Author: Zack Newsome

Lent: early observations

Today is the second day of Lent and the second day of my exploration of “giving up myself” for Lent.  I should note here that from the get-go I acknowledge that there are some inconsistencies in this whole effort:

  1. I have (unsuccessfully) asked others to consider joining me in this.  The very asking insinuates that others should join ME in what I think is a good idea.
  2. Blogging here about it assumes that anyone is interested in ME and MY explorations into this and that MY voice has a value.

I’ve wrestled with these contradictions as I’ve ventured into this.  It’s clear even from the start how difficult it really is to rid myself of “self”.  But what makes this concept interesting to me is not that I would be completely and totally selfless for 40days, but that it would be an exercise in awareness of the spaces, postures, and actions of my life that are consumed with the thought of ME.  And the hope is that I would be enabled to live differently as a result.

As for the documentation of the journey here, I do it to record the thoughts, observations, and learnings along the road. If readers (does anyone actually read this anyway?) find something helpful or interesting, great. If not, my journey through it won’t be diminished.

So I’d ask you to wish me luck, but that would yet be another example of self-interest.  Ahhhhh……this is going to be interesting. 🙂

I am giving up “myself” for Lent

ashwednesdayOver the few past years, I have learned to love the annual rhythms of the traditional Christian calendar.  Not being raised in a faith tradition that valued (or even mentioned) the cycles of seasons such as Advent & Lent, it is refreshing to me to yearly explore these seasons and the themes they represent.  This Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) marks the start of the Lenten season where participants traditionally choose something to “give up” for the 40 days leading to Easter.  The intent is to fast from something and in hopes that it’s absence might bring us closer to God and more reflective of the season’s theme’s.

As I have pondered what to “give up” this year for Lent, I am struck with a sense that there’s something more I can give up than caffiene or alcohol.  I am convinced that there’s something more tragic in my character that must be addressed. It’s my sense of “self”.   If I am honest, much of my existence is about “self-interest, “self- preservation”, and “self-promotion”.  I think much more highly of myself than I should even often convincing myself that this world needs “me”.  This sense of self affects my faith, my relationships, and my posture towards those I share life with.

I am sure I am not the only one.

So for this year’s Lent, I am going to experiment with something different.  Instead of giving up something tangible (like food or drink), I am going to give up “myself” for the 40 days of Lent.  I want to use the season to probe the dimensions of mny life that I am unwilling to give up, those spaces which I selfishly and stubbornly claim as my own.  I want to explore the ares of my existence that neglect “the other”, and cling instead to my sense of self.  To balance this, I will spend the Sundays of Lent breaking this fast to rest in the identity of self that God validates in me – that I am valued, that I am His creation, and that I am loved deeply.  The culmination of the season in Easter will bring me to the celebration of a new self that identifies with the resurrection.

I would love to share in this experience with some others who are brave enough to try this with me.  As I’ve shared this tought with some others, the quick response is typically, “What would it look like to “give up yourself”?”.  I am hesitant to answer this question as I imagine (and am hopeful) that it will look very different for each participant.  If you’d like to journey through this with me a small group of others, drop a comment below.

This idea can’t be any worse than this one 🙂

a reason for twitter

twitter_logo1I have grown to love twitter.  It’s still seems strange when I say things like this out loud, but I love knowing what my friends (locally & globally are up to) and I love sharing with them (or whoeverelse is interested) what I’m up to.  I have met people who live near me through twitter.  I have learned about issues other are fighting in our city through twitter. And I’ve learned through twitter that there are plenty of people around me who love and care for Phoenix as much as I do.  We even use twitter as a way to send out reminders and updates for communitasPHX.

I have become a twitter evangelist lately, mainly because I selfishly want to know what cool things those I care about are doing and thinking.  But I have found it difficult to convince others to dive into to twitter.  I am not sure why I find such hesitation.  Most seem to view twitter as the “next fad” in social networking (it may be) and are reluctant to migrate their time, energy, and online life from facebook to twitter, just as they did from myspace to facebook not so long ago.  Most fail though to see it’s potential to connect with new people both near and far, both of common interests and of common views.

Buddy and blogger, Jon Reid, today blogged about his discovery rediscovery of twitter through the Flight 1549 crash into the Hudson a few weeks ago.  Twitter’s use during the crash was interesting and the most clear example yet of how twitter is much more “just like Facebook status”.  It is becoming an instant news vehicle.  Those who are experiencing the news (ie. inside the downed plane) can “tweet” the news via their cell phones, iphones, or pdas immediately and the world can (and does) take notice.

If you are still standing of the twitter fence, not sure if it’s for you, take a look at Jon’s perspective and see if he doesn’t convince you.

Twitter curiousty Trigger: Flight 1549 via Blog One Another

By the way… can find my personal tweets here, my design company tweets here, and communitasPHX tweets here


griefI’ve discovered that there is an emotional experience I feel from time to time. One in which I lose myself to an introspective and analytical spirit. Until now, I didn’t know it’s root or cause. It is a feeling I’ve known before, one in which I find some odd comfort in.

It is grief.

As dimensions of my false self crumble, I am left to deal with their death. The death of a dream, the death of a belief; today it is the death of control.

I am overwhelmed by the loss of my ability to control the whole of my life. As long as I live in community with others, I now recognize that I do not have the final say in how my story unfolds.

I must discover and come to terms with a new understanding of control. This is the grief I am experiencing.

An Interesting Thought


Today I visited the Episcopal Cathedral here in downtown Phoenix for morning prayer. It was really good to walk through the liturgy with others (who are way more experienced with it than I) and out loud. The cathedral is one of my favorite spiritual spaces in the city. The architecture represents Phoenix well, a historic stone building built with a Spanish mission motive. They have a brilliant courtyard in the center of their space that contains a labyrinth and some really artistic stations of the cross. I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time there in 2009.
After morning prayer, I was chatting with a guy I met name Matt. Matt is the head of youth and young adults for the Arizona Episcopal Diocese. As we talked of the spiritual traditions we were raised in, we realized we both came from protestant, evangelical, conservative backgrounds. He than asked me what led me to come to Morning prayer at an Episcopal Cathedral. I explained to him my recent draw to liturgy as the primary spiritual rhythm of my life. I acknowledged that I didn’t yet fully understand why I’ve been interested in more liturgical forms of faith. He said something interesting:

You can come to faith in the protestant tradition, but you can’t grow to depth there.

These are words that will roll around in my head and heart for a while. I am not sure if it’s that simple, but I certainly can relate – the ways and postures of faith in which I was raised seem to be less than a complete expression. They lack a complete picture of God in an over-zealous attempt to understand him intellectually. Liturgy is void of the attempt of figuring out God and full of the ackowledgment of what we know of Him. Something about that resonates deep within my soul.

Making beer as a creative endeavor

I am convinced that everyone is creative and I’m a big advocate for all to discover (or re-discover) the ways in which creativity is best expressed in their lives. For many who aren’t painters, musicians, writers, or sculptors, it is assumed that they are un-creative and give up exploring and nurturing the imaginative part of themselves. As a part of what I do, I design websites and print materials, which is inherently creative. But I’ve been exploring some more practical and historically creative endeavors – mainly beer-making. For the past year, I’ve been learning to make beer in my basement. It’s a lot of fun, really interesting (there’s a lot of science involved), and the end product tastes great! This is sure to become a big hobby as we’ve already pulled off an epic homebrew party and I’m even contemplating starting a homebrew blog at some point to help others interested in getting started. We’re also taking sign-ups for friends to sit-in on our next brew session to observe how it easy it is. Leave a comment if you’re interested in being a part of it.

Here’s a short video of my latest batch of Cream Ale (best beer and people’s choice award winner) fermenting in the basement brewery:

Fermenting Cream Ale from Zack Newsome on Vimeo.

Spiritual Rhythms

trinityThis New Year I am attempting to dive deeper into the life and rhythms of a contemplative. I am confronted with my inability to live my commitment to Jesus as the priority in which all else of my life is built around. I am tired of making space to nurture my spiritual self only when family, work, hobbies, etc allow. Instead I want to more deeply explore spiritual rhythms at the core of my life. Here’s how I am attempting this:

The Daily Offices – a daily rhythm of 3 spaces (morning, midday, & evening) carved out and reserved to “be” with God. In my rhythms, morning prayer resembles the devotional time of my evangelical tradition, midday prayer is shorter and heavily liturgical, and evening prayer is flexible with times spent in prayer as a family, and others in solitude.

Sabbath-keeping – a weekly rhythm of rest.  I am trying to explore what rest looks like (and doesn’t look like for me) and then to create a 24hr space in which to dwell in that rest.  My hope, prayer, and intent is that these times give me space for contemplation and appreciation to accompany the rest. What I don’t want in this rhythm is a pharasaical-sort of discipline, but intead a relaxed committment to honestly pursue the activites that give me rest spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally.

A Rule of Life – a holistic rhythm of living in which I attempt to live in balance of the committments I’ve made.  In my case, these commitments are to the ways of Jesus, the ways of community, the ways of Justice, and the ways of creativity.  At times this means giving intention to the commitments in which I’ve neglected and other times it means creatively rethinking my actions and words to better reflect these core committments of my life.

As I explore these individually and communally (with the communitasPHX folks), I am convinced that this sort of rhythmic intention of spirituality is vital.  It gives true expression to our words and hopes.  It provides a discipline to our commitments.  And it provides us ways to pursue Jesus in the demands and chaos of everyday American life.  I’m working on establishing these ways as a part of “a symbolic order” in which people from distant geographies can experiment and explore with the way of life together.  More on this to come.

Waking from a deep sleep

November and December had our family running ragged. They we’re great months of events, holidays, activities, people, neighbors, friends, and family. But in the midst of it all, I recognized that we had overbooked and over-committed ourselves. So for the past couple of weeks, we’ve been flying below the radar. We’ve been saying “no” to some great friends, parties, events, etc and we’ve been prioritizing the things that we need to rediscover balance, health, rest, and passion for life. This has become less a regular rhythm of ours – to slow life and schedule to a crawl when we realize that we are living in ways other than we want to. And we fill the rest and the space of these seasons with re-centering conversations and actions. It is an attempt to make possible the live’s we’ve committed to life. Lives of love, balance, and holistic (physically, spiritually, mentally, & relationally) health. Lives lived in the ways of Jesus, of community, of justice, and of creativity.

Today signals the escape from this hibernation and the re-entry into the world. Hopefully we’ll discover new successes as we live the lives we are being called to and become the people we are becoming.

Work too is awakening from a slowed pace this week and as I look forward to the new year, I’m excited for the dreams that will become reality and for the people God is bringing into collaboration with us. - © 2022 - All Rights Reserved  |  site by VAUX digital