Saturday, February 27, 2010

Celebrity Hand Look-Alike (Paris Hilton & Hell-Boy)

Draining Swamps Pelosi Style (plus: a Jay Leno oldie)

A Car Commercial... But Really a Beer Commercial (Mazda Premacy)

Art Comes In All Forms

Tom Coburn -- "Federal and state governments already control 60 percent of health care."

Hello, I’m Dr. Tom Coburn, a practicing physician from Oklahoma and a member of the United States Senate. 


The American people have rejected the majority’s plan for good reason. Their plan includes half a trillion dollars in new tax increases, a half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare, job-killing penalties for employers, taxpayer funded abortion and new boards that will ration care to American citizens. At its core, their plan continues a government-centered approach that has made health care more expensive. Federal and state governments already control 60 percent of health care. If more government spending and control was the answer we could have fixed health care long ago. 

Republicans in Congress have a different vision for reform. We have put forward several proposals that lay out a common sense step-by-step path to reform. Our solutions are patient-centered, not government-centered. We believe in expanding options, not government; increasing access, not taxes; and reducing costs, not quality. Most importantly, we believe that no one has the right to step between you and your doctor.
That's key:  "Federal and state governments already control 60 percent of health care. If more government spending and control was the answer we could have fixed health care long ago." All the rest is commentary.

American Gothic Cartoons (some of my favs this week)

Visigoth Cartoons



Friday, February 26, 2010

Cat LSD? (Red Eye)

Biased Biasness... Liberal Media Spin


....Actually, it's not a fact even though people from President Obama to filmmaker Michael Moore have claimed it was so.
The Census Bureau reported 45.6 million uninsured people in 2007, but the numbers include nearly 10 million non-citizens and millions who may choose not to have insurance, and millions more who should be able to afford insurance without government assistance.
The Business & Media Institute broke down the uninsured statistics in 2007 and found details from the Census Bureau commonly ignored by the news media:
  • 10 million uninsured non-citizens
  • More than 17 million of the uninsured make at least $50,000 per year
  • 8.4 million made $50,000 to $74,999 per year and 9.1 million made $75,000 or more.
Another segment of the uninsured, 25 percent, according to the liberal Urban Institute already qualifies for government health insurance programs. Other groups have also found that many of the uninsured are temporarily without coverage due to job changes.
Even the liberal Kaiser Family Foundation puts the number of chronically uninsured between 8.2 and 13.9 million people.

New Notable Quotables

God Blessed Racism Video and Quotes (wanted it all in one place for my use)

"How many books of Cones have you read!?"

This is the $ quote from the interview above with Obama's past pastor . So I did. Could you imagine if McCain or Bush went to a church for twenty years headed by a pastor whom -- a) brought you to your faith, b) married you and your wife, c) baptized your kids, and was d) on your campaign staff -- sold hitler's Mein Kampf in the church's bookstore. Not only that but on national television recommended this same book? We would never hear the end of it. Never. In fact, this fictitious person would never make it on a ballot.
"The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew" ~ Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf
  •     The goal of black theology is the destruction of everything white, so that blacks can be liberated from alien gods. (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone, p.62
  •     White religionists are not capable of perceiving the blackness of God, because their satanic whiteness is a denial of the very essence of divinity. That is why whites are finding and will continue to find the black experience a disturbing reality. (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone, p.64

"I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord" ~ Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf
  •     There is no place in black theology for a colorless God in a society where human beings suffer precisely because of their color. The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples. (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone, p.63
  •     Christianity is not alien to Black Power, Christianity is Black Power. (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) Black Theology & Black Power, James Cone, p.38
  •     In contrast to this racist view of God, black theology proclaims God's blackness. Those who want to know who God is and what God is doing must know who black persons are and what they are doing. (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone, p.65
"The [Nazi party] should not become a constable of public opinion, but must dominate it. It must not become a servant of the masses, but their master!" ~ Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf
  •     These new theologians of the Third World argue that Christians [liberation theology accepting Christians] should not shun violence but should initiate it... (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) Black Theology & Black Power, James Cone, p.32
  •     It is important to make a further distinction here among black hatred, black racism, and Black Power. Black hatred is the black man's strong aversion to white society. No black man living in white America can escape it. (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) Black Theology & Black Power, James Cone, p.14
  •     It is this fact that makes all white churches anti-Christian in their essence. To be Christian is to be one of those whom God has chosen. God has chosen black people! (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) Black Theology & Black Power, James Cone, p.151
  •     It [black liberation theology] is dangerous because the true prophet of the gospel of God must become both "anti-Christian" and "unpatriotic.".... Because whiteness by its very nature is against blackness, the black prophet is a prophet of national doom. He proclaims the end of the American Way,... (Book from Obamas Churchs bookstore) A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone, p.55-56

(Below are quotes from James H. Cone, A Black Theology of  Liberation ~ a book sold in Obama's church's bookstore the entire  20-years he attended.)


"It is dangerous because the true prophet of the gospel of God  must become both 'anti-Christian' and 'unpatriotic.' (55) …. Because  whiteness by its very nature is against blackness, the black prophet is a  prophet of national doom. He proclaims the end of the 'American  Way...'" (56


"But this does not mean that religion is irrelevant altogether;  it only means that religion unrelated to black liberation is  irrelevant."  (58-59)


"... it is that whites are incapable of making any valid judgment  about human existence. The goal of black theology is the destruc¬tion  of everything white, so that blacks can be liberated from alien gods.   The God of black liberation will not be confused with a blood' thirsty  white idol. Black theology must show that the black God has nothing to  do with the God worshiped in white churches whose primary purpose is to  sanctify the racism of whites and to daub the wounds of blacks. Putting  new wine in new wineskins means that the black theology view of God has  nothing in common with those who prayed for an American victory in  Vietnam or who pray for a "cool" summer in the ghetto....  There is no  place in black theology for a colorless God in a society where human  beings suffer precisely because of their color. The black theologian  must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination  by picturing God as a God of all peoples. Either God is identified with  the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God's  experience, or God is a God of racism....  Because God has made the goal  of blacks God's own goal, black theology believes that it is not only  appropriate but necessary to begin the doctrine of God with an  insistence on God's blackness."  (62-63)


"White religionists are not capable of perceiving the blackness  of God, because their satanic whiteness is a denial of the very essence  of divinity. That is why whites are finding and will continue to find  the black experience a disturbing reality."  (64)


"In contrast to this racist view of God, black theology proclaims  God's blackness. Those who want to know who God is and what God is  doing must know who black persons are and what they are doing. " (65)


"God comes to us in God's blackness, which is wholly unlike  white¬ness. To receive God's revelation is to become black with God by  joining God in the work of liberation.... Becoming one of God's  disciples means rejecting whiteness and accepting themselves as they are  in all their physical blackness."  (66)


"Black theology cannot accept a view of God which does not  represent God as being for oppressed blacks and thus against white  oppressors. Living in a world of white oppressors, blacks have no time  for a neutral God. The brutalities are too great and the pain too  severe, and this means we must know where God is and what God is doing  in the revolution.... What we need is the divine love as expressed in  black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors,  here and now, by any means at their disposal. Unless God is  participating in this holy activity, we must reject God's love."  (70)


"God is black because God loves us; and God loves us because we  are black.  Righteousness is that side of God which expresses itself  through black liberation.  God makes black what humans have made  white.... Love is a refusal to accept whiteness."  (73-74)


"If creation 'involves a bringing into existence of something  that did not exist before,' then to say God is creator means that my  being finds its source in God. I am black because God is black!  God as  creator is the ground of my blackness (being), the point of reference  for meaning and purpose in the universe.... Rather it is incumbent upon  me by the freedom granted by the creator to deny whiteness and affirm  blackness as the essence of God.  That is why it is necessary to speak  of the black revolution rather than reformation. The idea of reformation  suggests that there is still something 'good' in the system itself,  which needs only to be cleaned up a bit.  This is a false perception of  reality. The system is based on whiteness, and what is necessary is a  replacement of whiteness with blackness." (75-76)


"Being white excludes them from the black community and thus  whatever concern they have for blacks will invariably work against black  freedom....  Certainly if whites expect to be able to say anything  relevant to the self-determination of the black community, it will be  necessary for them to destroy their whiteness by becoming members of an  oppressed community. Whites will be free only when they become new  persons—when their white being has passed away and they are created anew  in black being. When this happens, they are no longer white but free,  and thus capable of making decisions about the destiny of the black  community."  (97)


  • Born Again: "They [white people] would destroy  themselves and be born again as beautiful black persons."  (103);
  • Sin:  "This means that whites, despite their self-proclaimed religiousness,  are rendered incapable of making valid judgments on the character of  sin.... In a word, sin is whiteness..."  (106, 108);
  • Salvation:  "Salvation, then, primarily has to do with earthly reality and the  injustice inflicted on those who are helpless and poor. To see the  salvation of God is to see this people rise up against its oppressors,  demanding that justice become a reality now, not tomorrow."  (128)

(Above are quotes from James H. Cone, A Black Theology of  Liberation ~ a book sold in Obama's church's bookstore the entire  20-years he attended.)

Wanted to Share This Post from A Blogger I Check Out Once-In-Awhile

(Yes, that is a Subway in the green zone)

Not that that, necessarily makes my Christmas more special than yours–I’m just saying…

I am finally at my duty station.  It took a while to get here.  Nothing in the Army is a straight line, there is always a double back, a sit and wait, an indefinite delay, a, “requires additional authorization”, a miscommunication, frago, SNAFU, FUB-well, you get the point.   I sat in a helicopter hanger floor for 2 days, then after the helicopter got here I had to wait another day to hitch a ride to my duty station.  Had the mission been a straight line I would have been there in 40 minutes not three days.   Anyway, straight line or not I did get here safe and sound.

I’m with a small group which is good.  There is Big Army, and there is Small Army.  Big Army is about haircuts, and uniforms, and getting soldiers to chow on time.   Small Army is about the mission–haircuts, and uniforms and chow be damned.  The mission I’m supporting  is more interesting than a reservist mechanic has a right to expect.  For instance, did I go shooting yesterday with an  firearms instructor from a his speed commando unit, taking me through a whole  array of weapons I was not familiar with…?


Nothing in the Army is a straight line, but sometime the curves can be extremely satisfying.
Merry Christmas everyone!


Another, Non-Theological Reason, To Be Against Child Baptism

Not A Peep About Patriot Act Passing (Where Is Code Pink?)


HotAir points out that during the Bush administration, the Left would go ape-shit over each time this act was passed and they would deride Bush for taking people's rights away. Did you hear anything about this time around? Not a peep.

The House had another opportunity for progressives to do a little piƱata-beating on a bill last night — but curiously, it passed with little note or controversy.  The extension of the Patriot Act sailed through the lower chamber with almost no one noticing, following a similarly quiet passage out of the Senate earlier in the week:
The House of Representatives reauthorized the Patriot Act for one year Thursday.
The vote was 315-97 .
Many liberals in the House opposed the controversial act, saying it tramps Constitutional protections and civil liberties.
During George Bush’s term in office, every renewal the Patriot Act became grand theater, with newspapers inveighing against the overreach of Bush and the danger to American liberty in the bill, which wasn’t an entirely vacuous argument.  Protesters would fill streets, and reporters would demand positions from various members of Congress.  So what happened this year?...
...(read more)...


Radicals at MSNBC -- Chris Matthews with Saul Alinsky Again!

Kill It Dead, Like Nancy Pelosi’s Face Muscles

Andrew Breitbart, Hannah Giles, and Max Blumenthal = A Journalism "Scoop"

Max Blumenthal has an amazing thesis:  All conservatives and Republicans are beneath contempt.  He also has an amazing line of work.  He is underwritten by various media organs to prove his thesis.

In a previous era, Blumenthal and said media organs (Salon, Independent Film Channel, Huffington Post, etc.) were able to get away with this pathetic arrangement.   But now, we are on to Max, the spawn of Sid “Vicious” Blumenthal – he who attempted to ruin Monica Lewinsky’s life by falsely portraying her as Bill Clinton’s “stalker.”

The Blumenthal operation is now under the extremely close scrutiny of a camelid named “Retracto.”

The movement formerly known as the “Tea-Baggers” (with their flip cameras and new media skills) and various conservatives who have had enough with the excessive Alinsky tactics used most egregiously by Max and Sid but representative of main stream media’s odious guilt-by-association, repeat-the-same-lie-until-it-sticks, smear-any-conservative-as-racist-sexist-homophobic skill set, are now fighting back.

If the last two weeks have not humiliated him enough — and this Huffington Post rage-fest from yesterday with its title “Feeling the Hate at CPAC 2010 With Andrew Breitbart, Hannah Giles and the Crazy Mob” suggests they have not – then perhaps this coup de booger will tell him that we say what we mean and we mean what we say.

Max gallivanted around CPAC looking for prey.  He was treated with respect as he sought to make good and decent people look foolish on camera.  He decided he would go after a 20-year-old girl, one Hannah Giles.  And perhaps due to sexism or ageism he underestimated her ability.  Max should have called Bertha Lewis before he went after this young heroine.  Instead, he went to a gunfight with a knife – and a dirty nose.

Ladies and gentlemen, the much awaited, “Max Blumenthal Picks a Booger Out of His Nose at CPAC” video:

...(read more)...

Walter Williams & Thomas Sowell Tackle Minimum Wage

Professor Tom Woods On What The American Indians Can Teach Us About Private Property

Out of Control Legislation on Toys -- John Stossel

Frank Luntz Focus Group Rates the Healthcare Summit!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It Won't Die!

Interview with Dr. John C. Drew, Former Marxist Friend of Obama

A Clarification On A Few Posts

I just wanted to add this caveat to the posts detailing some ideas infiltrating my old church as well as the church as a whole. I have met with the senior pastor from NorthPark, Dr. David White, and we are in agreement with the facts as they are. (Which are that the emergent movement is an attack on the essentials.) However, I believe we are also in agreement that a more positive path could have been chosen by myself in the delivery of these raw facts that we both agree are important. Airing the church's "dirty laundry" for the world to see is never the best route in that I had other options available to me. Soiling the gown of the bride of Christ (the church universal, not just NP) should never be the first option, and hopefully not the last either.
Even if my motives were pure as the driven snow (which a simple reading of Romans tells us they are not), the end result was not the best I could hope for. I am confident that the pastors involved in some of the statements and literature handed to me are in the process of taking to heart what I said... sour-pill and all. That is testament to a team of believers at NP that should impress even the most ardent critic... which sometimes is me!
So for any persons at NP that were hurt by my in-depth posts, especially BH, I apologize. My email is at the top of this page for any staff member to ask questions about this topic. I hope to be a positive resource in the future to any that do not understand the very important issues involved in this postmodern movement that needs both truth and grace to confront it. As you can tell, I'm a truth guy.
I wish to say that while I have made the point that some staff need discipleship in the major doctrines that drive our faith, Pastor Dave exemplified an area that I need discipleship in. That is, how to talk things through in a loving graceful manner, as the Bible also prescribes.
I thought of an analogy as I drove away from our meeting. What I did is similar to a customer who frequented a restaurant for many years. One day he gets a miss-cooked plate of food. This customer "harrumphs" loudly in disgust and gets up and storms out. In the church however, we practice something different, which again, Dave exemplifies well. Instead of getting up and storming off, the customer (a cook himself) would get up and go into the kitchen and befriend the newer cook and show him how to do his trade well. This is also exemplified in a story told by a missionary and expanded on by an apologist:
When I was a Buddhist I felt like I was in the middle of a large lake.  I was drowning and I didn't know how to swim.  As I struggled to keep my head above water, I looked out towards the shore and saw Buddha walking up to the edge of the lake.  I was going under for the third time, when suddenly Buddha began shouting out instructions to me, teaching me how to swim.  Buddha shouted, "Kick your legs and paddle your arms."  But then Buddha said, "Lou, you must make it to shore by yourself." As I desperately struggled to follow the instructions of Buddha, I looked out towards the shore again, but this time I saw Jesus Christ walking towards the edge of the lake.  However, Jesus did not stop at the edge of the lake.  Jesus dove into the lake and he swam out and rescued me!  And once Jesus had brought me safely back to shore, then he taught me how to swim, so that I could go back and rescue others!
You see, this is the key difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world: Christianity is not a religion!  What are religions?  Religions are about human attempts to make our lives right with God, through our good works, sacrifices, rituals, and money.  However, Christianity is not a religion.  Christianity is about God entering human history to graciously save men and women through His Son Jesus Christ.  It is only by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and submitting to his Lordship that we will be saved.
A relationship with God will never be found in any religion, because religions only offer swimming lessons to people drowning in the sea of sin.  And it doesn't matter how sincere or devout you are in your religious faith and practice, because the sea of sin is eternally immense.  The only hope for men and women drowning in the sea of sin is Jesus Christ.  God entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ; he dove into the sea of sin in order to save desperate and drowning people.  If you'll allow him to take you there, he'll hold you in his loving arms and bring you safely to shore.  And after arriving safely to shore, then your swimming lessons begin, so that you can go back and rescue others!
So from this story that I have told to some over the years I now use with myself. We have the Example of examples willing to dive in and save us... but not only that, to disciple us in our deficiencies. This missed opportunity on my part to pass on in a small way what was modeled in the macro to me is yet one more indicator that this relationship I have with my Creator and His body (not only at NP but as the church universal) needs constant improving -- eg., truth with grace. I thank this same Creator for people like Pastor Dave that disciple this with action.
Again, any questions about this topic will be welcomed. I will go through and mellow out a few of the posts for the reason that this airing not be public for the world to see forever. Take note I am still no longer a member of this church, as, many of the staff are still in "process" on important doctrinal issues (this last sentence added 3-05-2010).
SeanG (AKA - Papa Giorgio)

If you are unaware of this movement, a good place to start is just by clicking one of these tabs:
"Emerging/Emergent Church" - "Thomas Merton" - "Rick Warren" - "Henry Nouwen" - "Richard Foster" - "Rob Bell" - "Shane Claiborne" - "Tony Jones" - "Brian Driscoll" - "Doug Pagitt"

Thomas Merton Bio #3

 (See Part I and Part II)

New Age is defined well this way:
         [O]ccultism [New Ageism] is defined as the science of mystical evolution; it is the employment of the hidden (i.e., occult [secret]) mystical faculties of man to discern the hidden reality of nature; i.e., to see God as the all-in-all.[1]
I am very familiar with "freedom," in fact, when Luther wrote his commentary on Romans he was still a bit fresh to the commentary scene. His commentary on Galatians however, fantastic. I also enjoy Augustan, Aquinas, and many other Church Fathers and apologists/theologians, I can even pick through Origin's stuff. Contemplative prayer is not something that should be gleaned/shared or compared to this history. You will see a recurring theme in meditative practices, they are grasped onto by people in the Eastern religions and Roman Catholicism as another way or work to reach God. In other words, the typical Catholic has salvation wrapped up in many legalistic traditions, and it doesn't surprise me that instead of looking to the Reformational doctrines, they look to the East, who are likewise filled with traditions and models to achieve emptiness of the mind. I will contend that the "silence" Merton speaks of is not the "solitude" Jesus sought or the type mentioned in Psalm 46:10, a favorite verse of the contemplatives.
Ken Kaisch, an Episcopal priest and teacher of mystical prayer says in his book Finding God:
         Meditation is a process through which we quiet the mind and the emotions and enter directly into the experience of the Divine.... there is a deep connection between us... God is in each of us.[2]
However, how does one get to this point of realizing "God is in each of us," or, in all things in the panentheistic sense? What does this silence cause? Bishop Alan Jones in Reimaging Christianity, says the church must head towards contemplative prayer,
         ...the life of contemplative prayer... Loved and in communion with all things, the soul is born in and out of the secret silence of God. This silence at the heart of mysticism is not only the meeting point of the great traditions but also where all hearts might meet.... But another ancient strand of Christianity teaches that we are all caught up in the Divine Mystery we call God, that the Spirit is in everyone [not talking about the Imago Dei], and that there are depths of interpretation yet to be plumbed.... At cathedral we "break the bread" for those who follow the path of the Buddha and walk the way of the Hindus.[3]
Here is a longer quote from Bishop Jones from my chapter of a larger paper:
The following quote from is from a book that I had read some quotes from in other works and I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I bought it to see for myself.  Here is what I found:
Who's Included?
Imagine a great cathedral in Western Australia packed for the cele­bration of Commonwealth Day. There's been a lot of preparation for the service, and tough questions were asked about what “common­wealth” might mean in such a multicultural society. Who should be included and how should the Church celebrate the present reality that is Australia? What's the relationship of Christianity to the other faiths represented in the Commonwealth?
John Shepherd, the dean of St. George's Cathedral in Perth, Western Australia, invited the abbot of the Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery to preach at the service, which was a Eucharist -- the central Christian sacrament. The abbot accepted in full knowledge of this. Aboriginal dancers led the procession into the cathedral and later led the offertory procession to the altar. During communion, representatives of the Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Baha'i faiths read passages from their sacred writings, and after communion an Abo­riginal reader offered a dream-time reflection. Was this Christian? The answer, as far as I'm concerned, is “Of course.”
For others, however, the service was an act of betrayal. Outside the cathedral two people stood in protest, holding placards bearing biblical texts. One protester briefly interrupted the abbot's address with a cry that they were all heading for hell. The two lone objec­tors believed that the Christian witness was being compromised.   And from their point of view, they were right.  Either Christianity is true or it isn’t.  If it is, the other religions, however well meaning their adherents are, must be false. Right? And it's hypocritical to think and act otherwise.
But another ancient strand of Christianity teaches that we are all caught up in the Divine Mystery we call God, that the Spirit is in everyone, and that there are depths of interpretation yet to be plumbed. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people” [John 1:1-18; ital­ics mine].[4]
I believe this idea of integrating faith is self-explanatory.  However, in case you missed it, at the end of the quote Alan Jones inserted an Eastern pantheistic worldview into the Gospel of John.  In other words, in order to validate his point, Jones practiced eisegesis.  (“Exegesis is ‘letting the text speak for itself rather than reading into the text what isn’t there,’ which is eisegesis.”)[5]
In the book the Contemplative Experience, Joseph Chu-Cong speaks about Bernard of Clairvaux:
  • He realized that God permeates the whole of creation. His experience was that God is the "stone in the stones, the tree in the trees," and in the same way, the center point of his own soul. God resides at the heart of all that exists![6]
Thomas Merton went so far as to say that without contemplative prayer "the Church cannot fulfill her mission to transform and save mankind."[7] This is Gospel plus something. Plus what? William Shannon quoting Merton explains what the goal of contemplative practice is:
  • The contemplative experience is neither a union of separate identities nor a fusion of them; on the contrary, separate identities disappear in the All Who is God.[8]
This is New Age Eastern thought. It has its place in the Mind Sciences, not in conservative Protestant bodies. Brennan Manning, author of Ragamuffin Gospel, wrote some suggestions in his Signature of Jesus on how to empty you mind:
  • the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer.
  • contemplative spirituality tends to emphasize the need for a change in consciousness . . . we must come to see reality differently.
  • Choose a single, sacred word ... repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often.[9]
This is exactly how Eastern gurus empty their mind. Richard Foster (one of the most well-known Merton disciples) defines it thusly: "Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it."[10]
This isn’t about whether one listens to Dio or P.O.D. -- has adopted a stance on predestination, free-will, or nothing at all; it is about necromancy (spirit guides), altered states of consciousness, astral projection, importing pantheistic worldviews into a theistic one, and occultism.  For instance:
Willow Creek's Leadership Summit in August 2006 introduced Jim Collins to the 70,000 participating Christian leaders. Since 1982 he has been a disciple of New Ager Michael Ray. That year Collins took Ray's Creativity in Business course, which “takes much of its inspiration from Eastern philosophy, mysticism and meditation techniques” and promotes tapping into one's inner wisdom. It describes an “inner person” called “your wisdom keeper or spirit guide” that “can be with you in life” (“Willow Creek Leadership Summit Starts Today,” Lighthouse Trails, Aug. 10, 2006). Collins wrote the foreword to Ray's 2005 book The Highest Goal: The Secret that Sustains You in Every Minute, which claims that man is divine and recommends Hindu mind emptying, meditation. The book quotes Hindu gurus Ram Dass, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Swami Shantananda. Yet Collins calls it “the distillation of years of accumulated wisdom from a great teacher.” Following is a quote from the book:
         I attended a meditation-intensive day at an ashram [Hindu spiritual center] to support a friend. As I sat in meditation in what was for me an unfamiliar environment, I suddenly felt and saw a bolt of lightning shoot up from the base of my spine out the top of my head. It forced me to recognize something great within me ... this awareness of my own divinity (Michael Ray, The Highest Goal, p. 28; the foreword is by Jim Collins; quoted from “Willowcreek Leadership Summit Starts Today,” Aug, 10, 2006, Lighthouse Trails).[11]
Which is why Thomas Keating says in his book Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (a book recommended by Brennan Manning) that,
         In order to guide persons having this experience [divine oneness], Christian spiritual directors may need to dialogue with Eastern teachers in order to get a fuller understanding.[12]
Which may have been the catalyst for Merton saying that he "see[s] no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. The future of Zen is in the West. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can."[13] Just a reminder on Manning in my "guilt by proxy" post about Beth Moore:
Moore builds her case for contemplative in her frequent references to Brennan Manning in her book, suggesting that his contribution to "our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel" (p. 72). This is indeed a troubling statement made by a Christian leader who so many women look to for direction and instruction in their spiritual lives. Many of those women, in reading Moore's comments about Manning and her quoting of him in the book may turn to the writings of Manning for further insights. When they do, they will find that Manning is a devout admirer of Beatrice Bruteau of The School for Contemplation.
Bruteau believes that God lives in all creation, stating: "We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not 'I am a this' or 'I have that quality.' Only unlimited, absolute I AM" (Lighthouse Trails).
Ahem... this is contemplative prayer, e.g., New Age realizations geared to eradicate self, cause an eastern style silence/emptying of the mind, and deification in some respect of man. This is not found in Biblical history but only the history of panentheism picked up by the traditions that made Luther and Calvin and others sick. Not only was Merton a typical "worship Mary and pray to the saints" Catholic, he was a self-pronounced Buddhist who used Buddhist forms of meditation and repackaged it into Christianese along with the "Desert Fathers" use of the same Eastern practices. In fact he experienced, while meditating in front of Buddha statues deep mystical experiences similar to his contemplation on Christ.
While I agree you can glean stuff from certain theologians, in all that I have read and studied on Merton he would be lumped in with the anti-Christ's religion by the Reformers. Which may be why there is talk about a new reformation or talk of the "old one" being too rigid.
Fuller Seminary professors Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, in their sympathetic study of the emerging church, say:
         Whereas the Reformation removed many rituals from the worship service, postmodern worship restores these activities. The reformation focused on the spoken word, while postmodern worship embraces the experienced word. Thus, emerging church worshipers may respond with the sign of the cross, more often associated with Catholic worship, and they receive the deep mystical aspects of communion, candles, and incense. They may retrieve ancient rituals and create new ones involving the body; they may dance in different venues" (Emerging Churches, p. 78).
Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, led by Doug Pagitt, uses labyrinths, celebrates Ash Wednesday by putting ashes on the forehead, practices silent prayer and prayer dancing, makes the sign of the cross, and uses the Stations of the Cross (Church Re-imagined, pp. 86, 101, 102).[14]
The Boston Globe mentions this new monastic mysticism in one of their article:
         There is now a growing movement to revive evangelicalism by reclaiming parts of Roman Catholic tradition--including monasticism. Some 100 groups that describe themselves as both evangelical and monastic have sprung up in North America, according to Rutba House's [Jonathan] Wilson-Hartgrove. Many have appeared within the past five years. Increasing numbers of evangelical congregations have struck up friendships with Catholic monasteries, sending church members to join the monks for spiritual retreats. St. John's Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota, now makes a point of including interested evangelicals in its summer Monastic Institute ("The Unexpected Monks," The Boston Globe, Feb. 3, 2008).
If there is any mistake about what the goal of contemplative prayer, Richard Foster sums it up:
         To this question the old writers answer with one voice: union with god. ... Bonaventure, a follower of Saint Francis, says that our final goal is "union with god," which is a pure relationship where we see "nothing."[15]
The "old writers" are old Catholic writers, but the Bible nowhere describes or encourages such a practice. The believer's complete relationship with God is an accomplished fact in Christ.
          As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:6-10 NKJV)
I agree with that we need discernment, and can reject parts of peoples writings that we know to be badly slanted (Luther's The Jews and their Lies for example). This is exactly the point... Merton's input on prayer is wrong from the floor up, and we as discerning Christians should consider its rejection, in light of Protestant freedom and relation in Christ. I think all we can glean is that yes, Christian prayer life needs improvement, along with everything else we associate with human-hood. Do we really have to wade through this stuff to get that?

This silence Merton and others speak of, by-the-by, is an emptying of your mind, not solitude.
The question is, since we are called to "prove all things and hold fast to that which is good," have you [the person that has experienced and enjoyed through feelings] tested these practices beyond the feeling that they bring you closer to God or merely hearing about them. The consideration that these practices have been given to us evangelicals via a Roman Catholic Buddhist whom himself received it through a long line of thinking relating to neo-platonic thinking should cause red-flags in our looking into this.

[1] Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), 13. Quoted from: Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing: How Ancient Mystical Practices are Uniting Christians with the World Religions, 2nd ed. (Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Publishers, 2006), 14.
[2] Ken Kaisch, Finding God: A Handbook of Christian Meditation (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1994), 283.
[3] Alan Jones, Reimaging Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit Without Disconnecting Your Mind (Hoboke, NJ: John Wiley & Sone Inc., 2005), 174, 89. This quote comes from the book as well:
I won't allow those who insist on a literal interpretations of these myths and doctrines to deprive me of my devotion to her. Was she literally a vir­gin: I don't know. I do know that in the old stories and commen­taries about her, virginity was often a code word for absolute dedication. Christ, in this regard, was even referred to as the archvirgin. But much of the emphasis on virginity arose from a neg­ative and destructive view of sexuality. So I doubt very much whether Mary was literally a virgin, but I know many who sincerely believe that she was. 
[4] Ibid., 88-89.
[5] Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 1991), 47.
[6] Joseph Chu-Cong, The Contemplative Experience (New York, NY: Crossroads Publishing Company, 1999), 3. Quoted in: Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, 177-178.
[7] Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York, NY: Image Books; Doubleday, 1996), 116.
[8] Brother Patrick Hart, ed., The Message of Thomas Merton (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1981), 200.
[9] Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomag, 1996), 212, 216, 218.
[10] Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: Harper San Francisco, 1978), 15.
[11] David Cloud, Contemplative Mysticism, 54-55 (emphasis added). This is interesting because in Tantric Hiduism, this is always pictured as a serpent coiled around the adherent’s spine:

kundalini (koon-duh-lee'nee; Skt., “coiled one”), in Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism, the latent and highly potent spiritual energy resting at the base of the spine. Often depicted as a serpent sleeping coiled three and a half times around a Shiva linga in the muladhara, or base chakra (energy vortex), this power (shakti) is awakened by the initiatory power of the guru (spiritual leader) and is said to move upward “like lightning” through the various chakras to reunion with Shiva at the top of the head. The yogic uncoiling of this energy produces the transformative, meditational states of tantric mysticism. See also chakras; Tantra.
Jonathan Z. Smith, ed., The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1995), cf. kundalini, 648 (emphasis added). Criticism isn’t always bad, and it is something demanded of us in Scripture (1 Thess 5:21), and is even called “noble” (Acts 17:11). I will again display the ending to David Cloud’s summary of Rick Warren, adapted just enough to be fit to the many church’s that are experiencing the same thing:
Our pastors do not believe that all religions worship the same God or that man is God, but their enthusiasm for contemplative practices and lust for the newest thing have brought them and our parishioners into close association with those who do. They are promoting the same type of "spiritual" practices that are nurturing the New Age and their thinking is being corrupted by this illicit association. Evangelicals who are reading and recommending books by mystics would be wise to take heed to this warning.
[12] Thomas Keating, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality by Philip St. Romain (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1991), Foreword. 
[13] Brother Patrick Hart, ed., The Message of Thomas Merton (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1981), 88.
[14] David Cloud, Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond (Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 2008), 28.
[15] Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding The Heart's True Home (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1992), 159.

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