Monday, October 1, 2012

Blogtour! Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire


 Last month I was given an opportunity to be part of the Escaping the Cauldron blog tour on Oct 1st. Since I was curious about the book I agreed to post my review of it today. Before we continue lets take a look at the description of this book from the author's website "An eight-year journey through the occult and into freedom. Escaping the Cauldron exposes the subtle occult influences that affect 21st century Christians. Part Bible study, part memoir, this book takes the reader deep inside Kristine's eight year journey as a witch, medium, and ghost hunter and reveals how God delivered her out of the occult altogether and mercifully restored her faith and life in Christ." As you can see the book sounds interesting. Due to the nature of the subject I felt it was important to share this book with my friends in the Christian Witch/Wiccan community - after all this is the target audience for Escaping the Cauldron.

How Real Christian Witches Have Responded: 
Unlike many reviewers I have chosen to hear and share feedback from the Christian Witch/Wiccan community. I felt that this is important since this is the target audience for the book. Below are the thoughts of three Christian Witches after reading Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire. This is their personal opinions- unedited.

Below is a detailed statement from David Dellman who has held credentials with the Assemblies of God Church and currently holds an Masters of Divinity from their seminary. Below are his thoughts.

"The publisher of Kristine McGuire’s new book “Escaping the Cauldron” has offered Ms. McGuire’s manuscript to some professing Christian Witches for review.

I was able to get a look at her book thanks to one of these Christian Witches. I only recently left the conservative evangelical church even though I have been a practicing witch for some time. I “got saved” and “filled with the Holy Spirit” in 1974. I went to seminary in the early 1980s and served in various youth pastorates and adult Christian educational positions since my graduation from seminary. I share this history so that you will know that I am not gullible, naive, biblically illiterate, or given to youthful flights of fantasy.

Ms. McGuire feels that she has been saved from a great error and is relieved to be back in the safety of the one true fold. If she is happy I am glad for her but in the years I spent as an evangelical I was always uncomfortable with the elitism, the condescension, the judgmental opinions, and the condemnation of whole people groups and populations that is characteristic of conservative fundamentalist positions. Just as Ms. McGuire feels the hand of grace in her life “escaping” from the deadly clutches of witchcraft, I feel the hand of grace in my life “escaping” the death grip of Christian fundamentalism. Like all forms of fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism is divisive and bigoted.

I realize the word “bigot” is loaded with negative connotation and I don’t mean to use the word to insult or hurt but I do believe that ideological bigotry is one of the institutional sins of the religious right and I do believe that this “I know better now” attitude is reflected in Mrs. McGuire’s work.

The fact is we live in a diverse world, with a diversity of opinion especially in esoteric or religious matters. Mrs. McGuire in chapter after chapter tried to explain what Christian witches believe and practice. I must tell you it would require volumes to document the diversity of opinion in the Christian witch community. There is no one uniform belief or practice.

I am a Christian witch. Jesus Christ is my Lord; His blood covers my sins as it does Mrs. McGuire’s. I am also a Universalist, and I can defend all of my positions and practices’ using the very same Bible that Mrs. McGuire has used to condemn them but I would prefer to avoid a debate about this passage or that because the Bible has been used to defend the position that the world is flat, that human slavery is a God appointed right. The Bible was used for generations to deny equal rights and equal access to women, and it was used to justify the murder of thousands of accused witches many of whom were burned alive while Christians watched. So, the fact is, the Bible can be used to support or condemn almost anything.

I believe Mrs. McGuire’s instance that the Christian witch is sitting right next to you in the pew is almost certain to begin a “witch hunt” that will “out” witches who do not wish to be out of the broom closet. I think that is sad. It is sad because it is difficult, not to be a Christian in a culture in which 70% are confessing Christians, but to take any position on any issue other than the orthodox position.

It is extremely difficult to stand up for what you believe in when it means you will be forced from the church home you might have known all of your life. Mrs. McGuire’s book will no doubt create the paranoia that will result in many otherwise content Christian witches losing their church homes.

Mrs. McGuire said that, “The American religious climate is in upheaval with many young adults leaving the Christian faith.” I believe she is correct but I believe the “upheaval” is because the evangelical fundamentalist church has lost touch with its mission. It has become a “cauldron” of bigotry rather than a beacon of love.

In the same paragraph Mrs. McGuire said, “Perhaps even worse are those who call themselves Christian while abandoning foundational beliefs about Jesus Christ and replacing them with a more socially palatable solution.” Of course these “heretics” are “even worse” than those turning from the faith. What is “worse” about them is that they are leading others “astray,” but in their minds they are not leading anyone “astray.” They are instead leading them to a healthier and more Biblically sound interpretation of the scriptures than what conservative Christianity is offering.

Mrs. McGuire said that, “Popular voices question what was once recited as creed.” I believe she is referring to works like Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell, Raising Hell: Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire by Julie Ferwerda, and The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Religious Fundamentalism to the True Love of God and Self by Carlton Pearson. These books and others like them are leading the church to much needed and long overdue reform, they are leading us away from the kind of bondage that Mrs. McGuire would like us to embrace anew.

In quotations at the beginning of the book, Tracey Bateman said that Mrs. McGuire, “encourages the church to love and not condemn those trapped in Satan’s snare.” Yet a few short pages later Mrs. McGuire says, “One thing stands out to me when I read these scriptures. These activities (or the people choosing to do them) are condemned.” It is this kind of schizophrenic, conditional love that drives me crazy. Love with strings and conditions is not love at all; it is a deal, a bargain, and that is not what the gospel of Jesus Christ presents. God’s love is a gift, freely given, freely received.

Mrs. McGuire believes that the Bible condemns not only the practices of the Christian witch but the person of the Christian witch. In fact, the Bible also condemns gossip, lust, and enough other practices to include everyone who will ever read Mrs. McGuire’s book or any other book. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God but God’s love covers our sin, that is the good news of the gospel.

Mrs. McGuire also quotes a passage of scripture that warns that in the “last days” Christians will be “seduced by deceiving spirits.” Bishop Carlton has a different opinion of this passage. He believes that “the most pronounced antichrist spirit is religion itself – even Christianity…” He said that to, “insist that the world is not already redeemed to God by Christ is to suggest that Christ failed in His task,” and this is the spirit of antichrist and this is the “deceiving spirit” that the passage Mrs. McGuire quotes actually applies to.

Mrs. McGuire is entitled to her opinion and I found her life journey fascinating reading but I found her comments about Christian witches specifically and the occult in general based more on misinformed standard Christian fare than actual practice or genuine understanding. I think Wicca's Charm is a superior book from the conservative Christian point of view. It presents the positives of Wicca as well as the negatives, and it is at home with the audience that Mrs. McGuire is trying to reach; terrified, paranoid believers.

I am simply no longer in the business of condemnation. I believe that God loves every human being of every race, national origin, and creed. I believe that God has already accomplished eternal “salvation” for every human soul. This belief frees me to love without restraint or condition even those who condemn me, even those like Mrs. McGuire. To that end, Mrs. McGuire, thank you so much for sharing your book with me. I wish you much love and success in your journey." ~ David Dellman
Below are the thoughts of Rev. Diana an Interfaith Minister and High Priestess with Coven of Christ Ministries. 

"Please remember these are just my opinions and not to be taken as doctrine of any kind. I think this woman is frightened and confused and is clutching at anything she can find to justify her current belief system. She is trying to fit in where society will accept her and her marriage. I am concerned about her vision of Artemis being mad that she had chosen Jesus over Her. All of the Gods and Goddesses in Wicca are aspects of the One. Anyone really studying the religion knows this. I hope she is happy with where she is on her path now. But it saddens me that she is afraid of what she knows and has experienced. Try not to be angry with her. Her references are close minded and she obviously does not really know what or who a Christian Witch really is. Many don't. I wish her well." ~ Rev. Diana
Below is a statement from Rev. TigressPhoenix another Interfaith Minister and High Priestess with Coven of Christ Ministries. 
"Sadly Escaping the Cauldron is one of the few books that I have ever found personally insulting. In all honestly I feel that this book will push Christo-Pagans, Christian Wiccans and Christian Witches away from the church and possibly away from Jesus Christ. Instead of speaking in an understanding manor the author chooses to use misguided information about this group of individuals. At times the author seems very negative towards her target audience which is very disheartening. For someone who has spent 8 years as a Christian Wiccan, the author lacks basic information regarding what Wiccans truly believe. The part of this book that really struck home for me was the author's vision of Artemis being mad that she chosen Jesus over Her. In Wicca all of the imaginary of the Gods and Goddesses are believed to be aspects of the One God. We are monotheistic and believe in only one Divine Being. For example I worship Jesus Christ, but at times Christ comes to me in the form of Artemis or the Greenman. The Creator can take on what ever form that is needed to connect with an individual. So to say that "Artemis is mad at me because I choose Jesus" is a total oxymoron. Its simply not possible because they are the same person... I have studied different religions all of my life. Wicca has been one of the most interesting religions I have researched, leading me to read many books on the subject. As an interfaith minister and high priestess who has been studying Wicca for twelve years and practicing Wicca for eleven years, I find the author's statements harsh and at times insensitive towards their target audience. I have found many errors in what the author believes Wicca is, which is surprising considering the time she spent as a Christian Wiccan.  I feel that the author has turned away from a golden opportunity to awaken to the truth. I truly feel sorry for her that she has chosen to be lead by what others tell her. Instead of what her heart tells her. She will be in my thoughts and prayers. Blessed Be ~ Rev. TigressPhoenix

Below is a statement from ordained minister Toni Nell.
 
 "Although I have not been able to read the entire book, I have read enough to get a pretty good feel of “Escape from the Cauldron.”

Although I do not agree with Ms. McGuire’s opinions or viewpoints, that are not entirely a surprise as they are coming from a woman who has wandered between the world of Christianity and Wicca for many years. Ms. McGuire is obviously a woman who has been battling with inner demons her entire life; struggling to find peace with the Craft she loved and the teachings of her Christian upbringing.

Rather than being a story of a woman’s return to Christianity after straying, this book was written more in a bible study and discussion format to help the Christian church to identify the Craft and why it is against God’s design. Although I do not agree with Ms. McGuire, I do respect her opinions. However, I found a few of her comments a bit disheartening and some of her “in depth” focus on the Craft or Christianity tends to be lacking any real focus.
For example, Ms. McGuire talks of legalism with distain throughout the entire book, YET it appears that she has returned to a legalistic point of view i.e. her quote of “anything other than submitting to the total will of God is witchcraft.”

Although Ms. McGuire has a fairly good knowledge of Christianity, Witchcraft and the blending of the two, she lacks insight into both. Witchcraft does not provide an alternative to God, it provides and alternative way to worship. Wicca/Witchcraft does not have us to find all answers solely within ourselves. It asks us to take personal responsibility for our actions and realize that we are co-creatures of our world. The bible, which she so lovingly quotes, tells us that we are of free will – meaning we have a choice in how our lives play out and that we are responsible for those choices.

I am in favor of any book that opens up conversation even if it is from a viewpoint different from my own. However, I find it very disheartening that Ms. McGuire does not spend much time focusing on what is wrong with the current state of the church today….why people are feeling the need to look for something more. In my humble opinion it is the lack of experience which she repeatedly states we should not base our spiritual beliefs on. This to me is ironic as it was an experience is what lead her to Christ in the first place. The modern church is designed to invoke an experience to bring the sinner to Christ. If that were not the case, a simple reading of a few passages would be sufficient.

Ms. McGuire is entitled to her beliefs, but the book in general lacks fluidity and does not allow for open dialog among all readers. It only allows for dialog among those who share her limited view." ~ Toni
Author Bio: 
Kristine McGuire spent eight years blending Christianity with the occult. She has been a Solitary Eclectic Christian Witch, a clairsentient medium, and a lead investigating member of a paranormal enthusiast group. Learn more about her at www.kristinemcguire.com

Personal Opinion: 
Due to the reactions of those who have been Eclectic Christian Witches for more than a decade, and due to my own personal knowledge of the subject, I have to say that I am rather shocked by the contents of this book. In my own personal opinion- the author seems to have never studied Wicca. I love that the author has a deep love for Christ and seeks to share the peace she has found with others (I love and respect her for that because that is a beautiful thing in and of its self *HUGS*). But she has missed the fact that "Christian Witches" are still "Christians".  Maybe not in the sense she feels is Christian, but in their own words they love Christ and follow him. Many Christian Witches are even teachers within traditional Christian churches due to how much they have studied the Bible to form their own unique belief system. I understand her compassion and love for those that she feels are lost souls. But there is a right way and a wrong way of sharing one's testimony. Saying that your target audience is going to hell and that the greek goddess Artemis is a demon is the WRONG way to share one's testimony.  Imagine how any traditional Christian would feel if someone said "Your going to hell and Jesus is a demon"? Would you want to listen to that person or read their testimony? Odds are you would only see that the name of Jesus had been insulted. The same goes for talking with Christian Witches because they believe that Artemis (or any God or Goddess) is an aspect of One Divine Being (they are monotheistic). For them Jesus Christ and Artemis are aspects of God, to insult one is to insult the other in their belief system. Imagine how insulting such statements must be for them. It doesn't mater if you disagree or agree with their beliefs. If you want someone to listen to your testimony, you must respect their religion regardless of what you think of it. Yes this is something that is at times is difficult, but the love of Christ requires us to "be all things to all people". In the book of Acts Paul approached a statue labeled "To The Unknown God". He shared the Gospel with them by using that statue as an example. This can be found in Acts 17:22-23  "Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you." ~ New King James Version. Paul is the perfect example of the right way. 
If you would like to learn more about Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire check out http://www.escapingthecauldron.com
 
Please Note: I highly recommend that you do your own research the author's own biases have out weighed any other information in this book.

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