Have you ever been in the situation where all the things that matter in life seem to stop working and everything that’s supposed to help you fix those things only seems to make them worse? Because, that’s the place I’ve created this transgressive devotional journey for. This is a creative journey, intended to awaken your body, mind and heart to the mystery of God. And to do so in ways that might feel counter-intuitive at times.
I’m an academic theologian whose devotional life has been profoundly shaped by feminist, disability, traditionally orthodox, queer and indecent theologies. I am a minister, ordained over a decade ago by a Baptist church in Nashville, TN: a kind of home to which I can’t return…but which, nevertheless, remains home. And I’m an everyday Christian who faith has been shaped by a childhood spent in Catholic school, my teens spent in Charismatic Evangelicalism, and now a sort of Baptist sacramental person who attends Anglican church of Canada worship with my family.
These aren’t ways of being in the world that naturally cohere! So over the years, at various times, I’ve found it really difficult to get them all to play nice with each other. In fact, whenever I try to get them to play nice with each other, I find it becomes particularly difficult to play nice with God.
So I thought, what if I just let them play naughty instead?
That’s where the book, Transgressive Devotion, came from. And through sharing that book with ministers and Christians around the world, it’s where the idea for this Transgressive Devotional came from too.
I know well the feeling of being abandoned by God, and how difficult it can be to maintain presence to that absence when it happens. I know well what it’s like to fear the Lord and to realize that avoiding that fear only makes things worse: that I need to learn to risk union with God instead. And I know what it’s like to crave certainty in my faith but to discover that doubt is also where a genuine encounter with Divine Mystery becomes possible.
The journey I’m inviting you to take here isn’t focused on giving you new ways to think about God. I’m not trying to give you good ideas or the right answers or even the right questions. Instead, this a journey where we’ll engage our feelings in relation to God – those that have that hurt us and those that can help us, those that have distanced us from God and those that can draw us more deeply into the Divine life.
We’re going to discover new ways to feel about God. My hope is that God will discover new ways to feel about us too.
Of course, thoughts and feeling are always intertwined. So I expect this creative journey will give you new insights too! And that’s why each of the six topics we engage across this site are all accompanied by activities to stimulate your head, heart and body. Certainly you’ll be drawn to some of these activities more than others. You’ll think some are too dry and others too hokey. But I do encourage you to try them all, to see what they can unlock in you and, more importantly, how they might let you be surprised be Divine presence!
You can take this journey alone, or gather a group of friends to do it together. I intend it as a free resource for churches to use in their own bible and devotional studies. You could even use it to structure a retreat. However you engage, though, please do tag me on twitter and let me know! And if you find it helpful, please do share it with your friends!
But for now, enjoy the ride! Trust your gut. Trust God. God is waiting somewhere in here for you to find her!
Welcome to your Transgressive Devotional! I’m excited to guide you through this creative journey, where I hope you’ll discover new ways to encounter the Divine. The vestibule will serve as your map for your journey. There you’ll find the doorway for each sacred space. But for now, you can get started by watching the video above.
This journey is designed so that you can take it alone or with a group, over the course of a weekend retreat or 6-week course—or, really, any other way you want! And if you’re a minister or are using Transgressive Devotion for a theology course, please feel free to use this site as a resource in your work!
My intention for the journey is that you travel from Abandonment to Presence, Fear to Risk, and then Certainty to Doubt, as the sacred spaces along the bottom row each transgress, transcend and thereby transform the spaces along the top. You’ll find further suggestions at each fork in the road along the way, though, if you want to take a different approach. Just remember, you can always return to the vestibule or visit any of the other sacred spaces via the drop-down menu at the top right-hand corner of each page if you get lost.
Each sacred space takes about an hour and a half to explore if you do all the activities you find there. But you can also just dip in and out as you desire.
If you’re interested in having me help you facilitate events around these resources, please do contact me through the links below for further information. And of course, if you want to support this work, an easy way to do so is to buy the book—Transgressive Devotion: Theology as Performance Art.
But for now, enjoy the ride. Trust your gut. Trust God. She’s waiting in here somewhere for you.
Natalie Wigg-Stevenson teaches Theology at Emmanuel College (Toronto). She’s passionate about helping people expand their theological imaginations so they can discern new ways to encounter the living God. She lives in the east end of Toronto (Treaty 13 lands) with her spouse and three daughters.