Critical Perspectives on Transformational Culture.

Category: Podcasts

Podcast Episode 9: Sister Jeanne Ranek and Dr. Neville Kelly Discuss Christianity, Tradition and Integral Theory.

by Jeremy Johnson


In spite of a busy schedule, darting into one presentation and then out to another, I managed to squeeze in an enlightening conversation with Sister Jeanne Ranek and Dr. Neville Kelly during a lunch break at the conference. Sister Jeanne is the first woman monastic leader to participate in the Integral Theory Conference, and Dr. Neville Kelly is an Adjunct Professor (and former Visiting Assistant Professor) of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Mt. Mary College.

You’ll hear the podcast begin with Dr. Kelly responding to the criticisms being raised at the conference about integral theory’s tendency towards cognitive abstractions (raised by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens himself at the keynote).

What strikes me now, re-listening to this conversation, is what Sister Jeanne says about tradition: “Genuine in-touchness with tradition should really empower one to development.” During our conversation, I began to consider the possibility that it’s not only the monastic community work that might provide a model for planetary culture and inter-theoretical discussions, but also theology, which might provide insight to evolutionary thought (thinking along the lines of Teilhard de Chardin and Omega Point).

There were some lovely responses and critical observations by Dr. Kelly and Sister Jeanne that convinced me of the importance of tradition in our post-postmodern playground of meta theories.

Please listen and enjoy.

This Episode’s Related Links and Information:

Dr. Kelly will soon be published in her latest work: Reweaving the Threefold Cord: Integral Theory and the Christian Tradition-An Introduction.

Dr. Neville Kelly’s Website

Dr. Kelly’s Integral Course. Balancing Your World: An Integral Theory of Getting it Together

Roots and Ladders: Benedictine Monasticism and the Integral Christian Future. A pre-conference workshop by Dr. Kelly and Sister Ranek I covered here.

Podcast Episode 11: #ITC2013 – Integral Spam. Trevor Malkinson, Trish Nowland, Jeremy Johnson

by Jeremy Johnson


The fates had aligned at the Integral Theory Conference. Trish Nowland, Trevor Malkinson, and myself were about to go to bed. Lights were dimmed, sleeping bags rolled open, our friend Nathan Hohmann was sleeping.

But we kept talking. Inevitably I turned on the microphone, and clicked record. You’re listening to evolutionary-esoteric pillow talk. Consider it a philosophical riff on Roy Bhaskar’s Critical Realism, or one too many glasses of wine, or as the giggling ecstasy of newly kindled friendship.

Join us! As we discuss creation mythologies, spiritual emanation, integral spam, the evolution of archetypes, dopplegangers, celestial twins, and even metal bands.

This podcast is rated PG-13.

Podcast Episode 10: John Thompson and Sean Wilkinson Talk Integral Sports

by Jeremy Johnson


“All the tennis sessions were based in integral life skills… self-awareness, teamwork, taking responsibility.”

In this episode, I talk with John Thompson and Sean Wilkinson about their presentation at the Integral Theory Conference: The Birth of Integral Sports. John and Sean have a fascinating success story to tell about the fusion of Integral Theory – and practice – with sports. Together they started a Tennis Academy, grounded in integral principles. It wasn’t long before it became a kind of integral “community center” for the whole neighborhood. Even parents ended up benefitting from workshops… and integral coaching! Despite the fact that many of them would never have otherwise known what it was.

John and Sean practice “Circling,” which is an interrelational reflective practice, a form of shared mindfulness where you note the thoughts and feelings going on within you as you relate to another person.

Circling had a huge impact on the children’s development, as you’ll see. Listen in and hear their story.

This Episode’s Related Links and Information:

Parents in Sports: An Integral Coaching website for parents of athletes.

John Thompson and Sean Wilkinson’s website on Circling

Interviews: John David Ebert on the Age of Catastrophe

by Jeremy Johnson

574907_3861887994693_468172182_nThis conversation kicks off December’s theme, “dark passageways,” where EL explores the darker side to cultural transformation and contemporary religious experience. First up, Jeremy interviews John David Ebert about his new book, The Age of Catastrophe: Disaster and Humanity in Modern Times.

Listen in for a wild ride exploring the breakdown of global civilization, art and apocalypse, and the postmodern monastic remixer:

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonathan Talat Phillips: Evolver & the New Spiritual Counter-Culture

by Jeremy Johnson

Yesterday, Nicholas Fuller, Jonathan, and myself had a conversation on the Evolver Social Movement and the self-described “new spiritual counterculture.” In late Spring, Nick published an article on this site entitled, “The Spiritual Counter-Culture is Doomed.” This inflammatory title was aimed towards the eccentric and growing subculture of spirituality, psychedelics, shamanism and healing, which Talat chronicles in his new book: The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic, and wrote recently about for the Huffington Post, The Rise of the New Spiritual Counterculture. As an advocate of this emerging spiritual movement, Talat stepped up to defend it. He encouraged Nick and I to engage with him for a friendly debate. Nick admitted the title of his blog was inflammatory, and Talat also acknowledged that “spiritual counter-culture” was a phrase used to catch the eye in their media campaign. Once that was addressed, a deep and friendly conversation was able to take place between the three of us. Read the rest of this entry »

Who are the Evolutionaries? A Dialogue With Carter Phipps

by Jeremy Johnson

I sat down in an NYC cafe to talk with Carter Phipps about his new book, Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea. Phipps was also the editor of EnlightenNext (formerly What is Enlightenment?) magazine. Since 1999, he’s been interviewing and engaging with thinkers, teachers, and scholars about the intersections between science and spirituality, cultural transformation, and the evolution of consciousness. His book, in a smooth, journalistic narrative, details his personal journey as a spiritual seeker and his eventual discovery of an “evolutionary spirituality.” As his book title says – it’s the intersection between the science of evolution and the spiritual possibilities an evolutionary worldview unlocks. Since evolution became well-known in the West, various luminaries have stepped forth with a vision that could spiritually encompass it. Read the rest of this entry »

Evolution’s Purpose: An Interview with Steve McIntosh

by Jeremy Johnson

On June 5th, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve McIntosh, author of Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, and his upcoming publication, Evolution’s Purpose: An Integral Interpretation of the Scientific Story of Our Origins. Steve was part of a panel discussion entitled, “Cultural Evolution: The Solution to Practically Every Problem” that occurred later that evening. He is a member of the “Evolutionary Leaders” group started by Deepak Chopra, founder and president of Now and Zen, and most recently, a member of a new think tank, The Institute for Cultural Evolution.

Steve takes me through the big themes in his book: explaining what the purpose of evolution is through integral philosophy, rooted in a dialectic of history and reaching back to philosophers like Hegel, Whitehead, and the mystic Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin. I’ve always found McIntosh to one of the most unique integral authors in that he offers his own interpretations. His first book, Integral Consciousness, offered both praise and criticism of Integral Theory, as popularized by Ken Wilber.

The conversation was compelling and energized– you won’t find a more articulate expression of the integral-evolutionary philosophy. Hope you enjoy our dialogue:

From Boxer to Philosophy Professor: an Interview with Dr. Richard Grego

by Jeremy Johnson

by Nicholas Fuller

Philosophy and spirituality in the context of consciousness studies has been a passionate, and intellectual pursuit of mine for many years. Authors and philosophers from Ken Wilber, to Alan Watts, to William Irwin Thompson, line my bookshelf and the folds of my mind. I recently enrolled in a philosophy course for my college degree, sadly, not to further deepen my understanding of the self and the world around me, but to simply fulfill a mandatory Humanities credit. Imagine my surprise when I read my professor’s self-introduction where he detailed his interest in consciousness studies. Read the rest of this entry »

Diner Dialogues: Planetary Consciousness in the Techno Era

by Jeremy Johnson

Hey readers, and listeners, I’d like to introduce to you EL’s latest podcast series. Miriam and I have weekly conversations that involves us talking about our work. We figured, why not start recording them? We cover a lot of stuff. Evolution. Consciousness. Mysticism. Culture. Social change.

We are young and aspiring grad students at heart. These chats will often be at diners, on trains, or even coffee houses. I always loved the experience of talking about these topics in a public area. Maybe because it spilled forth private meanings and insights back into the world that seems so alien and indifferent to them? Either way, I’m excited to share with you our raw conversations. They’re the most important, I think, because they aren’t published or polished. It’s just us, talking our hearts out.

Diner Dialogues: Planetary Consciousness in the Techno Era

Folks who are interested in evolutionary and planetary spirituality might feel disconnected from having access to social occasions where these subjects can be openly discussed. This is no replacement! But I think the more we share our private and inner visions of the world and our potential futures, the more we can generate that world. In other words, let’s dare to share our conversations and make them public ones–especially in the internet era–that help foster alternative media and culture. As Daniel Pinchbeck recently said on Facebook:

Artists and media makers perform the crucial function of constructing the narrative or mythology that underlies civilization and impels people into action. Our culture requires a rapid polar reversal of its governing ideology, through all forms of creative expression and storytelling. What artists and media makers need to develop, first of all, is the moral courage to recognize the full dimensions of the planetary emergency, without flinching away from it. As they undergo their personal initiation into new levels of awareness and compassion, the work they make will automatically reflect this.

As artists, myth-makers, and social activists, how can we participate in this “crucial function?” I’m hoping to gear EL towards a more service-based platform for creating alternative media, dialogue and discussion. Here’s to social change and transformation, and getting our hands dirty with the paints, and platforms, that require us to grasp the prima materia and work with it. In our time, in an age where a new culture and re-imagined human life is needed, the prima materia is human culture.

Interview with Emily Horn: Awakening, Contemplation, Mystery

by Jeremy Johnson


As part of January’s question for EL, I spoke with Emily Horn on living as a contemplative in a contemporary age.

I began our conversation by asking her what it meant to be a mystic; but the term mystic, like mystical, carries with it a connotation that may not be appropriate for a more pragmatic age which shuns the hocus-pocus and supernatural subtext the word may carry. It may also lose the heart of what a so-called mystic may be doing. That is, the activity of contemplation. The etymological definition of this word is:

“religious musing,” from O.Fr. contemplation or directly from L. contemplationem (nom. contemplatio) “act of looking at,” from contemplat-, pp. stem of contemplari “to gaze attentively, observe,” originally “to mark out a space for observation” (as an augur does). From com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + templum “area for the taking of auguries” (see temple).

The contemplative, then, creates a “space for observation” and that is none other than their own lives; their mind, body, environment, experience. Out of their life they build a “temple” (con-templative) and a rigorous and challenging practice of looking at themselves takes place.

Rather than mere self-absorbtion, the contemplative unites with the world.

It is possible, Emily suggests to me, that everything in the world can be seen as sacred. We can access a method of gazing at ourselves and the world that allows us to perceive this hidden, sacred quality. In this way, we walk through the world con-templatively – “with the temple” – because the sacred space is found everywhere.

Towards the end of our discussion, Emily balanced the geeky view – of meditators embracing technology and seeing contemplative practice as a kind of parallel “inner” science – with the acknowledgment that at the heart of a contemplative practice is mystery. It is the willing act of giving up our knowingness, not for ignorance, but humility towards this existence. The healthy scientist, like the contemplative, embraces a “don’t-know” mind and is thus more receptive towards understanding the world than someone who believes we have it all figured out.

In regards to the future, she suggests that geeks will play a major role, but they won’t be the only ones who have a voice. Artists and poets, too, belong to the emerging world.

I hope you enjoy our discussion. It left much to ponder on being a modern spiritual practitioner, and reminded me that the sense of mystery has in no way left us in the age of abundant information.

Related Links:

Emily Horn’s website

Ordinary Awakenings


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