JP21 Via Vida The Jesus Path Life Operating System for the 21st Century
Session 1: Introductions
Introduce names, where you live
View Intro Video
Share more deeply, using the questions below.
Basic spiritual practice: Centering Prayer (view video and read instructions.)
Discuss the Reboot! process and Via Vida Session Format
Read: Preface and Introduction, Spiritual Practice # 1.
Close in prayer.
This is the version of the Reboot! JP21 program and process that is designed as a via vida format for local faith communities to use as part of the faith formation process. What is a via vida? It is Latin for “way of life,” and that is precisely what JP21 is all about: the Way of Life lived, modeled and taught by Jesus. It is based around a study of the Gospels, with a special focus upon the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain as the primary Spiritual Formation guide that Jesus left, or, more accurately, that the early church pulled together as being representative of his teachings and his life example.
The Reboot! format is incorporated into the Gospel outline as a means of interpreting Jesus’ teachings for the 21st Century. This format highlights Jesus’ teachings as leading to the Bigger Mind, Bigger Heart, Bigger World, resulting in the Bigger Life. The focus remains on the fact that Jesus taught a Path, a Way, so it is not a traditional catechism in terms of learning doctrine or making theological statements about Jesus.
The Path of Jesus is also understood to be a path of personal and social transformation. It is not about getting a ticket into heaven. It is about bringing the Way of Heaven down to Earth.
Additional reading and information can be found online at www.conspiritu.org/reboot-jp21. You will find further readings, links to supportive materials, as well as videos to introduce and illuminate the material contained herein.
Who are you? The English language is an interestingly ambiguous language when it comes to the use of the second person pronoun, “you.” It can refer to a single person, or any number of persons. Throughout this book, that ambiguity will remain. It is designed for individual use as well as use by a group. The processes, reflections, discussion questions, and suggested practices can be used by individuals, or can be addressed in a group context. As you begin to work your way through this book, either with a cohort (the preferred method) or on your own, take a moment right now to pause and respond to these questions or thought prompts:
Choose five words that you would use to describe your physical presence in the world.
Choose five words that you would describe your various relationships (with whomever or whatever).
Choose five words that you would use to describe how you approach life.
Choose five words that you would use to describe what has brought you to this point in time.
Take a piece of paper of any size (but the bigger it is, the more space you have to express yourself) and draw a map of your life in any way that expresses to you the nature of your journey through life.
If you are alone, reflect on what you have learned about yourself from describing your life and yourself in this way. If you are in a group, share with one another what you have learned from this exercise.
Respond to this question: Why are you here, now, engaging with this book and in whatever context in which you find yourself?
Who am I and why have I put this Via Vida together? The bios on my website and various profile pages say these things about me:
I am an inter-disciplined performing and visual artist, a spiritual guide and religious author and community leader. I have 45 years of on-stage experience, as well as 35 years of experience as a spiritual leader of religious communities.
I am a professionally-trained performing artist and scholar of performance studies and religious studies. Professionally, I am an ordained United Methodist minister, with special interests in spiritual formation, Deep Ecology, and Religion and the Arts. I am also an artist, specializing in landscape abstracts, and the occasional spiritual subject. I am the Originator of Reboot! Your Life-Operating System for the 21st Century.
I studied Theatre and Biology at Willamette University (B.T. and B.S. in 1980) as well as Ministry and Religion and the Arts at Yale Divinity School and Pacific School of Religion (M.A. and M.Div. in 1986). I also have a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Religious Studies and Performance Studies) from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California in 2001. In addition, I am a graduate of the two-year Academy for Spiritual Formation. I have served United Methodist Churches on and off since 1980. I have done research in Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and the Mahabharata, Shinto, Neo-Paganism, Nature Religions and Deep Ecology.
As you read each description above, you will find much the same information, but with different details highlighted. I have found that my life journey to this point has connected me to various communities of people, various cultures and sub-cultures, exploring various ways of looking at life and living it.
As a result of 35 years of study and reflection in my professional life, I have come to the conviction that the current iterations of Christianity are a pale shadow of what Jesus lived and taught in regards to the spiritual and social potentials for human beings. Over the centuries, his sublime path for spiritual and social transformation has been replaced with systems of dogma and doctrine that stress belief about Jesus rather than the way of life that he taught those who chose to follow him. Faith in Jesus has come to represent a ticket into a blissful afterlife, rather than loving-hearted engagement with the present life. There are even forms of Christianity that view Jesus as the escape route from this world for a select and favored few.
I cannot help but conclude that these are diversions (dare I say perversions?) from the path of loving service to others, expansion of consciousness, generosity of heart, and embrace of the full diversity of humankind that Jesus taught and exhibited. It is this path that he sent his followers out into the world to proclaim and be living demonstrations of.
Therefore, I have drawn from my educational background, professional experience, personal study, and my own spiritual evolution to put together the Reboot! website, and series of publications and workshops. It is my hope, my prayer, and my offering to the world that this will contribute to a world that is more loving, more connected to the earth, and engaged in doing justice, in essence, a world in which we all can live.
What is the Reboot! JP21 process all about?
Reboot! JP21 is based upon the conviction that Jesus did not come to establish a vast, powerful institution called the Church (in any of its denominational permutations). Rather, his life work was devoted to teaching and demonstrating the possibility we all have for lives transformed by an expanded and higher consciousness based in an immediate and intimate relationship with the Love in which the entire universe is centered, and which holds all things together. What he bequeathed to the world through his early followers was a Path, a Way. This is demonstrated by the fact that the earliest name for any gathering of his followers was the Way.
What flows from this conviction is the simple conclusion that the Way of Jesus does not consist of doctrines, theologies, and speculations about Jesus, rather it consists of a way of living that expands our awareness of who we are, and how we are interconnected with the human and more-than-human world around us, that roots us deeper into those interconnections, with the result that we work to manifest that same expanded awareness and action in the cultural and social systems in which we live. It is a Way of Love, but not a sappy, sentimental sort of love. It is love that is action on behalf of and in the best interests of the other. Reboot! is a process of unlearning and disentangling from the dysfunctional and maladaptive systems into which we have been enculturated, and then immersing and embedding in a system that affirms life in its diversity and interconnectedness. It is a process that is lifelong, because the hooks and roots of our dysfunctional world have spent many years infiltrating our consciousness, and shaping our thoughts, behaviors, and value systems