Going to Church in the (2)1st Century

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We’ve been delving into the contemplative dimensions of feasting on the presence of God; we’ve been looking at the systemic dimensions of community-based food empowerment and empire-based food-deprivation (see The Garden trailer below); this Sunday, we are ready to take the Eucharistic heart of Trinity’s Place and explore one way of enjoying subversive meal-sharing in the Way of Jesus.

Going to Church in the First CenturyDrawing on a decade of experience in the house church movement, and inspired by the example of Saint Benedict’s Table in Winnipeg, as well as the work of scholars and poets like Robert Banks, Marion Hatchett, Bruce Sanguin, and Walter Brueggemann, Jasmin and Mike Morrell will be leading an evening of table fellowship and celebration of God’s abundance, first-century style…re-visioned for our 21st century life together.

In short: We want to taste the love, the care, the fellowship, and the depths of belonging that the earliest friends of God in the Way of Jesus knew for one another as fellow-initiates, sisters and brothers travelling the “in Christ” path of awareness. The Table was Jesus (and Paul’s) preferred arena to “taste and see” the sprouting New Creation, the upside-down kin-dom of God.  Come…let us feast together!

When? 5pm

Where? The Morrells home in Raleigh – leave a comment and we’ll send you the address.

Bring? An open heart, and food! Please leave a comment below to let us know what you’re bringing.

Prepare to give thanks, break bread (including gluten-free), and get to know friend and stranger alike in a fresh way.

See also 

Open or Closed Table Communion – WWJD?

Eat God: the Big Picture

Eat God: Where We’re Going

Eat God: Detox – Our Worship Guide

Eat God: Moving Meditations for Eaters

Bern’s Ginger Drink Recipe

Eat God: Detox from Judgement

A (post)modern hymn of thanksgiving from mewithoutYou:

Eat God: Moving Meditations for Eaters

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Bern Mutia shares native martial meditation practices to help the Trinity’s Place community become more mindful about how we procure our food – plant and animal alike. 

Lately we’ve been practicing transcendent role exercises using movement relative to other role/s. The goal is to transcend from our usual role of simple food consumer to other roles in food production process, the farmer, tree/plant, animal and earth as a whole.

Like all meditations, the transition from role to role using movement takes time to master even with repetitive practice. Rationalization via anthropomorphism is a natural tendency in the early learning stages since these are not points of view people usually take.


The Tree/Plant, Animal, Earth, Farmer Meditations:

Earth:

I am here. I am your air. I am your water. I am your earth. I am your place. I am your home.

The Tree/Plant:

I have flowers. I have fruits. I have seeds. I have leaves. I give oxygen. I give shade. I hold on to the earth. The streams, the rivers, the oceans, the air, the forest and the trees, the animals … they are my family, my community, my life. This is my place. This is my home. I have a right to be here.

The Animal:

The the air, the water, the forest and animals … they are my family, my community, my life. This is my place. This is my home. I have a right to be here.

The Farmer:

I need these lands to plant and grow the food that I want and need. These trees, these forests, these streams, rivers, seas, oceans, the air, the animals are my family, my community, my life. This is my place. This is my home. I have a right to be here.

The meditation of the farmer is expressed in a form of movement based the activities of a non-mechanized, agricultural economy of “slash-and-burn” farming whose main tool is a long blade. The movement was taught by Oloy Latrago. He was a Kali practitioner, a WW2 veteran, a wise, kind and gentle spirit.

Other movements can be viewed here.

Kali is a system of movements based on slash-and-burn farming, called “kaingin”. Bolos were a common daily tool used to cut trees, clear the land, plant and harvest crops.

Meditations on Filipino Kali shows easy drills to get a strong foundation on Kali as taught by Oloy Latrago (1901-1995). Oloy Latrago was a Filipino WWII guerrilla soldier, a kind and gentle spirit.

Bern’s Ginger Drink Recipe

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Here’s how to make your own Fruit/Veggie Ginger Drink, as enjoyed at Trinity’s Place!

If possible use all organic ingredients.

1. Boil Ginger for 30 minutes.
2. Filter and cool the boiled juice extract.
3. Add blended, seasonal fruit or veggie (your choice)
4. Add Lemon or Lime to neutralize the fruit or veggie after taste
5. Add filtered water
6. Add Honey to taste
7. Serve chilled or warmed

Suggested practice:

Enjoy at least a glass per day preferably before the nights rest.

Assign at least one day per week where you only have this for food. Usually the end of the work week.

Eat God: Detox from Judgement

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Mike Morrell continues storytelling around Trinity’s Place’s current emphasis together – this was shared on the 10/14/12 gathering. 

The last time I shared here about eating God, I suggested that we go through a three-step process of tasting divinity, de-toxing from our internal contradictions, and finally digesting God – we are what we eat! In coming weeks, we’re going to look at how digesting God, living as Jesus in the world, can affect how we share meals, how we throw parties, and what kind of food and water systems we co-create here in the Triangle and on planet earth in this 21st century.

But first, we have to get there. Today, I want to return to this three-step dance of tasting, de-toxing, and digesting. It’s not a linear process, do it once and we’re done, but a life-long journey. I believe it’s the life-practice that Jesus taught his apprentices some twenty centuries ago.

Tasting God is something I daresay we’ve all experienced. If I were to go around this room right now, I’m guessing we could each tell stories of a startling encounter, an unexpected love given, or a moment when the beauty of the everyday somehow entered our hearts in a way it usually doesn’t. The rain of grace falls upon the dull and the awake alike; we all have peak experiences.

De-toxing, however, usually requires intentionality. We don’t just stumble into it. I don’t just stumble into it. Everyday life is beautiful, but there is also a lot of unconsciousness going on – do you know what I mean? Hurt people hurt people, and when I’m hurting, feeling lonely, or misunderstood, I’m wearing my ‘stuff’ on my sleeve.’ I then crash into other people and their stuff, and it’s on! The most mundane conversations can contain TNT…they can cause a train wreck. I sure that no one here can relate to what I’m saying. :)

I would like revisit our Sacred Reading text from earlier.

There is a Garden, a Paradise-in-process. There are Trees planted here, one of Life and one of Knowledge. Partaking of Life is encouraged; partaking of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is forbidden. And while this it’s outside of what we’ve read today, I’m sure you all know the next part of this story well: Adam and Eve are tempted to sink their teeth into knowing Good and Evil as a shortcut to omniscience; they partake of that fruit, and they are exiled from Eden.

This, in essence, is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition’s most primal myth. It’s the way we narrate how we got to this place of inner turmoil and contradiction and toxicity that seems so ubiquitous these days that we often refer to it simply as “the human condition.” In the book I’m finally finishing up, Eat God, I refer to our present “normal” state of being as that of four-fold alienation:

  • We feel alienated from God, or our sense of the Sacred.
  • We feel alienated from each other, strangers in a crowded world.
  • We feel alienated from our own bodies, from a sense of vitality in our skin.
  • And we feel alienated from our environments, be those our home or work environments, or nature and more expansive ecosystems on the whole.

I don’t want to leave this as a vague “we” – perhaps you don’t feel alienated in these ways, but I do.

I often do.

And it hurts.

When I can’t pray, or I argue with Jasmin, or I look at the scale again, wondering why it only ever seems to move up…when going outside seems to provoke a vague anxiety in my chest…I know that I need a path of tasting, de-toxing, and digestion. It’s my only hope if I am to live a whole life and serve a healing function in the world.

I come to you today as a wounded healer.

I’ve discovered that de-toxing requires intentionality. As pastor and writer Eugene Peterson puts it, A long obedience in the same direction.

Now: the good news of the Gospel is, we already have everything we need. God, our faith informs us, has already made all the moves to reconcile any alienation – and it’s only ever a felt-alienation. The God revealed in Jesus Christ is a God who is in a good mood. The God Whom Jesus discloses in action, teaching, and parable is further a God who dwells within us – someone we can’t escape because, in some core way, we are One with this God.

The journey of de-toxing, then, is the journey to real-izing who we already are.

This real-I-zation comes about when we take up any practice that helps us taste God, and we enter into this practice, consciously and consistently. My go-to practice is Centering Prayer. Most recently – this morning, in fact – I’ve started a 10-week process known as the Presence Process, designed to gently guide participants in becoming present to ourselves, each other, our world, and our sense of the Divine. What its originator, Michael Brown, says I can expect on this journey is what Jewish, Christian, and Sufi Muslim mystics have told us for ages:

As we make regular contact with Awareness, with Surrender, with Consciousness, with Forgiveness, all of the toxic, un-integrated parts of ourselves are going to rise up. All of the stuff that I engineer my life to forget – the stuff that normally comes out sideways as irritability, anxiety, flashes of anger or discomfort that I then numb, bury, outburst or self-medicate away – this is precisely the stuff that comes up in the unconditional Presence of a Nourishing God. This, my friends, is the Tree of Life. This is the anointing of Christ that we’re invited to partake in.

Pre-packaged religion – pretty much the opposite of what we’re going for here.

If Tree of Knowledge consciousness is constantly judging for myself what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable, good or evil, in myself and especially in others, then Tree of Life consciousness is activation, awareness, acceptance, and joyful surrender to the present moment – to whatever is unfolding, just as it is. Living in moment-by-moment awareness of what is unfolding does not lead to a passive, resigned, victim-ed life. On the contrary we see a world transfigured into the very image of God; life goes from being wrong to being exactly what we need. God goes from being distant to holding us, in and as each moment. We begin to recognize, as Ram Dassso beautifully put it, that “The world is perfect as it is, including my desire to change it.”

Tasting God on a regular basis via a practice of love, awareness, surrender, and astonishment;

De-toxing from our instinctual projections of un-integrated pain by accepting all of the wounded and fragmented elements of ourselves, re-integrating them into our lives, and

Digesting the very marrow of divinity within our physical, mental, and emotional bodies will give us the open-hearted and clear-eyed perspective we need if we ever hope to actually heal others and our wounded planet. This three-fold rhythm – and a community like Trinity’s Place where we can practice it together with humor and grace – can tangibly bring salvation to our planet. Not a pie-in-the-sky, by-and-by kind of placebo salvation, but here-and-now transformation that roots heaven where it’s always belonged: here on earth.

Because of all the practices and responses we’ve packed into today, “participation” is looking more like practicing together than talking amongst each other. I really do want to hear what everyone is thinking, and I hope we avail ourselves of that when we share food together in a few minutes. For now, my friend Adrial is going to share an awareness exercise with us. It’s really cool, and if we’re lucky, we’ll co-create a peak experience of unconditional Presence together, right here in this room.

Remember, though, that it’s what we do alone and together when we leave this room that’s going to support our long journey of de-toxing to that promised land of divine digestion. Is this something that Trinity’s Place is interested in taking on for the long haul? I hope so. We can discuss specific practice ideas soon, over this delicious food that we’ve brought to share tonight – appropriately enough!

For more of Mike’s reflections on these themes, see Evolution & the Two Trees in the Garden on his blog.

Eat God: Detox – Our Worship Guide

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Ever wonder what a Trinity’s Place gathering looks like? Because we’re open and participatory, we have different people take lead and shape the particularities of each get together. All the same, we seem to have developed a basic ‘shape’ and ‘feel.’ Below is one of our recent worship guides, the sort of thing you’d have handed to you as you join us in our ‘extended living room’ at Love Wins in downtown Raleigh. This one in particular outlines our current (and perhaps somewhat strange-sounding) emphasis of eating God. While it’s no substitute for actually joining up with us, we hope that this whets your appetite for sharing life together with us this Fall!

“…the Spirit once again has a new story to tell…”

A Spirituality of Consumption: What is the Spirit Saying

About Food, Water & Nourishment Today?

 

we open ourselves to God

meditation through song                            a capella

As I Went Down to the River to Pray

What prayers do we carry down to the river?

 

we engage a sacred practice

-       Meditation on the animals                                                Bern

 

we engage in holy reading

-       Genesis 2:8-17 (Common English Bible)            everyone

The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east and put there the human he had formed. In the fertile land, the Lord God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit, and also he grew the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A river flows from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides into four headwaters. The name of the first river is the Pishon. It flows around the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. That land’s gold is pure, and the land also has sweet-smelling resins and gemstones. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It flows around the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris, flowing east of Assyria; and the name of the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it. The Lord God commanded the human, “Eat your fill from all of the garden’s trees; but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat from it, you will die!”

 

we share in God’s sacred stories                     

            Dis-integration & Re-Union: Two Trees in the Garden  Mike

 

 

we tune our hearts: a chant from Psalm 34:8             Everyone

Taste and see that the Lord is good

Taste and see that the Lord is

Taste and see the Lo-ord

Taste and see

Taste

we engage a sacred practice

-       Group awareness body-meditation                  special guest Adrial Dale

we share a sacred meal                                       

                                                                                                                       

            The Cupboard’s Full                                                TP musicians/everyone               

(This is the original song by Tim Coons. To hear Trinity’s Place musicians playing it, click here!)   

we close and bless the city

Rise                                                                TP musicians/everyone

Today’s storytelling completes Act I of our Fall series on a Spirituality of Consumption: What is the Spirit Saying About Food and Water Today with Mike Morrell, Bern Mutia, and Adrial Dale. Please sign up for conversations you’d like to lead!

Eat God – two Trees in the primordial garden, Life and Wisdom, being nourished by God: detoxing, and digesting

Feed God (When I was hungry…) – about Jesus’ subversive meal-sharing practices, how they were the hallmark of his practice of the sprouting new creation ecology of God, and how this got him killed. How we can go and do likewise.

Seed God – about our global food crises, and how people of faith can change the system, both at grassroots and policy levels. “What is the Spirit saying about food today?”

Drink God (I Thirst…) – the same, looking at our global water crises, as well as the ways in which God is depicted as streams of water, intoxicating wine, et al – the path of spiritual ecstasy.

Eat God: Where We’re Going

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Ever wonder what a Trinity’s Place gathering looks like? Because we’re open and participatory, we have different people take lead and shape the particularities of each get together. All the same, we seem to have developed a basic ‘shape’ and ‘feel.’ Below is one of our recent worship guides, the sort of thing you’d have handed to you as you join us in our ‘extended living room’ at Love Wins in downtown Raleigh. This one in particular outlines our current (and perhaps somewhat strange-sounding) emphasis of eating God. While it’s no substitute for actually joining up with us, we hope that this whets your appetite for sharing life together with us this Fall!

Today’s storytelling helps move us into a Fall Series on a Spirituality of Consumption: What is the Spirit Saying About Food and Water Today with Mike Morrell and Bern Mutia. Please sign up for conversations you’d like to lead!

Eat God – two Trees in the primordial garden, Life and Wisdom, being nourished by God: detoxing, and digesting

Feed God (When I was hungry…) – about Jesus’ subversive meal-sharing practices, how they were the hallmark of his practice of the sprouting new creation ecology of God, and how this got him killed. How we can go and do likewise.

Seed God - about our global food crises, and how people of faith can change the system, both at grassroots and policy levels. “What is the Spirit saying about food today?”

Drink God (I Thirst…) – the same, looking at our global water crises, as well as the ways in which God is depicted as streams of water, intoxicating wine, et al – the path of spiritual ecstasy.

“…the Spirit once again has a new story to tell…”

A Spirituality of Consumption: What is the Spirit Saying

About Food, Water & Nourishment Today?

 

we open ourselves to God

meditation through song                                 a capella

As I Went Down to the River to Pray

What prayers do we carry down to the river?

 

we engage in holy reading

– selections from John 6                            everyone

The crowd wondered:  Can You show us a miraculous sign? Something spectacular? If we see something like that, it will help us to believe.  Our fathers ate manna when they wandered in the desert. The Hebrew Scriptures say, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus replied:  I tell you the truth: Moses did not give you bread from heaven; it is My Father who offers you true bread from heaven.  The bread of God comes down out of heaven and breathes life into the cosmos.

The crowd exclaimed:  Master, we want a boundless supply of this bread.

Jesus implored:  I am the bread that gives life. If you come to My table and eat, you will never go hungry. Trust in Me, and you will never go thirsty. Here I am – standing in front of you – and still you don’t trust. All that My Father gives to Me comes to Me. I will receive everyone; I will not send away anyone who comes to Me.  And here’s the reason: I have come down from heaven not to pursue My own agenda but to do what God desires. I am here on behalf of the Father who sent Me.  God sent Me to care for all he has given Me so that nothing and no one will perish.

The low whispers of some of Jesus’ detractors turned into an out-and-out debate.

The crowd asked: What is he talking about? How is he able to give us his flesh to eat?

Jesus replied:  I tell you the truth; unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Humanity and drink his blood, you will not know life.  If you eat My flesh and drink My blood, then you will have eternal life and I will raise you up at the consummation of the aeon. My flesh and blood provide true nourishment. If you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you will abide in Me and I will abide in you. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is bread that came down from heaven; I am not like the manna that your fathers ate and then died! If you eat this bread, your life will never end.

He spoke these words in the synagogue as part of his teaching mission in Capernaum.  Many disciples heard what he said, and they had questions of their own.

- based on The Voice and NIV

we share in God’s sacred stories              

            Eat, Feed, Seed & Drink God: An Overview                         Mike

we tune our hearts: a chant from Psalm 34:8       Everyone

Taste and see that the Lord is good

Taste and see that the Lord is

Taste and see the Lo-ord

 Taste and see

 Taste

we share a sacred meal                                          

                                                                                                                       

            The Cupboard’s Full                                       TP musicians/everyone                     

 


we close and bless the city

Rise                                                                 TP musicians/everyone

 

For more of Mike’s reflections on these themes, see Evolution & the Two Trees in the Garden on his blog.

Eat God: the Big Picture

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Mike Morrell introduces us to Trinity’s Place’s current emphasis together – this was shared on the 9/9/12 gathering. 

Welcome everyone. Today I’d like to preview where we’ll be journey over the next few months together. This direction has been planted in my heart for over a decade now, and talking to Bern, Mary, and others of you, I think I’m not alone.

We’ll be journeying through four motions – what I’m calling eating God, feeding God, seeding God, and – somewhat un-alliteratively – drinking God. Today is the bird’s eye view – the big picture.

My premise – which you are of course free to agree or disagree with; this is Trinity’s Place after all! – is that we have an inner capacity for experiencing and expressing the divine. We don’t need to settle for second-hand religion; if we invoke a paradigm shift and a practice shift, we can actually taste and see God’s essence, God’s goodness – the God Who Is all things and transcends all things, who expresses Godself in and as each of us, and yet, Who is so much more.

A few years ago I was at the Raleigh Greek Festival at the fairgrounds; while there I picked up the icon to your left, known as The Hospitality of Abraham. It depicts, and visual form, so much of what’s on my heart, and what strikes me as the heart of Trinity’s Place – a God Who is relational - Relationship, even – sitting down and enjoying table fellowship with us, with humanity. Breaking down the boundaries we tend to erect between divinity and humanity, this God is calling us to the table as participants in a feast – as friends.

As we read in today’s lectio meditation: Jesus, as remembered by the author of John’s Gospel, makes a bold claim:

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.

In the various theological debates between modernists and fundamentalists, progressives and conservatives in the past century or two have raged on, people like to polarize, into what pinheaded nerds call “high” and “low” Christologies. Is Jesus a human being, or is he divine?

In my experience, the answer is “yes.”

But the subversive thing is, Jesus radically reinvents what divinity means in the hearts and minds of those who would dare listen. It’s not a stingy divinity – it’s a generous divinity – I might even dare to say, a promiscuous divnity. “Just as God’s energies fuel me – my life and teachings and actions – so those who feast on me will live because of me!” Jesus is into sharing, and this sharing happens through eating and drinking God, with each other, for the healing of a fragmented and alienated cosmos. That’s what we’ll be exploring over the next few months.

Next meeting, I want to share ways that I tangibly and practically practice Presence – the presence of God, the presence of myself in my body, the presence of all of you, and the presence of creation. But for now, let’s move on through the preview.

There’s a saying: “You are what you eat.” The medieval Christians mystics described the soul’s journey into a deepening awareness of God’s sustaining presence as that of illumination, purgation, and finally union. I’ve begun to see these as tasting, detoxing, and finally digestion, where the healing energies given in the unrestrained practice of Presence begin to culminate in a more gracious, spacious, unitive way of seeing life, the universe, and everything. (With apologies to atheist Douglas Adams.) We’ll go more into detail with these next time, but in transitioning I want to say that “You are what you eat” applies to the interior journey. If we’re eating God, we become God in a particular sense. I don’t think I’ll come up for a heresy trial in this room, but some have been burned at the stake for this realization. It’s a biblical idea, though: “We are partakers of the divine nature,” Peter writes. “Just as you, Father, and I, are one, so may they be One, with Us and each other,” Jesus prays in John 17. The East Orthodox Church calls this process of realization of our own divinity Theosis, or Divinization. 10 years ago at a postmodern Christian learning party called Soularize, one of Martin Luther King Jr’s daughters told us this process is known in the Black Church as Christing.

But so what? Is this just an inner spiritual power trip? A more rarified way of living our best life now? Well, here’s where it gets interesting. If we are what we eat, and we’re digesting God, then we are indeed living as Christ in the world. So in upcoming weeks we’ll explore stories of people who, living as Christ, begin to do what Jesus does – namely, throw parties and share meals with the least, the last, and the insignificant. We’ll look at how Jesus brought together all the wrong kinds of people – terrorists and government stooges, sex workers and even religious leaders – to his table revolution, the Kin-dom of God, or New Creation Ecology. We’ll look at some opportunities happening right here in Raleigh where we can participate in boundary-breaking meals, like the one I initiated last month called People Appreciation Day (in response to Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day) when I broke bread with a fundamentalist who de-friended me on Facebook.

From a renewed vision of table fellowship and party-throwing, we’ll then see how the Spirit stirs in our hearts to ask even bigger questions – what is the Spirit saying about the ways in which we grow, distribute, and consume food today? We’ll look at the absolute atrocities that are happening as poor farmers around the globe are being oppressed to the point of suicide by global Big Agribusiness; how these same mega-corporations are patenting entire categories of food itself using unproven, unsafe, and unsustainable genetic engineering, fertilizing, growing and harvesting methods that provide short-term gains to their share-holders while slowly poisoning our soil and weakening our food’s biodiversity; we’ll look at the painful paradox of how a billion of us first-worlders are now stuffed with endemic obesity while the planet’s bottom two billion are faced with epic levels of starvation or food insecurity. And then – big, deep breath – we’ll look at the patterns of resistance already being fomented by followers of Jesus and other spiritual activists around the world, and how we as a community can join in the resistance movement to create just, fair, healthy, sustainable, and fun food cultures that can change the way we as a world eat our food.

Finally: We’ll look at our global water crisis, which I don’t even want to go into right now, except to say that it’s dire. We’ll examine it against the paradoxical backdrop of Jesus, who both promised rivers of living water that would forever quench our deepest longings – and yet who, while dying by execution-by-collusion from Religion and the State, cried out in desperation, “I Thirst.” We’ll look at who else is thirsting, today – and the soft drink and bottled water companies who are re-writing the world’s laws in order to rob these communites blind of their most precious aquatic resources.

We’re going to need the inner resources of practicing Presence that we’ll explore in our first time together in order to sustain us as we confront prejudice and corruption at every level of our social in economic systems. Because frankly, what’s going on is depressing as hell. But tapping into the deep wellsprings of joy, gratefulness, and astonishment that nourished Jesus during his earthly life will sustain us too. I’m really looking forward to tapping into the collective wisdom present in this very room, this very circle, as we explore all of these things together in the upcoming months…Any questions?

For more of Mike’s reflections on these themes, see Evolution & the Two Trees in the Garden on his blog.