Archives For Senses

Summer’s here which means it’s time to grab a glass of iced tea and feel the sunshine on your legs as you get lost in a book. So, as you pile up a summer reading list, here’s ten suggestions that will deepen your love for God, the world that he made, and the story he’s writing. 




1. Gilead by Marilyn Robinson (Amazon, Audible)


  • If you could pack all the laziness of a summer afternoon into a book, Gilead would be it. Oh, and it won a Pulitzer prize despite being chalked full of explicitly Christian themes. How did Robinson manage to pull that off? She writes about life in a way that sinks into your bones and renews your wonder for the physical world.
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2. Paul by Walter Wangerin (Amazon, Audible)


  • Step onto the streets of Corinth, smell the freshly cut leather and see Paul hunched on a stool with a needle in his hand. Told from the perspective of Priscilla, Timothy, Seneca, and others, this novel will draw you into the drama of the church’s struggle to discover exactly what the Gospel is and isn’t. By filling in sensory details you’ll get a fresh look at the wonderful messiness of the Church’s early years Continue Reading…

I dump the  powder into the pot and slip into the past…back to fifth grade and Miss Vanderlaan’s turtleneck sweaters in that same yellow-grey shade. A pungent smell—maybe garlic, maybe cumin—calls me back to the present and I shove the empty ziplock into the bear barrel.


Something black plummets into the pot. I bend forward through the smoky darkness and try to scoop it out, but the sparks fend me off. Probably a twig. Maybe a spider? Just then a freight train rumbles through my intestines, obliterating all traces of arachnophobia, and I stir the stew, intruder and all, at double speed.

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Mugs loaded, I maneuver my backside between the branches of a fallen tree. I juggle the hot mug between city-sensitive fingers, pausing at intervals to land a spoonful of stew in my mouth. Steam billows out as I pant off the heat. The nerves in my fingers and tongue yelp in protest, but my empty stomach runs the show Continue Reading…

Sensing the Way into Worship

smgianotti  —  February 24, 2015

Filming Much Ado About Nothing (2012) in black and white worked for Joss Whedon–in minimizing the visual input he managed to accentuate the drama. But this technique doesn’t always work, especially when it comes to worship. 


Reading through the Bible, I get the distinct impression that God means to impress the Gospel on our senses. In foreshadowing Jesus’s death on the cross, God told the Israelites to smear lamb blood on their door posts (Exodus 12:1-13).  At Mount Sinai, Moses showered the people with bulls’ blood as a sign of God’s covenant with them (Exodus 24:3-8). During the Last Supper, Jesus invited his followers to drink wine, stating that it was the new covenant in his blood (Luke 22:20). 


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My childhood church offered grape juice at communion, so I remember (quite clearly) my first sip of vino at a cousin’s church. A streak of warm flowed down my throat and nestled into my empty belly. A couple minutes later a soft fizz started dancing in my brain. Physically speaking, that one sip changed me. 

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Thank God for Pad Thai

smgianotti  —  January 14, 2015

The smell of spices wafted towards me, distracting me from my date’s prayer until he said, “God, thank you for giving Thai food to humanity.”


I choked on my saliva as I tried to hold back a laugh. In one sentence his prayer shattered the sombre Christianity that creeps around America. In thanking God for the heap of rice noodles between us, my date was paying homage to the Grand Chef who injected flavor and fun into the necessity of eating.


This incident reminded me that I need to make room in my prayers for Pad Thai…and electric blankets and Mozart’s concertos and when the Buckeye’s win (if I was an Ohio State fan).


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Too often my prayers–and my spirituality–fixate on the abstract. I know God wants me to pray, but does he really care if I love swing dancing? I know he wants me to forgive, but does it matter to him whether I appreciate the artistry in one of Emily Dickinson’s poems?  

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The sun seeped through my jeans, warming my legs, as I lounged on the sofa and waited for my espresso to brew. One of Mom’s holiday shortbread cookies–edible gold and made from a recipe passed down by my Scottish ancestors (or so I like to think)–waited patiently on a napkin.


Yesterday was a good day for relaxing, and for indulging the senses. Hearing espresso bubble its way up through the Moka Express. Pinching up remnant crumbs from the napkin and breathing the rich steam of roasted beans. Savoring the espresso’s complexity and the shortbread’s sweetness. Watching sunbeams fall into my apartment (and remembering me how badly I need to dust).


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Life bursts with sensory experiences–gratuitous, copious, and lavish moments that speckle each day.

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