do now. And I’m thankful today for my wife of almost thirty-two years, and our amazing daughter, and our amazing son. I’ve always known how lucky I am to have their shining spirits with me on the journey.

Part Two: Thankfulness Future

Now all this thankfulness is leading me to a feeling—but I don’t know a word for this feeling. It’s sort of like homesickness, but without the nostalgia. It’s a longing for a home, for a feeling of community. All the blessings I’ve just given thanks for, they tend that way. They point that way. So now I have a sort of longing for the community to which they point. It’s a belonging-longing, a longing for a home, and I don’t quite know where it is.

My home is a place where people laugh a lot, I know that.

My home is a community of people who get excited about their projects. They have energy, and they run with it.

People sing there a lot, too. They get together and sing. Just for fun.

I’m pretty sure the food is really good there. Simple, but good: soup, stew, fresh bread. And chocolate, of course.

My home is a place where people are glad to receive what I’m glad to give. My work has a place there. I’m at home there, the way an apple tree is at home in a land of people who love apples.

But most of all, this: my home is a place where people take care of each other. They like working together. They practice helping each other on the journey.

I don’t know: can you be homesick for a home you haven’t lived in yet? Is this heaven-sickness—is it kingdom-of-God-sickness—is it a longing for something beyond this life? Or is it also possible here and now? Is it, perhaps, waiting for me to help create it, to help build it and sustain it?

Maybe what I’m feeling is a future direction: a future thankfulness that I need to help bring to life.

Your Turn

Now, friends, what I just did was a thankfulness exercise, and I invite you to try this exercise for yourself. The exercise has two steps. Step one: take some time to think and write a bit about some things for which you’re particularly thankful right now. Step two: look back over what you’ve written, and ask yourself this: where are those things going? Where are they pointing? Because I think that the things we’re thankful for shouldn’t just stay in the past, as objects of nostalgia; they should point us to the future. In my case, my thankfulness was focused on experiences of friendship and community—and they seem to be pointing me toward a future community that I realize I need to help build.

What are you thankful for, and where does it point you? Post something here and share your thoughts. I look forward to reading about your thankfulness, past and future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Me and Joe and What’s-His-Name

A Song from The Merry Mystic

Here’s a song from my second CD. The song tells an old, old story. You probably already know the story, though perhaps you haven’t heard it told from this point of view before…

Now, friends, thanks for watching and listening. If you got something good out of this song and video, please post a comment here to let me know. It doesn’t have to be anything very witty: “Nice song!” or “I get it!” would do just fine. And please share with your friends. Thanks.

Election Anxiety

The Merry Mystic Favors a Dark Horse

Here in the USA it’s election time, and even my fellow Merry Mystics in other countries haven’t been able to avoid hearing all about it. This has been the strangest, the ugliest, the most divisive presidential election of my lifetime. But I have a plan …

P.S. If you’re looking for something to help you turn your focus away from anxiety and anger, I recommend this back issue — our stilling exercise from July.

Join Me, Feed Me

A Halloween Special from The Merry Mystic

I’ve put together a Halloween special just for all you Merry Mystics out there. It’s sort of a ghost story …

P.S. That story has (surprise!) a pretty cynical characterization of church institutions. If you’d like to hear a more positive (but still challenging) message on the subject, you might try listening to my sermon for All Saints’ Day.

Shameless Self-Promotion: Live Events

The Merry Mystic For Sale

This week, I’m afraid I haven’t created very much in the way of new content for you. Instead, I’ve been working on some shameless self-promotion. It involves live events—events where I participate as a speaker or entertainer or (best of all) both. I love doing live events. They bring in a bit of money—and, after all, one must eat—but there’s more to it than that.

The writing I do is wonderfully rewarding, whether I am making a song, an essay, a poem, or a whole book. It feels like a co-creative act: I feel that God is helping me make something new, and rejoicing with me when it comes out right. But sharing what I’ve made is an equally amazing experience, and it’s a good way to counterbalance the isolation of writing. When I stand up in front of a group, I am able to transcend my reflexive shyness and be dynamic and outgoing. Such sharing is effortful for me because, like many pastors, I’m a compensating introvert. But I find that doing live events is entirely worth the effort. The blessing of creating something doesn’t feel quite complete until I share it in person.

Well: but looking at my calendar, I see that I have only one live event scheduled between now and the end of the year. (That’s not counting Sundays, of course. Any time you’re in Clare, Michigan, you’re welcome to come and participate in my regular “live event” on Sunday morning!) So, I’d like to drum up a few more gigs. What I did this week was to create a “speaker page.” It advertises my availability as a speaker and entertainer. I also filmed a short promotional video to go with it. It’s here:

Adam Brooks Webber, available for live events

Please check it out, and let me know if you have any comments or questions. Who knows? Maybe someday, I can meet a few more Merry Mystics in person!

The Secret

The Merry Mystic Finally Finds the Perfect Premium

I’ve been wishing for an enticing premium to offer people—something that would persuade more folks to give me their email addresses for The Merry Mystic. How to lose ten pounds overnight? How to attract money? How to avoid an eternity of torment in hell? (That one used to persuade a lot of people to join churches, and even tithe to them, so I considered it seriously.)

But then it hit me: I have something lots of people want. I have the secret of flight. Ready for this?

Faith: Three Rival Versions

The Merry Mystic Resorts to Preaching and Teaching

It’s been a long time since The Merry Mystic brought you any outright preaching or teaching. Usually, I prefer something more casual, like music or humor. But I just couldn’t help myself this week. (I had a former career as a professor of computer science, so every now and then, I just have to bust out with a PowerPoint.)

My subject comes from an open-ended question I received this week: what is faith all about? My answer is from my own Christian perspective, of course. But I’d love to hear what you think about that question too, so please scroll down when you’ve seen the video and leave a response.

Reverend Cheryl Burke is a regional leader in my denomination. She has a good thought to share here about silence—I think you might enjoy listening to her. (Silence is something that churches in the United Church of Christ tend not to be very good at; usually, if there’s more than a few seconds of silence in the Sunday service, people start looking around nervously, wondering who dropped the ball!)