From Fundamentalism to Magical Purpose: Rebekah Berndt on Healing the Christian Lineage

I recently sat down (virtually speaking) with my dear friend Rebekah Berndt. I’ve known Rebekah since our ’emerging church’ days, and I’m always inspired by what she’s up to. In this dialogue, we do a deep-dive on where her spiritual and life’s journey has taken her. I’m guessing that you’ll be both challenged and encouraged by what follows.

Shall we begin?

Like many of us, you grew up in a conservative evangelical home. What was this like for you?

I grew up with a profound sense of being different. In the late 80’s and 90’s there was a push to create a totally separate evangelical culture to protect kids from the influence of mainstream culture. My parents weren’t the worst example when it came to “separating ourselves from the world”— I had friends who weren’t allowed to watch TV or play with the neighborhood kids, for example— but there was definitely a sense that we couldn’t really trust those who hadn’t “accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.” They sent me and my brothers to a church-run school, and the idea that I didn’t belong in the outside world was hammered home there.

There was a real sense of community, though, that was wonderful at times. I grew up in the suburbs of DC, where there’s a lot of transience due to the nature of government and military work. The church I was part of helped to create a feeling of rootedness, which was why it was really difficult to leave.

 

But you couldn’t stay in that flavor of faith, could you? What did you ultimately find untenable about the spiritual climate of your youth?

My father had a car accident and a head injury when I was 12. That turned everything upside down in my family. There was a lot of instability at home, and I became deeply depressed by the time I was in high school. People in the church didn’t know how to respond to this, other than to see it as a spiritual failing.

By that time I was attending a public high school, I did have people reach out to me. But it was hard for me to trust because I had been taught to be suspicious of the “the world.” That was one of the worst things about Evangelicalism — the sense of superiority that fostered paranoia about people outside the fold.

I did become involved in my church’s youth group, and had some friends there. We were charismatic, so they would take us to these week-long camps in the summer where we would have ecstatic experiences, dance around, and give ourselves to Jesus. I would get caught up in it; there would be a rush of excitement. But afterward when the high wore off, I felt so manipulated. Even amongst the adults, I would see people chasing a spiritual high in a way that felt really ungrounded, insisting God was going to perform miracles that never came to pass.

Intellectually, this church environment was making less and less sense to me. The teachings of Jesus didn’t align with the conservative politics we were expected to support; the hostility to modern science was something I couldn’t really get behind. The cognitive dissonance required to maintain these contradictory beliefs became more than I could handle. 

The final straw for me came in my mid-20’s. I had tried to leave and found myself pulled back in several times, usually because I was going through a rough time and needed comfort. I was feeling myself pulled in two different directions constantly, torn between what I had been taught to believe was right, and what my own reason, desire and consciousness were telling me.

A woman in my church came up to me one day and said “I have a word from the Lord for you.” I performed a mental eyeroll, because in my experience, that usually meant I was going to hear some kind of moralistic admonishment. 

But instead she quoted Jesus in John 10:10, “I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly,” and told me to meditate on it.

I did. I decided that whatever I was experiencing was not abundant life. I was constantly obsessing over every little decision, questioning whether it was in alignment with God’s will or not, and I was sick of it. So I left. For a while after that, I would constantly ask myself the question, “Is this abundant life?” and if the answer was no, I said “F#^% it, I’m moving on.”

 

Your questions and seeking heart led you to what many of us called the ‘emerging church’ conversation – that’s when we first met! You were a mover and shaker in the emergent ‘scene’ – what did this path offer you that your earlier Christianity didn’t? And what were the drawbacks?

Yeah, I can’t believe that’s over ten years ago! It was so nice to find a group of people that were also questioning and deconstructing like I was, who had grown up with similar experiences. At the same time, it tended to be heavily male and heavily academic. While the intellectual conversation was welcome after what felt like the determined anti-intellectualism of the evangelical church, it started to feel increasingly disconnected from anything practical.

On more than one occasion I would find myself in a pub with a bunch of dudes all trying to impress whatever emergent Christian celebrity happened to be in town on a speaking gig. Sometimes they would get in a heated back and forth and I wanted to pull out a ruler, slap it on the table and say “Let’s settle this now.”

Eventually, after all the deconstruction, a lot of us were left asking – “What now?” 

Because the postmodern analysis didn’t really provide us tools for actual re-construction. I missed the sense of meaning and purpose I had when I was evangelical, as well as the embodied mysticism and sense of enchantment. I don’t think I understood that at the time. I didn’t know how to articulate it, but something was missing.

Another thing that I only see in retrospect, was how many people were really suffering from trauma in that space. Nowadays there are books about religious and spiritual trauma, but that wasn’t really something we were talking about just yet. There was a lot of unhealthy coping with alcohol— practically every event took place at a bar. I remember being at a party where a guy who was somewhat well known in that world got really drunk and started getting touchy and hitting on me….in front of his wife.

Nowadays, the people who are going through this have so many more resources. There are a lot more female voices, there are more resources for addressing the psychological and emotional issues, and there’s more emphasis on spiritual practices like meditation as opposed to pure theologizing. I like to think that’s because we opened the way for it.

 

Your emergent disaffection eventually led you to the shores of contemplative spirituality – practices like centering prayer, the more mystical side of Christianity. What was this like? And, was this enough?

There were a lot of people who were just giving up, and moving on to full-on atheism and agnosticism. But I knew that my life just worked better when I believed that something out there cared about me and had my back. Someone gave me The Meaning of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Bourgeault, and it blew my mind. I didn’t understand everything she was talking about in that book, but I wanted to. I was very compelled by a more feminine and contemplative approach to Christianity.

I started reading Richard Rohr and Thomas Keating, and practicing Centering Prayer. And that truly changed my life. It gave me a framework for belief that was beyond the rational without being anti-rational. And the practice was very grounding and healing for me. I really felt that I was finally coming into alignment with my soul in some way. Like I had a sense of who I was, and that I belonged in the world.

I also began having more what I would call psychic experiences. I had experienced a few of these before, though I would have understood it as “just” the Holy Spirit. Which I still did, in some ways. But they started getting more intense and more frequent. 

I ended up moving into an intentional community of activists that also practiced Centering Prayer. And I did a lot more meditation, including Buddhist. I got really into a scene of activist, Inter-spiritual contemplatives. And that was also wonderful in many ways.

But again, it was dominated by men, and tended to have a heavily Buddhist and Christian influence. There’s so much patriarchy in both of these religions. There was a lot of focus on “dissolving” or “surrendering” the ego in a way that felt unhealthy. A lot of shaming of desire and agency and emotion.

I was experiencing a lot of energetic body phenomena when I would meditate— what some people might call Kundalini awakening. I would ask instructors how to deal with it, and they would always tell me to just “let it go” or “be equanimous.” And when it came to the psychic phenomena, they tended to say, “just ignore it” and “don’t get engaged in it.”

But I really felt like there was something I was supposed to do with it, with both of those things. Powerful energy was being released in my mind and body; I needed to learn how to channel it. But nobody could tell me how to do that. Unfortunately, Centering Prayer and mindfulness don’t know the first thing about how to do that. There are many yogic traditions, and some traditions in Buddhism that do, but they tend to be more esoteric. I should say there are a few in Christianity, but they are very esoteric.


So how did you deal with this?

Well, I had a dream telling me to move to Puget Sound, on the coast of Washington State. And I knew that when I got there, I would find a teacher who would help me. So I did. 

That began what I call my “going to Hogwarts” phase. Within a week of moving to Tacoma, WA, I was introduced to a psychic teacher. She had a year-long development program beginning the following week, and I had two days to decide whether to enroll. Moving forward was one of the best decisions I ever made. 

Not only did I learn to develop my intuition, but I also learned a form of meditation that taught me how to channel the energy in my body. I started studying astrology, energy healing, magic, and other esoteric skills. And it was so fun! I no longer felt like spirituality was about trying to fix my hopelessly broken self; instead it was about discovering my gifts, developing skill and power and purpose.

That’s not to say that it hasn’t been healing, or that I haven’t had to confront some of my issues. But when you’re putting the emphasis on positive and pleasurable development, it becomes easier to let go of old wounds

How would you describe your current path?

I still identify as Christian, although for me that’s a cultural and ancestral identity as much as a spiritual one. I feel a responsibility to help heal what’s broken within Christianity as well as the damage it’s caused to the world at large. One of the biggest pieces of this is the denial and subjugation of the feminine, the body, and the earth. I have zero interest in preserving any kind of doctrinal orthodoxy or the church as an institution.

What I am interested in is how we look at our history to understand where we’ve come from, what has shaped us, asking what will serve us moving forward. For me, a lot of this means reclaiming feminine expressions of God— not just for women, but for all of us— and integrating more animist and pantheist practices that allow us to see the world around us as full of intelligent spirits capable of being in relationship. When we look at the history of how Christianity was practiced by common people and what got suppressed in “official” versions, there’s actually a wonderful diversity of beliefs and practices available to us. I really believe at this point that the fate of the planet rests on recovering these capacities.

Western civilization is responsible for the destruction and degradation of the planet, and it largely rests on a Christian foundation. I believe that a radical-reimagining of spiritual understanding and praxis is necessary to shift the course we’re on. And because Christianity is my ancestral lineage, I feel I have a responsibility to show up for that. To quote Rosemary Radford Ruether in her book Gaia and God:

 “Our kinship with all earth creatures is global, linking us to the whole living Gaia today. It also spans the ages, linking our material substance with all the beings that have gone before us on earth and even to the dust of exploding stars. We need new psalms and meditations to make this kinship vivid in our communal and personal devotions.”

On a practical level, my personal practice is much more magical and pagan as well as Christian. I do have several altars I maintain at any time, depending on the spirits I’m working with. Right now, that’s a small altar for my ancestors, another for the goddess Hekate, who helped me break some of my toxic programming from Christianity, and one dedicated to Mary and the saints — Jesus is on that altar, but I give Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene more prominence.

There’s a tremendous amount of assistance and guidance available to us through Mary. She has undoubtedly served as a survival of earlier goddess traditions throughout Christian history, and I had a profound experience with her several years ago. She has really been upping her appearances in recent years, to people all over the world, because she knows what’s coming. And the saints are really an ancestral veneration practice for Christians. It’s a shame Protestants threw all that out.

I usually pray the rosary and meditate in the morning, and perform a ritual and mantra with Hekate at night. The spirit world — all these older forms of gods and goddesses, our ancestors, and especially Mary, are really wanting to assist us right now. They know we’re at a crucial point in our history.

 

What’s been the biggest breakthrough you’ve experienced on this path – something within your life that you couldn’t have imagined when you were embedded in restrictive Christianity?

Learning to tap into and trust my essential desire, and to believe that it is inherently good. Desire is really the compass we are given to follow our own unfolding spiritual development. It’s how we discern and live into our purpose, and when we teach people to mistrust it or suppress it…it’s one of the worst things you can do, and frankly, it’s the reason we’re in this mess.

The truth is, when we get past the surface level cravings and the things we’ve been taught to desire, what most everyone wants deep down is to live in authenticity to self, reciprocity with others and to have a sense of purpose and belonging. To know that they have a gift to offer that will be received. We really do want what’s best for ourselves and what’s best for the world. But it takes peeling off a lot of layers to get there. 

 

What’s been the hardest thing to let go of from toxic religion, and/or a codependent relationship with ‘Jesus’? 

Letting go of “shoulds” and “oughts.” When I started working with Hekate, I would ask her questions like “should I do A or B?” And she would come back at me with, “well, what do you want? Tell me what you want and I’ll tell you the best way to get there.” That was so radical for me, and took a lot of getting used to. The idea that a deity might value my own will and desire and want to help me achieve it.

So many of the people I work with are suffering under the burden of shoulds and oughts. They’ve been taught that they should strive to be as much like Jesus as possible or follow scripture in a literal way, because that’s the only way to fix what’s wrong with them. Or they’ve been taught to conform to capitalist notions of security, productivity and usefulness.

So they want to explore shamanic healing, or magical practice, or their sexuality, but they can’t get past the fear and shame. Or they want to quit their jobs and find something more meaningful, but they’re afraid of losing their pension or getting pushback from family who won’t understand.

Activists are another group I sometimes see — the levels of judgement and shame that are created in communities that are supposed to be liberatory is tragic.

 

What’s one thing you’ve kept from Jesus and/or Christianity that you regard as healthy? 

Jesus was an OG DGAF badass magician. I love when he says “you have to lose your own life to find it.” People hear that and think it’s about becoming a martyr. It’s not. It’s about letting go of the things you think you need for safety and security so you can tap into a deeper level of power and authenticity. It’s about setting fire to everything that’s holding you back and becoming pure flame. And if they kill you for it, well, at least you’ve lived your life to the fullest and been true to your purpose.

 

What guidance would you offer others on this path — those who have begun doing the work of deconstructing harmful beliefs, but who are wondering how to rebuild with grace and power?

There’s so much I could say, but I would start with following your desire and your curiosity, and don’t be afraid to really mess up — that’s where all the real learning and growth comes from. Explore traditions and practices outside of your own — it’s hard to see what’s missing in Christianity and what’s really possible without this perspective.

Focus less on what makes sense from a rational perspective, and ask instead what works? What actually helps you feel more grounded, more alive, and more purposeful? What helps you trust that you are inherently worthy, that you belong here?

When developing a relationship with any spirit or deity, you should start with beings that show kindness, care, and want the best for you. If a spirit only ever tells you what you want to hear and never challenges you, you’re probably only talking to yourself. But they should challenge out of love. And they should respect your boundaries. The same goes for people — any teacher, guide, or mentor should do the same.

It’s okay to be syncretic — i.e., mix and match — but you do have to show respect. If you are drawn to the goddess Kali, great, but I recommend finding out more about the actual tradition, learning from people in that lineage, or engaging specific practices of devotion to her.

First of all, this approach allows you to do it in a way that’s respectful and not appropriative. But also, tradition has real power. When millions of people across time have been chanting the same mantras or prayers and performing the same rituals, there is a tremendous reservoir of energy you can draw upon when you do the same. Not to mention, there are aspects of traditions that might not make sense until you experience them. Genuine spiritual practice will be challenging at times. Once you have a deeper understanding, you can start to jailbreak it. 

And finally, even if you’ve left Christianity, consider re-engaging when you’re ready. If you have a long ancestral history with a religion, there is a lot of support and power available to you through it. And I believe healing the Christian imagination, theology, and praxis is a necessary part of healing the world. We need bold, grounded, courageous people to help do it. And not just seminary professors and ordained ministers. Institutional Christianity is dying, along with capitalism. Whatever comes next will have to be rooted in land and community. It will be less hierarchical, and less academic. There will always be a need for leaders, but we will all be growing into our own unique leadership, and supporting one another in that.

How can people learn more about you, and work with you?

My website is www.rebekahberndt.com, I have some essays on Medium, and a Facebook group where people can connect with me, Christo-Pagan Sages and Mages. And I’m on Instagram @raberndt.

I offer psychic aura readings, astrological readings, and spiritual coaching. But what I’m really excited about is my upcoming course, Initiation, the first offering in what I’m calling the School For Magical Purpose, starting May 4th. It’s my attempt to respond to the current moment we’re in — all the fear and uncertainty caused by the climate crisis and now COVID-19. When the things we’ve been relying on for security fall apart, it can be really terrifying. But it’s also the moment when a radically new world becomes possible. Death leads to rebirth. The tomb is also a womb. It’s not a guarantee that what comes next will be something better, but it’s possible, if we choose to commit to it.

I’m teaching what I believe are essential skills for navigating this time. How to create a spirituality that works for you, how to open up intuitive capacities, how build collaborative relationships with other forms of intelligence (i.e., spirits), how to stare into your deepest fear, receive its wisdom, and emerge on the other side with a renewed sense of power and purpose, and how to start manifesting your deepest desires.

 

Just that, huh? : )   It’s like a real-life Hogwarts! Sounds awesome.

Thanks, I think so! People who can practice these things will become the leaders that carry us into the future.

The School for Magical Purpose: Initiation will take place over 12 weeks, and the lessons will be live, but I’ve recorded a preliminary orientation lesson that is available for free. You can download the full lesson, with practices and guided mediation, here


So there you have it.

If you find yourself de-constructing the religion you grew up with, how are you doing it?

And what are your initial perceptions of Rebekah’s spiritual path? Is there anything here that deeply resonates with you – or scares you?

Would you consider participating in something like a School for Magical Purpose, as you’re re-constructing a spirituality that actually works for you?

9 Responses to From Fundamentalism to Magical Purpose: Rebekah Berndt on Healing the Christian Lineage

  1. Therese Craine Bertsch April 28, 2020 at 4:25 pm #

    An interesting account of a personal journey. I find the development of centering prayer and mindfulness all over our world fascinating from the perspective of Teilhard. He spoke about the development of co-reflection circles.

    While there are many saints and ordinary contemplatives and believers that have rare and unusual spiritual experiences, many worshipping communities tend to focus on “charity” and “consciousness”, rather than extraordinary experiences.Teresa of Avila’s levitations distracted and annoyed her. These are interesting concepts to think about. I’m inclined to think Thomas Keating was ahead of the game in conscious understanding of religious and spiritual experience. Mindfulness is a practice to bring the cognitive work into the body, and heal the brain, enabling us to be more present to realities.”

    R Berndt states: “Unfortunately, Centering Prayer and mindfulness don’t know the first thing about how to do that. There are many yogic traditions, and some traditions in Buddhism that do, but they tend to be more esoteric. I should say there are a few in Christianity, but they are very esoteric.”

    Having prayed with large groups of people during centering prayer, who practice twice a day 7 days a week I have a different view. With great frequency the members state centering prayer has changed their lives and vision of life. They are more loving and connected and present in their relationship with God. That’s a pretty resounding affirmation of the value many people throughout our world find in other forms of prayers and meditation. Trauma specialists know mindfulness exercises can heal different areas of the traumatized brain. It is wonderful to experience the relief people feel from the practice,and the transformation of those who practice centering prayer. The pathway of our spiritual lives can take many directions.

    • Rebekah A Berndt April 28, 2020 at 6:48 pm #

      It’s not only worshipping communities, but even the monastic contemplative communities that tend to focus on charity and a general benevolent sort of consciousness at the expense of non-ordinary or extraordinary states of consciousness. I have no doubt Teresa found her experiences annoying, because she had nobody to teach her how to manage them. To quote a recent podcast I listened to, “St. Teresa didn’t have good spiritual hygeine.”

      unfortunately Christians have not been terribly interested in exploring these extraordinary potentials because to do so would threaten the hierarchy. So when people begin to experience them, there’s very little assistance to offer when it comes to cultivating and integrating them in an appropriate manner.

      This is essentially what the late Pat Johnson, one of the founders of Contemplative Outreach and longtime director of the 10 day intensives told me when I did my own 10-day at Snowmass several years ago. That when it came to Kundalini experiences, Centering Prayer and Christianity as a whole didn’t have much to say beyond “let it go” and that I would have to look outside the Christian Tradition for that information.

      You say “Having prayed with large groups of people during centering prayer, who practice twice a day 7 days a week I have a different view…” I don’t dispute any of the things you say in the rest of the paragraph. I admit in the interview that I found Centering Prayer transformative and experienced many benefits from it. I still meditate daily, as I said in the interview.

      But I’m talking about something more than simply being more loving, connected, and present, or even healing trauma. I’m talking about cultivating spiritual power. The kind that can be used to communicate with non-human and extra-human entities (i.e., spirits). The kind that can be used to heal and manifest change in the world. The kind that Jesus cultivated and indigenous shamans cultivate and that the church taught us to fear.

  2. JOHN T. SHEA April 28, 2020 at 4:47 pm #

    Interesting, but:-
    “Western civilization is responsible for the destruction and degradation of the planet, and it largely rests on a Christian foundation.”

    NOBODY can destroy or degrade the planet, even if they wanted to. They can only change the planet to a very limited extent, compared to the vast natural processes always changing it, and only a small part of human-induced change can be judged as harmful, and even that only from a human point of view. Unfortunately, it seems Ms Berndt has exchanged one Fundamentalism for another.

    “Activists are another group I sometimes see — the levels of judgement and shame that are created in communities that are supposed to be liberatory is tragic.”
    All too true!

  3. Joanne Wohlmuth April 28, 2020 at 11:44 pm #

    I appreciate Ms Brendt’s journey and read with compassion the woundedness she has had to undergo as a Christian or ex-Christian to arrive at where she is now…blessings on your search for truth!

    However as Fr. Richard says always, “if it is true it is always true!”. This I understand also from my yoga teacher and guru Sri Swami Satchidananda. He would alway say “Truth is one, paths are many!”.

    My meditation study and practice from the yogic tradition, the Buddhist tradition and now from the Christian tradition, has led me to believe and know from experience – ” meditation is meditation”. The mystical experience too ( I know from my own practice) can be had in any tradition if you go deep enough.

    If we sink deep enough and connect the dots we come to learn “everything belongs”.

    Blessings!

  4. Susan April 29, 2020 at 9:28 am #

    I love this

  5. Melix April 29, 2020 at 2:59 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your precious journey. Your growing consciousness of the myriad human contradictions and imperfections projected on our religious and spiritual understandings surely resonates with countless others who are questioning and exploring their foundational spiritual experiences and upbringing.

    You rightly point out some of the shortcomings of the male-dominated Christian/Buddhist contemplative traditions, and I think this area of the Feminine neglect is of utmost importance. However, true healing in this area will ultimately need to be a joint project even if time “apart” to deconstruct is a necessary step in the healing process. How else could union with “Other/other” happen?

    I am particularly intrigued by your energetic experiences during your contemplative exploration and how they have played out. Knowing the difference between “Pranotthana”(pranic energy surges or sensations), kundalini awakening, the Holy Spirit, or simply being opened up to the psychic realm require careful discernment as each are distinct, with potentially different purposes, applications and outcomes. Many people erroneously equate (and I’m not implying you do) the psychic realm with the transcendent realm; however, this is not the understanding in Eastern religions, who have a long history of exploring the more subtle created realms. Ken Wilber has also articulated this in his work as the “pre-trans-fallacy”, referencing Jung and Freud. Pre-rational consciousness and trans-rational consciousness are not equivalent. I’m interested in what this attraction to the magical level of consciousness is grabbing at in those living “post-modernly” and what this means in the evolution of consciousness in general.

    I notice quite a bit lately in these “alternatively seeking” spiritual groups, Christian or otherwise, groups attracted to “magic” and “power” concepts. I do believe this is largely a cultural phenomenon that has been waxing and waning over the last century or so and manifests in different movements and entertainment trends. I find that Evelyn Underhill sums up rather succinctly the difference between magic and mysticism as where the the energy’s purpose is directed, magic back at the individual self and mysticism toward the will of God. I have found similar ideas in Taoism and Hinduism (not Westernized Yoga) as well. I think this would have to remain central in pursuing a Christian spirituality. In the end, I think it’s good to question and explore these spiritual boundaries, for it is in this exploration we can grow most.

  6. Jeff April 30, 2020 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi, Rebekah,

    I realized a few years ago I had to accept my life as moving through mystery with fuzzy edges around what I perceive as truth. But here is my truth, taken from a post I did years ago on the web.

    At the beginning stages of my conversion to Christianity I had a profound experience. I was spending a weekend at a Trappist monastery. A friend and I entered the church for the first time, We suddenly and simultaneously each had a marked spiritual experience. We stared at each other in shock and surprise. It was the presence of the Holy Spirit, fiery and enlivening. It lasted but a moment. What shocked me most was not the mere fact of experiencing “spirit” (I was used to that in my new age and eastern religious exposure) it was that it simply wasn’t the same spirit as I had encountered in those arenas. I had been taught the cardinal principle that God or Spirit or the Absolute in every religion, despite different approaches and words, was the same in essence. I could no longer think that, based on my experience and what I was reading in the Bible. I was undone. Unless I reinterpreted and redefined the words of the Bible in the light of systems alien to the Bible – making it say things it doesn’t. – I could no longer blend Christ and Hinduism/Buddhism. I still had a way to go but eventually I left eastern and new age thought behind and became a Trinitarian/Nicene creed believer as that understanding had the best fit to scripture and my own experience of the Three Persons of the Godhead.

    This happened years after the above – I was considering the states of consciousness Buddhism promises will happen if you practice it. I said to myself, “I wonder what the Christian equivalent to them is?” when suddenly I felt the personal love of the Father towards me as an individual unique person. Buddhism doesn’t promise the personal love of God towards you as a human being for eternity. I said to myself, “Wow, that’s better than anything I can get from Buddhism!” Jesus came so we can know the Living God directly and personally beginning in the here and now and continuing for eternity. That’s enough for me. One key difference between New Age/Hinduism/Buddhism and what Jesus gives is the promise of being with God forever as an embodied human. After all, that’s what Jesus is doing right now! Our own spiritual experience here is to be like Christ’s was, in a body walking with the Father filled with the Holy Spirit. Because we have put on Christ by trust and baptism we become sons of God and christs – anointed ones. Of course, Jesus is uniquely THE Son of God and THE Christ as our Savior and the Firstborn among many brethren. We continue this human experience in eternity on a richer, fuller multi-dimensional level, but still in a body with God as Jesus is now in his human nature.

    I can tell from your words your life experience has given you a kind and gracious heart. As a side note I am leading a class next school year at the school I work at for 8-12th grades called “Exploring an Ecological Civilization” I think you would enjoy Climate A New Story by Charles Eisenstein centered around a living earth approach.

    • Rebekah Ann Berndt April 30, 2020 at 1:56 pm #

      Hey Jeff, thanks for your response. I believe that the “unique promises” of Christianity are a product of human beings attempting to create a supreme religion that would rule over all others, just as the Roman empire hoped to rule over all other kingdoms. The notion that Jesus Christ is uniquely THE son of God is rooted in Christian Supremacy. That’s not to say that we can’t find meaning in the new testament stories, despite their entanglement with imperialism, supremacy, and patriarchy. And I do see Jesus as a model for how we can all realize our own divinity.

      And yes, Eisenstein’s is probably the best book I’ve read on the climate in recent years. I’m a big fan of his work.

  7. Todd May 27, 2020 at 7:09 pm #

    Its been 25 years since my experiments in fundamentalism. I can relate somewhat, in that her story reminds me a lot of the first years after I left it behind. But to be honest, and this is not easy to write, but I didn’t see much in the story that points toward healing the Christian lineage. I see simultaneously seeking and avoiding the same elephant in the room that most of the rest of post-modern, emerging and integral Christianity seeks and avoids. In my opinion, an embodied re-illumination of the highest altitudes of Judeo-Christian lineage leads straight into the fields of care-giving, aging, dying and grief, and the mystic practices developed in community around those specific aspects of life. Especially for leaders and elders of whatever new church is attempting to emerge. The entire spectrum of life is most clearly observed and experienced through the end of it. All our theories and maps regarding states and stages meet actual territory here. And we don’t stand on the shoulders of giants by reinventing wheels. There are turquoise veins running throughout religious history, and it involves nurses and midwives. An authentic Integral Christianity will be by necessity married to an authentic renaissance in Integral Medicine. This is where the rubber will finally hit the road, as everyone likes to say. And there are appropriate and vital entry points for every age and stage.
    Obviously, I could go on and on about this hole I see. But my time and space to write is limited. So thanks for reading. I hope this at least stimulates some appropriate friction for a little bit of mutually enlightening interaction. Its often easier to argue than write into empty space.

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