Rob Bell Interviews John Philip Newell

JPN & Rob Bell
“There is an awareness that Christianity as we know it is in trouble.”
-John Philip Newell
Rob Bell interviews John Philip Newell in a discussion that delves into his most recent publication,  The Rebirthing of God . Recorded for the “Robcast at St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, USA,  Rob skillfully guides a fascinating conversation that explores the movements within Christian spirituality in our time. The chemistry between these two teachers makes for a conversation that you don’t want to miss!
Click here to stream the Robcast

Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage: A Walk With the Earth

September 15-19, 2016 | North Coast, Oregon USA

The NW Coastal Pilgrimage is an experience for grounding in contemplative practice, reconnection to the earth, and learning from the early Celtic Christian world through the writings of John Philip Newell.


REGISTRATION IS FULL. To be added to the waiting list, please sign in here.

Walking 40 miles from Astoria to Oswald State Park in Northern Oregon, this pilgrimage will traverse seaside foothills, sand dunes, and many miles of picturesque beaches. Beginning with the rising of the sun in the morning, our group will walk 10-15 miles each day by way of trail, beach, and some roadside walking (depending on the high tides).

Included in the registration fee are guided walking along Oregon’s North Coast, guided contemplative exercises, spiritual accompaniment, meals, lodging, and van shuttle to the coast and back from Portland, OR. Lodging will include yurts, a hostel, and a church community room (showers not available on the third night). Most of the meals will be prepared by the group (gluten free and vegetarian options available upon request).

Through John Philip Newell’s writings we will learn about the early Celtic Christian world and explore themes of interrelatedness, connection to earth, and the sacredness of all things. A copy of The Rebirthing of God will be provided as an introduction. Our days will begin with morning prayer before settling into a rhythm of sharing meals, holding space for contemplative practice, group discussion, and walking.

Registered participants will meet in Portland, OR at 12pm on September 15. A van and trailer shuttle will be provided for ferry to the coast, making some food and supply drops along our route. Our walk will conclude at Oswald State Park and we will shuttle back to Portland, OR on September 19, returning around 11:00am.



photoThe NW Coast Pilgrimage is led by Ben Lindwall, Executive Director at Heartbeat. Ben lives in Portland, Oregon USA where he and his family are caretakers in residence at the Arbor Lodge Urban Farm. He has been leading group experiences in various capacities for over a decade. Ben has been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell over the past few years and is a certified Spiritual Director. He has been the Executive Director at Heartbeat since 2013, working with people from all over the world to advance a vision of healing, transformation, and peace. Coming from an evangelical Christian background and now like many of his generation, Ben considers himself spiritual (and a Christian) without any formal church membership. He and his wife Jen have been married for 12 years and have two young children.

“A pilgrimage is always an opportunity to be re-born. I’ve seen and experienced the impact of leaving behind the safety and comfort of home on a quest for deeper understanding, awareness, and connection. The act of moving our bodies, moving our feet gently upon the earth in unison can be a kind of soul-march. It reminds us of our true identity, our oneness, and creates liminal space to hear and know our calling. In co-leading this pilgrimage I hope to cultivate an environment for each of us to learn and grow.”  -Ben Lindwall

Additional expenses and expectations

  • Any gear needed to complete packing list.
  • Access to restrooms will be minimal while walking – trees, shrubs, and beach grass may at times be the only available coverage.
  • While usually sunny this time of year, the possibility always exists for high winds and rain. Our group will be expected to walk rain or shine unless dangerous conditions are present.
  • The route consists of approximately 60% beach walking, 30% state park trails, and up to 10% roadside walking on scenic Hwy 101.
  • Some of the hiking will enter forested areas with steep ascent/descents.
  • Creek and stream crossings will be necessary.
  • To maximize walking during low tides, some mornings may begin as early as 5:00am.
  • Each participant will be required to purchase travel insurance and provide proof of coverage prior to departure (check out some of these different options).
  • Each participant will be required to carry up to 3 lbs of group food and supplies in their backpack.
  • Each participant must be able to walk up to 15 miles a day and must train beforehand with a loaded pack.


Packing list:

*Please be mindful that the packing list includes what you will be wearing (for instance, you will wear one pair of socks and pack two— three total). You may plan to leave some luggage locked up in the trailer to avoid excess carrying on the trail.

Socks (3) light wool for hiking

Sock liner (3) prevents blisters (optional)

Underwear (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Shorts (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Pants (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Shirts (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Long sleeve shirt (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Lightweight hiking shoes

Light sandal (like these or these)

Rain jacket


Moleskin (or other blister treatment)





Laundry detergent

Toothpaste (small tube)

Soap (small all purpose bar for body and hair, if possible)

Water bottle (at least 900ml/32oz)

5 clothespins

Plastic plate, bowl, fork, and spoon

Hiking towel (small quick dry)






Pen or pencil

Camera phone and waterproof container

*sleeping sheet bag liner and blanket (for first and last night’s accommodation)

*Sleeping bag and sleeping pad (for third nigh’s accommodation)

*items will be dropped at a specific site and will note be carried in backpack)

Cancellation policy

A full refund is available up to 45 days before the event. After the 45-day deadline, a refund will be available if the spot can be filled.

In case of injury or fatigue

If you are unable to walk with the group for any reason, transportation to the next destination on the itinerary will be arranged at the participant’s expense. If for any reason a participant needs to leave the group, transportation to Portland, OR will be arranged at the participant’s expense.

Before registering please have emergency contact and personal insurance information available.

REGISTRATION IS FULL. To be added to the waiting list, please sign in here.

The Non-violent Force of Love | John Philip Newell

Our friends at The Work of the People have produced a series of short films featuring John Philip Newell.

In this first segment, John Philip discusses Love as the only force for transformation in the world.

The Core of the Human Soul | John Philip Newell | Isle of Iona | Christ of the Celts

JPNewellbyAnnFowlerby John Philip Newell

What is it we have forgotten about ourselves and one another? In the Celtic tradition, the Garden of Eden is not a place in space and time from which we are separated. It is the deepest dimension of our being from which we live in a type of exile. It is our place of origin or genesis in God. Eden is home, but we live far removed from it. And yet in the Genesis account, the Garden is not destroyed. Rather Adam and Eve become fugitives from the place of their deepest identity. It is a picture of humanity living in exile.

The image of God is the essence of our being. It is the core of the human soul.

At the beginning of the Hebrew scriptures, the Book of Genesis describes humanity as made in the “image” and “likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26). This is a fundamental truth in our biblical inheritance. Everything else that is said about us in the scriptures needs to be read in the light of this starting point. The image of God is at the core of our being. And like the Garden, it has not been destroyed. It may have become covered over or lost sight of, but it is at the beginning of who we are.

A nineteenth-century teacher in the Celtic world, Alexander Scott, used the analogy of royal garments. Apparently in his day, royal garments were woven through with a costly thread, a thread of gold. And if somehow the golden thread were taken out of the garment, the whole garment would unravel. So it is, he said, with the image of God woven into the fabric of our being. If it were taken out of us, we would unravel. We would cease to be. So the image of God is not simply a characteristic of who we are, which may or may not be there, depending on whether or not we have been baptized. The image of God is the essence of our being. It is the core of the human soul. We are sacred not because we have been baptized or because we belong to one faith tradition over another. We are sacred because we have been born.

Christ of the Celts, 2008 (Jossey-Bass: San Francisco) 2-4.


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The Sound of the Universe | John Philip Newell | Prayer

Milky Way and adromeda at SunToMoon utah_lane_1800We pause to listen

for the beat of your Presence in all things

pulsing in the light of distant galaxies

sounding in the depths of our soul

vibrating in each vein of earth’s body.

One Sound as vast as the universe

one universe filled with Presence

one Life within every life.

John Philip Newell, Praying With the Earth (Eerdmans: Michigan) 10. Photo of milky way extending from the Temple of the sun (left) to the Temple of the Moon (right) in Utah by David Lane.

I Am About To Do A New Thing | John Philip Newell | Ghost Ranch

02a-MBy John Philip Newell

Casa del Sol is a little spirituality center in the high desert of New Mexico. It is committed, as our vision statement says, to “seeking the oneness of the human soul and the healing of creation.” At its service of blessing in 2006, we gathered in the courtyard of the old hacienda and sounded a large set of wind chimes in the four directions—south, west, north, and east. From the whole earth we were seeking the Spirit of new beginnings. As the chimes rang out in each of the four cardinal direc- tions, Jim Baird, our director of program, recited words from the prophecy of Isaiah: “I am about to do a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19). By the time we got to the east, the direction of light and fresh beginnings, Jim’s voice carried powerfully over the desert landscape, “I am about to do a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?”

He was saying, however, that if we assume that the Holy Wind of new beginnings can only come through our existing religious and cultural traditions, then we will likely miss the new thing.

Paul Tillich, the great German theologian who as early as the 1950s was prophetically announcing God as Ground of being, preached on these words from Isaiah. In his sermon, he said that as long as we think the new thing can only come through the old thing, then we will likely miss the new thing. He was not saying that the new thing cannot come through the old thing. He was not saying, for instance, that the new consciousness of earth’s oneness cannot be born from within the inherited language and thought forms of our religion and culture. He was saying, however, that if we assume that the Holy Wind of new beginnings can only come through our existing religious and cultural traditions, then we will likely miss the new thing. “It is not the old which creates the new,” he said. “All we can do is to be ready for it.” How do we get ready to open to the new Pentecost, to the new thing that the Spirit is doing in the earth and the human soul?

 A New Harmony (Jossey-Bass: San Francisco) 170-171.

Let Our Soul Breath Hope | John Philip Newell | Prayer

Monument Valley totem pole (h) crFor the freshness of this new day

thanks be to you, O God.

For morning’s gift of clarity

its light like the first day’s dawn

thanks be to you.

In this newborn light

let us see afresh.

In this gateway onto what has never been before

let our soul breathe hope

for the earth

for the creatures

for the human family.

Let our soul breathe hope.

John Philip Newell, Praying With the Earth (Eerdmans: Michigan) 15. Photo by Chuck Summers.

Harmony of Heaven | John Philip Newell | Celtic Spirituality

_CES1338In the rising of the sun and its setting,

in the whiteness of the moon and its seasons,

in the infinity of space and its shining stars

you are God and we bless you.

May we know the harmony of heaven in the relationships of earth

and may we know the expanse of its mystery within us.

John Philip Newell, Celtic Treasure: Daily Scripture and Prayer2005 (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids) 18. Photo by Chuck Summers.

The Cross and the Kiss of Choice

JPNewellbyAnnFowlerby John Philip Newell

Last year I gave some talks at a church in Minneapolis. Before the opening session, I was seated in a side chapel close to the main auditorium preparing myself in silence. The talks were going to touch on themes of sacrifice, of making whole again. And I was going to raise specific questions in relation to wholeness. Do we want to be part of transformation? And what are the costs of change, both individually and collectively? As I sat pondering these themes, I noticed on the front wall of the chapel a traditional Ethiopian cross with its large diamond shape at the top and narrow shaft connecting to a smaller square shape at the bottom. And I realized it was like a big key hanging on the wall in front of me.

In the Christian tradition, our key is the cross, or what Jung calls “the Christian totality symbol.” It opens for us the way of love, the truth of love, and the life of love.

In the Christian tradition, our key is the cross, or what Jung calls “the Christian totality symbol.” It opens for us the way of love, the truth of love, and the life of love. It connects for us what has been considered opposite—heaven and earth, the divine and the human, the one and the many, God and all things. It is the key of love. It is the key to transformation.

2002-21-1lgThis may begin to make it all sound simple. And I suppose it is simple. But it is not easy. The difficulty comes in using the key. The challenge ensues in taking it off the wall of our religious symbolism and making use of it in the relationships of our lives and the wider world. The test is in whether we choose to use it again and again and again, resisting the delusion that we will be well by looking after ourselves in isolation, by tending our own nation, our own species, our own tradition, to the neglect of the whole. It is what Teilhard de Chardin calls “the primacy of humility,” the greatness of bowing in love to what is deepest in one another.

The way of sacrifice cannot be imposed, for it is the way of love.

The way of sacrifice cannot be imposed, for it is the way of love. By its very nature it must be chosen. Hildegard says that we are “to act through the kiss of choice.” This is what ANC students did in loving their nation and paying the price of exile. This is what Jon Sobrino and his fellow Jesuits did in speaking out against the political abuses of El Salvador. They kissed the key to love. This is what our Mark did in the Glasgow terrorist attack in his willingness to sacrifice.

What is it that we will choose, and how can we strengthen one another to make this “kiss of choice”?

A New Harmony (Jossey-Bass: San Francisco) 165-168.

You Are the Sun

Clingman Dome sunset (h) crLight

golden light

fresh from the source.


creation’s colours

calling our senses.


life in its oneness

life in its manifold oneness

all from You.

 You are the Sun from whom the morning shines

You are the River in whom each life-form flows

each face

each race

each cell within our ever-living soul.

This new day we greet You.

John Philip Newell, Praying With the Earth (Eerdmans: Michigan) 12. Photo by Chuck Summers.