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The reason this works is there really is no separation. So intensly focusing on the presence of any other being facilitates joining with that being in oneness. The messages of the Holy Spirit on both the Christian Prophet blog and Holy Inheritance blogs discuss this at length.

Re:"...it is a bit like a 'centring' meditation with "Jesus Christ, son of God have mercy on me" (or similar) as the mantra."

It's a bit NOT like all of the above. It may seem to be "a bit" yogic to someone who has no grounding at all in the spirituality (i.e. the context) from which the "Jesus Prayer" is practiced as an applied science.
That context is obviously the Orthodox Church.

Emerging/Emergents are really hot about the practice of the "Jesus Prayer" quoting from the very same texts that I have on my desk. They quote from Fathers and Saints of my Church about the wonderful benefits of the application of Church's spirituality, yet these same Emerging/Emergents ignore the prerequisites for the practice of this spirituality that are integral to these texts.

Namely: 1) Being an Orthodox Christian 2) Having a Father-Confessor (Orthodox Priest or Elder) to guide one in the practice of this spirituality (i.e. "living out the Gospel") 3) Belonging to a parish or monastic community wherein one might partake of the Sacrament of Sacraments, the very food for our journey of salvation: the Holy Eucharist. [Note step 1 is a pre-req. for all following steps!]

As if skipping all the prerequisites is bad enough, the most immediate danger is this: "Illusion."

Not ONCE have I read anything from the Emerging/Emergents who are "into" the Desert Fathers/"Monastic Theology" quoting anything from the Philokalia about this danger - even though the Saints warn time and again, over and over in the texts about "Illusion" ('prelest' in Russian, 'plani' in Greek).

From the glossary from the Philokalia, Vol. 1: "Illusion: in our version sometimes also translated 'delusion'. Literally, wandering astray, deflection from the right path; hence error, beguilement, the acceptance of a mirage mistaken for truth. CF. the literal sense of sin as 'missing the mark'."

In even more lay terms: "Thinking that one has something when one does not."

The symptoms are obvious. The results disastrous.

Skipping the prerequisites and calling them unnecessary, in other words, wrongfooting at the very start is a stumble into prelest/plani/illusion/delusion.

Your use of "mantra" and "centering prayer" shows that you have taken such a step.

Having said all this, I encourage you to pray the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," as a simple prayer for mercy to the Lord Jesus Christ.

For those who might have an interest in these things, the Jesus Prayer is a "scriptural" prayer, a combination of the prayer of the Publican (Luke 18:13) and the prayer of the Blind Man (Mark 10:48).

Just don't pretend that you are doing it in the same way and with the same results as the Saints of the Orthodox Church if you aren't in the Orthodox Church.


Thanks for the thoughts Joe, I have not read the 'Philokalia' (nor am I really a great exponent of the Jesus Prayer') so I bow to your wisdom on this particular text. All I would say is that the three 'prerequisites' are not things I take lightly... though I guess we may disagree on an understanding of them... I do not hold them in an institutional context as you seem to. e.g. an understanding of Orthodoxy or even Priesthood! However the importance of sacramental community and of community accountability runs through Emerging Church as much as anywhere else, though many ECs would seek to seperate it from the power games that are often played in Churches and are implicit in the 'you are not doing it properly' theme of you comment. As for your final comment... God is my guide and my confessor so if I/we have taken wrong steps, then we do so in a) faith b) knowledge of forgiveness and c) grace... so, so be it!

If God is your guide and confessor, then why do you and other ECs need to quote the likes of St. Hesychius of Jerusalem and St. Nicephorus the Solitary OUT OF CONTEXT as support for your undertakings? If you twist their words into supports for "centering prayer" or "mantra" then it is really better for all concerned not to use their words at all.

I think that the words of the Saints are used to lend a sort of "ancient" street cred to ECs but to the members of the "ancient" (hey guys, "ancient" doesn't mean dead!) Churches, it makes you guys look like a bunch of poseurs, like the rich white suburban teenage mall rats decked out like hip-hop gangstas from the quote 'Hood unquote.

Joe, I don't feel we are going to agree on this and I don't want to get into a slanging match with a fellow child of God... All I want to say is I didn't quote them to support anything, if you check my post I just said that many in the EC/Alt.Worship world have talked about the Jesus Prayer and whilst reading a book of writings from Christian Mystics I came across the quotes I put on line... for many of us who have come from Evangelical backgrounds the Mysitics are 'new' and I for one have been reflecting on some of their words, not 'using' them. I used the phrases 'Centering' and 'Mantra' in the way they are used by 'modern mystics' like Merton and De Mello I'm sorry if this offends your sensibilities or your feeling of 'ownership' of the Mystics and their words. I do not need to be in the Egyptian Desert for God to speak to me through the words of the Desert Fathers, just as I do not need to observe all the rituals of Judaism for the teachings of the Old Testament to have meaning. The CONTEXT that is important for me is to allow God to speak through whatever he chooses to... not in the way of men but in the way of God. As I said if my journey with God offends your denominational and historical sensibilities please feel free to let me and God journey together in whatever way he see fit.

"I think that the words of the Saints are used to lend a sort of "ancient" street cred to ECs but to the members of the "ancient" (hey guys, "ancient" doesn't mean dead!) Churches, it makes you guys look like a bunch of poseurs, like the rich white suburban teenage mall rats decked out like hip-hop gangstas from the quote 'Hood unquote."

Aah, now I see why this winds you up! Just remember that whilst this may well be your opinion... doesn't mean its correct though... I have no interest in being hip! (and I do find this both childish and patronising), for me, as I say above it is a process of discovery... I come from a low-church evangelical background where I was not exposed to the riches of the Christian traditions (and other traditions!) which I now find God leading me to. I am truly sorry if you don't like the fact that things which you feel are 'yours' are now being explored by others and in 'new' ways... kinda makes you feel a bit like the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, eh?

Re: "...kinda makes you feel a bit like the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son."

In another life, I was an evangelical. I and others like me have emergED from a journey not unlike the ones that the ECs may or may not be undertaking at this present moment. In my case, I emerged 6 years ago into the Orthodox Church.

Now if you are indeed like a returning Prodigal Son and heading Home, then godspeed! You are making the journey back to the New Testament Church! But if you are like many ECers...

I came across my first ECer about 3 years ago. He was a 20-something then-Baptist minister who approached the Orthodox with this: "Rejoice my brothers in that I have discovered the treasure of your Church!"

Specifically he really dug the Desert Fathers and the Cappadocian Fathers but most importantly to him, he believed that he discovered the "Real Presence", the actual Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist! Amazingly huge leaps (forward or backward?) for an Evangelical! When I asked him what he meant by the Eucharist being the actual Body and Blood of the Lord, he said that "for me", that is, for him, this was true, but not necessarily true for everyone in his flock. Why not? Because they were Baptists so most of his young flock did not share this view...not that he had any problem with that. When someone pointed out that this violated the very principle of communion, i.e. a shared Faith, this pastor pish-poshed and said it didn't matter and that his personal conviction (it's between me-n-God) overruled even this basic, unitive principle. I helpfully pointed out that this type of conviction was indeed part of an "ancient" faith: gnosticism.

Now what does this have to do with the Prodigal Son? Let's get back to this pastor's, "I have discovered your treasure!"

The Prodigal took his father's treasure and spent it on riotous living. He spent it all before he decided to go Home. This pastor claims to have discovered our (the Orthodox Church) treasure. Did he head Home with it? No he swept up what he could carry and wasted it by making it into little more than gnosticism.

It comes down to this: If one has truly discovered the Treasure of the the Orthodox Church, the Treasure isn't swept up and carried away, one's own self is swept up and carried away. Away back Home.

Are ECers (post-evangelicals) really heading Home to riches or are they just going on their own way, still making sects, driven individually by the "tyranny of private judgement?"

Are they taking catholic traditions from the Orthodox and Roman Catholics and making a better way with them free from what you called "power games" or they just going on their way tripping on their freedom and personal power? (Indeed like the Prodigal!)

My hope is that like the Prodigal Son of the Gospel, ECers like yourself will find your way Home. I have gladly welcomed fellow sojourners back Home, two so far. Except in these cases, instead of a ring, I have had the privilege of bestowing two beautiful baptismal crosses.

Starting in the 1980s there has been an emergence within the Orthodox Churches in America. My parish alone has seen a strange cycle of homecomings. I missed the first wave of former Episcopalians. I came in the second wave of Baptists and former free-church style Evangelicals. This year we are seeing a bunch of Lutherans (Missouri Synod). Whose next? The Presbyterians?

There's more than one kind of emerging/emergent Church. It seems like the bulk are headed towards the make-it-up-as-we -o along -Evanglical PLUS- ancient-future direction, the next "big thing" within evangelical Protestantism. Bye-bye megachurch hello microchurch.

Another grouping is obviously headed towards the Anglican/Episcopal Church and its principle of "via media", middle way between Protestantism and the Protestant understanding of what is Catholic.

I haven't seen any evidence yet, but some might be headed to the Orthodox Church. That is my hope as a Brother. You've read me wrong. I don't want to keep what's mine. I want to give it ALL. All of it.

Interesting Joe. I appreciate your thoughts. I guess the impasse we have are of thinking a) there is a 'true' Christian expression and all others are inadequate and b) seing the riches of those traditions as being held by the tradition itself. I do not want to take any treasures away from the Orthodox Church, The Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church or any other though they all have been communities where treasure has been born/discovered. In my understanding ALL treasures belong to God and are his to reveal/give in whatever way he sees fit... Perhaps one if the things people struggle with most about those who feel encompassed by 'EC' is that we do not want to be pigeon holed or labeled or 'owned' by any tradition - or its claims to be the authentic - new testament Church - all have done/said that over the years... I don't have any intention of heading towards any Church institution only towards God and where he chooses to lead me. Sorry if that makes me a lesser Christ follower in your terms, ultimately your terms have no hold on me only my Father, through his Son and in the Spirit do.

it is amazing that people refuse to find an orthodox priest and learn something from one. i have studied religion for more then 20 years and never commited to any religion, i was very agnostic but always had faith in god but then i talked to an eastern orthodox priest. i started the conversion process after that. anyone that knows even a little about orthodoxy and does not get the truth from a priest of the eastern orthodx church is a sad person and very unfortunate not to have the common sence to talk to a priest and convert. the religious organizations like protestants and catholics are not churches at all. there is only one true church of the lord our god jesus christ and that is the holy eastern orthodox catholic church, this is not opinon it is fact. the bible is written in allegory and is not a historical book and when people think other wise they fall in the false beliefs and are folling satan. it is a spiritual history nothing more. it does not go against science or logic or history. most so called ministers and so called priests of unorthodox beliefs are false teachers and are lead by the god of this world (the dragon) by ring in their noses. most priest and ministers of unorthodox religious groups know the truth and chose to follow the vices of heresy. yes i am bigoted and yes i do dispise false teachers and yes i think less of the socalled clergys of these false christian teachers. i pray for non-orthodox people, i do not condem them but i do judge them and rightly and morally so. god punishes them as he punishes all accordingly, we are all sinners. we must judge and disern so do not go miss quoting the bible with this commonly misunderstud saying "judge not least ye be judged" it is the most misunderstuad and miquoted saying in modern times. and for the record hell is not a actually place it is a state of being in the afterlife, a state of being where the presence of god is burning and clensing fire on the soul, for those that do not love god feel pain in his presence but those that love god feel the love as a wonderfull spiritual feeling. but in the end we all join god after our physical body is dead. the false teaching of hell being a place is a false teaching it is state of being and is not real. also the rapture is a completely false teaching. the rapture is not going to happen it is a heresy against god. if you study orthodoxy you will learn why the socalled christian churches are loosing members daily. from what i understand the lutheran church looses 3-5 membersa day that never return to them. the roman catholics churchs loose more then that. people are walking away from the false churches daily. protestants and roman catholics more then a 65 ppercent turnover rate. people know in their hearts that the protestants and roman catholics are teaching lies and false teachings that they are leaving at a rate that in 50 years you will see perhaps only 5-10 percent of hte chruches in your town and cities. catholic churchs close daily as do protestant churches. call a real estate office or local government offices and find out the rates of closed churches, if you bother you will see a trend that will only increase..

Here's a wonderful little book on THE JESUS PRAYER!
'The Orthodox world - and beyond - is acquainted
with the justly famous and righteous Elder Joseph the Hesychast,
who reposed on the Holy Mountain in 1959. Less known outside Russia is
Archbishop Golinsky-Michaelovsky, who was another
committed practioner and teacher of The Jesus Prayer.'
The English Language Editor was Fr. Ambrose (Young) and the
Publisher was The Skete of the Entrance of the
Theotokos into the Temple in Haysville, Ohio.
click here [ http://users.rio.com/bamm/2elders ] for a preview!

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