Remembering Brad Steiger

Recent news that Brad Steiger died earlier this year after a long illness has left me with a deep sadness.  His books framed the beginning of my spiritual odyssey. They were the first books that I encountered to discuss the experiences of a “new age” or paranormal kind.  His written explorations of the frontiers of experience were astonishing.

Brad’s remarkable books, “Revelation: The Divine Fire” “UFOs-Gods of Aquarius” and “The Seed” changed my life, presenting concepts and discoveries that called into question most of what I had learned up to that point. They were the first introduction I had to appearances of the Virgin Mary, alleged encounters with UFOs and their occupants from other worlds, astral projection, communion with the Divine, and other topics that were way beyond the zeitgeist of mainstream Christian religious theology as I knew it as a young person in the midwest in the 1970s.

And most notably, “The Star People” with his then wife Francie Steiger, immediately appealed to me when it was published. From that moment on,  I became a spiritual seeker, outside of the walls of organized religion, following an inner light. Years later, in 1984, I was fortunate enough to meet Brad in person at an intuitive arts fair in Sedona, Arizona with his then wife Francie Steiger. Brad made an extra special effort to give me tips about various writing organizations I could join and nudged me in that direction. And his wife was my first spiritual teacher, giving me instructions for my development. Both of them gave freely of their time and offered a  very warm farewell before I left.

I next remember meeting Brad several years later in Omaha, Nebraska. He had remarried. His new wife was Sherry Hansen Steiger, an accomplished professional and minister in her own right.  As a result, Brad was a changed man and seemed much happier. In the years that followed I found myself slowly drifting away from his publications, having learned what I needed. However I did send him a letter or email on occasion. I last corresponded with him ten years ago, in 2008. And I heard him several times on “Coast To Coast AM” discussing various topics including the JFK assassination with authoritative command of the topic matter.

I had always hoped to meet with him again at this home in Iowa, since it was so near to where I live, but it never happened, sadly. Coincidentally, perhaps,  I was thinking of him earlier this year, wondering how he was doing. I am sad to hear of his departure from this life, but I feel that he is soaring through Eternity now.

 

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The end of spiritual questions

During the weekend, I briefly attended another fair for those inclined to pursue spiritual knowledge via psychic readings, intuitive counseling, etc. The presumption is that attendees have unanswered spiritual questions that need answering via some metaphysical technique or another.

I left without seeing a single vendor. And the realization hit me soon therafter: I have no more spiritual questions that need to be answered.

Certainly, during the rest of my life I will have all kinds of practical questions that need answers. And that is the case for everyone.

However, in my case the time for asking questions of a spiritual nature has come to an end, after 35 years of a daily meditation practice under the guidance of spiritual mentors and teachers.

And in fact asking those questions is no longer appropriate.

Silent surrender to God is.

The fundamental responsibility in my case is the surrender of “me” into the Eternal Divine Presence. And that Presence is Real, not an imagination or a hopeful wish. This is my direct experience.

What follows in this life, regardless of how long it lasts, will be lived from this perspective.

 

 

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The Ebbing Of Life’s Tide

While recently at an intuitive arts/health fair I briefly encountered one of those booths that sells new-age books that celebrate endless youth, living forever, and so on.

I took it as an insult, however unintentional it might have been.

The last eleven years have been a series of personal losses. My dad, stepdad, father and law and most sorrowfully my beloved grandmother have all passed away.

And I have dealt with illnesses of family members-long term conditions that have drastically impacted their quality of life.

So “living forever” in “endless youth” in this human life is not possible.

How many times have I visited hospitals? More times in recent years than in the last 40. Some hospitals in town are dramatically expanded. One facility was where I worked as a temp 20 years ago. It has seemingly created several more buildings at least. How? Money, hundreds of millions, from all of the care offered to those who are seriously ill. Astronomical amounts of money.

Despite the promises hospitals make of  a surfire way to beat cancer that are published on prominent billboards, these facilities do have patients who are seriously ill and in many cases, terminally. For some of my family members, this was the place they spent their last days of life, in a haze of medical monitors, nurses, and family members saying goodbye.

And after those goodbyes are said, it’s incredbily difficult to find anyone to talk with about ongoing grief. They all run. In fact, you find yourself ignored and expected to “get over it” with no other words of sympathy, not even a hug. But the show must go on I guess.  People have to find ways of denying grief so they can go buy more books about living forever and endless youth.

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Help wanted..not really.

This is a column that I have wanted to write for  a very long time.

As a self-employed IT consultant I have attempted every now and then to apply for full-time gigs in the Omaha IT job market. After raising my “I’m available” flag on LinkedIn I have been contacted by various recruiters. Some are sincere. But they are in the minority.

Others are, to put it mildly, time wasters. Promising grandiose results in a vague tone of voice they give me their assurances that people like me are needed in local firms and they WILL get back to me with a good match.

But they never do.

And the beat goes on. The revolving door of people young enough to be my kids continue to send me very enthusiastic contact letters assuring me they CAN help, but in all honesty, do they REALLY WANT to help people find work in Omaha?

Qualifications? Do you want qualifications? I’ve worked for 25 years this month(November, 2017) holding down the same airshift at a local radio station. And during my nearly 30 year tenure in public broadcasting I’ve interviewed dozens of internationally acclaimed jazz artists, hosted thousands of hours of jazz programming, and published online content and e-newsletters for years. That should be as good of a foundation for any employment, anywhere.

This leads into my work as an independent IT consultant. As a “one-man band” I’ve developed multiple small business websites, many for musician and art clients. What’s more, I’ve troubleshooted problems including host migrations that didn’t go as planned(one host provider left me in the lurch, leaving the only copy of a client’s files on the local computer!) restoring damaged or “off-line” websites, and an e-commerce crisis that required a 24-hour solution due to an app that turned out to be the worst on the market.

Amazingly, this, and more than 15 years of experience running my own business, apparently isn’t “enough” to warrant consideration for full-time employment by the “decision makers” in this area.

So, like so many other talented people that wear multiple hats, I continue to pursue my career track of self-employment, rather than try to chase down the mirage of “employment opportunities” that are really wasters of the most precious commodity to any businessperson: Time.

 

 

 

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Spiritual Memoir: Star Wars

Forty years ago, the first “Star Wars” film arrived on movie screens around the world.

The movie changed my life!

The first Star Wars film “A New Hope” in part told the story of the first great adventure of Luke Skywalker and his introduction to the ways of the “Force” while studying with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Skywalker studied with Kenobi briefly before the elder Jedi met his demise (or transcendence) during a light saber battle with Darth Vader aboard the Death Star. And of course, Luke Skywalker uses the Force later to destroy the 100-mile wide battle station at the end of this milestone film.

And the first and subsequent viewings of Star Wars forever changed my orientation towards spiritual life. It was, in fact, a re-awakening to the mystical life and spiritual work that I had known in highly likely previous lifetimes as a monk and contemplative.

I could no longer accept the orthodox religious tradition as it was presented to me via the local religious institutions my family I added. Spiritual life had to be about the direct experience of the Divine. I began to ask questions. I began to seek out a deeper experience of God, and a spiritual training of some sort. This was quite a shift for an 11-year-old young boy in Nebraska in 1977!

Carrie Fischer was only 10 years older than me when I watched the first Star Wars film. Her passing not long ago along with the death of her mom Debbie Reynolds left me with a deep sadness, and a reinforced determination to meet each day as a gift. That is one of the most important lessons I have learned in my lifelong commitment to spiritual work and surrender to God.

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Monetizing the Zoo

I’ve been a supporter and avid visitor of the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium for years, but a visit this last weekend started to change my opinion about this place that so many years warranted “Best In the World” status.

Much to my regret, I observed that a construction project was underway at the Prairie Dog Hill Pavillion. It leaves me with sadness to see this only untouched part of the zoo, a wooded area where prairie dogs along with other wildlife roamed, undergoing a forced renovation for other uses.

Why is this necessary? I spent countless hours in this sanctuary, over many years, seeing animals in nature and finding much-needed peace at the same time.

I’ve observed prairie dog behavior up close as well as the arrival of the new prairie dogs in late spring. I’ve watched turkeys wander by, sometimes six at a time, and on one day they flew miraculously into the trees above me!

Now visitors will likely not have that experience.

Furthermore, while walking through other parts of the zoo, I can’t seem to be allowed any degree of peace while public address systems blare needless pop music.

Exactly why does Huey Lewis and the News and REO Speedwagon have to be blasted over loudspeakers in a place where people should be able to find communion with nature? Really???

A zoo should offer patrons the chance to observe and appreciate animals at close range. It is hard to do that when the focus of the place becomes mere entertainment: A circus-like atmosphere for maximum stimulation, instead of a refuge away from all of the stimulation of this present day, where magical encounters can take place between humans and animals.

I’m fortunate to have had many of these encounters before the rush to monetization took place.

 

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Spiritual Memoir: The Beginning

I was born Christopher S. Cooke in June 1966 in Omaha, Nebraska. Since earliest memory, I have had the experience of the Presence of God in my life. The challenge of my early years was to find if the direct experience of God could be deepened by the church I was part of as a result of my family.

The Presbyterian Church in the 1970s was arguably a good place for any start of a theological consideration to take place. And by my 10th year, I was reading a wide variety of spiritually minded books as well as the Bible itself. I have always enjoyed reading books.

There was much to learn in Sunday School about the life of Christ, which I studied very carefully. I also paid attention to the Old Testament and especially the books of Genesis and Exodus. These received many hours of careful study and examination on my part. I remember as a young kid drawing my own conception of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ which I felt would take place at the turn of the century(back in the 1970s several noted authors alleged this would happen.).

Unfortunately, the church that I attended was one where the direct experience of God was not actually encouraged. Nor were any questions about theology, doctrine or dogma. And my youthful innocence and diligence at studying my lessons was, in fact, made fun of by several young people who were just “coasting” through the confirmation class.

The tradition that I grew up in was one where the experience of God (via Christ) and other miraculous happenings attributed to the saints happened long, long ago. And not surprisingly, I was told not to mention my own experiences of God to anyone. I wondered, wasn’t this the kind of experience that the church would presumably want people to have?

As a result, I started to have questions about the church and worship environment that I was in. Those questions were answered in part by a series of events that happened in the late 1970s that led into the early 1980s. More on that soon. Stay tuned!

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