Thursday, September 12, 2013

Red Flag This: Ruth Haley Barton & Self!

Self, self, self--there's lots about self in Ruth Haley Barton's book: Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.  There's the authentic self, the true self, the real self, the essential self, the false self, the ego-driven self, the childhood self, the truer self, and the soft body of self; there's coming home to one's self, settling into one's self, finding one's self, opening up to one's self, and losing touch with one's self; and there's our own transforming selves, and our own original selves.

And yet not one of these terms, or ideas can be found in the Bible.  And what's more many of the terms are not what you'd expect them to mean.  In the Bible you will read of the new man, and the old man or the natural man; you will read of the new creature in Christ, and old things.  But nowhere in scripture do we find the "selves" named above.

Be aware, too, that in Ruth's book nowhere is there anything about anyone ever needing to acknowledge one's sin to put off the old man, and to trust in Jesus Christ as one's personal Savior from sin so as to become a new man, or a new creature in Christ.

From where, and from whom does Ruth get these terms or ideas?  Let's begin to find our answers by simply typing such titles as "The True Self" and meditation, or "The True Self" and yoga to see what answers you will find.  Here are some for starters:

A "Sahaja Yoga Meditation" Course says:  "In this class you will experiment with your true Self.  It is the Self which is the reflection of the absolute beauty of the source of life.  It is the reflection of the universal love and innocence in every person ..."

An article "Awaken to Your Higher-Your True Self" describes our "higher self" as "the most perfect form of who we are."

A Transcendental Meditation participant says, "Readers who practice the TM technique will recognize in these passages (examples given) clear descriptions of transcending-the natural activity of mental activity settling down like waves on an ocean.  ...  We experience pure consciousness.  We realize that this our true Self, beyond time and space, infinite and eternal."

Catalyst Yogi uses a chart to contrast the True Self vs. The False Self.  Of the "True Self" he writes, "True Self, among many descriptions, knows god and me, and me and god are ONE."

This is just the tip of the ice berg about what you can find from various sites about what "The True Self" means.  The "Spirituality and Practice" site (Brussatts) under their ABC practices will give you more definitions.  Try "You" to find more quotations.

Red Flag These: Ruth Haley Barton and Her "True Self" Mentors!

Who were some of Barton's most influential "true self" mentors?  Barton tells us in her Silence and Solitude chapter nine notes where she writes, "The concept of the true self and the false self is a consistent theme not only in Scripture but also in the writings of the church fathers and mothers. Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen (particularly Nouwen's  The Way of the Heart) and Father Thomas Keating are contemporary authors who have shaped my understanding of this aspect of spiritual life.  This is a way of identifying the false part of ourselves that relies on deeply patterned and often unconscious self-protective behaviors developed in response to the presence of sin and wounding within and around us.  Spiritual transformation involves peeling back the layers of the false self in order to reveal the true authentic self."

With these words in mind let us examine this "trio" of "true self mentors" beginning with Trappist Monk Thomas Merton.

Father Thomas Merton

What did Thomas Merton teach about the "true self" and the "false self?"  Father James Martin, SJ provides some answers in Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints.  Chapters include: "The Short Life of Thomas Merton," "True Selves and False Selves," "Writing the True Self," and "The Truest Self."

Martin begins his book with a quote taken from Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation where Merton wrote, "For me to be a saint means to be myself."  Merton also wrote, "Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and discovering my true self."

Father Richard Rohr 's back cover endorsement reads, "Probably nothing is more important to practical religion than the discovery of the 'self we have to lose and the self we have of find.'  Jesus said it first, Thomas Merton made it clear, and James Martin, if you can believe it, makes it even clearer."

Priest Henri J. M. Nouwen & Wil Hernandez

Famed author, and priest Henri Nouwen's legacy has become the special project of Wil Hernandez, (Mentioned in Ruth's notes; misspelled as "Will") an Episcopalian spiritual director, professor, life coach, worship and retreat leader, and author of  Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension with two other books.  Hernandez founded "The Henri Nouwen Legacy: Celebrating Henri Nouwen's Spiritual Impact."

Nouwen, especially, as you read, influenced Barton in her thinking about the "true self," and "the false self."  Hernandez, in turn, addresses this polarity teaching how through Nouwen's example we can learn how to befriend its inherent tension in order to transform us.

Hernandez's foreword is written by Father Richard Rohr OFM, of the "Center for Action and Contemplation" (CAC), who having known Nouwen personally, praised him highly.  Hernandez writes about the inward, outward, and upward polarities.  Immediately chapter one addresses the psychological tensions of the true and false self.  In his preface, Wil fills us in on how the book came to be written giving thanks to Rohr for insights he gleaned from two Rohr events, and one Rohr book:
The Naked Now.

"Spirituality and Practice"* (Frederic/Mary Ann Brussat) gives a review of "this enlightening paperback."  They write, "In the matter of Tibetan Buddhists, Nouwen, a Catholic priest, did not run from ... considerable tensions but sought to embrace and befriend them.  Hernandez shows how solitude enabled this teacher and writer a chance to confront his false self and strengthen his authentic self ..."

Read about Hernandez and the "Nouwen Legacy here:

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

Roman Catholic priest Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, quoted in Barton's book, also weighs in on Hernandez's Nouwen work.  He says, "Henri Nouwen is our generation's Kierkegaard.  Like Kierkegaard, he helps introduce us to ourselves.  Wil Hernandez aids us in the next step, he wonderfully introduces us to Henri Nouwen."

And just who is Father Rolheiser?  He is a speaker, author, columnist, and President of the Oblate School of Theology.  He sounds sincere and spiritual, but is Rolheiser a believer of the true gospel that in order to reach heaven, as Nicodemus, we must be born again, or saved?  No, he is not.  his recent column "Have I Been Saved?" (8-25-13) gives us our answer.  In it he writes, "The real question in our lives shouldn't be: What must I do to go to heaven?  Or, what must I do to avoid going to hell?  ... the point is rather our deepest motivation has to be to do things for others and not for ourselves.  For the main part our own salvation will take care of itself if we focus on the needs of others ... Teresa of Avila suggests that we're mature in following Christ if our questions and concerns no longer have a self-focus: Am I saved?  Have I met Jesus Christ? ...  Our real question needs to be: How can I be helpful?  (Note: Rolheiser did not use quotations in this section of his article.)  Read the rest of the piece here:

Reader, I challenge you, if you're reading Ruth Haley Barton, and following her advice her book is filled with religious men exactly like Rolheiser who are not genuine believers, and certainly do not believe that "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."  (Ephesians 2:8,9)  Ruth's writings are overflowing with Roman Catholicism, and interwoven with unscriptural doctrine that seems enticing, but what deceptions are beneath her web of words.  Beware of her "true self" mentors!

Priest Henri Nouwen

If you wish to know the real Henri Nouwen, and his true beliefs read this outstanding article:
"Henri Nouwen: "Exalting Self and Diminishing the Cross" by L.S. Ormiston (Berean Beacon).
Ormiston notes, "Even a quick review of history uncovers many causes for concern beginning with the simple fact that he was a Catholic priest ...even though he rarely dressed like a priest ... used 'Catholic sounding language' ... He was, nevertheless, a life-long devotee of Roman Catholicism with its false gospel, worship of the Eucharist and devotion to Mary.  Ormiston points out that, beyond the priesthood, Nouwen was heavily influenced by Gordon Allport who introduced "self-esteem" to psychology.

Ormiston lays out three examples of how the "spirituality" of Nouwen had "everything to do with self."  Here are two:  Nouwen: "Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is self-rejection."  The Bible: "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man (self) which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts." (Ephesians 4:22); and Nouwen: "I had to be in touch with my own goodness..."  The Bible: "there is none that doeth good, no not one." (Romans 3:12)

Ormiston continues by pointing out that in Nouwen's The Way of the Heart he states, " (Solitude) it is the place of conversation where the old self dies and the new self is born."  (And that is exactly what Ruth Haley Barton teaches in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership  that one needs to enter solitude and silence to find one's true self in God.)  Nothing in Nouwen's writing mentions true conversion through salvation through grace.  Ormiston, goes on, saying, "no, it is through solitude; ... through some mystical process in which you turn inward on yourself, and somehow find within yourself the intrinsic goodness and godliness you have always wanted and unknowingly possessed.  Read the entire paper here:

*"Spirituality and Practice" is an ecumenical organization for all religions and spiritual paths that is packed with information that unlocks the beliefs, and world views of a number of authors quoted by Barton.  Some authors Barton quotes, listed as "Living Spiritual Teachers," include: Richard Foster, Alan Jones, Thomas Keating, Ted Loder, Wayne Muller, Parker J. Palmer, Richard Rohr, Jane Venard, and Jim Wallis; or authors listed as "Remembering Spiritual Masters Project" include: Thomas Merton, Henri J. M. Nouwen, and M. Basil Pennington.  The web site for the organization also lists an ABC list of meditation terms that one should be knowledgeable about, as well as other information that may be of help to a discerning believer.

Father Thomas Keating, OSCO

If you'd like to know more about Father Keating, the third person in Barton's trio of most influential
"true self" mentors you'll want to read "Resting in God ... An Interview with Fr. Thomas Keating, OSCO" by Anne A. Simpson posted on "Rosaries of Divine Union: Rosaries for the Contemplative Dimension of Prayer."  This insightful interview with Keating, a "Johnny Appleseed of the soul who, along with a cadre of clergy, and lay people, is sowing seeds of contemplative prayer and spreading Christian contemplation across the country." 

Simpson records, "In his taped lectures and his books ... he describes the inner changes that occur, including letting go of the false self ( a self-image that impedes one's relationship with God) in favor of expressing one's true self (our basic 'core of goodness') ..."  To read the complete interview see:

Red Flag These: Ruth Haley Barton & More of Her "True Self" Men!

Father Albert Haase, O.F.M.

Father Albert Haase is a priest, and author of Coming Home to Your True Self,  that Ruth favorably endorsed when she penned these words, "Haase is a wise and winsome guide for the spiritual life and his book is a helpful companion for the journey of coming home to the true self."

Another endorser of Haase, whom Barton often quotes and admires, is heretical priest Father Richard Rohr, O.F.M. who writes, "This is a practical and profound spiritual guidance!  If we do not clarify some of these foundational issues, there will be no real flourishing in our search for God."  Writer of Haase's foreword is, one of Ruth's Transforming Center faculty and presenter at her retreats, M. Robert Mulholland, Jr.  He, too, puts his stamp of approval on Haase's teachings when he says, " I believe Coming Home to Your True Self will be a significant blessing for those who hunger for a genuine spiritual journey."

In his preface we immediately know from whom Father Haase received his "strong influence" in his understanding of "spiritual formation."  For he writes that it was at a ten-day centering prayer workshop under Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist monastery in Snowmass, Colorado where seeds were planted that grew over the years.  And Ruth, also, wrote she was greatly influenced by Keating.  Besides, in her book Ruth shares a story from the monastery at Snowmass.

M. Robert Mulholland, Jr.

Here's another of Ruth's "true self" men, who like Ruth writes IVP (InterVarsity Press) Formatio books as did Father Haase.  Mulholland's title says it all:  The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self.  Once again, Barton is an endorser of this teaching.  She said, "Most of us are aware that there is something terribly wrong.  It is called the false self.  The Deeper Journey  provides understanding and guidance for the journey from the false self to the true self ...  The book
is filled with much needed wisdom from one of the most trusted spiritual guides of our time."

And this "most trusted guide" shares that he takes his concepts of "the false self" from many mystics as Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, David Benner, and others.  In a review of  the book Gary Gilley says Mulholland's writing can't be understood without filtering it through the lens of the words of his mystical mentors.

Gilley noted that Mulholland's use of "the false self" is a "misleading term invented by such as Thomas Merton (p.165) but is nowhere found in scripture."  Gilley explains our flesh can't be "false" for that is who we truly are apart from being regenerated by Christ.

Another term used by Mulholland is "self-referenced."  How to rid yourself of this "self-referenced life" is to mystically detach and center on God who is found inside ourselves.  Gilley concludes his review by stating "The Deeper Journey"  in no sense takes us into a deeper life with God.  It not only leads us astray from biblical Christianity, but deep into the heart of ourselves. For more of Gilley's review read:

Father Richard Rohr, O.F.M.

Still another priest Ruth relies on for "true self" wisdom is Franciscan Father Richard Rohr founder of "The Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in New Mexico.  Rohr writes for "Radical Grace" (his publication), and "Sojourners" (activist Jim Wallis).  To get a glimpse of Rohr's audio products is to meet the real Rohr.  These products include such titles as: "Jesus and Buddha, " "Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate,"  "God as Us!" "The Cosmic Christ," and "The Enneagram and Grace " (With Russ Hudson, Ruth Barton's enneagram teacher)  It is no wonder Rohr is listed as a "living spiritual teacher" by "Spirituality and Practice."

Rohr not only teaches the false/true self through his writings, but through the use of the "enneagram" as well.  Hudson, and Rohr (above) have done enneagram workshops together including one at the Conscious Living Center in Cincinnati.  And if at this center you complete the basic enneagram courses your next step is to take a class called "Consciousness Ascending."

In her article "The Enneagram GPS: Gnostic Path to Self" Marcia Montenegro writes, "The enneagram purports to lead a person not only to self-understanding, but to an integration to all aspects of self and, ultimately, to an awakening of the true Self.  'Self' is capitalized because the Self is considered by the original (and most contemporary) Enneagram teachers to be divine."

For further insight and information about Ruth and her enneagram retreat, as well as a list of her enneagram spiritual directors who help her teach this practice please read the previous blog: "The Transforming Center: A Path to Roman Catholicism and New Age Paganism."

Here's a recent report by a Deb Turnow (8-15-13) who is a spiritual director, and executive director at Kavanna House in York, Pa.  "In Welcome to My Shadow Side," Deb records, "This past weekend I spent uncovering my shadow side.  I am part of Ruth Haley Barton's Transforming Community and we spent the majority of the weekend looking at the enneagram and using it as a tool to better understand ourselves.  Turnow ends with this thought: "I am very, very grateful for a new awareness of how I move in the world, in both my True Self and my False Self, and because of this new awareness, I can better lean into God to be the source of my identity."

Would that these deceived retreatants would have spent their time looking into "the mirror of the Word."  An old children's song echoes through my mind:  "God's Word is like a hammer, breaking the rock in twain, a light to guide our footsteps, upon the stormy main, a sword that has two edges, a mirror ourselves to see, oh yes, this the book of books, the B-I-B-L-E!"

One of Rohr's newest books is The Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self  (2013) in which he explores the soul, the True Self, and the resurrection with scripture, tradition, and inner experience.  A review on "Read the Spirit" web site by editor David Crumm observes "The MESSAGE of his latest book, ...can be conveyed in a single sentence: "At the core of each life is true eternal goodness--and the key to a successful life is opening up that true self so that we can compassionately connect with God's world."

Rohr wrote too, "Because far too many religious folks do not seriously pursue this 'reverence humming with them,' they do not recognize that something within them needs to be deeply trusted and many things must be allowed to die ... And when the slag and the dross is removed  that which evokes reverence is right there waiting."

Rohr indicates Jesus refers to our "True Self" as treasure in a field.  He also labels the "False Self" as the "small self."  He goes on to teach once someone finds his "True Self" the "False Self" begins to fall away.  And if you realize that you have the divine image in you, you'll see it in others too.  But, the Psalmist writes in Psalm 51, "that in sin did my mother conceive me."  Romans 3:23 records, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."  Oh, the deception of such writing as Rohr writes, and oh the accounting Ruth Haley Barton will have to give for leading "evangelicals" to such men, and such practices.

Parker J. Palmer

One more "true self" advocate whom Barton prominently quotes is Quaker, living spiritual teacher, Parker J. Palmer who is an activist, educator, author, and visionary.  Palmer, incidentally, is also a contributor to, and an advisor for the "Council of Advisors for the Spirituality and Practice Center."
This multifaith and interspiritual organization is supported by such partners as "Contemplative Outreach (Keating); "Community of the Mystic Heart;" "The Upper Room;" and "The Threshold Society." (Sufis)  S&P is also advised by a Zen sensei, a Sufi, a Buddhist lama, a New Age guru, and so many more.

And just what does Parker say about the "true self?"  He writes, "Vocation does not come from a voice 'out there' calling me to be something I am not.  It comes from a voice 'in here' calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given to me at birth by God." (p.77  Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership)  In Let Your Life Speak Palmer also writes, "The figure calling to me all these years was, I believe, what Thomas Merton calls 'true self.'"  In addition, Palmer also quotes Unitarian Universalist May Sarton who said, "The pilgrimage toward true self will take 'time, many years and places.'"

Red Flag These: Ruth Haley Barton & Her "True Selfisms!"

Here are some Barton "true self" quotes from Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership:

p.19  "Truly, the best thing any of us have to bring to leadership is our own transforming selves.

p. 26  "... stay on the path of becoming our true self in God-- a self that is capable of an ever-deepening yes to God's call on our life."

p. 53  "All we stand to lose is the false self--the adaptive behaviors that are ultimately in opposition to the life of love and trust and being led by God that our hearts long for.  To give ourselves to this process, we must trust that our true self is hidden with Christ in God, and to be revealed as God sees that we are ready to live into it."

p. 53   "The purgative way is a commitment to self-knowledge, which is essential preparation for serious Good News.  Purgation ( or self-simplification) is a way of 'clearing the decks for action.'"
(Quoted from "Living Spiritual Teacher" Alan Jones of Episcopal Grace Cathedral in San Francisco)

p.77-78  "But if we are willing to pay attention, we can catch glimpses of the true self ...  Some of the best hints about who we are really come from memories of unguarded moments in childhood ... If we are able to look back on our childhood self with curiosity and attention, we may remember moments when we were completely and unreservedly ourselves ... This essential self  existed before we had anything to prove..."

Ruth has obviously forgotten the verse from Genesis 8:21 that reads, "for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth ..."

p.127  "The journey of self-knowledge that leads us beyond the false self to living and leading from our authentic self is a challenging one, but it is certainly worth it.  This is the kind of truth that ultimately sets us free to lead from a truer self, one that is compelled by truer motivations that God placed with us before the foundations of the earth."

p.134   "All these rhythms (silence, solitude, stillness, community) create space for God ... All of these rhythms put us in touch with something more real in ourselves and others than we are all able to produce.  We touch our very being in God."

p. 161 "... allowing ourselves to face our ultimate alone compels us to 'travel inward' and 'to meet ourselves and to meet the infinite love and riches of God dwelling inside our beings.'"  (From Fr. Ronald Rolheiser)

Finding your "true self" in God in silence and solitude is the thread that runs through Barton's book.
It is the thread that connects her to her "true self" mentors for each sanction the same mystical prayer practice over and over in their writings.  Yes, each put forth the mystical prayer practice known as "centering prayer" where one quiets the body and the mind; breathes deeply; let's go of all distractions by chanting a mantra; and then "settles into" (Ruth's pet phrase) a deeper communion so as to find the true self, the real self, the authentic self, the truer you within your self--"the divine within" as the mystics call it.

To conclude, these are some words of Ruth Haley Barton, and these are some words of her "true self"
mentors; but these are some words of God as found in your Bible.

Genesis 6:5  "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Psalm 51:5  "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

Jeremiah 17:9  "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

Romans 7:18  "For I know that in me dwelleth no good thing."

II Timothy 3:1,2  " This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves..."

II Timothy 3:13  "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived."

Proverbs 3:5,6  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

For further verses read:

Now, I ask you which words will you follow?  Which words will you trust?  Will you turn to your own self, to your own understanding?  And I ask you if men and women abandon the Word of God for another gospel and another Jesus will you fight for the faith, and from such turn away?  I pray you will!  I pray I will!

Learn to Discern Granny or "Grandmother Lois Verses:"

II Timothy 4:1-7  "Preach the word; ...For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; ...they shall turn away their ears from the truth, ... I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith!"

Definition of the "False Self," & "Higher Self" from Ray Yungen's "Glossary of Terms" in
A Time of Departing:

False Self:  The false self  is the ego or personality that is observable by others.  One rids oneself of the false self to find the true self  through mantra-meditation.  New Agers would consider people like Buddha, Ghandi, and even Jesus Christ as examples of people who found their true self.

Higher Self:  Supposed "God-self" with that New Agers seek to connect with through meditation.  Also called the Christ-self or True-self.



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