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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Share it all

God invites us into a covenant, where by the power of the Spirit we can choose to allow our hearts to break, and then take the pieces—our lives, our goods, our love, and our privileges—and share it all like a broken loaf of communion bread…


When you take something you possess—your bread and power, your abilities and identities, your comfort and control, your treasured structures and even life itself—and release your attachment to it and make it useful to God’s movement, you are practicing kenosis.

                     Stephanie Spellers, The Church Cracked Open



If I believe in God, love God, trust God, obey (a biggie for many) God, give to God,

God will…


How do we finish that sentence?


God will bless me?

God will save me from eternal torment?

God will give me wealth?

God will give me and power and make me a “winner”?

God will heal me?

God will protect me?

God will “Bless America!”?


How do we finish the sentence?


It matters.


Biblically there is indeed a concept of blessing

But if we take the “blessings” of Jesus seriously, it is a strange concept indeed.

Blessed are the poor?  Those who mourn?

Blessed are those who suffer?


When we connect with all that is Sacred

When we connect with that Power, that Love

in which we move, and breathe, and have out being,


what happens?


What is the consequence?

Is it that we become favored, blessed?


Yes, but in that odd Jesus kind of way

Where blessing takes the form of becoming people for others


God invites us into a covenant, not where we become the favored, dominate ones

who have all the power and the goodies,

but where we STOP organizing our lives around our selves,

STOP engaging in a tribalism (nationalism) where we protect ourselves

and protect what we have

and seek to get more


as we carry our guns, wave our flags

and hide behind racial, class or gender privilege (Spelling)


God calls us into a life style where we “allow our hearts to break”

and then take the fragments of our lives

our time, energy, privileges, power, and yes money


“and share it all like a broken loaf of communion bread…” (Spelling)


In short we are calling to empty ourselves

to adopt the pattern of Jesus

who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross.


When we believe in God, love God, trust God, obey (a biggie for many) God, give to God, God will…


break us open and pour us out,

that we might become a blessing to others,

and might find that unique Jesus kind of blessing


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Domination versus Communion

Under the Domination Paradigm, people are encouraged to think of themselves as identified by their descriptions and to see themselves as real insofar as they are distinct from others. . . . “I am I by virtue of being not-you.” So defined, people feel the insufficiency of their being, which is always vulnerable, always at risk. Consequently, people are insecure and anxious. Strongly pressed to preserve and enhance what being they have, people are easily tempted to believe that helping others may hurt themselves and that hurting others may be the best way to help themselves. After all, the others are “others,” and our first priority is ourselves. “My” well-being has to take precedence over “yours.”

          Beatrice Bruteau (Holy Thursday Revolution)



Its you and me against the world!

Sometimes it is just “me” against the world


This is the modern American mindset

Cultured and nurtured for hundreds of years


I am distinct!

I am exceptional!

I am entitled to wealth and power!


I am, and I am distinct from you.

And you?

You are mostly likely a threat!


Especially if you do not look and think the way I do.


Where does this mindset take us?

This human reality so evident in the symbolic stories of the Bible


In the stories of the Garden,

Cain and Able,

the Tower of Babel

even Noah?


It takes us to a place where we are fragmented and divided as human creatures.

There we are in our isolated magnificence.

There we are in our isolated vulnerability.


Needing to “preserve and enhance” what we have

Seeing those around us as competition, as threats.


Fearful that generosity is an erosion of safety and power,

and thus, becoming fearful hoarders and worse.


Becoming people willing to sacrifice other people for our benefit.

Willing, when in leadership, to not only fail to do what is good for others,

but willing to prevent others from doing good (think Abbott and DeSantis)


We become such fragmented and dysfunctional people, the evidence

of our dysfunction glaring in the harsh rays of the sun

beating down on a dying planet.


The evidence is everywhere!

In injustice,



Climate change.

Authoritarianism (the corporate version of all this).


There is “me”

And then there are “others”

And they are of no consequence.


But the Sacred demands a different way.

The Jesus Movement makes this clear.


With the Sacred we are unified.

We carry all carry the Sacred, One Spirit

We all participate in the Divine

We all are loved

We all are children of God

We are all safe in Sacred Love (although not “safe” in this world).


And we are drawn together, not driven apart

With Pentecost, and the revelation that we are Sacred Filled

The Tower of Babel was reverse

Division and confusion became union and understanding


The world is a mess

The Jesus Way is the way out of this mess.


That way where we do not say,

“here I am by virtue of being not you”

But say instead

“Here I am I by virtue of being in-you/with-you/for-you” (Bruteau).



Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Good Power

Good power is revealed in what Ken Wilber calls “growth hierarchies,” which are needed to protect children, the poor, the entire natural world, and all those without power. Bad power consists of “domination hierarchies” in which power is used merely to protect, maintain, and promote oneself and one’s group at the expense of others.

                     Richard Rohr



“There are two loves only,” Michel Quoist believes

love of self

and love of Sacred and of others,


there is a love that when diverted to the self

“withers, rots and dies,”

and a love that received from Sacred

and nurtured within the self

leaves and flies toward others.


and which kind of love we embrace seems to

determine which kind of power we embrace.


Love of self produces some sour fruits

not trusting love enough we are filled with fear

and must protect, must grasp, and must dominate


love of self produces the “acts of the flesh” (Gal. 5)

including the very political, power sins of

rage, selfish ambition, dissension, divisiveness,

and all the elements of domination


Sacred is powerful

Spirit is powerful

That reality many call “God” is powerful


but it is a unique kind of power

and it is NOT the power of domination


we try to make it that kind of power

even as all that is Sacred tries to show us it is not

even as Sacred came and

incarnate, showed us on a cross that it is not.


but we persist


and we use power on others

we exercise power over others

and in the name of power, and in the name of God

we suppress, oppress, and repress

we minimize and marginalize.


Forgive us, Lord.


Help us to rejects those kinds of power that violate Sacred


White supremacy


Extremism (of any sort except extreme love)

Rigid capitalism


Help us to embrace that power that comes

paradoxically out of powerlessness

out of servanthood


that power which lifts up






that power which cedes

and protects

and seeks not to gain but to give

not to dominate but to serve


that power which protects

“children, the poor, the entire natural world, and all those without power”


power, Martin Luther King Jr. insisted

is the “ability to achieve purpose”

let us make sure that we use our power

for love

Sunday, August 22, 2021

journey in, journey out

And you?  When will you begin that long journey into yourself?



… your soul reaches out farther than your body

                     John O’Donohue



its all a muddle

mind, body, and

that something we call soul


that troublesome brain

that bullies us

and blesses us


that body that we allow

so thoroughly to define us


and that something else that is

in us, beyond us

that Imago Dei


that defining part

that makes us who we are


we spend so much time worrying out our bodies

we spend so much money

trying meet some illusive standard

of beauty or health


we try to control our minds

through books

and entertain our minds

with distractions


and yet that part of us that makes us who we are

that Sacred part

we sometimes neglect

in our busy rush through life


we seek for “life” out there

when in it “in here”


we think our souls are so small

that they are contained within us

and are “ours”


when in reality we are contained within our soul

which belongs to us, to God, to all

which is connected

like a spiritual Venn diagram

to those around us


who are connected to those around them

who are connected to



the real journey of discovery starts when

we wander in

and then wander out

into that vast space, that vast love

we find within


but which extends far beyond ourselves

as far as eternity

Saturday, August 21, 2021

we are God's hiding place

Oh, then, soul, most beautiful among all creatures, so anxious to know the dwelling place of your Beloved [God] so you may go in search of him and be united with him, now we are telling you that you yourself are his dwelling and his secret inner room and hiding place.

       ~ St. John of the Cross.



So often we seek that which is Sacred

We see that power behind the mountains and the streams.

The birds and the animals.

We seek that power that is Love



“This love is my hiding place” we say

“This power will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”


And yet it is a profound truth

is we are in Sacred and Sacred is in us



which speaks to all kinds of wonderful things

such as union,




So look for Sacred if you will.

Call it God, if you will (or not).

Look for Love in all places (even the wrong ones)


But don’t forget to look inside

For not only is God our hiding place

We are God’s hiding place.


And let us see

if, through our words and actions,

we can make God a little less hidden.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

The road is made by walking

Wanderer, there is no way, the road is made by walking

          Antonio Machado, Proverbios y Cantares



Slowly the sun rises

into a smoke filled sky.


It burns red and orange through the haze

as the dust roils from parched ground.


What will this day bring?

What will I accomplish?


For this septuagenarian, wallowing in his cootage

the path ahead seems vague.


Although I still work (three jobs)

and still have much to do, there is something different

about this road.


It stretches behind me, into mountains and valleys,

and twists and turns a perfect disaster, at times,

of poor choices.


It stretches forward too, into eternity,

but I realize now that this road

is not a road, only a suggestion.


And I understand that I will make this road,

as I have made the road behind me,

by walking.


It will become through the choices I make each moment,

the values I choose,

the people I meet,

the oddities life will throw my way.


Knowing me, the path will not be smooth!

I am a wanderer, and chase after truth and love,

but also after illusory ghosts that lead me astray.


Yes, you would think I would know better after all these years.

But still, I will chase dreams and enthusiasms,

sometimes into swamps and box canyons.


But there is something to be learned here.

To make each choice intentional and thoughtful.


To stop, and breathe, and look around

just for a moment, before plunging forward.


To stop, breathe, and listen to the still small voice

I hope is Sacred

whispering in my ear


“Perhaps you might want to go this way.  Start walking”

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

nurture the good

There is more good than evil in the world – but not by much

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi



Sometimes our propensity for evil surprises us

We are constantly amazed at how easy it is for people to lie.

To believe lies.

To choose money over people.

To seek power at any cost (to the other).

To use and misuse.

To abuse.

To choose toxic individualism over common good.


How did we get here?

To this place outside the garden,

trudging in the dust with Adam and Eve,

vulnerable and afflicted?


It is as they say a mystery,

explained only by a story from ancient days,

a story replete with serpents and forbidden fruit, and temptations,

and capitulation.


There really is only one point to the story.

Once we were one with Sacred, now we are not.

At least we are not while we are here on this dark planet (CS Lewis)

where so much is wrong.


Many great mystics understand that is an unnatural state.

That in our “creation” we were “knit and oned to God” (Julian),

but that in our entry into this fraught world of creation, we must from this unity

to a separation of sorts.


Not a complete separation, for Sacred is still in us and among us

But a separation nonetheless.


A separation which means that we are both good and bad,

loving and hate filled,

forgiving and vengeful,

kind and cruel.

Yes!  The mystics would insist that eventually the separation resolves,

that when we die we return to Sacred and return to oneness


But, in this world we experience the via negativa and the via positiva,

the way both wide and narrow


and thus there is both good and bad

and the good outweighs the bad, but not by much.


And so we feel so lost and vulnerable.

We feel as if at any moment love will not win and the forces of evil

will come crashing in for a final victory.


Only faith.

Only our belief in Sacred, and in our oneing keeps us going.


And so each day we fight for awareness of our oneness with God

And so we day we seek the breakthrough (Eckhart), the moment of spiritual intoxication (Aquinas) that reminds us of our origins, and facilitates our union.


And so we day we take that connection, and we live it!

We seek, desperately, to live out the love which flows into us perpetually, from Love his/herself.


Hoping that by our actions,

our random acts of kindness

love will win, even if not by much!


We can make the difference.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The curse of extremism

“Objection, evasion, joyous distrust, and love of irony are signs of health; everything absolute belongs to pathology.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil



It’s a tough world out there.

It seems as though we live in a time when people are committed to doing everything they can to make things worse.


Whether the issue be climate change, abortion, guns, or Covid we have those passionate souls who absolutely refuse to look at facts critically and change.


And the culprit seems to be absolutism.

People, well meaning for the most part, are absolutely committed to one concept, one cause, on issue, to the point that their absolutism becomes obstructionism.


People, believing that abortion is murder, are so absolute in their rejection of abortion as a solution, that they fail to think about whether their chosen strategy, abortion bans, actually work.  Spoiler alert, abortion bans don’t work.  Many other things do.

People, believing in their right to bear arms, and absolutely believing that guns keep them safe, obstruct any efforts to create some limits on guns.  They close their minds to the fact that people who have guns in their house are more likely to die of a gunshot, not less.  They ignore the fact that countries with tighter controls have way less gun deaths than does the United States.

People believing that a certain politician is telling the truth, buy absolutely into lies that have been proven wrong time and time and time again.

People believing that the government is trying to “control” them, absolutely refuse to get vaccinated for Covid, or wear a mask.  The block many attempts to keep people safe from disease.  Causing an untold number of unnecessary deaths, and a prolonging of a pandemic that, as long as they are obstructionists, will never end.


Absolutism, and extreme blind focus on one party, one individual, one cause is, as Nietzsche suggests, pathological


Is there anything we can grab hold of absolutely that will not destroy?

Some might say the Sacred, or God, or Jesus.

But as we have seen, absolute commitment to even Jesus can lead people into dark and cruel places.  Into a swamp of lies.


But perhaps, if we think about what Jesus taught,

about the one thing Jesus seemed to be committed to, absolutely, we might find something to which we can adhere.


That would be love.

Love God.

Love yourself.

Love others.


Love your enemy!

Love generously!

Love sacrificially!

Love to the point of dying for the other!


Put your love into action

Turn your check.

Give all you have!

Walk the second mile.

Bless those who persecute you.


Can absolute love be as dangerous as all the other absolutes?

Not if we take the trinity of love seriously

Love of God, self and others

If we absolutely love all three, then we get the perichoreses

The circle dance of love that sucks everything into its vortex


Then we get a balanced love that is absolute

That is God


Absolutists scare me to death.

Those who are absolutely committed to abortion bans.

To gun ownership.

To a political party, or ideology, or theology.


But I absolutely believe in Love

And I absolutely believe in the one who taught Love and illustrated love, and died love.

Not with the exclusionary, cruel absolutism of evangelicalism,

but with the absolute belief

that Love wins.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Choices, choices

A voice comes to your souls saying,

Lift your foot.  Cross over.

Move into emptiness

of question and answer and question




how many choices does one make in a day?

from the moment one swings one’s feet out of bed

there are choices to be made


and every choice creates a new choice

and every choice changes the next choices


we are forever at a threshold

forever dancing on thin places

in liminal space


and we have only one job in life

to dance with the Spirit and make the next




what is the “right” choice?

the right choice is the one that leads us toward

the Kingdom


the next right choice is that one

that causes us to live

as if we had crossed the threshold into a place

where Love rules


and where anything that is not love can cannot exist


the next right choice

must always move one toward

way of love


love of God

healthy love of self

love of other


when I get up

will I rush into my day?

or will I take a moment and breath deeply

breathing God in, breathing despair out?


when I get up will I choose to rush to the computer

and to the wasteland of Facebook

or will I choose to put on my shoes and walk in the ethereal pink

of early morning


when I am faced with words from another,

or with news

or with a behavior

that hurts my soul

will I choose to respond harshly, or will I choose to respond honestly,

but with love?


so often

most often

I do not think about my choices


but this day my challenge for myself

and for you

is to walk gently through each moment

mindfully through each choice


for we are forever at a threshold

forever dancing on thin places

in liminal space


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

the enemy

We have this revolutionary commandment: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your countrymen and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons and daughters of your heavenly God. . . .” (Matthew 5:43–45).


These are the most radical, political, and revolutionary words ever uttered. They fulfill the vision of nonviolence, of work for justice and disarmament, of universal compassion and unconditional forgiveness, and of trust in the God of peace. Few discuss this commandment, but I believe it sums up Christianity. But we’ve done our best to avoid and disobey it.

          John Dear, The Beatitudes of Peace: Meditations on the Beatitudes,

Peacemaking and the Spiritual Life (Twenty-Third Publications: 2016), 129–130



It is a conundrum      

this teaching of Jesus that we are to love our enemies


we have been taught from birth that there are good people and bad people

we have been taught that the good folk fight the bad folk

and, hallelujah, in then and power of God, defeat them


in America we have built a national identity around being the

“power for good”

the hero nation that “saves the world”!!

time and time and time again


we have developed a culture of aggression and violence

we have deified force and sanctified the carrying of tools of death


and into this ethos come the words of Jesus

love your enemies

pray for those who persecute you


and pray not for their defeat or death, but for their redemption


and don’t just pray!

act accordingly!




walk with your enemy the second mile (go along side)

give them the coat off your back (give to them in a sacrificial way)

turn the other check (be a pacifist)

give to them, expecting nothing back (what does this say about taking care of the poor?  how do we stuff “lazy moocher” into this one?)


Paul doubles down on the words of Jesus

“if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


it is the drumroll of the Gospel


Alas and Alack!


I do not love my enemies

I would like to claim that I do

sometimes I claim that I do

often I try


but I am found wanting


when it comes to enemies

when it comes to those I believe are doing wrong

when it comes to those who lie, or believe lies

those who refuse to do what is for the common good (get a shot, or if not, wear a mask)

those who are racist

those who try to intimidate, coerce and dominate

those who put people over money


I am found wanting

even when I try


when I was growing up I used to listen to a record that my mother had bought, by a guy named Tom Lerner.  Lerner used to sing songs that highlighted the ills of society. 


Among his hits were song such as “Pollution” which had the line “fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, but they don’t last long if they try!”


“So Long Mom, I’m off to drop the bomb”. 


but one that always hit me powerfully was a little song called “National Brotherhood Week”.  Tom introduced the song this way.


“One week of every year is designated National Brotherhood Week.

This is just one of many such weeks honoring various worthy causes. 

During National Brotherhood Week various special events are arranged to drive home the message of brotherhood. 


I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another

and I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings


and I hate people like that.”




so what do I do?


like Paul my soul cries out

“for what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16

and if I do what I do not want to do”  (Romans 7)


what do I do?

I turn to the Presence of Love in me

for what I cannot do

Love Incarnate



Love can give me love

for all those who I believe

violate love

imperil our nation

oppress the poor

and marginalize others


and perhaps,

just perhaps

if love can do that for me


then as if flows through me and from me

it can get through to them



Tuesday, August 3, 2021

do something

…we are accustomed to hearing the Beatitudes expressed passively:


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.


“Blessed” is the translation of the word makarioi, used in the Greek New Testament. However, when I look further back to Jesus’ Aramaic, I find that the original word was ashray, from the verb yashar. Ashray does not have this passive quality to it at all. Instead, it means “to set yourself on the right way for the right goal; to turn around, repent.”. . .


When I understand Jesus’ words in Aramaic, I translate like this:


Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for you shall be satisfied.

Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you peacemakers, for you shall be called children of God.


To me this reflects Jesus’ words and teachings much more accurately. I can hear him saying: “Get your hands dirty to build a human society for human beings; otherwise, others will torture and murder the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.” Christianity is not passive but active, energetic, alive, going beyond despair. . . .


“Get up, go ahead, do something, move,” Jesus said to his disciples. [1]


Megan McKenna, Blessings and Woes: The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke (Orbis Books: 1999), 22–23.




can be a lousy companion


it hangs around in deep places in our souls

it ghosts through our mind



“there is no hope”

“nothing can be done”

“the evil one’s have too much power”

“they will destroy all that is good”


in despair we hungrily consume the messages of

gloom and doom that come from our computers and our TV


or perhaps

frantically avoid reality altogether


we create our own realities of outrage and resentment

or our own realities that comfort and ease


and sometimes

sometimes we seek comfort

in the idea that there is something

but it “up there, out there”

or “in here”


that we can turn to

which will save us

from “them”, or perhaps, perhaps, rescue us from ourselves


“Blessed” we faithful intone, “are the pure in heart”

“Blessed are the poor, the humble, the merciful…”

“Blessed am I… “


and we wait for rescue


and all that is Sacred wonders

why it is taking us so long to act

why it is taking us so long to get

go ahead

and do something


to be blessed also (it seems)

means to be a blessing

to help the poor, feed the hungry

fight for justice

comfort the hurting


to be blessed

means to get up, turn around

and work




to pull the Kingdom of God

kicking and screaming

into a world that does not appear to want it