Category Archives: Spirituality

Spiritual practice, meditation, witness, insight, awareness.

Unique Selling Proposition

From time to time a friend asks me to explain why I’m a priest or why I’m in a church or what the point of my church is and I often find myself tongue-tied and unable to easily justify myself.

Some of that is uncertainty about the person I’m talking to. If the person is a Christian, it’s not too bad, I know where to start. If they’re a Buddhist I have a few places to go. My problem is with secular, unchurched folk who don’t have a practice themselves. Where to begin?

On the weekend, I spent the afternoon at a friend’s birthday on Cockatoo Island and one of the other guests (let’s call her C) was curious about my ordination and the church and did me the favour of asking smart questions. C is a public relations professional and after I’d mumbled and stumbled around for a while, she decided to hit me with The Question:

C: What’s your USP?

Me: My what?

C: Your Unique Selling Proposition. What is it about your church that makes it uniquely great?

She asked me other great questions like “How do people know you’re there?”, but the USP question has stuck with me. We talked about my thought that it’s more that we have a set of things that make us unique and interesting. Apparently in PR this is OK, but I just need to get snappy at articulating them.

Some folk in spiritual circles, especially church circles, might be horrified by thinking about our church in PR terms, but I suspect if that’s the case, you’ve never tried setting up a parish from scratch on a continent where your organisation has no other foothold. C’s questions really pointed my attention very clearly at where I lack clarity.

So, I’m going to take it on. A USP for the AJC. If you, my 3 or 4 readers, will bear with me I’m going to devote a series of posts to things about my church that I think are remarkable or interesting. These comments are solely my own opinion and not representative of any official AJC position or the thoughts of any other clergy.

Perhaps when I’m done, I’ll be able to field questions from interested people without looking like a dope.

Adoring the Sun

Salutation and praise unto thee,
O life-enkindling Sun, child of Creation’s Lord!
O thou lone all-seeing Eye of the vault celestial!
Extend thy light that I may see,
but dim thy glory that I be not blinded.

Unmask thy countenance, O God of Light:
For I am a lover of Truth
and I would behold the spiritual essence
concealed by thy golden disk!

So reveal unto my perception
Thy shining and inmost nature,
Even that high spirit which infuses thee
and is one with the primal flame of mine own being.

O life-enkindling Sun, child of Creation’s Lord:
Salutation and praise unto thee!

That’s the text of the Solar Adoration recommended to neophytes in the Aurum Solis Order. The instructions are to practice the adoration at dawn and dusk. This brings the student into alignment with the daily rhythm and orients the attention to the solar energy.

It’s a simple, but delightful practice. Try it!

Reverend Grand-Mother Marsha+

Hearty congratulations to Mother Emerick on the birth of her new grandson!May the the Lord smile upon little Jaden and his family.Emerald City Gnosis: BRAGGING AND BRAGGING!!

in His entirety

Through grace God in His entirety penetrates the saints in their entirety, and the saints in their entirety penetrate God entirely, exchanging the whole of Him for themselves, and acquiring Him alone as the reward of their ascent towards Him; for He embraces them as the soul embraces the body, enabling them to be in Him as His own members…the intellect, because of its freedom from worldly cares, is able to act with its full vigor and becomes capable of perceiving the ineffable goodness of God.

St. Gregory Palamas (1296 – 1359)

Path and Current

Talking to a friend last week I noted that I feel as though I’ve stepped into a “current” in taking the ordination to the priesthood and in devoting myself to serious study of Gnosticism and the Western Mysteries. I was intending to use the word in the sense that western occult folk do — a coherent (sometimes ancient, sometimes emerging) tradition, the Golden Dawn current, the Chaos Magick current, etc — the river metaphor implied by me “stepping into” it was unconscious.

But my friend wasn’t sure what I meant and demanded an explanation.

Two things came out in our conversation that I wanted to share. One is my interior, very river-like sense of stepping into a current. I have, over the years, taken on various practices, read various books, occasionally sat with various teachers, but I always found it hard to shift a deep feeling that this was just all me. I was doing all the work, whatever changes were my psychology, shallow or deep. Sometimes I might project all that on other people or things, but ultimately it was all me. Lots of striving and seeking.

What’s shifted for me is a new sense that, in addition to me and my various efforts and strivings, I’m being nudged, assisted… drawn along on my journey. Something not entirely recognizable as me, not quite inside me, not quite outside me is exerting pressure to keep going. When I engage in a practice, there’s a very different sense going on, it’s not that it’s easy… perhaps it’s like I have company.

There’s a current which is also a sense of communion.

The other thing I wanted to mention is the distinction between a current and a path. This is simpler to point out. When I talk about my Path, and it seems similar when friends use the term, I’m referring to my personal journey with the sense that it has a continuity from past to future. My Path is very individual, each person’s Path seems to be, though that’s likely to be an artifact of us all being individualists.

A Current, by contrast, is not individual. It’s something that becomes present to me, that I choose to step into, that I can allow myself to be drawn by or that I can explore. My Path joins the Current.

Buddhists (and others) talk about the Way. A Way is really a Path trod by many in common over a long period.

I guess for a Way to develop a Current, it would need to rain pretty hard. Eventually you might get a stream or a creek or a river. Like the Nile. Or the Ganges. Or the Jordan.

St. John in the Wilderness



St. John in the Wilderness, originally uploaded by genericavatar.

My Flickr-friend genericavatar has been travelling in India and uploading some spectacular photography. For obvious reasons, this caught my eye.

About the First Man…

This is the one who is called “Son”…
the form of the formless
the body of the bodiless
the face of the invisible
the word of the unutterable
the mind of the inconceivable
the fountain which flowed from (the Father)
the root of those who have been planted
the god of those who exist
the light of those whom he illuminates
the love of those whom he has loved
the providence of those for whom he provides
the wisdom of those whom he has made wise
the strength of those he has given strength
the assembly of those with whom he is present
the revelation of that which is sought
the eye of those who see
the spirit of those who breathe
the life of those who live
the unity of those who are united.

The Tripartite Tractate 65.29-30, 66.13-30 (Courtesy of April de Conick’s wonderful Forbidden Gospels Blog)

I think it’s very easy to imagine this appearing in a liturgical context. Try reading it out loud.

Things that confuse me about World Youth Day

  1. Why don’t they have to call it World Roman Catholic Youth Day?
  2. Why are millions of kiddies going to travel to Sydney just to hang out with the bishop of Rome?

… I’m sure there’s others.

Home.

After a few days of mushy brain I finally feel like I’m actually back with my feet on the ground in Sydney. I spent the last couple of weeks in San Francisco at my church‘s annual conclave where I finally got to meet a handful of people who’ve been my brothers and sisters and my guides and mentors over the last eighteen months in my seminary work.

We talked, learned, ate and drank. We celebrated Liturgy together and some of us took Holy Orders as deacons and priests of the church with the support of our friends and family. The picture above is me taking an oath of allegiance between the hands of my bishop, the Patriarch of the church, His Eminence The Most Reverend Mar Iohannes IV.

I like it because it’s a very traditional image and part of the story of my journey in this work is embracing the richness, diversity and difficulty of this Tradition. Sadly I don’t have a good picture of my friend Shaun and I enjoying burgers at Mel’s Drive-In on the last night laughing over the events of the week and telling jokes.

That’s sad because Shaun and Mar Iohannes are the same guy. The same person I offer reverence to as my bishop and patriarch, I also have come to treasure as a beloved friend. Two roles we don’t confuse, but that we also don’t separate. That small fact offers in detail almost the whole of the teaching of Church if you look closely enough. It also helps explain why I love my church as much as I do.

It’s less than two years since I stumbled onto the Apostolic Johannite Church looking for a place to explore my craving for a spiritual tradition. In that time, these funny, smart, creative, mature, committed people have welcomed me into the family of the church and into their lives and homes.

And as a consequence, I now burn with the knowledge that I’ve found my way home.

Edit: More pictures of Conclave

(not the) Benedicite Dominum

The Benedicite is a canticle from the Hebrew bible from the book of Daniel. It’s traditionally recited as part of the Matins service of the Divine Office. It’s a hymn to the whole of creation and it’s quite lovely, but I get a little tetchy with the language and so for fun I’ve taken a crack at a more neo-Platonic version. So, with apologies to Daniel (and St Francis, I think), here it is.

Bless the Highest all you emanations of the Highest:
sing praise and exalt the Fullness for ever.

Bless the Fullness you Aeons:
sing praise and exalt the Fullness for ever.

Bless the Fullness you angels of the Fullness:
bless the Source all you hosts;

bless the Fullness you waters above the heavens:
sing praise and exalt the Depth for ever.

Bless the Fullness sun and moon:
bless the Fullness you stars of heaven;

bless the Fullness all rain and dew:
sing praise and exalt the Source for ever.

Bless the Fullness all winds that blow:
bless the Fullness you fire and heat;

bless the Fullness scorching wind and bitter cold:
sing praise and exalt the Highest for ever.

Bless the Fullness dews and falling snows:
bless the Fullness you nights and days;

bless the Fullness light and darkness:
sing praise and exalt the Highest for ever.

Bless the Fullness frost and cold:
bless the Fullness you ice and snow;

bless the Fullness lightnings and clouds:
sing praise and exalt the Highest for ever.

O let the earth bless the Fullness:
bless the Source you mountains and hills;

bless the Fullness all that grows in the ground:
sing praise and exalt the Highest for ever.

Bless the Fullness you springs:
bless the Source you seas and rivers;

bless the Fullness you whales and all the swim in the waters:
sing praise and exalt the Depth for ever.

Bless the Fullness all birds of the air:
bless the Fullness you beasts and cattle;

bless the Fullness all people on earth:
sing praise and exalt the Highest for ever.

O people of God bless the Fullness:
bless the Source you priests of the One-in-Three;

bless the Fullness you servants of the Lord:
sing praise and exalt the Highest for ever.

Bless the Fullness all you of upright spirit:
bless the Source you that are holy and humble in heart.

Blessed be God, Mother, Father and Son.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God, Pleroma, Logos, Pneuma Hagion.
Blessed be God, Source, Word and Wisdom.
Blessed be God.
Blessed be.