Christian Meditation – James Finley

Meditation is not always easy, but getting started is quite simple. In his book Christian Meditation, James Finley lays out some basic guidelines:

“The guidelines for meditation practice that I suggest are, with respect to the body, to sit still, to sit straight, to close your eyes or lower them toward the ground, to breathe slowly and naturally, and to place your hands in a natural or meaningful position in your lap. With respect to the mind, the guideline is to be present, open, and awake, neither clinging to nor rejecting anything. And with respect to attitude, the guideline is to maintain nonjudgmental compassion toward yourself as you experience yourself clinging to and rejecting everything, and nonjudgmental compassion toward others in their powerlessness, one with yours. “

Christian Druid Resources

Since this Christian Druid path I’m on sparked some interest for some I thought I’d compile a list of resources I have found useful on my journey so far. It’s strictly a personal take on it and far from comprehensive but hopefully it will give you a taste of it.
As you’ll see it involves weaving together the strands of Celtic spiritually, Christian spirituality, and Aboriginal spirituality – the ancestors of my bloodline, inspiration, and land – in a way which emphasises Jesus, Nature, and Mystery in an Australian context.
CHRISTIAN DRUIDRY
The following articles and books relate specifically to Christian Druidry
OBOD. Christianity and Druidry by Barbara Erskine
There are many additional articles linking off this main article which together make this a great resource
Can you combine Christianity & Druidry? by Philip Carr-Gomm
A thoughtful article from the Chosen Chief of OBOD
OBOD. Reflections on Druidic Christology by Rev Alistair Bate
This article explores some of the theological issues. Alistair has some more articles at the following link as well.
The Path of the Blue Raven by Mark Townsend
Mark is probably the most well known Christian Druid
“Jesus Christ is my chief Druid”: meet the Anglican Priest who is also a pagan
An article about Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck
Some elements of Christo-Pagan Tradition by H.T. Elsecott

http://christo-pagan.blogspot.com.au/2008/01/some-elements-of-christo-paganism.html?m=1

CHRISTIANS IN DIALOGUE WITH DRUIDS
Most of these books come from people connected with Forest Church, a network that I’m involved with as well.
Celebrating Planet Earth, edited by Denise Cush
This book came out of an interfaith conference between Christians and Pagans, many of whom were associated with Druidry or Forest Church. Authors include Philip Carr-Gomm, Matt Arnold who is a very good friend of mine, and Alison Eve-Cudby who I consulted before participating in my first Druid ritual up in the mountains with Julie as she has done the Bardic Grad with OBOD in the UK. Both are instrumental in going deeper with Druidry.
The Shaken Path by Paul Cudby
Paul is Alison’s husband and a long term friend from the Pagan and Christian Moot, as with many of these authors. The Pagan and Christian Moot is an interfaith forum begun by Mike Stygal, former head of the Pagan Federation in the UK, who has a Christian wife.
Forest Church by Bruce Stanley
This book explores ways of spiritually connecting with deity through nature from within the Jesus tradition. It’s not focussed on interfaith engagement but the subject does come up, and the two proceeding books are some of the fruit of it.
CHRISTOPAGANISM & ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY
These books relate to the wider world  of Christopaganism and Esoteric Christianity
Christian Animism by Shawn Stanford Beck
There is a Facebook forum of the same name that preceded this book.
Jesus and the Goddess: Living into a ChristoPagan theology
This book is specifically focussed on the Goddess in relation to Christopaganism
Meditations on the Tarot by Anonymous
Actually, its not that anonymous. You can find who wrote it with a Google search. It’s a treasure trove of insights and reflections from an esoteric Christian perspective in the form of a series of meditations on the major arcana.
ABORIGINAL CHRISTIANITY
These books have been particularly helpful for relating to the land that I live in
Rainbow Spirit Theology. By the Rainbow Spirit Elders.
This short book was a landmark in Australian theology and I’m still learning from it.
Jesus and the Dreaming by Frank Fletcher
I was given this book by a disciple of the author. Rich reflections but I’m still working through it.
Our Mob, God’s Story: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists Share Their Faith. Edited by Louise Sherman and Christobel Mattingley.
This is quite simply the best book on Aboriginal Christian art ever. And I say this as an avid collector. It won Australian Christian book of the year award in 2017.
GREEN, PACIFIST, CELTIC, OR MYSTIC CHRISTIANITY
There is far more on Green, Pacifist, and Mystic Christianity than I could easily include but here’s a few I have personally found valuable and find particularly pertinent for here.
Sounding the Seasons: Seventy sonnets for Christian year
Finding God in the Singing River
Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements
The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladimir Lossky
The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder
A landmark book in Christian pacifism
Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to “Holy Land” Theology
The Carmina Gadelica by Alexander Carmicheal
A mixture of Celtic Christian and Pagan sources

 

Christian monotheism and Pagan polytheism: Can they be reconciled?

In case any of you are wondering how I reconcile Christian monotheism with Pagan polytheism, here’s a brief if somewhat incomplete explanation of how I understand deity.
In essence, I differentiate between an uncreated One, who is the source of all life, and many created ones, who influence life in all its many aspects. Whether these created ones, these intermediaries, are knowns as gods or angels or spirits or otherwise is of secondary concern to me. I tend to think in more functional terms, recognising that many of these functions tend to translate across cultures even if the names don’t.
So, do I worship these created ones? No, I reserve worship for the uncreated One alone. However, I do consider them worthy of respect, and although their influence is limited in both space and time and in relation to the uncreated One it is still considerable. So I pay my respects where appropriate.
So, how do I understand Jesus in relation to deity? I recognise Jesus as the embodiment of the uncreated One – not in his masculinity, for the uncreated One is the source of all gender, but in his unconditional love and faithfulness which he demonstrated when he was amongst us, for that is the true character of the uncreated One.
As for the uncreated One, I get why the Jews were reluctant to name this one casually. Naming tends to limit and we are talking here of the limitless. If I use the word God or Deity or Spirit it is with the recognition that this word can confuse as much as enlighten.

Were the earliest followers of Jesus Jewish or Christian?

jewish-christianWere the early followers of Jesus Jews, not Christians? I have seen this question posed in a number of ways and I would like to suggest the question assumes a dichotomy which is largely false, or at least not so black and white as the question implies. For the truth is the bulk of the earliest followers of Jesus were BOTH Jewish AND Christian. And it is even more complicated than that, for by the time represented by the second diagram, which is when the bulk of the New Testament was written, the Jewish Christians included both Aramaic speakers and Greek speakers within their ranks. Indeed the evidence suggests that the bulk of the New Testament texts were written by multilingual Jewish Christians with mixed audiences in mind. They were servant-leaders who served as bridges between Pagan-born Christians (who’s numbers were increasing) and Jewish-born Christians (who understood the culture of Jesus from the inside). “But the Christian label didn’t come into existence till later!” I hear some say. True enough. Before we get too carried away though remember this: Christ and Messiah mean the same thing. So we could as easily speaking of people who acted as bridges between Messianic Jews and Messianic Pagans who both centred their hopes and way of life on the Messiah, Jesus.

Did the prophet Jesus consider any food forbidden?

Many have suggested to me that Jesus advocated the same food laws as Mohammed and Moses. The gospel of Mark, however, tells another story:


The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honour me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honour your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—  then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Abbaye de Keur Moussa

Abbaye de Keur Moussa, near Dakar, Senegal, is a Benedictine monastery of the Solesmes Congregation. Founded in 1961, the monastery became an abbey in 1984. The Keur Moussa abbey church fresco, samples of which I have included above, was designed and painted in 1963 by Dom Georges Saget. Stories illustrated here include: the annunciation, the birth of Jesus, and the wedding at Cana.

John the Baptist, African Style

John the Baptist – Jesus Mafa

This painting illustrates the beginning of the Jesus story, where John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, warning the people of Judea and Jerusalem that God was coming soon. John was said to wear clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, in the way of the prophet Elijah.

Jesus Mafa paintings like this one were produced in a collaboration between Mafa Christians communities in northern Cameroon and French missionaries in the 1970s.

Is there a more Christian way to debate abortion?

“The irony of the abortion debate, as it now stands in our church and society, is that it frames these two groups, women and children, as enemies of one another … The Christian response to abortion must reframe the issue to focus on responsibility rather than rights. The pro-choice/pro-life debate presently pits the right of the mother to choose against the right of the fetus to live. The Christian response, on the other hand, centers on the responsibility of the whole Christian community to care for the least of these.”

Mystical Poetry by Hildegard of Bingen

God’s Word is in all creation

No creature has meaning

without the Word of God.

God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.

The Word is living, being,

spirit, all verdant

all creativity.

This Word flashes out in

every creature.

This is how the spirit is in

the flesh – the Word is indivisible from God.

– Hildegard of Bingen