Deconstructing with David Hayward

Our guest for this episode is the author of several books, hosts a number of courses, and creates a cartoon every day. He holds a Masters in Theological Studies, as well as Diploma in Religious Studies and Ministry, and University Teaching. His art expresses the stories and struggles of spiritual refugees and independent thinkers who question, doubt or oppose the confines of religion. Each piece encourages difficult conversations and acts as a catalyst for critical thinking. 

David Hayward is the NakedPastor. After 30 years in the church, he left the ministry to pursue his passion for art. His work challenges the status quo, deconstructs dogma, and promotes critical thinking.

Find out more on https://www.nakedpastorstore.com/.

Deconstructing with Brian D McLaren

Our guest for two episodes is an author of several books including “A new kind of Christianity”, “Faith after doubt”, “The secret message of Jesus”, and “The great spiritual migration”.

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. Brian is the author of several books including “A new kind of Christianity”, “Faith after doubt”, “The secret message of Jesus”, and “The great spiritual migration”. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people for the common good.

Be sure to catch Episode 1 and Episode 2 on the podcast of the urban mystic.

Find out more on www.brianmclaren.net.

Season 2 – Emerging patterns

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

In Season 2 of the podcast of the urban mystic we feature phenomenal guests in order to get to know them and their journey. We use the same basic framework and a patterns naturally emerge. There are a lot of episodes so far with more to come. So far two cycles of deconstruction are well represented and we are about to begin the third. This makes it a good point to provide an orientation for those entering the conversation late. You may want to explore a particular kind of deconstruction and, if so, this kind of orientation will be helpful.

The series so far naturally evidences:

  1. Those who deconstruct their calling, reinvent their careers, and stay committed to the institution of the Church. Here the contributors insight into the institution and the problems therewith are not only insightful. You can, literally, hear their deep emotions as they reflect on their journey as professionals in ministry. They both recognise that their calling differs to their careers as professionals in ministry within the institution of the Church and go about redefining themselves. There is a real heartfelt tension between their career as template provided by the institution of the Church and their calling by God. Contributors include Christopher Harrison (link) and Dion Forster (part 1 and part 2).
  2. Those who deconstruct both their calling and the institution of the Church. This is a cycle that takes people through the deconstruction of their own calling and into deconstructing the machinery of the Church. Here they recognise the institution as denominational machinery and business machinery. And though we call this machinery “church” it is, in fact, not who the church is. And so they deconstruct their calling and the institution of the Church and offer alternatives. Richard Jacobson who best known for his thinking around unchurching, which mirror the concept of unschooling. Richard has long focused on stripping off the institutional dimension in order to focus on people in face-to-face community without the institutional and business machinery. Listen to his TED Talk (link) and the podcast (part 1 and part 2). John van de Laar is perhaps still best known as a Methodist minister, but has left the Church in order to explore community online for people leaving the church. John is at work building an online community. He recognises that genuine community takes place wherever people meet, including online. You can catch our conversation with him (part 1 and part 2).

Being the conversationalists we are, we continue our conversation in light of the conversations above. We pick up from our conversation with Chris and Dion to reflect on why we deconstructed our own calling (link). And we pick up on their shared critique of spirituality to deconstruct spirituality (link). We will be sharing our conversation following on from the second cycle of deconstruction next week.

Be sure to catch the upcoming episodes of the podcast of the urban mystic.

The mystics is a cosmologist at heart

Humans have a longstanding love of the cosmos, the environment in which we live and wherein our earth finds its home. We have progressed from our earlier cosmology toward a contemporary cosmology through adopting technology enabling observation, modelling, and representation.

Back in 1493, this was the Christian Aristotelian understanding of the universe, which I found here:

Here the geocentric thinking of Artistotle and Ptolemy won out over the heliocentric thinking of Aristarchus of Samos. This set us back 1 300 to 1 700 years! Thankfully the Copernican Revolution set the ball rolling enabling us, relatively recently, to create a new and more accurate representation of the cosmos. Fortunately the thinking of modern detractors pushing back against the Copernican Revolution and later scientific contributors serves as a voice on the fringe to the mainstream. There’s simply no chance that modern detractors can set us back in our thinking. Hence we arrive at a new modelling and representation of the cosmos.

And now we have a similar representation, which I found here:

What’s remarkably similar within each is the perspective and the work of understanding the cosmos by integrating available knowledge. We (meaning humanity and the earth) are centred, roughly, in each artwork. This really brings home that our view of the world and view of the cosmos is really our view thereof – our world(view). It is a representation in our hearts and minds that’s communicable visually. Yet tons of in-depth thinking and numerous contributors guides the artist as aggregator in producing each. There is an interplay between talents of understanding and representation brought together in order to produce the maps above.

And though, in each case, the map is not the terrain, they are the vantage point wherefrom we are driven toward the Transcendent. It is here on this earth and within each of us that we discover our centre which serves as orientation on the mystery of the Transcendent and God.

The mystic is, really, a cosmologist at heart.

Deconstructing calling and spirituality

In episode 6 we deconstruct the notion of a calling and in episode 7 we deconstruct spirituality. This is a conversation between Steve Carter, my cohost, and myself. It is split into two parts. It was inspired by our conversations with Christopher Harrison and Dion Forster in Part 1 and Part 2. It was such a privilege to hear their stories and get to know them.

The first kind of deconstruction represented on the podcast of the urban mystic relates to the professional career in the ministry. Our first guest, Christopher Harrison, deconstructed his own career in ministry and now works as a missional coach enabling others to develop a broader, more creative and relevant approach to doing ministry. Our second guest, Dr. Dion Forster, likewise deconstructed his career in ministry and now serves as an academic for the church. Both conversations are richly layered with their experience in life and work.

Deconstructing with Dion Forster

Our guest for episode 3 and episode 4 is an academic for the church who holds two doctoral degrees – a PhD in Systematic Theology and a second PhD in New Testament Studies and Empirical Theology. He is the former Dean of John Wesley College, the seminary of the Methodist Church in South Africa. Dion now serves on the full time faculty of Stellenbosch University, as the Departmental Chair of the discipline of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, the Director of the Beyers Naude Centre for Public Theology, and as an Associate Professor in Systematic Theology and Ethics. 

His recent books are entitled “The (im)possibility of forgiveness?”, “Between Capital and Cathedral: Essays on Church and State relationships” (available here), “African public theology” (available here), and “Reconciliation, forgiveness and violence: biblical, pastoral and ethical perspectices” (available here). You can find out all about Dr. Dion Forster on http://dionforster.com/.

A snappy photo of Dion 🙂

Deconstructing with Christopher Harrison

Our guest for episode 1 is a retired Methodist Minister who now works as Missions Coordinator supporting churches to establish new forms of church for our changing culture and a missional coach enabling people to find new ways to grow disciples to make disciples. 

He is the director of Fresh Bread Ministries, Director of MyChurchIT (www.mychurchit.org), a minister in the Methodist Church of South Africa, an associate missionary with One Challenge Africa (www.ocafrica.net), a Mission Enabler with Fresh Africa (www.freshafrica.org.za) and a part-time lecturer in Church Planting in Contemporary Context with the Department of Religious Studies in the Faculty of Theology in the University of Pretoria.

Find out more about Christopher Harrison at https://www.facebook.com/freshbreadministriessouthafrica/.

Understanding personal mystical experience – Part 1

This post is in support of Understanding personal mystical experience Part 1 on our podcast. In the session I put forward a model of such experience. This covers a broad range of experiences that share similarities, allowing for an explanatory model.

In seeking to understand the experience we recognise a distinction between the way in which people experience the presence and activity of spiritual beings. There is an interplay between our consciousness and unconsciousness on one side. Here the individual is fully present and participating whether in a waking dream or sleeping vision. John Klimo speaks of this as open channelling. On the other end of the extreme, the individual is completely checked out and some-one/-thing else is in the driving seat of their body. Klimo speaks of this as closed channelling. In the first diagram we model two poles: the conscious and unconscious and, being present and being replaced.

Diagram 1: Open and closed channelling

Here we model the interplay between the experience as conscious and unconscious. Yet this includes intermediary spiritual beings who self-identify and lay claim to representing Godde and to a spiritual being self-identify as Godde .

Diagram 2: Self-revealing spiritual beings and un-/consciousness

References:

Klimo, J. 1998. Channeling: Investigations on receiving information from paranormal sources. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California.

The problem of God

This post goes together with S01E05 The problem of God at urbanmystic.podbean.com.

One of the key conversations we regularly share is that of the problem of God. This is not as classically conceived as the problem of God’s power, goodness, and the reality of evil. It is instead conceived as a problem of experiénce, as confirmed and validated only in and through experience as the pursuit of relational engagement with God. Here the notion of experiénce includes experimentation and relational engagement.

Here we begin with the recognition that our urban environment, which includes our religion and spirituality, is not about the experience of God. Yet it is within our urban desert, which serves as a rich environment for experiencing God, that we need to pursue and engage God. But how do we go about doing that? This is problematic as people are raised to believe on a God by faith and yet faith is not tied to experience while being strongly disconnected therefrom. And so, as many religions and their claims about God, we are not able to solve the problem through classical arguments as though there is somehow a proof for God in the historical roots and institutionalized traditions of religions. The religions make the problem of God a tremendously diverse and complex issue resulting in the-idea-of God as varied, nuanced, and not easily answered. The problem of God is not something we can meaningful solve apart from God’s availability in Person. How then do we understand the experience of God? In Part 1 we explore this as a broader phenomenon present in primal religions, contemporary spiritualism, and the three great monotheisms or Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

A common phenomenon