Tuesday, October 20, 2015


SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection by Ray Yungen is our newest Lighthouse Trails BookletTract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection, click here.

After writing this booklet at my publisher’s headquarters in Montana, I learned that the Parliament of the World Religions was taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah that same week. I decided to head down there, and with a media pass, was able to enter the conference. What I experienced at the conference has confirmed to me that Pope Francis is without question an ardent interspiritualist on the same page as Thomas Merton.—Ray Yungen
Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection
pope francisBy Ray Yungen
In 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope Francis the First. This new pope immediately began causing ripples in the Catholic Church with his statements on certain issues. He also caused many to take notice of his unpapal lifestyle such as living in a guesthouse with twelve others rather than living in the papal apartments like previous popes. He projects a down-to-earth image that denotes compassion and trust. He has been called the people’s pope, someone who is your friend, someone you can trust. But there are certain things about Pope Francis’ coming on the scene that are being ignored by the media and most people.
The first of these are the unusual circumstances that surrounded his election to the papacy. Pope Benedict resigned from his position as Pope. He is the first Catholic pope to do this since the 1400s. Popes do not resign but rather continue to be popes until they die. There was no obvious reason for Pope Benedict to resign. There was no scandal, nor no immediate health issue. (Two years into Pope Francis’ reign, Benedict is still alive.)
The second is the number of books about Pope Francis that have been released since he came on the scene. Previous popes had perhaps one or two books about them or by them. But books by or about Pope Francis are extremely prolific. You see them everywhere. Many of these books use descriptions such as revolution and hope.
The cover story in Christianity Today’s December 2014 issue proclaims: “Why Everyone is Flocking to Francis.” CT has its own idea of why “everyone” is drawn to the Pope. But if I am correct in my conclusions about contemplative spirituality and its outcome, then what is happening here is an occurrence that will affect the lives of millions of people, both Catholic and non-Catholic.
In his speech to the U.S. Congress on September 24th, 2015, Pope Francis praised four Americans he admired.1 One in particular stood out from the perspective of the spiritual future of the world—the Catholic monk, Thomas Merton. If you have been reading Lighthouse Trails literature for any length of time, you will know this reference by the pope is quite sobering and very significant. It is this situation that this booklet will be discussing.
Who is Thomas Merton? (1915-1968)
What Martin Luther King was to the civil rights movement and what Henry Ford was to the automobile, Thomas Merton is to contemplative prayer. Although this prayer movement existed centuries before he came along, Merton, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, took it out of its monastic setting and made it available to, and popular with, the masses. I personally have been researching Thomas Merton and the contemplative prayer movement for over 20 years, and for me, hands down, Thomas Merton has influenced the Christian mystical movement more than any person of recent decades.
Merton penned one of the most classic descriptions of contemplative spirituality I have ever come across. He explained:
It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are. . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be thatwe would fall down and worship each other. . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth. . . . This little point . . . is the pureglory of God in us. It is in everybody. 2 (emphasis mine)
This panentheistic (i.e., God in everyone) view is similar to the occultic definition of the higher self.
In order to understand Merton’s connection to mystical occultism, we need first to understand a sect of the Muslim world—the Sufis, who are the mystics of Islam. They chant the name of Allah as a mantra, go into meditative trances, and experience God in everything. A prominent Catholic audiotape company promotes a series of cassettes Merton did on Sufism. It explains:
Merton loved and shared a deep spiritual kinship with the Sufis, the spiritual teachers and mystics of Islam. Here he shares their profound spirituality.3
To further show Merton’s “spiritual kinship” with Sufism, in a letter to a Sufi Master, Merton disclosed, “My prayer tends very much to what you call fana.”4 So what is fana? The Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult defines it as “the act of merging with the Divine Oneness”5 (meaning all is one and all is God).
Merton saw the Sufi concept of fana as being a catalyst for Muslim unity with Christianity despite the obvious doctrinal differences. In a dialogue with a Sufi leader, Merton asked about the Muslim concept of salvation. The master wrote back stating:
Islam inculcates individual responsibility for one’s actions and does not subscribe to the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption.6 (emphasis added)
To Merton, of course, this meant little because he believed that fana and contemplation were the same thing. He responded:
Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs [the atonement]differ, I think that controversy is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas . . . in words there are apt to be infinite complexities and subtleties which are beyond resolution. . . . But much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light . . . It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam.7 (emphasis mine)
Merton himself underlined that point when he told a group of contemplative women:
I’m deeply impregnated with Sufism.8
And he elaborated elsewhere:
Asia, Zen, Islam, etc., all these things come together in my life. It would be madness for me to attempt to create a monastic life for myself by excluding all these. I would be less a monk.9 (emphasis mine)
When we evaluate Merton’s mystical worldview, it clearly resonates with what technically would be considered traditional New Age thought. This is an inescapable fact!
Merton’s mystical experiences ultimately made him a kindred spirit and co-mystic with those in Eastern religions because his insights were identical to their insights. At an interfaith conference in Thailand, he stated:
I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian [mystical] traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own Christian traditions.10
Please understand that contemplative prayer alone was the catalyst for such theological views. One of Merton’s biographers made this very clear when he explained:
If one wants to understand Merton’s going to the East it is important to understand that it was his rootedness in his own faith tradition [Catholicism] that gave him the spiritual equipment [contemplative prayer] he needed to grasp the way of wisdom that is proper to the East.11
This was the ripe fruit of the Desert Fathers, the ancient monks who borrowed mystical methods from Eastern religion, which altered their understanding of God. This is what one gets from contemplative prayer. There is no other way to put it. It does not take being a scholar to see the logic in this.
Contemplative Prayer and The Expansion of the Catholic Church
The most obvious integration of this movement can be found in Roman Catholicism. Michael Leach, former president of the Catholic Book Publishers Association, made this incredibly candid assertion:

[M]any people also believe that the spiritual principles underlying the New Age movement will soon be incorporated—or rather reincorporated—into the mainstream of Catholic belief. In fact, it’s happening in the United States right now.12
Incorporating it is! And it is assimilating primarily through the contemplative prayer movement.
Contemplative leader Basil Pennington, openly acknowledging its growing size, said, “We are part of an immensely large community … ‘We are Legion.’”13 Backing him up, a major Catholic resource company stated, “Contemplative prayer has once again become commonplace in the Christian community.”14
William Shannon (a mysticism proponent and a sympathetic biographer of Thomas Merton) went so far as to say “contemplative spirituality has now widely replaced old-style Catholicism.”15 This is not to say the Mass or any of the sacraments have been abandoned, but the underlying spiritual ideology of many in the Catholic church is now contemplative in its orientation.
One of my personal experiences with the saturation of mysticism in the Catholic church was in a phone conversation I had with the head nun at a local retreat center who told me the same message Shannon conveys. She made it clear The Cloud of Unknowing (an ancient primer on contemplative prayer) is now the basis for nearly all Catholic spirituality, and contemplative prayer is now becoming widespread all over the world.
I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. Speaking of a meeting between the late Pope Paul VI and members of the Catholic Trappist Monastic Order in the 1970s, Thomas Keating, disclosed the following:
The Pontiff declared that unless the Church rediscovered the contemplative tradition, renewal couldn’t take place. He specifically called upon the monastics, because they lived the contemplative life, to help the laity and those in other religious orders bring that dimension into their lives as well.16
Just look at the official catechism of the Catholic church to see contemplative prayer officially endorsed and promoted to the faithful by the powers that be. The catechism firmly states: “Contemplative prayer is hearing the word of God … Contemplative prayer is silence.”17
The Merton Paradigm
A 2013 article from the UK news source The Telegraph states:

[Pope] Francis is a Jesuit and his long, arduous formation as a priest was founded on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.18
The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) reaffirmed the pope’s “Ignatian spirituality,” stating that:
All Jesuits share the experience of a rigorous spiritual formation process marked by a transformative experience with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. To think that the leader of the Catholic Church is one who follows in the tradition of Ignatius, whose life has been devoted to finding God in all things, and who is committed to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, fills me with great hope. This is a great day for the Jesuits and the worldwide Church.19
Harvey D. Egan, S.J., Professor Emeritus of Systematic and Mystical Theology at Boston College explains the following about St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Ignatius of Loyola . . . is one of the Christian tradition’s profoundest mystics and perhaps its greatest mystagogue [one who teaches mystical doctrines].20
Today, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius incorporate contemplative prayer practices. Considering that Ignatian spirituality compliments much of Thomas Merton’s spiritual outlook, it is not surprising that a Jesuit pope would say the following words to the U.S. Congress:
[Thomas Merton] remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. . . . Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizonsfor souls and for the Church.21 (emphasis added)
The problem is that Merton did indeed open new horizons, but not in a good way. The horizons he opened were to “spiritual realities” that were at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather, it reflected an interspiritual perception and even beyond that into the realm of the occult. In the book The Aquarian Conspiracy, the following information shows just how far Merton had crossed the line into realms that were spiritually dangerous.
In 1967, Barbara Marx Hubbard, a futurist moved by Teilhard’s vision evolving human consciousness, invited a thousand people from around the world . . . to form “a human front” to those who shared a belief in the possibility of transcendent consciousness. Hundreds responded, including . . . Thomas Merton.22
Even though Marx Hubbard was an outright occultist, Merton still was on board with her. There didn’t seem to be any hesitancy on his part to embrace what she referred to as transcendent consciousness. In a nutshell,transcendent consciousness is the very essence of the teaching of all the world’s mystical traditions that God is inall that exists. But consider the implications of such a belief: If God were in everything, including all people, as Merton and Hubbard believed, then there would be no need for Jesus to die for the sins of the world to reconcile man to God because man would already be divine.
The account that best illustrates what outcome this could have for Christianity is the story of Sue Monk Kidd who was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher in a small town in South Carolina. She would have been seen as an average Christian wife and mother. She gives a revealing description of her spiritual transformation in her book God’s Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved sharing how she suffered a deep hollowness and spiritual hunger for many years even though she was very active in her church. She sums up her feelings:
Maybe we sense we’re disconnected from God somehow. He becomes superfluous to the business at hand. He lives on the periphery so long we begin to think that is where He belongs. Anything else seems unsophisticated or fanatical.23
Ironically, a Sunday school co-worker handed her a book by Thomas Merton, telling her she needed to read it. Once Monk Kidd read it, her life changed dramatically.
In her third book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, not too many years after she wrote her first two books (which by the way were widely accepted in Christian circles, including a back cover endorsement by Moody Monthly magazine), there had been a dramatic change in her spiritual life as you can see in this narrative she wrote:
The minister was preaching. He was holding up a Bible.  It was open, perched atop his raised hand as if a blackbird had landed there. He was saying that the Bible was the sole and ultimate authority of the Christian’s life. The sole and ultimate authority.
I remember a feeling rising up from a place about two inches below my navel. It was a passionate, determined feeling, and it spread out from the core of me like a current so that my skin vibrated with it. If feelings could be translated into English, this feeling would have roughly been the word no!
It was the purest inner knowing I had experienced, and it was shouting in me no, no, no! The ultimate authority of my life is not the Bible; it is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul. Period.24
Now Sue Monk Kidd worships the “Goddess Sophia” rather than Jesus Christ:
We also need Goddess consciousness to reveal earth’s holiness. . . . Matter becomes inspirited; it breathes divinity. Earth becomes alive and sacred. . . . Goddess offers us the holiness of everything.25
During his speech to the US Congress, Pope Francis said that Thomas Merton sowed peace in the “contemplative style.” But actually, Merton did something far different than sow peace; he sowed the actual belief systems of other religions as these two quotes below illustrate:
The God [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.26
In other words, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer. Merton’s view that God is in every person is summed up in this statement:
During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: “We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than ‘coming into consciousness’ of what is already there.”27
Even influential Catholic leaders recognize this and refer to Merton as being a “lapsed monk” who “went ‘wandering in the East, seeking consolation, apparently, of non-Christian, Eastern spirituality.’”28
These new horizons by Thomas Merton that Pope Francis has found to be exemplar are going to lead to an even greater slide into interspirituality within Catholicism and even evangelical Christianity. In essence, those who are flocking to Pope Francis, as Christianity Today stated, are inadvertently flocking to Thomas Merton.
After writing this booklet at my publisher’s headquarters in Montana, I learned that the Parliament of the World Religions was taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah that same week. I decided to head down there, and with a media pass, was able to enter the conference. What I experienced at the conference has confirmed to me that Pope Francis is without question an ardent interspiritualist and on the same page as Thomas Merton. In one document I read (a letter written to all the conference participants by Archbishop Carlo Maria Bigano Vatican Ambassador to the U.S.), the Archbishop stated:
United to all of you in a bond of spiritual communion and in hope of increasing unity among all people of faith, the Holy Father offers his blessing and prayers as a pledge of strength and God.29 (emphasis added)
“Spiritual communion” is not referring to human kindness and respect to all people. This “spiritual communion” is where doctrines and beliefs are set aside, and a unity is established just as Thomas Merton suggested to the Sufi master (see page 5).
At the conference, I heard terms (in connection with the Pope, the Catholic Church, and all the world’s religions) such as “oneness,” “dialogue of fraternity,” and “he [Pope Francis] is a buddha” (said by a Buddhist monk); and the general consensus was that anyone who was not in favor of such a unity was spiritually wayward.
When Thomas Merton told the Sufi master that doctrine takes us away from the “spiritual realities” (a mystical state of oneness), he said “much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light.” In other words, beliefs must be set aside, and in their place is a unity that can be reached through mysticism. All of the world’s major religions have a practice that offers this mystical state.
Just as Merton saw “fana” (Islamic mystical state) as one of the paths to spiritual unity, Pope Francis sees the various religions as one family. He is bringing Thomas Merton’s ideas of unity to the table of global unity among all humanity. Thomas Merton’s “contemplative style” (that Pope Francis referenced to Congress) saw no contradiction between Christianity and Buddhism; and Merton said he wanted to be the best Buddhist he could possibly be.30 When Pope Francis praised Thomas Merton (knowing full well the implications of this), he gave a green light for everyone to embrace interspirituality. And where there is interspirituality, there is no place for the Cross of Jesus Christ.
To order copies of Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection, click here.
1. Pope Francis’ speech to the U.S. Congress in September 2015:
2. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
3. Credence Cassettes magazine, Winter/Lent, 1998, p. 24.
4. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Merton, My Brother (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1996), p. 115, citing from The Hidden Ground of Love), pp. 63-64.
5. Nevill Drury, The Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult (San        Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 85.
6. Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 109.
7. Ibid., p. 110.
8. Ibid., p. 69.
9. Ibid., p. 41.
10. William Shannon, Silent Lamp, The Thomas Merton Story (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), p. 276.
11. Ibid., p. 281.
12. Michael Leach (America, May 2, 1992), p. 384.
13. M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living: The Way of Centering Prayer (New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing, Image Book edition, September 1988), p. 10.
14. Sheed & Ward Catalog, Winter/Lent, 1978, p. 12.
15. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1996), p. 25.
16. Anne A. Simpson, “Resting in God” (Common Boundary magazine, Sept./Oct. 1997,, p. 25.
17. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1994), p. 652.
18. Charles More, “A New Pope, a New Primate and a New Life for Christianity” (The Telegraph, March 15, 2013,
19. From the AJCU website stated by John Hurley, JD (president Canisius College), “Statements on Pope Francis’ Election from Presidents of AJCU and Jesuit Institutions” (March 14, 2013
20. Harvey D. Egan, Soundings in the Christian Mystical Tradition (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010), p. 227.
21. Pope Francis’ speech to the U.S. Congress in September 2015:
22. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Archer, 1980),  p. 57.
23. Sue Monk Kidd, God’s Joyful Surprise (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1987), p. 56.
24. Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1996), p. 76.
25. Ibid., pp. 162-163.
26. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 76.
27. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996, Revised Edition), p. 211.
28. Deborah Halter, “Whose Orthodoxy Is It? (National Catholic Reporter, March 11, 2005,
29. Can be read at:
30. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).

To order copies of Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection, click here.



republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

As we prepare to discuss the Contemplative Mystic Thomas Merton we will be entering the very Temple of the Contemplative Spirituality Movement (CSM) itself to touch one of its most “anointed” Buddhas. Those who teach Contemplative Spirituality Mysticism such as Richard Foster, the Quaker mystic who is listed among the “living spiritual teachers” at the Spirituality & Practice website, hold the late Merton in extremely high regard. Regardless, in this article I will show you that Merton taught a “social conversion,” which was a clear rejection of the historic orthodox Christian theology and the absolute necessity for mankind to be born again/regenerated. Merton’s teachings about Contemplative/Centering Prayer (i.e. transcendental meditation) for the inward conversion of man was right in line with the same foolish social gospel preached in liberal theology. And now through so-called “Christian” mysticism this falsehood has been reimagined by Guru Brian McLaren and others in the Emergent Church as their own warped and toxic myth of the Kingdom of God.
Spiritual Director Thomas Merton
A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust (Proverbs 21:20).
In the CSM you will much talk about Spiritual Formation (SF) from men like Richard Foster, the Guru of Contemplation, and his faithful sidekick Dallas Willard. One of the main ideas they promote is the need for a Spiritual Director in one’s life. First we turn to a book called Spiritual Direction & Meditationby Thomas Merton, the man Foster says shared “priceless wisdom for all Christians who long to go deeper in the spiritual life.” In it Merton explains the origin for this supposed requirement of “spiritual direction.” As he does you will see where this whole messed up mysticism immediately went off-track. Merton tells us the:
original, primitive meaning of spiritual direction suggests a particular need connected with a special ascetic task, a peculiar vocation for which a professional formation is required. In other words, spiritual direction is a monastic concept. It is a practice which wasunnecessary until men withdrew from the Christian community in order to live as solitaries in the desert. For the ordinary member in the primitive Christian community there was no particular need of personal direction in the professional sense. The bishop, the living and visible representative of the apostle who had founded the local Church, spoke for Christ and the apostles, and, helped by the presbyters, took care of all the spiritual needs of his flock (11, emphasis mine).
In reading the above one must take into account that as a Roman Catholic monk Merton’s view of Church history is badly skewed. However, even with that we can see the whole of this so-called “Christian” mysticism, with its “spiritual formation” and “spiritual directors” teaching their contemplative spirituality began as a rebellion against Biblical authority and the outline for Church leadership in the pastoral epistles. We’ll return to this “monastic concept” later but for now we can see Merton admits that “men withdrew from the Christian community in order to live as solitaries in the desert.” This is where mysticism would enter into their religious life as the eastern “Desert Fathers” began seeking “common ground” with Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus in their worship. There they turned their back on their brothers and sisters in local churches in favor of seeking individual religious experience apart from the prescribed method of worshipping God in this Age of Grace laid out in the New Testament.
As we return to begin looking more specifically at Thomas Merton I want to mention that in his excellent series Mysticism Gary Gilley points out just how deeply Guru Richard Foster is influenced by the mystic monk Thomas Merton. Just a quick aside for those who wonder why I use the title Guru so often with these “spiritual directors” in the Emergent Church like Foster and McLaren; if you are going to assign each other titles from apostate Rome and involve yourselves in trying to teach practices of Eastern mysticism, then a Guru is what you are. Gilley is right when he says of Foster:
Foster cites and/or quotes Merton on at least nine separate occasions in Celebration of Discipline, yet Merton was not a Christian as far as we can tell. He was a twentieth-century Roman Catholic who had so immersed himself in Buddhism that he claimed he saw no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity and intended to become as good a Buddhist as he could.
But despite his doctrinal views and New Age leanings Foster considers Merton’sContemplative Prayer, “A must book,” and says of Merton, “[He] has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood.” Merton wrote, “If only [people] could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…. I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.”
Merton’s Message
The above quote from Merton comes from his Conjectures Of A Guilty Bystander (CGB) which was first published in 1966 and is a good representation of where his contemplative spirituality ultimately led him. On the back cover we’re told that as he neared “the end of his life” the Mystic Monk “played a significant role in introducing Eastern religions to the West.” Now let’s look at the above quote once again, but this time in its broader context. Beginning on page 156 of CGB Merton is describing an experience he has one day while watching people “in the center of the shopping district.” Merton tells the reader he “was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people,…even though we were total strangers.” As he continues on describing this epiphany Merton says he comes to understand that the solitary life of a monk creates “the illusion that by making vows we become a different species of being” as it were.
In the following we will catch a glimpse of the universalism which underlies the more liberal vein of theology within apostate Roman Catholicism as Merton says of the monastic life that:
though “out of the world” we are in the same world as everybody else, the world of the bomb, the world of race hatred, the world of technology, the world of mass media, big business, revolution, and all the rest. We take a different attitude to all these things, for we belong to God. Yet so does everybody else belong to God. We just happen to make a profession out of this consciousness (157, emphasis mine).
As one continues to read there is no question Merton is writing in praise of his fellow mankind and downplaying our sinful nature. In fact he even says it “is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race,” even though it “makes many terrible mistakes.” This love of man is a common theme in the writings I’ve studied by those who are longtime practitioners of Contemplative/Centering Prayer. And with this misapplied love comes an anthropocentric understanding of God. Rather than focusing on how we’ve caused God such grief by these “terrible mistakes,” which are the results of a fallen nature that can only be cured by the Cross of Christ, instead Merton turns things backward when he says:
yet, with all that, God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race. A member of the human race! To think that such a commonplace realization should suddenly seem like news that one holds the winning ticket in a cosmic sweepstake. I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, and now I realize we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun (157).
Now we have the context for the earlier quote and it is beyond question that Merton is literally gushing about what he sees as mankind’s innate goodness. This becomes even clearer as the late mystic comes to believe that his “solitude” really “is not just my own.” This says Merton “is because I am one with them…and when I am alone they are not ‘they’ but my own self.” And what follows is an unmistakable denial of the doctrine of original sin:
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed….I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. But this cannot be seen, only believed and “understood” by a peculiar gift.
Again, that expression, le point vierge, (I cannot translate it) comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written is us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billion points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely….I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere (158).
Clear Contextual Evidence Of The Human Potential Movement
I’ve purposely chosen to include this much of the text of Merton’s book to annihilate the argument that my conclusions have been formed by taking the Mystic Monk out of context. It is beyond question that he is talking about an inner quality of goodness at “the center of our being.” Further he tells us this “point of nothingness” is itself “untouched by sin,” and in line with ancient Gnosticism this divine spark “belongs to God,” and this “point” of deity within mankind “is the pure glory of God in us.” And finally doctrine in agreement with the “Inner Light” of the Quakers comes emerging as Merton tells us this “little point of nothingness” is “in everybody” and is “blazing with the invisible light of heaven.” Men and women, this is a uniform testimony from those I have read who practice contemplative spirituality. So it’s little wonder that in the back of his own booklet Meditative Prayer under “Further Study In Meditation” Guru Foster would call Merton the Mystic Monk’s book Contemplative Prayer, “A powerful analysis of the central nature of contemplative prayer. A must book.”
On Slice Of Laodicea I once posted the abbreviated quote from Merton’s CGB as an example of an anthropocentric denial of original sin and an improper view of mankind’s true nature. And then underneath I placed the following from Christ Jesus the Lord:
What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from withinout of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person (Mark 7:20-23).
While this would certainly appear to be a flat contradiction by mankind’s Creator Himself of Merton’s mystic teachings above there were quite a few who were unable see that these statements are mutually exclusive and therefore diametrically opposed. Whatever equivocation we’d like to use about Merton his statement stands in its context. He is unquestionably talking about an innate goodness in mankind. Whereas Jesus says in no uncertain terms there is not. This is as old as Genesis 8:21 where He had already said: “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” And we also consider this from the inspired Apostle Paul – ”I know thatnothing good lives in me (Romans 7:18). So the sad story is that sin proceeds out of the heart of man, and every intention of man’s heart is evil, and nothing good is inherent in mankind that would make him worthy of God’s saving him despite what Norman Vincent Peale and his clone Robert Schueller and one of his disciples smilin’ Joel Osteen say to the contrary.
For Men Shall Be Lovers Of Their Own Selves
If you actually read what myself and others have written on Thomas Merton you would know that by the time his life was over he was for all intents and purposes a Buddhist and his theology ended up as panentheistic as the other mystics before him. I documented Merton’s disgusting recounting of his spiritual experience at Polonnaruwa in Thomas Merton And The Buddhas. The information that follows now is from my article Contemplative Prayer And Meditation and was itself literally taken from Merton’s Message at The Thomas Merton Foundation. They are in a much better position to know what this heretic taught than any of us. For the Lord’s sake isn’t it time we finally see what is so blatantly obvious? This simply has no place in Christian theology:
He takes people into deep places within themselves… At the core of Thomas Merton’s spiritual writings is the search for the “true self” and our need for relationship withGod, other people and all of creation… He concludes that we must discover God as the center of our being to which all things tend…
Merton’s interests were prophetic,…he foresaw…the source of the problem [we face] is that man “has become alienated from his inner self which is the image of God.” [The solution] requires a social conversion,… The first step in this turning is a transformation of consciousness and Thomas Merton is a preeminent guide to us in this first step…[and] a spiritual master whose influence crosses generations and religious affiliations.
And as I have previously pointed out, of course it would cross “religious affiliations” because there is no mention of the inherent sin nature of man, or the need for being regenerated, or of the Cross of Christ as the only real solution for sin. What we have just read from a Site sympathetic to Merton could be agreed to by virtually anyone from any spiritual background, and this is precisely my point. It is exactly this same message of New Age spirituality that comes through the “transformation of consciousness” to all those who practice this transcendental meditation long enough to anger God until He finally abandons them to their reprobate mind. (see–Romans 1:18-32)
Men and women, God is not the center of mankind’s being and His image in man was shattered at the Fall. The absolute Truth is that apart from Christ one cannot even begin to restore this imago Dei. This is an appeal for you to see these things taught by demons for what they actually are…the worship of mankind and a major step toward the fulfillment of Satan’s blasphemous boast frozen in time for us by God the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 14:14 – “I will make myself like the Most High.”



republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God. (Exodus 20:4-5, KJV)
It is simply beyond question that the Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism which Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster is teaching your pastors is heavily influenced by the late Roman Catholic Trappist monk Thomas Merton.
In his book A Time of Departing Ray Yungen offers this bit of personal testimony in an encounter with Guru Foster: “I attended a local seminar where Richard Foster was speaking. At the end of the meeting, I approached him. Wanting to know more about Foster’s beliefs, I asked, ‘What do you think about the current contemplative prayer movement?’ Foster emphatically told me, ‘Thomas Merton tried to awaken God’s people!’ ”
The Unholy Ground Of Idolatry
What you are about to see is an account from Thomas Merton’s own journal concerning his “total integration” as he observed the huge Buddha statues at Polonnaruwa. This event happened during the tour of Asia he was on in 1968 when he was accidentally electrocuted. As a matter of fact, in the series “Merton Center Occasional Papers” from, the website of “The Thomas Merton Center [which] is the official repository of Merton’s artistic estate,” ITMS President Dr. Paul M. Pearson tells us:
In his Asian Journal Merton refered to himself as a pilgrim – “I have left my monastery to come here not just as a research scholar or even as an author. I come as a pilgrim…to drink from ancient sources of monastic vision and experience.” (3)
I now take the following section from the book Thomas Merton: My Brother by the late Spiritual Master M. Basil Pennington who was a fellow Trappist monk and a close friend of Merton’s. It will be presented without comment, but as you read I ask you to consider that Merton’s own account of awe while he stood before these pagan idols is coming from someone many evangelicals today consider to be a Christian.”
Pennington writes: “At Polonnaruwa,…Merton was able to enter into the sanctuary with the solitariness he wanted. The pilgrim took off his shoes and let the dampness of the living earth speak to him. At this point it is not only best but necessary to let Merton speak for himself”:
I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. Then the silence of the extraordinary faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing, the peace not of emotional resignation but of Madhyamika [the “Middle Path” school of Buddhism], of sunyata [“emptiness, the Void” – a basic concept in Buddhism], that has seen through every question without trying to discredit anyone or anything – without refutation – without establishing some argument. For the doctrinaire, the mind that needs well established positions, such peace, such silence, can be frightening.
I was knocked over with a rush of relief and thankfulness at the obvious clarity of the figures, the clarity and fluidity of shape and line, the design of the monumental bodies composed into the rock shape and landscape, figure rock and tree. And the sweep of bare rock slopping away on the other side of the hollow, where you can go back and see different aspects of the figures. Looking at these figures I was suddenly, almost forcibly, jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things, and an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. The queer evidence of the reclining figure, the smile, the sad smile of Ananda standing with arms folded (much more “imperitive” than Da Vinchi’s Mona Lisa because completely simple and straightforward).
The thing about all this is that there is no puzzle, no problem and really no “mystery.” All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life is charged with dharmakaya… everything is emptiness and everything is compassion. I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. Surely, with Mahabalipuram and Polonnaruwa my Asian pilgrimage had become clear and had purified itself. I mean, I know and have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains, but I have now seen and have pierced through the surface and have got beyond the shadow and the disguise.
Basil Pennington then adds, “here through the aesthetic experience that Merton entered into and sought to express the mystical experience…quiet, isolation, simplicity and freshness. There is a wholeness. Merton said he could not express it adequately. He might have added, as did his Cistercian Fathers in speaking of such moments of total integration, that those who have experienced it know what he was talking about, and those who have not should seek the experience so that they will know.”
“Merton did not return to this experience in the few journal entries that would follow. As I have said, a week later he would be dead.” (171,172,173).

Thomas Merton from "Who Cares About The Saints?" with Fr. James Martin, S.J. (Jesuit priest)


John 14:6-"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."


To Lighthouse Trails: 
I’ve been noticing a new trend – adult coloring books. The little research I have done links these books with Buddhism. Do you have any information on this new trend?
I just stay away from things like this, but the reason I’m asking is because my 13 year old daughter was introduced to them at Sunday School today. Thankfully I had already warned her about these books, so she knew enough to bring it to my attention. I would like to warn this Sunday School teacher . . .  who is already using these books at her school to calm the “bad” kids down.
As far as I’m concerned it’s just another way for the evil one to come into the church. I am really afraid for people; no one seems to question anything these days.
Thanks for any insight that you can give.
Our Comments:
Much of this idea has been propagated by Sybil MacBeth’s Praying in Color book series.While there is certainly nothing harmful about adults coloring, in and of itself, the idea behind MacBeth’s praying through coloring does have a contemplative spirituality premise. On MacBeth’s website, she gives 8 reasons to color while praying:
1) You want to pray but words escape you.
2) Sitting still and staying focused in prayer are a challenge.
3) Your body wants to be part of your prayer.
4) You want to just hang out with God but don’t know how.
5) Listening to God feels like an impossible task .
6) Your mind wanders and your body complains.
7) You want a visual, concrete way to pray.
8) You Need a new way to pray.
In Sybil MacBeth’s book, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God, the book is endorsed on the back cover by emergent writer Phyllis Tickle (a colleague of Brian McLaren). In that book, MacBeth speaks frequently about the contemplative practice called lectio divina, a meditative practice. With Tickle’s endorsement and the promotion of contemplative practices, we must question what MacBeth’s “new path” to God is. A look at the endnotes in the book may provide an answer to that question. She cites Thomas Merton (panentheistic contemplative Catholic monk), Parker Palmer (New Age sympathizer), and Tony Jones (contemplative emergent leader).
In a 2015 Religious News Service article titled “Coloring books for grown-ups: Calming — but a spiritual practice?,” it states:
Alison Gary used to go to church on Sunday mornings, but lately she’s embraced a different ritual: staying home and coloring with her 6-year-old daughter, Emerson. . . . “Emerson and I color almost every Sunday morning,” Gary said, while her husband, a yoga teacher, cooks and listens to music. “I let my mind let go, and I feel more connected to the world, more centered. . . . Gary is not the only grown-up rediscovering the contemplative joys of what once was considered a childish pastime. . . . Many books feature circular mandalas and Zen patterns, as well as mystical peacocks. . . . While adult coloring is mostly being marketed as a balm for the stress of modern life, many fans, like Gary, also describe it in spiritual terms.
Which raises the obvious question: Can coloring seriously be considered a spiritual practice? Some may scoff, but “it can become more than just coloring, if you want it to,” said Sybil MacBeth, author of the 2007 book “Praying in Color.” . . . MacBeth shares techniques to “incorporate the intention of prayer into coloring,” by doodling names of people or events, and intercessory requests such as healing and peace. MacBeth, a “dancer, doodler and former community college math professor” married to a retired Episcopal priest, believes coloring and doodling can be powerful prayer practices — a revelation she stumbled upon by accident. (source)
Praying in color or adult coloring books is another deceptive scheme of the enemy to get people to enter the dangerous contemplative silence that is rooted in New Age style meditation.

Sybil MacBeth: I Get Still By Moving

republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

Sybil MacBeth is a dancer, a doodler, and a former community college mathematics professor. When she moved to Memphis in 2004, author Phyllis Tickle nudged Sybil to write about her prayer frustrations and the visual and active prayer practice she developed as the result of them. She now combines her experience in the mathematics classroom with her lifelong love of prayer to offer workshops that engage differing learning styles. As the author of Praying in Color Drawing a New Path to God, she has lead over 100 workshops and retreats. 
“I use this prayer involving art as a form of meditation to get still. I write the word ‘God’ or ‘Holy Spirit’ on a piece of paper. I start drawing and it invites my body into the prayer. I like to move and I’ve discovered that I get still by moving … even if it’s just moving my hand along the paper. It helps me get still on the inside because the body is no longer a distraction.” ~Sybil MacBeth
Sybil is also the author of Praying in Color Kids’ Edition. Her latest book is a Praying in Black and White: A Hands-On Practice for Men, a collaborative effort with her Episcopal priest husband, Andy MacBeth.Praying in Color has been translated into Korean, Spanish, and Italian.
She encourages others to embrace their creativity by saying, “Sometimes your boundaries are your freedom. Use the boundary as a starting off point. Choose to only draw circles. Or restrict your doodle to circles and lines and see what happens. That way you don’t have this whole big paper staring at you — those restrictions can allow you to be free.”
Sybil uses the arts as a pathway for building community and deepening her relationship with God. She is a life-long dancer. Sybil studied ballet and modern dance and performed with various regional dance groups. She currently dances with an improv dance group.
She commented, “Sometimes you become an expert by being a chronic novice — always willing to learn and willing to continue to grow.”
Sybil’s experience includes:
  • Artist-in-Residence Memphis Theological Seminary 2010-2011.
  • Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach from 1991 to 2004.
  • Graduated from Randolph-Macon College with a B.S. in Mathematics and College of William and Mary with an. M.S. in Mathematics.
She lives in Memphis, TN with her husband, Andy, an Episcopal priest.  Sybil is the mother of two adult sons.
Find out more about Sybil, her books and workshops at


Religion Book Review: Praying in Color:
"Drawing a New Path to God"



“I Could Tell You About Phyllis Tickle…But I Won’t.”

SEE:; republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

“I could tell you about ______________, but I won’t.” *
  • I could tell you about emailing Phyllis to tell her about our potential move to Memphis in 2004 and her generous three-page response with the history of the city… but I won’t.
  • I could tell you about how I showed my notebook of doodled prayers to Phyllis at our first lunch together in Memphis and she said, “You’re going to write a book.”
  • I could tell you about not having had a mentor at age 15 or 25 or 35…or until 55 when Phyllis became one for me.
  • I could tell you about how Phyllis mothered me through the process of writing Praying in Color.
  • I could tell you about the instructions she gave me to get rid of the Imposter Syndrome when I felt like a loser and thought I had no business writing a book.
  • I could tell you about my husband Andy and me going to the Farm at Lucy (her home) for 4:30pm dinners so she could be in bed by 7pm.
  • I could tell you about how her husband Sam kicked her out of the kitchen when he retired saying, “I never liked your cooking anyway,” and cooked the meals from then on.
  • I could tell you about eating Sam’s weird concoctions of squash and tomatoes and okra from their garden on the Farm.
  • I could tell you about the hundreds of books on the shelves in Lucy that have dedications and acknowledgments to Phyllis Tickle written in them.
  • I could tell you about how every time I look at my dining room table I picture Phyllis and Sam seated there for a dozen Christmas, Easter, and Birthday dinners.
  • I could tell you about substituting portobello mushrooms for ground lamb in a classic moussaka recipe so vegetarian Phyllis could eat it.
  • I could tell you about how she would read any manuscript sent to her and respond to every email and text.
  • I could tell you about our visit with Phyllis in late April at the Farm and the strawberries, glasses of sparkling water and wine, and goodbye kisses that (unknown to us at the time) would be our last ones with her.Phyllis Last Visit Collage Resized
  • I could tell you about how she emailed Andy and me the following day to say she hadn’t wanted to ruin our visit with the news that she had only four months to live.
  • I could tell you about our shock at the news because she looked so vital and radiant when we saw her.
  • I could tell you about a woman who was unafraid to die because she had done that in her 20’s and had seen the Light.
  • I could tell you about the first ever unanswered text and prayer I sent to Phyllis on September 19.
  • I could tell you about how infinitely grateful I am that she shared herself and her wisdom with so many of us in her four-score and one years.
  • I could tell you about how different my life would be without Phyllis Tickle in it.
  • I could tell you about how I am less afraid to die knowing that Sam and Phyllis have preceded me into the Kingdom of Heaven… but I won’t.

* For about 15 years I have been an InterPlayer. InterPlay, founded by Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter, is a set of playful practices and structures/forms that build community and reunite us with the wisdom of our bodies and our stories. One of those forms is called “I could tell you about…but I won’t.” It’s a great way to tell a story or relay information and not bore the listener with too many details.

"The Great Emergence" by Phyllis Tickle


SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NASB)
Phyllis, Will You Please Tickle Our Ears…
In “The Great Emergence: A Reformation Every 500 Years” Roger Oakland of Understanding the Timestells us, “Phyllis Tickle is a best-selling author and the founding editor of the religion department atPublishers Weekly. She is also a friend of the emerging church.” Ah, but these days who isn’t, eh.
From the Lighthouse… also points out:
In the fall of 2008, Baker Books (through their partnership with Emergent Village-Emersion Books) will release Tickle’s book called The Great Emergence. The following description of the book confirms Tickle’s allegiance to emerging spirituality:
[I]ntended to provide a practical, positive vision of the church as it steps into the future. Tickle says the book will discuss the development of the emerging church, what she calls the “Great Emergence,” placing it among the other great phenomena in the history of Christianity, including the Great Schism and the Great Reformation. “Every 500 years,” Tickle said, “the empowered structures of institutionalized Christianity, whatever they may be, become an intolerable carapace that must be shattered so that renewal and growth may occur. Now is such a time.”2
In a PBS interview, Tickle referred to this “[e]very 500 years” theory and said, “the church has a giant rummage sale.” She said, “Christianity is in the midst of a new reformation that will radically remake the faith.”3 At the Joint Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) where Tickle and McLaren shared a platform, one participant noted that, “[Tickle said] Brian McLaren is to this new reformation what Martin Luther was to the Protestant Reformation.”4 (source)
You know, as fast as evangelicalism is apostatizing before our eyes Tickle might just be right after all about the awful impact of Emergence Christianity Swami Brian McLaren; though what McLaren’s likely to bring about would be better stated in emergence-ese: De-reformation. But this would all seem to explain why at the Emergent Village website in a post called “Phyllis Tickle To Write Book For Baker/Emersion” we’re informed that:
Phyllis Tickle, founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly, will write a book on emerging Christianity for Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The book, whose current working title is The Great Emergence, will be the seventh in Baker’s Ä“mersion series, a partnership between Baker Books and Emergent Village, intended to provide a practical, positive vision of the church as it steps into the future. (Online source)
And in that same post quasi-universalist Emergent Church pastor Doug Pagitt also lavishes his high praise for Tickle and her book The Great Emergence (TGE):
“Phyllis Tickle is the best friend the emergent movement could ever have,” said Doug Pagitt, series editor for Ä“mersion. “She’s a keen observer of the American church scene. She’s also gracious and wise. Her books, from The Divine Hours to her memoirs, are essential reading. We look forward to the release of The Great Emergence with much anticipation.” (ibid.)
Over at his website Pagitt then encouraged us “to attend The Great Emergence Event December 5-6 in Memphis. It is going to be an excellent event”. As we follow the link to The Great Emergence Event(TGEE) we’re enlightened:
‘The Great Emergence’ refers to a monumental phenomenon in our world, and this book asks three questions about it. Or looked at the other way around, this book is about a monumental phenomenon considered from the perspective of three very basic questions: What is this thing? How did it come to be? Where is it going?”
So begins Phyllis Tickle’s extraordinary new book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. In this much-anticipated book, Tickle brings her encyclopedic knowledge of American religion to bear on the current shifts in the Christian landscape. Paired with her Southern wit and charm, The Great Emergence promises to be the bellwether book in emerging Christianity.
The Great Emergence National Event is a unique and freshly designed event built on innovative adult learning techniques including interaction, participation, and inspiring content on the current state of and future possibilities for Christianity. Around the four main sessions with Phyllis Tickle, participants will also enjoy the daily office—thrice daily times of prayer—based on Phyllis Tickle’s bestselling book, The Divine Hours, in the majestic and historic Cathedral of St. Mary in Memphis, Tennessee, which will be bedecked with Advent greenery. (Online source)
So quite obviously there’s no little excitement around Emerging Church circles about Phyllis Tickle, as well as her aforementioned book, poised as they are to tell these fickle folk what they want to hear. Please keep in mind this piece is not designed to be exhaustive, but rather, is simply pointing you to some information in order to introduce you to Tickle. For more detailed coverage of Phyllis Tickle, who is essentially the Empress of Emergence, Apprising Ministries refers you to “See also” below.
But here you can see for yourselves that not a few of Tickle’s associations are, at best, rather questionable. We’ve already noted that Emerging Church Pastor Doug Pagitt lavishes his high praise for Tickle and her book TGE. In Christianity 21: Emerging Voices Of A Pseudo-Christian Faith you’ll see that Tickle is among the 21 women “voices” that Pagitt, and his “theologian in residence” Tony Jones excitedly inform us are going to be revealing “the way the Christianity will be changing in coming days”.
Then at her website we read the following endorsement from an apostate Episcopal “Bishop and Primate”:
“Phyllis Tickle offers a creative and provocative overview of multiple social and cultural changes in our era, their relation to previous major paradigm shifts, and their particular impact on North American Christianity. This is an immensely important contribution to the current conversation about new and emerging forms of Christianity in a post-modern environment—and a delight to read!”
—The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori,
Presiding Bishop and Primate,
The Episcopal Church (Online source)
Scratching The Surface Of Tickle’s Quite Questionable Spiritual Associations
Next, in Tickle’s “About” section we’re informed that Phyllis Tickle is:
founding editor of the Religion Department of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, the international journal of the book industry, is frequently quoted in sources like USA TODAY, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, NY TIMES, as well as in electronic media like PBS, NPR, THE HALLMARK CHANNEL, etc., Tickle is an authority on religion in America and a much sought after lecturer on the subject… Tickle is currently a Senior Fellow of Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral. A founding member of The Canterbury Roundtable, she serves now, as she has in the past, on a number of advisory and corporate boards. A lay eucharistic minister and lector in the Episcopal Church,… (Online source)
We note first that Tickle’s “currently a Senior Fellow of Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral” (WNC). The WNC website gives us some background concerning its “interfaith” message:
Washington National Cathedral is a church for national purposes called to embody God’s love and to welcome people of all faiths and perspectives. A unique blend of the spiritual and the civic, this Episcopal Cathedral is a voice for generous-spirited Christianity and a catalyst for reconciliation and interfaith dialogue to promote respect and understanding. We invite all people to share in our commitment to create a more hopeful and just world. (Online source)
Following the link to the Cathedral College (CC) we see that CC is indeed an extention of that spiritual blackhole of postliberal theology aka “Progressive Christianity” known as WNC:
For almost 80 years, the Cathedral College has served as the pre-eminent center of continuing education dedicated to strengthening and sustaining those called to ministries of proclamation. (Online source)
The what of this “proclamation” is our concern. The WNC website also gives us the lowdown on their sacred circles, labyrinth, and Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage; where, but of course, we can learn more about “Prayer and Contemplation,” which is referring to Contemplative/Centering Prayer:
The Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage invites you to explore its diverse offerings of spiritual growth through communities gathered in prayer, devotional practices, and reflection. Except as noted, gatherings meet in the center, located on the crypt level of the Cathedral and accessible through the Visitor’s Center or Resurrection Chapel.
Benedictine Life and Prayer
Mondays, 6 pm in the CCPP

Explore the principles of living a balanced life, and learn more about the ecumenical cathedral-based Community of Reconciliation. Each gathering concludes with Centering Prayer.
Centering Prayer
Tuesdays, 6–7 pm; Wednesdays, 8–8:30 am

Open your entire being to God’s presence during this time of silent prayer as you move beyond thoughts, words and emotions into a quiet communion with the Divine. The Tuesday sessions include a time for teaching and discussion.
Christian Meditation: Silence, Stillness, Simplicity
Fourth Saturdays, 10–11 am

Experience a rhythm of contemplative prayer that includes a reading from one of the great contemplatives, a period of silent meditation, and time for sharing and reflection.
(Online source)
Frankly, there’s just too much spiritual chicanery going on in the Cathedral of Compromise for me to even share here. Returning more specifically to Phyllis Tickle we find even more questionable associations under the “RELATED ACTIVITIES/CURRENT” of her resume. Not the least of which was her being part of “Board of Advisors, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, emerita”. For those who may not know Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of the non-Christian cult of Christian Science, which was neither Christian nor science striking out on both accounts.
As one trained in counter-cult evangelism I would have to say that this is certainly a rather odd association for a Christian and one which is certainly not in line with 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. So being charitable my guess is Tickle also, at least, adheres to the postliberal/progressive theology spewed at WNC. This would also seem to be further confirmed from one other thing found in the RELATED ACTIVITIES/CURRENT section of Tickle’s resume. Without a doubt her involvement on the “Editorial Board” at Explore Faith (EF) is a smoking gun of spurious spirituality.
From the “About Us” section website of EF we meet the rest of this Editorial Board and among them we see a champion of the postliberal “Progessive Christianity” scholar Marcus Borg, whom some tout as aLiving Spiritual Teacher. In the AM post Marcus Borg Vs. Jesus you’ll clearly see by his own words that he has about as much affinity with the genuine Christian faith as I do with Buddhism. And as we check out who’s listed among their “Saints, Prophets and Spiritual Guides” we have very serious reason to question just what kind of “faith” it is that we’re exploring here:
On the following pages, offers a subjective look at some of the spiritual teachers who have shaped our lives. These essays are by no means comprehensive. Numerous Web Sites catalogue different saints and spiritual guides in great detail (and we will provide links to a few of the best).
Our coverage is intended to show what these people can mean to us now, how they can help us envision new realties in which a relationship with God is the core from which all thoughts and actions spread. Here our explorefaith writers have mused about the spiritual teachers in their lives who continue to give them guidance and help them discover new avenues of devotion deep within. It is our hope that their essays may kindle thoughts of those spiritual teachers who have molded your life, and perhaps spur you to explore a few you might not have known. (Online source)
Men and women, the “spiritual teachers” listed there who supposedly “can help us envision new realities” literally reads like a who’s who of unregenerate pagans such as Guru Ram Dass, Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hahn, the Sufi Muslim Rumi, and heretical so-called “Christian” mystics like Catherine of SienaTeresa of Avila and Thomas Merton. This is in line with the following stupid statement from another darling of Emergence—Rob Bell—which we covered in Through Rob Bell “The Great Enlightened Ones” Tell Us Man Has Divine Greatness:
It’s interesting how many traditions (pause) When you read the great enlightened ones; meditation, centering prayer, reflection—in every tradition you can find the mystics—and what’s always at the heart of the spiritual lives, the everyday lives of the great ones was always a period of time.
Whether it’s prayers, chanting, meditation, reflection, study—whatever you call it—what is it essentially; it’s taking time to breathe. Because when you’ve been breathing, (slight pause) in a proper sort of way, you’re far better equipped to handle what life throws your way. (I will say it again, and again, and again, 5:41-6:23)
So as we now think back to where we began with this article, we remember Doug Pagitt telling us that “Phyllis Tickle is the best friend the emergent movement could ever have”; and also, Tony Jones and his pastor Pagitt telling us Tickle is among those “most important voices for the future” that will supposedly “shape the future of our faith.” Well, I find myself wondering: Just what kind of faith is it that Phyllis Tickle has these folks and their Emergent/ing/ence Church (same spiritual sewer) so excited about; because it most certainly isn’t the historic orthodox Christian faith.
See also:



Adelynrood is a conference and retreat center in the woods of Byfield, MA north of Boston. It was started about a hundred years ago by the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross. The “companions” are a group of women all around the world who commit their individual lives (wherever they live) to a Rule of Intercessory Prayer, Thanksgiving and Simplicity of Life. Their prayer goals include “the Unity of all God’s People, God’s Mission in the World, and Social Justice.”
Our Children – The Primary Target 
of the New Age One-World Religion
FROM LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH: below in full unedited for informational, educational, 
and research purposes:

He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future!1—Adolph Hitler
The traditional Christian family has been a continual obstacle to the globalist vision of solidarity. . . . the United Nations and its mental health gurus have fought hard to eradicate those old “poisonous certainties” that stood in their way. . . . The results can be disastrous. Students trained to scorn God’s guidelines and conform to the crowd are . . . soon driven by evolving new notions that undermine all truth and certainty. 2—Carl Teichrib (research journalist)
 A counterfeit hope surges through our society today: We can do it! We can re-create the earth and complete the evolutionary process. When we eliminate national and spiritual barriers, we will be one. By becoming a part of the “cosmic” stream of consciousness around the world, we can become a superrace, the true global family of God.
The seeds of this utopian dream were sown by John Dewey. Nurtured by the warm friendship between humanist NEA and UNESCO, one-worldism sank its roots deep into every level of public education. The late Dr. Robert Muller, former Under-Secretary of the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council, unmasked the movement’s spiritual nature in his book on global education, New Genesis: Shaping a Global Spirituality:
 On a universal scale, humankind is seeking no less than its reunion with the “divine,” its transcendence into ever higher forms of life. Hindus call our earth Brahma, or God, for they rightly see no difference between our earth and the divine. This ancient simple truth is slowly dawning again upon humanity . . . as we are about to enter our cosmic age and to become what we were always meant to be: the planet of God.3
 To “evolving” New Agers, the end goal of global oneness justifies any questionable ways or means. It is not surprising then to find classrooms teaching steps and carrying out curricula that work toward fulfilling this lofty vision. The formula that substitutes counterfeit values for God’s wisdom can also change the world: crush the old; then out of the ashes will rise a new earth—a world free from guilt, fear, oppression, and poverty. The time is ripe to buy the lie.
This transformation has vastly accelerated as millions around the globe await the New Age/New Spirituality world of harmony, love, and oneness—a world of evolved god-men all following the wisdom of Self. Discernment Research Group at the Herescope blog explains the crucial role that education (the transformation of it) plays in bringing this new world to the forefront:
 Education is a key vehicle to implement Robert Muller’s “vision” for a New Age. . . . [Muller’s] education curriculum served as a spiritual and political model, based on the metaphysical beliefs of Theosophy, for education reform in the United States and around the world. Muller’s spiritual framework was particularly appealing to globalists and futurists, many of whom were the architects of the transformation of education.4
A New World Religion
To inspire a consciousness explosion, many New Age leaders are determined to win a critical mass of minds. Children will be the prime target of the “missionary” efforts, and schools their greatest battlefield.
William Bennett exposes this ominous blend of public school curriculum, New Age spirituality, and cosmic dreams:
 Another legacy from the Age of Aquarius that has been enshrined in too many of our social studies curricula is a disturbing anti-rational bias. Curriculum guides for . . . global education are shot through with calls for “raised consciousness,” for students and teachers to view themselves “as passengers on a small cosmic spaceship,” for classroom activities involving “intuiting,” “imaging,” or “visioning” a “preferred future.”
 Two proponents of such curricula have offered a candid caution: “These exercises may seem dangerous to your logical thought patterns. For best results, suspend your judging skills and prepare to accept ideas that seem silly and/or impractical.” Well, if we’re going to give up critical judgment, we’d better give up the game of education altogether.5
While “raised consciousness” and “visioning” sound too mystical for admission into many schools, a new form of religious education does not. Teaching about the major world religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, the curricula emphasize the universal “truths” and historical values of each. That sounds fair and innocuous, until we remember that New Age globalism calls for a one-world religion—a persuasive union of all supposed paths to eternal life. Since biblical Christianity doesn’t fit the formula, some of these courses have—in the hands of “progressive” teachers—become a platform for criticizing Christian exclusiveness and promoting Eastern meditation. Speaking to many of the world’s religious and political leaders, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, articulated this New Age formula for spiritual oneness in a global community. Notice the apologetic and compromising version of “Christianity”:
 Behind [this resurgence of religions] lies a widespread pessimism about the future of humankind, and unsatisfied longing for alternative paths to salvation.
All the centuries that the Spirit of God had been working in Christians, He must also have been working in Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and all the others. . . . This will mean that some claims about the exclusiveness of the Church will have to be renounced.6
 In April of 1988, representatives of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism met with political leaders from over forty nations to “solve” the world’s problems. This Global Conference of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival was sponsored by the Temple of Understanding, a global interfaith organization, which was founded with the support of such dignitaries as the Dalai Lama, Indian Prime Minister Nehru, Eleanor Roosevelt, Popes John XXIII and Paul VI. The Temple is an inveritable “hotbed of international dialogue and outright promotion of Eastern mysticism,” working in a “consultive status” with the United Nations and offering interfaith programs for youth. Guest speakers have included such New Age advocates as Donald Keys, David Spangler, and Benjamin Creme (who has heralded the coming of Lord Maitreya, “The Christ,” for many years).7
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)
 Just to show you what really lies behind the New Age plan for a coming “Christ,” listen to Benjamin Creme describe this “Messiah”:
 In the esoteric tradition, the Christ is not the name of an individual but of an Office in the Hierarchy. The present holder of that Office, the Lord Maitreya, has held it for 2,600 years, and manifested in Palestine through His Disciple, Jesus, by the occult method of overshadowing, the most frequent form used for the manifestation of Avatars. He has never left the world, but for 2,000 years has waited and planned for this immediate future time, training His Disciples, and preparing Himself for the awesome task which awaits Him. He has made it known that this time, He Himself will come.8
 The Bible tells us that one day, a man will come on the scene who will proclaim himself to be God and will demand that all of humanity worship him. Children throughout the world are being conditioned to accept him even now.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
The “Sin of Separateness”
Because unity is essential for creating a critical mass, many New Age leaders join in condemning the hindering influence of the church. Their objection? Its “negative energy” blocks the envisioned, long-anticipated evolutionary breakthrough. As you have seen, this belief has filtered into the classroom.
Thus, anyone who follows God becomes guilty of the only sins in the New Age: unbelief and separateness. Christians who refuse to share the global vision and join the evolutionary march will reap persecution as Scripture indicates (e.g., 2 Timothy 3:12). For Satan, the counterfeit angel of light, hates all who shine the true light of Christ into the world. The New Age book Spiritual Politics lays out the plan for the “Age of Aquarius” where all are united and all believe they are God. Unity among all humanity will be essential and non-negotiable, they believe, for this global unification and divinity realized to take place:
According to Ageless Wisdom, there really is only one sin—separateness. In the early years of World War II, Alice Bailey noted that we will achieve peace in the world only after we first create unity. . . . The persistence of war is more likely to spring from rampant nationalism, ethnocentrism, and intolerant religious fundamentalism–all extreme and separative attitudes.9
 God is not surprised at this diabolical deception. Long ago, He warned us that the Antichrist would one day rule the world and persecute Christians:
 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:7-8)
Meanwhile, God calls us to remain separate. As His holy people, we cannot join the forces of the Antichrist:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? . . . And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
 Since our children belong to God, He takes care of them. If they have to share in some of the persecution, He will be with them to protect, shield, and render unto them spiritual compensations that far exceed their physical suffering. Let Him encourage your family with these words:
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. . . . fear not, neither be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8)
 While world leaders seek “helpful” religions that serve their purposes, our gracious, almighty, and omnipotent Lord watches over those who have wholly put their trust in Him. Refusing to compromise, they walk the narrow road—but never alone. Their Shepherd walks with them no matter how rocky the road or lonely the miles.
Like His faithful pilgrims through the ages, they know Whom to thank whether their days are filled with sunshine or rain, and freedom or restraints. Trusting His love and His faithfulness, they praise Him for His strength through life’s storms and for peace amidst problems. For He has promised never to leave them. So “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Our children are not immune to the world’s messages. They hear the same tempting voices, the same “positive affirmations” that others hear and follow. Concerned about their spiritual safety, our Shepherd reminds them:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:2-3)
 Unless we help our children build a mental framework and filter based on biblical truth, the world’s philosophies will squeeze them into its mold. Therefore, it is essential that they see God as the only ultimate source of wisdom, power, and triumph.
 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. (Psalm 18:2-3)
(Extract from Berit Kjos’ new release, How to Protect Your Child From the New Age & Spiritual Deception – chapter 7.)
1. Adolf Hitler speech at the Reichsparteitag, 1935 (can listen on
2. Carl Teichrib, “Education for a New World” (Kjos Ministries website,
3. Robert Muller, New Genesis: Shaping a Global Spirituality (New York, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1982), p. 49.
4. “Muller’s Plan for a World Spiritual Renaissance & Education” (Herescope Blog, Discernment Research Group, October 30, 2005,
5. Raymond English, Teaching International Politics in High School (University Press of America, 1989), p. 9, citing William Bennett.
6. “An Emerging Coalition: Political and Religious Leaders Come Together,” A Special Report (North Bay, ON: The Omega Letter, November 1988), p. 2, citing Robert Runcie.
7. Ibid., p. 3.
8. Warren B. Smith, False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2011), p. 47, quoting Benjamin Creme in The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (North Hollywood, CA: The Tara Press, 1980), p. 30.
9. Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson, Spiritual Politics (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1994), p. 147.