Saturday, January 29, 2011

DIVINITY and pilgrimage

The language of pilgrimage and the song "Amazing Grace" are now woven throughout DIVINITY.

It is helpful in pulling it all together.

What I've learned is that while I wrote a book about actual pilgrimages (FOLLOW ME), gave a theology of pilgrimage (SCHOOL OF THE PILGRIM), and how to do pilgrimage (PRACTICING PILGRIMAGE), this is a book that puts "meat" on the "bones" of pilgrimage. I'm now providing a living example of life as pilgrimage.



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hindus on pilgrimage

I've been teaching world religions at NC Central University. Hindus (as I have learned and taught) go on pilgrimage in order to rid themselves of bad karma as well as to be closer to their gods and goddesses.

It is amazing that all these world religions, like Hinduism, based in India, practice the ancient act of walking toward wholeness, healing, and devotion.



Monday, January 24, 2011

DIVINITY: a long journey

Lao Tzu said that the longest journey begins with the initial first, single step.

My proposal to DIVINITY feels just like that.



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Beer Pilgrimage in Belgium

Gotta love this.

A pilgrimage is calling: Belgium, beer, and Trappists. What I love about Benedictines are the choices that they make to support their communities. St. John's and St. Ben's in MN support themselves by colleges and other crafts. Other Benedictine/Trappist communities do things like coffins, and in this case, beer.

From a pilgrimage is afoot:

Nestled in this province’s verdant farmlands, the St. Sixtus Abbey houses one of six official Trappist breweries in Belgium. The monks have perfected their craft over more than 160 years, and despite closing the brewery to visitors, shunning advertising, retail outlets and even labels, their beer has taken top honors from enthusiast sites like and (The only sure way to bring home the brew — save the black market — is by calling the Abbey’s “beerphone” to reserve a case for pick-up. And even then the monks will supply only one case a person, a month; no resales allowed.)



Friday, January 14, 2011

A Pilgrimage Continues: A Service of Witness to the Resurrection

Pilgrimage not only takes place on this earth, but in the context of the Christian community--and other faith communities--it continues beyond into the life to come.

My father Donald P. Mitchell, is now on a pilgrimage in a land I know little to nothing about. He follows the Pilgrim God. He died on 1-11-11, at 88 years old, in Tigard, OR. He died just like he wanted: in his sleep, with no alarm, no emergency treatments...he simply slid and passed away.

A Service of Witness to the Resurrection is at Valley Community Presbyterian Church, Portland, OR, at 2 PM on Sunday, Jan. 16th, reception following.

The journey continues!



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bus Ride in Israel

Attached is a guest column article in Chapel Hill News from the latest pilgrimage in the Holy Land.

Click here for the original:

And here it is below:

Anger is expressed with sharply honed words.We use ferocious gestures to accompany angry words. Indignation caused by powerlessness can rip into placid lives, leaving long-lasting scars.

I experienced such toxic anger on a bus ride in Israel the week before Thanksgiving.

As part of my Carrboro-based non-profit, the School of the Pilgrim, I was on a pilgrimage in Egypt's Sinai desert. Before the pilgrimage, I followed news of the uneasy cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians.

It is a transitory truce contingent on the building or freezing of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. And while Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas engaged in the erratic dance of diplomacy internationally, on an Israeli bus I witnessed the perceived absence of peace and sense of injustice underneath the appearance of the general public's civility.

I experienced unbridled rage, conjured up by decades of hostility. I remembered that I am not only a Chapel Hillian: It is important to take my place as a world citizen.

I sat in the front seat on the bus from Eilat, Israel's southernmost city, to Jerusalem. The first four hours were calm. I smiled as an Israeli assumed I was a citizen, talking to me in fluent Hebrew. Sitting next to me was Shookie, an Israeli. We shared photos of our familes and swapped stories of our careers.

The easy-going environment was shattered as we neared Jerusalem. It was nearly 6 p.m. on Friday, the beginning of Shabbat, the sacred Sabbath for observant Jews.

This means that all businesses and public employees - including the driver of the government-owned bus - must cease work by 6, or face a fine.

It also meant that military buses and armed Israeli security would be routinely posted to block passage from Jerusalem into the Palestinian territories of the West Bank. This made it difficult for the Palestinians riding on our bus to get home.

Not knowing the bus stops around Jerusalem, I was unaware we passed the one stop that most of the Palestinian passengers used to go home. Seeing that we skipped his stop, a young Palestinian man stormed to the front of the bus, his hands banging the overhead rack, yelling, "Stop" to the driver.

The bus driver yelled back angrily. With Shookie translating, I understood what was happening: The Palestinian loudly asserted his right to get off the bus to go home.

In vulgar language, the driver explained that he couldn't stop at the usual stops. Shabbat was approaching, and he would be fined if his bus were on the road after 6. Hoping to quell any violence, the driver promised to stop soon.

The young Palestinian seemed placated, but then the bus driver drove by another stop where the Palestinians might have gotten off. This stop was blocked by another bus, and armed Israeli soldiers.

Angrier, with more Palestinians enraged at the driver's action, the young man ran to the front of the bus, demanding the driver stop immediately, "or else!"

Shaken by this aggression, the driver brought the bus to a jolting stop, farther from the Palestinian homes.

Tension between Israeli and Palestinians, evident for generations on the world stage, enveloped that bus.

Feeling a great wrong had been done to them, the Palestinian crowd on the bus let go with a fierce barrage of menacing words. Shouting at the top of their voices, bodily gestures engaged in swearing at all Israelis, the Palestinians stomped off the bus, rocking the vehicle, yelling threats at the driver for his insensitivity.

The driver wasn't innocent either, verbally engaged in this war of acrimonious words.

I was scared for my own well-being as I listened and watched. I worried that the violence would escalate rapidly in the tight confines of the bus.

Israeli citizens huddled next to the window, wanting to avoid the rupture of peace. I felt helpless as the crowd stepped off the bus, banging their fists on the bus' side as it departed.

Then Shookie leaned over and said: "The land belongs to the Jews! It's in the Bible. They'll have to learn to live with it."

I was scarred by brittle barbs of hate and distrust.

In hindsight I realize that what happens there - from international diplomacy games to the exposed, savage wound on a bus - affects us here. I witnessed people in the Holy Land demand equal measures of respect and justice, which is necessary in order for peace to exist.

Until justice comes as a prelude to peace, all peoples will be in constant turmoil. Until justice comes, we will continue to witness repeatedly an unraveling of every tentative truce between warring human souls.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Egyptian Coptic Christians: Under Attack

Coptic Christians are under siege in Egypt.

What is weird and sad? This is nothing new. The bias against Christians in Egypt has been long running.

This is from the

CAIRO — The worshipers erupted, hundreds of them, loudly chanting “No! No! No!” and drowning out the priest, making it impossible for him to continue offering thanks to President Hosni Mubarak.

It was two days after a suicide bomber killed at least 21 people as a New Year’s Eve Mass was ending in Alexandria, and the Coptic Christian church leadership had assumed its standard posture as ally of the president, loyal institution of the state. “We direct our thanks to the president,” the priest said during a Mass.

But this time the parishioners would have none of it: “No! No! No!” “We want our rights!” and “Remove the governor!” they shouted during the ceremony.

The bomb attack exposed a troubling sectarian divide between Egypt’s Christian minority and its Muslim majority. But it also revealed disagreements within the Christian population, and within the church, too. An increasingly conservative and restive segment of the population expressed frustration with the church leadership’s nonconfrontational approach to the state and its reluctance to aggressively challenge practices seen as discriminatory, churchgoers, politicians and political scientists said.

Prayers for our Coptic brothers and sisters.



Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year on the Pilgrimage...

Working hard on the book DIVINITY, which has become a story of a pilgrimage of coming out. This will most likely become the theme for the book, and for my life this year.

Blessings on your journeys in 2011!

Buen camino!