Ferris Wheel

Stop in Mid-Air

Chapter 3

Awe is objective


Chapter 8:26-9:9

The Step Down

Unexpected Flow

Chapter 12:35-

End of Chapter 13

Tripped up

Embarrassing Fall

Chapter 20:9-21:4




Down Draft

Chapter 4

Awe as Delicate


Chapter 9:10-9:36

Convulsive Laugh

Before Thought

Chapter 14

Fall into Vat

of Molten Metal

Chapter 21:5-End

of Chapter



Small Boat

Swell on Ocean

Chapter 5

Awe as Draft

Around Ankles

Chapter 9:37- end of

Chapter 9

Swimming Walrus

Dreadful Surprise

Chapter 15 & 16


Panic Bog

Chapter 22:1-22:37



Los Angeles

Earth Tremor

Chapter 6:1-38

Awe as Heavy


Chapter 10

Deep Grin

Sudden Exultance

Chapter 17

Skiing and

Clothes Line Wire

Chapter 22:39-23:12



Little Sir Echo

Journey Echo

Chapter 6:39-7:35

Awe and

St. Elmo's Fire

Chapter 11:1-28

Blown Sideways

Enigmatic Push

Chapter 18

Drifting Off

Sudden Inattention

Chapter 23:13-49

Summer '73 Friday

Research Assembly July 27, 1973


PSU Spirit Methods

Gospel Conversation

2. Image

Give a secular image of the encounter with Awe, through an episodic

story either from literature or your own experience. Tell the story

in the same progression as the spirit conversation then use the

story in phrasing the conversation questions.

3. Scripture Reading

Read the scripture with spirit, avoiding pious intonation.

4. Conversation

a. Occasion of Address ­ask what­events stood out in the reading

b. Locating the Address ­ask what event held their attention

c. Intensifying ­ask what they saw through that event

  1. Transparency or Universalizing ­ask what about that event is true about the journey of everyman.
One way of dealing with these four categories is to use gimmicks. For example, in the metaphor of the earthquake, the address is the tremor, locating it is finding the crack in the earth, intensifying it is studying the crack and the transparency is having the crack disappear leaving you standing over the abyss. Another example is a piece of burning paper. Hold a match under a brown paper bag. First you experience the heat, then you experience the turning brown, then the flame breaks through and finally you've got a hole in the paper which you can see through. Transparent to the mystery. The "address" section is comprised primarily of giving the group a gimmick and then reading the scriptures. The gimmick gives them a way to appropriate it and then the scripture is read with dramatic fervor. In the area of location of the address what you are doing basically is trying to locate where it was they were tripped up, where it was they felt the heat, where it was they felt the shudder, where it was the scriptures broke into them, where it was that their mind left, where it was that they were taken into a new universe. You are not trying to get ahold so much of what happened to them. You are not trying to push. You are just sort of feeling around the room to see where it was that the scriptures addressed them. Where you have to do your work is in the area of intensifying the address. It only takes one person­­ you don't have to have three or four people break through into the awe, because once one person breaks through, everybody is in it. Anytime one person's life is exposed to the awe in your presence, then your life is exposed to the awe also. So you take one person and you push or you cajole. You can never hurry these conversations. You do whatever is necessary to push them through to the experience of the awe or the transparency, whatever will enable them to go through that. Now, when you move over to the transparency, it's something like this: You see through and you see yourself, and then you see not yourself, but you see that your journey is the journey of mankind. It's here that you become universalized, or you see through your journey to the journey of all men. It's here that your life at the bottom of your life becomes radically objective, the life of everyman. When that happens, then you have broken through to the awe.




In these Luke conversations we are only interested in the ontological, never the psychological or the moral. The ontological is the way in which you and I and everyman experiences his being, his depth human existence, his spirit journey. The ontological has to do with the way it is, not how I feel about it or how I think it ought to be. The temptation is to do a psychological analysis of our response rather than looking deeper and deeper into the levels of our painful existence until the awe breaks through. Or the temptation is to substitute a moral demand for the real demand which is always implicit in the ontological. The moral divides the real into good and bad. For example I say I should not be in despair. That is the moral. The ontological might be for me to say I am in despair. Despair is what everyman experiences and the issue I must struggle with is not how to get out of despair, but how to relate to my despair as the gift of life it is. It is the Christ Word that gives us permission and courage to deal with the ontological, for in it we know that any genuine experience with life is good.



One image that might be helpful to us in listening to the Scripture is that of the petticoat patch. You may have read at one time The Deerslayer by James Fennimore Cooper. In that novel a maiden gets carried off by the Indians. When to his shock Natty Bumpo discovers she is missing, he sets out to find her. His first clue to finding her is a piece of her petticoat that he finds indicating the direction in which she is being taken. Later he finds another piece and then another until he realizes she has been tearing off pieces of her petticoat and leaving them to mark the trail. Finally the petticoat patches lead him to the Indians and the missing maiden. When we listen to the Scriptures there is often something that happens to us but we don't know what it is. Then we become aware of a patch in the form of a verse or phrase or image, then more patches as we spin on the in relation to our own life until we are led to see the mystery of the spirit journey and the depths of what has happened to us are illuminated. Another way of talking about this is that we become aware of the missing mystery in our lives and then through the transparency of the Scriptures we are able to see that the missing mystery is the experience of the mystery itself.
Spin Locating 1. Where, in what verse or phrase, did

Address you first become aware of the missing mystery?

2. Where did you discover the first patch? Were there other patches?

Intensifying 3. Why is it that that was the patch you found?

4. What is it that has been happening in your life that that patch was a clue to? Why is that an important discovery?

Transparency 5. Now look again. What is it that patch is telling you about the journey of everyman?




In the morning breakfast conversations we use the art form method of conversation. That method is an extremely useful one for the recovery of the Scripture in our time. It serves to unblock us from the ancient language, the ancient situation, and our own 19th century heritage so that we can hear the Scriptures in their universal existential meaning. Our purpose in these conversations is interpretation, the objective understanding of the text in this time and place and the grounding of it universal human meaning in our own time and place. This allows us to understand the Word and gives us the possibility of having our lives transformed by it. In these evening conversations we are going to be reading the Gospel of Luke and we are going to use a different conversation method with a different purpose. Here we are not out to interpret anything. We are simply listening for the address

upon our lives. We are out to talk about our experience of the Scripture, to bring awareness to the experience of the mystery. We may have a little difficulty doing this at first, for we are not used to talking about our experience of God. But we are not interested in the intellectual conversation. We are to locate the address upon our lives and to spin in our conversation until that address becomes transparent to the mystery of our spirit journey and the journey of every man.
Context Image It is as though you are walking along and suddenly you bump into a wall. Looking over this unexpected wall you locate a knothole and begin to look through the knothole discovering a ball game on the other side. As we listen to the Scripture we find ourselves surprised like bumping into a wall. As we examine the occasion of our surprise, we discover a knothole, a verse, or phrase, or image, through which we begin to look and see our own spirit journey and the journey of every man illuminated. Now as we listen let us listen as if Luke himself is in this room telling us a story and we are hearing it for the first time.
Spin Locating 1. Where were you being led along by

Address the story and found yourself bumping into an unexpected wall?

2. Let's look more carefully­­what is the knothole in that wall? Where did you find yourself peeping through?

Intensifying 3. What has been going on in your own life lately that set you up for that place to bump you? For that to be the knothole? What experience last week, yesterday or today, do you associate with that address?

Transparency 4. Now look through the knothole again. What is it you see going on? Describe what you see going on in your own life? What does it feel like? How would you describe your internal experience of looking through that knothole?

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end 9








12:35-end 13





art form

Ontolog-ical not moralHuman-ity reveals divinity Style











Journey to Center




patch of

















1. Addressbump into


aware-ness of missing




heat over










swaying turning







on fire





















about to

be struck

4. Trans-



the ball game






hole in












GUIDELINES The key in this method is drama, the drama that you put into the conversation, into reading the scriptures, and into setting the stage, That, because no word has any existential meaning, save it has a drama connected with it. Any image that you use, like the image of lightening, if it doesn't have some drama that you've experienced then that has no meaning. Unless the image that you use of the drama that you create enables the meaning, you do not ignite the passage through to
the transparency. Any kinds of words of images you use that do not have the dramatic connected to them are simply intellectual game playing, or else they're intellectualizing off into some abstraction. Take the word "failure". That word doesn't have any meaning unless you've had some dramatic experience of that word, of the reality that it's pointing to. Otherwise it's some abstraction floating around. Take the word "apprehend", or the word "earthquake". Any word you take, unless you have some dramatic meaning to fill it, has no meaning for you. When you are listening to Luke what you are listening for is the Jesus way or the Jesus style, not the content. We have all been brainwashed to listen to the Scripture for content, for ideas, for truths. This is why the power of the Scripture has not been unleashed until now. Where the real address is for us is in the little editorial comments that in the past we ignored because we thought they were unimportant. You ­take a phrase like, "and while everybody was full of wonder at all the things they saw him do, Jesus was saying to his disciples." (This is in the passage we read last time.) We have been conditioned to skip over a phrase like that and to get on the what he told the disciple. But look at the phrase. It reveals that Jesus had so transformed his situation l hat everybody was full of wonder. And while everybody was still overwhelmed by the awe, Jesus decided to do a little training, of his disciples on the side. What happens to you when you encounter that kind of style is that you become aware of the possibility in your own life to transform every situation into spirit.

Bible reading has always been an important exercise in the spiritual discipline of the church. Reading the Bible everyday has nothing to do however, with being pious or virtuous. It has to do with enabling yourself to see through the externalities to the real dance that life it delivers you into the dance of life so that you can participate perpetually in every situation in that dance. When the journey of the self becomes transparent and you see the journey of everyman and you see this in the life drama of the Jesus style, every encounter and every situation is transformed for you. You are given the possibility to participate in the dance of life at every moment.

The scripture throws us into the presence of awe. That is what these Luke conversations are all about. But the awe they explode in our midst is not some kind of individual pious experience, or some kind of psychological experience. Awe is never private nor simply an emotion.

The Scripture throws us into the presence of awe. That is what these Luke conversations are all about. But the awe they explode in our midst is not some kind of individual pious experience, or some kind of psychological experience. Awe is never private nor simply and emotional experience, though there are no doubt accompanying emotions. Awe is sociological. It is in the corporate community of the church, of colleagues and the saints that we experience awe. It is in encounter with the sociological reality of Jesus, the crowds, the disciples and the Pharisees that our experience of the mystery is triggered. That is why we are delivered into awe not only when we break through particular address on our lives to transparency but when that happens to a colleague as well. And that is why awe is experienced as something external, like something filling the room, and you hear it or see it dancing around or smell it or taste it. Awe as sociological reality is as real as mud or air or the tables in front of us.

When the Scripture begins to come alive for us we experience the transparency. What becomes transparent is the journey. It is the journey you are on but it is not your journey. It is the journey of man, of everyman. That is what is meant by the metaphor of journey to the center. It is your center and it is the universal center of humanness. The images of the journey to the center of the desert, the darkness, the fire, and the stillness are images that enable us to describe what happens to us when the journey becomes transparent. It is sometimes helpful to ask of the experience of awe when addressed by the Scriptures. If it is experienced like desert or fire or stillness or darkness. We can only talk about the journey to the center in poetry but it is the most objective reality we know anything about.


Preparation for the Luke conversation includes the preparation of a context on scripture methods, an imaginal story, the reading of the text and the dynamics of the conversation. In the preparation of the imaginal story attention should be given to the flow of the story. Some stories illustrate steady intensification, some tell of being bumped about, some talk about discovering clues. The quality of the story should match the quality of the selected scripture. How the scripture is read is extremely important. This reading must be secular, emphasizing shift between episodes and places were awe is occasioned. In the conduct of the conversation the preparation involves brooding over the group anticipating where the awe will break loose. The most common problem in he conversation is intellectualism, and the most dangerous moralism. In conducting the conversation the guru cuts over­against both of these when he is prepared to identify in the "locating the address" part of he conversation those who have authentically been impacted with awe. He is then able to pick up on their responses as he pushes people to universalize their experience in response to the Gospel reading.