“Religion without love is like breathing without oxygen…God is love.” – Carl McColman

In October, 2015, The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy (BM) spent an enjoyable and fascinating hour on the phone with author and columnist Carl McColman (CM) CarlMcColman whose latest book Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality will be released on November 20th, according to Amazon.

Carl has written over a dozen books on spirituality, blogs regularly on the popular Patheos web site, and is a seemingly inexhaustible source for both encouragement and information – all presented with self-deprecating humor and keen wit.

Many thanks to Carl for his time and insight!

BM: The first question is, “Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?”

CM: How do I do this briefly? That’s the tricky part. I think you could call me a seeker.  I was raised in a Lutheran home, and I in my mid-50’s now. Over the last 40 years I have really kind of wandered. I got involved in Charismatic spirituality for a while. In college, I gave up on Christianity and did sex, drugs and rock and roll for a few years. Yes, you can quote that. It’s a little embarrassing, but there it is. Then I washed up on the shore of the Episcopal church and was an Episcopalian for a decade. I have been interested in interfaith dialog since I was in high school and from the Episcopal church I went and spent several years exploring Neopaganism, and did that for seven or eight years until that path ran out of gas for me, and then I revisited something that I had also been interested in since high school — the contemplative tradition of the Christian faith which for me really meant connecting with Catholicism. So I was received into the Catholic church in 2005.  It’s been over ten years now, and I am still a Catholic. Like many Catholics, I do struggle with being a Catholic, but I love being a Catholic so that’s where I am. In 2007, I entered into formation as a Lay Cistercian and made my life promises in 2012 which means that I am under the spiritual direction of Trappist monks and am part of a community of lay people who follow the spirituality of the Trappists and apply it to our lives outside the cloister. I am still very interfaith. I hang out with Buddhists a lot. I hang out with Muslims. I am very involved with the Atlanta interfaith community, but I am grounded in the Christian tradition. I guess I could call myself a contemplative. I think there is a little bit of pride in doing that. Let’s just say I am a student of the contemplative path. That is a humbler way to put it.

BM: Yeah.

CM: I am also very much committed to engage in the spirit of Vatican II, to engaging people of other traditions to learn from them, to be their friends, and hopefully to work together to build a better society, so that’s it in a nutshell — and I am an author and a blogger, so people should all go visit my blog.

BM: Absolutely, and I will link to it. I will link to not only your website but your blog as well. [Which I did in my introduction above.]

CM: Yeah.

BM: So the second question I pretty much believe we have covered, but “Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?”  [Laughs.]

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 11.48.25 AMCM: Well, you know, that’s kind of a loaded question.  As you know there is a kind of a big phrase out nowadays: “I am spiritual but I am not religious.”

BM: Yeah.

CM: And that’s not me. I am very comfortable having identity as a religious person, so I have a narrow definition of spirituality. For me spirituality means that as a follower of the Christian faith, I take the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life seriously.

BM: Uh-huh.

CM: And I am not a fundamentalist Christian. I don’t subscribe to the idea that only Christians go to heaven, you know, and that only Catholics only go – or any of that kind of nonsense. I think the Holy Spirit touches people in many, many different ways and shows up in many, many different guises or names if you will. Earlier today I was Continue reading

“How Do I Know God Exists? Try And Build An Ant.” – Kevin Matthews

KevinAIn May, 2013, The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy (BM) spent an hour over coffee in the home of legendary radio personality Kevin Matthews (KM) experiencing a conversation that Kevin later called “a ceremony, a prayer.” You’re welcome to eavesdrop. Enjoy!

BM: Briefly tell us your background. What would you want others to know about you?

KM: Oh, that’s a long question. I’m alive, living on earth, you know. I just have been blessed with a lot of good things – good family, two kids, a granddaughter, a wife…so good things.

BM: What has been your background, professionally?

KM: Entertainment. Radio entertainment. But that’s the past. What’s going on in the future, and what’s going on now, is what’s important.

BM: Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?

KM: Well, you know it’s almost, like, Why are you here? Are you a spiritual person?

BM: Yes.

KM: How’s your health?

BM: Good. [laughs]

KM: You want to write a book, do you?

BM: Yeah. [laughs]

KM: I love to talk to you. You’re here for a reason. Why did you come here? Do you pray? If you do, I think a lot of your prayers are being answered, and you gotta realize what’s in front of you, with all of the things you’re doing right now. I mean, you’re taking pictures, you’re recording this, you’re changing a lot of dynamic in your life. You’re changing a lot of things. My Native grandma once told me that if you turn a stone, you change the universe. So think of what you’re here, taking pictures, recording, you’re changing things. And I think there’s no such thing as coincidence. You were supposed to be here, I was supposed to be here. And I just kept thinking this morning, “Why are you coming here?” You’re meeting people who you’re supposed to meet. We talked about Tim [Cusack], and Tim calls [he actually did during the interview with Kevin]. I think a lot of times people pray for things, and it comes right to them, and they don’t even see that the prayer’s being answered.

BM: Most religious traditions speak of the power and value of love. For example, the Dhammapada, from the Buddhist tradition, tells us “only love dispels hate.” The Bible tells us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, Continue reading

“Why don’t you treat others like you would like others to treat you?” – Willie Harris

On May 17, 2013, Willie Harris (WH) graciously spent time with The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy (BM) to discuss his views on love, compassion, and how people can increase both. This is the transcript of their conversation.

BM: Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?

Studio_for_print_10WH: Well, such a complicated question. Simplistic but complicated. What would I like people to know about me? I’m a personal trainer. I have roughly around 26, 27 years in the business of exercise physiology. My love for the weight room happened quite accidentally. I was a basketball player and ended up injuring my knee, and the strength and fitness coach pushed me to the weight room. And from there, just the sheer energy that, I used to walk into the weight room, it was like a burst of energy going on in the weight room all the time. It became part of my fabric. It’s quite addictive. So that was my introduction into exercise physiology. What would I like people to know about me? I mean, that’s all a great quarter of my life, but it’s not actually everything about my life. I think as we’re going through our youth, the energetic phase of our lives, we have that sense of invincibility about us and we think that the world pretty much is conquerable, by our own hands. But you know, as you mature the events that happen in your life and the experiences you have teach you the value of just how precious life is. I think I have a pretty well balanced approach to my expectations out of life.

BM: Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?

WH: Very much so. Very much so. I think that man is much more than just body. We are too complex of a creation, too complex of a human being. We live in this very, very complex ecosystem to come to the realization that all of these things came together by chance. We talked about, in the first question, how when we’re young and we see this sense of invincibility with our youth. But as a body, as a person, – and this doesn’t happen pretty much chronologically with years, this happens pretty much with experience – but as you begin to get older and older, I think the mortality part Continue reading

“Love is the only thing that can change the world” – Udana Power

UdanaDeskOn March 6, 2013, actor/singer/writer/entrepreneur Udana Power took an hour out of her busy schedule to speak to The Only Love Project.

Many thanks to Miss Power for her time, and inspirational insights.

Bill Murphy (BM): Could you tell us, briefly, a little bit about your background?

Udana Power (UP): Well, I’ve always wanted to know God. I don’t know where it came from, but I had to know. And I wanted to know. I mean, I was journaling about it when I was 11 and 12 years old. Sometimes I would just journal all night. I wanted to be also an actress. I was compelled to be, don’t know why. And I would write Love and God and Art and Nature and Sex – all those words started with capital letters. Because somehow all that was part of my searching.

I don’t know what it was. It was core. Now I call it the Law of Blooming, being connected to our source. But at that time, I didn’t know what it was. I was just vaguely trying to find it.

So, my desire to be an actress was for many reasons. I had a gift for it, but I had to know the Source. When I was acting, or when I ultimately started singing, I would reconnect to the Source place within me, and let that flow of energy sing through me. I would line it all up, and it would take over and flow. I remember when I was flown to New York by Alan Jay Lerner and auditioned in front of the producers of Coco, starring Katharine Hepburn. It was in her only stage CocoPlaybillmusical. Alan and I walked into the big lobby of the Mark Hellenger Theater one afternoon. It was empty. It felt like I was walking into my own dream. I remember Alan was holding my hand. I was very young and very naïve at the time, and I felt like I was walking into a cathedral. As we crossed the lobby and walked I into the great, big, empty theatre, there were a few men in suits there. One of them was Andre Previn. Everyone introduced themselves and then they asked me to go up on stage and sing.

It was a long walk. All I knew was this is where life was created. All I could think of was that and my personal relationship with God. I walked up to the big empty stage and sang “Greensleeves” in French and “God Bless The Child.” Alan said later that it was like they were watching a young Judy Garland.

And whenever I’ve been to a theatrical performance that’s truly wonderful there is something of the spiritual in it. So, that’s been my life, and that’s where I came from. I was an actress in theatre for many years, I was on television and film, I did a one-woman show for five years. And when I did my work, I called it a Yahweh. That’s a word for God. I couldn’t quite articulate what it was, but if I could fling myself out into that experience, and channel that. Then I was doing what I was put here to do.

And I did that many times over and over. People would come backstage just sobbing because the performance had such a profound effect on them. It wasn’t me – it was something that I flung myself into that came through me. For me it was interesting, and it was easy.

I remember the producer for Applause at the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera. Larry Kasha had produced it on Broadway and was directing it here. I played Eve opposite Yvonne De Carlo. The producer was a woman who Continue reading