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Association for Spiritual Integrity Cultivating …

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The Association for Spiritual Integrity (ASI) is a voluntary, inclusive, international organization of spiritual leaders, teachers and guides, offering membership to a supportive community of peers to teachers who agree to abide by a code of good and ethical practice, and commit to their ongoing professional, personal and spiritual evolution.

You are invited to explore the resources and information offered in this website, and encourage you to attend our upcoming online events. Lets keep this conversation going!

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March 30th, 2020 at 5:55 am

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The Intuitive Healer Training Program | Wendy De Rosa’s …

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Praise for Wendy De Rosa & the Intuitive Healer Training Program

Past students RAVE about the Intuitive Healer Training Program. This is the most in-depth, evolutionary, supportive, and powerful training and certification course of its kind. But you dont have to take our word for it

Im weaving the tools into my therapeutic work with my clients.The tools Im learning within the program are helping to heal me at such deep levels. And, Im weaving them throughout my therapeutic work with clients. I appreciate your work and your teachings! Meryl Fields, MFT, California

A commitment to my intuitive knowledge.As a result of taking the Intuitive Healer Training Program, I see the importance of connecting to Divine source throughout the day. I seal myself (energetically) when I am about to spend time around draining people or in negative situations. I take care of myself and remove myself as a way of getting what I need. I have much gratitude for my gifts, commitment to my intuitive knowledge. I have gotten to know my body energetically and have a deeper appreciation for the support I can feel and sense in the universe Beth DeGennaro

Im connected to the Divine and to my light.I feel like I am a better, healthier, kinder, more gentle and compassionate person having gone through the training program. I am connected to the Divine, to grace, to my light. Wendy, I have so much gratitude for you. You are such a light! Such a gift and I feel so deeply blessed and honored to have you in my life. Meryl, Connecticut

I own my emotions, energy and power, now.I feel so peaceful in my skin compared to what I used to be. I own my emotions now. I can feel extreme anger and within a few minutes, let it go. I also own my power. I used to avoid challenging and difficult conversations. I also own my energy and I can tell what is not mine. Yvette Herbert

I have the tools now to establish energetic boundaries.Im owning my voice much more. Though my family of origin canand doesstill trigger me, Ive now got tools to help me establish energetic boundaries.. Im owning my power to choose how much to give to others.. I have acknowledged, cried, and worked to release past wounds that got completely overlooked in the pasteven though Ive done decades of therapy. My intuitive sense can be harnessed, instead, as a gift and I can learn how to protect my energy. Anonymous

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March 30th, 2020 at 5:55 am

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Keys to Unlocking Your Past Lives – A Free 90 Minute Workshop –

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Posted: March 5, 2020 at 12:46 pm

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AGNES PELTON was fifty years old when she left New York for the village of Cathedral City, six miles southeast of Palm Springs in the California desert. By 1932, a conspiracy of sun, sand, and settler-colonial ideology had made the state a mecca for visionaries and seekers, attracted by landscapes seemingly unspoiled by human intervention, temporalities seemingly unburdened by the past. In Peltons 1941 painting Future, obscure shadows part to reveal two stone towers. Suggestive of those that marked the towns entrance, they float just above the horizon and flank a distant lavender hill. Overhead, four little portals arranged in a cruciform pattern perforate the bleached sky. Pelton wrote that the work represented a kind of Pilgrims Progress. Through darkness + oppression, across a stony desert and through a symbolic arch is seen a mountain of vision, above which open by degrees, windows of illumination.

The first solo show devoted to Pelton in about a quarter century, Desert Transcendentalist opened last year at the Phoenix Art Museum (where it was organized by chief curator Gilbert Vicario) and on March 13 travels to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (where it will be overseen by curator Barbara Haskell). Its arrival in Manhattan has been prepared by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museums record-busting 201819 retrospective of Swedish painter and mystic Hilma af Klint, to whom Pelton will likely be compared. Both artists put their academic training to work in accomplished yet conventional landscapes, reserving abstraction to convey their vision of a reality beyond the material world. They also drew on overlapping occult sources and shared a decentered view of their authorial agency, seeing themselves as conduits for spiritual forces rather than as autonomous creators. Their contemporary reception has coincided with a surge of institutional interest in underknown women artists and with a broader cultural mainstreaming of astrology, witchcraft, and alternative spirituality (a phenomenon not overlooked at the Guggenheim gift shop, which stocked Ouija boards, tarot cards, and other esoterica during the run of the af Klint show). That said, Peltons organic language of evolutionary processes differs from the diagrammatic tendency of much of af Klints work, and each artist deserves to be considered on her own terms (one shudders at the prospect of cringey epithets like the Coachella Hilma af Klint). The comparison is nonetheless instructive. While af Klint and Pelton were steeped in the heady arcana of their historical moment, their contemporary reception is very much a symptom of our own, speaking to an exhaustion with the art-historical canon and a hunger for meaning outside the domain of empirical data and official institutions.

Born in 1881 to American parents in Stuttgart, Germany, Pelton moved with her family to Brooklyn when she was seven. Timorous, shy, and plagued by neurasthenic episodes and mysterious ailments, she grew up in the long shadow of the nineteenth centurys most notorious sex scandal. In 1872, free-love advocate, spiritualist, and presidential candidate Victoria Woodhullrunning on the Equal Rights Party ticket with Frederick Douglassrevealed that renowned pastor and social reformer Henry Ward Beecher was living in concubinage with Agness grandmother Elizabeth Tilton, who was married to a prominent newspaper editor and abolitionist. The ensuing adultery trial rocked progressive Brooklyn and ruined the Tilton family. Agness mother, Florence, was sent away to Germany, where she married William Pelton, the expatriate failson of a Louisiana plantation owner. He died when Agnes was nine, and Florence gave music lessons and took in boarders to make ends meet. From the time of puberty, Pelton recalled, I was much inclined to melancholy and tears, which was probably aggravated by being the only child in a household of deeply religious and perhaps unnecessarily serious people.

Pelton began her formal study of art in 1895 at the Pratt Institute. Among her instructors was painter and educator Arthur Wesley Dow, who espoused the Japanese value of notan (the harmonious contrast of dark and light) and encouraged intuitive expression over mimetic verisimilitude. In the 1910s, his students Georgia OKeeffe and Max Weber would radicalize his ideas in adventurous abstractions, while Peltons output from this timecrepuscular idylls of willowy maidens adrift in grottoes and wooded landscapesclung to the late-Symbolist manner of Louis Michel Eilshemius, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and Arthur B. Davies. These Imaginative Paintings, as the artist called them, were congenial to the tentative modernism then emerging in New York. They were exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show, among other venues, and attracted patrons including Greenwich Village salon-nire Mabel Dodge Luhan, who would expose Pelton to the desert when she invited her to stay at her estate in Taos, New Mexico, in 1919.

A few months prior to this trip, Pelton wrote in her journal that her Imaginative Paintings were beginning to feel insincere, not real. She wanted her art to reflect perfect consciousness and Divine Reality. As art historian Erika Doss points out in her contribution to the Desert Transcendentalist catalogue, these words were lifted from the writing of spiritual leader Helena Blavatsky. Famed cofounder of the ancestral New Age faith theosophy, Blavatsky held that the worlds many belief systems were based on an atavistic religion organized around a single, metaphysical Absolute. Synthesizing elements of Neoplatonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Kabbalah, and other traditions, theosophy aimed to elevate and enlighten humanity by retrieving this forgotten universal knowledge. Like af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and other moderns, Pelton was drawn to the creeds idealist teleology of human perfectibility, finding in it an exotic alternative to scientism, materialism, and mainstream Christianity.

When her mother died in 1921, Pelton, now forty, moved to the abandoned Hayground Windmill near Water Mill, Long Island. There she painted The Ray Serene, 1925, a gestural, Kandinsky-esque churn of psychedelic vapors and whiplash curves, designating it My First Abstraction on the back of the canvas. Two works from the following year cathect on the form of a luminous sphere, enveloped in a tornado of gesture in Being and embubbled by nacreous globules in The Fountains. In the latter work, the multiplying rondures and the yellow solar disk overhead suggest Blavatskys successor Annie Besants description of the cosmos as a mighty solar system, the sun representing the LOGOS and, coming outwards, orb after orb, each orb representing a plane of the universe. Cowritten with self-styled clairvoyant Charles Webster Leadbeater, Besants 1901 treatise Thought-Forms: A Record of Clairvoyant Investigation provided Pelton with a symbology of colors and shapes believed to possess transhistorical meanings. As scholar Nancy Strow Sheley noted in her dissertation on Pelton, her 1928 painting Ecstasy features the symbol of the curving hook, identified by Besant and Leadbeater with selfishness and greed. The artist explains in an accompanying poem that the cluster of yellow tendrils represents a blooming flower harassed by the ugly hook of darkness, the scythe-like form lurking near the compositions bottom edge.

The same year she painted Ecstasy, Pelton traveled to California for eight months and became immersed in a South Pasadena spiritualist colony called the Glass Hive. She sketched lotuses, symbols of self-renunciation, at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. The flower would eventually mature into the golden inflorescence presiding over Ahmi in Egypt, 1931, a delirious nocturne replete with a white swan, strange conical mountains, and swirling celestial activity.

On her return to New York, Peltons style, which had gurgled with Heraclitean flux and painterly incident, became more serene, hard-edge, and resolved. Symmetry, horizon lines, and landscape elements returned to her compositions, which began to suggest illusionistic depths and expanses. In Star Gazer, 1929, a pale-green chalice shelters a purple ovate form that evokes a schematic standing figure or budding flower. High above in the evening sky, a tiny six-pointed star represents Venus, a planet of antipatriarchal and anticlerical significance in theosophical cosmology. According to Blavatsky, Venus, the sister planet of our Earth, was sacrificed to the ambition of our little globe to show the latter the chosen planet of the Lord. She became the scapegoat, the Azaziel of the starry dome, for the sins of the Earth, or rather for those of a certain class in the human familythe clergywho slandered the bright orb by associating it with satanism.

Pelton labored to reconstruct her interior visions on canvas, realizing numinous tissues and lapidary volumes through successive glazes over months or even years.

The allure of the arcane was central to the af Klint cult that flourished across Instagram feeds last year, but the Swedish artists recourse to extrinsic systems of meaning posed a problem for some critics and historians. Taking af Klint seriously as an artist, in my view, actually requires us to take some critical distance from the mysticism that might have enabled her to make such innovative work, Briony Fer wrote in the Guggenheim catalogue. To focus only on the occult symbolic meanings of her work leads to an interpretive dead end. Like af Klints abstractionswhich Guggenheim visitors could experience on psychic tours where they practice[d] receiving spirit messages through select paintingsPeltons court para-aesthetic modes of reading that might open up meaning for some and close it down for others. In an effort to explore a wide range of possible responses to the artists work, Sheley showed the painting Challenge, 1940, to an expert in occult imagery, who decrypted the picture sign by sign, identifying the star flower as an indication of good character, the milky, pod-like form as a symbol of maternity unrealized, and each inky stipple as a cipher for a decision influenced by men in [Peltons] life. Such literal iconographic correspondences are, of course, anathema to modernism, with its emphases on subjective expression, self-criticism, and hermeneutic indeterminacy. For Pelton, the final significance of her art ultimately lay neither in the sensuous matter of the paintings themselves nor in any hermetic doctrine encapsulated within them, but in telegraphing between the phenomenal world and an empyreal nonsite at the edges of representation and consciousness. I feel somewhat like the keeper of a little lighthouse, Pelton wrote, the beam of which goes farther than I know, and illumines for others more than I can see.

Pelton labored to reconstruct her interior visions on canvas, realizing numinous tissues and lapidary volumes through successive glazes over months or even years. She eschewed improvisation and seriality. With the exception of her last work, Light Center, a luminous egg form veiled in a purple penumbra (painted first in 194748, then again in 196061), she never repeated a composition. She did, however, draw on a consistent body of images that included orbs, urns, mountains, and, perhaps most important, fire.

In 1930, Pelton befriended composer and astrologer Dane Rudhyar (n Daniel Chennevire), who became her spiritual guide and sympathetic critic. Steeped in Bergsonian vitalism and Jungian analysis as well as theosophy, Rudhyar was a principal theorist of what he called humanistic astrology, which strove to reconcile star divinations deterministic conception of human agency with depth psychology. It was likely through him that Pelton, who had been fascinated by the eruption of the volcano Klauea when visiting Hawaii in 1924, became a devotee of Agni Yoga, a neo-theosophical discipline devoted to the cosmic, purifying energy of fire. In two works from 1930, she imagines its essence as incandescent heat, manifested as an acanthus of flames in The Voice and as a shaft of Promethean radiance in the formidably minimal White Fire. Fires in Space, 1938, one of her most visceral compositions, scatters twelve conflagrations across a field of unstructured darkness, flickers of illumination in the abyss.

If Peltons fantasias at times seem as much in dialogue with Disney as with Kandinsky, its not disparaging her to say so, any more than its disparaging Kandinsky or af Klint to note their engagements with occultism.

When Peltons landlord sold the Hayground Windmill in 1932, she headed for California. Two years earlier, writes Doss, Time magazine was already reporting a flourishing of cults, of religious novelties, and new fashions in faiths in the state. Initially planning on a brief trip, Pelton stayed for the rest of her life, seeking painterly forms through modes of heightened consciousness like trance, prayer, and meditation. In Messengers, 1932, her first Cathedral City abstraction, a blue moon rises over a desert horizon and progenerates a shimmering urn crowned by stylized palms, evoking the thatched structures of the areas indigenous Cahuilla people. Like the glassy vessel of Star Gazer, this central motif appears to levitate from the bottom of the canvasa transcendent motion Rudhyar described as upward rush or upward aspiration.

Peltons asceticism, spiritual intensity, and isolation from mainstream centers of cultural production might tempt one to romanticize her as a hermit. In fact, she made lasting friendships with her neighbors, hosted studio visits and art exhibitions, and continued to show her work in New York and other US cities. Through Rudhyar, she began a correspondence in 1933 with Raymond Jonson, cofounder of the Transcendental Painting Group, a circle of southwestern artists committed to carry[ing] painting beyond the appearance of the physical world. The same year, she lent fourteen paintings to an exhibition Jonson arranged at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. Also included was the work of OKeeffe, to whom Pelton was often and unsurprisingly compared. Pelton, likely aware that their overlapping social networks, shared inspiration in nature, and midlife relocations to the western desert might invite conflation, teased out the differences between them in her journal: [Her] source is not the [same] source as AP [Agnes Pelton] . . . they are not seen primarily inside, in the realm of Ether (as I call it). . . . The joy [of OKeeffes work] is her own subjective reaction, the joy of spreading its rebound over the canvas for her external eye.

Whereas OKeeffes biomorphic forms were overdetermined by the sexualized framing (one that the artist unequivocally rejected) imposed on them by her partner Alfred Stieglitz, Peltons work seems less available to carnal interpretations. She never married; her sexuality remains a matter of speculation, and her squeamishness on the subject reflected the Victorian attitudes with which she was raised. The physicality and violent thrust (per her description) of Seeds of Date, 1935, one in a series of commercial painting she made for a fruit farm in California, caused her some retroactive distress. Pelton resolved to avoid sexual imagery in her abstractions. When a form appears to have a phallic resemblance, she wrote, use the force it represents without the form. (For the most part, her sublimations were successful, with the exception of the conspicuously erectile Ascent [aka Liberation], 1946.)

Even in Cathedral City, one could not live on divine inspiration alone. When the death of an uncle, who for years had helped her out with regular checks, left her in precarious financial straits, Pelton began painting plein air desert scenes for the tourist trade. Letters to her friends speak of chronic illness, money problems, and creative frustrations, particularly the strain of balancing her commercial production with her abstractions. In 1932, she painted two mountain pictures, San Gorgonio in the Spring, a picturesque view of flowering cacti and a distant snowcapped massif, and Mount of Flame, a hieratic peak scaled by little tongues of flame, its summit erupting in a spray of white mist: a symbol of the transformation of heat into Light. To return to such abstractions after her landscapes, she once wrote, was like painting with a moths wing and with music instead of paint.

Was the boundary between picturing the material world and her inner vision as hard as Pelton imagined? Not so in Winter, 1933, a bizarre, almost clumsy sublation of abstraction and figure painting, with its poshlost doves foregrounding an astronomical pink corolla blossoming from the sea. The work epitomizes the alluring wrongness of Peltons paintings, which look like modern art but also like design, advertising, and pop culture. There is something distinctly Moderne in her line, her bulbous yet tensile contours, while her curlicues and fronds and wings are reminiscent of interwar textiles and wallpaper. The glowing ovoid form in Light Center could be a sconce on a bathroom wall; the swan in Ahmi in Egypt could have been cut out of a magazine. Her polychrome hazes suggest neon on a rainy night. To a contemporary eye, works like Idyll, 1952a desert landscape brightly detourned by two translucent parabolic forms that refuse to quite make sense either as objects in pictorial space or as gestural marksmight register as virtuosic exemplars of good bad painting, but the elements of badness dont collapse into kitsch, at least not entirely, nor do they make her pictures any less compelling as explorations of inner worlds and esoteric visions.

If Peltons fantasias at times seem as much in dialogue with Disney as with Kandinsky, its not disparaging her to say so, any more than its disparaging Kandinsky or af Klint to note their engagements with occultism. Theosophy is one of modernisms limit concepts; so is kitsch. (And these two limits might not themselves be cleanly distinct. With its baroque eclecticism and spiritualist trappings, theosophy, one might say, was already kitsch.) Peltons paintings are gorgeously weird explorations of these limitsperhaps none more gorgeous, weird, even destructive than Day, 1935, painted after her exposure to the geometric work of Jonson and the Transcendental Painting Group. A vertical rectangle, scandalously Euclidean and infilled with a cool blue fade, establishes itself on a misty starlit mountain, canceling its illusionism. Although this is the closest she would come to true geometric abstraction, writes the late Michael Zakian, who curated Peltons first retrospective in 1995, the central rectangle is not a pure, autonomous form. A flow of pearly, Peltonian fluid bursts from its side, concluding in plumes of filmy opalescence. The artist called the shape the fountain with the open door. Its negative metaphysics is an invitation inside, to the realm of Ether.

Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, March 13June 28.

Chloe Wyma is an associate editor atArtforum.

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March 5th, 2020 at 12:46 pm

Ancient solutions: The shamanic view of mental illness – The Vermilion

Posted: February 4, 2020 at 9:55 am

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Disclaimer: This article does not attempt in any way, shape or form to diagnose or recommend treatment for any emerging mental illnesses or symptoms of mental illness, nor is the goal of this article to discredit any form of treatment. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or struggling with a mental illness, talk to your friends and family about the issue and find a doctor, hospital or treatment plan that works best for you. Never ignore your symptoms.

The world of medicine is an ever-evolving practice. While today we have relatively secure access to hospitals and a plethora of refined drugs at hand, many of these found their origins in home remedies, sometimes referred to as folk medicine." Tradition and cultural knowledge set important precedents, while the scientific evidence arrives much, much later. Here in Acadiana, you may have heard of the existence of traiteurs: healers who utilize a combination of prayer, knowledge of herbal medicine and a gift passed down through their bloodlines allowing them to interact with illness on a physical and metaphysical (or spiritual) level.

There is evidence of this phenomenon of emerging healers all across the world, finding roots in the most ancient and ancestral parts of various civilizations. Names differ across the globe, but many are described as shamans: individuals who are able to connect to the physical and spiritual worlds. Honing these spiritual abilities is often a traumatic experience, and without the proper guidance and training, it may result in insanity.

Common symptoms of individuals who may eventually claim to have these gifts are strange visions and dreams, hearing voices and unusual behaviors, often defined by Western medicine as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder or psychosis.

These very symptoms are similar to those exhibited by various religious figures throughout time. For example, Jesus is said to have fasted for 40 days in the desert, and now extreme fasting may have links to episodes of psychosis.

One man committed to aiding the emergence of these gifts and changing the perception of them in Western medical practices, Malidoma Patrice Som, Ph.D., a West African shaman.

Som first came to the United States in 1980 for graduate study, and has since gone on to earn three masters degrees and two doctorates from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University. When a fellow student was sent to a mental institute due to nervous depression, Som went to visit him. He was shocked with how mental illness was treated. In an email to Jayson Gaddis, who compiled some of Soms expertise in an article titled The Shamanic View of Mental Illness," Som writes:

I was so shocked. That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms Ive seen in my village.

It didnt make sense to Som that treatment plans were based on pathology, the idea that the symptoms of the condition need to stop, the complete opposite of how his culture views such a situation. The patients in straitjackets zoned out on medications and screaming disturbed him. Som thought to himself:

So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture. What a loss! What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted.

According to Som, a healer has high-voltage energy.

When it is blocked, it just burns up the person. Its like a short-circuit. Fuses are blowing. This is why it can be really scary, and I understand why this culture prefers to confine these people. Here they are yelling and screaming, and theyre put into a straitjacket. Thats a sad image.

In the tradition of the Dagara people, Soms native roots, treatment involves integration of these energies so that the healer is able to accept their gift or charge. Som has observed that a commonality amongst patients with mental disorders in the West is a very ancient ancestral energy that has been placed in stasis, that finally is coming out in the person. Ritual plays an important role in this integration.

One ritual that Som describes entails making a bonfire, and then putting into the bonfire items that are symbolic of issues carried inside the individuals It might be the issues of anger and frustration against an ancestor who has left a legacy of murder and enslavement or anything, things that the descendant has to live with.

Ancestors play an important role in the emergence of a spiritual healer; the West suffers from what Som details as a mass turning-of-the-back on ancestors. Some of the spirits trying to come through may be ancestors who want to merge with a descendant in an attempt to heal what they werent able to do while in their physical body.

Soms approach has gone on to help numerous people. In an article published in the Washington Post by Dick Russel entitled How a West African shaman helped my schizophrenic son in a way Western medicine couldnt," Russel describes the journey of his son Franklin, who began exhibiting an increase in psychotic symptoms that were associated with the onset of schizophrenia. After trying numerous medications and hospitals for his son, Russell found himself reading a book by Canadian evolutionary psychiatrist Joseph Polimeni, Ph.D., called Shamans Among Us, which theorized that schizophrenics are a modern manifestation of prehistoric tribal shamans. Russell details in his article: This spoke to me because, amid what appeared to be delusional ramblings, Frank had an uncanny ability to tune in to what I was thinking.

After a trip to Africa to undergo various rituals and later receiving advice and assistance from Som, Franklin went from having difficulty emerging from his room to going back to technical school for mechanical engineering, taking classes in gymnastics, boxing, skating, and participating in music and art therapy.

Russel writes: Franks mother and I have kept seeking connection with our ancestors through meditative rituals, which has made a difference in our own lives as well. These experiences, rather than taking Frank further out there, have had a grounding effect.

Franklin still lives in a group home and takes medication, but the improvement cant be ignored. Russell also cites studies done by the World Health Organization comparing schizophrenia outcomes in the U.S. and Europe with poorer nations like Nigeria and India, where only 16% of patients regularly take antipsychotic medications.

He writes: In one study, nearly two-thirds of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in developing countries had good outcomes after two years, compared to only 37 percent in wealthier nations where drugs are the standard of care.

Scholarship regarding this phenomenon isnt limited to Som or Polimeni. A journal published through the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of Adam Mickiewicz University by Danuta Penkala-Gawecka called Mentally ill or chosen by spirits? Shamanic illness and the revival of Kazakh traditional medicine in post-Soviet Kazakhstan describes these very same symptoms amongst people who are revered as healers there.

Like Som describes, the article details that these symptoms of shamanic illness represented a person chosen by the ancestor spirits to act as a bridge between earth and heaven.

The things they were feeling and hearing were entering the liminal phase of the rite of passage. Like the traiteurs of Acadiana, older folk beliefs were combined with newer ones; the shamans and spiritual healers of Kazakhstan utilize prayers from the Quran and supplications to Allah and saints in their practice.

Despite what you may believe about the supernatural and the otherworldly, the evidence that there are other, older ways to help people exhibiting these symptoms has been seen throughout history. There is a growing resurgence of folk remedies and treatments. People, especially black people, have been wanting to return to these ancient ways to reconnect with their ancestors, history, and in turn, themselves. With Latino Americans (24%) and African American (25%) persons diagnosed with psychotic disorder in significantly higher rates as compared to White Americans (18%), maybe its time to reframe how we think of these mental illnesses and perhaps even allow these emerging healers to answer the call.

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Ancient solutions: The shamanic view of mental illness - The Vermilion

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February 4th, 2020 at 9:55 am

Keith Leon S. to Host Walking with Angels Live Workshop & Book Signing – Broadway World

Posted: January 12, 2020 at 8:48 am

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In a powerful upcoming workshop, Keith Leon S. will share his vast knowledge on both angels and book publishing. At "Walking with Your Angels LIVE," attendees will learn how to directly access their own angels and inner guidance systems. This exciting event provides tools, tips and insights into how to communicate with angels and guides, supporting everyday life. At "How to Write and Market Your Own Bestselling Book," Leon S. helps writers create a solid plan for their book, mission and message with powerful tools and strategies.

Discover That There Are Earthbound Angels Among Us

Get Tools to Communicate With Your Own Angels and Guides

Learn How to Open Your Heart and Create Miracles in Your Life

Read About the Author's Unconventional Path to Living His Purpose

Receive Insights to Reveal Your Life's Path and Purpose

What: Walking with Angels Workshop & Book Signing

When: January 9, 2020

Tim: 6pm-8pm

Center of Spiritual Living

4849 N Dixie Hwy, Oakland Park, Fl 33334

tickets at door

Bestselling Author/"Book Guy" Helps You Gain Direct Access to Your Inner Guidance System and Write, Promote and Market Your Book through His Latest Book Release and Workshops During His National Event Tour

Do angels really exist? Bestselling author Keith Leon S. says they do-and he wants to share how and why they can help you fulfill your purpose. We live in a turbulent world, with fear and despair as major forces driving our current culture. Walking with My Angels is timely in its message of good news: we truly can find peace within. By connecting with our own inner guidance (our guardian angels), we can overcome challenges, find authentic happiness, and establish the path toward personal fulfillment.

A challenging upbringing rife with poverty, bullying and poor grades is a tough scenario for anyone to overcome. Add to that an early adulthood impacted by substance abuse and difficult life lessons including several near-death experiences, and you've got what most may view as a life destined for failure. Not so, however, for Leon S., who lived this exact life yet managed to turn it around with the help of his angels.

Angels led Leon S. to the path toward his purpose: to share his story with the world and help others access their own inner guidance systems. In fact, thirty years ago Leon S. received a message from his angels that he would write a book that would change lives. Little did he know at the time how true this message would become. Connected to his angels from an early age, Leon S. learned how to harness and accept the messages he received from his angels to make his life better. It wasn't easy, as oftentimes this "gift" felt like more of a curse and sent him into bouts of uncertainty. But, eventually, encounters with an earthbound angel presented him with a choice: to live or die.

His choice to live led him through an array of odd jobs, complicated relationship decisions and a journey through studying some of the great self-help influencers of our time. His introduction to the Law of Attraction aided him in not only finding his perfect mate, but in looking inward to make some big, but necessary, life changes. He discovered that as a "difference maker, "he would utilize his talents to create successful businesses in the field of publishing and, with his wife, would become a coach for seminar training companies. Much of his success is credited to a format for reaching out to people of influence called "right asking, "given to him by his angel. He now teaches authors and entrepreneurs how to write and market their own books. The angels had shown him another part of his life's purpose.

Leon S. is on a mission to bring joy and hope into the lives of everyone he meets, and everyone who reads this book. His books and live events will bring people together, and provide tools to get access to the answers that lie within.

Keith Leon S. has been writing books, speaking, publishing other people's books, and making a difference in the lives of others for over 15 years. His publishing company is well-established and trusted in the industry. Keith has done short tours and spoken all over the world. Now he plans to go out on the road for a full year. The author says, "I cannot tell you how excited I am! I may run into challenges and hurdles I know nothing about (being on the road for a year), and I am ready to meet those hurdles and get through them."

A multiple bestselling author, well-known speaker and talented musician, Leon S. has spoken at events that included Jack Canfield, Neale Donald Walsh, Barbara DeAngelis, John Gray, Michael Beckwith, and Marianne Williamson. He's made music with Stevie Wonder, Ben Vereen, Nancy Wilson, Keb Mo, and Carl Anderson. Keith has been led by angels since his early childhood, and now he shares his message with those who are ready and willing to hear it.

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Keith Leon is a multiple best-selling author, a book publisher and speaker who's well known as The Book Guy. His life purpose book called, Walking With My Angels: A True Story, with a foreword by Chicken soup for the Soul's Jack Canfield has just been released. Keith has appeared on numerous popular radio and television broadcasts and his works has been covered by Inc. Magazine, LA Weekly, The Huffington Post, Published Magazine and Succeed Magazine just to name a few. He has spoken at events that included Jack Canfield, Bob Proctor, Neale Donald Walsch, Joel Bauer, Barbara De Angelis, Dr. John Gray, Dr. Michael Beckwith and Marianne Williamson. He's also a member of the Evolutionary Business Council. Keith's passion is teaching people how to go from first thought to best seller, and to create what he calls, the world's greatest business card....and he also loves introducing people to their inner guidance system whom he calls heavenly helpers! Welcome to the show Keith Leon S.

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Keith Leon S. to Host Walking with Angels Live Workshop & Book Signing - Broadway World

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January 12th, 2020 at 8:48 am

Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington at UFC 245 highlights the best MMA card in years – The Daily Dot

Posted: December 5, 2019 at 3:48 pm

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In 2018, the UFC put on 38 events. Each event featured 10-15 fights, which means there were 450 fights last year, give or take. Of those 450, 18 were for title belts. So fans got to see a championship fight about once every three weeks. Even during this golden age of mixed martial arts and on-demand entertainment, meetings between the two best fighters in the world are rare.

Which makes UFC 245which features Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington in a main event that you can live stream on ESPN+something of an MMA miracle. As if making up for all those barren weeks and months, the event will feature not one but three title fights. The last time the UFC put that many championship fights on the same card, at UFC 217 in November 2017, all three belts changed hands.

Rose Namajunas knocked out the seemingly indestructible Joanna Jedrzejczyk, TJ Dillashaw reclaimed his bantamweight belt from arch-nemesis Cody Garbrandt, and former welterweight legend George St-Pierre reappeared after a three-year hiatus to beat Michael Bisping for the middleweight championship. The night was so full of tension and drama, it was almost unbearable to watch. And while theres no guarantee UFC 245 will provide anything like that, the chance to witness the greatest female fighter the world has ever known defending her belt, a prodigy angling to become the greatest featherweight the UFC has ever known, and a blood feud dripping with sociopolitical significance all in one night is too much to miss.

Heres everything you need to know to watch UFC 245 without cable.


When UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (15-1) faces Colby Covington (15-1) in Las Vegas, their fight will be fraught with all kinds of extra-Octagon resonance. Of course, fight writers love to say that. We live to ascribe metaphorical, political, even spiritual meaning to bouts for the sake of literature. But every once in a while, a fight actually does become something more, a stand-in for some bigger struggle. Like in 1936, when boxing heavyweights Joe Louis and Max Schmeling were the unwilling representatives of American pluralism and German racial tyranny in the run-up to World War II. Or 1962, when the first bout between Floyd Patterson and contender Sonny Liston became a battlefield in the Civil Rights-era war over black identity. Or 1971, when Muhammad Ali made racial politics the selling point for his first fight against Joe Frazier.

If the Usman-Covington fight had happened a few years ago, there would have been no such added significance. It would have been a straightforward battle between two wrestlers that would have attracted almost no attention outside the MMA communityand even some indifference inside of it. As great as they were as fighters during the early years of their UFC careers, Usman and Covington didnt make much of an impression as personalitiesthis being the curse of wrestling-heavy fighting styles and genial dispositions. That all changed two years ago when Covington got tired of being just another mild-mannered soul lost among the UFC roster and rebranded himself as a MAGA hat-wearing troll, a caricature straight out of professional wrestling: the living id of Trumpian racial animus and paranoia.

Like Ali and early pro wrestling star Gorgeous George before him, Covington realized that pushing buttons meant more attention, higher pay, and more opportunitiesthat people would pay for the chance to watch him loseso he began going after foreigners and immigrants, even his own teammates, with an assault as fiery as it was incoherent. He called Brazilians angry animals and denounced NFL and NBA players who refused to visit the White House. He bragged about his sexual prowess in a barrage of shameless and excruciating self-promotion. And it worked. People began talking about him. Opportunities started coming his way.

None of which sat well with Usman, an American born in Nigeria who sees himself as a representative of Africa and a defender of immigrants against the Trumpist hate he sees embodied in men like Covington. He views their upcoming fight as a symbol of a larger struggle against xenophobia and white entitlement. But he, like Covington, surely also sees the dollar signs. By tapping into the anxieties of our anxious age, Usman and Covington have convinced the public that whats at stake next Saturday night isnt just for a title belt but for the soul of the country, raising a fight between two wrestlers to the level of historical drama.


Whats a stronger indication of athletic genius: Reaching the highest levels of a sport at an impossibly early age or getting there with only a few years of training after starting late? Being a child prodigy or a brilliant late bloomer? I suppose its a question of nurture vs. nature. The best example for the nurture argument in MMA is UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway (21-4), who was raised from his youth to be a great mixed martial artist. He came up in the vanguard of MMAs renaissance generation. That was when fighters were raised in a world where MMA was established, where the early secrets had already been discovered and divulged. They were trained not as specialists, like their predecessors, but as masters of all fighting skills. He arrived in the UFC at the tender age of 20 with an air of inevitability about him. Of course he would win a championship; of course he would one day be listed among the best ever. It was fated.

On the other end of the debate stands Alexander Volkanovski (20-1), a born athlete of such innate physical gifts that he could take his first MMA class at 22, an age when Holloway was already five fights into his UFC run, and just a few years later find himself standing opposite the man. A professional rugby player in a previous life, Volkanovski is blessed with a kind of natural athleticism even most fighting geniuses could never hope to touch. His speed and punching power are God-given. But for all his athletic brilliance, for all his natural, unteachable physical prowess, hes going to need to pull off a perfect fight if he hopes to beat Holloway: perfect in strategy and in execution. Its a huge advantage to be a great athlete, but Holloway is an artist and a prodigy.

If the difference between the souls of fighters can be seen in their reactions to the same opponent, consider this: After Germaine de Randamie won the inaugural UFC womens featherweight belt in February 2017, she refused to fight No. 1 contender Cris Cyborg, claiming Cyborgs long-ago dalliance with performance-enhancing drugs disqualified her from a shot at the belt. MMA fans and pundits didnt buy de Randamies argument, branding her a coward for refusing to fight the woman most MMA fans had long considered the most dangerous and intimidating in the sport.

Nunes, on the other hand, dared to leave the relative safety of the bantamweight division, where she was (and still is) the dominant champion, to go up a weight class and fight Cyborg at 145 pounds. She not only took on that enormous challenge, she knocked out the previously unbeatable Cyborg in under two minutes, becoming the first-ever two-division womens champion in UFC history. Whether this signals a difference in disposition between Nunes (18-4) and de Randamie (9-3) is open to interpretation. What is clear, though, is that Nunes is the greatest female fighter in MMA history and de Ranadamie is now in the unenviable position of having to beat her just to salvage her reputation.

MMA legends dont get much bigger than that of former longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo (28-5). He was a dominant champion for what seemed like forever, and any list of the top fighters of all time has to include him. But time and anatomy dont care about who you were or what youve done. They conspire against everybody, slowing both reflexes and metabolisms. Which makes Aldos strategy in the face of his inevitable physical decline so surprising. Most aging mixed martial artists opt to move up a class, where they wont have to put their bodies through painful weight cuts and the people theyll be fighting wont be quite as terrifyingly fast.

But Aldo has chosen to spend his twilight years a weight class down, hoping to capitalize on his power against lighter, flightier men. Waiting to welcome him to his new home is Marlon Moraes, who, like Aldo, is in something of a bind. Though Moraes (22-6-1) is still very much in his prime, the man who holds the bantamweight belt, Henry Cejudo, beat him soundly in June, meaning hes got to re-create himself if he hopes to get another title fight. Unfortunately for Moraes, the road to redemption leads through Jose Aldo, a sentence no MMA fighter ever wants to read.

When Urijah Faber (35-10) retired from mixed martial arts in 2016, his timing seemed perfect. The perennial bantamweight contender had been a professional fighter for 13 years but had escaped relatively unscathed, both physically and neurologically, which was a miracle. He was still good enough to compete in the UFC but no longer great enough to compete for a title, so he wasnt leaving opportunities on the table. Plus, hed had a legendary career. Hed been a longtime champion in the WEC and was the first true superstar of MMAs smaller weight classes, a pioneer of the bantamweight and featherweight divisions at a time when no one, not even the UFC, seemed to care. Add to this the fact that Faber had made plenty of money, owned and ran one of the most successful fight teams in the world, and had a stake in at least 10 companies, and it was clear the smart thing for him to do was get out with his body intact and his wits about him.

But fighters are notoriously awful at staying retired, and Faber turned out to be no exception. Earlier this year, he returned to the Octagon after more than two years to fight Ricky Simon, winning by first-round knockout. Now, Faber is signed on to face 26-year-old Russian bruiser Petr Yan (13-1). It might sound ridiculous for Faber to try his luck against Yan, considering hes now 40 and has a brand-new daughter and considering Yan is known for his heavy hands. But the same pathology that leads people to fight professionally in the first place, that feeling of indestructibility and risk, is what keeps them coming back even when logic and the evolutionary demands of self-preservation are crying out against them. Faber is living proof that fighting is both a disease and its cure.


Theres only one legal way you can watch UFC 245 from your home: ESPN+. While the prelims will be split between ESPN2 and UFC Fight Pass, the main event will exclusively be broadcast on ESPNs subscription streaming service. The good news is that its incredibly simple to use and works with pretty much every streaming device you might own.

There are two purchase options for UFC 245: You can pay $59.99 for that one PPV or you can get a full year of ESPN+ along with UFC 245 by paying $79.99. For UFC fans, you should really invest in the latter. ESPN+ now hosts 20 UFC Fight Nights per year, along with the exclusive series UFC Destined, Ariel Helwanis MMA Show, and Dana Whites Contender Series.

Need more convincing? ESPN+ also hosts Top Rank Boxing cards, daily MLB games, every out-0f-market MLS game, and tons of college football and basketball. Youll also be able to stream the complete 30 for 30 catalog on demand.

All times in ET.

Main card | 10pm on ESPN+

Prelims | 8pm on ESPN2

Early Prelims | 6:30pm on Fight Pass


For a year-round sports fix, sign up here and check the sports box to receive our weekly boxing newsletter. Youll hear about all the biggest fights and best knockouts from the Daily Dots streaming sports guru Josh Katzowitz.

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Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington at UFC 245 highlights the best MMA card in years - The Daily Dot

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December 5th, 2019 at 3:48 pm

Canadian’s and Others’ Convictions to Divine Interventionism… – News Intervention

Posted: October 20, 2019 at 9:13 am

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ByScottDouglas Jacobsen

Around the world, around the world Good Fellas: Say, Hello, to my Little (Scientific) Friend!

The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not byfaith, but by verification.

Thomas H. Huxley

Im an atheist, and thats it. I believe theres nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for people.

Katharine Hepburn

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant? Instead they say, No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way. A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.

Carl Sagan

Im not sure why I enjoy debunking. Part of it surely is amusement over the follies of true believers, and [it is] partly because attacking bogus science is a painless way to learn good science. You have to know something about relativity theory, for example, to know where opponents of Einstein go wrong. . . . Another reason for debunking is that bad science contributes to the steady dumbing down of our nation. Crude beliefs get transmitted to political leaders and the result is considerable damage to society.


The evidence of evolution pours in, not onlyfrom geology, paleontology, biogeography, and anatomy (Darwins chief sources),but from molecular biology and every other branch of the life sciences. To putit bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on thisplanet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant inexcusablyignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write.Doubts about the power of Darwins idea of natural selection to explain thisevolutionary process are still intellectually respectable, however, althoughthe burden of proof for such skepticism has become immense

Daniel Dennett

My fathers family was super Orthodox. They came from a little shtetlsomewhere in Russia. My father told me that they had regressed even beyond amedieval level. You couldnt study Hebrew, you couldnt study Russian.Mathematics was out of the question. We went to see them for the holidays. Mygrandfather had a long beard, I dont think he knew he was in the UnitedStates. He spoke Yiddish and lived in a couple of blocks of his friends. Wewere there on Pesach, and I noticed that he was smoking.

So I asked my father, how could he smoke? Theres a line in the Talmudthat says,aynbein shabbat vyom tov ela binyan achilah. I said, How come hes smoking? He said, Well, he decided thatsmoking is eating. And a sudden flash came to me: Religion is based on theidea that God is an imbecile. He cant figure these things out. If thats whatit is, I dont want anything to do with it.

Noam Chomsky

Young earthcreationism continues apace in Canadian society, and the global community(Canseco, 2018a). Canada outstrips America, and the United Kingdom outstripsCanada, in scientific literacy on this topic of the foundations of thebiological and medical sciences (The Huffington Post Canada, 2012). Here wewill explore a wide variety of facets of Canadian creationism with linkages tothe regional, international, media, journalistic, political, scientific,theological, personality, associational and organizational, and others concernspertinent to the proper education of the young and the cultural health of theconstitutional monarchy and democratic state known as Canada. [Ed. Some partswill remain tediously academic in citation and presentation cautioned.] Letsbegin.

To start ona point of clarification, some, asRobertRowland Smith, seem so unabashed as to proclaim belief in creationism a mentalillness (2010).Canseco (2018b) notes how British Columbia may be leadingthe charge in the fight against scientific denial. The claim of belief increationism as a mental illness seems unfair, uncharitable, and incorrect(Smith, 2010). A belief creationism considered true and justified, whichremains false and unjustified and, therefore, an irrational belief systemdisconnected from the natural world rather than a mental illness. The AmericanPsychiatric Association (2019) characterizes mental illness as Significantchanges in thinking, emotion and/or behavior. Distress and/or problemsfunctioning in social, work or family activities.

A mentalillness can influence someone who believes in creationism or not, but a vastmajority of adherence to creationism seems grounded in sincere beliefs andnormal & healthy social and professional functioning, not mental healthissues. Indeed, it may relate more to personality factors (Pappas, 2014). Othertimes, deliberate misrepresentations of professional opinion exist too (Bazzle,2015). It shows in the numbers. Douglas Todd remarks on hundreds of millions ofChristians and Muslims who reject evolution and believe in creationism aroundthe world (2014), e.g., Safar Al-Hawali, Abdul Majid al-Zindani, Muqbil binHadi al-Wadi`i and others in the Muslim intellectual communities alone.

On the matter ofif this particular belief increases mental health problems or mental illness,it would seem an open and empirical question because of the complicated natureof mental illness, and mental health for that matter, in the first place. Existentialanxiety or outright death anxiety may amount to a non-trivial factor of beliefin intelligent design and/or creationism over evolution via natural selection(UBC, 2011; Tracy, Hart, & Martens, 2011). On the factual and theoreticalmatters, several mechanisms and evidencessubstantiate evolution via natural selection and common descent, includingcomparative genomics, homeobox genes, the fossil record, common structures,distributions of species, similarities in development, molecular biology, andtransitional fossils (Long, 2014; National Human Genome Institute, 2019;University of California, Berkeley, n.d.; Rennie, 2002; Hordijk, 2017; NationalAcademy of Sciences, 1999). Some (Krattenmaker, 2017) point to historic lows ofthe religious belief in creationism.

Notto worry, though, comedic counter-movements emerge with the Pastafarians fromthe Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Josh Elliott (2014) stated, The Churchof the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded in 2005 as a response to Christianperspectives on creationism and intelligent design. It allegedly sprang from atongue-in-cheek open letter to the Kansas School Board, which mocked educatorsfor teaching intelligent design in schools. The most distinguished scientistsin Britain have been well ahead of other places in stating unequivocally theinappropriate nature of the attempts to place creationism in the scienceclassrooms as a religious belief structure (MacLeod, 2006). Not only in law, thereare creationist science fairs for the next generations (Paley, 2001).

Politics, science,and religion become inextricably linked in Canadian culture and society becauseof the integration of some political bases with religion and some religiousdenominations with theological views masquerading as scientific theories, asseen with Charles McVety and Doug Ford (Press Progress, 2018a). Religiousgroups and other political organizations, periodically, show true colors(Ibid.). Some educators and researchers may learn the hard way about theimpacts on professional trajectory if they decline to pursue the overarchingtheoretical foundations in biological and medical sciences life sciences;some may be seen as attempting to bring intelligent design creationism into theclassroom through funding council applications (Hoag, 2006; Government ofCanada, 2006; Bauslaugh, 2008).

It can be seen asa threat to geoscience education too (Wiles, 2006). According to Montgomery (2015),the newer forms of young earth creationists with a core focus on the biblicalaccounts alone rather than a joint consideration with the world around us takea side step from the current history. For the first thousand years ofChristianity, the church considered literal interpretations of the stories inGenesis to be overly simplistic interpretations that missed deeper meaning,Montgomery stated, Influential thinkers like Saint Augustine and Saint ThomasAquinas held that what we could learn from studying the book of nature couldnot conflict with the Bible because they shared the same author (Ibid.).Besides, the evidence can be in the granite too (Plait, 2008).

There does appeara significant decline in the theological and religious disciplines over time(McKnight, 2019). Khan (2010) notes the ways in which different groups believein evolution or not. In fact, he (Ibid.) provides an index to analyze thedegree to which belief groups accept evolution or believe in creationism. Thesebeliefs exist in a weave alongside antivaccination at times (oracknows, 2016).Even for foundational questions of life and its origin, we come to theproposals reported by and found within modern science (Schuster, 2018). Therecontinue to exist devoted podcasts (Ruba, 2019) to the idea of a legitimate falsely, so-called conversations about creationism.

Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist (2018d) reflected onthe frustration of dealing with dishonest or credulous readings of thebiological and geological record by young earth creationists in which only some,and in already confirming-biases, evidence gets considered for the reportagewithin the young earth creationist communities by the young earth creationistjournalists or leadership. Live Science(2005) may have produced the most apt title on the entire affair withcreationism as a title category unto itself with the description of anAmbiguous Assault on Evolution by creationism. There continue to be bookreviews often negative of the productions of some theorists in thecreationist and the intelligent design camps (Cook, 2013; Collins, 2006; Asher,2014). Others praise books not in favour of creationism or intelligent design(Maier, 2009).

Mario Canseco in Business in Vancouver noted theacceptance by Canadians of evolution via natural selection and deepbiological-geological time at 68% (2018b). One report stated findings of 40% ofCanadians believing in the creation of the Earth in 6 days (CROP, 2017). Thefoundational problem comes from the meaning of terms in the public and to thecommunity of professional practitioners of science/those with some or more backgroundin the workings of the natural world, and then the representation andmisrepresentation of this to the public. There is work to try violate the AmericanConstitution to enforce the teaching of creationism, which remains an openclaim and known claim by creationist leaders too (American Atheists, 2018).

We can seethis in the public statements of leaders of countries as well, includingAmerica, in which the term theory becomes interpreted as a hunch or guessrather than an empirically well-substantiated hypothesis defined within thesciences. We can find the same with the definitions of terms including fact,hypothesis, and law:

Thishappened with American Vice-President Mike Pence, stating, a theory of theorigin of species which weve come to know as evolution. Charles Darwin neverthought of evolution as anything other than a theory. He hoped that someday itwould be proven by the fossil record but did not live to see that, nor havewe. (Monatanari, 2016). As Braterman (2017) stated or corrected, The usualanswer is that we should teach students the meaning of the word theory asused in science that is, a hypothesis (or idea) that has stood up to repeatedtesting. Pences argument will then be exposed to be what philosophers call anequivocation an argument that only seems to make sense because the same wordis being used in two different senses. Vice-President Mike Pence equivocatedon the word theory.

Some politicians,potentially a harbinger of claims into the future as the young earthcreationist position becomes more marginal, according to ONeil (2015), Lunneytold the House of Commons that millions of Canadians are effectively gaggedas part of a concerted effort by various interests in Canada to underminefreedom of religion. Intriguingly enough, and instructive as always, theNational Center for Science Education (NCSE) conducted Project Steve as aparody and an homage to the late Stephen Jay Gould, in which the creationistsattempt to portray evolution via natural selection as a theory in crisis throughthe gathering of a list of scientists who may disagree with Darwin (n.d.)becomes one methodology to attempt to refute it or to sow doubt in the minds ofthe lay public. One American teacher proclaimed evolution should not be taughtbecause of origination in the 18thcentury (Palma, 2019). Onemay assume for Newtonian Mechanics for the 17thand 18thcenturies.RationalWiki, helpful as always, produced a listing of the creationists inaddition to the formal criteria for inclusion on their listing of creationists(RationalWiki, 2019d), if curious about the public offenders.

Unfortunatefor creationists, and fortunate for us based on the humor of the team at theNCSE, there is a collected list of scientists named Steve who agree with thefindings in support of evolution via natural selection in order to point to thecomical error of reasoning in creationist circles because tens of thousands ofresearchers accept evolution via natural selection and a lot with the nameSteve alone while a select fraction of one percent do not in part or in full(Ibid.). Still, one may find individualsas curators as in the case of Martin Legemaate who maintains Creation ResearchMuseum of Ontario, which hosts creationist or religious views on the nature ofthe world. In the United States, there is significant funding for creationismon public dollars (Simon, 2014). Answers in Genesis intended to expand intoCanada in 2018 (Mehta, 2017a) with Calvin Smith leading the organizationalnational branch (Answers in Genesis, 2019a). Jim McBreen wrote a lettercommenting on personal thoughts about theories and facts, and evolution(McBreen, 2019). Over and over again, around the world, and coming back toCanada, these ideas remain important to citizens.

York(2018) wrote an important article on the link between the teaching ofcreationism in the science classroom and the direct implication of institutesbuilt to set sociopolitical controversy over evolution when zero exists in thebiological scientific community of practicing scientists. Other theoriespropose interdimensional entities in a form of creationism plus evolutionaryvia natural selection to explain life (Raymond, 2019). Singh (n.d.) argues forthe same. This does not amount to a traditional naturalistic extraterrestrialintelligent engineering of life on Earth with occasional interference orscientific intervention, and experimentation, on the human species, or someform of cosmic panspermia.

Thisseems more akin to intelligent design plus creationism and an assertion of additionalhabitable dimensions and travellers between their dimension and ours. In otherwords, more of the similar without a holy scripture to inculcate it. [Ed. Assome analysis shows later, this may relate to conspiratorial mindsets in orderto fill the gap in knowledge or to provide cognitive closure.] Whethercreationism or intelligent design, as noted by the U.S. National Academy ofSciences (2019a):

Intelligent design creationism is notsupported by scientific evidence. Some members of a newer school ofcreationists have temporarily set aside the question of whether the solarsystem, the galaxy, and the universe are billions or just thousands of yearsold. But these creationists unite in contending that the physical universe andliving things show evidence of intelligent design. They argue thatcertain biological structures are so complex that they could not have evolvedthrough processes of undirected mutation and natural selection, a conditionthey call irreducible complexity. Echoing theological argumentsthat predate the theory of evolution, they contend that biological organismsmust be designed in the same way that a mousetrap or a clock is designed thatin order for the device to work properly, all of its components must beavailable simultaneously.

Evolutionarybiologists also have demonstrated how complex biochemical mechanisms, such asthe clotting of blood or the mammalian immune system, could have evolved fromsimpler precursor systems

In addition to its scientific failings, this andother standard creationist arguments are fallacious in that they are based on afalse dichotomy. Even if their negative arguments against evolution werecorrect, that would not establish the creationists claims. There may bealternative explanations

Creationists sometimes claim that scientists have a vested interest in theconcept of biological evolution and are unwilling to consider otherpossibilities. But this claim, too, misrepresents science

The arguments of creationists reverse the scientific process. They begin withan explanation that they are unwilling to alter that supernatural forces haveshaped biological or Earth systems rejecting the basic requirements ofscience that hypotheses must be restricted to testable natural explanations.Their beliefs cannot be tested, modified, or rejected by scientific means andthus cannot be a part of the processes of science.

Disagreementsexist between the various camps of creationism too. These ideas spread all overthe world from the North American context, even into secular Europe (Blancke,& Kjrgaard, 2016). Canada remains guilty as charged and the media continuein complicity at times. Pritchard (2014) correctly notes the importance ofreligious views and the teaching of religion, but not in the science classroom.Godbout (2018) made the political comparison between anti-SOGI positions andanti-evolution/creationist points of view. This reflects the political realityof alignment between several marginally scientific and non-scientific views, whichtend to coalesce in political party platforms or opinions.

Copeland (2015)mused, and warned in a way, the possibility of the continual attacks onempirical findings, on retention of scientists, on scientific institutes andresearch, reducing the status of Canada. This seems correct to me. He said:

To an Americancontext, this can reflect a general occurrence in North America in which theAmericans remain bound to the same forms of problems. The attempts to enterinto the educational system by non-standard and illegitimate means continues asa problem for the North Americans with an appearance of banal and benignconferences with intentional purposes of evangelization. One wants to assumegood will. However, the work for implicit evangelizations seems unethical whilethe eventual open statements of the intent for Christian outreach in particularseems moral as it does not put a false front forward. Indeed, some creationistsmanaged to construct and host a conference at MichiganState University (MSU) in East Lansing (Callier, 2014). It was entitled TheOrigin Summit with superordinate support by the Creation Summit (Ibid.)Creation Summit states:

Creation Summit: confronting evolution whereit thrives the most, at universities and seminaries!

We may have been banned from the classroom,but banned does not mean silenced. By booking the speakers and renting thefacilities on or near college campuses, we can and still do have an impact forproclaiming the truth of science and the Bible.

Creation Summit is visiting college and universitycampuses through-out the country, bringing world renowned scientists before thestudents. Modern sciences from astronomy to genetics have shown that Darwinsstory is no longer even a feasible theory. It just does not work. It is only amatter of getting the word out to the next generation. So we work with localCreation groups and schedule a seminar with highly qualified scientists withtangible evidence as speakers. Many of these scientists were once evolutionbelievers, but their own research convinced them that evolution is not viable.Students, many for the first time ever, are discovering that the Bible is true that science and Genesis are in total agreement. And, if Genesis 1:1 can betrusted, so can John 3:16. (Creation Summit, 2019)

A partisan grouphosting a partisan and religious conference with the explicit purpose ofreducing the quality of cultural knowledge, of science, on campuses, as theybring scientists [who] were once evolution believers, but their own researchconvinced them that evolution is not viable (Ibid.). Mike Smith, the executivedirector of the student group at MSU, at the time stated, the summit is not overtly evangelistic we hope to pave the way forevangelism (for the other campus ministries) by presenting the scientificevidence for intelligent design. Once students realize theyre created beings,and not the product of natural selection, theyre much more open to the Gospel,to the message of Gods love & forgiveness (Ibid.).

There canbe inflammatory comparisons, as in the white nationalist and teaching &creationism and teaching example of Robins-Early (2019). This comes in a timeof the rise of ethnic nationalism, often from the European heritage portions ofthe population, but also in other nation-states with religion andultra-nationalism connected to them. Creationists see evolution asintrinsically atheistic and, therefore, a problem as taught in a standardscience classroom. Beverly (2018) provided an update to the Christiancommunities in how to deal with the problem from Beverlys view and othersperspectives of atheistic evolution. Beverley stated, The battle line thatemerged at the conference is the same one that surfaced in 1859 when CharlesDarwin released his famous On the Origin of Species. Then and now Christiansseparate into two camps those who believe God used macroevolution (yes,Virginia, we descended from an ape ancestor about 7 million years ago), andthose who abhor that theory (no, Virginia, God brought us here through specialcreation) Leaders in all Christian camps agree that one of the main threats tofaith in our day is the pervasiveness of atheistic evolution. (Ibid.).

Their main problem comes from the evolution via naturalselection implications of non-divine interventionism in the development of lifewithin the context of the fundamental beliefs asserted since childhood andoft-repeated into theological schools, right into the pulpits. The samephenomenon happened with the prominent and intelligent, and hardy for goodreason, Rev. Gretta Vosper or Minister Gretta Vosper (Jacobsen, 2018m;Jacobsen, 2018n; Jacobsen, 2018o; Jacobsen, 2019n; Jacobsen, 2019o; Jacobsen,2019q; Jacobsen, 2019r).

One can seethe rapid growth in the religious groups, even in secular and progressiveBritish Columbia with Mark Clark of Village Church (Johnston, 2017). Some notethe lower education levels of the literalists, the fundamentalists andcreationists, into the present, which seems more of a positive sign on thesurface (Khan, 2010). Although, other trends continue with supernatural beliefsextant in areas where creationism diminishes. Supernaturalism seems inherent inthe beliefs of the religious. Some 13% of American high school students acceptcreationism (Welsh, 2011). Khan (2010) notes the same about Alabama andcreationism, in which the majority does not mean correct. Although, someAmericans find an easier time to mix personal religious philosophy with modernscientific findings (Green, 2014). Christopher Gregory Weber (n.d.) and PhilSenter (2011) provide thorough rejections of the common presentations of aflood geology and intelligent design.

Garner reported inthe Independent on the importance ofthe prevention of the teaching of creationism as a form of indoctrination inthe schools, as this religious philosophy or theological view amounts to onewith attempted enforcement by religious groups, organizations, and leaders,often men into the curricula or the standard educational provisions of acountry (2014). Professor Alice Roberts (Ibid.) stated, People who believe increationism say that by teaching evolution, you are indoctrinating them withscience but I just dont agree with that. Science is about questioning things.Its about teaching people to say I dont believe it until we have very strongevidence.

Vanessa Wamsley(2015) provided a great introduction to the ideal of a teacher in the biologyclassroom with education on the science without theist evangelization ornon-theist assumptions:

Terry Wortman was my science teacher from mysophomore through senior years, and he is still teaching in my hometown, atHayes Center Public High School in Hayes Center, Nebraska. He stilloccasionally hears the question I asked 16 years ago, and he has a standardresponse. I dont want to interfere with a kids belief system, he says. ButI tell them, Im going to teach you the science. Im going to tell you whatall respected science says.

Randerson(2008) provides an article from over a decade ago of the need to improve educationalcurricula on theoretical foundations to all of the life science. As MichaelReiss, director of education at the Royal Society circa 2008, said, Irealised that simply banging on about evolution and natural selection didntlead some pupils to change their minds at all. Now I would be more contentsimply for them to understand it as one way of understanding the universe(Ibid.).

Indeed,some state, strongly, as Michael Stone from TheProgressive Secular Humanist, the abuse of children inherent in teachingthem known wrong or factually incorrect ideas, failed hypotheses, and wrongtheories about the nature of nature in addition to the enforcement of areligious philosophy in a natural philosophy/science classroom (2018). In anycase, creationism isnt about proper science education (Zimmerman, 2013).

CreationMinistries International a major creationist organization characterizescreationism and evolution as in a debate, not true (Funk, 2017). Pierce (2006),akin to Creation Ministries International, tries to provide an account of theworld from 4,004 BC. People can change, young and old alike. Luke Douglas in ablog platform by Linda LaScola, from The Clergy Project, described a story ofbeing a young earth creationist at age 15 and then became a science enthusiastat age 23 (2018). It enters into the political realm and the social andcultural discourses too. For example, Joe Pierre, M.D. (2018) described theoutlandish and supernatural intervention claimed by Pat Robertson in the casesof impending or ongoing natural disasters. This plays on the vulnerabilities ofthe suffering.

However, otherquestions arise around the reasons for this fundamental belief in agency behindthe world in addition to human choice rather than human agency alone. Dr. JeremyE. Sherman inPsychology Today(2018), who remains an atheistand a proper scientist trained in evolutionary theory, attempts to explain thesense of agency and, in so doing, reject the claims of Intelligent Design.Regardless of the international, regional, and national statuses, and thearguments for or against, American remain a litigious culture. Creationists andIntelligent Design proponents met more than mild resistance against theirreligious and supernaturalist, respectively, philosophies about the world, asnoted by Bryan Collinsworth at the Center for American Progress.

He provided some straightforward indications as to the claims to the scientific status of Intelligent Design only a year or thereabouts after the Kitzmiller v Dover trial in 2005. Legal cases, apart from humour as a salve, exist in the record as exemplifications of means by which to combat non-science as propositions or hypotheses, or more religious assertions, masquerading as science. All this and more will acquire some coverage in the reportage here.

Court Dates Neither By Accident Nor Positive Evidencefor the Hypothesis

The theory that religion is a force for peace, often heard among the religious right and its allies today, does not fit the facts of history.


I feel like I have a good barometer of being more of a humanist, a good barometer of good and bad and how my conduct should be toward other people.

Kristen Bell

Thewhole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and henceclamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of themimaginary.


The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other religions were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.

Oliver Stone

God, once imagined to be an omnipresent forcethroughout the whole world of nature and man. has been increasingly tending toseem omniabsent. Everywhere, intelligent and educated people rely more and moreon purely secular and scientific techniques for the solution of their problems.As science advances, belief in divine miracles and the efficacy of prayerbecomes fainter and fainter.

Corliss Lamont

There exists indeed anopposition to it [building of UVA, Jeffersons secular college] by the friendsof William and Mary, which is not strong. The most restive is that ofthepriests of the different religious sects, who dread the advance ofscience as witches do the approach of day-light; and scowl on it the fatalharbinger announcing the subversion of the duperies on which they live. In thisthe Presbyterian clergy take the lead. The tocsin is sounded in all theirpulpits, and the first alarm denounced is against the particular creed ofDoctr. Cooper; and as impudently denounced as if they really knew what it is.

Thomas Jefferson

A common error in reasoning comes from the assertion of the controversy,where an attempt to force a creationist educational curricula onto the publicand the young fails. This becomes a news item, or a series of them. It createsthe proposition of a controversy within the communities and, sometimes, thestate, even the nation, as a plausible scenario as the public observes thelatter impacts of this game literally, a game with one part including theWedge Strategy of Intelligent Design proponents playing out (Conservapedia,2016; Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture, n.d.). The WedgeStrategy was published by the Center for the Renewal of Science & Cultureout of the Discovery Institute as a political and social action plan with aserious concern over Western materialism that (it claims) has no moralstandards and the main tenets of evolution create a decay in ethical standardsbecause materialists undermined personal responsibility, and so was authoredto overthrow materialism and its cultural legacies (Conservapedia, 2016).The Discovery Institute planned three phases:

Phase I. Scientific Research, Writing & Publicity

Phase II. Publicity & Opinion-making

Phase III. Cultural Confrontation & Renewal

(Center for theRenewal of Science & Culture, n.d.)

TheDiscovery Institute (Ibid.) argued:

The proposition that human beings arecreated in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Westerncivilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, ofthe Wests greatest achievements, including representative democracy, humanrights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, thiscardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on thediscoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of bothGod and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freudportrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machineswho inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behaviorand very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry,and environment

The cultural consequences of this triumphof materialism were devastating

Materialists also undermined personalresponsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated byour biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches tocriminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme ofthings, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or heractions.

Thestrategy of a wedge into the institutions of the culture to renew the Americanlandscape, and presumably resonating outwards from there, for the recapture ofthe citizenry with the ideas of Western civilization, human beings created inthe image of God, and the rejection of Darwinian, Marxian, and Freudiannotions of the human race as not moral and spiritual beings (Ibid.). As thisgame continues to play out, more aware citizens can become irritated andlitigious about the infringement of Intelligent Design and creationism in thepublic schools through an attempted enforcement.

Then the responsebecomes a legal challenge to the attempted enforcement. From this, some of thecreationist community cry victim or utilize this legal challenge as a purportedexample of the infringement on their academic freedom, infringement on theirFirst Amendment to the American Constitution right to freedom of speech orfree speech, or the imposition of atheism and secular humanism on the public(the Christian community, the good people), and the like; when, in fact, thislegal challenge arose because of the work to bypass normal scientific procedureof peer-review, and so on, and then trying to force religious views in thescience classroom often Christian. Some creationist and biblicalfundamentalist outlets point to the calls out of creationism as non-science,i.e., it goes noticed (The Bible is the Other Side, 2008). It even takes upQuora space too (2018).

Althoughindigenous cosmologies, Hindu cosmology, Islamic theology, and so on, remain asguilty in some contexts when asserted as historical rather than metaphorical orreligious narratives with edificative purposes with, for example, someaboriginal communities utilizing the concept of the medicine wheel forcounselling psychological purposes. Some remain utterly firm in devotion to afundamentalist reading or accounting of Genesis, known as literal Genesis, asa necessity for scriptural inerrancy to be kept intact, as fundamental to thetheology of the Christian faith without errors of human interpretation, and tothe doctrines so many in the world hold fundamentally dear (Ross Jr., 2018).The questions may arise about debating creationists, which Bill Nye notes as animportant item in the public relations agenda not in the scientific one as notrue controversy exists within the scientific community (Quill & Thompson,2014). Nye explained personal wonder at the depth of temporality spoken in themoment here, Most people cannot imagine how much time has passed in theevolution of life on Earth. The concept of deep time is just amazing (Ibid.).

Hanley talkedabout the importance of sussing out the question of whether we want to bancreationism or teach from the principles of evolution to show why creationismis wrong (2014). Religion maintains a strong hold on the positions individualshold about the origin and the development of life on Earth, especially as thispertains to cosmogony and eschatology beginning and end, hows and whys relativeto human beings (Ibid.). Duly noting, Hanley labelled this a minefield; ifthe orientation focuses on the controversial nature of teaching evolution vianatural selection, and if the mind-fields so to speak sit in religious,mostly, minds, then the anti-personnel weapons come from religion, notnon-religion (Ibid.). Religion becomes the problem.

This teachingevolution, or not, and creationism, or not, continues as a global problem(Harmon, 2011). Harmon stated, Some U.K. prointelligent design (ID) groupsare also pushing to include alternatives to evolution in the countrys nationalcurriculum. One group, known as Truth in Science, calls for allowing such ideasto be presented in science classroomsan angle reminiscent of academicfreedom bills that have been introduced in several U.S. states. A 2006overhaul of the U.K. national curriculum shifted the focus of scienceinstruction to highlight how science works instead of a more just the factsapproach (Ibid.).

Ghose, oneducation and religion links to creationism, stated, About 42 percent espousedthe creationist view presented, whereas 31 percent said God guided theevolutionary process, and just 19 said they believe evolution operated withoutGod involved. Religion was positively tied to creationism beliefs, with morethan two-thirds of those who attend weekly religious services espousing abelief in a young Earth, compared with just 23 percent of those who never go tochurch saying the same. Just over a quarter of those with a college degree holdcreationist beliefs, compared with 57 percent of people with such views who hadat most a high-school education, the poll found.

Pappas (2014b)sees five main battles for evolutionary theory as taught in modern scienceagainst creationism: the advances of geology in the 1700s and the 1800s, theScopes Trial, space race as a boon to the need for science as Dr. NeildeGrasse Tyson notes almost alone on the thrust of scientific advancement andfunding due to wartimes stoked (e.g., the Americans and the Soviets), ongoingcourt battles, and the important Dover, Pennsylvania school board battle. GlennBranch at the National Center for Science Education provided a solidfoundation, and concise one, of the levels of who accepted, or not, the theoryof evolution in several countries from around the world stating:

The evolutionist view was most popularin Sweden (68%), Germany (65%), and China (64%), with the United States ranking18th (28%), between Mexico (34%) and Russia (26%); the creationistview was most popular in Saudi Arabia (75%), Turkey (60%), and Indonesia (57%),with the United States ranking 6th (40%), between Brazil (47%) and Russia(34%).

Consistently with previous polls, in the UnitedStates, acceptance of evolution was higher among respondents who were younger,with a higher level of household income, and with a higher level of education.Gender was not particularly important, however: the difference between male andfemale respondents in the United States was no more than 2%.

The survey was conducted on-line between September7 and September 23, 2010, with approximately 1000 participants per countryexcept for Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa,South Korea, Sweden, Russia, and Turkey, for which there were approximately 500participants per country; the results were weighted to balance demographics. (2011a)

We can findcreationist organizations around the world with Creation Research and CreationMinistries International in Australia, CreaBel in Belgium, SociedadeCriacionista Brasileira SCB, Sociedade Origem e Destino, and Associao Brasilerade Pesquisa da Criao in Brazil, Creation Science Association of Alberta,Creation Science Assoc. of British Columbia (CSABC), Creation Science ofManitoba, LAssociation de Science Crationniste du Qubec, Creation Science ofSaskatchewan, Inc. (CSSI), Ian Juby Creation Science Research &Lecturing, Big Valley Creation Science Museum, Creation Truth Ministries, Mensa International Creation Science SIG, Creation Research Canada, CreationMinistries International Canada, and Amazing Discoveries in Canada, Assoc. AuCommencement in Franch, SG Wort und Wissen and Amazing Discoveries e. V. in Germany,Noahs Ark Hong Kong in Hong Kong, Protestns Teremtskutat Kr and CreationResearch Eastern Europe in Hungary, Creation Science Association of India andCreation Research And Apologetics Society Of India in India, and Centro StudiCreazionismo in Italy (Creationism.Org, 2019).

Furthermore, /Creation Research Japan CRJ and Answers in GenesisJapan in Japan, Korea Assn. for Creation Research KACR in Korea, gribu zintin Latvia, CREAVIT (CREAndo VIsion Total) and Cientficos CreacionistasInternacional in Mexico, Degeneratie of Evolutie?,, and Mediagroep InGenesis in Netherlands, Creation Ministries International New Zealand andCreation Research in New Zealand, Polish Creation Society in Poland, ParqueDiscovery in Portugal, Tudomnyos Kreacionizmus in Romania, Russia (Nonelisted, though nation stated), SIONSKA TRUBA in Serbia, Creation MinistriesInternational Singapore in Singapore, Creation Ministries International South Africa and Amazing Discoveries in South Africa, SEDIN ServicioEvangelico Coordinadora Creacionista in Spain, The True.Origin Archive andCentre Biblique European in Switzerland, Christian Center for Science andApologetics in Ukraine, and Creation Science Movement, Creation MinistriesInternational United Kingdom, Biblical Creation Society, Daylight OriginsSociety, Answers in Genesis U.K., Edinburgh Creation Group, Creation ResourcesTrust, Creation Research UK, Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, andCreation Discovery Project in the United Kingdom (Ibid.). Mehta (2019b)described the weird nature of some of the anti-evolution content produced byorganizations such as the Discovery Institute, best known for IntelligentDesign or ID. In these contexts of creationist and Intelligent Design groupsattempting to enforce themselves on the population, American, at a minimum, courtcases arise.

Ofthe most important court cases in the history of creationism came in the formof the Scopes Trial or the Scopes Monkey Trial, H.L. Mencken became morefamous and nationally noteworthy, and historically, with the advent of thisreportage on Tennessean creationist culture and anti-evolution laws in whichindividuals who taught evolution would be charged, and were charged, as in thecase of John T. Scopes (Jacobsen, 2019). The cases reported by the NCSE (2019)notes the following other important cases:

1968, inEppersonv. Arkansas

1981, inSegravesv. State of California

1982, inMcLean v.Arkansas Board of Education

1987, inEdwardsv. Aguillard

1990, inWebsterv. New Lenox School District

1994, inPeloza v.Capistrano School District

1997, inFreilerv. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education

2000, MinnesotaState District Court Judge Bernard E. Borene dismissed the case ofRodneyLeVake v Independent School District 656, et al.

January 2005,inSelman et al. v. Cobb County School District et al.,

December 20, 2005,inKitzmiller et al. v. Dover

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:13 am

The New Naturalists – Bay Nature

Posted: September 21, 2019 at 1:47 pm

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Last December I ascended Pedro Point in Pacifica with Catherine Chang, mostly looking for mushrooms. We hadnt had much rain so didnt expect full-on mycological glory, but Chang was consoled by the prospect of lichens. Stopping short on the trail, she declared, Festuca californica, right in front of us! I looked around for some seemingly invisible circus. Her attention was trained on a plume of delicate blue-gray leaves I would have tromped right past. To the initiated, the sight of a native grass like this growing among exotics is cause for celebration. It doesnt have much competition here, she noted, brandishing her smartphone and taking its picture. Soon we stopped to examine a dead branch crowded with a tangle of delicate light green, dark green, and oxblood websa color bomb of multiple textures. Together they create a landscape, noted Chang. Now, who ever thought about lichens that way?

A few hours with Chang and her keen attention and deep knowledge kicked my sense of this familiar landscape into 3-D. My eyes were bugging out. I was humbled by the complexity I so frequently and easily overlook. And yet its only in her spare time that Changa landscape architect by dayhas accumulated so much insight into the natural world. She is an amateur, fulfilling that words Latin root: amare, to love. In this she exemplifies what might be called a revival in the age-old practice of the naturalist.

Homo sapiens have been entranced with observing and documenting nature since we became a species, but the term naturalist generally refers to the 19th-century heyday of amateur discovery. During that time, in America and Europe, tens of thousands of botany enthusiasts, birdlovers, and butterfly hunters joined societies and clubs dedicated to their subjects. The outdoors was a place of adventure and community for these people. But as the 20th century progressed, academic science along with state and federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service increasingly claimed provenance over the natural world and dictated professional protocols for how to understand it. Naturalists and the types of knowledge they pursued vastly declined.

Today, however, we are seeing a resurgence in the observational practice of the naturalist. Not just in the Bay Area, but all over the globe, people like Chang are reconnecting with nature for personal reasons and to help augment what we know about the myriad denizens of the planet. Todays nature nut is likely to be at least partly driven by an awareness that was just dawning in the 19th century and is reaching something of a desperate pitch right now. Earlier this year an unprecedented scientific consensus was published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an independent intergovernmental body. The report called out natures dangerous decline and warned that species extinction rates are acceleratingcurrently, up to one million species are threatened with extinction.

As the natural world is in many ways unraveling, part of the trouble is our lack of connection with and appreciation for how it works. Luckily, we have plenty of eyes and new tools for taking a fresh and productive accounting of nature. This past April, for example, thousands of people representing 159 cities and every continent but Antarctica, documented their local biodiversity during the City Nature Challenge 2019. Together more than 35,000 participants made more than 963,000 observations of species in nature, using technology to augment the age-old quest to see whats out there.

Contemporary naturalists have much in common with their historical predecessors, but there are epochal differences in their aims and approaches. The 19th-century naturalist was contributing to a heady expansion in the store of Western European knowledge. Todays naturalist is still focused on revelation: of an approximate 10 to 12 million species on earth, only 1.2 million have been named by science. But yesterdays naturalists had their eyes trained on what they thought was a fixed universe and were motivated by a wish to better understand God through His works. Todays naturalists may find transcendence in nature but understand this within a context of accelerated change. As ecosystems are highly impacted by the engines of global development, naturalists today are frequently seeking to help create a better understanding of whats at stakenot so much investigating how God put this world together, but how human activities are taking it apart. Todays naturalists are aided and abetted by smartphone technology and training programs like UC California Naturalist Program. In the Bay Area we are particularly blessed with opportunities to learn more and do more for nature. Bioblitzesin which people make nature observations in a particular area for a set time periodhave become a favored outreach tool at local parks and preserves. Institutions like the California Academy of Sciences offer regular monitoring projects and invite participation. Myriad volunteer opportunities include seasonal bird and butterfly counting expeditions near home.

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The Judeo-Christian tradition is often decried as creating a fatal delusion for humankind, ranking us far above the lowly beasts of the earth, and yet the first European forays into understanding nature were religion-inspired. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Christian monks trying to parse what exactly happened to the biblical Garden of Eden sent expeditions to far-flung places to bring back pieces they thought must have been scattered after the Fall. These were organized by relationship in plant beds, dirt-based analogues to todays digital databases. Faith and facts were deeply entwined in a system of reference resembling the model of an encyclopedia. In the 1700s, Carl Linnaeus established the binomial system of naming still used today to sort out relationships among species, establishing an eventual platform for studying evolution. As the Age of Exploration, when Europeans began traveling the globe in search of trade routes and wealth, expanded the worlds horizons, Linnaeuss spreadsheet became critical for grappling with an avalanche of discoveries and helped to make sense of them.

By the 1800s, industrialization had provided at least some people with the novelty of free time, and tens of thousands of amateur naturalists charged forth into nature. A growing number of middle- and upper-class ladies and gentlemen traipsed with enthusiasm and nets into meadows and fens, husbanding their quarry in the curiosity cabinets that were common in Victorian homes. The distinction between amateur and professional was blurry in those days, even as new institutions like the California Academy of Sciences were being established to better codify and understand life on earth. The Academy was founded in 1853 by a group of men, many of whom had medical degrees but were not biological scientists. The business of creating a collection of specimens proceeded in a hodgepodge way. At an early meeting, Dr. Albert Kellogg furnished a living owl, caught near Point Jackson on San Francisco Bay; at the next meeting it was reported that the owl was lost. The general public contributed specimens as well. In 1854 a Mr. W. J. Steene presented a curious specimen of cabbage. At the same time, it was widely recognized that although much of the new world had been traversed by Europeans, the unique topography, flora, and fauna of California were revealing a new set of wonders to add to the store of general knowledge. The towering figures in botany at the time, including John Torrey, Asa Gray, and eventually Willis Jepson, maintained vast networks of laypeople with whom they regularly exchanged information and physical materials. The comprehensive surveys they produced would not have been possible without the contributions of an army of naturalists who took an equal interest in what the botanists were doing.

Many 19th-century nature-seekers wanted to improve their souls by investigating Gods revelation in plants and animals. Going out and collecting, for many, was an act of piety and self-improvement. Ironically, the work of perhaps the ur-naturalist of all times, Charles Darwin, dealt a crippling blow to the project of the amateur with the publication of his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. Demonstrating that, in fact, life forms dont issue from a spiritual ideal but from generations of reproduction and gradual change, Darwin excused God from fieldwork.

The rise of professional science coincides with the percolation of Darwinian ideas through study of the natural world. To prove evolutionary mechanisms, scientists turned increasingly to experiments and away from field observation. They also sought to purge science of inherited belief and excluded stories like Genesis from consideration. By the beginning of the 20th century, academic science was consolidating its authority and separation from other kinds of institutions, particularly the church. Now competing for status and pay, professional scientists laid claim to special knowledge. Despite the fact that hobbyist birders, for example, began avidly cataloguing observations that currently fuel databases like eBird, the tradition of the amateur naturalist mostly faded from view. That is changing today.

Last December I sojourned with Constance Taylor and Ken-ichi Ueda up South Park Drive in Tilden Regional Park. The regional park district prohibits cars on this stretch of road from November to March to protect the seasonal migration of the six-inch California newt, which lumbers along on rubbery appendages, headed to breed in Wildcat Creek, and would otherwise itself be smushed under rubber. We moved slowly, as if we were newts ourselves, leaf by leaf, transfixed by mushrooms, lichen, hawks, and songbirds in the winter landscape. Ueda and Taylor frequently recorded their observations in notebooks and on smartphones.

Ueda is one of the creators of the web-based platform iNaturalist, which he co-directs at the California Academy of Sciences with Academy scientist Scott Loarie. Users upload photographic and/or audio observations of nature to the platform; these are then vetted by other users for identification and eventually uploaded to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, a clearinghouse of digital natural history observations in use by scientists and natural resource managers all over the world. iNaturalist joins platforms like eBird that are essentially taking Linnaeuss format digital. iNaturalist hangs its observations on the tree of life first organized by Linneaus, Loarie explains. Were using the taxonomy he provided, building on a structure thats already there. The scientific use of our data is in the areas of biogeography and conservation. With it people can ask the fundamental questions of natural history: what do species look like, and how are they changing?

Another distinguishing feature of the 21st-century naturalist is a willingness, even an eagerness, to explore nature in less than pristine settings. Damon Tighe works on behalf of the mostly Oakland-focused California Center for Natural History, which Taylor co-founded. Once part of the team that sequenced the first whole genome of a single cell, he now, in his day job, helps educate teachers about tools they can use with students to take DNA samplings, for example, in the field. Tighe exemplifies a maker spirit in some of todays naturalists, who not only observe nature with pencil, paper, binoculars, and smartphones, but experiment with building their own tools of perception. With CCNH he has made a series of pop-up aquariums at Lake Merritt (you read that correctly), showcasing to passersby the variety and strangeness of many things just below the surface.

I spent an afternoon walking around Lake Merritt with Tighe, who commented that it really should be a national heritage site, because in 1870 the tidal lagoon was designated the first wildlife refuge in the United States. Today, Lake Merritt is refuge for human life as well, with homeless encampments tucked into the built structures around it. Tighe called Lake Merritt an Anthropocene environment because the lake is full of introduced species, brought in by the ballast of ships from all over the world. A lot of the native species are gone and the invasives have stabilized, he says. At the organism level it reflects the human community around itpeople from all over the worldin a working, social environment.

Taylor, Tighe, and Ueda may seem light-years away from Philip Henry Gosse, who in his 1853 bestseller A Naturalists Rambles on the Devonshire Coast mused that the sea anemone evidenced Gods love, since the exquisite tints with which they are adorned are the pencillings of his almighty Hand. Yes, O Lord! Gosse motivated thousands to look into the tidepools not only to ogle Gods artistry, but to refine their own souls to better earn His grace. A quest for self-improvement and transcendence is perhaps not as evident in todays naturalists, who typically arent looking for God, per se. But they are keenly interested in understanding an infinitely complex system that is threatened and vulnerableand in finding solace and deep self-development by engaging directly with nature.

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The New Naturalists - Bay Nature

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September 21st, 2019 at 1:47 pm

Intellectuals And The Path to Rome: A book review – Evangelical Focus

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Mind, Heart, & Soul: Intellectuals and the Path to Rome by R.J. Snell and Robert P. George is a collection of sixteen stories of individuals who have converted to Roman Catholicism.

The interviews are conducted by intellectuals who are Roman Catholic converts, and as the title of the book suggests, each convert interviewed is a public intellectual and notable expert and/or leader in his or her field of study. Each interview recorded in this book provides insight into the converts religious backgrounds, personal experiences that led to conversion, the intellectual hurdles or obstacles faced in the journey towards embracing the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, life after conversion and post-conversion struggles, and suggestions of resources for other intellectuals who might be considering the next step on their own path towards Rome.

There is no doubt that the individuals selected to provide a testimony in this book are to be considered brilliant minds, members of the elite intellectual class within Western culture. Each chapter begins with a biography of both the interviewer and interviewee. Immediately the reader is met with impressive resumes of the people offering their personal stories of conversion to Roman Catholicism. These are the conversion stories of leading theologians, a former megachurch pastor, philosophers, ethicists, a novelist and syndicated journalists for major news outlets, political analysts and theorists, historians, legal scholars, constitutional lawyers and policy creators, and even an accomplished astronomer. The majority hold post-graduate level degrees from the most prestigious universities in the West, such as Harvard, Oxford, Princeton and Cambridge where many serve as faculty members and leaders of various university programs. They are no doubt scholars of the highest caliber and undoubtedly influential intellectuals who have demonstrated a commitment to life-long learning and engaging culture in the public square.

Mind, Heart and Soul is an apologetic work. The testimonies within this book demonstrate that faith is not an enemy of reason, intellectual fervor or a threat to scientific innovation, but they do so, for the most part, without diving deeply into the details of the theological, philosophical and intellectual arguments these converts wrestled with. Regardless, these stories demonstrate that faith involves the rational mind in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.[1]What is also evident in every testimony is that these intellectuals were not left alone in their quests for spiritual truth, but were aided through the contributions of those who had come before them. The works of other intellectual Catholics served as powerful resources in capturing these converts minds, hearts and souls for the Roman Catholic faith.

Intellectuals mentioned within these testimonies have successfully convinced countless others to embrace the Roman Catholic worldview. For example, the work of John Henry Newman (1801-1890), the once Anglican priest who became a Roman Catholic priest and who will soon be canonized as a saint in the RCC, is mentioned time and time again in these conversion stories as one of the major influencers on decisions to cross the Tiber.[2]

Other intellectual influencers mentioned throughout these conversion stories include the theological and philosophical works of Joseph Ratzinger and Peter Kreeft, the literary works of Flannery OConnor and Oxford inklings such as G.K. Chesterton, Tolkien, and while not a Roman Catholic, C.S. Lewis. A reading of the Church Fathers and the intellectual tradition of Thomas Aquinas played a significant role in convincing many of the converts that the Roman Catholic Church is correct in claiming to be the one true, historic and Apostolic Church.

The richness and influence of the Roman Catholic intellectual world is undeniable in these stories, thus providing a useful list of resources for those on similar journeys. But it was not only the brilliant minds throughout history that are seen to have influenced conversions. There is also the influence of community and a sense of belonging. Many of these testimonies describe a positive experience within a community of like-minded, intellectual Roman Catholics who lived a lively faith, or participation as students in Roman Catholic university clubs. But perhaps the most attractive sense of community came from belonging to a church that claims a doctrinal unity visible under the authority of the Pope, the head of a single, historic, and seemingly unified church.

The religious backgrounds vary among the converts. The majority of the testimonies come from individuals whose religious background was a form of nominal Protestantism. Of particular interest are the testimonies given by those who either grew up in a family with an evangelical religious background, or whose initial experience in the Christian faith took place within an evangelical context. Therefore, this book serves as a useful read for evangelical leaders, scholars, and pastors in seeking to understand common themes or potential weak points that might help to understand what influenced an evangelical intellectual to cross the Tiber and embrace the Roman Catholic Church.


Ulf Ekman[3]

Former evangelical Megachurch pastor, Ulf Ekman, helpfully summarizes his attraction to Rome using four words: historicity, apostolic continuity, authority, and sacramentality. Ekman admits that in his camp there was a general lack of knowledge regarding church history and at times even an open scorn for the long history of the church (50). Ecclesiology was defined, not through a noted historical connection to a global and universal church sharing a common confession of faith, but through isolated independent congregational churches that held a pragmatic look at the present and a futuristic eschatology (Ibid).

As Ekman studied church history, he discovered a church with a much higher ecclesiology claiming apostolic continuity and unity under the Petrine authority of the pope. In the midst of liberal protestant developments, Ekman was attracted to a historical tradition of Rome that held an unwavering commitment to her traditional dogmas. He began to realize that his Protestant prejudices towards Rome stemmed from a lack of knowledge regarding the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and he ultimately rejected the Reformation doctrines stating that,

I used to believe the four sola tenets of the Reformationmore or less out of Protestant habit or tradition. Step-by-step I started to see how the Protestant mindset has an overriding attitude of either-or while the Catholic mindset, as well as the Hebrew, is more of both-and (56).

Yet of the aspects of Rome that attracted Ekman the most, it was the sacramental element of the Catholic Church that began to draw him into the Tiber.

Matthew Schmitz[4]

Matthew Schmitz grew up as an evangelical, believing that Catholics were probably not Christians and that the Church of Romes teaching was at odds with Christianity. As a child he participated in the Gothard Seminar, a program designed by evangelical Bill Gothard in which biblical morality is taught and encouraged. What Schmitz encountered was a very legalistic form of American Christianity that did not seem to demonstrate grace.

By the age of seventeen, Schmitz had rebelled against this legalistic program but not against the evangelical faith. While on a summer work assignment in Washington, DC, he began attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church. The pastor, Mark Dever, introduced Schmitz to Calvinism by gifting him a book written by J.I. Packer. Soon the young Matthew considered himself among the young, restless and Reformed, although he confesses never making it past page 70 of Calvins Institutes. Regardless, this newfound identity led Schmitz to begin reading anything that would be considered both solidly Christian and undeniably great (122). He began reading both post-Reformation authors as well as some older Catholic things, such as Augustines Confessions.

Augustines allegorical interpretation of Scripture was very appealing to Schmitz, helping him to overcome one of his biggest intellectual problems regarding the Christian faith, evolutionary theory. The literal interpretation of Scripture Schmitz had been taught did not allow for evolution, unlike the allegorical reading of Scripture used by Augustine. He began to embrace a Roman Catholic hermeneutical approach to Scripture. Schmitz was,

...ceasing to be a Protestant, at least to be a pure kind of Protestant. I was becoming a more complicated kind of Protestant, or a more Catholic kind of Christian. I was looking for ways of reading Scripture, which, though I wouldnt have put it this way at the time, were more traditional and ecclesial (122).

Then while studying at Princeton, Schmitz was faced with the emergence of the gay rights movement. In seeking to defend a traditional Christian understanding of sexuality, he read Roman Catholic Elizabeth Anscombes essay titled, Contraception and Chastity. What Schmitz discovered was a powerful defense for the Christian worldview on sexuality within the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. This surprised Schmitz because he had always considered the Church of Rome as having erred in so many things. The discovery of a certain truth within Catholicism led him to begin looking more seriously at the Roman Catholic faith. Schmitz states that eventually his reason was well disposed towards the Roman Catholic Church and he ultimately became Catholic, just by beginning to view things in the way Catholics viewed them. All I had to do was relinquish my opposition (126).

Joshua Charles[5]

Charles crossing of the Tiber began with his doubting the doctrine of sola scriptura, which he ultimately rejecting it 2015. While studying Scripture, Charles came to view the recorded words of the living authorities captured in Scripture as problematic for the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. He reasoned that the words of God spoken by men in the Bible (e.g. Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Peter, Paul), words that were later written down as Scripture, had to have been authoritative when spoken and therefore indicated a living authority outside of the Scriptures. Charles then found himself trying to identify which living authority should be trusted, and therefore which biblical canon was correct. Was it the Protestant canon, or the Roman Catholic canon? He asked himself,

Who do I trust to get that canon correct? Who is the divinely ordained authority by which we may be certain that we have the correct canon? Myself? Scholars at universities? The Jesus Seminar? I concluded that my appeal must be to nothing more and nothing less than the authority we see exhibited throughout the Scripture, but particularly in Acts 15, and that is the Living, Authoritative Church that began at Pentecost (102).

It was at this point that Charles set out on a quest to read the Church Fathers. In doing so, he was absolutely slapped across the face by church fathers such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus of Lyons. According to Charles, these early leaders of the faith seemed to have a more Roman Catholic understanding of theology and practice than did the evangelical tradition in which he grew upan American Evangelical/Protestant Christianity he claims seemed to be in chaos (102).

Upon reading the Church Fathers, Charles claims to have discovered strictly Roman Catholic teachings such as the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Eucharist as sacrifice, the authority of the bishops, and apostolic succession (104). Charles even states that in reading the Church Fathers, there was an absence of any distinctively Protestant doctrines among their writings, and the presence of a great deal of distinctively Catholic Doctrines (106).[6]

Charles claimed to have found continuity. Namely, that while Roman Catholic doctrine has developed and been refined over time, it is fundamentally still the same, something that Charles states cannot be the said for the thousands of Protestant denominations (111). And yet, while he had recognized various problems within the Protestant tradition, Charles had never previously considered Catholicism because he never properly understood it. He states,

In short, what I thought I knew about Catholicism just wasnt true. I realized that the Catholic intellectual tradition is extremely powerful, and I studied what the Church actually said about herself and her own dogmas rather than seeing them through an oftentimes erroneous and misunderstanding Protestant lens (117).[7]

Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP and Douglas M. Beaumont[8]

In his first years of college, Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP began to explore metaphysical frameworks offered by different religious traditions. While reading Flannery OConnors Letters to A, White encountered the name of Karl Barth. He then went to the library, located and read Barths Introduction to Evangelical Theology in one sitting. On that day White claims to have received the gift of faith and was soon after baptized as a Protestant, even though he had not yet determined to which church he would belong.[9] Realizing that there were many expressions of Christianity, White set out on a journey to understand his new faith by studying its history.

White enrolled in a Church History course at his university and begin reading the writings of Origen and Augustine. He then read Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger, whose emphasizing the combination of philosophy and theology was very appealing to White. He began reading more modern Roman Catholic theologians such as Balthasar, Rahner, de Lubac and John Paul II, in whose writings he found a deep continuity with the Church Fathers. Then during his senior of college, White read John Henry Newman, came to view the Roman Catholic Church as the historic faith and converted to Roman Catholicism.

White began pursuing his MPhil in patristic theology at Oxford where he discovered Aquinas and was trained in Aristotelian and Thomistic thought. White describes Aquinas as a deeply grounded philosophical realist, a deeply grounded theological realist, and a mystic; its a very powerful combination (70). For White, Aquinas offered a unified system for understanding all of reality within the context of the Roman Catholic Church. According to White,

St. Thomass philosophy of nature, metaphysics, understanding of the human person, epistemology, logic, and ethics make sense even independently of divine revelation while being deeply compatible with it. He also articulates an understanding of revelation which assimilates his realistic philosophical approach to the world (71).

In other words, for Fr. White, Aquinas' philosophical and theological framework offers a unified system for understanding all of reality and that can be fully experienced within the sacramental economy of the Roman Catholic Church. A complete package rooted in an ancient intellectual tradition is very attractive to intellectuals on a quest for spiritual truth.[10]

This was especially true for Douglas M. Beaumont. Beaumont did not grow up in a religious environment, and although he had attended vacation Bible schools as child, it was not until college that he began his faith life (233). He admits to having strong sentiments against the Roman Catholic Church prior to his conversion, but without truly understanding it. The more he began to study Catholicism though, the more he began to view shared foundations with Protestantism that had really only diverged in application.[11] While studying apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Beaumont was introduced to the writings of Thomas Aquinas through Professor Geisler, who often assigned the reading of Aquinas to his students. Aquinas natural theology was influential in professor Norman Geislers classical approach to apologetics. Beaumont immediately came to appreciate Aquinas philosophical, careful and systemic thinking.

Beaumont continued to study Church History as part of his role as research assistant to Norman Geisler, who at the time was working on his Systematic Theology series. Beaumont was tasked with finding quotes from Church Fathers that would support Geislers beliefs, but he found it very difficult to identify continuity with the early Church Fathers when it came to an Evangelical ecclesiology and eschatology. The longer Beaumont studied Church History, the more he began to agree with John Newman, that to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant. Ultimately, Beaumont embraced the long intellectual tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, her claim to apostolic unity and continuity with the ancient Church, and a sacramental system structured around a Thomistic intellectual tradition and metaphysical understanding of nature and grace.[12]Dozens of other seminarians from Southern Evangelical Seminary have since followed in his footsteps.


Each of these converts above was attracted to one or more of the four words mentioned by Ulf Ekman: the historicity, apostolic continuity, authority, and sacramentality of the Roman Catholic Church. There is only one word missing that must be noted, intellectuality. The previous conversion stories are not isolated. Many other examples can be found elsewhere, e.g. Beaumonts book, Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths to Rome. A very helpful analysis on evangelical conversions to Rome has also been provided by Kenneth J. Stewart in his book, In Search of Ancient Roots: The Christian Past and the Evangelical Identity Crisis.[13]

What repeating themes do these evangelical conversion stories reveal that should be noted by evangelical pastors, leaders and scholars? This section does not attempt to provide an in-depth theological analysis of the arguments given by evangelical converts for their crossing of the Tiber. For an excellent psychological, theological, and sociological analysis on what has beenlabeled, "Convertitis", check out the new series by the Davenant Institute titled, "Why Protestants Convert". What weare addressing below are common themes and weak-points identified in testimonies of those who have had a case of convertitis. Our desire is to continue a conversation as to why Roman Catholicism becomes so attractive to some evangelicals and what can we do about it.

1. Weak ecclesiology with no or little historical formation or depth

Every single testimony seems to indicate a weak ecclesiological background. Converts describe evangelicalism in terms of isolated evangelical church expressions with no connection to a historic and global Christian faith. There was no mention of intentional discipleship and theological formation taking place within the context of the local church. In these testimonies, a study of Church history usually took place independently or through Evangelical Bible Schools and Seminaries. In Beaumonts case, his seminary did not even offer a Church history course for graduate level students, not even as an elective! How is this possible? Our own research has found that many seminaries lack courses on Roman Catholicism. The result is a generation of evangelical leaders who, like majority of the converts in this book, did not really understand Roman Catholicism.

What needs to be done in our institutions to help raise awareness of church history and the evangelical connection to the historic Christian faith? More importantly though, what needs to be done in our churches? Helping evangelicals to grasp and identify with a historic and biblical faith should not be left to Bible schools and seminaries alone. Perhaps there could be a regular recitation during times of worship that include not only Scripture but historic creeds and confessions stretching from the Apostles Creed, to the reformed confessions such as the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Confession of Faith, etc., to even more modern global evangelical confessions such as those created by the Lausanne Movement.

2. Superficial and individualist expressions of faith

We cannot ignore the American consumeristic and individualistic cultural influence on those who attend our churches or seminaries. Unfortunately, this cultural influence can also be seen within many Evangelical church models today. Many churches have been designed to deliver an experience, having created attractional means in which the attendee can experience their faith, be entertained and consume religious content without being a contributing member or participating in the life of the church. This allows for the development of a shallow, individualistic and consumeristic expression of faith.

When one becomes aware of the superficiality of the experiential expression of faith found in many evangelical churches, a Christianity that provides a way to have an experiential faith through a mystical sacramental system rooted in an ancient, historic and global tradition that claims to be united becomes very appealing. Additionally, when one sees an apparent lack of unity resulting from isolated inwardly focused congregations, the global, ancient and seemingly unified nature of Rome becomes very attractive.

3. A Gospel-less Evangelical/Protestant church experience

Looking back to the testimony of Matthew Schmitz, it appears that his experience within a very legalistic (fundamental) evangelical context played a factor in his journey towards Rome. Others experienced a liberal form of Protestantism which also indicates a lack of the biblical Gospel.

Those growing up in a more legalistic context, like Matthew Schmitz, seem to be attracted to the Church of Romes commitment to its historic doctrines maintained under the authority of the Pope and the teachings of the Magisterium. This was in contrast to an apparent Protestant pick-and-choose or have it your way menu of churches. These converts found solace in a unified, non-democratic and traditional dogmatic system defined by the Church.

Something that is important to note in these conversion stories is that while there was much positivity regarding the unity of the Roman Catholic Church contrasted to a divided Protestantism and Evangelicalism, there was very little discussion about the divergent theological expressions within Roman Catholicism, both historically and currently at odds with one another. Some of the conservative converts who were put off by the liberalization of many Protestant denominations, often leading to splits and the creation of new denominations, seemed to lack any previous conversion knowledge of the various movements within Roman Catholicism that are at odds with one another. This is also true for the more progressive-leaning converts. For example, in chapter 6, Kirsten Powers openly shared about her post-conversion crisis of faith when she discovered a conservative/progressive divide within Catholicism that is marked with infighting (94-95).

4. Attraction to Roman Catholic intellectual tradition and a lack of biblical discernment when reading the Church Fathers, Church History, and Catholic intellectual giants

There is always a need to recognize our presuppositions on the quest for truth. For evangelicals who hold to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, we understand that the Bible is the starting point through which truth claims are to be examined. This equally applies when reading, or leading others through a reading of the Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas, John Henry Newman, Chesterton, etc. It is not sufficient to take a merely philosophical approach or a realist approach, evangelicals must take a biblical approach. When it comes to reading these ancient intellectual giants and Church Fathers, is there is a need for greater evangelical scholarly assessment of church history carried out with a greater discernment and theological alertness?

What scholarly work is still left for evangelicals to do in order to address this weak point? What scholarly and literary works have already been done using a heightened theological alertness based on the authority of Scripture to evaluate the writings of the Church Fathers, Church councils and growingly popular intellectual traditions? Has there truly been enough work to study, recognize and indicate where our earliest brothers deviate from Scripture? This kind of work always carries the risk of being labeled historical revisionists, but evangelical scholars must be willing to take that risk and boldly identify where Church Fathers influenced a decision, made a decision or wrote a statement that set a trajectory towards what would ultimately result in unbiblical theology and practice.

Another question we must ask is: How does the local church address this weak point? In Schmitz testimony, it is not even clear whether or not he returned from his Summer stent in Washington DC to a local church that could have or would have helped him practice discernment. Was he left to himself as he began reading Augustine and embracing a Roman Catholic hermeneutical approach to Scripture? There is no mention of anyone helping him in this process.

5. Atomistic or no understanding of Roman Catholicism

Every evangelical testimony in this book claimed to have known very little about Roman Catholicism prior to their conversions. There were at times atomistic approaches to understanding Catholicism, only seeing Romes teachings as isolated doctrines having minor or isolated disagreements with Protestantism. However, there seemed to be a complete lack of understanding Roman Catholicism as a complete theological system prior to conversion. It is only after crossing the Tiber that some of the intellectuals recognized the systemic nature of Catholicism, and by then they had already rejected the Reformation doctrines that would undermine such a system.

It would be interesting to conduct a poll to see how many of our Evangelical Bible schools, seminaries, and missionary training centers actually offer courses on understanding Roman Catholicism as a theological system, and if any of them do, if they would be required courses in the training of evangelical scholars, leaders, and pastors. I am afraid we already know how the results would look.

What is evident through a reading of these testimonies is that there is much work to be done. It can be unsettling for evangelicals when considering that this book is one among many. However, the crossing of the Tiber is not only unidirectional. We at the Reformanda Initiative have been encouraged time and time again by stories of Roman Catholics who convert to the evangelical/biblical faith of salvation by God's grace alone, through faith alone, in the work of Jesus Christ alone. Most recently, we were encouraged by the testimony of Onsi A. Kamel, Catholicism Made Me Protestant, recently published byFirst Things. Read it and be encouraged.

Our prayer is that God may provide the resources and people who would dedicate their lives to humbly work together in identifying, uniting, equipping, and resourcing evangelical leaders to understand Roman Catholic theology and practice, to educate the evangelical church, and to communicate the biblical Gospel of salvation over and against attractive yet deviating narratives. Will you pray with us?

Clay Kannard is an evangelical pastor in Rome, and communications director of the Reformanda Initiative.


George, Robert P., and R. J. Snell. Mind, Heart and Soul: Intellectuals and the Path to Rome. TAN Books, 2018.


[1] Kristen Powers, states in chapter six that, One of my struggles with Christianity was that I thought it was anti-intellectual...I really thought all intellectuals were skeptics too, 89.

[2] Newmans Apologia Pro Vita Sua and The Grammar of Ascent are mentioned throughout this book as one of the most influential works that helped converts overcome intellectual challenges towards the Christian faith, and to embrace the Roman Catholic Church as the one true church.

[3] Ulf Ekman was born in Sweden where he was ordained as a Lutheran minister. In 1983 Ekman founded the charismatic evangelical church, Word of Life, which eventually grew into a Megachurch having an expansive outreach and global influence. In his thirty-plus years of ministry, Ekman founded several Bible schools and a seminary, organized and led conferences around the world, and authored over 40 books that have been translated into over thirty languages. Ekman valued the evangelical emphasis on reading and teaching the Bible, having a personal relationship with Jesus and the charismatic experience of faith.

[4] Matthew Schmitz is a senior editor of First Things and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Spectator and more. He holds an AB in English from Princeton.

[5] Joshua Charles is a historian, writer, and speaker. He holds an MA in government and a law degree. As a writer, he has written many articles for publications such as Fox News, The Federalist, and the Jerusalem Post and has authored and co-authored bestselling books on Americas Founders, Israel and the Bible. His testimony provides very little insight into the specifics of his previous religious experience, other than it was within a non-denominational Protestant Christian upbringing.

[6] Then on page 108, Charles gives an example, stating that every single Church Father believed in baptismal regeneration.

[7] As Evangelicals, even the works of the earliest Church Fathers must be read in light of Gods Word as our ultimate authoritySola Scriptura. In Charles case, he had already denied the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

[8] Fr. Thomas Joseph White is the director of the Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum in Rome, professor of theology and a convert himself. Douglas M. Beaumont holds a Ph.D. in theology from North-West University and an MA in apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary. At Sothern Evangelical Seminary Beaumont served as assistant to President Norman Geisler and taught Bible and religion for many years. He is also the author of several books, including Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths to Rome.

[9] More details are needed, but how is one baptized by a church without yet having decided to what church one would belong to? What was the understanding of baptism by the church who administered this ordinance? Was there any evaluation of Whites claim of faith or any attempt to catechize him?

[10] It is important to note that while Fr. White would present a Thomistic understanding of the Roman Catholic faith, as a comprehensive theological system where everything is interconnected, most of the converts never had this understanding of Roman Catholicism prior to conversion. Rather, Roman Catholicism was approached or thought of through the typical atomistic approache.g. doctrine by doctrine. For more on this read Dr. Leonardo De Chiricos dissertation, Evangelical Theological Perspectives on Post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism Evangelical Theological Perspectives on Vatican II and Gregg Allisons book, Roman Catholic Theology & Practice: An Evangelical Assessment.

[11] Beaumont provides examples stating, immoral popes were no more of a problem than was St. Peter. The evil of Israel no more made it cease to be the people of God than evils committed by those in the Church made it cease to be the Church. These discoveries made me realize that often it was my inconsistent application of shared principles that made Catholicism seem as far off as I had been led to believe it was. (226). Beaumont states that during his time at SES, Church History was not even taught for any of their graduate-level degrees, even as an elective (227).

[12] Beaumont understands very well the difference between Evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism, from the systemic nature of Catholicism to recognizing that while we often use the same words (e.g. evangelize, works, grace), we have completely different understandings of them. See his concluding remarks on page 237.

[13] See chapter fifteen of his Stewarts book, titled Why Are Younger Evangelicals Turning to Catholicism and Orthodoxy?, specifically the section titled Reasons Behind the Drift.

Read more here:
Intellectuals And The Path to Rome: A book review - Evangelical Focus

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