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, July 31, 2020

Cursed Individualism

Cursed individualism



If you are an individualist you are surely not a believer, and if you are a believer you are utterly responsible, connected, and aligned everywhere.  Before we can reconstruct this deconstructed culture, we must be utterly reconnected ourselves. This is the work of health religion (re-ligio – rebind).

                               Richard Rohr



in America we have often talked about, and prized

rugged individualism


but perhaps it is time for us to understand that “rugged individualism”

may be another name for “essential selfishness”


I was raised to believe it is not OK to be dependent, or needy

Suck it up

Deal with it

Only weak people have to ask for help


But the reality is, this mentality is the source of much pain


It is this framework that causes people to shame the poor

and allows them to close their eyes to the needs of those

society has systematically oppressed


It is this mindset that has caused people to refuse to wear masks

(even though to do so would protect those around them)

and moved people to literally sacrifice the vulnerable for the economy






forget “them”


it is interesting that through the history of God’s interactions with humankind

the individual is rarely the point of focus


Oh sure, God uses individuals, Abram, for example


But remember, Abram becomes Abraham

father of many

the Abraham story is more than a narrative about individual faith

it is a epoch about the creation of a people


David, that terrible wonderful mess of a King,

led a people


Jesus called the disciples


Peter and Paul formed the ecclesia, the collective

the church

the body of Christ

where are all parts are joined and must work together

where no part is more important than another

and separation from the body is sheer nonsense


Richard Rohr suggests you can be and individualist and be a believer


Nadia Bolz-Weber once said, when talking about her church,

“I think this is why we at House for All Sinners and Saints sometimes say we are religious but not spiritual.  Spiritual feels individualistic and escapist...


but to be religious is to be human in the midst of other humans who are as equally messed up and obnoxious and forgiven as ourselves” (Accidental Saints)


the point is

we need each other

we need to take care of each other

we need to work together

we all must (individually yes) do our part


this world is a mess

it is deconstructed for sure


we are divided and alienated

angry and violent

and frankly


far too many of us

insisting on our “individual rights and freedoms”


are acting like total asses


we are throwing the vulnerable away for money

children away for the right to own whatever kind of gun we want

justice away for power


the very health of our nation away

for the freedom not to wear a mask, and have a beer at a bar


that is not the God way

that is not the Jesus way


and the only way

we are going to pull things back together

is if we drop the insanity of individualism


and love God

and love our neighbor as ourselves


and become a beloved community

Thursday, July 30, 2020

step away from your brain

I think therefore I am – Descartes

I am therefore I think – Me


I have been thinking about thinking

It has been suggested that we mostly exist in our heads


If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one to perceive it

Does it really fall?

Does it even exist at all?


Others suggest we exist only in the mind of God

because God “envisions” us, there we are


I am not quite in that place, but I have become impressed (?) lately

at how powerful our minds are


and I have decided that minds are terrible and wonderful things

and that a mind (as the old advertisement insisted)

is a terrible thing to waste


let me humbly make a few observations



We have an amazing capacity to create our own reality

we can deny facts

twist facts

make up facts

and we can create a reality of our own making


doesn’t matter where we are on the ideological (idiot?) spectrum

we all do it to some degree or another

we use our minds to construct a world to our liking

it can be a world full of beauty and promise,

or it can be a world full of conspiracy and danger


of course which kind of world we create matters

one world causes us to live with hope, and joy, and generosity

the other causes us to live with fear and hate


so it matters, what kind of world we construct


it matters too what kind of God we construct

an angry retributive God is one thing

a loving compassionate, forgiving God is another


it has often been said we create God in our own image


but all too true

the God we choose to embrace reveals a lot about us

who we are at the core


there’s that mind again



we have the capacity to use our mind, or let it sit idle or engage it


too many people don’t use their mind as anything more than a trash can

trash comes in, and they simple “receive” it

they don’t think about what has been see, posited, proclaimed

they simple accept it, and all too often pass it on!


It only takes a Facebook meme to get a lie going!


All we have to do is look at the myths passed on from person to person to person

about protective masks (in this time of Covid)

they rob you of air (they don’t)

they make you sick (they don’t)

on and on and on


garbage in, garbage stored, garbage out


we have to use our minds

they are amazing!  Incredible!

Facts are a thing!

Science is a thing!

We need to engage our minds



Sometimes our minds need to chill out

I have anxiety

My mind never shuts up

Its like I have 100 TV on at the same time

all on different channels, with the volume up

I am therefore I think, and think, and think

and I gnaw on all that stuff in my mind


and so sometimes its important to stop, and breathe

and not think… but just be

left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe



I happen to believe in Sacred

I call the Sacred God, although I dislike anthropomorphizing a power, a reality

that is way beyond my comprehension


but I believe in God/Love/Sacred

I believe that this reality was embodied in Jesus, who showed us what it looks like

when the Sacred runs our lives

and I believe in the Spirit, which is the Sacred, woven into the fabric of our being


so this means that I believe that the Sacred ought to be what/who shapes my mind


as we have seen, so clearly of late

it is quite possible to have an ideologically altered, ideologically impaired mind

a mind twisted and tortured by the voices of greed and hate

a mind shaped by voices we trust, but should not trust

a mind shaped by lies, and extremism


we need to have Spirit altered minds, which are never impaired

but always open to that fresh flow of love

and wisdom

that comes from God


to some degree it comes down to this

because we are we think

as we think, we are

as we fail to think, we are


and how we think, is who we are

so in the end it matters whose we are


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Liberty or License?

When liberty becomes license, dictatorship is near.

                               Will Durant


“While he loved liberty, he detested the crimes that had been committed in its name. Jon J. Ingalls”

                               Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America



today I am thinking about freedom, again


the word gets thrown around a lot these days

and seems to be keeping some bad company


We hear people who, refusing to wear masks in order to protect others

say it’s a matter of freedom



We hear those laden down with AR-15s and pistols and ammunition

suggest they are “freedom fighters”



We hear right wing Christians declare that they need to be “free”

to gather and worship, without restraint, during a pandemic



I love freedom as much as the next person

I want to be free to go where I want to go

Do what I want to do

Be whom I want to be


But freedom is a weighty thing

Adam and Eve had the freedom to eat that apple,

and we all know how that turned out


right now, in America

many people have made “freedom” their rallying cry,


and yesterday over 40,500 people were identified with Covid-19

their choice to be “free”, or perhaps the choice of another

has now taken away their freedom

and if they are vulnerable, perhaps their life


In my own county in rural Oregon

a group is planning to have a fireworks show

drawing people into the country, drawing people together


can it be done safely?


Will it be done safely?

Probably not


When challenged about this decision

Which will put at risk the 40% of the country who are over 65

The answer is


“Don’t go. Let those WHO ARE NOT AFRAID enjoy the celebration of freedom”


I am not afraid

I simply care about others

I don’t want them to get sick, and possibly die


Freedom when combined with an ideology of individualism

(or perhaps selfishness)

is a damn dangerous thing


Being in that place where you say

“I want the freedom to do what I want

(While at the same time having the freedom to discount what you want, or worse what you need…)


transforms freedom to license,

the license to use and abuse

the license to neglect

the license to harm or even destroy others

the license to get what one wants, to do what one wants not matter what the cost


Paul in Galatians 5 has this to say about freedom

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”


Freedom must always be subjugated to love

Love of God

True love of self (health love, not indulgent)

Love of others


We may have the freedom to worship in person

and have a huge fireworks extravaganza

in the middle of a pandemic


We may have the freedom not to wear masks

and ignore distancing


We may have the freedom to use and abuse power,

an American pastime


We may have the freedom to strut around with guns

and intimidate


but is that freedom, or license


are we, when we make those choices

serving one another HUMBLY in love

are we loving our neighbor as ourselves


when I insist on my big party in the time of Covid

or when I refuse to wear a mask….


am I loving those around me with underlying conditions?

am I loving the store clerk who has to serve people who might be infected?

am I loving the medical personal who might have to treat me, should I fall ill?

am I honoring God by my actions?


or am I “indulging the flesh”


I love freedom

but right now I kind of detest things being done

in freedom’s name

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

life wins

Life wins



What is against life will be destroyed by life, for what is against life is against God

                               Howard Thurman



I forget, sometimes

how powerful “life” is

which is another way of saying

that I forget how powerful Sacred is

or to put it yet another way, how powerful God is


you would think I would know better

for life is all around me

in the beauty of the sunrise and sunset

in the soaring mountain

which blesses me each day


in the frolicking cats

and my playful dog


life is all around me

in the feisty 90 plus year old

who though wrinkled and a bit frail

oozes vitality


it is in the caring face of the young mother

and her beautiful caring children who

in better times, grace the front pew of the sanctuary


life is there in the face of my patients with mental health issues

as they seek to re-discover who they are


life is persistent

stubborn even


and just as concrete and asphalt cannot

overcome the “life” of that recalcitrant weed

so the forces of death that press down on us


cannot overcome

the life within in

that powerful force that is nothing more

and nothing less than God



pushing out from the center of who we are

from that deep place where the Sacred dwells

through all our doubt

and all our fear


through all our confusion

pushing out and up

into the air


pushing back

the forces of death

whether they be viruses

or ideologies that maim and destroy


there may be times when it feels

as thought death might win


but it never




in the end


Monday, July 27, 2020

seeing God, everywhere, in everyone

God is all over the place



God is all over the place. God is up there, down here, inside my skin and out. God is the web, the energy, the space, the light—not captured in them, as if any of those concepts were more real than what unites them—but revealed in that singular, vast net of relationship that animates everything that is.


At this point in my thinking, it is not enough for me to proclaim that God is responsible for all this unity. Instead, I want to proclaim that God is the unity—the very energy, the very intelligence, the very elegance and passion that make it all go. This is the God who is not somewhere but everywhere, the God who may be prayed to in all directions at once.

                                         Barbara Brown Taylor



we have a God problem


God is not the problem

The problem is how we think about,

Even more how we talk about



Our problem is we don’t know how to talk about God

I mean God is



Really big


And there is no way we can wrap our head around this spiritual reality

this mystery

which is why it is a mystery


but we try

and we do so by anthropomorphizing God

God becomes, as Barbara Brown Taylor suggests

a very old white-bearded man on a throne,

who stands above creation and occasionally stirs it with a stick


what we do

unintentionally I am sure

is two very devastating things

we contain God, defining God (in our heads) physically, spatially

we place this God outside creation


up there, out there, somewhere


when the fact is God is everywhere

woven into the fabric of this earth

contained, immanent in the skies, the earth

the mountains, the trees

the deer, the birds

in you, in me


and here is the thing

if God is in the earth, the how we treat the earth

is how we treat God

(more than a little abusively if truth were told)


and if God is in each creature

and more, in each person

then how we treat people, is how we treat God


when we dehumanize another

because of race, or creed

we are not just denying their humanity

we are denying God


If I look at the earth and see God

If I look at the creatures of forest and field


If I look in the face of a black brother

If I look in the face of a frightened senior, terrified by Covid 19

If I look at that person who refuses to wear a mask


and see God

that (should) change everthing

Saturday, July 25, 2020

limping toward newness

My feet looked new

My hands looked new

The world looked new

When I came out of the wilderness

Leaning on the Lord

                               Old Black gospel song



They say we live in a ‘post modern world”

Which may be the same as saying as we live in a “post fact” world


Post modernism assumes at some level

That nothing can really be known

Everything is a construct

Social or intellectual


That will eventually be proven wrong, and replaced


We live in a world where we arrogantly “know”

And despairingly “don’t know”


on a “real” level

we live in a world where blacks are free and oppressed

where science is revered and ignored

where freedom is revoked in the name of freedom

where people of faith talk love and all too often live anger and retribution

where, in faith communities, crime and punishment overwhelm grace and mercy


we have created

we post modern Americans

our own wilderness


it is a barren place

and in its grim emptiness we wander

sometimes hopeful, sometimes hopeless


we have vague memories of where we want to go

of the promised land of equity and justice

where all live together as brothers and sisters


but for the most part we are simply lost


sometimes falling in adoration at the feet of a false idol

cramming meeting halls in the middle of a pandemic to

worship the “golden calf”



responding to our plight with protest


with violence, or threats


hiding, hoping magically to be found


but there are those moments

when we dimly see

the pillar of light, the Sacred presence

that leads us forward


to something new

and so we trust, we follow

we trod, we trod, we trod

helping each other along

leaving no one behind


leaning on Jesus

tired and limping our way

toward newness



Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I don't (want to ) care!

I don’t (want to ) care!





there are times I want to say I don’t care

as I watch the overt racism play out on the streets of my country

as I watch the subtle racism play out in our courts

as I am confronted with the systematic racism we pretended was gone


I want to turn my back

and ignore the fires of cities burning

the attacks on the press by a militant police

the blithering ineptitude of a leader

who cannot calm and unite, because his only tools are chaos and division


I want it to end

this nightmare of Covid-19

right wing terrorism

left wing arrogant perfectionism


I want to go back to the America that never really was

but which we pretended existed

where all people are created equal

and all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness


but I can’t go back to what never was

for there a black man lying on the street, dead

there are the brown children, in cages

there is the economic system that crushes the poor,

and makes it impossible for them to rise.


I can’t fix it

I can’t escape it

I want it to end

and so, desperately I want to stop caring


but I care so much

I feel I will bleed to death with the pain of it


and so I look

as the country burns

and the virus spreads


I look at the eyes of the protestors, and see pain piled on pain

and at the eyes of the instigators, nurturing violence, and see cold calculation

and into the eyes of the law, and see everything, from hate, to love, to pain

and into the eyes of our ‘leader’ and see nothing


but looking I also see

those moments when compassion breaks through

I see police kneeling, side by side with the protestors

I see people voluntarily cleaning up the streets of their cities

I see people working to stop the violence


and though as Longfellow noted, in the dark hours of the civil war

“hate is strong” and stills the song of love


love breaks through

and in those acts of kindness, and reconciliation

I am reminded that God is Love

and that Love dwells within me, an you

and that Love shall win


“The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,”


because the Love that dwells within us

is stronger than the pain in front of us



Tuesday, July 21, 2020

there are no words

There are No Words



there are times

when there are no words

when nothing can be said

when nothing can be done


when one is confronted with things so profoundly


that one can do nothing but cry silently from the heart


When one watches

a President follow his praetorian guard

across a plaza, as the flash grenades explode

and the tear gas flies

and the armored enforcers march, shields in place,

and peaceful protestors are driven from

the sanctuary of a church


for a photo op

as a Bible and a church building are used as props

for the gospel of dominance and hate

rather than the Gospel of sacrifice and love


there are times

when there are no words

when nothing can be said

when nothing can be done


when those forces gleefully inciting violence

and plan for violent revolt in the name of racism

are enabled and encouraged

when those seeking justice are demonized


and black blood and white blood

mingle together on the pavement

in silent protest


there are times

when there are no words

when nothing can be said

when nothing can be done


as people whine about the minor inconvenience of a mask

and claim their pleasures

crowding on to beaches and into pools


all while a virus dances

and fragile humans die by the hundreds of thousand

while black, white and brown all struggle to breathe

and die alone


there are times

when there are no words

when nothing can be said

when nothing can be done


times when the tears do not come from one’s eyes

but from one’s heart

that beating heart

that leaps up from its resting place into one’s throat

almost choking one to death


one wants to say too much

one cannot say enough

and yet

one is left without words


at least the words that can heal

and bring hope


one is left with only angry words

the words of affront and despair

words that pile pain upon the pain, upon the pain


there are times

when there are no words

when nothing can be said

when nothing can be done


when all we can do is cry from the heart


“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint.


Lead me to the rock that is higher than I;

for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy” (Psalm 61)


when all we can do is cry

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?


Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.’  (Psalm 13)


Sometimes all we have is the cry of our heart

and the faith


that if we do not give up

that if we do not weary in doing good (Galatians 6)

and preaching (and living) love

if we trust in God’s love (Psalm 13)

we can overcome evil with good (Romans 12)


who but the Lord can protect the poor?

who but the Lord can protect the vulnerable?

who but the Lord can protect the person of color?


who but the Lord..

working through you, and me?


there are times

when there are no words, but we must speak anyway

when nothing can be done, but we must strive anyway


Monday, July 20, 2020

Healer heal thyself

Before you speak of peace,

you must first have it in your heart….


We have been called

to heal wounds,

to unite what

has fallen apart, and to bring home

any who have lost

their way


Frances to the First Friars

Legend of the Three Companions, Number 58

(quoted by Richard Rohr  in The Wisdom Pattern)




ατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν,

Medice, cura te ipsum, (Luke 4:23)


Healer heal thyself


From Aeschylus to ancient Jewish rabbis

(physician, physician, heal thy own limp)

to Jesus comes this plea


attend to thine own illness

which causes my mind to jump to another proverbial statement


remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye (Matthew 7:5)


and another

people who live in glass houses, should wear clothes (5 year old version)


I have not come to talk about hypocrisy however

I have come to talk about healing


and what occurs to me as I reflect upon all of this is that we are

all, as Henri Nouwen pointed out, “Wounded Healers


There is no debate about this

we all have those fragile places, those privileged places

we all spiritual cracks and fissures

those place where we bled anger, or hate, jealousy or greed


but still, wounded as we are (I don’t like the term broken)

we are still called be to healers


to be people of compassion and generosity

to be people who unite and support

and touch a very broken world

with love


but we can’t heal, unless we have experienced some degree of healing

(probably not cure, just healing)

we can’t offer love if we have not received it

we can’t offer peace if we don’t have it

we can’t embrace forgiveness if we have not been forgiven


which is why

whatever we do to address the ills of the world

must come from the deep places of the heart

and must come out of an intimate encounter with Sacred


which means (or so my logic suggest)

that meaningful social change must come out of spirituality


which means we must nurture our relationship with the Sacred


which means we need

meditation and silence, lament and praise

worship (however we define it and practice it)


we need Sabbath

times of rest and reflection

times to sink our roots more deeply

into the fine soil of God’s love


before we speak of, and strive for peace, justice, joy, love

we must have it in our hearts

Sunday, July 19, 2020

don't give up

Unfinished Poem

I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”

                                         John O'Donohue




I would like to be very Zen

in the moment

with calm attentiveness


or to translate that into faith language

I would not many having

“the peace that surpasses all understanding”


but alas


I am all too often looking back

over my shoulder

at those moments that wound one’s soul



and I am all too often looking forward

wondering at where this all is headed

this pandemic

this failed state, and failed presidency

this economy



I carry these regrets and worries

in this body

they ooze out of my soul in the aches and pains

that are more than aging


I carry too the pain of this world

I feel the agony of those oppressed and minimized

my black brothers and sisters, who do not matter to too many

whose victimization is rationalized and excused and whitesplained away


I hurt for my Native America friends, who denied support and respect

die quickly, die slowly on the reservations

where we have placed them, and where we have ignored them


I cannot forget the poor

the mentally ill, the abused

the shamed the rejected

all those our society has cast-off, like so much garbage


even the earth cries out

and her cries are felt, deep down,

in that space where Sacred dwells


what does it mean

in such times

to carry peace

to live in the moment?


to find that place where, while all is chaos and terror

one can have a calmness of soul


where does that come from?


It comes I think, from understanding that what is Sacred

all that is sacred, is Love

Those clouds, love

That mountain, love

That person, love


And recognizing that love permeates the fabric of the world

It is woven into who we are as Sacred Children

It is both deniable and undeniable


And it is believing that love has power

And love can indeed, win


If we do not give up




Friday, July 17, 2020

A new way of doing life

When you’ve been alive for only

(count your own) days


The pathways are rarely clear

Here where the roads keep changing


What makes sense on one day

Makes no sense the next


And so, to avoid exhaustion, and to deepen rest

Ask yourself


These question


How would you describe today?



Have you seen anything interesting on the way?



Is it working?  Is it working?


Is it working?

                                         Padraig O Tauma



sometimes we go through life on cruise control

we sleep in the same bed

get up at the same time

go through the same daily rituals


we eat the same foods

drink the same drinks


we watch the same TV shows

think the same thoughts

and our faith


well we have imbibed a faith

handed down to us

a faith swallowed whole


but there are questions that must be asked


hard questions

reflective questions


and above all we have to ask

is it working


are these values we embrace

are these strategies we have adopted

is this way of life



I mean really?

Is our way of living sustainable?

Does it promote life?

Does it produce equity?

Does it create equality?

Does it lead to justice?


We are on the road to somewhere, where does it lead?

And if the destination is good, will we all get there, together?


Are all things working


For good


They might be working for me

White, relatively affluent, educated, Christian

Privileged all the way


But are things working

for that black person

that person with mental illness

that addict

that poor person

that ill person?



These is a reason the virus continues to dominate our country

There is a reason people are protesting in the streets

There are a reason our jails are full

There is a reason people are living on the edge of poverty

There is a reason people are hungry, and homeless

And without health care


Because it is NOT working

This way of essential selfishness

This raw worshipping of power

This focus on money


It is not working


Which is why we need to remember, always

that we are called

as children of God

people of the Spirit

followers of Jesus


to embrace a different way of doing life


it is all there… in red letters (in my old childhood bible)

it is all there in black and white

we know the way we must live


in the power of the Spirit

may we live it







Thursday, July 16, 2020

Pissed Off

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

Joe Klaas, Twelve Steps to Happiness


“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”

Nelson Mandela


“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”

Søren Kierkegaard


“Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.”

Bob Marley


“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

Søren Kierkegaard




today is Juneteenth


Juneteenth started in Texas, if you can believe that

to commemorate Union army general Gordon Granger

announcing federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas,

on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were now free



we are hearing a lot of talk about freedom

which raises the question

“what is freedom?”  and “are you free?”


It has been 155 years since General Granger told blacks they were free

Are they free?

Are they free to vote? (as easily as whites)

Are they free to job (without fear of being shot)

Are they free to play in a park (without being killed)

Are they free to make the mistakes people of all colors make

(without paying disproportionate price)


and what about those poor souls who are being asked to wear masks

a proven (don’t argue with me, this is not a matter for debate) way to lessen the spread of Covid 19


who are being asked to take some basic measures to protect others from a virus

that might well kill them


are they, as they claim, “not free?”


what about “freedom of the press”

what do we think when a president wants to “execute”

those who don’t say what he likes,


what do we say about attempts to quash the truth

while at the same time insisting that people have the “freedom” to lie?


When is freedom not freedom

When does freedom become a license to be deplorable?


It’s complicated


Even Paul recognized this complexity

“It is for freedom that Christ set you free” (Galatians 5)


“do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature”


So on this day of freedom I am free to offer a few random thoughts


1. Freedom legislated is not always freedom realized. Blacks have been free for 155 years, but they are still not truly free.

2.  Freedom does not always have a good outcome.  I can have the freedom to speak out, and stay stupid and harmful things.  A person with the “freedom” to carry a gun can go into a school and shoot children.  A person with the freedom not to wear a mask can pass on a virus to someone who will die from that virus.

3.  Freedom is work, because if offers choices. If I am free to choose I have to go through the process of deciding which choice is right.  And sometimes that is a painfully difficult process.  And sometimes the choices are unclear.  And sometimes they are clear, but painful and difficult.

4.  Freedom can be scary.  It is easier (see above) to be told what to do.  To have the safety of a rigid system.  It is easier not to go through a process of discernment and change (and change is scary too).

5. The true exercise of freedom demands that we engaged our brains, our hearts, our souls.  If we leave any of those out, freedom can become license, and can be very destructive indeed.

6.  Freedom must sometimes be fought for.  It may mean protesting in the streets.  Speaking out on Facebook.  Speaking out from the pulpit, or the pew.  It always means engaging in practical ways to make freedom a reality.

7.  Freedom is uncomfortable.  It will piss you off sometimes.  Because it means diversity.  It means change.  It means a lack of control. 

8.  Freedom is dangerous.  As Paul notes in I Corinthians 10:23, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.”


As I said, its complex, and I have barely scratched the service


But let me add one last thing.  When Paul talks about freedom he says there is only one thing, essentially, from which we are not free.


The need to LOVE


“serve one another in Love”


So much of this would fall into place

If what rules we established were based on love (not merely control)

If our behaviors, freely chosen, were chosen out of love (of the other, not love of power or money)

If we were soaked with Sacred Love (the Holy Spirit)


Freedom will never be easy to find

Freedom will never be easy to keep

Freedom will never be simple or comfortable

It will always be dangerous


But when truly present

It will always look like love







Wednesday, July 15, 2020


(Written in a time of great division)


This girl had been taught a lesson by her community and she had learnt it well.  If God is for you than who is he against?  Welcome to the gods of our creation

                                                              Padraig O’Tuama (In the Shelter p.77)



Jesus loves me, this I know

but I am not so sure Jesus loves you


we don’t say this out loud

perhaps we don’t even think it out loud


but I suspect we struggle to believe that the God we say is Love

really loves all

(as some of us so loudly proclaim)


at the very least we feel that God

if God loves them, must be royally pissed off

and somewhere in our hearts is that seed of retribution

that wants them to get what we feel they deserve


a little smiting


this is perhaps the one way God is really beyond my understanding

God’s capacity to Love

and keep loving


while we are busy categorizing people as

evil, or sinners, or bad, or

whatever word we choose to use


God is busy looking at those same people with love


That person with the confederate flag and his AR-15

That person coughing on another in a store in New York

That person shoving an old man to the ground

That right wing theologian who dehumanizes people who are LGBTQI


The list goes on

Of people I have trouble loving

Of people I tend to diminish, and minimize, and reject

While accusing them of diminishing, minimizing and excluding


Even as I write those words my brain screams

“but they are wrong”

“they are hurting others”

“THEY don’t love”


and I am left humbled

and saddened by my inability to love them (not necessarily like)

and to live that love out


I am left convicted, by my belief, unbidden and unwanted

that “my” god cannot love “them”


but fortunately

while my god may be not be able to love them

God can


and so on this day

as anger and resentment roil

and mix in with the love compassion that is in my soul

may I turn from my created god and turn to God

and ask for help


I pray for myself, and all of us, that

“being rooted and established in love, we may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…”


and I pray that we might be, “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

And that what we cannot do, this One  “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”   (Ephesians 3)


May do in us and through us

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


Peace making doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.”

Shane Claiborne, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals


What do we do with evil?

Do we even know what evil is?

Do we know where it comes from?

Are things inherently evil

or do things become evil, 

when touched by something that emerges from 

the souls of human kind  (What evil lurks in the souls of me – and women)?

something that twists the natural order

transforming what is naturally good

into something destructive?

The Bible certainly knows that what we call evil exists

we see the concept of evil woven into the fabric of the Sacred story

from the Garden, to the apocalyptic end

But how did evil emerge, if God is good, if God is love, if God is


Why did it emerge?

What is its nature?

The questions are endless,

But the real questions are practical…

What do with this reality we call evil, when it stares us in the face?

What do we do with brutality, abuse and violence, power twisted

What do we do with lies, the truth twisted?

What do we do with injustice and inequity, community twisted?

It is a tough question

But the more difficult question is this

What do we do with the people who perpetrate evil?

Who perpetuate evil?

Who tolerate or even enable evil?

I am not sure

What I am sure of is that evil tends to beget evil

As violence begets evil

Too often as we attempt to interrupt things that are evil

We start to reflect, in our own words and actions, that which we are attempting to resist

We call the name caller names, we hate the haters, we are intolerant of intolerance

So how do we counter those things that are destructive 

Paul had this suggestion:  “Don’t overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good”

Which sounds good

But man!

I suspect that this strategy

Is slow

Probably often painful


I suspect it takes patience

and a lot of faith

in what (as one person put it)

God can do with dust

I think it involves getting down into the dust

of common humanity

most of all it requires separating that which is twisted

from the divine original that still lurks inside each person

separating the attitudes, and actions, from the person

because I believe

“There is no one who is completely evil as to lack some goodness in him.”

(Bangambiki Habyarimana, Book of Wisdom)

I believe it is there, even if I can’t see it, or feel it

Which is why we must do the hard work of love

the hard work of praying for those we want to hate

the hard work of not becoming what we resist

the hard work of staying with and for others, even when the fail to change

the hard work of accepting when we want to reject

and forgiving when we lust for retribution

I can rarely do it

I want to do it

But all too often I don’t

And so all I can do (when it comes down to it)

Is turn to the one who treats me the way I should treat others

Ask for help

And go from there





Sunday, July 12, 2020

true courage

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
Maya Angelou

these are times for courage
not the fake courage of those who hide behind power and bully
not the “courage” of those who show up at rallies with guns
not the courage that comes from aligning one’s self with the powers that be
not the courage that comes from gathering your “flock” because you need an audience

but the courage of a young black woman
standing firm and peaceful while a large white man attempts to intimidate her
the courage of pastors who encourage their churches to remain closed
the courage of mayors and county commissioners, and governors
who make unpopular directives, to keep people safe

I’ve been thinking about courage today
and what makes for real courage versus fake courage

Lao Tzu has part of the answer
perhaps all of the answer when he says 

“Being deeply loved gives you strength …
 Loving someone deeply gives your courage’

Courage must be grounded in love
It must rise out of love
And it must be guided by love

Not desire, not want
But authentic love

When we are called to be courageous
that is when our values show

because moments that most call for courage
also call us to define who we are, what we believe in, and what we value

What do we value?

Commerce over people?
Money over people?
Individualism versus community?
Personal agendas versus the common good?
Popularity over leadership?

Do we have good values?  A good moral compass
And do we have the courage to live out our values?

Can we choose people over money
when our bank account is at risk

Can we choose to wear a mask, when people around us ridicule us?
Can we choose to stand up for black people, LGBTQI people, when our neighbors, 
our church, our leaders, won’t?

Do we have the courage to be unpopular?
Do we have the courage to have people reject us?
As ministers do we have the courage to anger members of our “flock” in order to truly hold to the values and teachings of Christ?

The answer should be “yes”
But it is not easy
Sometimes we remain silent
Sometimes we ‘parse’ our answers to make them less overt
Sometimes we “cave”, and go along with the prevailing crowd

And sometimes
We are courageous
Sometimes because we know we are loved by God
And those around us are loved by God
We have the courage to choose love
Choose people
Choose inclusion
Choose the difficult path

Because love gives us the courage
To live out those values that arise out of love

So give us courage Lord
The courage that comes from love
The courage that enables us to love

Because right now the world needs people
Who have courage rooted in love