Welcome

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 14, 2022

People! Wake up

It’s prophecy time

the flyer says

 

come and let us tell you what an angry and retributive God

has in store for this sinful world

and let us scare the hell out of you…

 

It’s prophecy time

come to the “prophecy center”

 

prophecy

it’s a good thing

really

when it is really prophecy

 

not when it someone telling you

what a prophet from long ago was telling

people from long ago

about the possible consequences of their actions

and challenging them to change

 

not when it is someone pointing to the “signs of the time”

Bible style

and suggesting that those signs

(meant to apply to ancient Rome) are happening “now”

and we’d better pay up our tithes

and answer that altar call

or burn

 

but when it is someone proclaiming

 

“Hear!  Hear O Children of God!”

that the same errors of yesteryear

are the same errors of today

and we really ought to change

 

Aquinas (in his Commentary of Jeremiah) suggests that a

“prophet has been consecrated to overturn, root up, destroy,

and again to build and renew”

 

a prophet is to stand up to injustice

and stand up for justice

and bring healing

 

a prophet is about transformation

not about scaring people into

buying insurance against an inevitable future

but about moving people into changing the future

 

prophets are people who must see

see what is wrong

prophets are people who must speak

who must, in whatever way they can

put a mirror in front of people and say

“This is us”

 

a prophet is a person who helps other people see

what he or she sees

that which is hidden

that which is forgotten

that which is denied

 

and a prophet says

because we are greedy

because we abuse power

because we neglect the poor

because we oppress

because we pillage and plunder

because

 

this is what will happen

this is what is likely to happen

 

unless

 

unless we see

unless we repent

unless we change

unless we turn to God

not in fear but in hope

 

and live life a different way

 

a prophet is less about what God is going to do to us

and more about what we are going to do to ourselves

 

it is not that God is unimportant

for in God, in Sacred, in Love

we find the power to change

 

but we cannot, we will not change

what we do not see

 

so let us hear it for the prophets

for Isaiah, and Amos

Micah, and Mary, and Elizabeth

for Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela

for Sister Chittister, and Shawn Clairborne

(and definitely not for Enlow, Locke, and Kerr)

 

let us hear it for the prophets

those who see

and stand

and speak

those who help us see what is wrong

challenge us to be better

and connect us with the Power

to change

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

nothingness

 

There are many ways in which we taste Nothingness and we will consider some of them here:

Metaphysical nothingness of non-being or of our pre-existence.

Psychological nothingness of feeling oneself to be a nobody or forgotten or utterly ignored.

Political nothingness of being subjected to less than human circumstances by decisions of the powerful decision-makers.

Being a woman in a patriarchal world.

Being a person of color in a world where white supremacy reigns.

Being a gay or trans person in a world of homophobia and heterosexism.

Being poor or homeless when possessions are the test of a human being.

          Matthew Fox, Daily Meditations 8/10/22

___________________________________________________

 

nothing

the sun may grudgingly arise

breaking through the clouds for a moment of color

 

but then all becomes

50 shades of gray

 

and the light is subsumed by the darkness

 

and we are left with nothing

we feel it

we taste it

it is bitter bile in our stomachs

it is the tightness in our chests

it is a hundred TVs, all tuned to different channels

chattering in our heads

 

nothing

nothing makes sense

the poor championing those who oppress them

freedom fighters fighting against freedom

truth seekers trusting liars

 

this is a world that makes us nothing

and leaves us stumbling in the dark

reaching out for someone anyway

lashing at everyone

 

this is a world that sucks us dry and leaves our souls empty

and leaves us vulnerable

to the liars, the predators, the manipulators, the abusers

 

when we taste our nothingness

hate and fear rule us

control us

shape us

 

we react, blindly, mindlessly (or with ideologically impaired minds)

we cheer a Supreme Court that stands for nothing (other than power and wealth)

we blindly follow a narcissist

we enable (and even worship) our abusers

or we live hopelessly

believing that nothing will ever be right again

 

we are defined by nothingness

women in patriarchal darkness

people of color in the darkness of white supremacy

peacemakers in a world dominated by guns and violence

LGBTQI+++ in a world that denies their humanity

followers of Jesus in the darkness of hate-filled Churchianity

 

nothing

 

but there is something

there is a reality, a power, a Love

that overcomes the darkness

 

that same something, someone

Jesus talked about, again and again in the dwindling light

of the upper room

as the darkness encroached

and all would soon become

nothing

 

there is that Love

we can trust

trust to be with us

trust to stay with us

trust to work with us

trust to empower us

trust to help us through the darkness

 

to something

beautiful and powerful

something

hopeful

something

graceful

 

to Love

 

the world may try to make us nothing

but if we trust in love

we are quite something!

_____________________________

 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it (John 1)

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Just sit

Just sit there right now

Don’t do a thing

Just rest

 

For your separation from God

Is the hardest work in this world

          Hafiz (ala Landinsky) The Subject Tonight is Love

________________________

 

The morning sky

Filled with clouds and rain and sun

Shines with all the colors of the rainbow

 

God laughing

at our pitiful attempts

to light up the sky to celebrate

what?

 

Freedom?

Power?

Winning?

 

We try so hard

don’t we?

we shoot off rockets

drink our beer

fire up the BBQ

sing our patriotic songs

 

and are left only with empty souls

and terrorized dogs

 

We try so hard, we human creatures

doing the wrong things!

 

God must shake the divine head in bewilderment at

our denseness

 

we work to gain power

when we have been called to cede power

and become servants

 

we work so hard to control

when we have been told to set the prisoners free

 

we work so hard at hating

when we have been told to love

 

we work so hard at killing

when we have been told to turn our guns into garden tools

 

we work so hard at forcing people to

believe and act the way we want

when we have been told that people must freely choose

and only loving presence can truly transform

 

we work so hard at seeking advantage and privilege

when we have been told that we need to seek justice

 

we work so hard

at our separation from God

 

And so the divine, frustrated I am sure, says

“I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

Even though you shoot fireworks into the sky

Even though you invoke my name

and wrap the cross in your flag

 

it will all be empty

 

Take away from me the noise of your songs;

I will not listen to your patriotic songs

Where you demand I bless you.  (apologies to Amos)

 

Instead, stop

Rest

Pray

Repent

Listen

Love

Accept

Welcome”

 

Resisting divine love is hard work

The hardest work in the world

 

Just sit there right now

Don’t do a thing

Just rest

 

And let God love you

Soak up forgiveness, compassion, generosity, acceptance

Look at the rainbow

And let all the colors of love fill your soul

 

And then do justice

and to live kindness

and walk humbly with God  (Micah)

Friday, August 5, 2022

Let Justice Roll

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos)

 

Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.

For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. (A Psalmist)

 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah)

 

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah)

 

This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. (Zechariah)

 

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. (Proverbs)

_______________________

 

Justice

God likes it!

God demands it!

 

Not a retributive, punishing justice

Not a hateful justice

 

But a justice that equalizes and protects

A justice that is merciful and compassionate

 

A nation that wants to prosper must have justice

A nation that abandons justice will become evil and destructive

 

A nation that abandons justice will eventually,

although some may think they flourish for a while,

be destroyed

it will implode,

collapsing in on itself

 

Let’s call it like it is.

Our current SCOTUS is not about justice

It is about power, and it is about greed

It is about control, and it is about punishment

 

Taking the vote away from people is not just

Taking away freedom of choice is not just

Allowing big business to destroy the planet for profit is not just

Giving one religion the freedom to oppress all other religions is not just

 

But the SCOTUS has done just that!

 

And they are doing it while being cheered on

By people who claim Jesus

 

By people who are more about rules

And merit

And punishment and retribution

Than about love

 

According to scripture

This Court, and the party that installed it (GOP)

having abandoned justice

Having abandoned truth

Having abandoned love

Having abandoned mercy

Have abandoned God and God’s way

 

They may claim God

They may give God lip service

But by every biblical standard

What they are doing in antithetical to God

And Jesus

 

I have no illusion they will change

We have seen this pattern before

This pattern of greed, abused power, of violence, and injustice

 

At the end of this road is rubble

But hopefully, also

A remnant

 

And a chance to start again

Resurrection

Out of a tomb of our own making

 

 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Shine the light

It is said of a certain Talmudic master that the paths of heaven were as bright to him as the streets of his native town. Hasidism inverts the order: It is a greater thing if the streets of a person’s native town are as bright to them as the paths of heaven. For it is here, where we stand, that we should try to make shine the light of the hidden divine life.

          Martin Buber, The Way of Man, According to the Teaching of Hasidism

(New York: Routledge Classics, 2002), 31 (quoted by Rohr, 6/29/22

_________________________________

 

let your light so shine

Jesus said

let your light shine in the darkness

for you are the world’s light  (Matthew 5)

 

but how?

 

what does it mean to be a lamp in the darkness?

what does it mean to shine the light of the divine

in the streets of one’s native town?

in one’s state

in one’s country?

 

is it a matter of zeal?

or power?

do we change the world by grabbing hold of the reins of power

and forcing

obedience?

even faith?

 

when we grab power

when we embrace the way of dominance

what do we reveal?

 

it is tempting

to think that if we control the courts

and control the government

we can impose righteousness

 

we can “win the world”

but Jesus knew better

Watch out! He said

beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Empire

what profit it you to win the whole world, and lose your life

 

if you want to follow me deny yourself

take up a cross

and follow

 

follow, follow, follow

love your neighbor as yourself

feed the hungry

free people from oppression

clothe the naked

welcome the stranger

give water to the thirsty (Matthew 25)

 

we cannot be light

when our hearts are full of anger and resentment

when we carry forward and repeat the way of domination and greed

we cannot be light when we carry hate

and pass it on from generation to generation

 

we can only be light when we break the cycle

of abused power

and retribution

 

Jesus did not grab power

he did not collaborate with the Sadducees

or stack the Sanhedrin with “his people”

he looked at those who tried to impose righteousness

who shamed and judged

and threw stones

and said “are you kidding me?”

 

he ceded power

he lived a life of radical love, and acceptance

a life of forgiveness

a life of compassion

 

and said

this is the way

 

he died on a cross

and said the way of hate and retribution

stops here

 

we are the light of the world

we are called to shine

to make the streets of our villages and cities

shine with the light of Love

 

we don’t do that with abortion bans

or prayer at the 50-yard line

we don’t do that by creating and theocracy

based on arrogance and coercion

 

we do that by facing the darkness in our own hearts

and, through repentance

letting the light of love shine there

at the center of who we are

 

emptying us of hate

and the need for power and control

and retribution

 

and then

letting that light leak from our souls

gently

by being people of compassion

and forgiveness

kindness

generosity

 

by working to create a world

where no desperate person has to die of heat stroke

in the back of a semi-truck

where no desperate young woman has to believe

abortion is her only option

where no person of color has to automatically fear

the lights of a patrol car

 

for it is here

where we stand

in the middle of the mess

in the middle of the pain and suffering

in the middle of the despair

that we need to shine

 

not by grabbing power

but by empowering

not by coercing

but by transforming through welcome and love

 

Monday, August 1, 2022

Surrender is not an option

Surrender is not an option.  I cannot imagine giving up my faith in the real presence of a loving Spirit who is with us on this long walk [Trail of Tears] we call life.  I know goodness is there, kindness is there, compassion is there, no matter how final the triumph of fear may seem, nor how great the power that holds the human heart down.  I will not abandon my belief in the coming dawn just because I dwell in the midnight hour.

          Steven Charleston, “Ladder to the Light”  p.64

_______________________________________

 

 

It feels like the midnight hour

Like the deepest deep

The darkest dark

 

we see murdered children

immigrants callously left to die from the heat

 

we see injustice roll down like waters,

and self-righteousness like an ever-flowing stream

 

we see those who claim God

embrace the Kingdom of the World and its way of domination and coercion

instead of the Kingdom of Heaven and its way of service and love

 

it is an ugly time

 

where the powerful abuse their power

where the rich sell out the righteous for profit

and the needy for a second (or third) house

where the heads of the poor

are trampled into the dust of the earth

and the vulnerable are abandoned (Amos 2)

 

It feels like the midnight hour

and I fear for the poor

the ill

 

I fear for women

and people who are LGBTQI+

and are BIPOC

in this time when the seeds

of nationalism, and totalitarianism

the seeds of racism and misogyny

and greed

 

have blossomed

like virulent weeds

 

it feels like the midnight hour

dare I hope?

dare I believe that the dawn is coming

 

can “I know goodness is there,

kindness is there,

compassion is there,

no matter how final the triumph of fear may seem..?”

 

yes!

 

the trail is long

and watered with tears

and yet the Spirit walks with us

Love walks with us

 

and we cannot abandon hope

 

instead, when the night is darkest

we most hold on to hope

 

hope is not a wish

but an intention (Steven Charleston)

 

hope is lived

hope builds on itself

hope grows

as the people of hope together

stand

resist

care

love

welcome

and yes, vote

 

we cannot accept the darkness

we cannot get used to the darkness

we cannot sit hopeless in the darkness

 

for the Spirit is with us

and the dawn is coming

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Grace is the only way

God is love

or so we are told

 

God is love

so Jesus showed

 

God is love

and loves us

and wants us to love in return

 

creating a circle of love

a perichoresis

that swirls

creative, restoring empowering

 

drawing us in

into the depths of love

 

and then we love others

intimate with God

intimate with ourselves

we become intimacy catchers

 

people who see others

really see

hear others

really hear

 

people who connect with others

and walk with them

through everything

 

through joy and celebration

through questions and doubt

through fear

and anger

and pain

 

knowing

it is all about love

this immanent transcendent

reality we call “God”

this way of life we call “Kingdom”

 

but sometimes it seems

it is not about love

or connecting

or seeing

or hearing

 

it is about merit

it is about power and control and punishment

it is about ideological passion

 

it seems that it is possible to forget that God is love

and begin to think that God is

hard and judgmental

retributive

and even cruel

 

and suddenly

empathy and compassion are gone

healing and hope too

 

in their place is coercion

rigidity

and cruelty

 

and suddenly faith is no longer about the righteousness

the love of God

flowing through us

to those celebrating, struggling, fearful people around us

 

suddenly the righteousness of God becomes

self-righteousness

and we put ourselves in the place of God

 

and everything goes terribly wrong

we judge when God would forgive

we coerce when God would reach out in love

we oppress when God would set free

we become blind to the pain of others

we close our hearts

 

we step on the hurting

shame the poor

neglect the homeless

 

we create pain

we feed hopelessness

 

all the while convincing ourselves

that we are earning merit with this cruel and vindictive God we have created

 

this God we seem to believe

is as unable to enter into the pain of others

as we are

 

but

 

God is love

and God loves

and God will walk with us all

sticking with us

and loving us

when sometimes all the choices

are hard

and grace is the only way out

 

 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

see the pain

ah the danger of the self-righteous blind

who look at the issues

through the lens of ideology posing as spirituality

fear posing as faith

hate posing as love

 

ah the danger of those who side with God

without truly understanding

that God doesn’t take sides

 

we see, them declaring with great passion

that they are for life

because they are for abortion bans

(which by the way, don’t actually stop abortions,

 they just drive them underground and make them unsafe)

 

they are sure in their own minds

that they are imposing God’s will

sure, so sure

 

that they are “saving babies”

 

but too many times this is not as much about those “babies”

as it is about them

about them earning merit with a wrathful God

about them imposing their belief system on others

and hence

it is about their own sense of righteousness

 

While they militantly “save” the unborn

they do not see the real people their blind righteousness ignores

they don’t see the raped woman

the child-woman who is the victim of incest

the woman struggling with poverty

and already living children who will be profoundly hurt by another child born

they do not see the women with difficult pregnancies that endanger their

health, and even their lives

they do not see the already born children who do not have enough to eat

do not have a home

do not have good health care

do not have dental care

do not have access to the best education

who are born into addiction

and conflict

they do not see

 

there are those who are against abortion

and who walk the walk consistently –

those who are against abortion but for taking care of women and children

and against the death penalty and against war

 

but too many do not see their own failure

they do not see that they have their own covenant with death

as they embrace war and idolize the military

and support the death penalty

as they double down on gun rights

and ignore the plight of the planet

and support politicians who are into power and money

and politicians who refuse to create the kind of nation

into which a child can be born

and be supported

and nurtured

 

they do not see that they are failing to address the very issues

that move people toward abortion as a choice

hunger

housing

living wages

health care

education

access to birth control

parental leave

and more

 

they force children to be born

but have created a nation in which too many mothers (and fathers) and children suffer

and where too many children are shot and killed before they get out of grade school.

 

there is a reason America’s mothers die from childbirth at a rate higher than other

“rich nations”

there is a reason our children die at a rate almost double of similar countries

it is because of those same politicians who are dancing

over the death of Roe vs Wade

 

it is because of the blind rigidity of those same people

who gush over clusters of cells

but ignore those already alive

 

I am a person who takes the choice of abortion seriously

It should not be (and I believe it never actually is) done casually

 

But I am tired of the self-righteous myths

About late-term abortions being common (that is a lie)

About women casually aborting babies (it is almost always a painful thing done after much thought and with much anguish)

 

I am tired of women being put at risk

And women being ignored

And women being controlled

And women being demonized

Because people with the blind righteousness of religious fanaticism

and narrow fundamentalism

want to feel better about themselves

 

Those who support radical abortion bans

Are failing to do the one thing

Jesus taught us God does

See people

All people

And their pain

 

And they are in a real way failing to do the one thing Jesus taught us to do

above all other things

love

 

 

 

Friday, July 22, 2022

lies

It starts with a lie

a lie told,

a lie believed

a lie nurtured

a lie repeated

and repeated and repeated

 

until truth is gone

left behind at the side of the road

discarded like some unnecessary baggage

tossed aside

obscenely

like a McDonald’s bag with stale fries

 

the election was stolen…

the only solution to a bad person with a gun is…

climate change is a liberal myth

God is angry and vengeful

 

some lies are worse than others

those lies that blind us to the truth

that confirm our bias

that cause us to do harm and accept harm

 

but the worst lies are those

that rob us of Love

which cause us to act in ways

cruel or careless

 

which cause us to hate

or fear

grasp

and exclude

 

Jesus said “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.

if we want to be on the way

if we want to experience life,

 

truth must be at the center

 

truth is not always easy

it is not always comfortable

it is not always on our side

 

the truth can hurt

it can force us to change

it can turn our world upside down

 

but we cannot abandon the truth

without abandoning the way

and without missing out on life.

 

Jesus said the truth will set us from

Indeed

free from our egos

free from our delusions

free from our convenient untruths

 

the truth will break us open and pour us out

but the truth will never (ultimately) betray us

 

instead, it will pick us up

and put us back on the road of

hope and love

 

this day I will do my best to hold fast to the truth

to the truth that God is

that God is love

that God loves all

that God is about peace (not violence)

that God is about service (not domination)

that God sides with the poor (not the rich)

that God asks us to lay down our weapons (not pick them up)

 

this day I will do my best to hold fast to the truth

and walk in the way

and have life

and have it abundantly

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Say Yes

Is anyone here happy with the world as it is?

Do any of you wake up and sing with Louie Armstrong

 

“I see trees of green, red roses too I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

 

I see skies of blue and clouds of white The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night

And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

 

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky Are also on the faces of people going by

I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do

They're really saying I love you.

 

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow They'll learn much more than I'll ever know

And I think to myself what a wonderful world Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.”

 

OK!!!

There are moments!

I’m not a total pessimist!

 

Some mornings are breathtakingly beautiful

Some smiles too

 

Some days I run across random acts of kindness

 

But then again!

Ugh!

 

City streets littered with people without homes

And needles

Mass shootings (day after day)

Right-wing extremists who get more extreme by the moment

Crooked politicians

Ideologically blind voters

Hateful, controlling, arrogant, retributive “christians”

 

This is not new! (of course)

Which is why Jesus said “you must be born again (from above)”

and Paul suggested we must be “renewed” by the “transforming of our minds”

and become “new creatures”

 

Back in 1921 Frank Buchman, a Lutheran, founded the Oxford Group

(Later called “Moral Rearrangement”)

 

This group suggested there are four absolutes

Honesty (is it true or false?)

Unselfishness (How will this affect others?)

Purity (is it right or wrong?)

Love (is it ugly or beautiful?)

 

Absolutely the right questions

 

And yet what we see, in America and elsewhere

Is the abandonment of these absolutes

 

Forget truth.  Lying is now acceptable

So is toxic individualism

So are such morally questionable behaviors such as

hoarding (we even admire the 1%) and oppression (think any red state)

 

And what is the ultimate cost of abandoning the first three absolutes?

The loss of the last

The loss of love

 

Love gets destroyed by lies, and toxic individualism

and destructive behavior

 

and when love dies?

it gets ugly!

 

Oh, precious souls

Today is a new day

Today and every day

This moment and every moment

We have a chance to start again

 

Jesus not only said (in effect) we must start over

But that we can start over

Each morning

Each moment

Each choice

 

We can say “yes” to the Sacred

To truth

To the common good

To what is right

 

We can say yes to LOVE

 

 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Don't pretend

I don’t understand why, when Christians talk about creating a Christian government, it’s usually focused on some narrow moral enforcements and not on things like caring for the poor

          Matt Mikalatos on Twitter

____________________________

 

Odd isn’t it

That the religion that bears Jesus’s name

Bear so little resemblance to the “way” Jesus taught

 

If one believes in incarnation

If one accepts the idea that somehow

Someway

Mysteriously

Mystically

Jesus embodied the Divine

 

Uniquely

Powerfully

Clearly

 

Then it would seem like the proverbial “no brainer”

To embrace the idea

That God is love

And that God is about such things as

Compassion, and generosity

Equality

 

That God is about feeding the hungry

Forgiving those who have messed things up

Turning the insidious and destructive systems of

Dominance and power

Upside down

 

Turning people inside out

 

Making all things new

 

And it would seem “normal” for those who

say they follow Jesus to look like Jesus (at least a little bit)

 

But instead

We see the religion that claims Jesus

Embracing the old structures of power and wealth

We see coercion, not empowerment

Merit, not grace

Exclusion, not welcome

Fear, not joy

 

We see the rich worshipped

And the poor shamed

We see the stranger turned away

Unjust and predatory systems sustained

Racism ignored

Violence embraced

 

Mary had it right!

The Divine is about disruption

Revolution

Transformation

 

The one embodied in the life of her child

in his birth, life, death, and resurrection

“scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty”

 

That is what God is about!

Believe it!

Deal with it!

Live it!

 

And don’t pretend

That Christian nationalism

Toxic Individualism

Putting God “back in our schools”

The control of women

The oppression of BIPOC

The demonization of our LGBTQI+ siblings

The control of the SCOTUS and Congress, and the White House,

The worship of power and violence

The Second Amendment,

Have anything to do with God

 

Just don’t

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Really real

I only really love God as much as the person I love the least

          Dorothy Day

 

who do you love?

who do you endow with value?

to whom do you cede power and give power?

 

who are the influencers in your life?

 

why do you love it?

why do you endow those people with value?

why do you defer to them and give them control over your

heart

your mind

your actions?

 

why?

 

if I am honest

I would guess I normally love and value

those who I believe can offer me something

those who can give me what I want and think I need

 

if I am honest,

even my relationship with God

is kind of

like

that

 

I look to God for blessing and safety

for (to put it bluntly) power and wealth

 

and I suspect I am not alone

 

and yet!

when Love came down

Love taught us a different way.

 

you have heard it said

but I say

 

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy

but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

 

don’t just love those who love you

even those you consider the worst among you

do that

 

If you value and recognize only people like yourself?

well , big deal

everyone does that!

 

but be perfect as God is perfect

(Wait! What?)

 

see all

value all

love all

forgive all

welcome all

 

total love

unconditional love

is God’s love, is perfect love

and that love

 

is what I ask of you!

 

how we love the person we love the least

is how we love God

 

who is my “least?”

who is your “least?”

 

for some, the least are the poor

(but blessed are the poor)

 

for some, the least are the “strangers” (the immigrant)

(love the stranger as yourself)

 

we all have those who are “least”

 

perhaps it is that person who loves his/her gun

or that person who is racist

or that person who is greedy and grasping

or whose ideology focuses on domination

 

Ah!

this is hard

this command to love

to live love (since we can’t be commanded to feel love)

 

but if God loves THAT person

how can we withhold love?

even if they are poor

or addicted

or dirty

or filthy wealthy

or abuse power

or lie

or try to create a totalitarian government (at the point of a gun)

 

this is harder than I thought!

I was all ready to be righteous!

to insist that I DO love the poor, the vulnerable, the struggling

but can I love the rich, the powerful, the arrogant?

 

and what does it look like

to love those who are my “least”

I can give to the poor

welcome the stranger

 

what do I do with the January 6 insurgents?

what do I do with the person in McDonald’s with an AR-15?

what do I do with the person who has more money than he/she could ever spend,

and still does not pay a living wage?

 

Lord, I am undone

I need a little help

 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

The Kingdom is near

The meme was relatively benign

Robert Reich on gas prices and corporate profits

But somehow it drew a cousin

Out of the deep woods of Facebook

 

“You are a fool”

“You can’t trust Joe”

“They (whomever they are) all lie”

 

“Wake up” (O sleepy head)

“Wake up, because it’s coming!!!!”

 

Just wait – it’s coming!

 

What is coming?

I often hear that from people

Wrapped up fundamentalist Christianity

In QAnon

In right-wing politics

 

It’s coming

 

What’s coming

The “foul beast that slouches toward Bethlehem”?

The violent end of the world?

The judgment, where the God of love will gleefully send

most of humanity to eternal torment?

The day of reckoning for the “libs”

violently orchestrated by the righteous right?

 

I often wonder where it comes from

This need to threaten and intimidate

This need to use fear

As a motivation

 

For what?

Change?

Obedience?

Compliance?

 

Be afraid!

Of God

Be afraid

Of death

Be afraid

Of Hell

Be afraid

Of socialism and its “evils”

Be afraid

 

How does this line up with the angels,

Who over and over again says “fear not”

 

Or Jesus, who also said “fear not”

 

Fear not!

Why?

Because God is love

Because God welcomes and accepts

Because the Kingdom is near

Because God is present every moment in the Comforter and Advocate (the Spirit)

 

Fear not!

Because we are empowered to do good works

 

Fear not

Because we not only have God

We have each other

 

Jesus on his last night here on earth

Prayed for us (yes us)

He prayed that we may be one, completely one (John 17:20-23)

That we might have the same unity as the Trinity

That we might be bound together as we participate together in the divine

 

Jesus not only gave us himself

He gave us each other

 

So do not fear

 

Just wait!

It’s coming

Love is on the way!

The Kingdom of Heaven is near!

 

 

 

Friday, July 8, 2022

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias

Is a thing

 

Really

 

It is contagious and insidious

and we all are infected

 

I am

You are

They are

 

All

 

We see what we want to see

Hear what we want to hear

Believe what we want to believe

 

If we are “religious” and adhere to a faith system

Our bias is tended and nurtured!

 

A friend reminded me today

That some fundamentalist Christians firmly believe

That women have one more rib than men

 

Why?  Because in Genesis God took a rib from the man

to make the woman

(as if men coming before women even makes sense)

 

OK, OK

That is an extreme example

But in fact, how many people are stuck in their biases

 

And as a result of those biases,

Accept as true things that are not true?

Accept as good things that are not good?

Accept as evil things that are not evil?

 

Guns keep us safe

White people are superior

Trump was robbed

Being LGBTQI+ is a sin

 

Jesus once said “I am the way, the truth and the life”

Meaning that his way of living the is the way to live

If you follow him you can see what is truth

And that if you live love and are honest you will truly live

 

And we can walk along the way

Be people of the truth (rather than people of the Lie)

And find life

 

Through the mechanism of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Adoption (Paul in Romans)

Allowing us to cry out “Daddy, Mommy”

 

The Holy Spirit is (Richard Rohr)

The Holy Immensity within that changes everything

That turns our world upside down

So that the poor are blessed

And so too

The meek

The mournful

The social justice warriors

The authentic

 

While the rich and powerful?

are cast down.

 

We need to let the Holy Spirit set us free

We need to let the wind blow

And the fire burn

 

We need to let the Spirit open our eyes to the truth

About who God loves (all)

About how God works (through service and love)

About where we are off the mark (with out love of power and wealth)

About what the world is really like

About how are country really is

About who we really are.

 

Those who follow Jesus cannot be afraid of the truth

We need to accept the truth about January 6th and the threat of totalitarianism from the right.

We need to accept the truth about our culture of guns and violence

We need to accept the truth about systematic racism

And our cultural misogyny

 

We need to accept that our judicial system has become unjust

That our economic system oppresses

That our political system is corrupt

 

That LBGTQI+ people are endangered

And colored people too

That women are marginalized and controlled

And immigrants refused safety

And that our children are sacrificed to the God of violence

 

We can dare accept the truth about all those things

Because the same Spirit that reveals those truths

Will love us

Guide us

Restore us

Reconcile us

Connect us

 

Until we are on the way

Embrace the truth

And find life

 

Monday, July 4, 2022

May love "fall in"

A great rabbi taught his disciples to memorize and contemplate the teachings and to place the payers and holy words on their hearts.  One day a student asked the rabbi why he always used the phrase “on your heart” and not “in your heart.”  The master replied  “Only time and grace can put the essence of these stories in your heart.  Here we recite and learn them and put them on our hearts hoping that someday when our heart breaks they will fall in.”

          Jack Kornfield, A Lamp in the Darkness

______________________________________

 

My heart is broken

As I hear the stories of the parents, and the doctors

And hear the stories of the little children from Uvalde

 

My heart is broken

As I read of 10-year-old bodies torn apart

Until even their parents couldn’t recognize them

My heart is broken

 

As I think of my granddaughter

Also 10, my heart breaks again.

 

As I think of those parents and grandparents who will never again

Welcome those children home

My heart breaks again.

 

My heart is broken

Each day as the news brings word

Of another shooting

More death

More grief

 

It is not just guns

My heart is broken by injustice

And by a badly damaged planet

And by the oppression and minimization of women

And by the demonization of people whom God created LGBTQI+

And by voter suppression

 

The ills of the world seem overwhelming

and they press on my heart

and they fall in

into the deep place

that sacred place

 

where they are greeted

and transformed

and sometimes healed

by the Christ in me

 

the pain is transformed into compassion

the anger into action

the hate into (I hope) understanding

 

but I do not understand

those whose hearts have been so hardened

that little seems to get in

 

what makes for a hard heart?

A lust for power?

Greed?

A selfishness that cannot look past

Individual benefits and rights?

 

I do not understand how those who

gush over the rights of a cluster of cells

can look upon the decapitated body of a 10-year-old

and vote to allow the weapon that did such damage

to circulate freely

 

Jesus once taught us the way we should be (the Beatitudes in Matthew and Luke)

What a blessed life looks like

It looks like vulnerability (poor in Spirit)

Like the ability to mourn

It looks like humility

It looks like a fierce commitment to justice

It looks like compassion and forgiveness.

It looks like authenticity and integrity

It looks like peacemaking (not violence)

It looks like a willingness to do what is RIGHT no matter the cost.

Even when it costs you votes and you get attacked on Facebook

 

That is what a soft heart looks like

And open heart

 

A hard heart?

It looks like self-focus

Like detachment

It looks like arrogance

It looks like injustice

It looks like ignoring the pain of others (since it is not your pain)

It looks like accepting lies as truth

It looks like violence

It looks like a willingness to do anything to get and keep power

 

It looks like choosing dominance over service

Accumulation over generosity

Retribution over forgiveness

Guns over children

 

I have to admit

I am angry at those representatives who voted against gun control

I am going to be angry at those Senators who will vote against gun control

I am going to find it hard to forgive them

I am going to rage at their thoughts and prayers

Which are not backed by meaningful action

 

And I am going to hope

That someday

Their hearts too will break

And love, and compassion, and truth

And justice

Will fall in