Posted in Authentic Freedom Academy, church, Mystics, Spiritual Formation

Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That (Church that is!)

In Monday’s blog, I made it clear that the Authentic Freedom Academy Sunday Service is NOT Church. Today I want to make it equally clear, “Not that there is anything wrong with it (Church, that is).” Church, as we have (mostly) experienced it in the West, is a beneficial human practice which speaks deeply and profoundly to the needs of some. This traditional model of Church provides for a specific human need – it declares certainty in what is at best, an uncertain world. In the human condition there is suffering. Poverty, hunger, disease and death are all very real parts of the human experience. Good things happen to bad people and bad people often seem to be rewarded for their evils. All of these realities of the human experience create anxiety, worry and fear in even the most courageous and daring of human beings. In the face of all this uncertainty – the Church provides comfort in promises of a peaceful future in the afterworld – for those able and willing to fulfill the conditions necessary for acceptance into this heavenly abode. If you follow these rules, obey these commandments, live according to the regulations of the outside perceived authority, then you will be happy in the afterlife. For many, this provides great peace.

This model of Church that we have mostly known in the West is not the only way in which Westerners have experienced Church…it is just the one that gets the most attention. This model of Church that seems to get the most attention is the orthodox (concerned about doctrine, dogma, rules, enforcing rules, priest as intercessor) and exoteric (outward directed) model of Church whose greatest concern is the hereafter.



While the exoteric model of Church has gained prominence, developing alongside the orthodox Church, is the contemplative/mystical church (notice the lower case “c”) and its concern with personal relationship, direct knowing, personal growth and development; and whose deepest concern is experiencing heaven on earth. This is the church experienced by Francis and Clare of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Loyola, Hildegard of Bingen – and many more. This is the model of church that historically been “in” the Church, but not “of” the Church. While ultimately under the jurisdiction of the papal hierarchy, these models of church have developed outside the influence of orthodoxy, guided by its founders’ intimate and personal relationship with Christ.

If the Authentic Freedom Academy Sunday Service is accused of being anything like church, it would be the latter – contemplative, mystical, concerned with personal relationship, direct knowing, personal growth and whose deepest concern is experiencing heaven on earth. In an uncertain world, with an equally uncertain future the only choice we have is to make the best of what we’ve been given and this is what Jesus originally taught. Jesus taught his disciples to actively seek peace in the midst of the only thing that is certain in the human condition – uncertainty. In the human condition we experience it all – love and hate, elation and pain, joy and suffering. Why not turn to tried and true methods for navigating the ever-changing landscape of our human experience, tools that help us find peace in the midst of suffering, comfort in the face of pain, love in the face of hate? This is what Jesus taught and what he intended his disciples to teach after him. If there is any kind of church that Authentic Freedom Academy might be called to emulate, it is this one.

Posted in Discernment, Empowerment, Freedom, Holy Spirit, Mystics

What is your Magic? Part 4 – the forgotten charism!

In today’s blog we continue exploring the charisms, magic, spiritual gifts with which you have been uniquely gifted to experience meaning, purpose and fulfillment in your life and through which you are called to serve the betterment of the world.  In today’s blog, I explore a charism that is not listed among the twenty-six identified by the Catherine of Siena Institute.  This charism is not explicitly stated in scripture, but is instead lived in and through the many women and men portrayed therein.  Those embodying this charism include: Eve, Rebekah, Miriam, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, Solomon, Esther, John the Baptist, Mary, Judas, Mary the Magdalene, Paul, Peter, oh yeah…..and Jesus.  🙂

So too have we seen throughout history, men and women endowed with this charism:  Francis of Assisi, Hildegard of Bingen, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Joan of Arc, Oscar Romero, Gandhi, the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gloria Steinem, Dorothy Day, Mother Theresa, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, etc.  The list goes on an on of great people who stepped from out from the fold and said or did something that caused a radical turn of events.  These are the people that DARED to see and speak the truth in a world immersed in denial.  These are the people who rocked the boat, stirred the pot and got society to see its shadow so that it could then be brought into the light.  These are the rock n roll change-makers because they DARED to see the truth, say, and do something about it.  Of course, no one really welcomes this bunch, in fact, all of them have been criticized, condemned and persecuted, even killed,  for daring to hold up the mirror to a world in denial and holding the world accountable to its “sins.”

We know who these people are and we understand the uniquely creative way in which they have been gifted to find meaning and purpose in their life and through which they are empowered to work toward the betterment of the world.  So, what are we to call this unique charism?  I can only think of one word appropriate to this benevolent, albeit challenging gift:  I hereby identify the unnamed charism as the charism of:


And to all the shit-disturbers out there, I offer the following poem as both an affirmation and a gesture of thanks!


“She doesn’t play well with others,” they said;

Most often by those with markers of red.

“Follow the rules, toe the line,

Then in our eyes, you will shine.”

“When words of authority are duly obeyed,

Only then will you make the grade.”

But what’s one to do when the truth inside

Screams, kicks and shouts when you tell it to hide?

Rolling, twisting, churning about

 Promising unrest until you let it out.

Peace only found when truth given voice.

It’s not like I really ever had a choice.

It seems I was made to show and tell.

I can’t help the truth is their version of hell.

Copyright 2014  Lauri Ann Lumby

Posted in church, Jesus, Mary Magdalene

Resurrecting the church of the Magdalene Part IV

Today’s blog is Part IV of a series exploring the role of Mary Magdalene in the early years of the Jesus movement, its retreat under the shadow of orthodoxy and the invitation to restore her (and her movement) to its rightful place in the light.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are…..

So, if we are resurrecting the church of the Magdalene… did it die and where did it go?  Again, based on 20+ years of research, study, reflection, prayer, meditation, daydreaming and discernment, I have a few theories.  And yet again, don’t ask me to provide proof for the accuracy of these theories because a) good luck finding any    and   b) it quite could just as likely be the working of my overly active and overly romantic imagination.  Nevertheless…..indulge me and see if any of this might resonate as truth with you.

  • Peter (the disciple, later given credit for being “the first pope.”) didn’t like women and certainly didn’t like Mary.  He was jealous of her and refused to hear anything that she had to say (even after some of the other disciples supported her and encouraged Peter to listen to what she had to say.)  Mary was saddened by this.
  • Somewhere, somehow, Mary came to realize that her understandings of the Jesus message would not be accepted by the Jerusalem community, so she left.  (I doubt she waited as long as the fall of Jerusalem in 70 something)  Mary was saddened by this.
  • I have a strong sense (based on very limited supporting information that interestingly now seems to elude me), that from Jerusalem (or Bethany….or somewhere in Israel) that Mary went to Egypt.
  • While in Egypt, a small community of people open to Mary’s views on the Jesus message gathered around her to learn, to take in and to continue the Jesus message (hence, the discovery of the Gospel of Mary in Egypt…..written in Coptic, the language of Egypt during the time of Jesus)
  • Sometime after establishing a community (most likely contemplative) in Egypt, Mary journeyed on to the South of France.
  • Because of the deep and enduring tradition of the Magdalene in Southern France, I sense that Mary spent a great number of years in that area; teaching, preaching, building communities of prayer and contemplation.  Many churches in the area bear her name and her icons.
  • Mary may have spent some time in England as well……Glastonbury claims this tradition to be true as do other communities in England.
  • We do not know where Mary died or where her tomb lies (if there is such a tomb).

But What About the Mary Movement?

Somewhere in the first 300 years of Christianity, the interior, intuitive, contemplative expression of the Jesus message got overshadowed by law, hierarchy, dogma, doctrine, institutionalization.  With Ireneaus anything related to gnosticism (a perspective on religion that favored “direct knowledge” of God over doctrine) got wiped out…and I sense that the Mary Magdalene thread of Christianity got wiped out with it.  It did not really die,however.  Instead, it went underground only to resurface in the various expressions of Christian monasticism…most notably: St. Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, St. Dominic, Hildegard of Bingen, etc.  My sense is that the church of the Magdalene never really died, it only retreated into the contemplative, mystical church, recognized as Western monasticism, waiting for the time that it could once again be brought out into the open for all to appreciate, experience and enjoy.  Albert Nolan reflects on this in his book, Jesus Today:

I have always felt that there were two histories of the Christian Church- the history of the institution with its popes and power struggles, its schisms, conflicts and divisions, its heresy hunting and bureaucracy; and the parallel history of the martyrs, saints, and mystics and their devotion to prayer, humility, and self-sacrifice, their freedom and joy, their boldness and their deep love for everyone and everything.

(Jesus Today; Albert Nolan, pg. 73)

Let Them Eat More Than Cake

The monastic, contemplative communities have done a fabulous job of preserving, maintaining and upholding the intuitive, inner, mystical, expression of the Jesus message.  I believe that this expression of the Christian path is reflective of the work Mary Magdalene accomplished in the first century and that this path is calling to be brought forth into the light so that all (not just the men and women called to religious life) may benefit from its inherent ability to nourish and sustain. In following the path of the mystical church, what I refer to as “the church of the Magdalene” we find our nourishment within in the intimate connection with God…we are sustained, we know peace, love and joy and we find true fulfillment in the knowledge of our gifts and how God is calling us to share these gifts in the world.  Perhaps this is the life giving bread and saving cup to which Jesus so frequently referred and if so, transcends any Institutional limitations on our ability to receive God through the Eucharist(who can or cannot received communion, what it does or doesn’t mean, who can preside over Eucharist or not).  I like to think so anyway.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Posted in Inspiration, Spiritual Practices

Happy All Saints’ Day!

As one who was raised Catholic, All Saints’ Day holds a special place in my heart.  All Saints’ Day gives honor to all the men and women who became examples of the Christ message and were honored within the Catholic Church as “Saint”.  For myself, it is the one “holy day of obligation” that I can actually remember and made a point to honor by attending mass and paying my own respect to the saints who have played a special role in my own life.  Since All Saints’ Day falls on a Monday this year, mass will not be offered locally (I know, dumb, right!?), so I will give honor to my favorite saints (canonized and not) in prayer and meditation and through this blog:

Hildegard of Bingen

Joan of Arc

Bernadette Soubirous

Teresa of Avila

Francis and Clare of Assisi

John of the Cross

Dorothy Day

Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Catherine of Siena

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Mary Magdalene (my personal all-time favorite!!!!!)

John the Evangelist

The author of “The Cloud of Unknowing”

Martin Luther

Maria Goretti

Oscar Romero

Mahatma Ghandi

HH Dalai Lama

Edith Stein

Mary Jo Copeland

And I share with you today my FAVORITE litany of the saints that I learned while I was at the Newman Center at UW Oshkosh and that I looked forward to singing on All Saints’ Day and at the Easter Vigil:

All you holy men and women, pray for us!


Who are the spiritual men and women who have been a role model and example for you in your own life?

How can you honor and remember them today?



Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries/yourspiritualtruth