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

Monday, November 29, 2021

enemy of the good

Buddhists often talk about “attachment.”



Attachment appears to be the enemy of the good.

Attachment is not love!

Attachment is holding on to something too tightly, being unable to let it go.


Pema Chodron suggests that we could translate attachment (shenpa) as “getting hooked.”


And attachment kills love.


Jesus was dealing with attachment when he told the rich young ruler that he must sell all he had and give it away.  And when he tells all of us to “die” to the self, that we might be free to rise to new levels of loving and living.


So the question for us always is this.

What controls me so profoundly that I am not free to change, to forgive, to love?

What is it that I want to hold on to, that is holding on to me (has me hooked)?


Because it is our need to hold on to certain things creates so much pain in the world.

And so much pain in our individual lives.


Wherever we see aggression, conflict, cruelty, abuse, oppression, hoarding, and greed, we are likely to find attachment.


We are attached to power.

As a result, politicians lie and cheat.

And people vote for those politicians who lie and cheat, and promise them what they are attached to. 


We are attached to wealth.

Thus, the very rich gather more and more resources to themselves, leaving the vast majority of humanity in dire straits, because they are attached to their wealth.


We are attached to privilege.

To our visions of racial superiority.

We are attached, sometimes, to our resentment and our anger.


And the more we cling, the more we hurt.

And the more we hurt, the more we hurt others.


We need to learn to let go.


And here is the paradox. Only by letting go do we get what we really want!

As Jesus noted, whoever loses their life will gain it.


When we let go of power, we discover a new kind of power.

A healthy power.

The power of love, compassion, and generosity.


When we let go of privilege we find a new capacity to connect with others, all others, and are able to step away from fear.


As we head into a new year.

As we struggle with an inequitable economy, with racism, an endemic illness, and growing authoritarianism,

there is only one way forward that will not destroy us.


The way of kenosis.


Letting go.

Getting unhooked.


It is not an easy task.

It may feel like dying!

But it is the only way we will survive.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Dream on

The Bible is full of dreamers!


Abraham dreamed of a Promised Land

Moses of a land dripping with milk and honey


Isaiah dreamed of a time when people would beat the instruments of death into garden tools.

Ezekiel dreamed that hard hearts would become soft and warm.

Joel dreamed that the Spirit would be poured out on all humanity, and all would become awake to the presence of Sacred.

Micah dreamed that people would act justly, and love mercy, and to walk humbly with God."


Jesus dreamed of a new heaven and a new earth and the Kingdom of God.

Peter dreamed that we would see others the way God sees them (don’t call unclean what I [God] call clean).

Paul dreamed that people would be so awake to God they would become new creations.


I believe we to are called to be dreamers.


Of course it is important to have the right dreams!

Holy dreams.


Some people dream of the power to control, or oppress.

For the ability to achieve retribution.

Not a holy dream.


Some dream about wealth.  Not a holy dream.


But some dream about equity, and justice.

Some dream about a world where people are concerned for others and seek the common good.


The thing about dreams is that they shape how we live!

How we see others.

How we speak.

How we feel.

How we act.


If we dream of power, we will seek power, use power, abuse power.

If we dream of justice we will seek to create justice.

If we dream of the common good, we will work to make sure that all are clothed, feed, and housed.  That all have healthcare.  That all can vote.


We must dream!

We must have the right dreams.

We must live toward our dreams.


But what do we do when we seem lost a wilderness of hate, fear, and falsehood?

What do we do when we do not seem to be able to find the promised land?

How do we keep living toward our dreams when so often it feels hopeless?


Paul says that we should not “tire in doing good…  don’t give up!”


But I am tired.

So tired!


I guess this is where HOPE comes in.

Hope, and trust.

We have to trust that God will (as Mary so beautifully put it)

Scatter the proud,

exalt the humble and the meek,

and fill the hungry with good things.


And we have to keep living toward that hope, that dream.


We have to join Abraham, Isaiah, Jesus, Peter and Paul

We have to join Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr.


And proclaim, “I have a dream.”

And then live it.

No matter what!

No matter what those who violate that dream say or do.

No matter that the dream is slow in becoming real.

For if our dreams are God’s dreams, they will come true.

Believe it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

No justice no charity

Justice is the body of love and love is the soul of justice. Separate them and you do not get both – you get neither; you get a moral corpse…Justice without love may end in brutality, but love without justice must end in banality.

                               John Dominic Crossan 

                               How to Read the Bible and Still be a Christian, p245



I believe in Jesus, in him being Love incarnate.

I believe that in Jesus “love came down.”


I also believe Jesus.

I believe what he said about our need to love God with all our heart , soul, mind and strength.

I believe what he said about loving our neighbor, even as we respect and love ourselves.


What is sad to me is how often we stop at believing in Jesus.

We make the proclamation, “Jesus is Lord”, or “Jesus is the Way,”

the end of the story.


We claim Jesus the Christ, and totally ignore most of what Jesus said.


This is not just a right-wing problem, or a left-wing problem.

It is almost universal.


I can predict, with absolute certainty, that if I talk about “common good” and about how God’s love is given freely for all, someone will say “Yes, but…”

and start talking about rules and principles, and throw out the phrase “but the Bible says…”


I can predict that if someone starts to talk about something that is wrong.  A social ill.  A behavior that is harmful.  A lie.  And dares to challenge harmful words, attitudes, or behaviors, someone will pontification, “Yes, but…”  we are supposed to be loving.


The problem is not with the call to love.

Nor is the problem with the call for justice.


The problem is that we tend to separate the two.

Not wanting to become the monsters we oppose, we become people who do not insist on justice.  Or being people who are passionate for what is “right,” we discard love.


But the fact is Jesus is where love and justice come together.

Yes, we must love (and be loved by) God

Yes, we must respect ourselves.

Yes, we must love others.


But that love is not blind.

It can include an awareness of what is wrong, not just in the other, but in society at large.  And in love in can include a desire to help right what is wrong.


But love and justice must stay together.

In love we must seek justice.  It is not enough to help the poor and vulnerable.  We must challenge and change the systems that made them poor and vulnerable.


But our challenges and our attempts to change, cannot make us brutal and cruel.

(as has happened with the pro-life movement in many cases)


I do not claim to have this figured out!

It is a razor’s edge.

I know that sometimes I close my eyes to ills because I want to be welcoming and loving.

I know that at other times I pounce, and attack others in a way that is not loving.


Wretched person that I am, who will rescue me from this dilemma!? (Rm 7)

Jesus.  In whom I believe, and whose way I seek to follow

Jesus.  The one in whom charity and justice both can be found.



Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The alternative to domination

The God imaged by Jesus exerts no dominating supremacy. In Christ, we see an image of a God who is not armed with lightning bolts but with basin and towel, who spewed not threats but good news for all, who rode not a warhorse but a donkey, weeping in compassion for people who do not know the way of peace. In Christ, God is supreme, but not in the old discredited paradigm of supremacy: God is the supreme healer, the supreme friend, the supreme lover, the supreme life-giver who self-empties in gracious love for all. The king of kings and lord of lords is the servant of all and the friend of sinners. The so-called weakness and foolishness of God are greater than the so-called power and wisdom of human regimes.

                     Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, 10/22/2021



Let it die!

Our old image of God as the “mean old man of heaven.”

Let it die!

Our belief that God is about domination, and privilege, and wealth.

Let it die!

Our addiction to power over others.  Our need to control and punish.

Let it die!

Our lust for wealth.  Our willingness to do anything to get ahead.


Let it die!

Our belief that God is a God of power who uses power to get more power.

Our belief that we, as imitators of God should use power to get more power.


“unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains barren”

“If you try to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel, you will save it”  (John 12, Mark 8)


As long as who hold on the idea that God thinks of power the way we do,

and believe that God is a God of power to get more power,

we will keep getting what we are getting.






A toxic individualism that kills.


People scrambling to win.

“Tribes” fighting against tribes.  People devouring one another.


We have to grab hold of this truth!

“God is a God of love who gives itself away for the sake of more love.”

(Stephanie Spellers, The Church Cracked Open)


The most important word in the New Testament may be kenosis.



Unless we let the wind of the Spirit blow,

and the fire of the Spirit burn.


Unless we let our inner house be cleaned of hate, and fear,

greed, and the lust for power.


Unless we are willing to let go of those false images of Sacred we have created, our twisted and rusty old idols,

we will suffer,

the planet will suffer,

the animals will suffer,

those around us will suffer.


Kenosis is the only path to the rule of God,

in our lives and in our world.


So let it die!

Let us die!

Slain by love, that we might rise again!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Love is all there is

Ah, Mary mother of Jesus!

You were magnificent, for in your humility you saw what most of us cannot see.

That the Sacred seeks, always, always, to make all things new!

To turn things upside down, to turn us inside out.


This is a profound truth.

Reminding us that we do not know what we think we know.

That we cannot hold on to old truths, just because we (and others) thought they were true.


“He hath put down the mighty from their seat,

and hath exaulted the humble and meek.”


He hath filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich hath sent away empty.”


Step aside Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk,

the world you have created is living on borrowed time.


The Kingdom of God is near!


Near, but not here!

It has to be dragged into existence.

Not I believe by some cataclysmic intervention of “God”,

but by the persistence of those who are willing to empty themselves,

to let go of power and wealth and privilege,

to turn away from what was and into God’s new thing.


It has to be made real on earth as it is in heaven

by those who love God and love their neighbor and love themselves.


It is not a matter of power and wealth and dominance.

It is a matter of sacrifice and generosity and humility.


Think the cross.


The kingdom comes as we enter into the pain of others.

As we are pained ourselves by the ills of the world.


This cannot be selective pain.

We have to feel it all.


A friend of mine insisted that we feel the pain of the

“60 million terminated souls in the US since 1973.”


Yes (he was talking about abortion).


But we must also feel the pain of the women who are driven to make such

a painful choice.

We must also feel the pain of the children, born unwanted,

the pain of the children abandoned by politicians who legislated their birth,

but left them in poverty,

hungry, homeless, abused, poorly educated, without health care, without value.


We do not get to pick our pain.

We must feel the pain of the black person,

the Native American,

the immigrant.


We must feel the pain of the person who thinks they must carry a gun to be safe,

and the person who thinks the government is “out to control them.”

The pain of the person who thinks America needs saving from evil socialists,

and the person who feels the far-right is going to destroy all that is kind and good.


We must feel the pain,

enter into it and take it on,

overcoming evil with good,


Yeah, I know!

Random acts of kindness seem pretty pathetic sometimes.

But it is through acts of kindness that love works.

In the end, it is all we have.


That phone call to the friend with Covid (whom we told, so many times to get vaccinated).

The simple offer of prayer.

The casserole.

The smile.

The moment of silence (when we want to let loose)


It seems sometimes as those who are tearing the world apart only have one tool.


Perhaps we only have one tool as well.



The love that comes to us and flows through from Love.

Come Spirit, come!



Thursday, November 18, 2021

Catch the joy

This is what it feels like to yield:

to finally feel that place of tightness - your left shoulder,

the crick that has been in your neck for as long as you can remember,

the hard pint between your eyes – soften,

and all that is left is the overwhelming desire to dance,


to stop resisting the endless and aching grief over a  thousand small losses, and the one great loss of your own deepest dreams,


to fall into that ocean of tears and find yourself carried gently to shore,

to feel the soft and trembling belly of your aliveness turn upward toward

the wide sky…


What would it mean to walk away from

All the “to do” lists

And commit to only one thing:

to be.

          Christine Valters Paintner, Soul of a Pilgrim)



There are times.

There are times.


I am not without brains.

Or education.

Or talent.

Or even privilege.

My face does not crack a mirror.


Life in many ways has been good.

Very good.


And yet.

I have been a human doing, not a human being.

I have given, a lot, but because of the facade of competence,

perhaps even a facade of arrogance,

I am not someone people feel much need to support.

I am, sometimes, not even liked.


I am loyal but have gotten little loyalty

I have invested deeply in people who do not invest back.

I have worked hard but wonder if I have accomplished anything.

I have also made huge mistakes,

and have had moments when my life was a wasteland,

when I wandered aimlessly, my life disrupted.


I have so much

and yet so little.


This is not a whine!


OK, maybe a little bit of a whine.

This is a look in the mirror that says,

I think I have done some things wrong.


Too much talking, not enough listening

Too much head to little heart.

Too much facade, not enough openness.

Too much work, not enough play.

Too much giving, not enough receiving.


I am successful, but not.

I am with others but alone.

I have power but am powerless.


There are some nights when all the pieces seem to be floating

like a jigsaw puzzle that has just been divebombed by a kitten.


I suspect we all have some moments from time to time

This is such a moment.

When I sense there is not one person

for whom I am the most important person in the world.

When I sense I am valued for what I can do not for who I am.

When I am not content, nor even hopeful.


And when I know this is all on me.


But it will pass.

Light will sneak through the cracks of emptiness and despair.

Sacred always works that way!


Using Lament to move us toward Joy and Hope.


And in the meantime, I will keep moving

left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe.


Blessing my friends, catch the joy as it flies (Blake)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Bring It On

Please Call Me by My True Names by Thich Nhat Hanh


…I am the frog swimming happily

in the clear water of a pond.

And I am the grass-snake

that silently feeds itself on the frog.


I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,

my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.

And I am the arms merchant,

selling deadly weapons to Uganda…


My joy is like Spring, so warm

it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.

My pain is like a river of tears,

so vast it fills the four oceans.


Please call me by my true names,

so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,

so I can see that my joy and pain are one.


Please call me by my true names,

so I can wake up,

and so the door of my heart

can be left open,

the door of compassion.



Ah, on this dark morning, as the sun struggles grudgingly to arrive

I ponder.


Always a dangerous thing.


I cogitate, chewing on things that are difficult to swallow.

Why are we human creatures so obstinate?

Why are we so cruel?


What is it that drives us to embrace a toxic individualism which destroys not only ourselves but also others? Why can we not embrace the common good?


Perhaps it is because we cannot accept that when the light comes there are shadows.  This is the danger of the light, even the light of the World.  Those rays can be harsh and revealing. 


When the light comes, we can see if we will only look, our reflection shimmering on the hard ground.


What do we see there?

If we are honest, we see that we are beautiful and terrible.

Good and bad.

Right and wrong.


There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us.

And we will be forever controlled by that part of ourselves we do not see.


If we only see the good and do not see the bad, we cannot grow, we cannot change.  If we do not see our contribution to the ills of the world, our culpability, then we will continue to harm and destroy.


I cannot lament injustice and inequity if I cannot understand how I contribute to injustice and inequity.


America, after 9/11, refused to see its contribution to that event.  And when have spent 20 years killing and being killed as a result.  White America, as it refuses to see its contribution to black anger, is unable to develop true solutions to the inequity and injustice suffered by black people.


I am the person lamenting hate and toxic individualism,

I am the person who hates and who hugs resources to myself.


On the other hand, if I cannot see the good in myself.  If I cannot rejoice in the fact that I am a child of God.  That I am a bearer of the Sacred, I will not have the joy needed by a joyless world.  I will not be able to have the hospitality needed by a world alienated and divided.  I will not be able to overcome evil with good 


We need both the joy and the tears,

We need to throw open the doors of our souls and let it all spill out, everything that is in there, treasures and debris, and let the fresh wind of the spirit cleanse us and refresh us,


so that we and the world can be whole.

Sunday, November 14, 2021


But I’m so bored with myself

Yeah, I’m so bored with myself

My body doesn’t work

I can’t catch up

And I’m all messed up…

                     Joy Deyo, Sweet Nobody, Five Star Diary



There are days I hardly seem worth the effort.

No, I do not live in the wilderness of low self-esteem,

although I have had my moments.


It is just that sometimes I look in the mirror and think, “Really?!”

After all this time, all this life experience, all the study I have done,

all the effort, after everything,

I’m no further along as a human creature?


I mean seriously!

At 70 you would think I would be wiser,

calmer, less impulsive,

less enslaved to all those old patterns that I have carried with me through life.


Why do I still impulsively eat an entire bag of potato chips?

Why do I still struggle with the haunting belief that no matter what I do, it is not good enough?

Why do I still talk too much and listen too little?

Why am I still so self-centered?

Why do I still get so angry?

Why am I so opinionated (and outspoken).


There are times when I am just flat bored with this old self

that seems to hang around, and simply can’t follow all my brilliant instructions.


So I look in the mirror and think,

“My body doesn’t work

I can’t catch up

And I’m all messed up…

I’m so bored (or is that disappointed) in myself”


Of course the truth is I am simply normal.

As Brian McLaren notes (We Make The Road by Walking)

“we are all on a wilderness journey out of some form of slavery.”


Or as Paul notes, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Dang!  I hate it when he’s right!)


It is difficult to leave our old patterns behind.

Ask the people of Israel, who wanted to go back to Egypt, back into slavery,

rather than deal with their new reality.


Ask anyone who struggles with anxiety, or fear, or prejudice.

Ask anyone who struggles with addiction.

Ask anyone!  Literally, anyone! (Except maybe a narcissist)


This of course is where the Sacred comes in.

That Sacred Presence that is woven into every molecule of this planet.

Into every bird, fish, animal, and person.

Into you and me.


The people of Israel did not wander through the wilderness alone.

Sacred was with them.  Leading (pillar of fire and cloud).  Teaching (10 commandments),

Just being present (Tenting).


They screwed up anyway.

But they made it, all the way to the promised land.

They were able to keep moving, one foot in front of the other.

Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe (or pray).


We do not wander out of our slavery alone.

Sacred is present every step of the way.

We may stagger.

We may wander.

We may at times get stuck.

We may want to go back.

We may in fact go back and need to start over.

We may whine “aren’t’ we there yet?”


But the journey is real.

And as we open to the presence, Love will lead us,

step by step, forward to the promise.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Radicality of God

A writer once noted that we struggle to engaged with the Sacred (John Dominic Crossan) because we really are not ready to go where Sacred demands we go.


Sacred ways are radical ways.

As humans we do not like the radical.

I want my life normal please!

Maybe with a touch of excitement or passion, but not too much.


Which is why, perhaps, we often take the radicality of God and turn it into the normalcy of the world.


We human creatures have always done this!  From the beginning!

We have struggled to go with God.

To engage in God’s new thing.


Always it seems, whenever the newness of God breaks through,

we soon manage to domesticate it.


The people of Israel were given a land, and told to flourish.

They were given a chance to be something different, a “holy” nation guided and sustained by Love.  They chose to be like “all the other nations”, with hierarchies (Kings) and all the oppressive structures so common to human creatures.


They chose to become a country where the rich got richer and oppressed the poor.

Where injustice became common.

(read a prophet, any prophet for details).


The radical idea of a land flowing with milk and honey some was lost.


It is even more obvious with Jesus.

Sell all you have and give to the poor!

Turn the other cheek.

Honor the poor.

Fight for justice.

Feed the hungry.

Welcome the stranger.

Do not call those unclean whom God has called clean.


Be a radical new “people of God”.


It took no time at all for those who claimed to follow Jesus to stop following.

Even Paul, Apostle of the heart set free was soon putting limits on God’s unlimited love.

(you can’t pretend he doesn’t)


And now today. 


The blessed Rachel Held Evans once wrote, “I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume this means they haven’t actually read it.”


Have we really read the beatitudes?  Really listened to the parables of Jesus?

Have we really taken seriously the radical demands of God?


Where is the generosity?

Where is the inclusion?

Where is the passion for the common good?



People claiming to champion “family values” and “god” have doubled down on greed,

domination (and worse oppression),

and toxic individualism.


We are nowhere close to living out the radicality of God.

(At least I know I am not).


The solution is not a matter of “trying harder.”

We should know by now that trying harder won’t work!


The solution is putting Jesus, the real Jesus (not the one we have created) at the center.

Which to me simply means this.

I give Jesus more power to shape my thinking, my feeling, my living, than anyone or anything else.


We can’t follow Jesus if we are following Donald Trump, or anyone else.

We can’t follow Jesus if our allegiance is to a political party, more than it is to love.

We aren’t following Jesus if we are letting our society determine our priorities and values.


Jesus has to be (as the song goes) our “all in all”.

Jesus rarely is.


I am preaching to myself here.

But I am pleading to you.

To all of us.


We have to get back on the road.

We have to leave behind everything, and follow.

We have to let God set us free from our slavery, and go into newness.

(with out constantly trying to “go back to Egypt)


We have to invest radically in the radical way of God,

or we will get lost in the normalcy of the world.


And we know all to well what that looks like!




Three Dollars Worth of God (by Wilbur Rees)

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,

but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk

or a snooze in the sunshine.

I don’t want enough of God

to make me love a black man

or pick beets with a migrant.

I want ecstasy, not transformation.

I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.

I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The problem of resentment

The Sacred Narrative is full of rivalry.

Cain and Abel.

Ishmael and Isaac.

Hagar and Sarah.

Jacob and Esau.

Joseph and his brothers.


Even the disciples wandered into this desert land, arguing over who was most favored and would get to sit at the right hand of Jesus.


It is all there!




Even fraud.


The reasons for the rivalry were real.

Life wasn’t fair.


God did appear to favor Able.

Ishamel (and Hagar) got a raw deal.

Jacob was a jerk.

And Joseph too.


In some cases, reconciliation never happened.

It might be said that Ishmael and Isaac are still estranged.

Hagar was driven into the desert, never to return.


But sometimes it did.

Jacob and Esau found their way back to brotherhood.

So did Joseph and his brothers.


How did that happen?

In at least the case if Jacob and Esau,

and perhaps Joseph and his brothers too,

the key to reconciliation was a refusal to remain resentful.


Esau could have been resentful.

He could have remained angry and alienated.

But we are told that when Jacob finally worked his way back home,

Esau simply welcomed him with open arms.


Jacob, who was a trickster, and probably all wrapped up in

Quid pro Quo,

was shocked.  And moved.


“Truly” he told Esau, “to see your face is like seeing the face of God, since you have received me with such grace.”


Joseph, who recovered nicely from being sold into slavery, is in a unique position to get back at his brothers.  He is now powerful and rich.  The moment is rife with possibilities as his brothers, starving and in trouble show up in Egypt.


Admittedly he “plays” with them.

But in the end he feeds them, and then welcomes them.

The brothers are reunited.


We can forgive, I expect Joseph for his humanity.


What is important is that there are two paths revealed.

The path of resentment, and the path of reconciliation.


Some of the stories in the Bible have a tragic edge.

Able is killed.

Hagar and Ishmael driven into the desert.


Resentment can be ugly!

It can cause us to do ugly things.


When resentment is laid aside good things happen.

In the accepting face of rejected and despised Esau, God’s face shone.

In the actions of Joseph, the excluded brother, help was given.


The cycle of bitterness was broken,

And reconciliation occurred.


We live in a world of bitterness.

We live in a time when resentment is killing us.


There is something to be learned from these Sacred stories.

Perhaps resentment and retribution are not the way to go.


Yes, it is easy to see that “they” are angry and resentful.


But in what ways am I angry and resentful?


What does it mean to let go of that resentment?

What does it mean to seek reconciliation rather than retribution?


To what degree is accountability OK?

(it is important to note that Jacob knew he was wrong, and the “brothers” had come up against hard times, and were chastened)


This is not easy!

This is profoundly complex!


But I know, in my heart, that if I hang on to my resentment,

if I seek retribution not reconciliation (however that happens),

it will get ugly.


The world will get ugly.

My life will get ugly.


I want to be God’s image bearer.

I do.

I want God to show up in the world through me.


And I know that I am not that bearer, when my face (and heart)

are filled with resentment.


From our resentment, Oh Lord deliver us.

Make us agents of reconciliation!




Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5).

Monday, November 8, 2021

God is not the one with the anger problem

God isn’t the one with an anger problem.

We should have figured that out when God with us got hung on a cross.

God is not the one who is hostile and needs appeasement, who needs retribution.

God is not the one who uses violence to set things right.

We are.


Oh I know the stories. All too well.

God kicking Adam and Eve out of the garden.

God confusing the speech of the people.

God sending the flood.


Funny how we like to blame God for the consequences of our actions.


Oh I know the stories.

Of God demanding genocide.


Funny how we like to use God to justify our actions.


But then along comes a baby.

Along comes a healer.

Along comes a forgiver.

Along comes one willing to die for others.


Along comes Jesus.


Along comes one who champions the poor and abhors revenge and retribution.

And laughs at the idea that wealth can bring joy.

And refuses to buy into the way of domination.


Along comes one who tells us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek.

To talk the second mile.

To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, and fight for justice.


Along comes one who would never be found at a Trump rally.

(or a Biden rally either I suspect)

But who would be found doling out food in a soup kitchen.


Along comes love.

Asking us to do one thing.

To follow.


To walk through life with humble hearts,

with servant hearts,

and live love.


Along comes the one who turns the world upside down,

and assails the Hell that is our hate


until we become like him

permeated with love

and beat turn our AR-15s into plowshares

and our handguns into pruning hooks.


God is not the one with the anger problem.

God is not the one with the heart that needs to be changed.


We are.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Love wastefully

Those who are cowards will ask, “Is it safe?”

Those who are political will ask, “Is it expedient?”

Those who are vain will ask, “Is it popular?”

Those who have a conscience will ask “Is it right?”

(Paul Washington, quoted by Stephanie Speller, The Church Cracked Open)


Perhaps we need to go one step further


Those who are godly will ask “Is it love?”


The ultimate question is this. 

What value shapes our decisions?

What value determines how we shall than live?


There are many appropriate considerations.

It is not wrong to consider safety, or effectiveness, or rightness.

It is not even wrong to consider popularity!  Who wants to be disliked?


But the real question is which value dominates?


If safety dominates, we can end up being guarded. We can be driven into behaviors that create pain in the world.  We can hug resources to ourselves.  We can pack guns.  We can refuse to welcome the stranger.


If expediency dominates, we can become efficient but in our efficiency use and abuse, and create collateral damage.  Employees who are overworked and underpaid.  An earth that is devastated by our effective plunder.


The drive to be popular can lead us to become slaves to our cultures, and cause us to abandon our true selves.


Even “rightness” has its issues.  The is nothing worse than cold unthinking rightness which judges and moves so quickly to punishment and retribution. 


It seems as though any value, no matter how lofty, can become toxic if we forget to add the ingredient of love.


Safety become exclusion.

Expediency becomes indifference.

Popularity becomes enslaving.

Rightness becomes cruelty.


We cannot forget that God is love.

That God lavishes us with love.

That God calls us to love.

Not just to love, but to “love wastefully.”  (John Shelby Spong)


The greatest value of all, the value that makes us great,

is love.

Love changes everything.


So we have to think love, feel love, and live love

For that is how we heal the world

That is how we are truly safe, truly effective, truly valued, truly right.


Someone once said,

“Love is donating a chunk of your life to patch up holes in the life of another.”


Love is how we patch up the holes in our fragmented disintegrating world.


So let us love.



Friday, November 5, 2021

remember love

What do we do on cold mornings in the dark,

when all is dreary and unrelenting clouds fill the sky and fill our souls

with dank dreariness?


When the slow inexorable slog into increasing darkness

diminishes us, siphoning off the hope that we will ever return to light?


The air is filled with the scent of rotting things, the pungent smell of wet death,

and human bitterness. 


The coldness seeps into our very bones,

as the frigid winds of falsehood and hate, whistle through the cracks in our souls.

We feel ourselves slowly dying, turning brittle,


ready to become earth again.


This does not feel cyclical, although we know it is.


We can barely imagine, as the hate and fear press in,

as the cold winds of oppression and greed rob us of vitality,

that there is anything left but death.


Perhaps this time we human creatures will go to far, and there will be no return.

Perhaps this time the grave will remain full,

Perhaps spring will never come again,

no bud, no bloom, no resurrection

of plant and soul.


Perhaps the foul and evil forces will win.


What do we do on cold mornings in the dark?

We breath in, and breath out.

We pet the cat.

We remember love.


And we remember what Love does with death.

that after winter spring,

that after death, life,

that after disruption, a new thing.


Always, a new thing.


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Never too late

As we progress through the Biblical library, [the] stories interact with one another again and again. Together the reveal an ever-fuller and deeper vision of God.  We come to know a God who consistently refuses to support a pyramidal economy with a few at the top and the masses at the bottom.  We come to trust a God who consistently opposes the oppressors and consistently takes the side of the humble, the vulnerable, and the poor.  We eventually come to understanding God as one who consistently prefers nonviolence over violence, equality over dominancy, and justice over injustice…   God doesn’t uphold the status quo, be repeatedly disrupts it and breaks it open so some thing better can emerge and evolve.

          Brian McLaren, We make the Road by Walking



I was thinking today about the word repent,

A word that people who like to say they follow Jesus throw around a lot.

Kind of a like a hot spiritual potato that no one can handle.


Technically the Greek work metanoia means “after thought”

What we might call hindsight!

Oops!  That didn’t work!


Looking back we see that our old ways don’t’ work.

And thus, supposedly, we change our mind.

And changing our mind, being of sound mind, we change our behavior.




If this is true than those who suggest we “challenge everything” might be right!

At least we should rethink everything.


The problem is that repentance does not seem to come as easily to most of us.

Most of us are pretty obstinate.  And being so we resist change.


We hold fast to patterns of thinking, patterns of living, that deny life.

That deny what is Sacred.


God has been pretty clear!  Economic inequity is bad.

We hang on to toxic capitalism with all our might.


God has been pretty clear.  Injustice is foul! 

And yet we maintain systematic racism.


God has been pretty clear.  Oppression of others, using power abusively is not acceptable.  And yet many Christians embrace an ideology of domination, where might makes right (and having power is sign of blessing).


God insists we act for the common good and we embrace toxic individualism and “freedom.”  (the freedom to be jerks?)


And with Jesus something else became clear.  Violence and hate do not win.  Love wins.  Yet we invest obscene amounts in our military and value guns over children.


We have it all backwards.

And we should be looking back at the shambles that is human history…


and repenting.


But we don’t.  Not nearly enough.

We just blindly keep doing what we are doing and getting what we are getting.

And people are dying.

And the animals are dying.

And the planet is dying.


How we are living is not sustainable.

In the name of God people are violating God and God’s way, and we are paying the price.


What will it take?

Is it too late?


I guess that is where our history with the Sacred becomes good news.

It seems as if it is never too late.

“God is [always] up to something surprising and amazing in our world.  While we’re busy plotting evil, God is plotting goodness” (p. 24 McLaren)


Sometimes we want to give up, but as Paul suggests we should never tire of doing good.


So we need to look back.  See the patterns that don’t work. 

Then look forward, and go with God.

We make the road by walking.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Trust me

Trust me, God seems to be telling[us].  Out of my generosity and love, I have given you life.  Now I need you to guard, provide and house the stranger, aliens, and other vulnerable people in your midst.  I need you to give your life away.

          Stephanie Spellers, The Church Cracked Open



For all of our talk about faith, most of us don’t trust Sacred very much.

We talk about “no fear” and strut our faith by doing foolish things like

refusing to wear masks, and gathering how and when we shouldn’t.


But we carry guns to McDonalds and the grocery store.


We talk about how much God loves us, but then we act like the young child who isn’t sure their parents have enough love for them and that new squalling addition to the clan.


We talk about generosity, but then hug our resources to ourselves.


We talk about loving the enemy, but then, because we really don’t believe “God has this” and “love wins” we become defensive, angry, exclusionary, and even oppressive.


Instead of letting God be God we attempt to make the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omni amorous one a tiny tribal deity we can manipulate and turn loose on our enemies.


Part of the problem, I suspect, is that when God calls us God only gives us one thing.

One thing.


A promise.


When God called Sarai and Abram he called them from affluence, and a life filled with resources, into the desert.  “Go from your place to the place I will show you.”


“OK!  Can I have a map?”


“NO! Just go.  There will be a place.  I promise.


I promise I will bless you.

But not so that you can hug power and wealth to yourself,

but so that you can be a blessing.


I will bless you and my blessing will flow through you to all the world!

Get it?”


Abram and Sarai were also to walk away from privilege and power,

into the unknown, and walk into the unknown with only a promise.


When Jesus came, he asked the same thing of those who would follow him.

It is interesting that when you listen to people talk about Jesus’s call,

they focus on passages that tell them to be “fishers of followers” (proselytizers)

and promise they will be light, and find life.  That they will be blessed.


Yes!  All that is true

But they seem to forget that they are called to leave a lot behind.

Money perhaps, power certainly.

And they forget that they are called to be blessing.


They are call called not to individual blessing, but corporate blessing

They are called not to look out for themselves, but for the common good.


This is where we get it wrong.

We think God is for our tribe (USA, USA).  God is not

We think following god is the gateway to power and riches. 

It may be, but ONLY so that we can then turn around and much of our wealth away to support those who have less, and use our power to help the vulnerable and oppressed.


When we forget the second movement, the process of investing our wealth and power in the common good.  We have misunderstood the promise.


And we fail to become the promise.


That is what we see playing out in America today.

And that is an unfolding tragedy.


It is time once again to be called.

Out of our entrenched places.

Out of our old securities.

Our of our allegiance to affluence and domination,


and into that place God will show us,

if only we will trust.