Excerpt from chapter six of my forthcoming book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment. This chapter documents my time at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Thousands of exuberant voices filled the cavernous space of the main plenary hall. It was a time of worship, a place for introspection, a space for emotional release. Multitudes lifted their voices in melodic affirmation and the assembly room, with its 30-foot high ceiling and massive cement walls, pulsed with female energy.
It was going to be an interesting morning.
Speaker after speaker impressed upon us our sacred duty, swelling our sense of unity and shared spiritual purpose.
“What if the world were a place where it was effortless to recognize our common humanity, our shared virtues and concerns, and our collective devotion to the Earth?” asked Rabbi Amy Eilberg. “What if the whole world, all seven billion of us, were like this?”
Heads nodded in affirmation and voices shouted in solidarity.
Ojibwe “Grandmother” Mary Lyons told the multitude: “When you breath in, you breath in a breath of Mother Earth. And when you exhale, those are your ancestors.”
More heads nodded.
New York Times best-selling author and New Thought personality, Marianne Williamson, wowed the audience with her charisma: “Every woman here who is a healer is a priestess. Every woman here who is a teacher or an educator is a priestess.” Her call to sacred femininity energized the great crowd, bringing attendees to their feet again and again during her eight-minute speech.
“A Divine Goddess is not just beautiful, she’s fierce,” Marianne exhorted with a growl of intensity, leading to an emotionally charged call-to-action. “And when you mess with her babies… and you mess with her earth, she’s had enough of that sh*t. And we’re here on her behalf… you know what to do, go do it!”
The response to Marianne was more than a standing ovation. Women sobbed, danced, raised their hands, shouted and whistled and clapped. Someone yelled, “Marianne for President!” Drums around the room pounded in support. To my immediate left a woman was bowed low, weeping profusely, the wellspring of her soul cascading down her face. On my left a plain-looking, middle-aged lady was fist-pumping the air with grave intensity, lips pursed, face set like stone – a “Divine Goddess” ready to burst forth, fierce, and eager to battle for the sake of Mother Earth.
Following Marianne, Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, invited us to be “political actors” and reshape the world. More cheers rose in solidarity, the great crowd empowered to march as social justice warriors.
“We are strong,” bridged the moderator, building on the passion of the morning. “We are woman. Make no mistake of it – we are strong.”
The Women’s Plenary, titled Faith in Women was a rousing invocation to goddess empowerment. But it was not a stand-alone event. The day before was the Inaugural Woman’s Assembly, and I had attended this too.
“We are one with all life,” explained an Assembly speaker. “We are one with all people. We are one with the one.”
The masses responded back: “We are one with all life… We are one with the one.”
The following is an extended excerpt from my forthcoming book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-enchantment, chapter 6 – titled “Enchanting Ourselves.”
Kirtan music floated in the background. Colorful silk saris and white arched windows and exotic pictures of an ancient culture greeted my eyes. Miniature deity statues stared amidst the peacock feathers and souvenir trinkets. A small but tempting buffet beckoned, filling the air with the rich aroma of curry and cloves, and the subtle notes of cardamom. I made a beeline for the food.
After my second helping of palak paneer – a savory dish of spinach and paneer cheese – and too much mango lassi, the guru beckoned to join him in a cozy sitting area tucked under a white staircase. A painting hung over his bench; adoring women and cows were watching Krishna playing a flute. The staircase ascending above our heads, I assumed, was the inside access to the temple space.
“When you came in,” my host gestured with an exaggerated sweep of an arm, “the smells and sights caught your attention, yes?”
“Yes,” I answered, “and the food was very tasty.”
His wife and assistant quietly joined us in what became a mostly one-sided conversation. English was not my host’s native tongue, and he had much to say.
“Why here?” I interjected. “Why Utah?”
“Krishna directed us to this place.”
Since 1998, the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple – also known as the Lotus Temple – has been a landmark in the predominantly Mormon community of Spanish Fork. Located approximately 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, the Temple is comprised of gleaming white domes, over 100 arches and columns, a grand outdoor staircase guarded by two bronze elephants, and a spacious upper level walk-around patio. This edifice, set against a mountain backdrop, is visible from Interstate 15.
Established as part of the ISKCON network – the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, also known as the Hare Krishna Movement – the Lotus Temple’s spiritual heritage is built on the teachings of the late A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Thirty-nine other ISKCON temples and Vedic centers currently dot the United States, each one advancing the mission of Prabhupada.
Noted for his influence upon Western culture and his voluminous writings, Swami Prabhupada’s message was one of religious universalism and conscious transformation.
“Actually, it doesn’t matter,” Prabhupada famously explained in 1974. “Krishna or Christ – the name is the same. The main point is to follow the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures that recommend chanting the name of God in this age.”
The name chanted is Krishna, the avatar of the Hindu god, Vishnu. In repeating the Hare Krishna mantra and through the practice of bhakti yoga – devotion through yoga – the follower embraces the unity of religions. Prabhupada said it this way,
“To practice bhakti-yoga means to become free from designations like Hindu, Muslim, Christian, this or that, and simply to serve God. We have created Christian, Hindu, and Mohammedan religions, but when we come to a religion without designations, in which we don’t think we are Hindus or Christians or Mohammedans, then we can speak of pure religion, or bhakti.”
While I was at the Lotus Temple, the resident teacher told me that Hinduism has been evangelizing the West through yoga, and to a lesser but growing extent, the Holi Festival of Colors. The thought struck me: The West is being Hinduized in-fact but not in-name. We are not converting to an organized form of the Eastern religion; rather, we are embracing its thinking and spirit as we mimic its religious practices.
Pointing to his own community of Spanish Fork, the guru boasted: “Every Sunday, 100 to 150 Mormons come to the temple for yoga and the Maha Mantra.”
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna…
NOTE: Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment, is slated to be released later this year. Watch for it!
 Later I discovered the buffet is blessed twice a day by the Hindu deity, Lord Krishna. The situation reminded me of 1 Corinthians 8 with its discussion of food offered to idols.
 The full conversation between Father Emmanuel Jungclaussen and Swami Prabhupada can be found here: http://www.krishna.com/krishna-or-christ-name-same.
 Its more consumer-oriented expressions are the popular 5k color runs and associated color festivals.
 Each Sunday the temple puts on a Hara Krishna Love Feast, a time for lectures, worship and yoga, and a fellowship meal.
I haven’t posted for a while, simply because my time has been and continues to be consumed by one of the most difficult yet rewarding projects I’ve undertaken – the writing and developing of a book.
Although the book is still months away from being released, here’s the cover and title!
Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book. Enjoy!
It was my fourth drive around the poorly lit neighborhood, and I was baffled. This was where elite world thinkers were meeting, in an old residential section on the north side of Chicago? All I could see were aged homes, brick-clad apartments, and townhouses. Address numbers were practically invisible in the autumn darkness, and I was coming up – once again – to what was supposed to be the location for a “Global Peoples Assembly.”
I had to be lost.
The date was November 7, 1997, and when it came to big cities I possessed a country-boy naivety. To someone who had grown up on a grain farm in the Canadian prairies, Chicago felt like another planet, and earlier that evening my inexperience shone through.
Needing to book a room for the night, I found, a dozen or so blocks from my meeting destination, a 1950ish looking motel. A bed is a bed, right?
“How many hours do you want?” asked the elderly female receptionist, barely looking up from the boredom of her newspaper. This should have been my first clue.
“All night,” I answered, passing the money for the posted rate of a single-bed. Scowling at the cash in her hands, the lady piped-up: “Well, how many are going to be using the room?”
Dumbstruck, I stumbled out an apologetic, “Just me.”
“Oh…” with a little smile, her eyes came up to meet mine. “You want it for sleeping!” Later, I discovered that “sleeping” was not a priority in my chosen establishment.
Dropping off my luggage in a small, grimy room, I left to find the Global Assembly. After driving in circles for twenty minutes, I parked my car and nervously walked up the steps of an empty looking brick building – the only one that seemed plausible in relationship to the directions on my map – and there, in the shadows of the door awning, I found the address number and a taped-up piece of paper with simple type.
Walking in, I was welcomed to “DreamHouse.”
Bertrand Russell was a British philosopher, a social critic and peace activist, noted mathematician, a world-recognized author with dozens of published books and essay collections, and a widely celebrated humanist. He was an outspoken proponent for a “scientific civilization.”
Here are 5 quotes from Bertrand Russell on the “scientific society.”
1. “…a scientific world society cannot be stable unless there is a world government.” – The Impact of Science on Society (Simon and Schuster, 1953), p.104.
2. “The need for a world government, if the population problem is to be solved in any humane manner, is completely evident on Darwinian principles.” – The Impact of Science on Society (Simon and Schuster, 1953), p.105.
3. “I believe that, owing to men’s folly, a world-government will only be established by force, and will therefore be at first cruel and depotic [sic]. But I believe that it is necessary for the preservation of a scientific civilization, and that, if once realized, it will gradually give rise to the other conditions of a tolerable existence.” – The Future of Science (Philosophical Library, 1959), p.34.
4. “A World Authority, if it is to fulfil its function, must have a legislature and an executive and irresistible military power. Irresistible military power is the most essential condition and also the most difficult to fulfil.” – Has Man a Future? (Penguin, 1961), p.73.
5. “I do not pretend that birth control is the only way in which population can be kept from increasing. There are others, which, one must suppose, opponents of birth control would prefer. War, as I remarked a moment ago, has hitherto been disappointing in this respect, but perhaps bacteriological war may prove more effective. If a Black Death could be spread throughout the world once in every generation survivors could procreate freely without making the world too full. There would be nothing in this to offend the consciences of the devout or to restrain the ambitions of nationalists. The state of affairs might be somewhat unpleasant, but what of that? Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people’s.” – The Impact of Science on Society (Simon and Schuster, 1953), pp.103-104.
2016 is here! And there’s much in store for the next few months, including the anticipated release of a book.
So, what’s transpired since the last Update (October 1)? Here you go!
– The big decision was to cancel Forcing Change magazine. After nine full years, it was time to wrap up the online publication, which will open up space to complete my book project. I was sad to see the magazine go; after all, it was a resource I personally used in my studies. However, I’m excited to see what doors will open as this next phase of research and writing unfolds. Note: All back issues of Forcing Change magazine are going to be stored in an online archive, embedded in a new website to be released shortly.
– Attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah. Over 10,000 religious leaders and activists converged to celebrate oneness, work for global solidarity, and envision a united world. Traditional evangelical Christianity, however, didn’t fit this global mash-up, and thus the proclamations of “tolerance” were limited; everything is accepted, except exclusive truth claims of salvation, the fallen state of humanity, and that God is distinct and separate from creation. The October edition of Forcing Change was entirely devoted to reporting on the Parliament.
– Three other highlights from the Utah/Parliament trip.
1) Being billeted to and connecting with Bill McKeever of the Mormon Research Ministry, and making friends with a wonderful group of Christian authors, researchers, and apologetic-based evangelists who also attended the Parliament and were billeted with Bill. And while at the Parliament, I ran into a Christian pod-casting friend and another friend who’s an author – they spotted me first and yelled across the hallway, “Carl Teichrib!” Yup, that stopped me in my tracks! However, I was very encouraged to see other Christian researchers in attendance, engaging as a witness to participants from various religions, and being there to monitor and assess the direction of the interfaith movement.
2) After the Parliament, I had a window of time to visit with friends in Utah, enjoying a great conversation over breakfast with Lincoln Cannon of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, and then spending two enjoyable days with Shane and Kim Jones of Tri-Grace Ministries – including a slip-sliding off-road adventure to the top of a local mountain range in Shane’s 4X4.
3) Toured the Radha Krishna Temple (pictures below), also known as the Lotus Temple, located near Spanish Fork, a predominantly Mormon community about an hour south of Salt Lake City. Here, I listened to the guru talk about Hindu evangelism in North America through yoga and the Festival of Colors. A write-up of this encounter can be found in the November edition of Forcing Change magazine.
– Forcing Change magazine finished the year by publishing an extensive Global Calendar of Events, listing and detailing upcoming conferences and gatherings dedicated to global governance and international security, transhumanism, interfaithism, the resurrection of the pagan paradigm, and movements toward oneness.
– In November I spoke five times in four days at a multi-church series of services just north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I met some wonderful people in the Martensville/Warman district, and enjoyed the hospitality and warmth of the Bergthaler Church family.
– Spoke at the Neepawa Christian Fellowship, giving them an update from the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
– Edited the Winter 2016 edition of Hope For The World Update, the quarterly newsletter of author Gary Kah.
– Attended the 10th Annual Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic Persons, a virtual conference on transhumanism, held at Terasem Island in Second Life. It was a fascinating day as speakers explored the philosophical aspects of artificial intelligence, possible social and legal ramifications, and other developments in transhuman thought.
– Earlier in the year I taught a modular course at Millar College, and in November I received a nice big package of research essays to mark. Ah, the extended benefits of teaching!
– Radio shows and podcasts I participated in: Steel on Steel, VFTB, Janet Mefferd Today, TruNews, The Weekend Vigilante Show, Stand Up For The Truth, The Truth Traveler, Soaring Eagle Radio, Remnant X Radio, His People, Call to Decision, TruthTalk, Love For The Truth Radio, and Understanding the Times.
– Our daughter, Austin, was part of the Central Manitoba Youth Choir (CMYC) – a group of fifty auditioned, high school musicians. My wife Leanne and I chaperoned one of the CMYC practice weekends, and had the opportunity to privately enjoy this outstanding choir for two days. A couple of weeks later, CMYC gave 14 performances during a five-day tour. Here are a few videos from one of the performances. Austin is wearing the teal-blue scarf in the front-center.
– I managed a few hours of metal detecting over the course of a couple of days, and pulled some silver from the dirt; a number of small sized 5 cent coins, an old 50 cent piece, and a handful of silver dimes and quarters with many dating before World War I. Dirt fishin’s fun when the silver’s biting!
– As an extended family, we greatly enjoyed our Canadian thanksgiving weekend. The weather was exceptional, and a photographer friend was willing to do a series of family photos at an abandoned farm (yes, that’s a collapsed stone house in the background).
– Leanne and I flew to Toronto on personal business. She hadn’t been there before, and my one and only time in the city was back in 1997 when I traveled through by bus (whipty-do). So… we went up the CN Tower and visited Casa Loma, and hopped on the subway system while downtown. Our return trip to Manitoba was a leisurely three-day drive over the north side of the Great Lakes, stopping to see a friend in Sudbury, walking the beach at Terrace Bay, and exploring the city of Thunder Bay – a very refreshing break!
– Had a bitter-sweat weekend in early November: Attended the funeral of an elderly family friend, and then, that same day, went to the wedding rehearsal of our niece – and of course, the wedding the following day.
– Leanne and I started assisting with our home church’s College & Career group. We get together once a week, and while it’s not a large gathering, the conversations, Bible study, and fellowship has been sweet.
– Our son, Scott, and I spent two days cutting and installing baseboards and door casements for a friend. Let the sawdust fly! After Scott made a more complicated angle cut that fit together perfectly, he looked at me and exclaimed; “Now, that’s really satisfying!” Of course, when we miscalculated a cut, it wasn’t satisfying at all…
– Although Leanne and I both came down with the flu, we still managed to enjoy our Christmas; spending Christmas eve hiking through the snow-covered forest along the river by my dad’s farm, and visiting with friends and family. As our winter has been unseasonably warm (no complaints!), we had to be careful with river crossings and thin ice.
– Brian Doherty, This is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground (BenBella, 2006).
– Lee Gilmore, Theater in a Crowded Fire: Ritual and Spirituality at Burning Man (University of California Press, 2010).
– Timothy Leary, Design For Dying (HarperEdge, 1997).
– Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Citadel Press, 1964/2007).
– Swami Vivekananda, Chicago Addresses (Advaita Ashrama, 2013 edition).
– Peter Jones, The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat (Kirkdale Press, 2015).
– Robert W. Keyserlingk, Unfinished History (Robert Hale Limited, 1948).
– Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1998).
Have a great 2016!
I attended the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions, held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The official theme of the Parliament was “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity,” and the meme, encountered throughout the five-day event, was the assertion of Oneness – that we are all connected to the Earth (“you are Mother Earth walking”), and that we are all part of divinity. Reclaiming the Goddess and uniting with Nature was a recurring message, evident from the Inaugural Women’s Assembly to the closing ceremony.
Here are some pictures from the 2015 Parliament. Some photos are little out-of-focus, and for that I apologize.