A New-Age translation of The Lord’s Prayer


(Written on a whim after attending a thoroughly engaging interfaith council meeting.)

Our genderless spirit counselor,
who art in everything,
honored be thy many names.
Thy new age come,
thy will be manifested,
on this and on all cosmic planes.
Break with us our daily gluten-free unleavened bread,
and forgive us our bad karma,
as we forgive those
who project their bad karma onto us.
Lead us not into negative vibrations,
but deliver us from organized religion.
For ours is the harmonic unity, the empowerment, and the glory,
forever and ever.

Namaste.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • BrotherRog

    ack! : P

    While progressive Christianity doesn’t tend to care for overly limited notions about God (bearded white guy in the sky), and is okay with referring to God as “She/Her” and as “the Universe”, “Spirit”, etc., it doesn’t tend to dilute God to being diffuse, wishy washy, vapidness.

    I experience the new thought type churches as being Christanity-Lite.
    They convey “metaphysical truths” about Jesus and “Christ consciousness”
    but tend to not embrace the collective aspects of salvation and don’t
    particularly emphasize social justice. If Jesus had merely been an
    “actualized” and “fully developed” wise holy man, healer, and sage who
    taught spiritual platitudes, he wouldn’t have been executed.

    Roger Wolsey, author, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

    • http://www.greggdeselms.com/ Gregg L. DesElms

      “Ack,” indeed! And “diffuse, wishy washy, vapidness:” exactly! Thank you, Roger!

      I love John and his work…

      …but now I’m wondering if he needs a deprogrammer to rescue him (just kidding). He wrote that he penned this little piece of what many might consider heresy “on a whim after attending a thoroughly engaging interfaith council meeting.” No surprise, then. Such meetings can make one feel all warm and fuzzy…

      …but should, nevertheless, not make one feel so immersed in the kumbaya-ness of it all that one forgets that in which one believes… er… you know… assuming “belief” still has the same meaning that it did when last I looked it up in the dictionary.

      “Interfaith” is cool when the word is used to describe an interreligious meeting, or movement for a specified and narrowly-defined purpose (such as combating homelessness, for example, just to name one), of those of disparate faith traditions (or even no faith tradition at all, as far as I’m concerned) — a sort of ecumenism, but even beyond its being on steroids — during everyone’s participation in which said everyone focuses on that of their respective belief systems which they have in common (say, for example, “The Golden Rule,” which is present in one form or another in the sacred texts of all of the dozen or so of the world’s largest faith traditions), for the common good, and which can fuel their work without causing their inescapable differences to rear their ugly heads.

      Sadly, “interfaith” has come, for many, to mean something not-obviously, yet perniciously, else; something which often tries to be almost like a faith group or denomination, in and of itself; with so called “interfaith ministers” having “graduated” from unaccredited, new age, so-called “interfaith seminaries” where they learn to selectively cherry pick and embrace what they perceive to be the good in any and all faith traditions, usually recklessly incorporating them into their “worship” practice with such “it’s all good” even-handedness and tortured isonomy that nothing short of the words of Alexander Hamilton in 1778, “those who stand for nothing will fall for anything,” have even the beginnings of what it takes to capture the essence of the unintended, but nevertheless pathetically watered-down, diffuse, wishy washy, vapid outcome.

      John’s whimsical new-age translation of The Lord’s Prayer is an example of such an outcome.

      Those of progressive Christian persuasion (of which I strongly consider myself) often make the spritually-fatal “interfaith” mistake; forgetting that there’s a way to acknowledge, respect, and even honor the faith traditions of others without forsaking their own; to all-but-embrace that which they and their faith tradition have in common with others, without also abandoning the wisdom of hamilton’s admonition.

      The late Wayne Teasdale (1945-2004), a Cistercian Roman Catholic monk, fully understood this. His engagement in things “interfaith” tended to be as I described in my paragraph, above, beginning with the words “[i]nterfaith is cool when…” (either that, or to describe such as a marriage between persons of non-trivially different faith traditions); and the entirety of the rest of his work and life involving other faith traditions was pursuant to what he called “interspirituality,” a term which he is said to have coined in 1999. Focusing on dialog between faith traditions, rather than appropriating pieced of their dogma and doctrine, Interspirituality is the recognition of the core contemplative and ethical similarities of the (deepest parts of the) world’s religions; uniting them and helps to overcome dogmatic differences (since the contemplatives in all world religions tend to distance themselves from doctrine).

      Teasdale believed that beneath the diversity of theological beliefs, rites, and observances lies a deeper unity of experience that is our shared spiritual heritage. All authentic spiritual paths, at their mystical core, are committed to the common values of peace, compassionate service, and love for all creation. Mystical spirituality is the origin of all the world religions, and every authentic spiritual path offers unique perspectives and rich insights into this deeper, direct experience of truth. In his book “The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions,” Teasdale wrote that an inner life awakened to responsibility and love naturally expresses itself through engaged spirituality, in “acts of compassion… contributing to the transformation of the world and the building of a nonviolent, peace-loving culture that includes everyone.”

      That’s very different from what “interfaith” is becoming; and it’s very important that the Interfaith community stops suggesting that the two things are synonymous. They are not; and that misusage is driving me, for one, to distraction. In interapirituality, one looks beyond categories; looks deeper than labels such as Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, black, white, gay or straight. Saints, sages, and heroes across the centuries have always understood that seeing with the eyes of the heart allows the greatest potential for understanding: “A spirituality so based on the heart and unconditional love,” Teasdale wrote, “that it would be impossible to feel separate from anything.”

      If there is an emerging Interspiritual Age, as Teasdale suggested, it will be in the context of a religious and spiritual discussion. Interspirituality is characterized by such discussion; Teasdale could barely explain Interspirituality without the word “dialogue” being in his first sentences. The participants in such dialogue are always clear about that in which they believe, according to their respective faith practices; and especially without any of it getting blended into some kind of aimless interfaith mishmash.

      __________________________________
      Gregg L. DesElms
      Napa, California USA
      gregg at greggdeselms dot com

      Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
      Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        oh lord, gimme a break. i was just having some fun. you know, fun? As in humor?

        I wrote this years ago, when I was part of an interfaith group that met once a month to listen to a speaker talk about their religion. that’s all. that’s it.

        humor. lots of people enjoy having a sense of it. it makes their life more fun.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Maybe some are just not born with a satirical bone in their body. I think half of mine are made of ham.

          • http://www.greggdeselms.com/ Gregg L. DesElms

            JAMES_JARVIS WROTE: What scares me is that could become one of those motivational posters with kittens or a sunset that you see the offices and dorm rooms.

            MY RESPONSE: I know you’re screwin’ around, but if you think that someone taking what John whimsically wrote, and doing precisely that with it is neither possible or likely, then think again. Even before the worldwide web part of the Internet came about, I knew that stupid people were pretty much everywhere; but only once it did did I begin to fully grasp its sheer magnitude. Ohmygod.

            ALLEGRO63 WROTE: Maybe some are just not born with a satirical bone in their body.

            MY RESPONSE: Please. Enough with the accusations of at least my having no sense of humor; nor grasping, from the outset, John’s attempt at it. Please see my comment, above, in response to John’s but-I-was-only-kidding comment. I get it. I got it.

            Please don’t let that such as you mistakenly don’t think I do and/or did cause you to miss my point in spite of it all. Just because John’s was only humor didn’t make it any less worthy of being made an example of.

            __________________________________
            Gregg L. DesElms
            Napa, California USA
            gregg at greggdeselms dot com

            Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
            Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

        • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James_Jarvis

          What scares me is that could become one of those motivational posters with kittens or a sunset that you see the offices and dorm rooms. :)

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Dammit James_Jarvis! Now I have to clean off my computer monitor. Your comment made me burst out laughing in mid coffee sip.

          • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James_Jarvis

            Sorry about that.

          • http://www.greggdeselms.com/ Gregg L. DesElms

            As long as none of it exited also through your nose, you’re probably fine. [grin]

            __________________________________
            Gregg L. DesElms
            Napa, California USA
            gregg at greggdeselms dot com

            Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
            Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

        • http://www.greggdeselms.com/ Gregg L. DesElms

          That’s why, when I wrote that I feared you need to be rescued by a deprogrammer, I added that I was kidding.

          I got that you were screwing around. I know where your head’s at; you tell us, here, every day; and I read it. Got it.

          None of that changes the fact, though, that your whimsical writing is nevertheless a valid effective caricature of precisely the kind of… well… seriously… Roger wrote it best: “diffuse, wishy washy, vapidness” that can come from “Interfaith,” as it’s becoming sadly morphed.

          And so I was just using what you wrote as humor (which you didn’t label, as such, by the way; which opens the door for, in my opinion, precisely that which @James_Jarvis:disqus fears in his comment, below) to nevertheless illustrate — to simply be a cogent example of — the kind of Interfaith silliness that can result from believers being entirely too open-minded about that in which they believe.

          That you’re clear on what YOU believe, and that your whimsical take-off on The Lord’s Prayer isn’t it, is very clear to at least me. I’m sorry if I did not adequately convey that in my writing, above.

          ADDENDUM (after thinking more about it): I can see, now, that when I wrote “John’s whimsical new-age translation of The Lord’s Prayer is an example of such an outcome,” I should hav prefaced it with, “Though I know he’s just kidding around, here…”

          So, then, my bad, regarding that. I seriously thought that my having written that I was just kidding about the deprogrammer rescue thing pretty covered that I understood you were just screwin’ around.

          My words, after that, though, were to address something that nevertheless really bothers me about what’s happening to “Interfaith,” today; and your kidding around moment occasioned my writing about it as few moments do. So, being the opportunist that I am… well… you know the rest.

          My apologies if I made you feel bad about any of it.

          __________________________________
          Gregg L. DesElms
          Napa, California USA
          gregg at greggdeselms dot com

          Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
          Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    I am reading this while the Beach Boys’ song Good Vibrations is playing merrily along in my head. (damned snarky earworms)

  • Lyndon James

    Huge LOL!

  • BrotherRog
  • Josh Magda

    I Love the first six lines, the rest seems a little forced. :-0

    More seriously, the great truth of New Age is that they begin and end with what Matthew Fox calls Original Blessing, though he is far from the only teacher of this authentic and life-changing Biblical spirituality. But the comments here are spot on: collective salvation and the social is ignored or downplayed by New Age, making their offerings on the whole woefully inadequate. Still, they are doing something rather than nothing, they are on the right track with Original Blessing, and I have great hopes for their future.

  • lymis

    Actually, other than the gluten free part, the rest of it I can actually stand behind.

    It reminds me a bit of C.S. Lewis’s explanation of his concept of Mere Christianity – that there are things that all believers have in common that can be discussed as being things in common, like the lobby to a building full of parties, but to actually live it, you have to choose the specifics that work for you, enter one of the rooms, and be where the party is.

    That each person in each party can understand that even if the people in the next room are doing something different, even significantly different, there are things that everyone in the building has in common.

    It’s humorous and light, but it’s also, fundamentally, a mapping of traditional Christian concepts into the language used by other believers — showing that, in fact, there’s a central truth or truths that really can be expressed and shared in slightly different shadings of the concepts.

    And it’s not the idea that “Christianity has it right, and everyone else is a reflection of that fundamental truth” but rather that there is a truth beyond knowing, a Source beyond experiencing, and a grace beyond understanding and each different tradition strives to frame that in a human way that can be shared as community and lived as a believer. Like the 7 blind men and the elephant, everyone who experiences the elephant gets the story “right” but from sometimes wildly different perspectives.

    To that degree, I don’t think it’s necessary to claim that any actual believer considers God to be being dilute, diffuse, or wishy-washy, but that the best descriptions of what all believers have in common end up being necessarily general, while individual believers often frame their experience concretely.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with imagining God to be male, old, Caucasian, and, frankly, grumpy, as long as we realize that it’s a story we tell ourselves because we cannot directly fully experience God. Otherwise we run the risk of assuming that the stained glass window is the sun, and that all the other stained glass windows are false suns, rather than understanding that the light of the same sun (Son?) shines through them all in unique ways, and that we couldn’t stand in the actual presence of the sun without being overwhelmed (and in the case of the literal sun, vaporized.)

    I actually find the karma thing more valuable than the traditional sin phrasing. But that’s just my personal window.

    • Y. A. Warren

      I find the whole karma thing to be another way to blame the victims of trauma.

      • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

        Karma is the mother of “cause and effect”, not something somebody invented.

        Especially out of malice.

        The sanskrit translates to “work” or “action”.

        If you have trouble granting purpose and meaning to the universe, this won’t make much sense.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I have no problem with taking responsibility for my own actions. I will not be held back by or accountable to people who came before me, except where unavoidable.

          I believe it is only the fear of not understanding the non-physical realm that prompts people to believe that individual egos remain intact in different physical manifestations throughout eternity.

          I believe that the purpose and meaning of any physical manifestation of eternal energy on earth is to be a platform for new manifestations of energy in the future. I attempt to keep the energy I manifest in the positive realm.

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            “I believe it is only the fear of not understanding the non-physical realm that prompts people to believe that individual egos remain intact in different physical manifestations throughout eternity.”

            I see it differently. The ego, being unique to the body, what persists, is the inertia of action, thought and intention. This continuum, in balance with all other inertial states.

            The butterfly flaps it’s wings. etc.

            But if we grant purpose to the universe, what would that purpose be?

            What does, ” I attempt to keep the energy I manifest in the positive realm”, mean in relation to evolution?

            In terms of the absolute, can it be said that we own any part of this process?

          • Y. A. Warren

            I am not sure that a butterfly has any control over flapping wings. Humans who have frontal lobe function should have the ability to control actions.

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            Ok, but let’s let it go for now. I don’t want to digress much further from the original blog post.

          • Y. A. Warren

            I am impressed with your ability to stay “on task.”

        • Josh Magda

          brmckay: “Do you mean the immediate intimacy of justice? The perfectly harmonious companion to our free will? The very soul of the Here and Now?”

          You’ve hit upon a radical difference between Eastern and Western spirituality. In the East, justice is automatic thanks to karma. In the West, Creation is unfinished by design, and justice must be “carved out,” in the words of Rabbi Heschel. In the West, there is a place for “letting go”… but there is even more of a place for “let my people go!”

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            Thanks, I am reminded that whatever the Truth is, it remains unaffected by our visualizations.

            The difference that you describe doesn’t seem like such a game changer though.

            If one seeks God, God will be found. But a whole hearted effort with impeccable discernment seems essential.

            Karma is the field of play. The “carving out.” For individual or collective.

    • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

      There’s nothing inherently wrong with imagining God to be male, old, Caucasian, and, frankly, grumpy, as long as we realize that it’s a story we tell ourselves because we cannot directly fully experience God. Otherwise we run the risk of assuming that the stained glass window is the sun, and that all the other stained glass windows are false suns, rather than understanding that the light of the same sun (Son?) shines through them all in unique ways, and that we couldn’t stand in the actual presence of the sun without being overwhelmed (and in the case of the literal sun, vaporized.)

      This is just beautifully said. I can’t figure out how anybody can go back to urgently promoting a proprietary god after reading it. But then the reptilian brain is a tenacious little bugger.

      I actually find the karma thing more valuable than the traditional sin phrasing. But that’s just my personal window.

      Do you mean the immediate intimacy of justice? The perfectly harmonious companion to our free will? The very soul of the Here and Now?

      • Kevin Osborne

        Karma is y’all come back now. Sin is y’all are doomed. I suspect Jesus was elaborating freedom from either in forgiving those who did him in, and laying the points on Resurrection Sunday.

      • Josh Magda

        .

      • lymis

        No, when I talk about karma, I mean the whole mechanism of where we live out the consequences of our actions. If you smile to people on the street, they tend to smile back. If you frown at them, they tend not to engage. If you refuse to look at them, you live in a world without eye contact, or by extension as it becomes a habit, without human interaction.

        When we choose to dwell on the “sins” of others, we live in a world defined by sin, evil, and the failures of others, and that inevitably poisons our view of ourselves in relation to others. When we choose to acknowledge the reality of the humanity of others, including their failings, and move on, with or without them, we live in a world defined by tolerance, strength, and resilience, including a world in which our own shortcomings have a place that doesn’t eternally condemn us.

        When we choose to be selfish and self-involved, we live in a world where we are inevitably forced to be defensive and fearful and able to only trust ourselves (if we can even do that.) When we open ourselves to being aware and connected to others and including their needs and wishes and reactions in our lives, we can also allow ourselves to live in a world where there are others we can rely on in times of need.

        Karma also includes real-world consequences, not just emotional and attitudinal ones. When someone randomly does something nice for us, choosing to go out of our way to thank them inspires us to pay attention to what was done for us and appreciate it, and if done routinely, builds the habit of noticing the abundance around us – but it also makes doing for us or giving to us a pleasure for others, and inspires them to keep doing it. When we take it for granted, don’t respond, don’t react, and don’t return the regard, it’s less fun, and they’ll seek others who do appreciate their attention. How many people are no longer on your holiday card list because you sent one and got none in return? Who do you love doing favors for?

        And yes, I believe firmly that this extends beyond simple and obvious cause and effect on the human level into the spiritual and metaphysical realms of existence. That “we get what we put out into the Universe” and that the world around us does in fact, in many ways, adapt to who we chose to be in the world. Whether that is some natural mechanism we don’t understand, angelic intervention, or the direct working of the Spirit, I’ve seen too much of it to ignore it. But you have to be open to its existence to be able to see it in operation.

        I also am entirely convinced that when we place ourselves before God with the clear intent to serve, God takes us up on that and puts those opportunities to serve before us. When we withdraw that consent or refuse to response to the promptings of the Spirit, those opportunities do not, at least not to the same degree. Again, our actions and choices create a response from the universe around us.

        When I use karma as a concept it’s not about scoring points for reincarnation or burning off debts accrued in previous lifetimes. I’m utterly agnostic about reincarnation or multiple human lifetimes, though I see no conflict whatsoever between that idea and my understanding of Christianity. Souls are eternal.

        No, my understanding of karma is entirely within one human lifetime. And like everything else related to the God I experience, it’s not one-size fits all, but a unique interaction between the individual and the Divine, so the fact that different people get different results from doing “the same” thing isn’t a surprise. It’s a relationship with a Being and a Person, not a vending machine that spits out whatever you push the buttons for.

  • Y. A. Warren

    There are many good points here, but it still hands personal power over to a cosmic force outside of ourselves and what we see around us.

    • lymis

      Certainly not all personal power. And really, the universe we live in involves all sorts of external, even cosmic forces around us – it’s not a sign of a weak and ineffectual character to interact sensibly with gravity, for example, and it’s not “handing over personal power” to gravity to realize it’s an integral and necessary part of our existence. It’s just a fact, and one we often ignore at our peril.

      For those who experience an immanent Presence in their lives, whatever they may call it, it’s no more unreasonable to take its power and influence into account. That no more incapacitates us or robs us of our free will and agency than gravity does.

      And seriously, “Dear Omnipotent Force who has my entire eternal destiny in your hands, please judge me entirely by the standards of how I treat others, and condemn me exactly the way I refuse to forgive others” has to be the single scariest idea the entire Bible contains for anyone with an ounce of self-awareness. And most of the most smug, self-righteous Holier Than Thou “every word in the Bible is literally true” people happily spout it regularly.

      I’m glad to believe in a God who probably won’t hold them to it. Maybe smack them upside the head for being stupid, but not send them to hell for all eternity the way they gleefully consign others to it.

      Because nobody who says the Lord’s prayer and ever told anyone else they were going to hell should expect to go anywhere else, unless God actually is more merciful than they give God credit for.

      • Y. A. Warren

        “For those who experience an immanent Presence in their lives, whatever they may call it, it’s no more unreasonable to take its power and influence into account. That no more incapacitates us or robs us of our free will and agency than gravity does.”

        My problem is with those who feel that their version of *an* “immanent Presence” can be affected by their prayers and sacrifices. This seems to me as likely as attempting to pray gravity away.

        The holier than thous that you mention are creating hell on earth that will outlive them for many generations while those they harm are judged harshly for not believing in their universal sainthood.

        • lymis

          “The holier than thous that you mention are creating hell on earth that will outlive them for many generations while those they harm are judged harshly for not believing in their universal sainthood.”

          So, people are people. It’s not like this is a new development.

          • Y. A. Warren

            This is the cynical answer that we use to justify our failings without guilt. Pentecost people believe that people are capable of choosing to be so much more.


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