Monday, December 7, 2015

Breakthrough by John C. Robinson Presents Spiritual Illumination... Discussion With Author Tomorrow!

"Come forward, Brother Jensen. Confess your sins and call for the Holy Spirit to wash you of Satan's evil and corruption. Come forward. NOW! Time is running out. Only your testament will bring forth God's salvation...
Paul stood dumbly. Audience tension mounted. But what was he supposed to confess? He could think of nothing to say.
With a dark, menacing rage full of impatience, Pastor Hoeller tried to move things along. "Brother Jensen, have you not been forgetful of your duties as head of your family. To provide, to tithe, to set an example for your wife of godly behavior? Worse, have you not left the church to consort with the enemy of God? Have you not sought counsel from Satan himself? Have you not brought your spiritual burdens to a mental-health counselor," he twisted his face in disgust as he pronounced these words, "instead of the Lord?...Brother Jensen. WHAT IS YOUR TESTIMONY?"
~~~

Pastor Hoeler was what I've always thought of as a "Hell's Fire and Damnation" preacher. Paul's wife and the others within that church worship at his feet to ensure his approval, based upon their fear of Hell... It was the pastor's plan to shame and humiliate Paul and have him fall before him to his knees...

In fact, it was Paul's wife who had talked to Hoeler, complaining about her husband and, most parts of her life, hoping to curry favor and possibly gain some position of honor within the church...

When Paul was challenged, however, nobody would have ever expected what he shared as his testimony!

Now Paul thought he understood. The pastor believes I've lost my faith in God. Is that what this is all about? What a relief! Wait until he hears the truth. With that, Paul readied himself to speak.

He began slowly, tentatively. "It is true that I have suffered deeply. I had lost my soul in a dark pit of depression and damnation. It is true that I abandoned my work. I was too sick to function. My torment was unbearable. But now it is over.  My suffering ended last week when I felt God's Presence surround me in the night. I have been living in grace ever since."
"What are you talking about?" Pastor Hoeller asked suspiciously.
Warming to the topic and its profound meaning in his life, Paul could not stop himself. He had wanted desperately to help others see the lit world as he did. He took this opportunity now to unburden himself.
"The universe is alive. I know that now. It is alive and conscious. Everything! The world is filled with God. It is made of God. It is the very consciousness of God. Reality is God. The divine Presense is in everything, including us, and it makes everything perfect. There is no sin, there is only God."
Pastor Hoeller was stunned. What kind of demonic blasphemy was this? Before he could collect himself, Paul innocently continued.
"Heaven is not some future time or place. Heaven is here now, all around us. This is the Garden!
We haven't left. God never kicked us out! And you don't have to be good enough. There is nothing to fix, no problem to solve, nothing to pray for. God is not some vengeful tyrant demanding perfect obedience. You are already perfect because God is your being. You and me and this world are infinitely beautiful and infinitely precious because it is all divine. Worship the beauty that you are and that is all around you. There is no more to understand than this." Paul's eloquence surprised even himself.
Paul was radiant. He was complete. He felt one with divinity. He felt a depth of love toward every shining person in the room that transcended anything he had ever known. He was so happy.
No one responded. Something was wrong. What was it?
Now the storm broke. Pastor Hoeller's fury, unleashed by his heinous display of sin and depravity erupted...
~~~

BREAKTHROUGH

By John C. Robinson

When I worked at Rainbow's End Publishing Company, Bettie Tucker, publisher and I worked on a book where we were introduced to the phrase, "God Incident." I've never stopped using that phrase since then. Some people use the word coincidence, some fate...but as I've grown older, I have felt that many events that happen in my life were, "God Incidents." For instance, during the last two years, I've been asked to review three books. Breakthrough is the third and, for me, concluded the trilogy presented for my consideration... To me, it was exciting to have briefly discussed mysticism during my discussion with the author of Prisoner of Belief, only to have John C. Robinson's Breakthrough come into my hands next... Now all that has nothing to do with my review of this latest book, but I did want to highlight it as we go into our discussion tomorrow. If you'd like to see the evolution of my reading, there will be links shown tomorrow... Until then... let's move on to Breakthrough...


This novel is written as fiction, but has a ring of truth...something like, the "names have been changed to protect the..." Indeed the author has confirmed that he writes about things he knows. And has already written a number of non-fiction books on the same topic. He chose a novel for this latest book to provide a better conduit into the mainstream reader. That's how it made its way to me. I thoroughly enjoy authors who use reality upon which to base fictional novels.

The book opens at the First Christian Church of Mayhew and we get to know Emma Jensen and her husband Paul, as well as Pastor Hoeller. Paul has had a spiritual experience and it has not only changed him, but has caused a major, you might say, uprising in the Church. It all started when Emma started talking to the Pastor about her husband and Pastor Hoeller decided to force Paul in front of the Church, demanding his testimony...

Next we meet Tom McLaughlin, a psychologist, in practice, who had very little personal background in "matters of religion." Science had pulled his family away and Tom had made little time for spirituality. 

Then a routine day started, with Tom waiting for his first patient and checking the mail. He noticed one ad, for a Vision Quest; not knowing entirely why, he did joke to himself that something like that might "force him to look at his meaning-of-life questions. Then soon after, Tom got a call from an old friend who had referred a man to Tom. Clarence Kelly was a priest at a Catholic Retreat Center. Neither expected that there would be follow-through on the contact... but they took the opportunity to plan lunch after such a long separation.

But Paul did come...

Without making an appointment, he walked into McLaughlin's office and explained who he was. He promised to return later after Tom's next patient. And that's when Tom's world turned upside down... Paul quickly started telling him why he was there...


 Paul began describing the barrenness of his life. Tom mentally checked off the typical signs of Major Depression: depressed mood, loss of interest and pleasure in customary life activities, feelings of worthlessness, diminished concentration and memory and recurrent thoughts of death. Paul repeated his nightmare of Jesus taking him into the lake, which had become a recurring dream, and described his lonely wanderings through empty streets at night. His childhood history cried out for its emotional austerity and deprivation, and Tom felt a pang of empathy for the profound grief and depression this man had endured as a boy. Paul's next comments, however, were entirely unexpected.
"Dr. McLaughlin, there is more to the dream. Now when Jesus takes my hand, a peace surrounds me and I feel like God is present. It fills me with joy. For days afterwards I don't care what happens around me. I am happy. I notice wonderful things, like the beauty in nature or radiant light shining everywhere in the world. And then it slips away and my depression returns. I cannot work. I can barely talk to my wife. She is certain my condition is the Devil's handiwork. I can't go on like this. I don't know where else to turn."
Knocked momentarily off balance by these unusual remarks, Tom asked. "What do you think this dream means?"
"That's just it," Paul replied. "I no longer think of it as a dream. I think it's real. I think Jesus has come for me. I just don't know why and I don't think I'm ready to go."
~~~

Sensing Dr. McLaughlin's struggle, Paul resumed his soliloquy, filling in more details and repeating his wonderment and gratitude. Finally, as the morning sun poured through the office's mahogany shutters, Paul concluded, "When I called you I was still high. I was beyond myself. Even now, it has not really left me. This feeling of Presence is like an ocean of love holding me and everything in its deep peace. I can sense it. I am in it. Don't you see? God never left the world, God is the world. Do you understand what I'm saying? There is no ugliness or sin. Heaven is here! We're in it. I'm no longer afraid of death, for I know now that death is just the doorway into this total love."
Though Paul felt genuine compassion for his doctor's bewilderment, it didn't really matter. It was enough now just to be alive. "I've returned to Eden," Paul mused aloud to himself. "I have been given a new life."
The session ended anticlimatically. Paul simply got up, said goodbye, and started to leave. His movement broke Tom's transfixed state enough for him to ask, "Will you come back?
~~~


Paul met with Tom until he was able to understand he had more than likely had this mystical experience and that he was quite all right mentally... But Tom had been first surprised, then curious, and then moved to learn more about what had happened to Paul...

I tended to identify with Paul, having accepted that this really had happened, he moved to savor his new closeness with God and work to fit his new life into his old one. Tom, however, was confused and agitated. Soon, he remembered the ad for the Vision Quest and abruptly decided to cancel his work, told his family he was going...and left, thinking it would be a learning experience in spirituality...


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The experience Tom described was very intriguing...

Day three began with the same sunrise. Last night's mood, however, was not the same. God were amazing thoughts and feelings from the top of the butte. Tom could recover the words but not the mystical consciousness accompanying them...There was no escape from his suffocating heat. I don't think I can do this all day and then stay up all night, thought Tom..."Am I in Hell? How can this be spiritual?
Then, as if he were having a conversation in his mind with someone else, came a response that he recorded in his journal. "It is the hell known to all addicts, whether the addiction is heroin, alcohol, gambling, work, money, sex, power, things, beliefs, security, perfection, even the idea of a future. Addictions are attachments that separate you from the divine. This separation is hell, psychologically and literally. It is the outcome of choosing ego over soul."
~~~

Indeed it was and it led him into more and more research, discussions with those who he could truthfully share what was now happening to him. Ultimately, a specific issue caught his attention...Many of those with whom he talked were in their later years. Changes were happening as their years went by. If they pursued learning and spent time accepting and engaging, he realized a new awareness, a new consciousness--an acknowledgment of the world around him and a response to the divine order of that world... He began to refer to it, conceptually, as The New Aging...the spiritually of aging...

If you are unable or unwilling to explore what your own spirituality is all about, don't read this book. Paul and Tom, two men who met because something mystical had come into Paul's life, and then totally turned Tom's upside down. Reading this type of book is a challenge to me. I feel if I cannot consider what others have experience spiritually and evaluate it, then I will never be able to believe that God loves all of us--including those whose religion is different from mine. Each of us has been born into the faith of others. Must we, should we, continue to claim there is only one way to God when we can readily see that historically, that belief has led to nothing but war after war.

Robinson has presented a story that is simple to read, fast-paced in many ways, and yet filled with a totally unique experience as discovered by people living today. But is it totally new? Or, rather, is it as old as mankind, found by a few, and now being considered more and more as communication brings the world together. Mystical experiences have been known for thousands of years. Can a single man, working in a garage, now find himself faced with the mystical experiences that came to those ancient people who lived secluded lives of study? Certainly John Robinson has done so. And he talks of many others who are also experiencing and seeking.

If you fall into that group that is curious about the mysteries of God, I believe you will find this book highly worthy of your consideration. If you are looking for a way to understand and accept that differences in various religious structures and doctrines may very well be moving toward the same God as you, then I highly recommend you consider that potential BREAKTHROUGH that is described by the author in his first fictional novel based upon years of study, research and personal experience. I would add that if you find this book of interest, I would suggest that you consider his non-fiction books as well. The overall philosophy of his thoughts are certainly presented in this novel, but there is mostly experiential activities that may not totally satisfy interested readers to move further...




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John Robinson holds doctorates in clinical psychology and ministry and is an ordained interfaith minister, author, and mystic. He has taught extensively at men's gatherings, professional conferences, hospitals, churches and retreat centers and is the author of three previous books on the interface of psychology and spirituality. His new book, Finding Heaven Here (O-Books), endorsed by Mathew Fox, Andrew Harvey, Malidoma Some, John Mabry and Jeremy Taylor, is both an integration of psychology and spirituality and a description of the reality and presence of Heaven on Earth. He explains, "I see Heaven on Earth all the time. I've seen it since childhood. I know I'm not crazy because I'm a clinical psychologist and I know I'm not a religious heretic because I can quote teachers and sages from every major religious tradition who describe it. Heaven on Earth is the greatest secret on the spiritual path." Dr. Robinson lives on an island in the Puget Sound of Washington State. Learn more about him at www.johnrobinson.org

From his site...

Introduction
Are you frightened of aging? Do you worry over every new physical symptom, memory lapse, or mistake? Do you keep busy to avoid thinking about being "old" or brag about how happy you are in retirement when you secretly feel pretty low? Do you believe that aging is really about waiting to lose everything that matters? For most of human history, we viewed aging like this - as inevitably grim, depressing, and hopeless. It's no wonder no one wants to talk about it. But no longer. A radically new kind of aging is on the horizon, one that can change us, the culture and the world. And millions of us are getting ready for this new adventure...