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Meditation Without Myth: What I Wish They'd Taught Me in Church About Prayer, Meditation, and the Quest for Peace Paperback – June 1, 2005


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Meditation Without Myth: What I Wish They'd Taught Me in Church About Prayer, Meditation, and the Quest for Peace + The Transcended Christian: What Do You Do When You Outgrow Your Religion? + Sex and the Sacred: Gay Identity and Spiritual Growth
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824523083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824523084
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,201,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

On the surface, Daniel Helminiak is Professor of Psychology at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, near Atlanta. This department of psychology is committed to the humanistic and transpersonal traditions, so Daniel is easily able to focus his research on spirituality--not as a religious concern but first and foremost as a built-in aspect of humanity. He considers his specialization to be the psychology of spirituality.

But there is more. Daniel is most widely known for his best-selling book "What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality." In two editions, it has sold over 100,000 copies and is translated into six languages. This book began as a hobby. Over a number of years, Daniel researched this book to work out his own issues, struggling with being Catholic and gay, and he wrote the book to share with others the solid conclusion that, taken on its own terms and read against its own historical and cultural context, the Bible simply does not condemn same-sex relationships as we understand them today. Unavoidably, then, Daniel became a controversial figure in today's culture wars, and human sexuality became another focus of his study. Every semester, he teaches the course on Human Sexuality at the University of West Georgia.

Daniel was well qualified to do that biblical research. After four years of graduate study in Rome--living in the Scots (not the American) College there, speaking Italian on the streets, and studying and passing oral exams in Latin--he was ordained a Catholic priest. After four more years of parish ministry in his hometown Pittsburgh, he moved into educational circles and in various ways served in active priestly ministry for 27 years. In the process, he earned a PhD in systematic theology at Boston College and Andover Newton Theological School.

Perhaps the most important event in Daniel's life was his being appointed teaching assistant to the Jesuit Professor Bernard J. F. Lonergan at Boston College. Lonergan is widely recognized as one of the great minds of Western civilization. Newsweek styled him as the Thomas Aquinas of the 20th Century. As Aquinas is renowned for integrating pagan Aristotelian thought with Christianity in the 13th Century, Lonergan worked out the integration of modern science with Christian thought for the third millennium. Lonergan's thought undergirds everything that Daniel thinks, says, and writes. Lonergan's analysis of human consciousness provides the core for Daniel's psychology of spirituality.

Daniel's intellectual journey has been entwined with his personal story--his having to deal with being gay, for example. Again, born and raised in the tight-knit Polish Catholic community of South Side, Pittsburgh, Daniel used that experience as a model for "Spirituality for Our Global Community." Or again, Daniel's lifelong practice of meditation and his ministry to the LGBT community resulted in "Meditation without Myth." Or again, Daniel's preaching to Dignity communities resulted in the essays of "The Transcended Christian."

And again, Daniel's years in Rome coincided with the Second Vatican Council, the worldwide meetings that Pope John XXIII called to "open the windows" and let some fresh air into the Catholic Church. So Daniel and his generation enthusiastically believed the Catholic Church would finally embrace contemporary science and culture. Unfortunately, that change did not occur. As Pope John Paul II relentlessly tightened up the system again, Daniel resigned his teaching position at the graduate Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio and moved to Austin to earn a second PhD, this time in psychology, at the University of Texas. There he was also trained in psychotherapy and named a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and later he was licensed as a Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia. He was also elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. At the University of West Georgia, enjoying "the freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:21) on a non-religiously-controlled campus, he continues what he considers an educational ministry.

As a psychotherapist, social scientist, and theologian, as a teacher, lecturer, and author, Daniel integrates religion and psychology and, thus, suggests what wholesome human living means in a pluralistic and secularized world. This spiritual theme runs through all his books. His website is www.visionsofdaniel.net

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I still wonder if by spirit Helminiak means something like consciousness or awareness or discernment or all of that.
Jaroslav Dvorak
His discussion of meditation practice raises all sorts of issues that will come to enhance the reader's experience of sitting in meditation.
Toby Johnson
As with all Helminiak books, I feel as though somebody just slapped me, and curiously I have to say, "Thanks, Dad! I needed that!"
Raymond D. Fortune

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Philip St Romain on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a good and timely book, offering sound teaching on spiritual practice in a non-theistic, humanistic context. Readers who haven't read and studied Dr. Helminiak's previous works, especially "The Human Core of Spirituality," might wonder how he can be discussing spirituality apart from religion -- a point he addresses in several places in this work. Indeed, it seems that what we have, here, is a further elaboration on on the "Human Core" book, developing some of its implications for spiritual practice.

Basically, what is emphasized are a few practices that enable one to increasingly awaken to what in earlier works Helminiak called the non-reflecting aspect of human consciousness (as opposed to reflecting, discursive consciousness). Hence, we are encouraged to be aware, to become conscious of our consciousness, to move beyond thought, feeling, ideas, etc., to become more cosmically consciousness. Readers familiar with Eastern literature will recognize similarities between what is described here and Eastern accounts of enlightenment states, a correlation already suggested in the earlier "Human Core" book. What's most significant about that, in my view, is that he provides a non-theistic accounting for enlightenment in terms of human spirit rather than considering it an experience of the divine, or, as he would say, a theistic or theotic mystical experience. This is quite exciting, as it means that such awakenings are within the reach of all human beings who undertake the right kind of practices, including ethical living, here, which the book also emphasizes.

So how is this all different from Buddhism?

In the end, it's not too terribly different, except that it's Buddhism stripped of all sorts of excessive religious baggage.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jazz Fish Zen on January 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Meditation Without Myth" is an exceptional book for anyone wishing to reunite the two so long divided--humanism and spirituality. This is the first book I've ever read that successfully suggests a spiritual direction without the usual dogma and hocus pocus normally associated with religion. At the same time, Helminiak avoids falling into dry secular humanism so antithetical to any "God" concepts. This is the perfect book for the "spiritual but not religious" types who are open to the spiritual but grounded in science and reality. Helminiak shreds meditation of its normally associated mystical aberrations by drawing everything back to how the practice helps a person in this world. He also leaves it wide open for the reader to decide whether to inject "God" in their experience or not.

The only criticism I have is that the book only minimally describes the practice of meditation itself. Perhaps this is on purpose as he didn't want to dogmatically impose a set practice indicative of so many religions. It made sense to me because I've been practicing many forms of meditation myself for years. But the novice to meditation may not find it practically useful specifically for meditation. Overall though, it presents a very practical philosphical backdrop for meditation to help avoid falling prey to the religious vultures of our time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Toby Johnson on November 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
In Meditation Without Myth: What I Wish They'd Taught Me in Church about Prayer, Meditation, and the Quest for Peace, Daniel Helminiak has written a wonderfully readable and wise book about meditation practice, but it's also a book about the deeper truth about what religion really is.

Helminiak observes that the mainstream churches fail to teach their members how to meditate or what to do to open their minds to the "greater reality" that the myths point to (but do not exhaust).

A new understanding of religion is being developed in our time -- one that is open to spirituality, but that is not limited to the old time personal God. While Helminiak himself doesn't deal with this "new myth," his book is a marvelous contribution towards its creation.

Nontheistic meditation is far more successful at inspiring people and giving a sense of meaning and vitality to their existence than childhood stories of pie-in-the-sky and disincarnate entities.

It's time people begin waking up. This book is a great help!!

It has certainly given a boost to my meditation practice. I think that's the best compliment for the book. After all, it is meditators who will be interested. They will certainly get their money's worth whether they agree with Helminiak's worldview or not. His discussion of meditation practice raises all sorts of issues that will come to enhance the reader's experience of sitting in meditation. At least, it did for me!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Petra Schlosser on June 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you are on a spiritual quest and use meditation as a way to connect with the infinite life force of the universe you will enjoy the simplicity of the message contained in Helminiak's latest work. He incorporates body, psyche and spirit in the discussion on how to tame the mind, listen to your inner wisdom and intuition and live a life full of joy, awe and in the present moment. This is an excellent book that will bring great insights into your spiritual practice and help you find solace in your path to enlightment...realization of the ultimate nature of reality.
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