Speakeasy: The Coming Interspiritual Age

SpeakEasy_LogoThe crew at Speakeasy is pleased to be offering Kurt Johnson and David Ord’s The Coming Interspiritual Age to our growing network of 1,000+ faith and culture bloggers for review, soon. Not a Speakeasy blogger yet? Apply here – this is one offering you won’t want to miss.

I believe that this massive (yet readable) tome is one of the most significant ‘big-picture’ books to come out this decade, taking a ‘deep-time’ perspective of our development as a universe these past 13 billion+ years, and development as humanity – ‘the universe becoming conscious of itself’ – the past 200,000 or so years. Those of us who are friends of God in the way of Jesus have much to learn from our planet’s growing population of contemplative elders and wisdom teachers who show us that contribution is at least as important as conversion, and that we all have a lot to learn from each other.

The Coming Interspiritual Age details the vision of interspirituality within a comprehensive and powerful synthesis of world religions and spirituality, the discoveries of modern science, and the developmental and evolutionary view of history. It is the first book to review and predict the ongoing history of world religions and spirituality in the context of developmental history, the evolutionary consciousness movement, and current scientific understandings of anthropology, human cognitive development, brain/mind and scientific consciousness studies.

This book was inspired by the late Catholic monk, Brother Wayne Teasdale’s vision of The Interspiritual Age, a vision of spiritual collaboration that parallels the equally well-known and publicized visions of the world’s developmental and evolutionary consciousness movements (known variously as ‘integral’ development, ‘second-tier’ consciousness,and ‘evolutionary enlightenment’) as well as – perhaps surprisingly – the international humanist movement (as exemplified in the emerging international Ethical Manifold). As such, The Coming Interspiritual Age is the first synthesis of interfaith and interspirituality with the popular writings of integral leaders Ken Wilber and Don Beck.

Coming InterspiritualThe book includes provocative sections suggesting the inherent unity within the world’s religious and spiritual understanding (especially their shared mystical understandings), the relationship of these and modern scientific studies of consciousness and brain/mind, developmental and evolutionary views of history, the inevitable ongoing processes of world globalization and multiculturalism, the emergent understanding of the Divine Feminine, the nature of spiritual experience including reputed ‘spirit realms’ reported in traditions worldwide, and even the various predictions around and surrounding the now-passed year 2012.

The book concludes with extensive hand-on praxis sections regarding the development and practice of interspirituality as it can happen both within the world’s current religious traditions as well as in new, creative and entrepreneurial settings worldwide.

In my opinion, this book is a must-read for emergent and progressive Christians interested in the worldwide conversation that’s been taking place among world religions over the past few decades which is only now going public – about our potentially positive and negative roles in the our emerging global and multicultural world.
This book is pivotal for serious, generous practitioners of all faiths and spiritual paths, as well as scientists and historians, to understand the precarious and pivotal role of religions and spirituality in the emerging global and multicultural landscape.

A little background… 

The current interspiritual movement (and it is a movement – see this piece, Interspiritual Revolution: How the Occupy Generation Is Re-Envisioning Spirituality and [New] Monasticism by Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko)  has emerged from the interfaith activities that followed the birth of the world’s pluralistic and cosmopolitan era after World War II.  It’s provocative claim – one that needs to be chewed on and interacted with by devoted mainline progressives and passionate missional evangelicals alike – perhaps the only viable global religion for the Third Millennium is spirituality itself – that is, the universally shared core of heart, love and high consciousness at the heart of all the world’s spiritual traditions.
bedegriffiths2artModern Interspirituality reflects a heritage of dozens of pioneers across all the world’s traditions.  In Christianity, some of the most well-known pioneers have been Saints Francis, Teresa and Hildegard, GurdjieffTeilhard de Chardin, trans-cultural pioneers like Thomas Merton, Raimon Panikkar, Bede Griffiths, Huston SmithWayne Teasdale, Joan ChittisterRichard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, Karen Armstrong and Thomas Keating, and famous public figures like Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu and (even) Bono.  It is not a new movement, but a movement coming of age.  Its well known books are countless but include books like Matthew Fox‘s One River, Many Wells and Teasdale’s The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, humanist Felix Adler’s Reconstruction of the Spiritual Ideal, Ken Wilber’s integral philosophies, the scientific Consilience by E. O. Wilson, Steve McSwain‘s The Enoch Factor, and current writings stirring the core of Christianity like The New Monasticism Manifesto (free!), Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude, and the upcoming Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation.  This is, it would seem, a time of revolution.

What Christian luminaries have to say about The Coming Interspiritual Age:

I’m very glad this wonderful book continues to draw praise and interest. I support and recommend it.
~ Fr. Thomas Keating, Founder, Contemplative Outreach, the Snowmass Inter-religious Initiative and author of many books.

I really cannot exaggerate the value and importance of this book.  This is where we are going, and we might as well go informed and enlightened! My heart leaps and my mind expands as I read this book.
~Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., author, The Naked Now and Everything Belongs; Center for Action and Contemplation and Rohr Institute

The Coming Interspiritual Age by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord is simply extraordinary. This much-needed book will change the discourse on religion and spirituality. Especially for the younger generation, who no longer recognize themselves in the traditional narratives that world religions are offering them, this book provides hope. It offers a new vision of spirituality and addresses the personal and societal implications of the possibilities that arise from this new way. The future will be interspiritual and this will be our textbook.”
~ Adam Bucko, Founder, Reciprocity Foundation, co-author New Monasticism Manifesto and, with Matthew Fox Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation

A significant sign of our times is the quest to make a leap of consciousness from religious ideologies to a deeper spiritual consciousness and practice. As Jung warned, “only the mystics bring creativity to religion itself.” This book contributes to that important leap by celebrating our mystical roots that the authors believe can heal the split of science and religion and of religions against religions. This ambitious book joins the multiple efforts at interspirituality in our time to celebrate a mystical awakening that can move us from the religions of consumerism and materialism that dominate our culture with the cynicism and despair and addiction they spawn to something more resembling a full-hearted life.  It invites us to new and more ancient ways of living our sacred lives in and on behalf of this sacred earth. I welcome it!
~ Matthew Fox, author of the inter-religious classics Coming of the Cosmic Christ and One River, Many Wells, and recently The Pope’s WarThe Hidden Spirituality of MenHildegard von Bingen and other books.

If some scholars insist that “God is Not One,” Johnson and Ord respond “Oh yes He/She/It is!” Religious differences are real, but they do not obstruct, indeed they nurture, religious dialogue. Drawing on contemporary science (biology, physics, and brain studies), philosophy, the teachings of mystics and of religious activists, this book makes a strong case that an “interspiritual age” is both coming and needs to come soon. For both seekers and academics, this is a rewarding, challenging, and inspiring read.
~ Paul F. Knitter, Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions, and Culture, Union Theological Seminary

The Coming Interspiritual Age provides an essential understanding of the roots of the current spiritual-religious context and the evolution of consciousness affecting every sector society and culture.   It inspires deeper contemplative awareness of the inherent interrelatedness of all being and a vision for the future of the global human family. A book to be shared and discussed!
~ Robert G. Toth
, past Executive Director, Merton Institute for Contemplative Living

Sponsors of this Speakeasy Initiative:

The Rose L. Walker Fund  is a fund administered by the National Ethical Service (NES), a 501(c)(3) humanist organization promoting Ethical Culture founder Felix Adler’s “Ethical Manifold” vision– world religions working together for a healthy multicultural world future through their shared heritages of values and ethics.

Fellowship of the Heart (a 501c3) supports Interspiritual Dialogue’s vast Interspiritual Multiplex free web resource, globally spreading the message of world religions working in harmony for a healthy global future through their shared teachings of equanimity and love.

Namaste Publishing, known for bringing authors like Eckhart Tolle, Michael Brown and Shefali Tsabary to the world, publishes unique material that is life-enhancing, even life-altering.  Its overarching mission is to make available publications that acknowledge, celebrate, and encourage a transformative future for humanity and the earth.

Presence International is a a 501c3 eschatological thinktank seeking to reframe the Judeo-Christian narrative through careful scholarship, faithful study, and a Spiral Dynamics understanding of both divine revelation and human development as humanity begins to recognize the beauty of moving beyond boundaries to an all-in-all God.

Speakeasy is a network of intrepid faith, culture, and spirituality bloggers (along with podcast and other show hosts) who enjoy discussing subversive reading material. Authors, publishers, and interested bloggers should check them out here.

Watch This Space

As the Speakeasy campaign for The Coming Interspiritual Age unfolds, we’ll be adding some of the best reviews and interviews here. Interested bloggers, show hosts, and media representatives should contact Mike Morrell at speakeasyontap [at] gmail [dot] com.

8 Responses to Speakeasy: The Coming Interspiritual Age

  1. Dr. Leo Semashko June 15, 2013 at 4:56 am #

    Many thanks for your new and excellent blog very useful to form the spiritual culture of harmonious civilization in the 21st century. This culture can not exist without the TCIA as its major “interfaith book”. But this culture can not exist without the scientific components of harmony, without a scientific dimension of social harmony, which is represented in the main scientific “harmony book” – in the ABC of Harmony (www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=478). These two books constitute the two inseparable dimensions of spiritual culture for harmonious civilization: interfaith/interspiritual and scientific which are united, coincided and inseparable in the harmony as them common denominator. Only on the basis of harmony can grow harmonious unity of religion and science in culture of a civilization. They can and will reinforce each other and work with each other in their harmonious unity through mutual harmonious education. It is presented in detail in the GHA Project of Interfaith Harmonious Education (CIHE: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=561) on the basis of its two “main” books – TCIA and the ABC of Harmony.

    • Dr. Kurt Johnson July 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      Thanks Leo! Yes, at recent interspiritual meetings we reviewed the ABC of Harmony and also other books, visions, emerging about– as you say– not only interfaith education, but toward harmonious integration of the arenas of civil society, governance, economy and the like. You are quite right about the need for this integration. In New York City June 3-4, the international Contemplative Alliance also convened a conference on “Sacred Earth” and “Re-envisioning Prosperity”, precisely integrating discussions of spiritual and ethical leaders, economics and civil leadership. As you say, let’s keep up this “awarenessing” on a global level! There is no long term revolution on our planet that did not involve this step by step “reminding” and “re-structuring” of the way humans think about things and the humans do things. Thanks for being a leader in this effort on the Eurasian continent!

  2. Bruce Schuman July 12, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks so much, Kurt, for your continuing expansion of this important and central message. We should all be “weaving” these connections in every way possible — including, as you say, civil society, governance, economy, etc. One approach I have been exploring involves what is becoming clear to me is the incredible array of related resources on Wikipedia. Complete lists of sources, authors, perspectives, issues, history, citations and references, all are instantly available and interconnected. One brilliant starting point is the article on the “Perennial Philosophy”, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy — offering something very much like the central thesis of The Coming Interspiritual Age. Another theme that can be grown with high detail and authority in this context is “the relationship of science and religion”.

  3. Sai Das July 13, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    “Infinitely infinite”??? Is this phrase issued from the Dept. of Redundancy Dept.?

    • zoecarnate July 15, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      I’m not seeing this phrase, Sai. 🙂

  4. Jacky Jonckheere July 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    Sorry, I have the feeling this book has to deny one of the cornerstones of science, i.e. one of the core tenets of Darwins evolution theory: there is no teleology at work in evolution, meaning there is no absolute goal. So, an ‘unpacking’ God is not and cannot be in line with science unless it is a self fabricated science and thus no science at all. Ken Wilber for instance has proven many times he does not understand evolution theory but certainly an advocate of intelligent design. Science is not about intelligent design and far more important: intelligent design is not science!

    Secondly I think it’s bad manners of mister Keating and mister Rohr to positively endorse a work in which they themselves are praised and being put in the same line as for example St. Francis.

    Third: I don’t think Gurdieff was a Christian (Gurdjieff argued that many of the existing forms of religious and spiritual tradition on Earth had lost connection with their original meaning and vitality and so could no longer serve humanity in the way that had been intended at their inception). He was a spiritual teacher, not a christian unless one states that anyone being a spiritual teacher is automatically a christian. But then of course the word Christian doesn’t mean anything anymore.

    Fourth: I’m afraid this publication belongs to the new age department. Everything is tainted by its analytical failings. New Age is that unfortunate mix of romanticism with eclecticism (the impulse to reconcile surface features of the world’s religious, faith, and scientific systems) and narcissism (self referring).

    • Kurt Johnson August 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      Certainly as a bona fide scientist and I certain am one after 30 professional years, 200 peer-reviewed articles and seven technical books on evolution (which is what my doctorate is in)– YES, there is no teleology in science BUT science is PREDICTIVE. As you know, the tenets of science are testability, repeatability, veracity and predictability. The views in THE COMING INTERSPIRITUAL AGE, and developmental theory itself are “predictive”. So, mixing them up with a narrow view of teleology really misses the point. And also there are many “kinds” of teleology (one very interesting one being the “mechanistic teleology” that has come out of Santa Fe Institute etc. based on systems theory).

      I also do not hold to intelligent design, which mixes metaphysics with science. We can still have elegant systems theories that are predictive, and a developmental theory, without needing the metaphysics. The Humanists get this in their current issue of the Dialogue Magazine which is about this book. Thank goodness the Popperian Revolution of the 1980’s allowed scientific philosophy to go “deductive” so that big jumps could be made by predicting and then testing. So, there is more here than meets the eye! In the long run Homo sapiens will either get its subjective faculties and its objective faculties into one skilled bundle or we’ll probably perish. Thank goodness nearly everything worldwide is moving toward holism. But you are right, it can’t be a naive holism. So that is a point well taken. Thanks!

  5. Martha GALLAHUE May 31, 2014 at 2:30 am #

    The energy and enthusiasm for the inter spirituality movement continues to grow as more people throughout the world recognize the need to take the longer view of human history. As Nicholas Wade and others remind us of genetic developments taking place among humans, we are well served to assume greater responsibility for the planets well being including that of all humanity. Interspirituality points to why we are up to the task if we will agree to become part of the great collective of “we”. Kudos, Kurt, on your excellent book. Let it become one of the great classics over time.

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