My reading (and occasionally hearing first-hand accounts) about NDE’s exposed me to the idea of reincarnation. Time-wise we’re talking about the nineties now. Not very many NDE’s broached the subject of reincarnation, but enough to cause me to sit up and take notice.

My initial response was that there’s got to be a way to explain this that does not necessitate a belief in reincarnation, or past lives. I wasn’t sure how, but I felt sure there was an answer there somewhere. After all, scripture says we are, “. . . appointed . . . to die once, and after that comes judgment . . .” (Heb 9.27).

There were too many questions about reincarnation. For one thing, the logistics don’t make sense! Given the population explosion in the last century, there do not seem to be enough people having lived in the past for everyone alive today to come from a previous life.

Furthermore, if we die, and then are reborn, what’s to say we don’t go back and forth in time? Like maybe when I die as Dennis in this life, I might go back to live a life in prehistoric China or something! And if that’s so, then what’s to prevent me from believing that all of our individual lives, all the people living today, are just one being, having lived over and over and over, going back and forth in time, and each time living a different life? It was too complicated. My little brain just could not comprehend all this! There had to be another answer!

As we moved into the 21st century, I sort of kept this concept on the back burner. But I found myself gradually becoming more and more used to the idea that we quite possibly have lived lives in the past. One day, I ran across some research done at a U.S. university which studied reports of children who would talk, at very young ages, about previous lives they had lived.

The researchers found such reports from many cultures and from many belief systems. Although these children’s stories were more prevalent in places where reincarnation was an accepted part of life and faith, accounts came from a wide spectrum of cultures. In places where reincarnation was a belief, this could easily be explained by the fact that children’s stories of having lived other lives would be listened to seriously in that culture and not be dismissed as childish fantasies.

But more telling was the fact that many of these children’s stories came from the U.S. and other cultures where reincarnation was definitely not part of the prevailing belief system. Fascinating stuff, and in a form not easy to ignore.

Then one day my brother Wesley, my dear, conservative-minded brother, not  naturally given to exploration of the spirit, generally content to live life without much questioning, sent me the name of a book I should read. “You cannot read this book without believing in reincarnation,” he said. And it was this book that pushed me over the edge. Another way to put this:  God pulled me kicking and screaming into believing in past lives!

The book which became the final answer for me was Soul Survivor, by Bruce and Andrea Leininger. It is an account of their son, James, who, at age two, began having nightmares where he would wake up kicking and screaming about being burned. Upon advice from their doctor, the parents began allowing him to go through these nightmares–while standing by, watching and listening, not waking him up. At times during the day Andrea would ask her son what he was playing, and he came up with things he had no previous experience of in this life. He named names of companions which were not typical childhood names. He named a ship he had flown an airplane off of. He named the type of airplane he had flown.

Andrea came very quickly to the conclusion that her son was experiencing a life he had lived in the past. Bruce was more difficult to convince. I could readily identify! The Leiningers were conservative, fundamentalist Christians, and Bruce just could not reconcile his beliefs with the idea that his son was the reincarnation of someone else. Soul Survivor is essentially the story of a father’s struggle to explain his son’s visions in some way other than reincarnation.

Bruce began compiling information on the bits and pieces coming from his son’s dreams. The family’s entire house became an archive of material. Since the material from James’ recollections was not in any sort of logical or chronological order, Bruce’s research took a lot of time. But after several years Bruce came to the conclusion that there just was no other explanation for his son’s knowledge than that James had lived the life of a U.S. World War II pilot in the Pacific who had been shot down.

Bruce and Andrea were able to contact surviving members of this former pilot’s military group, and took their son to a reunion. He was able to tell others at this reunion details of his previous life which no one could have known. The Leiningers were able to contact a surviving sister of the downed pilot. She also, after visiting with James, unreservedly accepted the idea that this child (now around eight years old or so) was her brother reincarnated. The family went to the island where James had been shot down, and he could remember some of the geography of the area. They dropped a rose into the water at the very spot where his plane, in a previous life, had gone down in flames.

Well, what could I do? I either had to accept that this boy was a reincarnated World War II pilot, or I had to dismiss the father’s story as so much baloney. Given my predilection toward respect for others, acceptance, and so on, I could not do that sort of violence to these people. Their story was entirely credible from every angle. They were not seeking fame or reward for this incredible story. They just wanted to help their child through these dreams, help him come to terms with who he had been in another life. In this way, they were like any other parent. They loved their son so much that they wanted to help him understand. I could not dismiss their story without seriously disrespecting them as people.

So, there I was. I now believed in the truth of reincarnation. What next? The first result of crossing this hurdle was that so much of what I read took on new meaning. And this included scripture. I was able to view scriptures I had known all my life with new eyes. And that, as any spiritual seeker knows, is an exhilarating place to be! I no longer had to be uptight about how my new understanding of truth fit into my old understanding of truth. I was at a place where I did not know how this reconciled. But I was also at a place where it didn’t matter much that it didn’t reconcile. True, I continued, and continue to this day, to mull all this over, and wonder how it fits, but I realize that it is not up to me to make sure it fits. Somehow, God’s truth, in all its forms, will be consistent in the end. It is not my duty to force it into consistency!

I will come back to where this thread has led me in more recent times. But I want to deal with another significant thread in my life which was occurring about this same time. As alluded to in the previous paragraph, I was beginning to trust God more and more as he was leading me into truth and not worrying my poor little head about the details. In other words, I was learning to trust that God knew what he was doing, and that he knew where he was leading me.


I am hearing with increasing frequency from my church friends  about near-death experiences (NDE’s). Apparently there are several books making the rounds about a couple of children, aged 4 and 6, who have experienced NDE’s. This is catching peoples’ attention. At the same time, my next chapter to publish in “Out of Winkler” concerns my own interest in NDE’s!!

What is Spirit saying to us through all this? Is this part of a general spiritual awakening? Is there an increase in spiritual consciousness happening around us and among us? I hope so, and am excited when I hear these conversations. It seems there are many ways in which the Spirit dimension is attempting to reach our attention.

Stay tuned!!!


While my seminary training solidified my biblical roots, and began a thread which has run right into the present, other influences cropped up along the journey. One of these was reading about near-death experiences (NDE’s). About the same time I began seminary I encountered the seminal book on NDE’s, Life After Life, by Raymond Moody. Fascinating stuff!

And what fascinated me particularly was the consistency of NDE’s. So many people, a high percentage of those who had these experiences, reported similar elements. Moody’s valuable contribution was to distill these common experiences into a picture of what a typical NDE was like.

From the eighties onward, I would read about NDE’s whenever I encountered material on them. Though not obsessed by them, they continued to fascinate me. The picture they give of the afterlife, although admittedly limited, is thrilling. These experiencers are showing us a glimpse of the spiritual dimension. Christianity believes in this dimension, but does not know a lot about it. There are many opinions formed from Church teaching on the matter, but little actual data.

And here is data! Through the eyes of people clinically dead and revived we can begin to see a little bit of what “heaven” is like. So, what is it like?

For one thing, that dimension into which these people go upon dying is completely, unwaveringly, one of acceptance and love. They experience comfort, support, encouragement, and wisdom. They encounter wise beings who are there only to help them.

They are given perspective for the return to their human bodies. Many of the people going through these NDE’s do not want to return to their bodies. This dimension is so filled with peace and love compared to their lives on earth, why would they want to come back?

But of course there are limits. The information we have about this heavenly dimension comes only from those who do come back. We cannot know about those who died and do not return. Those people who do come back from an NDE are almost universally restricted in how much of “heaven” they were allowed to experience. So the ones who come back to tell about this are able to give us a glimpse of the spirit dimension. But only a glimpse. Not a complete, or full picture.

NDE’s vary as to the depth the person was allowed to go into the spirit world. Many are brief encounters, coming only to the gates of heaven, so to speak. Others go very deep into this world, and come back with much fuller pictures of where we go when we die.

One thing which occasionally showed up in these NDE’s was the idea that we live multiple lives. This was difficult for me to accept at first, given my conservative religious upbringing and training. But this idea began yet another thread in my life’s journey, which will be treated in the next chapter.

The ideas inferred by NDE’s seem to cause great consternation in some Christians’ minds. There are many aspects to this picture of the spirit world which do not fit with orthodox Church teaching. And predictably, the Church reacts. To my eyes, it over-reacts needlessly. Initially, there was much discrediting of the whole phenomenon of NDE’s. “It is all just a biochemical reaction as the brain near death”, or some such foolishness. I could not believe the lengths to which some people went in their mental gymnastics to try and explain these folks’ experiences away.

Why are we so afraid of our own, or others’, experiences? We talk in church about “experiencing God”. But when people actually do experience something of God, then all kinds of resistance springs up. Why? Is it because we are so tied to our own beliefs of how things “should” be that we can’t allow ourselves to be challenged by anything outside our belief system? When people talk of spiritual truths in language and words with which we are unfamiliar, do we immediately shunt these words aside, ascribing them to heresy?

When it came to NDE’s, I adopted a stance that these individuals had experienced something. Any other stance would’ve been disrespectful to that person. Non-acceptance of his story basically says I believe he is lying.

So, okay, you experienced something. Now, what does your experience tell me about the spirit dimension? What did you learn about God and the afterlife? How does that fit with my present beliefs? Do I have to shift anything? What is God saying to me personally through your experience?

Before I move on to deeper considerations of these questions, I want to make one more observation about NDE’s. Pretty much everyone who has one of these experiences comes out of it a changed person. They find themselves more loving, more ready to listen to others, more sensitive to their own spirits, much deeper people than before. Some of these “conversions” are radical and dramatic, others a lesser shift in focus. People who have never believed in God, or any form of religion previously, come away with a deep appreciation of God and the spirit world, feeling loved and cared for beyond anything they have ever imagined possible.

But not nearly everyone, not even close to a majority, seeks out organized religion. Generally, it is those who have previously been involved in organized religion who perhaps continue, although with a much deeper and quieter understanding of what this is all about. Some leave their religion. But I have heard very few stories of NDExperiencers who become more religious after their experience. An encounter with God does not drive them to Church. Experiencing the spirit world makes them more spiritual, less afraid, more peaceful, loving persons. But it does not make them more religious. More often the opposite.

Could this be one of the reasons the Church is threatened by NDE’s? Hmmm. I wonder. If that is the case, it says more about the Church’s need for control than it does about the integrity of NDE’s.


As mentioned in the previous chapter on apocalyptic writings, there is a stream of thought which began to emerge in my thinking early on, probably during the 1980’s. While it came out of apocalyptic writings and study, it does not deal as much with end-of-the-world scenarios, as it does with the makeup of present-day society. And that stream has to do with prophecies about Babylon.

In the biblical book of Revelation there are very strong images of Babylon, and very strong words against her, specifically in chapters 17 and 18. In its own day, to its intended audience, as I outlined previously, this message about Babylon would clearly have been heard as a reference to Rome. Rome was the oppressing city. Rome was the imperial power which kept all other forces under an iron fist. It was the controlling force in all of Europe, the Middle-East and Africa. Rome’s aspirations reached to the entire world, or at least the entire known world of the time. They wanted control, and would stop at nothing to gain this control.

Rome was the oppressor. Cries for justice needed to be voiced against this authoritarian controlling force. But those voices could not overtly name “Rome” as the oppressor, out of fear for their own lives and the safety of those around them. They needed to camouflage the message in ways their audience could understand, but that could not be directly linked as a pronouncement of judgement against Rome. So “Rome”, for the primary audience of Revelation, becomes “Babylon.”

“Babylon” harkens back to the Old Testament and the story of the tower of Babel, told in Genesis 11.1-9. At Babel, people decided to consolidate their power-hold on society by building a tower whose top reached the heavens. Yahweh (God) could see that once they accomplished that, “. . . this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Genesis 11.6). So, “. . . from there Yahweh scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth” (11.9). God opposes humans consolidating power into one central authority.

This is the message John the revelator was conveying to his first-century Palestinian audience, believers who were being oppressed by the central power of Rome. While Christian churches of the first-century were the primary recipients of his message, I believe that these words can also contain meaning for us today. What contemporary message can we gain from this cryptic, ancient writing? I offer several suggestions.

For one, the language of Revelation 18 carries a strong set of words having to do with commerce. Buying and selling, making of fine goods, transporting of goods, food, spices and cloth, jewelry, precious metals are all mentioned. So commercial, corporate enterprises are the object of these judgements.

Then, anyone associated with this commercial activity is implicated as well. Ruling authorities, merchants, shipmasters, seafaring men, sailors, craftsmen, artists — all are mentioned. In other words, anyone who has benefitted monetarily from the buying and selling, the transportation, and the manufacturing of goods — including the artistic endeavors of prosperous societies, ruling powers, taxation authorities — all are under judgement.

Who does this speak to in today’s world? Who does this sound like?

Somewhere along the timeline of my life, probably around the late nineties, I ran across the label, “Bilderbergers.” This secret society was formed in the aftermath of World War II. The name comes from the resort Hotel de Bilderberg in the Netherlands, where the first meeting of this group took place. At least yearly, an exclusive list of powerful and elite are invited to these meetings. Around 120 to 140 attend, chosen from European royalty, the world’s top financial and business leaders, and government officials. At these meetings, world economics are discussed and solutions debated. All of this is unofficial, but given the powerful nature of those attending, direction for western economies emerges and finds its way into governmental policies.

While the Bilderberger group is oriented toward Europe, many prominent and powerful Americans have participated over the years. David Rockefeller of the U.S. has been one of the primary organizers of these highly secretive meetings. But there are other equally sinister and secretive groups which are oriented more to North American interests. The Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations are two of these. There is much overlap of membership in all three of these groups, as well as other secret societies.

Basically what this consists of, in my eyes, is the ruling elite — the financially powerful — who are trying to gain financial control over the entire world, including heads of major international corporations, powerful political leaders, and owners of the major media outlets. Combining old money of the royals with the “new” money of corporate executives, they hold all the cards. They influence, if not outrightly control, who will be leading the western economies and governments. They control society through manipulation of money as well as the media. They inject fear into populaces for the purpose of increased control.

No accountability exists for their actions. International in scope, they are not answerable to any one government; they supersede nations. And it is not purely money that is the goal. The members of these secret societies are so wealthy that money means almost nothing to them. They are after power and control. Some of them feel they are destined to rule in this way. It is their God-given role to be in power over the world; this is not questioned. They don’t actually care about individuals in the various nations over which they hold sway. Populaces are there only for their own manipulation and to do their bidding.

World-wide financial institutions such as the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank, G-8 and G-20 meetings, are instruments by which the ruling elite seek to consolidate their power. When weaker economies fail, they extend credit, but only at the severe price of increased control of the resources and power structures of these countries. We all noticed the consolidation of banks and other institutions in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, another move to strengthen their hold on power.

I see these ruling elite as building once again the tower of Babel, in an all out effort to control the world. The tower in this case may be somewhat figurative, compared to the physical, ancient ziggurat built in Babel. But figurative though it may be, it is every bit as dangerous as the tower of old. Probably more so.

If my view of these matters carries any element of truth, these ruling elite are setting up a power structure at odds with what the Creator of this universe desires. From the point-of-view of heaven, this contemporary tower of Babel cannot and will not be allowed to continue. At some point, the Divine will certainly reach down and thwart all efforts at control over peoples’ and nations’ destinies.

It is with great irony that I watch U.S. politics. The party which proclaims the greatest connection to religious faith is also the party which walks most closely in step with Babylon, the ruling elite. Decreased taxation for the rich, decreased regulation of the exploitation of this planet’s resources, decreased “welfare” programs — all go hand-in-hand with the desires of the ruling elite. Mavericks who stand up against their designs are either eliminated outright, or are effectively throttled to the point that they are no longer able to hinder the plans of the elite.

I do have hope, however! I recently read a book called Unplugging the Patriarchy, which outlines in allegorical form a spiritual battle being waged between emissaries from heaven and the earthly powers-that-be. Lucia René and her cohorts worked at destroying the rings of power which have been wielded by the ruling elite for decades, if not centuries. I would like to think that the financial collapse of 2008 was the beginning of the end for those who seek to lord it over us for their own gain.

We shall see. I think that this year, 2012, will be a telling time when it comes to the power structures of Babylon and how the future of this planet will unfold.


One thread in the journey of my life has been a fascination with end-of-the-world issues. This began already in my teens. In the small, inner-city church in which I grew up, we would occasionally have guest teachers come in for series of Bible studies. Those I remember most vividly are the ones having to do with biblical prophecies, especially the books of Daniel and Revelation. I was fascinated as teachers would hang up long sheets of timelines, with all of the seven this’s and seven that’s on them.

Then in the seventies we had the book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which spread like wildfire through churches. This book contained an even more detailed outline of all the biblical prophecies, how everything fit together. Of course, this ignited fierce speculation on how all these prophecies would be fulfilled in our day.

When I attended seminary in the early eighties, I took courses on Revelation and other biblical prophetic literature. Here I was able to attain a much more balanced and clear-eyed view of what role the biblical prophecies actually played in the life and history of the Church. Working as an associate pastor I even taught a course on Revelation. I was still enthralled with these apocalyptical writings, but now was seeing them with a calmer perspective.

While I had come to a much saner outlook on biblical prophecy, it continued to fascinate me. I would read novels about the end of the world; I loved movies dealing with the topic. I continued to keep all these ideas in the back of my mind, always wondering how all this would turn out, how things would fit together at the end of time.

As I moved through the nineties and into the double-aughts decade I began to encounter writings and lectures on 2012. Here were prophecies from other cultures, chiefly the Mayan, but also other ancient societies, which dealt with end-of-the-world events. And all from very different perspectives. Speculation was growing that the year 2012 would somehow be the culmination of human history upon this planet. My thinking, as I was exposed to these other views, was that all of this new stuff had to somehow “fit” in with the old stuff I had learned earlier in my life from the Bible.

As I sit here writing this at the beginning of the year 2012, I still wonder how it will all “fit” as this year’s end approaches. I certainly no longer believe all the old ideas about how biblical prophecies will be fulfilled. I believe that the biblical apocalyptical writings had specific messages for their own audiences, in first century Palestine and before. And I still consider them relevant writings for us today.

But I certainly do not believe that we can take them in any sense literally. They were not “literally” intended to be taken literally! Their language was highly symbolic. Their references were veiled in apocalyptic language. All of the symbolism in them pertained to their own day, and to their own audiences. All of the visions and cataclysmic scenes were for them, primarily. They were not written for us. We can learn from them, but they do not outline modern history. I have heard way too many biblical preachers go through way too many sorts of intellectual gymnastics trying to fit things in to current events to give any of it much credence.

Another aspect to this thread as it works its way through my life time, is going to be dealt with in another chapter. This has to do not so much with apocalyptica, but with new interpretations of scriptures for today.

But before I move entirely away from this topic, there is one stream of apocalyptic writing which I want to deal with separately, in the next chapter. While it stems from prophetic writings, it has not to do as much with end-of-the-world topics as it does with lessons we can learn about today’s world.


Entangled: The Eater of Souls, by Graham Hancock, Disinformation, 2010. This author, who has written a number of bestselling books investigating historical mysteries, here turns his knowledge and skills to fiction. In a gripping novel of travel in the Spirit realm, time travelling, good and evil, Hancock tells a story of two young women, still in their teens, who become “entangled”, their destinies entwined over millennia in an effort to defeat an evil entity. Ria, about 24,000 years ago, and Leoni, in today’s world, slowly find themselves drawn into scenes of desperation, threat, danger and adventure. Both discover within themselves unsuspected strength and destiny. As they begin to believe in themselves and their calling they find themselves caught up in a life-and-death struggle.

Fairly well written, the story is extremely entertaining. It reveals a world becoming more real to me all the time, a world of Spirit travel, intervention, a world of beings who care for us, help us realize our destinies, a world where there is a struggle going on much beyond the mundanity of everyday life. While there may not always be complete agreement with everything I have learned thus far about the Spirit world, the author makes very good use of his life’s research in weaving an intriguing tale. It is well worth the read.


He who has ears, let him hear.

From communal living I went straight into seminary. I have often viewed the back-to-back experiences of intentional community and seminary as the most foundational periods of my life. While intentional community provided practical insight for daily living, seminary provided the intellectual perspective for these experiences.

The seminary I attended was my denominational one, the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California. It was very pointedly a “biblical” seminary, as opposed to a “theological” one. That is, we were taught to begin our search from the  point of view of scripture, and not from a pre-formed theology.

I am incredibly grateful for this education. While only briefly using this education professionally (I am just not cut out to be a pastor!), it opened my eyes when it comes to biblical truth. I would not be who I am today without this experience.

Seminary only began the part of my journey which deals with the scriptures. While it certainly opened my eyes, I have come a long way from my seminary days. I no longer hold the holy writings as highly as I used to. I see that God has many ways of communicating with us, and the Bible is only one. More on this in later chapters.

In seminary I learned the roots of the Christian scriptures. I learned that it is a church document. The writings gathered into the canon of scripture by church leaders happened around the fourth century. As I walk my spiritual path, I am more and more coming to see that this gathering together of documents had a lot of human elements to it. There was agenda at play. There were church personalities at work. It was as much a political as it was a spiritual exercise to put together the writings which comprise the Bible. Methinks that people who put all their stock in biblical truth as the standard do not realize how much of their faith is in the historical activities of the early Church fathers.

I hope that if any of you ever hear me refer to the Bible as the “Word of God”, you will stop me in my tracks. The Bible itself should set us straight on this. Without going into a lot of detail, look at the following scriptures: John 1.1,2,14; Hebrews 4.12; Revelation 19.13. In our day the phrase, “the Word of God” has become synonymous with the Bible. And that, my reader, is skewed.

Don’t get me wrong. I revere the scriptures. I enjoy reading and studying them. There is truth in them. But I do view them in a way closer to what I think God intended for these writings. This is not the same way the Church views scripture.

Looking for a new church home in a new city some years ago, I heard a pastor say they were not biblicists. I was there! I could agree with that. Too, too many churches place way too much stock in the scriptures. And what they do not realize is that it is not really the scriptures in which they are placing their faith. It is their interpretation of the scriptures in which they believe.

I no longer worship the Bible. I worship the Creator of this universe, the Lord over all. Anytime I see a church name with the word “Bible” or “Truth” in it, I cringe. We have fallen a long way from the truth when we claim to have it.

During much of my life I was a worshipper of the Bible. It was in the words that I placed my faith. Sure, those words pointed the way to God. They proclaimed and portrayed God as having entered history, a God who takes intense interest in our world, in our lives, both individually and collectively. But I was not allowed by my context to go beyond the words. Anything outside the current view of scripture could not be tolerated. And I totally bought into that.

We, the Church, have become people of the book. Today I prefer to be a follower of the Way. The Way? The Way Jesus taught us to follow. The Way of love, and Spirit, and community.

One of the things I learned in seminary was that in Old Testament times, God’s voice to his people came primarily through spokespersons, called prophets. The Israelites of old had The Law, of course, written down, which we presume to be the first five books of our Old Testament. But nothing else was written until around the year 500 BCE. And from around 500 BCE and following, little more is recorded as having come from any prophets. Once the words were written, the voices ceased. Could this be mere coincidence? I think not. Once God’s word is written down, it becomes codified, “set in stone”, if you will. And it begins to seem sacrilegious to add anything to it.

I am not an expert on Church history. But the little I know would indicate the possibility of something similar happening in the early days of the Church. Much was being written during the first few hundred years of the Church’s existence. But when the Church fathers felt compelled to “set in stone” their scriptures, nothing else was allowed to be added, or written. The active voice of God fell silent once again. And according to some, it is still silent some 1600 or 1700 years later.

In addition to no more writings allowed into the canon, the Church fathers, in their effort to establish the unified, solid theology of the Church, tried to destroy all writings not deemed to be “biblical”. Anything other than the books they chose to put into the Bible was considered heresy. They not only destroyed the “heretical” writings, they massacred the people who followed these teachings. They had made their political, strategic decision, and would not countenance any opposition to this decision. They wanted to wipe the slate clean, to start with a clear, unquestioned, authoritative version of the “truth”.

Can it be purely accidental that some of these heretical writings have begun to surface in our day? In the last century or so, many of the writings thought to have been completely destroyed by the Church have begun to show up, and to be translated and studied. They reveal many interesting modes of thought among the earliest followers of Jesus.

There certainly is no clear consensus on what all these other scriptures mean; there is no consistent message contained in them. But there are some things which we can glean from these discoveries.

To me, one of the most important conclusions is that there was no one consistent system of belief among the earliest followers of the Way. People who heard Jesus, or who heard of him from his earliest followers, did not all come out believing the same way, or believing the same things. There was no uniformity until it was forced upon the Church by the early leaders.

We know, from the accounts we do have, biblical and otherwise, that both Christians and Jews were scattered around the year 70 CE when Roman soldiers came in to settle once-and-for-all the problem of the Jewish dissidents in Palestine. Remember that Christianity at this time would still have been seen as a sect of Judaism, one of many such. Believers of both faiths ended up in all parts of the Roman Empire. Many miraculous and magnificent stories have survived about those who fled Palestine, and carried their beliefs and ways of life to other lands, other cultures.

As they established themselves in these other lands, they themselves were shaped by these lands, languages, and cultures. This has always been part of human patterns of migration and societies. Along with this, belief systems were also influenced by the lands into which they settled.

The geographical separation was a factor in the diversity which grew up within Christianity in the first few centuries. For the first while, Christians were fearful for their very lives. After some years of settling down in new places, contact would’ve begun to be reestablished with believers in other areas. But by then many new ways of thinking had sprung up. Admittedly, some of this is conjecture on my part, for, as I stated earlier, I am not an expert in Church history. But the knowledge I do have, of both human behaviour and of human culture, would lead me to believe that things evolved much as I am proposing here.

So, what I am saying through all this is that there was great diversity in beliefs among the earliest followers of Jesus. I think this was right and good. And I think this is right and good today as well. I think we need great diversity in ways of believing and living out our faith. So let us learn tolerance toward one another, and perhaps even listen and learn from each other!!


Hereafter, a movie directed by Clint Eastwood, and starring Matt Damon, is a marvel to behold! Although coming with famous Hollywood names, it does not do the typical Hollywood treatment. It handles its subject matter delicately, and does not provide glib answers.

Its subject matter, the hereafter, is something almost all of us have questions about. What happens to us when we die? Where do our loved ones go who have died? What’s it like over there? How can I be sure they are okay? Can I connect with them? How can I learn about the hereafter?

Three stories, three people, each with their own, very unique, connection with the hereafter, are dealing with these and other questions. Three locations, Paris, London, and San Francisco. In a very gentle manner, Eastwood unveils these stories, and slowly, inevitably, brings them together. It is absolutely beautiful!

George (Damon) has a psychic gift which he considers a curse. He is able to make connection with the loved ones of people he meets who have passed on. He makes every effort to avoid using this gift, trying to pretend he does not have this ability. This doesn’t work, of course! Marie, a French TV celebrity, has a near-death experience causing many questions and sending her on a quest for answers. Marcus loses his twin brother in an accident and single-mindedly begins a search for connection.

For anyone with the least little bit of interest in the hereafter, this is a movie well worth tracking down and renting or purchasing. I am including it in the Soul Regression category of Urban Monk, not because it involves SR, but because it deals with the Spirit realm which is the realm SR accesses. And it does so in such a wonderful and attractive way that anyone interested in SR would be interested in this movie.

Check it out, folks! You’ll be glad you did!


Hitchhiker’s Guide

A Spiritual Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe: Travel Tips for the Spiritually Perplexed, by Paul Rademacher, Hampton Roads, 2009.

What a delightful book this turned out to be! And how synchronous that it came my way when it did. This book, in my hands, could not have been better timed!

It relates the author’s tale as he struggles with growing spiritual awareness amidst a typically mundane life. During the first stage of his journey, Rademacher moved from being a construction contractor to seminary and into church ministry. As Spirit continued to call him deeper and deeper, his spiritual questing took him into areas he knew would not be acceptable to his conservative Presbyterian congregations.

He found ways to weave some of this new learning into his ministry. But at each step of the way, he continually felt called deeper and deeper into the Spirit realm. He would just begin feeling comfortable with a certain new level of spirituality, when lo and behold, he would be shown yet another level! And he realized that each step took him closer and closer to trouble in his career.

But, as with so many of us, the realities of life kept him bound to his job in order to meet family obligations. Three growing children always had more and more pursuits costing the parents money, time and energy. How could he leave a job which was increasingly deadening in order to pursue something as fleeting and unsubstantial as the Spirit world? The person of Paul Rademacher, and his family, seems so very ordinary that it is with great delight that the reader discovers how a very ordinary person, in a very ordinary lifestyle, can be reached by Spirit and drawn out of the ordinary and natural into the extraordinary.

With refreshing style and honesty Paul Rademacher unveils the road he had to walk in order to find fulfillment. He reveals to us his growing awareness of the heavenly Father’s love and care for each and every one of us. Sometimes the lessons were painful; other times the intersections on the journey were a delight to discover. But at each stage of the journey Paul shows us how he learned to take the next step on the next leg of his journey.

While I myself am not compromised in my job by my own spiritual journey, I find myself increasingly at odds with old friends and with family who may not understand how the Source of all is leading me on my path. I encourage each of you readers, whether you have casual questions, or deep criticisms, of the way I am going, please keep talking! Do not turn your heads in silent judgement and slowly shuffle me out of your life. Read this book; ask me questions; tell me your own thoughts and opinions; keep the dialogue open. This journey is often as perplexing to us who push the boundaries as it is to you who watch us with dismay!

Keep tuned!

New stuff!

While meditating on Urban Monk, and especially the most recent chapter of “Out of Winkler”, I was vividly reminded of an incident that occurred during that period of my life. I decided to add it to Chapter 3. If you have been following my postings, and have already read the chapter on “Intentional Community”, you may want to go back and read the story I posted there this morning. It is very dramatic, and aids in understanding my early spiritual development.