The U.N. Meddling with Religion, Part 5
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC

Located at 1047 Amsterdam Ave (112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue)

Here’s the nice, soothing, cleaned-up-version of a description of the Cathedral:

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City is the largest cathedral in the world (St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is larger, but it’s not a cathedral).

Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, St. John the Divine is the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and known for its strong interfaith tradition. [to put it mildly]

Info on the history of the building can be found here

NEW YORK, New York A Kaleidoscope of Adventures:

The Cathedral contains seven Chapels of Tongues which are dedicated to different immigrant groups. The American Poets’ Corner, created in 1984 in the Cathedral’s Arts Bay, commemorates American authors (Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, Hart Crane, Gertrude Stein, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, and others) with stone slabs bearing quotes from their works and their names and dates of birth. John La Farge designed some of its earlier stained-glass windows. Figures in St. John’s stained-glass windows include both important religious figures and modern sports personalities. The Communications Bay, one window in the Cathedral’s nave, is dedicated to the modern media and television. Images of comedian, Jack Benny, and his wife, Mary Livingston, honor radio broadcasting and communication through the ages in the Communications stained-stained window. On a chapel window in the Labor Bay of the Nave Saint Joseph at his carpenter’s bench, Noah, the ship builder, and Saint Columbia the church builder, are represented as are a Native American planting corn, Romans building bricks, and construction engineers working on modern buildings. Statues in the Cathedral are of both religious persons (St. Paul) as well as Shakespeare, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela.

NFT – Not For Tourists:

But hiding on the shady north side among windows paying homage medicine, law, crusaders, and monasticism, lurks the unlikely panel celebrating modern-day sports. No, your binoculars aren’t playing tricks on you—those are in fact stained glass guys bowling and auto-racing, playing football, golf, basketball, baseball, and dozens of other sports. This sports window, installed in 1924 after the Paris Olympics, was the last panel to be installed.


Let’s not jump right into the wacky/creepy just yet… Let’s start off with just one of the many links between the Cathedral and the UN:

United Nations Sunday:

This is a yearly one-day event taking place every September.

Description for this year:

United Nations Sunday

In honor of the opening of the sixty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations

the Cathedral is pleased to welcome to the pulpit

His Excellency Mr. Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, President of the General Assembly

Sunday, September 26, 11:00 am

The Peace Altar:

in 1986:

On New Year’s Eve in 1986, in the City of the United Nations George Nakashima placed his first great ecumenical Peace Altar at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The beautiful black walnut table was blessed that auspicious night by representatives of the religions of the earth before diplomats of many nations. In the ensuing years prayers for peace in all tongues and traditions and by all peoples have been offered there. Mountains of flowers were lovingly placed upon it at the interfaith Memorial Service for George Nakashima in 1990. The second Peace Table will symbolize the peace that must come to every continent on our sacred planet — the next step in fulfilling the dream of George Nakashima.

The Very Reverend James Parks Morton
Dean, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Honorary Chairman, Table for Peace

Miriam Belov:

from her website:

The Wellness Agenda is a total approach to today’s needs for a positive lifestyle: Body/Mind Health & Fitness. It is a regime for optimal physical and mental performance and spiritual centering using self-care, meditation, stress management, relaxation, healing and empowerment.

In this post 9/11 world many aspects of our lives have changed. The Wellness Agenda continues to meet these new challenges with skills and information that are more important than ever!

The Wellness Agenda: Creative Concentration is a special process to relax the body, concentrate the mind and rejuvenate the spirit.

Miriam’s unique program teaches:

* Breakthrough Breathing TM
* Innovative physical exercises using yoga and tai chi to relax your body
* Mental techniques to focus your mind
* Meditative practices to empower you

This creates body calmness, flexibility, peace of mind and clear thinking. The Wellness Agenda is the bridge between body, mind and spirit.

Civically, Miriam Belov, MAT, RMT has lectured for:

* the Diplomatic Corps of the United Nations
* the International Consular community in New York City
* the United States Department of Labor
* the Town Hall of Millburn, NJ
* FDNY […]

Being in NYC on 9/11 and experiencing the day and its aftermath, Miriam shared her knowledge with many groups. This included the FDNY’s Engine Company 40 & Ladder 35 which lost 12 of the 13 men who went to The World Trade Center. She also was involved with many special sessions and meditations in houses of worship and private homes.

from Miriam’s website About the Altar of Peace:

The first Nakashima Altar of Peace was consecrated in 1986 in the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral. It was a New Year’s Eve service, ecumenical in spirit with representatives of many religions and diplomats of many countries joining in prayer and song. It was reinstalled and rededicated on June 7, 2009 and is pictured in full here.

The 2nd Altar was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. It is made from the same monumental black walnut tree as the 1st and was also blessed at the Cathedral.

It served as a unifying presence at The Hague Appeal for Peace in May 1999 and now resides in the newly renovated Russian Academy of Art.

A 3rd Table, built for Asia and sent to India in 1996, has a permanent home in the “City of Peace”, Auroville, which sprang from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry where Nakashima was once a disciple.

The Cathedral suffered a fire eight years ago and only now has reopened the entire cleaned and restored sanctuary. In fact, the Altar of Peace is the first artifact of the Cathedral’s collection to be reinstalled.

The 400 rose petals which were held by the participants during my meditation and then offered in silent prayer were afterwards used in the compost for the Cathedral’s garden. This is in keeping with the strong environmental concern that Nakashima had as a pioneering ecologist.

Buddhist Sand Mandalas:

from May 21, 2010:
A Sand Mandala For The Dalai Lama:

The Dalai Lama’s four-day New York City visit ends with an interfaith dialogue at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The cathedral is home to 10 monks from South India’s Drepung Loseling Monastery, who created a Sand Mandala in honor of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit.

The colorful mandalas, which take hours of painstaking work to construct, are destroyed as a symbol of the Buddhist belief in the fleeting nature of the material life.

from the Cathedral website:

Sand Mandala
Saturday, May 15 – Tuesday, May 25

The Drepung Loseling Monks will build a Tibetan Sand Mandala in the Chapel of St. Boniface.

A tradition of Tantric Buddhism, a sand mandala is a “painting” process involving millions of grains of sand which are painstakingly laid in place using hollow pipes called chak-purs, through which the sand is vibrated into the design. When the mandala is finally completed it is ritually dismantled during a colourful ceremony to symbolise the impermanence of all that exists. The sand mandala is constructed as a vehicle to generate compassion, realize the impermanence of reality, and a social healing of the environment.

The Tibetan mandala is a tool for gaining wisdom and compassion and generally is depicted as a tightly balanced, geometric composition wherein deities reside. The principal deity is housed in the center. The mandala serves as a tool for guiding individuals along the path to enlightenment. Monks meditate upon the mandala, imagining it as a three-dimensional palace. The deities who reside in the palace embody philosophical views and serve as role models.

The mandala’s purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones. During the dismantling ceremony the monks illustrate the impermanent nature of existence by sweeping up the colored grains and dispersing them in flowing water.

Opening ceremony Saturday, May 15, 4:00pm
Closing ceremony Tuesday, May 25, 6:00pm

Christa, a crucifix depicting Christ as a woman:

[pdf] in 1984:

Cathedral exhibits Christa, a bronze crucifix by British sculptor Edwina Sandys depicting Christ as a woman. A controversy erupts, with some hailing the work as liberating and others decrying it as blasphemous.

photo at this link:

Christa is a 4′ high bronze sculpture of a female Christ on a cross, created in 1974. Christa has been exhibited at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, Memorial Church, Stanford University, CA & Bade Institute, Berkeley, CA and at the Crane Kalman Gallery, London.

UN Chronicle, June 1990:
Proudly she stands: ‘Woman Free.’ – statue by Edwina Sandys

Dedicated to the advancement of women, a 15-foot tall marble statueWoman Free” stands high above a reflecting pool and a lovely rose garden at the UN Centre in Vienna. The work, created by British sculptor Edwina Sandys, started as a simple doodle on a paper napkin in the Russian Tea Room in New York City. “My inspiration usually comes from a deep well inside me”, she says. The slim, attractive artist is the granddaughter of the late Prime Minister of Great Britain Winston Churchill. She is the eldest child of Diana Churchill and Lord Duncan Sandys, a former British cabinet minister. Among her internationally recognized works is one entitled “Child”, created in commemoration of the International Year of the Child in 1979, and now on permanent display in front of the UN International School in Manhattan. Others include “Generations” and “Family”, respectively ensconced at the UN Vienna Centre and at UN headquarters in Geneva. Ms. Sandys almost singlehandedly raised the money for the “Woman Free” statue by creating a gold pendant, an exact replica of the sculpture, and selling it to interested donors. The first 1,000 have their names inscribed at the base of the “Woman Free” sculpture, which was unveiled on the 1989 UN Day-24 October. Shortly before the completion of “Woman Free”, Annabelle Wiener, Director of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), asked Ms. Sandys to contribute a past(-] drawing of the sculpture. It is the subject of a first day cover of the UN Postal Administration and also a limited edition art print issued on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the UN Vienna headquarters on 23 August 1989.

the Blessing of the Bicycles:

witness the majesty and reverence for yourself with these youtube clips: [ number one | number two ]

New York has a flourishing bicycling community. Hundreds of cyclists aim to ensure safe pedalling by attending the somewhat eccentric Blessing of the Bicycles ceremony, held at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Manhattan each spring.

Each year a blessing is offered to kick off a safe cycling season, with holy water sprinkled over each bike in the process. This is followed by a moment of silence to remember those who have died in cycling accidents during the past year. Bike messengers, racers, commuters, recreational bikers and, of course, children, are all invited to this colorful service.

The event has been running since 1999 and adds to the cathedral’s colourful collection of annual events and services, which include summer and winter solstice concerts as well as Halloween, Christmas, New Year and Easter happenings.

when: Apr 2011 (annual)


Mark your calendar for this very special event.

Wear your usual cycle clothing and bring your bike (or skates or non-motorized scooter) INSIDE the spectacular Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine for the 12th Annual Blessing of the Bikes.

Our friend Reverend Tom*, will say a few kind words and then sprinkle our bikes with Holy Water. There is a moment of silence to remember those cyclists we’ve lost in the past year, a chance for everyone to ring their bicycle bells in celebration of cycling, and we’re gone.

This free event is presented by BICYCLE SHOWS U.S., but the REAL credit belongs to our good friends at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Special thanks are due to The Reverend Canon Thomas P. Miller, S.T.M. and to Herb Katz (now retired) at the Cathedral — there are many places in this city where we are not welcome, and these gentlemen have always invited us in to their Cathedral home every year.

The interesting thing to me about The Blessing of the Bikes is that some people take it very seriously, some think it’s all a big joke, and some are deeply offended. No mater which of those opinions works best for you… good on you!


Ten years ago, cyclist Glen Goldstein suggested a ceremony to remember those who had died on the dangerous streets of New York and to celebrate the beginning of the bike riding season. The “bicycle thing” is now an annual event.
We assemble on the front steps leading up to the great bronze doors of the west facade and from here look down to the main thoroughfare where yellow taxi cabs and tour buses barrel past. Two bagpipe players in blue jeans pipe for some 60 or so cyclists and rollerbladers a clamour of wheels – with winking reflector lights, moulded vented helmeted heads and rubber soled trainers, defining us as a race apart.
When the pipers lead us into the cathedral, we whirr over medallions on the floor representing stages in Christ’s life and flock round the Reverend Canon Thomas Miller, dressed not in blue jeans but a golden cassock to mark this festive occasion.
He welcomes us with good humour:

“It is as if the whole city of New York is being brought into our cathedral,” he says, “These wheels that take you round the city, into the parks, into the streets, on to the highway, they bring your vitality and earthiness into the cathedral…”
He praises the eco friendly credentials of the bike, that it contributes nothing to pollution and degradation and sweeping on, he explains the meaning of the ceremony:
“One of the important things that the church is here to do is to remind us that all life on the planet is blessed by God, it is not just certain parts, or certain people, but the whole of creation, and anything we use as human beings, like bicycles, or where we live, are places where that blessing gets extended, so for you for whom bicycles give fitness, good exercise, health, longer life that’s all part of the blessing that we think God wants for us.”
The reading from the Book of Ezekiel is one of surprise and loveliness who would have guessed that a biblical verse exists eulogizing the humble wheel?
“In my vision, I saw wheels on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of them…..when the living creatures moved the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they went and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels…”
By this time, I am beginning to see man and bike as a single entity, part animal, part wheel, like the mulefas in Philip Pullman’s “The Amber Spyglass the bikeman is a noble, clean-living creature who skims his way down streets and avenues, neatly avoiding the jams that set the taxi drivers cursing.
Did I get everybody?” the Reverend asks, as he frisks us with holy water and we, the bike people, laugh and our wheels whirr. A rider-less bicycle is brought through as a roll call of those cyclists who have died or have been injured in the previous year is read out. Then, as the organist strikes up with Daisy Daisy, we process through the cathedral while the Reverend wraps up, “May all your journeying be joyous. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you and your bicycles in the palm of his hand.”
In my mind’s eye there is a tiny vision of scores of bicycles spinning down Amsterdam Avenue, and as they diverge to the left and the right, the streets transform to the giant fingers of a beneficent god, who looks down on them with a kindly eye.

the Blessing of the Animals:

watch some of it from youtube: [ number 1 | number 2 | number 3 | number 4 ]

St. Francis at St. John the Divine:

It has to be one of the most spectacular animal blessings and celebrations of St. Francis of Assisi on the planet. The setting is the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in upper Manhattan, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

For the last 18 years, on the first Sunday of October, this immense cathedral, over 600 feet in length, is transformed into the lost Garden of Paradise. There, for several glorious hours, over 3,500 men, women and children—with dogs, cats, gerbils, turtles and other pets at their sides—worship and praise their loving Creator in the spirit of St. Francis. […]

Last year, a man with a huge eagle perched on his gloved hand led the way. The eagle was followed by a large camel, two llamas, a ram, a full-grown bull, a man carrying a boa constrictor and a woman holding a big blue-gold macaw, to mention a few.

On and on they came, until all were gathered before the main altar—where the bishop prayed: “We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea,…for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers, and for the wonder of your animal kingdom. We praise you for these good gifts and pray that we may safeguard them for posterity….Amen.” […]

The blessing of animals before the altar. Immediately following the Peace Prayer are the opening of the bronze doors and the silent procession of large animals. The eagle, the camel, the boa constrictor and other animals come to the main altar to receive the bishop’s blessing.

“Live without fear,” Bishop Sisk announces. “Your Creator loves you, made you holy and has always protected you. Go in peace to follow the good road and may God’s blessing be with you always. Amen.”

Paul Winter’s EARTH MASS:

from Paul Winter’s website:

Gaia’ is the name that ancient Greeks gave to their home, their planet. The MISSA GAIA or EARTH MASS was composed by Paul Winter in 1980. Since 1985 it has been performed in the Cathedral of St John the Divine to celebrate the Feast of St Francis on the first Sunday in October every year. Some 5,000 people flock to the Cathedral to participate in the Mass, accompanied by their pets of all kinds,sizes, shapes and smells. Even an elephant strolls into the huge Cathedral to join in this celebration of the Earth, which is led by the Paul Winter Consort and Friends. The voices of wolf, whale and loon join with those of the extended Consort, several choirs, the Dean of the Cathedral, and world religious leaders of all denominations in Paul Winter’s joyous, rhythmic, contemporary EARTH MASS in the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral.

The Creation of the EARTH MASS / MISSA GAIA:

“In 1977 the Consort and I played for the annual conference of the Lindisfarne Association, a gathering of scholars, seekers and artists who were meeting that year in a small church in Lower Manhattan. After the concert, a man introduced himself to me, saying he was James Morton, Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and that he would love to have us play there. I was surprised, and honored, but in my mind I didn’t feel quite ready. With the memory of that first experience still resonating, I felt that for the unique space of the Cathedral, with its seven-second reverberation time, we would have to create a very special music

“I ran into Dean Morton again, two years later at another Lindisfarne conference, this time in Colorado. My vision had expanded, and my confidence; when the Dean asked if the Consort and I would like to be artists-in-residence at the Cathedral, I was thrilled… and I knew we were ready.

“In New York, for my first meeting with Dean Morton, he asked if I wanted to try the acoustics. I took my horn in the empty Cathedral, stood awhile in the reverberating silence, and began to play. The sounds, floated, and hovered, and seemed to glow with a richness I had never before known. It was mesmerizing. The Cathedral seemed a perfect acoustic space for my soprano saxophone. Then the Dean, with characteristic enthusiasm, wanted me to improvise with the Cathedral organist, Paul Halley. As if I weren’t intoxicated enough with the sound of my own horn, that first duet with Paul was overwhelming. He wove gorgeous tapestries of sound on the organ, supporting and surrounding my melodies with harmonies that were both earthly and sublime.

“A series of events were planned,including ‘The Tao of Bach’ with Al Huang, TURTLE ISLANDwith poet Gary Snyder, the premiere of the music from our sea-mammal album, CALLINGS, the first annual ‘Winter Consort Winter Solstice Whole Earth Christmas Celebration’ and ‘Day of the Seal’. From my own experience of sounds in the cathedral, I understood that the purpose of the great cathedrals is to awaken in us a sense of the sacred; and that ‘sacred’ means a sense of connectedness with the Universe.

“Then a unique idea came from the Dean: he suggested we create 20thCentury music for the Mass.

“The idea of writing a Mass seemed far-flung. I had never even been to a Mass! Trying to imagine what I would want to hear in a truly contemporary Mass, I realised I would want to create a Mass that was both ecumenical and ecological, one which would embrace all the voices of the Earth. I wanted to feel the Earth-power of percussion in harmony with the serene voices of the choir, and to share with the congregation that spirit of celebration we know with our concert audiences. The title would be EARTH MASS.

“Could a Mass celebrate a vision of the entire Earth as a cathedral?
Dean Morton assured me it could.
Could Mass music be based on themes from whales and wolves?
‘You can write a Mass on anything’, the Dean said. […]

“The EARTH MASS evolved over the next four months. Our friend Mary Schoonmaker suggested the alternative title MISSA GAIA, using the Greek name for Mother Earth and acknowledging the Gaia hypothesis of scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who proposed that the entire range of living matter on Earth, from whales to viruses,and from oaks to algae, could be regarded as constituting a single living entity, capable of manipulating the Earth’s atmosphere to suit its overall needs and endowed with faculties and power far beyond those of its constituent parts’.

If the ‘Gaia hypothesis’ is about synergy, then the process of our creation of the EARTH MASS/MISSA GAIA is truly a manifestation of Gaia. For what developed was an interweave of creative ideas from all the members of the Consort; and our process was self-balancing, by virtue of the common instincts of our little musical tribe. While no one of us knew all of what was appropriate for the music for this Mass, together we found that we did know.

EARTH MASS/MISSA GAIA was premiered on Mother’s Day, May 10, 1981, celebrating Mother Earth, with a sermon by David Brower, founder and president of Friends of the Earth. The Mass was recorded that September on two nights in the Cathedral with invited audiences, and on St. Francis Day October 4th, honoring the beginning of the year of the Saint’s 800th birthday. Now we perform the MISSA GAIA each first Sunday in October, at the Cathedral, in a grand celebration that includes the dancers of the Forces of Nature Theater Company, stilt dancers, and a choir of three hundred.

Paul Winter youtube videos: [ Winter Solstice concert – Silent Night | Winter Solstice concert – Wolf Eyes | Earth Mass | Summer Solstice concert | Sun rising – Winter Solstice concert ]


ya gotta go when they celebrate st. francis of assisi; they parade all living things, from a single cell organism presented in a petri dish, up to an elephant , all in a procession going down the very long aisle. maybe one of the strangest scenes you can experience, especially with the folks who follow the elephants with pooper scooper shovels and garbage bags.

about this year’s Winter Solstice Celebration:

31st Winter Solstice Celebration
Celebrate the joy of the solstice with the Paul Winter Consort!

Joining the Consort this year will be Armenian vocalist Arto Tunçboyaciyan, gospel singer Theresa Thomason and the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, who lit up the show last year.

The Consort includes Paul Winter, soprano sax, double-reed master Paul McCandless, Eugene Friesen on cello, keyboardist Paul Sullivan, percussionists Jamey Haddad and Bill Cahn and Tim Brumfield on the Cathedral’s pipe organ.

Besides the perennial classics and new pieces by our guest musicians and dancers, the performance will feature music from the Consort’s new album Miho: Journey to the Mountain.

Thursday, Friday, December 16, December 17, 8 pm
Saturday, December 18, 2 pm & 7:30 pm
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets or call 866.811.4111

Peace Fountain:

see the fountain with this youtube video

Forgotten NY Street Scenes:

To some, Greg Wyatt’s Peace Fountain, in a plaza just south of the Cathedral’s flying buttresses on Amsterdam and West 110th, is mysteriously devotional, but to your webmaster, its crab claws, gamboling giraffes and severed Satanic heads are just plain bizarre. Then again, I championed Civic Virtue.

The fountain depicts the Archangel Michael triumphant bestride the defeated Devil. Giraffes, in Wyatt’s iconography representing peace, gambol on stylized moon and sun figures, while a giant crab rests on a DNA double-helix-shaped pedestal. Surrounding the fountain, you will find bronze animal sculptures constructed by New York City schoolchildren. The Fountain was unveiled in 1985.

from wikipedia:

The Peace Fountain is a 1985 sculpture and fountain located next to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in the Morningside Heights section of New York City by Greg Wyatt, sculptor-in-residence at the Cathedral. The sculpture depicts the struggle of good and evil, as well as a battle between the Archangel Michael and Satan. The sculpture also contains the Sun, the Moon, and several animals. Although it is called a fountain, there is currently no water on the site. A plaque at the base contains the following inscription:

Peace Fountain celebrates the triumph of Good over Evil, and sets before us the world’s opposing forces—violence and harmony, light and darkness, life and death—which God reconciles in his peace.

When the fountain operates, four courses of water cascade down the freedom pedestal into a maelstrom evoking the primordial chaos of Earth. Foursquare around the base, flames of freedom rise in witness to the future. Ascending from the pool, the freedom pedestal is shaped like the double helix of DNA, the key molecule of life. Atop the pedestal a giant crab reminds us of life’s origins in sea and struggle. Facing West, a somnolent Moon reflects tranquility from a joyous Sun smiling to the East. The swirls encircling the heavenly bodies bespeak the larger movements of the cosmos with which earthly life is continuous.

Nine giraffes—among the most peaceable of animals—nestle and prance about the center. One rests its head on the bosom of the winged Archangel Michael, described in the bible as the leader of the heavenly host against the forces of Evil. St. Michael’s sword is vanquishing his chief opponent, Satan, whose decapitated figure plunges into the depths, his head dangling beneath the crab’s claw. Tucked away next to the Sun, a lion and lamb relax together in the peace of God’s kingdom, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.

from the Atlas Obscura, a compendium of this age’s wonders, curiosities, and esoterica.

This bronze public art work is continually met with both praise and criticism. The odd mix of modern scientific findings, such as the double helix at the fountain’s base, old testament biblical depictions, exotic animals, and the decapitated head of Satan, gives quite a shock to the viewer.

Circling the fountain are a series of smaller bronze statues molded by children. These range in depiction from famous icons, such as Einstein, Socrates, and Gandhi, to odd mythical beasts and demons. There also happens to be a white peacock that wanders around the fountain who lives in the garden of the church.

Halloween Extravaganza:

I’ve heard of churches having a Hell House during October to scare people into getting saved, but this is something else entirely:

“The Grand Procession of the Ghouls”

youtube videos:
[ Halloween Extravaganza 2009 | Halloween Extravaganza 2008 ]

somebody’s comment: “that looks awesome. is it weird to have a pagan holiday with skulls in a church?”

some photos: [ one | two | three | four ]

The most amazing and awe-inspiring Halloween celebration in New York actually happens the night before—on Mischief Night—at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, when ghosts and ghouls burst from the smoking Mouth of Hell and parade across the church’s nave and down its aisles.

The Procession of the Ghouls will follow a screening of the classic Nosferatu,—the original vampire film, directed by German Expressionist F. W. Murnau in 1922. Organist Timothy Brumfield will accompany the movie on the cathedral’s famous organ.

There are many Halloween events staged in our theatrical city, but the cathedral’s Procession of the Ghouls outdoes every one with its thrillingly magical costumes and staging. Designed and directed by Ralph Lee and the Mettawee River Theater Company, the procession envelops the audience in its mysterious, medieval ambience. Demons with wings or horns and creatures covered in fur or feathers cavort in the cathedral and approach members of the audience, many of whom arrive dressed in an assortment of velvet gowns, Edwardian top hats, Victorian morning coats and other costumes that conjure up a gothic sense of dread. Not for this crowd the ridiculous fake blood and tawdry rubber masks found at your average chain store. These ghosts and ghouls are the stuff of deep imagination.

from the Cathedral website about this year’s event:

Procession of the Ghouls

Friday, October 29, 7 pm and 10 pm

Tickets are $20

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets

Halloween Cocktail Reception for the Cathedral’s Young Regents

Friday, October 29, after the 7 pm screening

Please check back for more information

Crypt Crawls

Shake your spirits loose this Halloween! Creep into the Cathedral’s crypt with Cathedral Guides and learn the origins of Halloween as the Celtic New Year celebration and trace its later transformation into All Hallows Eve. Space is limited and reservations are required. For further information and to make a reservation please call the Public Education & Visitor Services Department at (212) 932-7347.

Saturday, October 30
Tickets are $12 per person, $10 per student/senior

Click Here to purchase tickets

Morning of the Gargoyles: A Children’s Halloween Workshop
Join us this Halloween for a morning of spooky fun! The morning begins with a reading of Eve Buntings Night of the Gargoyles, then down to the workshop to assemble gargling, grimacing clay gargoyles, skeleton creatures, and paper gargoyle masks. For further information call the Public Education & Visitor Services Department at (212) 932-7347. Reservations are required.

Saturday, October 30, 10 am – 12 pm
Tickets are $8 per child, with accompanying adult

Madeleine L’Engle:


Madeleine L’Engle (November 29, 1918 – September 6, 2007) was an American writer best known for her Young Adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels…

from Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections:

Madeleine L’Engle was born on November 29, 1918, and spent her earliest formative years in New York City. Early on as a child, L’Engle discovered a love for writing, recording her thoughts in stories, poems and journals. At age 12, Madeleine and her parents moved to the French Alps, where she continued to nurture her passion for writing. She flourished during her high school years back in the United States at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina.

L’Engle next attended Smith College where she studied the classics of literature and continued her own creative writing. She graduated with honors in English and afterwards moved to Greenwich Village in New York City. She published her first two novels by 1946, before meeting her future husband, Hugh Franklin.

After their marriage, Madeleine had a baby girl and kept on writing, eventually moving to a small Connecticut country village to raise their family away from the city. Eventually they moved back to New York City with their three children, and Hugh revitalized his professional acting career. The family has kept their Connecticut country home, Crosswicks, and continues to spend summers there.

As the years passed and the children grew, Madeleine continued to write and Hugh to act, and they both enjoyed each other and life. Since 1966 L’Engle has been writer-in-residence and librarian at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. After Hugh’s death in 1986, Madeleine’s writing and lecturing sustained her, along with her ever growing family. After her husband’s passing L’Engle enjoyed spending time with her friends, children, grand-children, and great grandchildren. After an extended illness Madeleine L’Engle died September 6th, 2007.


As the years passed and the children grew, Madeleine continued to write and Hugh to act, and they to enjoy each other and life. Madeleine began her association with the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, where she has been the librarian and maintained an office for more than thirty years. After Hugh’s death in 1986, it was her writing and lecturing that kept her going. She has now lived through the 20th century and into the 21st and has written over 60 books and keeps writing. She enjoys being with her friends, her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren.

comment from a blog:

Here are a few things she’s said that need to be considered:

All will be redeemed in God’s fullness of time, all, not just the small portion of the population who have been given the grace to know and accept Christ.

“…St. Anselm who saw the atonement in terms of appeasement of an angry God, from which follows immediately the heresy that Jesus came to save us from God the Father.”

For me, Gandhi is a Christ figure. I’ll be perfectly happy to go wherever he goes. If you want to call that hell, that’s your problem!”

Jesus is the true princess

The white china Buddha is an icon, a Christ figure for me

Some of these are taken from articles that are not attacking her, but rather defending her. :
[Link 1]
[Link 2]
[Link 3]

If we allow these statements to stand as being consistent with a Christian worldview, we add mud to the already-so-murky waters in the church today. This is confusing stuff. L’Engle’s views are not consistent with an orthodox view of scripture. She held a liberal, universalist view.

Writers, the blogosphere over, are singing her praises and lamenting her passing. I join in the lament. Here passed a great lady. A brilliant, talented, compassionate lady. Let us all praise God for creating her and lament our loss in her passing.

But let us be clear on one thing–her worldview was not Christian. She preached love, but she had a skewed, humanistic view of love.

God the Father sent his dearly beloved Son to die for his enemies. That is love.

God the Son, the sinless one, took upon himself our sin, cutting himself off from the Father’s love and taking in our place the wrath we so richly deserved. That is love.

Without understanding God’s holiness and his justice, we cannot understand his love. We must view his love in the context of all his attributes to have it mean anything.

So let’s mourn L’Engle’s passing, but let’s also take this time to proclaim truth about the cross.

article about Madeleine L’Engle’s New Age beliefs: “HOW THE NEW AGE INFILTRATES”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

from some New Age website called GaiaMind:

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a visionary French Jesuit, paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher, who spent the bulk of his life trying to integrate religious experience with natural science, most specifically Christian theology with theories of evolution. In this endeavor he became absolutely enthralled with the possibilities for humankind, which he saw as heading for an exciting convergence of systems, an “Omega point” where the coalescence of consciousness will lead us to a new state of peace and planetary unity. Long before ecology was fashionable, he saw this unity he saw as being based intrinsically upon the spirit of the Earth:

“The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth.”
Teilhard de Chardin passed away a full ten years before James Lovelock ever proposed the “Gaia Hypothesis” which suggests that the Earth is actually a living being, a collosal biological super-system. Yet Chardin’s writings clearly reflect the sense of the Earth as having its own autonomous personality, and being the prime center and director of our future — a strange attractor, if you will — that will be the guiding force for the synthesis of humankind.

“The phrase ‘Sense of the Earth’ should be understood to mean the passionate concern for our common destiny which draws the thinking part of life ever further onward. The only truly natural and real human unity is the spirit of the Earth. . . .The sense of Earth is the irresistable pressure which will come at the right moment to unite them (humankind) in a common passion.

“We have reached a crossroads in human evolution where the only road which leads forward is towards a common passion. . . To continue to place our hopes in a social order achieved by external violence would simply amount to our giving up all hope of carrying the Spirit of the Earth to its limits.”

To this end, he suggested that the Earth in its evolutionary unfolding, was growing a new organ of consciousness, called the noosphere. The noosphere is analogous on a planetary level to the evolution of the cerebral cortex in humans. The noosphere is a “planetary thinking network” — an interlinked system of consciousness and information, a global net of self-awareness, instantaneous feedback, and planetary communication. At the time of his writing, computers of any merit were the size of a city block, and the Internet was, if anything, an element of speculative science fiction. Yet this evolution is indeed coming to pass, and with a rapidity, that in Gaia time, is but a mere passage of seconds. In these precious moments, the planet is developing her cerebral cortex, and emerging into self-conscious awakening. We are indeed approaching the Omega point that Teilhard de Chardin was so excited about.

according to this Universalist Quaker website:

Open to new currents in secular and religious experience, Teilhard de Chardin, Gregory Baum, and Paul Knitter have proposed radical revisions of conventional Christianity, with major implications for the dialogue between the religions.

Teilhard de Chardin was convinced that the present encounter between the religions could not fulfill its promise unless the critique of religion by secular humanism were taken into account. Yet secular humanism, lacking the transcendent focus provided by revelation, could not provide the kind of faith needed to sustain humanity in the dawning planetary age. The Eastern religions, imbued with a mystical sense of universal unity, provided a transcendent focus, but failed to give meaning to human effort and evolutionary progress. Christianity in its usual forms (“paleo-Christianity,” Teilhard sometimes called it), suffered from some of the same unworldliness. He therefore called for a “neo-Christianity,” a “new mysticism,” one “for which we have as yet no name,” to serve as a “privileged central axis” about which the religions might converge.46

A general convergence of religions upon a universal Christ who fundamentally satisfies them all: that seems to me the only possible conversion of the world, and the only form in which a religion of the future can be conceived.47

Unlike the false monisms at work in Eastern and Western forms of pantheism, an authentic pan-Christism, according to Teilhard, could combine the Eastern concern for universal unity with the Western concern for individual dignity and freedom. In spite of some passing remarks to the effect that Christ must be reinterpreted in such a way as to “integrate those aspects of the divine expressed by the Indian god Shiva,” Teilhard spoke more often of the limitations than of the merits of the “road of the East.” When asked whether a Buddhist or a Hindu should become a Christian, he replied: “It would be better to try to carry its truth [that of your previous religion] with you, and transform it if you could, though of course sometimes this might not be possible.”

from a UN website,

In 1981, UNESCO convened an international symposium and exhibition to mark the birth centenary of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French theologian, philosopher and palaeontologist. A medal was also issued. Designed by the French artist Paul Belmondo and struck at the Paris Mint, the obverse side shows a portrait of Teilhard de Chardin.

The reverse features a map of the world with, in its centre, the Greek letter “omega”, the philosopher’s term for the convergence point of the earth’s evolution. The inscription on the reverse side, La compréhension et le respect sacré de l’humain (Understanding and respect for all that is human) is taken from a letter written by Teilhard de Chardin to Father Auguste Valensin in February 1928.

P.S.: Here’s a blog post featuring an excerpt from Madeleine L’Engle’s book “A Stone For A Pillow” where she approvingly quotes Teilhard de Chardin, of all people:

In the beginning of Genesis, God affirms that the Creation is good — very good. The Incarnation is a reaffirmation of the innate goodness of all that God has made.

Teilhard de Chardin says that “for a soul to have a body is enkosmismene.”

Enkosmismene. To have our roots in the cosmos. We are like trees, drawing spiritual water through our rootedness in Creation. This is the affirmation of incarnation.

Even in time of tornado, earthquake, ice storm, our very roots are part of the entire cosmos. Surely Jacob, picking up the stone he had used for a pillow, and pouring oil on it as it became an altar, was making this same affirmation in his cry that here was the house of God. Jacob was indeed rooted in cosmos. At that moment he knew at-one-ment.

The Lindisfarne Association:

from wikipedia:

The Lindisfarne Association is a group of intellectuals of diverse interests organized by cultural historian William Irwin Thompson for the “study and realization of a new planetary culture“. It is inspired by Jean Gebser’s idea of the integral structure of consciousness, and by Teilhard de Chardin’s idea of the noosphere. […]

In 1972, with funding from Sydney and Jean Lanier, and later from Laurance Rockefeller, Thompson founded the Lindisfarne Association, which functioned variously as a sponsor of new age events and lectures, and as a think tank and retreat, similar to the Esalen Institute in California. Lindisfarne functioned through the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York for a number of years. Today Lindisfarne functions as a virtual association of the Fellows and meets once a year at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

According to the Lindisfarne Association website, Lindisfarne’s fourfold goals are:

1. The Planetization of the Esoteric

2. The realization of the inner harmony of all the great universal religions and the spiritual traditions of the tribal peoples of the world.

3. The fostering of a new and healthier balance between nature and culture through the research and development of appropriate technologies, architectural settlements and compassionate economies for meta-industrial villages and convivial cities.

4. The illumination of the spiritual foundations of political governance through scholarship and artistic communications that foster a global ecology of consciousness beyond the present ideological systems of warring industrial nation-states, outraged traditional societies, and ravaged lands and seas.

Members of Lindisfarne have included, among others:

scientist James Lovelock
spiritual teacher David Spangler
composer Paul Winter
[lots more people at link]

from Paul Winter’s site:

It was September, 1979, and I was there to take part in the annual conference of the Lindisfarne Fellowship, an association of creative individuals in the arts, sciences, and contemplative practices, devoted to the study and realization of a new planetary culture. Lindisfarne’s founder, poet and cultural philosopher William Irwin Thompson, had come to Crestone to establish a solar village in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Among the Lindisfarne Fellows at that first conference in Crestone were poet/farmer Wendell Berry; anthropologist Joan Halifax; astronaut Rusty Schweickart; physicist Amory Lovins; ecologists Nancy Jack Todd and John Todd; Whole Earth Catalogue founder Stewart Brand; poet GarySnyder; biologist Lynn Margulis; Arcosanti builder Paolo Soleri; neuro-scientist Francisco Varela; Esalen founder Michael Murphy; economist Hazel Henderson; environmental educator David Orr; ecologist Dana Jackson; botanist Wes Jackson; architect Sim Van der Ryn; and the Dean of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Very Reverend James Parks Morton. Spending time with these extraordinary people, in the exhilarating atmosphere of Crestone, was deeply inspiring. I don’t recall much of what we discussed during those days together, but I do remember vividly our great volleyball games, a sunset picnic at the Great Sand Dunes, and the sweat-lodge.

from William Irwin Thompson World Wide Website:

The Lindisfarne Association was founded by the American writer William Irwin Thompson in New York City in December of 1972. Inspired in 1967 by Michael Murphy’s work in bringing Eastern philosophy and Western psychology together in the establishment of Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, Professor Thompson returned to his teaching position at M.I.T. and sought for new ways to broaden the humanities by exploring the mystical roots of Western science and by bringing meditation into the thinking of philosophy and the practice of science and art. […]

At the instigation of Gene Fairly, Lindisfarne was established in New York, rather than Toronto, and Emily Sellon, the editor of New York’s Main Currents in Modern Thought, served with Thompson and Fairly as the founding Board of Directors of the Lindisfarne Association. Through the efforts of Nancy Wilson Ross, author of Three Ways of Asian Wisdom and a former student of the Bauhaus in Germany, Thompson’s writings and lectures were brought to the attention of Laurance S. Rockefeller and Sydney and Jean Lanier, and they assisted in the establishment of a facility on Long Island in 1973. With the encouragement of Nancy Wilson Ross and Dean James P. Morton, Lindisfarne began its activities in a working relationship with the Zen Center in San Francisco and the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and this helped Lindisfarne’s work to be ecumenical and national from the start.

Although Dean Morton offered to house the educational program of Lindisfarne at the Cathedral from the very beginning of activities in 1973, Dr. Thompson felt that a more contemplative and communal mode of study and reflection was needed to differentiate Lindisfarne from the church and the university, so Lindisfarne was established in a rural setting on Long Island. From 1973 to 1977, a resident staff lived communally on a thirteen acre facility at Fishcove in the township of Southampton, but provided an educational program for the Greater New York area through seminars, residential courses, and summer conferences. Many of the pioneers of “the alternative movement,” well-known thinkers such as Gregory Bateson and E. F. Schumacher became Lindisfarne Fellows or Scholars-in-Residence and helped through their presence and publications to outline the shape of the new ecological consciousness. Lindisfarne ‘s scholarship from this period is, perhaps, best summed up in the book Earth’s Answer: Explorations of Planetary Culture at the Lindisfarne Conferences. (New York, Harper & Row, 1977). […]

So for the eighties and nineties, Lindisfarne presented its programs at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine under the sponsorship ofthe Green Dean,” Rev. James Morton. […]

At the invitation of Hanne and Maurice Strong, Beatrice and William Thompson moved to Crestone in 1979 and began the project of building a Lindisfarne Institute for conferences and summer schools, and encouraging the residents of Crestone to take advantage of their environment to build a solar village. […]

Thompson chose Sim Van der Ryn to design the Lindisfarne Fellows House and Keith Critchlow to design the dome for the circular chapel that Thompson had designed to serve as Lindisfarne’s interfaith meditation chapel. Through Hanne Strong’s leadership, Crestone began to move in the direction of becoming a sanctuary for traditional contemplative lineages, and her Manitou Foundation began to make land grants to a Roman Catholic Carmelite Hermitage, two Yogic ashrams, and several Buddhist centers. In 1988, Thompson accepted the fact that Crestone was too remote and costly in travel expenses to import faculty for summer conferences and schools, but was, as Hanne Strong recognized, ideal for contemplative retreats. With this in mind, Lindisfarne donated its eighty acre campus to the Crestone Mountain Zen Center, and Hanne Strong and her Manitou Foundation energized the stalled Solar Village project that Lindisfarne had instigated in 1979, and this project continues under her leadership to this day.

With the establishment of the Crestone Mountain Zen Center by Lindisfarne’s Board of Directors at a meeting at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 1988, ( Lindisfarne’s focus returned to a teaching program at the Cathedral (1988-1996) and annual conferences with the Lindisfarne Fellows at different locations in the United States and Europe. From 1985 to 1988, Lindisfarne directed a Program for Biology, Cognition, and Ethics at the Cathedral that explored the political and cultural implications of the Gaia Hypothesis and the implications of Buddhist psychology and meditational practice for European phenomenology and American cognitive science. This program was focused at CREA at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and on the research and writings of Evan Thompson and Francisco Varela. Through the efforts of William Irwin Thompson and Francisco Varela, several conferences were held in the United States and Europe. The publications resulting from this Program are:

* Gaia, A Way of Knowing: Political Implications of the New Biology, Ed. William Thompson (Lindisfarne Press, Great Barrington, Mass., 1987).
* Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Myth and Science, William Irwin Thompson (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1989).
* Gaia Two, Emergence: The New Science of Becoming Ed. William Irwin Thompson, (Lindisfarne Press, Hudson, New York, 1991).
* The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience, Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch (M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1991).
* The American Replacement of Nature, William Irwin Thompson (Doubleday/Currency Books, New York, 1991).
* Colour Vision: A Study in Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Perception, Evan Thompson, Routledge, London, 1995.
* Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness, William Irwin Thompson, (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1996 & 1998).
* Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind, Evan Thompson (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2007).

The role of Lindisfarne was to initiate an impulse in culture but not to try to own or institutionalize it. For example, Lindisfarne established a contemplative retreat with meditation and classes in hatha yoga, Tai Chi Chuan, and philosophy in the Hamptons in 1973. (People thought this cultural project quite weird at the time.) In Manhattan from 1976-1979, Lindisfarne set up a program on Buddhism and Cognitive Science with lectures by Nechung Rinpoche, Robert Thurman, and Francisco Varela. When New Age retreats began to become commercially successful themed hotels and spas, Lindisfarne shifted away from serving as a retreat center to set up a School for Sacred Architecture in Crestone in 1980. When programs on sacred architecture became sponsored by the Prince of Wales, and when a program on Buddhism and cognitive science became sponsored by the Dalai Lama, there was no reason any longer to continue Lindisfarne’s two programs in these areas, so it moved to less public horizons of culture in subjects such as a Gaia Politique, interdisciplinary approaches to complex dynamical systems, and artistic explorations of Wissenskunst.

Now that the ecological and contemplative approaches to cultural transformation that Lindisfarne helped to initiate in the early seventies are fully implanted in American culture and exist as programs at several colleges and universities, as well as at several traditional religious centers, and now that one can look to an Obama administration to support new programs in green technologies and ecological stewardship, the initiatory programs of the Association are fading away with the graying generation of the seventies. The Lindisfarne Association as a formal not-for-profit corporation with its structure of Directors, Officers, and Students, was formally dissolved in 2009. The new Lindisfarne Fellowship was created in 2009 at Upaya Zen Center to serve as an informal creative group energizing one another’s works and creative projects.

The Temple of Understanding:

please visit The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 3 for more on the Temple of Understanding.

The Temple of Understanding used to be headquartered at the Cathedral, but is not any more.

from the UN website about NGOs:



Assosiation: NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC; associated with DPI

Main Activity: Religion, Freedom of Beliefs

As a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council, the TOU is an active member of the NGO community working on the inside of the United Nations to advance social justice. The TOU actively supports the aims and principles of the United Nations by attending world summit meetings, sponsoring programs for NGOs, and participating on committees and coalitions of NGOs with similar values.

In 2007 our UN Representative became the President of the Religious NGO’s at the UN.


article: “Gatekeeper of the Temple of the Heart” [pdf]

My dear friend Juliet Hollister passed away in November. When I heard the news, I wept. She was 84, going on 24. I never really dwelt on her age, for to know her was to know a youthful spirit, though more than likely a very old soul. Forty years ago, from her kitchen in Greenwich, Connecticut, this then housewife and mother gave birth to a vision that became The Temple of Understanding, a United Nations sanctioned forum for the promotion of dialogue and understanding among and between the great religions of the world. Juliet’s friend Eleanor Roosevelt called it, The Spiritual United Nations.’ […]

With the support and blessings of many of the world’s top leaders, Mrs. Hollister’s vision became The Temple of Understanding, which grew into an international educational group recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization. From its Manhattan headquarters, and guided by her leadership and moving spirit, the group organizes symposiums, round-table discussions, educational projects, global forums, and spiritual summit meetings abroad. These summits, which became a meeting ground for the world’s major spiritual leaders, convened in Calcutta in 1968, Geneva in 1970, Harvard University in 1971, Princeton University in 1971, Cornell University in 1974, the United Nations in 1975, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1984. In 1988, The Temple of Understanding joined with the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival, holding a conference in Oxford, England, which for the first time brought together parliamentarians, scientists, and spiritual leaders from around the world. The Global Forum reconvened in Moscow in 1990 and in Tokyo in 1993.

The Temple of Understanding also played a key role in developing the North American Interfaith Network, an association of local, regional, national and international interfaith organizations, faith communities, and educational institutions. Conferences are now held annually. […]

Juliet succeeded in making her overarching dream a reality. One unfulfilled dream that I must leave to those who follow me to fulfill,’ she said, is to build and erect the physical Temple of Understanding on the land we purchased years ago in Washington, D.C. The architectural blueprint of the plans for the Temple, executed as well, are also awaiting the hands of the builders when the proper funding comes in,’ she said.

After an appearance on The God Squad,’ the television show co-hosted by a rabbi and a priest on the Telicare Television Network of Long Island, Juliet began to soulfully reflect on the state of the world. There is so much work yet to be done,’ she said. It is so clear to me that all we have to do is awaken to the fact that we are all ONE, or as my friend Father Thomas Merton has so rightly said, ‘We are already ONE . . . what we have to become is what we already are.’ It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet so much more work to do. So much more work.’

Reverend James Parks Morton:

Connecting the Cathedral to the Temple of Understanding is Reverend James Parks Morton… a great big Interfaith guy… He’s a former Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. (1972 to 1997)

After leaving, he founded The Interfaith Center of New York (ICNY).

Other interfaith activities included serving as president of the Temple of Understanding from 1985 – 1997… as well as co-chair of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders from 1985 to 1993…

The Very Reverend James Parks Morton founded the ICNY after retiring from his service as Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York in 1997 and has been its president since. […]

Dean Morton early perceived the centrality of the environment in religion. He began the first Recycling Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side; conceived St. Francis Day, The Native American Thanksgiving, and helped found the Joint Appeal of Science and Religion and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, a group which has instilled over 50,000 congregations of every faith across America with the idea of sacred ecology and environmental responsibility.

Another salient element of his ministry is the promotion of tolerance and understanding through a respect for all faith traditions. Among his interfaith activities, Dean Morton served as president of the Temple of Understanding (1985-1997), and as co-chair of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders (1985-1993).


The Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski:

from the Aspen Institute website:

The Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, NY. Jim Kowalski was elected Dean of the Cathedral in March 2002. He was previously Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Parish in Darien, CT, one of the ten largest Episcopal parishes in the U.S., where he had served since 1993. Jim has also served as president of the Fairfield County Economic Development Corporation in Stamford, CT, as well as a member of the Darien Clergy Association and the Social Services Commission. He is a Canon Scholar, and has been an American Leadership Forum Fellow and a clerical delegate and alternate to National Episcopal Church Conventions. He previously served on the advisory council of St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals and on the board of Leake and Watts in the City. Jim earned a BA with honors from Trinity College in 1973, a Masters in Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in 1978, and a Doctor of Ministry from the Hartford Seminary in 1991. Jim lives in New York, with his wife, The Rev. Anne A. Brewer, M.D. He is a member of the 1997 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.

More Cathedral/UN links:

here’s an article from September 26, 2008 about the Cathedral and UN both holding an event for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):

Hundreds filled the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on September 25 where Church of England Archbishop of York John Sentamu said that “God is calling us to be part of transforming the world.”

Sentamu preached the sermon at an “Interfaith Service of Recommitment and Witness of the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church officiated.

The day was held in accordance with the Lambeth Conference’s call that September 25 be a day of prayer, fasting and witness.

It also coincided with the day-long high-level event at the United Nations headquarters that urged world leaders to renew commitments to achieving the MDGs by 2015 and establish concrete plans and practical steps for action.

In his sermon, Sentamu stated that “hope for the world” would come through transformation. He had those in attendance stand and recite to their neighbor, “be an agent of moral, social and economic transformation.”

“I trust the ancient wisdom of the faith that I hold, to point the way to the future,” he said. “Love wasn’t put in our hearts to stay. It isn’t love until you give it away.”

He said that as “children of God” we should do our part because “it does make a difference.”

Prior to the recommitment service a rally and “teach-in” was held on the steps of the Cathedral where attendees, holding MDG banners, listened to Sentamu; the Rt. Rev. James Curry, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Connecticut; Mike Kinman, executive director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation and others set the tone for the service by reiterating some jarring statistics on poverty, and child mortality.

Since the church’s 2006 General Convention, when the MDGs were set as the church’s top mission priority, Jefferts Schori, who fully endorsed them, continues to call on Episcopalians and the wider global community to work together for their implementation.

“The MDGs are incredibly important for the Episcopal Church because they challenge us and provide an image of what we should be doing,” she said. “[In addition] the ecumenical presence at this gathering is important because it takes the whole world to live out the Gospel.

In his welcoming address, the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, spoke of how “pleased God must be” about the assemblage and said “we are praying that we will make it to the achievement of these goals.”

Some other people and organizations associated with the Cathedral that I will save for a future post: Robert Muller, James Lovelock, Thomas Berry, The Gaia Institute, and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)

Let’s return one more time to the Blessing of the Animals/EARTH MASS and read from some guy’s story about watching this service at the Cathedral back during 1993:

Liturgical Dances With Wolves (1993)

New York City has its share of glorious autumn mornings when it’s tempting to commune with God by taking an extra long Sunday walk, rather than finding one’s place in a pew. Oct. 3, 1993, was just such a day.

I was staying over the weekend on the upper West side after arriving early for a weekday conference at Columbia University on religion and the news media. I decided that if I was in the city that is the spiritual heart of the Episcopal Church then I should visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Besides, this was the feast day of St. Francis and friends told me not to miss the media circus at the cathedral’s annual blessing of the animals.

Liturgical dances with wolves is, literally, one way to describe this green high mass, which centers on the spectacular music of jazz musician Paul Winter’s “Missa Gaia (Earth Mass).”

In the Kyrie, the saxophonist and his ensemble improvised to the taped cry of a timber wolf. A humpback whale led the Sanctus.

Skeptic Carl Sagan preached, covering turf from the joyful “bisexual embraces” of earthworms to the greedy sins of capitalists. The earth, he stressed, is one body made of creatures who eat and drink each other, inhabit each other’s bodies, and form a sacred “web of interaction and interdependence that embraces the planet.”

Most of the faithful came for the blessing of pets, a few of which grew restless during the long service. Several rows of large dogs nipped at the dancers who were racing through in the aisles. At other times they howled along with the piercing tones of the amplified soprano sax. Nevertheless, the final procession was spectacular and included an elephant, a camel, a vulture, a swarm of bees in a glass frame, a bowl of blue-green algae and an elegantly decorated banana.

After the service was over, a line of men from the choir captured the mood of the day by cheering “New York! New York!” as they waved to television crews on the steps outside the cathedral.

But, for me, the most symbolic moment of the service came at the offertory. Before the bread and wine were brought to the altar, the musicians offered a rhythmic chant that soared into the cathedral vault:

OBA ye Oba yo Yemanja

Oba ye Oba yo O Yemanja

Oby ye Oba yo O O Ausar

Oba ye Oba yo O Ra Ausar

Praises to Obatala, ruler of the Heavens

Praises to Obatala, ruler of the Heavens

Praises to Yemenja, ruler of the waters of life

Praises to Yemenja, ruler of the waters of life

Praises to Ausar, ruler of Amenta, the realm of the ancestors

Praises to Ra and Ausar, rulers of the light and the resurrected soul.

— From the printed worship booklet for “Liturgy and Sermon, Earth Mass — Missa Gaia,” distributed on Oct. 3, 1993, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Then the congregation joined in and everyone sang “Let all mortal flesh keep silence.”

I sat down, confused. As a journalist, I have attended many interfaith services and I know all about the kinds of rites now being used at many seminaries and New Age conferences. I knew all about the trendy reputation of this particular cathedral.

But this was a Sunday morning Mass, led by a diocesan bishop. Once again, I checked the printed liturgy.

What was going on?

Ra? The sun god of Egypt? Ausar?

Meanwhile, the service continued. At the altar, New York Bishop Richard Grein raised his arms and began the consecration prayers.

Still, my heart was troubled. For the first time, I decided not to receive communion at an Episcopal altar. I was not sure what I would be receiving.

from: “The New Age movement in the Episcopal Church”

…Morton acted on this belief by holding a St. Francis Day communion service in 1993 that invoked the gods Yemanja, Ra, Ausar, and Obatala; the celebrant was Episcopal Bishop of New York Richard Grein. (572) (Yemanja is an Afro-Brazilian goddess of the sea (573); Ra is the Egyptian sun god; (574) Ausar – also known as Osiris and the Green Man – is the Egyptian god of life and death;(575) Obatala is the Voodoo “Father of Wisdom”.(576)



The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 1
UN Climate Change Summit (COP15) Copenhagen, December 2009
Church bells ringing out warning on climate change! pagan “Christian” church service complete with altar full of corn, coral, and rocks… Eco-fraud Rachel Carson and DDT, lots of Interfaithism, New Age, and Paganism

The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 2
United Nations World Urban Forum (WUF3) 2006 Vancouver
UN participants wanting to Rezone-Out Churches and Rezone-in Interfaith Community Centers? Thanks, U.N.! David Suzuki calling us maggots, whiny eco-gal Severn Suzuki, fun with paganism, burning a 14 foot demon effigy, the child-eating Rangda leads an army of evil witches!

The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 3
The Ground Zero Imam and an Interfaith Explosion
The U.N., Glenn Beck, Temple of Understanding, Aspen Institute, reading the Koran in church, and the Ground Zero Imam… Soooo Interfaithy!!

The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 4
Obama/Hillary and Freedom of Religion vs. Freedom of Worship
What’s the deal with Obama’s use of  “Freedom of Worship” instead of “Freedom of Religion”?

The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 5
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC
The Grand Procession of the Ghouls, Blessing of the bicycles, the creepy Peace Fountain, The Peace Altar, Paul Winter’s Earth Mass and Summer/Winter Solstice concert, Blessing of the Animals, Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, The Temple of Understanding, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, William Irwin Thompson, The Lindisfarne Association, Madeleine L’Engle, Rev. James Parks Morton, United Nations Sunday, and Christa: a crucifix depicting Christ as a woman… and more!

The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 6
UN Climate Change Summit (COP16) Cancun, Nov/Dec 2010
The Invoking of Ixchel, lots of meditating/Circular Dancing/and Sacred Sunrise Ceremonies, Mayan Mania/drama at Chichen Itza/and a whole bunch of fun with Brahma Kumaris… Mother Earth is the lady of the hour and boy do those Indigenous Peoples sure know how to complain…

The U.N. Meddling with Religion, Part 7
1992 Earth Summit in Rio
Invoking Iemanja the “goddess” of the sea, Shirley MacLaine meditating with the Dalai Lama, John Denver crooning, Shamans threatening Bush Sr. with that Shamany thing they do best, drinking hallucinogenic tea, thanking bananas as they are eaten, Maurice Strong and his wife Hanne and her Wisdom Keepers keeping up a constant drumbeat throughout the proceedings, John Kerry (of Vietnam fame) making a love connection!

The U.N. Meddling with Religion, Part 8
Actual Evil Within the United Nations
Lucifer-revering New Age Theosophy/ the UN Meditation Room/ Lucis Publishing Company used to be named the Lucifer Publishing Company? Really??/ Theosophy groups meditating inside the UN Meditation Room according to the changing of the moon/ the Lucis Trust evil prayer The Great Invocation was once published in Reader’s Digest? Really??/ UN’s General Assembly room contains a being called The Avatar of Synthesis? Really??/ UN Catholic chapel and Interfaith chapel.

The U.N. Meddling with Religion, Part 9
Cooperation Circles and the United Religions Initiative
Bishop William Swing and his United Religions Initiative/webs of Interfaith Cooperation Circles/Wiccan Donald Frew and his traditional Wiccan foundation blessing while Bishop William Swing joins in and raises his arms in invocation. Sigh.

  1. “The U.N. Meddling with Religion: Cathedral of
    St. John the Divine c5’s Simian Roadhouse” truly makes myself imagine a tiny bit further. I personally cherished each and every individual component of this blog post. Thanks for the post -Wilbur

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s