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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Shamanic Christianity
The Direct Experience of Mystical Communion
Bradford Keeney
Destiny Books 05/06 Paperback $14.95
ISBN: 1594770867

Bradford Keeney is a scholar of cultural studies, the author of many books, including Everyday Soul, the editor of the Profiles in Healing series, and the subject of American Shaman: An Odyssey of Global Healing Traditions by Jeffrey Kottler and Jon Carlson. He notes that Christianity has been silent about the marvels of shamans — their practices of mystical communion with God, their special ways of dealing with troubles and trauma, and their awe for the mysterious sources and textures of life. With a bold dash of imagination, Keeney imagines what a shamanic Christianity would look like.

He regards Jesus as a shaman who healed people and went about doing good, modeling humility, forgiveness, and loving service. Keeney respects Mary the Mother of Jesus and explores her teachings on silence. In a section on "The Lost Teachings," he covers insights and parables about St. Francis, Hildegard of Bingen, the Celtic saints, The New England Shakers, the Indian Spirits, and more. The Christian shaman, following these examples, is a person of creative daring who breaks all the rules and makes a space in life for play, humor, and dance.

In the second half of the book on "The Lost Directives," Keeney hits high stride as he presents shamanic tasks, strategies, and prescriptions for meeting the challenges of everyday life. These out-of-the-box suggestions are the kind a trickster would use when asked to do something in a difficult situation.

To address self-image issues, Kenney suggests that you take 12 close-up photographs of your belly button: "After they are developed, write zany Christian shamanic captions under each photograph, for instance, "Ezekiel's Crater," "Jacob's Bull's Eye," "Do Not Touch This Button Unless It Is a Spiritual Emergency," "Journey to the Center of Jerusalem" "Lint Temple," and so forth. Do not label more than one photograph per day. Place these photographs in a scrapbook that is clearly titled, Meditations on My Center: Beginnings of Christian Shamanism."

To deal with worry, Keeney recommends making an angel's bank out of a jar; every time you find yourself anxious, toss a quarter into the bank. When it is full, donate the money to a worthy spiritual organization: "Tell yourself that you can now stop worrying about your worrying because you have put that worrying to work. Your worrying now helps others, even when you're unable to help yourself."

Other snappy practices follow on addressing motivation, fear, self-control, sadness, boredom, anger, and family relationships. You can sense in all of these directives "the Christian shaman's childlike world of uncommon sense, illogical experience, and sheer absurd mirth." Not a bad trinity to guide our way.


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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