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Archive for December, 2009

Imago Dei is a contemplative church community in Vancouver, B.C. (Canada) that is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren denomination of B.C. (see here). The Imago Dei community links itself to the Ignatian Jesuit Centre (loyolahouse.ca) and the contemplative ministry of Soulstream (soulstream.org). They also promote the spiritual exercises of Ingatius Loyola:

Awareness Examen
The Daily Awareness Examen

The Jesuits have a practice called the Awareness Examen in which, every evening, they pause to examine the effects the day has had on their hearts in light of God’s calling. I have adapted the Awareness Examen from a few sources (especially John Veltri S.J.) for our purposes and have copied it below. I would encourage you to adopt this simple prayer as a means of growing in attentiveness to your day.

http://imagodeicommunity.ca/category/awareness-examen/

Imago Dei also recommends the following meditations and practices on their website:

Meditations from Teresa of Avila
http://imagodeicommunity.ca/meditations-for-spiritual-life/meditations-from-teresa-of-avila/

Meditations from Richard Rohr
http://imagodeicommunity.ca/meditations-for-spiritual-life/meditations-from-richard-rohr/

ON CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
http://imagodeicommunity.ca/on-spiritual-issues/on-contemplative-prayer/

They also recommend practicing the occult method of visualization:

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRAYING THE GOSPELS

1. The gospels are sacred stories. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to them, into them, and through them. Contemplation of Place is an opportunity for you to be a ‘co-worker’ with God. Don’t too much assume self-direction in your prayer.

2. Each ’scene’ is like a room waiting to be entered. Don’t force the imagery, but feel and respond to the invitation to enter.

3. You needn’t follow the story-lines chronologically. Simply sit with the feelings that the scenes evoke in you and wait for the details to emerge. There’s nothing wrong with being ’stuck’ at a certain frame or episode of the story. Nor is there any need to go through the whole narrative of the story if God is leading you to simply ponder a particular aspect of it.

4. It’s sometimes better to keep returning to a fruitful encounter in order to let it develop further, rather than feel the need to contemplate a different story each day.

5. The most important thing is to simply ‘feel’ Jesus’ presence in these stories.

6. The practice of Contemplation of Place requires both an active and a passive skill. Passively you should be allowing the Holy Spirit to move your imagination in a spontaneous manner; actively you should be remaining within the ambiance and sense of the gospel story.

7. Make note of where you situate yourself in the scene. Are you a participant? An observer? How do you feel about being there? Can you feel what the other people in the scene are feeling? Are they aware of your presence? How do you feel about them? Are you active in the story? Do you communicate your presence in any way?

http://imagodeicommunity.ca/category/praying-the-gospels/

Imago Dei is only one of many contemplative communities which are affiliated and promoted by a major protestant evangelical denomination (in this case the BCMB Conference). Under such umbrellas as this, contemplative spiritual mysticism is being allowed to grow and spread at an alarming rate across North America as the contemplative deception and Ignatian spirituality draws the multitudes over the bridge to Rome.

Related:

Who is Ignatius of Loyola?
http://apprising.org/2008/12/13/who-is-ignatius-of-loyola/

Who is Richard Rohr?
http://apprising.org/2008/05/10/who-is-richard-rohr/

Who is Teresa of Avila?
http://apprising.org/2006/04/14/who-is-teresa-of-avila/

CONTEMPLATIVE/CENTERING PRAYER
http://apprising.org/2009/12/30/contemplativecentering-prayer/

Centering Prayer and Mennonites
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2007/08/16/centering-prayer-and-mennonites/

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The following is from Apprising Ministries:

CONTEMPLATIVE/CENTERING PRAYER

This so-called “spiritual discipline” is the chief vehicle of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism and is without question a ”Christian” form of transcendental meditation. Consider the following from Contemplative (Centering) Prayer:

In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.

This form of meditation, recently known as ‘Centering Prayer’ (from a text of Thomas Merton) can be traced from and through the earliest centuries of Christianity… (Online source)

The last statement is true to a point; as you’ll see in Keeping You Apprised Of: Contemplative/Centering Prayer it did not originate with Jesus or His Apostles, but circa third century from hermits in the desert of Egypt who’re romanticized today as “the desert fathers.” And as you can see the terms Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP) are synonymous for this practice of “wordless prayer.”

Read more here:

http://apprising.org/2009/12/30/contemplativecentering-prayer/

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Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary Integrating Contemplative/Emerging Spirituality Into Degree Program

In 2007, Lighthouse Trails posted an article titled Church, Congregations Increase Focus on “Spiritual Formation.” The article, released by Adventist News Network, showed how the emphasis of contemplative/spiritual formation was moving into the Seventh-day Adventist organization. The article stated that “this subject [spiritual formation] is receiving serious emphasis in Adventist institutions, as well as in local congregations.” The following Lighthouse Trails research reveals that Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan is promoting contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation) through a new concentration in their Doctor of Ministry degree program.

More here:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=2136

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Alcoholics Anonymous: Pluralistically Praying unto the Higher Power

By John Lanagan

It was good that believers sounded the alarm about the National Day of Prayer. Or, to rename the event, the Day of Pluralistic Prayer. These are strange times. We should never allow the world to think Christ may be included in some generic prayer, where His name is not mentioned, nor should we worship alongside those who bow to strange gods. Interfaith prayer and worship are not for followers of Christ.

That being said, many Christians do exactly this every day. For seventy years we have joined with unbelievers in the “spiritual program” of Alcoholics Anonymous. If the idea of opening the National Day of Prayer without acknowledging Christ is upsetting, bear in mind that AA meetings always include Christless corporate prayer. The Serenity Prayer and Lord’s Prayer are invoked at every meeting. These are prayed out loud, together, and in unity.

Who are Christians praying with? Could be just about anyone, really….

More here:

http://www.worldviewtimes.com/article.php/articleid-3477/Brannon-Howse/John-Lanagan

Also of worthy note:

Are you struggling with an alcohol addiction this Christmas?

Many People Have Gotten Sober Without 12 Step Spirituality
http://www.worldviewtimes.com/article.php/articleid-5663/Brannon-Howse/John-Lanagan

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Take a look at the post-modern, non-offensive, all inclusive Christmas tree…

Islamic star and crescent join town’s Christmas tree
‘Jesus Christ himself would have gathered everyone around him’

The decision by a New York village to place the Islamic star and crescent alongside the community’s official Christmas tree has a Catholic leader wondering if there are any wise men among the town’s leaders.

Supervisors for Armonk, N.Y. voted to display a menorah and a star and crescent at tonight’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the town’s gazebo.

“We’ve decided to go in the direction of being all-inclusive,” Supervisor Reese Berman told Associated Press.

The village had added the menorah previously. Last year, town resident Asad Jilani, saying the Christmas season is an appropriate time to celebrate all cultures, asked the board to include Islamic symbols as well.

More here:

http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=83620

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Which contemplative spiritual disciplines are defined in the Bible?

The spiritual disciplines that are supposedly necessary for spiritual formation are not defined in the Bible. If they were, there would be a clear description of them and concrete list. But since spiritual disciplines vary, and have been invented by spiritual pioneers in church history, no one can be sure which ones are valid. Willard says, [W]e need not try to come up with a complete list of disciplines. Nor should we assume that our particular list will be right for others.”36 The practices are gleaned from various sources and the individual has to decide which ones work the best. Willard (Dallas) lists the following: voluntary exile, night vigil of rejecting sleep, journaling, OT Sabbath keeping, physical labor, solitude, fasting, study, and prayer.37 Willard then lists “disciplines of abstinence” (solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, sacrifice) and “disciplines of engagement” (study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, submission).38

Willard offers a discussion of each of these, citing people like Thomas Merton, Thomas a Kempis, Henri Nouwen, and other mystics. We are told that practices like solitude and silence are going to change us, even though the Bible does not prescribe them. Willard writes, “This factual priority of solitude is, I believe, a sound element in monastic asceticism. Locked into interaction with the human beings that make up our fallen world, it is all but impossible to grow in grace as one should.”39 So if we cannot grow in grace without solitude, how come the Bible never commands us to practice solitude? The same goes for many other items on Willard’s list.

Source:

Which Spiritual Disciplines?
by Bob DeWaay
[A Critique of Dallas Willard and The Spirit of the Disciplines]
http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue91.htm

Related:

Dallas Willard—Promoting Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism Through Spiritual Formation
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/dallaswillard.htm

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According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life…

Roughly one-quarter of adults express belief in tenets of certain Eastern religions; 24% say they believe in reincarnation (that people will be reborn in this world again and again), and a similar number (23%) believe in yoga not just as exercise but as a spiritual practice. Similar numbers profess belief in elements of New Age spirituality, with 26% saying they believe in spiritual energy located in physical things such as mountains, trees or crystals, and 25% professing belief in astrology

SOURCE:

Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths
http://findingtruthinjesus.com/2009/12/14/many-americans-mix-multiple-faiths/#more-1260

Ray Yungen speaks about the spread of the New Age movement in this important video:

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