Evangelist Carlton Pearson is ostracized by his church for preaching that there is no Hell.
Carlton Pearson is a native of San Diego California, where he spent the first 18 years of his life with his parents and five siblings.
After studying at the Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he majored in Bible Literature English Bible, he served as Associate evangelist for the Oral Roberts Association and the ORU Board of Regents for 15 years on its Board of Regents. He has received several honorary doctoral degrees.
After a shifting to what Carlton calls “Expanded Consciousness”, his ministry changed dramatically, causing the re-inventing, re-positioning and re-branding of himself and his focus. He likes to call himself a Sacred Activist and Spiritual Progressive and is a strong proponent of Justice and Peace issues.
Presently, his life story serves as the basis for the Netflix original movie produced by ENGAME and NPR titled “Come Sunday” highlighting his personal story about the shift in his ministry to Radical Inclusion insisting that Christians are not the only people who will experience eternal life. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 and will be released on Netflix on April 13, 2018.
Read the Transcript
Russell Dennis: Meeting Bishop Pearson was phenomenal. So much has happened. He has grown so much, and he has agreed to come share his experience, strength, and hope with the SynerVision community. Rather than read a bio, which doesn’t really get you connected with somebody, I am going to ask Bishop Pearson to tell us a little bit about himself.
Carlton Pearson: Well, where do you start? I am approaching my 65th birthday, so that is a lot of who I am and what I do. Sometimes people get mixed up with who they are and what they do. What I do is I am a thought leader. I have been in the ministry for 47 years, licensed and ordained in the classic Pentecostal movement, four generations of that. Pastored a huge church here in Tulsa for almost 30 years. I work with the Oral Roberts University; I am one of the protégés and mentorees of the old man himself, who lived until he was 91. Then I shifted consciousness, and I have recorded and sung, and written probably 30 books. My two latest are God is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu… God Dwells with Us, in Us, Around Us, As Us. The other one is The Gospel of Inclusion, and that is the one that got me in trouble with my friends and Evangelical people. But they are coming around. I have been traveling and speaking.
I consider myself a sacred activist; I prefer those titles more than “bishop” or “pastor.” Those work with, to, through, and as me in the 20th century, but as I have entered the 21st century, I have reassessed what I think, what I believe, why I believe it, and how those beliefs add to or subtract from the quality of my life. I have a wife and two children. I am one of six siblings, all still alive, everybody but my dad who made his transition at 88 years old about three years ago. I love my life. I love life itself, even though it is kind of a sexually transmitted disease. Your mom and dad were intimate, whether they were married or not. It’s an incurable disease, and it’s terminal because we all go through the transition we call death, but it’s not untreatable. I am in treatment. So are you. Everybody on this planet, we are trying to deal with the dis-ease or the tension of human beings being human. That is a wonderful challenge, and I love it. I do it every day. I’m getting better at it all the time.
Russell: The work that you’re doing out there is remarkable. What I’ve learned about you is that you focus on raising your level of consciousness. That is an idea I didn’t grow up with in church because for me, it seemed like there was always an intermediary that had to connect me with something greater. I had some issues with that. Tell me a little bit about your journey. What was it that changed the way that you thought about raising your level of consciousness and making a personal and spiritual connection?
Carlton: I struggled probably for the first 50 years of my life being what Evangelicals call “saved.” I wasn’t struggling with being saved, but with feeling safe with God and safe with myself. We spend most of our lives impersonating who we think people want us to be. We become virtual impostors. That works for us because the culture expects that, demands it, insists that we be who they want us to be. We have grown up around guilt and shame and wanting to be liked, beginning with the first gods and goddesses and idols of our lives, who are our parents, then our siblings, our grandparents, our godparents, your church community, if you have one, or whatever your community is, and you spend your life dancing around hoping somebody will like you.
I am the fourth of six children. By the time they got to me, nobody was excited about having kids. Usually, the middle children are a little bit more assertive. They work a little bit harder to find their place and be noticed. I guess I’m one of those. But I have always felt secure. I’ve always loved life. Because of my steep religious background, which had a lot of dogma, a lot of restraints, a lot of fears, we feared God, we thought God could be angered and subsequently and inadvertently, God had anger management issues. He would have tantrums and send tornadoes to Earth. I grew up in southern California, so we were very earthquake-conscious; now I am in Oklahoma, so it’s tornado-conscious now. But fears. My faith was maybe—I didn’t realize it—but maybe a little more in my fears than in God. The reason that was easy was because I feared God. I don’t any longer, but I had fear of God. I didn’t see God as a friend, but as an enemy, and I needed Jesus to protect me from God, and the Devil. They were both working in our lives; that was the way we were taught.
Russell: When you talk about growing up, I personally am a part of a Center for Spiritual Living community. One of the things that I have learned in the time that I spent with these folks was that there is this notion of separation, or duality, that really feeds ego-based fear and keeps us from reaching our full potential in recognizing how important we are, to actualize ourselves. Talk about how you managed to work around some of those barriers and how they helped you serve others.
Carlton: It hit me one day when I was feeling sorry for myself after having—Some of your followers may know my story—where I shifted in consciousness and stopped believing that Christians were the only people who could go to heaven. Then at some point, I stopped actually believing in the literal hell, where people were tortured and torched eternally. I got away from the eternal damnation stuff because I thought it was absurd and obscene. My experience of loving God was not what I was taught to and in the Bible about God being angry, jealous, and vengeful. I wrestled with that. I had too many loved ones in hell. It was strangling me. I was preaching this whole world. I had preached all over the world to millions by way of television, radio. I have written books. I have preached to thousands on all the continents. I still felt we were basically losing the battle for souls. That is a consciousness that Evangelicals have, preachers who feel like Jesus said to go all over the world and preach the gospel. He didn’t say to save the world; he just said tell them that they are saved or safe with Him. If we did that, maybe more people would be that. But saved from what, except our own fears? The whole idea of a God that demanded blood sacrifices, I did the research and realized that was ancient, long before Christianity even came along. So I reassessed how I was going to do this.
It hit me one day: What if we all in some preincarnate reality agreed to come here, but forgot about the agreement, the contract, or the covenant we made with the creation to come to this plane of consciousness and recover our human divinity, discover our human divinity? That was a wild thought to me. I was already trying to fight reincarnation, and now I am trying to deal with preincarnation. But it hit me that what if we did agree to come here, that between the womb and the tomb, we experience some kind of amnesia? We forget we agreed to come here, and we start acting like victims of destiny or victims of creation. We panic, and we start fighting.
At this stage of my life, I am at the place where I am paying more attention to what my soul and cells know or remember in my deja vus and what my mind believes because beliefs are what you’ve been taught or told. Knowledge is what you know. It’s called conscience. Con-science, with knowledge. Science means knowledge. A conscious person knows. They don’t believe as much; they know. I knew a lot that I didn’t believe. I knew I was all right. I knew I was dogged, that I was infinite. I knew that I was at peace. I knew that I was secure, but I didn’t believe it. I was taught not to believe that. I knew I was loved. My soul has always known that, but my mind was taught not to believe it. For all these years, the first 40 years of my life was between what my soul knows and remembers and what my mind has taught to believe. It has been a major shake-up. I always say “shift happens.” My shift happened, and it eventually hit the fan. Now I am getting taught the new thought. I am trying to get my shift together and keep it together. I am working on the concept of that book. It makes people go through things.
I started remembering, reconnecting, reassessing, recollecting, reclaiming myself and my soul and taking off the impostor or the impersonator. There is a scripture in Genesis that says Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed. Most people, regardless of how wonderful their bodies may be, there is an innate shame and guilt concept there. We wrestle with being vulnerable. The word “naked” in its Hebrew origin means to be cunning and aware and conscious, slick, perceptive, but we have been taught not to know anything, just believe stuff we tell you to believe. It has taken me half a century. I am 15 years past it now, so I’m good to go. I feel like I have more life behind me than in front of me. But maybe not. Maybe I will have 65 years to help birth what I believe is the new movement in consciousness that is going to replace religion with a new kind of mysticism and spiritual progression and paradigm. Very exciting. Can you imagine a fearless, guiltless, shameless reality? That is heaven.
Russell: I think heaven and hell are more or less states of mind more than anything else. It’s funny that you talk about 50 because I ended up with cancer at age 49, not sure if I was going to see 50. I had to stop and start questioning a lot of things I believed up here. There seems to be a very long journey from here [points to head] to here [points to heart]. A lot of people struggle with that.
We talk about people who want to be of service. That is nowhere more true than in spiritual communities. What a lot of people call new thought is a problem for some of the different leaders of different churches. Tell me how this has impacted people that you’ve met and some of the struggles that you’ve learned about that they had in serving their communities, in growing their congregations, maybe because there is a limited point of view or a point of view that doesn’t really embrace these new concepts.
Carlton: I hear from quite a few people who are struggling with what I call cognitive dissonance. They are teaching and believing perhaps something they are not experiencing. A lot of my preacher friends call me, “We love this. We don’t have a theological problem; it’s a business decision. We have to eat. We need these offerings. I don’t believe this stuff. I’ve been reading your books. I’ve been studying.” Stick with it. You’re on to something.
My good friend Michael Beckwith, he has been my mentor in the last 15 years when I have come into new thought. Very close friend. He calls it ancient wisdom. It’s nothing new; it’s just ancient wisdom that is repeating itself, or rehearsing itself in our consciousness in the 21st century. I am from a Pentecostal background; we are into feeling God, experiential. Not as much thinking. I love to feel or experience the motion and the commotion and the devotion of transcendence and transformation. I don’t doubt that or discount it in any way. In fact, it’s informed my new thought consciousness today.
The universe doesn’t judge us by so much as what we feel but more what we think about what we feel and what we think about what we think about what we feel. That is an evolving, revolving, involving reality and experience that is profound. What you think about you bring about. I am now bridging the next spirituality. The more progressive spiritualty will bring together spirituality and science in a way that religion has forbade over the centuries. The whole idea of iPhone, iPad, iCloud, living in the cloud, the mysticism. My Apple phone has an apple with a bite taken out of it. What was Steve Jobs thinking? Eating from the tree of science. The word knowledge means science. The science of good and what you call evil. There is a science to all of it. They work inextricably together. They are not enemies. They are friends, compadres, companions. That is where the duality becomes a oneness. They don’t fight each other.
We are coming into the age of Aquarius, and then Pisces. I am a Pisces. That is a zodiac sign. The fish have the tails tied and swimming in opposite directions. There is this battle of combat. We are getting to the place where we don’t want to compete, but just complete each other. Opposites do attract, and then they attack. They learned that lots of times in marriage. There is a new age of alignment and enlightenment that is coming with this Aquarian mentality. Some people get afraid of New Age. Jesus has been quoted to have said in scripture, “Behold, I’m with you always, even to the end of the age.” King James mistranslates it as “world to be, cosmos,” but it’s really the Greek word from which we get the English word “eon.” The eons of time. We are actually coming into a new age.
There is a global shift in religious sensibilities. A lot of pastors and preachers, especially those who are seekers and curious and interested, or bored, which I was for maybe ten years before I made the shift, to start hanging out with people like you who are new thought folks. I was bored. I was restless. My church was packed. We were having traffic jams every Sunday. We had to have police to control the traffic. Same with my conference. 8,000 people would come to Tulsa that week. The building seated maximum 12,800 people, and we packed it several times. There was usually about ten at night, and between four and six in the daytime. It is a wonderful experience. But I started getting bored and restless with it, and I wasn’t sure why. My soul was seeking more. I had mastered the craft of ministry, televangelism, mega-church ministry. I had preached at the largest churches in the country of our particular community, but I still felt like I wasn’t tapping our potential. I wasn’t fulfilling more of it.
So I started listening to my soul—if you don’t go within, you don’t go without. Your soul carries a syllabus of your life. It is the course study, the cause study. I started reconsidering not just what I believed about God and the universe, but what I believed about me, why I believe that about me, and how those beliefs about me added to or subtracted from the quality of my life. The word “repent” means to change your mind. If you’ve thought, think again. I started rethinking what I believed. It has been so profoundly liberating. I’ve had some major hurts and hiccups and belches and burps coming through this. It’s the birth pains. But I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m getting better. It always gets better because I think that way, and I am trying to encourage other people to make the leap. Come on over here, it’s wonderful.
Russell: Your journey of transformation began long before you took on the ministry. So much so that at Sundance Film Festival, people got to see a little bit about your life and where you came from because anyone who has been listening or thinking, Wow, this is amazing, this was not an overnight matter. There is a film that is actually coming out about your life. What I would like to do is run a clip on that film so that people can get a flavor for who you are. Then I want to dive into this work that you’re doing at your church and these things that you’re helping people bring about. It’s more or less what we call transformation. It’s really being in the transformation business, making a big shift for people. Let me play that trailer.
[Pause for clip from Come Sunday]
That’s remarkable, to be before some church leaders. When you challenge the orthodoxy, it brings about all kinds of interesting issues. The orthodoxy in and of itself is not a bad thing. What we’re talking about is coming to consciousness and having people actually just have an awareness of who they are. That is something that they didn’t necessarily have. This work that you’re doing at your center is remarkable. You are bringing people to a new level of consciousness. You’ve also done some recordings. I just want to read a little bit because as I suspect, you are very modest about where you come from and that journey. There are some things in your bio that I’d like to highlight because what that clip reflected was you being a voice of reason in the world of extremes. You’ve become a progressive spiritual teacher and a sacred activist. You founded the New Dimensions in Chicago. A word that’s been used to describe New Dimensions is “metacostal.” What does metacostal mean?
Carlton: Because so many of my people that I attract are from Pentecostal roots and they are now embracing the metaphysical approach to life and scripture interpretations, I am coining the phrase. One of my sons practices in Atlanta, he said that one time to me, we are metacostals, and I have used it ever since. We started a metacostal network of churches that have come out of Pentecostals. They still want to do what they do as Pentecostals, but they want to embrace expanded consciousness and metaphysics. It’s powerful. Metaphysics just means beyond the physical, which is another term for spirituality. We have been it all our lives. It fits very well.
That is Chiwetel Ejiofor who was in 12 Years a Slave, playing me in the movie. And that was the College of Bishops, the African-American College of North American Pentecostal Bishops, or something like that, who publicly officially announced me as a heretic. Those guys nailed- The acting in this movie is off the chain. Martin Sheen plays Oral Roberts. It was originally Robert Redford, who couldn’t do it at the last minute, so they got Martin Sheen. He looks so much like Oral. Talks so much like him. When we conversed, he was telling me his story. The movie brings me to tears because my emotions are still raw. That stuff happened 15 years ago. Condola Rashad plays my wife Gina. She nails that part beautifully. My wife and I sat in the theater there in Utah and watched it at Sundance. The theater was packed. My friends who were flying in couldn’t get tickets at the last minute; it was in the largest theater they use at that festival. There is a Q&A afterwards.
They push it as if I stopped believing in hell. Initially, I didn’t stop believing in hell; I just didn’t believe that anyone would be in there because of cavalry. That was the way I understood Christian gospel. Then I said, “Why would you believe in something as absurd and hateful as eternal torture in a customized torture chamber that your god created?” I heard spirits saying to me, “Why are you telling people that? Do you really believe that the moral character of loving God could create and sustain something like that?” Of course, I went through ten years of arguing back and forth using scripture against itself. I have come to the conclusion that it’s okay not to believe in that kind of a God or general judgment. How can mercy and hell endure forever? One would cancel out the other. It’s been very freeing for a man who has been in this for four generations. For me personally to have lived out my whole 65 years until I made the shift 15 years ago to think differently, to give myself permission to think differently.
Everywhere I go now, I was at a Unity church in St. Petersburg, one of the largest in the state of Florida. The freedom that we had, and my comfortableness with that group. I had just been that Wednesday before in San Francisco at Edward Hopkins’ memorial service. It was a celebration. I have known Edward Hopkins and the Church of God and all these guys were there. We all grew up in the same tradition. That group has been more suspicious of me since I’ve shifted, but they were very receptive that night. The Hawkins wanted me there and asked me to say something. I did the same thing for Walter Hawkins.
The word “music” comes from the word “muse” to think. They are science of mind, although they don’t use that terminology. They do a lot of thinking. It’s called the science of the muses. They are sitting there with a keyboard; they are thinking lyrically and intonationally and ambiances and vibrations. I am going to teach that group more about that: the power of energy of the human being and being human. We are not human doings. We are human beings. I am teaching that. It’s really liberating millions of people. We sometimes reach- Just in my Thursday night live Internet thing, we jump into the hundreds of thousands. I know sometimes 10,000 people will sit there the whole 45 minutes or hour and hear my lecture. The Internet, this reaches millions of people around the world. That is very exciting. It’s the worldwide highway of information. The worldwide highway of information. Again, the iPhone, iPad, iCloud, I am, amen, ohm, all those sounds create a vibration and a chemistry, is very powerful.
Russell: It’s that connection, whether you got a community that emphasizes expanding consciousness. There are some great terms that you use, like radically inclusive love. Talk a little bit about what that means because so many people have these limited ideas of who they are. I certainly suffered from it. I’ll speak for myself from personal experience. This notion that I was less than and separate, how common are you finding that to be when people walk in to your community? What is the biggest challenge of helping folks make that shift?
Carlton: Most people have wrestled with the lack of, isolation, separation. Inclusion really comes from the English term of “enclosure,” of being safe. Everybody is enclosed in the safety of divine mind or divine presence, divine reality, or the divine, the deity, or deities that are our watchers and caregivers and caretakers. Most people feel alienated and frightened and isolated, even from God and from people. Jesus says to love God. To quote the Old Testament scripture, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” That is the big capital L. Neighbor means nearby. That is where it comes from in English. It didn’t say what sexuality the neighbor was, or religion, or race, or ethnicity. If they are nearby, you love them as you love yourself, or you can’t love them well if you don’t love yourself well.
Religion teaches you that you should be gawbling before God, you are a wretch undone, original sin, that kind of stuff. I have thrown that out. I sorted through it and thrown it away. I don’t see myself that way anymore. It’s easier to love you because you love me. I don’t only love me; I like me. Love can be a sloppy agape. Nobody can hurt you, harm you, hinder you, or even hate you like somebody you love or who loves you. You find that in divorce court. You see that after families don’t talk after burying a mother or father. They are born out of the same house, sometimes slept in the same bed, and they don’t talk after the last funeral. Sometimes siblings don’t talk to their parents anymore. I tell single people don’t just marry someone that you can live with, try to find somebody you can’t live without. Try to find somebody that you not just love, but you also like. There are a lot of people you love that you don’t want to live with. You love them. It might start with your mom. Sometimes you’re married to somebody you love, but you don’t want to live with them or they don’t want to live with you.
These vices and devices have to be sorted through with wisdom, with intelligence, with observation, and with care. The scripture says, “Love is patient.” I say, “Love is a patient in need of health care, affordable health care.” Thank you, President Obama. Love is like a disease. It’s like an illness. It’s almost like a form of insanity. Working through that because love makes you do foolish things, as the song lyrics say. You’re crazy in love and make some dumb moves. I love life, and I love all the eccentricities. We walk through it deliberately, carefully, and cautiously, but with great boldness and faith and adventurism. No is a very boring word, as my friend says. There is no adventurism or curiosity in it. But Yes, it’s adventurous. It’s risky. If you’re not living on the edge, you are probably taking up too much space.
Russell: It’s this level of consciousness that we have to create within ourselves. A lot of this is done through many of the teachings I have come through, but there are a lot of teachings you offer at the center to help people self-actualize, raise that level of consciousness. What we are talking about is the combination of the head and the heart because obviously, God gave us brains to use. A lot of problems with the ego center in the mind. With the mind being part of the problem, the mind is actually part of the solution when it’s backed by faith, by the heart, by that inner knowing. How does that impact people that you see that are going out here to serve the community, to be difference-makers in the nonprofit world, in the church world? Talk about the difference between the ability of these folks to actually render service in the community, not because they don’t have that heartfelt desire, but because the mind is in the way and how that shows up.
Carlton: Prejudice comes from pre-judging, judging before you encounter or meet somebody. My children’s cardinal sin, when they were little, was to be bored. They couldn’t stand to be bored. You have smart TVs and iPhones and laptops. They could not stand to be bored. I got that place and panicked, too when I was in my 50s. The prejudice and judgmentalism and prejudgmentalism, prejudging somebody before I met them, before I encountered them, before I shook their hand and sat down for a conversation with an atheist or agnostic or Hindu or Muslim or Jew or a gay person or a person that is into Seventh Day Adventist beliefs or Mormonism or something other than what you were raised to embrace. When you learn how not to judge them before you meet them and hear their heart and study their lives and conversation and not judge them, it’s freeing. That is the one blocker of love. When you can’t get past judgment, it thwarts your ability to love radically and to be radically inclusive and reckless abandon. Just trust the Universe to make it work out.
I am enjoying the liberation. It’s off the chain. The people who I know who love people, I have always loved people, but I have loved them with judgments. I loved them with prejudices. I loved them in general, but I didn’t like them. Some people say, “God loves the center, but He hates the sin.” That is not in scripture, but we use that principle to limit our love and limit our exchange and our engagement. A lot of churches have big Welcome signs outside of it. All are welcome, but that doesn’t mean all are wanted. You realize that at the family reunion. Everybody is welcome to come, but there are some relatives you hope don’t show up. Because we are clannish, clubish, cliqueish, tribal-centered, and territorial by nature, we have to work through all that, identify that it’s there, and systematically extricate it from our consciousness. That is what raising our consciousness means.
My original name of the ministry I started in 1977 was Higher Dimensions. It means angles and measurements. I don’t know why I named it that. That doesn’t sound like a Christian ministry; it sounds like some technology company. I wanted it to. I didn’t want people to identify it as a religious thing. When I lost all of that, I had to change the name to New Dimensions because I lost the corporation. I went through the shift, and everybody left me because I started believing that Christians weren’t the only people going to heaven and that the love of God was much broader and better than any religion could describe it or define. My middle name is Demetrius. Dimensions and Demetrius. When Jesus says, “In my Father’s house, there are many mansions,” the Greek word suggests many dimensions or apartments or compartments, places and spaces and phases and floors. When somebody transitions or what some people call die, they are in the same house, just on a different floor and in a different form. That releases some of the tensions around going through death or the transition. I am just gaining a lot of technology emotionally and psychologically to live my life more thoroughly and more precisely, with more exactness, more clarity, more certainty, and more verity. I need some verifications, and they are coming every day.
Russell: You talk about an emotional technology. It’s a technology that is spiritual in nature. It’s mental technology. My personal belief is it isn’t designed to make us into somebody we’re not. It’s really there to help us peel back the layers and step into the true self that we were put here to be, that we were created to be, that we sort of lost in the shuffle. Really makes it hard for people to actually go out and love and serve and make changes in the community, which is what nonprofits are organized to do, and churches are organized to build a community. We don’t always get there because of these personal barriers. As we believe, so shall we see. This is where the mind comes in. it must be followed with that faith. The essence has to come from the inside, and the final analysis where we find that great reality is really in the inside. We look for all of these outside things like money and toys and accolades, maybe some ego-based accolades: fortune, fame. The final analysis though, it’s really what’s on the inside that matters.
You have places like New Dimensions and New Dog Center for Spiritual Living. There are other places like that. Thought leaders from many different faiths that are actually advocating raising our level of consciousness to try to get beyond the human race memory that has created a lot of division and things that are going on at this point in time. Tell me a little bit about what you sense with the current climate. What do you think is the best way to try to cut through the noise to have a real conversation about what really matters and what connects us? Do you think that’s possible? How do we go about it as people who are actually trying to raise their level of consciousness? How do we have that conversation with a lot of people who may not be listening or may not grasp what it is we are trying to say?
Carlton: Life has a lot of circumstances. You are standing in a circle. That is what circumstance means. You are standing in the midst of a circle. You feel enclosed, surrounded, or included. It’s diverse. Some of the things you experience, the passage says, “All things work together are working in concert for a larger purpose, for good, for those who love God and recognize their call.” All the ingredients count. I love stew. I love onions, but not always by themselves. The different ingredients- We call ourselves in America a melting pot. We are a stew, not a melting pot. Everybody maintains their own individuality, but when you stew together for a while, you start tasting like each other. When you look at life that way, you realize that experience is not only what happens to us, but it’s what we do with what happens to us: how we respond or react to life.
Our country has never been more polarized than it is right now, in my lifetime, and even back in the days. I remember where I was when I heard that Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated. Just prior to that, it was Robert Kennedy. A few years earlier, it was JFK. All these deaths and civil rights pain that we went through. Now we have an administration and a country that is struggling with- I like to say and not everybody will agree with that, Trump was a coming-out party for all the haters on the down low. Even in churches, Evangelical churches, the white people in the church, the base of Trump’s followers. I am astounded as someone who has lived in and worked with that community for 50 years, working and walking and praying with people. I have had so many people from Third World countries asking what’s going on. These people built clinics for us and schools for us and taught us that God loved us, and now they are saying that we’re not welcome in your country. Is that the church, or is the media twisting it? I am having to say, “I am sorry to report that a lot of Christian folks are backing this guy who doesn’t reflect any of the character of Christ.” That same group demonized Obama.
I don’t mean to get political, but this is very important for people with expanded consciousness that a silent church is a thoughtless church. We have allowed things to occur in this country and this culture that are very divisive. Hatred and the things people say, especially sending these precious young men and women out of the country who came here with their parents, who are gainfully employed and have been educated, or a father who came here at two years old, illegally because his parents brought him here, and he has lived here with a social security number and a job and children, they are going to send him to another country. No loving person will agree with that. We will find a way to protect the innocent and protect those who mean well. The Bible is full of scriptures that tell us how to treat a stranger or foreigner. It’s never about building walls; it’s about building bridges. There are a lot of Evangelicals who don’t support that kind of brutality. They love God. They love people. Our world is shifting. I think this is the last time that particular element will have this kind of influence on our culture, our country, or our elections. I think we are seeing who these people really are now. It’s coming out, what is inside of them, that they don’t care about hurting people. I am not surprised about Donald Trump, but he doesn’t claim to be one of “the fundamentalist Christian believers who believe in love and the cross and God and all of that stuff.” I think there is a change coming. The generation coming behind us don’t like what their parents are doing. They are embarrassed. I hear from them. They are ashamed to be associated with that mentality.
Now people rejected not only Hillary, but a female being in the White House. Now this brute chauvinist, that is why all this Me Too stuff is going on. Women are saying no more. You are not going to penalize me, put me down, put me in the pen, or even penetrate me anymore. It’s over. There is an anger out there we have never seen from women. I call it divine essence of feminine. That is a powerful force on the Earth. Women are saying this is the end. We are going to have our space, our place, our time. We are going to break that glass ceiling. We are going to be paid equally, employed equally, and respected equally.
The Universe is correcting itself. Whether it’s global warming, El Nino, there is a cleansing and purging going on in the midst of all of this nausea or noise, this vomiting and regurgitating, something new and powerful is on the horizon. While I am grieving about some things, I am immensely happy about other things. Something good is really about to happen.
Russell: I believe that, too. I am seeing diverse groups of people in our CSL community. There are people who are saying enough is enough. There are moderate voices who are more interested in solving problems, which is what nonprofits are all about. But we are also seeing business forums that are profit-making who are stepping up to the plate and saying, “We need to make some changes. We need to step up. We need to help people who are in need.” We are starting to see hybrid forms of entities that are coming in here that are made up of combinations of government, non-government organizations, profit-making businesses, faith-based organizations. We are starting to see what I see as a wave of collaboration. Sometimes the things that teach us the greatest lesson are the people who have been cruel to us or the adversities we face or the things we’ve seen that teach me how to show up. We learn from that how we want to react, and there are a lot of like-minded people who want to understand and do something different.
New Dimensions is transforming people’s lives. How are people within New Dimensions going out into the community in Chicago and making a difference for them based on that newfound consciousness or that new awareness that your work has helped instill that we are one, we are connected? What are some of the things that you’re seeing people in your community do to get out here and get on top of some of these problems that are facing our community?
Carlton: I don’t live in Chicago anymore, but I lived there for six years. The social activism in that city is ongoing, phenomenal. I have spent time with the great social activists and civil rights activists from Reverend Jesse Jackson and all of his children to Reverend Clay Evans and the Chicago Theological Seminarians, brilliant people. Sat down for three and a half hours with Lewis Farrakhan. I have gone to the rabbinical philosophers and psychologists and people from the Jewish community who think. I call them sacred activists. They are out there helping hurting people standing for peace and justice. Bishop William Barber, one of our newest friends, a huge voice in the social justice community. We consecrated him last summer as a bishop. He is one of two new thought bishops. Barbara King. We consecrated her some years ago. Very involved in social justice. Helping anybody who is marginalized. That is what inclusion is all about. Bringing those who are denied and denigrated and marginalized and kicked to the curb, whether they are Jewish or gay or Catholic or Evangelical. Whomever they are, if they are hurting or being mistreated or prejudged, we reach out to them.
Higher consciousness can’t not just be this mystical ambience floating around and seeing everything wonderful. It also means making things happen. Johnny Coleman, who I followed there at the Christ Universal Temple in Chicago, she used to say, “It works if you work it.” That is a very good church when it comes to new thought. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, Ernest Holmes. We combine all these things with E.W. Kenyon. The word of faith movement and the charismatic renewal, all the prosperity preachers. I became friends with Reverend Ike. Still very close to his son and wife. I call her Reverend Mother. I stopped prejudging people. When I listened to Reverend Ike’s teachings, I think, “This man was way ahead of his time.” Everybody gets caught up with his Rolls Royces and Bentleys and all of his money, which I don’t mind at all. I like how his head thought. The things I listened to in his teachings. He introduced me to Goddard. I never read all the Goddards. I have now read everything he has done. Him and Bishop Jordan in New York City.
I am very excited about the new possibilities for a new spiritual paradigm, that new thought will expand. People call themselves new thought and haven’t actually had one in 40 years. I found a lot of that, too. I want these guys to not get locked into cones and clowns. Let’s keep expanding, evolving, revolving, relearning. Let’s be fresh. Let’s open up the doors and portals. I think new thought and science of mind is one of the most intelligent and palatable theologies and philosophies and psychologies on the planet. All we need is that special- Where the Holy Ghost comin’ at? Get you all happy.
There is that energy, that vibe, that certain orgasmic thing spiritually that happens in your soul. Then there is that organic growth that becomes a living organism. Then organization. Some of these churches don’t even have organization anymore. They need some hormone treatment. They had no real high in a while. That is the revival and renewal. The word “revival” comes from a word in Greek that means “to stand up again.” The Lord intended us to step up, to get some kind of resurrection. I am very happy with that. I feel it in my 65-year-old body and mind. I feel a usefulness and ambition, aim-bition, that I haven’t felt in years. Thanks to the centers for spiritual living, to the Unity churches out of Missouri, and for the United Church of Christ. All these people I demonized because I thought we Pentecostals had it all, was it all, and was the be-alls. Now we are all becoming metacostals. Many of us. We are expanding and reaching out.
Our society is so much more pluralistic than it was when I was born in 1953. You are hanging out with Buddhists and Hindus and Zen Buddhists and atheists who have an intelligent way of talking about God. The agnostics who say, “I’m not sure, I don’t know, but here is what I believe about my God experience. I am exploring. I am experimenting.” All of that works. It’s not like one little community, and I call it humble sectarianism, same sect, there is just the Methodists or Baptists or Catholics or Hindus or Muslims or Jews or Protestants. We are all hanging out together saying there is some truth in all of us, there is some truth to and through all of us. Let’s compare rather than compete and see what we have in common. That is what “communion” means. Common union. Common unity from community. That can bring peace to the planet in ways religion never has and never will.
Russell: Well, this is all beautiful. You are preaching to the choir when you are talking to me about these things. I believe there is a great reality that involves facing some things that may not be so flattering about ourselves. The nonprofit leaders who are out here doing some really good work are folks that face those aspects and move forward anyway. It’s all about a practice. We are all growing a day at a time. There is just so much more to connect us than divides us.
For our folks out here, thank you for watching. A couple of books. The Gospel of Inclusion is one of Carlton’s earlier books. Then God is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu… God Dwells All with Us, in Us, Around Us, As Us. If you have not read these books, you should. He is also a musician, a singer. His latest CD, Reflections After the Rain, a little something to listen to in the background as you sit there and work. There are more things by Carlton. What is the name of the film?
Carlton: Come Sunday. It’s on Netflix April 13. That is when it releases in 100 million homes.
Russell: Come Sunday. April 13. All right. It will be a pleasure. I am looking forward to watching that. Thank you. This has been inspirational, a lot of fun.
This is Russ Dennis. I am going to be signing off. Thank you for joining us. We will be back on The Nonprofit Exchange.