Monthly Archives: September 2012

Male and Female

Male and Female

“I sometimes get asked about why initiatory programs are mostly directed at boys. Why aren’t girls often included in initiatory rites into adulthood? It’s a good topic to discuss here because I truly believe that it is an important one. We see all throughout history and in different cultures around the world initiatory rites for boys to become men but not so much for girls. Yes, girls are naturally born with an internal beginnings of an initiatory process into womanhood through menses, but most of the girls I know who have already gone through that portion of their lives view it as more of something that their body just does naturally. Their need for identity, especially in the culture of the United States, is great. Their identity need not be connected to their menstruation. They still need some sort of initiation into adulthood. So, the question now is, “How can we serve both male and female in initiatory rites and in recurring trans-formative rites of passage experiences?”

The answer to that question is this; challenge and initiation. Both boys and girls, men and women need to be challenged and initiated. A task or quest needs to be assigned. A large and difficult challenge to create what Brett Stephenson calls in his book, Slaying the Dragon: The Contemporary Struggle of Adolescent Boys, an ego death.

An ego death is basically putting to death the old self so that a new self can rise up. This is a dynamic found in initiatory rites all over the world. It is the challenge that the person undergoes, the test that a person is put through that makes them a man or woman. Some of these challenges were often very dangerous even life threatening. The idea behind the need for the ego death process to be difficult, is that since being an adult is very difficult, becoming an adult must be just as difficult. The means for change lay in the risk-taking event; the danger involved in the quest toward transformation.” —The Journey: Out of the Ashes we Will Rise




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Confirmation, An ROP “Into” or “Out Of”?

I recently had an online conversation with an individual concerning the rite of passage of younger adolescents within the church. The statement was made that the person was thinking about “rites of passage out of” versus “rite of passage into” specifically pertaining to confirmation and graduation. This poses as interesting question because so many of the generations of the Protestant church, specifically Lutheran in identity have viewed confirmation as a rite of passage from a child in the congregation “into” a full adult member of the congregation with voting privileges and a voice of concern for matters of the church.

Over the past 50 years or so this mentality has changed some what. I happened to grow up within the Lutheran tradition and my viewpoint of confirmation was the exact opposite. I viewed confirmation as a rite of passage out of the congregation, having completed the two years of work that my family required of me. A graduation of sorts from being a child of a congregation to being an adult who was free to go and find out what I really believed about Jesus and the bible.

You can see the paradigm shift between the generations of people. A view of staying versus going. In my own opinion as an ordained pastor in the Lutheran tradition, neither course is a negative one. The older generations are used to seeing their churches growth sustained by those who were being confirmed because they would stick around and play an active role in the immediate congregation “into” which they were being confirmed. The younger generations of confirmands are seeing themselves as being confirmed to go “out” into the world to figure out their identity in Jesus as a child of God. Although this does lead to congregational decline in terms of numbers of members, it also leads to church growth because of the newly confirmed’s view of themselves as disciples sent into the world to find out who they are and to spread Gods love elsewhere. And hopefully create disciples of others who then reciprocate the process.

Once again my opinion is my own. Where one group of people see a negative ideal the other sees a positive. Is it a lack of communication on behalf of the generations? Or is it a lack of understanding on behalf of the leadership? Or both? What do you think? I truly would like to know your own opinion on the matter.

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An Excerpt From “The Journey”

“The participant does the same thing because a deep inner transition is taking place as the participant communes with God. So the ideal situation is to create a sacred space and treat the ground as holy. Just as Moses took off his sandals when he found God in the burning bush, because the ground was holy. God was in that place. Just as God is in your space. Choose an area in which you will be relatively comfortable. Create a border for the space that you will be occupying for the next three days and nights. It can be as large as you want or as small as you want. As long as you can fit within. Thank God for the space, for the earth, the rocks, plants all that lay within. Respect the area and the area will respect you.
As you journey keep a lookout for any messages that you may be receiving from your creator. The messages will be there if you have the eyes to see or the ears to hear.

“I was sitting on a rock overlooking a vast canyon. I was in my space. I was listening to the wind and feeling the sun on my skin. I was lonely. I was hungry. I was sad. Suddenly a great eagle soared past my perch and I swear to you it made eye contact with me. That moment changed me. I felt stronger, lighter, more aware of what I was doing. The eagle lent me his strength of will and I soared as well.”–Strength

The messages that we receive from our creator are provided to us to get us through our transition. God loves us deeply. God cares for us profoundly enough to never leave us alone, even if we feel the most loneliness in the world. Out in the wild we are never alone, for God has created us and is found in His creation and therefore within us.”

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After talking with a many different people on the importance of ROP, I’ve come to understand that ROP is a vital and integral part of the development of an individual. ROP offers a person the opportunity to grow as a person by making them sit and do some very deep introspective work. The deeper you delve into yourself, the more you struggle with the issues in your life, the better person you become in the end. The Journey that we take into our own psyche is a difficult one. It’s full of ups and downs, bumps and ruts, flat tires and everything that makes us not want to continue on with The Journey. But if a person is able to embrace the dark side of their own humanity, they will, ironically, come out of Their Journey a much more confident person.

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Giving Back

I have to say that I am a little bit overwhelmed with the amount of inquiries that we have been getting here at The Journey about trips and cost etc. Praise God that people are responding to this much needed ministry. As with any new ministry that is Spirit driven, prayers are needed. If you are the praying sort I would ask that you would hold this ministry up and ask for God’s blessings and open doors. I have a vision for The Journey and it’s far reaching a very encompassing but it will take some time. I am currently looking into different pricing options and trip packages as well as a spiritual retreat side of things.

Rites of passage is very important in this world where many of us are just handed everything we need to make it through life. Many of these fortunate people are left wondering what their identity is, who they are, what their supposed to do, etc. When compared to other 3rd world countries, many of whom have ROP’s, our nation is pretty wealthy. We don’t need to search for clean water. We just turn it on… Being a part of the community means standing up for those who oppressed. Serving those who are in need. Sharing our wealth with those who are starving.

Participating in a life changing ROP helps us to see the world in a different light. We begin to not take for granted the food and water that we have, nor the relationships to which we have been blessed. We begin to see the world for what it truly is, and hopefully feel a dire need to help give back.

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This project has been a year long process of trial and error and a lot of thought. I find it amazing that after launching the website and the FB page yesterday, we are already getting inquiries and “likes”. I truly am passionate about affording people the opportunity to participate in a Rite of Passage experience. The Journey is the culmination of a lot of research, work and experience. I want to thank a few people for their help in this project. My wife for her amazing ideas. Connor Loveall, co-partner in this project for helping in the structural design of the program. And for Josh Johnson, Samuel Bray and Benjamin Eliot for being my guinea pigs. And also a big thank you to Drew Douglas for helping brainstorm and implement the vision. Please share “The Journey” with all of your friends and help me get this ministry started on the right path. God bless you all. Pastor Joel

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