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Stories by Joseph O'Brien

A mystical approach to Christianity

Unity: "We open it up to all the ways in which we understand what God is."

Unity San Diego Contact: 3770 Altadena Avenue, City Heights, 619-280-2501 www.unitysandiego.org Membership: 300 Pastor: Blair Tabor Age: 66 Born: Minneapolis, MN Formation: University of California San Diego; Unity Institute & Seminary, Kansas City, MO Years ...

Shorn of dogma and dualism

"People are abandoning spirituality and organized religion in droves."

Membership: 165 Pastor: Patti Paris Age: 61 Born: New York City, NY Formation: City University, New York City; Holmes Institute, Encinitas Years Ordained: 7 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend preparing your talks? ...

God's not going to force himself on you

"The short answer is you go to heaven when you die. But there are some nuances to that."

Membership: 150 Pastor: Erik Borlaug Age: 29 Born: Forrest Lake, MN Formation: Winona State University, Winona, MN Years Ordained: 7 San Diego Reader: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy? Pastor Erik ...

That call was always there

"My friend looked at me and said, 'Make a choice.' So I did."

Membership: 150 (Attendance: 80). Pastor: Guy Williams Age: 64 Born: Cornell, CA Formation: San Diego State University; Holmes Institute, Golden, CO Years Ordained: 10 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach? ...

Working his way through the Good Book

"It takes five to ten hours of preparation per one hour of preaching."

Membership: 60 Pastor: Jeff Apsley Age: 61 Born: Batesville, Indiana Formation: Baptist Bible College, San Dimas (Now Springfield, MO); Moody Bible Institute, Chicago; Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada Years Ordained: 37 San Diego Reader: ...

Coming up next

"Every 500 years, God has a great big rummage sale."

Membership: 170 Pastor: Sharon Graff Age: 62 Born: Hemet Formation: Northwest Christian College, Eugene, OR; Claremont School of Theology, Claremont; San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Francisco Years Ordained: 33 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite ...

Bishop Richard Challoner — mental prayer is easy

In spite of what the devil pretends

The devil, who very well knows that such souls as apply themselves seriously to mental prayer will be none of his, makes all possible efforts to divert Christians from this application by a thousand impostures; ...

A warm greeting in a glass

Bartender Wetherbee "wanted to encapsulate the freshness of Thailand"

Say “Sawatdi!” to the Sawadee! “Sawatdi” is a common Thai greeting (like Hawaii’s “Aloha!”) and the Sawadee (same word respelled for the American palate) is one of the newest inspirations from Prohibition mix-master Heath Wetherbee. ...

Finding God in a shack

"Once we realize the love that God gives each one of us, we see our neighbors a little differently."

Membership: 750 Pastor: John Shaver Age: 47 Born: Dayton, OH Formation: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA; Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.; University of Pittsburgh Years Ordained: 19 San Diego ...

Giuseppe Garibaldi speaks against the Pope

I am a good Christian and speak to good Christians

I am a Christian and I speak to Christians—I am a good Christian and speak to good Christians. I love and venerate the religion of Christ because Christ came into the world to deliver humanity ...

A progressive agenda of flavors

Driftwood's Vanilla Old Fashioned

The bartender for Driftwood Craft Cocktails at Open House, Scarlett Hannon is an Old Fashioned kind of gal—but just because it’s her favorite drink doesn’t mean she has to play by all the rules to ...

The call came while in Mexican orphanage

“Be a Jesuit”

Membership: 1,300 families registered (3,000 attendance per weekend) Pastor: John Auther, SJ Age: 60 Born: Phoenix, AZ Formation: Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles; Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Spain; Jesuit School of Theology-Santa Clara University, Berkeley ...

"The Lorica" by Saint Patrick

The country could be called "The Isle of Poets"

I arise today Through the strength of the love of cherubim, In the obedience of angels, In the service of archangels, In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward, In the prayers of patriarchs, ...

Asanga's path to perfection

A Yogacara Buddhist

What is a person who has only a single interval? It is a person who is a once-returner who reaches the end of suffering by living only among the gods. What is a person who ...

We at Kaleo see ourselves as being called out of darkness

Pastor Tim Cain: "If the sermon is not going well, I have to get up earlier."

Kaleo Church Membership: 100 Pastor: Tim Cain Age: 40 Born: Wheaton, IL Formation: Moody Bible Institute, Chicago; Westminster Seminary West, Escondido Years Ordained: 14 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon? ...

Like a beast’s pelt: oaks hunched like sleeping bear

With half-hearted barking, geese announce their return

March’s Lovely Asymptotes The property line melts into forest, its late winter browns Like a beast’s pelt; oaks hunched like sleeping bear; Beech and birch extend into ugly candid possum hair, And elms and maples ...

Immigrants welcomed at Ascension Lutheran Church

Our refugee banner was slashed and vandalized

Membership: 70 Pastor: Rick Fry Age: 43 Born: Springfield, OH Formation: Wittenberg University, Springfield OH; Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Hyde Park Years Ordained: 6 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which ...

Kanada — India's answer to Aristotle

His name means “atom eater”

He who of His own will spreads out the production, preservation, and destruction of the universe; He who, even though shining forth in suppression of all these, still is not known by other than wise ...

Politics should stay out of our pulpits

We’re going to face God one of these days

Membership: 300 Pastor: David Hazel Age: 47 Born: Los Angeles Formation: Point Loma Nazarene University, Point Loma; Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City Years Ordained: 22 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to ...

Silvester Jenks — fled at the Glorious Revolution

Love of God is the total sum of Christianity

To make it plainly appear that the love of God above all things is the greatest duty of a Christian, one would think it were enough to show that it is a duty which comprises ...

Not Yo' Mama's gin and tonic

Ryan Jones makes lemon work with cucumber

Co-owner of Pillbox Tavern, Ryan Jones has something preposterous. He’s messed with that bit of perfection known as the gin and tonic. And what he’s come up with — well, it’s not your dad’s gin ...

Astronomy led to Judaism

Rabbi Michael Samuel likes preaching on ethical monotheism

Membership: 60 Rabbi: Michael Samuel Age: 64 Born: San Francisco Formation: Tomthei Temmimim, Israel; San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo Years Ordained: 41 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon? Rabbi ...

From the Kama Sutra

Pleasures to be followed with moderation

Pleasures should not be sought for, because they are obstacles to the practice of Dharma and Artha, which are both superior to them, and are also disliked by meritorious persons.... This objection cannot be sustained, ...

A mojito with grassy flavor

Havana Club’s aged rum part of the secret

The Gaslamp’s newest Cuban eatery, Havana 1920, seeks to capture the heyday of America’s Playground and its pre-communist jazz-and-limelight nightlife. The restaurant’s beverage director Ryan Andrews says that its owners were inspired to open the ...

Took AIDS patient for a cigarette

Hell sounds like a nasty word

Membership: 200 Pastor: Darrell M. Dunlap Age: 49 Born: Clifton, NJ Formation: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Chicago; Azusa Pacific University, Azusa Years Ordained: 18 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite ...

The Province of History by James Garfield

Every nation is a canto, and every man a word

The world’s history is a divine poem, of which the history of every nation is a canto, and every man a word. Its strains have been pealing along down the centuries, and though there have ...

The ice melts slowly and the flavors peel off

Striders calls it the New Fashioned

As January draws near, Striders general manager Tony Martineau found a way to raise a glass for the old year rounding the last bend even as the new year comes galloping out of the gate. ...

God goes with submariners

400 feet below the Pacific Ocean, like the Garden of Gethsemane

Place: University Lutheran Church Pastor: J.L. Precup Age: 71 Born: Aurora, IL Formation: Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO Years Ordained: 45 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon? Pastor J.L. Precup: ...

The Tree of Wisdom by Nagarjuna

Proponent of emptiness

He who undertakes work which he cannot carry out, Who vies with the multitude and disputes with the powerful, Who lets a woman know his thoughts — The four gods of death sit at his ...

More chef than mixologist

Some are getting the ginger, some the caramel

Reports are rolling in by the basketful: Washington, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan — all the big apple-producing states are enjoying a bumper crop this year. And San Diego can take a bite out of this ...

Rhyme & Verse — two poems by Jax NTP

the sun cooks dirt onto the park bench

let’s make a list of women in power now the trees are so still they are about to catch on fire we wake up for something to do someone to become the difference between aria ...

Saw suffering Christians in Thailand

Won't be surprised by heaven's big circles

Membership: 400 Pastor: Tim Spivey Age: 41 Born: Long Beach Formation: Pepperdine University, Malibu; Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX Years in ministry: 20 San Diego Reader: What is your main concern as a member of ...

Theodore Frelinghuysen — Bible salesman

"Let it find its way into every cottage"

The Bible has done it sir! Seal up this one Volume and in a half century all these hopes would wither and these prospects perish forever. These sacred temples would crumble or become the receptacles ...

El Mezcalito — attempt to bring mescal into the fold

Agave-based avatar of San Diego’s cocktails

There are as many flavors to mescal as there are Ramirezes or Smiths in the San Diego County phone book — but only Del Maguey Vida Mescal is best suited for Puesto’s mescal cocktail, El ...

God uses a clay pot such as I am

Unbelievers will go to eternal hell

Membership: 120 Pastor: Ed Gonzalez Age: 40 Born: Bulacan, Philippines Formation: Febias College of Bible, Valenzuela, Philippines; The Master’s Seminary, Los Angeles Years Ordained: 13 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your ...

Albert Schweitzer — the mystical Lutheran

"Affirmation of the world... is only possible if I devote myself to other life"

Affirmation of the world, which means affirmation of the will-to-live that manifests itself around me, is only possible if I devote myself to other life. From an inner necessity, I exert myself in producing values ...

"It tastes like when I go surfing"

Seaweed Margarita at Open House Asian Kitchen

Located on the 101, within sniffing distance of the shore, Open House features practically every imaginable oceanic edible — including vegetables. So it was that this al fresco eatery’s general manager Matt Handy went deep ...

Hitler bothers him

"We’re going to be a rock in their shoe."

Membership: 100 families Pastor: David Madsen Age: 65 Born: La Junta, CO Formation: Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI; General Theological Seminary, New York City; New York Theological Seminary, New York City Years ordained: 9 San ...

Guess who Impeachmint cocktail refers to

Peach, mint, bourbon at Madison on Park

Since everything from scoops of ice cream to the NFL has become politicized, it was only a matter of time before San Diego’s cocktail scene stepped into the arena. Thus, Madison on Parks’ Impeachmint. Bar ...

al-Ghazzali — the most influential Muslim after Muhammad

His faith in God, the prophet, and the Last Day

Now from the sciences I had labored at, and the paths I had traveled in my investigation of the revelational and rational sciences (that is, theology and philosophy), there had come to me a sure ...

Left six-figure income and pushing paper around

Found God in Vista jail

Membership: 110 Pastor: Greg Stenzel Age: 58 Born: San Francisco Bay Area Formation: American Lutheran Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, MN (now at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN) Years Ordained: 14 San Diego Reader: What’s your ...

Escaped moves by King Charles by fleeing to Paris

Mary (Howard) of the Holy Cross

This is the principal service of God, there being nothing on earth which represents more perfectly the state of the blessed in Heaven, than to praise him with fervor and cheerfulness. For it is written: ...

Mineral-driven tequila first, then ginger beer

Green Acre's Mexican Mule

Green Acre’s director of food and beverage Chris Simmons serves his Mexican Mule the same way as the Moscow Mule — in copper cups. While his variation on the vodka-cum-ginger-cum-lime original is served as cold ...

Found church while USIU grad student

Hell seems not on par with choices that lead us there

Point Loma's First Church of the Nazarene bloomed from a tent revival.

Shakespeare of the Arabic language

al-Hariri of Basrah

Praise be to Allah, the exalted of names, the praised for His bounties, the abundant in gifts, the called upon for the rescinding of calamity; —king of the nations, restorer of rotten bones, honorer of ...

It hurt too much to live

Fire-and-brimstone preaching never leads to sustainable change

Membership: 4000 Pastor (student ministries): Jason David Sluyter Age: 29 Born: Flagstaff, AZ Formation: Point Loma Nazarene University Years Ordained: 7 San Diego Reader: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy, especially ...

Benjamin Franklin's notion of good works

Letter to Joseph Huey

I can only show my Gratitude for those Mercies from God, by a Readiness to help his other Children and my Brethren. For I do not think that Thanks, and Compliments, tho’ repeated Weekly, can ...

Martin Camps — from seminarian to Beat poet

Born in Tijuana, moved to Juarez, now in U.S.

Giraffe in Juarez There’s a giraffe in the central park of Ciudad Juárez. Simple as that: a towering, Upper-Case and lonely giraffe. I studied her as she gazed at the sun sinking behind the hill ...

Never opened a Bible till my 40s

Drunk driver changes Lutheran minister's life

Membership: 25 Pastor: Rigoberto Gonzalez Age: 55 Born: Sonora, Mexico Formation: Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO Years Ordained: 6 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon? Pastor Rigoberto Gonzalez: I’d say ...

Mansur al-Hallaj — Sufi mystic

Executed by Islamic authorities

I entered unannounced into Hallaj’s room one day (says Ibn Fatik); someone had been in before me. Hallaj was in prayer, and his brow pressed to the ground, he was saying: O Thou Whose closeness ...

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