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Ancient Texts and the Spiritual Life

October 26–27, 2018
Fort Wayne, Indiana

How do fresh insights from recently recovered first-century documents such as the Gospel of Mary, the Odes of Solomon, and the Thunder: Perfect Mind from early Christ movements encourage new ways to explore religious life? Can they lead to a new awareness about spirituality and daily practice? Taussig and Lillie will:

  • illuminate scholarly perspectives on early faith and spirituality
  • introduce ancient exercises to quiet, center, and connect, for expanding spiritual awareness
  • explore long-lost Christian practices and connections with traditions of other faiths

Hal Taussig (Ph.D. The Union Institute) is a recently-retired Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He lectures around the country and world.  The editor of the award-winning A New New Testament (2013), United Methodist minister, and author of fourteen books, his mediography includes The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Daily Show, People Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, National Public Radio, and many more.

Celene Lillie (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary) is the Director of Adult Education and Spiritual Formation at First United Methodist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.  She is the author of The Rape of Eve: The Transformation of Roman Ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis, the director of translations for A New New Testament, and a co-author of The Thunder Perfect Mind: A New Translation and Introduction.

Program Details

How Ancient Texts Foster the Spiritual Life

Hal Taussig and Celene Lillie

Taussig and Lillie speak to amazing phenomena: the discovery of over one hundred new documents from the first two centuries of Jesus movements and the dawning awareness of the spiritual meanings of those texts. They offer an overview of many of these ancient documents and ways in which they might be used to nurture the 21st-century individual and community.

Friday 7:30–9 pm

Reflecting with the Odes of Solomon

Celene Lillie and Hal Taussig

Lillie and Taussig review the historical background of early collections of beautiful and joyful song texts from the Odes of Solomon. Drawing partly on monastic practice, they seek ways in which these poetic texts provide occasion for expressiveness, meditation, prayer, movement, and reflection.

Saturday 9:30–10:15 am

An Exercise from the Gospel of Mary

Hal Taussig

The Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) is the only gospel whose primary character is a woman. With a message that transcends gender, it tells the story of the soul confronting desire, ignorance, and anger on a journey to God, not after death, but during life. Taussig will guide participants in their own version of this journey.

Saturday 10:30–11:10 am

Journey through Buddhism and Christianity

Celene Lillie

Lillie introduces connections among varied Buddhist, Christian, and Yogic practices, and explores their relationship to these ancient texts.

Saturday 11:20 am–noon

Embracing Complexity with The Thunder: Perfect Mind

Celene Lillie and Hal Taussig

Lillie and Taussig introduce this ancient text, which has been especially well-received in the arts, and through expressive and reflective exercises, show how The Thunder can reveal ways to live through complexity in one’s life.

Saturday 1:30–2:30 pm

Expanding Spiritual Practices

Celene Lillie and Hal Taussig

As life opportunities and challenges unfold, one’s spiritual practices also evolve. In this collaborative session, everyone is encouraged to envision how to integrate some of the meanings found in these rich texts and practices, strengthening one’s ongoing spiritual life.

Saturday, 3–4 pm


Plymouth Congregational Church

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

Plymouth Congregational Church
501 W Berry St
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

For local information, contact:

Pam Etheridge
[email protected]


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Oct 12) $60
  • Additional Family Members $50

Single Sessions

  • Friday Evening Lecture $20
  • Saturday Morning Workshop $30
  • Saturday Afternoon Workshop $30

Refunds are available until two weeks before the event if requested in writing, minus a $10 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.