Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth


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The First 25 Years, A.K.A. “The Long Strange Trip…”

My ability to envision a united Humanity, a world without war or prejudice or greed, a cosmic future for our species as spiritually advanced beings peacefully exploring our universe was just not enough. It would only become real if I rolled up my sleeves and made it happen, working in concert with others who shared the same dream. I had work to do, on myself and on the world. At sixteen, in the course of taking a hard look at the real world of people and culture and politics, I discovered the writings of the inimitable anarchist, political organizer, cultural revolutionary and true social visionary, Abbie Hoffman, who quickly become my first conscious teen role-model.

Leave the bigwigs wondering what hit them. Abbie led a magic ritual to levitate the Pentagon five inches off the ground, in protest of the US war in Vietnam. He showered the New York Stock Exchange with fluttering one dollar bills, shutting down billions of dollars in international trading as brokers scrambled to line their pockets with George Washingtons. Abbie taught me that cultural change is less a science than an art form, one in which the canvas is your life, and the paints your every thought, word and deed.

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He showed me that the world is never changed for the better, anyway by gray-suited white guys hashing issues on the 6: Whether you call your work revolution or evolution, political, social or spiritual, changing the world not only can, but MUST be F-U-N! Louis, Missouri, just across the muddy Mississippi from my Illinois hometown. The serious radicals among us camped that night in Central Park, and in the morning formed civil disobedience cells committed to shutting down the embassies of every nuclear-armed nation on Earth, if only for a day.

I got arrested while laying down in the street to block traffic with my body, and spent the rest of the day on a police-owned bus, waiting my turn to be processed through Manhattan Central Booking. My turn never came. Kind of a let-down, glory-wise, but dinner in Chinatown and a night spent hanging with real Yippies in the original Bleecker Street office on the Bowery soon transformed the memory into a golden vision of success, of real people making our voices heard, taking The Revolution to the streets, shaking the world with our courage, dedication and sheer, monumental Chutzpah!

I cashed in my return trip Greyhound bus pass and copped a ride back to St. Louis with some Chicago Yippies in a rusting blue Impala, taking turns driving, arguing politics, picking up hitchhikers and singing Doors and Jethro Tull and Grateful Dead songs at the top of our lungs all the way home. My nineteenth year found me renting a haunted basement room in a suburban St. My room really was haunted. The story went that the crazy landlady, once upon a time, had a baby, and the room I rented had been its nursery. There was a fire, and the baby died.

Its little ghost still inhabited the house, making its presence known by hiding things, turning lights on and off, and most disturbingly by starting the occasional small fire. The landlady told me this story the day I moved in. We were standing in her kitchen, nursing black coffees, a dining room table piled high with freshly-ironed laundry between us. I nodded knowingly at her tale, leaned back against the counter, folded my arms across my chest, and in all my nineteen year old hubris smugly informed her I knew all about the spirit world and could handle the situation, no problem.

No mere poltergeist would scare me away from such a sweet rental deal! It dropped to the floor, splintering as it hit into fat plastic chunks that scattered across the faded linoleum. One piece shaped disturbingly like a tiny clenched fist with one finger extended bounced to a stop against the toe of my sneaker, pointing directly at me.

The story ends exactly as you might predict. You may not need sleep, but I do…! Then one evening I came home to an empty, wet house. The walls were soaking, but the air stank of smoke and charred wood. Not immediately comprehending, I made my way in pitch darkness to my little basement room, where the wall separating my area from the larger finished basement family room was gone. Water-saturated carpet hissed beneath my feet with every blind step. I needed to call somebody…. I maneuvered through the darkness to where tactile memory told me the telephone should be.

Everything was wet because the house had been burning and someone put the fire out. Considering the volume of water in the house, and the fact that it was still standing at all, whoever quenched the blaze had almost certainly been professionals. I stumbled out of the darkness into the starlit night and walked the seven blocks to the nearest fire station. Are you a smoker, Mr. Not only was I not a smoker, I was nowhere near home when the fire broke out, and I could prove it. My hands began to shake. Fire starts in your bed, and gets hot enough to burn straight up through the ceiling and get the upstairs going.

Never even got warm to the touch. Thus began my long, dark night of the soul. I spent the next couple of months lying flat on my back in my childhood bed, staring vacantly at my childhood ceiling, hating everything and everyone, too heavy on the inside to move. I bought notebooks and started writing really bad poetry, the kind of self-pitying woe is me crap that turns entire generations against the genre as a whole. I wallowed in my loss the way a pig rolls in mud, caking myself in sorrow, wearing misery like sunscreen donned to filter out even the faintest ray of unwelcome hope.

But I was devastated. Looking back, I can see that my small town Protestant programming was still very much alive and well, way down deep, working behind the scenes to paint endless nefarious layers of symbolic meaning onto an essentially freak occurrence.

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In my heart, the fire was clear evidence that I was on the wrong track, that I had earned Divine Punishment for being bad , for having somehow failed The Revolution, for years of vocal atheism, for having succumbed to the blinding self-importance don Juan taught led to the inevitable downfall of ordinary men.

I pushed and groaned and strained against the limitations of my psyche like a man passing a kidney stone whose short-term agony I could bear in the hope of emerging from my struggle pain-free. I turned twenty still spinning in that strange elliptical orbit, alternately flinging myself toward the light and falling back into the sheltering shadow of self-pity. A couple of friends, hoping to cheer me up, crashed the birthday party of a teenage girl they knew and dragged me along.

The birthday-girl turned out to be every bit as depressed and desperate and confused as I was, and we locked that night into a mutually-destructive, codependent embrace that would last, off and on, for most of the next seven years. A new cycle began during the summer following my 21st birthday.

I was still living with Mom. The birthday-girl and I were in the midst of a four month break-up, the first of many temporary splits we would try before finding the courage to finally part ways. The overwhelming sense of energetic aliveness I had felt just three summers before was so long gone it seemed like a dream. I reached the sobering conclusion that the morass my life had become was inescapable, at least by my own effort. I was standing in my own way, blocking my own light, with no idea which direction to move to get unstuck or make things better.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear, goes the old saying. I readied myself as best I could, my head filled with wildly romantic visions of the mighty teacher I hoped to draw to myself. I meditated ferociously, fasted and fought sleep. I spent long hours climbing bluffs, sitting quietly in dark caves and walking moonlit, forested paths, more than half expecting to discover some hidden monastery or itinerant, lotus-postured Buddha behind every tree, to cross paths at every turn with the ghost of some ancient Fox or Sauk or Illini shaman who would materialize out of nowhere to guide my transformation.


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As summer drew to a close and the first red brushstrokes of autumn painted the Mississippi River shoreline, I finally surrendered. Either I was not worthy of a teacher, or I was just nuts, utterly deluded about the whole spiritual trip. It was all beginning to look like a big scam, a con, a fantasy created by unscrupulous shysters out to sell books and drive people insane. I dropped my meditation routine and subscribed to TV Guide. I called my St. The Tivoli Theatre is a St. Louis movie-going landmark, originally opened in I scanned past the announcement, searching for something fun to watch.

Inspiration Deficit Disorder - Jonathan Ellerby PhD ( part 1)

There was nothing even marginally interesting listed, so I crumpled the movie-menu and slam-dunked it into the kitchen trash. And then I retrieved it. I unfolded and smoothed the page, then read the ad again:. Even the picture accompanying the ad was unimpressive, a dark-haired white guy in a heavy coat walking through a monotone desert landscape.

And convincing my good-time city friends to see a boredom-fest like this would be unlikely, at best.

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The closer the run-date for the movie came, the more anxious I became not to miss it. The dark-haired guy in the heavy coat appeared in my dreams. On show-day, I called everyone I could think of, but not one person expressed any interest in joining me. I offered to buy the tickets, even to throw in free espresso and Toblerone Swiss chocolate, but still no one bit. An hour before show time, I sat on my childhood bed, my head in my hands, my bones vibrating inside me as if a powerful electric current was passing through my body.

The film was okay.

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An Audience of Nones: Publishers Pursue an Audience Allergic to Religion

It neither bored me nor blew me away. And yet, as I flowed with the crowd toward the big glass front doors, touching my budding disappointment gingerly, like a cautious tongue first discovering a loose tooth, the electricity shot through me again. Now it was like a tooth biting on tinfoil, a deeply uncomfortable shock with a coppery aftertaste. I decided maybe I just needed to pee, so I pulled out of the crowd and drifted toward the restrooms.

The crowd looked as ordinary as any group of movie-goers anywhere. No one was observing me, or appeared in any way interested in or even particularly aware of my presence. I used the restroom, then took a seat in a plush lobby chair beside the little table where the Ziiing! Surely someone would engage me, would step out of the anonymous mass filing out of the theater and introduce themselves as my long lost guru…. Now is the time! Whilst experiencing major life challenges, Mimi discovers the power of God's Word. She relates how these 24 Scripture verses turn her life around. The Secret Principles of Genius: Can anyone become a genius?

This is an open question.

A View from the Back Pew: God, Religion & Our Personal Quest for Truth

But if there were ever a definitive guide to becoming a genius, this would be it. This practical book shows you exactly what you need to know to improve your memory right now. Simple, "common sense" tips that work for real people. A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.

Design your map with this book. Review This is a very moving, original wise memoir of someone who travels beyond the narrow confines of institutional Christianity to a broader embrace of the authentic mystical path. Lake Street Press July 5, Language: Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Here is a report of an unusual individuals journey to herself. It discusses spirituality and religion with a modern, practical approach. A must read for people trying to find their way in this world. One person found this helpful. Love the personal experiences and the ways to apply the principles personally to my life. Very fullfilling book to read on your spiritual journey! Beyond the Pews is part autobiography, part spiritual guidebook.


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  4. The author--a minister's daughter--shares her experience of growing up in what she calls "American Spiritual Royalty," comprised of preachers and their kids. Backman was not a typical preacher's kid, however. As a child she saw "angels lingering in every space" and "colors encircling people. Eventually, she began to process the information that was being conveyed. The answers surprised him. A View from the Back Pew explores the issues we all encounter on our spiritual journey: Did man invent God? Candid, humorous, and at times controversial, O'Donnell takes us on a powerful search for balance-between faith and personal experience, between the roots of Christianity and later layers of doctrine, and between systems of belief and a direct connection to the spiritual presence we call God.

    In this bold quest for truth, you'll delve into everything from the "mystery" of the Trinity and the Virgin Birth to celibacy in the priesthood to Jesus' key teachings about "the kingdom" and the real purpose of prayer. Paperback , pages. Published March 1st by Linchpin Publishing first published January 1st To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

    To ask other readers questions about A View from the Back Pew , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about A View from the Back Pew. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Jan 06, Eliza Fayle rated it it was amazing. Every once in awhile a book comes along that really makes me think. I love when that happens. Rather, it is a book for all us who want to explore our spirituality and our personal relationship with a Divine Source.

    Intelligently and delightfully guided by a man who has been there, done that, and discovered his own Truth. To read the fu Every once in awhile a book comes along that really makes me think. To read the full review visit http: Mar 16, Farrah rated it liked it Shelves: While I may not have agreed with everything, there were some issues that made sense.

    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth
    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth
    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth
    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth
    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth
    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth
    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth
    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth
    Memoirs from the Rear Pew: The truth about spiritual growth

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