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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Hoke’

Rubble and Re-Creation

By Chris HokeJuly 26, 2018

In the beginning, when God was creating the heavens and the earth, the earth was a desolate waste. Chaos. Smoking rubble. Like after a war. Our beginning, we Bible readers should understand, was post-apocalyptic. That’s what I tell the guys in jail, as a regular chaplain there, when someone pipes up now and then with…

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Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 9, Psalms, In the End

By Chris HokeJuly 11, 2018

Thinking of the psalms as a way to cycle through the entire range of human experience, I recently brought them with me into juvenile detention. The kids there, on Sunday afternoons, shuffle through automated doors wearing orange jumpsuits and pink booties and take their seats shyly around bolted-down steel tables with me. These are boys…

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Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 8: Psalms In the Beginning

By Chris HokeJuly 5, 2018

I always privately hated the psalms. Most of them, anyway. As a teenager, I’d leaf through the Bible’s songbook quite often and feel it was full of self-pity and self-righteousness, often launching into bombastic praise of God and two lines later wishing curses on enemies. I didn’t understand why Christians still used the psalms, and…

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Monasticism In Lockdown America, Part 7: Holy Fool

By Chris HokeJune 25, 2018

Hank’s trembling confession that he’d be killing God if he killed another inmate had charged the small jail visitation cell where I sat discussing the image of God with three men from the infirmary. I pulled out the last of three “icons” and passed it around. It was a color printout of the crumbling Sphinx…

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Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 6, Icons

By Chris HokeJune 21, 2018

The jail staff asked if I would meet with some of the guys in the infirmary. I sat down at the small, bare table in a cramped lawyer visitation cell, and three men in red scrubs squeezed by each other to take their seats with me. One of them was Hank, an old man with…

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Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 5, Holy Elders

By Chris HokeJune 14, 2018

With their white beards and deep lines in their faces, the older men stand out in our jail Bible study’s circle of usually-young men with either tattoos on the outsides of their arms or track marks on the insides. I’m always struck by the old men’s humility, how they don’t tell the whippersnappers to shut…

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Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 4, Asceticism

By Chris HokeJune 7, 2018

Monks in the Orthodox tradition have long believed that God’s love is unchanging, constant, like the light of the sun. We do not need to appease a deity’s anger or perform well to turn the light of God’s affection and gaze upon us. It’s just there, divine mercy blazing away, pouring down all the time.…

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Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 3, Exercises

By Chris HokeMay 31, 2018

I recognized the Orthodox monks’ prostrations I’d learned in the monastery in the “burpees” the guys showed me after they were home from prison—exercising alongside them in their driveways and garages, my heart thumping in my throat and a sweat in my shirt sooner than I expected. The homies in their tight tank tops and…

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Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 2, Prostration

By Chris HokeMay 23, 2018

Earlier this year during Lent, I visited a Russian Orthodox monastery on an evergreen island out across the water from Seattle. I’d never been there before, but this local pilgrimage felt somehow familiar. After the ferry ride across the chilly waters with seagulls in the air, the drive through the woodsy, misty island on winding…

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Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 1, Cloister

By Chris HokeMay 17, 2018

The gentlemen I’ve been visiting in my local jail for the past decade live a daily existence, I’ve often considered, not unlike monks in the monastery I’ve also visited. They don’t have their wives or girlfriends with them. They all wear the same plain garment—not black robes, but old red scrubs. Their hair often grows…

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