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

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Just be there

What we call sins are usually more symptoms of sin. Sin is primarily living outside of union; it is a state of separation—when the part poses as the Whole. It’s the loss of any inner experience of who you are in God. “Sins” often have more to do with ignorance than actual malice. Disconnected people may become malicious, but they did not start there. They began in union, and disunion became their experienced lie.

You can’t accomplish or work up to union with God, because you’ve already got it… You cannot ever become worthy or “perfect” by yourself; you can only reconnect to your Infinite Source. The biblical revelation is about awakening, not accomplishing. It is about realization, not performance. You cannot get there, you can only be there…
                                                                           Richard Rohr, Daily Mediation

No matter what you call it
It’s there

The “other”
The Sacred
Something great than one’s self

There is something that holds the universe together
Something that shapes the very nature of creation
A power that permeates everything
From the flowers, and trees, to the birds, and fish and animals

And us
Especially us

There is something we participate in
Something woven into the fabric of our being
Some call it God

Whatever it is, it is all about creativity
And unity
It is about generosity and kindness
It is about love

Especially love
When we are allied to this power/essence/being
We have tapped into the very power of the universe
And we have connected with love

And we can live love

When we are disconnected?
Well it gets ugly
It becomes “all about me”
We become grasping and greedy
Fearful and hateful
Cruel and without compassion

We live out our disassociation
Our lives become a lie
And we do terrible things to others, ourselves, and even creation

“Sin” is disassociation with the Scared
“Salvation” is finding once again, that which has always been
The original blessing

So walk, read, pray, meditate, write, serve
It is that easy (and that hard)
Be who you are

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


The practice of curating parts of oneself is something many of us do to some degree. We carefully create a persona, but it's always only one that's partially true. And maintaining this created personality, this assembled self, can be pretty exhausting.

I often think that the effort we put into pretending is based in a fear of really being known, of truly being seen as we actually are. I mean, perhaps we each have a wound or a vulnerable place that we have to protect in order to survive, and yet sometimes we overcompensate so much for the things we're trying to hide, that no one ever suspects the truth. And then we're left in the aloneness of never really being known.

In the end, the only real love in the world is found when you let yourself be truly known. And faith, to me, isn't about belief, it's about the fact that I am most known and most loved by God, the one who created me to begin with.
                                                                           Nadia Bolz-Weber

It’s exhausting being me
Or at least being the “me” that I want you to see

Yep, its true
I am not all that sure I want you to know who I really am
This particular soul has closets, lots of them
Full of stuff I’d rather not have known

Old mistakes
Lingering fear
Pits of anger
Crappy self-talk

And so I hide, a lot
I put up barriers and lurk behind them
Hoping no one will see
No one will know

And in the end I am alone
Or at least lonely
Cut off from connection by my own effort

By that persona I have so carefully craft

Sucks doesn’t it?

There is of course one know knows me as I am
And One who loves me (or so I’m told) anyway
There is One who would set me free

By loving me enough that I would dare to be open
Dare to be honest
Dare to be real

All it takes
To change everything

Is a little faith

Sunday, September 23, 2018

let love discover you

“We do not need to go out and find love; rather, we need to be still and let love discover us.”
― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Looking for love, is something most of us do

We urgently seek to find

We try so hard to find Mr. Right
The Perfect Woman

We act witty
We brag
We preen
We try to impress

But sadly it is all a matter of us sending our energy out
Flooding the space around us

Our efforts become a spiritual moat,
A barrier to what we seek

Instead of trying so hard
We should, fundamentally, quit trying

We should stop
And Just be

Ready to receive

Oh yes, there is giving to be done
But our biggest need to embrace the love, as it comes

Welcoming it into our heart
Our Soul
Welcoming the other
Welcoming the Other, who is love

Saturday, September 22, 2018

a work in progress

I am often a mess
often needy and grasping for acceptance and affection
often a "fixer"
often too busy to notice

I can be cold
I can be closed
I can be grasping
I can make myself a pest

I can end up in
Paradox hell

Trapped by conflicting priorities

All I really want to be connected with something bigger than myself
All I want is to be connected to others
To help others
And yes, to be helped by them

I want peace
I want joy
I want to wake up wanting to dance
I want to feel valued,
I want to feel loved

Forget big houses
Nice cars
And all the rest

I want to sit on a deck, watching the sunset
Holding hands with someone who is as passionate about me
As I am about them

How do I get there
Letting go would help, of expectations, rules, fears, hates
Being present would help too…. Being there for others
Offering not sympathy, which is often shallow and cheap
But empathy
Embracing their joy, embracing their pain

And yet I am often a mess
Often lonely
Often a pain

I guess all I can say is that I am a work in progress
And so my prayer for this day
On these late summer, early fall evening is….

A little love
A little wisdom
A little patience
A lot of openness

With a side of hope


Thursday, September 20, 2018

inside out

 “Try saying this silently to everyone and everything you see for thirty days: “I wish you happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future.” If we said it to the sky, we would have to stop polluting; if we said it when we see ponds and lakes and streams, we would have to stop using them as garbage dumps and sewers; if we said it to small children, we would have to stop abusing them;…if we said it to people, we would have to stop stoking the fires of enmity around us. Beauty and human warmth would take root in us like a clear, hot June day. We would change.”        Joan Chittister:

We are transformed
By Sacred work at the center of our being

There is re-construction going on
Deep down, in that place where the Sacred dwells

Change happens at the level of the heart
It moves to that place where we form our values and attitudes
And then oozes it way to the surface,
Being made evident by what we say, and how we act

There is a journey inward,
And then a journey outward

We can aid that process
We can seek to open our soul to Sacred Presence
Through mediation, prayer, and so much more

I highly recommend walks with one’s dog

Then we work on changing out attitudes

And so as an act of will, we wish the earth well
The animals well
Friends and neighbors well
Loved ones well,
And yes, I suspect, our enemies well (although that is advanced practice)

May you be safe
May you be well
May you be happy
May you be at peace

If we can let it take root
Like a beautiful fall day

Then we will change
We will change

(and perhaps our world will too)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

love not fear

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

What are you afraid of?

Being alone
Being unloved
Being a failure
Being a fool?

Who are you afraid of?


Fear is a dreadful thing
It freezes us
It makes us want to run
But at its worst, it makes us ugly people
Cruel people
Abusive people

In the name of fear we judge
We exclude
We minimize we oppress

Fear makes us small

Put fearful people together
And feed on that fear?

We know what that looks like
It looks like anger
Like brains shut down
Hearts closed
It looks like 12,000 kids incarcerated
Black men shot in their own apartments
It looks like acceptance of the unacceptable

I can be fear based
I can fail to do what I love
I can end up doing what I despise

Fear makes us small
It makes our minds small
Our hearts small

Wrap fear in the flag
And it becomes nationalism

Wrap fear with the trappings of religion
And it looks like
Followers of Jesus violating the way of Jesus
And supporting the unsupportable

Wrap fear in this soul
And it looks like a person desperately seeking acceptance
And love
And respect
And making a mess of things, and driving love away

Perfect love casts out fear
Perfect love is Sacred Presence

Come O Sacred One
Make your home in this fearful soul
Make your home in all fearful souls

May we be bound together by love
Not fear

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

in the silence

"Let us simply stop and start listening to our own hearts. There we will touch a lot of pain. We will possibly touch a lot of anger. We will possibly touch a lot of loneliness and anguish. Then we will hear something deeper. We will hear the voice of Jesus"
                                                                           Jean Vanier

We jump out of bed
Grab our smart phones
Fire up our computers
Turn on the TV
Crank up the tunes

We fill our ears and eyes constantly
Rarely are we quiet
And in the presence
Of God
Or others

And yet in the silence important things come
Through those moments of presence
Come the things we try to avoid in our busyness

The pain, and fear
The memories
The emptiness

But good things come as well

And yes
The Sacred speaks too
That still small voice
That living Presence
Of Love Him/Herself

Monday, September 17, 2018

go for it

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You've got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It's like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That's a triumph.”
                                             Ray Bradbury, Farewell Summer

I am like an emotional magnet
Whatever comes my way, I tend to bind it to myself

Awful memories
Negative mental scripts

Just call me Velcro man

I tend to grab hold and strangle
I have a death grip on my need to impress
A stranglehold on my need to be a success

And yet there is reality
Which is far from what I envision and desire

I want to be present, and I am not
I want to help, but fall short
I want to be admired, but stir up enmity and disrespect

I am over extended
A poor listener (I am great at talking)
I am constantly search for something better
For things that seem just out of reach

I obsess over Herod 2.0
And over those who are being left behind

I cannot flow with the current
I want to turn the damn boat around, and fight the flow

But that only means I go forward backwards

It is time to let go
To live in the day
And embrace the moment
To take life as if comes

And if I go over the falls
The fall will be spectacular
I will be dressed to die
And the cigar will be supreme

Peace my friends

Sunday, September 16, 2018


“I want to see the thirst inside the syllables
I want to touch the fire in the sound:
I want to feel the darkness of the cry. I want
words as rough
as virgin rocks.” - Verb.”
                               Pablo Neruda

In the cool autumn morning
the day half formed

a paler sun struggling to crest
the horizon

if flaming summer brilliance cooled
to a softer hue

I walk

the road rough beneath my feat
dusty and unfriendly

in this discreet moment
thoughts rage and feeling roar
and I notice

that in that inner fire there is life
and hope

how seducing it is,
the idea of simply sliding into apathy
and yet

if all minds quieted
if all voices were stilled
if the rough edges of life were to ease

we would slide slowly and gently
into evil and into death

here is to the thirst, the fire, the darkness
here is to living on the rough edges
here is to risking, loving, speaking

Saturday, September 15, 2018


“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion."
[The Minotaur]” ― Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays


Shu the cat, the tiny calico she demon
Has the number of Finn the dog, large wussy dog

It is clear they have met in dark alleys
And it is equally clear that Finn has felt the sting of Shu’s claws

Finn will still cavort, jumping and diving around Shu, enticing her to play
But Finn is no fool
And he knows when to stop

Indeed, he has launched his 70 plus pounds toward the door
On his way out
Only to meet Shu, one her way in

You have never seen a dog stop so quickly

There are times to dive into the fray
But there are also times to pull away

Retreat is not a bad word
It does not reflect weakness...

Sometimes it is merely a recognition on one’s limits, and it is time for re-creation.
Sometimes it is a way to admit that one has lost one’s way, and it is time to evaluate
Sometimes it is simply a matter of running into a wall, and needing to find another road towards the same destination.

And sometimes it is because who we are, in the middle of the fray
Is not who we want to be

Sometimes we need to retreat not because we are losing, or lost, or stuck
But because we are becoming whom we do not want to be

And we must retreat
To find the Sacred
To find the Sacred within us
To find ourselves

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Friday, September 14, 2018


“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
                              Albert Einstein

I admit it
I can be inflexible

Perhaps the right word is stuck

I get stuck in my opinion
Stuck in old patterns
Stuck in behaviors

I suffer all too often from psychological inflexibility
I am not present in the moment
It’s all about the past
It’s all about the future

Its all about me
Not the me that really is
But the me that I create through my thoughts, feeling, experiences, memories
All my self-definitions and judgments

From this place of self-absorption
And preoccupation
I find my head filled with thoughts and feelings
That don’t work

The stop me
Freeze me
They make me immobile, unable to act
They stop me from being who I want to be

But I’ll be damned if I’ll un-fuse
Not way, will I let go, become open

No way will I listen
Move to another perspective

I’ve created my story, and I’m sticking to it
I’ve developed my self-image, and I’ve made it who I am
I’ve got my mental scripts set
My ideology fixed

I am one stuck dude
I have company of course
All those people who love Trump
All those who worship Bernie
Right wing evangelicals
Left wing snowflakes
And most of us in between, who regular find ourselves
Unable to move toward the things we most desire


And inflexible

But when it comes to psychological health
Flexibility is the game

When we are flexible it is not all about the past
Nor all about the future

Is about this moment
And it is about the “me” experiencing this moment

But that “me” has to stand a little apart
from the place of self-absorption
And preoccupation
It has to step away from those thoughts and feelings

A little apart from those mental scripts that
Stop me and freeze

“I can’t do this”
“I am not good enough”
“It is hopeless”

My head screams

But is just my brain (a bully) telling me stuff

So I have to say, “My brain is telling me I can’t do this, it is time to step away from the brain”
And let the thoughts, and fears, and scripts go…
And then, remember who I want to be
And what I want to do
And who I want to be close to

And then, I have to act
I have to choose
In the presence of fear, of pain
In the echo chamber of my disappointments and errors
In the face of my ideology

Then I have to choose to move toward
Whatever, whomever is important to me

What thoughts keep me stuck?
What behaviors, move me the wrong direction/

Can I notice when I move away from kindness
From inclusion
From openness

Into defensiveness, isolation and rigidity?

And can I choose to listen to my better angels?

That is the question for this, and every day

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence.
How can you love if you are not there?
                                             Thich Nhat Hanh

I spend my day today
Wandering around my vast rural county

Don’t get excited
I only drive about 80 miles (round trip)

and all I did was talk to people
I wandered into hospital rooms
And into the living rooms of people
Mostly older and frail

Some of them close to prisoners in their homes
Due to infirmity
Or perhaps fear

Nothing profound was said
A few prayers were spoken

We talked about children and grandchildren
About aches and pains
About going home
Or leaving home

We talked about thing of no importance at all
And of things of utmost importance

But really the words were not the thing
It was simply presence
Simply being there

It is always humbling to see someone’s face light up
When you walk in the room
Very chastening when they are surprised,
because it has been so long since you have been there

but even then, it is clear that all is forgiven
as we talk
and sometimes, as we sit in silence

Being present
it is perhaps the greatest gift that can be given

for how can we love if we are not there

I can preach powerful sermons
I can play prophet
I can sing
And plan programs
I can do so much

But sometimes what is important is that I be…..

Let’s be present for each other friends
Let us be there
Be there in silence
Be there with words of comfort
Be there with a helping hand
Be there with nothing at all

But let us be there
With all that we have and are
For that is the greatest gift we can possibly offer

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

soft front, firm back

All too often our so-called strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine.  In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence.  If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open… How can we give and accept care with strong-back, soft-front compassion, moving past fear into a place of genuine tenderness.  I believe it comes about when we can be truly transparent, seeing the world clearly – and letting the world see into us
                                                                           Roshi Joan Halifax, quote by Brene Brown

What does it mean to be strong?

To put up a strong front, never showing weakness?
To be forceful, insisting one’s own way?

Does it mean asserting one’s power?
Does it involve “winning”
Does it mean being “above” others

Are the strong those who are the richest?
Who have the positions and the titles?

Are they the ones who cow others, and bend others to their will?
The brutal?

I think there is such a thing as faux strength

We strength is when the front is hard, but the back is soft
When all that is holding the person up, is what they can literally throw at others

Such people throw out harsh words
They engage in brutal behaviors
They hide behind position and wealth

They are often bullies
Bulls in the china shop
And they leave wounded people behind them, as they flail toward what they want

But inside there is emptiness, and fear
And inability to have compassion, on either themselves or others

We know such people when we encounter them
They leave us cold and empty, they make our stomachs hurt and as asses twitch

They may fool us for a while
But eventually we feel the impact of the abyss that exists within their soul

Hard fronts, soft backs

But there are others
Who are generous, and kind
Who seek what is best for others
Who lift others up
Who accept rather than reject
Welcome rather than exclude

These are people willing to be wrong
Willing to be vulnerable
Willing to let other people in

Sometimes we think these people are soft
Bleeding hearts
Libertards (perhaps)

but behind the soft exterior, there is something strong
Something profound
Call it love
Call it the Sacred
Call it inner strength
Call it insight, or wisdom

Call it what you will
But these people do not live in fear
They do not need to oppress and minimize others to feel OK about themselves
They do not have to use and manipulate to have healthy egos

They have strong backs
They are held up by what is more powerful than
Hate, or fear, or even death

They are help up, strengthened, by Sacred Presence
and Sacred Love

They have soft fronts
They can smile
They can be open and honest
They can embrace
But they can stand firm, they can survive the worst
They can continue to be a force for good, even when surrounded by evil

Softs fronts, strong backs

That is the way I want to be
A person with a soft front, and a firm back

Sunday, September 9, 2018


“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
                                                                                          Robert F. Kennedy

There was a time
When those in power sought to change the world
To shape history

Not to change the world into one where they had power
Where they had wealth
Where they had safety and comfort

But to change the world into a place
Where everyone was respected
Everyone was helped to become more than they were
Where people are willing to sacrifice to improve the lot of others,
To end injustice,
To stand up for the truth,
And for what is right and ethical

There was a time when our leaders sought to lift us all up
To new heights
To compassion
And even, yes even, love

They were not perfect, these leaders
They had their moments where they moved toward war
When they had affairs

Its not easy having power and money
And staying ethical, and moral, and kind
Jimmy Carter did it, and we disliked him, and judged him weak

But still

The first President I really paid attention to was JFK
In the summer before he was murdered
I met him
He was driving through the streets of Rome
There to attend the investiture of Pope Paul VI
We were standing in the middle of a deserted plaza as he drove in

He sparked hope, and progess
It was a powerful time

And then he was killed
By hate?  By those who wanted to manipulate and control
But those who had darker purposes?

There have been many more since then
Good, indifferent, lucky, and now?

Now the one who leads our country
And the ones who enable him
Seem to have lost sight of leadership

If they are seeking to bend history, it is toward things that benefit them, no others
If they are striking out it is against the very things that create justice, and equity

There are no acts of courage
Only deals made in back rooms
Lies in public
And numerous acts of corruption

And so history is being shaped
But waters that are dark
And ripples are those of despair

I am not a pessimist
I believe that we are Sacred Children
And that ultimately the Sacred will win
Love will win

And I believe that we are called to resist
And fight the looming oppression

But with the Psalmist I cry, “How long?”
And I worry about the carnage that may ensue
Before things are set right

I worry about how many immigrants will be turned away to die
About how many people will die unnecessary deaths because we have to make money off of health care
About how many young black people will be gunned down
About how many will die of cancer because preventive care has been cut
About how many LGBTQI people will lose their jobs
About how many children will grow up in poverty and be twisted forever by ACES (Adverse Childhood Evnets)

Because of these leaders
This government

I worry about how many innocents will die in other countries
About whether we will see the rebirth of nuclear warfare
About how many species will cease to exist
About how many people will end up starving and home due to war and climate change

Because of these leaders
This government

I understand that you may think I am being sensationalistic
But I look at the world through the eyes of the my faith
From the perspective of one who follows a God who is love

And I am grieved
By this administration
By the so called “evangelical church” which enables it
By those who have doubled down and become entrenched in racism, and hate

There has been a lot of history between that President who touch my life in my early years (1963)
And now

I was so thrilled to see my President on that day in Rome
Today, I would probably lower my head
Turn, and tearfully walk away


Lord from our worst selves, deliver us

Saturday, September 8, 2018

New Skins

spread wide your arms
and protect us
from the multitude of your guardians

stand by those who wander
who’ve not lost the gift of hearing
and listen within their solitude
stand by those who stay and wait for you

I refuse to engage prayers as a weapon
I wish it to be like a river between two shores
for I seek neither punishment nor grace
but new skin
that can bear this world

lord save me from people of faith
from those who would protect you
from those who would sell you
vend you

save me from those who would stand between you and I
telling me your will for my life
offering me their version of who you are

for frankly lord, what they are telling me doesn’t compute
it doesn’t add it
if I were to believe them, you are angry

you callously send most people into eternal conscious torment
you hate a lot of people
and you teach your people to hate too
you teach your people to look down on the poor
to look down on people of color
to look down on people created in your image
but created LGBTQI

you teach your people not to just look down on others
but to shame them
exclude them
oppress them

From what I understand
You are love

From what I read, you made all people in your image
From what my soul tells, me, you are present in me, and in every person who lives
From what I see in Jesus, you are kind, generous, and forgiving

I do not see you in your guardians
I do not see you in the shouting, arrogant white males on TV
I do not see you in the Bible waving people who treat others with disrespect, because they are different
I do not see you in those who shame the poor
Or shame women

I do not see you in the pastors and priests who grope young women
and excuse their behavior by shaming those women

I do not see you in people who create chaos and anger in a Facebook thread,
And then, when it is clear they have lost the argument, try to shame people for standing against them
Accuse them of being “judgmental” and say “I’ll pray for you”

I do not see you the 100 Judases who sat down with Herod
And then presented him with a Bible, touting his greatness
While excusing the fact that in thought, word and deed, he is the enemy of Jesus

I do not see you in a Christianity that is all about personal gain
Personal safety
I do not see you in a faith that is nothing more than fire insurance
Or a tool to be used in order to coerce and manipulate others into an antiquated cultural social norm

TV evangelists make my ass twitch (French Kiss)
So does the “Ark Experience”
So does the Family Research Council, and all others who espouse bigotry in God’s name

I do not like much of what now passes for Christianity
For it seems to have little to do with Christ

Christianity started as a religion for losers
For “the least of these”

Lord, when it got power, your Church changed
We starting looking at the world from the position of maintaining power and social order instead of experiencing the profound power of powerlessness that Jesus revealed.

we stopping giving up all, even our lives
we stopped being generous
and kind
and sacrificial
and became power hungry, and entitled

We stopped meeting in caves, and built auditoriums with theater seats
And special effects

In short, Christianity almost became a different religion!
It became not Christian

I hate this lord
I am a pastor
I love you
I love your way
I don’t live it very well, some of the time, but I love it

But some much of what is being taught, and lived by those who call themselves Christian
Has nothing to do with Jesus

and I want to walk away
not from You, Lord
but from the title, the label, away from a church that
can give a messed up man a Bible, not to change him,
but to empower him.

Away from a church that spouts arrogance and an implicit selfishness from its very pores.

So, lord
Help me to listen
Help me to hear
Help me to pray
Help me to use prayer and faith in love
that sacred love might flow, like a river, between myself and those around me

Give me a new skin,
and help me be comfortable in that new skin
take me a new way
where I, through the Sacred power that resides in me (and in each of us), lifts us up world
or at least the people in it
or at the very least, the people whose lives I touch

Friday, September 7, 2018

Its all about the question

It is all about

the question

how we see things,
the path we decide to take
often depends on the question we ask

in America today,
we have been infected with a virulent case of essential selfishness
and so the question we have been asking is simply this

“Is it good for me!”

Thus, if you ask many people who support the current administration
They will point to the economy
Or they will point to legislation that supports the comfortable status quo
Or to priorities that create what feels like increased security or safety

If the only question is
“Do I Gain?”

Then any act that strengthens the economy is good
Even if it hurts other people
Even if it creates inequity
Even if it means that some people are functionally abused (not paid a living wage)
Or the earth is devastated (carving up national monuments so they can mine and drill)

If the only question is
“Do I Gain?”

Then any action that supports me and the values and priorities I am comfortable with is good
Even if it means that injustice is perpetuated
Even if it means that people who have a color, or creed, or culture different from mine are functionally oppressed.

If the only question is
“Do I gain?”

Then any act that makes me FEEL more secure is good
Even if it means spending money on an already bloated military rather than on education
Even if it means shutting our borders to people fleeing genocide and violence
Even if it means separating children from their parents, housing them in cages, and exposing them to physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

But of course our own essential selfishness will usually turn against us
Economic inequity will evening cause the economy to implode
Perpetuating injustice and prejudice, oppression and minimization has a terrible moral and spiritual cost
And trying to make ourselves self with brutality and “power over” tactics simply makes us hated

We make a terrible mess of things when we start with the wrong question

So we must start with the right question

A man named James, way back almost 2000 years ago, talked a little bit about this
In a powerful little paragraph, he should be congruent

In other words, he suggests our lives should line up
The things we think, say, and do, should have consistency

We should do what we say
Practice what we preach

So it makes a difference what we think and say
For that drives what we do

People who start with “Do I Gain?” start in the wrong place, and end in the wrong place
Driven by that question they support the immoral
They shut down their hearts
They support the unsupportable

This is the question behind the evangelical “Christian” support of Mr. Trump
This is the question that drives Mr. Trump
This is the question that drives Jerry Falwell Jr. and Jeffries and so many others

This is the question that is destroy our nation
This is the question that is destroying the faith called Christianity

So what is the right question?

James gives us a hint
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world”

There are really two questions
The first question, prompted by “keep oneself unstained’ is simply this…..
“Is it right?!”  “Is it moral, ethical”
We can throw a lot of words into that equation…
But fundamentally we must ask if somethings is loving, kind, generous, constructive, unifying…
Does it support what is good?
Does it bring to life our better angels?

The second question is related.
Does it protect and lift up the vulnerable
“Religion that is pure and undefiled, that is truly Sacred, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress”

Do my words
Do my actions
Do the politicians I support
Do the policies I support
Protect and lift up

Racial minorities?
Religious minorities?
People in the LBGTQI community?
People who are poor, or aged?
People who have mental health issues, or people who are addicted?

Do my thoughts, words, and actions help the vulnerable?

We know what this means
We may not like what it means (I don’t at times)
But we know what this means,

About how we think about others
About how we see others
About how we talk to others
About how we talk about others (ouch, this one really hits me hard)
About how we behave toward others
About whom we support politically
About what policies we endorse

We know what this means
About how we use our money
Use our influence
Use our voices

Is it right?  Is it consistent with the commands to Love God and love our Neighbor (which then leads to love of self)
Does it protect and life up the vulnerable?

What a difference it makes, when we start with the right questions

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Stand firm

In the middle of the river the boulder sits
Moss covered, and cracked

Around it, chaotically roaring
Insistent and powerful
The water surges

Feed from melting snow and sudden rains

Smaller, lesser rocks roll
Larger rocks rumble
Down the stream

Driven by the force of the water
Which will not be denied

But still this rock sits
Breaking the will of the water
Which must part
Change direction

For this rock is rooted deep
This rock has the strength that comes
For that deep connection with that
From which it has been birthed

We too live in the middle of chaos
All around us the waters roar
Pushing us this way and that

Trying to move us
Propel us
Into places we do not want to go

Greed and the lust for power rumble
Racism, sexism
Flow powerfully

We feel the pressure

Can we stand?

Can we force the waters to part?

Only if we are rooted
Only if we understand what we value
What we believe
And only if we are deeply rooted in that from which we came

The Sacred

When we are rooted, we just are
We do not have to flail and assail
We do not have to minimize or dismiss
We do not have to fear and exclude
We do not have to call others names, or bully

We can simply stand

Instead of saying, “XXX is awful”, or worse, “YOU are awful”,
We can say, “based upon the fact that the Sacred calls us to love all people, and
See all others as Sacred Children, I cannot accept……..”

We stand
We force those forces that would destroy
To break, to part, to move

It is difficult to just stand
To be in the moment, rooted

It is easier to roll, crushing all in our path
Allowing the very things we would resist
To control us, move us, push us

But stand we must
This day
Every day

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.”
― Aristotle

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
― Ambrose Bierce

Yeah, it has been a day
I suspect my more conservative friends are ready to disown me
I certainly have been ready to disown them

Not really

But today when my anger over the “way of the world”
has gotten to me

I am tired of the lies
The greedy
The shaming of the poor
The excuses for hideous behavior by those who should, who must, do better

I am tired of the hate
The prejudice
The illogical arguments
The blind nationalism that makes people cruel

I am not ashamed of anger
I do not believe it is wrong
But, Aristotle has it right

One has “to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way…”

And there are times I am angry at the wrong person, to the wrong degree, at the wrong time, for the wrong purpose, and most frequently of all, in the wrong way

I hate it when that happens
I hate myself when that happens

When I over react
When I attack a person personally
Or use my knowledge, and skill with words, to essentially bully another
When I build abysses, rather than bridges
When I push away, rather than draw toward

When I make the best speech I come to regret

Ah, my friends
Those who cheer me on
Those who are frustrated and repelled
Those who are angry back….
Those who have, perhaps, chosen to reject me

We can do better
I can do better

I will always challenge what I don’t think is right
That’s just me
But HOW I do it is important

Just as how we create safety as a country matters (caging kids is not it)
Just as how we create wealth matters (ruining the environment, and abusing workers is not it)
Just as how we use our power is important (being a bully on twitter, or shooting POC is not it)

So it is time to disagree
Maybe time for anger…..


Monday, September 3, 2018

Where God is found

“As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.”
                               Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

People behave pretty poorly when they think they need to protect God
(as if)

They judge
They exclude
They hate
They start wars
They legislate morality (or try)
The call people names

The minimize and dehumanize
And marginalize

They condemn people to death
Either slow deaths by neglect (as they shame and ignore the poor)
Or quick deaths (as they reject refugees, or champion the death penalty)

Seem harsh?
Look at the worst things our society has done?
Most of it has been done in the name of God

But here is the thing
In the parable of the sheep and the goats
Yes, that one, where the righteous religious folk are compared to randy goats
And the bleeding heart socialist types are compared to sheep

It is made perfectly clear
Where God is to be found
In the immigrant at the border
In the young black man lying dead in the street
In the young woman being abused by her boyfriend or husband
In the old man passed out in a door way
In the poverty stricken angry white person in a MAGA hat

God is found in
The poor, the homeless, the old
The ill, the mentally ill
In the person of color
In the most vulnerable, messed up people in our midst
And how we treat them
Is how we treat God

How we love them
Is how we love God

How we fail to love them
Is how we fail to love God

And how we fail to serve them
Is how we fail to serve God

Any questions?

(My only question, is
How do I do it?

I can’t

I can’t
But the Sacred in me
As it is awake
As it is given room to move
By faith, humility, and more


It won’t always turn out perfectly
Because I still get in the way

But I can try
I can “put on” the kindness, patience, and generosity of God
And I can lean on God, for help, for hope, and forgiveness,
When I fail)