View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Red Flags A-Flyin!

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 of Rochester.

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 site

"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.


Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

I'm having a hard time holding all these red flags.

Is there anything more fun to read than one of your restrained fisks?

Thanks for keeping the Faith, Lee.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Here's another red flag for you: Craig was DRE at Corpus for a year or two when we were there. But he left before either one of us did.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I vaguely remembered him being at Corpus, but I don't recall him having a position there. That leaky memory of mine again!

Maybe I just didn't have much contact with him while he was there.

Any idea why he left?

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Todd said...

I don't remember. We seemed to go through DRE's like Spinal Tap drummers ... except they all pretty much got out alive.

1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Craig was at Saints Peter and Paul's in the late 80s/early 90s. As a boy, Craig attended SSPP. I remember that he tried to start a Saint Egidio-type prayer service at SSPP. See this link for more info on St. Egidio

I have had no personal interaction with the Assisi Institute (AI), but from what's on the website, I would beat tracks out of there real fast.

Here is a link to the Kriya type of yoga used at the AI.

Oremus pro invicem,

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many of the progressives in power in the Diocese of Rochester have a tie to Jim Callan in one way or another. Coincidence?

4:11 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Anonymous 4:11 - Bullock and the Assisi Institute would not be among those in power in the diocese.

As for the ultimate power in the diocese, Bishop Clark, he removed Father Callan.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Jim - I agree. What I saw there made me nervous.

8:57 PM  
Blogger In the choir loft said...

Craig Bullock gave a presentation on the "Jesus Prayer" at St. Monica's on Genesee Street. Look here:


11:31 PM  
Blogger In the choir loft said...

This New Age pantheistic stuff Craig Bullock is spouting off is so much bovine residue. Craig should check out

I will pray for his return to the Roman Catholic faith.

11:52 PM  

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