I’m A Christian. What I Believe About Jesus, the Bible and Hell. It is probably not what you think!

If the word “Christian” strikes fear or repulsion into your heart because of bad experiences you have had with people or groups that used this as a label, I implore you to let go of your assumptions.

I let go of this label in February 2018 because after 13 years of trying to fit into the box that most Christians wanted me to stay in, and having extremely hurtful experiences with Christians, I wanted out.

I didn’t want to associate with this label because:

  1. I didn’t want people to think negatively about me
  2. I didn’t even want to support the Christian movement
  3. I thought animal rights activists and vegans were much kinder than Christians–and 99.99 percent of them had either left the church or never were apart of it.

A funny thing happened last September, after having a 7 month break. I still called Jesus my mentor and guide. I couldn’t let go of Jesus. But I was proud not to be a Christian. But I had some very intense and disappointing experiences with animal rights activists that helped me realize that I was being illogical. In every group–there are people who are not representing the cause in a way that is accurate. That doesn’t mean I should give up on saying I belong to that group!

I wasn’t going to give up on animal rights activism because some of the members were hurtful and not compassionate.  I didn’t need to give up on Christianity for the reason, either.

I decided I want to be part of the solution, instead of adding to the millions of people who are leaving the faith. And I am seeing an increasing number of Christian leaders who are leaving their beliefs of eternal conscious torment (ECT) (what evangelicals call hell) behind and seeing that they were brainwashed into believing this. the Bible doesn’t teach anything of the kind. Most of the early Christians did not believe in ECT (if any)

Recently, through a chain of what I would call miraculous events, I have connected with Lindsay Neal VanDellen who is a Christian and a vegan. She shares so many of my views about Jesus, and she inspired me to write this.

I wanted to share some of the hopeful stuff I have found recently, and all along my Christian journey. I feel grateful that I didn’t give up on my faith. about two weeks later, my grandson, Gideon, was in the hospital. 5 days later, he died. Knowing that I was sharing the spiritual path of my daughter during the past seven months that we have comforted each other in our grieving process–has been very healing.

So here are some resources:

Robin Parry: This author wrote a book, Reforming Hell. He is a Christian Universalist from the UK, and I love his views which are so eloquently shared in his videos. An increasing number of Christians are questioning what hell really means. And they are discovering that the early Christians never believed in hell as being eternal conscious torment. Why would a loving God do such a thing? Not logical! You can find out more here. 

Brad Jersak: I love him because he teaches people how to talk to and listen to Jesus. He is funny, kind, humble, and has a ton of stories to tell that validate his points. He also does not believe in ECT.  This article is really great. He talks eloquently (as he always does) about what he thinks hell is–and that is so much of the human condition right here. And I would add–the farm animals are living in hell.

Bruxy Cavey: I’ve known Bruxy for about 5 years. I was so inspired by his sermons when I discovered them on Youtube that I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning. I couldn’t stop listening because he talked about nonviolence and how Jesus teaches a message of peace. And lots more.

I proceeded to write about 4 blog posts about him and I sent them to him. He called me, along with his wife and children, and left a message (since I didn’t answer) He expressed appreciation for my kind words, and then the whole family said, “we love you!”

I’ve gotten to know him better since then, and continue to be so inspired. Here is his blog: http://www.bruxy.com And the church he is teaching pastor at in Toronto, is amazing.  www.themeetinghouse.com

I am working on Bruxy–hoping I can inspire him to go vegan.

Charles Camosy: I deeply appreciate this animal rights proponent who is also Catholic and pro-life.  This article called Why All Christians Should Become Vegan is excellent.

The Shack: This book changed my life and helped me feel God’s love as a real experience while reading this book. The amazing journey of how I found the book when it was just coming out can be found at a blog I wrote about The Shack.

Greg Boyd: I attended a conference where Greg and Bruxy (mentioned above) were the main speakers. Greg wrote two thick volumes explaining why the violence of the Old Testament is not what God wanted, and how everything in the Bible should be interpreted through the lens of a Jesus-looking God.  He started an organized called Renew.  We need a new vision for Christianity. Woodland Hills Church lost 2000 members in the megachurch he was senior pastor of, because he started preaching nonviolence instead of going along with the wars we are fighting.  Very admirable and brave of him, I think!

I appreciated meeting Greg. He is very friendly and approachable. Plus, he is a vegetarian. I couldn’t inspire him to go vegan, but believe me–I planted some seeds. I prophesy that he will go vegan and be one of Christianity’s biggest supporters of animal rights. Check out his podcasts at the Woodland Hills Church. I also like how they reach out to the community so beautifully and have made the church into a community center that serves the neighborhood and beyond.

Sarx: This UK nonprofit Christian Animal Welfare organization based in London is so amazing! I was miraculously funded to attend the Creature Conference in London in 2016 and I met so many wonderful Christians who were vegan and into animal rights. Their mission is: Empowering Christians to champion the cause of animals and live peacefully with all God’s creatures. You can see the talks here. it was amazing how very high up leaders in the church spoke up to support animal welfare. However, only one of them was a vegan!

Dave Clough: Dave was the only vegan at the conference! I appreciated his English accent and friendly demeanor. Eloquent, too! You can see his talk here.  The organization he founded, Creature Kind is doing a lot to help churches wake up to how hurting animals is not so Christian.

Sarah Withrow King: I met Sarah through a connection at the Sarx conference. She invited me to go to a women’s vegan Christian retreat in Philadelphia. I was very encouraged to see so many women vegans there. Sarah is doing a lot of great work, including being co-director at the Creature Kind and writing the book, Vegangelical. You can read more about her here. 

I could write more–but I need to get back to work on the list that keeps getting longer because if increasing interest in the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage and all the work I need to do to help our mission circle work together to tied up a number of loose ends and promote the project.

As I wrote about these Christian leaders, I smile. I feel warm and happy. I met some of them. I have derived so much inspiration from these wonderful people. There are a lot of great Christians who are helping us move in a direction that the animal rights movement is moving us towards–a world where human and non-human animals can thrive!








Progress Letter to Mission Circle ]

Note: The mission circle has chosen to dissolve because of some conflicts that came up that some people did not want to engage in resolving. I am glad that we had this experience together–I sure did get a chance to practice sociocracy skills and learn so much about the kind of people I want to be in the core group. Patricia
4-4-19 I write a weekly email to the Mission Circle. I hope this helps you get to know us better and to track our progress.
Hey friends,
Here’s my weekly updates and appreciation.
I’m looking forward to including Kim in our circle–I will be adjusting the circle format once again to make sure that we have enough time for 5 people. This is wonderful, because we keep expanding our circle as well as learn how to have a larger group using our format.
I’m excited that James Prieto is excited to work with us and we continue to explore possibilities of his giving a class in Nonviolent Communication on our learning platform!
A very loving Christian, vegan woman who likes the idea of a community where people of different spiritual paths are living–is connecting with me. I’m not sure where it will go, but I just know that we are a community which is attracting others of like mind.
I have been working for money a lot–and getting in good shape riding my bicycle since my car is taking a sabbatical. I haven’t had as much time to pay attention to community stuff–but I feel great just knowing we are all together working on this.
The Score mentor finally called me. He seems excited about working with me! he already recommended Legal Zoom to set up the LLC, and I was hoping for a confirmation that that is the right place.
I’m going to facilitate a Community: Connect! tonight–and I will share about vegan utopia ecovillage–and maybe I will do a little friendship. circle as a breakout session. great idea!
I have my ups and downs–as you all know–but when I go down–I just do my thing–crying, healing the past, offering forgiveness, feeling Jesus love. Did you know that the feeling of being loved by God actually is good for the brain? So even if it is all a fantasy–my brain is benefitting!
I sense that we have turned a corner. I am continuing to release the negative influences in my life and embrace the positive. I feel super hopeful! Spring is a great time to feel this way any way! Being outside is helpful.
Robert is going to look at the deck at the Mir House. It needs to be sealed so water doesn’t leak into the house. I am so glad to have a dry spell, and he has energy. this is the only weak point of the house that I am concerned about–so this is a good thing. Still, it is nothing major that will damage the community building.
We have a generator which someone borrowed and returned to Robert’s place–and I wanted to get it back on the property. It is safe and sound in the “makers space” which we call a part of the Mir House which we hope will be a creative place to play and work.
Cliff agreed to paint the floors of the mir house. this will be helpful, because then we can put some furniture in there–which we have quite a bit of–and put stuff from the shipping container, which I am planning on selling.
I think we can easily insulate using cardboard instead of hard to install sheetrock! Robert said he thought it would work. We have the insulation already–now I need to collect big pieces of cardboard. This will really help us move forward. (I did consult with someone else who said we can get cheap building supplies somewhere else–he is concerned about moisture damage)
I am glad to say that my two trips to the Ecovillage site yielded a lot of clean up and the seeds I planted in early spring are growing.
I am going to encourage Cliff to go and water if necessary. I can’t wait to get up there again and make even more progress. I have figured out a plan to deal with the piles of construction left overs–so we can have almost zero waste.
We have a wonderful “resource yard” where I just know that creative people are going be excited about getting organized and using stuff. We will be a zero waste community–I just know it!
Sky made the beautiful flyer for the Fostering Healthy Friendship event–we will be able to send out emails now. If you want to start promoting the Facebook event–go ahead and do so. here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/410616626152311/
Rob said he is going to help me work on the Gofundme this week.
I’ve been connecting with each of you, and so happy to do so! I am overjoyed that you are all getting to know each other better.
Okay–that’s all for now dear friends–I hope this news is hopeful and encouraging. I know each of you are busy with your various projects–and yet I feel so grateful that you can prioritize time in your busy schedules to read this and work on this project.  Thank you!!!!
love to all,

Deer Resistant, Bee and Butterfly Attracting Plants for the Garden

I’m getting ready to plant in some unfenced areas in the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage garden so I thought I would do some research as to what I could plant that deer won’t eat and would help attract the butterflies and bees.

Maybe I will plant some plants that deer DO like–just for them! That’s a friendly idea!

This article had a list of plants deer don’t like. It also mentioned what they do like.

Here are plants that attract and serve as hosts for butterflies. Lots of good info here.

I like this article because they list plants and how you can have flowers from early spring to fall that attract bees.

Let’s all do our part and help the bees and butterflies. Have compassion for the deer-they need to eat too!




How Cliff and Patricia Became Co-Founders of Vegan Utopia Ecovillage

Cliff has decided to own his section of the land we co-bought about 17 years ago, and we no longer consider ourselves co-founders. However, we are still good friends and definitely will cooperate as neighbors. I hope you enjoy this story. 

Can you believe that our history goes all the way back to 1975, when I was 21 and Cliff was 31?

Cliff and I were newly married. Invited by Cliff’s friends to help with starting their blueberry farm, we moved from San Diego to Arkansas. During that first year we discovered that there was a movement of Intentional Communities happening.  We decided that we wanted to start such a community.

Since that time, we have dreamed of owning land so we could create our own community. However, we always lived very simply and didn’t see the possibility of making a land payment. But during our fifteen year marriage, we were always facilitating gatherings that helped people draw closer and have a sense of community. I loved how we worked together so harmoniously in that effort.

Because of my weaknesses and addictions, I ended the marriage with Cliff. That is another story. Let me just say that even though our marriage ended, our friendship and desire for creating community never ended.

Years after our divorce, we visited a number of communities and were disappointed by all of them! I lived in a community and got a crash course in the light and shadow of community living.  I continued to visit and research communities after my disappointing experience. I even tried to create community on other people’s land with their permission. But nothing ever worked out. However, we continued to learn!

In 2002, a series of what I believe are miraculous events made it possible for Cliff, Robert (who was my husband at the time) and I to finally buy land. We bought the land together, and Robert was on board with creating community. (Robert and I divorced about 10 years later, and he wants to sell his part of the land to the Ecovillage. We are still good friends.)

After I went on a tour of Christian communities in 2013, I came back broken hearted. None of the communities I visited had met my expectations. I had hoped I would find such a wonderful community that my whole family would be willing to move.  In the midst of my grieving, I asked my family–Cliff, Robert, Maud and Chris–if they would be willing to become a community. And they agreed! For a year or so, we met weekly, and worked to create more of a sense of community among ourselves. Learn more about this phase of our lives here. 

For various reasons, we dissolved this effort. We all still spent holidays together and connected on birthdays, but Chris and Maud were starting to become more involved with a youth group. Courtships with their future spouses were starting to blossom.

I ended up traveling to the Bay Area where I realized that my main passion was to be an animal rights activist. I met a friend who wanted to fund the vegan community that I envisioned–at that time I called it Jesus Vegans Ecovillage.

Cliff, Scott (who is now on the mission circle)  and I met weekly to help get this new effort off the ground. Even though neither of them called themselves Christians, they were so supportive and encouraging. Scott encouraged us to hire Diana Leaf Christianson to coach us and that was invaluable.

A series of events occurred where Scott, Cliff and I stopped meeting. I was feeling discouraged about community, especially since the vegan Christians I hoped to attract all felt so at odds with my beliefs about what the Bible teaches. I continued to study deeply the teachings of the early Christians, the church fathers, and the Bible itself and keep coming to the same conclusions which lead me to want to create a community where people of all faiths or even no faith–could co-exist harmoniously.

I decided to rename the community, Vegan Utopia Ecovillage. Cliff liked that name since he is very much into having an interfaith community. He expressed interest in once again helping to get the community off the ground.

In December of 2018, I asked him to become co-founder of the community. He agreed. Soon after that, with the suggestion of Rob McNeil and another friend, we formed the “Mission Circle” which is similar to a board of directors.

Scott Master, Rob McNeil, Cliff and I are using the principles and patterns of Sociocracy 3.0 to guide the creation of our governing structure. The purpose of the mission circle is to help our organization stay on track with the vision and mission we have set forth.

Cliff and I have had several long meetings to map out the long term goals and vision, and we meet every day (with just a few exceptions) to talk about Vegan Utopia Ecovillage and encourage each other. We meet every other week with the mission circle.

In 2020, it will be 45 years since Cliff and I first had a dream of creating a community together. The story of our journey with its dramatic twists and turns would make a great movie! The fact that we are still together working on the project is so hopeful. I can envision the end of the movie happening like this:

“Patricia and Cliff Mikkelson achieved their goal which had eluded them for 4 and a half decades–that of building a healthy, thriving community. Vegan Utopia Ecovillage now has 25 members who are working together on every level to create the on-line and on-site learning center and a self-sufficient sustainable physical community where everyone gets to do what they are passionate about.

They feel so satisfied as they see so many people, from 5 to 85 years old–working together happily and harmoniously to grow food, teach people healthy community skills, create a vegan permaculture paradise, have tons of fun, and so much more !

The best feeling of all comes from the fact that everyone is healing their childhood wounds and increasing in fulfilling their potential while working on the larger vision of helping everyone to live in healthy, vegan communities.”

Even if the movie ended now–with Cliff and I leading the way for the beautiful vision of healthy vegan communities to be something easily attainable by anyone–the ending would be happy! The healing that is resulting from doing what Cliff and I have done ever since we met–to work harmoniously together–is so beautiful.

I feel grateful that Cliff and I can continue to keep the vision alive after all these years. Having Scott and Rob working with us is so encouraging to both of us. This is the first time we have found people to show up consistently, be willing to work out conflicts, and share the same values and goals.

Since all we have is the present moment, I do my best to savor the process of the unfoldment of our vision. We who are on the Mission Circle are the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage. We don’t all live together, but our heart connection which is growing, is satisfying the need for loving, healthy community. A growing number of old and new friends are joining this long distance community. We are finding ways to help people feel connected and involved.

At last, my desire for community is being fulfilled!

I resonate with the idea that we as humans share 6 needs which I learned from this article:

  • Contribution
  • Growth,
  • Love and connection
  • Significance
  • Variety
  • Certainty

As we build community, we are fulfilling these needs.

By building as strong community foundation, we will be able to more effectively help everyone–human animals and nonhuman animals– on the planet get their needs meet.

Would you like to join us? Check out the website http://www.veganutopiaecovillage.com to find out more about us and how to get involved. You just might be the next person to join our tribe!



Letter of Appreciation To Mission Circle 4-5-19

Note: Although the mission circle has dissolved because some people did not want to try to resolve conflicts, I did feel super grateful for this time. We all connected in such a beautiful way. And, I am no longer supporting DxE. So many changes! Patricia
Hi Friends,
First off, Kim (who will be helping teach the upcoming Fostering Healthy Friendship class) has accepted our invitation to join us on our next friendship circle. I am so glad that she did, for our circle is widening. And added advantage is that we all get to try out a friendship circle with five people, and see how that works.
I deeply appreciate everyone’s openness to try out the friendship circle once, and then to do so again. This is very helpful and important to Kim, Sky and I as we develop our class and hand out.
I feel hopeful that this format is going to be helpful for Direct Action Everywhere. When I was there, I agonized over a structure that could be suggested for the community circles they were forming. But how could I offer something that hadn’t been tested?
Kim, Sky and I have used the sociocratic pattern of continuously reflecting on our format. Every time we do our circle, we reflect and then apply our changes to make the format even better.
Please friends, if you have any suggestions that come to mind after doing our friendship circle, please let me know. One of you suggested that we do things that can help us go even deeper. I am keeping that in mind, and encourage you to do the same.
I continually feel grateful that you all want to go deeper and deeper in cultivating friendship as our foundation for long-distance community building. This fills my heart with such joy–and my impatience to have people on the land is alleviated because my need for connection, working on a team, belonging, and moving forward on the VUE project–are being met.
Of course there is a part of me that wants to wave a magic wand and have the community up and running right now! But I am trusting that our Creator is helping me become the change I want to see happen–and a servant leader who is increasingly letting go of my ego. And healing my wounded inner child.
I can see that if I had created community when I wanted to–when I was 21–43 years ago–I would have mission out on so many lessons and experiences that have brought me to this point.
Thanks to each of you for your wonderful contribution to Vegan Utopia Ecovillage. I appreciate you SO much!!!
In peace, love and joy,


Hey everyone! I feel really happy to be sharing with you again all the hopeful news that is happening around Vegan Utopia Ecovillage (VUE) and the learning center. Thanks for tuning in!

If you haven’t stayed up to date with all of our changes over the past almost 3 years, this might be a bit confusing. But hopefully you will get a sense of how we are doing!

Its Spring! Seeds are sprouting in the hugelkultur gardens at the VUE site. I planted them the last time I was at the site, about a month ago. I was afraid that I planted them too early because we have had many below freezing nights since that time. But they are coming up!

Legal updates: I decided to come up and visit the VUE site. I needed to have a visit with  Cliff and Robert, co-owners of the land. We are in the process of dividing the property so Cliff can have his share, and Robert is selling his share to the Ecovillage. It’s complicated, but the result will be 18 acres of land for the Ecovillage, and Cliff and Ecovillage folks will figure out how we will be cooperating. We had a fruitful meeting, and I am happy to say things are moving forward in a positive way. Cliff and Robert have both consulted with a lawyer and they are keeping me updated.

My connection to the land: I am staying in the basement apartment of the “Retreat Center’ land. It is so cold! I feel so grateful that I can be here in a cozy room working on my computer. The Retreat Center, as I call it, is owned by a friend, and my former husband Robert is the caretaker. I can stay here pretty much whenever I want to. I need to be in Fayetteville to work to make money and trade for my rent/food. But I am so glad to be here with access to internet. It is so beautiful and quiet. Plus, I can go to the VUE site to do work on garden and clean up.

Fostering Healthy Friendship: Our class is really coming into focus. We have made so. many changes since we decided to have a class, but each change was like a teacher. We are discovering what it means to create a class and how we want to deliver it. You can see the Facebook page here.

Upcoming Classes: Cliff and I are going to work together on a class relating to the topic he is passionate about most: Oneness of All Life. We are talking about perhaps focussing on the importance of forgiveness and how to do that. We’ll keep you posted.

Jaimie Prieto, certified NVC trainer and author of The Joy of Compassionate Connecting, is interested in offering a class through our learning center. I will be talking to him in a few weeks. I got to know Jaimie when I was living in Berkeley last summer, and I feel very hopeful about him being involved as an instructor. Learn more about him here. 

I also talked to Joanna Blad, who started the very inspiring Facebook page, Veganism Here There and Everywhere.  We are going to work together to create a class on the topic of manifesting your dreams.  I am really glad to be working on a project with this dear vegan friend who is so passionate about her work.

Fundraising: I will be finalizing the content of a $1500 GoFundMe project with the Mission Circle (which is similar to a board of directors without the hierarchy). I hope it will be out by this week.

Mission Circle Report: We are meeting every other week, which really motivates me to get things done in time for the meeting. I get such valuable input from the members, who officially signed during our last meeting on March 20, the first day of Spring.

We are going to try an experiment this Wednesday where during the first  hour of the meeting we use the Friendship Circle format which will help us deepen our connection, and the second hour will be about business.

I am working hard to send out proposals ahead of time on a google doc in order to get feedback so our meeting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. I’ll let you know how this turns out! I feel strongly that building a sense of community while we build community is important. We all live in different places, and so we connect by phone. It is amazing how long distance friendships, where we are working on a project we are passionate about, can grow so much.

If you want to see the kinds of decisions we are making, you can check out our meeting minutes here. 

Lest you think that all is roses and rainbows in our team, I want to let you know that conflicts do arise from time to time. But we are all committed to working things out, which is of utmost importance in community. We are doing our best to do things that prevent conflict, but when things to come up, and we talk things out in a loving way–we emerge closer and with increased trust.

Alma Gathering: I am excited to see that a spiritual gathering that  I helped get started when I was in Berkeley at the Animal Rights Center continues to happen. Maybe we will do something like this here! Check it out here.  I continue to feel grateful that I was able to live in Berkeley and be involved with Direct Action Everywhere organizing. I learned SO much about living in non-residential community that I can apply to VUE.

Our connection to the larger neighborhood:  Today I decided to attend the little church that meets in our neighborhood. It is because of the folks who started this church that we have this land. Buying land was something that we as very poor folk thought we could never do, but with owner financing, and sweat equity for the down payment, we were able to buy what will become the VUE.

Cliff has worked hard over the past 17 years that he has been part of the church and the neighborhood–to build trust and connection. People just love him, and respect him as well. And he doesn’t call himself a Christian! So we are happy that folks in the neighborhood are not attached to people being Christian.

I had a beautiful experience today where I gave my testimony about how I am listening to Jesus, and how I am welcoming people of all different spiritual paths to come to VUE. I said, “I just want to be light to people.” A person who used to be so disapproving of my uniqueness and openness, came up and actually acknowledged me for my authenticity and vulnerability! And he prayed for me. That felt like a major breakthrough. I think whoever joins the community, no matter what their faith walk is, is going to be welcomed here!

Well, that’s all for now! I love how we are moving forward. Every day there is progress. I am no longer saying, “I will be happy when I live in community.” I actually feel so satisfied living in a non-residential, long distance community which is evolving. I continue to grow my servant leadership skills. I feel more trusting that the timing of people actually coming and living on the land is going to be perfect. I don’t have to force it to happen. But all the things that we are doing–which I will report on in the next blog post–will lead to us finding wonderfully compatible people who will delight in finding us!

Your comments are always welcome!