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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 100 Awaken Engage Explore Enlightened Power: October 13–15, 2006 Rhinebeck, New York In partnership with the Enlightened Power Project Register online at eomega.org or call 800.944.1001 Presenters Include Sharon Salzberg Marianne Williamson Yolanda King Celinda Lake Loung Ung Marcia Ann Gillespie Gail Straub Carla Goldstein Rachel Bagby Music Performance Voices of Africa Supported by The Shambhala Sun Join us for a Weekend Conference: • Inspiring keynote talks • Interactive workshops • Music • Engaged spirituality • Community building • A world-cafe conversation Engaging Women’s Innate Wisdom to Change the Way We Live people are ready to come together and leave things at the door for a while. When I first saw her she was conducting one of the more popular break-out sessions at the conference, “Mov- ing the Movable Middle: Compassion for the Challenges of Change.” She bobbed and weaved and moved about the crowd as she led a conversation about getting past the polarities that divide us and “creating a sense of oneness.” Her message: if you are willing to change you can see how others are willing to change. We are all in the movable middle. An MBA consultant to Fortune 500 companies, a civil rights activist, and pastor of a church, she is equally at home in the intricate thinking of the “social change agent” and the robust spirit of her Pentecostal upbringing. In fact, they can’t be sepa- rated. When I go up to meet her, she hugs me right off. Maybe it’s a California thing, but it feels genuine. Her whole ethos is that we need to break down “our illusion of separation—not a real separation as the fundamentalists believe—but an illusion that we are separated from God, our sense of our own good- ness, other people, or even our own selves.” At a certain point, Johnson gets a little tired of all the sit- ting and talking. She tells me, “You know, we black folks like to move.” Her traveling companion is Valerie Joi Fiddmont, whose title at Inner Light Ministries is “music minister.” T he audio version of Johnson’s book, The Sacred Yes, opens with a funky tune about love overcoming hatred. It’s a reminder that in many churches “gospel” is a type of music. The spiritual progressives conference offers many opportunities for movement and song, such as singing John Lennon’s Imagine while embracing and swaying with those nearby, but Johnson feels that next time the conferees could do better on that aspect, which some of the participants felt was contrived and forced. Johnson was a key participant in the preparations for the conference, and dur- ing the conference she freely offered her views on things the spiritual progressives needed to work on. For example, both she and Michael Lerner were disappointed when a Pray-in for Peace in Lafayette Park across from the White House trans- formed into an old-fashioned anti-war rally, with throbbing “stop-the-war-now” cries and a storming of the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Despite a few qualms, however, Johnson thinks this gathering of spiritual progressives was a success: “It was a galvanizing point and it created a critical mass of energy and of bringing people together across a wide array of back- grounds and interests.” But now Johnson, like Lerner, wants to look at the frontiers that lie beyond a couple of days of consciousness-raising in Washington, DC, a place where rallies are a dime a dozen. And she wants to do it in the terms of her ministry, which is best summed up in The Sacred Yes, a work of revealed spiritual- ity presented as a series of letters from the Divine that “help us to see ourselves first and foremost as spiritual beings and Who Does God Vote For? continued from page 55