Love in Song and Story

For the second year in a row I’ll spend Valentines Day telling stories that explore the experience of love to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of St. Helena. There will be live music by brother Trent Yaconelli, backed by violinist Duane Whicomb, guitarist Zach Hammer, percussionist Benjie Kushins and pianist Jimmy Donaghy. The event takes place from 7 to 9pm at the beautiful Caldwell – Snyder Gallery in St. Helena.  Napa Valley wines, ports, champagne and chocolates will be served. Tickets are $40.00 per person and available here. This event sold out last year so get your tickets soon.  Free childcare at the Boys & Girls Club is included in the price.  Should be another great night for a great cause.

Everyone Has a Story: Ashland Daily Tidings Feature

The Ashland Daily Tidings printed a front page feature article on The Hearth:Real Stories by Regular Folks, this is the storytelling series I facilitate in my hometown. The issue includes an article I wrote on why I volunteer my time for this series (see below), storytelling guidelines, and some beautiful excerpts from some of our recent storytellers (Phoenix Sigalove, Lincoln Zeve, and Jennifer Margulis).  Check it out here. Or read feature article below.

Everyone Has a Story

The shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story. 

–Anthony De Mello

 When I was 26 years old, I went on a contemplative retreat with author and Episcopal priest, Morton Kelsey. On the first day of the retreat we were placed in “life story” groups. In these circles, each person was given thirty minutes to share his or her life story.  When I saw the individuals in my group, I was disappointed.  As a young man in his prime, I had no desire to “waste” a whole day listening to what appeared to be a retired pastor, a sixty-something Georgia socialite, a middle-aged homemaker, and five other unremarkable people recount the details of their lives. Read More

Winter Tales: Stories for a Cold Dark Night

Hosting another true storytelling event here in Southern Oregon. Should be a good one:
The Hearth Presents “Winter Tales: Stories for a Cold Dark Night” a Fundraiser for Dunn House
The tourists are gone, the stores are empty, there’s snow on the mountain, and a fire in the stove.  It’s time to warm the heart with songs and stories. Please join us as Ashland’s true storytelling series continues Thursday, January 19th.  Six brave community members will tell a true winter tale from their own lives, in ten minutes, without notes, to help raise money and awareness for Dunn House, a shelter and care center for women and children suffering from domestic violence.  The event is sponsored by The Hearth: Real Stories by Regular Folks and takes place at First Congregational Church, 717 Siskiyou blvd beginning at 7pm.  Winter ale and mulled wine will be available. Tellers include Charlotte Nuessle, Lincoln Neve, Joy Hosey, Julie Akins, Phoenix Sigalove, Sean Gallagher and others.  Music by Trent Yaconelli.  Cost is $5 and all proceeds from the event will go to Dunn House.  For more information go to

The Joy of Quiet

Just finished reading an article by author Pico Iyer in the New York Times on the growing desire for silence and stillness among youth.  Every church leader needs to read this article.  Iyer, along with other top writers, fashion designers, graphic artists, and other creatives were flown to Singapore to speak at a conference for top corporate marketers and advertisers.  The theme of the event (which should send a chill through your spine): “Marketing to the Child of Tomorrow.”  The title of this conference almost fills me with hopelessness. How can children (and the people who care for them) resist the incredible amount of intellectual, spiritual, and financial resources that are brought together to manipulate and seduce children into conforming to the will of the corporate marketplace?  Not only are business people working hard to figure out how to mis-direct the desires of children, but they employ the best writers, artists, psychologists, and even theologians to help them in their quest to “brand” young people!

The article goes on to talk about the recognition by creative entrepreneurs for stillness and silence as well as Iyer’s own intuition that in the future children “will crave silence and freedom” from technology.  I’ve written on this topic recently, particularly the awareness that those who designed and market the smart phone and other fast-paced technologies are now craving silence, solitude, and other practices that keep their spirit (and creativity) from being overloaded.  This awareness is nothing new, what’s disturbing for me in this article is Iyer’s suggestion that marketers should be aware of this growing desire in young people.  So many churches and youth ministries are busy trying to catch up to the culture.  I’ve encountered many youth ministers who brag about their ability to move at the speed of the culture (“We do all our announcements through twitter!” “We Skype all our talks”).  When are we going to recognize as Marshal McLuhan once warned, “The medium is the message?”

Maybe we should go forward by going backward, back to our roots.  Solitude, silence, prayer, meditation, retreat–these are practices that are well known within the Christian community. Why don’t we begin to trust them?  Why don’t we meet the growing desire of young people for quiet, for stillness,  for withdrawal from all the distracting data?  Why don’t we meet this growing hunger with faith before the marketplace meets it with products and false promises?