Monday, January 23, 2012

An Open Letter to Sen. Rick Santorum Regarding a Missed Opportunity

Dear Sen. Santorum:

I feel compelled, as a fellow Christian, to say how disappointed I was to hear your comment that it is not your job to correct blatantly false accusations about President Obama's faith and citizenship. To ignore the opportunity to address a statement from a person at one of your rallies who said, "I never refer to Obama as President Obama because legally he is not, He constantly says that our constitution is passé, and he ignores it as you know and does what he darn well pleases. He is an avowed Muslim and my question is, why isn't something being done to get him out of government? He has no legal right to be calling himself president" by replying "Well look, I'm doing my best to get him out of the government right now" is unconscionable and unChristian.

You, as the candidate who claims to take the high moral ground on important issues, missed a teachable opportunity to show how our democracy is about how we differ on issues but do not abide lies nor allow them to be spread on our watch. How could you allow such a lie to stand and not use your very public moral presence to refute the Muslim accusation?

I admit I was disinclined to vote for you before this incident. But I did believe, that no matter how or why I disagreed with you on your issues, that you were sincere in your beliefs and cared deeply about moral issues. I no longer believe that. Integrity and the willingness to defend another (even a person you disagree with) who is falsely accused seem to me go hand in hand. I guess I believe the commandment that says that we are not to bear false witness. I was saddened to see you disregard that commandment today.

J. Brent Bill
Ploughshares Farm
6960 E. Hendricks County Rd
Mooresville, IN 46158

Awaken Your Senses at "Read the Spirit"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vermont 2011

Old House 3Old House 1Old House 2Old House 5Old House 4Wildflowers and Butterfly
Firetruck and Barn 1Firetruck and BarnFiretruck and Barn 2Warren, VtMoss Glen FallsMoss Glen Falls 2
Moss Glen Falls 3Moss Glen Falls 4Moss Glen Falls 5Waitsfield INNVermontWaitsfield Morning
Waitsfield Morning 2

Vermont 2011, a set on Flickr.

Here are some shots from my October 2011 trip to Vermont. Everything from a country inn to an old fire truck tucked into a barn on North Hero Island to....


Thursday, January 19, 2012

"A Girl's Best Friend" -- Anglican Version

This is very clever -- and delightful. I would love to see what would be the Quaker version of "A Girl's Best Friend."

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Why Do We Hunger for Beauty?

We hunger for beauty. I think that’s because that hunger is rooted in our hungering for God, for a real and profound connection to the Divine. That desire for connection comes from deep in our bodies and souls. That’s because, as theologian David Bentley Hart says, “Beauty crosses every boundary, traverses every series, and so manifests the God who transcends every division.” We are drawn to beauty as we are drawn to the Divine.

Closely linked to our hunger for beauty is our desire to create. While many of us, for whatever "good" reasons, have put off much of our creativity as we age. We’ve put away the Play-doh, making music with kazoos and waxed paper wrapped combs, quite telling each other fantastic stories, and the like. We have quit doing many of the things that gave us joy and hope and meaning when we were young,

These desires for beauty and creation are part of who we are – as creatures created in the image of our God. When we open scripture, the first thing we see about God is His creative nature. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 (NIV)) God brought order and beauty out of chaos. In that same way, a potter takes chaos in the form of clay and shapes it into something beautiful. Or a baker uses ingredients springing from the earth and its bounty and makes a cake. Or a supervisor sees the potential in the disparate talents of a company’s workers and helps fashion them into an amazingly inventive team. Or…

Quaker writer Caroline C. Graveson once wrote

“There is a daily round for beauty as well as for goodness, a world of flowers and books and cinemas and clothes and manners as well as of mountains and masterpieces... God is in all beauty, not only in the natural beauty of earth and sky, but in all fitness of language and rhythm, whether it describe a heavenly vision or a street fight, a Hamlet or a Falstaff, a philosophy or a joke: in all fitness of line and colour and shade, whether seen in the Sistine Madonna or a child's knitted frock: in all fitness of sound and beat and measure, whether the result be Bach's Passion music or a nursery jingle. The quantity of God, so to speak, varies in the different examples, but His quality of beauty in fitness remains the same.”

Seen that way, beauty is redemptive. Creativity – whether in the art studio or lived out in the workaday world – invites us to participate in God’s redemption of this world. God calls us to bring beauty and order from chaos; to bring glad tidings of great joy at this and every one of God’s seasons.

Why do we hunger for beauty? As children of the living, creating God, how could we not?


Ploughshares Fall

Friday, January 06, 2012

Thursday, January 05, 2012

"Awaken Your Senses" Blogger Contest: Free Book AND Chocolate!

My new book, Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God, (published by InterVarsity Press) is about to land in bookstores (and hopefully, book-buyer's shopping carts!).

Co-written with Beth Booram, its premise is that God has given us five senses and a brain with two sides, yet we often approach God in one way only: through words that are analyzed and processed logically in our left brain. The right brain, however, is the creative, intuitive center--the place that connects most to our seeing, smelling, touching, tasting and hearing, and that roots experiences in our hearts in transforming ways.

In Awaken Your Senses, Beth and I invite readers to engage their right brain in their faith through sensory spiritual practices that position your heart for divine encounter. Readings and a variety of exercises that utilize the reader's whole body leads them to experience God in new ways by

  • tasting chocolate, words, matzoh, Scripture, forgiveness
  • seeing the moon, wisdom, art, glory, your best self
  • touching others, stones, prayers, rubble, Jesus
  • hearing silence, music, pain, footsteps, the Spirit, the news
  • smelling gardenias, life, salty air, home, healing oil, coffee
Our book has received some very fine endorsements --

"With Awaken Your Senses, Brent Bill and Beth Booram have given us a superb resource for seeking the God of life through sensuous experience, a way of knowing that has been sadly neglected--and too often held suspect--by the church. How did a faith based on the claim that 'the Word became flesh' become so divorced from bodily, incarnate knowledge? Here is a beautiful book that will help us reclaim our bodies, our senses and our relationship with God."

—Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak

"Amazingly, we become dull to something as extraordinary as life, and bored by someone as awesome as God. This book woke me up without beating me up, and gave me tangible, practical ways to savor the sacrament of life, to have genuine gratitude for my body and its senses, and to sink into the glory of God until I felt nothing but joy. Read this and be blessed."

—James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God

To help get the word out about the message of our book, Beth and I are sponsoring a contest. It's an open call to any blogger to send us 5-10 questions about Awaken Your Senses. We will answer each one individually -- a sort of virtual interview. The virtual interview judged best* will win a signed copy of the book and a gourmet assortment of goodies from The Best Chocolate in Town (my favorite chocolate place!).

A picture of the book jacket, blurbs by others, photos of Beth and me, and video clips (like the one below) are available for the asking.

Questions for the virtual interview will be accepted through January 15th and the virtual interview must be posted by February 1 on the blogger's blog (is that redundant?). Entries will be judged by February 5th ("SuperBlog Sunday") and the winner announced to great acclaim on February 6th (the official book release date). Send interview questions (along w/ a link to your blog) to

Visit or for information about Beth or me.

Let the contest begin!

-- Brent

*as judged by my wife Nancy who rarely reads a blog (except mine to make sure I have not said anything to scurrilous) but knows good questions when she sees them.

Family of Brent Bill, employees of Brent Bill and, and Brent Bill's cat are ineligible to participate in the contest. Prohibited where void. Side effects include dizziness, neuralgia, and innuendo.

It's a Book Party -- And You're Invited!

It's a Book Party at Brent's House -- and You're Invited!

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It's A Party -- And I Hope You'll Come!

As you probably know by now, Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God is now available!  To celebrate its release, I'm having a book release party at Ploughshares Farm -- and you're invited.

The party will be January 15 from 3-5:30 in the afternoon at Ploughshares Farm (6960 E. Hendricks County Rd, Mooresville, IN 46158).  It's a drop-in/drop-out sort of thing -- so you don't have to stay the whole time, though you're welcome to, if you'd like.

We'll have food (fixed by Nancy, who's a great cook!) and drinks.  Beth Booram (the co-author of the book) will be there and she and I will be happy to sign books. 

Of course, we'll have copies of Awaken Your Senses for sale -- at the special book release party price of $12 ($3 off retail). If you buy Awaken Your Senses at the party, you'll also get a free copy of my Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes.

Reservations are requested -- mostly so we know how much food to fix!  Just email me at if you plan on coming.

If you'd like a map to Ploughshares, just drop me an email ( and I'll send one to you.  Googlemaps is really accurate, though.  

I hope you have a blessed holiday season -- full of the peace that this season is meant to bring.


PS If you live too far away to attend (or just don't feel like partying), but would still like an autographed book at the release party price, just email me at and I'll get one to you!

PPS January 15 is also the meeting day of Friends in Fellowship, the Quaker worship group that meets at Ploughshares.  It gathers at 6:30 and you'd be welcome to join us for worship that evening, if you'd like.

Awaken Your Senses is available at fine independent stores like

and Barnes & Noble and

"A deeply pleasing book" -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)


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