Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

living with uncertainty

I was lamenting
somewhere in the depths of my soul
the fact that life seems so uncertain

my life seems so uncertain
love seems so uncertain
the future of mental health programs seems so uncertain
my future seems so uncertain

I have come to believe that
while I probably have a higher tolerance 
for uncertainty and ambiguity than most
there are limits

and there are times when I want to know
what is next
what God wants
what I am supposed to do
what is the next right choice
but I think I am fated to never really be
in a place of certainty

As he explores the scriptures Richard Rohr comes to the conclusion
that we have to be somewhat comfortable with uncertainty
With knowing and not knowing. 
He says we have to accept both the mountaintop, the place of certainty, and the desert, the place of wandering. 
“The mountain is about presence, the desert about absence”
“The mountain is about speaking, the desert about silence”
“The mountain is about knowing, the desert about not knowing.”

The people of God were always moving between the valley (desert) and the mountain
and it seems as if somehow, they needed both

when we are locked into certainty we become 
rigid, stuck, and unbearable 
"I am right, you must believe what I believe.  You must behave the way I proscribe"

when we are locked into uncertainty we become frozen
fearful, and again, stuck

I suspect that it is when we are in that space
moving back and forth between moments of certainty
and uncertainty

that we find the humility, the openness, 
the receptivity 
we need 
to grow, to move
to be God's people
people who love and care, 
who help each other, and have compassion

not people standing 'above" looking down
or people mired up to our necks in the messes of the world
but uncertainly in between

but I am not certain :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Evil's Lie

There are things that wander in our souls
in the deep dark recesses 
where light seldom shines

there are things that wander
deep with in
and make us miserable

but evil's lie
tells us
this is not so

it must be them
those..... others
out there

they are the problem
not me

so we play the victim
poor me
or we create victims
as we export our own darkness

how else can we use
even scripture
to legitimate
prejudice, violence, hatred, killing?
those people
they are the problem
those Democrats, those Republicans
those Muslims
those homosexuals
those drunks
those lazy poor
those greedy rich
those retards
those cretins 
they are the problem
and I must attack them!
there is no shadow on my side
there is no shadow in me
and so we go with evil's lie
and fail to see
and accept
the shadow within
and so the darkness remains
in our depths
God help us let the light shine
in the recesses of our souls
and not export our darkness

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why does it have to be so hard?

A friend was preaching on Job
Perhaps, she suggested
"it takes a tough moment to see God. 
It is not as if God is more or less present, 
but perhaps we are less present in the good times.

Shortly afterward I was reading Richard Rohr
and heard him talk about "necessary suffering"
and about how it was always those on "the bottom'

those who were persecuted
put down
how had the best feel for God

It seems that those with power
those with affluence
those who are "in" the inner circle
religiously speaking
are at a disadvantage
spiritually speaking

It is something to think about
no wonder those of us who are so comfortable
have a hard time getting such statements as

happy are the poor
happy are those who mourn
have are the persecuted

no wonder we have trouble
letting go of what we have
to go with God
we have so much

no wonder we suggest 
that it is all a matter of merit
and accomplishment
power and abundance
The paradox is that we often grow the most
in times of struggle and adversity
in times of loss
but why
does it have to be so hard  ?


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Empty Soul

"How many times has your soul felt empty
and then maybe, a temple for all near you became? 


How many times has my soul felt empty?
Perhaps a better question might by
how many times has it not?

Of course I am a dramatic kind of guy
who rarely shows passion
but often feels passionate
about life
about God
about love

but all too often
my soul feels empty
and I?
well I simply feel tired
 tired and alone
barely able to crawl out of bed
and face another day
and it is all so 
I am slowly coming to understand that we create our own suffering
we become attached to our cravings
our desires

we all have our unique desires
for love
or success
or influence
or power
it doesn't matter what we desire
we become attached to those desires
and then
we don't get there

and the gap between what we desire, and what we have?
therein lies the pain
and thus is born
the empty soul

St Augustine once said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee (meaning God)
Rumi has a phrase that goes “The only real rest comes when you are alone with God”

The only cure for the empty soul is God
fullness can come
it comes when we hold on to God as tightly
 as God holds on to us.


“All you want is to be happy.  All your desires, whatever they may be are a longing for happiness…Desire by itself is not wrong.  It is life itself, the urge to grow in knowledge and experience.  It is the choices you make that are wrong.  To imagine that some little thing, food, sex, power, fame, will make you happy is to deceive oneself.  Only something as vast and deep as your real self can make your truly and lastingly happy”
Source unknown

Saturday, October 27, 2012

When love is there!

"When love is there, is not the treasure?
When it is not, who could blame a face that looks sad?"  Hafiz


It is interesting
is it not
that we can have so much
be so blessed
and yet be so unhappy?

"We are not an unhappy people!" you say?
look around!!!

at the anger
the fear
the grasping

people calling each other 

at people trying to decide
which candidate
which philosophy of governance
which tax laws (we really do see them as soooo important)
will benefit them
enrich them

make them happy

we seek the hidden treasure
through our greed and anger
through power

through our cars
our house
our influence
our jobs
our titles
we seek the treasure
and lash out
in frustration 
when we cannot find it
yet there it is,
right there! 
the treasure

in the hug of a friend
in the precious affection of our beloved
in the tiny tug
and toothless grin of a grandchild
in the majestic beauty of a winter day
in the wonder of God's love

when love is there
is not the treasure?


Ps 63:3-5
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What not Why

It is a curious thing
Lots of people seem to think they have the right to speak for God

Take for example comments by a candidate for the US Senate
In thinking about an instance of rape
and the subsequent impregnation of the woman

He went instantly to the why
 pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen."

God told him?

We tend to  do this a lot
poor God

we decide why things happen
the problem is when we go to the place where God
micromanages everything
its all God
good, bad
whatever happens is God's will

This is an odd forumla
One I think that is not exactly supported by scripture
which seems to suggest people have something to say
when it comes to evil

I think it is one of the great theological mistakes
this idea that God makes everything happen...
not only the good
but also the bad and the ugly.

It takes us such weird places
A child dies... we must make sense of it
Why?  Why? we cry...
and so people say "God wanted this beautiful child in heaven with Him"
Not my God. He would not do that to a loving parent.

A woman is raped and gets pregnant.
God must have wanted another life?

It doesn't work
the formula is flawed, and no amount of creative thinking
can always come up with a reason WHY God did something...

As with Adam and Eve,
we darn well have our own minds
and we make our choices
and its not always good
and we can't always make sense of it, except to say
that's life
that is what happens when people
who are all to flawed, have choices

Why is the wrong question
It takes us to horrible places

Paul did remind us... all things work together for good, for those who love God"
So I think the question is this... WHAT?
What can God and I do with the mess I have made
with the mess those around me have made

What can God in the power of the Spirit
do through me
with me, to create good out of what is clearly
not good.

God will that a life would be created during a rape
God is there in the midst and the pain
God will work to try and make good emerge
Will we always make the right choice, even then?
God will work with even our bad choices?

What can God do?
How can I help?
How can love, and grace, and forgiveness thrive

Those it seems, are the right questions!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How can God's law create such violent hateful people?

I have been frustrated lately
yes, it has to do with the elections
about all the people who claim to be the champions of morality

and yet... in the end
are nothing more than the purveyors of anger, and hate
and even violence

we see it clearly in the middle east, where religious systems 
battle it out

but it is just as real in America
where those who would uphold the law
actually end up

(or so it seems to me)
on the wrong side of the Gospel
It is an old story, this battle between law and grace
it is not that we don't need law
we certainly do...
but what is law about?
Paul struggles mightily with this
and at one point 
remembering the way he had persescuted and murdered Chrisitans
actually asks the question (Philippians 6) 
"How following the law so faithfully still create hateful and violent men like me?
God question
As we see so called people of faith saying cruel and hurtful things
Supporting legislation that harms
Being, bottom line, a negative force

Because the law is not an end
but a means
we turn God's law into a matter of
fallowing a check list of rules

rather than a tool for promoting God awareness
a tool for seeing the intimately personal struggles we face
between love and hate
generosity and greed

struggles that can only be resolved
at whatever level they can...
by the presence of God/Christ/Spirit in us.

law is where we begin
where we see our need of God
where we understand the big conflicts of the soul

law takes us to God
to grace
to empowerment

not to attacking and dehumanizing others
not to flying planes into buildings
not to obscene signs at funerals
not to name calling

if we find ourselves in the places of hate
and rigidity and intolerance
that place or moral superiority
we have made law an end in itself
and we have become lost
and taken those around us with us!


You must learn the meaning of the law very well, so you will know how to disobey it properly (Dali Lama)

I would not, Jesus was one person who clearly knew the law well enough to "disobey" it (probably the wrong word, properly

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Just Could be Wrong!

My mom used to say it all the time
 it was one of those sayings
that to her was second nature....

right after her standard commandment
as I would leave the house
"remember who you are"
something I often tried hard to forget
it is kind of a burden to be the doctor's son in a small town
with a mom who had her expectations
about how I would act
and dress
and even whom I might date :)

I heard it so often
I began to wonder
whether she needed glasses or something

"I can't believe my eyes"

Why not!?
Seems like what we see
is simply what is there.... 
or is it?

I have come to learn, 
in my old age, that it really isn't that simple
for we do in fact wear glasses
all of us
all the time
big thick glass
that change things
that twist and distort
until what we see....
well we need to take care
about what we think is true, clear

Those lenses
our gender
our age
our life experiences
our values and beliefs
our education
our social class
our families of origin
our place of origin...

all those things are the lenses through which we see life
until what we see
is a reality we create
and what we don't see
ah, there becomes so much we don't see.

we can't in fact believe what we see

oh did I mention politics?
 sometimes I wonder if my friends and are are listening to
the same candidates :)

I have to constantly remember
as I judge the "sight" of my friends with whom
I don't agree
that my "sight" is just as compromised

So I am trying hard to say what I believe
but not cut down
or overly entrench
or treat other's perceptions with disrepsect

be wrong