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Monday, November 16, 2009

Gratitude is a powerful tool of transformation:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. - Melodie Beatie

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bishop Spong's Manifesto

Many of you have been asking me where to get a copy of the full manifesto by Bishop Spong that I referenced on Sunday - so here it is.... this came to me via his weekly emails which you too can sign up to receive at www.johnshelbyspong.com


Thursday October 15, 2009

A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!


I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.


I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.


In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.


I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.


I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.


I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.


The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.


I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.


Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.


This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.


– John Shelby Spong

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Recovering the Mystic Self


In the July Science of Mind magazine article Holmes tells us that a mystic is one who has a “deep, inner sense of Life and his unity with the Whole.” He goes on to recognize some of the great mystics of the ages, past and present. Today we can confidently add Holmes’s name to that great role call. The dictionary defines the mystic as one who has a pursuit of communion or identification with, ultimate reality. And it is toward that definition that Holmes’s work becomes a valuable tool on the journey.

You see, like Jesus, Buddha and other great mystics, Holmes believes that each of us is destine to be a mystic in our own right. He removes the “mystery” and provides us with a tangible pursuit of union with Divine Reality through our own application of spiritual principles. In the declaration of principles or What We Believe, he states “anyone may become a revealer of this truth who lives in close contact with the indwelling presence.”

Awakening the mystic within begins with the recognition that you are more than what meets the eye. You are more than your body, more than the roles you play, more than what others think of you, or for that matter what you think of you! As you begin to take this idea into meditation and contemplation, you become more and more acquainted with the ultimate reality of the universe. This is what Holmes is driving at by a “conscious courting of the Divine Presence.” How wonderful to awaken to your true identity as an emanation of universal Love, Truth and Beauty. The truth is you were born in this awareness; every one of us comes to this world with a deep inner sense of our unity with the whole.

So, are you ready to re-claim your mystical self? Are you ready to stop courting ideas of lack, limitation, and not-enoughness? Are you ready to roll up your belief in the material world as your source and supply and number it with the things once thought to be real? If so, then you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime! You are ready to live, move and have your being in the awareness of God consciousness. Your reward for stepping out on this adventure? Nothing less that truly knowing that you are, and have always been, whole perfect and complete. And like Holmes and others before him, you’ll know first hand that living life as a mystic is the sanest thing you can do.

Your Internal GPS (The Principle of Divine Guidance)


In the June Science of Mind magazine article from Ernest Holmes we read about the principle of Divine Guidance. He presents us with the idea that we are surrounded by an Infinite Intelligence and that anybody can access and use this guidance who permits themselves to. This guidance, he states, is God’s gift forever delivered. What a marvelous idea!

I once had a teacher who would ask me questions about my future plans, dreams and aspirations – and often I would find myself saying “I don’t know.” I felt distressed about the many options before me. To which she would respond rather simply with “Well David, suppose you did know…then what would your answer be?” She understood the principle of divine guidance. She understood that there was something within me that did know and that all I needed to do was to call upon It. In fact there is something within each of us that knows exactly what the answers are to any challenge or situation facing us. I think of it as having an internal GPS device. I recently purchased a GSP device for my car and I absolutely love it! Even on the regular routes that I know well, I like to see the path it recommends to me.

It seems that in today’s world we are faced with so many choices, about everything! Which one is the right one for me? how can I be sure? These questions have passed though everyone’s mind a thousand times. Holmes provides us with some simple guidelines at the end of the article for calling on this guidance and trusting that it will respond. But we must call upon it and trust in it. And to the part of our little mind that wishes to doubt, fret or worry let us turn to Emerson, who reminds us that “The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.” (from Self-Reliance)

In other words, you have an internal GPS. The Universe knows where you are. Now, tell the universe where you want to go (state your destination) and trust the route that unfolds. This is one course you can’t get lost because at every turn in the road, God is present and divine guidance is waiting to be called upon. In the words of Raymond Charles Barker, “Divine Mind? You know what to do, now do it!”

You Are A Spiritual Being

In the May issue of Science of Mind magazine article from Ernest Holmes, we gain some wonderful insights into his view of spirituality. These excerpts come from his first book, "Creative Mind", and provide a wonderful view into his consciousness in the early stages of what became a 42 year career of published spiritual ideas! Holmes addresses what it is to have a spiritual life.

How refreshing it is to know that to have a “spiritual life” does not require any external add-ons. The car you drive, what you eat, or your exercise program cannot bring you a more “spiritual life.” The only thing that that is truly required is your trust in Spirit. When you come to trust and rely on the Spirit from which all things come, then, and only then, are you leading a spiritual life.
For many of us this may be a tall order, as we have been acculturated into a society that revolves around material goods and mass consumerism. Breaking this spell does not have to be a complicated matter. Begin asking yourself where everyday things and objects come from. It won’t take you long to realize that everything, your coffee cup or the chair your sitting in, all came from the invisible realm. That is, they began as ideas in someone’s mind. This is the Universal Mind to which Holmes frequently refers. Holmes is really telling us that we are free to live as unique individuals. Being spiritual means knowing the ultimate source from which all things come.

Holmes also places a strong emphasis on the freedom of the individual soul. He states: “The Almighty has put the truth into your own soul; look there and there alone for it.” The bookstores are filled with authors who will tell you how to be more spiritual and how to interpret and analyze various aspects of your life, but only you can correctly interpret what is unfolding in your experience. After all, you have just as much access to the intelligence of the universe as any other person. Holmes understood this. His message is one of spiritual liberation—to become familiar with, trust, and know your own innate goodness, intuition, and connection to the whole.
You are a spiritual being; travel well!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bold Belief


It was Goethe who said, “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Ernest Holmes is a fine demonstration of that truth. This month’s article strikes a chord that makes me profoundly aware of both his boldness and genius. How awesome and inspiring are his words as he confidently declares that there is one power, one presence, and one truth running through the ages, all mystical teachings, teachers, and sacred writings.

Let us contemplate for a moment the assertion that throughout time and history there has been, and still is, a Universal Intelligence behind /all and expressing through all/. Not only that, but through the vast diversity and creativity of human expression, in both the religious and secular realms, there is ultimately one truth being expressed in infinite ways. Now that is a bold claim!

But here is where the pure genius of Holmes’s work comes in. Just at that magical point when your consciousness has been expanded and stretched to its limits, he turns around and makes it personal!

This magnificent power that you have contemplated is in you, right now. You can use this power to literally change your life. Holmes tells us that if we require a better God, then we should believe in one. In other words, stop waiting for something or someone “out there” to help you create the life you want. Take charge of the direction of your thoughts and beliefs, and in so doing take charge of your life.

As we welcome the return of spring, I invite you to take on a bold belief. Get quiet for a moment and ask yourself: “What bold idea or belief is waiting to emerge in my life?” What would it look and feel like for you to really embody, as your true nature, the belief in your perfection, wholeness, prosperity, and love vibration?

What have you got to lose? After all, you have the creative power and genius of the entire universe behind you. Go for it!


To read the full article of Ernest Holmes - pick up the April Issue of Science of Mind Magazine

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A New Thought for Easter



As I sit at a desk overlooking the river, moving from meditation to pouring over my resources for Easter, I am moved by the notion that one must really be willing to take on the Easter Journey in consciousness in order for it to have any meaning at all in the 21st Century. In doing so it has profound possibilities for launching us into a new era of Being, not only with ourselves but with each other - with the human family and with all of creation. My prayer is that we, each in our own way, take on this journey and Rise Up to our Highest Potential in this Life. I wish for everyone a powerful Easter experience. I am truly grateful for the inspired work of Bishop John Shelby Spong who has this to say about Easter:
"Easter with is story of the resurrection can also be transformed, I believe, and carried with us into a postexilic future. Yet before that is possible, the miracles of physical resuscitation, the angles who roll stones away from tombs, and the bodies that appear out of nothing and disappear into thin air must be dismissed for the developed legends that they are. But life that transcends every human limit is a powerful portrait. Death, which opens all things to new possibilities; love, which triumphs over hatred; being, which overcomes nonbeing - those are truths to which Easter points, and those are the truths that emerge when God is met on the edges and at the limits of our finite humanity. That is what the stories of the resurrection are all about."
pg. 190 of Why Christianity Must Change or Die by John Shelby Spong

It occurs to me that Easter itself must undergo a trial, crucifixion and ultimately, resurrection for the sake of its salvation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Closer Walk with Thee

Yesterday in service we talked about the season of Lent and what it means to be in a spiritual practice of fasting from thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that are no longer serving us. The most useful spiritual tool that I have found regarding a new thought look at Lent is the book "Keep a True Lent" by Charles Filmore from Unity Press. In the forward by Georgiana Tree West we read:
"When we withdraw our attention, interest, and support from the false and unworthy, this is true fasting. When we give that same attention, interest, and support to the enduring good, we are feasting on the things of the Spirit, and this is true prayer."

This idea alone is worthy of forty days of mindful focus. What are the false ad unworthy ideas, thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that we have been walking with? Are we willing to shift our attention, interest and support to that which is the enduring good of our life?
The Lenten season is a church institutional idea that is based on a very sound idea - taking time to internally clean house so that we are prepared for a deeper spiritual journey into our Christ Nature. Ultimately this is a very personal journey and no institution, church or spiritual system can facilitate (even though we may find ritual, community and inspirational support in them) that which is between God (whatever we conceive it to be) and ourselves.

I believe it is this notion of the very intimate and personal spiritual journey that we are each responsible for that Ernest Holmes was speaking to in his first published work, Creative Mind in the passage entitled "The Church of God"

The Church of God is not built with hands, it is eternal in the heavens; it is not lighted with candles; its dome is heaven and it is lighted by the stars of God's illumined thought, and each member in his separate start "shall draw this thing as he sees it, for the god of thing as they are". Here all people recognize the God within their own souls and ask for and see no other God. When you can look upon all creation as the perfect work of a perfect God, you will become a member of this church. I doubt very much if the church universal admits members from the church individual. When you can see in the saint and the sinner one and the same person, when you can realize that they one who kneels before the alter and the one who lies drunk in the street is the same one, when you can love the one as much as you do the other, no doubt you will be able to qualify. As it is now we have too many preachers who do not understand, that have no purpose; too many prayers, too many creeds, too many teachers, that have no message; too many churches, too many "learned" people, and too few thinkers. "The Kingdom of Heaven cometh not by observation". It is the "still, small voice" within the soul that speaks. The expanded thought will never wish to join or be joined to. Nothing human can contain it. It feels the limitation of form and ceremony and longs for the freedom of the Spirit, the great out of doors, the Great God of the everywhere. Alone in the desert, the forest or by the restless ocean, looking up at the stars, man breathes forth these words, "With only my maker and me".
- Ernest Holmes

Thursday, March 12, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Rev. David to be honored at Morehouse.

Rev. David Alexander will be inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College on April 2, 2009.

This event will occur as part of the 22nd Annual College of Ministers and Laity Program. It is also the period of the College's 142nd Science and Spiritual Awareness Week, March 29th through April 5th 2009. This year's theme is "The Mature Spirituality of a Renaissance Man." The speaker is Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Washington DC. The prestigious Gandhi, King, and Ikeda Community Builders Prize will be awarded posthumously to Yitzhak Rabin, former prime minister of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The ceremonies will take place in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on the campus of Morehouse College. Among the others to be inducted is Rev. David's dear friend Bishop Carlton D. Pearson.

Rev. David Alexander will also be the featured speaker at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, a New Thought embracing Pentecostal Church, at the invititation of Senior Pastor D.E. Paulk on Wednesday evening, April 1, 2009.

Rev. David has been dedicated to the work of Inclusivity and broadening the reach of New Thought's message into the world. Beginning with his friendship and collaboration with Sharif Abdullah, author of Creating a World that Works for All and director of the Commonway Institute and continuing with his outreach to Bishop Carlton Pearson during his "fall from grace," Rev. David continues to seek out new ways to connect the transformative principles of New Thought with the current issues of the day. Teaming up with cutting edge Inclusion leaders like Bishop Carlton and Pastor D.E. Paulk, Rev. David is helping to heal the separation and isolated exclusive thinking between the New Thought and Pentecostal Christian faith traditions, thereby spreading a message of a way of life that honors all paths to God and promoting spiritual tools for personal transformation that help make the world a better place.

(photo credit: Carl Studna)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Our place in Women's History


Yesterday was International Women's Day which began about 100 years ago to bring a greater awareness to issue of equality, treatment in the workplace, abuse and other social issues. (check out the About page in the IWD link above for more information.)

Our spiritual community (New Thought Center for Spiritual Living) spent the day honoring the Divine Feminine in spirituality and specifically gave tribute to the great women of New Thought History. I was surprised to find out how many of us did not know this history. When I was in college I took a Women's Studies course - where again, I was surprised to discover that the professor believed that there was no organized religious movement that has women in significant leadership roles or that ordained women into the fully life of ministry! I was shocked! Having grown up in the New Thought tradition, I was very aware of ordained women ministers. As a result I wrote most of my papers in that course about the role of women in New Thought (none of which the professor had any awareness of!).

The truth is that we ought to be shouting from the mountaintops - loudly - the historic place that New Thought has both in Women's History and in religious history. When events like International Women's Day come along - we ought to be involved in a bold and significant way - educating others on our proud history and standing as a shinning example of a movement that has a over 100 year old history of breaking the mold!

Beginning with Mary Baker Eddy, who was healed by PP Quimby, went on to establish the Christian Science Movement...continuing with Emma Curtis Hopkins whom we regard as the "Teacher of Teachers" for as she broke away from Mary Baker Eddy - and established her own Theological Seminary in Chicago - she taught hundreds of students - many of whom became significant leaders and founders of the various branches of New Thought. This history extends to present day - as 3 of the 5 major branches of New Thought; United Centers for Spiritual Living, Unity and the Universal Foundation for Better Living are all headed by women.

Even more importantly is the role that the early women of New Thought played in the women's suffrage movement and cultural conversations of the day in the early 1900's. In 1999 a new book which highlights this history was first published: Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920 by Beryl Satter. This work is a significant contribution to the library of women's history, American history and New Thought history. I hope that it will become as valuable and as referenced in our movement as Spirit's in Rebellion has.




Other references that I used last Sunday:
for more information on New Thought History - click here

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Re-investing in Faith


Philosophy in Action - for March 2009

Ernest Holmes teaching on faith is absolutely powerful and inspiring. However, for those of us early on our journey of faith, it can be a bit intimidating. In the Science of Mind he defines faith as
“an idea so inwardly embodied that the mind can no longer conceive of its opposite.”
Wow! Now that’s powerful stuff. But what if you do contemplate its opposite? Does that mean you have “less” faith? Often we approach life’s challenges with the notion of “if I only had more faith” or “I don’t have enough faith.” But the truth is you already possess all the faith you will ever have, right now!
If you have ever thought that all you need is more or enough faith in order to succeed, STOP. Begin to pay attention to where the faith that you do have is being used. Is is being used negatively or misplaced as Holmes describes? Do you find yourself saying “oh, I just knew that was going to happen!” when things go wrong? How about when things go better than expected? Do you think to yourself “gee, guess I was lucky?” If so, then its time to start re-investing your faith for higher yields.
It has been said that the difference between the mystic and the paranoid is a thin line. The paranoid believe that there is a grand conspiracy in the universe that is working against them. The mystic believes that there is a grand conspiracy in the universes that is working for them! All we need do to build our faith is to try on the idea that all things are working together for good, right now. In the bible we read: “All things work together for good to them that believe and those who are called according to his purpose” I like to think that since God is all that there is, then we are all called according to his purpose so the only question that remains is – do we believe it? This is what it is to have the faith of God.

for the full article on Faith by Ernest Holmes - pick up a copy of the March issue of Science of Mind magazine

Blog ReNewal

Greetings everyone - It's been a while since my last post and I'm excited to announce that this blog will have regular postings once again!

I now have a monthly column published in the Science of Mind magazine The column is Philosophy in Action - and is intended to be a follow up the the Ernest Holmes published article.

On or after the 15th of each month - that article will be posted here - so you the reader can post comments, ask questions and otherwise interact with the column and Holmes article.

Of course, I'll continue to publish other content as well.

I hope you'll enjoy this new feature and will spread the link to your friends.

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