LTRP Note: One of the things, among many, that we found interesting about the information below that was sent to us from a LT reader is that Donald Postema (Ken Wilson’s spiritual director) was part of the Snowmass Conferences. Some of our readers may recall us recently talking about the Snowmass Conferences in an article regarding Moody Radio, Concerns Grow as Moody Presses Forward Down Contemplative Path .
To Lighthouse Trails:
I have read Ken Wilson’s book and also did some background work on Ken’s ‘spiritual director,’ Donald Postema, whom he references in the book (p. xiii) [as his spiritual director]. Below is what I found. The attached documents are even more revealing; going into background where Postema attends the Snowmass Conference. Feel free to use it as you see fit. I wish to remain anonymous.
Documentation on Ken Wilson’s “spiritual director,” Don Postema, sent from LT reader:
Rev. Donald Postema
Caring about Other People of Faith
The 21 st century has brought an unprecedented awareness and encounter of people from differing faith traditions. This has produced a volatile threat to world peace. It is also one of the biggest challenges Christians face today. Perhaps it is also a divine gift and opportunity. Can we acquire caring and respectful attitudes toward other religions that could be a ferment for peace throughout the world? Rev. Postema has been pondering these and other questions during his many years of interfaith dialogue and campus ministry. He will share insights gleaned from his personal biblical, theological and spiritual journey. We will be invited to explore how we can become caring agents of hospitality, reconciliation and peace in our personal lives and in the world.
Rev. Don Postema is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church. He carries on a ministry of spiritual formation through retreats, conferences, teaching, writing and spiritual direction. He serves as a member of the adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena , CA , in the area of Christian Spirituality. He has also taught at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA; Whitworth College, Spokane, WA; Mars Hill Graduate School, Seattle, WA. and San Francisco Theological Seminary. Rev. Postema is author of “Space for God: Study and Practice of Prayer and Spirituality” and a cassette tape and CD, “ Space for God in Words and Music.” Don also authored “Catch Your Breath: God’s Invitation to Sabbath Rest” . He has traveled widely as a retreat leader and conference speaker – including Gambia and Sierra Leone , West Africa; Canada ; Costa Rica ; Japan ; Malaysia ; and Mexico as well as many places in the U.S. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids , Michigan , and of the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam, the Netherlands . He has also studied at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley CA and at Yale Divinity School , New Haven , CT with Fr. Henri J.M.Nouwen. In 1997 Don retired after 34 years as pastor of Campus Chapel [campus ministry of the Christian Reformed Church at University of Michigan , Ann Arbor , Michigan ]. As a lecturer at the University of Michigan , he taught “World Religions,” and “Personality and Religious Development.” Source: http://www.careandkindness.org/2007/topics.htm#zakich
Donald Postema : I’m one of those who came to the Snowmass Conference by word of mouth. In 1988, I went on a sabbatical spiritual journey for seven months, visiting monasteries, retreat houses, Buddhist centers, and Hindu ashrams in the western part of the United States. But, before I left, a woman in Ann Arbor told me about Anada Ashram in California, and also sent them a copy of my book, Space for God. So I ended up visiting the ashram, and really got to know and appreciate Gayatri Devi and Sudha. Later I realized that they were probably checking me out too, to see whether Calvinist could be spiritual or contemplative enough to be a member of the Snowmass Conference. Toward the end of my stay, they invited me to the Snowmass gathering at Mount Holyoke that spring. Source: Miles-Yepez, Netanel (2011-04-12). The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue (Kindle Locations 343-344). Lantern Books. Kindle Edition.
Donald Postema : In the group, we are encouraged and expected to represent our respective traditions as authentically as possible. This serves a couple of purposes: first, it gives the group a more realistic picture of where you are coming from, and secondly, it lets the “representative” know that he or she needn’t feel pressured to water anything down, to make it more palatable for the group. Source: Miles-Yepez, Netanel (2011-04-12). The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue (Kindle Locations 381-383). Lantern Books. Kindle Edition.
Donald Postema : Yes, we like to say that our members are speaking from a tradition, not for a tradition. We try to be authentic, but no one is expected to speak for their particular tradition. We aren’t here giving presentations, we have to drop the roles to some degree, and just try to have a rich and honest sharing on a number of levels. Source: Miles-Yepez, Netanel (2011-04-12). The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue (Kindle Locations 386-388). Lantern Books. Kindle Edition.
Donald Postema : I came in at the tail end of the Points of Agreement discussion, but for me the value in it was an expansion of language. We had to listen hard and discerningly as others spoke of the Ultimate in their own tradition’s language just so we could talk together and understand each other. We had to evolve a common language, and it was difficult not using precise words as they are understood in one’s own tradition. But as clear as they may be to folks “within the tradition,” they may completely mystify folks from other traditions; thus the need to listen and expand one’s vocabulary. Our purpose was not to weaken our convictions but to find ways to communicate better. Source: Miles-Yepez, Netanel (2011-04-12). The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue (Kindle Locations 452-456). Lantern Books. Kindle Edition.
Donald Postema : I found that one way to really “know” someone’s spirituality is to share in that person’s rituals or worship. I have long had a real love for Gregorian chant and Catholic liturgy, so it was no surprise that attending Mass and other liturgies at St. Benedict’s Monastery gave me a unique insight into Father Thomas’s spiritual life. But I was surprised to find similarities between the Native American pipe ceremony and the Holy Communion of Christians. Source: Miles-Yepez, Netanel (2011-04-12). The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue (Kindle Locations 712-715). Lantern Books. Kindle Edition.
Netanel Miles-Yepez: How about you, Don? Was ecumenism dealt with in Reformed Christianity? Donald Postema : Our tradition has a history of relating to plenty of other folks in the Reformed and Evangelical Christian traditions, but our official relations do not extend much beyond other Christian denominations, let alone to other world religions. To tell the truth, that attitude influenced me for a long time. However, working for thirty-four years on the campus of a major university convinced me that religious leaders had to work together if they were to have any influence at all on the university. Meeting and working together gradually broadened my acquaintance with other people of faith, and being part of the Snowmass Conference expanded and deepened my commitment to interfaith dialogue. Source: Miles-Yepez, Netanel (2011-04-12). The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue (Kindle Locations 860-865). Lantern Books. Kindle Edition.