Hero’s Journey webinar info

“Spiritual but not religious” is the fastest growing response to questions of faith identification. In every culture, artifacts such as music, art, literature, or cinema, embody the Zeitgeist of that culture. For a number of years, I have been developing contemplative spiritual practices with cultural artifacts and has now included literature and the Hero’s Journey as a story model that echoes labyrinth walking and spiritual awakening.

In fulfillment of a Doctor of Ministry degree, I created a graphic novel of the Book of Judith (purchase from me or on Amazon) researched the intersection of psychological search for self and spiritual journey metaphors, applied Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey to Judith and created a journey reflection practice for the Anam Cara missional spiritual direction program. In this 45 minute live webinar, you will have the opportunity to hear my story, learn about using literature as a spiritual practice, identify journey elements in the Book of Judith, and reflect on your own life journey through contemplative prayer. Q&A to follow.

Please download this helpful handout for use during the webinar (text version appears below).

PDF Download

Watch the Youtube recording of the webinar

Wayfinders:
Engaging the Hero’s Journey in Contemplative Prayer
to Enhance the Spiritual Depth and Practice of Missional Spiritual Directors

Judith cover

March 27, 2020 Webinar
by Wendi Bernau

This public presentation  and selected pages of the paper are offered in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Doctor of Ministry degree at Wesley Theological Seminary

Project Question:

“How can I utilize mythopoeia as a spiritual practice in my work with ‘Anam Cara’ students to enhance their personal growth and training as missional spiritual directors?”

Selected Pages:

Contents 

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Synopsis of the chapters  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Chapter 1: Condition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Death and Resurrection – the history of the Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Reinventing Christianity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Humans are Imaginative Creatures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Chapter 2: Intervention. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Missional Ethos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

Chapter 3: Theological Underpinning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Symbols: Psychology and Social Sciences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26
Literature: Imagination and the Search for Meaning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Fairy Tales. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Use of Story in Human Flourishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Literature, Aesthetics and Hermeneutics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Chapter 4: Journey as a Metaphor for Spiritual Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

The Hero’s Journey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Alternatives and Critics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

Chapter 5: My Story and Judith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58

Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
The Story of Judith; An Example of the Hero’s Journey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Spiritual Development with Judith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Chapter 6: The Project Narrative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

Conception . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
The Teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85
Post-Retreat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  91

Chapter 7: Conclusions and Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97

Appendix A: Informed Consent Letter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
Appendix B: Pre-course Baseline Questionnaire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
Appendix C: Hero’s Journey Reflection Instructions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
Appendix D: Hero’s Journey Reflection Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105
Appendix E: Post-course evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107

Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110

Appendix C – Hero’s Journey Reflection Instructions

 Solitude and Reflection

For the next hour, spend time in solitude and contemplative prayer.

Begin by focusing on breathing for a minute or two. Allow your thoughts to wander past without judgment and let go of any need to control or respond to all the mental babbling.

  • When you feel ready to begin, ask God to bring to your mind a part of your life story in which there was a great deal of change or major life decision: going to school, beginning or ending a job or relationship, moving to a new city.
  • Using the Hero’s Journey Reflection Guide, pray through the questions, allowing the Spirit to lead your thoughts through the elements of your own hero’s journey.
  • Write or draw your responses to the prompts in your journal or sketchbook. It is important to think about it, but more important to write something down. Even if you don’t use full sentences, the kinesthetic process of writing or drawing your story is very powerful. A circle graph of the story cycle is provided for you, but feel free to be as creative as you like.

You will not be turning this reflection work in – it is for your own spiritual development. We will discuss this experience when we come back together for large group.

You may choose to use these reflections as the topic focus of your direction time in small group session.

  

Appendix D – Hero’s Journey Reflection Guide

 

Hero’s Journey Reflection Template

Part I: Separation and Departure

  • What was your call to adventure?
  • How did you know?
  • Did you feel equipped?
  • Why did you first say ‘no’ to the call?
  • What changed your response to a ‘yes’?
  • What threshold did you have to cross?
  • Who or what guarded it?
  • How did you wrestle with it?
  • Did you receive a blessing when you crossed?
  • What died in you when you crossed it?

Part II: Trials and Victories

  • How did this liminal space feel?
  • What obstacles did you encounter?
  • Were you tempted to turn back?
  • What helpful guides did you have? False guides?
  • How did you discern the difference between them?
  • What was the final descent into darkness (the most difficult part of that liminal space)?
  • What was the boon?
  • What sacrifice had to be made to grasp it?

Part III: Return

  • What happened after the boon (what immediate changes needed to happen)?
  • How did you discern whether to go back?
  • What was the threshold of return?
  • Were you able to go back to the community?
  • Did you help transform the community or find yourself too transformed to go back to it? How did you know?
  • What new freedoms were yours after this journey?

 

Selected Bibliography

Bernau, Wendi.  The Book of Judith. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2020.

Bibliodrama. “Bibliodrama…What is it?” Accessed November 17, 2019.

Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Goddess in Everywoman; Powerful Archetypes in Women’s Lives. New York: Harper, 2014.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. New York: Pantheon Books, 1949.

Campbell, Joseph. Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation. The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, edited by David Kudler. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2004.

Dalton, Russell. Manicheism, Redemptive Violence and Hollywood Films: (Un)Making Violence through Media Literacy and Theological Reflection. Paper presented at 2014 Religious Education Association Annual Meeting, November 2014.  

DeConick, April. Holy Misogyny; Why Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2010.

Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With the Wolves; Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.

Ryken, Leland, ed. The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2002.

Schmidt, Leigh E.“Spirituality in America”in Wilson Quarterly  Autumn 2005.

Schmidt, Joseph F., FSC. Praying Our Experiences; An Invitation to Open Our Lives to God. Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us Press, 2008.

Senn, Corelyn. “Journeying as Religious Education: the Shaman, the Hero, the Pilgrim, and the Labyrinth Walker.” Religious Education 97, no. 2 (Spring 2002): 124-140.

 Tickle, Phyllis. The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008.

Wills, Lawrence M. “The Book of Judith: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections.” In The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, vol VI, edited by Leander Keck et al, 159-234. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015.