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It’s time for another Wednesday audio delivery  of Spark My Muse.
This is Soul School Lesson 84

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Soul School-Lesson 61: Peace and Conflict

Soul School-Lesson 61: Peace and Conflict

Welcome to Spark My Muse!


Soul School Lessons
 are released each Wednesday
(that is on aka “Hump Day” or Midweek).

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EPS 33: A Muslim talks about Allah, what he says will surprise you

Usama Awan
My guest is a young man who reflects the mission of this project called Spark My Muse. That mission is to be the spark of light and love I (and we) want to see the world.

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Usama Awan is a medical Student at Ohio State and a Ahmadiyya Muslim that escaped religious persecution in his native Pakistan with his family when he was a young boy.

Contact him here:

On Twitter @MuslimPeriscope

Ahmadiyya muslims are a moderate minority sect in the Muslim world and they believe their messiah came already.

The Messiah of the Ahmadiyya sect was Hazrat Mirza Ghulan Ahmad. He was a teacher and he was not divine.

Ahmadiyya believe in an established Khilafat is not a physical dominion but a dominion of the heart.

The website about his sect of Islam

Usama addresses some misconceptions about Islam.

About his wanting to change the perception of Muslims by going live on Periscope to answer questions.

Usama’s story of leaving Pakistan because of religious persecution.

His sect believes in a Messiah of Muslims (who died in 1908) and this belief makes his sect targets for persecution from other Muslims in the Muslim world.

Current leader (the Caliph) is Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad and lives in London. He advocates for peace.

About the belief in Jesus by Muslims.

Three goals of the Muslim Messiah:
1. Revive the teachings of Islam and bring Muslims back to the true teachings of Islam
2. To spread the truth about religion and to get humankind back to its Creator
3. To unite all religions

Worshipping the one true God and Creator.

Allah means God in Arabic. Arab Christians refer to God is Allah because it is the word for God.

Some of God’s attributes.

How names summarize us poorly.

God as male?

What Islam is not:

Terrorism is forbidden.
Life is precious, no matter the faith belief of the person.

Asking Usama, “Do you think most Muslims understand the truth?”

1.6 billion Muslims in the world but most have lost the true teachings of Islam–like a body without a beating heart.
The Muslim Messiah is there to get the heart of Islam to beat again.

The Quran is (usually) misunderstood. It is written in parables and must not be taken literally in ways that it is commonly.

The Calif (leader) is the ultimate authority on the Islamic teachings and there to resolve disputes.

What is the same about people is far more than what is different.

The big curveball question:
Was Mohammad violent and in favor of killing unbelievers?

The wars of Mohammad and were they fought in self-defense?

How the wars in (pagan/polytheistic) Mecca started around 610 AD.

Mohammad moves to Medina and the faith starts to spread.

Book by Karen Armstrong the life of Mohammad as a historical figure.

A history of God

Name Your Link

The religious context in Mecca: It was pagan and in the city of Medina there were some Jews.

The Kaaba, the black box, in Mecca was surrounded by idols and worshiped in a yearly pilgrimage.

Kaaba HD (3)29:00
Religious or spiritual figures are reviled by those in power (Moses, Jesus, etc.)

The economic factors that cause wars throughout history.

Abraham and his son Ishmael.

The Quran says that Abraham is told by God to leave to go to Mecca and leave Ishmael and his mother to make a great nation.

The family fight in the Middle East.

Exclusive truth is claimed by both Christianity and Islam and what can we do about it?

Usama says that his sect of Islam does not claim to have the only way to God. Many prophets have come over time and have told God’s truth.

The return of God is a message in every culture.

Answers the question: What’s the point of being a Muslim if all paths get to God?

The Five Pillars (of Islam) help you lead a godly life.

Jihad means to struggle and keep Satan away.

The Grace of God. Prayer helps us but it is not for God’s benefit or to get his favor. It establishes a link to God.

When people ask, “If God exists why doesn’t he just show himself?”

Belief is to hone in on “spiritual frequency”.

Worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth.

(from Lisa) Christians sometimes think of God as a Christian or of Jesus as a Christian.

Finding common ground to love the world as God wants us to.
Conversations. Service projects. Work together. Volunteer together.

Protecting each other and respect each other and focus on the common ground.

Mary the mother of Jesus is revered in Islam.

To serve God and bring glory to God we need to bring peace and love into the world together.

EPS 24: The Robust (Ignatian) Spirituality of Pope Francis

Right now, one of the most powerful and influential men in the world is undoubtably Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope, but too few people know the specific qualities of his Order (The Society of Jesus-Ignatian spirituality). His spirituality and training powerfully and uniquely guide his worldview, philosophy of vocation and work, and themes of his prominent, worldwide administration especially when compared with his predecessors.

Through his decisions, he influences Roman Catholics internationally (a staggering 1.1 billion people) and his ideas influence and inspire many of the 2.2 billion people who consider themselves Christian (specifically: a follower of the way of Jesus), including me.

What is most influential to Pope Francis?
His training in the Society of Jesus (the Catholic Order founded by Ignatius of Loyola 400 years ago). This is what guides how he see the world and makes all his important decisions that direct the Catholic Church and influence others worldwide.

Today, we will learn more about these teachings that often come out-of-sync with the ways and structures of established institutions of religion, politics, and power.




Spirutal Director, Jeanine Breault, trained in Ignatian Spirituality
Spirutal Director, Jeanine Breault, formally trained in Jesuit Ignatian Spirituality

Today, you will hear from my spiritual director, Jeanine Breault, a Roman Catholic who is formally trained in the Ignatian tradition. We converse about some of the salient characteristics of the Ignatian spiritual teachings and traditions.

Thus, you will find out the manner in which Pope Francis is directed spiritually by his own spiritual director within this 400 year old spiritual tradition; learn how Ignatian spiritual directors (and the current Pope) see the world and how God works in it, and more.


SHOWNOTES: EPS 24: The (Ignatian) Spirituality of Pope Francis

MIN: 1:00

Answering: What is Ignatian Spirituality?


Finding God in all things. We are invited to notice how God is at work. More than head knowledge but an experiential knowledge.


God is always at work for the good in my life and in my world and growing in that awareness. How can I respond to God’s call?


Ignatian Spirituality in contemplative in action.

Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic are major influences on Ignatius.

3:30 An Intimate relationship with God SO THAT I can labor with God.

Now that there is a Pope who is a Jesuit (the first in history) how does that shift the role and the the way he see the world as the head of the church.


On Pope Francis’s new letter “The Joy of the Gospel” and the Jesuit flavorings contained within and the influence on his life.


On the massive changes at the Vatican.


Who was Ignatius of Loyola? Ignatius_Loyola_by_Francisco_Zurbaran

The story of the man who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) 

Born in 1491 and his message continues to changes peoples lives.

His war injury and what changed his life.


The mystical experience he had.


He work in the discernment of spirits (his work called the Spiritual Exercises) and how these forces work in our lives.


Discerning and choosing between two goods.


The rules for discernment that can be applied to anyone at anytime.


The basic of the rules of discernment.

When a person is oriented to God and desires to please God, then God confirms that and gives graces of peace, joy, and comfort. The opposite feelings do not come from God (fear, anxiety, discouragement, despair, etc).


Through the Ignatian spiritual exercises, one can figure out what is of God and what is not.


People coming to direction for the first time are really grappling with a sense of God’s love for them (and not really believing it.)


Coming to a spirit-led decision and grace is involved.


Overcoming the obstacle of unworthiness.


Working at cultivating people’s awareness. Asking questions that create space for inquiry, discovery and discernment.


We forget that God loves at at some level and it’s a continual process of remembering.


Her experience with guilt in prayer because of a lack of focus. Apologizing to God about being preoccupied. And the amazing thing God seemed to say in response.

The part of affirming the goodness of God and what God is doing in that person’s life is the job of the director.


The answer won’t expect to my question: “What do you say or do when people can’t see or sense God, or they have a blindness and are unaware?” (Maybe an “image of God problem”)


The “director” is not a good word. The Spirit of God is the actual director and it’s God’s business.


The parallel with gardening and patience for growth.


“God loves that person more than you do.”


On not “fixing” things and solving problems.


Compassionate listening and getting out of the way for God to work better.


What supervision of a spiritual director looks like so that good listening can keep happening for those directed.


Finding a director that is properly prepared to direct others is crucial.

Asking Jeanine, “What happens in your mind and heart when you find yourself wanting to solve problems and rescue someone?”


Remembering the kind of ministry direction is. A prevailing ope that God is at work and in control ultimately. It’s sacred time and time to stay focused. Setting aside things when they come up.


Do people expect you to be their counselor? And what happens when that happens during direction?


Helping people know what to expect from direction and how to find someone who is properly trained.

The international listing of trained directors.

Director will work with people from any tradition.


The connection of Buddhism and Christian Mysticism in practice. Seeing the goodness in other traditions.


John O’Donohue and his comments of what Buddhism can brings to Christianity and vice versa.


Noticing the “now”.


Coming to a vibrant faith where (you realize) God is working in this very moment.


Relationships are the ways we become tuned to God and working out our salvation in real life and ordinary experiences.


Resources to continue on this path.

Ronald Rollhieser The Holy Longing and Prayer: Our Deepest Longing

Carmelite nun Ruth Borrows. Guidelines for Mystic Prayer

Anthony De Mello

Joyce Rupp

Learn more about Ignatius of Loyola here.

Guest writer at Everyday Liturgy

ELI’m very glad to have the honor of being the guest writer today at Thomas Turner’s blog:

Everyday Liturgy

Thomas wrote me saying,

I would love for you to contribute a 500 word (or so) post about how participating in a particular church or denomination has helped make you the Christian you are today. The purpose of this series is largely ecumenical, and looks at the positive you gleaned out of the experience. If you had a bad experience that turned into something good later on, I would think you could make a great post out of that…

Some of you may not know just how fundamentalist my roots are.

Here’s but one example:

Several people approached my mom to discourage her from marrying my dad. Why?

Because their offspring would be bi-racial.

Plenty of (fundamentalist) Christian groups at the time prohibited “inter-racial” dating and (obviously) marriage and pro-creation.

Southern Baptists were the slave-owning southerns who coined their monicker at the time of the American Civil War (to them known as “The War of the Northern Aggression”). Northern Baptists, as they were once called, later changed their name to American Baptist and became (typically) more progressive and liberal in their views over time.

Southern Baptists proliferated to many places outside of the the South (to the American North and through missionary work, to all parts of the world), but kept their name and, as you might guess, some of their same notions.

(To be fair, things have changed for the better, mostly. Today, folks in churches coming from that tradition run the gamut of very strict and conservative… “old school patriarchal imperialist southern” -if you will- to more gracious and relaxed in their dogma on issues of race, gender, and other matters.)

(By the way, my dad was Puerto Rican. Are you curious to see what he looked like? Here. Like most conversations about “race” –as if that was an actual thing– it’s really just vestige of a medieval mindset and a preoccupation about skin tones and/or physical features. Sadly, it still is and by people you would imagine would know better. But, I’ll tackle that in some other post.)

I wonder how many of them were relieved that I ended up having my mom’s light skin. 

(This is were Obama and I are alike. Like me, he actually looks more like his mom than his dad. Trust me, it’s true. I notice these things! :) )


So, what was my journey and where do I stand now?

Give it a read and find out!

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