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TH577/877Chris Lopez - Summary


Week 5

Luhrmanns When God Talks Back

A. Driving Questions (xi)

How can an immaterial God be experienced as a real person who has demonstrable
effects on peoples lives?

Experience overrides human psychology/Mind Theory (xxii)

(1) Minds are private.
(2) Persons are visible.
(3) Love is conditional and contingent upon right behavior.


How is this belief/relationship sustained in a context that is skeptical about it

(modern world) and a world that is rarely good/pleasant?


Who is (this) God? (324-325)

A. Initial HypothesisNew (Participatory) Mind Theory Training

Perception/Interior Cultivation
1. They (Vineyard Christians) seemed to think about sensing God more or less the
way we think about sophisticated expertise in any field: that repeated exposure and
attention, coupled with specific training, helps the expert to see things that are really
present but that the raw observer just cannot, and that some experts are more expert
than others (60).
B. Observations (not necessarily in sequential order)
1. Discerning Gods Voice (63-4)
a) Was this something I would say?
b) Does this sound like the thing God would say?
c) Look/discover confirmation trough circumstances and/or other peoples prayers
(at this point people begin to call what they perceived/heard revelation)
d) The feeling of peace.
2. Pretending/Imaging (#datenight)
a) Very interesting and significant to Luhrmann.
(1) Consistent play diminishes distinction between external stimuli and the
perceptions of the mind (inner sensory override).
(1) Transitional Object: That which is the subject of the imagination represents
all that is (good) about the actually absent person. For it to work, the person
must exist a part from the self (87-88)1
1 Given that Vineyard congregants were expected/trained to cultivate the spiritual practice of
play, it makes sense that the sacraments are of peripheral concern. However, it interesting to me
that similar presence through absence logic is used here even though we considering a Catholic

TH577/877Chris Lopez - Summary

Week 5

(a) For God to be present to the believer, she must accept that God is not
present with her as her best friend could be. Therefore she must imagine
God to be with her to have this God available to relate to. But its those
who are good (the play frame conflates into the reality frame) at this
serious play actually experience God as if God really were there with
1. Developing the Heart, i.e., experience Gods unconditional love
a) The feeling/experience is cultivated through a series of tasks/practices (111-23).
(1) Think Meisner Theory
A. Experimentations
1. Confirmed and developed her understanding of Inner Sense Cultivation: seems to
make that which is imagined more real in experience, especially when all the senses
are engaged (think of her cataphatic exercises). It appears to make what is imaged
feel more substantial, more present (185).
2. This comes more natural to others indicated by how they scored on the Absorption
3. Prayer is the primary space/way for inner sense cultivation, i.e., an intimate
relationship with God.
A. Other Conclusions
1. Incorporating spiritual warefare into these practices leads to an unhealthy obsession
with demonic, requiring exorcisms.
2. There are significant differences between Schizophrenia and these christians
(notwithstanding the psychotic characteristics of some).
3. This kind of faith is sustained by sustained by a theodicy that transforms harsh reality
into contexts that catalyze ones relationship with God (284).
4. Ambiguity Abounds

Review Symposium
A. Barbara Newman: Reflects on the ways Luhrmann book reminds us of how ancient and
traditional some the Vineyard Christians practices are, from understanding Gods
personhood through prayer to the practice of cataphatic prayer.
B. Bruce Hindmarsh: Hindmarsh reads us that Luhrmann comes to the phenomena of
Christian experiences in the Vineyard churches with psychological-anthropological
framework. In other words, her framework we could use to begin to make sense of
things. By using von Balthasars metaphysic-theological framework of analogy of being
and Gods image he demonstrates that hearing/discerning Gods voice in everyday life is
what humans were naturally made for.
C. Candy Gunther Brown: While Brown admires Luhrmanns work and describes it as a
thick description of a christian experience, she does not believe that Luhrmanns data

context last week.

TH577/877Chris Lopez - Summary

Week 5

warrants the claim of the subtitle of the book. She notes that Luhrmann is unhelpfully
selective in both her historical accounts of the Vineyard movement and the aspects of
Charismatic Christianity she focuses on.
D. Todd Johnson: In light of Bergers work, Johnson has pointed out that Luhrmanns
study demonstrates that the Vineyard church produces results identifiable in the
spiritual marketplace. By noting the disparity between her statements about her own
belief in the preface and the final chapter, Johnson also encourages us to ask if her
whether or not Luhrmanns project covers and makes sense of all of the data. Even
Luhrmann is apprehensive about what to say toward the end.
A. Luhrmann seems to believe, based on what her responders have said, that in the end her
conversations with the theologians and liturgy scholars will, more often than not, consist
of people talking past each other. For her, whether or not you are comfortable with
what she argues depends on your own theology and the theological tasks you are engaged
in. However, it seems that Luhrmanns responders have influenced her enough to
consider how her own theological-ecclesial past experiences influence what she
says/does now

Liminality, Trance, and Unitary States in Ritual and Meditation

A. Is there an inverse relationship between religious ritual behavior and private devotionmeditation?
1. Historically speaking, that is what it seems like (Reformation and CounterReformation).
2. Is it a cultural distinction?
A. There relationship is complimentary because both practices tap into the same or very
similar neuropsychological states (3).
1. Intermittent emotional discharges (sensations of awe, peace etc.).
2. Carrying degrees of unitary experience
a) correlating with the emotional discharges . . . comprising a decreased sense or
awareness of the boundaries between the subject and other individuals, between
other perceived individuals . . . between the subject and and external inanimate
objects, between the subject and putative supernatural beings, and indeed at the
extreme, the diminution and abolition of all boundaries of discrete being
generation a state of what we have termed Absolute Unitary Being (3).
1. Neurophysiology as an attempt to understand before and beyond the liminal.
A. Neurophysiological explanation of Models of Unitary States
1. ergotropic-trophotropic tuning
a) Baseline Tuning: represents the emotional set we bring into he world

TH577/877Chris Lopez - Summary

Week 5

b) Retuning: change in E-T balance relative to stimuli

c) Third-Stage Tuning: maximal discharge of both systems, associated with ABU
2. Ceremonial Ritual
a) bottom-up system
b) Autonomic Nervous System (Amygdala)
c) Hyperergotropic > Hyperergotropic Tuning with Trophotopic Eruption >
Third-Stage Tuning (ABU?)
3. Devotion-Meditation
d) top down system
e) cerebral cortex (Hippocampus)
f) Hypertrophotopic > Hypertrophotopic Tuning with Ergotropic Eruption >
Third-Stage Tuning (ABU?)
B. Neuroepistemological Conclusions
1. Is is reductionistic? No, well it cant be.
g) The brain operates upon whatever it is that fundamental reality may be (34).
h) The methods and models he uses for discerning how real hyper lucidity (is) are
the same methods and models he uses for discerning how real baseline reality is
a) Therefore: We would maintain that there is no way to determine whether
hyperacid unitary consciousness or baseline reality is more real, i.e., which
represents more fundamental ontological reality, without making gratuitous and
unsubstantiated assumptions (33).
2. Ambiguity Abounds