Guest Column: Where are we today?

(Here are some timely thoughts written by my life’s partner, Peggy Rivage-Seul. She is professor emerita of Women and Gender Studies at Berea College, where she taught for more than 30 years.)

The Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico warned us long ago that “another world is necessary.” To make this happen we must exit from the development paradigm of the neoliberal new world order and return to a future of non-violent relationships between ourselves and the planet we call home.  Another world has indeed arrived, and perhaps it will soon lead to the vision the Zapatistas have articulated over the past twenty-five years.  

Where are we exactly? We are in a globalized moment of social isolation. Unless we are living with our closest relatives, we have lost physical contact with those we love—our children, our grandchildren, our friends, our church, our colleagues, our neighbors. We can no longer break bread with our communities.  

How do we make sense of this new social isolation in the world? There are many explanations, undergirded by ideologies that shape the way we perceive our global circumstances. Perhaps most popular is the notion that a virus has either escaped a laboratory created for bio-weaponry against humanity or it has evolved on its own in response to our poor stewardship of our natural resources. Mother Earth has to do some house cleaning because the “developed countries” have not heeded the call to slow down its demands on the earth. The planet warned us through climate changes and catastrophes, but the wealthy among us have prevailed in their global denial of the need to change the way we live. 

 We are all vulnerable—some of us more than others.   Those of us who believe in Adam Smith’s idea that the environment and laborers are expendable  can accept that the earth is purging the global population of its poor and  elderly who no longer serve the capitalist enterprise.  And  the earth has been given a respite to re-gather her energies for even more domination and exploitation in the new world to come.  There are many sub-scenarios about the “deep state” trying to wrest control of the entire world population, and the “fake news” that there really is a virus at work in our bodies.  These are the tales that fill our days. 

But there is another story. Eight years ago began a  movement in the cosmos: our solar system  passed through a portal that leads to another dimension of living much closer to the Zapatista vision for world happiness. This passage is from the third dimension of the  material world of capitalist growth to the fourth and fifth dimensions where humans behave at much higher frequencies with strong spiritual values of love and cooperation.

Like the change from pony express mail to cell phone texting, our collective crossing over to these higher  dimensions  creates an exponential change in our thinking and actions. In the fifth dimension, we can  process information with much more efficiency. Working a higher vibrations,   both problems and solutions occur at much greater speed. In this new world, the  cultural values of the 20th century no longer serve us.  

Wars are passe and violence toward one another is not tolerated. Co-creation for the good of everyone replaces capitalism for the privileged few, oppression gives way to liberation, etc. Most importantly, the mindset of globalized industrialism no longer functions and those unable to make the leap in consciousness will wither on the vine in the third dimension, unable to meet the requirements for living on the new earth.  

Underlying this vision of a fifth dimension is a belief in the capacity of humans to claim their direct connection to a divine reality and to live the values of love and justice, cooperation and sharing, joy and sorrow. These values have  been alive (and ignored by the developed world) in the ancient traditions of indigenous communities the world over.

The transition from the astrological Piscean Age to the new Aquarian era is made easier as we go back to the future by reclaiming the lessons of Zapatismo.  There, we understand that as our consciousness changes and our frequencies rise,   we see each other as one family moving into a world where there is room for everyone. 

We are no longer individuals   competing for scarce resources to survive. We are in this together. “I” becomes “We” as we make instantaneous connection to the source of life that is Spirit. We belong to the earth as much as earth belongs to us. My community becomes the entire world population. We all have a place at the table of life.  

Which story will you choose? 

Americans Love Jesus, but Hate His Politics

Readings for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 1 SM 28: 2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; PS 103: 1-4, 8, 10, 12-13; I COR 15: 45-49; LK 6: 27-38

This Sunday’s instruction from Jesus stands on its own. Comment seems hardly necessary.

Instead, Jesus’ unadorned words should turn bright red the faces of all in our country who claim to be his followers. For they contradict our economic system and entire way of life driven as it is by the military-industrial complex, unending wars, and an economic system that victimizes the poorest among us, while enriching beyond belief a tiny minority.

Moreover, Jesus’ teachings call entirely into question the “realism” of mainstream politicians. Such realism ridicules anyone (like Marianne Williamson) who might have us adopt Jesus’ approach before it’s too late.

Think about that in the light of our readings from the Gospel of Luke these past few weeks. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a summary of Jesus’ absolutely radical, highly political program found in the passages we’ve read. To begin with, he describes his entire purpose in this way:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me 
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Notice the undeniable political thrust of Jesus’ teaching. He emphasizes bringing good news to the impoverished. He wants to clear out the prisons, to cure the disabled and liberate those oppressed (by the Roman empire that controlled Israel in Jesus’ day). Notice he is proclaiming a Jubilee Year with its debt forgiveness, release of slaves, and radical land reform. That’s Jesus’ agenda. It’s undeniably political; it’s directed towards the poor.

And just in case we might miss the point, our readings of just last week had Jesus continue like this:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh . . .
But woe to you who are rich . . .
Woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.”

As I indicated last week, those words should shock us. Jesus’ words turn everything upside-down. It’s the poor who are God’s favored, not the rich. According to his promise, the poor will govern God’s Kingdom (a highly politicized image for what the world would be like if God were king instead of Caesar). By contrast, the rich, well-fed, the apparently happy and admired stand in God’s disfavor.

Read those words again. Imagine if our leaders insisted that they instead of the Ten Commandments be posted in front of our court houses and on school walls! “Blessed are you poor! Woe to you rich!”

But the evangelist still isn’t finished. Here’s what he has Jesus say in today’s Gospel selection:

“To you who hear, I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you . . .  (L) end expecting nothing back . . .”

And yet, despite such clear instruction, here’s what our “Christian” criminals in Washington do (with scarcely a whimper of objection from us “believers”):

  • They spend more on war than the next 12 countries combined.
  • They’re currently fighting wars against poor people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Ethiopia – having just destroyed Libya and previously most of the countries in Central America.
  • Against all the principles of international law, they’re tightening the screws on Venezuela causing hunger and shortages of medicine in order to spark rebellion against a government that has not attacked the United States.
  • They have their eyes set on regime change in Nicaragua and Cuba which have harmed the U.S. in no way at all.
  • They’re cooperating with Saudi Arabia in bombing to smithereens Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. (And virtually none of us can explain exactly why. Can you?)

With that in mind, doesn’t it seem true to say U.S. policy (especially towards the world’s poor) is 180 degrees opposed to what Jesus is reported to have said? It’s as if Jesus taught:

“To you who hear I say, hate your enemies. Annihilate those who disagree with you. Curse those who speak ill of you. Condemn those who retaliate against you. If someone defends himself by striking you back, waste him. And take everything from the person who tries to recover what you yourselves have stolen; put them in prison and throw away the key. Ignore those who seek alms from you; they’re just lazy freeloaders. And jail the one who takes what your system denies him making sure he pays back every cent with interest. Do others before they can do you. Lend at the highest rate of interest the market will bear – even if it causes women and children to starve.”

Just look at the world such departures from Jesus’ wisdom have produced!

Still, when someone (e.g. like Marianne Williamson) comes forward calling the nation to a radical spiritual change based on the elementary teaching found not only in Christianity but in all religions – viz. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – she’s dismissed as “impractical,” “unrealistic,” and “new age”

No, that teaching is “old age.” It comes from Jesus! It represents his political program.

Isn’t it time for politicians to reverse course and follow the teachings of the spiritual Master they claim as the Savior of the world? For starters, truly following Jesus’ political program that we’ve reviewed these past few weeks would have us:

  • Assume leadership in the fight against climate change
  • Cut our defense budget by at least two-thirds
  • Withdraw from all foreign wars
  • Repair the damage done by those conflicts
  • Close our country’s military bases across the world
  • Forgive the debt of the former colonies
  • Completely reform our prison system from one dominated by punishment to one centered on rehabilitation
  • Make reparation to the descendants of former slaves
  • Renounce interference in foreign elections (as we would have others do in relation to our own voting system)
  • And so much more

You get the idea. I get the idea. Or maybe we can’t . . .

I Attend a New Age Conference Channeling an Angelic Being: afterwards My Political Prayers Receive Surprising Answers


Just recently, my wife Peggy and I attended a two-day New Age retreat in Grand Rapids, MI. We were there at the invitation of two good friends who own a Health and Wellness store in Lakeview.

At the conference, we encountered a “loving angelic entity” from the “other side” who impacted both of us – and an audience of about 250 people – clearly beyond any cynical expectations I may have had. As I’ll explain, the gathering was very Catholic in several ways. Moreover, I was surprised when some highly political prayers I offered there seemed to find rather immediate answers. It was almost enough to convert me – but not without reservations.

The angelic being in question is called Kryon. And he speaks through a medium by the name of Lee Carroll, who’s been channeling him for 26 years. Turns out that Carroll is a delightfully humorous spell-binder himself. He’s a former engineer with a Ph.D. and a reformed skeptic about everything he now teaches so effectively. Years ago, he says, he wouldn’t have been caught dead at a meeting like the one I’m describing. Somehow, I could relate to that.

Here’s what Carroll teaches:

  • Time itself is an illusion – a human construct. The present is all we have. The “past” is a mere memory; the “future” is projection. (In other words, as Einstein said, time is not absolute; it bends with gravity and changes relative to speed of motion.)
  • The evolutionary process is directed. There is indeed “Intelligent Design” in all of it. In fact, left to itself, without direction, the evolution of human consciousness should have taken much, much, much, much longer to develop than the 14 billion years our galaxy has existed.
  • Many of us (called “old souls”) have long participated in the evolutionary process. We’ve passed this way more than once and will do so again and again – but without having to relearn the hard lessons that have wounded us all.
  • In fact, “Old Souls” have an “Akashic Record” of our previous lives that can be accessed with the help of an experienced guide.
  • In tune with Mayan prophecy, “old souls” recognize that a New Age has dawned since 2012 in which people are rejecting obsolete male-centered spiritualties and are turning towards more feminine, indigenous, holistic, positive, experiential approaches to the divine which is the most essential dimension of being human.
  • Eventually within the realm of this dawning consciousness, war will not even be considered as a political option.
  • According to the Mayan calendar, this New Age with a corresponding change in consciousness occurs every 26,000 years, when the earth aligns perfectly with the center of the universe – on this occasion creating circumstances for the greatest, most intense human consciousness ever available.
  • As a result of such cosmic events, for the next 15 years or so, we are entering a sacred time and space where people are waking up to possibilities for creating another world. It is a time of rebellion, where profound changes can happen very quickly making another world truly possible.
  • Put otherwise, the human race is moving forward into a mystical dimension. [Or as the eminent Catholic theologian, Karl Rahner put it: “In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic (one who has experienced God for real) or nothing at all.”]
  • There humans can leave aside the authoritarianism of old religions and step into their own power, into their authentic identities, into their true soul purposes.
  • This shift in consciousness empowers humans to change reality which (from their own bodies to the furthest distant stars) listens to people’s commands.
  • That is, our bodies and the planet know what is best for us; they want to heal us and await our commands.
  • More specifically, if aging people command their bodies to “youth,” their bodies will obey thus allowing seniors to control how fast they age.
  • Kryon has emerged on the scene precisely because the 2012-2030 shift in consciousness is taking place across the planet.
  • However, in the new and exciting age, conservative forces are emerging fighting desperately to prevent the cosmic transformation in question.
  • But none of us should fear the future. Despite appearances, the forces of light (not darkness) are winning.

These are the kind of messages Lee Carroll spoke at the workshop during his three channelings of Kyron’s spirit.

And how is one to enter this new age? According to Dr. Carroll, one does so by forming communities of like-minded mystics. Entrance is facilitated through self-talk, i.e. by reciting personally-chosen affirmations aloud so that the extremely attentive and always responsive cells of our bodies can hear. One drives home such talk using techniques such as “tapping” and wide-ranging prayers offered in ceremonies like Despacho, a Native American prayer ritual which some of us experienced on the final day of our workshop.

The practice of tapping involves lightly drumming on the crown of the head across the meridian separating the left and right sides of the cerebral cortex. (Recall that the left hemisphere of the human brain is more logical; the right side, more intuitive and holistic.) One taps while breathing deeply and reciting a positive, believable, focused, and original affirmation chosen by the tapper.

Typical affirmations include:

  • “My innate intelligence recognizes and supports the eternal nature of my being.”
  • “I am living in a new energy and all around me are new potentials.”
  • “My needs are always met.”
  • “I am in the right place at the right time for everything is in divine order.”

Cerebral cortex drumming is then followed by similar tapping on the heart. The idea is first of all to unite the powers of one’s left and right brain. Tapping one’s heart attempts to plant the affirmation in the human organ that is 5000 times more powerful than the human brain.

Again, before I rolled my eyes too far, I recalled that we Catholics should be familiar with tapping and positive affirmations. We do something similar through the ritual practice of “laying on of hands” accompanied by invocations of the “Holy Spirit.” This happens, for instance, during sacramental ceremonies such as ordination and confirmation. When I thought about it, I realized that placing hands on the crown of ordinandi and confirmandi while invoking the Holy Spirit can be seen as ceremonially attempting to integrate their powers of logic, intuition, and openness to the transcendent Ground of All Being.

Then there’s the Catholic practice of “beating one’s breast” – as in mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. That’s really a version of “tapping” one’s heart. The difference is however, that New Age tapping is completely positive without a trace of guilt, fault, negativity or “beating.” To me that seemed healthier.

As for the Despacho ceremony . . .; it was truly remarkable. It showed me (again!) the power of female priesthood that the Catholic Church ignores. The two-hour ritual was led by a colleague of Dr. Carroll – Michelle Karen. Only about 50 of the 250 workshop participants took part – most of them women.

Michelle is a French deeply insightful astrologer who learned Despacho from shamans of a Native American community in Peru. She had us all sit in a circle while she (with our participation) created a beautiful mandala on a piece of colored fabric. In a circle outlined with sugar (symbolizing the sweetness of life) she had us each place one white and one red carnation petal with a bay leaf sandwiched between. (Obviously, we couldn’t use the more authentic coca leaf.) The red petal represented the female principle of creation; the white, the male. The bay leaf stood for our desire to change our consciousness.

Then successively, while humorously and perceptively explaining the meaning of each element, Michelle added at least 25 other items. They symbolized prayers for the planets, oceans, air, animals, insects, our deceased relatives and friends, and so much else. The symbolic additions to the burgeoning mandala included salt, leaves, twigs, toys, ribbons, hair – you get the idea. With the addition of each element, Michelle offered a corresponding prayer, breathed on the item and touched it to her forehead.

Towards the end of Despacho, each of us was asked to silently offer our most solemn prayers and in the form of a rose petal place them on top of the finished mandala. We were to do so with great care, Michelle advised, because the Despacho ceremony is extremely powerful. We should expect our prayers to be amazingly answered within days.

Our final product was gorgeous. Michelle wrapped it in the underlying fabric and commissioned an “honorary shaman” chosen from our group to later on ceremonially burn the package whose smoke would carry our prayers to the Universal God.

The prayers I offered were mostly quite personal. However, I also decided to add political petitions I’ve been praying each morning for the last eight years or so. (Ever-compassionate Peggy later told me that they seemed rather negative. She didn’t approve. Maybe she’s right.) In any case, my prayers for most of the past decade have included:

  • May U.S. Empire be brought to its knees.
  • May Israel similarly be defeated before liberated Palestinians.
  • May the Republican Party and Fox News disintegrate.
  • And may President Obama be remembered as the best president the United States has ever had. (I’ve given up on this one!)

Wild prayers, no? (I suppose you see what Peggy meant.) But here’s the thing: three days after the conclusion of the Kryon Workshop, Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, resigned as its CEO. Commentators identified the event as earth-shaking in terms of the Republican Party, since Ailes had shaped its strategy since the Nixon years. Fox News, they predicted, would become more moderate (while, no doubt remaining right wing – thus more closely approaching the center-right position of the U.S. mainstream media).

Then that same day, after Donald Trump accepted the GOP’s nomination for president, a figure no less than George W. Bush expressed his worry that he might end up being the last Republican president ever.

What? Despacho prayers answered after just four days? Should I take credit? (Just kidding.)

Whatever: just two petitions to go. And events promise that the Universe may soon honor those requests as well.

So have I converted to become a Kryonite? Not quite. While I appreciated the weekend and recognize the soundness (and even Catholicity) of much of the underlying spirituality, and while I admired the wonder of female leadership in worship, I was pulled up short towards the end of our retreat.

It happened on Sunday, when Dr. Carroll seemed to get a bit off-script.  He ended up sounding quite like a climate change denier. (Though he claimed, “I’m actually a ‘Greenie’.”) Based on the insights of a single scientist friend of his, Carroll asserted that the planet is essentially cooling and that an ice age is on the way. “It’s a natural process,” he added. Humans have nothing to do with it. Technology will soon appear to save us. Moreover, the oceans can clean up any of the oil spills we might throw at them. “Everyone knows this outside the United States, but not here.”

Hmm. During the Q&A I raised my hand to question. But the session was cut short before I was recognized. I wanted to ask him:

  • Sure, an ice age may be coming, but when? A thousand years from now?
  • With due respect to your scientist friend, ninety-seven percent of climate scientists tell us the catastrophe of climate chaos is upon us. We don’t have 1000 years (or even 100) to wait.
  • What about greenhouse gases?
  • And rising sea levels?
  • How do you explain the consecutive months and years of record-setting rising temperatures?
  • And aren’t “Americans” virtually alone in the world in denying climate change?

Despite my reservations and unanswered questions, it should be clear that there was much to recommend the Kryon Workshop I’ve been describing. It shows a widely shared hunger for meaningful non-patriarchal spirituality – for optimism and hope rather than guilt, sin and hell. It demonstrates the effective leadership of wise women – counsellors, healers, shape-shifters like Michelle Karen.

It highlights the undeniable fact that we have indeed entered a New Age in which old forms are disintegrating and losing credibility while women and other angelic spirits are asking us to rethink everything and create the “other world” we all want and need.

It might even have confirmed my belief in the power of prayer.