Based on the new book:
Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul
Celtic Wisdom for Reawakening
to What Our Souls Know and Healing the World
by John Philip Newell
When: January 13, 2022 through March 17, 2022
Word and Life’s choice of Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul
In each cycle of Word and Life’s study and practice we’ve chosen to look squarely at the reality before us through the vision and wisdom of remarkable writers. Their books and the fine roster of weekly speakers have helped us to decode what we’re seeing into fresh, personal insight and response. For example, Healing The Heart of Democracy, Confronting Racism, and the pragmatism of Love Is The Way changed the way we see ourselves and the seething world around us – encouraging us to fresh, conscious responses to the cultural needs of our time.
This Winter we’re focusing on the most foundational reality of all – our besieged planet through the eyes and wisdom of the contemporary Celtic prophet, John Philip Newell. In his latest book, Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul we will meet the hidden tradition of Celtic Christianity. A group of outstanding speakers will speak to each chapter, helping us to listen to the Sacred around and within us in ways that will heal the earth, overcome our conflicts, and reconnect with our own deeper being. A leading spiritual teacher reveals how Celtic spirituality—listening to the sacred around us and inside of us—can help us heal the earth, overcome our conflicts, and reconnect with ourselves.
John Philip Newell & Celtic Christianity
John Philip Newell shares the long, hidden tradition of Celtic Christianity, explaining how this earth-based spirituality can help us rediscover the natural rhythms of life and deepen our spiritual connection with God, with each other, and with the Earth. Newell introduces some of Celtic Christianity’s leading practitioners, both saints and pioneers of faith, whose timeless wisdom is more necessary than ever, including:
Pelagius, who shows us how to look beyond sin to affirm our sacredness as part of all God’s creation, and courageously stand up for our principles in the face of oppression.
Brigid of Kildare, who illuminates the interrelationship of all things and reminds us of the power of the sacred feminine to overcome those seeking to control us.
John Muir, who encourages us to see the holiness and beauty of wilderness and what we must do to protect these gifts.
Teilhard de Chardin, who inspires us to see how science, faith, and our future tell one universal story that begins with sacredness.
By embracing the wisdom of Celtic Christianity, we can learn how to listen to the sacred and see the divine in all of creation and within each of us. Human beings are inherently spiritual creatures who intuitively see the sacred in nature and within one another, but our cultures—and at times even our faiths—have made us forget what each of us already know deep in our souls but have learned to suppress. Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul offers a new spiritual foundation for our lives, once centered on encouragement, guidance, and hope for creating a better world.
Weekly Chapter, Guest Speaker, and Discussion Schedule
Introduction to Celtic Spirituality
|John Phillip Newell|
|Jan. 20, 2022||Chapter 1 – Sacred Soul: Pelagius||Gary Hall|
|Jan. 27, 2022||Chapter 2 – Sacred Feminine: St. Brigid of Kildare||Katherine Collis|
|Feb. 3, 2022||Chapter 3 – Sacred Flow: John Scotus Eriugena||Roger Collis|
|Feb. 10, 2022||Chapter 4 - Sacred Song: The Carmina Gadelica||Sarah Thomas, Mitchell Thomas and Elisabeth Gonella|
|Feb. 17, 2022||Chapter 5 – Sacred Imagination: Alexander John Scott||Pat McClure|
|Feb. 24, 2022||Chapter 6 – Sacred Earth: John Muir||Jim Clarke|
|Mar. 3, 2022||Chapter 7 – Sacred Matter: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin||Alice MacDonald|
|Mar. 10, 2022||Chapter 8 – Sacred Compassion: George MacLeod||Colette Lafia|
|Mar. 17, 2022||Chapter 9 – Sacred Journey: Kenneth White||Juliet Spohn Twomey|
Speaker Biographies & Presentations
January 13: John Philip Newell, the author of our Winter book, is a Celtic teacher and author of spirituality who calls the modern world to reawaken to the sacredness of the earth and every human being.
Canadian by birth, and a citizen also of Scotland (where he received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh), he resides with his family in Edinburgh and works on both sides of the Atlantic. He is an internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher, speaker and author of several books, including Listening for the Heartbeat of God and A New Harmony.
The former Warden of Iona Abbey in the Western Isles of Scotland, in 2016 he began the School of Earth and Soul (originally called the School of Celtic Consciousness) and teaches regularly in the United States and Canada as well as leading international pilgrimage weeks on Iona in the Western Isles of Scotland.
January 20: The Very Reverend Gary R. Hall, a A native Californian, The Very Reverend Gary R. Hall, Ph.D was ordained in Los Angeles and served as senior associate at All Saints Church, Pasadena in his early years. A teacher as well as priest, he has taught both theology and English literature at seminary, college, and secondary levels.
Among many distinguished posts, he served as dean and president of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, rector of Christ Church Cranbrook, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He has recently stepped down as chair of the Board of Trustees of Episcopal Divinity School.
Since his retirement in January of 2016, as the tenth dean of Washington National Cathedral, Dean Hall served locally as interim rector at Trinity Church, Santa Barbara. He has been married to Kathleen Matheson Hall since 1978. They have one son, Oliver.
January 27: Katherine Collis, is a retreat leader and spiritual counselor with a background gerontology, human development and spiritual psychology. Her focus is on life transitions and the awakening of the soul.
For 35 years she has led retreats and pilgrimages to the Isle of Iona in Scotland. She is a Findhorn Fellow, co-founder and minister of the Lorian Association and a Millionth Circle convener and group facilitator.
After a nearly a decade of working closely with Santa Barbara’s La Casa de Maria and the Center for Spiritual Renewal until their closure 4 years ago, she is now in private practice and teaching on-line.
February 3: Roger Collis Roger Collis lived at the Findhorn Community in 1971 in Northern Scotland and has retained a 50-year relationship with Findhorn and the Isle of Iona. He is a Findhorn trustee involved with governance, financial and spiritual issues that are facing the Community today.
Moving to the United States in 1974 he helped co-found the Lorian Association. He has worked with business and government in both public and private sectors, and continues to consult with communities and a variety of educational initiatives. He is passionate about building structures and systems that support the emergence of a new consciousness, one that embodies a positive vision of the future.
February 10: Sarah Thomas, is an Episcopal priest serving at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara. Her interests include liturgy, storytelling, ritual, music, preaching, contemplative spirituality, and creating new forms of being church.
She has a background in the theatre and is currently raising three daughters, along with her husband Mitchell. Sarah and Mitch met in drama school in Seattle while studying to be theatre actors and moved to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles in 2004.
February 10: Mitchell Thomas is an award-winning actor, director, and professor of acting, voice, and movement at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. He specializes in devised theatre and working with playwrights to develop new work. Since 2005, Mitchell has created or commissioned over 60 original full-length and short works,
Mitchell received his M.F.A. from the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of Washington and has taught acting workshops in Poland, Macedonia, England and the United States. He lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, the Rev. Sarah Thomas, and their three daughters: Madeleine, Zoe, and Gwyneth.
February 10: Elizabeth Gonella, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist currently in private practice in Santa Barbara, California. She serves as a Core Faculty member of Pacifica Graduate Institute, teaching in the Master’s in Counseling Psychology program.
In recent years, Elisabeth has focused on life transitions and community building by facilitating ceremonial rites of passage, community choirs and collective grief tending.
Other areas of interest include: Intersection of spirituality and psychology, life transitions, career development, Depth Psychology, Conscious Parenting, Law and Ethics, Supervision, Cultural psychology, Collective grief tending.
February 17: Pat McClure's first field was in Art – as painter, potter, teacher (and a Fulbright Scholarship to New Zealand).
Her graduate work in psychology and cognitive science led to establishing an Educational Consultancy called The Human Curriculum- translating brain research into teaching and learning strategies for school districts throughout California. As a community leader she used those ‘conceptual blockbusting’ techniques to solve stubborn community problems... earning a MacArthur Award.
Her current work in Spiritual Direction and Teaching wraps her old expertise in new practices of theology and psychology within the emerging field of ‘Wisdom Christianity’.
February 24: Reverend Jim Clarke, PhD
With an extensive academic background in the fields of spirituality, adult education, counseling, ritual and depth psychology, Fr Jim Clarke currently serves as Coordinator of Spiritual Formation for the Permanent Diaconate Office for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Senior Lecturer of Spiritual Theology at Loyola Marymount University. He is also an Associate Spiritual Director at the Cardinal Manning House of Prayer for Priests.
Fr. Jim’s books and CD series serve to enhance his continuing public ministry of retreats, workshops, and conferences throughout the United States for priests, women religious, parish and school staffs as well as parishes at large. His newest book is: Rethinking Catholic Devotions: Energy, Engagement, Transformation.
March 3: Alice MacDonald has been a member and long-time Coordinator (retiring in 2008) of the Word and Life Community for 41 years. With a Master’s degree in Theology from Loyola Marymount University in LA, she was a founding member for the Institute for Adult Spirituality at the Franciscan Renewal Center at Mission Santa Barbara.
Her interest lies in the Contemplative practice of Silence as an experiential path bridging the traditional gap between God and the World, Spirit and Matter. Her formation and teaching have been shaped by the evolutionary spirituality of Teilhard de Chardin, Richard Rohr, Thomas Berry, and Cynthia Bourgeault among others.
March 10: Colette Lafia is a San Francisco-based writer, spiritual director, and an international retreat leader who invites people to see themselves as a manifestation of Divine Love.
Colette is a graduate of the Spiritual Directors’ Institute at Mercy Center in Burlingame, California, and has recently completed the “Living School” program in the Christian contemplative and mystical traditions at the Center For Action and Contemplation,
Her newest book, The Divine Heart: Seven Ways to Live in God's Love, came out in May 2021
From individual spiritual direction to both in-person and online retreats, she strives to help people connect more deeply with the presence of the sacred, exploring how the spirit and divine love are intersecting with our daily lives.
March 17: Juliet Spohn Twomey began delving into Celtic Spirituality in the 1990’s when she studied with Matthew Fox at the Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality.
After joining the staff at La Casa, she continued her interest in Celtic Spirituality with teachers such as Richard Groves - through the Anam Cara program in Dublin, and studies with Fionntulach on the Ceile De tradition, as well as John Philip Newell on pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland.
She believes the teachings of this tradition speak to our current moment of need and offer us hope. She is pictured here on one of her visits to the Isle of Iona.
Editorial Reviews for Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul
“As this book makes clear, the Celtic spiritual tradition is a clear-flowing stream that can help us in the hot and thirsty moment. There are deep lessons to be learned from these remarkable women and men.”
-- Bill McKibben, author of Falter
“Newell offered me a new creation story for Christian faith, one that matched my deep sense of what it means to be made in the image of God and called to communion with all living things. I commend his book to anyone who is ready to be born again.”
-- Barbara Brown Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Holy Envy
“Many of us have been indebted to John Philip Newell’s writings for years but, in this book, he reaches new depths in his vision of the earth and the human journey. We, including a new generation of readers, need this Celtic wisdom urgently.”
-- Richard Rohr, New York Times bestselling author of The Universal Christ
"Newell invites us into the counterintuitive truth that much of the wisdom we need to navigate this moment has already been spoken in the past. I'm convinced that we've only begun to see just how far and wide his voice is going to be heard."
-- Rob Bell, New York Times bestselling author of Love Wins
“Not just a book about the wisdom of Celtic saints and seers of the past, this is the work of a contemporary Celtic prophet urging the world to awaken to the beauty and justice that is the heartbeat of all that is. Savor its words; live its wisdom.”
-- Diana Butler Bass, author of Grounded and Grateful
"This wonderful book draws deeply from the well of Celtic wisdom across the centuries to help us to recognize the sacred both around us and in us, calling us to wake up and see that there's no going back to small, limited notions of God and the sacred."
-- Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and author of Love is the Way
"This powerful, insightful, and refreshing book takes us back to where our tradition took some bad turns in the past and then sends us forward into the future with exactly the treasures we need. I love this book. I learned from it. I recommend it with highest enthusiasm!”
-- Brian D. McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity
“In this wonderful book, Newell dives deeply into the life-affirming wisdom of Celtic tradition to deliver a powerful message of hope to our frightened and disoriented world. With the help of venerable exemplars, he lays before us a path of reconnection: with our earth and with our own deepest humanity.” -- Cynthia Bourgeault, author of The Meaning of Mary Magdalene
“An inspiring, informative, timely, and beautifully written book—it will help not only Christian readers but readers at large who wish to re-evaluate our relationship with the earth.”
-- Satish Kumar, Editor Emeritus, Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine
“A roll call of great teachers, sources and subjects that awaken us to the sacred that we already know deep down and that might still save us, laid out with a clarity and beauty that leaves us inspired--this book is a gem.”
-- Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary
“Shows how imperial and Celtic Christianity clashed over the centuries and how vital it is that this time Celtic thinking carries the day. Such a spirituality is needed for a time of eco-crisis by re-awakening our love of the sacred Earth before it is too late.”
-- Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing
“What a rare luminous gift! Reading this is like drinking from the well of renewal after being parched in the desert. Newell invites us into an ever-deepening earth-based spirituality. This book has the power to transform the way we participate in the community of life.”
-- Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, Co-directors, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
“Newell paints compelling portraits of those who kept the Celtic spirit alive over the centuries. Most were considered heretics in their day by the religiously orthodox. Newell’s courageous and soulful writings will insure his place in that sacred, historical gallery.”
-- Jerry Wright, author of Reimagining God & Religion
“John Philip Newell’s writings always bring me ‘home’. In a world of increasing isolation, he powerfully transports us back to what we have forgotten: that all things and all beings are sacred and interrelated. This is gritty spirituality at its best – earthy, liminal, connecting!”
-- Roy Barsness, Seattle School of Theology & Psychology
“This reminds us why Newell remains one of our world's most important theologians, indeed a global phenomenon. I am a better person, and a better Christian, because of his work.”
-- Joel N. Lohr, President of Hartford Seminary
“As we face times of global crisis, pandemic, and climate change, this book shares the prophetic insights of iconic forebears to guide us to new ways of living and acting.”
-- Pat Cane, Founder of Capacitar: Healing Ourselves Healing Our World
“Through the lives of an array of spiritual pioneers—an excommunicated monk, legendary nun, wandering scholar, dissident theologian, trailblazing environmentalist, paleontologist-priest, soldier-clergyman, and a poet-prophet—Newell invites us on an enlightening pilgrimage. Taking this journey with him is a profoundly sacred experience.”
-- Paul-Gordon Chandler, Episcopal Bishop of Wyoming
“Through the lives of Celtic visionaries, Newell guides us to embrace our shared humanity, earthly home, and the sacred nature of our bodies. This Celtic vision holds the key to a life-sustaining future for our planet.”
-- Lauren Artress, author of The Path of the Holy Fool
“In this elegant and important work, Newell gathers the life-giving Celtic wisdom and luminous insights of spiritual masters. Richly conceived, skillfully rendered, this book reveals Newell as the most recent voice of a living tradition gaining momentum in a world longing for its beauty and sanity.”
-- Kathleen N. Deignan, CND, founding director of the Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit, Iona College
“Presents us with a truth that at a deep level we already know and will want to immediately share and I found so helpful. He makes a compelling case that this is a moment of truth that will have powerful implications for the future of Christianity and the world.”
-- Malcolm Young, Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco
“Awe-inspiring and transformative! Every page is fragrant with beauty, wisdom, and holiness. It stirs our soul. We feel deeply moved to take action to resolve the issues of our time.”
-- Imam Jamal Rahman, author of Spiritual Gems of Islam
“Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul is both a feast and a powerful medicine for the human soul. I loved every page of this book. Beautifully written, this book nurtures the reader's sensitivity to the sacredness of the earth and the human soul.”
-- Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev, author of The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets
"In Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul you’ll rediscover the deep truth of the Celtic Christian tradition. Grounded in history, replete with poetry and song, Newell's book us into deeper awareness. There is much to savor here."
-- Mary C. Earle, author of Celtic Christian Spirituality: Essential Writings
“Every page conveyed a healing truth that made my heart beat fast. Newell’s words clarified my life’s vocation for care of self, care of all others, and care of the earth. This book shimmers with the tonic of redemptive truth.”
-- Ed Bacon, author of 8 Habits of Love
“Newell takes the reader on a journey of healing, wholeness, and ecological integrity, illustrated through the lives of great teachers from the past. What could be more urgent today than to pause, reset, and find the truths and insights to become a soulful and healing presence?”
-- Heather Eaton, author of The Intellectual Journey of Thomas Berry