Exhibit A for Explaining the LCWR Report

Symbol for Hubbard's Group

The keynote speaker for the annual conference of the LCWR is New Age quack Barbara Marx Hubbard. If you’ve never heard of her, just try to imagine a combination of Deepak Chopra and Ray Kurzweil with an extra helping of crazy. Her big thing is Conscious Evolution, which is the latest repackaging of “est” with an added transhumanist/post-humanist subtext. Here she is on her website explaining Conscious Evolution, which sounds like a combination of X-Men comics, techno-fetishizing, narcissism, New Age nonsense, paganism, trite bromides, bad grammar, Gnosticism, and good old heresy. (Emphasis added.)


It has become obvious that a creative minority of humanity is undergoing a profound inner mutation or transformation. Evolutionary ideas are not only serving to make sense of this change, but also acting to catalyze the potential within us to transform. (Thought creates; specific thought creates specifically. [?])

It is the planetary crisis into which we were born that is awakening our sleeping potential for transformation. Planet Earth has given birth to a species capable of choosing whether to consciously evolve ourselves and our social forms, or to continue the course we have set toward our own extinction. And the choice is clear.

All great spiritual paths lead us to this threshold of our own consciousness, but none can guide us across the great divide — from the creature human to the cocreative human. [??] None can guide us in managing the vast new powers given us by science and technology. None of us have been there yet.

What we can envision
The enriched noosphere, the thinking layer of Earth, is now replete with evolutionary technologies that can transform the material world. Within the next 30 to 50 years, we could transform our physical bodies, our minds, our social structures, and set in motion the emergence of a new civilization. [So she’s a proponent of the singularity, and of the profoundly anti-Christian concept of post-humanism.]

Science: It is said that the power of quantum computing may increase exponentially in the next 50 years bordering on silicon-based life. At the same time biologists studying aging, cloning, and stem cells tell us we may reverse aging and gain a sort of immortality. One scientist writes, “We may live 600 years and only die by accident.”

Moving deeply into the nature of matter, students of zero point energy believe that we can tap into and use the infinite sea of energy that underlies everything. Furthermore, with nanotechnology we can build as nature does—atom by atom.

Expanding beyond the earth itself, space engineers envision the formation of an extraterrestrial sphere, much as hundreds of millions of years ago the biosphere was formed. We can live in an integrated Earth/Space environment restoring the Earth, freeing ourselves from hunger and poverty, exploring the vast untapped potential of human cocreativity.

Social systems: As we shift from maximum procreation to cocreation, the Feminine would be liberated from its restrictive roles, as men and women cocreate in a balanced way for the good of the larger human family. The Masculine would be released from its long-standing roles of patriarch and protector to discover the peace and ease of true relationship and cocreation.

Patterns of unification are set in motion already, as nonprofit, corporate, and governmental alliances are built around countless initiatives. Those that are successful are already witnessing the melting of borders and boundaries that have prevented successful compromise and negotiation in the past. Political events, like the fall of the Berlin wall, are foreshadowing the possibility of unification around the globe, and creating the hope that seemingly insurmountable problems may find yet find solutions.

Spiritual grounding: Jesus said, “These and even greater works shall you do.” We may actually be on the threshold of those abilities that Christ was able to do and that He foresaw as possibilities for us all. Specifically, the ability to use conscious intent, perhaps in conjunction with scientific and technological capacities, will allow us to create bodies sensitive to thought. We may find ourselves transforming the human body from its physical, animal, degenerating phase to a regenerating and evolving phase.

This capability would be the fulfillment of the words of St. Paul: “Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound. This corruptible will become incorruptible. This mortal will put on immortality and death shall be swallowed up in victory.”

This would also be the emergence of what Alan Lithman calls, psyche materialis, and what the Bible calls, Adam of the quickening Spirit. [And so it was written: the first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45).]

Sri Aurobindo named the human being with this ability, the gnostic being; Teilhard de Chardin called it the ultra person; and I have selected the name, universal human and universal humanity. This type of human is a quantum jump beyond the species Homo sapiens. It is a new species that is incubating in millions now.

This is a Naissance; this is new for Earth — but it is not new for the universe. The name universal human is good because it connotes the reality that we are entering the phase of universal life.

Although we may never know what really happened, we do know that the story told in the Gospels is that Jesus’ resurrection was a first demonstration of what I call the post-human universal person. We are told that he did not die. He made his transition, released his animal body, and reappeared in a new body at the next level of physicality to tell all of us that we would do what he did. The new person that he became had continuity of consciousness with his life as Jesus of Nazareth, an earthly life in which he had become fully human and fully divine. Jesus’ life stands as a model of the transition from Homo sapiens to Homo universalis.

Now millions of earthly humans from every spiritual tradition, from many social movements and scientific lineages of human inquiry, are evolving to the stage at which they recognize their soul, their higher self. They are becoming willing, even passionately desire, to be one with that Self. And as a critical mass of humans evolving toward their new capacities arise, humanity will undergo an unprecedented shifting in our entire way of being on this planet.

We are the generations born into this moment in history. Our powers are immense. We can destroy the earth as we know it, or alternatively, transform the material and societal limits of human life. We or our children may actually live to experience either the destruction of our life support systems (with unimaginable consequences for billions of people), or the literal transformation of our bodies from creature human life cycle to cocreative human life cycle. The choice is ours.

Wow. Just … wow. Folks, that’s not merely crazy: that’s weapons-grade crazy. And this is the keynote speaker for the annual conference of the Leadership Council of Women Religious, set for August in St. Louis, Missouri, and based on the theme Mystery Unfolding: Leading in the Evolutionary Now.

This is plain heresy. It’s bad science, bad psychology, bad philosophy, and, most certainly, bad religion, and the LCWR has structured their entire annual conference around its themes.

So do you still have any questions about the need for oversight of the LCWR?

NOTE: Please see the comment section for more on my objections to transhumanism.

First Reaction from the LCWR UPDATED

UPDATED: Exhibit A for Explaining the LCWR Report.

Writers on all sides of the ideological spectrum have been chewing over the welcome news that the dissident Leadership Conference of Women Religious will be reformed, so I won’t rehash the story here. You can find the full Doctrinal Assessment here, and read Rocco’s balanced coverage here.

I was curious to see how the LCWR leadership (which is nothing if not completely predictable) would react, and they do not disappoint.

The National Catholic Reporter got hold of an private email from the LCWR. In it, the leadership expresses shock that the report was made public, which was precisely that last reaction they should have if they’d been paying any attention at all. Beyond this, they’re not saying much, but don’t count on them going quietly into that good night.

They posted this on their website:

The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Because the leadership of LCWR has the custom of meeting annually with the staff of CDF in Rome and because the conference follows canonically-approved statutes, we were taken by surprise.

This is a moment of great import for religious life and the wider church. We ask your prayers as we meet with the LCWR National Board within the coming month to review the mandate and prepare a response.

The LCWR is a toxic organization that has slowly poisoned the church since the 1970s. Founded in 1956 as an umbrella organization for the leaders of various women’s religious institutes, the group was merely supposed to serve as a resource for about 1,500 nuns in leadership positions. Instead, it began setting up a kind of alternate magisterium, complete with open dissent from basic points of Catholic doctrine, particularly abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality. A group founded to aid in the Church’s mission in America has instead worked against key elements of it for almost 40 years.

They do not represent the 60,000+ women’s religious of America, but rather a small, elite cadre of left-leaning leaders who openly break with the church. Many orders belong to the LCWR merely out of habit (so to speak), but feel as though they have no voice in the organization. They largely ignore them as a noisy embarrassment.

I know for a fact that many, many of their rank and file members are appalled by them. I’ve talked to and interviewed nuns who have been waiting for the Vatican to do something for a long time. The situation got so bad that John Paul II established the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious as an antidote. The cure didn’t take, however, and the LCWR presided not over the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit which they insisted would follow from their “prophetic” witness against their own Church, but the radical decline in religious vocations. Right now, the only orders with healthy vocations are the traditional, habited orders better represented by the CMSWR.

I respectfully have to disagree with Fr. Z, however, who suggests that dissolving, rather than reforming, the group would have been a better idea. Dissolving the LCWR simply would not work. Its leaders would remain in place, and it would have gone on–perhaps under another name, but with all of its infrastructure intact–sowing dissension. By prescribing oversight, however, the Church is able to exert some level of control of the group (which, it must be recalled, was founded by the Church, not the nuns) while shooing the dissidents into the corner where they can be safely ignored.

This is not some strike against women’s religious by the Vatican. The Vatican has been infinitely patient (too much so) over the years as they pleaded with the LCWR leadership to stop sowing confusion and remain faithful to the consistent teachings of the Church they vowed to obey. The leaders had plenty of opportunities to avoid this, but their monstrous vanity would not allow it. They are now reaping what they have sown.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Scalia writes with her typical reason and wisdom about the subject. It is indeed tempting for a blogger looking to score some cheap rhetorical points to mock hippie nuns in bad pantsuits and bid good riddance to them. I try to avoid that, because I know how much good work many of them do. I am careful in writing about the issue to always cite the leadership of LCWR as the key problem, not the entire body of US nuns and sisters. The report makes that much clear as well. This is the reform of one group that has gotten out of control and lost their bearings so much that prominent voices in official capacities can envision moving beyond not only the Church, but Christ.

I dislike this idea, implicit in Fr. Martin’s Twitter effort, that the criticism of the leadership of the LCWR is somehow a criticism of American women religious as a whole. The LCWR is the equivalent of  a professional society for school principals or CEOs, there to provide training and leadership formation. This is not about American women religious. This is about a tiny, noisy slice of their leadership that has lost its way and no longer understands its role in the universal Church. Here’s a hint: it has nothing to do with issuing position statements on politically divisive issues and building labyrinths.

Not Every Job is Made Better by Robots

F’rinstance: South Korean prison guard.

And this is necessary because … CCTV is too efficient and cost effective and doesn’t involve cool proto-Daleks? Now, if Robo-Guard wandered up and down gen-pop shouting “EX-TER-MI-NATE!” randomly, then I might be able to get behind this.

This article at Phys.org appears to have an accurate read on this. It’s not that South Korea thinks robo-screws are really all that necessary, but that prisons have a compliant population upon which to test new technology.

“Lord, what about this man?”

Raphael, Christ’s Charge to Peter
During class Sunday night, I went through the resurrection accounts with my students, and spent some time on the three appearances of Christ to the apostles in John. These are enigmatic passages which some consider late additions, and one of the most unusual is this exchange between St. Peter and the risen Christ in John 21:21-23:

21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” 23 The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

This moment, which follows Christ’s prediction of Peter’s martyrdom, shows the special relationship among Jesus, St. John, and Peter. Pointing to John, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” What does he expect Jesus to say? Is he asking if John, too, shall attain the martyr’s crown? Or is he wondering what role John will play in the Church that will be shepherded by Peter after the ascension of the Lord? Jesus’ answer is enigmatic: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”

Obviously, the members of the Johannine community found it enigmatic as well, since it led to a rumor that John would not die until the Second Coming. (John 21:23) In his final Tractate on John, St. Augustine includes a lengthy digression about a legend that claimed John was not dead, but had merely laid down in his tomb to await the Second Coming, and the earth above his tomb could still be seen moving with the rising and falling of his breath. [1] Augustine dismisses this idea, but the effort he takes to debunk it indicates the legend was contemporary in the Johannine community as late as the 4th century. Clearly, this is a passage that left many puzzled, so let us work through several possible interpretations.

Coming as it does after an affirmation of Petrine primacy (John 20:15-20), the question can be read as an inquiry about the leadership role of John. It is as though Peter is asking, If I am to feed your sheep, what shall John do? Will he have a share in the leadership of the Church. [2] Peter wants John to play a part in his ministry, but Jesus says that such a thing is not for Peter to decide.[3]

Peter also represents the Church, for “petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ.”[4] The Church remains until Jesus comes, but the Petrine office shall endure and pass from apostle to apostle. Thus, even though “Peter” will pass from this earth, the rock on which his office is built shall continue through the ages. This is what Christ means when he says, “Follow me.”[5]

The Brick Testament, John 21:22, c. Brendan Powell Smith

Perhaps Peter is even offering his office to John, who he knows is uniquely beloved by Christ.[6] In saying “what about this man” he is saying, “Is not your Beloved Disciple more worthy than I, who denied you, to lead your Church and suffer the same death as you?” It can be seen as an act of deference or generosity.

Since the question follows the prediction of Peter’s death, it is of course natural to assume that Peter is asking if John will also die for Christ. In this question he is showing concern for the fate of his friend.[7] Death on the cross is not to be John’s fate, however. He must remain as a witness to Christ, both in life and in his Gospel. [8] Indeed, we can even say that “his longevity might stand in the place of martyrdom, for John greatly desired to die, that he might enjoy Christ, saying as he did at the end of the Apocalypse, Come, Lord Jesus.”[9]

Finally, we must turn to the core distinction between John and Peter, which is defined by the split between the contemplative life (John) and the active life (Peter).[10] The key words thus become “remain” and “follow”. The one who remains is the one who lives a life pondering the words and deeds of the Lord. The one who follows is the one conforms his life to Christ even unto death.[11] One state is not better than the other, nor is one kind of love superior to another.[12]

The person who remains to live a life contemplating the Lord shall only have completion when the Lord “returns”. That return doesn’t have to be at the end of time, as some followers of John mistakenly assumed, but can merely be at the end of John’s life. [13]The Lord “returns” for John upon his death, when he takes his soul unto heaven.

John, revealed by his Gospel and letters to be a man of profound thought, had a different role than Peter, who is depicted as a man of action, often rash in word and deed. This is what Augustine means when he says, “Let perfected action, informed by the example of my passion, follow me; but let contemplation only begun remain [so] till I come, to be perfected when I come.”[14] This is the final duality presented in John’s gospel, which is full of dualities. In his final lines, John uses his own life to demonstrate the contemplative/active split present in the life of the Church.

Citations after the jump. Continue reading

St. Cuthbert Gospel Sold for £9 million

The St. Cuthbert Gospel is the oldest surviving European book, and thus one of the most important volumes in the world. The Gospel is a Latin pocket edition of John that was originally placed in the Cuthbert’s tomb some time after his death in 687. The book most likely did not belong to Cuthbert, but was created at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey to be placed in his coffin when his body was translated to Lindisfarne at the end of the 7th century.

After an intense fundraising campaign, the British Library has acquired the book from British Province of the Society of Jesus for £9 million.

Announcing the acquisition, the Chief Executive of the British Library, Dame Lynne Brindley, said: “To look at this small and intensely beautiful treasure from the Anglo-Saxon period is to see it exactly as those who created it in the 7th century would have seen it. The exquisite binding, the pages, even the sewing structure survive intact, offering us a direct connection with our forebears 1300 years ago. Its importance in the history of the book and its association with one of Britain’s foremost saints make it unique, so I am delighted to announce the successful acquisition of the St Cuthbert Gospel by the British Library. This precious item will remain in public hands so that present and future generations can learn from it.”

The St Cuthbert Gospel formerly known as the Stonyhurst Gospel, has been on long-term loan to the British Library since 1979 and regularly on-view in the Library’s Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery. The Library was approached in 2010 by Christie’s, acting on behalf of the Society of Jesus (British Province), and was given first option to acquire the Gospel for the UK public – a unique opportunity to make the Gospel a permanent part of the national collection. Having sought opinions from a range of independent experts as well as the Library’s own curatorial specialists, a price of £9 million was agreed. Fundraising commenced at the beginning of last year and the campaign was publicly announced last July (see British Library announces £9m campaign to acquire the St Cuthbert Gospel – the earliest intact European book).

Having acquired the Gospel, the British Library is now able to invest in its long-term preservation, as well as transforming the possibilities for improved access to the item through digitisation and display.

Read more at Medievalist.net.

See the entire digitized Gospel here.