A search through theology, history, philosophy, science, religion and personal experiences to discover Spiritual Realities.
Drop your preconceived notions of god and explore “out of the box” concepts of a higher power in order to more deeply connect with the divine, others, and ourselves. ...let’s try and discover some Universal Truths and how we might apply them to live healthier, happier -or at least more content- and “better” lives!
Join McCall (+ friends/listeners) every other week, with BONUS episodes in-between.
For the final episode of Season One, McCall and her husband, Kyle, disclose their journey through a very unhealthy relationship and into the intimate and loving marriage they now enjoy.
With five guests, this is a Jam Packed episode... which make make you salivate! Like an English Muffin, the Nooks and Crannies are where the goodness resides. It's the Space In between that solidifies any relationship and fosters healthy boundaries.
Kristin Combs, shares about how she is approaching her new relationship differently. Author Juan Lee (Love Made Simple) talks boundaries and the responsibilities of love. Professor Mormon Mike is back to talk about deep connections and allowing love. Finally, executive coach, Sarah Goodson (www.threebeatsconsulting.com) brings some valuable tools for instilling boundaries, compassion and forgiveness... for others and ourselves.
WARNING: Talk of crock-pot chili, English muffins, ice cream cake, and other food analogies... may make you salivate.
In this episode, McCall unboxes awe and wonder.
She contemplates the causes and effects of her own limited opportunities to experience awe as a child and endeavors to discover the benefits, and possible downsides of awe.
McCall explores the history of awe and its evolution in society, the sources of awe, it’s power to create social bonds, and even provide physical healing.
In an interview with Mike Richardson professor of Adolescent Development and Classroom Management at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, McCall hears about the wondrous nature of grapes, and posits awe as a form of worship.
Finally, McCall relays the value of boredom in sparking curiosity, and encourages all of us not to worry, because worry leaves us “feeling awful instead of awe filled.”
Sacred Geometry: Understanding the Underling Meanings of Shapes + Patterns
In this episode of Unboxing God, we talk about sacred geometry and the meaning and connection of certain shapes, like the square, circle, and triangle. Is the ultimate answer in the Great Architect or just a series of extremely unlikely coincidences? Paying attention to your surroundings reveals patterns appearing all around us both in nature and in human made structures; we take a closer look at how this is especially true of the golden ratio.
We also try to unbox the number five, and the irrationality of pi and phi. It is important to that from our earliest days humans have been using images, shapes, and numbers to represent our understanding of the universe. But we also need to understand that there’s still so much more we don’t know and highly unlikely that we will ever achieve the theory of everything.
Listen in to learn how sacred geometry brings healing, harmony, and rebalancing on every level. You will also understand why the triangle is the magic shape uniting the body, mind, and spirit.
What you will learn:
· How sacred geometry deals with more than proportions of geometric figures, but also with forms and structures of natural objects.
· My struggle with finding balance with any two things and the solution of some possible third option.
· The circle - is the undifferentiated unity and a sign of completion.
· A snippet of Devon’s interview - she’s a freemason and has been interested in satanic literature since she was a child.
· Unboxing the number five - the Fibonacci Sequence and the golden ratio and how by paying attention you can see patterns appearing all over.
· Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man mystery - on whether he used the golden ratio or not.
· How sacred geometry supposedly connects the inner with the outer in unity.
· The triangle - represents the union of our body, mind, and spirit and is the symbol that underlies all other symbols. It is the magic shape.
· Why we’ll never achieve the theory of everything but can be inspired by the natural phenomena we can see all around us.
A special Trick and (several) Treats from Brother Matthew Paul... on the REAL DEAL of Halloween.
Drop all of your preconceptions before listening, cuz I bet this is not at all what you expect to hear.
Especially coming from a “Religious Brother” of Catholicism.
From the history of trick or treating and dressing in costumes, to the merging of many holidays into a harvest filled bounty of celebration that many folks may know, Brother Matthew Paul talks druids, Wicca, Catholicism, and The Order of The Bards, Ovates, & Druids. He shares his own Dominican order’s reverent practice of honoring their families and ancestors, but especially their dead. Learn the truth about Samhain, Neopaganism, Purgatory, All Souls’, Guy Fawkes - from Saints to Satan, Brother Matthew Paul leaves no caldron untipped (or pumpkin Un carved) in this fantastic expose of a really wonderful holiday!
As always, friends, things are precisely what you make of them.
Fact: Explaining Sacred Geometry and Vortex Math for a podcast... audio and no visuals... suffice to say: It is a BEAST. And although I have been working diligently on an epic episode all about Sacred Shapes, Divine Digits + Persistent Patterns - it’s still pretty rough at the moment. It needs at least a few more days of TLC (and Kyle’s ruthless editing cuts) before it is ready to meet you. Instead of working myself into a tizzy, and entirely forgoing sleep again tonight, I am practicing the pause and giving myself some grace. Anything Important, isn’t (usually) also Urgent. The world will keep spinning, and I won’t ask you to sit through a 2+ hour, mathematical furry of concepts. I will breathe and be grateful.... that Thankfully, I have held on to this particular Plan B in case I should stumble upon just this sort of situation. Alas, today, you shall hear my first public Al-Anon speaker lead - in all its imperfection. (The sound is pretty rough and, due to nerves, I talk super fast at first. But, I slow down and share my story of how it was, what happened and how it’s different now. It was off the cuff and from the heart, and I hope you find something in it that touches you. (In Waldo we trust.)
Regardless of whether you want to complete your basketball season, get from point A to point B, or deliver a healthy baby... the safest place to be is cushioned in the middle of a protective “bubble”.
This week's episode really packs a punch - and a few kicks - as McCall has three conversations with different martial arts practitioners who offer their insights into the importance of finding an equilibrium... where one is not teetering at either end of two extremes, but instead expands that line to an encompassing sphere - at the center of which, lies safety and security.
Beth W. practices a Kabbalah connected martial art in NYC.
Rich H. is learning Jeet Kun Do, created by Bruce Lee.
Masters Tanya and Wally Bagot, who run Sunset San Soo in LA, explain to McCall that this style of Kung Fu is not for sport, but self-protection.
And what do they all have in common...?
Balance, training, mindful awareness, and flow.
Also, featuring the wise words of Bruce Lee and Joseph Campbell, on dangerous dichotomies, following your bliss & finding the safe balance of the center.
“One of the basic Kabalistic concepts is that God creates the universe anew - every day. The world is in a constant state of creation.” -- Beth Wilensky
“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless -- like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend." --Bruce Lee
“Whenever one moves out of the transcendent, one comes into a field of opposites. These two pairs of opposites come forth, as male and female, from the two sides. What has eaten of the tree of the knowledge -- not only of good and evil, but of male and female, of right and wrong, of this and that, and light and dark. Everything in the field of time is dual - past and future, dead and alive. All this. Being and non-being. Is/isn't. They always come in pairs and put your mind in the middle. Most of us put our minds on the side of the good, against what we think of as evil. It was Heraclites, I think, who said: ‘For God, all things are good, and right, and just. But for man, some things are 'right' and others are 'Not'.’ You're in the field of time when you're man. And one of the problems of life is to live in the realization of both terms. That is to say, ‘I know the center. And I know that good and evil are simply temporal apparitions.’” -- Joseph Campbell
“Follow your bliss. …with a deep sense of being informed. And … then going where your body and soul want to go. When you have that feeling, then stay with it! And don't let anyone throw you off.” -- Joseph Campbell
“Martial arts means honestly expressing yourself.” -- Bruce Lee
“Humility is a willingness to learn.” -- Wally Bagot
“Running water never grows stale.” -- Bruce Lee
PLEASE... check out UBG Trailer 2.0 - A LOT has happened since March 20, 2020 - when McCall first recorded this one!!! (What IS that music?!?!)
We are UnBoxing "God" - Because sometimes tackling an "un"manageable life requires the help of an "un"orthodox higher power. Each week we will publish an episode. First, we will begin to dig into a topic, often inspired by McCall's practice of 12-Step Recovery. [No topic is too taboo, sacred, scary, dangerous, or in any other way Off-Limits to unbox.] Plus, in between FULL episodes -we will go even DEEPER into literature, scripture + other sacred texts, psychology, philosophy, theology and... every science journal, video, audiobook and Wikipedia entry we can absorb! It's like a game, to follow every rabbit (or worm) hole that happens to present itself. Won't you join us on this Hero's Journey?!?!
"If you try to keep an open mind... you WILL find help."
Besides, you can always "take what you like... and leave the rest."
Because sometimes tackling an unmanageable life requires the help of an unorthodox higher power.
Each week we will dig into a topic that challenges us... from the "God" in 12 Step Recovery, to Social Justice issues like Gender, Race and Arranged Marriage... using less than traditional tools and ideas.
Take what you like... and leave the rest.
Today has been known as Columbus Day for over a century but federally recognized since 1934. In more recent years, however, October 12th (or the second Monday of October) has come to be known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Today we celebrate, honor, and uplift indigenous people. Also, our friend and guest, Laura, stops by to tell us a little about Canadian Thanksgiving, which they call “Gratitude Day”, instead of honoring the violence of colonialism.
“We’ve never been grateful for genocide.” - Laura
McCall explains her attraction to the Native Americans idea of two-spirit people - combining characteristics of both genders. In many tribes, two-spirit people filled special religious roles, such as healers, ceremonial leaders, and shamans. In some tribes, these people were considered especially blessed in the areas of love and attraction, with the ability to bless others with that gift.
Indigenous Americans view disease and death as the natural result of an imbalance in an individual. The Native American Church (NAC) uses peyote as a holy, sacred sacrament.
“What better pharmacist than the Great Spirit itself, who purposefully created peyote for medicinal, spiritual, and healing purposes.” - McCall
McCall breaks down the role of peyote in Native American Church and the amazing man, Quanah Parker, who began it.
Is it a monotheistic religion, based on faith in One Supreme Spirit?
The concept of that universal spiritual energy is called The Great Spirit, and it is interpreted as the power that resides in all.
“All matter is animated and alive, emanating and receptive to some spirit force.” – McCall
For most Native cultures, there is no distinction between the spiritual world and the material world. However, colonial European missionaries exploited the similarities between their concept of God and The Great Spirit to encourage conversion to Christianity. Worship of the land also created conflict with colonial Christians, which is explained in this episode with some beautiful spoken words from Professor Joseph Campbell that illuminate the dangers of dualism and the battle of Good vs Evil, Right vs Wrong, Man vs Nature.
Conflict between colonial Europeans and Native Americans is addressed, noting a distinct connection to, and worshipping of, the land on which we reside. Today, there is a disconnect with Earth which we must mend. A ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ of sorts. Climate change is real, and McCall has some wise words regarding what we can to do make peace with our planet.
“It is undeniable that we as humans are out of balance with the planet.” – McCall
Perhaps we should adopt a way of thinking that is more aligned with the Native American culture, one where we strive for balance. Mother Earth needs us to take her into account when we act, celebrate, and create legacies.
What do the sworn virgins of Albania, Caitlyn Jenner, Elagabalus, and Caster Semenya all have in common?
They’re transgender -- or, perhaps, third gender.
How long have we known about transgender? Is gender just biological sex like some say or is there something more to learn from other cultures’ and countries’ histories of gender which is not binary? Pink or blue only gender reveal parties, get ready to meet your match!
[1:00] International Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Intersex Association - Trans Legal Mapping Report 2019 / Criminalization of trans people globally
[03:51] Erratum! Our first but probably not our last...
[06:13] Trans around the world / Muxes in Mexico
[07:08] The Sworn Virgins of Albania
[08:20] Elagabalus, perhaps the first trans Roman Emperor from 200 CE
[12:18] Trans in the military / Christine Jorgensen post-WWII
[13:51] Ryan -M2F- on Australian school uniforms
[16:16] Ryan on transitioning genders and a first Al-Anon meeting
[18:46] Trans in history / Hijras in India
[20:13] Celia Daniels on Hijras
[26:51] Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Hijra from India
[28:13] Indian Trans Olympic Games / Trans in Sports
[29:42] Caster Semenya
[35:24] Caitlyn Jenner
[36:31] Gender spectrum / Evolution to Third Gender ?
[37:58] 5 Genders? The Bissu of the Bugis people
[40:24] What’s to come...
ILGA Trans Legal Mapping Report 2019
Five Genders? | National Geographic video
Muxes in Mexico
Sworn Virgins | National Geographic
Muslim-Trans in Indonesia
India’s Third Gender
Changing Gender Dynamics in Current Structure of India | Laxmi Narayan Tripathi | TEDxSIUHinjewadi
Roman Scandal 22: Elagabalus and the Problem of Teen Rule
Find Celia Daniels on Facebook or on LinkedIn or Instagram
Support Celia Daniels’ work at https://transcanwork.org/
Join the conversation on Facebook!
Arranged marriage - what reaction does that incite in you?
This week, we’re delving into Indian marriage: who has arranged ones and can people be happy in them? McCall and Cass have conversations with Celia Daniels, an Indian trans woman in a heterosexual arranged marriage; Monique, an Indian Australian woman who opted to have a non-arranged marriage; and Manpreet, a Punjabi woman who opted to marry a fellow Sikh.
[02:22] Reminder: Who is Celia Daniels?
[03:02] Celia Daniels on Indian, Christian, Arranged Marriage
[07:04] Celia on her duality as womxn and husband/father
[08:35] McCall + Cass on arranged marriage
[09:11] Who participates in arranged marriages? Where did this idea come from?
[12:01] Types of arranged marriages
SPONSOR AD [15:23-16:30]
[16:30] "Moonies'" Unification mass-ceremony arranged marriages
[20:40] Love is Blind…?
[22:13] Divorce + statistics, in the U.S.
[24:00] The caste system - in the U.S, too….?
[24:47] Is arranged marriage like the show “Married at First Sight”?
[27:20] Introduction to Manpreet in Punjab
[27:47] Manpreet on arranged marriage
[28:21] Monique's happy marriage
[30:29] Monique on gender roles in India
[34:52] What’s to come, Cass?
[19:27] “The mirror of love is blind. It makes zucchini into okra.” --Arabic saying
[29:04] "I don't think it's the things that keep you together... It's when things go bad, and they're not enough to break you apart... that's when you know that it's a good relationship." --Monique Kalmar
Find Celia Daniels on Facebook or on LinkedIn or Instagram
Support Celia Daniels’ work at https://transcanwork.org/
Email Monique Kalmar at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the conversation on Facebook!
Support UnBoxing “God” here
Indian born and raised, a loving arranged marriage, a deep abiding Faith in God, and a sense that HE was a SHE from a very early age.
This week, McCall delves into conversation with Celia Sandhya Daniels, who opens up about their life: Growing up a Christian boy in India; loving God, but hating the "girl inside"; an arranged marriage, to an incredible woman; coming out as transgender; and her struggles through depression and suicidality, in coming to terms with who God designed her to be - for the world, and who God created HIM to be - for his treasured wife & daughter.
*Trigger warning: This story talks about molestation, sexual assault, and suicide ideation and behavior.
Are women the downfall of humanity? The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) would have you believe so.
Did monotheism's misogyny intentionally kill the Feminine Divine?
Are there other interpretations of Eve, Adam, and the Creation Story?
Are we positive that Adam was actually male?
Who was 'Lilith'?
Might females really be the chosen ones, to redeem all of 'man'kind?
Is Androgyny the goal of human evolution?
From Eunuchs to Elvis. Ruby Rose to Virginia Woolfe. We use every resource we can, to face the hard questions we have, in an attempt to recover from the biased judgments we've developed.
Starting with the concept of Women's Intuition, breaking down preconceptions of androgyny, and exploring God's possible intention with Adam & Eve, McCall & Cass use history, literature, interviews, and conversation..., to "UnBox" Gender and Religion.
Since it's Labor Day in the States, and well over 100 degrees in Los Angeles (where McCall lives)... okay and also cuz we are still hard at work on a PACKED Episode 11 - Cass and McCall (and Kyle) are taking the week “off” and will offer up, instead of your regularly planned programming: some exciting info and a few teaser clips from interviews that will be featured over the last four weeks of Season One!
PLUS: A Call for "Listener Shares"!
Brother Matthew Paul re-joins us for some biblical enlightenment, as well as Alison WhiteAcre, the brilliant musician turned transition coach. Plus, there are a few new guests - Michelle, a trans woman exploring her faith and sobriety, and Monique, who shares her experience navigating different faiths through Indian culture, in her native Australia.
Come here more from these guests and others... Next week!
Join the conversation on Facebook!
Support UnBoxing “God” here
Email Waldo (McCall and the team) at email@example.com if there’s anything you’d like to unbox with us!
Spoiler: We’re all basically androgynous.
McCall’s ex talks masculinity and femininity during gender transition and Cassidy helps McCall unbox toxic femininity, through the lens of Jung’s theory of Anima (the feminine aspect in a male) and Animus (the masculine aspect in a female) and the toxicity that occurs when those characteristics become too extreme.
This week, Alison Whiteacre, a transfemme transition coach (a perfectly suited career, we think!) and an old lover of McCall’s, joins the show to speak candidly on how she feels about femininity and masculinity, and what transitioning has taught her so far. Also, we introduce our new UBG Team member: Cassidy, whose work in rape crisis gives her an interesting, albeit biased, perspective on terminology she unboxes with us.
What is animus?
What’s anima then?
Alison Whiteacre and transition coaching
Alison’s 4 Phases of Change (like playing your hand)
Girls have more fun!
Gender fluidity and Non-Binary Billy
Alison’s 3-Step Life Hack
Cass’s reaction to toxic femininity
Toxic gender roles: a phone call
Devon Price: “Toxic Femininity Holds All of us Back”
Call to Action
John Mellencamp “Little Ditty” outtake
In Episode 10, McCall is unloading the box of all things woowoo! Most of us are familiar with archetypes, but Jung’s collective unconscious theory leads us to the fringe of what we know as mainstream and into the dreamworld, tarot card reading, and intuition.
This week she’s asked several guests to fill in the gaps of “woowoo” that she proclaims she is “both drawn to and repelled by”. Jenny Sieck gives us a crash course on Jung’s archetypes, intuition, and dream analysis. Haleigh gives us a practical tool to tap into our own archetypes: tarot! Plus, Cassidy and Ryan are back again -- this time breaking down a few archetypes and helping us float through the concept of the collective unconscious.
This week McCall is asking listeners, “What can the woowoo do for you?”
(NOTE: You do NOT need to like Patchouli, and may absolutely gag at the smell of Nag Champa, and you will still dig this episode.)
In this week’s bonus episode, McCall examines the shadow, or the dark side of Self, and the mask, or what is projected to the world. Through the exploration of an Al-Anon reading, Pinocchio, and Pandora’s Box, McCall guides us through these Jungian archetypes and how she handles her own mask these days. For this episode, she also enlists the help of Kyle, her husband, to unpack these concepts in a more relevant way: through rock and roll. Then singer-songwriter Kaciny has something to say, er, sing about it.
This week, McCall begins the process of unboxing the “fractured self”, childhood and intergenerational trauma, and Epigenetics.
The exploration includes three guests: Cherish Asha Bolton (from Episode 8, where she also discussed the psyche, self, and soul) guides us through the “fractured self”; Margot Schrader briefs us on the Internal Family Systems model and intergenerational trauma; and Jessica Ferretti introduces us to somatic healing.
This dialogue challenges listeners to ponder, “What traumas am I carrying that I may not be aware of and how can I start to heal?”
• Cherish Asha Bolton, is an intercountry, transracial adoptee from India raised in America. She is completing her Ph.D. in History and serves as the President of People for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR).
• Margot Schrader, is an artist, licensed clinical mental health counselor and only child of a Holocaust survivor. She is also Mom to her 22 year old daughter and pretty much any kiddo that needs love. She strives to BE who she needed when she was younger. She and her Partner of 5 years Live in NH where she works to improve access to mental health services for the Medicaid population.. Margot has been on a healing journey for more than half of her life. Trying to make sense of her own childhood trauma so that she can help others do the same. Margot is passionate about trauma research,Trauma therapy, neuroscience and Epigenetics. Margot's current area of interest is equality issues around poverty, class and race and how these issues intersect with Trauma and Epigenetics.
• Jessica Ferretti, a holistic health & life coach + owner of www.MeditationForMuscles.com - a Trauma-informed Massage and Healing sanctuary in Los Angeles.
The Links in the Chain that led to A.A. - From one conversation in Zurich, between Carl Jung and his 'hopeless' patient... through the Oxford Group and on... to a trip to Vermont in 1935... then Ebby's line: 'I don't need a drink; I got religion"... to Bill Wilson and next, in Akron, came Dr. Bob Smith... and the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)... and then, on to every other 12-Step program there is, including those for "General Neurotics", like me. Carl Jung and Bill Wilson admired, and were inspired by, one another; their correspondence (dated Jan. 1961 - March 1961) prove this to be a fact. But, the letters between these epic pen-pals also illuminate a series of serendipitous links in an almost contagious chain that gives one pause.
In this week's episode, McCall unboxes the psyche, the self, and the soul.
What are they, and how do they differ, if at all?
McCall discusses these topics with two guests, William Ragan, PhD - professor of psychology, and Cherish Bolton - The Other(ed) Woman and (P.E.A.R.) People for Ethical Adoption Reform. They each shed light on aspects of 'self' through the lens of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung - with an overview of Freud's concept of id, ego, and super ego versus Jung's archetypes.
McCall shares her own research and thoughts (on Self, Soul and Mind) as she challenges listeners to ask the unanswerable question: "Who the hell am I?"
If you liked this Bonus Episode, check out:
Applying the writings and philosophies of William James to addiction and Alcoholics Anonymous, by Edward Mendelowitz, Ph.D. (from Society for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter - Oct. 2017)
Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, by William James (a series of 20 lectures on 'natural theology' that psychologist/philosopher William James, from Harvard, conducted at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, from 1901-1902)
Spiritual, Not Religious Experience
BIG BOOK THEOLOGY: “WE AGNOSTICS” and William James, by James R.
Cravings for Deliverance: How William James, the Father of American Psychology, Inspired Alcoholics Anonymous, by Paul Schulte
While researching the UBG episodes on Mysticism, I stumbled upon this book called Empath to Mystic: The Art of Mastering Your Intuition and Fearlessly Being Yourself, by Aaran Solh, and although it didn't quite make its way into a full episode, I thought it was special enough to share it with you here, in a BONUS Bonus episode. Enjoy!
Have you ever wondered how taking psychedelics (or, "tripping" as it’s typically called) leads to experiences with the unknown? Or how some people have trips that completely transform them?
This week we’re unboxing what “ego death” means and how humans have long sought to lose their egos, to transcend themselves, through a variety of pre-mortem death and rebirth rituals (such as baptism ) including… psychedelics. Yep, drugs!
Complete Show Notes for all UBG episodes can be found on the website: www.unboxgodpod.com (with full summary, quotes, and links to external resources)
For this Bonus Episode, I will continue my exploration of Mysticism by introducing you to a mystic named Meister Eckhart (1260–1328), who heavily influenced my own personal pursuit of 'detachment' (which he called "dis-interest").
I will also talk a bit about Perennial Philosophy (aka Perennial Wisdom), a perspective in spirituality that views all of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine have grown.
Finally, I will tease you with a little bit from the British writer and novelist Aldous Huxley who wrote the dystopian novel Brave New World as well as the 1945 non-fiction book The Perennial Philosophy.
(FYI: In the Spring of ‘53, Huxley had his first mescaline induced mystical experience, which he details in The Doors of Perception - the book that inspired Jim Morrison to name his band 'The Doors'. I will tell you much more in next week's Full episode!)
NOTE: I briefly touch on The Upanishads, which are a series of Hindu sacred treatises, one of Hindu's sacred texts, written in Sanskrit c. 800–200 BC, expounding the Vedas in predominantly mystical terms. The texts are written in a passionate poetic verse describing mystical states and spiritual concepts as well as descriptive short stories and dialogues between historical figures. They discuss things such as meditation, philosophy, Karma, higher states of being, and the nature of our maker... and even though the teachings are now thousands of years old, they are just as relevant today as they were back then. I encourage you to explore them further.
What, exactly, is mysticism? This episode takes the plunge into the history of what we know about mysticism. What defines a "mystical experience" and how can we all be modern-day mystics? My dear, Floridian, friend (Iris) gives us a taste of how she connects mysticism to her daily life, and then, Brother Matthew Paul Grote OP gives us a master lesson in Christian Mysticism.
Mysticism = the practice of religious ecstasies, together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them; experiencing the divine personally, to become intimate with God
Mysticism embodies four qualities:
1. Awakening - a realization of something greater than yourself
2. Divine Experience - a state of being that feels fully enveloped by God
3. Ineffability - the idea that mystical experience defies expression
4. Transformation - a change of heart
Mysticism in Ancient Greece was Christian and had three dimensions:
1. Biblical - hidden interpretations of Scriptures
2. Liturgical - ceremonial mystery of the Eucharist
3. Spiritual/Contemplative - experiential knowledge of God
Every organized religious or spiritual practice has a mystical offshoot
Current definition of mysticism: 'union with the Absolute, the Infinite, or God'
Walter Terence Stace distinguishes two types of mysticism: Extrovertive (“all as one”), an experience of the unity with the external world + Introvertive (“none as all”), an experience of unity devoid of perceptual objects (an experience of ‘no-thing-ness’)
RC Zaehner defines three fundamental types of mysticism:
(1) Theistic: includes most forms of Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and occasional Hindu examples of mysticism
(2) Monistic (based on “an experience of the unity of one’s soul”): includes Buddhism and certain Hindu schools of thought
(3) Panenhenic (“natural mysticism”): all other types of mysticism
Christian Mysticism: What is God?
- Originally Exodus 3:14: “I Am Who Am”, Tetragrammaton
- Plotinus: the idea of God represented as not being something but as existence itself
- St. Augustine: Finding God/Being/Unity with goodness itself through internal contemplation
- St. Thomas Aquinas: the Divine is intelligible even if it is infinite; we’re meant to know it... He is infinitely knowable, not infinitely unknowable
How to have a mystical life:
- We are made to do two things...
1. To know (God, ourselves, our neighbor)
2. To love (God, ourselves, our neighbor)
- We live a practical life of four Cardinal virtues: kindness, love, justice, and humility
- Christianity gives us infused mystical virtues of faith, hope, and love
- We cannot facilitate a mystical experience on our own but instead must open ourselves to a God that loves us
“Although mystical states are similar to states of feeling, they also seem to those who experience them to be states of knowledge, too. They are experienced as states that allow direct insight into depths of truth that are unplumbed by our mere intellects.” --William James
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” --Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
“Truth is truth no matter where it’s found, and every seed of truth should be watered and allowed to flourish.” --Brother Matthew Paul Grote
This bonus episode continues the question of “Can we be ‘good’ without God?” (from Episode 5)
Further exploration into the Stoic Philosophy/Lifestyle - with special friends and fellow travelers, Cassidy and Ryan. Specifically, we will unbox "The 4 Stoic Virtues". Also, we take a deeper look at the concept of “Sympatheia”, which if internalized, can change how we interact with the world—for the better.
Stoics believe they don’t control the world around them, only how they respond
The four cardinal virtues recognized by the Stoics:
Wisdom (sophia) / Prudence - Acting with care, showing thought for the future
Temperance (sophrosyne) / Moderation - Balance, self-control
Courage (andreia) / Fortitude - Insistence on Truth
Justice (dikaiosyne) / Morality - The source of all the other virtues
'Sympatheia' = the belief in mutual interdependence among everything in the universe
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” --Viktor Frankl
“Works not words” --Seneca
“‘If you seek tranquillity, do less.’ Or (more accurately) do what’s essential—what the logos of a social being requires, and in the requisite way. Which brings a double satisfaction: to do less, better. Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” --Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.24
“Curb your desire — don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.” --Epictetus
“You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.” --Seneca
“Two words should be committed to memory and obeyed: persist and resist.” --Epictetus
“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.’” --Mary Anne Radmacher
“Summum bonum” --Latin expression meaning “the highest good”
“Justice is the crowning glory of the virtues.” --Marcus Aurelius
“What injures the hive injures the bee” --Marcus Aurelius
“Seeking the very best in ourselves means actively caring for the welfare of other human beings.” --Epictetus
“...to honor equality, to want to do good, and for a person, being human, to not want to harm human beings—this is the most honorable lesson and it makes just people out of those who learn it.” --Musonius Rufus
“If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, prudence, self-control, courage—than a mind satisfied that it has succeeded in enabling you to act rationally, and satisfied to accept what’s beyond its control—if you find anything better than that, embrace it without reservations—it must be an extraordinary thing indeed—and enjoy it to the full.
But if nothing presents itself that’s superior to the spirit that lives within—the one that has subordinated individual desires to itself, that discriminates among impressions, that has broken free of physical temptations, and subordinated itself to the gods, and looks out for human beings’ welfare—if you find that there’s nothing more important or valuable than that, then don’t make room for anything but it.” --Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations
“...I, a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe.” --Richard Feynman
Today, we will take a look at an ancient Greek philosophy called Stoicism, which is a school of philosophy centered around personal ethics, founded about three hundred years before the time of Jesus.
Guests: Cassidy and Ryan
The 12-Step “Serenity Prayer” is a Stoic meditation prayed to a Higher Power
Train your perception to avoid good and bad. There is no good or bad to the practicing Stoic. There is only perception, which you control.
• Take the view from above; practice sympatheia.
• “Is this within my control?” Externals are uncontrollable; I can only control myself.
• Amor Fati: Love everything that happens. Treat each moment (no matter how challenging) as something to be embraced and not avoided, to not only be okay with it but love it and be better for it.
“Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.” --Marcus Aurelius
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” --Marcus Aurelius
“How beautifully Plato put it. Whenever you want to talk about people, it’s best to take a bird’s-eye view and see everything all at once— of gatherings, armies, farms, weddings and divorces, births and deaths, noisy courtrooms or silent spaces, every foreign people, holidays, memorials, markets— all blended together and arranged in a pairing of opposites.” --Marcus Aurelius
“The view from above changes our value judgments on things: luxury, power, war…and the worries of everyday life become ridiculous.” --Pierre Hadot
“In outer space, you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.” --Astronaut Edgar Mitchell
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .” --Epictetus
“Amor fati” --Latin phrase
“That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.” --Friedrich Nietzsche
“A + B = C. If you change A and you don’t change B, C is still going to change.” --Cassidy Villano
“A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.” --Marcus Aurelius
“Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happens the way it happens: then you will be happy.” --Epictetus
“Memento mori” --Latin phrase
External Links + Resources:
Barack Obama’s speech “A More Perfect Union”
Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot
Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning
After a full week or protests, reading ‘White Fragility’, watching the news, and looking up the nose of Juneteenth, I have chosen to amplify the voices of black men and women for this week’s Bonus Episode.
Isolation vs Community, Connection, and Belonging - THIS EPISODE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY BRITTANY C & KRISTIN C, thank you for your support!
What is “church”? In this episode of Unboxing God, we delve into the true meaning of the word and why we feel we need it.
Join us as we explore what “church” means for a few of our friends: Kyle details the experience of skating top speed on the roller derby track, completely focused and in the moment, as his “church”; Anthony finds his “church” out on the open road; and Scott chronicles a sailor’s lifelong “church” out on the open water.
Why church? Where is church? What’s in a church anyway?
“Yes, but…” is a dead-end; “yes, and…” is the path forward.
Churches universally provide: a place of safety and support, belonging and community, and inspiration and growth.
Belonging is a universal human need, just like the need for food and shelter
“It doesn’t have to be in a building for me; it doesn’t even have to be inside at all. For me, the feel of that road just running underneath me, and the breeze in my face, and the sun beating down on my shoulders… That’s where I find my church. That’s where I’m closest to my God.” -- Anthony
“...I use a sailboat analogy in my 12-Step recovery to picture the Serenity Prayer… I think of the Serenity Prayer, asking for the “courage to change the things I can” being the courage to change my sails because I can’t change the waves and the wind. …[I]nstead of fighting it ... so that I can experience the serenity that it provides.” -- McCall
“More and more as I get older [in the sport of sailing] I find that I do my best when I just let go. I ground myself firmly in the present, I don’t look back, I strictly breathe deeply, and try to figure out how to make the most out of the moment that I’m in." -- Uncle Scott
“When you’re thinking about it, you don’t sail well. When you just let go and experience it, you do very well.” -- Uncle Scott
Support Unboxing God here
The Quorum: A Place of Belonging by Elder Carl B. Cook, from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Create a Sense of Belonging by Karyn Hall, from Psychology Today, 2014
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Cleveland Sailing Charters, Lake Erie Cruises with Captain Scott Sanders
In this episode, McCall's 11-year-old son (Marley) explains The Hero's Journey as a lens through which we can all choose to view our challenges, while his dad (McCall's awesome hubby, Kyle) reflects and applies each stage of the monomyth to Star Wars. Then McCall and Marley debrief on why the Monomyth can be such a helpful Knowledge Checkpoint in anyone's life adventures.
From poetry to lyrics and music, there are all sorts of ways to experience communion with the God of your understanding through prayer. Gratitude lists, music, and meditation are all different ways to praise The Divine. Similarly, “worship” can be done through art, singing, dance, even just sitting in intentional wonder as we gaze upon nature’s splendors. This week on Unboxing "God," McCall and fellow travelers explore PRAISE, At the same time, tune in to learn the related three ideas that can help you too unbox God through music.
When the podcast starts, McCall delves right into the concept of prayer by sharing the definition and expanding on the notion, what it means for us and how it is related to praise and worship.
Guests then share their concepts of prayer. For some, prayer means praising the nature for blessing the human beings with a beautiful world. Others view it as a gratitude for things that happened in their lives. However, everyone agrees that prayer is an act of thanksgiving
In the second half of the podcast, McCall talks about music as prayer. To show how music affects the mood by changing different brain chemicals, she takes the listeners through the research of Kiminobu Sugaya and Ayako Yonetani – two world-renowned professors and experts in their field.
Next, McCall elucidates the three ideas to help you unbox God through music. These are:
Music connects us to God.
Lyrics are prayer
Harmony is worship
In the end, McCall briefly talks about prayer as a form of therapy.
[00:39] The definition of prayer
[01:25] Different forms of prayer
[02:19] Micaela shares how she connects with God
[03:15] Johanna from St. Petersburg talks about how she prays
[03:58] Prayer as an act of thanksgiving
[04:39] How Ryan from New Zealand shows his gratitude to God
[06:03] The philosophy of prayer by June, from Los Angeles, California
[06:39] McCall shares an excerpt from the first chapter of Change Me Prayers by Tosha Silver
[07:52] Honesty as a form of worship by Kass, from Florida
[08:42] – [09:59] Advertisement
[10:02] Music as prayer
[11:35] How music affects the mood
[11:56] Music and the Brain by neuroscientist Kiminobu Sugaya and world-renowned violinist Ayako Yonetani
[13:12] The three ideas to help you unbox God through music
[13:38] Music connects us to God
[18:05] Kristin C., from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, shares her two prayers
[19:22] How to pray if you don’t believe in the idea of God
Awareness + action for me is how I practice gratitude.
It’s hard to be fearful and grateful at the same time.
“The memories associated with music are emotional memories, which never fade out — even in Alzheimer's patients.” - Kiminobu Sugaya
"He who sings prays twice.”
Any song, lyric or piece of music that helps you focus on how great the Divine, Universe... God... is, well, that, my dear friend, is praise music.
Prayer is not about talking to God, it’s about changing your heart.
Unboxing God on Spotify
Unboxing God Official Facebook
Change Me Prayers by Tosha Silver
The Mozart Affect
In Episode 1, 'Sensing God", I discovered a favorite quote of Hellen Keller's from a poem called "Grieve Not For Beauty" by Witter Bynner: "Therefore, O spirit, as a runner strips Upon a windy afternoon, Be unencumbered of what troubles you - Arise with grace And greatly go! - the wind upon your face! " I have continually gone back to read a much larger chunk of the piece, seeing new angles each time and I'd like to share it with you.
See, I love using poetry, or even song lyrics, as a sort of prayer. Unwrapping the words deliberately and dancing in the ideas that come to me. I believe this is a form of Higher Power "worship" even, where we speak to each other, Waldo and me.
I invite you to try it out for yourself. Get lost in the words and allow something Greater to lead your thoughts. I will also share my own... in this BONUS episode.
How a 10-day experiment in calling God “Waldo” helped me begin a love affair with the God of MY understanding. Other people’s “takes” of their own Alt. Higher Power. Where’s Waldo, and how did I find God in him? In a relentless effort to fill my personal God-Shaped-Hole, I’ve journeyed through a variety of faiths and soul seeking - from Synagogue to Catholic school to an Ashram, Wicca, shamanism, all the way to good ole JC. It wasn’t until I began my journey to a PERSONAL relationship with the unique God of MY understanding (a sort of Ms. Potatohead deity, whom I lovingly call Waldo) that my vision of what is possible really began to expand and my access to uninhibited conversations about “The Divine” began. The interpersonal connections that my playful experiments of “God” have fostered are some of the most real, raw, and magical relationships I’ve ever known... and an unfiltered connection to myself is at the very top of that list!
Today we will explore ways we might SENSE GOD.
Think about it for a moment... have you ever seen fingerprints of a power greater than yourself in Nature and the landscapes? Do you notice repeating numbers around you and wonder if it might not be a God WInk?
How about HEARING God? Is there music or poetry that sets your soul on fire? Is their a voice in your life that cuts through the outside chatter and reaches into your heat? Can you TASTE God, What about those with sensory impairments... might they have some secret "key" to a shared space with a Higher Power? Today. I ask that very question of an old friend, who happens to be deaf.
Just a brief musing on what the idea of “Recovery” means to me, McCall, personally. Take what you like... and leave the rest. But please share YOUR “take” on the word/idea by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +1-WALDO-LOVE-3 If we get some usable clips (wav, mp3 or types shares) you could be featured in a future episode. As always, send ideas, thoughts, questions too! Let’s make this a conversation!!