Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Fascination with Sloths Segues Into Mindfulness Meditation

Fascination with Sloths Segues into Mindfulness Meditation

It's a fact that the sloth is so adored zoos are having a hard time finding enough of them for all of the would-be onlookers. It seems many are all agog over sloths.  Zoo keepers have found that some zoo patrons are so in awe of the sloth that they break down into tears when they first see a live one.
Indeed, poachers too are having a field day supplying these wanted mammals to their customers.

A quick read about sloths informs one that these amazing creatures of the rain forest have been created to be ever so slow to move, and prefer to sleep hours on end every day.  Not only do they move slowly, eat slowly, but they do almost everything upside down happily hanging from their high perch. To many this serene slow-to-move mammal mirrors the mindfulness techniques of being still, peaceful, and letting the world pass by.

So popular are sloths you'll find book stores offering a variety of items pertaining to them: journals, stickers, stationery, tee-shirts, Christmas cards, stuffed sloths, throws, book bags, jewelry, calendars, and the list goes on.  Even Hollywood got in on the sloth obsession with Sid the Sloth in "Ice Age," and the slow sloth employees of the DMV in "Zootopia."

Noticing this sloth fascination I wondered could it be these animals are used for meditation?  Just a bit of research and yes, I found this special animal that God made to be very slow, and unique in its ways is being turned right side up to assume a meditative sitting position to lure kids and adults alike into meditation.

Who could miss the Budda-like sloths with closed eyes sitting in a lotus-cross-legged position atop a book store shelf?  I could not!.  How clever!  Just arrange the long sloth legs cross wise, and the toed claw "fingers" into mudras and you have meditating sloths. The enemy, the devil, knows exactly how to take an animal such as a sloth and literally turn it into something opposite of what God intended as Isaiah 5:20 warns.

Author Ton Mak wrote A Sloth's Guide to Mindfulness (July 2018),  a cartoon-like deceptive book, one can use to learn how to meditate.  Amazon's introductory blurb to the book says, "Follow a serene and smilely sloth through a series of light meditations … with this snuggable guide."  Of his book Mak writes, "This little book encourages a slower pace--a more mindful, philoslothical life."

Another book, A Sloth's Guide to Taking It Easy (2018), by Sarah Jackson introduces children to "Brian," a three-toed sloth, as "... the perfect mentor on your journey to stepping back and slowing life down."  "Brian" will take you on your way to some "serious chilling" i.e. meditative techniques, and will become your relaxation guru.

To help you along Jackson suggests reciting "Positivity Mantras" consisting of three things you like about yourself.  After, one holds up a mirror, and recites aloud each mantra ten times while looking at one's self.  However, Proverbs 3:5-7 tells us not to elevate ourselves but to: "Trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and lean not to our own understanding" … and "not to be wise in our own eyes."

Seductively cute color books too use sloths, color books such as The Sloth Mandala Coloring Book for Kids, and Slothdala: Relax with Sloth and Mandala Design.  (2017)  The first color book cover pictures a smiling sloth hanging from a branch attached to a mandala.  The mandala's green focal point is very visible inviting one into fixing one's gaze on it, and entering into meditation.

The second sloth color book Slothdala encourages little ones from two to adults to color its sloth mandalas.  Its alluring cover shows a seated sloth meditating with an intricate mandala-like-crown  over its head.

"Mandalas are," as defined in my booklet Mandala Color Books: Relaxing Fun or Tool for New Age Meditation? (2016-Lighthouse Trails Research), "a visual tool to  take one into a meditative state just as mantras are a vocal tool to lead one into emptying one's mind. …  As one repeatedly gazes, contemplates, looks upon, stares at the mandala while following its hypnotic patterns, it can have the effect of relaxing the person into an altered state or even a trance."

Color books such as these sloth mandala ones haven't gone away, but have proliferated to the point they are now just another tool in the meditative arsenal available to colorists of all ages.  As my booklet's final paragraph title warned: "Color Me Discerning, or Color Me Deceived: Which Will It Be?"  Therefore, be careful what you color!

Sadly, the sloth, so wondrously created, has now become a meditative icon used to lure many more  into meditative practices such as mindfulness. Instead of focusing on being "more sloth" let us find peace and rest in the Lord Jesus Christ who said, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  (Matthew 11:28)

Learn to Discern Granny Verse:  I Peter 5:8

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

For More Information:

Order Mandala Color Books: Relaxing Fun or a Tool for New Age Meditation? from:



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Book Review: To Unpack Roma Downey's Box of Butterflies Is to Discover a Core False Teaching

A Book Review:  To Unpack Roma Downey's Box of Butterflies Is to Discover a Core False Teaching

Have you ever received a package wrapped in the most attractive paper only to eagerly rip off its wrappings to find something inside you couldn't have imagined?  This is much like Roma Downey's beautiful new book Box of Butterflies for although its author is sincere and gracious, and its stories are inspirational and hopeful, when fully opened, one will discover a core false teaching that runs throughout its pages. And so, because Scripture reminds us to test all things, this review will attempt to unpack how its author incorporates this teaching throughout the book.

A Review:  Box of Butterflies:  Howard Books (An Imprint of Simon and Schuster) March 2018

Unpacking Its Foreword

Box of Butterflies begins with a short foreword by the late Della Reese with whom Roma had an extraordinary relationship that began with Della playing "Tess," Roma's partner-angel, on the well-known Touched by an Angel series. About Della, Roma wrote, "She has become the first person I call when I need wisdom, and she is a loving teacher and instructor." (p.36)  Such was Della's influence on Roma that she also became Roma's surrogate mother, a godmother to Roma's daughter Reilly, and the officiator at Roma and Mark's wedding.  (p.35) (p.132)

Della was also a pastor of the New Thought "Up Church."  New Thought teaches one that the Bible is just a book containing the sacred writings of any religion.  It believes too " ... in God, the living Spirit Almighty; one, indestructible, absolute, and self-existent Cause; and it believes " ...in the incarnation of the Spirit in US, and that all PEOPLE are incarnations of the One Spirit."  Dear reader, this is what Della believed, for Della Reese, along with such men as Eckhart Tolle, and Neale Donald Walsch, are listed among their "Modern Notable Members."  As Christian as Reese's foreword may seem, Reese's beliefs are unbiblical.

Unpacking Its "Introduction"

Mary Oliver
Roma's "Introduction" begins with Mary Oliver's poem: "I Have Decided."  Roma writes, "I love the poems of Mary Oliver ... there is something about the beauty and honesty of her poems that echoes the prayers of my heart.  She reminds me of the simplicity of faith, of how God's image is reflected in nature all around us, and when we are quiet we can connect to the stillness within ourselves, we can hear him speak." (p.1)

Here the question must be asked, "What do we know about Mary Oliver's beliefs?"  One answer can be found in "Maria Shriver Interviews Poet Mary Oliver" (Oprah.com)  As they discuss "religion" Oliver comments, "I've written before that God has 'so many names.'  To me, it's all right if you look at a tree, as the Hindus do, and the tree has a spirit.  It's mystery, and mysteries don't compromise themselves-we're never gonna know. ... I like to think of myself as a praise poet."  Shriver queries Oliver as to what this means.  Oliver replies, "That I acknowledge my feeling and gratitude for life by praising the world and whoever made all these things."  It's worth noting too that Oliver often emphasizes paying "careful attention," and is listed over and over by mindfulness sites as a mindfulness poet.

While Oliver praises the world and whoever made these things, there is but one we are to praise for as Revelation 4:11 declares: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

On page eight Roma quotes the poet Rumi or Jalal al-Din.  Rumi, a Sufi poet from the thirteenth century, has recently resurfaced to become beloved by such New Spirituality adherents as Deepak Chopra, and Demi Moore. Rumi, incidentally, was known for founding the "Whirling Dervishes" who while spinning round try to achieve "trance-like" states to reach God. (p.8)

Roma concludes the "Introduction" with this thought, "I pray this book is a moment of remembering for you.  A remembering of who you really are, how much God loves you, and that you are never, ever truly alone."

Unpacking Some of Its Poets/Authors

This book is packed full of quotations--one hundred twenty-eight of them in all--coming from a diverse array of authors and poets.  In addition, Downey includes twenty-eight Biblical quotes from various versions.

David Richo
Chapter one's first quote is from author, educator, and Jungian psychotherapist David Richo which reads, "Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us." (p.13)

This same Richo, in one of his "guided meditations," states "I never give up on reflecting that everyone has an innate goodness, and that being loved can evolve it."  And Richo teaches in
Coming Home to Who You Are:  Discovering Your Natural Capacity for Love, Integrity, and Compassion (Shambhala 2012) practices that can help us become "cheerful agents of the goodness that is in us all." Romans 3:10 however says, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: ...."  https://davericho.com/  https://davericho.com/books/

Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore, the Bard of Bengal, is yet another poet that looks within. In "Sadhana" he wrote: "This is the ultimate end of man, to find the One which is in him, which is truth, which is his soul: the key with which he opens the gate of the spiritual life."  ("Tagore's Spiritual Legacy" Hinduism Today)  But, John 14:6 tells us of the only one that is truth-- the Lord Jesus.  It says: "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me." (p. 42)

John O' Donohue
Celtic poet John O' Donohue, another poet Roma especially highlights, was an Irish Roman Catholic priest and philosopher who greatly admired Meister Eckhart and John of the Cross. (pp. 48-49)  He too echoed the other poets Roma admires when in Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom he wrote, "The heart is the inner face of your life.  The human journey strives to make this inner face beautiful.  It is here love gathers within you. ...   For love alone can awaken what is divine within you.  In love, you grow and come home to yourself."  According to Scripture though nothing is divine within us, for "The heart," Jeremiah 17:9 says, "is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked and who can know it?"  And I John 4:10 says too, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

Derek Walcott
Derek Walcott, Caribbean poet and playwright, is another favorite poet that is named in Box of Butterflies.  Roma especially likes his poem "Love After Love"  (Walcott's Poetic Ode to Being at Home in Ourselves).  On her recent birthday she mentioned his poem.  Another person that enjoys the same poem is the "Father of Mindfulness" Jon Kabat-Zinn as he reads this poem as well as uses this poem in his classic work Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and The World Through Mindfulness. (2005)  ( p.176) 

David Whyte
One of Roma's well-loved poets is David Whyte whom she features four times in her book.  In "What Are You Like? Roma Downey" Roma shares with Irish America's Patricia Harty in answer to "What is on your bedside table?" that she keeps several poetry collections from her favorites: Rumi, Yeats, David Whyte, and Mary Oliver.

Presently Whyte, of both English and Irish extraction, is an American poet and speaker.  He also is a Zen Buddhist  practitioner who has spoken at gatherings, e.g. two "Wake Up Festivals" in Estes Park, Colorado.  Publisher of Sounds True, Tami Simon, in "David Whyte On Being at the Frontier of Your Identity," interviewed him on "Insights at the Edge" podcast.  In it she mentioned that
Whyte had produced a Sounds True audio, and was to be part another "Wake Up Festival."

Later in an Elephant Journal interview "Meet Tami Simon, Publisher of Sounds True" by Edie Lazenby, Simon shared that Wake Up participants would listen to teachers (like Adyashanti and Jack Kornfield), poets ( like David Whyte and Mark Nepo), and musicians (like Snatam Kaur and Norini Ni Riain).  And she added that Matthew Fox would lead the entire community in a three-hour immersive "Cosmic Mass."  Just these interviews alone make clear why Whyte's poetry would not be poems a born again believer should seek to learn from.

Robert Holden
In Box of Butterflies, Roma includes a full page quote from a man deep into the New Age-- Robert Holden. (p. 202)  Holden is an author, broadcaster, coach, and public speaker.   Holden has also
worked with Oprah Winfrey having been on her show.  In addition Holden hosts a weekly talk show sponsored by the well-known New Age publisher Hay House founded by the late Louise Hay.

Holden has written two books Happiness Now, and Loveability which are based on A Course in Miracles known as The New Age "Bible." Loveability, by the way, is endorsed by the well-known New Ager Marianne Williamson.

Holden is also connected to two of Roma's friends --Ron and Mary Hulnick-- from her studies at the New Age University of Santa Monica, Ca. where Roma received her Master's Degree in Spiritual Psychology.  While Roma Downey endorsed the Hulnick's book: Loyalty to Your Soul, Robert Holden has endorsed the Hulnick's newest book: Remembering the Light Within.  Both are published by Hay House.  It must be noted too that Robert Holden co-wrote a book with Louise Hay herself titled Life Loves You.

Recently, in "Loyalty to Your Soul's" Facebook post it shows Holden with the Hulnicks advertising: "The Soul-Centered Enneagram" program done together.  Just above, a post can be seen telling about Roma Downey's March 1, 2018 interview with Dr. Oz.

Unpacking Some of Roma's "Angels Along the Way"*

Roma has an army of "angels" which have endorsed her book--authors, poets, Hollywood stars, T.V. hosts, cardinals, pastors, friends, and more.  All eighty endorsements are listed on Roma's web site: http://boxofbutterflies.com/testimonials.html

*  The title, too, of a book written by Della Reese.

In the book there are twenty-two testimonials in two endorsement sections: two pages to begin the book (pp.I, II) and two pages to end the book (pp.245-246). On the back cover there are six more key endorsers.

Tony Robbins
On the very first page in the center one can read self-help guru Tony Robbin's comment that Roma will help you find strength within to take you places you've never imagine. (p. I)

"#Unleased: Mark Burnett and Roma Downey" is a video from October 2014 showing their family at a Tony Robbin's conference.  Mark mentioned it had been an "epic weekend" while Roma chimed in what "extraordinary days they had had."  She said she felt as if she'd be cracked open, and her fears blasted away as light came pouring in.  Mark promised to come back again and again.  View the
video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrXchB1Kyps

Robbins wrote Unshakeable (2017) which Mark Burnett endorsed saying, "What Tony gave me, ... was to take risks, to take action, and really become something. ...  I'll be back for more ... again."  Another endorser was Oprah Winfrey who wrote, "Tony's power is superhuman.  He is a catalyst for getting people to change."  As Gregory Reid records in Confused by an Angel, Roma is an avid reader of New Age/New Spirituality writers such as Tony Robbins and Eckhart Tolle, both of whom are "worlds away from Biblical truth." (p.6)

Arianna Huffington
A back cover endorser Huffington, past co-founder of editor of the Huffington Post, is now CEO and founder of Thrive Global Foundation.  Huffington's best-seller Thrive, according to "The Mindfulness Summit" speaker's bio, is "focused on how we can move ... to actually to what's best for us.  In it she contends that "mindfulness is at the core of everything."  Huffington, the bio states, has been "a regular meditator since the age of thirteen."

In Thrive's Preface (p.XVI) she noted, "... This has been the year in which discussion about well-being and mindfulness broke through in a big way--... Much more today than ... when Thrive was first published, these discussions are no longer considered 'alternative' or new age-y; they are now firmly part of the mainstream."  After Huffington reflected, " ... we all have within us a centered place of wisdom, harmony, and strength.  This is a truth that all the world's philosophers and religions ... acknowledge in one form or other: 'The kingdom of God is within you.'"

Incidentally, Huffington, like Robert Holden above, also endorsed Ron and Mary Hulnick's (Roma's mentors) newest book Remember the Light Within. (Hay House).  Huffington also published a piece by another Hay House author quoted by Roma (p.30) --Christina Rasmussen, a widow, who wrote Second First: Live, Laugh, and Love Again.  Its end notes tell the story how Rasmussen too has numerous New Spirituality references and connections.

Dr. Mehmet Oz
Dr. Mehmet Oz, a New Age physician, author, and television personality, is another back cover endorser.  On March 1, 2018 Facebook's University of Santa Monica's (Roma's alma mater) "The Heart of Spiritual Psychology" posted: "Roma Downey, a beloved USM grad, sat down with Dr. Oz last week.  She spoke of the loss of her mother, her faith, and how she came to realize that everyone has God-given gifts that we are meant to share."  https://www.doctoroz.com/episode/true-crime-thursday-could-happen-you-could-you-be-target-kidnapping-scam?video_id=5742626906001

In Current Movie Reviews: "Dr. Oz: Roma Downey Talks about How Her Faith Has Sustained and Molded Her Life" Linda Pena tells of Roma's Dr. Oz interview where Roma told her story of faith.  At the end of the article is a bio that tells in 2009 how Roma and Mark received an honorary doctorate of law at Pepperdine University, how in 2010 Roma graduated from the University of Santa Monica with a master's degree in Spiritual Psychology, and … how Roma has an honorary degree, a  Doctor of Letters from Nyack College.*

*  A Christian College:  Read my 2014 article "New Age Leaning Roma Downey Tells Nyack Grads to Be Lightworkers" on my blog "Learn to Discern Granny."      

Unpacking "Evangelical" Endorsements

The endorsement responses to this book make one want to cry out in astonishment.  Yes, the stories are touching, and some scripture is mixed in but the thread "we are all God's beloved children" leaves no doubt what the book is teaching.   How apt is the title of Gregory Reid's excellent Lighthouse Trails 2015 booklet--Confused by an Angel-- for surely today as then the confusion and deception continues unabated.

Exactly who are some of these "so-called Evangelicals" who rave over Roma's every word?  Below are a few key names and a few key words/phrases taken from their testimonials which reveal their reactions to her book:

Rick and Kay Warren, pastors, Saddleback Church: (Back Cover, Top Endorsement):  "...full of life and love, hope and inspiration …."

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president National Day of Prayer, Senior Pastor Cross Church, and immediate past president, Southern Baptist Convention: (p. II)  "... a profound collection of God's great promises that are overflowing with hope!"

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference: (p.246)  "Every so often a person comes along who possesses that remarkable combination of passionate faith and natural authenticity... that God can use them to change the world and transform hearts.  Roma ...is just that kind of person, …" (p.246)

Andy and Sandra Stanley, authors, communicators, and founders, North Point Ministries, Alpharetta,
Georgia: (p. 246)  "In this moving book Roma shares the source of light she has been beaming to the world …."

Pastor John C. Hagee, founder and senior pastor, Cornerstone Church, San Antonio, Texas: (p.246)  " … I encourage you to get several copies of this stunning book that provides a window into the serene majesty of God's creation."

These are but a few of the effusive endorsements that make one want to shake one's head in utter amazement.  How spot on were Gregory Reid's comments regarding "The Implications" for the average Christian who listens to a Downey CD, reads a Tony Robbin's book, or even peruses a New Thought web site and wonders "... what else Roma has done?"  Will they listen to, and read such materials, asks Reid, going on later to be deceived by another Jesus?  Reid wrote, "This will be the 'fruit' of … Downey's influence on millions of people, both Christian and non-Christian.  Where are the warnings by Christian leaders, and pastors about dangerous seductions coming into the church and compromising truth?  (p.13)

Unpacking Roma's Catholic Associations

In her "Introduction", Roma states that she's been "a person of faith all her life," but doesn't indicate that her faith was Roman Catholicism, and is to this day.  She shares that it was always time for prayer and gratitude to God in their Derry, Ireland home.

She tells how as a young girl, after losing her mother to a sudden heart attack, that just as she was placing flowers on her mom's grave a wee butterfly flew from behind it. Her dad, says Roma, told her that must be her mother's spirit right there.  Ever after special sightings of butterflies have always made her feel as if her mother was sending her a message. (p.2)

In the "Love" chapter's "Mother of God" story Roma tells how much she was touched by playing the role of "His Blessed Mother Mary" in the Bible series. (p.140)  John Feister, in "Roma Downey's "Little Angels," wrote how her own mom's death drew Roma to be very devoted to the "Holy Mother."  And, wrote Feister, as an adult she had been "several times" to Lourdes, Fatima, as well as Knock.*
*  Catholic holy sites where apparitions of Mary have appeared.

Beliefnet author Peggy Bowers also noted Roma's adoration of Mary after her mother's death. Roma  told Bowers, "At that time I began my lifelong devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.  I needed her more than ever, so I have a wonderful relationship with Mary as part of my daily prayer routine.  She stepped in to mother me when my own mother had passed."  But, no where in our Bibles are we ever told to pray to Mary, for Mary was a sinner like you and I.
In her book Roma lists Catholic rituals as praying of the rosary, performing the sign of the cross, sprinkling holy water, and lighting candles as meaning so much to her.  (pp.167-169)  Also within the chapters she quotes Catholics such as Julian of Norwich, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, John O'Donohue, Antoine DeSaint-Experty, Joseph Mary Plunkett, Mary Lou Kovnachi, St.Patrick, St. Francis, John Eagan, and others.

Irish America's  "What Are You Like Roma Downey?"* Roma mentions she keeps her father's rosary by her bedside.  Regarding the reciting of the rosary John Feister (Franciscan Media) writes as he interviewed Roma, she recalled how strict her father was requiring the children to kneel each night on the linoleum floor to pray the rosary.  While this wasn't always welcomed, she noted her home was filled with "holy pictures and holy statues" which was such a beautiful thing.

Roma in "Act of Faith" (Independent) relates that today her daily morning routine includes a recitation of the rosary.  She admitted her teen children at that time rolled their eyes at that.  But she feels if one wants a relationship with their creator, a daily form of prayer is needed.  Roma attends mass each week at Our Lady of Malibu Parish.

Glowing endorsements inside the book, and on the back cover are given to Roma from such prominent Catholic clerics as Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Boston (back cover); Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles (p.I); Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Bishop Robert Brown, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles (p.II); and Rev. Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (p.246)

*  Note:  In this same question and answer article Roma is asked: "What is the best opening line in a book or a piece of music?  To which Roma replied, "There Are the Days" by Irish Belfast rock star musician Van Morrison.  Later research revealed that this past year Roma had had a rare interview with Van Morrison on her news website Lightworkers.com.  And recently in May, Roma tweeted:  "Van Morrison and me, his number one fan."

Now it is known that Van Morrison had said of religion, "I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole."
Therefore, a Belfast Telegraph headline: "Van Morrison Has Religious Experience During LA Service" got lots of attention.  What was this all about?  For starters Van Morrison had "live streamed" services from the Culver City, Ca. "Agape International Spiritual Center," A New Thought Church, (like Della Reese's church) becoming friends with its leader Dr. Michael Beckwith.  Beckwith then invited Van Morrison to sing for the church three different times hailing Beckwith as "a brother."  These eye-opening online services can be seen on video exposing the deep deceptions practiced in this mega New Thought center.

Unpacking the "Stillness" Chapter

Chapter five encourages stillness.  Roma comments, "We're a nation of doers. ... But, if we want peace, we must stop."  Stop what you ask?  "Stop our working.  Stop our talking.  Stop even our praying.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Make space.  Listen to the whispers of our hearts.  It is only in the quietness ... that we can hear the voice of God."  Biblical?  No, this is the recipe for meditation.  (p.161)

Roma then inserts a Mary Oliver poem titled "Praying."  Olive suggests one pay attention, say a few words, get silent, and "another voice may speak."  And the question is:  "Whose voice will that be?"
(p. 164)

Roma goes on, "Stillness brings you into the present moment.  We are often fixated on something that happened in the past or worried about what might happen in the future that we completely miss the now!" (p. 166)  This is a description of mindfulness meditation--the words are all here--present moment, the past, the future, and the now.  Don't miss this!

"No matter what you think about meditation," suggests Roma, "there is something to be said for developing the skill to quiet your mind."  She adds, "Whether you say the Rosary, simply count your breaths, or call out to God, meditation frees your mind of the noise and clutter; it gets you into a space of oneness and availability." (p.167)  Red flag!  This is not biblical meditation for it does not free up your mind, rather it occupies your mind thinking and contemplating on the Word of God!

Roma believes, "You see the holy is everywhere.  It is in the sun and the moon and the stars.  It is in you and me.  We often go looking for it. ... But it is here.  Already here.  In you and me. ...  We just have to stop, and breathe, and listen.  And we see that it has been in us all along."  (p.178)

On this very teaching Gregory Reid writes, "The New Age that ... Downey promotes exalts man to an equality in holiness, virtue, and essence with God.  If indeed the New Age is right and man is really divine, then the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the Cross would not be necessary.  And in fact ... then Jesus dying for the sins of the world would be of no effect and would be in vain for He would have died for those who were just as holy and good as He was." (p.13)

Unpacking the "Home" Chapter

The final chapter "Home" spells out clearly the message Roma wants readers to take from the book beginning with The Wizard of Oz quote where Dorothy says, "There's no place like home." (p. 204)  Later, Roma writes, "True home is within us."

Gregory Reid helps unlock this "home within" when he notes that the University of Santa Monica teaches New Age ideas from the late John Rogers called MSIA or Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness through which a person submits to the Christ or God within.  Reid quotes MSIA as teaching: "... (T)o be an initiate of the Traveler is to devote yourself to the God within you, to devote yourself to Spirit, to returning to your home, the Soul, from which you originally came before you were incarnated onto this earth. ..."  (p.4)  Reid also quotes Rogers as saying, "If you feel you aren't worthy of God, ... then stand up.  Face God on equal terms as a co-creator and one who also owns the sun, moon, and the stars."  (p.5)

Roma continues when we "fully awaken to God" we'll know we aren't merely caterpillars, but beautiful butterflies with wings.  Below she quotes psychiatrist Gerald G. May, of the Shalem Institute, who says we've all forgotten who we are and the fact is "we have already been found."
Right beside May's quote is the old hymn "When We All* Get to Heaven."  Heartbreaking, it is that Roma truly believes all of us  are going to be there. (pp. 208-209)
*  My emphasis

"God's Calling Card" is a story within the chapter where Roma contends your loved ones who have died are still surrounding you.  Speaking of loved ones, Roma herself had a psychic medium channel her mother whom Roma lost as a young girl. These ever-close loved ones, says Roma, " ... show me that the veil between this world and the next is just, a thin veil.  We are closer than you think, though we may feel so far.  Separation is just an illusion." (p.212)

After Roma relates how she'd won a prize at a raffle--a beautiful butterfly ring.  Roma was so touched she cried for she felt once again her deceased mother was sending her a message.  She wrote, "Those moments were so validating to me.  I then understood that my dead mother is still reaching out to me.  That I will see her again.  That I will be reunited with the loving energy of my mom and dad." 

I Thessalonians 4:16-18, though, tells what will happen if one knows the Lord Jesus personally as one's Savior.  It reads, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Still another story in this chapter "The Remembering" begins with a S.J. John Eagan (Jesuit Liberation Theology priest) quote:  "Define yourself radically as one beloved by god.  This is the true self.  Every other identity is illusion." (p.218)  But, the Bible declares our true selves are sinful for as Romans 3:23 reminds us, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."  Romans 5:8 also says too: "But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  Yes, God loves us, and offers us salvation through repentance of our sins trusting in his death on the cross.

Specifically what is it Roma wants us all to remember?  She puts it this way, "I hope throughout the book you've come to remember: We are all beloved children of God."   She tells us in stillness and quiet she knows who she is--"God's beloved." (p.218)  Could it be that this belief came from New Thought?  Listen to these definitions taken from a New Thought Glossary:  Beloved Son--the divine unique individualization of God which every man is.  And To be Born Again: A resurrection from the belief that we are separated from God or perfect Life into the understanding that "Beloved, now are we the sons of God."

Roma goes on, "If we are all God's children, then it means we are all one family." (p.221)  Scripture says although all are created in God's image, all are not God's children unless they are born again.  Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:7, "Ye must be born again."  John 1:12 says it best, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons God even to them that believe on his name."  And  I Timothy 2:4 says, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of truth."

Roma reemphasizes we're all searching for home.  She states,  "We are all the family of God.  We forget.  We get caught up in separation.  But we are all one family.  We belong to each other, like Mother Teresa taught."  While we search for "home," she avows, "...it is within that we find it.  Our home is knowing that we are God's beloved children; and no matter how dark life can feel, He is always there to guide us, comfort us, and shelter us." (P.222)

To reinforce this she uses a Frederick Beucher quotes which reads, "... the fact we have all walked in different gardens and knelt at different graves, we have all humanly speaking come from the same place and are heading out into the same blessed mystery that awaits us all." (p.224)  Roma finishes once more, "I'm sorry God, for forgetting the truth, ... that we all are one family and that is where we find home. ..."

How very confused is Roma, and the many thousands who have been influenced by her.  And how pathetic and deceptive of those who call themselves born again Christians that they should hold on to her coat tails, and gush over this book using the most expressive superlatives to describe it and yet they do not give the gospel. May the Lord unveil the eyes of those who have been guilty of this, and awaken them that all is not love, and kindness but it a matter of where a soul will spend eternity.  May some instead awaken, and share the true gospel.

Our Responsibility: Rise up! Wise up! Wake up! Speak up!  

In the end, regardless of what some are suggesting, what is our responsibility when looking into this book? I submit it is our responsibility to lovingly research, and to examine its contents holding them up against the light of Scripture as those in Thessalonica did in Acts 17.

Yes, it's our responsibility to search out Scripture so as to explain why we aren't all children of God, and to share how one can become a child of God.  Yes, it's our responsibility to become familiar with such terms as : "the true self" or "true identify" or "the home within" as used in this book so we may warn others of this false belief.  And yes, it's our responsibility to research unbiblical teachings such as "New Thought," and contrast it to a Biblical viewpoint.  Therefore, let us rise up, wise up, and wake up.  And let us stand up, and speak up never being ashamed to hold to the gospel "for it the power of God to salvation to everyone that believeth." (Romans 1:16)

How wonderful to be able to say with the hymn writer: "My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name.  On Christ the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand."

Learn to Discern Granny Verses:  I Thessalonians 5:21-23

"Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil.  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

For More Information:

Gregory Reid's booklet Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey's New Age Beliefs is an excellent resource.  I recommend it highly!  Get it at www.lighthousetrails.com. 


Friday, April 13, 2018

The Conscious Discipline Program's Link to A Course in Miracles and Mindfulness Meditation

The Conscious Discipline Program's Link to A Course in Miracles and Mindfulness Meditation

Conscious Discipline, the creation of Dr. Becky A. Bailey, is a program used in hundreds of  educational settings the world over--Head Start, private schools, day cares, Montessori schools, Christian schools, public schools and more.  This discipline program loudly touts its shift from a reliance on "fear to love," and from "punishing to teaching."  Shockingly, this seemingly wonderful program is filled with principles and teachings directly out of the New Age "Bible" -- A Course in Miracles!  And here is how I found out:

While teaching in a public school preschool class I noticed a "S.T.A.R." poster hanging on the board with the words beside each letter: "S-Smile.; T-Take a deep breath.; A-and; R-Relax!"  Exactly what this star was a part of I had no idea.  But, a red flag flew when I read the word: "breath!"  Shortly after, I  was in another preschool room with another "S.T.A.R!"  Right there I was introduced to "The Conscious Discipline" program--yes, right there in a school in which I often teach.  And, immediately I knew I had to find out more.  Well, find out I did, and what I was about to discover would make me understand just how deceptive and how huge is the influence of this widely acclaimed program--Conscious Discipline!

Conscious Discipline Creator:  Dr. Becky A. Bailey

Not long into my research I found out the Conscious Discipline creator Dr. Bailey was a very vivacious, gregarious long time educator, the author of fifteen best-selling books and a host of other materials.  Her books alone were said to have a circulation of 1.2 million, while her SEL (social-emotional learning) program is purported to have impacted 15.8M children. 

Exploring the Conscious Discipline web site I found many videos and webinars made by Dr. Bailey, and her master teacher ambassadors in other parts of the country.  One video episode (9-29-2017) "Episode 005: The Power and Potential of Faith" done by Bailey and master teacher Amy Speidel especially sparked my interest.  I clicked on to listen.

In the podcast Speidel shared her personal story of resenting the fact that her parent's "God" made her feel like "a flawed person."  But once Amy had encountered Conscious Discipline, she knew she was an "inherently worthy person," and that her very "core was worthy."

Bailey shared how after giving one keynote address some came up to thank her surmising she spoke of Christianity, while others thought she upheld Judaism, still others believed she taught Buddhism, and one, well he thought, she referred to the "Twelve Step Program."  And said Bailey, "I said thank you."  To end she reiterated since we've moved from "fear to love" we must all "hold hands," in order to find "inner peace."

Conscious Disciple Book: I Love You Rituals

The I Love You Rituals is one of Bailey's most popular books--the book where she took well-known Nursery rhymes and action rhymes changing their wording to remove anything "fearful" and instead insert "love!"  

What was Bailey's intention in changing e.g. the Mother Goose rhyme as "The Old Woman in The Shoe" to "The Wonderful Woman"?  It is all part of the over all agenda of the Conscious Discipline to eliminate punishment, and to do away with seeing anyone as sinful, flawed, or in need of a Savior.  We must change ourselves says Bailey, and as we see our own goodness and love we'll see it in others as well.

Turning to the back cover I found a positive endorsement from the late Dr. Robert Schuller.  In fact Bailey had once been Dr. Schuller's Hour of Power guest where Schuller had called her "... my new friend Becky Bailey."  Seeing Schuller's name raised a big red flag for I realized that Schuller, as Warren Smith wrote, in his booklet Fearing God in A Fearless New Age (pp.5-6) celebrated Gerald Jampolsky's book Love is Letting Go of Fear when he featured New Ager Jampolsky at his Hour of Power. 

But, it was inside the beginning pages that I found the person who has most influenced Becky, and who transformed her life--and that person was a lady of whom Bailey writes,  "As I began my personal journey ... I was frightened of the present moment.  This understanding was inspired by the work, friendship, and love of Carol Howe.  The saying goes, 'When the student is ready the teacher appears.'  This was the case with Carol who is my teacher, mentor, and friend."  With Carol's help, Becky recalled, she'd learned to stay in the present moment relaxing and feeling loved while her fears melted away.

Conscious Discipline Mentor and Friend:  The Course Teacher: Carol M. Howe

Howe, Bailey's special friend, is a renowned expert of A Course in Miracles!  Not only is she a veteran teacher of The Course, she personally knew the co-scribe of The Course's Bill Thetford who aided in taking down the channeled message given Helen Schucman as she listened to "Jesus'" inner voice.  In fact, Carol Howe herself interviewed Thetford writing a book about him titled: Never Forget to Laugh: Personal Recollections of Bill Thetford, Co-scribe of A Course.*  Significantly, the foreword of Carol's book is given by Gerald Jampolsky, M.D.**, and Diane Cirincione, Ph.D.; while a back cover endorsement is made by Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D., Creator of Conscious Discipline,
which reads: "After only three pages, I felt energetically transformed.  By the end of the book I was uplifted, inspired, and at peace.  I completely identified with Bill's journey on so many levels. ... Bill's story is amazing testimony to this universal process."

* Note the reference to Carol's book with Becky's endorsement under "Further Reading" in Wikipedia's article "A Course in Miracles."  Find it at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Course_in_Miracles

** Of Jampolsky Warren Smith writes, "A Course in Miracles gained enormous popularity when psychiatrist author Dr. Gerald Jampolsky's best-selling 1979 book Love is Letting Go of Fear promoted The Course and its New Age teachings." (Fearing God In a Fearless New Age, p.5)      

Carol is a captivating teacher having produced online lessons, and videos about The Course. In fact, in a number of Carol's eCourses as e.g. "eCourse 10-Minute Sample The Instant Healing Power" one can view Dr. Becky Bailey herself participating in the group as she took copious notes.  In other sample videos, Bailey can be seen smiling, nodding, and even being part of one of Carol's demo skits.  There can be no doubt at all that Bailey had fallen for these teachings. Later on, when one listens to her various webinars, and videos Bailey shares over and over ideas coming right out of The Coursehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvnd1pLECSA

Becky's "testimonial" picture and comments can be found at "Carol Howe: "Find Your Peace" at https://www.carolhowe.com/p/testimonials.  Notice that Dr. Gerald Jampolsky's testimony is first. 

In Howe's introduction to her online course: "See How Life Works" one can view Becky Bailey numerous times, as well as hear exactly what Carol is teaching.   Once again the themes of  "fear" and "love" loom large.  Carol teaches as one "steps into his own life" without fear, confusion, and misinformation you can ... feel safe, loved, and valuable.

Carol asserts that "fear" has distorted the process to transform your life from one of "fear and lack"  to deeper peace.  She contends this ACIM course that "we'll take you by the hand to walk you through 'the fog of fear,' and guide you into your own expanded awareness ...." Carol counsels, as you master ACIM principles you'll find the tools to lose your fears and let go of your past.  Then Carol adds, "Then you will thrive by making decisions based on love and peace instead of fear."
View the video here: https://www.carolhowe.com/p/acourseinmiraclesonline.

Further Conscious Discipline Connections to ACIM

Another Becky Bailey book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline yielded even more connections to A Course in Miracles, and to Becky's mentor Howe with Carol's very own endorsement on its back cover.

On page ten: "The Journey from Fear to Love" Bailey wrote, "This book will take you on a journey from fear to love.  Nothing holds more power than love ...."  She also stated, "Love travels from the worthy to the worthy.  When we feel good about ourselves, we tend to focus on the beauty in our own lives, and the goodness of others. ...  Fear judges, love enjoys."

Find the book on Amazon.com. books.  Be sure to click on the "Look Inside" pages to view its contents.  Especially notice the last line of the "Acknowledgements" where she names specific people who have influenced her.  However, pay careful attention to the words she writes in the last two lines which read, "To the creative force of the universe that links all as one and models love and acceptance.  I am honored to relay the message of love and peace." (P. VIII)  Think ACIM!

Click on the "Listen" below the book picture to hear about the books emphasis on "The Seven Powers of Self Control."  Notice each power as a slogan, motto, or what I am naming a "mantra" for in later webinars on each power Bailey reiterates these mottos over and over!  Notice chapter one where on page three she states, "You must rely on love, not fear, to motivate your children."  Click on the box where you can type in a word to find out how many places that word is referenced.  Note that fear is used 56 times, while love is used 127 times. Hear the reader use these words from chapter two: "The Seven Powers of Self-Control" where Bailey emphasizes "The seven powers will allow you to look at life through the lens of love rather than then the lens of fear." (p.29)

The chapter two index explicitly highlights the books from which  Bailey takes her Conscious Discipline principles.  In this index Becky lists: A Course in Miracles (Foundation for Inner Peace, 1985); Wayne Dyer's Our Sacred Self: Making Decisions to be Free (Harper Collins, 1996); C. Myss' Anatomy of the Spirit-The Seven Stages of Power and Healing (Harmony Books, 1996); Robert Schuller's Power Thought: Achieve Your True Potential through Power Thinking (Harper Books, 1993); Mary Anne Williamson's Return to Love-Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (Harper Collins, 1996).  In summary, such books are surely the backbone of Bailey's Conscious Discipline program.

How very undiscerning, and sad it is that Orlando's First Academy Christian preschool has never  truly looked into where Bailey's materials really emanate from, and instead says that folks are attracted to their preschool because it uses the Conscious Discipline program.  Readers, we must be wary of every program we use, and do your research before you buy into them.  One must look up every person that the creator or writer says influenced them such as I have done with Carol Howe finding her name in the I Love You Rituals "Acknowledgements."  This unlocked for me, and for all who use her materials exactly where Becky has gotten them.  A travesty indeed, for Conscious Discipline is not a Christian curriculum in any sense of the word as shown in this paper.  How deceptive is our enemy who goes about as an "angel of light!" (II Cor. 11:14)
https://thefirstacademy.org/academics/  Go to "Preschool."

A Course in Miracles Explained in Fearing God in a Fearless New Age

The question is why is The Course so dangerously deceptive?  For answers, Warren B. Smith's recent January 2018 booklet: Fearing God in a Fearless New Age explains why one would not want to use or subscribe to anything coming from this course. 

Listen to Smith's words (a former New Age follower of The Course) from the section "The New Age Takes on Fear." Smith writes, "In this rapidly changing world, it is important to understand  how the biblical concept of 'fear' is being redefined both by the world and the church.  In particular, a variety of voices ... would now have us believe that the opposite of love is not hate but fear."  Smith continues, "... this deceptive concept ... was popularly introduced ... by a channeled New Age Christ through a set of metaphysical/occult teachings titled A Course in Miracles.  In the Introduction on the very first page ... The Course's 'Jesus' proposes this foundational New Age teaching that 'the opposite of love is fear' but very cleverly adds--'but what is all encompassing (love) can have no opposite.'"

Smith emphasizes that ACIM teaches that his all-encompassing love means God is love, and therefore we are 'god' too. Warren then sums up ACIM teachings this way: "What becomes apparent is that these false teachings lay the groundwork for a New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality to completely supplant biblical Christianity.  No fear and no fear of God because all are love and we are all God --all in the name of 'God's" dream."
Read the booklet here: https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog?p=27640

Conscious Discipline's Link to Mindfulness Meditation

I Can Calm Breathing Techniques:
Just like other kids' programs Conscious Discipline has a link to mindfulness components both for the children, and for the adults who use the program.  Recall how I noticed the word "breath" on the "S.T.A.R. poster" in the classrooms.  Well, Conscious Discipline has developed various ingenious ways to teach young children breathing techniques.  One can view Becky Bailey reading her book I Can Calm  (Ages 0-4) to young children, and then proceeding to teach them to: "S.T.A.R.", "Balloon," "Drain," "Pretzel," "Bunny breath" and use "breathing arms."   If you look carefully at 1:39 you'll notice that the illustration of the child doing "breathing arms" is also seated in a lotus or meditative position.  At the very end the children put their hands on their hearts, and say a Buddhist-like affirmation: "I wish you well!"
View here: https://consciousdiscipline.com/videos/i-can-calm-book-teach-composure-and-increase-literacy.

View the same breathing techniques here done by a little boy in "Mindful Breathing Exercises for Kids (as taught by my son) {Video}"   His mom says, "My son started kindergarten this year, and I was THRILLED (to say the least) to learn that his teacher is introducing the kids to a different mindful breathing practice each week.  (The breathing strategies are from the Conscious Discipline model developed by Dr. Becky Bailey)."
See one minute video here: http://leftbrainbuddha.com/mindful-breathing-exercises-for-kids-as-taught-by-my-son-video/

Breathing Tools:
Perhaps, you think "Oh, come on this is just so cute. What harm can come of something like this?"  Well, this is very start of teaching little ones how to begin meditation, and when these youngsters grow older how easy it will be for them to go deeper. Conscious Discipline even offers a unique  "S.T.A.R. Breathing Tool" suggesting that this multi-sensory tool will help children learn to take a deep breath by smelling the flower part as they breathe in, and blowing the pinwheel part as they breathe out.  This tool they enthuse, perfect for ages 1-5, is indispensable for teaching little folks "deep belly breathing." Besides, Conscious Disciple sells "Large Conscious Discipline Rugs"
ready to "Bring everyone's best friends (repeating pattern of breathing core icons S.T.A.R., drain, balloon, pretzel) to circle time to use its twenty images as seat markers or an aid to help kids learn deep belly breathing.
Watch "Breathing Tool" Video Here: 

Conscious Discipline Affirmations: 
At one Conscious Discipline Head Start Conference PDF parents and teachers are shown a picture of someone sitting lotus style and following "The Five Rule" as they take a deep breath. Bailey's "Active Calming" uses "affirmations" or mantras a child will repeat over "I am safe.  I can handle this.  Keep breathing."  "Wish Well" affirmations include: "You're safe.  You can handle this.  Breathe with me." 

Dr. Becky's "Safe and Calm Meditation":
The popular children's "Safe and Calm for Children" is a very hypnotic guided meditation song from the CD "Brain Boogie Boosters" by Dr. Becky Bailey and The Learning Station.  Upon clicking onto the video, the voice one hears is Dr. Becky Bailey.  A note accompanying this video reads: "Give your child the best gift of their life!  A simple yet very effective technique called meditation.  This is one of the most valuable skills we can teach our children.  Regular meditation has many valuable effects on our children's emotions, mental, and intellectual development.  Meditation helps children relax, reduces stress, decreases anger, strengthen their attention span, and the ability to focus and be engaged." 

Below the video, scroll all the way down to find a copy of its words which claim that the CEO of the brain (the frontal lobes) quiets the rest of the brain.  The "song" contains mantra like refrains about being safe and calm, safe and loved, breathing in and breathing out, relaxing body parts, and thanking body parts.  To end it tells children that they are "a gift to the world.  Offer that gift to others."  This idea is straight out of The Course

Of the meditation one commentator said, "I really appreciate this meditation. ... I return to it again and again to hear it.  I even use its mantras in my head in day to day ... situations."  Hear the entire meditation here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVM9JKbIIqU.

A Conscious Discipline Webinar

Bailey does a series of online webinar videos specifically for teachers of Conscious Discipline on each of the seven powers which can be found at her web site.  One of these though stands out in its relationship to mindfulness.  Which one is this?  It is Webinar #3-- "The Power of Attention."  Published in July 24, 2017 you will hear Becky zeroing in this power.  In it she wears a "miner's hat" with a little light which says represents one's focus. In this video she tells the "Green Tea Story" how she went to get tea, but was distracted along the way.

However, her demonstration of the mindfulness skill of noticing our thoughts or her "Kleenex Tissue Demonstration" was unforgettable.  In it Bailey insists we must start to notice our thoughts.  And a thought will be like a tissue--she waves one in the air.  This is a Kleenex cloud "thought."  One, says Bailey, should just let it go by.  Don't notice it.  For we become our thoughts.  We must pivot.  She picks up a second facial tissue.  She waves this, and sticks it on her head. She sticks on another tissue.   She says, "How unattractive is this!"  She emphasizes if thoughts get stuck one must allow them to float on by!  At 14:43 she notes these ideas are "rooted in consciousness or mindfulness research."  https://consciousdiscipline.com/power-of-attention/

Does Conscious Discipline emphasize "mindfulness for adults?"  Yes, it does.  It specifically has  a page entitled "Mindfulness in Adults: Supporting the Positive Impact of Mindfulness in Adults."  On it lists various papers such as C. M. Capel's  "Mindlessness/Mindfulness, Classroom Practices, and Quality of Early Childhood Education."  https://consciousdiscipline.com/mindfulness-in-adults-papers-supporting-conscious-disciplines-framework/  It might be noted that two of Conscious Discipline's master teachers in Arizona are shown with Bailey on a Facebook home page:  "Mindful Discipline Representing Conscious Discipline in Arizona."  http://www.mindfuldiscipline.com/about-us.html 

While much more might be written, but as documented above Conscious Discipline has been
greatly influenced by ACIM as well as mindfulness. To end I ask Christian teachers and parents to consider the final question below.

Which Will it Be?: Conscious Discipline Says?, The Course Says?, or The Bible Says?   

Which are you following? Conscious Discipline whose creator is Dr. Becky Bailey, A Course in Miracles whose scribes were Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, or the Bible the very word of God?   Which is it, the words of mere men and women or the word of God?   

Will you say?  Conscious Discipline says, The Course says, or the Bible says?  As a Christian we must choose the Bible.  For the others are filled with deception!  For the Bible says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." (Ephesians 6:1)  The Bible says, "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." (Proverbs 20:11)  The Bible says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) The Bible says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)  And the Bible says if we have this life, Jesus has promised to give us peace for he says, "Peace I leave you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)  It is your choice, what will it be?

Learn to Discern Granny Verse:  Colossians 2:8

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

For More Information About A Course in Miracles read:  

Warren B. Smith's books:  The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace (Warren's own wonderful testimony) and False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?    Find these books, and Warren's other books and booklets at:  www.lighthousetrails.com.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Mind Yeti: The Committee for Children's Mesmerizing Mindfulness Program

Mind Yeti: The Committee for Children's Mesmerizing Mindfulness Program

Have you heard of Mind Yeti, CFC's mindfulness program with its Yeti cartoon-like character who will help clear hubbubbles from kids and their adults' minds with its daily meditation practices both in the classroom and at home?  Touting its exciting possibilities in an almost half-hour webinar "Get Your Mind Ready with Mind Yeti for Schools" introduces a third grade classroom video where kids "take a moment to find their yeti bodies."  Its teacher too, along side of her pupils, leads the meditation.  And its students testify how great Mind Yeti is!

Just who is Yeti?  Yeti is an ice-blue colored Sesame Street-like character that will help teach kids mindfulness.  And what is a yeti?  Well, a yeti is an ape-like creature said to reside in the Himalayan mountains.  Yes, the Mind Yeti creators have very cleverly used the yeti which some Buddhists worship, and whose costumes Buddhist monks use for religious ceremonies to lure youngsters into mindfulness meditation.  http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2016/01/the-yeti-whats-in-a-name/

In its webinar, CFC collaborators comment, while they haven't yet revealed Yeti's "back story," some children are sending in their own ideas.  However, the back story is that its origin is connected to Buddhism.  Even the YETI company with its drinkware carries a "Sherpa Cooler" named after
Tibetan Buddhists who worship the Himalayan peaks and who guide tourists on mountain treks.

And that's just the start of the story behind the so-called non-religious Mind Yeti, and its Buddhist connections.  Of Mind Yeti, and other such programs Judy Sklar Rasminsky from "Children with Challenging Behavior" in her article "Mindfulness, Children, and Teachers: The Sound of Silence" noted this: "Question:  What do hundreds of thousands of children worldwide have in common with Google employees, U.S. military personnel, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Boston Red Socks?  Answer: They all practice mindfulness.  No matter which mindful program or app is guiding them--whether it's Calm Classroom, Mind Yeti, MindUP, Mindful Schools, Quiet Time, Inner Kids, Kindness Curriculum, or one of the many other programs available-- it is sure to stem from the Buddhist tradition of meditation."

Mind Yeti's Connection to MindUP: Mind Yeti's Advisors

Now, Mind Yeti and MindUP are sort of "mindfulness cousins" for both programs have the very same advisors.  Who then are these experts that  have shaped both programs?  You can meet one of them along with MindUP's Goldie Hawn at the 2013  Heart-Mind Conference at the Dalai Lama Center.  Known as a "renowned expert in the field of social and emotion learning (SEL)" that advisor is Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl who is a professor at the University of British Columbia, Ca. who has advised both MindUP and Mind Yeti among many other organizations.  A second lesser contributor of both programs from the same university is Dr. Molly Stewart Lawlor.
Kimberly Schonert-Reichl-Mindfulness as a Pathway (June 2013)

A BC "Mindfulness Petition.Ca" by Canadian Ray Chwartkowski clearly lays out the link between Dr. Schonert-Reichl and Buddhism and MindUP.  The petition quotes from a January 27, 2015 Vancouver Sun piece "Buddhist-Influenced Mindfulness Makes Kids Kinder and Better at Math, UBC Study Finds."  Of the study Schonert-Reichl said, "... They ... performed meditation and breathing exercises three times a day to help them focus on the present ....."  Chwartkowski also notes that this study and others on MindUP were funded by the Hawn Foundation.  In addition, he mentions that Schonert-Reichl herself received a grant from the Hawn Foundation for research, as well as advising MindUP.  http://mindfulnesspetition.ca/mindfulness-case-study-bias/

Later Kimberly Schonert-Reichl and Robert Roeser edited a Handbook of Mindfulness in Education Integrating Theory and Research into Practice (2016) of which a chapter titled "Mindfulness-Based Intervention and Social and Emotional Learning" may be read on line.  It states, "Mindfulness-based intervention (MBIs) are secular programs that employ practices from primarily Buddhist  contemplative traditions with the goal of development and well being (Cullen, 2011: Roeser, 2016)."  The chapter goes on to define "mindful awareness ... as an unbiased present-centered awareness that is accompanied by states of clarity, compassion, and equanimity (Kabit-Zinn 2003; Roeser 2013)." It continues, "Mindful awareness is cultivated through specific training techniques practiced with an attitude of open heartedness, during practice (Grossman, 2015)."  It adds, "Mindful awareness can be cultivated by practicing moment-to-moment awareness of objects, sensations, and emotions, accepting them as they arise without attempting to evaluate, change, or control the experiences."
(p.213)  The bottom line here is that mindfulness is Buddhist-based, and Buddhist-laced.

Dr. Candy Gunther Brown in "Mindfulness Meditation in Public Schools: Side-Stepping Supreme Court Religion Rulings" discusses MindUP in depth and notes that the "core practice" of deep belly breathing and attentive listening (mindfulness meditation) is part of "... Goldie Hawn's agenda of getting Buddhist religious contemplative practice into the classroom by another name."

Goldie Hawn, with advisor Schonert-Reichl right beside her, at the Dalai Lama Center asserted she was going to get "the show on the road" for she had its "script written."  Of the script Gunther Brown says, "The MindUP 'script' tells the story that Buddhist mindfulness is really 'secular' neuroscience."  At that time,* Gunther Brown wrote Hawn's scientific members included one person-Kimberly Schonert-Reichel who was linked to "Buddhist Contemplative Care."

* MindUP's "Scientific Research Advisory Board now has three members: Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl, PhD., Chairman; Robert W. Roeser, PhD., MSW, and Joshua L. brown, PhD.  Notice Roeser's current research involves "the area of contemplative education."  Whereas, the Mind Yeti Team consists of Committee for Children as its founder, and Dr. Schonert-Reichl as its advisor.  Its collaborators include: Dr. Molly Lawlor, Baby Octopus, Sudden Industries, Edmund Eagan, and Lynn Brunette.  https://mindup.org/thehawnfoundation/research-advisory-board/

Gunther Brown makes it clear that meditating on one's breath and present-moment sensations, cultivating non-judgmental awareness of passing thoughts and emotions, as does MindUp and Mind Yeti, trains the mind to perceive experiences and the notion of a 'self' as transitory.  She notes, "Right mindfulness--the seventh aspect of the eightfold path of Buddhism--alleviates ... suffering by detaching the mind from pursuing desires, avoiding dislikes, or worrying about the past or future.  Compassion toward others stems from realizing that everyone is really past of the same universal process, or Buddha nature."  For the rest of Gunther Brown's excellent article please go to:

Mind Yeti Webinar's Mindfulness Expert: Brigid Normand

In a Mind Yeti Webinar video "national mindfulness expert"-- Bridgid Normand--is introduced to those inquiring about Mind Yeti.  Bridgid, part of the SEL Second Step team, states mindfulness is about "bringing your attention to the present moment with kindness and curiosity.  It's bringing a non-judgmental approach to every moment."  Normand goes on to say that Social Emotional Learning skills as empathy e.g., are different from mindfulness which she calls an "embodied experiential practice" focusing on one's breath.

Bridgid, a CFC presenter, put together a fifty-two part slide show touting the Second Step agenda (October 2017) with its vision of "Safe Children Thriving in a Peaceful World."  Its program boasts of serving 25,000 schools, 70 countries, and 10 million children.  And what does slide #50 suggest educators try out-- Mind Yeti--the perfect mindfulness program to practice along side of Second Step.

It's interesting to note that Bridgid gives mindfulness training at varying venues. One such venue was a Hestia Retreat at a Woman's Wellness Day called "Fuel Your Flame!"  Some of its sessions included Ayurvedic Healing, Shamanic Journey, Ignite Your Temple, Psychic Readings and more.  And this is a lady who is a Mind Yeti colleague as the webinar states.

Free Mind Yeti Sessions: "Moments," and a "Power Portal" Plus More!

Mind Yeti tempts the mindfulness seeker--be it an educator or parent-- to try out fifteen free scripted
programs of its eighty-plus audio sessions to see how they work.  From the get-go Mind Yeti emphasizes that it is a program anyone can use with the click of a button.  Mind Yeti says also that the difference between it and other mindfulness programs is that in the classroom the teacher must model the meditation for the children.  To me the attractiveness of the Yeti itself with its swirl of thought hubbubbles circling about it makes this program even more alluring to kids.  Such is the cuteness of it that kids are saying: "Let's Yeti!"

Mind Yeti says, "Gongs are gone!" However, each session begins and ends with a distinctive sound.  If one signs up for its free sessions you can view its contents, and hear exactly how it works.    Moments includes: "Calm Down, Focus, Get Along,  Reset, Create, and Go to Sleep" sessions; while  The Power Portal includes: "Breath, Thoughts, Kindness, Gratitude, Body, Feelings, and Senses" sessions.  Hoping to lure you into signing on to the Premium sessions Mind Yeti gives you just a taste of different kinds of sessions for free.  Then, you must pay for more.  Most assuredly, mindfulness is a money making business for Mind Yeti.

Sample Mind Yeti Session Text:

"Calm Down" (Slow Breathing 2) begins with a hypnotic voice that says: "Hello! Welcome to Mind Yeti!  Notice your breath in your body can help you settle the hubbub and find a peaceful place.  Before we begin take a moment to find your yeti body.  Sit comfortably with your back straight and your feet or legs resting on the floor.  ...  Now, notice your breath.  Try to take a slow breath in and out.  Imagine you have a hot bowl of soup in front of you.  Slowly take a breath in through your nose and smell the soup.  Now, slowly breathe the air out through your mouth and blow on the soup to cool it down.  See if you can focus all of your attention on your breathIf the hubbubbles bubble up that's all right, it happens to everyone.  Just notice it, and try to bring your attention back to your slow breathingFeel your body gently fill out like a balloon.  Feel your body empty and get softer as the breath moves out.  Take one last slow breathLet's reflect for a moment.  How does your mind feel?  How does your  body feel?  Notice if your mind and body feel a little calmer.  Any time you feel the hubbubbles bubbling up just stop, and take a few slow breaths.  When you are ready take one more breath, and bring your attention back to the room. (Time 3:40)*

*  I have emphasized words and phrases that these audio meditations repeat over and over in various sessions.  In summary, the mesmerizing voice, script, and screen all tie into the over-all meditative effect.  It's all about focusing on the body and breath.  It's all about feelings.  It's all about being controlled by the voice that imparts its suggestions and commands.  Ponder how many times young children during the course of their day, year, or years using Mind Yeti will hear this indoctrination over and over again embedding it in their minds producing hundreds of young meditators ready to go deeper.
https://ca01802636.schoolwires.net/Page/2423  (Audio samples.)

There's no mention of monkey chatter here, but instead one's bubble-like thoughts are all in a hubbub-- turmoil or uproar-- and to chase them away one must focus on one's breath, or body parts.  Testimonials on the Mind Yeti Blog abound.  One toddler mom writes in how she calmed her three year old toddler with the above "hot soup sessions."  Another mom Nancy Schatz Alton, in "Can We Yeti?  New Tool Makes Meditation Fun for Kids." (June 2016) tells how her nine year old was having trouble falling asleep so she opted to use adult meditation apps, but when she discovered Mind Yeti she could not wait to try it out.
https://mindyeti.com/blog/    https://parentmap.com/article/mind-yeti-meditation-parent-fuel
Committee For Children's "New Missions Venture" Mind Yeti

On the Mind Yeti webinar Mia Doces, Director of "New Missions Venture," boasts of this innovative program.  Truly, it has a "missionary-like agenda" to help CFC's push for well-being through social and emotional learning.  To see this mission-like zeal in action one need only read about the Austin Independent School District's James Butler, mindfulness specialist and activist, who might be called an evangelist for Mind Yeti.

Last April on the "Mind Yeti Blog", Butler wrote an article titled: "Mindful Leadership: Tips for Transforming Your School District Culture with Mind Yeti."  In his article Butler begins by saying that his vision is to see Mind Yeti to spread across the entire school district.  Therefore to get ready for Mind Yeti they must "Cast a Wide Net."  To do this Butler suggests one make mindfulness accessible, share the research, make it personal, and bring it to the community.  Introduce it, e.g., by using a Mind Yeti session such as "Hello Breath."  Emphasize it's based on brain science, not anything religious.  Get the staff on board with simple self-care suggestions.

Next, "Find Your Tribe"--those educators, staff, and parents who on board with mindfulness.  Recruit them.  They will soon spread mindfulness to all levels.  Begin your meeting with it.  Offer drop-off sessions for staff, family, and students at different schools.  Don't forget to practice at lunch meetings or district trainings.  To further mindfulness dissemination: "Make Use of Existing Systems and Structures."  Morning announcements are the perfect time to begin indoctrination.  Incorporate it into your Social Emotional Learning lessons.  Do it before tests.  Use it during transitions.  Set up a mindfulness room in a corner of your staff lounge, or even a closet. 

After "Empower Youth."  As mindfulness becomes embedded in the classroom encourage students--yes, even four year olds*-- to do peer-to-peer teaching.  Choose "Mindful Student Leaders."  Don't forget athletes: sports teams and superstar athletes should be the first to get this training.  Make being a "mindful leader" a classroom job.  Use science classes to hammer home it all about the brain, and not religion.  Lastly, "Remember, It Takes a Village," and if "your village" is engaged the kids will be doing mindfulness at school and as well as at home.  Try parent workshops, family nights, or family mindfulness sessions. Think what an amazing take-home tool Mind Yeti can be.  Open schools on weekends for additional Mind Yeti.

*  Butler, by the way, actually taught four year olds, designed his own mindfulness program, and wrote a mindfulness book before becoming the AISD Mindfulness Specialist.   Read here:

In short, Butler, with missionary-like fervor, encourages everyone in AISD to seize every opportunity to spread Mind Yeti.  Imagine if this was a Christian practice, and folks were spreading it with like passion.  What outrage would occur.  Public Schools though have thrown out all connected with the God of the Bible, and now in need of something moral to grab hold of, they have replaced it with Buddhist-related mindfulness.  With recent school happenings there is even more reason why school districts just like Austin, Texas will turn to mindfulness.

Christian, Are You Ready for Mind Yeti?

Lighthouse Trails in their article: "Looking Back at 2017 and Pressing On In 2018" makes this poignant statement:  There are two outstanding words that describe the danger that children of America (and really throughout the world are in): transgenderism and mindfulness.  ...  To top it off, thousands of public schools in America are now teaching children mindfulness.  So between sexual and gender deviance from God's plan and occultic practices, how can children in America have a chance?!  Also tragic is how so many modern-day Christians are falling into step with the world by embracing these dangers and trying to make it look like God sanctions both."

In light of this I would ask you the reader, are you ready for Mind Yeti, or other like programs?  If your children or grandchildren do not meet mindfulness at school, they are almost certainly going to encounter it at their jobs, the military, or elsewhere!  Thus, as Christians we must "take heed" to what Biblical meditation is, and teach your children, grandchildren, and others.  Sadly, though so many adults are asleep, and have not taken the time to reflect or look into how Biblical meditation differs from secular meditation.

Because "mindfulness" puts such emphasis on paying attention to the breath think about a Bible breath verse.  And no it is not doing slow breathing with a hot soup routine.  It is, however, using that breath to praise the Lord for Psalm 150:6 declares, "Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD.  Praise the LORD!"

Psalm 119 has a number of "meditation" verses urging one to pay careful attention to the Word.  Psalm 119:15 instructs "I will meditate in thy precepts (teachings)."  There's no formula to do this either such as sitting straight in a chair with feet on the floor, sitting on the floor with legs in a lotus position, closing one's eyes and fixing one's fingers, or focusing in on one's breath as I've noted Mind Yeti meditators doing.  Psalm 119:97 mentions "all the day meditation" when it says, "O how love I thy law!  It is my meditation all the day."  For at any time, or any place we can find a meditation occasion. 

Therefore, today is the time to encourage your children, grandchildren, and others to fill their minds with scripture, and to meditate upon them.  And with the Psalmist may we say: "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth."  (Psalm 119:103)

Learn to Discern Granny Verses:  Ephesians 5:15,16

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

First Ever Drag Queen Story Time: Where? Broome County Public Library, Binghamton, NY

First Ever Drag Queen Story Time:  Where?  Broome County Public Library, Binghamton, NY

Yes, you read that right.  Binghamton, NY's Broome County Public Library is planning a "Drag Queen Story Time" on January 13, 2018.  An event announcement reads: "Please join us for our first ever Drag Queen Story Time!  This is an exciting chance to see live characters from your favorite books.  Ariel, Elsa, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and maybe a surprise guest or two will appear before your eyes and read your favorite stories!"

Is this a random story time in a local area?  Absolutely not!  There have been a number of such readings done by a group--"Drag Queen Story Hour"-- around the country including here in the Orlando area.  DQSH's web site describes it this way:  "Drag Queen Story Hour ... is just what it sounds like--drag queens reading to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores.  DQSH  captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity* of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.  In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real."

*  Definition:  "Gender-fluid: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is not fixed. ... There are also people who identify as 'gender fluid,' a mix of both genders, and may feel more male on some days and more female on others." (Merriam-Webster)

The DQSH was created by Michelle Tea and Radar Productions in San Francisco, but DQSH happens regularly in LA, New York, San Francisco, and events are popping up all over the world.   https://www.dragqueenstoryhour.org/

A Smithsonian.com article: "Drag Queens Are Public Libraries' Newest Storytellers: Early Reading Just Got a Lot More Glamorous" (May 18, 2017) by Erin Blakemore asks us: "Where can you find feathers, fake eyelashes, and fiction for kids?  If you're stumped, you must not live in Brooklyn. The city's public library is now ground zero for an unlikely story hour, the Associated Press reports: one hosted by drag queens."  Blakemore further writes, "Storytime has become more and more creative over the years. These days, you can find storytime incorporates everything from yoga to geek culture.  She adds, "... Reading out loud not only orients kids to books, but helps increase their vocabularies and sets them up for successful literacy.  The drag queens of  Brooklyn aren't just campy or glam--they're giving the act of reading some much-needed sparkle."

A recent January 2, 2018 article in The Globe in Toronto: "Drag Queen Story Time Teaches Acceptance, Diversity at Toronto Libraries" by Rachael Levy-McLaughlin fills one in on more of how these story hours have gained in popularity.  Levy-McLaughlin notes, "Jack Slade's favorite hat is pink and sparkly.  But sometimes people tell the nearly 5-year-old that he shouldn't wear it because he's a boy and boys shouldn't wear pink, sparkly things."  She adds, "But Jack, sitting among dozens of children at Jones Public Library in Toronto ... listened to a drag queen decked out in sparkly shoes, false eyelashes, and a skirt read stories saying that boys can wear pink, sparkles, and dresses ... 'It's so affirming here,' comments Jennifer Slade, Jack's mother, at Jones library ...."

The article continues, "Even though it's new to the Toronto scene, drag queen story times have become very popular.  The Jones library was filled ... with so many families, there was barely standing room ....  A dad said, 'It's wild, absolutely fantastic.'  And the dad added, 'His 4-year-old daughter loves story times ... and loved seeing the drag queens and their outfits.'"

According to this article, the book read by one of the drag queens was Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis about a boy who loved wearing dresses.  The drag queens themselves were recorded as saying they were pleased to be role models for the children.  Why, at the end, the article records kids and the drag queens took selfies.

Not in Your Backyard, Yet?

Perhaps, you are appalled by this, but shrug it off with all the hub-bub that's taking place in big city libraries... so what's new?  Well, the library in Broome County is not a big city library.  And the friends of mine, who live in and near to Broome County, who alerted me to their library's upcoming event could not shrug it off for it was in their backyard!   And their backyard is not NY City, San Francisco, or Atlanta!  And they were informing each other, and their church wondering how to take a stand ASAP against this event.

Meantime, on the Broome County Public Library Facebook, a battle is raging between a host of supporters for the event, and a few stalwarts who are challenging it.  Below photos of sweet-faced little ones are comments such as one who wrote, "This is a wonderful idea!  Way to go Broome County!"  And the library itself declared, "Throughout history, American public libraries have been on the front lines of the fight to dispel ignorance, intolerance, and bigotry."  Only one man dared to bring up verses from Matthew 18 about children.

How horrendous that little ones, in an ever growing number of places, are being subjected to such story readings whether it is at a library, school, or elsewhere.  How America has fallen, and how the church has failed, and so few are aware of such happenings.  Broome County now is just another place that has opened wide its door to anything in the name of tolerance, love, and inclusiveness.  May those Christians who live there have the courage to stand up keeping in mind Jesus' warning found in Matthew 18:10: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is heaven."  As for you, and I let's be ready and prayed up should such an event come to our backyards.

Learn to Discern Granny Verse:  Proverbs 17:15 

"He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD."