When Mainstream Clergy Turn You Away

Esoteric Interfaith Church ordained clergy LogoBelow is a letter we received showing exactly why we founded this Seminary thirty years ago — to give people in need of spiritual services alternatives to mainstream clergy who tell them NO, we will NOT help you, you are not our denomination or, you are breaking our “rules”. Too many mainstream places of worship turn people away who are desperate for spiritual guidance, counseling or just basic spiritual services such as weddings & funerals.

Dear Seminary:
When my wife and I decided to marry we looked to have a ceremony outside of a Roman Catholic Church. This was not a decision we took lightly… Despite our efforts to have a Catholic Priest perform the wedding ceremony we were forced to look elsewhere. Both my wife’s and my families have several life long family friends who also happened to be priests, one of which has known me since birth, gave me my First Communion and performed my sister’s wedding. We approached each of them. In each case we were told they could not do it. Out of a fear of repercussions from the hierarchy of the church for performing a wedding ceremony outside an actual church. A very disturbing realization. Two adults reaching out for help were turned away for no other reason than the location of a ceremony and the fear of those being asked to perform it. My wife and I went on to meet with and hire an Interfaith Minister. Despite only meeting with us a handful of times she did an amazing job with our ceremony. Many of our guests commented on how personal and filled with love the ceremony was.

Esoteric Interfaith Seminary LogoSeveral years later my mother passed away. I once again approached a lifelong family friend, a priest asked by my family to be the main celebrant of my mother’s funeral mass. I asked to perform the eulogy at the end of the funeral mass. He said he would ask if it was possible. The next day I was told the parish pastor would not allow me to read the eulogy but I was welcome to stand next to the priest while he read it. I must say I was taken aback…this was a parish in which my mother and father had both dedicated a substantial amount of time and money. I have never seen such a blatant disregard to the pain of a grieving individual. I asked to read a one page heartfelt eulogy but instead was offered to stand next to someone else while they read it. In my eyes this was nothing more than an exploitation of power. This “pastor” had it and I did not. It finally solidified my view of the Church as a powerful hierarchy of timid small minded men. I know that my view may not be fair and that there are many, many wonderful spirit filled people within the Catholic Church but the organization itself has abandoned it’s followers. The power has negated much of the good.

The Vigil of Christmas

Look at this awesomeness from Oremus.org   Thank you to Bishop Wm for sending.

OREMUS for December 24

The Vigil of Christmas

Lord, open our lips,

and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.


Blessed are you, God of Abraham and Sarah,

the God of David and his descendants

unwearied is your love for us

and steadfast is your covenant;

wonderful beyond words

is your gift of the Saviour, born of the Virgin Mary.

You count us among the people in you delight,

and by this night’s marriage of earth and heaven,

you draw all generations into the embrace of your love.

For these and all your mercies, we praise you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

Blessed be God for ever!


An opening canticle may be sung.


Psalm 119:1-8


Happy are they whose way is blameless,*

who walk in the law of the Lord!

Happy are they who observe his decrees*

and seek him with all their hearts!

Who never do any wrong,*

but always walk in his ways.

You laid down your commandments,*

that we should fully keep them.

O that my ways were made so direct*

that I might keep your statutes!

Then I should not be put to shame,*

when I regard all your commandments.

I will thank you with an unfeigned heart,*

when I have learned your righteous judgements.

I will keep your statutes;*

do not utterly forsake me.

How shall the young cleanse their way?*

By keeping to your words.

With my whole heart I seek you;*

let me not stray from your commandments.

I treasure your promise in my heart,*

that I may not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O Lord;*

instruct me in your statutes.

With my lips will I recite*

all the judgements of your mouth.

I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees*

than in all manner of riches.

I will meditate on your commandments*

and give attention to your ways.

My delight is in your statutes;*

I will not forget your word.

Deal bountifully with your servant,*

that I may live and keep your word.

Open my eyes, that I may see*

the wonders of your law.

I am a stranger here on earth;*

do not hide your commandments from me.

My soul is consumed at all times*

with longing for your judgements.

You have rebuked the insolent;*

cursed are they who stray from your commandments!

Turn from me shame and rebuke,*

for I have kept your decrees.

Even though rulers sit and plot against me,*

I will meditate on your statutes.

For your decrees are my delight,*

and they are my counsellors.


My soul cleaves to the dust;*

give me life according to your word.

I have confessed my ways and you answered me;*

instruct me in your statutes.

Make me understand the way of your commandments,*

that I may meditate on your marvellous works.

My soul melts away for sorrow;*

strengthen me according to your word.

Take from me the way of lying;*

let me find grace through your law.

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;*

I have set your judgements before me.

I hold fast to your decrees;*

O Lord, let me not be put to shame.

I will run the way of your commandments,*

for you have set my heart at liberty.


FIRST READING [Zechariah 2:10-13]:


Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.



Words: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), 1885

Tune: Gartan, Hermitage


Love came down at Christmas,

love all lovely, love divine;

love was born at Christmas:

star and angels gave the sign.


Worship we the Godhead,

love incarnate, love divine;

worship we our Jesus,

but wherewith the sacred sign?


Love shall be our token;

love be yours and love be mine,

Love to God and to all men,

love for plea and gift and sign.


SECOND READING [Romans 16:25-27]:


Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever! Amen.


The Benedictus (Morning),

the Magnificat (Evening), or Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.



The time is at hand and your promises are fulfilled.

With joyful hearts we pray:

Today we shall see your salvation!


We eagerly await your coming:

come to those who are destitute and alone.

Today we shall see your salvation!


We eagerly await your coming,

come to the homeless, the addicted, and all held in bondage.

Today we shall see your salvation!


We eagerly await your coming,

to liberate your creation and set us free.

Today we shall see your salvation!


We eagerly await your coming,

to those who long to be taken to their eternal home.

Today we shall see your salvation!


We eagerly await your coming

upon the Church that we may proclaim

the good news of your birth.

Today we shall see your salvation!


Almighty God,

you make us glad with the yearly remembrance

of the birth of your Son Jesus Christ:

grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer,

so we may with sure confidence behold him

when he shall come to be our judge;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Awaiting his coming in glory,

let us pray as our Savior has taught us:


– The Lord’s Prayer


Make our hearts leap with joy

and fill our mouths with songs of praise,

that we may announce glad tidings of peace,

and welcome the Christ in our midst. Amen.



The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The

Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.


The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary

Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops’ Council, 2002.


The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized

Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education

of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by

permission. All rights reserved.


The collect is from _Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the

Church of England_, material from which is included in this service is

copyright (c) The Archbishops’ Council, 2000.


The closing sentence is from a prayer reprinted from _Revised Common

Lectionary Prayers_, copyright (c) 2002 Consultation on Common



The opening prayer of thanksgiving is adapted from a collect in _Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_. Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

Pre Marriage Counseling, Clergy Should Avoid Creating Life-time Religious Aversion

Spiritual Pastoral Counseling before MarriageEnjoyed the articles in this week’s CT Pastors clergy newsletter (link below), especially the Pre-Marital counseling section. So many of us originally become ordained to officiate a wedding, and there is much wisdom clergy can convey before the marriage!

Also very insightful (to me, at least) is the opening blurb how people get infected with a life-long aversion to the Bible, or to religion.  I have met people who are so burned from childhood experiences of religion being shoved down their throats that they have a terrible bad taste in their mouth to all things religious. As clergy, we must ever strive not to be the source of someone’s life-long bad taste to religion, scripture or spirituality! I think this is also why so many say “I’m spiritual, but not religion,” because they just don’t trust organized religion. Since our network here is alternative clergy, alternative spirituality, and thus non-mainstream, we probably encounter more “burned” or bad-taste-in-their-mouth people.


What is the Central Mystery of Christianity?

Inner Christianity: A must read for ordained ministersBesides ordaining ministers, Rabbis, and other clergy, our Seminary also runs an online Mystery School with many fun lessons. One lesson is based on the life-changing book,  Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition by Richard Smoley.

A current member just answered the Chapter 4 question, “What is the central mystery of Christianity?” as follows:

For one to enter into the Kingdom of God, one must step past the constraints of the “I” and understand that the “I” is ultimately the same in all of us.  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22) “God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship, so the Sonship in its oneness transcends the sum of its parts.” …that there is an underlying unity of Being of which we are all part.

Huston Smith World Religions Scholar Has Died

The World's Religions by Huston Smith, Ph.D.One of our Seminarians told me today that Huston Smith died on December 30th. I somehow missed it in all the craziness of the news lately. All those losses in 2016: Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Prince, George Michael, Mohammed Ali — and also Huston Smith.  I used to get a Religion-in-the-News email “newsletter”. Since everyone seems to prefer news delivered by Facebook or blogs these days my inbox doesn’t get newsletters anymore.

We use Dr. Huston Smith’s famous book, The World’s Religions, in our seminary training program — as do countless colleges and universities.

CNN says:

Huston Smith sat at the bedside of his firstborn child, watching her life ebb away.
“I have no complaints,” Karen Smith told her father. “I am at peace.”
During their last moments together, Karen told her father that she was thinking of angels. She told him not to cry. She told him how much she loved the ocean.

“Religion,” Smith once wrote, is “the call to confront reality; to master the self.” Smith had strived to answer that call for much of his life.
Smith’s public persona has long been established: He is the tall, thin, affable scholar who can distill the essence of the most esoteric religious subject in concrete language.
* * * * * *
Here at the multi-faith Esoteric Interfaith Church, Inc. & Theological Seminary we are quite fond of that word esoteric. We like the interpretation of the word as “inner” because we often focus on the inner traditions of Christianity, Judaism and other great world religions. Our seminary offers a distance-learning Ph.D. in World Religion, Religion, Religious Studies, etc.
I love the cover pictured above. It’s Norman Rockwell’s famous “Golden Rule” painting. “Do unto others,” he reminded us right on the canvas. When I had The World’s Religions as a textbook in university it had a rather plain and boring cover. This edition would have kept me staring to the point of distraction during every lecture. Some very cool elements and even a couple esoteric symbols hiding in there despite the fact Rockwell wasn’t known for esotericisms.
Oh hey, I just checked Amazon and see they have another version of this classic called  The Illustrated World’s Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions. You can click and see inside the book to enjoy some of the many photos.
The seminarian who mentioned Smith’s passing also has a Ph.D. in World Religions from our seminary. He said he had read many of his books, even the ones not assigned in our seminary degree and ordination programs, and this great scholar of religion will be missed.

9 Obscure Religions You’ve Never Heard Of – Even if you have a degree in religious studies

I looked at this slideshow article with a “you won’t gotcha me!” attitude, I have a Ph.D. in Religion thank you very much. But sure enough, they got me with the second one. I’ve never heard of a certain Japanese sect they describe.

The Vietnamese religion mentioned was also fuzzy for me, but I do recall studying it years ago in comparative religions.

See if they can catch you!  http://www.patheos.com/Galleries/Obscure-Religions

Enjoy the vivid photographs while you’re at it.



Papal Hypocrisy: Equal Pay for Women, But Won’t Ordain Women!

Ordination of Women?

Our seminary ordains men AND women because we believe becoming ordained as a priest (or other clergy ordination) should be an answer to the Call, not dependent on one’s gender! We also ordain both men and women as minister, rabbi, reverend, chaplain, etc.

A few days ago the Pope in Rome called for equal pay for women worldwide. Women should get the same pay as men, he said. Yet the Pope won’t even HIRE women because they are not allowed to become ordained as a priest or even deacon.

Our seminary does not discriminate in any way, and one of our bishops, Bishop James, wrote:

“So this means that female Roman Catholic Bishops and Cardinals make the same as their male counterparts?”


Father Erik chimed in: “Lol, sharp wit, and a great point +James! Why would one worry about equal *pay* when one is not even recognizing men and women are equal in more basic human rights – specifically in this case, opening the priesthood to *all* human beings. Seems pretty fundamental to me.”

Becoming Ordained — and she’s female!

One of our seminarians, Deacon Angela, who will soon be ordained a woman priest, concurred saying, “I agree. Let’s implement equality at all levels!”


People “hate” church but still love religion and spirituality

Ordained Minister Rabbi Priest challenges to keep Church ministry thrivingThis is such a paradox, yet we all know the feeling, don’t we? You still believe in God and most aspects of your religion, still have faith, but you despise going to church or synagogue.  You are reluctant to go perhaps because either you’re so exhausted from trying to keep up with the culture-techno-information age “activities” and “entertainments” OR because church is so old-fashioned / gossipy / politics / boring / hokey — take your pick. Also for some of us, the theology and teachings just don’t inspire as much as they did our ancestors. Have movies spoiled us? Do we need updated myths and spiritual stories — more inclusive ones? I personally believe, as most of you know, that the absence of the Divine Feminine, of God-the-Mother, is part of the problem, but that’s another post.

I know that as an Ordained Minister, Rabbi, priest or other clergy we should pay attention to this unchurched phenomenon so we can still reach the people who want to work / worship / learn with us. They are all still out there, just not showing up to brick and mortar buildings anymore. Our alternative clergy who receive ordination from us here have many kinds of ministries and churches, including online churches, in order to connect with people.

There is a Free Webinar on this topic April 15 which I plan to “attend” / view. I urge all of you ordained clergy just starting out to sign up also:

Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith

Webinar Overview:

After devoting a lifetime to their churches,they’re walking away.


Sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope reveal the results of a
major study about the exodus from the American church. And what they’ve
discovered may surprise you…

Church refugees aren’t who you’d expect. Among those scrambling for the exits
are the church’s staunchest supporters and leaders. Leaving the church
doesn’t mean abandoning the faith. Some who are done with church report
they’ve never felt spiritually stronger.

Training Objectives [ for the ordained ]

•        Learn what prompted a study of the dechurched?
•        Get background on how was the study conducted and what hypotheses were confirmed or challenged in the process?
•        Discover any consistent themes that came out of the study?

If you can’t make the webinar time be sure to register anyways, we’ll send
you a link of the recording to watch afterwards. You’ll also
get a special offer on the book Church Refugees.

Webinar will be approximately 50 minutes in length.


Various Interfaith Minister Manuals and Resources

We have been recommending to all our ordained ministers the Interfaith Minister Manual by Angela Plum for decades. But it is harder to get lately, so I ordered these to see if I like ’em:

Get Ordained a Minister Rabbi Pastor Priest Interfaith1. The Interfaith Worship Manual by Rev. Stephanie Rutt. This manual includes a wide variety of interfaith worship services from Reverend Stephanie Rutt’s extensive repertoire. They span many faith traditions and cover musings on inspiring individuals as well as major holiday celebrations. Also included are guidelines for creating sacred spaces and for developing and facilitating meaningful interfaith worship experiences.

2. The Interfaith Prayer Book “…immensely popular for use both at interfaith gatherings and for personal reflection, having found its way into hospitals, motel rooms and college classrooms as well as places of worship all around the world. A selection of prayers from six religious traditions; Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Bahá’í. This Expanded Edition adds prayers from eight additional traditions; Native African, Native American, Zoroastrian, Taoist, Confucian, Shinto, Jain and Sikh.

3. The Interfaith Alternative: Embracing Spiritual Diversity  “Whatever your spiritual path, chances are that the primary tenets of your faith include universal love, acceptance, and compassion. Yet three thousand years after Moses, twenty-five hundred years after the Buddha, two thousand years after Jesus, and fifteen hundred years after Muhammad, we are still divided by our differences. Religious intolerance, discrimination, even persecution and violence make up the not-so-golden rule.

The Interfaith Alternative shows us how we can celebrate each other without fear of losing our own identity. It illuminates the path to creating a nurturing spiritual community that honors and includes all religious languages.”

* * * * * * * *

4. I am about to order this book because although it is not a minister manual, it looks to be an excellent resource, How to Be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook

* * * * * * * * * *

We encourage all our ordained clergy to share any ceremonies they have created.

If you are not yet ordained, and have heard the Call to become ordained, we would be glad to have you in our interfaith, multi-faith community of clergy. Read the easy steps to ordination. This is not an online ordination, but distance ordination and we have been ordaining clergy of all faiths since 1987.

Pythagoras: the first PhD in Metaphysics – Doctor of Philosophy means Teacher

Pythagoras first PhD degree
Pythagoras teaching

Rev. Dr. Leonel Hinkert, who received his Ph.D. in Religion and Ph.D. in Metaphysics degree from our online Seminary, posted the following to the Seminary’s Facebook page today. I’ve always enjoyed the study of Pythagoras. When he comes up in live classes, I like to pronounce his name the French and Greek way “Pee-tag-or-ROSS”.  That pronounciation better matches the spelling Pitagoras used below. He is one of the great founders of Greek philosophy, and one of the first to be called “doctor”, a word meaning teacher. Without him, we would not have any such thing as the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in our civilization. It is something for our alumni to think about. If you hold a PhD degree in whatever discipline, you are a Doctor aka “Teacher” of some kind of Philosophy.

Leonel Hinkert PH D

Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher and scientist, the legendary founder of the Pythagorean society of initiation. He was a man whose mind has been a basis of mathematics, and geometry.

Pythagoras lived on Earth about 570-500 years BC, He was known as a Greek philosopher and mathematician. He was a strict vegetarian.

Pythagoras was born on the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea. His birth was predicted by a prophet, through which God told his parents about the birth of this boy who would grow and become famous for his wisdom, beauty and great deeds.

From childhood, Pythagoras had interest and skills for philosophy and other sciences. He learns music and painting, and the sciences of medicine, biology, astronomy, mathematics, learned from famous scholars of that time.

At a matured age, Pythagoras founded His spiritual School in the city of Croton. Concerning the work in this school we know the stories told by several great students, who also they had succeeded, with the help of Pythagoras, to the Divine, the Union with the Creator.

The goal of the Brotherhood was the moral renewal of society and purification of religious ideas, and the delivery of confidential methods of spiritual development to deserving students.

The Brotherhood was a monastic community consisting of both men and women who regarded Pythagoras as an incarnation of God. The activity of this great School ended due to the savage repression of primitive people.
Pythagoras wrote works on philosophy, mathematics, astronomy and music. In particular, he already knew about the phericity of the earth, within which is the Central Fire. He also taught about the immortality of the soul and its gradual development during incarnations.

Now we know the literary translation of the ancient text “The Golden Verses of Pythagoras” which was written to be studied by the neophyte students of his school.

Performs to the immortal gods the consecrated worship and keep your faith. Reverence the memory our heroes, benefactors, the spirits of the demigods.

Respect your mother and father, and also your neighbors.
Choose for yourself a truly wise friend, listen to his advice and follow his example, do not quarrel with him for petty reasons.
Remember the law of cause and effect in your life.
It is given to you the opportunity to overcome your passions. So, repress yourself with great effort of greed, laziness, sexual passions and unreasonable anger!
Whether you’re alone or with people, be afraid of doing something wrong. Save your honor!
Be always just in your words and actions; follow the dictates of reason and law.
Do not forget that the inevitable fate leads everyone to death.
Remember that earthly goods are easily given to people, and in the same way, are easily removed.

As for the misfortunes that come to people according to their fate, you must endure them patiently. But strive to relieve pain as possible. And remember that the Immortal Gods do not give people tests that are beyond their strength.

People have many possibilities to choose between them, good and bad. So you have to look carefully and choose the path worthy to oneself.
If there is a prevailing misconception among people about the truth, the wise steps aside and waits until the truth prevails again.
Listen carefully to what I say, and keep it in memory:
Do not be troubled by the acts and thoughts of others; do not induce harmful words and deeds!

Listen to the advice of others and deliberate yourself! For, only a fool acts without thinking ahead!
Do only what you do not then add in affliction and cause no pangs of conscience.

Dare not to start to work immediately if you do not know how to do, but learn first, only then will you achieve success!
You must not exhaust your body, unlike it comes to giving food, drink and exercise with measure for strengthening without knowing the excesses and laziness.

Keep, if possible, order in your life. Check out the luxury of everything! Well, it provokes envy in others.
Be afraid of being greedy!
Have fear also to squander goods like careless people do.
Do only that whereby you do not ruin yourself now or in the future! Premeditate therefore, before every step and act.

Let not reach to your tired eyes the dream, before your remember your deeds three times a day. Consider them as an impartial judge, asking yourself, “What good have I done? What I fail to do that should be fulfilled? “So, check by everything you’ve done during the day. Severely Repróchate yourself for everything that was wrong! And rejoice for the good you have done and successes!

Use this instruction, reflect on it and tries to always to follow it! Well, you can approach to Perfection! And that is the guarantor of this truth. He who hath placed in us the garment of the Divine Essence and the supreme virtue!

By putting hands to the work, go first to the gods, with the earnest request so that with His help you can finish the work!
And when thou shall be in this way, you’ll know all about the Immortal Gods and also about people, about the difference between them, about him that contains them in Himself, being its Foundation, and also know that the entire universe is One and the Eternal One which there is no dead substance.

By knowing this, you will not go wrong again, because all will be revealed to you!
You will know also that people themselves provoke misfortune for themselves because of their ignorance! And you know that they freely choose their destinies!
Woe to them! In their mad blindness they do not see the desired happiness is in its own depth!

There are very few among us who can throw through their own efforts the trouble out of themselves, as most people are blind to the law of the formation of their destinies! Like wheels they descend from the mountains, carrying the burden of the damage they have done and past fights, charges that controls their destinies until death.
Instead of looking for a fight, people should, where possible, to avoid it, give up uncontested.

O almighty Zeus, just you have the power to deliver those born of afflictions, showing to them the veil of ignorance that blinds their eyes?
However, there is hope for the salvation of the people of this darkness, as each human has a Divine Root, and nature is ready to reveal to him the mysteries of existence.

If you also penetrate in these, you will realize what I am preaching to you! So, heals the soul! This will reveal the path to liberation!
And abstain from eating meat: it’s against your nature and will prevent your purification!

So if you want to get rid of earthly fetters, follow this higher understanding given to you! Let this governed your destiny!
And after completely transform the soul; you can become an Immortal God who will crush with his foot the death!