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

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

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