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The Practice of If-Then Journaling

by Phillip Kroh


Merry Christmas. This week I am writing talk about the third in four categories of spiritual practice or potential means of spiritual growth, tradition, scripture, reason, and experience. An offering of what could be a daily spiritual discipline for reason is trickier to pin down than the others. There are plenty of examples of the use of reason in the Christian tradition from the earliest writers such as Origen of Alexandria to the present, but I would not describe their written works as an example of a spiritual discipline for daily or weekly practice.


This week I will have to get a bit more inventive. I offer to this week a practice I am calling ‘if-then journaling’. If-then statements are straightforward examples of deductive reasoning, a method of coming to ‘logical’ conclusions older than written history and dominant in Europe for millennia.


As a spiritual practice, if-then journaling could look like keeping track of thoughts you have related to religion or spirituality throughout the week. For example, “if the Christ is able to be born as a human, then… reality is compatible with the stuff of divinity, and if reality is compatible with the stuff of divinity then… the properties of the divine may be revealed through substance and through human beings”. It may seem a bit silly, but you may be surprised what kind of insights you come to using journaling to give those thoughts a bit more shape, space, and intent. If you have in the past wondered about the use of reason to understand Christ, such as shown in the Christmas narrative, I invite you to give your own sense of reason a chance to see what it may come up with when focused to the task.