Don’t Be Afraid Of What A Psychic Will Predict



In a guest post on Llewellyn, author Debra Robinson speaks from her own experience regarding psychic predictions of death. She writes:

The week before my twenty-four-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver, he asked me for a reading. I was in a hurry, so I looked at his palm and did a quick tarot layout. And I didn’t see his death. I interpreted what I saw as a huge change coming, which fit with what was going on in his life. I’m grateful I didn’t understand what I was seeing; it would’ve been unthinkable. Now, I think that my interpretation wasn’t too far wrong. The biggest change we’ll ever undergo is our transition to the afterlife; I just didn’t realize it was James’s time to make that journey. I’m glad I didn’t see it—it was better left unseen. Maybe God in His mercy holds back our gift at times like these.

My story and his are detailed in my book, A Haunted Life: The True Ghost Story of a Reluctant Psychic. The uncanny “coincidences” leading up to his death and his own clairvoyance about it (the pictures he painted of a giant heart; the song lyrics he wrote—”As close to tortured as I’ve ever been is lying here wondering, if my heart might beat away and away and away”—they all fell into place when we met the man who received James’s heart and he uttered James’s favorite phrase: “It’s all good.”

She adds that despite her belief in uncanny clairvoyance only a Higher Power, not a psychic, can truly know the time of your death. And wow–a man who received a teenager’s heart uttered his own favorite phrase. Wow.

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To Remedy Poverty, What About the Kingdom of God?


How does Christianity — the religion whose founder said “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20) — respond to the plight of Americans in poverty? Hardly speaking in a catholic voice, Roman Catholicism is divided along ideological grounds, represented by seemingly polar opposites Rep. Paul Ryan on the right and a fiesty nun on the left. They each got their turn to speak today on the record.

According to an article at Religion News Service, Sister Simone Campbell testified at a U.S. House Budget Committee hearing today:

[Paul] Ryan, himself a Catholic, has been criticized by fellow Catholics and even the hierarchy for his previous budget proposals, though he has defended his views, including during a controversial visit to Georgetown University last year when he was Mitt Romney’s running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.

On Wednesday, Ryan argued that the nation has spent $15 trillion dollars on the “war on poverty” and yet 46 million Americans are currently living in poverty, and 20 million Americans earn an income that is less than half of the poverty level.

Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said that 58 percent of households receiving SNAP have someone who is employed and in 82 percent of households on SNAP one of the family members finds work within a year. He said that shows what a crucial support the program provides to working families.

He called on Campbell to comment about those who need a little help from food nutrition programs “not so they can be in a hammock, but so that they can try to pull themselves and their families out of poverty.”

Campbell responded that for her the issue is wages — that minimum-wage jobs are “insufficient to support a family” and that SNAP is, just as intended, supplemental.

Campbell has been working with the interfaith community in Washington to craft what religious progressives call a “Faithful Budget” that they say advocates “reasonable revenue for responsible programs,” as well as accountability in making sure those programs work.

Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., asked Campbell what the church is doing wrong that it needed to reach out to the government to “do something that is so directly their nature,” adding that Christianity is about serving the poor.

In response, Campbell said that the issues are so big and charitable dollars aren’t sufficient. So there is “a government responsibility to ensure everyone’s capacity to eat,” she said. “We do the charity part.”

The ideological divide will not be bridged until those on the left acknowledge the importance of individual subject motivation and actions and those on the right acknowledge the importance of collective systems and culture to create the chains which bind people in poverty no matter how motivated they are to escape. Are they still talking past each other? According to this report, Ryan merely defended his views that government ought to do less and Campbell saying it ought to do more.

Integral solutions must look beyond the Lower-Right quadrant towards approaches which raise consciousness and coordinate cultural/religious responses and socio-economic structures. Nobody seems to want to talk about the possibility that humankind has the potential to overcome this problem once and for all, but it will take a revolution in consciousness — the fuller coming of the Reign of Heaven of which Jesus preached — to see it happen.

Photo: Religion News Service

An Atheist Criticizes Atheists Over Symbolic Blindness



Daniel Fickne, an atheism blogger at Patheos, has written a hearty criticism of extreme elements within the atheist community who have opposed the creation of a Holocaust memorial in Ohio on account that it includes the Star of David. Hard to believe that such a defense is necessary, it is good to see atheists policing one of their own, so to speak, in the interest of, well, let’s listen to Fickne’s own words:

But I am aghast, livid, embarrassed, ashamed, and offended to report to you that Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation has written a letter opposing this memorial under the false charge that it is exclusionary and violates the principle of the Separation of Church and State simply because it features the Star of David on government property and (only allegedly but not actually) omits other victims of the Holocaust…. n doing so they show an outright offensive inability to understand the multivalence of symbols and their different meanings in different contexts….

This monument is not an endorsement of the Jewish religion. It is an endorsement of the right to exist and thrive and prosper of one of the groups of people most heinously and relentlessly demonized and abused in all the world. That Star of David in this context is a symbol of the longest fighters for religious freedom, the people who endured in defiance of Christian theocracy (both formal and informal), the people who represent defiance against unbearable efforts towards marginalization like no one else in the European mind.

Assuredly a Holocaust memorial ought not be opposed on “separation of church and state” grounds; there are many legitimate state interests in publicly opposing genocide and reminding the public that such atrocities must never happen again. And it surely is good to oppose an Orange-hued (i.e., modernist) atheism which hews to overly reductionist readings of religious symbolism. But it is notable that Fickne cites the “multivalence of symbols”, a perennial Green observation, without noticing the fact that Teal gets so readily: symbols are not merely multivalent in a way that means all symbols are almost arbitrarily assessed, but symbols are perceived differently across a spectrum of levels of consciousness.

The real news here is not that a Green-speaking atheist opposes Orange-speaking atheists, but that the clash of levels of consciousness in the public sphere continues day after day without nigh a mention by the media. Atheists need more thinkers who not only see the multivalence of symbols, allowing them to respect differences of opinion with religionists, but thinkers who understand that symbols are embedded in evolutionary contexts of emerging wholeness and reconciliation. In this way, atheists might just move beyond not only beyond the theism but beyond the a-; beyond the antithesis which rejects the thesis of theism into a synthesis which understands things just a bit more holistically.

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Is There a Spiritual Crisis Among Young African-Americans?



An editor at Sojourner’s thinks there’s a Black crisis caused by the “promise of integration”. A provocative commentary published by Anthony A. Parker is called “Whose America is It?”:

The effect this loss of control has had on my generation is devastating. Growing up in “integrated” America has established a pattern of cognitive dissonance among young blacks. Inoculated with secular values emphasizing the individual instead of the community, and progressive politics over theology, young blacks rarely recognize each other as brothers and sisters, or as comrades in the struggle. We’re now competitors, relating to each other out of fear and mistrust.

The decay of culturally specific institutions in the black community has meant the supplantation of concrete programmatic policies designed to alleviate our worsening condition in America. Whereas black America once had a unique platform from which it could (and did) address issues, we are now reduced to angry rhetoric. Without ownership of black institutions, our best interests will never be served, our leaders will not be held accountable, and the only vested interest we will have is in our problems. And they are legion. Black-on-black violence, drug abuse, high school drop-out rates, teen pregnancy, single-parent households, high rates of incarceration, crime, homelessness, and inadequate health care, just to name a few.

WHO ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE GOING? And how are we going to get there? We can no longer answer these questions. Indeed, we have stopped asking them. But just as the future of blacks seemed to be in peril when integration was introduced decades ago, our future as a viable racial and ethnic group in this country will be greatly diminished unless a new model for racial and cultural development is established.

Let’s just say this much: ASSIMILATED DOES NOT EQUAL INTEGRAL. Assimilated means the particularity gets left behind in favor of the universal. Integral means that both the particular and universal are affirmed. And “integrated” is just a confusing term one ought not use if one really means Integral or Assimilated.

For what it’s worth, the article is based on something the author wrote in 1990. I remember that time well, my senior year studying Comparative Religion and Philosophy at Harvard. It was postmodernism’s heydey, the Green revolution. How well has it aged?

Pope Francis: Who Am I To Judge?



Pope Francis’s unscripted comments about gay people (or perhaps just gay priests) – “Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” is what it is. As a bisexual man and person of Catholic religious orientation, I enjoy the well-deserved attention it is receiving in the media.

Just when I thought: “Finally there’s a bit of good news in the world about religious traditionalists changing their minds and opening their hearts and setting a new tone that can usher in a new era in reconciliation between the straights and the gays!” wouldn’t you know it, a comment on the Facebook page for from a reader who says:

He’s just another puppet for profit, his words mean absolutely nothing to me…

Out of context, that’s just closed-minded and mean. The man is the pope, for God’s sake, and he’s just made a landmark shift in tone that could change the shape of gay spirituality forever. And all you can do is call him a “puppet for profit”?

But in context… well, that’s the thing. I don’t know that man’s context. I don’t know what he’s suffered at the hands of homophobia and religious indoctrination. I can’t put myself in his shoes because I don’t know what abuse he’s gone through and why apparently he hasn’t healed from it yet to the point where he knows that the pope’s words deserve at least as much respect as the guy he would meet over the deli counter at lunch. Just because he’s the pope doesn’t mean you can call him a “puppet for profit”! Ouch.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

What Would Jeremiah Do?


Featured today on BeliefNet is “Jeremiah: The Fate of a Prophet”, an excerpt from a book by Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Lau. Writing about Jeremiah, Lau says:

The words of the prophets have been preserved for us, their distant descendants, so that we may learn what is right in the eyes of God and man. But in their own days, in real time, there is hardly a prophet who has redressed the social, religious, or political wrongs of Israel; the prophets barked, but the caravan kept moving. Moreover, when a prophet dared to deviate from his usual message of morality and challenged the existing order, he was declared an enemy of the people. Thus, the prophet Amos was banished by the priest of Bethel, Amaziah, in the name of King Jeroboam: “Get thee out, seer!” (Amos 7:12).

Rabbi Lau encourages public critics today to see themselves not merely as commentators but as prophetic voices, even if it means paying a personal price for the vision. Jeremiah was one prophet who did, one about whom it could not be said that he told the people what they wanted to hear.

I’m not comparing myself to Jeremiah, but it is no revelation to my readers that I have been guided by angels and have taken the name (at least in spiritual matters not yet as a day-to-day appellation) Kalen O’Tolán, One Who is Buddha, Boson, and Book. I am a self-declared and Self-declared Prophet of God. And I have suffered the indignity of a few strange eye rolls from onlookers who heard me say that in person! Because that is just the sort of thing people today don’t want to hear and don’t expect to hear, not even from an Integral world spirituality blogger. Trust me the strange eye rolls weren’t all that bad.

We live a strange world. It is scandalous for a religion blogger to proclaim He is a Prophet of God, for surely that is a sign of insanity or at least mental instability. But in the world which I inhabit (I just call it reality), it is scandalous for a religion blogger to NOT be a prophet of the Sacred speaking out loud. What sort of insanity would it be to set one’s self on a soap box called a blog, write about the word of God, and yet to believe that one is NOT one’s self the Self speaking through the divine instrument?

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Dharma Talk for Tuesday: Jeff Foster

About Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster studied Astrophysics at Cambridge University. In his mid-twenties, after a long period of depression and illness, he became addicted to the idea of ‘spiritual enlightenment’ and embarked on an intensive spiritual quest for the ultimate truth of existence.

The spiritual search came crashing down with the clear recognition of the non-dual nature of everything, and the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary. In the clarity of this seeing, life became what it always was: intimate, open, loving and spontaneous, and Jeff was left with a deep understanding of the root illusion behind all human suffering, and a love of the present moment.

He presently holds meetings, retreats and private one-to-one sessions around the world, gently but directly pointing people back to the deep acceptance inherent in the present moment. He helps people discover who they really are, beyond all thoughts and judgments about themselves, even in the midst of the stress and struggle of modern day living and intimate relationships.

His website is

Rick Warren Returns to the Pulpit, Media Coverage Returns to the Rote



Get Religion may get a lot about religion and they may get a lot about the media, but only at a level of consciousness which numbs the mind of an Integral journalist such as myself. I’ve been reading the Terry Mattingly-helmed publication on and off since its very debut, mostly off in recent years to speak the truth. But that’s about to change if my latest experiment in the blogosphere, World Spirituality Post, becomes the blog that it could be.

After one season in which I could hardly find a Get Religion post to praise, Terry himself once called me a “heckler.” So now I heckle again, though I prefer to call it harmless criticism and praise. The reason I praise is simple: when I want to learn who is saying what about an important occasion in world spirituality — say, Rick Warren returning to preaching for the first time after the death of his 27-year-old son from suicide — I turn to them.

Get Religion has a schtick, and I use the term lovingly because it’s appropriate. I said so in my 2007 blog post on on religious journalism. They analyze news media to find the religious ghosts. And by “ghosts” they don’t mean Holy Ghost, they mean the ways in which religion isn’t being portrayed quite the way religious conservatives would like to see it portrayed: as a system of meaning with doctrinal truths which because they are believed have real life consequences and therefore the doctrines must be faithfully represented and explained theologically order to ascertain the real significance of the news event. “The media just doesn’t get religion!” they say; it’s their signature.

There will be much more time to comment on Get Religion. It’s just disappointing to me to come back to their site and see that their schtick hasn’t changed in a decade. “Results vary as media follows Rick Warren’s return” by Bobby Ross Jr. is rote for them, and judging from their links to other coverage it’s also rote for the rest of the media covering Rick Warren. For one thing, nobody asks the parent of a suicide victim “why?”, even if they are a world famous preacher with fire in the belly, especially not the mainstream media or Get Religion. No ghosts there.

About Rick Warren, the story about his son’s suicide moves me more deeply than I can say at this time. My heart goes out to him and his family at this time of unbelievable heartache. I pray that Pastor Warren’s teaching is moved in transformational ways.

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