The No Goofy Zone Discernment Ministry

The No Goofy Zone is a discernment ministry for saved born again Christians and all who are seeking the truth.We expose non-biblical trends in the church. We are making material available to advance understanding of issue's which endanger Christianity. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit.

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Former drummer for Gary Lewis and The Playboys and The Coasters. Tim has also played with Paul Baloche, Lincoln Brewster, Darlene Zscech and Hillsongs, Jeff Fenholt, SteveCamp among others. Tim founded The Simply Agape Project in 2001 to get free Christian music to the troops. Recordings have been made with Tim, and friends Alex Acuna, Abe Laboriel SR, Justo Almario,Steve Camp , Jared Ming and some wonderful Independant Christian artists.The Somebody Brave CD also features words of encouragment to the soldiers from Pastors, Moms, Dads, and Lt Col Brian Birdwell a Pentegon 9/11 survivor Tim is married to Donna Wirth and has four children Alan 25,Steven 23, Brittany 22, Bethany 21. Tim has played in numerous churchs as well as shows on TBN. Tim has also performed on JCTV on the show Generation Worship featuring worship leader Jared Ming. Tim has a book published worldwide titled "Pass The Plate And Let Us Prey" (My Search For Black and White Christianity in a Gray Nation)

Friday, February 01, 2008

from the Berean Call

Great information from my friends and brothers and sisters in the Lord at the Berean Call-Tim

Evangelical Mysticism?
T.A. McMahon

I find myself increasingly grieved these days by what I see taking place among those who profess to be evangelicals. I know the term "evangelical" has undergone radical changes regarding its meaning and practice. Yet when I use the term, I'm going by a very simple definition: I'm referring to those who claim to accept the Bible alone as their authority for knowing and receiving God's way of salvation and for living their lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Thirty years ago, it was young adult evangelicals who were used wonderfully by the Lord to help open my eyes to the fact that I was eternally separated from God and that the religious system I was depending on to get me to heaven was a false hope. That wasn't easy for me to accept at the time. Although my commitment to the Roman Catholic Church had weakened during my late twenties, the attitude "I was born a Catholic, I'll die a Catholic" was woven into the fabric of my mind.

As I think back on those days, I recognize that I was a young man in bondage. Certainly, I was in bondage to sin, as is everyone who is not born again. But there was another bondage that also gripped me: the bondage of Roman Catholic tradition, with its sacraments, liturgies, rituals, and sacramentals. Not only were such things unbiblical-they were works of the flesh and devices of demons. In my own life, as well as throughout the history of the Church of Rome, they were soul-gripping superstitions advanced under the guise of spirituality.

I trusted in relics of dead so-called Saints; holy water; making the sign of the cross; votive candles; baptism for salvation (infant or otherwise); a "transubstantiated" piece of bread alleged to be Christ; apparitions of Mary; a scapular; a "miraculous medal"; statues and images of Jesus, Mary, and the saints; endless Rosaries, Novenas, the Stations of the Cross; abstaining from meat on Friday; Lenten abstinences; the Last Rites to get me into Purgatory and indulgences to get me out of Purgatory; Mass cards; graces dispensed from Mary; the confessional, with absolution of my sins by a priest; penance and personal suffering to purify me of my sin; worshiping a piece of bread at the Eucharistic Holy Hour; the Holy Father as the Vicar of Christ on earth, etc., etc. Therein lies a bondage that few evangelicals understand.

Many brush these things aside as non-essentials of the Christian faith or minor theological aberrations unique to Catholicism. Not true. They are essential to the gospel that Rome declares-a gospel of meritorious works that the Bible condemns (see Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, et al.) as a rejection of the completed substitutionary atonement of Christ our Savior. Catholicism's Tradition, which is declared to be equal in authority to Scripture, is made up of those things (such as cited above) that are necessary for, or supportive of, a Catholic's entrance into heaven.

According to the Word of God, anything that is added to Christ's finished work on the cross is a denial of the gospel: that Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of humanity.

The Roman Catholic Church, which claims infallibility in its Councils and theological teachings, clearly and emphatically denies the biblical gospel. The Council of Trent declares:

6th Session, Canon 9: If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification...let him be anathema.
6th Session, Canon 12: If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema.
6th Session, Canon 30: If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.
7th Session, Canon 4: If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [canons and decrees of the Church] are not necessary for salvation but...without obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification...let him be anathema.

"Anathema," in these decrees (which are still in force), damns to hell anyone who rejects the Roman Catholic Church's false gospel of works.

Starting with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, where only superficial changes were made (because infallible dogmas cannot be changed!), Rome launched an ecumenical program aimed at seducing Protestants worldwide and, specifically, evangelicals in the United States. The goal was and is to bring all of Christendom under the rule of the Roman Catholic Church with the pope as its spiritual head. Predictable progress has been made in Europe and the U.S. among liberal denominations that have long abandoned the Scriptures. Astonishing, however, is the success the scheme has had among American evangelicals.

Billy Graham was the first and most notable evangelical to support Catholicism's ecumenical efforts. Others followed, including Bill Bright, Pat Robertson, J. I. Packer, Timothy George, Robert Schuller, Hank Hanegraaff, Benny Hinn, and Jack Van Impe. Evangelicals and Catholics Together, under the leadership of Chuck Colson and Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus, declared Catholics and evangelicals to be "brothers and sisters in Christ" and exhorted them to work together in spreading the gospel. Obviously, and conveniently, that gospel was never defined.

Although the acceptance of things Roman Catholic among evangelicals grew steadily over the years after Vatican II, it increased exponentially with the popularity of ultra-conservative Catholic Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. His dramatization of one of Catholicism's most sacred rituals, The Stations of the Cross, so captured the hearts of evangelicals that their eagerness to purchase mass quantities of tickets accounted for the movie's great financial success. Following that achievement, Inside the Vatican made this insightful observation: "For evangelicals, the film has given them a glimpse inside the Catholic soul, even the traditional Catholic soul. Many evangelicals, reflecting on what they saw in the movie, say they are beginning to 'get' the whole Catholic thing: Lent...the ashes on the meat on Friday...the sorrowful mysteries...the Stations of the Cross...the emphasis on the Eucharist...the devotion to Mary...the enormous crucifix hanging above every Catholic altar. They may not be rushing out to buy rosaries, necessarily, but some of the things no longer seem so strange, so alien."1

What evangelicals also "got," which their leaders enthusiastically endorsed as "biblically accurate," were numerous scenes based upon the imagination of an 18th-century Catholic mystic, the portrayal of Mary as co-redemptrix in the salvation of mankind, and a very Catholic gospel that has Christ atoning for sin by suffering the unrelenting physical tortures of the
Roman soldiers.2

The Passion of the Christ had a stunning effect on evangelical youth and youth pastors. Not only did "[Catholic] things no longer seem so strange, so alien," but they were showing up in the youth ministries of evangelical churches. The Stations of the Cross ritual became popular, although it needed to be downsized from 14 stations to 11, eliminating some stations that were too foreign to Scripture (such as Saint Veronica capturing the image of Christ's bloodied face on her veil). Prayer altars were erected, featuring icons illuminated by candles and fragranced by burning incense, and prayer labyrinths were painted on large tarps placed in church basements or cut into church lawns. For young evangelicals too often raised on empty, repetitive worship choruses little different from secular music, and religious instruction leaning heavily upon entertainment to keep them interested, the Catholic and Orthodox liturgies seemed far more spiritual.

This all became "spiritual" fodder for the Emerging Church Movement (ECM), much of it a reaction against the consumer-oriented marketing approach to church growth popularized by Robert Schuller, Bill Hybels, and Rick Warren. Many ECM leaders, most of whom have evangelical backgrounds, saw Catholic ritual and mysticism as a necessary spiritual ingredient that was lost for evangelicals at the Reformation. Sola Scriptura was a major rallying cry of the Reformers against the abuses stemming from Roman Catholic tradition; the Bible as one's only authority practically shut down the influence of the Catholic mystics known as the Desert Fathers.

Yet Catholic mysticism has returned with a vengeance. Its occult techniques can be found nearly everywhere, from Youth Specialities to Richard Foster's Renovaré organization to Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. "Many Christian leaders started searching for a new approach under the banner of 'spiritual formation.' This new search has led many of them back to Catholic contemplative practices and medieval monastic disciplines," Brian McLaren writes approvingly.

Tony Jones, co-editor of An Emergent Manifesto of Hope has written a manifesto of mysticism for emerging churches titled The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life. Jones's acknowledgement of those who supported his effort reads as a Who's Who of emergent leaders, not to mention the Catholic priests he thanks and the ancient Orthodox and Catholic mystics he quotes. What then is this mysticism they are promoting?

Catholic mysticism is thoroughly subjective and experiential. Like its parent, Eastern mysticism, it claims that God can neither be known nor understood through human reason but only experienced subjectively through various techniques. It is the antithesis of what the Bible teaches: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 1:18); "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7); "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him" (2 Peter 1:3). Furthermore, the goal of mysticism is union with God, i.e., the merging of one's soul into God. This is an impossibility that reveals mysticism's pantheistic and panentheistic roots, that God is everything and is in everything. No. God is infinite and transcendent, absolutely separate from His finite creation.

The Sacred Way endorses numerous mystical techniques that are gaining acceptance among evangelicals today. An awareness and understanding of them is therefore critical for discernment. Centering Prayer utilizes a single word (e.g., "love" or "God") upon which one focuses to clear the mind of all other thoughts. The belief is that the so-called pray-er will hear directly from God in his silence before Him. Tony Campolo declares, "In my case intimacy with Christ has developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholic mystics call 'centering prayer.' Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time-sometimes as much as a half hour-to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter up my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say."3

The Jesus Prayer has the pray-er repeat a sentence such as "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me" continuously, hundreds-even thousands-of times. The repetition supposedly fixates one's mind upon Jesus. Yet it blatantly rejects His command not to use vain repetition in prayer as the heathen do (Matthew 6:7). Moreover, its constant repetitions turn prayer as a form of communication with Jesus into an act of nonsense.

Lectio Divina, meaning "sacred reading," is a technique that is far removed from normal reading and studying of the Bible. Its methodology aims at going beyond the objective meaning of the words and the straightforward instructions to that which transcends normal awareness. Jones writes, "As you attend to those deeper meanings, begin to meditate on the feelings and emotions conjured up in your inner self."4 He then summarizes this mystical contemplative technique: "True contemplation moves beyond words and intellect and into that 'thin space' where time and eternity almost touch. It's in moments like these that some of the greatest [Catholic] saints in the history of the [Catholic] church have had a 'mystical union' with Christ."5 It's clear from God's Word that the spirit with which they had a "mystical union" in their contemplative altered state of consciousness was not Jesus.

Ignatian Examen is an occult visualization technique taught by Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in the 16th century. His exercise teaches one to visualize oneself in the presence of Jesus and then interact with Him during his earthly events, e.g., "at the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the cross, and laying Jesus' body in the tomb."6 This has one adding content to Scripture from his imagination and opens a person to demonic manipulation (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8).

Prayer Labyrinths are concentric paths created by the Catholic Church in the 13th century to experience in one's imagination Christ's Via Dolorosa, or "walk of sorrows," when He carried His cross to Calvary's hill. Rather than subject themselves to the dangers of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem during Holy Week, Roman Catholics in Europe could gain the same indulgences (to shorten their time in Purgatory) by walking labyrinths at certain cathedrals while prayerfully meditating upon Christ's crucifixion. Likewise, observing the "sacred" ritual of the Stations of the Cross became a substitute for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

As a former Catholic, it's hard for me to fathom the evangelical church buying into the religious occultism of Roman Catholicism. It makes no sense. Visit any country where that religion is taken seriously. What becomes obvious is a people who are in the bondage of superstition. On the other hand, I shouldn't be surprised. Apostasy is growing rapidly, the religion of the Antichrist is taking shape, and mysticism, whether it's the Catholic variety, the Sufism of Islam, yoga and the gurus of Eastern mysticism, the Shamanism of native religions, or otherwise, is a common yet powerful magnet that draws all religions together.

We need to be watchmen on the wall as we see this evil invading the church, warning especially-should our Lord delay His return-our next generation of believers. They are the clear targets of this mystical seduction. tbc


Correction from January 2008 "Quotable": Hugh Latimer, most fruitful evangelist in England at the time, preaching to more than 1,000 sitting on the grass at Whitehall, residence of King Edward VI, the "British Josiah." Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer were among several hundred protestants burned at the stake by Edward's half-sister, "Bloody Mary," awarded the throne in the place of Lady Jane Grey, the previous queen. Mary had Lady Jane Grey beheaded. She then sought to turn England back to Catholicism.

Follow-up Quote:

The last words of Lady Jane Grey, age 16, at her beheading, February 12, 1554, having refused freedom if she embraced Catholicism. From the scaffold she spoke earnestly to the spectators: "Good people, touching the procurement of the crown on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof before God. I did not desire it....Bear me witness...I do look to be saved by no other means, but by the mercy of God in the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ...and I confess when I did know the word of God, I neglected the same, loved myself and the world, and thereby this...punishment is worthily happened to me, and yet I thank God that in His goodness He hath thus given me time to repent."

Kneeling down, she asked permission and quoted all of Psalm 57. It begins, "Be merciful unto me, O God...for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge...."

Laying her head on the block, she said, "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
The British Josiah, N. A. Woychuk, Gen. Ed., 120-22


Question: I believe we are born into sin and with a sin nature but are not sinners from birth. Although David said he was conceived in sin, he did not say he was born a sinner. I can tell a group of adults and teenagers that we are all sinners but not a group of small children.

Response: That depends upon what you mean by "small children." Put a plate of cookies on a table in front of a group of children, no matter how small, and watch each of them grab what small hands will hold and push others out of the way to get them! But that innate selfishness (which is a major sign of a sin nature) does not send them to hell when they are still toddlers.
When his baby son born to Bathsheba died, David knew he was with the Lord, not in hell: "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Sm 12:22,23). Though a baby's sin nature manifests itself almost from birth, the baby lacks the understanding to make it morally responsible and it will not be punished for what it commits in innocence.

Question: I admire what you've done to silence the awful teachings of Calvin. But in your latest Berean Call you again just cite 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 as the gospel as though one verse will suffice. Paul said that those items were "amongst things of first importance." But what has happened to the gospel as defined and preached by Jesus? Why don't you start by defining the gospel as Jesus did in Mark 1:14-15? Luke 4:43 ought to be our mission statement, since it was Jesus'. For Paul, that same "Kingdom of God" gospel is still the heart of everything (Acts 28:23, 31). Hebrews 2:3 makes Jesus the model preacher of the gospel, but evangelicals have forgotten this.

Response: We've corresponded about this before and we both remain firm in our beliefs. Nevertheless, I'll try once again. I cite 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 because there Paul more clearly and fully spells out the gospel in detail than is done anywhere else in the Bible: "...which I preached unto received...wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved...that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures...was buried...rose again the third day according to the scriptures...was seen...."
In Mark 1:14-15 Christ offers Himself as king to Israel, "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God...the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." He certainly does not, however, define or explain the "gospel of the kingdom." Nor does He do so in Luke 4:43.
So we need to define the "gospel of the kingdom," and that is where we differ. Paul says the gospel he preached and declares so clearly in 1 Corinthians 15 is what he "received." From those who were apostles before him? No, but from the Lord himself. The fact that Paul knew what he knew of the gospel, and following Christ by extensive direct contact with the risen Lord, is very clear from Galatians 1:7-9, 11-19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

The "gospel of the kingdom" that Jesus and the disciples preached at that time and the miracles that He did to confirm it were specifically for Israel. During His time on earth, Christ said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 15:24); "I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities [obviously in Israel] also: for therefore am I sent" (Lk 4:43). John chapter 4 indicates that Samaritans were apparently included.

Something changed at the Cross: not the gospel but those to whom it was to be preached. Christ sent His disciples where He had avoided going: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk 16:15). This is our commission today. With Paul and the other apostles, "we preach Christ crucified" (1 Cor 1:23) to Jew and Gentile.

Christ is the king not only of Israel but also of the universe. We are calling the lost from "every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rv 5:9) to enter the kingdom under the lordship of Christ-a kingdom not headquartered in Jerusalem and pertaining only to Israel but headquartered in heaven and preached worldwide. We preach what Paul preached: "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21) to everyone who will heed the call.

Question: Does God have a distinct role for Gentile and for Jewish believers during the Millennium?

Response: Jewish believers who are not part of the church (i.e., did not believe in Christ until they saw Him in the glory of His Second Coming) will inhabit the complete land of Israel (Gn 15:18-21; 17:7,8; 1 Chr 16:15-18, etc.), where Christ will rule over them and the world from the restored throne of David in Jerusalem.
Gentiles who have become believers will live in the rest of the earth as part of what will still be known even in the eternal "new heaven earth" (Rv 21:1) as "the nations of them which are saved" (21:24).

Question: You have criticized Islam's sponsorship of terrorism and have asked the question, "What kind of God gives entrance into paradise and rewards for killing innocent women and children?"

Unbelievers also could say that the God of the Bible commands murder: Deuteronomy 2:34, 13:12-16; Joshua 8:25; 1 Samuel 27:8; Numbers 31. God commanded destruction of entire populations, cultures, and people. How can you condemn Allah and not Yahweh?

Response: Israel was not commanded to take over the entire world and to kill all who resisted (as Allah commanded Muhammad) but was given a specific land because of the extreme evil and demonization of its people. Israel was not commanded to "convert" them, much less with the sword, but to kill them all because God deemed that necessary and just.

All but one of the scriptures you cite involve the land of Canaan, which God promised to Israel but delayed giving to them because the people were not evil enough to justify their destruction: "The iniquity of the Amorites [i.e. Canaanites] is not yet full" (Gn 15:16). Deuteronomy 2:34 pertains to the destruction of the Amorites. God did not arbitrarily wipe out the Canaanites. The nations who occupied Canaan followed gods, goddesses, serpent worship, lewd fertility cults with prostitute priestesses, and nature religions. The evil of all of these religions is unmentionable. God held back their judgment for many centuries and only released Israel from slavery specifically to wipe them out when he could no longer delay their just punishment.

Deuteronomy 13:15 orders the execution of those who had led Israelites into the worship of false gods, all of whom represented demons. Israel could not be allowed to be seduced into the very thing for which the Canaanites were being destroyed. Joshua 8:25 tells of the destruction of Ai, a Canaanite city, as commanded. In

1 Samuel 27:8, David is slaughtering more Canaanites, all of whom were to be killed by Israel, thus executing God's judgment upon them for their wickedness.

The destruction of the Midianites in Numbers 31 is a different case. They were descendants of Abraham by Keturah, whom he married after Sarah's death. They were not Canaanites, nor were the children of Israel given their land. They had sent their young women to seduce Israel's young men, whom they enticed into immorality and the worship of their gods. God executed this severe punishment to teach His people the seriousness of turning from Him to demonic deities.

Question: I've heard that Awana is drifting toward mysticism in the way they are ministering to children. What do you know about that?

Response: Perspectives on Children's Spiritual Formation is offered by the Rorheim Institute, Awana's leader and parent development network. The book presents four different models on "how faith is cultivated in children," with each author critiquing the three other models. Awana's participation in this "debate" is through Greg Carlson and John Crupper, executives at the Rorheim Institute. They present the "Instructional-Analytical Model," which is basically how Awana goes about teaching children: encouraging them to read, study, and memorize the Scriptures.

Concerns that Awana is "drifting" toward mysticism stem not from what Carlson and Crupper present regarding their organization's approach; that approach is solid and biblical. However, their critique of the "Contemplative-Reflective Model" is far too conciliatory, especially in a book that showcases Catholic mysticism.

In the explanation of the Contemplative-Reflective Model (C-RM), we're told, "This school [of thought] is dominated by contemplative prayer. Centering prayers are typical. Their purpose is to occupy and free the mind so that one can dwell with God"

(p. 37). Wheaton professor Dr. Scottie May, the author of the C-RM, is commended by the editor for "an excellent book [that she co-authored, teaching the] use of contemplation...and guided imagery in programming children's ministry" (p. 38). In Perspectives she writes, "The model seeks to assist them in finding the quiet place within themselves-a place that all children have-where they can sense the presence of God and hear his voice" (p. 46). May recommends "purposefully altering traditional religious education by introducing connatural knowing [i.e., through feelings and intuition] to young children so that they may encounter [emphasis in original] God rather than initially being taught about him" (p. 59).

Although Carlson and Crupper rightly object to some key points in May's mystical model, they naïvely give the impression that the Contemplative-Reflective model has something to offer, even quoting favorably Richard Foster, arguably the foremost advocate of Catholic mysticism in the church. Compounding the confusion, they commend "the Contemplative-Reflective Model [as an] important tool in helping provide a balanced development of the Christian spiritual life" (p. 87). Here they are showing their ignorance of the occultism rooted in mysticism.

Since the Rorheim Institute offers the book to prospective Awana leaders and parents, there's also a grave concern that these leaders and parents will select some of the unbiblical content of the models (including the child-development psychobabble) as helpful to their local programs.

Yet in spite of all of the miscues of Awana's involvement in Perspectives on Children's Spiritual Formation, based upon our correspondence with the organization, we're encouraged that the ministry wants no part of mysticism, other than to be better informed so that it can better defend against it. Hopefully, it will stay true to the Scriptures, which it has done admirably on behalf of our children for six decades.

1. Inside the Vatican, March/April 2004, 24.
2. See T. A. McMahon, Showtime for the Sheep? (The Berean Call, 2004).
3. Tony Campolo, Letters to a Young Evangelical (New York, NY: Perseus Books Group, 2006), 20.
4. Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 53.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid., 92.

News Alert

The Capital Times 11/08/2007: Kid Contemplatives [excerpts]-If gym class helps children tone the body, what helps them exercise the mind? [R]esearchers suggest the ability to be still and contemplate is what can make a positive difference.

In 2008, local middle school students will be among those who participate in a national pilot project that studies the effects of contemplation in the classroom, says Richard Davidson, a University of Wisconsin researcher/neuroscientist (Time magazine selected him as one of the world's 100 Most Influential People of 2006).

"We're still trying to understand how these practices work" scientifically, in a grade K-12 setting, John Dunne of Atlanta's Emory University says. "It seems likely that there are things that can be done to regulate emotions effectively."

Centering prayer, meditation, breath work, chanting, sitting in silence, extended concentration on an object and focusing on positive thoughts and images are examples of contemplative exercises that can be taught. The level of controversy associated with bringing the concept into classrooms in part depends upon the presence of religious overtones.

"In my view, it's not a religious issue," says [Catholic priest and practicing mystic Thomas] Keating, because of the many forms that contemplation can take. "Silence is not denominational, and it can be practiced in a methodical way."

Sitting in silence for 20 minutes, twice a day, "...introduces us to our deeper self," but the academic world "allows no time or place to pursue this" in an organized manner. That includes seminaries, he says.

Like Buddhist meditation, centering prayer for Christians is an age-old religious practice that has experienced a revival....Keating says both practices "transcend the rational mind."

Some of these exercises, although deeply rooted in Eastern and other religions, can be effective and inoffensive in a secular setting, Dunne says. The effort is about using "mental technologies" that have religious origins, not pushing theology.


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