The Bible Beyond Religion: Witness to the Evolution of Consciousness

In this book, Don Murray explores the wisdom we can inherit from the Bible after Christianity has faded as a creative religious force. With consciousness becoming a focus of our contemporary search for meaning, Murray sees the Bible as a witness to the struggle of one tradition in learning how to be human and thus growing in consciousness.

From Eve’s first step in the Garden of Eden to the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation, the biblical story recounts our long journey toward wholeness, including a vision of the way ahead. “I carry forward the abiding interest of my Scottish Presbyterian ancestors in the Bible, and its wisdom for their time, our time, and every time.”

Freeman Patterson’s remarks on Don’s book, The Bible Beyond Religion

I always have books stacked on my kitchen hutch beside a very comfortable chair and, no sooner had I put down Harpur than I picked up (for the second time) Don Murray’s THE BIBLE BEYOND RELIGION: Witness to the Evolution of Consciousness. Don Murray is a friend who sent me a personal copy of this, his fourth book, a year ago, but when I opened it this time I found that I couldn’t put it down. More than a few times in my life a book has arrived before I am fully ready to read it, as if the book (or its author) is waiting for me to catch up with the contents, anticipating (or at least, hoping) that I will grow enough to experience the excitement that occurs when confronted with something of great personal relevance, i.e. something that “really matters.”

Although I had no intention of discussing spirituality, religion in general, or specific religions again in this letter, after rereading Don’s book and adding numerous “post its” to the pages I felt that simply continuing the discussion from my last letter made sense. So, to quote Don Murray …
“In my view the Bible is the best witness Western civilization has to the evolution of human consciousness. From Genesis to Revelation it tells the story of a people learning how to be human. That’s my fast answer; this book is my longer answer.

I write for those with little or no knowledge of the Bible but who are interested in knowing something of a tradition that has shaped the Western world and brought us to our present time. It is also for those with considerable biblical knowledge who are looking for a different perspective to better understand its wisdom and relevance for today.”

This is a highly readable book with each chapter composed of many short units, each focussed on essential aspects of Biblical myths. You can read at a normal pace or consider one unit at a time. The following example is from one of the units devoted to the Garden of Eden: “Eve eating the forbidden fruit is a very picturesque image of our awakening. Eve is every two-year-old saying ‘no,’ discovering that she/he has an independent will. The terrible twos are the positive signal that this child is on the way to becoming a conscious, creative, responsible human being. … Understanding the story as the dawning of human consciousness makes everything else fall into place.”

Don’s book is available in both print and digital formats from Amazon, Indigo, etc. I should add that Don and his partner/wife Emily Kierstead (both United Church of Canada ministers) were resource persons at one of the INSCAPE workshops that David Maginley and I facilitate every year in New Brunswick.

Freeman Patterson is a world renowned photographer and writer, living at Shampers Bluff, NB, surrounded by the beauty of the landscape, and that created by his own hand. He has travelled the world taking photos and giving workshops, especially to Namibia, where he has been over forty times.
About the Author
Donald F. Murray, B.A., M.Div., M.Th.; further training in Transactional Analysis, Education Design, Group Dynamics, The School of Sacred Psychology (Jean Houston’s Mystery School), Jungian Psychology. Don is a United Church of Canada minister, educator, workshop facilitator and author enjoying retired life with his partner Emily Kierstead in Truro, Nova Scotia. He served pastorates in the Maritimes for 32 years and as a Program Director and then Executive Director of Tatamagouche Education and Spirituality Centre for 8 years. Having awakened to the-death-of-God in the early 1960s, Don has been an avid searcher. He has authored four books, For Unbelieving Christians (1987), Celebrating Eve (2001), The Death and Resurrection of God: From Christianity to the New Story (2014), and now The Bible Beyond Religion: Witness to the Evolution of Consciousness. With Emily, he enjoys their families, eight children (two deceased) and eleven grandchildren, along with fiddle playing, singing, and a passion for the emerging Universe Story. Visit his website here.

Review & Commentary