Wow! Where do I begin? The afternoon, between-lives soul regression (BLSR) lasted twice as long as the morning, past-life soul regression (PLSR). And it was profound!

The session began with another PLSR, as most BLSR sessions do. This time I was taken back to medieval times where I was a stable hand for a wealthy landowner. And again, as in my life as Frank, I was good at what I did. The details that emerged over the course of the session were that I was called Brand; I had been an orphan, but had made the most of my life. Rather than run wild on the streets, I had begun learning about horses by just hanging around the local stables. This was occurring in a smallish town somewhere in Europe. 1600’s was the time period.

I learned how to handle horses, how to harness them, shoe them. In exchange for my helping around the stables, I was able to get enough to eat and survive. Somewhere in my youth, my eventual master took notice of me and my ability to handle horses; he hired me on as one of his stablehands. Over the years I became his most trusted and senior hand.

The session began with me at the door of the stable. Another hand was having trouble with a rather spirited horse and I went over to help. I was able to talk the horse down. The horse allowed me to saddle him and lead him to the front of an impressive looking manor house. It was dark. My master came out, thanked me, jumped into the saddle and was off.

Because of my service to him, my master had given me a small house at the edge of his property to live in. Prior to this, I had slept in the stables along with the other stable hands. Once I had this cabin I began fixing it up, as it had become quite run down through non-use.

I began to court a woman who worked inside the house, in the kitchens. I had noticed her, but because of my humble background, couldn’t really pursue a relationship. After getting the cottage, I felt like I could offer her some sort of life. We married with the blessing of the owners. But as this was well into mid-life for us, we never had any children. Belinda was afflicted with quite severe arthritis. We were a fairly quiet couple. We did not talk a lot, but had a very warm and caring relationship.

As we got older, we began to discuss what would happen to us. As our abilities declined, would we continue to be of use to the master? Would he allow us to stay in “our” house if we got to the point of not being useful to him any more? My own relationship with the master was friendly, but very much servant-master. I sensed that he liked my work and service to him very much, but I did not hear much direct praise from him. Therefore, Belinda and I were quite concerned. Her abilities in the kitchen were declining, and I was getting older and less able to handle all the physical aspects of the work with the horses.

The last few years of Belinda’s life, she was hardly able to work at all, being bedfast much of the time. Some of the women she worked with in the house would come to our cottage to take care of her. She died several years before me, and I ended up alone. But the master allowed me to bury her on his property, and allowed me to continue living in our house, which by that time had taken on quite a cheery atmosphere with all the work Belinda and I had put into it.

I continued to go down to the stables, and always had a calming influence on the horses, but I was not able to do very much. Again, I was concerned about how my days would end. I needn’t have worried. As I declined in health, the master himself came down to the cottage and saw me, making sure I was okay and that my needs were being met. He ensured me I would be buried beside Belinda. This was very gratifying for me, considering my extremely humble beginnings in this life as Brand.

When I died my awareness lifted effortlessly above the scene. I surveyed it only briefly before moving on up. As I was rising up, the therapist asked me at one point to look back and see if I could yet see the curvature of the earth as it receded. I looked back and was surprised that I could already see it as a complete globe! Also I was aware of a wall of bright yellow, golden flames on my left as I rose. This intense light in no way impeded my vision.

At one point, I approached an arch suspended in the sky.  There were stars all around. The arch was sort of lit up more on the left, reflecting some of the light from the wall of flames, which by now was coalescing more into a huge ball of light. At first I thought I was cruising next to the sun, but as I moved up, this light turned out to be something different.

As I got closer to the arch, I slowed down and paused in front of it. I became aware that the arch was only one part of an entire series of arches arranged in improbable conjunction with each other at different angles and varying heights. All these arches resembled the most magnificent arches I had seen a month earlier, on a trip to France. These were graceful, sweeping to incredible heights and intertwined in a most delightful way.

Upon encouragement from the therapist, I slowly moved through the arch. I was still in mid-air, approximately two-thirds of the way up from the bottom of the arch. These arches, by the way, were not supported by anything. They just hung there in mid-air with no foundation. Also, by this time, I was aware that I appeared as a whitish, fuzzy ball, like one of those child’s toys which are just round furry balls with large black eyes sewn on.

As I moved through the arch I felt a slight tingle, sort of like a mild electrical shock. It was not unpleasant, just there. At this point the therapist suggested I approach this golden ball of light to find out if it just might turn out to be my spirit guide. I knew from my reading that one of the common, if not universal, characteristics of BLSR‘s is meeting up with our spirit guides upon entering the astral realm. These guides are heavenly beings assigned to guide us, teach us, help us through our various experiences in our various lives, and in between. They would be what is commonly thought of as a guardian angel.

Sure enough, as I approached the golden ball of light, I became aware that this was indeed my spirit guide. He (although beings in this realm don’t necessarily have gender, they often appear to us in one gender or another, mostly for our own comfort in relating and renewing our connection with them) said, “Welcome home!” Almost immediately he enveloped me and lovingly began restoring my energy. He indicated (again, to use words like “said” are misleading; communication occurs, but not really through speech forms) that I had expended much energy in this previous life as Brand, and he would heal me.

After I was restored, I found myself outside him and beside him. We continued moving through the sky, (I think we had already been moving while he was enveloping and healing me). I was quite aware that all the “stars” around me were other beings, but right where we were, it was just the two of us. As we moved, he began leading me through a series of aerobatic maneuvers. We did loops, various sorts of rolls, whooping with laughter! I would glance over at him as we did these effortless maneuvers. His large black eyes appeared to me as an eagle’s. I sensed his smile, although neither of us had mouths!

I gradually became aware that we were slowly making our way toward six “stars”, which appeared to be in a line. As we moved toward them in a relaxed and gentle way, having loads of fun soaring through the sky, I became aware that these six lights were beings, and I began to suspect they might be my Council of Elders.

This is another characteristic of entering the heavenly realm. Everyone appears before some form of group where their life just lived is evaluated. Although many titles are used to describe these groups, I will call mine the Council of Elders, a common term.

These Elders are very exalted, wise beings. On earth we would call them angels; maybe even terms like “archangels” would be appropriate. I was aware that these were supremely advanced beings with much wisdom. They appeared to me in human form, gradually becoming such as we approached.

Without going into a lot of detail, I had quite a long session with these Elders. During this time I was shown brief glimpses of two more past lives, including my first incarnation on earth. This occurred in primeval times, in a jungle, probably in present-day India. I was part of a hunting party of five. We had formed a semi-circle around a large animal, which turned out to be a tiger. The leader of the party was at the middle position of the semi-circle; I was on his right. As we got closer and closer, the tiger became aware that he was trapped up against a high rock wall. Most of our stealthy movements were directed through hand signals from the leader. As we closed in, the tiger turned and leapt high in the air toward us. We all, as one, flung our spears at him. As the tiger came down he scraped the leader, scratching him quite deeply. One of the other party jumped on the tiger and finished killing him with a stone knife, as the spears had only slowed him down, not killed him. We then looked after our leader and his wounds, dressing them as best we could out there in the bush. Then we five hoisted the tiger and returned triumphant to our clan. There was much rejoicing, both at the meat from the animal, but also from the magnificent skin we would have to demonstrate our wealth. The leader of this hunting party turned out to be the soul of my present-day brother, Wesley, who I have mentioned earlier as referring me to certain books and such.

The other life I was shown, in just one brief episode, occurred in Mayan times. This scene was introduced by one of the Council of Elders who had a medallion around his neck which had a human face on it, the outside edge containing figurative sun rays. I was a Mayan priest, part of a group of priests whose job it was to observe the skies and make calculations. As a Mayan priest I was aware that the leader of our guild was not a good man. He was cruel and oppressive, but I chose to ignore this. I felt powerless to do anything about it, but more than this, I turned a blind eye and pretended that the evil was not going on.

The lesson I was shown from this past life was that every religious leader is human. In Mayan culture, leaders were held up as divine, or near divine. Looking at Mayan ruins today, you can see that association with the divine. The top leader would have been viewed as God. But the medallion worn by my Elder showed that even though he might be depicted as a sun, or sun god, he was completely human, and subject to human failings. This past life explains the roots of my skepticism of organized religion today!

When my session with the Council was over, and I had been basically told I had done well, the six Elders stood behind their regal marble table and saluted me. They assured me I am doing well in my life as Dennis, that I will continue to play behind-the-scenes sorts of roles, that I will be a positive influence in peoples’ lives, that I have what I need to accomplish this, that I am wise, that they support me, and so on.

I prostrated myself before these extremely wise and exalted beings, so overwhelmed at their complete love and support of me and who I am. I was completely speechless. Then they begin filing out from behind the table. The first one, the one who had led the proceedings, came to me and took me by the hand to raise me upright. One by one they shook my hand, looking me in the eye in encouragement. As they filed by and to my right, they pulled up the hoods on the cloaks they are wearing, and gradually disappeared.

So, I know, without any doubts whatsoever, that I am loved, cared for, supported and protected by very powerful and wise beings in the heavens. I can move forward with confidence that I am led in the right path. I proceed with confidence that I am supplied with everything I need to accomplish the tasks I have yet to do in my life as Dennis.

The next step in this session was to take me to my group of spirit companions, my spiritual family. But much time had elapsed and I already felt so overwhelmed that I chose to end the session. The spirit family we all have is yet another common dynamic of our soul lives. I hope some day to do another session and be able to meet these soul friends of mine.

The general information about these soul groups is that they consist of souls who were all created around the same time. Thus they tend to be of similar maturity. They are often involved in the same sorts of projects. They almost always incarnate together in order to assist one another in their earthly lives. In various lives they can play different roles. A husband and wife in one life might end up being a parent/child duo in another, or best friends, or siblings.

As we join with a fetus in order to begin our earthly sojourns, we go through a fairly complete amnesia as to our true identity as soul beings. There is scriptural support for this process. Jesus, our leader, the one we are to follow and emulate, “. . . did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form . . .” (Philippians 2.6-8). When we are born we empty ourselves of the awareness of our spiritual natures, and take on human form. We then spend our lives trying to recapture who we are and what we are about, what we came here to accomplish.

I came away from my soul regression session very full. This experience will remain with me for the rest of my days, I am sure.

I returned home from this experience without any awareness that there was anything more in store for me than what I had already experienced in my soul regression sessions. How naive! Read on!

Heaven is for Real!

The Source, God, is completely gracious, wise and accepting. When we experience the after-life, the Spirit dimension, we experience it in a way which is accessible for us, understandable and comfortable. This delightful little book is about a delightful little boy who had a near-death experience. He experienced heaven in a way completely consistent with being four years old.

He also has been raised in a Church/Christian environment, so his experience was entirely consistent with this milieu. His father is a pastor in a small, western-Nebraska town.

Colton Burpo, approaching his fourth birthday, complained of a stomach ache. Several recurrences of this stomach ache, a couple trips to the doctor, finally resulted in emergency surgery for a burst appendix. Although Colton was extremely sick and the parents realized they almost lost him, there was no indication of him actually clinically dying.

Thus, a few months later, the parents were caught completely by surprise when Colton began talking about his experience of angels, Jesus, and heaven. While aware of the phenomenon of near-death experiences, here in their own four-year-old son it was difficult to accept. Details emerged over a period of months and years following, as occasionally Colton would come up with statements which would catch his parents off-guard.

At one point Todd, Colton’s father, wanting to ascertain the validity of his son’s experience, asked him about going to heaven. “You said you went to heaven. People have to die to go to heaven.” Colton’s gaze didn’t waver. “Well, okay then. I died. But just for a little bit.” (p 79) After mulling this over the father, “. . . realized that Colton, in telling me he had died ‘for a little bit,’ had only been trying to match up his pastor-dad’s assertion with what he knew to be the facts of his own experience.” (p 80)

Colton had many experiences in heaven. He met John the Baptist (“. . . he was really nice.” p 63), saw Jesus’ horse, many angels, had to do homework, saw Jesus’ markers (stigmata), and much more. Again, Todd wanted to put things into perspective. “‘Colton, you said you were in heaven and you did all these things . . .  a lot of things. How long were you gone?’ My little boy looked me right in the eye and didn’t hesitate. ‘Three minutes,’ he said. Then he hopped down from the chair and skipped off to play.” (p 76) Todd had to realize that in heaven time is very different than we experience on earth.

I could go on and on. This book is full of delightful stories. It is so refreshing to hear deep spiritual things from a child’s perspective. I recommend this read to anyone, but especially Christians. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, by Todd Burpo.


During my first soul regression, I was taken back to my soul’s most immediate past life. As images began to come to mind I initially saw myself, my former self, from overhead. Gradually the scene cleared, and I began to see things through “my” eyes in that life. During the regression I went back and forth between these modes, seeing things from “outside”, and then actually seeing the scene through the eyes of my former self.

Without going into a lot of detail, I discovered a life lived, beginning in the 1880’s, in Illinois, U.S.A. I was a young man just setting out in life. I was assisted in buying some land outside a small town, which I proceeded to farm. The assistance came from my father and one of his friends. I had been born in Pennsylvania, where the rest of my family lived. My father’s friend lived in this small town in Illinois, thus the connection.

My name was Frank Sawyer. I was successful. I built up quite a good farm, which I later bequeathed to one of my sons. I had three children, two sons, and the youngest, a daughter. One of my sons was killed in the Great War. In my later years, my wife and I moved into town, living in a simple house, nice, but in no way extravagant. I was sought out by people in the town who admired my wisdom, simple and down-to-earth. I was not a leader by any stretch, but just a citizen of that town who was well-respected by his fellow citizens. I died in 1928, survived by my wife and two children.

Following my death I, as a soul, was able to rise above the scene, observing my funeral in the small church my family had attended all our lives. My entire life as Frank Sawyer was normal; there were no traumatic events. Sure, losing my son in the war was very sad, and I mourned deeply. But all of that was viewed by me as a normal part of life. Death was accepted matter-of-factly.

I learned that I was a very strong, stable, thoughtful and wise person. Though not in any sort of formal leadership, I was sought out, respected, solid, quiet. I learned later that this is a sort of theme that carries through my lives. I have always been a strong and respected person.

This affirms who I am today as Dennis. I have influenced a significant number of people during this lifetime. While I have occasionally sought out leadership positions, I have never been particularly successful at them. And I, even before all this soul regression stuff came along, had come to terms with that. I have seen that I can just live out my life in the circumstances in which I find myself, and be content with that.

But, I’m beginning to get ahead of myself! Some of these lessons only became clear after my between-lives session in the afternoon. So, let’s move on to that experience.


Duality versus unity. This is a concept I am currently trying to learn more about. I keep hearing about the unity of God, the godhead, the Spirit realm, the universe, and so on. And I keep running into comments about the duality we live in while on earth.

I am trying to learn what all this means. What are the implications of these concepts of duality and unity? How do they show themselves?  What problems are caused by our dualism? How do we “fix” it? How do we move from a dualistic way of thinking to a unified way of thinking? Are we even able, while incarnate on earth, to move into thinking in a unified way? Or are we doomed to remain dualistic?

I would dearly love to hear comments (or more questions!!) from anyone out there who has struggled with these concepts. I am not necessarily looking for answers, per se, but a conversation. Tell me what you think, what you believe. Is this important? Is it something I should be puzzling my brain about?

I guess my desire is to be increasingly godlike, to move toward becoming more and more like God. Isn’t this what Spirit wants? What do religions have to say about this? I know that the Christianity I was raised with encourages us to become more “christlike”. We are supposed to emulate our leader Jesus. And in the Christian scriptures Jesus tells us, and prays for us, to become one, just as he and the heavenly father are one.

This is enough for now, enough to start some thinking about this. I will share more in the future. And if I get any comments, you can be sure they will be incorporated into this conversation!

Soul Regression

Under the category “Out of Winkler” I am posting my own experiences in soul regression. I debated whether to co-post these chapters under “Soul Regression” as well, but decided not to. If you are interested in reading about my own soul regression sessions, please go to the “Out of Winkler” heading and read chapters 13 through 15 as they get posted.

I also have conducted soul regression sessions, both PLSR (past-life soul regression) and BLSR (between-lives soul regression). If anyone in the Calgary area is interested in exploring this for themselves, I can assist in putting you in contact with therapists working in this area.

I can assure you that soul regression is a profound experience, one you will ponder for a long while. To discover for oneself just a little of what life is like as an eternal soul is life-changing. This is not for everyone, but if you feel yourself at all pulled in this direction please contact me or someone else involved in this type of work and ask the questions.


Well, we have come a long way! We are nearing the present in the tale of my spiritual journey. We have explored various paths, various threads and themes which have influenced my life and who I am today. As you have no doubt experienced in reading, these strands have increasingly begun to wind and twist together. I now come to the last year of my life, so far, and will share with you its dominant theme.

In early 2011, Peggy brought home a book called Journey of Souls, by Michael Newton. Reading this book began a journey which I continue today. This particular path feels like the bringing together of many of the threads of my life; so many things seem to integrate around this theme.

In his book, Michael Newton outlines two types of soul regression: past-life soul regression (PLSR), and between-lives soul regression (BLSR). He began his practice as a clinical hypnotherapist, treating clients for a variety of conditions, primarily using hypnosis as the healing tool. One of his early clients began to remember details from a previous life, describing them to Dr. Newton while under hypnosis. This forced Newton to re-evaluate his own belief system. Up to that point he had had a very modern, scientific mindset, which did not allow for much in the way of metaphysical or spiritual phenomena.

But he was a therapist, in a healing profession; he had to take his client seriously. He had to listen to what she was saying and grant it credibility. To brush her memories aside as so much imagination or fantasy would have done violence to the client; it would not have been helpful or therapeutic. As he studied the phenomenon of past lives, he began exploring this with other clients. To his great surprise he discovered that pretty much everyone had recollections of past lives! These memories were stored in the unconscious, or superconscious, areas of the mind. Through hypnosis he was able to guide the client in accessing these memories.

As he developed this area of his practice, he encountered clients who were also able to recall what happened to them between their lives. This led to even more phenomenal discoveries as client after client described to him the state of being they experienced between the various lives they had lived on earth.

In his book, Newton outlines many characteristics people experience in this state of between-lives. These aspects are phenomenally consistent. There are many events we go through after we die, and everyone seems to go through them. They may appear in slightly different form to various clients, but overall the experiences are very similar.

Needless to say, I was utterly fascinated with all this. It seemed to be the answer to so many of my own questions. It shed new light on the paths I had taken over the years. And it all appeared to fit. For example, there is a very high coherence to near-death experiences, which I had been reading about for a long time. The altered state and the spiritual realm in both soul regression and near-death experiences is similar.

Newton’s work, of course, confirmed my earlier struggle with, and ultimate acceptance of, reincarnation. Past lives seemed a very definite reality, now reinforced by soul regression. Here were thousands of people who had experienced past lives and who had memories of them! How could I refute what people have in their memories? How could I refute that they are remembering events which they have experienced? I couldn’t; I am not the sort of person who is unwilling to let facts get in the way of what I believe.

Reading Journey of Souls caused a hunger for more knowledge about this. I found another book by Newton–Destiny of Souls–expanding on his earlier book and providing yet more details of the afterlife.

And then again, my dear conservative brother came through, asking if I had read anything by Brian Weiss. Weiss is also a hypnotherapist. His work is somewhat different than Newton’s, but goes extensively into past-life regressions. I read a couple of his books. My brother had not known of my reading Michael Newton’s books and had come upon Weiss from a completely different source. Coincidence? I no longer believe in coincidence. I prefer to think of this as Spirit-led synchronicity.

After reading both of Newton’s books, Peggy asked me, “Well, what do you want to do now?” With no hesitation (shocking to myself, always a most deliberate, analytical person who mulls things over endlessly before making a decision, never one to leap quickly into new things) I replied, “I want to do it!” Meaning I wanted to experience a past-life and between-lives regression. Well, stated so baldly, I was committed! But I realized that I was also serious.

Part of the way I do things is that I have to experience them myself. I generally take other peoples’ opinions and experiences with a grain of salt, until I can know for myself that something rings true.

So, did I have memories of past lives stored up somewhere in my unconscious?  If this past-lives thing was genuine, I felt confident that I would find memories of them. If not, then there’d be nothing there, right? I had nothing to lose by seeking and exploring the truth of this. Had I lived lives in the past? Remember, this whole reincarnation thing was still relatively new to me–a recent development in my spiritual journey.

All sorts of questions popped into my mind. Would I, with my analytical way of being, be able to be hypnotized? And where would I find someone I could trust, who did work similar to Michael Newton’s? After all, he was retired from his California practice and at this time was only occasionally speaking and interviewing.

I found a website devoted to Michael Newton’s work, and there I was able to locate a therapist trained in his methods by his institute. She was located in the neighboring province. Since I had a week of holidays coming in July, a few months hence, I emailed the therapist to book a session. Through emails and phone calls, I was able to arrange both PLSR and BLSR sessions, and have my apprehensions confirmed or laid to rest.

About the question of suitability for hypnosis, the therapist pointed out that since I drive bus for a living I am already used to operating with my mind at two levels simultaneously. “You can drive along, perfectly safely, operating your bus, going through intersections, stopping at stop signs and bus stops, and all the while your mind is a thousand miles away, engaged in thinking about some other activity.” I realized this as very true; I do it all the time. And this, she explained, is essentially what I do when under hypnosis. My mind will be operating at two levels simultaneously. I will hear the therapist’s voice at one level, while remembering details of a past life at another level. I will be aware of my immediate physical surroundings, hearing traffic on the street, people walking by in the hallway. I will be aware of my body’s needs, and at the same time be aware of another dimension to which my higher, spirit self will take me.

So, I arranged the details of a trip to the British Columbia coast for a soul regression session. And it was amazing! It was profound! It was life-changing! I cannot begin to describe in detail what this experience was like. I will try and do it justice in a brief summary of what I experienced.

I had two sessions scheduled. A past-life regression (PLSR) in the morning, and after lunch a between-lives regression (BLSR).

First, some comments on the process. As my therapist had described, I was continuously aware of my surroundings. And this threw me at first. I questioned in my mind the veracity of my experience. Was I really “under”? Throughout the whole session I felt totally in control. I felt I could just get up out of the recliner, exit the building, and go on with my day.

And while I was questioning that, I was questioning whether what I was experiencing was “real”. The images coming to mind came gradually. This was not a video replay. Images at first were rather vague. I was not sure what I was seeing. I was not sure who I was seeing. Only slowly did the picture begin to coalesce into a consistent image.

Regarding my initial question of really being under hypnosis, this was laid to rest quite concretely when midway through the first session I needed to use the washroom! The therapist had explained this might happen, and that it would cause no problem; we would just put the session on pause while I did my thing, and resume when I returned. After telling her my dilemma (I desperately did not want to break the session, because by that time we were well into it, and I was fascinated!), she said fine, pulled the blanket off me, and helped me get up out of the recliner. As I got up, I stumbled quite severely, and might have fallen had I not reached out to a desk for support. This demonstrated to me that I was much deeper into my hypnotic trance than I had thought while actually in it. And as she had said, when I returned she was able to guide me very quickly right back to where we had left off. Truly amazing!!!

Regarding my second set of questions, about the reality of what I was seeing, this was settled during the lunch break, and again after the between-lives session in the afternoon. “Where did these images come from?” asked my therapist. “Did I put any of these pictures into your mind?” I had to admit that no, she had certainly not done that. Her part had been solely to guide me into a deeply relaxed state, and then to encourage me to tell her what I saw. I received a recording of the sessions afterwards, and listening to it, I can say for sure that the therapist did not in any way “lead” me in my visions. She was very careful in how she phrased her questions.

Okay, now on to the details of my sessions. As this chapter is long enough, I am going to treat each of the soul regression sessions I experienced in separate chapters. So, first the past-life regression and then the between-lives regression.


Another thread, which I think deserves its own chapter in my life story, began with the publishing of Dan Brown’s Da Vince Code. Literarily this book does not deserve to see the light of day. It is an abominable example of writing. It is so bad I almost couldn’t get through the first chapter. I don’t know if I have ever seen a popular book so poorly written.

It was only, and I emphasize only, my fascination with what I had heard about the subject matter, that kept me going until the end. As an aside, the movie was much better than the book, a rare occurrence.

But the whole idea of Jesus and Mary Magdalene being married fascinated me. I was, by this time, exposed to enough heretical ideas that the concept of Jesus being a married man did not throw me. I was able to consider the idea and its implications with an open mind.

Reading Brown’s book launched me on a path of reading as many books as I could find on this topic, both fiction and non-fiction. Some of them were quite well done, some more fanciful. But the best of the bunch by far–wait for it–was Kathleen McGowan’s The Expected One.

McGowan originally set out to write a non-fiction account of her research into Mary Magdalene. This was part of a larger study to understand the role of key women throughout history. At some point she became convinced that she would have a much wider audience if she presented this work as fiction. And I agree. But the fact that this novel is based on extensive research gives it an air of authenticity.

Throughout the book, I kept thinking how much I wished the things I was reading were true. I wanted to believe that events had unfurled very close to the way Kathleen presented them. When I discovered that her initial research was fact based, and that her book was not just fanciful flights of imagination, the story gained credibility; it is easy to believe that the story occurred much the way Kathleen has written it.

A brief synopsis of the story is that Mary Magdalene was married first to John the Baptist, and had one son with him. After John’s death, Jesus took her as wife, out of his compassion for one of his dearest companions. They had two more children. After Jesus’ death, and after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Mary went to France. She and her children by Jesus lived out their lives in southern France, in the area now known as the Languedoc.

In her later years, Mary wrote an account of her life. This document becomes a central part of the novel, The Expected One. A modern day character goes on a search for Mary’s chronicle, or for information on the life of Mary, especially her life in the Languedoc. The book jumps back and forth between today and the first century.

Although I do not know church history very well at all, I understand that the Cathars of southern France were the people who carried on the legacy of Mary Magdalene. By the Middle Ages they had become a huge threat to the established Church. In the only officially sanctioned crusade against Christians–against its own–the Church massacred around a million Cathars, slaughtering infants, old and young, men and women. Just the very fact that the Church saw them as that huge a threat tells me there must have been some truth to the beliefs of the Cathars.

The Expected One is very well written. It is a gripping story, and carries an air of authority; it seems entirely feasible. Years after reading it, I read an interview with Kathleen McGowan. She revealed that the visions, which appear to the main character in the modern-day part of the book, are word-for-word her own visions of Mary Magdalene. When I heard this, I realized why the book had seemed so genuine. It is based on the experience of the author.

Kathleen has written two subsequent books, The Book of Love, and The Poet Prince. In The Book of Love, the focal point of the story becomes a document supposedly written by Jesus himself while he was on earth. In this narrative he outlines his message, the way of love. The Church has suppressed this writing all through history, because it is inimical to its own agenda, which is control of populations.

I know from my seminary studies that such a document as the Book of Love has long been suggested by history; it is referred to in other writings. This document is thought to have been written by either Jesus himself, as McGowan presents in her book, or written down during or shortly after his life time on earth by his closest followers. So for Kathleen to posit that such a document exists is entirely feasible. Once again, I found myself wishing urgently that such a document would be found, that it actually exists somewhere, waiting to be discovered. Given the circumstances surrounding the Nag Hammadi and other recent finds, my wish may not be at all far-fetched. Fascinating stuff!!


I just finished posting a book review on the story of BJ Higgins. In that review I was critical of the churchy, pious language used. One of the criticisms I was tempted to focus on was the Church’s glorification of the devil but decided not to do that in my review. Thus, a separate posting.

The evangelical Church, or should I say, evangelical churches, tend to give Satan as much credit as God when it comes to influence in our lives. The charismatic, pentecostal milieu I lived in for long periods of time, spent as much time resisting the devil as we did in glorifying God. This was so much a part of my culture that I never questioned it until fairly recently. I think it is an insidious part of Church theology which has crept into our thinking so strongly that we do not consider it to be non-biblical.

A recent source for me of clear thinking on this matter is Paul Rademacher, in his book, A Spiritual Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, reviewed on Urban Monk a few weeks ago. I am going to take the liberty to share some of Paul’s thoughts on this matter. “. . . popular religion. . . its first order of business is not to view the unity of creation, but to split it into good and evil. Everything flows from that basic distinction.” (p 119) “Satan is indispensable to a theology preoccupied with morality, because most popular religion is concerned with behaviour control. . .” (p 120) If we as spiritual people are concerned more with controlling behaviour, then, yes, we need a devil as part of our thinking. But, “. . . this theology offers a very fragile kind of salvation.” (p 120)

Some years ago I heard a Christian speaker share his own Bible-college experience where he and some fellow students took an old copy of the scriptures and literally cut out with scissors every verse they could find in the entire Bible which had to do with God reaching out to the poor. Any instruction in how we are to deal with the poor and oppressed of society was snipped. The book would hardly hold together. It was so full of holes that it was almost falling apart in their hands.

An impish thought on my part: what if we were to do the same exercise with verses having to do with the devil, Satan, hell, etc? I know for a certainty that the Old Testament would hardly be affected at all. And I strongly suspect that the New Testament as well, would easily hold together. There might be a few more holes than in the Old, but certainly not even close to the effect of the elimination of verses regarding the poor as outlined above.

Now consider the ratio of sermons heard in typical evangelical churches about reaching out to the poor and oppressed versus sermons about avoiding evil. I would hazard a guess that this ratio would be nowhere near the ratio of scriptural treatment of these topics. Where is our priority? Do we really believe we are preaching the gospel when our own emphasis comes out so diametrically opposite to God’s?

What is the answer? Again, turning to Paul Rademacher,

“Without the devil, these fire-and-brimstone religious traditions couldn’t exist. Their whole theology would collapse like a house of cards. Their starting point is not love, but fear, a fear that stays with many of them all their lives. For me, it all comes down to a basic dilemma: If there is a devil, who has the greater power–God or Satan? I’m utterly convinced that God has the capacity to protect and guide me in all situations. Even when I make terrible mistakes, I can proceed in my explorations with confidence. There is no place where God is not found. With that realization comes a wonderful freedom.” (p 121)


Amen, brother!!!

I Would Die For You

This book is the story of a young teen. BJ, as he was called, was a very unusual kid. Small for his age, he managed to capture the hearts of everyone around him. Attention gravitated to him like a magnet; he influenced large numbers of people in his short life. At age 14 he got himself invited as an underage participant on a church mission trip to Peru, returning there the next summer as well. That second summer he contracted a severe infection (posthumously diagnosed as bubonic plague) and by the end of September he died.

The book, written by his parents, Brent & Deanna Higgins, includes many writings from BJ’s journals and communications with friends. They demonstrate an unswerving devotion to God and saving others. His intense single-mindedness certainly attracted a lot of people.

The biggest problem with the book is that it is written exclusively for a Church audience. I doubt many non-Church people would be able to wade through the churchy language and pious mindset of the story. And from what I read, this goes directly against the aim and purpose of BJ’s life. His own sense of mission was to the “lost”, that is, to those who are outside the Church. But not many of his target audience will be tempted to read this book.

I can accept the blind devotion to Church teaching from one so young. He had yet to grow into the maturity where he would be able to realize that God is so much larger than mere Church theology. My criticism is to his parents and those around him, who obviously felt they could not write this story without the pious language. This book, the story of their exceptional son’s short life, could have had so much more impact if written with a larger audience in view.


I ended the chapter on “Trust” (see chapter Nine) stating that being accused of following the devil puts me in good company, as Jesus was accused of the same thing! This brings me to another thread which has become increasingly important during my spiritual travels: the New Testament picture of the Pharisees. This thread began while I was in seminary and continues to advise me to this day.

First of all, the Pharisees were not “bad guys.” They have been given very negative press because of the New Testament account of their opposition to Jesus, who he was and where he originated. But the Pharisees were the teachers of the scriptures in their day. This was the group whose main task in life was to study the Bible and to teach others to follow its direction for life. The modern-day equivalent would be we who claim to know the scriptures, who spend our lives in reading, studying, and meditating upon the scriptures. In this, there is no difference between the first-century Pharisees, and todays Evangelicals.

A brief aside here for a lesson in Greek! The English term “evangelical” is a direct transliteration of the greek word “euangelion”, also often used in verb form, “euangelizo”. This term means, most literally, “good news”, or, as it is often translated, “gospel”. The verb form, then, becomes transliterated as “evangelize”, or translated, “to proclaim good news”, or “to preach the gospel”. As it has come to be used today, then, to evangelize, or to preach the gospel, means preaching the Bible. So that the term “Evangelicals”, as applied to a certain branch of Christianity, has come to mean those who hold most closely to the Bible. That is the basis for the connection I am making between Pharisees and Evangelicals. Both groups profess to being the group who adheres most closely to the scriptures. Both groups proclaim the message of the scriptures. Both groups admonish everyone around them to live according to the scriptures.

As I write this, in early 2012, there is an election heating up in the U.S. Because I lived much of my life in the States, I pay close attention to the political scene there. This is due to personal interest, memories of politics when I was younger, and also because the U.S. is the strongest military power and the strongest economy in the world. What happens there affects all of us around the globe. This is especially true in Canada. The U.S. is our closest neighbor; we have the longest unarmed border in the world between us.

And what I am hearing is that as the Republican Party holds their primary elections, much of the rhetoric coming out of the mouths of contestants lays claim to be biblical. While I am pretty cynical about how close to actual biblical truth they are, they claim to be basing their positions on biblical truth. A large portion of the Republican Party wants to force everyone in U.S. society to live according to the scriptures, at least according to their own particular version of the scriptures. Once again, my cynicism about all of this is that they tend to take a very populist view of what the scripture actually says. None of them seem to understand the true core of the gospel truth of scripture. As is true of most of the political world, they hold their fingers up in the air to test the direction of the wind. Whatever they sense is the prevailing direction of the winds of understanding truth among voters becomes their position.

Going back to the biblical account, who did Jesus target for his most vehement words? It was the Pharisees. Did Jesus rant and rave about the oppression and injustice of the occupying Roman government? Did he rail against the cruelty of foreign military forces on their soil? Did he criticize neighboring countries for their injustice or lack of freedom? No! He criticized his own people.

The case could easily be made, and is made, by many biblical scholars that Jesus himself was a Pharisee. He certainly lived and taught in the tradition of the Pharisees. He was called “Rabbi” by his followers and by the Pharisees themselves. His position in the society of his day was that of an itinerant teacher of the Pharisees, one who studied the scripture, one who taught the scripture, one who admonished his followers to live by the scripture. So when he lashes out at the Pharisees, he is lashing out at his own. He calls them blind guides, blind fools, serpents, a brood of vipers (Matthew 23.13-36).

As I grew in my understanding of the connection between the Pharisees of the New Testament and the Evangelicals of my own day, I became more and more clear of where I stood in relation to my own group, the Evangelicals. It became more and more obvious that my trust must be in God, and God alone. I could not trust the Church to decipher just what the scriptures–which Evangelicals proclaim to be God’s Word–was saying. I must depend on God, and devote myself to hearing him clearly. I must trust him. He will not lead me astray. He will not allow me to get sucked into falsehood. He wants the absolute best for me. It is up to me to listen, to have ears to hear what he is saying.

One other aspect of this whole Pharisee/Evangelical issue, and my fellow Christians’ admonition to not get waylaid by the trickery of the enemy, is that of intellect. As I follow my path, I have come to see more and more that what I was actually doing in the past was relying on my mind. It was an intellectual exercise in reading and understanding and figuring out the Bible. So, it begins to seem to me that in Evangelical circles the one who has the clearest mind, the most articulate preacher or proclaimer, determines what is truth. The person who can argue the clearest wins the day. And those of us who just fumble along doing the best we can with what we know submit to those articulate voices among us.

Now, I don’t want to be totally negative about all this. Many of God’s preachers are gifted by him to clearly proclaim the truth. Along with the prophets of old, he gives the voice and he gives the message which is to be proclaimed. And because I believe that to be true, I still participate in the organized religion of my heritage, the Church. I still listen to my Christian brothers and sisters, taking their advice and admonitions seriously. But I also take it with a huge grain of salt. I check with Spirit which things I can hold onto as truth, and what I can allow to drop by the wayside as not helpful.

Yet another aspect of the connection I see between the Pharisees of the New Testament age and today’s Evangelicals concerns me deeply. The Pharisees were, as outlined above, the most serious holders to biblical truth in their day. They were the ones who devoted their entire lives to studying the scriptures. They had schools of thought which debated the truth of the Bible, determined to know exactly what God was saying to them through the ancient writings. They wanted to get it right. They did not want to miss anything God had for them, any truth he wanted them to know.

As an aside, it was very likely in this context that Jesus engages the leaders in the temple at age twelve in questions about scriptural truth, and astounds them with his wisdom at such a young age. Another example of Jesus engaging the Pharisees in discussion of scripture occurs in Matthew 22.34ff. Apparently the hot topic of the day was to get at the core of the Law, the heart of the scriptures. What is the central commandment of the Law? As a Rabbi, greatly respected by the people, they sought Jesus out to see how he would respond to this question. And his answer silenced them!

So, even though history has brought the Pharisees into disrepute, in their day they were the respected scholars and teachers of scriptures. From the New Testament scriptures I think it is pretty obvious that they were often quite smug in assuming they knew God’s word. They knew the scriptures.

And yet, they missed it! When God sent his Word, in the human person of Jesus, to the earth, the very ones who thought they knew God and his word, missed it, or missed him!

I find, to my dismay, elements of this same smugness in todays Evangelicals. All too often I encounter attitudes of confidence in knowing what scripture has to say. After all, we have studied the Bible for centuries. We have resources coming out of our ying-yang. There is no shortage of books, references, resources of all sorts, on the Bible. Millions of Evangelical Christians spend years, if not their entire lives, in the study and teaching of scripture.

Are we in any way in danger similar to the first century Pharisees in missing God when he appears? I truly believe this is a very real danger. The only reassurance I have is that I know God to be endlessly merciful. I do not believe that he will deliberately deceive us. He will appear to us in a way in which we are able to perceive him. In subsequent chapters I will outline more clearly my present-day understanding of God and how he is working in today’s world.

But for now, I think that we Evangelicals need to take a serious look at our way of relating to God. When he does appear on earth, we do not want to be caught sleeping.