Theosis: Thou Art Becoming

At times I am angry and other times overflowing with joy. Sometimes I'm confused and sometimes I have absolute clarity. This blog will explore our human condition through an investigation of spiritual pain and how to transcend our pain to find peace.

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David Oliver Kling

David Oliver Kling

Rev. David Oliver Kling is a faculty member at Cherry Hill Seminary and a graduate of Wright State University holding a B.A. degree in Religious Studies and a B.A. degree in Philosophy. He has a Master of Divinity from Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a specialization in Black Church and African Diaspora Studies. While in college he worked as Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Yellow Springs and while in seminary he served the Delaware Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as consulting minister. He recently finished a chaplain residency at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington, WV resulting in four units of clinical pastoral education. In addition to teaching at Cherry Hill Seminary he currently works as a hospice chaplain in Northeast Ohio. He is ordained by Sacred Well Congregation and his religious background includes esoteric Christianity, Wicca, Druidry, Gnosticism, and Roman Paganism. His academic interests include Black Church studies, comparative theology, and spiritual/pastoral care.

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Wisteria's Summer Solstice

For many years I would travel to Wisteria for Pagan Spirit Gathering.  From 2001 until 2008 I spent my Summer Solstice at Wisteria at PSG and loved it.  The community was phenomenal and the energy amazing; however, in 2009 PSG moved to a different location.  Ironically, just as I was going through a divorce it would seem the PSG also went through a divorce with Wisteria and the festival moved to a different venue.  I loved the sense of community that I felt at PSG, but I was also very much in love with the land at Wisteria.  It had a magical and mystical quality for me.

When my father died in 2004 I made a pilgrimage the following year to Wisteria's Faerie Shrine, a location at Wisteria that wasn't part of the PSG programming, and made an offering of my father's US Navy dog tag.  In 2008 I attended Between the Worlds Festival at Wisteria and while there I attended a ritual at the Faerie Shrine honoring our ancestors and sacred dead.  When I enter the Faerie Shrine I can feel my father's presence and the love he has for me as one of my sacred ancestors.  The Faerie Shrine at Wisteria always had an ethereal quality for me that added to the magical and mystical quality of the overall site.  My connection to the land is real and has meaning for me.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Chaplain as Shaman

I wrote the essay below back in 2013 in an effort to explain my work as a chaplain and tie that work into my "earthy" spiritual roots.  I have recently started training in shamanic practices and find what I wrote below even more true now than when I wrote it a couple of years ago.  I hope to be able to continue to explore the similarities of shamanism and professional chaplaincy.

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert in Shamanism.  In my spiritual journey I've only touched upon shamanism; however, what I do know about shamanism gets me thinking about the similarity between shamanism and chaplaincy.  What I know about shamans is that they are typically considered a type of "wounded healer."  A shaman must have been sick to understand sickness.  A chaplain is like this too.  A chaplain deals with the spiritual and emotional pain of others.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    There is a scene in the Bible where King Saul is outside and a group of prophets comes down the mountain with sistrums and tambour
In Support of our own: understanding Unitarian Universalist Idealization

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."  -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last year this time I responded to an essay written by John Michael Greer titled, "A Bad Case of Methodist Envy:  Copying Christian models of clergy is a Pagan dead end."  His essay argued against the notion of payed professional clergy and my response was to argue in favor of professional clergy -- at least having the option of professional clergy.  In this essay it is my hope to build upon the ideas I shared in last year's essay but also share further reflections on the subject of the evolving nature of Paganism in general and Pagan clergy in particular.

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  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy says #
    It seems we all have different ideas of what "clergy" means, and I think people here are talking past each other a little bit beca
  • Wendilyn Emrys
    Wendilyn Emrys says #
    Ancient Egyptian priests most often donated their time and assets to the Temples. They might get to share in food offerings, and g
  • Jenni West
    Jenni West says #
    What benefit does a clergy based hierarchy provide for such a belief system? It opens the door to abuse of power and canonization
  • David Oliver Kling
    David Oliver Kling says #
    Jenni, there have always been clergy within the Pagan movement and there has always been abuse of power within the community by so
  • Jenni West
    Jenni West says #
    With all due respect, if Paganism becomes clergy based, I will slip further from the public path.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Theological Reflection

[Note:  I wrote this piece for my students at Cherry Hill Seminary on the subject of Theological Reflection -- a practice that I feel is essential for anyone undergoing theological studies (in this case specifically in a seminary setting).  In reflecting on this and the seminary experience I think it could apply to anyone who is a serious student theology with a desire to understand how Divinity is moving within their life.  So I share it here for the benefit of others.]

Theological reflection is the process of reflecting upon experiences and responding to that experience based upon one’s values and beliefs.  The goal of theological reflection is to promote personal transformation through insight into the working of the Divine (as one’s sees the Divine) in their life and in the world.  Theological reflection is a good practice for anyone seeking a more grounded and fulfilling spiritual life; however, it is an essential and necessary practice of the seminary student.

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Paganism and Freemasonry

Within the fraternity of Freemasonry there is the designation of "operative and speculative" Mason.  The operative Freemason are those Masons who actually used the working tools of Masonry (level, plum, square, et al) and built structures from stone -- as the mythical history of Freemasonry tells the story operative Masons have their genesis in the building of King Solomon's Temple as well as the medieval stone masons guilds of the Middle Ages.  Speculative Freemasonry is the symbolic use of the operative masons working tools to illustrate a spiritual, moral, and ethical story on how an individual Freemason should live his life -- "meet on the level and part on the square."  Therefore, Masonic Lodges throughout the world are populated by "speculative" Freemasons.

I joined the Masonic fraternity in 1997.  I have also joined other Masonic bodies such as the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite and the Ancient Arabic Order of the Noble Mystic Shrine (Shriners), and even The Order of DeMolay (a Masonic inspired youth organization for boys).  I currently serve my Masonic Lodge as chaplain -- which I very much enjoy.

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  • Jim Goltz
    Jim Goltz says #
    I was very glad to read your article. I too do not attend lodge regularly (for various reasons) and do not have traditional Chris
  • David Oliver Kling
    David Oliver Kling says #
    I'm pleased you liked the essay. I was talking with some Masonic friends lately and one of the topics that came up was the foundi
  • David Oliver Kling
    David Oliver Kling says #
    The only stipulation regarding religion within Masonry is that a would-be Mason cannot be an Atheist and must believe in God, but
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Merry Meet David. A few years ago a long time Mason joined our coven. His lodge was in Europe where he had served in the US mil

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Commitment to Diversity

Howard Thurman wrote, "Community cannot feed for long on itself; it can only flourish where always the boundaries are giving way to the coming of others from beyond them — unknown and undiscovered brothers."

This quote by Thurman is helpful in my own reflection of the work I do as a chaplain.  In the two years that I have worked as a chaplain I have provided care to a diverse group of people.  First as a hospital chaplain in West Virginia and then as a hospice chaplain in Ohio.  In these two years I have had the opportunity to provide care to two people who identity as Pagan.  In both cases it was family of the patient; although in one case the patient was Pagan but unresponsive.  

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“The very same people who “can’t afford” to donate to a Neopagan temple, community center, website, or other organization on a regular basis have no problem finding the money to buy science fiction books, videotapes, DVDs, game cartridges, music CDs, comics, beer, pizza, cigarettes, movie tickets, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, crystals, robes, capes, etc.  -- Isaac Bonewits.

     In issue #28 of Witches and Pagans magazine columnist John Michael Greer wrote an article titled, “A Bad Case of Methodist Envy: Copying Christian models of clergy is a Pagan dead end.” In this essay Greer recommends against Pagan clergy and specifically full time compensated clergy. I would like to note that I have admired many of Greer’s books especially Inside a Magical Lodge, A World Full of Gods, and Druidry Handbook; however, I can simultaneously admire his work and disagree with some of his thoughts. 

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  • Anna M.H.
    Anna M.H. says #
    While I am, in general, a big fan of Greer's, I really disagree with his point of view on this, and feel you made many good points

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