Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ghost Ranch: apostasy or an X written on our forehead?

God led the prophet Ezekiel through a smorgasbord of apostasy, idolatry and nature worship committed by the leaders and people of Jerusalem. In Babylonian exile, in a vision, Ezekiel was shown the many gods worshiped by both priests and people, by both women and men. (Chapter 8) Publically the priests of Judah showed their contempt for their God by literally, in the temple, turning their back on him as they worshiped the sun. Secretly the elders of Jerusalem worshipped all of the creature gods of other nations. The women, in a lack of love for the Lord, wept for the god Tammuz, “a Sumerian god of vegetation.” [1]  

Likewise, exploring, on their web site, Ghost Ranch, a conference center owned by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), but used by many other denominations and religions one is confronted by apostasy, idolatry and nature worship. I have written about Ghost Ranch before, but now, even more so, there is a gathering of all that would detract from the grace and beauty of Jesus. It is, on the outside, new age sentimentality—one could pick out a few wise thoughts—but at its inner-core it is demonic and as dark and cold as the bottom of Dante’s hell.

There is a workshop, Healing Grief: Around the Sacred Wheel, led by a woman who is a practicing shaman. The bio of Cheryl Downey states, “Since 2000 she has also trained, practiced and mentored women and men in spiritual healing and the sacred arts from within universal shamanic teachings that empower the wisdom of woman and nature.” It also states:

“…the Sacred Wheel is an ancient and simple tool for illuminating and shifting deeply held, blocked or knotted energies within the four basic directional aspects of our grieving self: physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. Whether experiencing acute or long-held losses of loved ones or pets, or life transitions such as loss of job, home, physical health, or empty nest, the Wheel turns at the pace you need and can trust.”

Another workshop is Spiritual Activism: Working with Ancient Wisdom to Create a Better Tomorrow. Part of the description states, “Interfaith dialog and conversations have their place, but the magic of transformation and transcendence truly happen when we combine the sacred teachings of all the great wise ones of the ages. We can dwell there, breathing deeply, being present to Oneness.” The capitalization of ‘oneness’ in the text implies that all of reality is one and divine.

Another workshop, A Thousand Blossoms: Cultivating Your Inter-Spiritual Nature. This workshop lead by Mirabai Starr. The description states:

Join us on Wednesday, November 16 for acclaimed author, translator, and speaker, Mirabai Starr, in an exploration of the many ways human beings bear witness to the presence of the Divine. By saying yes to the sacred in multiple holy houses — Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Mystical Judaism and Christian mysticism—we affirm the unitive essence at the heart of the world’s great wisdom traditions and activate that inner knowing in service to a world hungry for connection. In Cultivating Your Inter-Spiritual Nature, using a contemplative approach and drawing on the poetry of the mystics, Mirabai offers a direct experience of the love that welcomes everyone to the table.”

In other words Mirabai offers a connection to God through the use of all of the world’s religious texts, in particular the mystical ones. She sadly mistakes the personal God encountered in Jesus Christ for the impersonal spirit forces of eastern religion. And she, as do most of these other leaders, offers religious practice as a means of knowing some kind of divine presence. The workshops are devoid of a redeeming savior.

Mirabai’s workshop is offered as a pre-event before a retreat for Spiritual Companions and Soul Care Workers. This is a retreat meant especially for those who have in the past participated in Ghost Ranch’s spiritual directors program StillPoint. The participants in this program come from various denominations. Mirabai’s workshop is a clue to the kind of training they receive. There is a video on Mirabai’s workshop site. It is an interview by Rich Archer of the Buddha at the Gas Pump.

Answering a question about what makes fundamentalist tick Mirabai states:

“I’m much more interested in the questions, I get very nervous when anyone has an answer for me and I myself continuously, maybe it’s an inquiry based inclination in me, but as soon as I think I start to have it figured out I fire, I fire the god that I just elected and enthroned in my consciousness.”

Mirabai explains her spiritual background which includes many new age gurus from the sixties and seventies. She talks of her interest in mystical Christianity but even though she has translated them she seems to put an eastern religious focus to their writings. She along with her interviewer, believes that religion is evolving and the implication is that at some point although there will be diversity there will be an understanding that all religions in their essence will be one. (I am placing the video at the end of this posting so the reader can have an idea of what is being promoted at Ghost Ranch.)

There are many other such classes listed—the flavors are slightly different than the false gods of Judah, but they are nevertheless false, frightfully false. Various minsters and priests receive this apostate teaching carrying it out to other parts of the mainline denominations. Yes, religion will evolve, that which is on unstable ground will drift into nothing or become so evil that they will, as they have begun to do, combine the falseness with immorality and oppression. 

In Ezekiel, as God brings judgment on the city of Jerusalem, he has an angel mark the foreheads of those who “sign and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” (9:4b) John B. Taylor in his commentaries points out that this was a kind of X. He states that the early Christians believed this was a sign pointing to the cross. That the prophets, as usual, were pointing to something of which they were unaware.

Against the apostasy of such places as Ghost Ranch and the denominations that allow it to flourish stands the cross—the grace open to sinners. (We all are) Christ Jesus is surely pleading with his people to be and stay faithful to him.

[1] John B. Taylor, Ezekiel: An Introduction & Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, general editor, D. J. Wiseman, (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press).


Anonymous said...

“I’m much more interested in the questions, I get very nervous when anyone has an answer for me and I myself continuously, maybe it’s an inquiry based inclination in me, but as soon as I think I start to have it figured out I fire, I fire the god that I just elected and enthroned in my consciousness.”

So she either 1) has no answers to offer anyone, in which case listening to her is useless; or 2) does have answers that she willingly shares, but is too wrapped up in an ideology to recognize it; or 3) finds answers to life's questions and rejects them just because they are answers, because she hasn't got a clue what truth is. In any event, she sounds like a loon, and the people who run Ghost Ranch ought to, but obviously aren't, embarrassed to give such a loon their imprimatur by inviting her.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Viola Larson said...

It seems her absolute is there is no truth one can claim which of course is a contradiction.

Andy Vloedman said...

Muggeridge wrote: One of the peculiar sins of the 20th century which we've developed is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.
The proof of his statement is Ghost Ranch or the online spiritual flea market John Shuck oversees.

Jodie said...

I have a much bigger problem with people who pretend to believe but do not, than with people who pretend not to believe, but do. Eventually they loose every ability to tell the difference between fact and fiction, and literally do not know when they are lying and when they are not.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, Ca