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

Saturday, June 15, 2019

You can rise

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
 Maya Angelou

These days it doesn’t take much to push me to brink of defeat

A parishioner responding badly to what felt like an innocent post
A bad review from a person rating your workshop
Another day of lies from politicians
Another walk with my monkey brain saying

“you suck”

I remember a time when I felt I was effective
Even sexy

But now?

If feels as if I live on the edge of incompetence

As if I am not longer
Smart articulate
Or sexy

I just feel space
I have roles I probably should hand over to others

I remember a couple years ago when my board
Confirmed my worst fears
“You suck” they said
“You are gone”

And so I was

Replaced by people with more energy
More smarts
More charisma
More attention to detail

And now, too many days I am saying that to myself

Time to wrap it up
Call it a day
Or a life (not that is not a suicidal statement)

It is hard to let go
Of the illusion of competence

But I suspect that if I just accepted
And de-fused

It would be better for the world
And perhaps
Even better
For me

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Screw duality

Sometimes I wish life weren’t so messy
Sometimes I dream for the blessed anesthesia of black and white
Yes and No
Saved or Lost
Right or Wrong

Sometimes it was all nice, and neat

But instead it is messy

Jesus entered fully into the untidiness of this world

He embraced it all
The beauty and the ugliness
The fear
The legalism
The uncertainty

He entered into the ambiguity and pain
Because that was the only way he could really
Be in the world
See the world
Touch the world

And so he was born in poverty
went down into the muddy water of the Jordan, to receive a sinners baptism
he wandered in the desert
he ate with sinners
he was praised and reviled
he was beaten and scorned
and killed, unjustly

and he calls us, his followers
to follow, follow, follow

We cannot hide behind the rules
We cannot hang on desperately to certitude
We cannot focus on what is rigid and settled
And refuse to enter the uncertainty

For if we do
We can no longer see, people
We can no longer feel, the pain
The confusion
The fear

Instead we will walk around muttering
“the scriptures say, the scriptures say,”
And lose our capacity for empathy

We will not see the young woman, pregnant from a rape
We will not see her life in tatters
Her anger, her fear, her anguish
We will only see our belief that abortion is wrong
And lose our capacity to see her
This living breathing person, who is in so much pain

We will not see the person who happens to be LGBTQI
We will grab hold of a few lines of a letter
Written over a thousand years ago
And not see the value, the beauty of that person
Who is so precious in God’s sight

Jesus always saw the person first
The one standing in front of him
He saw them completely, fully
And with the eyes of love

And for that person, he broke the law
He went against scripture (how many times was he accused of violating scripture!)
And to that person he offered acceptance, and forgiveness, and love

And more than once he said
“you have heard it said, but I say”
As he raised the bar
And called us to higher levels of empathy
And compassion
And generosity
And love

We cannot allow the comfort of certainty
To blind us
To close our minds, and hearts and souls

That is not the Jesus way
The Jesus way is to lead with the heart
The Jesus way is to enter into the mess
And always, always
See the person in front of us
As a child of God…

And love

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

I can't do this anymore

Once you've had enough and you can't do it anymore, you consider the possibility that there might be a better way. That's when your head cracks open and God comes in.
Marianne Williamson

I have heard myself say it
All too many times lately

I can’t do this any more

I can’t do forgiveness
I can’t do love
I can’t do generosity
I can’t counter falsehoods with facts

I can’t confront what I think is ill

I can’t keep trying to look past the behaviors
To the person
To the soul

I just can’t

I am too angry
Too sad
Too disappointed
Too frustrated

Perhaps, if the truth were told
I am simply too empty

The reality is
I could never do any of the things I desired in the first place
Without the Sacred
Rocking and rolling in my soul

Pushing me
Challenging me
Moving me into action

Getting me past my self
My priorities
My fears
My prejudices

Setting me free from all those things
“out there” that would suck me dry
And leave me


I have no chance of being a force for good in the world
Unless I am, like a vine, connected to a life giving branch

I have no chance of staying alive, emotionally and spiritually
Unless I have a spring of living water, welling up in my soul

And that is the beautiful thing about reaching the point
Where one can’t do it any more

Because that is when the wind blows
The fire burns
The water springs up

That is when all that is God
Flows through us

And we pick ourselves up
And start again…

Paul got it
as he honestly admitted (Romans 7)
“My own behaviour baffles me. For I find myself not doing what I really want to do but doing what I really loathe. … I often find that I have the will to do good, but not the power…

 I thank God there is a way out [of this ambivalence]
through Jesus Christ our Lord”

I thank God when I can’t do it any more
That the God in me (that is the secret after all)
says (in effect)….

“finally, now its my turn”

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

the Holy Ghost broods

In the Divine Spirit—God within us, already promised, often with different words, by the Hebrew prophets, as in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 11:2—God takes on an indwelling character. The unnamable I AM becomes writ large on our hearts, revealing the “down and in” divine characteristic present since the beginning of time. Let’s call the Holy Spirit Implanted Hope.

Without God as Holy Spirit, there’s no inner momentum, élan vital, or aliveness to heal our wounds. When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. As in Ezekiel’s vision, the water flows from ankles to knees to waist to neck as the New Earth is hydrated. (See Ezekiel 47:1-12.) Like Pinocchio, we move from wooden to real. We transform from hurt people hurting other people to wounded healers healing others. Not just as individuals but as shapers of history that keeps moving forward through the Spirit’s power…The Indwelling Spirit is this ability of humanity to keep going, to keep recovering from its wounds, to keep hoping.
                                                                        Richard Rohr, Daily Blog, May 18, 2019

We get worn down
From the outside in

All the things that assail us
The hate and greed
The lies, the corruption
The Racism, the oppression and minimization
The faltering planet

All those thing erode us
Slowly wearing away at our hope
Our joy
Our ability to have empathy

We walk around too tired
Too wounded
Too fragile

To reach out to those around us
It is simply too hard to see the pain
The anxiety
The fear

And so we encapsulate
We hide

In our work
In our words
Even in our ideologies and causes

We function, but there is something missing

But God

This One is not only around us
Is not only near us
But is in us

Call it Sacred Presence
Call it divine DNA
Call it the Holy Spirit

God has given us, as Sacred Children
Implanted hope

God has given us
The advocate
The guide
The counselor

And if we are awake to its present
If we are willing to give it room to work
It rebuilds us
From the inside out

I have my moments
When I want to quit
When I am too tired to care
When all seems futile

I have my moments
but then the Spirit
roars like fire
rages like a hurricane

it roils through my soul
cleansing, renewing

and then I start again
and again
and again


It does not matter how dried out I get
The moment I connect (like a vine to the branches)
To the Spirit

I am renewed

Gerard Manley Hopkins had it right…
“There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”

Monday, June 10, 2019


“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
 T.S. Eliot
“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”
 L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
“my beerdrunk soul is sadder than all the dead christmas trees of the world.”
 Charles Bukowski
“Life ... is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
 William Shakespeare, Macbeth

It hovers over my soul
Bending like a sinister, malevolent being

Whispering dark nothings into my ear
Slowly driving me into the deep shadows

Where hope and love
Dissolved by its malign power

It is my constant companion these days
this despair
that presses down on me

stilling my fingers as the poise over the key board
stiffening my smile

making my brain roil with meaningless noise
leaving me unfocused and barely function

it takes so little
to sadden
and agitate

an unexpected response
a surprising complication

it may not be true
but it feels as though my words wound rather than heal
as if I offend rather than convince
as if my actions fall short rather than accomplish

everything seems to stall, stagger
unravel, complicate, erode

it is two steps forward, three steps back

I hope
I believe
That this condition is not permanent
Or terminal

That someday the clouds will clear
And the sun will shine

I affirm that though “outwardly I am wasting away
Inwardly I am being renewed, day by day”

But on this day
On this dreary day
The light is dim

I need a comforter
(thanks be to God)

“I shall ask the Father to give you someone else to stand by you,
to be with you always.”  John 14:16)

Sunday, June 9, 2019

the economy of God

“When you have a persistent sense of heartbreak and gutwrench, the physical sensations become intolerable and we will do anything to make those feelings disappear. And that is really the origin of what happens in human pathology. People take drugs to make it disappear, and they cut themselves to make it disappear, and they starve themselves to make it disappear, and they have sex with anyone who comes along to make it disappear and once you have these horrible sensations in your body, you’ll do anything to make it go away.”
 Bessel A. van der Kolk

It is that feeling
Deep down in your gut
That you don’t have this

That sense that everything is slipping through your hands
and crashing to the floor
shattering into a thousand pieces

too many of us feel it
I feel it

it is the queasy feeling in the stomach
the racing head
the hole in the center of one’s soul

it is climate change
and a President abusing his power
and a politicians that put money over people

It is children separated from parents
And dystopian legislation
And mass shootings

It is too many things coming from two many directions
It is too many demands
Too much pain
Too much hoplessness

It is that moment in the middle of the afternoon
When you pace the floor and your stomach hurts
And your heart aches
And your mind races

And you cannot stop
And sit
And do anything
Because it feels like there is nothing you can do

At all
At all

And yet there is something I can do
I can accept my feeling
And notice my thoughts

And then I can let go
Of my need to have things “all tied up”
My need to have the universe “line up” (as if)

And look around me
And see who is there
Within reach

Whose life I can touch with compassion
To whom I can offer something
That will make their life richer and better

I can look around me and see
Who is lonely, or lost?
Who is afraid?
Who is in pain?

And I can reach out with compassion, and generosity

Sometimes service is the best antidote

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

And Jesus said the “greatest among you will be your servant”

Ah, the strange economy of God
Where the last are first
And the poor are blessed
And the givers receive

When Paul says “overcome evil with good”
It is not just an imperative

It is a promise

It is the promise that as we get outside ourselves
And invest our self in actions of love

We will change not only the outer world
But our inner world
For the better.

Friday, June 7, 2019


“Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

I’ve been watching the news
Reading the posts
Listening to the comment

I have been watching the behaviors

Watching history unfold
Moment by moment
Day by day
Week by week

And it is clear there two paths

There is the path of domination
And the path of service

The path of domination is all about power
And manipulation
It is about using
And taking

It is about control and coercion

Border walls belong to the path of domination
So do “screaming Amecan eagles” on the sides of pickup trucks
Domestic violence is about domination
So are oppressive abortion laws
And guns
And military spending

So is gerrymandering
And voter suppression

So is the misuse of power by ICE
And the local police

The path of domination crushes
And all too often kills

It is (ironically or not) the dominant culture among much of America
It is the prevailing ideology among politicians
And is it is the monkey in the brain of the one in the Whitehouse

The other way is the way of love

As the man in the cardigan said
“Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

Love is about accepting
And welcoming
Caring and giving

Love is about creating value in the other person
Not seeking it

And it is about lifting the other up
Lifting all others up
Creating what Martin Luther King Jr called
The beloved community

A place where all are invited to share (equally) in earth’s bounty
A place where all are embraced and none discriminated against.
A place where love rules and people are loved “for their sakes”

Love is about creating free and friendly spaces
Where all can enter, and be safe enough to unwrap themselves
And become who they were meant to be (Nouwen)

Love is a struggle
But in the end
Love is what we need
Love is all we need

Love is who we become whole
And safe
And rich
And happy

It is love that creates the winning

Love is the way
(and the truth, and the life)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Avoid the Box

“Abide not with dualism,
Carefully avoid pursuing it;
As soon as you have right and wrong,
Confusion ensues, and Mind is lost.”
Edward Conze, Buddhist Scriptures

The unbearable weight of being trapped in a world
That is only black or white
Right or wrong
Good or bad

If you want to ruin anything thing
Be dualistic

Just try to live in an “either / or “ world
“I am good, or bad!”
You will inexorably end up bad, and in despair
Or in rare cases, totally good (fundamentally a narcissist)

All of us have our dark places
Our twisted parts
And we do best when we understand and see
Both sides of ourselves
That keeps us humble, that keeps us human

A country that is dualistic
is almost always tribal, arrogant, rigid, and blind
and ultimately immoral

“My country right or wrong!”
I have no problem with that, as long as we can see
That sometimes we are wrong

Without that critical pluralism that allows us to see our own failures
We end up destructive and abusive

Jesus was not dualistic
No way
He was sacred AND human
Demanding and comforting

And when we follow Jesus, we cannot be dualistic either
And this is where we go wrong
Those of us who try to stumble in the footsteps

Being black and white in the world of faith
Does not clarify
It confuses

Can we have certainties?
Of course
I am certain there is a power greater than myself
I am certain that this power is love
I am certain that all people carry Sacred DNA
I am certain that we all come from this reality, from Love
(many call it God)
And I am certain that we return to Love when we die

In the time in between
All bets are off

The more certain we are, the more dangerous we are
The more we try to hold on to black and white formulas
The more likely we are to end up in contradictions
And in places that are not Love

Dualism pushes us into a world of righteous or sinful
Innocent of guilty
Good or bad

Zygotes are innocent and must be kept alive
(unless they are the product of IVF, then we throw them away)

Women who are pregnant are somehow not innocent, and should live with the fact that they had sex, tsk, tsk
(although I am puzzled how an 11 year old who was raped and beaten is not an innocent)

People are death row are definitely not innocent
Just kill them!

We are good, they are bad
So we can impose our values and beliefs on them
Even as we devalue them as human beings

We are good they are bad
So we can bomb them, shoot them, exclude them

We are in, they are out
God loves us, God hates them
So we can minimize and oppress

But the reality is this is a “both/and” world
We are both good and bad
Right and wrong
Weak and strong

And it is in this place of uncertainty that we must live
We have only one compass point
That can lead us through this fog

Love, and an openness to the complexities
Love and an understanding that it is not always black and white
Love and an willingness to enter into the pain of the other
And understand


If we cannot do this
We will end up being very unloving
In the name of love

How crazy is that?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


…The reason we’re seeing a rise in depression, anxiety, substance dependence, and suicide is because humans are in crisis. Much of what creates distress is overwhelming stress. Trauma, abuse, neglect, poverty, and injustice play key roles in contributing to emotional pain…  As long as people are isolated, lonely, marginalized, and lack support, people will experience despair.

We must foster empathy by caring for one another and looking beyond ourselves.
As humans, we need to know we’re not alone. We need unconditional positive regard and an opportunity to reflect and problem solve. Ideally, these needs would be met through family and community relationships, but if there are ruptures in bonding, it’s hard to thrive. In many ways, we’re like plants. If watered and cared for, we do well. If not, we may wither.
                                                                        Lise Porter, Self Bitch of a Daughter Blog

Every day we are assailed by ugliness

It comes from so many directions
From religious radicals
Ideological extremists
Power hungry politicians
Greedy corporations

It comes from people who are fearful
And people who are hate full

It comes from those who have power
And from those who want power

From those who have the money and want more
And from those who feel that somehow
They have been cheated out of the wealth, love, fame, power they want

It comes from everywhere
A cacophony
of words and actions

that pound us inexorably
slowly eroding our souls
rupturing our connections with others
and leaving us “isolated, lonely and marginalized”

We seem to have no place to turn
And the church, which should provide us with sanctuary
Which should be that place where we can gather, connect, and be re-created
Is all too often part of the problem

And we are stressed out

What is missing is this thing called empathy
That capacity to look beyond ourselves, and feel with another person
That capacity to put ourselves in the place of that refugee mother who does not know where her young child is kept.
That immigrant family that lives under the shadow of ICE
That woman who sees her place in America diminished, as assaults are dismissed and rights are taken away
That person of color who fears for his or her life, every time they encounter the police
That farmer who can no longer sell a crop
That person with cancer who has no healthcare
That family that sees the supports that offer them food and housing, taken away
That LGBTQI person who sees more rights taken away, daily?

Can we find it within us to become bound with others?
Can we learn to help people know they are not alone?
Can we learn to accept and welcome

Can we allow ourselves to be touched, filled,
nurtured, and empowered by God,
so that we become those who incarnate the Sacred?

Can we become those who water and care for tender souls
And help them to flourish?

The answer is

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

beautiful misery

“Before the truth sets you free, it tends to make you miserable.”
Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

I have to admit
The Gospel of Jesus

Those truths he revealed about God
and God’s ways
are inconvenient truths

Gospel literally means good news
But sometimes from where I am sitting, it doesn’t seem (or feel)
very good.

This is hard stuff!
Turning the other check
Giving extravagantly
Loving the enemy
Treating those who hate me kindly
Welcoming people who are “strange”, and scary, into my space
Going into the pain of others
Going with service rather than power

It’s enough to make one’s heart hurt
All those things we think we have to give up
All those sacrifices we think we have to make
All those acts that make us feel used
Take advantage of

There are times, as I seek to follow Jesus
That I am downright miserable

I would rather make different choices
I would rather do what is comfortable

I would rather grab hold of power and wealth

I suspect there are a lot of us who call ourselves “Christian”
Who would be better off a little more miserable

Blessed are the poor
Blessed are those who mourn

I suspect that those white male misogynist, “christians”
In Alabama could use a little hold discomfort

I suspect many of them are patting themselves on the back
for their action robbing women of the right to make choices
But I also suspect they see women as less
As mere helpmates,
Creatures designed to be subservient, and compliant
Objects who can be use for sexual pleasure, and act as host bodies for fetuses

Seeking to save lives is laudable

But these folk need to be uncomfortable
Their state is ranked 49th out of 50 states
They are #50 in Education
#45 in Economy
#38 in Infrastructure
#45 in Opportunity
#45Crime & Corrections
#46 in Health care
As they strut up the aisle in their churches, patting themselves on the back
for “protecting the way of God” and “saving lives”
they should be very very uncomfortable

about what they are doing to living children with their legislation
about the number of children of color who die at the hands of people with guns
about the number of children growing up without health care
or housing, or food security
about children whose education is the product of years of underfunding
about children who live in houses with addiction or mental illness

They need to be very uncomfortable about what I happening to the planet
To people who happen to be LGBTQI
To immigrant families on the border

They need to be uncomfortable about the lies
About the sexual perversion
About the name calling and the bullying

About the abuse of power

They need to be uncomfortable with all the things that are happening around them
And about which they are silent
And in which they are complicit

If we want to be free
We have to learn to let God challenge us, convict us

Its true of those of us on the left as well

We need to be willing to be challenged by the words of Jesus
Those powerful words
Those hard words

That force us to see people a new way
The earth a new way

Those words
That push us into God’s new thing
And cause us to see the true ills around us
And empower us to see the pain all around us
And cause us to explore a different way of doing life

Those words that reveal the true agenda of Jesus
And reveal our agendas for what they are

We need to be made miserable
By the misery
By the ills of the world

So miserable that we
Are driven to freely welcome
Freely accept
Freely give
And freely love

Monday, June 3, 2019

God shouts in our pains

Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
 C.S. Lewis

I suppose in a way
Pain is my friend

Pain tells me when I have done too much
And reminds me when I have done to little

Pain screeches “Stop it!!” right now,
When I am doing things that hurt me
When I eat poorly
Love poorly
serve poorly

“Cut the BS, tell the truth”
“Stopping eating that crap, its killing you”
“Don’t work so hard”

Of course pain also tells me to act
To do something different
“Take your hand off that stove!”
“Start walking!”
“Try listening once in a while!’

The thing about pain is that it is strident
It will not leave us alone

In those times when things are good we can easily
Settle into apathy
We can get careless

When we are not in pain we can easily
Let things “slide”
The imperative is just not there
And so we compromise and settle

To be honest I am tired of the pain
I am tired of a neck that aches
A back that hurts
And a knee that hates me

I am tired of a head that will not quite
That monkey brain of mine
That will not let me rest
But chatters away


But mostly I am tire of the pain that oozes
From every pore of my community
my nation
my planet

I see the pain of those without healthcare
Of those caught in addiction
Or afflicted with mental illness

I see the pain of those fighting cancer

I see the pain of the families on the border
The pain of black families who have lost a child unjustly
I see the pain of parents as they send their children off to school
And the deeper pain when some of those children do not return

I see the pain of people born LGBTQI
As they are driven from their families
And excluded from the church

I see the pain of women
Relegated to being “host bodies”
The pain of an 11 year old forced to carry the child of a rapist
While he own life dies
And the pain of a mother forced to share custody
With the rapist who father her child

Simply because too many law makers (most of them GOP)
Mistake pro-birth for pro-life
And see women as objects to be minimized and used.

And at times that pain rages within
Making me want to shut down

At times it makes me reclusive
At times irritable
At times it makes we want to drink
At times it drives me into bed, early

And at times it spurs me to action
It impels me to speak out
To write blogs
Preach the Gospel

If pushes me to visit those who are sad
And alone
And aging

Those fearful and grieving

To give to good causes

I moves me to kindness
And acceptance
And generosity

God does shout in my pain.
Thanks be to God

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The strange economy of God

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
 Frédéric Bastiat, 19th Century French Economist

In the economy of human kind
It is pretty simple

If they have it, and you want it, (and have the power to do so)
take it
it really doesn’t matter how you take it
through graft, abuse
oppression, fraud
just take it

It doesn’t matter how many you hurt
How immoral your actions are
How much damage you do
Just take it

In the economy of the world
the one who has the most toys
the one with the most power
the one with the most fame

is the winner

In the economy of greed
Accumulation is the name of the game

But sadly so is poverty
And hunger
And homelessness

So is hopelessness
And despair

We live in a world where injustice and inequity rule
Where plunder is a way of life

And it is systemized.
The entire system is rigged
So that the plunders can plunder

Oh sure, society throws crumbs at poverty
But in the end
There is no Robin Hood
Only Robber Barons

But then there is the economy of God
Where the stranger is welcomed
The hungry are fed
The homeless are house
The naked are clothed

Then there is the divine economy
Where the rich sell all that they have
And give to the poor

Where the mournful are blessed
As well as the meek
Where those who hunger and thirsty for justice
Are honored
Where the honest and authentic are prized,
And the poor too

Where Jubilee (look it up)
Is a reality
And equity is a way of life

Then there is the Sacred way
Where the first are last
And the last first

And the measure of success is generosity
And compassion
And kindness

We can no longer afford the economy of the world
The price is too high
The time is too short

We need the divine economy

Before another child dies of hunger
Before another dies for lack of medical care
Before another family is thrust into poverty
Before another person is left homeless

Now is the time