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The Truth About Friendships and The Wisdom of Jesus & Songs

You have eyes like mine…
Are we strangers or am I you are I..?
Cloud Cult, Chain Reaction

Hopped a grainer out of Pig’s Eye toward Milwaukee
The Deer between the tower and the tracks saw right through us, said:

You don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where you’re going.
You think you’re you, but you don’t know who you are, you’re not you…
You’re Everyone Else.
You’re Everyone Else!
mewithoutYou, Cattail Down

Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you…All I have is yours, and all you have is mine…Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
– Jesus, John 17

Love your neighbor as yourself.
– Jesus, Mark 12

Therefore,

The kindest thing you can do for those you love – and for those you hate – is to release them from your thoughts of them, anything they’ve ever meant to you, good or bad. This way, you and they are free to approach one another in the precious, unfolding present.

And –

If you find yourself overly clingy, overly attached, overly idolatrous toward a loved one or friend, get this: What you long for in this ‘other’ person is what you want to be in yourself – and you already have it within yourself, just waiting to be discovered! You’re already them – you’re already that!

For more on friendship, see Dan Brennan‘s excellent Sacred Friendships Project – it’s like the PostSecret of friendship.

The Landfall Crowns the Voyage: CS Lewis in Carl McColman’s ‘The Lion, the Mouse & the Dawn Treader’

I first got to know Carl McColman mere months (possibly even weeks) after getting married. In early 2006, both he & I were linked to a mutual Christian mystic’s blog whose name escapes me now. Carl’s Website of Unknowing was instantly familiar to me as a site that had both intrigued and scared me a bit in college, years before. It was then – in the late 1990s or early 2000s – that Carl had laid out his then-path of being a “Christian-friendly Pagan’ who was wholly conversant with my tradition. It scared me because of his easy fluidity between these two worlds, where I saw only hard walls.

Flashing forward to my re-discovery of Carl’s site five years or so later. I was intrigued by his autobiographical Beliefnet piece After the Magic, describing his exit from his neo-Pagan milieu into Roman Catholicism of all things!  Once again rendered palatable to this newly-married, newly-minted (cautiously) post-evangelical, a website became a person: I got to know Carl in realtime as my wife and I started hanging out with him and others at the Atlanta Christian Mystics Meetup during our final months before the Raleigh move. I learned a thing or three about how to hold one’s tradition as truth with integrity while not running roughshod over others, upon witnessing Carl’s lived experience of now being a “Pagan-friendly Christian.”

Last year he released the acclaimed Big Book of Christian Mysticism, which certainly lived up to its name. And while his next offering is not the autobiographical work I’m still hoping for (the Beliefnet piece was such a tease), The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader  is a step in that direction. It takes a serious, sustained look at C.S. Lewis’s life and spirituality vis-a-vis the most allegorical of his Narnia novels.

Lewis, Carl contends, penned his children’s novel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader around the classic Christian mystical stages of purgation, illumination, and union.

This voyage, the book’s official description reads, is “for Christians of all ages, is full of adventures, temptation, discomforting silence, dealing with “Dufflepuds” (distractions), and a final terrifying journey to the “Island of Darkness” (the dark night of the soul). As the Dawn Treader sails beyond where the stars sing, you will discover a world of wonders characterized by light and clarity, and encounter Alsan – Christ – himself.”

Lewis’s interpreter, McColman, is an enigma himself. As I’ve gotten to know him over the years, I’ve met a gentle soul with a wicked wit. Raised a staunch Lutheran, forged in the fires of both the Jesus Movement and charismatic renewal, McColman became by turns Episcopalian, agnostic, and neo-pagan. In the latter mode he became a trusted spiritual guide and best-selling author, counting books such as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Paganism and Embracing Jesus and the Goddess to his credit. Then, after his visionary encounter with Christ led him to a transfigured Christian faith, Carl began retail work with the monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, where he remains today. 

So what does he do with Lewis? Here’s an example:

In Letters to Malcolm, Lewis refutes the idea that mystical experiences are an end in themselves. As he saw it, mysticism, by itself, is neither good nor evil; it is the content or the object of mystical experience that determines its ultimate value. “Departures are all alike; it is the landfall that crowns the voyage.” In other words, any kind of mystical experience is simply a “departure” from normal awareness and ordinary reality. It’s like seeing a glorious site in nature—the Grand Canyon, for example—for the first time. The beauty, the vastness, the austerity—these all combine to create an experience of wonder, or of humility, or even of ecstasy. Or, think of how some people’s lives are changed when they encounter suffering, or poverty, or other forms of human need. The experience of compassion and sadness in the face of human misery can change a person’s life forever…But an experience, in itself, does not make someone a mystic.

Whether an experience is one of great joy, or love, or sorrow, or suffering, or even a more “classic” mystical experience of feeling God’s presence in our hearts, we need to ask: where does this experience take us? Lewis goes on to say, “The saint, by being a saint, proves that his mysticism (if he was a mystic; not all saints are) led him aright; the fact that he has practiced mysticism could never prove his sanctity.” In other words, mysticism does not necessarily make a person a saint, nor does sanctity necessarily make one a mystic. For Lewis, there’s no contest: if we have to choose between being a spiritual master and a holy person, seek holiness. Better to be humble and holy than to be mystical and lost in the illusions of our own egos.

It’s this kind of counter-intuitive wisdom that avoids clichés and presents fresh considerations. I’ve gotten a lot out of this slender volume. Carl’s background makes him uniquely qualified to mine the depths of Narnia, as he is by turns literary, Christian (in the same Anglo-Catholic sense that Lewis was), and knowledgeable of the great reservoir of global pagan mythology that Lewis himself loved and employed. All of this makes reading The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader a contemplative experience in and of itself.

Watch a trailer for the book here:


It’s Time to Break Up Monsanto

From Food Democracy Now…

Last year the Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Agriculture held a series of 5 hearings investigating anti-competitive practices in the food and agricultural sectors. The hearings were historic and gave a vital opportunity for hundreds of thousands of America’s farmers, agricultural workers and citizens to call for an end to agribusiness’ excessive monopoly power. 1

Last December, Food Democracy Now! delivered more than 200,000 citizen comments to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney with your demands to break up the worst abusers. 2

Nowhere are these abuses more prevalent than in the extreme market share enjoyed by the seed and chemical company Monsanto, which has a virtual stranglehold on seed supplies in crucial sectors that has severely limited farmers’ choice in what seeds they can buy. Monsanto’s control of the seed market is so high that 93% of soybeans, 82% of corn, 93% of cotton and 95% of sugarbeets grown in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented genes. 3

Not only is this level of market share allowing Monsanto to jack prices up on farmers because there’s no competition, but it also threatens our democracy as Monsanto uses their corporate power to influence our regulatory agencies, like the USDA, EPA and FDA, as well as Congress and the White House.

It’s time to fight back and the only way to do that is to make sure that the Department of Justice continues their investigation into Monsanto’s anti-competitive business practices.

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter asking for the Department of Justice to break up Monsanto. It’s time to stand up for farmers and our democracy. Tell the Department of Justice that it’s time to do what’s right!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=7

Over the past two months the biotech industry has gotten their way in Washington with the approval of three new genetically modified (GMO) crops. First GMO alfalfa, then GMO sugar beets and most recently an industrial GMO corn for ethanol.4

The common link between these crops, except for the fact that they’re bad for farmers and the environment, is that they face virtually no oversight once they’re planted and their genes are allowed to contaminate neighboring fields and our food. These multinational corporations are not required to submit rigorous, independent peer reviewed studies prior to approval, but are allowed to submit their own corporate science to the federal government for approval.

To date, no petitions for approval of GMO crops have been denied. The only way to reign in the abuse that determines the quality and safety of the food that you and your family consume is to put pressure on the Department of Justice is to make sure that they follow through on their investigations into Monsanto’s abusive practices.

Last year seven state attorneys general launched an investigation into whether or not Monsanto “has abused its market power to lock out competitors and raise prices” while the DOJ is investigating anti-competitive practices with Monsanto’s marketing abuses in limiting access to seeds for farmers and competitors through manipulative contracts.5

It’s time to end Monsanto’s abuses, tell the DOJ to do their job and complete this investigation. It’s clear that abuses of farmer’s rights are taking place and the U.S. government needs to stand up to them now!

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter calling for the DOJ to protect our democracy and break up Monsanto!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=9

Thanks for taking action — your support is greatly appreciated! We need your help to keep the pressure on! If you can, please consider chipping in as little as $10 to help us continue this fight.

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=12

We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.

Thank you for participating in food democracy —

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team

Sources:

1. “DOJ’S Holder Calls for Historic Era of Antitrust Enforcement in Agriculture”, March 16, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/352?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=14

2. “Your Voices Were Heard Loud and Clear in DC this Week, Thanks for Standing Up for Family Farmers”, Food Democracy Now!, December 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/353?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=16

3. “Monsanto’s Dominance Draws Antitrust Inquiry” Washington Post, November 29, 2009.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/354?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=18

4. “Update: Obama Goes Rogue on GMOs, Tell Him to Say NO to Monsanto”, Food Democracy Now!, February 15, 2011.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/355?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=20

5. “Monsanto 7-State Probe Threatens Profit From Gene in 93% of Soy”, Bloomberg, March 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/356?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=22

 

Peace or a Sword? – Galatians for Lent

For this Friday’s Darkwood Brew post, I raise a troubling Galatian question about religious pluralism and/or ‘division for the sake of freedom’ vis-a-vis Paul in Galatians 3. I’d love to see you interact with it here.

Dangerous Meals – Galatians for Lent

I’ve written a post over at Darkwood Brew that could get me in trouble. Here’s how it opens:

“Jesus (peace be upon him) is unambiguously mentioned over 25 times in the Qur’an,” the young Imam explained to us at the Raleigh Islamic Center this week. “This is many more times than even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).” I was learning this in a very unique context – about 30 Christians and 30 Muslims got together Wednesday night for an unusual act of friendship: Sharing our distinctive understandings on Jesus, and sharing a meal.

Apparently, sharing meals in the manner of Jesus is controversial then as it is now: When I posted, later that night, on my Facebook Wall about what a great time I had, my online ‘friend’ count immediately went down. In the past, when I’d posted a positive story (or even neutral observation) regarding Islam, huge fights would break out on my Wall. Once-civilized Christians would say the most ignorant and hurtful things. I’ve had some painful-but-necessary online connection-purges since the initial e-skirmishes a year or so ago, but judging by the self-selection, it looks like I may have missed a few people…

Continue reading here!

Falling Upward

This life is a descent

To the center

Passed dissent to dissenter

Holy contagion

Scared discontent

(Gives way to)

Sacred malcontents

Who don’t pay this rent

(Which, after all, is too damn high)

But embrace the feast spread out;

The locusts and wild honey

of

Downward
Mobility.

Upward,

Falling

We don’t cling to the branches

But instead

eat straight

from the root.

Note: I have not yet read Richard Rohr‘s Falling Upward, but I’ll bet it’s good. Its very title touched off an inner impulse that’s been composting in me for some months now; hence this poem.

If Darwin Prayed – Bruce Sanguin

If you listen to the pundits, contemporary people are increasingly divided between godless scientists and superstitious religionists. Those who attempt to bridge the gap between science and faith are portrayed as either wild-eyed fundamentalist creationists or self-hating liberals throwing Jesus under the bus to be more palatable to a modern age. Thankfully, pastor and author Bruce Sanguin defies all of these stereotypes in his prayerbook If Darwin Prayed. As a person who’s serious about both the historic faith of the Church and an open-hearted embrace of contemporary science, Bruce has given us a treasure trove of prayers that can form a liturgical backbone for the 21st century.

As Bruce puts it, “These are new prayers for a new era. They spark the spiritual imagination back to life and reorient us to a mystical unity with the universe, Spirit, and all of creation. Emerging out of the conversation between the science of evolution and spirituality, these prayers continually surprise with their earthy wisdom and a profound celebration of life. They awaken in us a sacred impulse to evolve in and toward the heart of the divine.”

For worship leaders, the prayers follow the season of the Christian year. You’ll find prayers you can use for every season of the year as well as for special occasions like communion and baptism – even Trinity Sunday! As an aid to private devotional practice, they awaken the soul to a cosmic identity – being the presence of the evolving universe in human form. The prayers are also being used as devotions to open small groups, cohorts, and Sunday schools.

 What others are saying:

“The spirit expressed in Bruce’s Sanguin’s inspired prayers is not just intelligent and innovative, it’s juicy! It transcends the split between charismatic evangelical Christianity and better-reasoned but less-inspiring mainstream Christianity. The living presence of God shines through the words of these intelligent prayers. May that power help Bruce serve the birth of a new dynamic Christianity for a new millennium.”

—Dr. Terry Patten — co-author, with Ken Wilber, of Integral Life Practice”

Bruce brings radical thoughts and poetry of evolutionary Judaic-Christian lineage. It goes beyond religious rhetoric and into incarnate imagery and insights. The Cosmic Christ is presented as He should be, more than, greater than, and all in all for all-time. Synchronizing prayers that invoke life to body, soul and spirit in the now and for tomorrow.”

— Robert Ricciardelli, Converging Zone Network 

“There are two ways to truly explore an evolutionary panentheistic Christianity.  One involves a bunch of books with tons of footnotes and the other is prayer.  Bruce’s prayers are composed with the hand of a poet, the heart of minister, and the kind of eye opening sincerity you just can’t help but lean into the integral vision they inspire.”

Tripp Fuller, co-founder, Homebrewed Christianity Podcast

“Earthy, yet cosmic; scriptural, yet poetic; scientific, yet spiritually inspiring – Bruce Sanguin has created a compilation of immense liturgical worth, but also a timely source of nourishment for the spiritual seekers of the 21st. century.”

— Diarmuid O’Murchu, Author of Evolutionary Faith

“Until evolution and the new cosmology become the context of our faith, spirituality and worship, the wonders of nature as recently revealed by science will remain intellectual abstractions. This is why Bruce Sanguin’s adventurous new book is an important contribution to the current dialogue of religion and science. Surely the great geologist and spiritual master Teilhard de Chardin is smiling on Sanguin’s work.”

— John F. Haught, Ph.D, Senior Fellow, Science & Religion, Woodstock Theological Center

“Today, there is no shortage of wonderful books on prayer, but Bruce Sanguin in his book, If Darwin Prayed, blends wonder, contemplation and Holy Mystery in prayers that resonate deeply with co-creators embracing their connectedness with all that is.  These cosmic prayers for the liturgical seasons are uniquely inspiring for pioneers on the sacred path of conscious evolution, evoking a coherence of heart, mind and soul.”

—  Barbara Marx Hubbard, Founder of The Foundation for Conscious Evolution, author of Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential.

“If Charles Darwin had not been in a spiritual muddle because of the inadequacy of his era’s dominant theology, he might well have prayed with the power and passion of Bruce Sanguin. Some people dismiss Christian theology that embraces scientific evolution as arid. But they have not experienced Sanguin’s deep, earthy, joyous prayers. The outpourings in this book shimmer with mystical connection. Their psychological insights elicit shudders of recognition. They offer direction for our sacred paths.” 

Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun spirituality columnist


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    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

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    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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