Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jesus as the Archetype Shaman (Part 4b): Descent by crisis or struggle

This particular series was begun under the assumption that God has spoken and is speaking into all cultures of people. Could it be that ancient (and even more recent) shaman are experiencing God dynamics? If so, is it also possible that Christ models the search, the experiences, and the utopian hopes wrapped up in the vocation of the shaman?

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"  Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, "This Man is calling for Elijah!"  Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.  The rest said, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him."  And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. (Mt. 27:45-50)

In the case studies of shamanic trance travels there is an oft repeated theme of crisis and shamanic travel being combined.  In some cases this crisis accompanies an initial journey which beckons a neophyte into a lifetime calling of service to others as a shaman or medicine man.  In other cases danger is part of the trance journey, and challenges the shaman even before he completes a descent into the under/other world.

Black Elk's initiation into his life as an Oglala Sioux Medicine Man outlines a 12 day struggle with sickness when he was a young man.  For those 12 days he laid sick in his parent's teepee.  In his dreams, or in trance-like state Black Elk traveled to distant places, and heard sacred things.  Upon his recovery the medicine man who was credited with healing him declared that he had a special thing to do in his life, because he was "sitting in the sacred manner."

Black Elk would go on to serve as a Holy Man for nearly 50 years.  During his time he joined a Messianic movement called the "Ghost Dancers,"  and became a Christian who served God and his tribe in a uniquely native American manner, which included dreams and trances with messianic visions.

The Altaic shamans speak of underworld journeys with dangerous bridges to be crossed on path down, and visions of shamans trapped in the underworld who could not make it because they were sinners.  Evil beasts are met on the path, and must be fought or avoided.  These stories retold in Eliade's book Shamanism underscore a oft repeating motif in shamanic underworld journey:  It is frequently met with difficulty.

Jesus' entrance to the underworld began in the greatest of human struggles: death, and not any death, but a violent, tortuous death met at the painful hands of betrayal.  His journey, which would end up victorious begins on this deadly note, and appears to have no hope for redemption.

Part 1 of the series
Part 2 of the series
Part 3 (thoughts on shamanism and glossalalia as it relates to Christians)
Part 4a of the series

Top 10 New Year's resolutions for the preacher in your life

As we come to the New Year, here are some resolutions you can apply to your local preacher. As a Christian preacher myself I am not suggesting things I would not be willing to do - well, okay maybe that's not completely true, but comedy has to play a part of a New Year's resolution list.

Here are the top 10 things every preacher should have on his or her list this year. These resolutions apply to those who are preachers by profession, and those who are preachers by daily habit. Please feel free to pass them on...(click to read the full article)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Jesus as the Archetype Shaman (Part 4a): Descent into the Underworld, entrance through a hole in the earth

Click on this image for a full map of Dante's Inferno.

"Now you are ready for your first experiential exercise in shamanism. This will be a simple journey of exploration through the Tunnel into the Lowerworld." These are the words of Michael Harner in his book The Way of the Shaman released in 1980.

Travels into the underworld were identified in Eliade's classic study of Shamanism as a regularly identifiable aspect of the practices of many shamans in many cultures. Michael Harner considers this a beginning point of learning the arts of his brand of neo-shamanism.

Eliade noted that among the Tungus the younger, newer shamans were denigrated as cowards, because many no longer took the difficult journey to the Underworld. (Shamanism: 237) Eliade's recounting of an Altaic shaman's descent in the underworld is not unlike portions of Dante's Inferno. This underworld journey is filled with challenges and tests.

In a universe which is often (but certainly not always) viewed as consisting of the three categories of the heavens, the earth, and the underworld, the shaman takes the challenge of navigating the realms unseen by others for their benefit.

This particular element of shamanism is perhaps the most dramatic illustration of Jesus as the Archetypal Shaman. His death, burial, descent into Hell, and resurrection in victory is the physical/literal accomplishment of a shamanic underworld journey. The various elements of underworld journey as they are practiced across the shamanic cultures of the world appear to be fulfilled in the journey of Jesus.

This section has taken a bit more thought, and preparation than I might have anticipated initially, and so I tread this ground carefully, but I do so with a larger vision of the capacities of Jesus than I might have presented had I simply approached this as a minor exercise in anthropological missiology.

Here begins my consideration of Jesus' descent into Hell, and the place it holds in fulfilling the needs of humanity, and myths of shamanic cultures across the world.

Descent through hole in the earth (Mt. 27:57-60)

The story of Christ's descent in the Underworld begins with his burial in the cave tomb provided by Joseph of Arimithea. Holes in the ground, hollow trees, oceans, and entrances to underground rivers have been used by shamanic trance travelers as entry points into the underworld.

Christ's burial in the cave tomb has a similar point of initiatory dynamic as entering hole in the ground, or the hollow of a tree. It mimics an entry point to the underworld. Once the stone was rolled in place, Christ was sealed to the fate of his underworld journey, which to a wondering world appeared to be a permanent unconditional journey. Through His spiritual authority this was not to be a final journey to death and afterlife, but a powerful expression of his conquest over the underworld.

Mircea Eliade's book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy describes the ritual descent into the underworld by an Altaic Shaman. This ritual was observed by an orthodox priest who had attended and chanted at a number of these rituals in his youth. After the Shaman journeys across land, and climbs a mountain in his trace, he then is taken to a hole in the side of the mountain which leads him to the underworld - to face trials and a difficult journey before a successful return.

The journey of Christ into the underworld likewise began in an entrance upon the face of the earth. Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Christ to be given to him, and then with Nicodemus took the body to a new tomb, and placed the stone over the grave. This began Jesus' journey to the underworld. He began it as a dead man, and would return in archetypal shamanistic fashion three days later as master over life and death.

more to come...this is the first section of part 4 in the series on Jesus as the Archetypal Shaman. There are likely to be half a dozen sections to this part alone.

Part 1 of the series
Part 2 of the series
Part 3 (thoughts on shamanism and glossalalia as it relates to Christians)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kenyan Witch hunts highlight seriousness of problem

The report from the Al Jazeera website on the Kenyan witch hunts highlights an ongoing problem in Africa.  This is not limited to Kenya, but appears be a problem throughout the continent.  Superstition, greed, poverty, and corrupt religious leaders appear to be stirring up community fears, and it is costing lives.

Previous posts on this subject:
Persecution of Supposed Witches on the Rise
Witch Children of Africa Cont.
The Children of Pentecostal Theology?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Auschwitz Sign Found After Being Stolen: My Thoughts

After being stolen on Friday morning the famous sign over the gate to the entrance of Auschwitz has been found in a house 100 miles away. For more on my thoughts about this go here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saint Elijah's Monastery Being "Healed"

Soldiers tour ruins
Originally uploaded by The U.S. Army
The monastery in Iraq has become a post for American soldiers, but they have taken upon themselves to restore this ancient "house of God." Read more here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another Blog?! Yep, about My One Thousand Things To Do

I have this blog, which appears to be my most visited, but of course after 314 posts over the course of a few years, this would be my most prolific blog as well. Then there is the fact that I talk about weird things like Christians as Pre-Mortem Psychopomps, or hanging out with Pagans. This is my theology, ecclesiology, missional, and maybe even catch all blog.

Then my original blog (The Why Man), which has another 200 posts (yep, exactly 200) has maybe half the visitors as this one, but was popular for the Duck Daddy Chronicles. The Why Man is my cathartic life stories blog.

Then the church has a blog, and I am one of a few contributors there. It is what it is - a church life blog.

Less used, but active as March 1st moves closer is the blog about the Patron Saint of Wales and his holyday. Saint David's Day Blog. Obviously this is a specific Welsh connection kind of blog.

Well, now I have another blog. Yep, another. It is called My 1,000 Things To Do. It is my what am I going to do with rest of my life blog. I'd love to have you poke your nose in there from time to time, and if you wanted to hit the button on the Google friend connect, or follow through NetworkedBlogs on Facebook, that's cool too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Enculturalization and the Gospel in Our Own Land

Andrew Jones the Tall Skinny Kiwi posted today about Brother Flack, a 100 year old missionary who Tall Skinny suggests ought to be the Patron Saint of the Emerging Church. It is a great post.

The quotes from Brother Flack highlight adaptation to culture in which one is ministering, and this is what Tall Skinny identifies as an emerging church dynamic having been around for a lot longer than the Emerging Church Movement.

"Go as a learner. Be prepared to learn from the national people and from the culture of the country. Do not try to make the churches like the one in your own country. Do everything you can to develop indigenous growth. Do not be masters; be servants. Identify in every way you can with the people God puts you among." says Brother Flack.

Having aggressively attempted this style of evangelism for a couple decades now, and having been acknowledged by missionaries as doing a missions model within the United States I have discovered something a bit disconcerting.

It has become popular enough to talk about adaptation to new cultures if someone moves to a far away place to preach the Gospel. There is an expectation that there will be a season of enculturalization for the new missionary. This is accepted as a necessary adaption for the growth of the Gospel.

In our own land new cultures are developing all the time. Adaptation, and learning from these developing cultures is not nearly as acceptable to the ecclesiastical powers that be as adaptation to foreign cultures. One can get themselves into some pretty sticky situations. I agree Brother Flack ought to be the Patron Saint of the Emerging Church, but if you practice his ways - oh, Brother are you gonna take some Flack! Sorry, bad joke, but still a good point.

Love God or Get Squished?

Reading the first book of the Confessions of Augustine yesterday I was stopped to contemplation (now that's good thing - usually) by this phrase: "Or what am I to Thee that Thou demandest my love, and, if I give it not, art wroth with me, and threatenest grievous woes?"

Now first off, I must admit that I am not a fan of Augustine. This is because he was instrumental in pushing for the eventual excommunication of Pelagius, whose story reads like a classic frame job. Aside from this I am enjoying the reading. There are some fantastic declarations of praise in Augustine's Confessions.

This quote stopped me, because I considered it from the perspective of someone who struggles with the idea that an angry god might also be a capricious and cruel god. This concept that the Christian God is demanding love, and is angry to the point of destruction and killing if He does not get it certainly makes Him appear wildly capricious at best, and a cruel murdering megalomaniac at the worst.

So, these questions comes to mind:

Is God really declaring woes on those who do not love Him simply because they are suppose to love Him, and when they don't He gets really ticked?

OR is there something intrinsically insidious, and potentially dangerous in the heart of those who do not love God?

OR is this quote altogether problematic for Christian doctrine, and instrumental in establishing a bad way of viewing God?

OR is there altogether another way of looking at this?

OR, maybe you have some thoughts?

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Compelling Letter from a Pagan

The following email was sent to me by a Canadian guy named Mark who lives in London. Mark is a Pagan, and migrated to that faith after growing up with friends from a evangelical Christian background. I asked Mark if I could post this letter on my blog and share with my friends. He was happy to have it posted, but wanted to make sure that we understood that he did not have an anti-Christian bias.

In his words, he said " I think that Christianity is a beautiful religion for those who choose to follow it, and I would like to see the real followers of Christianity growth and prosper. Unfortunately, Christianity is starting (particularly in the USA) to be seen more and more like Islam; a religion that represents those people who want to retain an "ideal society" that doesn't really seem likely to ever exist again."

I believe that it is important for us to hear the voice of the objective outside observer of our faith who is responding to the the societal interactions we have with with our culture.

This letter will be significantly different from Carmen's silly, exaggerated, and religiously militaristic Witch's Invitation.

Please note: You may not agree with everything Mark says. But does that really matter? He does have something to say to you, that we do need to learn. May you hear his words of gentle, and peaceful concern for our "beautiful religion" as he calls it.

Mark - thanks for your kind, and gracious words. I am deeply appreciative for them and hope to meet you face to face in London someday soon.

Post begins here ----

Dear Pastor Phil,

Hello my name is Mark and I live in London, England. I recently read about your church in Salem, and the hassle that you've had from church groups and your own church peers, because of your contact with neo-Paganism, and I felt I had to write and say what a courageous thing it is that you're doing.

I've recently converted to Paganism (which is actually a lot less "looked down upon" in the UK since the modern neo-Pagan and witch movement basically started here) after a long, LONG search for meaning in my spiritual views.

When I grew up in small town Canada, most of my friends were born again Christians. They were all from different denominations and each one found the other denominations to be "weird" in one way or another, and certainly they didn't practice "pure Christianity" in the way that their denomination taught it. They all spent time trying to get me to join one of their prayer groups and convert, and when I didn't I found out they were holding "secret" prayer meetings together to discuss how to get me to "find Jesus," and these just ended up making me feel alienated from my friends (if all of your friends when you were 15 were holding secret strategy meetings about how to deal with you, how would you have felt?)

I hold nothing against Christianity however I didn't feel that a lot of the teachings of modern Christian churches represented my world view well. When I was 13 my best friend came out of the closet which was fine by me but, not so with my Christian friends; my girlfriend when I was 14 was a witch; many of the Christian parents of my friends were Conservatives (the Canadian equivalent of Republicans), and I didn't believe religion and politics made good friends and Conservative beliefs towards the poor didn't seem very Christian.

Anyway, after a long and eventful story I found myself living in the UK and studying comparative religion (whilst not a Christian, I have always had a desire to learn about the weird and mystical thing that people see as "belief"). It was here that I also developed a 6 year struggle with alcohol that nearly cost me everything that I had built up over the years: my home, job, reputation, friends, etc.

When I got sober, I found myself feeling more and more alone in the world (alcoholics have a tendency to surround themselves with other alcoholics so that no one will challenge their drinking habits and these people tend not to want to be friends with you once you sober up). So I committed myself to seeking out the things that I loved in life before I started drinking. That led me to a focus on nature and the splendor of the natural world. This focus led rather naturally (no pun intended) to Paganism when I discovered that it probably most closely represented my own views of the world.

Personally I shy away from saying that I'm a Witch because it is a term that implies certain beliefs in goddess/god polytheism that I am not certain that I believe in, favouring instead to worship nature in its natural glory and seeing myself as a part of a divine macrocosm of life on this planet/in this universe, but I've met many, many witches and druids, Kaballists and wizards, cunning men and women, and most, if not all, of them have been wonderfully understanding and accepting of other people and their beliefs. I think that more Christians ought to take a leaf out of your book and mine, and practice a bit more of this understanding towards pagans of all denominations (and of all other religions for that matter).

The single most off-putting thing about Christianity for me was the lack of acceptance of others (or the "acceptance with intent to convert" that makes them seem as though they aren't really your friends at all; friends shouldn't have agendas towards you). When I saw your blog and read a bit about your beliefs I felt that I should send you this e-mail and say thank you for your attempts to see that anyone's beliefs can be a beautiful and peaceful thing. I think that if there were more pastors in the world like you, the world might be a happier place. Heck, if the Christian churches that I had grown up around had been more understanding and accepting of my gay/witch friends or my early atheism when I was younger, I may have even been convinced to convert.

Please, please keep up your good work and keep being friends with the neo-pagan community. Maybe if we can start with simple friendship, we might be able to convince the world that the old Christian teaching and Wiccan Rede philosophy to "harm none" is really the best way for the world to be.

Your friend,


Friday, October 23, 2009

getting lost in the tide - West Coast Eisteddfod Poetry Competition Entry

to the sea
of grays and blues
in the sand
i leave my shoes
by water's edge
in the waves
ev'ry footstep is
washed away


i feel just fine
getting lost in the tide

i walk the shore
at spring tide
my missing trail
is a sign
all is well
my pains undone
just for now
under this sun


i feel just fine
getting lost in the tide

i could walk
for miles and miles
erase trails
of all my trials
in each footstep
paid my dues
someone else can
have my shoes


i feel just fine
getting lost in the tide

Visit or enter the Americymru West Coast Eisteddfod Peotry Competition Of Welsh descent? Consider joining Americymru.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Persecution of Supposed Witches on the Rise

The following stories have popped up in the last few days:

Nigerian children accused of Witches cast out of their homes, tortured, even killed by church leadership, and their own parents:

see this report from yesterday:
SOS Children's Village
and this one from 3 days ago:
CBS News

The above stories are from Nigeria alone, but this is happening in much of the "third world." Mike Davis' book Planet of Slums outlines this problem in Kinshasa, Congo as well. You should read this book. See link to it in the column to the left.

Indian Muslim widows beaten after being accused of being Witches:
video footage here

Is there hope for delivering these abused women and children from the evil created by superstition and fear-mongering? I hope so, but I am convinced that this superstition has been exported by many US churches, and expanded to unbelievable lengths by poverty, greed, and ignorance. Heaven help us.

For previous blog posts on this issue see here and here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Balancing Precariously Between Depravity and Nobility

This is a topic I have thought and spoken about quite a bit, but have not written about. It was Matthew Ryan at the New Hampshire Streams Internship who generated the sense that I ought to do so.

I am not of a Reformed persuasion, and probably never will be. Yet, I do believe that there is a deep depravity evident in the activity of humanity, and as we simply peruse the adventures of history we find some unbelievably dark moments.

On the other hand, I also find great sources of inspiration and encouragement in history. To match the Hitlers and Dahlmers of the past, I also see Nightingales and Gandhis. Nobility pops its head to the surface in remarkable ways every generation.

To complicate matters both Christians (those who declare their allegiance to being conformed to the imago dei), and non-Christians (who may not follow an example set by religious precepts and God inspired constraints) appear to exemplify both enlightened nobility and dark depravity.

This theological anthropology is extremely valuable to me. It informs my sense of evangelical mission. It teaches me to respect, and honor all people, and yet to be aware that every person still carries the potential to create great harm. I am at once called to be trusting, and yet not too trusting in the resources of other frail and faulty human beings. It also causes me to be self reflecting in a practical manner. I am at once responsible to put the noble foot forward, and at all times must resist the subtle and intelligent designs of my darker side.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Action Day (A SynchroBlog): Where Church Meets the Climate Change Discussion

This is part of a SynchroBlog which has been created for the purpose allowing blog friends to speak on one subject together, and this month we are joining the much larger Blog Action Day.
As a pastor of an evangelical congregation in Salem, MA, and one particularly noted for its rather creative and quirky outreach practices, it would not seem that our little congregation would take a center stage in the climate change discussion, but like Salem bends - things are not as it seems.

I am not particularly passionate about carbon footprint numbers. I am passionate about sustainable energy, and especially when it can be done cheaply for the Average Joe. I like people who build their own wind turbines from Home Depot parts, and those who make bio-diesel.

Yet for all this, our little church has become a periodic gathering point for the sustainable energy discussions, and workshops, and I have become a gatherer of low carbon footprint interests.

It started a year and half ago.

The Chamber of Commerce runs an event called The Salem Living Green Fair. We were asked to host the speaker series. After two years of events, our church is the place to go to hear the green people talk.

Next, I started a company called CeltiConnect. Somehow, I, a veteran pastor of small churches became involved in business and trade development with Welsh interests. My partner has a background in renewable energy, and this led to a whole new circle of friends. As a result we sponsored Paul Allen from The Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales to speak to the renewable energy interests in our area.

Now we are hosting a event on October 24th at 2pm on a stage, which we build and host every Halloween season in Salem, MA.

Jeff Barz-Snell from First Church Salem is really the brainy pastor in town when it comes to carbon footprints,and renewable energy. He was trained under Al Gore. He is doing most of the organizing of the event on the 24th, but once again The Gathering takes a central role ion the development of the day.

How we got here I am not totally sure. The fact that we are here is good. The Church (notice I capitalized the word here) needs to be in on one of the biggest discussions of this decade - if not beyond.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Pastor stirs up a Brewhaha

I am not immune to controversy. Okay that was understated. I tend to end up with it swirling around me like an F5 tornado. Well, I have added a new controversial dynamic to life.

CeltiConnect the company I started with my friend Gareth Gwyn Jones is focused on business and trade development. My particular focus is between Wales and North America, and I have just begun a three month project with a Welsh Company which has been successful in Wales, and is breaking into the US market. They have distribution set up, but now need some sales representation and help.

Enter stage left Pastor Phil. (That's me)

Now I have always been a little revolutionary in my thinking, and never one to remain silent when leaders say stupid things, or act toward others in harmful ways. I have gone out of my way to make friends with people whom the church considers untouchables, and I have ended up in strange circumstances, and infamous situations because of it.

Well, now I am marketing Welsh Ales - that's right beer. Someone is going to raise an eyebrow to that I am sure.

This is my response: I am practicing truth. Tomos Watkin makes some of my favorite Ale on earth, and it comes from the land I love the best!

But I'm not marketing right now, I'm just telling a story on my blog.

Of course you can follow the link to Tomos Watkin's site, or look for Tomos Watkin ales at your local seller of fine ales.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Observations on the Inaccessability of Natural Revelation

Over the last 10 years the accessibility of natural revelation to my mind and heart has grown. I have spent numerous hours alone contemplating the mysteries of life and God as revealed through His creation. Some of my thoughts are archived here. Other meditations are scattered throughout my blog posts. Sometimes these illustrations of truth are discoveries from animals, others from natural wonders like the beach.

Tonight I sat in the dark outside in our smallish yard - I say smallish, because some of you are country dwellers, and our 1/4 of an acre is small to you. Some of you are city dwellers, and our 1/4 of an acre looks like a park to you. As I contemplated the fence around our property, and the house I live in I wondered why these things do not speak to me as potently as a tree, the wind, a rock, or water.

Humanity carries the seed of divinity. We are an imago dei. So it would seem that things we create must at least carry some semblance of divine value as well. If it true that those things God creates carry a value of wisdom, truth, and divine representation, then why shouldn't it also be true that the things we create would carry some inspired value of divinity as well.

My fence surrounding my yard speaks some very clear values of ownership, and protection. My house declares protection as well, and the fact that we speak of "house" and "home" as terms with significantly different values communicates a potentially deeper truth to be found in meditating upon house and home.

These values of fence and house are clear, and more accessible than that of rock and sky. Yet I do not feel the spiritual power of my fence, as feel the sometimes indefinable spiritual significance of the stars, and the ocean - whose tides rise and fall.

Looking at the parables of Jesus, and other illustrations of natural revelation throughout the Bible I see a common factor - though not perhaps a universal one. Most of the illustrations occur in stories which involve direct intimate human interaction with nature.

Jesus' parables describe the activity of planting seeds, drinking water, and harvesting crops. These describe moments when humanity and nature meet, because people involve themselves directly with an experience with natural elements. The revelatory dynamic of the natural element becomes accessible through working with it by planting, drinking, or feeling the wind rush across one's face. In some cases the interaction involves a more complex factor like bio-engineering, such as when Paul and Jesus describe the grafting of the branch onto the vine or the olive tree.

The fence speaks of protection and we know it tells that story, because we built it for that reason. The seeds growing from the ground are a less accessible illustration, because although we are involved in planting them, we are still surprised by the miracle of the growth which occurs. So we find Jesus having to define the parable for his confused disciples.

Jesus in His deep understanding of God, wisdom, and truth quickly accesses the values which nature presents, and defines their truth to us. Others in human history have discovered those values as well. Abraham experienced the prophetic voice of God while viewing the night sky. David, like most of us, appears to have accessed the truth values by working with nature. So he found illustrations of life and truth while working as a shepherd.

My house and my fence carry a value of truth which is a second generation removed from direct divine revelation. They are created by those of us who are made in the image of God, but because we become involved in the process of building and caring for it the truth values are immediately accessible. Today pastors give sermon illustrations about computers, and ipods because we are intimately familiar with those things.

The first generation of revelation often remains a little more distant from us. It is far more difficult to discover the hints of truth and life found in a tree, a stone, or the throbbing tides, but this first generation of natural revelation carries such a deep value that we often simply feel it. Something mystical and meaningful breaks upon our souls with emotion when we stand on the beach, but it does not often break into our minds with the values our with which souls are indefinably pregnant.

Perhaps it is the art of meditation, which carries us deeper, like Brother Lawrence who experienced God afresh in the wintered deciduous tree, or Saint Francis who actively contemplated and described the wonders of God in nature. Are we are in need of spending time with God in His nature before the hidden values of its glory breaks upon us with more than a inaccessible feeling, and begins to speak life changing values to our minds?

The second generation values will continue to encourage our hearts in stories from fences, houses, computers, and cell phones; but the first generation of deeper values requires from us a little more work. I think that work is worth the effort.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A SynchroBlog: Clowns to Left? Jokers to the Right? Stuck in the Middle of the Health Care Debate

I am not fan of the current bill standing before congress on health care. I am not convinced that any reform is good reform. I do not feel that stating this I stand in the way of progress. Clowns to the left of me would say that is what I am doing by not supporting the current ideas.

I do not appreciate the rude signs, yelling weirdos, and aggressive tactics of those who are protesting in town hall meetings across the US. I do not like the demonizing e-mails I receive about the current health care reform bill. But the jokers to right are still there shouting.

I do not think that all supporters of the current health care reform bill assume that I standing int he way by disagreeing with the current bill. I know for a fact that most of the protesters are well behaved tax paying citizens who want to have their voice heard, because it is their money which is being used to create this series of entitlements. They believe that they are continuing in the great tradition having their voices heard if their money was involved - taxation WITH representation.

I do not understand the demonization of John Mackey from Whole Foods who wrote an op ed in the Wall Street Journal giving his opinion on the health care reform bill. It seemed like a responsible metered consideration of the issue from someone who disagrees with the current bill, and was offering his own options to solve the problem.

For myself I wonder how we get all up in arms bout this issue, and nobody says anything about prescription drug abuse, and abuse by insurance companies, the overall lack of health in our nation...just to name three problems.

Is health care still a right if I abuse my own body? Is calling it a right being used by the industry to shackle Americans into an abusive unhealthy system?

I am not sure if the current bill offers more problems than answers, but I want the debate to continue in order to find out. Unfortunately most of the voices I am hearing now are demonizing the other side - from the highest positions on down there are clowns to the left, and jokers to the right. So here I am, stuck in the middle. Anyone else out there stuck in the middle with me?

Synchroblog on a Christian Response to Healthcare

Today is a SynchroBlog release on the subject of Healthcare from a Christian Perspective. Steve Hayes at the blog Khanya suggested this subject, and you can follow his link below to read his thoughts. The other contrubutors are listed below. I will respond later today with my post on the subject.

Phil Wyman at Square No More (that's me): Clowns to the Left. Jokers to the Right. Stuck in the Middle of the Health Care Debate
K.W. Leslie at The Evening of Kent: Christian's Responsibility to Healthcare
Ellen Haroutunain: Christian Perspectives on Health Care
Steve Hayes at Khanya: Self-evident Truths and Moral Turpitude
Kimber Caldwell at Convergence: Is Health Care a Right?
Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House: Baby Steps Toward More Humane Humanity
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules Weblog: A Christian Perspective on Health Care Reform
Kathy Escobar at Carnival in My Head: It's Easy to be Against Health Care Reform When You Have Insurance
Susan Barnes at A Book Look: Carrying Your Own Load

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Urdu Poetry and the Honor of Distant Friendship

Gul Bakhshavi works at the 7-11 behind our house. For the last 10 years I have been walking around the corner late at night. Before Elijah grew up, got married, and moved out he and I would walk there and talk late at night, and meet Gul's smiling face.

Gul has been working the graveyard shift most of the 10 years we have lived here. I would greet him with a smile, ask him about his home and family in Pakistan. We would do small talk, and then I would smile and leave with a running joke about the fact he worked the graveyard shift.

He would say "have a good night."

I would reply, "Have a good day." He would laugh because it was the beginning of a long night doing the graveyard shift. He sacrifices himself each day, and plans to work 10-12 years in the US, living frugally, saving money, and then go home with enough money to live comfortably.

Tonight I saw Gul again. I really don't remember his name, and he does not remember mine. Once he gave me a series of tapes on Islam, and shared his faith with me. He knows I pastor a church in town.

Tonight he gave me a book he wrote. It is mostly in Urdu, but has an intro in English. It is a poetic translation of 400 years history, combined with a rough poetic translation of Obama's acceptance speech.

I did not vote for Obama. I would not if the election were to happen again now. That does not matter. Gul wrote on the back/front page, "for my best friend Phil."

I am honored:

1) to be given the book.
2) to be called a friend by a Muslim man working in the US, and waiting his lonely days before he returns home.
3) to see into his heart and see the hope Obama's election brought to him.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Stories and Knowing God

As we look through the stories of our lives we discover lessons in our experiences. The climactic and notable elements of our lives differ from person to person. Our life stories give illustrative examples, and lessons which come from our own base of knowledge and passions. Could it be that these same stories also give us examples which tell part of a greater story - the story of God? and that these stories individually illustrate small elements of the greater knowledge and passion of God?

Heilsgeschichte, or salvation history was a popular term of theological reference (particularly in the 50's) to the story of God as it is discovered in the history within scripture, but also in what has been referred to as HIStory: a traveling narrative of human history filled with the illustrations of the character of God and the working of His redemption.

If human history is filled with illustrations of God's character, then our individual stories, which make up those small elements of the greater human story may hold snapshots of HIStory. If this is true then we all have lessons about God etched into our own life stories.

Moses' story is perhaps a good place to start this pursuit of finding a micro heilsgeschichte. The key components of his story are peppered throughout his life from borth to death.

• Moses was born at a time when the Hebrew children were being slain by Pharaoh, yet he survived by his parents cunning and miracle.
• As a young man he was raised in the house of Pharaoh though he was a Jew.
• He later tried to help his people, the Jews. He killed an Egyptian and had to flee Egypt because of this.
• He spent years herding sheep, and later married the daughter of his boss.
• God met Moses in a burning bush which was not consumed, and called him to return to Egypt and deliver his people the Jews from the slavery of Pharaoh.
• He did as asked and God performed many miracles. The children of Israel were delivered by God through the leadership of Moses, and the stories of these miracles became the centerpiece of salvation history for the Jewish people.
• He suffered with a stubborn and disobedience people for over 40 years in the wilderness, and in the end did not enter the promised land himself.

This brief outline of key components of Moses' life story illustrates the variety of things which may make up our own stories, through it certainly does not exhaust the variety. From birth to death our own stories have elements, which may tell a small piece of HIStory just as Moses' life does.

Some of the things which may be influential elements include:

how and where we are born
how we are raised
our health, our sicknesses, our injuries
our intellectual capacity and learning
our passions and pursuits
our occupations, our service and our hobbies
moments of fortune or calamity
the words we speak, whether in a moment or repeatedly
actions of great bravery or cowardice
sins and bad habits
personal interactions with God
the means of our death

There is more we could consider, but these are some beginning points to write out our own story in search of finding God in our own history.

Of course, just like reading the Bible can be difficult reading our life story can be hard as well. Just as the Bible can be twisted to say what we want it to say our life stories can be twisted by our poor perspective to teach us lessons we were never meant to learn. We are too often spiritually myopic - too close to see truth.

This is no new thought. There are people who have taught this, and you can pursue it further. Keri Wyatt Kent writes about this, and teaches to hear God in our own life stories. Variations of this may be found in Psychology, and hopefully I will remember the rather complex text of the Fuller Theological Seminary professor who wrote a book about discovering God's Will bu charting your personal history, which I read about 20 years ago.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mental Illness and Genetics

My friend Stephen Nicholson sent me this link to Oliver James teaching about about Mental Illness and genetics. He is quite controversial, and you can see people in the audience a bit upset over his conclusions. I am 20 minutes into the 60 minute teaching, and love it so far.

Check it out here

As he quotes from Erich Fromm's The Sane Society, "We live in a crazy society, and you'd have to be mad to be well adjusted to it."

Nice stuff.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Comforted by Liturgy?

I am not typically one who migrates toward repeated liturgical prayers. By nature I migrate toward change, toward new things, toward spontaneity. Yet over the last 6 months I find myself comforted and encouraged by the morning prayers found at The Northumbrian community's website.

I can not quite define why I find this comfort in this season of life, and I am sure that most attempts to psychoanalyze this will fall short of describing why things are this way for me right now. Perhaps to know that it is is good enough.

Are you comforted by repetitive liturgy? Maybe you know why. What does it do for you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Synching on Syncing (a Synchroblog on Syncretism)

This month there is a rather quickly put together set of posts on the subject of Syncretism. This is a subject rather close to my heart primarily due to the fact that I have been falsely accused of such activity by people who have not even graced the doors of our church. Of course, the term "graced" is not one which would really apply to them I suppose.

As my consideration of the subject this SynchroBlog I would like to make a statement about a potential future arrangement near our church, and post a question.

Our potential future neighbors at church

Now it appears that next door to our church, in the same building, and sharing the same bathrooms, and having doors facing one another that the newest tenants to our building just might be a a rather large and famous school of witchcraft. This is nothing peculiar for our city of Salem, Massachusetts. The Pagan community is not a group we are either afraid of, nor antagonistic towards. We have many witches who are our friends. That is life in Salem with the loving heart of Jesus.

Now the Question

So, what would you do if your church was saddled up next to the world's largest witchcraft school? I am not sure that this is a definite, and I am not certain I have the answer to the question myself.

Perhaps some of you my Pagan friends might have some thoughts. Perhaps some of you my Christian friends might have some concerns. Perhaps some of you are just scratching your heads and saying, "wow." What's your take? WWYD? Uhm, that's What Would You Do? :-)

The other synchrobloggers so far:

• Matt Stone Master Chef: How To Cook Up A Personal Jesus
• Susan Barnes Our Uncomfortable God
• Liz Dyer Does Interfaith Dialogue Lead To Syncretism?
• Phil Wyman Synching on Synching Synchroblog on Syncretism
How to be a Syncretist by Ellen Haroutunian
• Steve Hayes The Man in the Moss
• KW Leslie The Syncretists I Have Dealt With

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Noblesse Oblige Award - and my passing on the Torch of Nobility

Beth Patterson from The Virtual Teahouse has honored me with this blog award for "nobility of spirit." Her words are some of the nicest things which have said about me either on paper, or by word. Beth - you humble me with your grace - thank you.

From Wikipedia comes this extended definition of the French term "noblesse oblige," which means literally "nobility obligates."

""Noblesse oblige" is generally used to imply that with wealth, power and prestige come responsibilities. The phrase is sometimes used derisively, in the sense of condescending or hypocritical social responsibility. In American English especially, the term has also been applied more broadly to those who are capable of simple acts to help another, usually one who is less fortunate.

In ethical discussion, it is sometimes used to summarize a moral economy wherein privilege must be balanced by duty towards those who lack such privilege or who cannot perform such duty. Finally, it has been used recently primarily to refer to public responsibilities of the rich, famous and powerful, notably to provide good examples of behaviour or to exceed minimal standards of decency."

Beth identified well the heart of this blog experiment, which is all it was in its infancy three years ago, and probably all it remains today. Having the same birthday as Martin Luther I identify in far too many ways with the reformer, turned heretic, turned renegade. Square No More was birthed out of the fires of false accusation against myself, and our wonderful little church. The early goals of the blog were to define my faith in the terms of the marginalized, fringe, and alternative elements of our culture - to make it a living faith in a sometimes dead church world, and so I took my Jesus outside the four walls of institution. Okay, that's not accurate. I actually was forced outside the four walls of religious institution, and was hoping that Jesus was coming with me on this adventure into a strange new world. It has been a wonderful mission, a dangerous mission, a sometimes lonely mission, but each time I turn around, I discover that friends are really still there, and they are cheering me on. Those who have traveled with me have sacrificed much as well, and to them I owe my life: My wife Bev, Jeff and Diane Menasco, Jeff the G-man, Steve Pate, and all The Gathering gang who have been with me through the whole story - Mike and Stef, Rennie, Joanne especially, and all our new found friends from those in the church (like Prof CZ), and those outside (John Armstrong - thanks). This award belongs to you as well!

Beth, you have no way of knowing how much I am honored that the word "Noble" in it's highest meaning as you have attached to it touches me. This is the character trait I respect most deeply.

Now I am called to pass the torch onto to three others, and I call the following people my clan of noblemen (and women.)

John Smulo - he has been silent lately. Maybe this will call him back out. John you are the most gracious blogger I know, and in person you are even more gracious. To you I give the title Noble Blogger, and give you the Noblesse Oblige award. See JJ the Smu at Smulo Space - always thought provoking, occasionally gently provoking, and oh so gently too.

Noblesse Oblige number two goes to the prolific, and definitely provoking Jason Pitzl-Waters from Wild Hunt Blog. Now here I go again. A Christian pastor honoring a Pagan. I will probably get in trouble for it - again. I simply have to give this award to a blogger, who despite his significant differences with me on matters of theology, and religion has been gracious in the times he has mentioned me, and always beneficially critical of we Christians. (Yes, Christians it is true. People can be critical of us for our good, and they can be non-Christians who do so.) Thanks Jason. You are cool. I'd love to have you come hang out with us in Salem sometime.

The first award goes to someone who does not blog - my wife, Bev. She is the noblest person I know. She admits her mistakes quick as lightening. She works as hard as anyone living. She puts up with a dreamer like me, and helps to support a terrible churchplanting-missional habit. I wish she had a blog to put this award on.

Friday, June 05, 2009

How Many People Are Writing Books?

Just wondering to myself today, "How many people do I know who are writing books, and I don't realize it?"

Are you writing a book? Thinking of writing a book? Piecing materials together to write a book? Have some really good ideas for a book?

I am figuring that I am one of a million, and that there are a million people out there trying to write a book and hope to get it published just like me. Since I have over four hundred friends on Facebook and Twitter, and a pile of blog buddies I figure I should know a few people who are writing books. Maybe only about one in every 300 on facebook, but probably one out of every 3 on blogger.

What about you?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jesus as the Archetype Shaman (Part 3): Ascent into the Heavens

In my last post on this topic I briefly outlined the topic of humanity's yearning for a utopian spiritual experience. This "nostalgia for paradise," (a term coming from Mircea Eliade's landmark book on Shamanism, more recently used as a book title by Orthodox writer Dr. Alexander Kalomiros) reaches out to the histories, experiences, and myths of religions across the vast landscape of human experience. In religious revival after religious revival, in culture after culture, and in spiritual ecstatic experience after spiritual ecstatic experience humanity continues through the centuries to exhibit a deep yearning.

Among the stories which spark the hope for paradise, and gather people together in communities of faith, which exhibit this search for something better an oft repeated theme is a hero's ascent into the heavens.

The ultimate expression of heroic ascent into the heavens is found in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The repetition of this theme both prior, and following 1st century AD highlights the importance of a spiritually superior human having the capacity to access heaven either physically or spiritually and thereby guarantee a path toward paradise, or a potential from bring paradise down to humanity. Though ascension themes do not always entail bringing paradise down - as in the case of often turbulent Greek, Roman, and Nordic Pagan dieties, seeking a blessing or discovering a paradise still often remains a part of the search in the heavens.

The stories of Mohammed relate his ascension on a winged horse in the year 621. This ascension dream was filled with words from Allah declaring the truth and integrity of the messenger Mohammed. The winged horse ascension was used as a verification of Mohammed's position as a restorer of true, and unadulterated religion.

The story of Zoroaster/Zarathustra may include his ascension into the heavens to receive the law, and an ascension in the great flame.

The more recently developed mythology of the Ascended Masters includes a list of ascensions by numerous historical personages whose ascensions were marks of holiness, and supposed evidence of the restoration of true spirituality they brought during their time on earth.

There is debate about the place of ascension in the stories of the Siberian Shamans. Ronald Hutton suggests that Eliade placed a Christianized interpretation of the Siberian Shaman's ascents. Yet, the spiritual movement upward upon the world tree, or the ascent of the Cosmic Mountain (descent elements of these symbols will be addressed later) to communicate with a great god, or any number of spirits still speaks to the idea of ascent upwards and outside the realm of this visible world into the "heavens" for lack of a better word.

In this particular symbolic element of Shamanic journey Christ's story is of unique dramatic power. Beyond the ascent of the tribal Shaman, Christ goes on to be seated at the Throne in Heaven. His ascension follows the brutal death, and victorious resurrection story as Jesus shows Himself to be the conqueror over the greatest physical enemy of humanity - death. The ascent takes place in before the eyes of his followers, and He promises a return with paradise in his wake.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Duck Daddy Adventures

If you haven't seen the new series of stories about raising 6 little Indian Runner Ducks, you might want to check it out at my other blog. Funny stories, and cute baby duck pics.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jesus as the Archetype Shaman (Part 2): A Nostalgia for Paradise

This is part of May's SynchroBlog on the Kingdom of God. See the bottom for links to other posts.

As noted in my distantly past, last (and first) post on this topic, I believe that Jesus answers the haunting nostalgia for paradise, which follows the stories and myths of many shamanic cultures. This is not only a facet of the shamanic myths and their cultures, but also the leaning of Christianity as it hails back to the garden of Eden, and more often to the early and ancient church.

Yet shamanic culture and Christianity are not the only religious cultures to follow this primal call for paradise. Neo-Paganism began in a similar revivalist vein hoping to restore ancient, magical, and simple practices of Paganism. These primeval ties which Neo-Paganism has to supposed ancient Paganism have often proven to be as illusive as Christianity's hope of restoring the early church. Yet, this urge for a pristine and paradisaical system of religious practice remains a basic ideal for the cultus and theology of many religious systems. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, and other religious groups which began with a revivalist or reconstructionist call draw human hearts with promises of better days.

Jesus arrived upon the human scene declaring that the Kingdom of God had come. His work of healing, casting out devils, and preaching of a better way of living spoke to the human nostalgia for paradise.

His actions evidenced a benevolent power from an unseen Father. Accessed by faith this power promised to be available at some level to all the followers of Christ. It was a promise of a religious system founded in a paradisaical Kingdom, which would invade those who followed it with goodness.

Like the Shaman who ecstatically travels the unseen realm to seek healing for the sick, or blessing for the crops Jesus sought to bring paradise to earth in small packages of blessing and healing. These blessings answered the cry of paradise even if only for a moment.

The imagery of shamanic cultures includes a Cosmic Mountain, and a World Tree according to Mircea Eliade. Both these symbols imagine ascent to the heavens, and descent back to the earth with the hope of discovering blessing and power from above to help those on earth. This ascension imagery is seen in the words of Christ, "you shall see the heavens open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the the Son of Man."

Answering the utopian urge is one of the purposes of the Shaman, and was clearly a functional and foundational element of the messianic work of Christ. His declaration that the Kingdom of God had come was a challenge to a status quo of human mediocrity, and to the hordes of religious systems which had proven themselves to be hopelessly distopian. This nostalgia for paradise is among one of the many points which causes me to view Jesus of Nazareth as the Archetype Shaman.

For more reading on the Kingdom of God SynchroBlog see the links below:

• Susan Barnes (Christian currently attending a Baptist church) of
Abooklook on My kingdom goes
• Timothy Victor (Christian) of Tim Victor's Musings on The
reign of Godde

• Ronald van der Bergh (Dutch Reformed) of Ronalds Footnotes on
Notes on "the Kingdom of God" in the New Testament
• Nic Paton (fundamentalist, charismatic, liberationist, apophatic,
heterodox) of soundandsilence on The "Kingdom": of God?
• Beth Patterson (Non churched follower of Christ) of Virtual Tea
House on What it's like rather than what it is
• Jeff Goins (Non-denominational Christian) of Pilgrimage of the
Heart on The Kingdom of God: Now and Not Yet
• Brian Riley (YWAMer type o' dude and Jesus kinda guy) from Charis Shalom on Multiple Bloggers on the Kingdom of God
• Liz Dyer (follower of Jesus) of Grace Rules on
The Kingdom of God is at Hand
• Matt Stone (Christian) of Glocal Christianity on
The Only Christian Nation is the Kingdom of God
• Andrew Hendrikse of Fake expression of the Unknown on
The Kingdom of God is...
• Phil Wyman (Non-denominational Christian) of Square No More on
Jesus as the Archetype Shaman (Part 2): A Nostalgia for

• Stephen Hayes (Orthodox Christian) of Khanya on
Kingdom, power and glory

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Iconoclast by Gregory Berns - I relate

Just finished the book. I am not typically a library book reader. I like to own books, and keep them on dusty shelves forever, but I did check this out from the library. Good book, and I felt like someone really understood how I thought.

Worth buying. I might have to get a copy even though I've read it now.

Pastor Phil on HEX Education Radio

On Sunday night from 11pm until the Witching hour I was interviewed by my friends, and local Salem Witches Christian Day and Sandra Powers on HEX Education. The interview lasted for about an hour. If you listen to the program, I don't come on until half way through the 2 hour show. You can listen to the program here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Pine Sunday at The Gathering

This last Sunday we celebrated Pine Sunday instead of Palm Sunday here in Salem. Weird, huh? Well, you can read more about here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saint Patrick was a Welshman!

That's right - it's true, and to commemorate this fact I have written a song about it. Evan Hansen helped me with the lyrics.

If you are part of the Boston Welsh gang, hopefully we will see you at McGann's Pub in Boston for the Ireland-Wales match on the 21st.

Saint Patrick was a Welshman

Young Patrick was a Welshman you took him as a slave
His coat was green but his blood ran red as the Draig Goch (Red Dragon) that we wave
He escaped and learned his letters, returned and scared your snakes
now you have a Welshman as your blessed patron saint

Your fathers were our brothers and sons in olden days
Your maidens are our sisters, so keep your hands away!
You'll cry upon your Guinness when it comes Saint Patrick's Day
'cause Patrick was a Welshman, and he still is one today

He's looking down from heaven every time we play
Yr Iaith Nefoedd (Heaven's Language - Welsh) upon his lips at the start of every game
From kickoff at the mid-field the faithful hear him pray
Dressed in red he shouts aloud for the boys who have the Brains

And now good Christian brothers, it's just a game we play
Whether Iechyd Da or Slainte (Welsh and Irish toasts for "good health") we tip our cups today
We share our saints and ales, with heads held high we say
Patrick is an Irish Saint
Patrick is an Irish Saint
Patrick is an Irish Saint
But a Welshman to this day!

You'll cry upon your Guinness when it comes Saint Patrick's Day
'cause Patrick is an Irish Saint, but a Welshman to this day!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Welsh are Coming! Gymanfa Ganu - Salem, MA

Oh my Gosh!

We held our first Cymanfa Ganu in Salem, MA. Meirwyn Walters was the conductor. I acted as the emcee of the event. The Saengerfest Choir and North Shore Christian Men's Choir joined us for the event. As did Jodi Jenkins-Ainsworth, Rose Wolf, and Stella Price who performed her poetry on "Tin Baths in Wales."

We expected somewhere around 40 to at most 100 people to show up, but we had a front page article in the Salem News. A color photo on the front page had me waving a Welsh Flag in front of the church where the Cymanfa was happening, and it said "The Welsh are Coming!" At 5:30 there were over 40 people there. By 5:45 there were over 100. By 6pm when the event was to begin there were over 240 people in the room.

This was a great first Cymanfa in Salem, and a fantastic beginning to Wales Week Boston!

First Church Salem - thanks.
Meirwyn Walters - thanks.
Choirs - thanks.
Cymrodorion Society of Boston - thanks.

This was one big wow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ST DAVID: DOING BIG THINGS IN BOSTON? (A press Release Headed to Wales)

The city of Boston in Massachusetts is typically thought of as a center of Irish American life, but next week it will become a focal point for Saint David's Day events in the United States ranging from the saintly to the strange.

The Boston Cymrodorion Society, active in the area since the heydays of Welsh-American cultural life in the late nineteenth century, is at the heart of a cluster of events at which the Boston Welsh will be celebrating Wales’ patron saint.

From the traditional (a Cymanfa Ganu in Salem) to the modern (Tom Jones is performing in Boston) the ascetic (prayers waist-deep in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean), organisations as diverse as The Gathering (a church in Salem, Massachusetts), the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Consulate General are involved alongside the Cymrodorion in arranging events.

The Ryder Cup is even making an appearance, to draw Americans to Newport for the golfing contest in 2010.

Pastor Phil Wyman of The Gathering (himself a member of the Boston Cymrodorion, and the organiser of Dunkin' Like David) believes that Boston deserves to be better known for its Welsh events: “I hope to see Wales Week Boston grow larger each year,” he said. “There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. This is just the second year St David’s Day has received official support in Boston, and the success of our outreach has been phenomenal. There is a great interest in Wales here in America.”

Aled Llion Jones, who teaches Welsh at Boston’s Harvard University and is active with the local Welsh community, emphasises the historical strength of Welsh America: “Welsh-language culture was once strong across much of the United States, and especially here on the east coast. There were poets, novelists, periodicals, newspapers – you name it – being published in Welsh, and the Welsh were a vital force in many aspects of American cultural history, from the earliest European settlements to the Civil War and the anti-slavery movement. It is a relatively unknown story, but one with strong roots.”

Boston Cymrodorion:;

St David’s Day Week in Boston features the following events:

- Cymanfa Ganu: First Church Salem, MA.
- Dunkin' Like David (Dewch i'r Dŵr fel Dewi) a Saint David's Day “polar bear plunge” at Revere Beach. Charity fundraiser.
- Boston Children's Museum: Merlin and Dragons animation
- Tom Jones sings in Boston on Saint David's Day.
- The Ryder Cup (next contested in Newport in 2010) on show.
- Welsh Whiskey Tasting
- Talks and Welsh-language classes at Harvard
- (with luck) Celebration of Welsh rugby victory over France!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wondering About the Future, Considering the Discipline of Hospitality

So, here I am listening to The Pogues, Flogging Molly and The Dubliners on Pandora. I am meanwhile getting back to reading "Making Room" by Christine D. Pohl. (Check out the box on the left if you are interested in reading it. I bought it used on Amazon for a few bucks.) I can not help but wonder what place hospitality will need to take in the life of the church, and even our nation should the economy continue to decline.

Currently the leaders of our nation are using the money of our future to survive the problems of our present. Could there be an eventual end to this way of doing things? Will we need to survive by caring for one another in simple non-government designed means? Do you think that this ancient art of hospitality will need to find a new place in contemporary hearts?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dunkin' Like David - Join us March 1st

This is our trial run for Dunkin' Like David, a Boston polar bear plunge on Saint david's Day - March 1st, 2009. This is part of Boston Welsh (Cymrodorion) Saint David's Day events. Saint David is 6th century Celtic Saint, and the patron saint of Wales. Come and join us on March 1st at 1pm in the afternoon for Dunkin' Like David.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Faith and Ethnicity SynchroBlog List

Tuesday Barrack Obama will be inaugurated as President. Tensions run high in the Middle East. I will be beginning a part time temporary position as "Intern on Wales" (a PR position) for the British Consulate in Boston. Each of the things have something in common. There is an element of ethnicity which comes to play in them. This month's SynchroBlog offering is on the subject of Faith and Ethnicity. Below are the offerings which have been presented thus far.

May you grow in thought and develop in deepening concern as you read. Please leave a response in the comment section for the author of those posts you enjoy. Well, heck leve a comment with the one's that make you mad too. That would be fun!

For my post I am sending you to one of my other blog sites. So, click the first line below to go to The Why Man, and read my offering. You can return here to navigate back to the others. Have fun and be challenged.

Phil Wyman (That's me) on Seeing the Middle East from a Jewish Perspective
Joshua Jinno the Antechurch
Raffi Shahinian on Faith and Ethnicity: A True Story
Susan Barnes on Just a God of the West
K.W. Leslie on Why I went to an all-white church
Adam Gonnerman on Multicultural experience (and inexperience)
Matt Stone on Is the church ready for a multiethnic future?
Beth Patterson on Viva la particularities
Steve Hayes on Christianity and ethnicity"
Matthew Snyder asks What's Your Nation?
Jeff Goins on Gypsies in Spain

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Faith and Ethnicity: Wednesday, Jan. 14th SynchroBlog

The next SynchroBlog is coming up. The topic is Faith and Ethnicity. If you want to join the SynchroBlog let us know. Info for signing up can be found here.