Basking in their Brilliance: 4 who Lit our Way
Updated: Oct 21
What do Leanne Payne, St. John Paul ll, Robert Gagnon, and Josef Pieper have in common? These are the four brilliant minds I have chosen as the thinkers who most influenced Desert Stream Ministries.
From diverse spiritual and academic backgrounds, each writer envisioned something deeper and truer for the human person than popular culture dictated. Each labored hard to forge works that reflected something of Jesus’ truth and beauty for all humanity. And each possessed a grace of faith and compassion for persons vulnerable to broken sexuality. Not content to just highlight disorder, each, in distinct ways, guided weak ones to aspire to wholeness.
These are the four whose works we will ponder during our upcoming 40 days of prayer. From Oct. 14th-Nov. 22, I shall quote one author daily and briefly reflect on its import for us. We will make their wisdom a prayer, asking Jesus to help us steward these gems well, that we might shine in a confusing age.
How did this come about? Last summer, for our 40th Anniversary, I realized that each decade had a book that lit the way during those ten years.
The first work, The Broken Image, by Leanne Payne, paved the way for our ministry. She was a C.S Lewis scholar, a leader in Christian Renewal, and the mentor who most influenced me. ‘Image’ was published in ’81, which corresponded with our 1980 beginning. She fused our belief in the healing power of Jesus with her insightful take on how we fracture and how we heal.
In the nineties, I met Christopher West, who handed me an early edition of St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body. This book combines the late pope’s theological, philosophical, and pastoral gifts into the best guide I know on how to integrate our spirituality with our sexuality.
At the onset of the new millennium, Scripture scholar Robert Gagnon released The Bible and Homosexual Practice, the gold standard for any in-depth biblical take on what our sexuality is for and what it isn’t. As we fought for marriage in the public square, Gagnon’s work strengthened us immensely, and still does.
Around 2012, Fr. Paul Check urged me to read Josef Pieper’s The Four Cardinal Virtues. Pieper was a German scholar founded on the watershed work of St. Thomas Aquinas. As a young Catholic, I wanted to know more about ‘chastity’ but discovered that any accurate take on it had to be founded on the big four: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Understood rightly, chastity took on virile and robust dimensions that I’m eager to share with you.
On October 14th , join us as we bask in the brilliance of four sharp bright minds who lit the way for us.