"Discovering Fire is full of warmth, crackle, and gentle luminosity. If you feel you've been shut out in the dark, around this campfire you'll find welcome, sanity, and serenity. All of Roger Wolsey's fires may not be right for you, and he doesn't prescribe them: he just shares — with humility and honesty — what experiences and practices have brought him light and warmth on his spiritual journey."
~ Brian D. McLaren, author of Do I Stay Christian?
"So many of us feel like we’ve outgrown, been betrayed by, or just plain been run over by conventional Christianity. Roger Wolsey's been there, too. But he hasn't let the setbacks of the journey snuff out the ember of what we Methodists call our "strange warmth." Discovering Fire is like having access to the cathartic diary of a spiritual survivalist who, in making his way through struggles both familiar and offbeat, sheds light on practices both pedestrian and pioneering. Don’t be shy! Let Roger help you stack that kindling in new ways. All you’ve got to lose is cold feet."
~Rev. David Felten, coauthor, Living the Questions: the Wisdom of Progressive Christianity
“Roger Wolsey’s Discovering Fire is the long-awaited follow-up to his groundbreaking book, Kissing Fish. Fans of his will love this new book, as it does a beautiful job of presenting a type of Christianity more relatable to and relevant for those who can’t‘ find value in the version of the faith promulgated by more ”mainstream’ teachers and preachers.
~ Matthew Distefano, author of The Wisdom of Hobbits, and columnist for Patheos
"In Kissing Fish, spiritual director and pastor Roger Wolsey gave readers conceptual frameworks for reconsidering Christianity in a way that's intellectually coherent, morally generative, and compassionately grounded. Over a decade later in Discovering Fire, he deepens this conversation by showing us how to practice a wide-awake faith that's centered in the Way of Jesus while embodying a spiritual hospitality that includes fuel offered by neighboring traditions — and rediscovering hidden sparks within our own. Take up this book if you're wanting to rekindle your spirit to a roaring flame but be aware: the fire-starters Roger describes might rub you strangely at first as they're heating up. He leaves nothing he's found helpful out, from contemplative prayer to circling, fasting, to plant medicine, tarot reading and ecstatic dance. Discovering Fire is an unflinchingly honest dive into generating genuine heat and light, for progressive Christians and the spiritually homeless alike. Highly recommended."
~ Mike Morrell, co-organizer, Wild Goose Festival; collaborative author with Fr. Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation
"There’s been growing divide between religion and spirituality. Much of society has written off organized religion as a source of spiritual connection and growth, and many Christians have become disillusioned and have come to doubt if their faith is relevant. Roger's Discovering Fire bridges the chasm by excavating the Christian lineage and showing how some of its lesser known practices can provide needed healing in human lives; and by sharing how the Divine works through practices from other lineages to foster transformative wholeness – salvation."
~Stephen Mattson, author, On Love and Mercy
"At the heart of Christianity are practices that keep body and soul together and restore us when we are broken. Practices that give voice to our souls from the depths of our psyches. Practices intersecting and resonating with the practices of other spiritual and faith traditions. Christianity is active, cultivated compassion – not assent to dogma. Down to his bones, my friend Roger Wolsey gets all this, and through his lively, brave, and engaging writing, gets others to get it as well. Discover the fire burning behind one of the most important voices in progressive Christianity today!"
~ Jim Burklo, author, Tenderly Calling: An Invitation to the Way of Jesus, and Executive Director, Progressive Christians Uniting/ZOE: Progressive Christian Life on Campus
"It's become a chaotic spiritual world. Though Christianity remains the world’s largest religion, it's declining in the West in part because it is perceived as not meeting people's spiritual needs. Fortunately, many spiritual movements offer tools that can help us engage with God. We just need a spiritual sherpa to help us navigate such broad and varied spaces. With Discovering Fire, Roger Wolsey provides just that. Discovering Fire is a deeply personal book for Wolsey and it comes through on every page. It will be a deeply personal book for you too.”
~ Rev. Dr. Mark Sandlin, Pastor, Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Greensboro NC, Director, ProgressiveChristianity.Org
"Discovering Fire teases apart the complexity of the Christian tradition so light can be shined upon the golden thread, connecting back to the authentic teachings of Jesus. Sharing vulnerably his own story of suffering, seeking and deconstruction, Wolsey makes the reader feel seen and understood. Removing the toxic layers of the institutional Church from the mystical and prophetic teachings of Jesus, the reader is reminded of the possibility of complete transformation when fully engaging in spiritual
practices that range from ancient Abrahamic practices to modern transcendent practices. After all, what do we all think Jesus was doing for 40 days in the desert? He was not, I am certain, judging and condemning those who didn’t follow him, but rather radically entering into deep and life changing spiritual practices to strengthen his connection to the Divine, to become more self-aware, to clear the mind and find the wisdom within. Perhaps he was doing so with the aid of plant medicine, breath work, ecstatic dance, chanting, meditating, and fasting. During a time when people are leaving the Church in droves, Discovering Fire, invites us on paths of self-discovery, of finding God within, and of deep healing. Roger is a fellow bridge between Christianity and interfaith spirituality and I applaud his commitment to the search and discovery of the fire within and how he shares it with the world."
~ Rev. Deshna Charron Shine, Interfaith Minister, Author and Ritualist, Former Ex. Director of
ProgressiveChristianity.Org and Progressing Spirit. Executive Producer of the Embrace Festival
DIscovering Fire: Spiritual Practices that transform lives
Is it "Christianity meets Burning Man," "Richard Rohr meets Oprah," or "Communion Wafers meet Psychedelic Spirituality"? Yes! This and more — all coming together in Roger Wolsey’s Discovering Fire. Igniting a spiritual expansion that bridges religious and non-religious sensibilities, this is a deep and intimate dive into a profusion of spiritual practices. Promoting diversity, respect, and a deeper connection with the Divine, Roger explores the intersections of Christianity with shadow-work, dream work, the Enneagram, yoga, astrology, tarot cards, shamanism, ecstatic dance, psychedelic plants, and more. With passion, cultural sensitivity, grounding in tradition, and the heart of an explorer Roger offers a go-to guide for the 21st century seeker, be they religious, spiritual, or anywhere along the spectrum of that human experience of longing for healing encounters with the Mystery some call God.
In Discovering Fire, advocate of progressive Christianity and author of Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity, Roger Wolsey reduces the mutual allergy and wariness that religious and non-religious people have about each other. He helps religious people realize that God is meaningfully at work through certain spiritual practices that many non-religious people are engaging in; and he also helps non-religious people acknowledge that certain Christian practices really can help those believers grow, transform, and evolve in ways that the world needs —and he helps people from both groups increase their mutual appreciation and gratitude for the Great Spirit at work in it all.
Wolsey contends that the essential elements of a deep Spiritual life —faith, transformation, a community of kindred spirits, and the experience of generous, unconditional love—are found within the seemingly esoteric and unconventional practices of non-Christians who are wary of the Church, as well as within the lesser known about contemplative aspects of Christianity.
Roger helps people within the Church to better understand how their family and friends who aren’t part of “the faith” are experiencing practices that connect them to the presence of Spirit in their lives — and are helping them to heal, grow, and thrive; and he helps the growing portion of society who have apprehension about Christianity appreciate how contemplative practices within it provide time-tested ways their Christian friends and family might employ to sense the vital presence of Spirit in their lives — and help them to heal, grow, and thrive.
Discovering Fire helps the different traditions, lineages, and generations respect, connect, and commune with each other and the Divine – or to at least share the planet with greater ease.
Wolsey suggests all of these many lineages and practices are tools and portals that help people know and love themselves – and thus be better able to love others. He isn’t suggesting that Christians need to do yoga, chant at kirtans, or engage in ecstatic dance, tarot cards, or shamanic breath-work, etc. – nor is he saying that people who are spiritual but not religious need to partake in contemplative Christian practices or rituals – though he’s not saying they shouldn’t.
· Can you be Christian and do shadow-work, draw tarot cards, see shamans, or engage in ecstatic dance, breath-work, or psychedelic plant medicine? If so, how can one do so with respect, integrity, and deal with the matter of appropriation?
· Can you be Christian (or religious) and also deeply spiritually connected?
· Are you a Christian and trying to figure out if you need to be praying for friends and family who are seeking to be spiritual outside of the Church?
· Are you a “Spiritual But Not Religious” person who has family members who are “praying for your soul so you don’t go to hell” because you don't go to church?
· Were you raised in the Church, no-longer active with it, yet still love Jesus, and yearn to know if God blesses you and your alternative spiritual journey?
· Do you yearn for more healing and wholeness in your life?
Spiritual Director, United Methodist Pastor, and Author of Kissing Fish: Christianity for People Who Don’t Like Christianity, Roger Wolsey is an open-minded contemplative Christian who has taken deep dives in a wide range of spiritual practices and he explores these questions and more with care, reverence, and insight.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Fleeing Religion & Going to Burning Man
Chapter 1: Diagnosis Death: Toxic & Dysfunctional Religion: the separations of God & People, Religion & People; People & People, & Us & Ourselves
Chapter 2: Beauty in Broken Clocks: when religion gets it right
Chapter 3: The Nature of our Natures: still & active, indoors & out
Chapter 4: Woo to the Hoo: alternative spiritual practices
Chapter 5: Let's Breathe
Chapter 6: Praying with Plants
Chapter 7: Prayerful Prose & Poetry
Conclusion: Harnessing the Flames
Appendices: End-notes, Recommended Reading & Resources
"It’s possible for us to go through the motions or dabble in things recreationally, or minimally like tourists, or nominally like twice a month golfers. It’s also possible to take things seriously, and honor the tools and ourselves by employing them sincerely, and with depth, integrity, and authenticity. The very fact that you are holding this book suggests that you’ve likely moved into a mode of increased sincerity and are yearning for increased depth and authenticity." excerpt from Discovering Fire
"If you have ever felt curious or called to have a deeper more intimate relationship with God, yourself, and those you love, this book will speak to your soul. Roger daringly shares his journey of self-discovery and expanding grace as he describes and invites readers to explore a variety of spiritual practices from Christianity and other traditions from around the world. These practices are sure to evoke a fire in your heart. The content of this book has the potential to soften you and guide you into the most loving, fulfilling, personal and sacred relationship with God you may have ever experienced. Anyone willing to curiously and bravely explore these practices, will find themselves on the most sacred pilgrimage of the heart. What a gift this book is to all those wanting more from their spiritual life and connection to God."
~ Allyssa J Jomei, Interfaith Spiritual Director
“In a time when so many people have been leaving religion in search of spiritual transformation elsewhere through various mystical practices, Roger Wolsey not only bridges Christianity to other spiritual traditions but reclaims its own long lost mystical traditions as well. In this groundbreaking work, Roger Wolsey has done nothing less than put the spiritual back into modern Christianity; calling for its renewal as a faith that is mystical, contemplative, and with a wider path toward spiritual growth and transformation. It’s the ideal book for those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious and for those who are religious but yearning for a deeper sense of spirituality."
~ Chris Kremidas-Courtney (Kiran Aarya) Co-founder of Brahmaloka Yoga School, Senior Fellow - Peace, Security and Defense for Friends of Europe in Brussels; lecturer for Institute for Security Governance; and senior advisor for the Extended Reality Safety Initiative (XRSI)
"Discovering Fire breaks new ground for those within the Christian tradition who want to understand the spiritual practices of younger generations. Today’s young people are seeking spiritual guidance through practices considered to be “beyond Christian norms.” Discovering Fire de-mystifies such practices as tarot cards, ecstatic dance and kirtan singing, viewing them with a broad lens within the larger context of Christian practices. Discovering Fire also teaches those within the Christian tradition about the aspects of the faith tradition which have been muted over the generations. The breadth of Roger Wolsey’s sources, including many “mainstay” Christian theologians, is astounding — John Wesley, CS Lewis, Adyashanti, Johns Hopkins University, and more. Discovering Fire points to the aspects of Jesus’ teaching and ministry that made him a target of the religious establishment: his insistence on a God who is interested primarily in grace and wholeness, not exclusionary practices of myopic religious elites."~ Rev. Elizabeth Tay McVicker, former District Superintendent of the Utah/Western Colorado District, Mountain Sky Conference, United Methodist Church
"Roger Wolsey has been a lifelong seeker and explorer. Here he has generously, and bravely, shared both his communal and personal experiences of delving deep inside to examine the sacred and holy spark that is our essence. His honest, candid, and vulnerable narrative is resourceful and inspirational."
~ Scott Derringer Seamster