Neo-Monastic Ken Shigematsu's God in My Everything (A Book Review)
Ken Shigematsu, neo-monastic leaning Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor of Tenth Church, Vancouver, Canada, has written a best-selling book advocating drawing closer to God by adapting St. Benedict's "The Rule of Life" into all we do. While the book contains some good ideas about how to bring the Lord into our busy lives, at the same time Roman Catholic monks, monasteries, and rituals creep into the text. In fact, Shigematsu's work is saturated with Catholicism for Shigematsu himself is infatuated with it. The end result is a work that encourages leaders and readers to embrace Rome without reservation, for evangelicalism is often so mixed with Catholicism that it is hard to separate the two.
In rave review after rave review by "so-called evangelicals" one has to wonder how such praise can be given without anyone questioning the extent to which its author so clearly demonstrates his fascination with Catholicism especially with Benedictine teachings. To understand more let's examine this work from its cover to its back page.
Shigematsu's Cover Clue: The very first clue to Ken's capitulation to Catholicism can be seen on the cover where he uses the words "how an ancient rhythm helps busy people enjoy God." This rhythm, the reader soon discovers, is none other than St. Benedict's "rule of life."
Shigematsu's Back Cover Endorsers: The two back cover endorsers include: author, activist, and new monastic Shane Claiborne; and senior pastor of Menlo Presbyterian Church, and contemplative author John Ortberg. Both write shining endorsements-- Ortberg even says, "He will help us find the way." Sadly though, Mr. Ortberg, Ken will help us find the way--straight into the heart of Catholicism.
Shigematsu's Inside Pages Endorsers: Seven more endorsements are given on the very first pages--endorsements from Susy Welch author of 10-10-10, business writer, and columnist for the O! Oprah Magazine; Pete Scazzero, long time Leighton Ford mentee, author of contemplative healthy spirituality books, and past lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, Queens, NY; to radical social justice emergent, and Eastern University professor Tony Campolo. Included, also, are two Arrow Leadership buddies Mark Buchanan alumnus of Arrow, and professor at Catholic leaning Ambrose College University; and Darrell W. Johnson former CEO of Arrow, and senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Vancouver.
Comments range from saying that the book is a "transformative prescription for life ..." (Welch); is something "I need ..." and "My church needs ..." (Buchanan); is something "All who hunger ... will find themselves nourished by ..." (Campolo); is something that will take me on a journey that brings great hope ..." (Yankoski); and is something that "I look forward to recommending ... to our leadership and entire church!" (Scazzero).
Shigematsu's Ford Foreword: Shigematsu's foreword, written by long time mentor Leighton Ford, tells of Ford meeting Ken as a student at Wheaton College, as a student body president at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, as a leader in Leighton's Arrow Leadership Program, and as a mentee on a personal retreat. Ford says Ken is the "real deal;" and to Ford himself, he is like "a son." Ford writes Ken "will be a guide to help you journey with Christ in your everything." Is Ken really a good guide to help us on our journey? This is the question I will attempt to answer in this review.
Shigematsu's Preface Invitation: In his preface Ken invites us all "to take a walk down this ancient path that will set you free." I beg to differ, for the path Ken embraces comes from Rome, and rather than set us free will expose us to another gospel, one that adds to the simple truth that "no man comes to the Father but by me" and to a gospel that adds man's rules to "by grace are ye saved through faith."
Shigematsu's Monk Message: Chapter one, the monk chapter, takes us straight into how this book was birthed, when on Leighton Ford's pilgrimage, Shigematsu was invited to visit Ireland's monas-
teries. Here in glowing terms he describes Glendalouch--that awesome monastic community formed by St. Kevin--painting a picture of a place of mystery and mysticism. At Glendalough Ken recalls, "we wandered in hushed silence ... awed at the solemn beauty." And relates Ken, his heart was "strangely moved by Kevin's earnest devotion to God." He adds, "I wanted to slip off my shoes --I felt like I was walking on hallowed ground." Then he adds, "I came away from my time in Ireland with a new respect for monks and their monasteries." In fact Ken writes, "Though I didn't recognize it then, my time in Ireland would eventually lead to a second 'conversion' for me, a journey of growing to appreciate the beauty of the monastic way of life." (pp.16-17)
Shigematsu's Intro to St. Benedict: Ken next introduces us to "Benedict" who became famous as "a holy man." Additionally, Ken mentions Benedict's establishment of a monastery in "Monte Cassino" which continues to this day to inspire people to walk in the way of Christ." Stop here!
Monte Cassino may be inspiring people, but not in the way of Christ alone, but the way of the Church of Rome which teaches a works based salvation contrary to Scripture. (p.19)
Ken tells us, too, more about this amazing monastic way of life--that it is "a path each of us can embrace." Just as Father Zossima, in the novel The Brothers Karamazov asserts that a monastic way of life is the life is not just for special people, but "it is simply what every person ought to be." Ken says, Zossima "is suggesting that every one of us has a monk or nun 'embryo' inside us." (pp.19-20)
The Glendalough Hermitage, Holy Ground? Recalling Ken's Glendalough description as "holy ground," a glimpse into Glendalough's Hermitage guidelines given to visitors such as Ken would say otherwise. Just a brief examination of these guidelines for achieving solitude on its grounds will quickly show these meditative techniques are decidedly mindfulness methods that Ken describes over and over in his God in My Everything book talks/articles everywhere as documented later in this piece.
Glendalough Guideline Outline: Here's a brief summary of some of the ideas taken from "The Practice of Solitude" from Glendalough's web site.
1. Arrive: "You are here and this is holy ground."
2. Take in Your Surroundings: "This is your space--make yourself at home in it."
3. Become attuned to Silence: "Take time to become aware of sounds and welcome them ... Notice how they arise and fall away. ... You are a still pond in which sound passes through like ripples."
4. Listen: "The voice which speaks the truth you need to hear is already there within you ... listen to this voice. It is the voice of your deepest self ... It will guide you towards the Ultimate Mystery."
5. Be Present: "As you listen, you will become more present .... A quality of mindfulness will develop ...."
6. Focus: "when the mind wanders ... we notice and bring it gently back to the focal point. ... Any number of things could be chosen as a focus: a candle ... an icon ... the breath ... the body itself ... a sacred word or mantra. Do not scold yourself if your mind wanders. ... Distraction is part of a spiritual life."
7. Move Mindfully: " ... pay attention to the sensation of the movement itself. This can ... deepen the quality of your listening. It can engender a joyful awareness of being alive and part of the inter-connectedness of all things."
8. Read Reflectively: " ... in solitude, it is best not to overload the mind ... This allows the mind to empty itself ... It is this 'de-cluttering' which allows the mind to quieten and eventually come to rest. ... "
For certain, one' s time at Glendalough is more than just getting goosebumps while experiencing its "holy ground," but it is a time of being presented with a New Age agenda to enable one to enter a meditative state.
Shigematsu's Trellis Training: Chapter two introduces Ken's "trellis teaching" and "the rule of life." When we hear the astonishing stories of "Francis of Assisi" and "Mother Teresa" great successes, writes Ken, we assume God just gave them a special charism; but now we ourselves could never accomplish something like this. But, says Ken for everyone to flourish in their spiritual lives one must deliberately practice so to enable oneself "to welcome and respond to Jesus."
Now this practice of spiritual disciplines should not become burdensome ( In videos Ken often demonstrates this by putting his trellis prop onto his chest and leaning backward.), but we should find rest for our souls. (Matthew 11:28-30) And so goes this chapter with Ken sashaying between the Bible and Catholicism --one minute he's quoting scripture, laying out some position, and the next minute he is throwing in Thomas Merton and St. Benedict. (pp.21-28)
Shigematsu's Trellis Imagery: Chapter three continues with the same mixed message --a little scripture, a little Benedict. A few pages into chapter three Shigematsu pictures his trellis imagery with figure one. Working upward from its "roots" of: Sabbath, prayer, and sacred reading one goes on to the "relate" bar: friendship, sexuality, and family; to the "restore" bar of: body, play, and money; and finally, to the top bar of "reach out": work, justice, and witness. (p.33)
A Shigematsu ABC List of Catholic Monks, Priests, Nuns, and Others: Both in his book, and in his notes Shigematsu names and praises at least forty-five or more Catholic adherents as well as numerous Catholic references. As I researched I opted to list these people in ABC order just to point out how saturated this work is with Catholicism. From this book alone one could have a true immersion into Catholicism without any warnings of its unscriptural and idolatrous teachings.
Here is a list of persons that I individually researched: St. Aelread of Rievaulx, Cisterian Monk; Br. Alphonsus, Jesuit; Fr. William A. Barry, S.J. and Fr. William J. Connolly, S.J.; Fr. Theodore Berkeley, O.C.S.O.; ****St. Benedict of Nursia, Rule of Life****; Carlo Caretto, Little Brothers of Jesus; Michael Casey, Austrailian Cisterian Monk; St. John Cassian, Ascetic Priest; Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S,B.; St. John Chrysostom, Priest; Fr. Anthony DeMello, S.J.; Fr. Mayuel de Dreuille, O.S.B.; Fr. Mark Dumont, OSB; St. Francis of Assisi; Fr. Timothy Fry, O.S.B.; Dr. Shirley Glass, Catholic Psychologist; Fr. Thomas Green, S.J.: Dr. Colm Luibheid, Catholic Translator; Brother Lawrence, Monk; Fr. Martin Laird, O.S.A.; Dom Jean Leclercq, O.S.B.; Fr. James Martin, S.J.; Fr. Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O.; Fr. Thomas Moore, O.S.B., former priest; Fr. Elder Mullan, S.J.; Fr. Henri Nouwen, Former Dutch Priest; Fr. John O'Donohue, Former Priest; Mother Teresa, Sisters of Mercy; St. Patrick and Bridget of Kildare; Fr. M. Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O.; William of Saint Thierry, Benedictine Mystic Abbot, Fr. Simon Tugwell, O.P.; Br. David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B.; Fr. Columba A. Stewart, O.S.B.; Father Richard Rohr O.F.M. and Dr. Joseph J. Martos; Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I.; and Dr. Paul J. Wadell, Catholic Author, Professor.
St. Benedict Compared to the Apostles! Shigematsu's "Prayer: Deeping Your Friendship with God" chapter five is a perfect example of how compromised this book is--the blatant mixing of truth with error. Ken begins with a quote putting St. Benedict up on a pedestal. Ken asserts, "After Jesus' original apostles and the apostle Paul, St. Benedict has been called the most influential Christian for the first one thousand years of church history." (p.56)
Prayer Pauses: Ken emphasizes making short times for prayer taking several of his ideas from the writing of English Dominican Fr. Simon Tugwell's book Prayer in Practice. In another work, Tugwell, a member of the Dominican Historical Institute, emphasized the Dominican's nine ways to pray such as gazing at a crucifix, continuous kneeling down and getting up, and various ways of holding out one's hands.
Ken additionally promotes Jesuit St. Ignaius' prayer of Examen which he practices daily. Shigmatsu also mentions the daily office comparing it to Daniel's three times a day prayers. Maybe, says Ken, one might try doing "breath prayers." (Tugwell's book) Ken tells us, These pauses are an opportunity "to attune to God's presence." (pp.55-58)
Prayer Places: Under "A Place for Prayer" he suggests we make a special place to pray by hanging up a work of art, cross, or even placing an icon or candle on a table. As for "Posture for Prayer" he lists various positions including the one he does to do his "meditation" sitting in a flat-seated chair with one's feet firmly fixed on the floor--this says Shigematsu helps still us and still our mind. (p.59)
Prayer Partners: The section "Prayer in Community" refers to believers in Acts praying together. He goes on to say doing something in community fosters joy and gratitude. Why, reminisces Ken, my wife and I just attended a U2 Concert in Vancouver and together with others we had a better experience than listening alone.
Prayer Methods: Now, the chapter segways to more traditional "evangelical" methods as Shigematsu continues to mix his message such as using the Lord's Prayer, the acrostic ACTS, or praying the Psalms. (pp.60-64)
Prayer Without Words: After more traditional ways to pray Ken throws in a good dose of "contemplative prayer" starting with a Catholic Little Brothers of Jesus, Letters from the Desert Carlo Caretto silent prayer quote: "Prayer is love." Ken quotes Caretto as saying, "Thus the time comes when words are superfluous." (These quotes, incidentally, are borrowed from Ruth Haley Barton.) (p.
Continuing in this vein Ken highlights a Fr. Basil Pennington quote where Pennington tells us that "saying our prayers gets in the way of prayer." Ken then follows up this Pennington nugget with an Indian Jesuit Anthony DeMello fish story. To close, Ken paraphrases a Thomas Merton statement from Fr. Martin Laird's book The Silent Land where Merton tells us inside we realize we are already there--all we need is to experience what we already have." (p.66)
Jesuit Thoughts: At this juncture the reader should be alerted to Shigematsu's "Jesuit Thread" that runs through the book with the Ignatian prayer of Examen, the quoting of various Jesuits as St. Ignatius, Alphonsus, DeMello, Barry and Connolly and others. And Shigematsu makes sure we become acquainted with Fr. James Martin, S.J.'s book: The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life quoting from it in five different chapters.
Jesuit Prayer Litany: I would challenge the reader to become familiar with the "Litany in Honor of St. Ignatius" prayed by Jesuits to their oracle of the Holy Spirit, lover of our Lord, loyal knight of Our Lady, founder of the Society of Jesus, intrepid foe of heresy and enemies of Christ's Church, "insignis" companion of Jesus, inspired writer of the Spiritual Exercises, glorious intercessor in Heaven for thy society on earth ...--St. Ignatius. Over and over the prayer intones "Ignatius, pray for us." This is simple saint idolatry for Ignatius was but a mortal man as you and I. Conversely, our Bible warns in verse after verse not to pray to anyone but the Lord himself. For an enlightening Bible study note every passage that refers to other gods, idols, images, statues etc. by marking an "I" every place you find it. Three words in I Corinthians 10:14 give us the Lord's warning toward it: "Flee from idolatry!"
Sacred Reading Section: Chapter six covers the practice of "Sacred Reading," a Catholic term often used for lectio divina. Ken opens this chapter by admonishing us to regularly read God's Word. Ken writes, "Psalm 1 describes the person who continually feeds on God's Word as one who is truly blessed, ... or as Eugene Peterson says, a person with 'holy luck.'" Such a term reminds one of the unbiblical New Age terms/phrases Peterson inserted in his Message paraphrase.
Ken encourages us to read Psalm one aloud, and then to reread it slowly pausing and praying in reference to any word, phrase, or image that has "energy" for you or speaks to you. Ken then offers various ways to ingest the word--first by "Chewing the Word" a reference from Peterson's contemplative book Eat the Word. (pp. 69-70)
Lectio Reading: Next up is "Meditation." Meditation on Scripture, declares Shigematsu, is demon-strated by St. Benedict's practical model of using "Lectio Divina." Lectio, attests Ken, is "a hungry, prayerful reading of the Bible. "When we practice lectio divina," Ken records words from Cisterian monk Michael Casey's book Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina that says, "our reading naturally leads to meditation, our meditation to prayer, and our prayer to feasting on the living God." ( p.71) Is Ken's promotion of lectio divina as a needed ancient practice for a Christian as Ken maintains? The Lighthouse Trails booklet Lection Divina: What it is. What it is not. And should Christians Practice it? gives some definitive Biblical answers. I recommend it highly!
Ignation Imaginings: In "Imagining the Story" Shigematsu relates how St.John Chrysostom, "the golden mouthed preacher," urged his listeners to use their imaginations to paint Scripture portraits on the walls of their minds. Shigematsu then continues inviting the reader to investigate the Ignatian "imaginative method" to visualize Scripture. Says Shigematsu, "Imagining a scene in Scripture helps us become part of the story and allows the story to become part of us." (pp. 74-75)
Plenty of Contemplatives: In this book/notes there are plenty of referrals to many contemplatives as Ruth Haley Barton, Mark Buchanan, Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Marva Dawn, Annie Dillard, Leighton Ford, Richard Foster, Tim Hughes, Darrell W. Johnson, Thomas Kelly, Wayne Muller, Kathleen Norris, John Ortberg, Parker Palmer, Eugene Peterson, Pete Scazzero, Gordon T. Smith, Gary Thomas, Evelyn Underhill, Dallas Willard, Lauren Winner, N.T.Wright, and Danae and Michael Yankoski.
Shigematsu the Man: To really understand who Shigematsu is, and what he believes is to read posts/articles pertaining to the book which give a wider picture of what Ken is actually up to.
Here are some poignant ones:
February 2008: "Sabbath Sermon- Establish a Rule of Life" This sermon which was given at Tenth Church prior to his book publication, contains many ideas later used in his book. The sermon talked about "crafting a rule of life" which Ken admits comes "from the world of monks."
Prop Preacher: Ken is fond of using "props" while he is preaching. In this sermon Ken used a "yoga mat." In another sermon Ken used "Thomas Merton" books. And currently when taking about his book he always uses his trusty garden trellis.
Shigematsu-Scazzero Connection: At the end of his "Sabbath Sermon" Ken informs the audience that Pete Scazzero's emotionally healthy spirituality books will help one in forming "a rule of life." He also shares a "Mary Oliver" poem whose Universalist author is a favorite of Ken's mentor "Leighton Ford."
2008: "Snapshot of Church in Vancouver #3" by Peter Briggs from Canadianchristianity.com.
Tenth Church Snapshot: Briggs tells of steady growth at Tenth Church saying the church had been down to 200, but at that writing it was at 1,500 and growing. When asked about the past ten years Ken responded, "There is a strong hunger for spiritual connection, evidenced by a boom in Yoga, and a passion for the environment. But most don't connect this with 'church.'"
Fall 2011: "Hearing a Different Kind of Evangelical: Pastor Shigematsu, Tenth Church, Vancouver by Justin Tse from The Rice Paper (Issue 16.3)
Shigematsu's Different! Tse's piece fills one in on Ken's Asian American, and Asian Canadian background. It tells also that Tenth Church dropped the name Christian and Missionary Alliance from its title. Tse said, "In fact the Vancouver Courier also notes, Tenth Church ... dropped the word 'Alliance' from its name to avoid any connection with any political party." Tse also says, "If Ken's job is to preach, then ours is to hear. The fact that Ken Shigematsu lies somewhere in the strange mix between inhabiting an Asian Canadian body with a historically Caucasian church, while promoting an evangelical message that sounds oddly inclusive."
August 2013: "Celebration of Discipline for a New Generation" by Brent Dolfo of Leadership Network
Dolfo's New Celebration of Discipline Commentary: Dolfo tells how Shigematsu felt as if he were "treading water in his spiritual life" when his mentor Leighton Ford invited him on a pilgrimage to Ireland's holy places. Later Ken, wowed by his monastic journey, related this to his congregation after which they asked for more ideas on how to develop their own "rule of life." This then led to the book: God in My Everything which was also influenced by Ken's doctoral work at Oxford, and The San Francisco Theological Seminary on the life and work of St. Benedict of Nursia.
Dolfo took his review title "Celebration of Discipline for a New Generation" from Mark Buchanan's God in My Everything endorsement remark that the book was "a celebration of discipline for a new generation." (Think of: Richard Foster's classic contemplative work: Celebration of Discipline.) Dolfo also noted Darrell Johnson's endorsement that read, "I believe this will become the go-to-book for the church in our time."
Our Go-to-Book! Discerning Reader: If the go-to-book of our time was the precious Word of God, this go-to-book with its decidedly mixed message would not being awarded rave reviews by deceived Evangelicals.
October 2013: "Pastor's Book Breaks Down Walls Between Christians" by Anglican Rev. Don Grayston in The Vancouver Sun
Neo-monastic Shigematsu: Grayston began his guest review by saying, "I have been hearing a lot these days about Tenth Church Pastor Ken Shigematsu--for good reason. He's head minister at a huge evangelical congregation. He's into what some call neo-monasticism."
Grayston stated that he'd previously met Ken. Where? Grayston relates, "I met Ken ... on a Thomas Merton Society of Canada study cruise to Alaska." "However," says Grayston, "when I read his new book I understood that his interest in Merton, the twentieth century's best known monastic, had expanded to the entire classic western monastic tradition (as represented by John Cassian and Benedict of Nursia.)"
Mainstream Welcome to Shigematsu: Grayston further comments, "It's not what in former years I would have expected from an evangelical, but it is clearly part of the phenomenon of evangelical interest in a movement known as neo-monasticism, with its emphasis on community, daily worship, and the union of contemplation and action." Grayston goes on, "There are some points I would challenge him on ... but for the most part, the book is such that it ought to receive a warm welcome from mainstream Christians."
Old Walls Fall: Grayston ended with this word, "The encouraging thing about that, of course, is that it points to a crumbling of old walls between evangelicals--some a least, and the Christian mainstream. I note that prominent evangelical Catholic, Pope Francis, is moving very much in the same direction."
November 19, 2013: "How Meditation and Monotasking Help Me Live More Mindfully" by Ken Shigematsu in "The Blog of the Biola University Center for Christian Thought"
Mindfulness on the Biola Blog: This Biola University Blog is one of the most telling articles about Shigematsu's "meditation" habits. In it Ken writes about "the chimpanzees jumping around in my head" that keep him constantly distracted. So, says Shigematsu, since paying attention and contemplation don't come easily to him he needs the grace of God as well as practices that make him more aware of that grace. Now, the practice that helps him the most is "meditation."
Morning Meditation Description: Ken describes how he does his "morning meditation" first setting the timer on his watch so he won't be looking at it. As he sits he takes deep breaths, and then begins his mantra repeating of a single words like "wait," or "Jesus." Once his meditation is complete he feels relaxed, focused, and aware of Jesus. Now, it you feel meditation is a "weird waste of time" instructs Shigematsu, it does help us become more aware of God and more mindful of our choices. Read Ken's written description here:
Marcia's Mindfulness Articles: Just a minute! Shigematsu is promising young "Christian" collegians that mindfulness meditation works, and they shouldn't consider it strange. It will give results--he has experienced this! Well, Marcia Montenegro, former New Ager and mindfulness meditator, emphatically tells us otherwise. Read Marcia's enlightening articles: "Mindfulness: No-Mind Over Matter," and "More on Mindfulness: Never Mind the Mind."
Marcia's Monkey Mind Warning: Regarding "the monkey mind" or as Ken calls it "the chimpanzee mind" Marcia has some choice thoughts on this in "More on Mindfulness" sections: "The Chattering Monkey" and "The Mind and God." Marcia ends her article with this warning: "Any teaching that the mind or thinking is bad or prevents spiritual understanding is at odds with the nature of God as he has revealed himself. In giving us his word in the 66 books of the Bible, he expects thinking and reasoning since language cannot function without them. Using the term 'chattering mind' or 'monkey mind' denigrates the mind God gave us."
Beware of the Buddhist Psychologist: If Ken's positive meditation testimony isn't enough for someone to believe that meditation works, Ken tries another tactic by attempting to prove scientifically that meditation done over a matter of weeks will increase brain function. How is this possible? Ken cites a study done by Stanford psychologist-- Dr. Kelly McGonigal.
Dr. Kelly McGonigal Is...: Now, Ken doesn't just cite McGonigal in this article, but he cites her often on his podcasts/talks promoting God in My Everything. This is enough to make one want to just stand up and shout--very loudly!! For Kelly McGonigal is someone who is not just any old psychologist, but a well-known health psychologist, Stanford lecturer, Zen meditator, yoga expert/teacher, mindfulness guru, mind-body practitioner, conference speaker, prolific author, and Buddhist teacher. And since Ken is using a Buddhist adherent why does he not inform his audiences of exactly who this lady is? Why does he deceive them? Shame on Shigematsu!
Unmasking McGonigal: Here are two articles that will help unmask who McGonigal really is. The first is "The Science of Awakening" (From Tricycle Magazine: Mindfulness and Compassion Section) which mentions McGonigal speaking at the Buddhist Geeks Conference dedicated to serving the convergence of Buddhist, global culture, and emerging technology. The article states, "In his opening keynote, Vipassana teacher Shinzen Young was the first to proclaim that the Buddhist was a scientist, while carefully noting his non-scientific qualities as well." And reports the article, "Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist as well as a Buddhist teacher, noted that the 'self was a suffering machine.'" http://www.tricycle.com/reviews/science-awakening A second article: "Yoga, Self-Care and the Dalai Lama" in Mind, Body, Green relates McGonigal is not your typical college professor; but a leading expert on mind-body relationship, and the psychology of yoga and teaches yoga, meditation, and psychology at Stanford. It states, "We talked to Kelly about yoga as 'self-care,' her collaboration with Tibetan monks including His Holiness, and her upcoming book The Science of Willpower." http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-939/Yoga-Self-Care-The-Dalai-Lama-Q-A-with-Kelly-McGonigal-PhD.html
Monotasking and Mindfulness Connection: Meditation helps me concentrate, focus, and "monotask," says Ken. Monotask? Is this related to mindfulness? Yes! Read this article: "Mindfulness Starts with Monotasking" (focusing and finishing one task at a time) from The Leadership Express. (February 2013).
And then Ken adds this Zen zinger, "I have been inspired by the wisdom of the Zen tradition to aim to do just one thing at a time. The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, says: "While washing the dishes, you might be thinking about tea afterwards and try to get them out of the way as quickly as possible ... But that means you are incapable of living during the time you are washing the dishes." Read more about Buddhism--Thich Nhat Hanh too-in these two outstanding Marcia Montenegro articles: "Buddhism and Christianity: How Similar Are They?" and "Mindfulness Goes to Kindergarten."
December 24, 2013: "Prayer Research Opens Fresh Frontiers of Spiritual Practice by Douglas Todd in The Vancouver Sun
Quantum Physics Prayer: Photo Above Article: Shigematsu/others laying hands on girl as they pray; Caption Below Photo: Author Bruce Epperly says, "... quantum physics began making it clear roughly a century ago that human minds can create 'action at a distance,' or as (Dr.Larry) Dosey says, 'medicine at a distance.'"
Todd's Take on Shigematsu and Prayer: Douglas Todd writes a fascinating article which he probes beneath Ken's prayer and meditative techniques, and gives greater insight into what makes Shigematsu tick. Todd compares Shigematsu's prayer positions to two mainstream Vancouver pastors prayer findings.
Prayer, Meditation: The Same? Todd writes of Ken's distractibility especially near Christmas, and how Ken describes this Christmas craziness like one thousand chimpanzees racing round in his head. Todd continues, "So Shigematsu prays. Or should we say he meditates? The ... pastor uses the words prayer and meditation interchangeably." Todd adds, "They form the heart of his practice of spiritual contemplation, which he believes helps him and others connect with the mysterious source that grounds existence."
Science Supports Meditation: Shigematsu tells Todd that he aims to just be aware of his own breathing while silently repeating the words, "wait," or "Jesus." Todd then says, Shigematsu is a bit of a maverick in his CMA denomination. Todd sort of defends Ken when he notes, "But he's certainly not the only Christian or other spiritual leader trying to go beyond the dominant Western understanding and misunderstandings of prayer. He is one of the countless spiritual people tracking the latest scientific studies into prayer and meditation."
Buddhism's Link to Contemplative Prayer: One kind of prayer, Todd names, is "intercessory prayer." However, reports Todd, Ken has come to be more interested in meditative, silent, and contemplative prayer. Todd then cites a book: The Path to Your Door: Approaches to Christian Spirituality by a Vancouver Anglican Rev. Ellen Clark-King who suggests Buddhist meditation --or mindfulness-- has forced Christians to rediscover some of the tradition's less well-known contemplative methods.
King, says Todd, states Buddhism is the natural home of contemplation whereas Christian prayer is often very wordy. King, in her book, goes on to see centering prayer as akin to meditation.
Research into this type of prayer, Todd details, has been encouraging. Shigematsu, Todd writes, sees positive physiological effects coming from contemplative prayer. Another Vancouver pastor, records Todd, a Presbyterian Rev. Jim Smith also believes in brain change through prayer and contemplation citing findings from author Andrew Newberg.
Shigematsu Quotes Merton: Todd then inserts this telling Shigematsu quote where Ken echoes the late Father Thomas Merton when he says, "In a sense, contemplative prayer is the kind of prayer that is a discovery of a God who is already present." Sometimes, Todd says, Shigematsu's prayers are as simple as: "God you are here now. Help me to be here now."
December 24, 2013: "A Liberal on an Evangelical on Christmas Eve" by Justin Tse of Religion. Ethnicity. Wired.
Shigematsu's Christmas Coverage: Tse is gleeful over the success of Vancouver Sun's spirituality and diversity columnist Douglas Todd in getting Tenth Church's senior pastor Ken Shigematsu onto the front page of the Christmas Eve newspaper.
Tse comments that he and Todd are on the page regarding Ken. Tse reiterates that Ken is an unusual evangelist with theological breath. Tse writes, "And he also has a Doctor of Ministry from Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union in spirituality ... from which his new book is derived."
Tse further notes, "By appealing to the natural sciences, Doug is placing Ken's comments in a liberal Protestant framework." Tse also says, "Professor Pamela Klassen, of the U. of Toronto, says of liberal Prostestantism that, "It is better situated as a 'scientific supernaturalism,' a desire to bring together strands in the natural sciences with the transcendent."
Ecstatic because Doug has gotten Shigematsu such prominent coverage Tse gloats, " ... the front page of the Vancover Sun has called for theological reconciliation around the beauty of contemplation."
January 10, 2014: "Ken Shigematsu: Life Giving Rhythms--A Rule of Life" by Flyn Richie in "Church for Vancouver"
Shigematsu's Thomas Merton Society Address: Flyn Richie posts a "Church for Vancouver" January 2014 memo from The Thomas Merton Society of Canada of Dr. Ken Shigematsu's presentation of "Life Giving Rhythms" that evening at St. Andrew's United Church, Vancouver. Richie notes Ken draws from both eastern and western perspectives in his writing and speaking. Richie also adds Ken is a holder of a doctorate in spiritual theology and author of the best-selling book God in My Everything.
Couple this with the previous article where Merton devotee Rev. Don Grayston told of his meeting Ken on a Thomas Merton cruise; and the quoting of Merton in Ken's book and sermons one can only surmise that Thomas Merton's work has surely influenced Shigematsu.
January 2014: Shigematsu Scheduled at One-Day Arrow Leadership Grad Events
Finding Rhythm Events: "Finding Rhythm for a Sustainable Life and Ministry" were scheduled at various Canadian venues to introduce Arrow Leadership Members to Ken's Benedictine "Rule of Life" Trellis Talks for his new book.
http://www.arrowleadership.org/news/over-325-experience-rhythm-for-a-sustainable-life-and-leadership/ View both videos!
Academic Partnerships: Now, some may say why should one worry about what Shigematsu is doing--he's up in Canada. How foolish is this for Ken's God in My Everything is spreading world wide through media technology, and face to face talks. While researching this book I found this Arrow Announcement: "Arrow leaders have a number of exceptional opportunities to leverage their highly personalized and practical Arrow experience at premiere schools." (Remember Arrow is Leighton Ford's legacy!) And what premiere schools are these? Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Acadia Divinity College, Briercrest College and Seminary, Nyack Theological Seminary,* and Wheaton College Graduate School. At this Arrow site potential students could immediately click onto the college of their choice for more information.
* At Nyack Dr. Martin Sanders, whose mentor and endorser of Martin's work and book is Leighton Ford, is part of this program. Sanders, too, is one of Ford's former Arrow men just as Shigematsu. Sanders, also, is named in Ken's God in My Everything. (p.134)
July 2014: Shigematsu Speaks at Canada's 2014 Christian and Missionary Alliance Assembly
A Global Thinker: Ken's speaker bio states as a global thinker he is honored to serve as a trustee for World Vision of Canada. It goes on to highlight God in My Everything saying people can experience Christ, not only through their formal prayers, but in every other area through "a rule of life."
September 2014: Ken Endorses Michael Yankoski's New Book: The Sacred Year
It Will Restore Your Soul! Shigematsu joins a host of other endorsers as: Philip Yancey, Phyllis Tickle, Shane Claiborne, Dave Gibbons, Barbara Taylor Brown, Richard Stearn, and many more to gives thumbs up to Yankoski's new work. Ken enthuses, "It will restore your soul." Psalm 23:3 reads, "He (the Shepherd!) restoreth my soul."
Oblate of St. Benedict: Yankoski and his wife (both named in God in My Everything) are pursuing PhDs at the University of Notre Dame; and Mike, in addition, is a (noviate) Oblate of St. Benedict.
Sacred Year Saga: Mike's sacred year saga began with a "monastery visit" where Yankoski's marvelous monk mentor --Father Solomon-- seemed to have all the answers. Solomon suggested Mike retreat from life's "carnival" to take time out to try out a variety of spiritual practices. And so Mike set out to discover his "true self."
Apple Contemplation: A practice Mike tried was "Apple Meditation" where Mike focused on an apple for long periods so as to increase his attention. This practice is akin to one mentioned in February 2014 in Time magazine's article "The Mindful Revolution" whose author, Kate Pickert, did "Raisin Contemplation." It would seem that Ken's friend Mike is into mindfulness as well!
November 2014: Shigematsu at New Life Fellowship Church, Queens, NY
Such a Gift to the Kingdom!: Rich Villodas, lead pastor of New Life Fellowship (former senior pastor was Pete Scazzero) tweets Shigematsu will be leading their Leadership Conference in November. Then he tweets, "Such a gift to the kingdom!"
Unseminary Program October 2014: Just prior to Ken's New Life visit, Villodas was interviewed on the Unseminary program by Pastor Rich Birch. On that program Birch and Villodas discuss a need for "a rule of life." At the conclusion, Birch asks Villodas for a book recommendation. And you guessed it, Villodas recommended God in My Everything.
November 14-16, 2014: "Shigematsu in Manila, Philippines at Grace Christian Church
God in My Everything Sessions: Ken spreads his book to the Philippines presenting four sessions at a Spiritual Life Conference. And so this deceptive book goes round the world!
Chapter Fifteen: "Sharing the Presence:" To be fair, in a review of this book one can't skip over chapter fifteen where Ken shares the gospel by talking about the " The Four Sides of the Gospel"-- a helpful picture which came from Bryant Myers a former vice president of World Vision. Ken details examples of people who found Christ: a Buddhist, a Cambodian man, a Tenth Church member, a Muslim, he himself, and his family. (pp.199-213)
A Double Message: This then is the dilemma of this book--it gives a double message with parts of it on target, while others lean Catholic. (And into "meditation" in all of Ken's book talks.) This chapter makes what has gone before so sad, and so confusing. Ken introduces us over and over to Catholic practices and adherents as if they were born again Christians--he makes no distinctions and points out no warnings.
Former Catholic Mike Gendron (pro-gospel.org) has written a provocative piece titled "Catholic Christians-Is This an Oxymoron?" In it Mike writes, "By definition we will propose a Christian is one who believes the Gospel while a Catholic is one who believes the official teaching and tradtions of his church (presented by paragraph number from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) Mike then goes through the topics of authority, justification, regeneration, salvation, saints and priests, the Lord's supper, and condemnation giving both sides. Here's an example from "Saints and Priests:" A Christian becomes a saint when the Spirit baptizes him into the body of Christ. A Catholic becomes a saint only if the Pope canonizes them. A Christian is a priest. A Catholic needs a priest." Mike also added scripture for every part!
Mike concludes this paper like this: "These thirteen teachings of Roman Catholicism demonstrate that a Catholic Christian is indeed an oxymoron. They also affirm how man made traditions nullify the Word of God. (Mark 7:7-13). There are many Evangelicals and Roman Catholics who are unaware of how diametrically opposed Catholic dogmas are to the Word of God. The truth must be told. Catholics who believe they are Christians must be lovingly confronted with the truth. Evangelicals must be educated so they can proclaim the true gospel to Catholics instead of uniting with them under a compromised, and diluted gospel. ... in the final analysis truth mixed with error never hurts error, it only contaminates the truth."
Shigematsu's Rome-Colored Glasses
In summary, Shigematsu wears "Rome-colored glasses" showing his admiration for and his fascination with Catholicism, while at the same time clinging onto evangelical teachings. This sadly results in such confusion, and such deception drawing undiscerning persons deeper into a system that is another gospel--one that adds on to the simple gospel of John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes unto the Father, but by me." So if you've been tempted to mix teachings of Roman Catholicism with the clear message of the Word; I would implore you to remove your "Rome-colored glasses" putting on your "Scriptural Spectacles," and as an inquisitive Berean dig into the Word rather than the "rules of St. Benedict" to find truth.
Learn to Discern Granny Verses: Philippians 1:9-11
Perfect for the New Year this Pauline Discernment Prayer says it all!
"And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."