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Sacramento Bee: Tibetan Buddhist Monks erect and pray to idols inside Trinity Cathedral Sacramento

Friday, December 7, 2007 • 2:49 pm

Okay,yes, that’s my title not the SacBee’s

A world contained in grains of sand

The sights and sounds within Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Thursday morning were anything but typical.

While evergreen wreaths adorned the pulpit and garlands decorated pillars, it wasn’t the sound of hymns or Christmas carols that filled the Episcopal church.

Instead, the melodic voices of two Tibetan monks chanting and praying rang through the cathedral. The smell of sweet incense filled the air.


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Baker said he hopes his parishioners will be inspired by the Buddhist traditions to reflect on their spirituality and open their hearts and minds to different points of view.

In this season, the parishioners deserve a cathedral devoted to the inspiration of the Christmas tradition, creating a time and space to reflect on Christian spirituality and to open their hearts and minds to story of Jesus’ nativity.

[1] Posted by Deja Vu on 12-07-2007 at 04:18 PM • top

The truly sad thing is that this sort of ridiculous display doesn’t even register anymore.

[2] Posted by Christopher Johnson on 12-07-2007 at 04:22 PM • top

“Small Box” set on fire….

[3] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 12-07-2007 at 04:26 PM • top

The Juxtaposition of the giant MACY’S ONE DAY SALE pop-up ad on the front page, and this article about ‘rental’ of the cathedral space for other religious practices, seems to make sense somehow . . .

[4] Posted by anglicanhopeful on 12-07-2007 at 04:27 PM • top

So it seems TEC is for evangelism as long as it is not Christian in nature.  The man - whoops - make that gender neutral entity from Mars test would suggest this is not a well thought out strategy for growth.

[5] Posted by Maxwell on 12-07-2007 at 04:30 PM • top

Now that is progress!  If this keeps up, the whole distinction between the various denominations and other faith traditions and spiritualities will be completely blotted out!  It’ll be just one, big World Religion!  Awesome!  And we’ll all be together.  And the moon will be in the seventh house and love will fill the stars.  And no one will be judged or excluded.

And no one will be able to buy or sell without the mark . . .

[6] Posted by DaveW on 12-07-2007 at 04:31 PM • top


I think you have hit on what I have been thinking in your last paragraph.  This is truely scary stuff in one sense.

[7] Posted by BillB on 12-07-2007 at 04:34 PM • top

Ah, yes, the old joke:

As the priestess placed the statue of Buddah on the altar, one Episcopalian whispered to another,  “One more change and I’m out of here.”

[8] Posted by R. Scott Purdy on 12-07-2007 at 04:35 PM • top

Certainly we all need to model religious tolerance.  And the fate of the Tibetan people is to be deplored.  However, to have the monks use the parish hall for their religious practices is one thing.  To allow it in the sanctuary is quite another.  And the Dean’s comments?  He sounds more like a kindly Hindu than a minister of the Gospel of Christ!

Sadly, this is no surprise.  Check the monthly calendar for Trinity Cathedral.  You will note that one Friday evening a month they urge people to join in ‘walking the labyrinth’, followed by recitation of the ‘Aquarian Rosary’.  This strange amalgam of New Age, Hindu and occult belief instructs one to ‘open one’s spirit’ to, among other pagan deities, ‘the spirit of Ashtart, and Diana’.  It is NOT Christian worship.

These monthly sessions are led by a person who carefully adds ‘M.Div.’ after her name.  She is ‘ordained’, but not by TEC, or any other Christian body.  They have apparently been held regularly for some years.

Follow the links and you will find that the ‘M.Div.’ was ‘granted’ by a bizarre ‘seminary’ in Oklahoma which was founded a decade or so ago by a very strange New Age ‘spiritual leader’.  Internet research reveals that it’s a pile of ****.

The ‘Aquarian Rosary’ OBVIOUSLY has no place in a Christian church, much less a cathedral.  Where’s the Bishop on this one?!

[9] Posted by Little Cabbage on 12-07-2007 at 04:43 PM • top

Interesting - on the thread about the Archbishop ornament a few days ago, midwestNorwegian posted a link to the Nat’l Cathedral shop.  They do have a nice garden shop, so I browsed there and under the “Spirituality” section noticed a number of mandala and labyrinth-related products, which made me sad (I think the book section is probably worse.) 

One of the comments on the article in the Bee, says Buddhism isn’t a religion, but then he goes on to describe what sounds like a religion to me - basically god is in nature and in all of us.  (I can’t get there without logging in right now.)

I can appreciate that the mandalas are beautiful works of craftsmanship and tradition, but I don’t feel that a church is an appropriate location for them.

[10] Posted by Cathy_Lou on 12-07-2007 at 04:50 PM • top

You know, I really kind of feel sorry for the woman who got thumped for claiming to be a Christian and Muslim.

She really must wonder, as I do, why it was considered that she had crossed the line of acceptability.


[11] Posted by DietofWorms on 12-07-2007 at 04:53 PM • top

DaveW, I understand that your prediction is exactly what Bp. Swing (Cal, ret) has been working toward in his ‘ministry.’  This event and others like it fulfill his goal.  We want to converse with others as different religions, he wants to eliminate the differences - watering down every religion to almost nothing.

[12] Posted by Marcia on 12-07-2007 at 04:53 PM • top

This is the New Gnosticism.  Anyone for a new Council of Nicea or Trent?

[13] Posted by athan-asi-us on 12-07-2007 at 05:06 PM • top

Someone should lose their clerical position over this.

[14] Posted by NoUseForaName on 12-07-2007 at 05:17 PM • top

Inspiration is a totally inappropriate reaction for a Christian.

On a trip to Thailand a couple years ago I had a very disturbing feeling while sight seeing around some of the Buddhist temples - The Spirit in me was making me aware of the spirits around me. After I understood what was happening, I stopped going inside the temples and the feeling passed.

I did not have the same reaction a few days later in Angkor Wat. But of course, the gods those temples were built to honor are dead and all that remains are ruins.

[15] Posted by texex on 12-07-2007 at 05:47 PM • top

Who do YOU say that I am?

Frankly, I think every bishop in TEC needs to be asked this question.  If they can’t answer it correctly (a hint here is that the PB’s answer was wrong) they should be sacked.


[16] Posted by R S Bunker on 12-07-2007 at 05:55 PM • top

Bishop Swing of California, (ret.) (which contains only San Francisco and a number of neighboring cities) must be delighted at this news.

To keep the record straight, however, Trinity Cathedral is the seat of the bishops of NORTHERN California, a neighboring diocese.

I’m not holding my breath until the HOB or PB initiates an investigation or prosecution of either Bishop Barry Beisner or Dean Brian Baker!  My wonder is that the people in the pews continue to open their pocketbooks to support this cathedral.

We all know that the only way to get the attention of the TEC leadership is to STOP GIVING THEM YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY.

[17] Posted by Little Cabbage on 12-07-2007 at 06:20 PM • top

Tibetan Buddhism includes demon worship, occult and magical practices, and astrology.
As on another post—you can’t make this stuff up.
What’s next?  Child sacrifice?  (Oops, maybe we already have that w/abortion).  Idol worship (oh, that too…)
Good Lord, deliver us!  Jane, Edwin’s wife

[18] Posted by Edwin on 12-07-2007 at 06:52 PM • top

It’s Advent.  Why is the sanctuary decorated with wreaths & garlands?

[19] Posted by Nikolaus on 12-07-2007 at 07:12 PM • top

This is ironic for many reasons but the biggest being that the Dalai Lama does not believe homosexuality is healthy! Maybe someone should tell the bishop and Cathedral that the Dalai Lama has been labeled a “homophobe.”

But, despite all his wisdom and compassion, the Dalai Lama apparently cannot imagine gays and lesbians leading fulfilling, happy and ethical lives.

Although he says that no real love between people can be condemned and that any discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation must end, the Dalai Lama nevertheless persists in considering the natural expressions of gay and lesbian sexual orientation as “wrong,” “unwholesome,” a “bad action” and as “vices.”

In an interview with the French magazine Dimanche, the Dalai Lama says of gay and lesbian sexuality:

“It’s part of what we Buddhists call “bad sexual conduct. Sexual organs were created for reproduction between the male element and the female element — and everything that deviates from that is not acceptable from a Buddhist point of view.”

[20] Posted by teatime on 12-07-2007 at 07:28 PM • top

Sorry—just realized I forgot quotation marks on my post. The quoted material begins with the second paragraph.

Here’s another link to an article that will sound uncannily familiar! Just replace “Dalai Lama” with the name of any orthodox bishop and “Buddha” with the name of Jesus.,1708,0,0,1,0

[21] Posted by teatime on 12-07-2007 at 08:05 PM • top

RE: ““A world contained in grains of sand”...This is the headline, not “Tibetan Buddhist Monks erect and pray to idols inside Trinity Cathedral Sacramento”.”

That’s it.  If only Matt had used that frippery headline “A world contained in grains of sand” we would have all known exactly what was going on in Trinity Cathedral. 

“A world contained in grains of sand” is so clear, so compelling, so crisp, and so communicative!

What was he thinking?  It’s almost as if the headline actually is supposed to serve as some sort of shorthand of what exactly Matt’s point is about the story. 

It’s almost as if we are supposed to be able to actually figure out the objectionable part of Trinity Cathedral’s actions!

What. An. Outrage.

[22] Posted by Sarah on 12-07-2007 at 08:08 PM • top

First, as a couple of people have pointed out this is the Diocese of Northern California, which is headquartered in Sacramento and then covers the Northern 1/3(?) of the State.  Therefore, the bishops involved here would be +Lamb, who retired at the start of this year and now +Beisner.  So while +Swing was undoubtedly approving, he is not involved in this one.  Then also, the Cathedral has changed deans since the beginning of the labyrinth appearance, as this actually started under Dean Brown, then continued under an interim and Dean Baker.  So, as you can see the responsibility for this can be spread around.

With regard to the mandala, this is an out growth of what Dean Baker started, at his previous parish in Idaho.  Please see his comments at <a> </a> for his perspective on this.  As a side note here, as we look to the future of this Diocese, I believe Dean Baker was just elected as a GC delegate, having been in the Diocese for less than a year.

[23] Posted by Stu Howe on 12-07-2007 at 08:10 PM • top

I followed Stu Howe’s link, and here is a   quote from Dean Baker (bolding is mine):

I don’t want the mandala in the Cathedral
because it is chic. I only want it in the Cathedral if it is created with holy intention (which I am sure the monks will have) and we treat it with respect (which I am sure we will.)

Ahhhhhhhhhhh!  I can’t even begin to respond to that one.

[24] Posted by Cathy_Lou on 12-07-2007 at 08:42 PM • top

As much as I’d like to be exercised about this, I just can’t get my dander up over it.  This is a symptom, not a cause, another parish whose Christian core has been eaten away by a corrosive multiculuralism by which one shows one’s sensitivity to other cultures by being totally insensitive to one’ own.  In short, there has likely been little true Christianity present in this building for some time.  What remains is fashionable chardonnay liberalism, a hollowed-out exoticism that seeks fulfillment in stylish trends.

[25] Posted by Jeffersonian on 12-07-2007 at 08:51 PM • top

In 2006 Tibetan Buddhist Lama John Makransky led seminarians and faculty members at Episcopal Divinity School through a guided meditation.  I commented:

In his essay, he says, “Put another way, the Dharma is the communication of the unconditioned through a Buddha’s mind and body, imparting practices by which others’ minds and bodies may be similarly opened to the unconditioned, so as to communicate the way to freedom afresh, again and again, from the Buddha’s time to our own.”  I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’m wondering if he is going to guide our future priests through a Buddha’s mind and body. 

Jesus said, I am the door.  We see through a glass darkly.  My concern is whether being guided through another door steers one off the narrow path.  These students would know better than to inject some unknown drug into their bodies.  Why open one’s spirit to some unknown spiritual force?

[26] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 12-07-2007 at 09:01 PM • top

Stu, Bishop Jerry Lamb retired over a year ago.  +Beisner has been in charge for awhile now.

As for Baker and is election.  Yes, it does say something about the Diocese and its future.  It mainly says that the devout (including orthodox clergy) have fled, retired or died, finances are plummeting (they face a large deficit this year), and the uber-liberals are in charge. 

Sad, sad, sad.  And true, true, true.

[27] Posted by Little Cabbage on 12-07-2007 at 09:01 PM • top

And Baker has been Dean for two or three years, not one.

[28] Posted by Little Cabbage on 12-07-2007 at 09:03 PM • top

Why not a display like this? 

We’ve already had the Metropolitan Community Church borrowing(or possibly renting out) National Cathedral for “ordinations”, and Elton John turning the Cathedral of St. John the Divine into a pagan temple for the right price. 

TEC is a lot like a raging drunk—it refuses to see that it’s destroying itself, and is looking awfully ridiculous in the process. 


[29] Posted by Passing By on 12-07-2007 at 09:41 PM • top

Folks, this is precisely why nothing less than a full-blown New Reformation will do.  Separation from such heretics and realignment is not enough.  There simply has to be a way for Anglicanism to EX-COMMUNICATE and DEPOSE such blatantly heretical clergy.

David Handy+
Advocate of High Commitment, Post-Christendom style Anglicanism
More Passionately Supportive of the New Reformation than ever

[30] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 12-07-2007 at 09:47 PM • top

These are the simultaneous religious affiliations/observances that I recall from previous posts and private communication:
10/07  Sufi dance taught in Seattle cathedral
9/07 Navajo teachers and medicine men help with a Navajo blessing ceremony during consecration of bishop
6/07 Interfaith baptism in Newark (Muslim and Jewish prayers added to Christian liturgy)
6/07 Episcopal priest in Seattle announces she is a Muslim.
5/07 A liberal Episcopal layman/ordained Sufi leads Sufi healing circle meetings at St. Philip’s Cathedral, Atlanta, GA
4/07  A copyrighted Liturgy of Invitation was celebrated by the Episcopal Committee on Science, Techology, and Faith.  Readings included antitheistic philosophy.  (Not on SF.)
9/06 A Tibetan Buddhist lama leads a guided meditation for EDS seminarians & faculty.
5/06 Episcopal Bookstore offers pagan book Love Potions for sale online.
4/06 Wiccan priest/Episcopal layman surfaces, having had essays published on the Oasis blog and Father Jake’s blog and Louie Crew’s blog.
4/05 Two Druid/Episcopal priests exposed in Pennsylvania.
5/04 A transgender shaman/pagan priest and a witch are featured speakers at a conference partly sponsored by the Episcopal diocese of Michigan GLBT outreach group
1/95 Gaia mass in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco (Link provided on SF comment thread).

This isn’t a comprehensive list.  I didn’t touch on the goddess books recommended by the women’s office at 815 or the feminism Eucharist, etc, because I haven’t done enough research to classify them.

[31] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 12-07-2007 at 09:51 PM • top

“When there’s so much division happening in the world, especially with religion, it’s important to practice hospitality,” said Brian Baker, dean of Trinity Cathedral.

hospitality? So this then is how we are to understand the pollution of God’s sanctuary with pagan idols? King Manasseh must really have been hospitable then…

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” 5 In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger 2 Kings 20: 1-6

[32] Posted by Anglican4Christ9 on 12-07-2007 at 10:26 PM • top

Mmmpf.  I’m substantially less upset by this than by what goes on during ostensibly Christian services in many TEC parishes.

[33] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 12-07-2007 at 11:42 PM • top

Dear, dear, gentle Sarah Hey,

What. An. Outrage.

I continue to believe that you are far, far too generous in your evaluations of some of these outré happenings!

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

[34] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 12-08-2007 at 12:37 AM • top

Little Cabbage,

You are right I did mistype in my earlier post; I meant to say that Dean Baker had been in place, a year and a half at Trinity.  He was installed just before Easter last year.  (I really have to use preview more…  All I can plead is that we had a sitter arranged, and a dinner for two was beckoning.)  One of the confusing things here is that there was a long interim period, between Dean Brown’s departure and the installation of Dean Baker.

And yes, Bishop Lamb only retired the first of this year. Remember that Bishop Beisner was only consecrated September 30, 2006, with Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts-Schori as a co-consecrator.  It’s just its been such a long year. 

Adding one more bit to the pot here on this the following is off of the blog post by Dean Baker where I first saw anything about this. I’m not sure what Dean Baker intended by this section.  “The monks will do a medicine Buddha healing ceremony Saturday night at 7 p.m. The monks will participate in our Sunday morning services at 9:00 and 11:15.”  The link on this is <a ></a>. This was also talked about on page 7 of the Cross.  However, being honest I’m not curious enough to go over on Sunday morning to find out.

[35] Posted by Stu Howe on 12-08-2007 at 02:08 AM • top

The so-called “Medicine Buddha Healing Ceremony” is more than that. It is what is called an “empowerment” (Tibetan: wang) at which the participants, unbeknownst to them, ceremonially are brought into and become part of the mandala of the Medicine Buddha. No objections to that, of course, except that its inappropriate in a Christian Church setting.

[36] Posted by A Senior Priest on 12-08-2007 at 02:33 AM • top

The diocese of N. California’s stats are found here:
Trinity Sacramento found here:

Both show membership and ASA sinking. The incomes are up. Matt+ had that discussion a while back that referenced Kirk Hadaway’s article on why money goes up in a dying church. This did not take into account the episcopalians dying and bequeathing money in their wills which I think is probably more of an effect than people trying to reverse the decline by increasing giving. This process certainly won’t continue, but I wonder when it will turn the corner?

[37] Posted by robroy on 12-08-2007 at 04:19 AM • top

TEC wants property, because these buildings are to become museums and conference/exhibition centers. This follows naturally from practice in England, where I recall the admission charge for cathedrals is now around 3-5 pounds. Shows such as this are testing options to see what works in the church’s display space. Once all the troubling Christians have gone away, they will truly be able to serve all faiths and causes with equality.

[38] Posted by Dr. N. on 12-08-2007 at 04:23 AM • top

Teatime said . . .

...the Dalai Lama nevertheless persists in considering the natural expressions of gay and lesbian sexual orientation as “wrong,” “unwholesome,” a “bad action” and as “vices.”

Actually, this is not a problem.

[39] Posted by The Pilgrim on 12-08-2007 at 05:25 AM • top

Robroy, here is the address for the Diocesan demographics chart (you linked Trinity twice).

Also, I think you do not have the proper priorities for a good Episcopalian. It appears that Plate ‘n Pledge income is on the rebound! You really need to focus on the essentials of the new Episcopal faith.

I have a blog thingy

[40] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 12-08-2007 at 06:24 AM • top

P.S.  I forgot the astrology workshop

[41] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 12-08-2007 at 09:20 AM • top

I agree. While I think it’s horribly inappropriate and downright wrong to invite Buddhists to place idols within a Christian church, I can’t help but think how deliciously ironic it would be if the Tibetan monks were in there praying for a cleansing of TEC and its celebration of homosexual behavior, considering the Buddhist stand on the issue.

Also, it’s ironic that this church is doing its best to rid itself of believers who are opposed to blessing homosexual activities but it goes out of its way to welcome non-Christians who share our beliefs on the subject. Either someone there didn’t do his or her homework or we need to be shaving our heads and wearing orange togas to get their attention!

[42] Posted by teatime on 12-08-2007 at 10:39 AM • top

from R. Scott Purdy:

As the priestess placed the statue of Buddah on the altar, one Episcopalian whispered to another, “One more change and I’m out of here.”

Yes sir, that hit the old nail right on the head. This is what we (the reasserters) have been doing for over thirty years now:

Step across this line, I dare ya.
OK, step across it again, I double dog dare ya.
Alright, enough is enough. I mean it this time. Don’t you dare step across this line.
This time I really really mean it, don’t you put one toe over that line.
OK, now you’ve made me angry. Don’t even think about stepping over that line again.
This is it, this is your absolutely last chance. You had best not step over that line again.
Now I’m really really out of patience. I’m going to be very put out if that you keep crossing that line.
And on and on and on and on ad infinitum….........................


[43] Posted by the snarkster on 12-08-2007 at 11:25 AM • top

Geek in Dallas observed that:

TEC is a lot like a raging drunk—it refuses to see that it’s destroying itself, and is looking awfully ridiculous in the process.

I’d say TEC is more like an aging drag queen.  But the same sentiments apply.  It’s still pathetic.

[44] Posted by Nikolaus on 12-08-2007 at 01:27 PM • top

Dear Stu Howe,  Sounds like you are better informed on these dates than I am.  Thanks for clearing it up.

[45] Posted by Little Cabbage on 12-08-2007 at 01:50 PM • top

You’re welcomed.  It’s just that I’ve the rueful privilege(?), of being able to watch this, in an up close and personal way.  But admittedly one that has gained a little distance since this last spring.

[46] Posted by Stu Howe on 12-08-2007 at 02:17 PM • top

Ezekiel chapter 8, folks. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

[47] Posted by Bob K. on 12-08-2007 at 09:43 PM • top

How horribly sad that another news story is out this week that another Episcopal Church is leaving the Orthodox Faith that I and we here on Stand Firm hold to.

How horribly sad that they continue to confuse and confund the world as to what the real Truth is, and continue to try and silence those of us that will continue to proclaim the Truth even if it means our death.

How horribly sad that another Episcopal church will be responsible for the damnation of the souls of it’s flock.

How horribly sad that at one time, they knew the Truth (I trust) and hae now rejected Him for a lie.

Here I stand and I can do no more. I will continue to proclaim the Truth of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus until He returns or my death, whichever comes first.

[48] Posted by momtat92 on 12-10-2007 at 03:45 PM • top

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