When an Oasis is Really a Mirage: Why are Evangelicals Ignoring the Pluralistic Agenda of a Denver Women’s Center?

Women need to hear from other women. This is a truth impressed upon us through stories in scripture about women like Ruth & Naomi and Mary & Martha. In scripture, we see that women are called to teach and influence other women about how to live out their lives to the glory of God, and scripture illustrates well the impact of studied woman on other people in her life. The truth is, as women we are called to relationships with a purpose that invites us to a true knowledge of God which both sustains and transcends these relationships. But we might think of these relationships as an oasis, a “place’ to find rest and nourishment through the biblical truths which ground the friendship and all of the joys and other residual benefits that result.

On a larger scale in our contemporary context, women are seeking other women’s voices to speak wisdom and insight into their lives. Though we don’t endorse them, this is why organizations like NOW and other feminist student organizations continue to make such an impact on younger, college-age women. It isn’t necessarily because these women are open to their ideologies from the start, but these organizations present themselves as a resource to fill the emotional, intellectual, and professional needs of women at this particular stage in their life, no matter the faulty philosophy they seek to advance. This is one of the reasons I started The Center for Women of Faith in Culture, and since its founding I’ve had the blessing, from a biblical worldview, to speak into the lives of women across the country on a wide range of issues including marriage, family, and career to questions in bioethics and theology. Recently, however, I’ve been disappointed to learn of a women’s center in Denver that could have a similar influence on the lives of women in their vicinity, being a source for wisdom from a Christian worldview, explicit or implicit. After all, their founder at the helm professes to be a Christian and has earned a Christian studies degree at a top-notch evangelical seminary. However, while receiving endorsements from other evangelical entities, this particular organization has opted for a pluralistic approach in its mission to women.

Allow me to introduce you to Pomegranate Place. Pomegranate Place is located in Denver, Colorado and is self-described as an “oasis for women.” From their website:

Everything we do at Pomegranate Place flows from our core values of compassion, justice, freedom and transcendence. We believe that women who embrace these core values and put into practice the character strengths associated with them, will live happier, more meaningful lives, and ultimately discover and live out the purposes for which they were created. We don’t always have control over what hand we are dealt in life.  We can, however, choose how we respond.  It is in the little choices that we make each day that our character develops and we move toward becoming all that we can be.  We hope to encourage each other to make wise choices.

This doesn’t seem terribly alarming. In fact, Pomegranate Place looks like the kind of organization that could be a healthy resource for women all over the Denver area. Currently, resources available are in the form of classes and events led by professional women with varying backgrounds including those trained in counseling, psychology and religious studies. Beware, however, because looks can be deceiving. What appears to be an oasis for women may actually be a mirage. A closer examination reveals its proactive pluralistic agenda. As stated on their website, this is made abundantly clear—Pomegranate Place seeks to “embrace and honor diversity of views. We will celebrate differences and look with deep curiosity to respect and learn from one another.” [1]

Vaun Swanson is the founder and “catalyst” behind Pomegranate Place. To be clear, a catalyst is an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action. Her biography describes her as having “served in helping professions for the past 30 years” and that she “recognizes both the challenges women face and the potential they have for changing our world for the better.” Swanson was been inspired “by women in history, awakened by sisters in third-world countries, and grateful for awesome mentors” so through Pomegranate Place, “she offers opportunities for women to connect and grow.”

A noble vision, I resonate with the desire to help women flourish in today’s world—spiritually, intellectually and professionally. I believe this same desire may be what motivated FullFill magazine to interview Swanson in their April 2011 issue, promoting Pomegranate Place and Swanson’s work as its leader. If you are unfamiliar with FullFill, this is an evangelical women’s magazine whose alliances include MOPS, Christian Leadership Alliance, Stonecroft Ministries, Moms In Touch International and Synergy. I’m not convinced at this point that Swanson’s work at Pomegranate Place was properly vetted by the editors at FullFill, and if this is indeed the case, that would explain why an organization that so prominently promotes pagan spirituality would be given that kind of real estate in an evangelical women’s publication.  So what did Swanson tell Fullfill? The interview contained very little about Pomegranate Place itself and more about Swanson’s role as a leader, but she was asked “What challenges you as the founder and leader of Pomegranate Place?” She responded:

One of the most unexpected challenges has been a handful of neighbors and the city’s zoning and building codes. I know that sounds crazy, but it has consumed a tremendous amount of time and energy and the issues are still not resolved. What we are doing here does not fit neatly into any of the categories the city has on its books. We also don’t fit neatly into “faith-based” or “secular” categories. All women are welcome at Pomegranate Place and while Christian faith is not a prerequisite for teaching classes or leading, we hold a Judeo-Christian spirituality in our holistic approach to empowering women and helping them find their purpose in life. Fleshing this out from day to day can be challenging and requires a lot of conversations that go to the heart of women’s worldviews.

What exactly is a Judeo-Christian spirituality? She fails to explain further in the article and the only other specific reference to Pomegranate Place occurs at the end of the piece where she explains how she sees God at work:

There is a warm, calming, welcoming feeling that people get when they walk in the front door. Almost everyone mentions it. I believe it is the Spirit of God in this place. The conversations here are incredible. There are no taboo topics and women readily open up to share their lives and their struggles. I see Christian women laughing with neo-pagan women. Young lesbian women partner with older married women to raise funds for women in the Congo. A 78-year old woman reads her own poetry out loud for the first time. Hearts are softened, hope is renewed, understanding is fostered, hurts are healed and God is definitely at work here!

If a “Judeo-Christian spirituality” implies a Judeo-Christian ethic, then certainly this last paragraph of the interview shows kindness and generosity occurring in a pluralistic environment—as it should—though this version of spirituality is unable to account for the foundations for kindness and generosity. The core of biblical Christianity is what accounts for both the ability and desire to live as Jesus lived, and outside of Christianity individuals are left trying to reconcile the bits and pieces of various worldviews which are ultimately irreconcilable. For Pomegranate Place, there is nothing vague about their spiritual practices including the fact that they lack coherence with biblical Christianity.

No indication is given at the Pomegranate Place website that the women who enter into their presence will ever be presented with the gospel, or at the very least with a worldview outlook consistent with biblical Christianity. How can we know this? As stated in the Fullfill interview, Swanson indicates that the Christian faith “is not a prerequisite for teaching classes or leading.” So who are those that lead? What is their background?

The “Guiding Council” at Pomegranate Place is composed of women from a variety of professional backgrounds and traditions. They include IT professionals, business women, college professors, clergy (of unknown tradition), life coaches, therapists, and those with theological degrees. With all of this collective wisdom, one of the council’s primary responsibilities is the vetting of the “Affiliate Guides.” These Affiliate Guides serve the vision of Pomegranate Place by making their services available to women who seek them out. Who are they? Let’s look at a couple.

“Sue Burdette is a Certified Teacher of the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition.  She was introduced to the Enneagram 16 years ago and has been a student ever since. The Enneagram is a system of nine personality types describing nine distinct ways of viewing and interacting in the world. Sue has a heart felt desire to share the wisdom of the Enneagram so that others might benefit from this dynamic yet practical tool that can have a profound effect on the way we live our lives.”[2]

But the enneagram is certainly not considered part and parcel of traditional biblical Christianity and, in fact, is viewed entirely counter to it.

The roots of the enneagram can be traced to two men: George Gurdjieff and Oscar Ichazo. Both men were involved in occultic pursuits. Guurdjiieff learned of the enneagram from a sect of Sufis (mystical Islam). The Sufis used the enneagram for numerological divination. Oscar Ichazo later developed a personality theory around the enneagram and added it.

Ichazo was deeply involved in psychedelic drugs, shamanismyoga, even studying mysticism in India and Tibet. Ichazo has received instructions from a higher entity called Metatron and members of his group are guided by an interior master, the Green Qu’Tub.

Another leading figure in the enneagram movement was psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, associated with theNew Age experimental Esalen Institute.

There are many myths associated with the enneagram. One myth has to do with the alleged antiquity of the program when it actually dates in the 1960’s. Another is that it is scientific. Like many New Agepractices, its leaders are always trying to assign scientific credentials, but none exists.[3]

“Lizanne Corbit M.A. Lizanne has been in private practice as a psychotherapist since 1990. She creates tranformative [sic] space and sacred containers for women to be met as individuals or as they gather in community for the purposes of birthing their hidden potential, deepening their journeys, embodying their truth and celebrating their “instatus nascendi” [sic] jewels hidden with in matter. Described as a “midwife to the spirit” Lizanne’s compassionate and creative approaches help women know, own and claim their deepest essential selves and live with their full presence in the world.”

Lizanne’s personal website also indicates that included in her retreat themes is “Altered States & Shamanic Journeying.”[4] To better understand her worldview one needs to better understand what she means by this particular retreat theme. Here is a brief explanation of shamanism and what Corbit is bringing with her to Pomegranate Place.

In shamanism everything has a spirit (animism) and is alive, including rocks, clouds, trees, rivers, as well as animals and people. This means that all things that have spirits are equal with us.  These spirits are everywhere, permeate our world, and can affect our lives.  Shamans use altered states of consciousness to contact spirits which can be either good or bad in order to learn the future, make decisions, or attempt healings of people who might be oppressed by bad spirits.  Shamanism uses spirit guides, contacting these guides in order to have them direct your life.  Shamans use astral projection, where the spirit of a person leaves the body and travels into the spirit world, and various means of predicting the future such as throwing bones.[5]

Either the vetting system of Pomegranate Place has failed or the organization simply chooses to draw no lines in terms of what ought to be offered to women searching for encouragement in this complex world. Unimportant to their vision is consideration for the truth of any particular spiritual path. While this may seem to be a noble, generous approach to engaging the women in their community, it actually has another unintended consequence—the idea that no worldview makes any real difference in the every day lives of women. As Christians, we know this to be patently false.

Ironically, while women who venture through the doors of Pomegranate Place are in search of something, the expectation is that they are actually discerning enough to know what resources at Pomegranate Place they may or may not want to entertain.

Pomegranate Place, while feeling confident about its Affiliate Guides, is not responsible for issues that may arise in fulfilling their obligation to you. We trust in your ability to make wise decisions in choosing services and methods for your development and also in taking responsibility for those choices.

So the women seeking the support of Pomegranate Place need to at least have the means to discern properly whose services they should seek? What role does Pomegranate Place really then have as a resource to the women of Denver?

[kaltura-widget uiconfid="534" entryid="0_0p9ys4n0" width="260" height="225" style="margin: 2px;" addpermission="" editpermission="" align="left" /] Denver Seminary has also lent their support to the work and mission of Pomegranate Place. On their homepage you can view the video featuring Pomegranate Place founder, Vaun Swanson (and Denver Seminary grad), discussing the purposes of Pomegranate Place as it is situated in the heart of Denver. As of today, May 19th, 2011, this video is still posted, but you can also view it here. Why Denver Seminary, historically a solid evangelical academic institution, chooses to give voice to an organization with pluralistic intentions, where the gospel will likely never penetrate the life of a single woman, is beyond all understanding.

At the recent God, Faith & Culture women’s conference, one of the values we discussed is the importance of churches vetting all of the materials being utilized in the context of women’s ministry, because not for one moment do we want to give a platform to teachings that somehow compromises scripture. This is a value we urge every Christian to adopt, and is why today we urge Christians to take another look at any endorsement offered for the work of Pomegranate Place. The Center for Women of Faith in Culture embraces all positive efforts in reaching into women’s lives in both church and culture. But when the line is crossed in embracing other worldview perspectives with eyes wide open, we believe the core of biblical Christianity has been abandoned and no good can come from this.

When an Oasis is Really a Mirage (PDF)

Comments

When an Oasis is Really a Mirage: Why are Evangelicals Ignoring the Pluralistic Agenda of a Denver Women’s Center? — 17 Comments

  1. Hi Doug, nice to see you! No I have not contacted Pomegranate Place or Vaun. Who is Marcia?

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  3. I’m a bit confused; I gather, from what I read here, that Pomegranate Place does not present itself as a Christian church, an Evangelical agency, or anything other than a vaguely Judeo-Christian women’s centre. So why shouldn’t it be pluralistic? If you object to pluralism on principle . . . well, presumably you need to live in an absolutist state with a particular flavour of Evangelical Christianity built into its totalitarian structure. Otherwise, it seems to me rather overstating the case to indicate that Christian women may somehow be led down the garden path by this place. Personally I have little use for such centres, but if women find them encouraging and supportive, I have no problem with them–and cannot see how they can be seen to have misrepresented themselves in their descriptions.

  4. Christians do object to the promotion of pluralism, especially so when it is promoted by those claiming to be followers of Christ. Your statement that I need to live in an “absolutist state” speaks in no way to the concern being addressed here and misunderstands the valid concern Christians have over these types of enterprises. This isn’t about “Christian women” being led astray, this is about the ministry of the church leading any woman astray, by communicating to them in some way, shape or form that your worldview doesn’t matter as long as your are emotionally healthy and able to pursue personal happiness. As evangelicals, our mission is the gospel – evangelism (hence the term ‘evangelical.’ And in no way am I suggesting Pomegranate Place has misrepresented itself–I believe it is exactly what they say it is. My concerns have to do with any evangelical that might promote it as a healthy ministry to women, that includes its leader and those organizations that are giving it their stamp of approval. Christianity cannot coexist with new age philosophy.

  5. A formal response to Sarah Flashing from Denver Seminary and Dr. Mark Young, President:

    In this post and on the blog The Point, Sarah Flashing critiques Pomegranate Place, a ministry led by Denver Seminary graduate, Vaun Swanson. Her concern is that the ministry promotes religious pluralism by utilizing teachers and mentors (listed on the Pomegranate Place website as “affiliated guides”) that do not hold to a Christian worldview. Flashing also criticizes Denver Seminary for including Swanson as one of several graduates featured on the homepage of our website. We take these concerns seriously.

    A couple of observations are in order. First, we erred in not vetting the ministry of Pomegranate Place more fully before we posted the video interview with Vaun Swanson. The Seminary in no way endorses those who contribute to the work at Pomegranate Place from a worldview not consistent with the teaching of Scripture. We remain firmly committed to the evangelical beliefs and values that have defined us for over sixty years. I would invite any and all to read our Core Commitments (http://www.denverseminary.edu/core-commitments) and our Doctrinal Statement (http://www.denverseminary.edu/what-we-believe). These beliefs and commitments are woven into everything we do at the Seminary.

    Secondly, as far as I know, Flashing did not contact the Seminary and ask us to respond to her concerns before she voiced them in her post. Had she done so, we could have told her that, in response to communication from an external constituent that expressed similar concerns, the Seminary had taken the following steps: (1) we met with the concerned in order to better understand their perspective, (2) we set up an appointment to meet with Vaun Swanson to discuss these concerns with her, and (3) we decided to take down the video feature with Swanson, while we determine whether the ministry at Pomegranate Place is consistent with the Seminary’s beliefs and values. In working on this issue we decided to withhold judgment until we had an opportunity to meet with Swanson and learn more about Pomegranate Place. I could only wish that Flashing had shown us the same courtesy. Unfortunately, such professional and collegial courtesy doesn’t seem to be valued in the fast-paced, ever-shifting, exposé-driven, quick-to-judgment world of the blogosphere. Had she contacted us, we would have welcomed her inquiry, listened to her concerns carefully, thanked her for expressing them, and explained what steps we were taking. Perhaps Ms. Flashing did call the Seminary and was unable to reach us. Perhaps she sent us emails that somehow went unanswered. I would be surprised were such the case, but if we did not respond to her concerns in a timely and respectful manner, I apologize.

    Finally, I think it pertinent to reflect just a bit on the final sentence of the paragraph in Flashing’s post that relates to the Seminary. She writes, “Why Denver Seminary, historically a solid evangelical academic institution, chooses to give voice to an organization with pluralistic intentions, where the gospel will likely never penetrate the life of a single woman, is beyond all understanding.” Indeed, we are historically a solid evangelical academic institution, and we remain so today. Let me invite Ms. Flashing to campus, to worship with us in chapel, to attend classes, to interact with our faculty, administration, staff, students, and board members, to get to know us. What she’ll find is a community committed to engaging the needs of the world with the redemptive power of the gospel and the life-changing truth of Scripture.

    Dr. Mary Young, President
    Denver Seminary

  6. It is unfortunate you chose not to talk to Vaun Swanson directly. Had you chosen to, you would have heard stories of lives that have been transformed by the gospel.

    I also found the statement, “the gospel will likely never penetrate the life of a single woman,” to be rather presumptuous given the lack of research and understanding of this organization.

  7. The following open letter has been published on my blog. I hope it will also help answer Allison’s concerns about why a private approach to Vaun first was not in any way necessary.

    An Open Letter to Mark Young, President of Denver Seminary

    Do not be bound together with unbelievers, for what partnership have righteousness and lawlesness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the Living God . . . (2 Corinthians 6:14-16a, NASB)

    Dr. Young,

    Denver Seminary occupies a position of trust in the Evangelical community. This trust requires you to act with due care and diligence, testing the spirits (for we know that not every spirit comes from God) and holding fast to that which is good, guarding the deposit of faith and training your students to give an answer to all who ask. In the matter of Vaun Swanson and Pomegranate Place, you did not do this. You have acknowledged your error in this and removed the video from the seminary’s website. For this, I and faithful Christians who care about Denver Seminary thank you. Although, I must note that as of this writing (7am on 2 June), the video is still posted on the seminary’s YouTube channel.

    What is of continued concern, however, is that more than a month after you were first notified of the nature of the “ministry” at Pomegranate Place, you are still unable to determine whether it is “consistent with the seminary’s beliefs and values”! Please allow me to help you make that determination by briefly going over some of the information available on their website and then highlighting just three areas of concern regarding the commitments and belief systems of the “Affiliate Guides” promoted on the website.

    The “Ministry” of Pomegranate Place
    While Vaun Swanson, founder of Pomegranate Place and a Denver Seminary alumna, says elsewhere (see the interview in the April 2011 issue of FullFill Magazine, Elisa Morgan, yet another Denver Seminary alumna is the publisher), that the women’s center is operated with a “Judeo-Christian spirituality”, little if any trace of that is to be found on their website. Pomegranate Place’s vision is to help women live “more meaningful lives” and their foundational values include: compassion, justice, freedom and transcendence. But with no mention on their website of this supposed “Judeo-Christian spirituality”, we are left wondering about the actual content of those foundational values. Their guiding principles include, “embrace and honor diversity of views” and “celebrate differences”. Again, no whisper of this guiding spirituality and the concepts seem to be embraced for their own sake. Nor is there any trace to be found on the website of core Christian concepts such as sin, repentance, redemption, salvation — or– the person and work of Jesus Christ, the triune God or Christ’s bride, the Church. Given this striking lack, how can the business of Pomegranate Place be termed a “ministry”?

    The First Problematic Philosophy: The Law of Being
    The Law of Being is a Hindu teaching dealing with Dharma (righteousness). According to Hinduism, Sanatana Dharma (the Law of Being) is the religion of humanity. This righteousness opens the way to “god-realization”. All ills come from the ancient belief that there is God and there is man when the mind of God is indivisible, being a facet of the god-consciousness in each of us. Anything which helps you attain this god-consciousness is virtue and, although Dharma impels right action, the righteousness of an action, the rightness of an action, is determined by that which will aid a man’s spiritual progress. This is the Hindu concept of the Law of Being.

    In other words, the Law of Being offers us situation ethics, self-divinization and a pantheistic view of God. Is this consistent with the seminary’s beliefs and values?

    The Second Problematic Philosophy: Transformational Breath
    Transformational Breath is a “self-healing modality” which incorporates metaphysics, Kundalini Yoga, sound healing, body mapping and other spiritual healing principles. It is said to balance the flow of energy (chi) through the body and to strengthen the connection with the “Divine”. The source of healing is within the individual, coming from the connection with a higher self which clears the pathway to higher consciousness.

    In other words, Transformational Breath is a self-idolatrous exercise based in esoteric/occult practices where self-healing is said to occur by harnessing a life-force via the breath. Is this consistent with the seminary’s beliefs and values?

    The Third Problematic Philosophy: The Enneagram
    George Gurdjieff brought the Enneagram to the west around the turn of the last century after traveling to Afghanistan and Turkestan (among other countries in the region) in pursuit of esoteric “sciences”. Gurdjieff, who said he learned the Enneagram and other Gnostic doctrines from the Sufi mystics, was in contact with “Transformed Ones”, evolved masters at a higher level of existence. Gurdjieff’s most influential follower was Oscar Ichazo, who founded the Arica school in Chile. Ichazo was guided by Metatron, the prince of the archangels and his students were guided by an interior master, Green Qu’Tub, who revealed himself to them when they had sufficiently evolved.

    It was Ichazo who gave us the form of the Enneagram we know today, mapping the 9 personality types (and there are only 9) to the 9 points of the figure and tying an animal “totem” to each type. The 9 points are derived from the Law of Three and the Law of Seven. Within the circle, the triangle represents the Law of Three, deconstructing all distinctions between creator and creation, good and evil, male and female. The hexad represents the Law of Seven. Dividing 1 by 7 provides the pattern (.142857) along which Sufi mystics were said to perform their dervish dances (this number does not include any multiples of 3).

    The Enneagram was introduced in the United States in the form developed by Ichazo in the 1960s. The theory holds that everyone has an “essence” which is divine but which we turn away from as very young children to choose an ego form. This choosing is sometimes held to be the original sin. You can return to your essence through deliberate, conscious work. The Holy Idea or virtue of each type is one of the nine faces of God. The compulsive aspect of each type turns the face of God upside-down and becomes a demon. The purpose of the work is to free oneself of the demon and return to one’s essence.

    In other words, the Enneagram teaching re-defines original sin and presents salvation as an effort of the self aided by the secret (esoteric, occult) knowledge divulged by the Enneagram. Is this consistent with the seminary’s beliefs and values?

    There are other worrying practices offered by the women of Pomegranate Place that are steeped in Esoteric. Syncretistic, Gnostic and Pantheistic thought and yet, despite founder Vaun Swanson’s claim to present a Judeo-Christian spirituality as well as the involvement of some Christians as “affiliate guides”, not one single guide offers a clearly and unapologetically Evangelical Christian approach to helping women discover who they are created to be.

    I hope this information clarifies the deep divergence between the work of Pomegranate Place and the seminary’s stated beliefs and values.

    Conclusion
    In closing, I must offer a few words in response to your expressed concerns about the (lack of) collegiality in the blogosphere. If I may speak for those of us who have worked to expose Denver Seminary’s failure here, I don’t think I would go far wrong in saying that professional courtesy or collegiality was among the least of our concerns. The false gospel presented by the guides of Pomegranate Place, and the public endorsement of that which was previously given by Denver Seminary (and which is still under review as of your 27 May blog post), demands a public response. Our Savior and his disciples publicly rebuked false teachers, sometimes by name. The fate of tender souls who will be led astray by such teachers demands nothing less than the courage to step out publicly and rebuke you for endorsing the false gospel of Pomegranate Place which can do nothing other than lead those souls to destruction.

    Nevertheless, when I was first approached about this, I naturally hesitated. Given the command of Scripture that woman not teach or exercise authority over man, it has troubled me that this remonstrance is from a woman to a man. If the seminary you lead had not tried to make peace with the violation of this command, perhaps you would be disturbed as well (although I believe, had the seminary not already compromised on this point, Pomegranate Place would never have been promoted on its website). However, once I became aware of the situation I had no choice but to act as a Titus 2 woman working to protect other women. Since the damage has been done on your watch, you are the one to address. Throughout, I found God’s gracious provision of faithful shepherds who have advised, encouraged and supported this effort at every step along the way – it has not been my sole effort by any means. I thank God for their wisdom and their continued work in the care of souls.

    Now my prayer is that you and the other officials of Denver Seminary will have the courage to act for the sake of the souls in your care and that you will quickly come to a clear, unambiguous and publicly acknowledged judgment on the “ministry” of Pomegranate Place.

    SDG,

    Kamilla Ludwig

  8. Sarah,
    Pomegranate Place is not a Christian ministry. It is a community center for women that offers programming along six different streams: Body, Wisdom, Soul, Creativity, Community, and Global Awareness. It is based on a Christian worldview, respectful of all individuals, and welcoming to any woman interested in learning and growing. It is first of all a message of love and acceptance. We believe that all truth is God’s truth, and that all women have truth and wisdom to share. We listen intently and acknowledge the good we see in others and in our world.

    While all women are welcome at Pomegranate Place, we find that the women coming to events are typically well educated, savvy, professional women who are attracted to our core values of justice, freedom, compassion and transcendence. They have a desire to make a difference in our world. They don’t just believe something because an authority figure tells them it is true. They consider new information in light of their personal experience and what they already believe to be true. Women at Pomegranate Place want to know that they are heard and respected before they grant that opportunity to others. When we see authenticity in others, the pathway is open for an honest exchange of information. Pomegranate Place is host to amazing conversations and much healing has occurred in this space, including the healing of relationships with God.

    Pomegranate Place offers women an opportunity to connect with women they will likely otherwise never meet. It is an opportunity to share life stories, friendships, professional skills, and growth opportunities. I believe it is a place Jesus would enjoy hanging out.

    Dr. Mary Shippy
    Board Chair of POM Place

  9. I find myself deeply perplexed by the vitriol and malice being directed at Vaun Swanson and Pomegranate Place, particularly so as her attackers appear to make the claim that they are “Christian.” I am happy to say that there is not one and only one narrow definition of Christianity allowed in this world. We may all express our religious sentiments as we see fit, and there are many flavors of Christianity. One who attempts to impose, however sincerely, his or her own brand of Christianity on others is appointing him- or her-self as God, and none of us has the right to do that. My understanding is that Pomegranate Place works with women of all faiths and backgrounds. It appears to be in the way that all-comers are treated with true Christian charity and generosity, rather than austere attempts at conversion to a belief system that is not common to every Christian, that makes Pom Place in some ways a Christian ministry. If women find love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control at a center, whether that center is outwardly Christian or not, is there any reason to doubt that the Spirit is at work? Would that all could demonstrate the fruits of the spirit as reliably as Ms. Swanson does.

  10. Doug Groothuis, meaning to direct a question to Sarah Flashing, asks, “Have you talked to Vaugh (sic) about this, Marcia? It might help.”

    Now, I find it rather curious that an Evangelical philosophy professor with expertise in the New Age Movement won’t comment on the patent New Age philosophy being promulgated by Pomegranate Place, but instead directs critics to go have a nice cup of tea with Mrs. Swanson and talk it over privately in order to get the true scoop. Could it be, I wonder, that Groothuis is trying to do a little damage control here for the sake of one of his CBE colleagues?

    You know, there’s a saying that goes like this: “If everyone in the room is telling you you’re drunk, you’d better sit down.” For a long time now, we traditionalists have been telling “biblical egalitarians” like Dr. Groothuis that this femitarian nonsense is not only the spiritual doorway to homosexualism and neo-paganism, but is bound to have deleterious effects in triadology and christology as well. In Mrs. Swanson’s case, we clearly see the drift towards homosexualism, neo-paganism and christological heresy. Can a “more enlightened” trinitarianism for the neo-Evangelicals be far behind?

    You’d better sit down, professor Groothuis.

  11. “You people parody yourselves.”

    Really? How so?

    And may God help you indeed.

  12. Pingback: The Myth of Christian Neutrality: Introduction | The Center for Women of Faith in Culture

  13. Pingback: All Truth is God’s Truth – So? » Evangel | A First Things Blog

  14. As a happy bisexual married to a lovely lesbian, I find places like this wonderful. My partner is Christian, and I am a Buddhist, having deconverted from Christianity a while ago (and have never been happier, finally my reason and logic kicks in). Paganism, wicca, and the like have been around far longer than this place. And say what you will about the enneagram. Whether or not it was invented by people doing “ooh scary witch-type burn them all” things, it’s relatively accurate, having worked with people with mental health issues, including myself. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. If you can find something good out of it, use it. And for the record, I am MUCH happier with my wife and not being a Christian than I ever was being a Christian girl terrified to get married because I refuse to submit to anyone. Unless you’re talking about in bed, then I’m MORE than willing to be the sub in the D/s…