As I was skimming the local daily (Democrat and Chronicle
), I came across a piece by columnist Mark Hare.
"Saturday walk celebrates joy of peace work
A red flag went up.
From the headline, it sounds like a good effort. But unfortunately it's also the same day we are holding Prayer March to Planned Parenthood, so my first thought was that it would compete. Too bad both marches couldn't take place on separate days.
Then I started reading.
It's sponsored by the Assisi Institute
A Franciscan connection. But as a local Secular Franciscan, why have I not heard of this Institute?
Hare goes on to describe St. Francis (hooray), then mentions the director of the Institute, Craig Bullock. I knew Bullock tangentially years ago in Catholic circles, but, to be honest, I don't recall much about him. That's not a mark against him: There are many good people I've met who have slipped through my leaky brain.
He is described as "the former pastoral administrator at that now-closed Sts. Peter and Paul Church." Sigh.
Then he is quoted as saying "We try to bring the mystical traditions of the East and West together ... at an essential level all religious traditions are drinking from the same stream."
Multiple red flags!
The walk will benefit the institute (hmmm) and area nonprofits. One of the organizations involved is St. Joseph's House of Hospitality, a Catholic Worker House that holds prayer services led by folks from various local religious groups and communities, including the schismatic Spiritus Christi, and which once declared that a future woman priest would serve the St. Joe's community.
Yet more red flags.
I went to the Assisi Institute
"The Assisi Institute serves the process of spiritual enlightenment through the practice of Kriya Yoga and a harmonious integration of Eastern philosophy and Western mysticism."
I'm having a hard time holding all these red flags.
"A community of people committed to God-realization, mutual support, and selfless service, the Assisi Institute exists for the sole purpose of assisting spiritual pilgrims on their interior journey to God. We seek to nurture a contemplative environment that brings people into the intuitive awareness of God’s presence. We foster a culture that encourages a balanced, healthy, holistic lifestyle that naturally supports the spiritual process.
With Kriya Yoga and the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda as our cornerstone, the Assisi Institute integrates Eastern and Western spirituality, with a special emphasis on Christian mysticism. We honor the saints and sages of all traditions, and in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi, we welcome all sincere spiritual seekers regardless of religious affiliation."
The site also contains this gem:
"One of Yogananda’s direct disciples, Roy Eugene Davis, director of the Center for Spiritual Awareness, ordained Craig Bullock as a teacher of Kriya Yoga. Craig went on to establish the Assisi Institute ...."
Now maybe its just a poor choice of words, but he is a former pastoral administrator, so shouldn't he have been sensitive to the use of that word?
And at one point Bullock writes:
"The blissful, liberating knowledge of God is not a complicated process. We don’t have to embark on a grand and complicated search for a remote deity. The Divine Presence is within all of us, as the Soul of all souls, as the very ground of our being. In the words of Paramahansa Yogananda, “You are all gods. If only you knew it; behind the wave of your consciousness is the sea of God’s presence. Everything we seek is already within us, right now.” Gloria in Excelsis Deo!"
We are all gods! Gosh. Though I seem to recall some story involving eating some fruit in a garden somewhere.
Oh well, he did toss in some churchy Latin.
Anyway, some of the charities to be helped by this march are worthy - I already support one of them, Bethany House.
But there's too many red flags raised by this Institute. Further study is warranted.
As for me, this Catholic boy I will be going to Mass, then marching and praying for life on Saturday.