Tony Blair - a man to watch
From Prime Minister to multi-faith champion; since leaving office at Downing Street, Tony Blair has leapt onto the global religious stage with his Tony Blair Faith Foundation. If Prince Charles aims to be a multi-faith monarch, then TB would fit comfortably alongside.
Far from fading from view, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is working assiduously to enhance his credentials in the inter-faith and Muslim world.
The road he has travelled since his university days have included strong spiritual inputs from a variety of sources. And whilst raised within the (Protestant) Anglican Church he has now "converted" to Roman Catholicism and has had a personal audience with the Pope.
This latest development - contrary to Alastair Campbell's assertion that 'We don't do God' - follows on from reports of a copy of the Koran being his 'bedtime reading', and his admission since leaving office that the spiritual life is of great importance to him.
It has been reported that he plans to launch an international interfaith foundation this year on the back of consultations with the office of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
A newspaper report reads: 'The Muslim Council of Britain has also given its support, as has Labour supporting Jewish business leader Sir Sigmund Sternberg.'
And to this he will be well able to bring his interest and involvement in "new age" spiritualities (see below).
Aside from his spiritual adventures he has carved a role for himself, and seeking to be seen as "honest broker" in the Middle East peace process; this as part of 'The Office of Tony Blair'.
Putting the various pieces together Mr. Blair stands at the intersection of the major world religions and their geo-political junctures. Political and religious ecumenism has found itself a new champion.
Who knows how it will all pan out, but the man who could bring a prospect of peace to a much-troubled international scene whilst uniting the monotheistic religions of the world in the process could find himself being welcomed with open arms by the general public, politicians and religionists alike.
Let's hope that Christian leaders know their Bibles, and understand where all this could be heading...
Watch this space.
Tony Blair and wife Cherie perform chant ritual to lizards/pyramid In Mexico
by Lorne Gunter of The Edmonton Journal
In August 2001, during a family holiday on the Mexican Riviera, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, went through a "rebirthing ritual." According to a report in the Dec. 15 edition of the Times of London, the Blairs stayed at the very swanky Maroma Hotel near Cancun, where rooms fetch as much as CAN$1,800 a night. While there, they underwent the hybrid New Age/Mayan ceremony.
Dressed only in bathing suits, Britain's first couple stood outside a brick pyramid on the hotel's grounds and bowed toward each point of the compass while chanting to each of the four winds. The spiritual leader of the ceremony encouraged them "to feel at one with Mother Earth," the Times reported, and to "experience inner feelings and visions."
The Blairs then moved around the outside of the pyramid, one façade at a time, praying first to the Mayan symbols of the sun and baby lizards, signifying spring and childhood. They then prayed to another wall, on which a bird was painted, representing adolescence, summer and freedom. On a third was a crab for maturity and autumn, and finally a serpent for winter and transformation.
Moving inside, Tony and Cherie immersed themselves in the herb-infused mist of a Mayan steam bath to sweat the physical and spiritual impurities from their bodies and to "balance their energy flow." Mayan holy songs were incanted as they meditated and attempted to conjure up visions of animals in the steamy air. The celebrant explained the meaning of each of their hallucinations. Before emerging from the pyramid, the Blairs were instructed to give voice to their hopes and fears (they said a prayer for world peace), and then undergo a "rebirth." This involved smearing one another with papaya and watermelon, then with mud from the Mayan jungle outside, the Times explained.
Finally, while exiting the womb-door of the pyramid, "the Blairs were told to scream out loud to signify the pain" of birth. They then walked hand-in-hand to the beach for a dip in the Caribbean. I'm sorry. I know we live in a non-judgmental age in which no one's spiritual practices and beliefs are to be pronounced better or worse than those of any other (more on this in a minute), but this is just downright flaky. It is not just the antithesis of Christianity, but antipodal to the beliefs of all the world's major monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam as well.
It's just kooky. Any visions or spiritual ecstasy the Blairs experienced were psychosomatic, created by their own brains from their imaginations because of their need to say they saw something. Mrs. Blair is said to be a devotee of all sorts of similar (and similarly goofy) alternative therapies and spiritualisms. She is said to wear a "bio-electric shield" pendant filled with "magic crystals" to absorb the negative radiation of cellphones and computer terminals. She studies with a New Age guru and officially opened a holistic medical centre in November.
Stockwell Day was deemed too dangerous to govern Canada by virtue of his fundamentalist Christian beliefs; why then is it any different to wonder if Tony Blair is too dangerous to govern Britain by virtue of his New Age spirituality?