Beware! Get to the Heart of Soul Care!
Ingrid Davis is a pastor's wife, former missionary, adjunct professor, life coach, mentor, spiritual direction teacher, emotional healer, speaker, and missionary care giver. Besides, she's a powerful teacher of "Soul Care" teaching it at the Alliance Theological Seminary, CMA churches, and overseas. Her sixty page online course (ILF 2012 Costa Rica) highlights such "soul care" greats as Thomas Moore, and David G. Benner. But do these fathers of soul care teach godly principles that Ingrid should be introducing to hundreds of undiscerning souls both here and abroad? Should these men be used at all? If not, why not? Read on!
Be a Soul Care Berean!
If you want to get to the heart of soul care you must get to its roots, and you must actually look into these teachers and all of their colleagues, and associates; all of their quotes and notes; and all of their writings. You must intentionally become a "Soul Care Berean!" Yes, you must ask: Are these things really so? Are these things Biblical, man-centered, or even downright pagan?
Soul Care Synopsis:
But before going any further a very good place to begin your soul care research would be with this Lighthouse Trails Ministries article: "Soul Care: New Term, Same Ol' Contemplative Thing." Here you can find the answer to "soul care from where?" Here you can read a definition of what soul care entails; and that it's connected to "spiritual formation, spiritual direction and directors." Here you can learn more of what's at the core of "soul care." Lastly, you can check out more sites for further information.
Care of the Soul Father: Thomas Moore
In order to get to the heart and soul of "soul care" one must become acquainted with psychotherapist Thomas Moore, author of the national bestseller Care of the Soul (1992) which, some say, began a refocus on the soul. Former monk Moore, archetypal psychologist, mythologist, imagination teacher, theologian, musician, philosopher, author, lecturer, columnist, and advisor himself was mentored by his close friend and Jungian archetypal psychologist James Hillman. He also an affinity for his colleague New Ager Robert Sardello.
Care of the Soul Synopsis:
Cover: National Bestseller
Acknowledgment: Thanks "original thinkers who taught him to think about the soul, especially James Hillman and Robert Sardello" (p. IX)
Introduction: Quotes Marsilio Ficino who says, "What we need is soul in the middle, holding together mind and body, ideas and life, spirituality and the world." (p. XIV)
"Soul Is:" Moore says soul "is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart and personal substance." (p.5)
A Summary Critique:" Tom Snyder, a Christian commentator, said both Moore and Hillman
believed that there were many different ways of being spiritual, and there certainly wasn't one way to God. This is known as "psychological polytheism."
"Truth is:" Moore wrote truth is always developing, and is not absolute. He stated, "Truth is not really a soul word; soul is after insight more than truth." (p.246)
Suggestions for Further Reading: Some additional Books Moore lists include: A Blue Fire (Hillman anthology edited by Moore); The Homeric Hymns (Hymns/stories offer praise to gods/goddesses); Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Carl Jung); Letters to a Young Poet (Rilke Writings); Facing the World with Soul (Robert Sardello); & Ordinarily Sacred (Lynda Sexton) among others.
Back Cover: Two back cover endorsees include Hillman, Moore's revered mentor; and Sam Keen, once a fundamentalist Christian. Keen, now a believer in "personal mythology," broke free from narrow Christianity inoculating himself against any "true belief."
Some More Moore Writings:
Moore's Newest Book: A Religion of One's Own
Just before its publication Moore listed ten ways to fashion a religion of our own. These include: meditate; live ethically; live responsibly; have a dream practice; be a mystic; be intimate with nature; be a monk or monkess; aim for bliss; develop a philosophy/theology of life; and learn from the world's religious and spiritual traditions. This reminds me of Judges 21:25: "... every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
Moore's E-Course: "Practicing Spirituality with Thomas Moore"
Moore has recently taught an online e-course led by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality and Practice.** The Brussats wrote, "In the past twenty years, Thomas Moore has almost single-handedly revived interest in the soul.
* Spirituality and Practice is a New Spirituality ecumenical site much like "Lighthouse Trails Ministries" is an evangelical site. Spirituality and Practice is full of lists as living spiritual teacher, deceased spiritual masters, spirituality terms, book reviews, and much more. The site can be helpful in exposing their viewpoint, and keeping one abreast of happenings in their world.
Moore's Guideposts Piece: "An Inner Voice"
In an "Inner Voice" from Mysterious Ways (Guideposts) February-March 2014 Moore invites readers to practice five steps to develop our ability to hear our "inner voice." These include: clear the decks, look to nature, read, be an artist, and embrace the unusual. Moore concludes, "As adults, we must take steps to open up our imagination and our minds to wonder. When we do, the light comes on, the darkness lifts and our path unfolds, bringing us closer to who we're destined to be."
Mysterious Ways Finds Me!
I had been researching "soul care," and reading books about it but seemed "stuck" when on a recent Sunday a dear lady pressed into my hand the Moore article. "Read this!" said she. "I remembered you told us about 'Thomas Merton,' and when I read this I knew that there was something wrong. Do you know anything about this man?" Did I? I had just been researching him, and yet this lady had no idea I knew anything at all about Moore. Then, I knew that I knew I was to continue writing about "soul care" no matter how long it took!
Moore's Spirituality and Health Article: "Care of the Soul: Joyfully Adrift"
This September-October 2013 article gives insight into how Moore is now "adrift" as he writes from his former conventional life of being a more soulful person. Moore wrote: "As I grow liberated in many ways I pursue my interest in UFOs and aliens, develop my skills with the scrying mirror, and use my intuitions as the main guide of my life." And this drift, he says, has taken him toward the divine. "And maybe," reflects Moore, "as we become more soulful, we drift into reality rather than away from it."
Moore's Findhorn Workshop: "Love, Magic, Miracles"
At a Findhorn Workshop in 2012 Moore presented "Love, Magic, Miracles." Included was: "Lessons from an Obsidian Mirror" where Moore introduced how to use the scrying* mirror. The workshop focused on a magical way of life by exploring dreams, the arts, deep intuition, prophecy, and simple trance as ways of living more deeply.
* Scrying is the ancient art of divination for the purpose of clairvoyance.
Moore's Resurgence Article: "Pray to Gaia"
This article from March-April 2008 begins with "Let us pray to Gaia and awaken the sleepy unconsciousness of our time." Moore continued, "Today the very existence of Gaia is threatened ... so this would be a good time to return to the practice or praying to her--God manifested as the Earth."
Just this short summary of who Moore is, and what Moore writes would be enough to eliminate anything Moore has written on how to do soul care. How much we need to pray the "Discernment Prayer" found in Philippians 1:9,10: "And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ."
Moore Mentor: James Hillman
Because Hillman's influence was so much a part of Moore to know Hillman is to know Moore too.
And to know them both is to know Benner. Throw into the mix some soulful Sardello and you'll see what a dangerous foursome they are. (Recall Blog: "Danaher Does it Again ..." to recall that Benner, Sardello, and Rob Bell are Master Teachers for the Father Richard Rohr Institute.)
Hillman, archetypal psychologist, is author of the Soul's Code, The Dream and the Underworld,
and Re-Visioning Psychology among others. He was a student of Carl Jung, and later Director of the Jung Institute. He was an avid advocate for mythology, philosophy, and art. In addition, he was a co-founder of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture; and a lecturer of archetypes in myths, fairy tales, and poems. To better know Jung please read this enlightening article:
Both Hillman and Moore were proponents of Psychological Polytheism, and both attacked fundamentalists of all kinds. Hillman attempted to restore "soul" to its proper place in psychology.
His well-known dream phrase was "Stick with the image!" Another teaching he's remembered for is the "Acorn Theory of the Soul" For more information on both Moore and Hillman read this excellent Thomas Lee Snyder review of Care of the Soul here.
Another Soul Care Father : David G. Benner
Benner's Care of Souls Classic (1998):
David Benner's Care of Souls is a classic work which many Christians accept as gospel. However, probing just beneath the surface, especially into his quotes and notes, will unlock why this work contains ideas and practices far removed from scripture. To discern some of its deceptions please thoughtfully read this review.
Benner 's Thomas Moore Connection:
In Benner's intro it is to Moore's bestseller Care of the Soul that Benner credits with "the concept of soul" making its reappearance in modern times. Benner relates that this interest in soul came with a renewed interest in spirituality. This spirituality was, said Benner, a reaction against Christianity which signaled a worldview shift to postmodernism.
Benner's Definitions of "Soul" and "Soul Care:"
Benner says, "soul" refers to the whole person, "but with particular focus on the inner world of thinking, feeling, and willing;" (p.22) while "soul care" can be defined as "the support and restoration of the well-being of persons in their depth and totality, with particular concern for their inner life." (p.23)
To Know Benner Better --Notice "His Men" Named in His Notes:
We've all heard of the phrase "a few good men," well much the opposite is the case in Benner's work. For many of "His Men" might be labeled as "a few deceptive men," "a few pagan men," or "a few _____ men." You fill in the adjective. To wrap your mind round these men will unlock Benner's true agenda, and this agenda is far from anything evangelical!
Who are these men? Read on!
Fritz Kunkel, the we-psychologist whose religious psychology was based on a synthesis of Freud, Adler, and Jung, taught that the we-feelings of the preegocentric child, was our hope for growth and wholeness. Others, said Kunkel, are indispensable for self. (p.75)
John Finch, author of what he calls Christian existential psychology, espoused a way through the false self, back to spirit, and finally the grounding of spirit in Spirit. Finch described this spiritual encounter as "... uncluttering the conscience and attempting to witness of the Spirit to the spirit, to encourage the spirit to emerge and be itself." (p.81) Benner notes that he borrowed from Finch's intensive existential psychotherapy model as he developed his own intensive soul care retreat. (p.201)
Adrian van Kaam, Catholic psychologist who wrote On Being Yourself , believed one should search for his original self as hidden in God to find one's true self. Van Kaam wrote, "Spiritually ... resides in the core of my being, in my deepest self or spirit...." (p.81)
Urban T. Holmes, an Episcopal Priest, known as the Very Reverend Urban T. Homes, did his doctrinal work under the Jesuits. In his book A History of Christian Spirituality Holmes taught about kataphatic (positive images of God as tools), and apophatic (using an emptying technique) meditation. He also taught we approach God in two ways speculative, and affective: the first emphasizes the illumination of the mind, while the later emphasizes the illumination of the heart. (P.90-91)
Rudolph Otto, a German Lutheran theologian, wrote The Idea of the Holy, which describes one's encounter with "the numinous" as creature consciousness or an awareness of our smallness when up against awe-inspiring might of some kind. In Benner's description of this in "Quest for Mystery" he tells of Otto's description of this "mysterium tremendum." Someone else who describes this mystery is none other than Father Richard Rohr in his Daily Meditation "Experiencing the Holy" on October 28, 2012. (p.123)
David Bohm, physicist and communication theorist, was a dialogue advocate where the group "becomes open to the flow of a larger intelligence" and thought is approached as collective phenomenon. In her article "Boning Up on Bohm" in Seeds of Unfolding Patricia Carlin revealed what Bohm's true dialogue agenda was. http://www.seedsofunfolding.org/issues/04_06/resources_1.htm
Burggraf, and Grossenbacher, contemplative psychology professors at Naropa University, in a table on how to achieve contemplative modes in education, cite David Bohm as well as Parker Palmer as authors to consult to help students "suspend assumption and judgment" while practicing "careful listening and dialogue." (p.132)
Peter Senge, a follower of Bohm, and contemplative author of The Fifth Discipline, is a promoter of team dialogue in organizational discourse that suspends held beliefs to achieve insights not held individually. Senge is also an ardent practitioner of Taoist gruesome "White Skeleton Meditation or Visualization." (p.134, 243)
http://infed.org/mobipeter-senge-and-the-learning-organization/ (Scroll down to "Team Learning.")
Jeremy Taylor, Unitarian Universalist minister, wrote Dream Work: Techniques for Discovering the Creative Power in Dreams. Note the titles of these two sample chapter: "The Gift of Hermes and The Transformation of the Culture," and "Lucid Dreaming and Dream Yoga." Taylor has a doctorate from the University of Creation Spirituality (Started by Matthew Fox) and an honorary doctorate from Starr King School (Unitarian College). (p.173)
Bernard J. Tyrrell, S.J., Christotheraphist, wrote Christotheraphy I and II which, according to Benner, when used model a well-developed method of combining both psychotherapy and spiritual direction. Benner also noted that the overall framework for Christotheraphy is the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. One of the existential techniques, mind-fasting, touted by Tyrrell can be attributed to Thomas Merton who spoke of "fasting of the heart" which he derived from Chuang Tzu, a great Taoist writer. (p.220-201) http://www.christotherapy.com/books.html
Alan W. Jones, Episcopal priest and Dean Emeritus of Grace Cathedral, wrote Soul Making in which Jones rails against those who repeat formulas like "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, " or those who teach eternal punishment of those who fail to make a verbal commitment to Jesus Christ. From this heretical book Benner writes that Jones says that "soul care is helping people become human and that a the core of this is learning to love." (p.207)
James Hillman, who influenced Benner greatly, wrote The Dream and the Underworld which is listed in Benner's notes as a book we should consult for dream work interpretation. On the back of Hillman's book we read, "Hillman goes back to classical theories of the poetics of mythology. He relates dreaming to the myths of the Underworld--the dark side of the soul, its images, and shadows--and to the gods and figures of death." (p.243)
Louis M. Savary, and Patricia H. Berne are the authors, along with Stephron Williams, of Dreams and Spiritual Growth which Benner quotes and touts as having thirty-seven (ecumenical) dream work techniques great for Christian soul care. Savary and Berne wrote Prayer Medicine
where they write, "In taking their prayer medicine they are drinking the living water that flows with them. Savary and Berne also practice "kything" and wrote Kything: The Art of Spiritual Presence
suggesting one center yourself in God, lovingly focus on God or the person you want to kythe with, and make contact with visualization. And these are authors you'd want to consult for Christian soul care? I pray not!! (p. 243)
This is but a sampling of authors Benner quotes, and recommends. Once more, I would ask, Where is our discernment? Where is our repulsion against such absolute heresy as contained therein? Why won't we stand up, and ban such books from being used on our Christian campuses and churches?
Benner's Favorite Phrase: "Deep Knowing of Self!"
David Benner's favorite phrase in this book has to be "the deep knowing of self" which he repeats over and over. Such a fixation of self. Whereas Philippians 3:10 states, "That I may know him..."
Reminiscent of Ruth Haley Barton's emphasis on self Benner's work is saturated with self. If you haven't already, please go back and read my previous blog: "Red Flag This: Ruth Haley Barton and Self!"
Benner and How to do Dialogue:
Benner contends that the foundation of soul care is "dialogue." And without dialogue soul care can't work. For the goal of dialogue is, says Benner, "-- the creation of understanding that supersedes that which existed in the individual participants prior to the onset of the dialogue." (p.132) Dialogue is the crux of how Benner believes we increase our understanding of ourselves, others, and the world so that in turn we expand our self.
Benner and How to Do Dreamwork:
Benner "In Dreams in Soul Care" advises that soul care recipients need to keep regular dream journals. Here he suggest that significant dreams have a puzzling quality to them having arisen from the deepest levels of consciousness. Such dreams, he writes, are charged with "psychic energy." (p. 167) These dreams are "numinous dreams" for they have an autonomous spiritual quality that transcends our spiritual nature.
Benner relates dreams represent parts of our self like "our masculine and feminine parts, our masochistic parts, our narcissistic parts, our grandiose parts, ..." and so on. (p.172) "Dreams
bring us into contact," notes Benner, "with both lost and underdeveloped parts of self." (p.172) As always "self" is ever present on page after page in a Benner book!
Benner goes on to suggest six techniques to further our "communications from God." One suggestion even says to conduct an imaginary conversation with "the dream ego." It would seem that using the list of books and authors from which Benner draws his dream instruction should give any thinking Christian a nightmare!
Benner and Forms of Christian Soul Care:
Benner notes there are at least nine forms of soul care including "spiritual direction," and "intensive soul care." In regard to spiritual direction, Benner said, its focus was "experience with God." He wrote, "It seeks to help individuals find their ground in God, and live their lives out of that ground." (p.195) He mentions, his favorite, Thomas Merton who felt it was dangerous if a contemplative was guided by nobody. While in regard to intensive soul care, Benner praised Tyrrell's Christo-therapy that was based on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Now, Benner's own intensive soul care retreat was modeled on Bernard Tyrrell's work as well that of John Finch. (p.200)
Benner and The Challenges of Christian Soul Care:
Some of the qualifications for the Christian soul care worker Benner listed included: love for people (referenced Alan Jones); a deep experiential knowing of God's grace; and a deep faith that light will overcome darkness (referenced Jesuits William Barry/William Connolly).
Benner and How to Prepare for Soul Care:
Lastly, Benner writes because Christian soul care involves a deep engagement between oneself, with God, and with another person prior to participating in soul care one should engage in "the practice of contemplative prayer." "Such prayerful solitude," says Benner, "is the womb of psychospiritual growth. The space it creates allows for the birth of a transformed self." (p.231)
Moore's soul care, and Benner's "Christian" soul care are built on the ideas of men/women most of whom could not be called born again Christians. Therefore, their words are, as Paul wrote to the Colossians, nothing but enticing words after the traditions of men, and after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ!
In summary, our challenge would be to become true discerners who will not be beguiled by the enticing words of men, but be grounded in the unchanging Word! May we say with the song writer, "Just like the tree planted by the water, I will not be moved!"
Learn to Discern Granny Verses: Colossians 2:6-8
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, ... Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."