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   The Newsletter of the Crosswinds Foundation
    Vol. 2:1 
January 19, 2009
 
In This Issue
Post-Racial America?
Oprah and Spirituality
Culture Tracks
From the Mailbag
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Bob
 
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Bob
Are you off to a good start in 2009? At the Crosswinds Foundation we have hit the ground running.
 
In this first issue of CrossingCurrents, for 2009 we want to share a few thoughts on the state of race relations in America. We are also excited about a new project we have in the works - a documentary that will address this subject in greater detail. We'll be keeping you updated on this important project and in the next few months sharing how you might be of help.
 
In this month's issue we are also taking a look at some of the spiritual statistics released in a recent Harris poll. The cultural shifts in regards to issues of faith continue. Our article in this issue on Oprah and Spirituality is indicative of this.
 
One final note, as I shared with you last issue, our staff member, Don Malin is departing this month for his second tour of duty in the Middle East (he will be serving in Afghanistan). Please keep Don and our other service men and women in your prayers. We are making plans for Don to give us periodic reports about life in the service and in a Muslim country and will share these with you as Don is able to make his reports.
 
We hope you are finding Crosswinds to be of help to you in your own education and ministry experience. Let us know if you have any questions, or would like for us to address a particular topic or subject.

With Best Regards,
 
Bob Waldrep
President, Crosswinds Foundation
Becoming a Post-Racial America?
By Bob Waldrep
OBAMANo matter what one's political affiliation, as we again observe the transfer of the presidency, it would be difficult not to acknowledge the particular historical significance of this moment. Without question, President-elect Obama's inauguration is evidence of the tremendous advances we have made, as a nation, in regards to race relations. Some have even begun to refer to this as a post-racial America.

However, this is still up in the air. The question remains as to how much farther we must yet travel to truly be "one people" and "one America". Christians, in particular must be willing to address this question.

Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church. How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ? You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name" and "Dear Lord and Father of all Mankind," you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America. They tell me that there is more integration in the entertaining world and other secular agencies than there is in the Christian church. How appalling that is." (Paul's Letter to American Christians, 1956)

These words were spoken over fifty years ago and, unfortunately, still ring true today. As Dr. King recognized, the Christian Church should be at the forefront in racial reconciliation, not bringing up the rear. If we cannot worship together in our Churches, how shall we ever walk together in our social and community structures?

Concerning the role of the church, Dr. King said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. (Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963)

As we remember Dr. King, on this day that commemorates his birth, and as we prepare to observe the oath of office being given to our first African-American President, let us celebrate how far we have come. However, let us also not forget that there is still a ways yet to travel.

Surely, in these days of good will, we are not so na´ve as to think racism will not continue to rear its ugly head. Let us pray that it will not be so in the Church and that God will give us the grace and power to be part of the solution and deal with it quickly and decisively.

Those who call themselves Christian must strive to see that it is never again said that any institution or agency has surpassed the Church in establishing racial equality and harmony. And, though we may have different cultural backgrounds that make us distinct, may it never again be the color of our skin that separates and divides us; especially at 11:00 on Sunday morning.
Oprah and Spirituality
By Bob Waldrep
OprahEarlier this month Oprah devoted a week of programs to, "Oprah's Best Life Series". The topics included weight, health, finances, relationships, and, of course, one topic Oprah can't stay away from - your spirit. That show featured Rev. Ed Bacon, pastor of All Saint Episcopal Church in Pasadena (the Oprah website describes this as, "a liberal and progressive church in both its theology and politics"), Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of Omega Institute (this is rooted in Eastern meditation and has its origins in Sufism - a mystical offshoot of Islam), and Michael Beckwith, spiritual director of Agape International Spiritual Center (he is also a teacher in the New Age book and DVD, The Secret).

As you can see, missing from Oprah's discussion of "your" spirit is any evangelical Christian representative. Of course, it is not surprising for Ms. Winfrey to exclude that voice when discussing spiritual matter since it is not her particular perspective.

So, what was she promoting on this particular program and her webcast follow up "Finding Your Spiritual Path" with these same teachers? Following are some excerpts of the discussions.

Concerning God
The Rev. Bacon: When we are connected with the divine intelligence, which is all there is, we become intelligent and we become connected with all there is. We experience the all-ness, the oneness, the wholeness that God is and that we are inside, all the community of cells within us and with one another and with all the people in the world.

The view Bacon expresses is one held by others on the panel, as well. It is the idea that all is God and God is all and is much more compatible with Eastern religions that with Christianity. Of course, to hold such a view one must reinterpret, or dismiss, the Bible. Here is how Oprah and her panel handles it.

Concerning the Bible
"Oprah: I was always told the Bible was God's holy word.
Michael: Right, but it's actually the inspired word of man. The inspiration of man about God. And if you read the Bible, open up any Bible, it will say "version." "This is the King James Version."
Oprah: That's right. That's right.
Michael: It's the King James Version of the Bible. It's not the Bible. You can't find the real Bible. All you have are the versions that have been passed down. So people are putting their faith in versions.
Oprah: Say that again. The inspired words-words of men about God.
Michael: About God. That's what you're reading. So at any moment, you know, you have an aha!, you have an inspiration about the presence of God.
Oprah: I just had an aha! just then.
Michael: You lay it down, you know, it becomes your Bible. It becomes that moment of inspiration. So you compile all of that. It has history.
Oprah: Yes."

Note that not only is this dismissive of the Bible, but it also elevates the ability of the individual to become his own standard of truth by having "an aha" moment. Oprah shared a personal experience that illustrates, telling the story of her departure from the Christian Church over twenty five years which began with an "aha" moment. One that would lead her to the same conclusion about God being a universal energy or divind intelligence expressed by Bacon.

"Oprah: For me the biggest spiritual big moment was what I was describing earlier, that moment sitting in church listening to the preacher talk about the condemnation and judgmental God and me having that aha! epiphanal moment that how can God be love and condemning at the same time and then starting that path to recognize that God-God, all universal energy, all that is God, really does want me to have my best life and that that is why I'm here. To seek that and to achieve it to the best of my ability in co-creation with the greater good that is God. That was my big revelation. And so I can accept the abundance that is offered because that's why it's offered to us. Yeah. Yes, you?"

In other words, they are saying that if anything rings true with you, it is true; an objective standard by which it might be measured - such as the Bible - is not necessary. The statistical trends related to the Bible seem to indicate this is becoming a prevalent view [see Culture Tracks]. While most in our culture still believe in the Bible a much smaller percentage believe that all the texts are actually the Word of God. This trend should grow as our children are raised with such views.

In fact, during the webcast, one person asked Oprah how she should expose her children to spirituality. The answer, approved by Oprah, was as follows.

Concerning Children and Spirituality

"Elizabeth: You can say to them, "I think about this all the time too. Let's go on this adventure together. Let's read from this book together." You know, there are wonderful books for children, different teaching tales from the Bible, from Buddha, from the Greek myths, and you could have a time every night where you read different stories together and talk about the big issues and let them know that you are someone they can come to with their questions, even if you don't have the answer, and say, "We're going to seek for this together."
Oprah: I think that's a really interesting thing because, you know, I think parents usually, and I think what you're feeling, too, Victoria, parents usually want to have the answer for their kids. They want to be able to say this is it and this is what we believe as a family. But you're right. It is a spiritual adventure for everybody."

The idea presented here is not to train your children in a particular religious tradition but to expose them to a variety of spiritual streams. Interestingly, though Elizabeth Lesser recognizes there are big issues in life, she cannot direct us to a solution, other than to study religious works that offer conflicting answers. Little wonder we are raising a spiritually schizophrenic generation.

The advice given regarding church is just as bad.

"Oprah:
How do you find a church like yours? Maybe not with a choir as good, but-
Michael: You know, you can look up the Science of Mind, there's Unity.
Elizabeth: Unity Church.
Oprah: Unity Churches, yeah.
Elizabeth: Unity Churches are all over the place.
Oprah: Yeah.
Elizabeth: As are Unitarian Churches.
Michael: Right.
Oprah: By Unity, it means they accept all religions, right?
Michael: Unity embraces the teachings of Jesus, but not necessarily from a dogmatic point of view. The same thing with the Science of Mind. It's taking your life-it's a religion that gives you back to yourself."

The recommendation here is if you must go to church, find one that embraces all religions as true. The mind science churches, of which Michael Beckwith's Church is one, sprung up in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. They were basically the forerunners of the Metaphysical and New Age Churches of today.

So why does Oprah continue to teach this relativistic/New Age understanding of spirituality? In part it is due to her own spiritual journey. But more importantly, it is due to her own sense of self. Oprah has said that as a child she wanted to be a missionary. Through television, that childhood dream has been realized.

Concerning Oprah's Ministry

"The Rev. Bacon: ...I believe that every person is a minister. Everybody is an instrument. Everyone is an instrument.
Oprah: Well, this show for me for years has been a ministry.
Oprah: And that's when the show changed. The show changed for me when it stopped being-so that may have also been a great spiritual moment. The moment I recognized and literally had a meeting and said, "I'm not going to take this-you know, I'm going to take the high road. I'm going to stop doing confrontational television." And a lot of my sponsors and other television stations in different cities at the time were very upset with me. And I said, "I will either take this path or I will get out of television." So that was a-that was a big moment when I made the decision that I was going to use television for what I believed to be a greater good than be used by television. So that's-that's I think when a lot of things changed.
Michael: And that's changed millions and millions and millions of lives.
Oprah: Yeah. And changed my ability to stay in it. I wouldn't have been able to stay in it or stay with it."

There is little doubt that Beckwith is right. It may not be millions, but many lives have been changed through Oprah's show. Certainly, it is undeniable that she has done much good and has had a positive impact on the personal lives of many people throughout the world. However, Beckwith refers to the underlying basis of this impact being her spiritual views.

I fear he is right on this point and her influence has been far reaching in helping to move our culture away from the worship of the one true God. And though we may not agree with her views, you must admit her zeal for her views and willingness to promote them are admirable. I think the reason for her being so vocal is becasue she genuinley belives these views can change the world.
Should those who have trusted Christ be any less devoted to sharing the hope of the gospel? We may not have as large a platform as Oprah, but we should be just as passionate in our faith.  For while Oprah might offer her brand of "truth", her "ahas", we who are Christians offer the one who is the truth - the Savior!
Jesus came to deliver us from sin and give us life. Now, that's good news worth sharing.
Truth Behind Secret Cover[To read more about Oprah, her spiritual teachers, and the mind science church refer to The Truth Behind the Secret, coauthored by Bob Waldrep. Email us for ordering information.]
bob@crosswindsfoundation.org
Culture Tracks 

footprints

Statistical data reflecting some of the findings regarding the cultural footprints of Americans. 

75% of Americans believe in heaven.
73% of Americans believe in angels
71% of Americans believe Jesus is the son of God
62% of Americans believe in hell
51% of Americans believe in the devil
47% of Americans believe in Darwin's theory of evolution
40% of Americans believe in creationism
55% of Americans believe most, or all of the Old Testament
54% of Americans believe most, or all of the New Testament
(However, only 37% of Americans believe all the OT texts and  36% believe all the NT texts are the "Word of God")
 
From The Harris Research Poll, December 2008
FROM THE MAILBAG 
I got the information about your website from the Alabama Baptist newspaper.  I have a person/group that you might want to consider researching.  My husband has left his Baptist upbringing and started following [this] "teacher".... I grow weary when I go to the site and read some of the so-called "truths" this man is putting out there.  I consider it a cult.  See what you think.
 
Could you please email me the outline for the Bible Reliability sermon that you spoke about last night?
The sermon was great and I do thank you for making me biblically wiser.  
 
Thanks again for all your help [with a friend involved in an aberrant group. Editor's note] and glad to hear your new ministry is going well!  I look forward to your newsletters and I'll definitely check out the blog.
 
I was interested in seeing the website....... especially after reading the AL. Baptist's article by Ron Carter.  (Montgomery) 
 
(Editor's Note: As we shared last month, due to the popularity of our Spiritual Buffet series, running in the Alabama Baptist, we will be adding four more articles to the series and then all fifteen articles will be published in booklet format. We will also be doing another series on World Religions)
Help Us With Your Donations
If you choose to honor us with your financial investment in our ministry, please make your check payable to: Crosswinds Foundation and mail to:
 
Crosswinds Foundation
P.O. Box 12143
Birmingham, AL 35202
 
You can also give by credit card (MC,Visa, Discover) by contacting our office at 205-327-8317.
0r, contact us by email and we will follow up with the necessary information for making your gift.
Thanks to all of you who have made a financial investment in the work of Crosswinds during this first year of our ministry. Your support enables us to take advantage of the opportunities we are afforded to engage the culture.
 
Please let us know if you have any questions or of we might be of assistance to you. If you would like an information packet on a particiular subject or issue just send us an email, identifying your request, to: info@crosswindsfoundation.org 
Crosswinds Foundation | P.O Box 12143 | Birmingham | AL | 35202