3 Spiritual Elements That Make Your Company More Cohesive – Business 2 Community

Spirituality is a tricky word to use in any discussion about business. Spirituality takes on a variety of meanings that range from religious experiences to healing crystals and is often tied to personal development and practices. But spirit can play a role in the overall development and maintenance of a company. Mitroff and Denton, in their study of spirituality in the workplace, found that senior executive, HR executives, and manager all felt that spirituality was an appropriate discussion for the workplace when defined as the interconnectedness of people and places, and differentiated from discussions about religion. They reported that people believe strongly that unless organizations learn how to harness the whole person and the immense spiritual energy that is at the core of everyone, they will not be able to produce world-class products and services.

Spirit originally derives from the Latin word spiritus meaning breath or inspire. You could say that, with each breath, an individual chooses whether to fracture or strengthen an organization. The choices you make define the overall foundation of the enterprise. When the spirit of the business is cohesive, then individuals integrate more seamlessly into the fabric of the company. For employees, spirit provides authenticity and self-awareness as part of the framework for how they work. As Ashmos and Dushon stated in their article, Spirituality at Work, people want to feel connected to work that is important, and they want to feel connected to each other.

These three actions, when incorporated into the environment of your organization, offer inclusion and acceptance that support the spirit of your business. These behaviors help to fortify the whole company by reducing fractures that weaken interconnected relationships between people and the world.

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1. Words and Actions Match

The words you say and the actions you take are a foundational part of the spirit of your organization. When you have an awareness of how your actions and your words impact people and situations around you, then you are better able to see the big picture. You can more effectively recognize how you connect with other people and the world when you understand the impact your behaviors have on the surrounding environment. Matching your words and actions provides authenticity that tells people your true nature. When your words and actions do not match, then there is a fracture in behavior and people do not know which is your true nature, your words or your actions.

2. No judgment of good or bad, or wrong or right

It is very easy to play the blame game. There is a subtle difference between saying, He is wrong. versus, I do not care for that situation. When you take away blame, you reduce the chance of decreasing personal value and increase the chance of keeping individuals accountable for their work. People work more cohesively together when there is not a dividing line, real or imaginary, holding them apart.

3. Focus on the goals, not the problems

Fear of the unfamiliar, many times, puts people into a protective mode. Fear of not being accepted can also introduce a protective wall. The focus of work, when fear is present, shifts to people protecting their turf and looking for problems that separate them from other employees. Problems cause barricades. Goals encourage focus. No matter who you are or what you believe, putting energy into completing the goals keeps the focus on the end results and binds people together in a collective breath of success.

Individuals and organizations who embrace these three actions help to build trust and reduce fractures that can ultimately break down companies. The spirit of your enterprise becomes more cohesive when you connect people to each other in ways that inspire instead of fracture your business.

Writer, researcher, and advisor on human potential for personal and organizational development. Dr. Reed has mentored people from a variety of organizations to include businesses, not for profit organizations, schools, allied health agencies, Chambers of Commerce, governmental entities, and churches. She has taught courses on world religion and world cultures Viewfullprofile

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3 Spiritual Elements That Make Your Company More Cohesive – Business 2 Community

Franciscan Spirituality Center offers two iconography retreats – La Crosse Tribune

Noted American iconographer Phil Zimmerman returns to the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse to teach the sacred art of iconography.

Two separate retreats are available: The Holy Face, May 21-27; and Jonah and the Whale, July 9-15.

All skill levels are welcome. Each retreat is limited to 25 participants, and all paints, brushes and other materials are provided.

Both a meaningful prayer practice and a technical art form, iconography has been a vital part of Eastern Christian worship since the beginning of Christianity. Icons are often referred to as windows into heaven. Zimmerman will guide participants step-by-step through the process of writing or painting an icon in the Byzantine style, following ancient guidelines and techniques while using modern artists materials.

Each day of the retreat will include prayer, reflection and historical information specific to the icon. All materials and supplies are included. By the end of the week, students will have a beautifully completed icon varnished and ready to display. Zimmerman has created hundreds of religious icons for churches and private collectors throughout the world. Based at his St. John of Damascus Icon Studio in Pennsylvania, he has taught more than 2,000 students.

Cost is $625 for the full retreat, which includes all meals and six nights stay or $505 for commuters, which includes retreat, lunch and supper. Register at http://www.FSCenter.org, 608-791-5295 or in person at 920 Market St.

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Franciscan Spirituality Center offers two iconography retreats – La Crosse Tribune

Rewilding Spirituality – The Ecologist

Kara Moses

21st February, 2017

Rewilding aims to regenerate, reconnect and restore, to create healthy, functional ecosystems

Imagine if everything in the world around you was conscious – every tree sacred, every rock, every falling leaf. Imagine if you felt they were closely related to you, like cousins, always available to offer wise guidance, gentle healing, fierce protection and a deep sense of belonging. How differently might we treat each other, the non-human world, and ourselves?

This is the intimate, sacred, relationship countless generations of humans had with nature. Natural cycles unfolded around our ancestors with profound meaning; they were not separate from them. They honoured their need for spiritual connection and understanding of life’s mysteries through earth-centric ceremony and ritual, with deep reverence for nature.

With the spread of patriarchal ‘sky God’ religions over pantheistic Earth-based spirituality, our ancient reverence for nature was eroded as ‘heathen’ traditions were exterminated. The subsequent rise of reductionist science, capitalism and the eventual ‘death of God’ has led us to worship the gods of material accumulation instead. We see ourselves as separate from nature, and nothing is sacred; the natural landscape provides little more than a backdrop for our dramas of self-interest.

We have built a false world upon a world-view of ecological disconnection. Ignoring ecological limits and cycles, we live high-speed lives that deny nature’s ebbs and flows, cultivating ‘useful’ species and eliminating those that threaten or inconvenience us. In our attempts to tame and control, to de-wild, we also de-wild ourselves. We deny parts of us that frighten and inconvenience us, ignore messages from our animal bodies as we stare at screens under artificial lights, inside concrete buildings. Research shows that disconnection from nature has negative impacts on the health of individuals, communities and society – and of course on the natural world.

The recent surge in interest in ‘rewilding’ reveals a yearning for a different way. Rewilding aims to regenerate, reconnect and restore, to create healthy, functional ecosystems. This is achieved through ‘cores, corridors and carnivores’ – protecting core wilderness areas, reconnecting habitats for free movement of wildlife and restoring lost keystone species.

But, as key parts of the ecosystems we dominate, humans must be part of the rewilding. A rewilding of the self is a re-enchantment with the natural world, a re-awakening of our senses and intuition, a dissolving of the false boundaries between our atomised selves and our Earthly home. It is a restoration of meaningful connections with nature, our selves and each other. Ultimately, it is a regeneration of our sacred relationship with the natural world; our spiritual selves must too be rewilded. Organised religion feels out-dated, irrelevant or questionable to many people, particularly younger generations. Yet growing numbers of people are exploring being ‘spiritual but not religious’, revealing an appetite for meaning, community and spirituality without the sanctimony.

Rekindling a sacred connection to the Earth and its inhabitants has the potential to feed this hunger, support the growth of a life-affirming society, heal the sickness of our times and transform social relationships. Increased time in nature brings greater happiness, better mental and physical health and emotional resilience. Research also shows that feeling more connected to nature also leads to positive action.

As individuals, communities and society, we must build resilience to withstand the challenges of transitioning to a life within ecological limits. To build a life-affirming society from the ashes of a dying system will require great skill, creativity and courage. We can tap into vast resources by connecting with nature. Nature’s ways are powerful and wise, and we can take part in that web of power and wisdom. The wise guidance, gentle healing and fierce protection are all there if we develop the humility to hear it.

Efforts to address the planetary crisis must include a contemporary spiritual ecology to cultivate the deep humility and fierce resolve required to live sustainably and create a new story about the place of humanity in a post-capitalist world.

This Author

Kara Moses is a freelance writer and facilitator of nature connection, outdoor education and grassroots activism. She facilitates programs to connect people to nature, themselves and each other, and bring nature awareness into various spheres of society, from architecture and wellbeing to spirituality and social change. Kara is a Spiritual Ecology Fellow of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace and is leading a retreat in April: Rewilding Spirituality: a spiritual exploration of our connection to the natural world. More information here.

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Rewilding Spirituality – The Ecologist

Central Georgia women set aside different faiths for shared spirituality – 13WMAZ.com

Difference Makers: Religious unity

WMAZ is sharing with you the stories of Central Georgia “Difference Makers.”

We define that as the people who don’t just talk about big problems, they take action.

We’re sharing a story about a group of women from different faiths who come together to unite people of all religions.

They focus on their shared spirituality, instead of their separate faiths.

On a typical morning at Highland Hills Baptist Church, it might strike you as odd to see Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women together under one roof. But, thats exactly the point.

They call themselves the Women’s Interfaith Alliance and got to know each other on a personal level, through the simple act of passing plates of food.

It all started when the Islamic Center of Middle Georgia held an open house in 2011 and welcomed their Christian neighbors.

We thought about making our religion more understood, educating non-Muslims about our belief system, dispelling some of the misconceptions, establishing human relationships, and building bridges between our two faiths, said Eman Abdulla.

Abdulla said that first meeting, and the smaller ones that followed, help foster a stronger relationship and break down misconceptions.

Flo Martin, a Central Georgia Methodist, found her way into the group several years ago.

Many meals later she now calls these women friends and defending their beliefs is personal to her.

And I’ve just said, that’s my family. And when you’re family and you’re connected, you stand, and so for me it’s been a boldness, it’s been a way to know that perfect love casts out fear, Martin said from the balcony of her church, Centenary United Methodist.

These women don’t just talk, they put their faith into works.

Flo Martin on Atlanta protests

They buy groceries, feed schoolchildren, help refugees through Abdullas work in Atlanta, and gather donations for the homeless.

Betty Taylor worships at Temple Beth Israel and says what she gains from this group makes a difference in everyday life, including trips to the gym.

Some people there know that I’m Jewish and one day I came in and Rosha, one of the Muslim ladies, was leaving we run over and hug each other and Rosha was telling me how later one of the ladies there was saying, ‘you know her how do you know her? Taylor said.

She answered that they formed the unlikely friendship by making an effort to listen and over time, understand.

Its something one of her Muslim friends would agree with.

You have to respect other people’s journeys as well even though they might take other paths you know but you respect the journey. And also getting to know more and more that we are one in faith you know, we worship the same god, we have very similar ideas on values and we do believe that our religions come from the same source, Abdulla said.

We do have so many commonalities, we laugh over the same things and cry over the same things, Martin told WMAZ.

And they also share joy over the simplest of things.

Learning their faith in a higher power doesn’t divide them, it unites them.

At their February meeting, about 80 women attended the Interfaith Alliance lunch.

That’s the best attendance they’ve recorded since they started in 2011 and it continues to grow each month. If youre interested in attending their next meeting, you can check out their Facebook page.

If your church or religious organization is doing something like this to bring people of different faiths together we want to hear about it. Comment in this story on our Facebook page, or send an email to eyewitnessnews@13wmaz.com.

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Central Georgia women set aside different faiths for shared spirituality – 13WMAZ.com

Pear Tree Point School offers talk on science and spirituality – Darien Times

Lisa Smith

Pear Tree Point School invites parents and community members to attend a special talk given by Psychologist and acclaimed author, Dr. Lisa Miller, on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Louise Parker Berry Community Room on the first floor at The Darien Library.

Miller presents the next big idea in psychology: the science and power of spirituality. She defines spirituality as being an innate nature to seek and perceive transcendence, a connection to a larger universe. These abilities and drives can work together to develop a two-way relationship with a high power God, the creator, the universe, or nature for example.

With the understanding that our community represents a range of beliefs and religions, her focus is on cultivating our childrens natural spirituality. She also shows that a person can be spiritual without being highly religious.

Dr. Miller explains the link between spirituality and health by demonstrating that children who have apositive, active relationship to spirituality are:

Space is limited and spots will be booked on a first come, first served basis.Guestsare asked to RSVP at:[emailprotected].

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Pear Tree Point School offers talk on science and spirituality – Darien Times

Workshop offered on spirituality, sexuality – The Union of Grass Valley

Relationship coaches Maeve and Orv Fry will present a workshop, Spirituality and Sexuality, from 7 to 9 p.m. March 2 at Inner Path, 200 Commercial St., Nevada City.

The class is part of their monthly series Relationship as a Spiritual Path.

The Frys say that melding spirituality and sexuality isnt necessary for a fulfilling relationship.

But, it would enhance connection and personal growth, Maeve Fry said.

The Frys have been relationship coaches and educators for 19 years in Nevada County and call their practice Relationship Igniters. They are a married team of 20 years who work together to assist couples and individuals in the art of relationship, communication, intimacy and sexuality.

For more information, email maeve@relationshipigniters.com or visit http://www.relationshipigniters.com

To register online, see http://relationshipigniters.com/relationship-as-a-spiritual-path.html

Cost at the door is $25; with pre-registration and payment online, the cost is $20 on or before Feb. 27.

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Workshop offered on spirituality, sexuality – The Union of Grass Valley

The Spirituality of Wine – Patheos (blog)

Im again reading through Gisela Kreglingers bookThe Spirituality of Wine, and it is a terrific read.

The chapter begins with the words, Wine is a great mystery and a profound gift. And while one might think that the Bible would speak against the desire and temptations of wine, it speaks far more of its enjoyment. She write:Many learned women and men have marveled at this lavish gift of God and have put their delight and gratitude into poetry, song, and reflections. It should not surprise Christians that win features so prominently in the Bible, but it often does surprise people, especially those in religiosu communities that view alcohol in negative terms only. She points out that the spread of Christianity in western Europe coincided with the spread of viticulture, many monastries specialized in wine production.

Kreglinger maps the origins of viticulture in the ancient near east, Greece, and Palestine. She surveys wine in the Bible, noting claims that it is a gift of God, its use as a medicine and metaphor, and its role in eschatology.

This is a book to read with some pasta, a glass of rot wein, and a comfy chair!

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The Spirituality of Wine – Patheos (blog)

5 Spiritual Habits That Will Change Your Life – Beliefnet


Most people want to change their lives but few people actually do. The difference comes down to the power of habits. Habits govern our lives and allow us to engage in a multitude of daily tasks without overloading our cerebral circuitry. Over the past few decades, advancing science in brain research has given us untold insight into how God has hardwired us when it comes to habits, especially how to start, stop and change habits.

For instance, every habit has a cue, a routine, and a reward. If your habit is to go to the gym after work, then your cue is when that clock hits 5:00 pm. Your body begins to anticipate a good work out. After the routine of an hour at the gym, your body feels energized and refreshed, flowing with positive chemicals released throughout the body. If you want to start, stop, or change a habit, you need to deal with cues and rewards. If you want to refresh your soul and take your faith to new heights, here are five spiritual habits that will change your life.

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Spirituality center offers iconography retreats – La Crosse Tribune

American iconographer Phil Zimmerman returns to the Franciscan Spirituality Center, 920 Market St., to teach the sacred art of iconography. Two separate retreats are available: The Holy Face, May 21-27; and Jonah and the Whale, July 9-15.

Zimmerman will guide participants step-by-step through the process of writing or painting an icon in the Byzantine style, following ancient guidelines and techniques while using modern materials.

Each day of the retreat will include prayer, reflection and historical information specific to the icon. All skill levels are welcome. Each retreat is limited to 25 participants, and all paints, brushes and other materials are provided. By the end of the week, students will have a completed icon varnished and ready to display.

Zimmerman has created hundreds of religious icons for churches and private collectors throughout the world. Based at his St. John of Damascus Icon Studio in Pennsylvania, he has taught more than 2,000 students.

Cost is $625 for the full retreat, which includes all meals and six nights stay or $505 for commuters, which includes retreat, lunch and supper. Register at http://www.fscenter.org or call 608-791-5295.


Spirituality center offers iconography retreats – La Crosse Tribune

Book Review: ‘Cannabis and Spirituality’ – Cannabis Now

Photo courtesy of Cannabis and Spirituality

It was just two years ago that then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence passed the highly controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that, in part, helped Bill Levin to legally birth The First Church of Cannabis. At the time, the church was widely reported on and was viewed with both awe and contention. Many were shocked and scandalized, but most people were extremely skeptical of using cannabis as a holy sacrament or part of a religious practice. Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorers Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally is a book that highlights this reality with the respect it deserves.

Award-winning author and pharmacologist Julie Holland, who edited the seminal academic collection of essays in The Pot Book, writes the foreword which provides a great foundation for the tone of the book. While lauding the therapeutic effects of medicinal cannabis, she notes that theres been less of a focus on its spiritual effects across cultures and eras throughout history. Thankfully, this book continues to bridge the gap between our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

In this collection of essays, editor Stephen Gray gives a platform to a wide range of voices within the cannabis industry as well as writing a few pieces within the collection himself. As a lifelong student of many spiritual practices and author of Returning to Sacred World: A Spiritual Toolkit for the Emerging Reality, Gray is no stranger to topics that walk the edge of mainstream culture and this book is no different. His reverence for cannabis is apparent throughout the compilation from referring to cannabis as a euphoriant to his selection of authors to contribute to this project.

These experts in their fields and practitioners of an assortment of healing modalities to share their insight on the connection between cannabis and spirituality in this collection of essays. The thoughtful piece touch on a number of topics from sacred rituals and group ceremonies to everyday practices of creativity with an essay about the link between cannabis and creativity by Floyd Salas a fiction writer who won the 2013 the lifetime achievement American Book Award.

There may be some cannabis lovers who may feel that this book may be a little too esoteric for their interests, but there are a few chapters that can still be relatable for those that arent as mystically inclined. This read is quite a bit different from a lot of other available cannabis books that only offer a look at the therapeutic and medicinal effects of cannabis. Of course, emphasis is given to the moving experiences that reshape perspective and the radical shifts in worldview and personal mentality and the spiritual healing that cannabis has played an integral role in facilitating, but there is a lot of interesting and objective information within the collection as well.

For example, theres essay written by Dee Dessault, the first yoga teacher to offer ganja-enhanced classes in the U.S., where offers she her perspective on cannabis as a spiritual enhancer of a yogic practice. People who practice yoga will appreciate her words of wisdom about how cannabis heighten the experience of the very tenets that yoga promises a deeper sense of connection, a pronounced feeling of relaxation and feelings of acceptance.

In the books final chapter, Gray proposes that if theres a revolution of consciousness transformation arising on this planet, that cannabis will not only be a source of inspiration but will be at the forefront of the movement. While there are more and more signs pointing towards the reality of this concept, there are many who havent waited for mainstream culture to join them in this progressive line of thinking. But when and if they do, those who knew of cannabis true power will welcome them with open arms.

TELL US,what good books have you read lately?

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Book Review: ‘Cannabis and Spirituality’ – Cannabis Now

Art museum’s Haitian collection explores spirituality, history, daily life – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Saint Francis and the Christ Child” by Hector Hyppolite is on view in Milwaukee Art Museum’s Haitian gallery.(Photo: Efraim Lev-er)

Amidworks of Haitian art,pillars creating alakou stand in the middle of the gallery in the Milwaukee Art Museum.

A lakou,which translates into English as a courtyard, serves as space for people to gather for purposes as varied as sacred space to a place to clean and sort rice. This lakouis surrounded by work inthree styles of Haitianart Port-au-Prince,Capashenand Croix-des-Bouquets on the museum’s mezzanine level.

Most of it was donated to the museum by collectors Richard and Erna Flagg. The coupleleft the Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime and Richard Flagg became a successful tanner in Milwaukee. Kantara Souffrant,manager of the museum’s schools and teachers program, related the story of Richard Flagg walking through the streets of New York City one day in 1973 and seeing a work ofartunlike anything he had seen before.

“He trusted that it was good because he had cultivated an eye as a collector,” Souffrant said.

He bought it and thus what would become one of the best Haitian art collections in the world. That collection was gifted to MAM in 1991.

Sorted by style, the work addresses spiritual traditions, everyday life and history of Haiti. Most of the artwork in the collection was created in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

The northwestern section is filled with paintings in the Port-au-Prince style, defined by Hector Hyppolite, a painter and Vodou priest whose paintings often include references to spirits and Vodou. At the time Hyppolite worked, the Catholic Church and the Haitian government were discouraging Vodou and black nationalism was on the rise. His paintings like “Saint Francis and the Christ Child” show figures like the patron saint of animals as dark-skinned rather than white.

His use of Vodou spirits “becomes a way of him saying actually I am here I refuse to deny this part of my cultural tradition,” Souffrant said.Vodou, Souffrant said, “sees every single thing in this world as having spirit and being divine. From water, earth, trees to you and I.”

Shown on the eastern wall is art in the visually flatter Capashen style, which focuses on architecture history. These works are brought to life through an audio station that allows visitors to hear what the scene in the painting, if real, would sound like through spoken word and music.

“The Crucifixion of Charlemagne Pralte for Freedom” by Philom Obin is on view in the Haitian gallery in the Milwaukee Art Museum.(Photo: Efraim Lev-er)

The Capashen grouping here walks visitors through important moments in Haiti’s history.”The Crucifixion of Charlemagne Pralte for Freedom” by Philom Obin shows how Haitian history is intertwined with the United States. From 1915 until 1934, U.S. Marines occupied the country. Pralte was a leader in the Haitian nationalist opposition to occupation. He was betrayed by one of his own men and shot dead by a U.S. Marine. Pralte was tied to a door and a flag was draped over him. The Marines took a picture of his body and spread it around the country.Obin’s painting, completed 50 years after Pralte’s death, is based on that image.

“Circular Composition” by Srsier Louisjuste is crafted from steel oil barrels. The work is on view in the Haitian gallery in the Milwaukee Art Museum.(Photo: Efraim Lev-er)

Grand sculptures made from oil drums from theCroix-des-Bouquets fill the southern wall. The steel forming “Circular Compositions (Kompozisyon Anwon)” (1972) by Srsier Louisjuste shows human manifestations of the spirits and animals. In a hands-on station, visitors can feel how the thick steel from the oil drums is flattened and cut into the sculptures.

In February, visitors can also enjoy related Saturday afternoon performances in the Haitian area. Ko-Thi Dance Company will perform at 1 p.m. Feb. 18. Jahmes Finlayson and Friends will play African-rooted music in the Haitian area at 1 p.m. Feb. 25.

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Art museum’s Haitian collection explores spirituality, history, daily life – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Spirituality What is spirituality?

Spirituality – Is it Religion? Spirituality extends beyond an expression of religion or practice of religion. There is a pursuit for a spiritual dimension that not only inspires, but creates harmony with the universe. That relationship between ourselves and something greater compels us to seek answers about the infinite. During times of intense emotional, mental, or physical stress, man searches for transcendent meaning, oftentimes through nature, music, the arts, or a set of philosophical beliefs. This often results in a broad set of principles that transcends all religions.

While spirituality and religion remain different, sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. This lack of clarity in their definitions frequently leads to debates. Suppose ones spirituality leads to the formation of a religion? Is it necessary for a spiritual person to be religious? Through certain actions, an individual may appear outwardly religious, and yet lack any underlying principles of spirituality. In its broadest sense, spirituality may include religion for some, but still stands alone without a connection to any specific faith.

Spirituality – What is it? The search for spirituality, mans connection to something beyond the temporal, sends him wandering down paths that offer unsatisfactory results. The Far East offers shrines that contain hundreds of statues. Worshippers choose a statue that most resembles an ancestor and pray to it. A piece of stone or rock represents ones personal and intimate relationship with the spiritual realm. During the 4th and 5th centuries B.C., Athens was a vital culture center with a world-famous university. The Athenians were firm and rigid in their spirituality as well as their reverencing of their deities (i.e. religion). Yet the meeting place of the Council of the Areopagus, the supreme body for judicial and legislative matters, contained an altar with the inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Whether spirituality is sought through pagan religious experiences, psychic experiments, or tapping the hidden capabilities of man the results are disastrous. In addition to the overtly religious cults, there is a pursuit into the cosmic spiritual realm where man attempts to establish contact with actual spiritual beings. Ironically, in an effort to acquire tranquility and inspiration, man surrenders his soul to astrology, mediators, meditation, mind control, and demonic spirits (Isaiah 47:1215).

Spirituality – What is True Spirituality True spirituality involves a daily trust in the One that created us. [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or power or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:1517).

It is not a religion that holds us to a set of rules or traditions. It is not attained through any human worthiness. It is about a relationship that God offers us, an eternal life with Him.

What is your response?

Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus

Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus

I still have questions

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Spirituality What is spirituality?

From prophets to profit: The colonisation of African spirituality – The Daily Vox (blog)

In the beginning nothing existed but the Fertile Darkness, floating on the invisible River of Time. There was no sun, there were no stars, nor the light of the moon; no earth, no brooks or rivers, no animals, no people. Nothing existed but nothingness and a darkness that overspread all. But there was a trouble, a stirring in the darkness, a desire arose in the River of Time, a desire for something, for the Fertile Darkness to give birth to something out of nothing. It was a strange mating between Time and Nothing, but from it came one tiny spark of Living Fire. And the Living Fire was consciousness

This story from Zulu Shaman by Credo Mutwa describes how this single instance of consciousness felt a great loneliness in this vast empty darkness. This is the origin of that loneliness all creatures feel when confronting the vastness of everything. Existential angst, if you will.

This spark, fought back this loneliness by acknowledging itself: I am, the spark wailed, I AM! Nothingness felt this Something, and did not like it, for Something negates Nothing, and Nothing wished to destroy it.

It continues to observe that this eternal battle between Something and Nothing, between Light and Dark, Heat and Cold, is the nature of existence It is the Great Struggle on which all Life depends. Unkulunkulu (the Great Spirit) watches over this battle that must always be fought but can never be won.

The people of ancient Africa had cosmologies that were their very own. They told each other stories of where we came from. The ancient Zulus saw the Earth as a mother and cows were a gift from the gods. They sang to the crops while they were tending to them to encourage growth. They even had a contingency plan for when the fire visitors came by.

These may read like naive tales and superstitions but there are discoveries that tell us that these beliefs arent entirely unfounded: for example, researchers in Australia found that plants exhibit chemical changes when stimulated by touch and sound. This study confirms what Africa has known for centuries.

Physical and metaphysical

Spirituality for Africans was a holistic system that was used to explain and understand everything about the world. When a person became ill, it was as much the result of an infection as it was an imbalance in their life or a breakdown with one of their ancestors. African spirituality doesnt subscribe to a theocratic system. It is more about cosmologies; the origins of the universe and ways of living both the physical and metaphysical.

Family is an important institution. There was no distinction between extended family and the nuclear family. Everyone had a role to play when it came to raising children. In the Zulu family, uGogo (grandmother) was given the duty of entertaining children with ancient fairytales and myths. The malume(mothers brother) taught them about the history of their tribe and family. He also gave them the sex talk.

The arrival of the colonisers to the shores of Africa naturally meant that the immigrants brought along with them their own worldviews, religions, and cultures. Professor of indigenous African religions at Harvard Divinity School, Jacob Olupona, explains that African spirituality has always been adaptive. He sees the other faith as complementing and even adding spiritual potency to his own spiritual practice. Unlike the Judaic religions in their traditionalist attitude, wisdom for Africans was wisdom regardless of whence it came. Naturally, the immigrants ways became part of the African way.

This factor, coupled with the ideological hegemony that is colonialism, is what led to the almost successful colonisation of Africas spirituality.

Land and prayer

Throughout Africas ancient past, there were foreign groups that claimed territories, but no group was more pervasive and damaging than the Europeans. They lay unfounded claim to not only to the land, its people, and resources, but also to her peoples metaphysical and spiritual worldview.

Missionaries were tasked the foot soldiers of European ideology and culture. When a missionary arrived in an untouched area, they were welcomed by the people living there, bestowing the settler with land to build their church, school, and clinic.

The missionary clinics provided modern healthcare, improving infant mortality, and the schools were where most of Africas resistance activists were educated. But their motives were impure: in order for them to have access to these resources, Africans had to barter their faith and culture.

The Christian missionaries held mistaken beliefs that in order to become Christian, one had to denounce ones culture. They instilled in their lessons the notion that what was African was heathen and inferior. Some common adjectives used by missionaries to describe African spirituality include vile, abomination, and witchcraft.

The Bible was used to legitimise the oppression of Africans to Africans; missionaries preached that colonial rule was ordained by God. One missionary in Sudan, Jan H Boer, wrote: Colonialism is a form of imperialism based on a divine mandate and designed to bring liberation spiritual, cultural, economic and political by sharing the blessings of the Christ-inspired civilisation of the West.

The people they were liberating, he believed, were suffering under satanic oppression.

While some of the tribes of South Africa readily accepted the presence of the missionaries, others resisted. The Zulu, Pedi, and Pondo would move away from missionary settlements, and converts were either given medicine to purge their bodies, or were ostracised to living in those settlements.

Despite the continuing spread of missionary presence into southern Africa, by the time of the Anglo-Zulu conflict of 1879, very few converts had moved over to Christianity. What helped the missionaries cause was the leveraging of the colonised arable land.

Some African spiritual knowledge and practices in combination with Christianity were allowed by the missionaries. When they had trouble increasing the numbers, they would, for example, allow them to pray to the Christian God through their ancestors. Those that successfully resisted being proselytised were forced to to continue their practices in secret.

Dual identities

Christianity and Islam have grown exponentially across Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa 57% of the population are Christian, while 29% practice Islam. Only 13% follow African spirituality.

A common characteristic among Africans is that they observe a specific faith while, at the same time perform some or other indigenous practice. The ritual of paying lobola to the brides family is an integral part of the marriage process for modern black South Africans. It is also quite normal for weddings to have two ceremonies: the white wedding performed at a church, and a traditional wedding.

Going further in the investigation of ancient African spirituality and metaphysics, there are some similarities that can be found between it and other cultures around the world. Sangomas practice meditation to get in touch with their powers. There is an energetic force called umbilini, which is described as a coiled snake at ascends through the spine when awakened. This is the source of a sangomas powers. Hindu spirituality also observes this energetic force and its described in the very same way. It is called kundalini. The names even sound the same.

The ability of Africans to manoeuvre their spirituality around religions is testament to the strength and dynamic nature of African spirituality. How Africans easily modify their beliefs with the beliefs of others is mistakenly seen as a weakness. This nature and attitude should be celebrated. It considers all faiths and spiritual wisdom equal and adopting those beliefs bolsters existing beliefs. We, as Africans, need to focus on renewing our appreciation of African metaphysical knowledge and remove the perceptions we adopted from European ideology about them.

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From prophets to profit: The colonisation of African spirituality – The Daily Vox (blog)

Paganism – All About Spirituality

Paganism What is It? Paganism has been broadly defined as anyone involved in any religious act, practice, or ceremony which is not Christian. Jews and Muslims also use the term to refer to anyone outside their religion. Others define it as religions outside of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, while some simply define it as being without a religion.

In the strictest sense, paganism refers to the authentic religions of ancient Greece and Rome as well as surrounding areas. It originated from the Neolithic (Stone Age) era. The term, pagan, is derived from the Latin word, paganus, which means a country dweller. The pagan usually has a belief in many gods (polytheistic), but only one is chosen as the one to worship which represents the chief god and supreme godhead.

As Christianity progressed into the present age, a pagan became referred to anyone not being a Christian, and paganism denoted a non-Christian belief or religion. If the religion did not fit into the Judeo-Christian-Islamic or Eastern mould, then one practicing that religion was said to be involved in paganism.

Paganism What is the history? History records that worship of many gods, goddesses, and deities was viewed by people as important in worship. It was thought that everything had a spirit and was polytheistic, so people had gods and goddesses of the forest, sea, and all aspects of nature.

When the civilizations began to change and develop, the gods grew and changed with the people as they began to acquire gods of their occupations, or gods relevant to their village life. The old gods remained, but were changed or conformed to the changing lives of the people. Gods played an important role in every aspect of society influencing everything from laws and customs to general workings of the community. Reincarnation (rebirth of the body into another bodily form) was believed by the people, but they did not believe in the existence of heaven and hell.

Today, Paganism (neo-paganism) celebrates the Earth, living creatures, nature, and so on. Most modern-day pagans believe in more than one god, while others are atheistic.

Paganism What are some pagan systems and religions?

Paganism How does it compare with Christianity? It is difficult to compare paganism with Christianity since the term pagan can be used to identify many different sects and beliefs.

These are the major differences, out of many:

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another (Romans 1:22-24). Learn More About Jesus!

What is your response?

Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus

Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus

I still have questions

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Paganism – All About Spirituality

Spirituality: Abstaining from a negative focus – Elmira Star-Gazette

Norris Burkes 6:03 a.m. ET Feb. 16, 2017

Chaplain Norris Burkes.(Photo: Wade Spees / Provided Photo)

Theres a joke that asks, How do you tell difference between Catholics and Baptists in a liquor store? The answer is, The Catholics are the only ones talking to each other.

My father, a good Baptist pastor, didnt like that joke. His strategy toward liquor stores was to avoid them entirely. He was fond of the biblical teaching to Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). The verse is a catchall for those who condemn what the Bible doesnt specifically oppose.

In my fathers case, it was alcohol. No surprise given the fact that our Southern Baptist church covenant encouraged members to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks. If any member tried reminding my dad, their pastor, that Jesus turned water into wine, they were told that the wine was likely the most excellent grape juice.

My dad made his stance clear to all who knew us by banning his family from shopping at the local liquor store for even so much as a carton of milk. After all, he reasoned, a brown bag filled with milk and bread might be mistaken by the town gossip as restocking our secret liquor cabinet.

Prohibiting our car from the liquor store would not be enough to protect his reputation. Unfortunately, a local Catholic family owned a van identical to our two-toned Dodge. They often parked that van at the local tavern on Saturday night and at the Catholic church on Sunday morning. I dont know which was worse for my Baptist father being mistaken for a drinker or a Catholic.

While my dad was always sober, his driving made some think otherwise. One afternoon, he was backing out of a parking space when he hit another car. He saw this accident as an opportunity to repaint his van in three new tones a true reversal of colors. No more mistaken identity.

My fathers battle took a new venue when he brought us to the grand opening of the new Safeway in our small town. Overwhelmed by variety, each of us packed the cart with our choice of cereals, meat, chocolate milk and three pounds of candy from the bins.

After we pushed our groceries through the checkout line, my dad wrote a check for the whopping $100 total. The clerk told him hed need to get manager approval for the check and directed my dad to go to the man standing at the liquor counter.

My father said no. He engaged the clerk in a contest of the wills, telling him that hed not risk his reputation being seen at the liquor counter. No one blinked. The manager kept his post, and the clerk kept his. In the end, the loser was the poor clerk, who had to restock our groceries while my father marched his empty-handed family from the store.

Honestly, I have few complaints that my father steered his children away from any desire to drink alcohol. However, I do find some sadness around religious teaching that is too focused on what we are supposed to abstain from, rather than what we are supposed to be drawn toward.

Over the years, Ive found more value in verses that teach positive action, like Psalm 34:14: do good; seek peace and pursue it. I suppose that means, if you spend your time looking for good, you wont have time for evil.

Some years later, I joined the Air Force, where I was fortunate enough to meet some Catholic priests who taught me to appreciate a good wine. These days, I still dont consider myself a drinker, but I will say I can enjoy a nice glass of wine but usually only in a darkened tavern with priests or poets.

Contact Norris Burkes atthechaplain.netor write him via P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA, 95759.

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Spirituality: Abstaining from a negative focus – Elmira Star-Gazette

Author of The Shack talks spirituality at Lifetree Caf – Port St. Joe Star

William Paul Young, best known as the author of The Shack, will discuss the difference between being spiritual and being religious in a filmed interview at Lifetree Caf

William Paul Young, best known as the author of The Shack, will discuss the difference between being spiritual and being religious in a filmed interview at Lifetree Cafat 7 p.m. CT on Monday, Feb. 20.

Nearly 30 percent of Americans identify themselves as spiritual but not religious, and the trend is growing. Youngs best-seller has prompted a national discussion of the difference between spirituality and religion.

I make a distinction between the church as an organization and the church as people, says Young. Biblically speaking, the church is people. Its only people. They didnt have the buildings, the structures, or platforms. Its simply people.

The Lifetree event, titled Spiritual but Not Religious, offers participants the opportunity to explore the issue in a safe, open environment.

Admission to the 60-minute event is free. Snacks and beverages are available. Lifetree Caf is located at 1602 U.S. Highway 98 in Mexico Beach across from El Governor Motel.

Lifetree Caf is a place where people gather for conversation about life and faith in a casual coffeehouse-type setting. Questions about Lifetree may be directed to Gary Grubb at 334-806-5667 or livingwater@livingwateratthebeach.com.

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Author of The Shack talks spirituality at Lifetree Caf – Port St. Joe Star

Banner night as Woodstock Academy wins 8th straight ECC gymnastics title – Norwich Bulletin

The Rev. Cal Lord For The Bulletin

I looked out the window of the exercise room at the gym and thought to myself, Someone else has a car just like ours. I did a double take wondering if Lori had come by looking for me. Then I realized she didnt know where I was.

The fact that our van is 14 years old makes it stand out. There is no mistaking it. There just arent too many of them left on the road. So what were the chances that there would be a similar one out in the parking lot?

Still puzzled by the mystery, I looked out about a half an hour later. It was still there. I glanced over to where I had parked the Prius and I couldnt find it. Thats when it dawned on me that the mysterious van was ours. I had the van today.

Call it a senior moment. I was glad I hadnt mentioned it to anyone. How could I forget something like that? Seems so silly. Thats when it hit me that this wasnt the first time I jumped to a wrong conclusion on something I had seen.

I think a lot of us are prone to do that. Whether it is something weve seen on Facebook or some event we witnessed first-hand, we make a lot of assumptions about what we are seeing. We develop motives, see rationales and assess guilt.

It is easy to make snap judgments. The problem is that they are often wrong. We dont have all the facts. We only know part of the equation. We fill in the blanks with information that helps define our own narrative.

God tells to be slow to anger. He tells us to hold our tongues. He says not to judge. He calls on us to forgive and turn the other cheek. He challenges us to have humility. I wonder what would happen if we approached life like that?

I think there would be more room for conversation, for true understanding and for the peace and love of God to filter through all of our relationships. The world needs that now, more than ever. So hop in. Ive got a van. Lets change the world together by embracing Gods way.

God bless! See you in church.

The Rev. Cal Lord, of Norwich, is the pastor of Central Baptist Church of Westerly. Reach him at calstigers@gmail.com.

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Banner night as Woodstock Academy wins 8th straight ECC gymnastics title – Norwich Bulletin

Spirituality and skewers at Singapore’s Thaipusam festival in pictures – The Guardian

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Spirituality and skewers at Singapore’s Thaipusam festival in pictures – The Guardian

Sacred Teachings: A professor’s journey in Native American spirituality – Channel3000.com – WISC-TV3

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I had never met a Native American or been to a reservation when I was asked to teach Native American spirituality more than 20 years ago at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. The class included a two-week camping trip to Montana, and although I had never camped without my husband and three sons, I said yes. One of my sons participated in a previous class trip to Montana and it had such a positive impact on him that I wanted other students to have that experience, too.

I made that 4,300-mile journey 15 times with Dominican students and each trip was not only unique, but also a laboratory for learning. These experiences convinced me that getting students out of the classroom, at least for part of a course, gives them the opportunity to grasp what they are reading and studying in a profound way. The Oglala Lakota people in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the Blackfoot people in Browning, Montana, and the Cree-Chippewa people on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation in Montana welcomed us, shared with us and deepened our understanding of history, spirituality and the challenges that face them. And I have been able to connect with my Native American heritage thatas an adopted person raised in the New York suburbsI hadnt known about until 12 years ago, when I wrote to the adoption agency from which I was placed and discovered that my lineage includes Lumbee and Navajo.

I have carried on the practice of community-based learning at Edgewood College, where I teach a course in Native American spirituality. I invite elders and teachers from some of Wisconsins 11 federally recognized tribes to come to my class to share their traditions, and I get the students out into nature. Our trips to tribal communities in Wisconsin allow my students to meet and interact with people, in particular the grandmothers of the tribes, to learn about the differences in the worldviews of the dominant culture and native people. One critical difference is the way we look at the earth. For many tribes, the earth is our mother. You dont own her and she provides all that we need. We are to treat the land with respect, and so another essential piece of the course is for the students to research and develop a project on protecting the environment, and, in particular, how native people are working for change in government policies.

Since moving to the Madison area three years ago, my husband, Neil, and I have become involved with Madison 350, a group working against the proposed Enbridge pipeline through Wisconsin. Enbridge is the Canadian company responsible for the oil spill in Michigans Kalamazoo River in 2010, and its existing pipeline travels through 14 waterways in Wisconsin and traverses reservation lands. I work with people in Madison and on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe reservation in northern Wisconsin to try to prevent the parallel pipeline that is now under construction. I use this effort as an example of an environmental issue that intersects with native values.

Such issues rarely get widespread media attention. However, the ongoing protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota has drawn national media coverage in recent months. In light of the gathering of people at Standing Rock, we are renewing our efforts here, and some of my students have become involved in this work, and some have also gone to North Dakota to support the people there. I see great commitment from the students to engage in this struggle, both in the projects they develop and in their actions. In November, we traveled to the Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles reservations. One of the women whose home we visited was Tinker Schuman at Lac du Flambeau. Schuman is a teacher, a pipe carrier and leader of ceremonies for her people. She shared a ceremony with my students that included prayer and song. The experience was profoundsomething the students will long remember. The next day we drove to Lac Courte Oreilles and visited tribal elder Maryellen Baker, who gathered us around her kitchen table and told us stories. She talked about why Native American tobacco is sacred to the Anishinaabe people, and she gave each student some tobacco to offer their own prayer to the Creator.

Baker has been my teacher for many years. She is one of the water walkersgrandmothers, women and men who have walked the circumference of the Great Lakes, offering prayers for the waters so they will remain pure for future generations. Last summer, I was on a committee that worked with Baker to plan a symposium at Lac Courte Oreilles called Women and Water Coming Together. It was five days filled with prayer, teachings from the water walkers and ceremonies, as well as incredible music and tribal songs. Many of the women who attended have since traveled to North Dakota to stand with the water protectors there. The response to the women and water symposium was so great that we will be hosting another gathering at the reservation next summer, Aug. 5-10, called Women and Men Together for Water. It will be open to the public.

I consider it an incredible gift to teach and learn from my students. As they present their discoveries, my own knowledge deepens. My Anishinaabe name is Baswewekwe, which means Resounding Echo Woman. I asked about the meaning and was told that as a teacher, my words would live long after my spirit walked on. I want those words to be good and true.

Kathy Heskin is a theologian and adjunct professor at Edgewood College.

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Sacred Teachings: A professor’s journey in Native American spirituality – Channel3000.com – WISC-TV3