Discussion Questions for Morgan Harper Nichols: Blessed are the Mirrors - Kate Bowler

Archbishop Justin Welby: Suspicious of Joy

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Discussion Questions for Morgan Harper Nichols: Blessed are the Mirrors

Listen to the conversation between Kate and Morgan, here.

1. Kate begins the podcast by asking, “What do you really need to hear when life is coming apart?” Is it something inspirational—or something more gentle? Is it something optimistic—or something more realistic? What genuinely helps you when you’re feeling most helpless?

2. Morgan Harper Nichols is an artist and poet who transforms truth into beauty. She wrote a poem in a particularly sad and alienating season that ends with, “There is more to you than yesterday.” How does that line speak to you?

3. Morgan learned to separate her blackness from her Christianity. Then, after the 2016 election, the separation became unbearable. She felt betrayed by the church community she thought she knew and began turning that grief into shareable art. Have you ever had an experience of losing your people? What did or could you do with your grief? Does Morgan’s story spark any new insights?

4. Being a mirror is a spiritual practice for Morgan. Instead of trying to come up with the perfect thing to say to those who are struggling, she simply reflects back to them their own words. What do you know about the magic of mirroring?

5. One of Morgan’s favorite quotes comes from Wendy Beckett who writes, “Art accepts all the sadness and transforms it, implicitly affirming that beauty is essentially the presence of God.” Has a work of art ever transformed your grief into something bigger and more gorgeous? Describe or draw what happened.

6. Both Morgan and Kate think of their social media platforms as a sort of ministry of being and seeing humans. What do you think about this approach to social media—or ministry?

7. When people hear the word God, they often equate it with certainty. So Morgan tries to use other words in her art that go beyond the common associations. What is your relationship to the word God? Do you use alternative words to mean the same thing? What is your language for life’s uncertainty?

8. One of Kate’s friend studies people’s deepest beliefs. But instead of asking them about these beliefs head-on, he asks instead, “If the lights went out right now, what song would you be singing?” How would you answer that question? What beliefs does it shine a light on within you?

9. “Making art has been like…this is the place where God meets me for me,” Morgan reflects when asked about how art anchors her in spiritual practice. What spiritual practices make you feel most at home in the world?

10. Morgan ends the podcast by reading a blessing for listeners. She says, “You are still a capable, thriving being. At a slower, shadow-lined pace.” Can you give yourself permission to be both thriving and tired today? May it be so.

Bonus: After listening to this week’s podcast, what part of Kate & Morgan’s conversation resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?

Discussion Questions written by author, editor, and facilitator Erin S. Lane.

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