Sunday, March 29th
Five O’clock in the Evening
Location: 2311 Walnut Blvd., Walnut Creek
Consciousness and Conscience as a Spiritual Path
“God’s imperial rule is right there in your presence.” (Luke 17:21) And, “The (Father’s) imperial rule is within you and it is outside you.” (Thomas 113:4) Both sayings are attributed to Jesus, the Galilean spirit-sage.
I have often looked around at the world in which we live with all our faults and foibles and thought to myself we seem to be hard-wired as human beings and soft-wired as spiritual beings. The world around us is filled with competing rules, ideals and principles; all representing ways we should behave, as well as what we should think and believe. When such external constructs are deemed to be “religious,” they often become morality plays, depicting the battle between the forces of good and evil; tinged with the illusory promise of something better when our hard-wired selves ultimately wear out. These days I’m keenly aware of all this as a significant number of Christian believers approach the annual pilgrimage of Passiontide, culminating with the Easter observance.
But as a self-proclaimed progressive in this tradition, the once-gnostic (and hence heretical) notion in the Christian tradition of the fully divine within oneself increasingly draws my attention. And such conscious awareness rouses within me that which is otherwise commonly known as conscience. It is the awareness of an internal “divining rod” of what is right and wrong that supersedes any external moral constructs, instigates a compassionate act and leads to a kind of conversion or transformation worthy of any reputable “spiritual” quest.
If all this has your head swimming, take two disparate contemporary figures of some notoriety when it comes to consciousness and conscience. There’s American sniper, Chris Kyle. And there’s the CIA whistle-blower, Edward Snowden. We may all have our own opinions and labels for who is the hero, the villain, the patriot, the traitor. But it became for each of them a wrestling match equal to Jacob and the angel for them as they struggled to reconcile their hard-wired self with their soft-wired conscience; each in their own redemptive quest.
This program will begin to explore these themes. Join us!
Always a free event, open to everyone. RSVP: email@example.com
Newcomers always welcome. The 2015 Calendar of Gatherings is here.
What Shall We Overcome?
Racism, the Imbalance of Power, and the Response of the Prophetic Voice
“They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power …” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery, March 25, 1965
I am writing these comments at a particular moment in time. And yet, unlike a week-old newspaper, the themes and issues have a persistently endless quality about them that just won’t seem to go away. The annual observance of Black History Month has just concluded. And in a few days, our nation’s first black president will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landmark civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, by standing on a bridge named after a Confederate general and reputed early Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, Edmund W. Pettus.
In the last few years we have witnessed a resurgence of racial strife, as the recurrent curse of our American story. Names and phrases like Trayvon hoodies, Ferguson and “I can’t breathe” have become protest chants. Hands raised high overhead are no longer accompanied with shouts of “Hallelujah,” but rather, “Don’t shoot.”
The anthem, Glory from the Oscar-nominated film Selma wins Best Original Song at the Academy Awards: “One day, when the glory comes / It will be ours, it will be ours / Oh glory, glory, glory.”
One fine, glorious day it shall come, the singer sings; just as both the ancient prophets and the prophets of our own age once proclaimed. It understandably leaves us wondering when that day will come?
But perhaps it is not so much a matter of when we shall overcome, but the ever-present what? And in the naming of the what, we might also ask where is the echo of the prophet’s voice in all of this?
You can read this latest commentary Here.
In the last four decades, John Bennison has been a teacher, preacher, lecturer, trainer, carpenter, coffin builder, counselor, spiritual advisor, ethicist, writer and lyricist, musician and entertainer, assembly-line union worker, small business entrepreneur, residential real estate specialist, corporate cog and executive director of a faith-based non-profit organization.
He’s authored eight publications on faith and values, and as an ordained minister served as a parish pastor over 25 years. He earned his Doctorate from Claremont School of Theology, as well as his BA degree in philosophy and religion from Lake Forest College.
John contributes his leadership experience as Executive Director and Lead Teacher at Pathways, as he writes the Words & Ways commentaries and blogs on The Christian Progressive, engaging others everywhere in meaningful dialogue. He also volunteers as Director and President of the Mountain Shadow Film Society.
Meanwhile, John also continues to provide professional client services to buyers and sellers of residential real estate in the Bay Area area market (www.imaginecominghome.com).
Having raised two daughters, he resides with his spouse and golden retriever in Walnut Creek, California.