Feb 28, 2014

Rewriting Jesus



This was my comment to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer when I signed the petition asking her to veto SB1062:

Whom would Jesus refuse to serve? This bill isn't just un-Constitutional. It's un-Christian.

I'd love to think that her decision to veto the bill was because of people like myself who petitioned and protested this legislative abomination. I'm not naive. I'm quite sure it had much more to do with the business leaders who brought their cumulative corporate weight to bear. Arizona doesn't want the opinions of the little people so much as it wants their tourism dollars.

Either way, that particular crisis was averted. But hate is a hydra. A similar bill is gathering momentum in Georgia.

Feb 19, 2014

Graham Hancock: Exploring Consciousness



Graham Hancock here offers an excellent synthesis of some of his more recent work. The "hard problem of consciousness" is turning out to be one of the most divisive issues in the sciences, as the TED fiasco made abundantly clear. Here Hancock discusses why TED was so challenged by his short talk and goes into a lot of depth on his own personal and professional processing of that question. The talk primarily focuses on three of his recent books. I've read them all and I've loved them all. Supernatural, in particular is on the short list of my very favorite books of all time. Enjoy!




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Feb 17, 2014

Breaking the TEAL SPELL -- UPDATE: The Noncasts

Flower of Life photo floweroflife_1_zpsd7651ce1.jpg


Update: The Noncasts (See Below)

Further Update: Blake Addresses Jason Freedman Mystery (See Below)

Yet Another Update: Kicking "Tealers" Down the Memory Hole (See Below)


Some years ago, when I was doing the Flower of Life teacher training with Drunvalo Melchizedek, one of my fellow travelers shared with me that he was troubled by what he called the "Drunvalettes." The term was his own invention but there was no mistaking his meaning. He even pegged a few of our classmates with that term. He liked Drunvalo quite a bit but that there was this kind of adulation by some Flower of Life folks made him uncomfortable. He had some concern that Drunvalo might have been fostering this unquestioning sycophancy. So one day when we were enjoying a break, he asked Drunvalo very directly how he felt about his Drunvalettes.

Dru shook his head and sighed. "I just try to stay out of it," he said.

That's one approach. There's a conversation to be had, for sure, about whether ignoring the phenomenon and trying to distance oneself from it is enough. Is it necessary to more actively discourage such behavior? But I think the one thing we were all in agreement on -- Drunvalo, myself, and the gentleman who raised the concern -- was that such hero worship was not a good or healthy thing.

The term "tealer" has similarly been thrown around to describe those who've drunk the "teal-aid." Some of her more passionate and angry defenders who've posted on my blog have been quite pejoratively labeled "tealers" by other commenters. So imagine my horror when I read this in a recent TEAL post about her seminar in Atlanta.

I am struck by how much the imprint of the days of slavery still remains on some of the older buildings and railways here in town. It has soaked its way especially into the old wood that dots the brick walls. The venue for yesterday’s workshop was one such a building. It was a fitting energy, seeing as how the theme of the entire workshop was self-liberation.

This group which is being called the “Tealers” is the most open minded, eccentrically intellectual group I have ever beheld.  I think it is now my favorite part of holding these workshops.  Long-term friendships are formed.  People find their place to belong. And I get to witness the fact that this world is in good hands.  All across the globe, they form a supportive web of awakening.  They touch the lives of the people in the cities they live in.  It is like a little legion of enlightened spirits, whose practice is that of non-resistance and expansion.

You're Freeeee! Wait. Not so fast.


Feb 6, 2014

UN Finds That Catholic Church is Bad for Children



The report is scathing.

The Vatican "has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by, and the impunity of, the perpetrators," a U.N. human rights committee charged Wednesday.

The Vatican is stunned, a little defensive, but standing firm in its homophobia.

The stinging language surprised the Vatican and put it in damage-control mode, with officials strongly defending the church and accusing the committee of allowing itself to be swayed by pro-gay ideologues. The Vatican, which defended itself at a U.N. committee hearing last month, said the panel ignored the measures the Holy See has already taken to protect children.

"I'm tempted to say that the text was probably written ahead of time," said the Vatican's U.N. ambassador, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi.

The report was unstinting in it's criticism of the Church's handling of its sex abuse crisis.

"The committee expresses serious concern that in dealing with child victims of different forms of abuse, the Holy See has systematically placed preservation of the reputation of the church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims," the report concluded.

At a news conference in Geneva, committee chairwoman Kirsten Sandberg ticked off some of the core findings: that bishops moved pedophile priests from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police, that known abusers are still in contact with children, and that the Vatican has never required bishops to report abusers to police.

It also targeted church attitudes on a number of hot-button issues.

The panel condemned church doctrine that it considers out of step with the principles of human rights and child welfare. In blunt language, the committee took particular aim at church stances on sexual orientation, reproductive health and gender equality. It delved into details, expressing its concerns, for instance, about the stereotyping of gender roles in Catholic school textbooks.

The Vatican pushed back hard.

The Vatican also slammed the UN for asking the Catholic Church to accept the practice of abortion, which Tomasi described as "a contradiction with the principle of life" that the UN itself should be defending. Tomasi said that the Committee did not seem to properly understand Church teachings on the matter.

The Vatican press office released a statement that said that the Holy See noted the recommendations, but expresses regret over “an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.”

The committee petitioned the Vatican to take immediate action.

Among other things, the panel called on the Vatican to immediately remove all priests known or suspected to be child molesters, open its archives on abusers and the bishops who covered up for them, and turn the abuse cases over to law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution.

I wouldn't hold my breath.

The committee's recommendations are non-binding and there is no enforcement mechanism. Instead, the U.N. asked the Vatican to implement the recommendations and report back by 2017. The Vatican was 14 years late submitting its most recent report.


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Feb 2, 2014

The Beautiful Unfoldment of an Episcopal Diocese



"I just stopped believing God was a mystery you could nail down with one book." ~ Keanu Reeves in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee


I was contemplating last evening, apropos of nothing, just why I did not become an Episcopal priest. I strongly considered it in my youth and even well into my college years. I knew I was "called" to religious service. But I outgrew the Church. What it came down to, I finally realized, was that as open and forward leaning as the Episcopal Church is, it's dogmatic enough to make me uncomfortable. I still felt too limited by doctrine. I couldn't be comfortable devoting my life to it, and worse, teaching things I really couldn't endorse.

I drifted in and out of the Church for some years. There were so many things about it that I loved but other things that were quite jarring. I vividly remember being at a funeral, after not having been at a service for a year or two, and hearing the "Prayer of Humble Access" as if for the first time.

We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table...

I'd heard it hundreds of times before but suddenly it was like nails on a chalkboard. So shame-based. What possible good could come from such self-denigration? That moment crystalized in my thinking the reason that Christian orthodoxy was just never going to work for me. It probably didn't help that I've always had an inherently mystical orientation. How could we be so much less than God when we we are God, I thought. I began to realize that, in fact, that central belief of mine wasn't actually endorsed by the Church. As egalitarian as the Episcopal Church was, it was also hierarchical. God was "up there" and outside of us. It didn't really make sense to me. So I went another way.




This morning I noticed that another tempest in a teapot is brewing in this Church for which I still have great affection. Once again, an Episcopal Diocese has made a step toward greater inclusivity and once again there is backlash. And this time it's over sacred geometry. 

The pediment of The Cathedral Church Of St. Paul in Boston has stood empty for 190 years, as the builders of the impressive Greek Revival structure ran out of money during the initial construction phase. It was finally completed in May of 2013, but since then it's come under fire for its unusual design, which features a backlit nautilus sculpture.

Though the original plans for the Episcopal church called for a classical relief of St. Paul preaching to King Agrippa, the current design is absent of traditional Christian iconography, featuring instead the clean lines of a seashell's interior which allude to Oliver Wendell Holme's poem "The Chambered Nautilus," writes The Living Church in a review.

On the one side of this divide, we have the artist who designed the piece to express a more universal "spiritual but not religious" ideal. On the other, priest and blogger Tim Schenck argues that, "A Christian cathedral by its very nature is and must be 'religious.'"

It's not that I don't take Father Schenck's point. But the idea of the Church moving past its circumscribed mythology and embracing a deeper spiritual truth appeals to me. While I have my own issues with the "spiritual but not religious" meme, it speaks to a growing trend away from dogmatic religion that I don't think the Church can outpace.





What I find striking about the nautilus sculpture, aside from its elegant beauty, is that it speaks to that deeper spiritual longing that has driven so many people away from organized religion. While it is not expressly Christian, it is very potent geometric iconography. The nautilus expresses the Fibonacci sequence which approximates the Golden Mean. It is a geometric expression of creation itself. Such forms speak directly to the soul.

One of the things I always loved about the Episcopal Church was its ecumenicism. I loved the outreach to other local denominations. I loved that we did things like bring the local Rabbi to speak to my youth group and then visit the synagogue. This openness has always been the hallmark of the Church. Reaching out with a more universal iconography seems like a natural progression to me, as natural as the unfolding of a logorithmic spiral.


Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
        As the swift seasons roll!
        Leave thy low-vaulted past!
    Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
        Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
        Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

~ From "The Chambered Nautilus"
by Oliver Wendell Holmes


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