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Sometime back in 2020, stuck at home, binging lots of Netflix, I watched the documentary Fantastic Fungi that I’d seen friends talking about on social media.  What an amazing film, opening the eyes to all sorts of fascinating new ideas.  Part of film resonated with nature reading I’d done that revealed how fungus connects with trees to create amazing biological networks in forests, in ways that we are only beginning to comprehend.  But the most eye-opening aspect of the documentary for me was the renaissance in exploring psychedelics and their therapeutic potential.

Since then, it’s been impossible to avoid hearing about the topic.  One of my therapist friends posts regularly about exploring ketamine in his practice.  Books on spiritual experience now include chapters on psychedelics.  Friends tell me about the trips they’ve had, about their mystical experiences and the mental wellness that resulted.  When I was in my deepest depression post-divorce, it was clergy colleagues who recommended I try to find a therapeutic setting to try psylocibin (I didn’t, but was intrigued).  At the most recent retreat for UCC senior pastors, one colleague from New England advised that the church needed to be informed and in tune with the cultural shift that is occurring.

So I finally got around to reading Michael Pollan’s 2018 book How to Change Your Mind, which played a significant role in the mainstreaming of this research and the cultural renaissance that is underway.  As Pollan points out, “There is not a culture on earth that doesn’t make use of certain plants to change the contents of the mind, whether as a matter of healing, habit, or spiritual practice.”  The current research, he writes, is into how these molecules “can give us access to other modes of consciousness that might offer us specific benefits, whether therapeutic, spiritual or creative.”  And one of the surprising results of the research is that “it is not the pharmacological effect of the drug itself but the kind of mental experience it occasions” that has the positive effects.  It is the spiritual or mystical experience that has the potential to heal.

Last year I was intrigued when I learned that my colleague Molly Phinney Baskette was in a program to become a certified psychedelic chaplain.  Molly is the Co-Senior Minister of First Church Berkeley UCC.  She’s  one of the most well-respected and beloved colleagues in our UCC senior ministers group.  She’s written a handful of books, including the influential in liberal church circles, Real Good Church.  I just finished reading her latest book How to Begin When Your World Is Ending, which is a spiritual exploration of her battle with cancer and other life struggles.  I’ve already recommended the book to at least a half dozen people facing their own diagnoses.

A couple of months ago Molly participated in a program at First Plymouth in Lincoln, discussing the spirituality of psychedelics, a program I watched online because of my growing curiosity.  So I was excited when recently she asked in our senior ministers group if any churches wanted to host a webinar on the topic.  She’ll be zooming in as our First Forum speaker this coming Sunday in a program she’s titled Divine Intervention: What Clergy and Congregations Need to Know About the Emerging Psychedelic Movement.  In her blurb for the presentation she writes,

What do clergy and congregations need to know about the so-called “psychedelic renaissance” to make their churches safe, informed spaces?  We’ll talk about best practices in this new form of therapy, what the data says, risks and benefits, and how these molecules can be helpful not just for people with dire mental health diagnoses but for anyone seeking spiritual and emotional growth.

I hope you’re curious too and will join us for this fascinating discussion.


421 South 36th Street, Omaha Nebraska, 68131
(Located at the corner of 36th and Harney Streets)






First Central Congregational Church