Exhibit A for Explaining the LCWR Report

Symbol for Hubbard's Group

The keynote speaker for the annual conference of the LCWR is New Age quack Barbara Marx Hubbard. If you’ve never heard of her, just try to imagine a combination of Deepak Chopra and Ray Kurzweil with an extra helping of crazy. Her big thing is Conscious Evolution, which is the latest repackaging of “est” with an added transhumanist/post-humanist subtext. Here she is on her website explaining Conscious Evolution, which sounds like a combination of X-Men comics, techno-fetishizing, narcissism, New Age nonsense, paganism, trite bromides, bad grammar, Gnosticism, and good old heresy. (Emphasis added.)


It has become obvious that a creative minority of humanity is undergoing a profound inner mutation or transformation. Evolutionary ideas are not only serving to make sense of this change, but also acting to catalyze the potential within us to transform. (Thought creates; specific thought creates specifically. [?])

It is the planetary crisis into which we were born that is awakening our sleeping potential for transformation. Planet Earth has given birth to a species capable of choosing whether to consciously evolve ourselves and our social forms, or to continue the course we have set toward our own extinction. And the choice is clear.

All great spiritual paths lead us to this threshold of our own consciousness, but none can guide us across the great divide — from the creature human to the cocreative human. [??] None can guide us in managing the vast new powers given us by science and technology. None of us have been there yet.

What we can envision
The enriched noosphere, the thinking layer of Earth, is now replete with evolutionary technologies that can transform the material world. Within the next 30 to 50 years, we could transform our physical bodies, our minds, our social structures, and set in motion the emergence of a new civilization. [So she's a proponent of the singularity, and of the profoundly anti-Christian concept of post-humanism.]

Science: It is said that the power of quantum computing may increase exponentially in the next 50 years bordering on silicon-based life. At the same time biologists studying aging, cloning, and stem cells tell us we may reverse aging and gain a sort of immortality. One scientist writes, “We may live 600 years and only die by accident.”

Moving deeply into the nature of matter, students of zero point energy believe that we can tap into and use the infinite sea of energy that underlies everything. Furthermore, with nanotechnology we can build as nature does—atom by atom.

Expanding beyond the earth itself, space engineers envision the formation of an extraterrestrial sphere, much as hundreds of millions of years ago the biosphere was formed. We can live in an integrated Earth/Space environment restoring the Earth, freeing ourselves from hunger and poverty, exploring the vast untapped potential of human cocreativity.

Social systems: As we shift from maximum procreation to cocreation, the Feminine would be liberated from its restrictive roles, as men and women cocreate in a balanced way for the good of the larger human family. The Masculine would be released from its long-standing roles of patriarch and protector to discover the peace and ease of true relationship and cocreation.

Patterns of unification are set in motion already, as nonprofit, corporate, and governmental alliances are built around countless initiatives. Those that are successful are already witnessing the melting of borders and boundaries that have prevented successful compromise and negotiation in the past. Political events, like the fall of the Berlin wall, are foreshadowing the possibility of unification around the globe, and creating the hope that seemingly insurmountable problems may find yet find solutions.

Spiritual grounding: Jesus said, “These and even greater works shall you do.” We may actually be on the threshold of those abilities that Christ was able to do and that He foresaw as possibilities for us all. Specifically, the ability to use conscious intent, perhaps in conjunction with scientific and technological capacities, will allow us to create bodies sensitive to thought. We may find ourselves transforming the human body from its physical, animal, degenerating phase to a regenerating and evolving phase.

This capability would be the fulfillment of the words of St. Paul: “Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound. This corruptible will become incorruptible. This mortal will put on immortality and death shall be swallowed up in victory.”

This would also be the emergence of what Alan Lithman calls, psyche materialis, and what the Bible calls, Adam of the quickening Spirit. [And so it was written: the first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45).]

Sri Aurobindo named the human being with this ability, the gnostic being; Teilhard de Chardin called it the ultra person; and I have selected the name, universal human and universal humanity. This type of human is a quantum jump beyond the species Homo sapiens. It is a new species that is incubating in millions now.

This is a Naissance; this is new for Earth — but it is not new for the universe. The name universal human is good because it connotes the reality that we are entering the phase of universal life.

Although we may never know what really happened, we do know that the story told in the Gospels is that Jesus’ resurrection was a first demonstration of what I call the post-human universal person. We are told that he did not die. He made his transition, released his animal body, and reappeared in a new body at the next level of physicality to tell all of us that we would do what he did. The new person that he became had continuity of consciousness with his life as Jesus of Nazareth, an earthly life in which he had become fully human and fully divine. Jesus’ life stands as a model of the transition from Homo sapiens to Homo universalis.

Now millions of earthly humans from every spiritual tradition, from many social movements and scientific lineages of human inquiry, are evolving to the stage at which they recognize their soul, their higher self. They are becoming willing, even passionately desire, to be one with that Self. And as a critical mass of humans evolving toward their new capacities arise, humanity will undergo an unprecedented shifting in our entire way of being on this planet.

We are the generations born into this moment in history. Our powers are immense. We can destroy the earth as we know it, or alternatively, transform the material and societal limits of human life. We or our children may actually live to experience either the destruction of our life support systems (with unimaginable consequences for billions of people), or the literal transformation of our bodies from creature human life cycle to cocreative human life cycle. The choice is ours.

Wow. Just … wow. Folks, that’s not merely crazy: that’s weapons-grade crazy. And this is the keynote speaker for the annual conference of the Leadership Council of Women Religious, set for August in St. Louis, Missouri, and based on the theme Mystery Unfolding: Leading in the Evolutionary Now.

This is plain heresy. It’s bad science, bad psychology, bad philosophy, and, most certainly, bad religion, and the LCWR has structured their entire annual conference around its themes.

So do you still have any questions about the need for oversight of the LCWR?

NOTE: Please see the comment section for more on my objections to transhumanism.

Reclaiming Tarot
Transhumanism's "Futurama" Future
Printing a Human Bladder and Kidney
LCWR Responds
About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • http://cleansingfiredor.com/ Thinkling

    Weapons-grade crazy indeed.

    Now I know what intellectual masturbation looks like.

  • http://lincoln.metacannon.net Lincoln Cannon

    Thomas, you say this is bad religion. By that, I assume you mean it’s religion you disagree with? If you actually mean it’s bad religion in some more objective way, will you please elaborate? Similarly, you criticize it for being bad science. What are your reasons? Most of the appeals to science are so vague or speculative that it seems impossible to determine whether it’s bad or not, and there’s an important difference between speculation and being wrong. Speculation is essential to the scientific project, even if we turn out to be wrong in the fine details of most specific speculations. Again, though, it’s hard to tell what those fine details might be here, and it seems clear that compatibility with science is an interest, but not necessarily the details. It’s like speculating 150 years ago that humans would fly. It sounded crazy, and many called it bad science, but the vague idea was arguably correct. For the most part, you souf emotionally opposed to the ideas expressed. If that’s the case, and if you don’t have reasons for why it’s bad religion and bad science, you might consider reframing your criticisms.

  • Jon Zimmer

    And behold, there came a vision of Pierre Teilahrd de Chardin, who sayeth, “please do not immanetize the noosphere, for such is like unto immanetizing the eschaton, fallacious before the wise, a peril to creation, and in the eyes of God, totally bonkers. Seriously, try reading The Phenomenon of Man instead of just using the Cliffs Notes. Sheesh.”

  • MattK

    HA! “…weapons grade crazy…” FTW!

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    I see from your link that you’re the president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, so let’s start from there as an answer to your question about good and bad religion. “Bad religion” can be bad either because of its effect on society, or bad in that it is not Good. Mormonism, for example, is not subjectively bad because it tends to produce citizens and societies who are moral, hardworking, etc. It is, however, objectively bad because it is false. In order for something to be Good, it has to be True, and Mormonism is, quite clearly, based not only on a lie (the golden plates, the Book of Abraham, etc), but on a self-evident and silly lie concocted by Joseph Smith. (Prophets may be wrong in their interpretations of their prophesy, but they don’t lie.)

    I have only been blogging here for a month and thus not outlined my problems with elements of transhumanism and all of post-humanism, and I’m not getting into it all in a combox reply right now. My objections are the same you’ve probably encountered: the idea that humans are just kind of biological computers that can be reprogrammed like so much code without a radical and unpredictable impact on society, economics, psychology, and the human soul; the hubris of playing God; the rise of a wealthy cyber-elite and what these people would do to the rest of humanity who they would come to see as beneath them; the blind faith in limitless technological acceleration; and the gnosticism at the heart of all this, which sees the flesh not an an imago dei, but as an imago diablo, which needs to be fixed by the wisdom of man. It is the eternal whisper of the serpent that we shall be gods if we but eat the fruit. I understand this is not a problem with Mormon theology, since you already see that as part of the plan, but for Christians it is a huge problem.

    The reason I didn’t outline particular objections was that I really didn’t think a mush of neo-Gnosticism, fantasy, jargon, pseudo-est self-actualization nonsense, and heresy really needed a lengthy rebuttal for any orthodox Christian. She’s simply offering the same old heresies with a veneer of techno-utopianism: this idea that SCIENCE!(TM) will seize control of the physical flaws of fallen man and return us to our Edenic state through the proper application of (insert non-existent tech here–eg, brainhacking, genetic enhancement, etc). Much of the transhumanist agenda would require tampering with embryos in an effort to create designer babies with new qualities that some scientist feels is worthwhile, such as the guy who thinks humans should be redesigned to be much shorter so we consume fewer resources. This is a non-starter.

    We’re not talking about treatment of diseases here, or replacement for lost limbs or damaged organs. We’re talking about redesigning human beings, which of course will require a process of trial and error resulting in the destruction and/or harmful mutation of countless children, and all in the interest of … what, exactly? Making us taller, thinner, faster, stronger, smarter? Why? What does humanity gain from that and, more importantly, what does it lose? Tying this all to a warmed over bit of new age happy talk doesn’t make it any more desirable. We are called to pick up our cross and follow Christ, not to fling down our cross and follow the latest fads in genetic tampering and nanotechnology.

  • victor

    Any decent religion has to be at least a little rationally coherent (and this is not), but my biggest problem with this sort of pot-addled gobbledegook is that it’s completely ridiculous beyond any hope one might ever have to parody it.

  • Baltimore Catechesis

    Two images popped unbidden to my mind reading this post:
    1. The little Nazi dude’s head melting at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
    2. Teilhard de Chardin banging his head against a wall, screaming “Quoi? Quoi?”

  • mojo

    Ok, point 1: whenever anybody says “it’s obvious”, it probably isn’t.

  • DonR

    We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…

  • landover

    Is she related to L. Ron Hubbard? It sure seems like it!

  • Alvaro Fernandez

    It’s not just gnosticism. It’s also Aryanism – the belief that Jesus of Nazareth was a perfect man, and the Resurrection was when he was “deified” . And so will we be, when Barbara M Hubbard universal humanity comes about.

    Anyone who wants to see a less comforting take on where science can lead the human person, check out the anime series “Ghost in the Shell.” I dont claim to know the minds of the creators of that series with respect to these topics, but I can tell you that the future they portray is far from being utopic. In fact it seems to have a sense of quiet, melancholy tragedy about it.

  • Ryan J Hilliard

    In 1997, Sr. Sandra Schneiders addressed the LCWR, saying that, for many nuns, “the God of Christianity seems too small, too violent, and too male; the focus on Jesus Christ seems narrow and exclusive; the resurrection seems mythological if not incredible and, in any case, irrelevant to a world in anguish.”

  • Rafiq Rabinowitz

    Well, to put it delicately, some may want to consider the options for being a Christian but not necessarily being a Roman Catholic…

  • http://fkclinic.blogspot.com tioedong

    this is “magic”, not religion, nor is it science.

    There is an excellent course on Youtube by Professor Raia Grean to explain the difference link

  • http://lincoln.metacannon.net Lincoln Cannon

    Thomas, for what it’s worth, both Mormonism and Transhumanism are more complex than you’ve acknowledged. I don’t expect you to take my word for it, of course, given the views you’ve expressed. I wonder, though, whether you’ll pause to consider if it’s possible that you might have something worthwhile yet to learn about these ideologies, and if it’s possible that real human hearts and minds are moved and enlightened by them in ways and for reasons that perhaps you’ve yet fully to understand. We have access to the Internet too, you know, so it would be a good bet that we know something about the criticisms you’ve repeated. Why would we yet identify as Mormons? As Transhumanists? As both? Is it because we’re stupid or evil? Deceived by Satan? Deluded by lust or greed? Less than human? Maybe too quickly concluding on such explanations is a mistake?

  • http://www.patheos.com Elisabeth McDonald

    I wrote this (see below) earlier today as a posted comment on getreligion.org, under the article by Mollie…”Enough Moving Beyond Jesus” – your post is amazingly similar to your post – so kudos, b/c I totally concur.

    “The obvious feigning of surprise by the various nuns and their supporters is the kind of politics that makes me ill. EVERYONE knows these groups rebel against the Church. Regarding the speakers at the LCWR assemblies, the one scheduled for this coming year is, in my opinion, the leader of a worldwide New Age cult. There is no way she would be invited to an authentically or even marginally Christian meeting, let alone give guidance or any kind of relevant framework for the goal setting process and spiritual direction of a group of Catholic religious. Barbara Marx Hubbard is her name, and a quick search of her website allows you to see her own summary of the topic she will be speaking on. She does not believe in the divinity of Jesus, and has built a mega-following of New Age crazies around her “Conscious Evolution” model. She is the kind of person who eventually has people drink poisoned kool-aid because in order to believe her stuff you have to detach from a lot of nitty-gritty reality. That is the person who was supposed to influence tens of thousands of nuns and affect their future direction and work in our country? Very scary to think the LCWR is that far adrift from Truth. A better speaker for this convention would be Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, or Johnette Benkovic, both of whom are experts on the New Age. I pray that they will hear and return to the Truth once again. I am thinking of the letter in Revelations to one of the churches “you have lost your first love”… I am proud of our bishops and our pope, that they are beginning to rise to their resonsibilities of calling us all to the truth and addressing the problems so many of us have been shaking our heads wondering WHY they were allowed to go on for so long. What the hell took them so long? Still, I thank God for their courage to finally address it.”

  • Polemeros

    Dude, it’s not Aryanism…a theory about race…but Arianism, a theological heresy about the divinity of Christ.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    You asked me to define both bad religion (which I did in two ways) and my objections to transhumanism. I did so, pointing out that this was a summary for a combox answer and thus indicating that both issues are “more complex”. So, I’m not quite sure why you needed to point that out without replying to the answers you requested. You say something that I often say as well, which is that you’re well aware of the criticisms I’ve made, have considered them, and answered them to your satisfaction. Yet, again, you don’t reply to them. You don’t have to, but after all: you came here and asked.

    Mormons inherit a well-ordered, moral, productive society, which is a powerful and valid incentive to believe. Much the same criticism can be leveled at Christianity, of course, but the historical nearness and lack of independent witness to the claims of Mormonism allow us to verify its claims more closely, and those claims do not hold up. The LDS efforts to explain these problems (the lack of Semitic DNA in the Indian population, the forgeries of certain texts, etc) has convinced you. Good. I’m glad. Mormons are a net gain on American civilization. I have more in common with them (or, for that matter, with Muslims and Orthodox Jews) than I do with dissident members of my own faith. This is what I meant when I said Mormonism is “good.” But it is not “Good” in that it is not True. Believing something means rejecting something else.

  • John

    Shoucking, simply shucking.

  • http://tadpoleintofrog.wordpress.com Jean

    To me, it sounds like New Thought, but replacing evolution of thought with evolution of body – and then jerking the wheel to take it sliding into the ditch of Gnosticism. Sheesh! If the sisters want to listen to New Thought ideas, they should try Seicho-no-le, which at the very least acknowledges that everyone is a child of God and everything in the universe was created perfectly – the imperfections lie in ourselves.

  • Therese Z

    You cannot use this looniness as even the most remote example of Roman Catholicism. This is heresy, egotism, pseudo-science, narcissism, frustrated energy, I don’t care how you label it, but hold it up against any actual saint’s writings you want, then choose the better example.

  • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

    When one is talking about the conscious evolution of the physical body, it is quite difficult to avoid the term eugenics. I’m open to the idea that it is at least possible to avoid the utterly evil ends this theory accomplished in its pre-Hitler hey day in the US. But that episode happened, needs to be confronted honestly by any modern adherents, and there needs to be at least some attempt to address the dangers. To ignore the forced sterilizations and other abominations as if they never did happen is indeed, “weapons grade crazy”. To omit that discussion because one views those things as features and not bugs is just plain evil or, bad religion if you’re being kind.

  • JAD

    This is what I read: “I want to be God”.

  • Deo-non-fortuna

    She is, of course, the widow of the late L. Ron Hubbard, former acolyte of Aleister Crowley and founder of the Scientology cult.

    [TLMcD: No, she's not. She's the widow of Earl Hubbard. No relation to L. Ron]

  • David Naas

    Most interestingly, I read this post after having finished reading G. K. Chesterton’s marvelous book — “The Everlasting Man.” Any one who has read the book can testify, with mirth, that “there is nothing new under the sun”, for the New Age silliness of the Transhumans is matched in pointed detail by all the paganisms of the past. It is absolutely not a New, Modern, Never-Before-Seen thing. They had their own version of hi-tech back then, also, and the same sort of fruitcakes spewing the same sort of nonsense.
    A salutary return to the writings of the Church Fathers would be in order at this point. Athanasius for starters. Aquinas for those who are fond of complicated explainations. Heck, even Joe Ratzinger’s simpler stuff — “Introduction to Christianity” springs to mind. (Yes, Virginia, God Does have rotweillers staked out in the front yard for a reason!)

  • Ann

    I really wish Walker Percy was still around to hear about the noosphere

  • Ann

    Or…anti intellectual masturbation

  • http://exultet.blogspot.com Roz

    What came to my mind was: “Have none of these people read C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength?

    I wish the “nothing exists that can’t be proven in a laboratory” atheists would lay off Christians (whom they mistakenly believe all fit into the “fundamentalist” stereotype/category), and take on these new age mystical transhumanists or whoever they are.

  • Kath

    Is this a comment worthy of being called Christian?

  • Elizabeth D

    The point is that this has no relationship to Catholicism and is completely incompatible with it. Since the Catholic Church is that founded by Jesus on the Apostles, and exists in unbroken succession passing on the same teaching, Christ’s only Bride and Body, and a Body is a visible unity as Christ prayed at the Last Supper that we should be, our union with Christ through His Catholic Church is incalcuably precious.

  • Elizabeth D

    Mormonism is very much a made up religion. Ultimately it is about something like becoming the “god” of one’s own planet (Mormonism is polytheistic, the mormon version of the “trinity” is actually three gods, each of which had parents and come from another planet in outer space, and became a god). Maybe this is where “transhumanism” comes in vis a vis mormonism. Its beliefs are extremely different from Christianity, they use Christian terminology to mean things completely different, and absolutely does not have the same perspective on humanity as Christianity.

  • Sagrav

    [TLMcD: This comment is not posted because it is dull and pointless, but it is referenced here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godandthemachine/2012/04/atheists-in-the-comboxes/

  • midwestlady

    Is it true? I think it is.

  • V

    I have history with the pagan. I was listing in that soup for 20 years or thereabouts. Then I came to drink from the well of Truth… Catholicism. Clearly, being a nun was not my vocation: if I’d seen this speaker at a Catholic convention I’d be powerfully tempted to do something rash and very un-Christ-like. I truly understand why some felt that heresy deserves burning.
    However, you can find glimmers of truth even in soup… some of my old pagan friends would have called this trash New-age, pronounced as if one word, and rhymes with sewage.

  • midwestlady

    I am a scientist by profession. It’s what I’ve spent my career doing. This new age garbage that Hubbard engages in is not science. It’s, as the poster said above, mental masturbation and flights of fancy. There’s nothing scientific about it. But I’ll bet she makes a ton of money talking about it.

  • midwestlady

    Translation: She no longer believes in the Christian faith.

  • midwestlady

    And there’s probably a very good limerick in there somewhere. ;)

  • MariantheLibrarian

    Whatever it is, it had my heresy radar reading off-the-charts! In fact, I’d say she’s leapt beyond heresy into “it’s time for a nice, cozy padded cell.”

  • Ted Seeber

    By “Bad religion” he means pure Gnosticism worthy of Arian, but wrapped up in pseudo-intellectual nonsense. We got rid of this bad religion a long time ago.

  • Ted Seeber

    It’s similar in theology to a split off of scientology known as the “Indigo Moms and Star Children” movement that seeks to place a scientology explanation on to autism. Jenny McCarthy is a big proponent and calls herself an Indigo Mom.

  • Ted Seeber

    How about simply wanting a better life than you had to begin with and willing to accept any charlatan’s explanation to get it? At least for converts, that is.

  • http://www.thecarmelite.wordpress.com Cynthia Trainque

    This whole New Age thing is part — though not all — of the reason I left my former religious community. I entered in ’86 when all of the sisters were wearing a modifyed habit with a veil. I left in ’92 when many were deciding not to wear a veil. Now they look no different than I — although they have retained living in convents as much as possible. where parishes shuttered 40 room convents that had only 2-3 sisters living in them, the parish pays that rent. this is the reason I do not give even a penny to the annual Retirement Fund for Religious — rather, I visit my former community and give directly to them.

  • george murreck

    Just let the old ladies die off in peace. As you say, they are getting no recruits, and in their worship of mother earth god are really doing no harm. No one takes them seriously any more, but many gave much of themselves before they were “converted”. Twenty more years and they will be gone. Why waste hierarchical resources studying them? Let the old ladies die in peace.

  • Susan Peterson

    But after death comes the judgment. We don’t know what degree of blame any particular nun has for surrendering to this nonsense, and surely those who didn’t educate them better share some of the blame, but it is possible that for some, pride and rebellion are involved. And they have mislead others, vitiated religious education programs, imposed their silly ideas on parishes , influenced liturgy committees into all kinds of folly and ugliness (giant puppets anyone?) It is better for them to be made unhappy and to have a chance to think again (metanoia) before they die.
    I am also an old lady, who would prefer correction before she dies, when she needs it.

  • http://yahoo Brian

    I’m not sure what your point is. It is the hierarchy that will only allow speaksers with whom they agree, not the LCWR. I do not know why they invited this speaker, or how representative the quotes you showed us are of her thought as a whole. When I was in a job that required me to hire speakers, I didn’t always invite those I agreed with.
    What’s the point? Again, what’s your point?

  • JP

    Please, somebody shoot me already.

  • midwestlady

    Yes, because it’s true.

  • Hieronymus

    If you mean Arius, he wasn’t a Gnostic. Otherwise I fully agree with your statement.

  • Hieronymus

    It is not really unusual for some intelligent and spiritually inquisitive people to be taken in by such pseudo-metaphysical nonsense. After all, St. Augustine had been for quite a while a Manichean before he realized the Truth. But in order to save their souls they have to come out of it, like St. Augustine and not go into it, like Tertullian. The sisters do risk a lot.

  • Hieronymus

    Being a Christian does not mean giving up your reason and critical thinking. Quite the contrary.

  • Martin

    can anybody explain how it was possible that this murderous crazy woman organized the
    Awakened World Conference in Rome-Florence in october last year together with an Italian ministry
    and Focolare in buildings of Focolare in Gastelgandolfo.Also 4 cardinals were there!!!!!
    When my attention was drawn, of course by a evangelical site, I complained about this and
    very soon after that the screen which displayed the organizers ,nl The Italian Ministry, Barbara and FOCOLARE disappeared. All this is still to see . Also the list of conveners. This is a real enlightening experience.

  • Martin

    In Oktober 2012 there was a gathering in Rome-Florence name Awakened World Conference.
    This gathering was held in buildings of Focolare on the soil of Gastelgandolfo. The organizers were
    an italian ministry of culture, Barbara!! and FOCOLARE!!!!!!!!!!!My attention to this was drawn
    by ,of course ,an evangelical site . When I asked questions about this the screen where they were mentioned disappeared. On the list of coveners are also 4 cardinals.