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, January 31, 2022

we need a revolution


We were surprised by the place

to which the star brought us

so little worthy of a king’s birth,

but our calculations left no doubt —

a stable redolent of hay and dung

inhabited by an ox and a donkey,

occasioned by lambs and kids.


The child like all new born

had nothing to distinguish him.

The little woman, like all good mother

sweet and tender, the man no longer young

showed tenderness and solicitude;

they were even more surprised and perplexed

by our visit than we for being there.


We left the gifts we had brought from so far:

the little gold coffer chased

with lions and suns, the ivory box filled

with incense, the ebony urn filled with myrrh,

and we left in silence.


Finally the youngest of us murmured,

        "Perhaps he brings revolution."

The other two kept in silence

the hope his saying awoke.

          Rafael Jesús González (via Matthew Fox)



we need a revolution

the powers “that be” have been in control long enough

Greed and Power

and the systems they have erected

have ruled

far too long


we know the nature of the foul kingdom of the world

we see it in the gross abundance of the very rich

in the oppressive power of those who coerce and control


we see it in the hate that carries a torch at night

and in the fear that swaggers into a McDonalds with a gun.


we need a revolution

not the revolution of flag flying, red-hatted revolutionaries

crying for retribution

but the revolution of this common uncommon child

awash in love


a revolution created by insisting on an economy of forgiveness

rather than an economy of retribution


a way of generosity

rather than a way of grasping


a revolution that insists on inclusion rather than exclusion

on service rather than domination

kindness rather than brutality


a revolution of love

a Holy Thursday type revolution

a Good Friday type revolution

of body and blood


such a revolution is not painless

it involves a kind of death


to old thoughts

old feelings

old system

old comforts

old ways


it involves letting go

and dying to self


but we need a revolution


Saturday, January 29, 2022

I am awake today

I am awake today

to the enormity of hate

to the massive power of self-interest


to how destructive it is when we human creatures

choose to focus on themselves

as individuals

and ignore others


how deadly it can be when we choose

to act out of “selfish ambition”

when we create our own path

our own rules

our own wisdom


rather than choose unity with God

unity with others


this is perhaps the basic human error


we forget we are part of the One

we forget we are light


and we try to appropriate for ourselves alone

what was meant for all


like rebellious teenagers, we break away from the path of love

we test the boundaries, we wreak havoc

we create not just chaos

but destruction and death


we deny the Sacred in creation

and abuse it

we deny the Sacred in ourselves

and try vainly to re-create ourselves

we deny the Sacred in others


and all hell breaks loose


in our question for “freedom” and power

we lie

we grasp


we commit acts of violence


forgetting that we are one

that each human creature is in the image of God

carries God


so when we lie we lie to God

when we take, we take from God

when we exploit we exploit (or try) God

when we commit acts of violence we violate God


I am awake today to sin

And I am awake to a profound sense of helplessness.


Who can rescue us!

The One to whom we must return

Not if fear, but in hope


Because this One is love

Even in the garden, after Adam and Eve had chosen to go their own way

The One moved toward them


In Jesus, the One moved toward us!


We are not abandoned

God is with us

We can return home


Jesus gave us the secret of return

He told us to go into our inner world

our “secret world” (Brian McLaren)

and re-oriented ourselves to the One


and in secret pray, and fast, and give

in secret

over and over and over again


until prayer and fasting and giving

become a habit

become the way we live

until what we do in secret shows up in our outer lives


as forgiveness, and generosity,

and kindness


until we rediscover the reality

that our true freedom comes not

from individualism, but from unity

not from independence, but from connectedness


not from the assertion of power

but from a ceding of power

that paradoxically returns to us

the power




I am awake today

to joy

and hope

and peace


and yes,


Friday, January 28, 2022

we all carry pain

Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge-from which new sorrows will be born for others-then sorrow will never cease in this world. And if you have given sorrow the space it demands, then you may truly say: life is beautiful and so rich.

Etty Hillesum – An Interrupted Life



We all carry pain and sorrow.


It is part of the human condition.

It lingers in our souls, a sort of yeast transforming the whole.


It is there whether we accept its presence or not


Sometimes we attempt feebly to deny its presence,

But we cannot will it away, any more than we can

get rid of cancer with wishful thinking.


What do we do with this shadowy presence?


There are those moments when pain turns to suffering,

when it takes on the dimension of intensity


Suffering is what happens when we assume our pain is unique,

that we are alone in our tragedy.

Suffering is what happens when we are alone in our pain,

carrying it all as a personal burden, our cross to bear.

Suffering is what happens when we see our pain as an indictment,

something we deserve, something we have earned.


And suffering bears many fruits.

Perhaps anger.

Perhaps resentment.

Perhaps violence, against self or others.

Perhaps despair.


Suffering creates suffering

Pain piled upon pain.


But pain is transformed when it is

acknowledged and shared


When we make room for our pain and sorrow

when we shelter it and give it a home,

we can offer it hospitality

welcome it as a friend that needs compassion


And in welcoming it, carry it differently

It is still pain, but it is woven together

with all the beauties we carry within us.


With joy, and hope

And yes, love


And when we share our pain,

with God and others,

something profound happens.


As we allow others, including God, to enter into our pain.

And as we enter in the pain of others.


When there is only one sorrow.

When we are all in this together, and our pain

collectively is carried by the Sacred

(as symbolized by Jesus on the cross).


Our pain, instead of dividing, unites.

Instead of creating hate, increases love.

Instead of destroying us, creates newness.


Call it what you will.

I call it resurrection.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

People for others

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

          The Dali Lama


If you want to be happy in a relationship,

work hard to make the other person happy.

          My Mom



Somewhere along the line compassion fell into disrepute.


We see it in politics.

Just the other day Donald Trump Jr. stated that turning the other check,

try to work with  the “others side”

has “gotten us nothing.”


Just wow.  The scriptures as a manual for suckers and the weak!

the ethics of Jesus being counterproductive

in a world where dominance and wealth are everything


We see it in the church.

In how many churches are people told they are

miserable sinners in the hands of an angry God (Jonathan Edwards)

told they don’t deserve love

and only escape eternal suffering because a God of wrath

took his (yes it’s a male God in these churches) wrath out on Jesus.


But even then we had better be pretty darn careful.


A dominating God full of wrath

Primed to exact retribution


No wonder the right-wing church likes DJT


We see it on Facebook




People who have abandoned kindness and compassion

for power and wealth

(but if they can have wealth, they really want that power).


And at some level their tactic is working

By abusing power

Stacking the deck

Legalizing inequity and injustice


By changing the rules (so that anything they do is OK)

By carrying weapons

By weaponizing the church


They people of the lie (think Scott Peck)

are getting what they want

power over others

and in the case of the already rich, riches.


But are they happy?


Perhaps the fact that no matter how much power they have

it is never enough

Perhaps the fact that no matter how much money they have

(it is obscene in some cases)

it is never enough


These people are perpetually hungry


like the poor souls on Dante’s sixth terrace of hell


There is no enough


Enter compassion

Enter people who are so sate by Love

The love of God

Some filled with a sense of blessing


That when they interact with the world

They are not needy

They are not hungry

They are full


And being full can let go

of the need for power and wealth


focus on the other


and love


This is theologically sound

It is sociologically and psychologically sound


As Brene Brown reminds us

Only those who believe they are worthy of love and belonging

And have experience love and belonging


Can engage in the world

Wholeheartedly (Read Rachel Held Evan’s book, finished by Jeff Chu)


I want to be a wholehearted person

A person who knows I am love

Who has experienced love

And who can offer love


For love, not domination is the starting place is it not

in the divine equation?


For you shall love the Lord your God

with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (wholeheartedly)

You shall experience Holy love and acceptance yourself,


You shall love those around you too



Tuesday, January 25, 2022

How big is the E in ego

I made a mistake this morning

Shocking I know!


But beyond the mistake of getting up

(sometimes it feels that way)


I made the mistake of questioning the “style” of a popular

Christian (left end of the spectrum) influencer.

The point that author had made was excellent, but the whole thing seemed so…  angry

So designed to shock.


So I simply stated that while I loved the message I wondered if the

“shock tactics” were necessary.


As I said, that was a mistake.

The author pretty much thought I had it wrong.

His followers called me evil, arrogant and judgmental

(all of which may be true)


I should have known better.

I did a similar thing several years ago with another popular writer

And got unfriended.


Which makes me look at myself.

How much am I like that?

How big is the E in ego?

Am I really ready to hear negative things and take them seriously?

Am I carrying my own “stuff” into my evaluations of others?


Today in reading Rachel Held Evans (may she rest in peace and rise in glory)

she made a comment that resonated with me


“Liberation is rooted in a profound humility, the ability to say that God is God and I am not.”


And she reminds us of just how ugly it gets when we can’t accept our own fallibility.

When we have to realize that what we offer is not perfection

Not bulletproof beliefs

Not brilliant insights (that no one else ever thought of)

But our fallible selves,

And a friendship

a community


When instead of accepting our own fallibility

Or that of the other

We attack and defend.


“It’s not my fault you don’t see that I’m right”

“You must be … add a favorite adjective

“You are …  add favorite personal attack here…

(I won’t give examples because FB would likely ban me).


Fact is we are people who are both / and

Right and wrong

Good and bad

Harsh and loving

Judging and accepting

Prickly and welcoming


Those we welcome are the same!


Maybe they bring in their own messes

But they are still people who are precious souls


And the freedom to have dialog

The kind of dialog Jesus had with those he met

Only exists when all we fallible souls

Are free to ask hard questions

And willing to listen to hard questions

And willing to live in that tortured place between


I want to be right

But I might be wrong


To live in that place where we say “tell me more”

Where we pick up the uncertainty and the questions

Rather than banish them


and live together in a community

even if that community is a Facebook page

where goodness, humility

and acceptance happen

even in the face of brutality


and dialog is a thing

and answers are found

by “fragile, wondering, frightened selves” (RHE)


Colossians 3:12- 14   Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

community is so Jesus

Community is so Jesus

          Sister Greta (via Mirabai Staff)



Jesus’ birth was not odd.

It was in its own way remarkably normal


Sure, he and his mom did not get the guest room at the family’s home

but were relegated to the lower level of the house

down amidst the animals and the hay


But still Jesus came in the normal way

Slippery and wet, crying in protest at his entry into this mess.

(forget “Away in a Manger’)


And yet the birth was remarkable

Room had been made for this birth, where there was no room

The house was full, but they stuffed Mary and Joseph in anyway


And then, as he came mewling into the world

Something remarkable happened.


People gathered

We think (quite romantically) of those wonderful animals

They were there too!  Sentient beings who looked on (I least I like to think) in love


But there were people.

The family from upstairs

All those aunts and uncles and cousins

Shepherds, drawn in from the cold fields

A few random angels (or so we are told)

A few nosey neighbors (I suspect)

And eventually a few alien magician astronomers


And I would guess this impromptu community

did what they could to welcome this child

and help this couple


Later, when he grown

Jesus created a community

Men and women, rich and poor, Judean, Samaritan, Roman


Later, after Easter, and the Ascension, and then Pentecost

he created community

a group of people who gathered, who heard each other

(in their own languages)

who ate together

gave together

who met each other’s needs


Following Jesus is nothing

if it is not about community

not a fortified community

not a protective, guarded community

not a dominating community

not an exclusive community


but an open community

a welcoming community

a vulnerable community

a inclusive community

a servant community


a community of the able and disabled

a community of the rich (who become less rich) and the poor (who become less poor)

a community of those wise in the way of books

and those wise in the way of the world


a community of the stable and instable

the fit and the misfits


a community

gathered together around Love, in love

empowered by love


its messy this community

(as it was on Christmas night)


but it is where people come together to offer what they have

to one another


where people are affirmed

where people are praised

where people take their gifts,

their knowledge, their resources, their love


and feeling affirmed and safe

expend themselves for others


and where Jesus is present

in the midst

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Two Loves Only

“I believe wholeheartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love.”

          bell hooks (from an interview with George Yancy)



“there are two loves only”

Michel Quoist once wrote

“love of self and love of others”


I am not so sure they are exclusionary

for as Jesus aptly noted

we cannot love others if we do not have a love of self

and we cannot love ourself

(in my experience)

unless we are nestled down in that Love in which

we live and move and have our being


but there are two ways of living

two paths we can take as we

stumble through the darkness


and these paths, I think seldom of ever meet

for they are radical opposed


the way of domination and the way of love


America is all about domination

the more power

the more money

the bigger the gun

the more toys

the greater the privilege

the better


the goal of domination is to control

to have the capacity to force others to your will

to make them who you want to be


this is the path of the AR-15

the path of “turn or burn’

the path of abortion bans

and voter suppression


and it is devastating

leaving women minimized

and young black men dead

and immigrants languishing on our borders

and the homeless on the street


it is the way of injustice

and economic inequity

and abuse


the only way off this path

the only way out of this darkness

is to follow the path of servanthood

using the flickering light of love


we will not defeat those who want to dominate

by playing their game

domination will not defeat domination

(although we are tempted to believe it will)


if we use domination to end the domination of the other

we lose

hate does not end hate, it creates more

violence does not end violence, it creates more


what works is strong love

not a permissive love

not a silent love

not a comfortable love


but an in-your-face love

a love that stands up in the face of evil

an active love

that listens, gives, forgives, helps cares



Christians celebrate a sacrament of love

but it is a sacrament grounded in sacrifice

in the most radical of giving

the most radical love



our lives should be a sacrament of love



“We lift our voices, We lift our hands

We lift our lives up to You, We are an offering

Lord use our voices, Lord use our hands

Lord use our lives they are Yours

We are an offering


All that we have, All that we are

All that we hope to be, We give to You

We give to You”


Songwriter: Dwight Liles

We Are An Offering lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

Used through OneLicense

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

extremism is dangerous

It has been suggested that if we really want to have an impact on the world

as the followers of Love

we have to become ordinary radicals (Shane Claiborne)


ordinary people

who are radical


maybe a bit crazy


but what does it mean to be radical?

What does it mean to be a radical in the “irresistible revolution”

Started by Jesus.


I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle with radicality

Simply because in my experience

Radicality leads to extremism

And extremism, all too often leads to rigidity and even cruelty


We have seen where extremism takes people

The unfeeling and graceless piety of the pro-life movement

Which in its extreme love for zygotes forgets to love the women who carry them,

And those same organisms once they take a breath

And become a living child of God.


The extremism of gun right’s activists who close their eyes to mass shootings

And to the pain and sorrow guns so often cause.


Almost any form of extremism,

Cultural, political, religious, can become cruel

Even such wonderful movements such as veganism can end up

With a strident and hateful voice.


But we are called to be extreme

Following Jesus is extreme

Turn the other cheek

Die to yourself

Give up what you have, and give it away

Bless your enemies

Forgive those who have hurt you.


And yet Christianity too can be cruel


How can we be extreme and not move into domination and cruelty?

But making sure our responses are always loving

Jesus response to hate was not hate

It was love

His response to abusive power was not abusive power

It was love


The fact is if I do not respond with extreme love

(as Jesus did)

I might create change

But it will not be the right kind of change.

And we will not overcome

Not really

Hate does not overcome hate,

Nor domination defeat domination

Nor fear defeat fear


If I want to be an extremist

I have to love

If in my extreme allegiance to any cause, I stop loving

Stop treating people with respect (start name-calling and seeking to shame)

Stop caring

Stop forgiving

Stop welcoming and embracing


I am doing it wrong.





Monday, January 17, 2022

source of hope

We ourselves are not the source of that [mystical] hope; we do not manufacture it. But the source dwells deep within us and flows to us with an unstinting abundance, so much so that in fact it might be more accurate to say we dwell within it. . . .


The term I will use to describe this embodying fullness is “the Mercy.” It is the water in which we swim. Mercy is the length and breadth and height and depth of what we know of God—and the light by which we know it. You might even think of it as the Being of God insofar as we can possibly penetrate into it in this life, so that it is impossible to encounter God apart from the dimension of mercy. . . .


The mercy of God . . . is unconditional—always there, underlying everything. It is literally the force that holds everything in existence, the gravitational field in which we live and move and have our being. . . . Mercy is God’s innermost being turned outward to sustain the visible and created world in unbreakable love. . . .

Cynthia Bourgeault



People wiser than I know we are in trouble

As a retiring, but still wise analyst noted

“They [the political and religious right]

have chosen to burn down the house [our country]

with us in it”


All that toxic dominion (authoritarianism and gun rights)

Added to toxic individualism (I don’t need no darn mask/shot)

Added to zeal turned to blind cruelty (pro-life)


And that added to all the more personal pain of life

Friends with aggressive cancer,

Beautiful people who won’t be with us much longer

Children hiding under desks at school

Families fragmenting


And those deep pains added to the little pains

A body that doesn’t work the way it used to

A mind that doesn’t work the way it used to

All the little aches

All the small disappointments.


It seems we are afloat in a sea of enmity


And yet!


The Mercy

The unconditional love that is woven into this creation

Woven into us

Woven (even) into those who cause us anxiety and pain


When we pray

When we breathe

When we go deep


There it is

That in which we live and move and have our being


If we look to those around us

To our leaders

Our friends

If we look at ourselves


It is probably impossible to have hope

But if we look to Love

If we realize that mercy is the water in which we swim


We can get up

And not just make it through another day

But fully live through another day



And thus lovingly


So may it be!

Swim children swim


Friday, January 14, 2022

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis




The dialectic method of progress!


Blame Hegel, or perhaps better Kant

or perhaps better yet Fichte


or perhaps we should blame “God”

or some guy named Jesus


Think about it!

In the Bible we start with order, creation

Where all is good

Then we have the fall into a disordered world

And eventually, or so we are told, we will have a new order, the Kingdom of God


Jesus taught that we have the “self”, but we have to die to that self to become a new creation.


And now today, we have many in the church talking generally about

Construction, Deconstruction, Reconstruction


Order, Disorder, Reorder


I have friends who are clearly in the Order phase

They were raised in the church and they have accepted the faith they were taught, with

few questions


Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so


And I respect their faith


I have friends who are clearly in the disorder phase.

It is not that they don’t read the bible, or respect it

It is that they do read the bible, and they find in its pages a lot of really strange

disturbing, even contradictory stuff.


I am not sure about the Reconstruction, Reorder, or perhaps better, New Creation stage is one any of us get to settle into.


Once we get broken open

Once we find a new point of statis

The holy spirit, fire and wind

Comes roaring in to disrupt things yet again!


So much for recliner faith!


What strikes me today, as I think about Advent, and Christmas,

and John the Baptist and Jesus

is just how disruptive Jesus was


John the Baptist warned everyone!

But seriously


Take the idea of who is blessed

Most people of Jesus time believed that those with power and money

Were the blessed


But Jesus said

Blessed are the poor

Blessed are the meek

Blessed are those who mourn

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst


We can spiritualize those radical statements if we want

(And make them less radical)

Blessed are the poor in Spirit (thank you Matthew)

And slip off the hook just a little


But still the statement stands!


What do American Christians do with that radicality?


We ignore it, and double down on wealth and power.


Take the idea of who is in heaven!

We would assume those who have been blessed and blessed

In this lifetime.


But Jesus turns heaven upside down, with the poor and miserable

Being those who gain a place at the table

And the rich and powerful being thrown into the abyss


Those who live die

Those who die live

That who are first are last

Those who are last are first

Those who are great are those who serve (and let go of greatness)


What strikes me most is that Jesus was with and for

and Jesus loved without reservation

the marginalized


the rejected

the doubtful

the sinful

the alien


Jesus spent most of his time with people we wouldn’t let inside

the doors of our churches.


which makes me believe that is it is indeed

time again for a little disorder


it is time to re-think everything


Because the order we have now

Probably makes God/Jesus/Spirit cringe


Our neat little formulas

Our tribalism

Our alliance with power and wealth

Our exclusionism

Our privilege


It all needs to go

The church needs to fall in the same way the temple fell

And we need to stand in the rubble

Singing hallelujah


And then we need to once again

Return to those radical teachings

We need to fellowship with the dregs of humanity

Embrace the poor

Reject the trappings of earthly power


We need to once again open the windows of our souls

And let the spirit blow again

We need to let God disrupt and disorder

So we can find God’s thing


Which is always, always newf

Thursday, January 13, 2022

nature or nurture

People always wonder, or so I seems.

Is it nurture or nature?


In other words,

how did we get to get the way we are?

It is the result of external factors

Where we grew up?

Who raised us?

What has happened to us in life?

The things we were taught?

Just dumb luck?  Or bad luck?


Or are there things about us that just are?

Hardwired in!


Many would suggest that if we are primarily shaped by external factors,

we have a great opportunity to change.  We can learn things!  Go to therapy!

Pick different friends.  We can make choices that will not only change our life trajectory but change how we function.


With this framework (advocated by Freud) I might be shaped, profoundly, at an early age, by someone like a mother or father.


My parents were great.  But dad was pretty rigid and had very high expectations.

And he was not particularly good at nurture.

So I got told a lot about my deficits.

This potentially shaped my self-perception, making me a person who always needs to prove himself.  Can this perception, and the drivenness that emerges from it be changed?

In theory, yes. As I come to understand that those are dysfunctional thoughts, and where those thoughts come from, I can reframe, and move away from that place.


If we are born with certain tendencies,

to be introverted or extroverted for example, then perhaps change is not as easy.


Meyers-Briggs assumes (based on Jung) that there are certain traits hardwired in.

I am an INFP almost an ENFP,

According to that framework that is what I will always be.  Always.

I might compensate and manage my traits,

Learn to be more extroverted for example,

But it won’t change who I am, fundamentally.


I suspect it is a little of both.

And in fact, no matter which theory one buys into

Change is not easy.


I would say I have changed.

But there are always ways in which I have not changed.


I was so anxious in grade school I took antiacids

I am still anxious.


I tried super hard to impress people when young

I still feel the need to impress people


I am impulsive, and no number of tools related to

control seem to make much of a difference.


Open up a bag of chips, I will eat the whole bag!

Put anything I like in front of me and I am fundamentally unable to resist.

Throw in a side helping of impulsivity,

and I have always struggled to not eat or drink to excess

and to not do really stupid things.


Has that stuff changed?

Not so much.


I will probably always be socially awkward (not at surface relationships, but at deep relationships.  I will always try to impress people.  I will always be trying to prove myself.

I will always do things I regret and sabotage myself.


Makes it hard to be a good partner

And a good parent.


I won’t say I haven’t changed.

I have a little more understanding, and with more understanding more control.

But still my nature, my innate traits jump and bite me, all the time.


But now for the wild card



I do believe there is something in everything


In the earth, the animals, fish, birds, trees


That is a creative, even loving reality

Religions have tried to capture this concept, and have mostly done a pretty poor job


But I do believe that if we can go inside, to our true self

Not our small self, but our true self,

The self that participates in everything,


That this power, this presence, this something

Has the potential to change, to heal


And this is why we do see people change.

Become different, and new.


It still takes work

And often the world around the person

And even the people around the person make it harder.


People find it hard to accept change in others.

A person may leave some old destructive stuff behind,

But it is difficult for those who were hurt by that person, are close to that person,

to believe in the change.


And if they act as if the person can’t change, they may in fact push that person

Back into old patterns.


So it is all very complex.

My answer to “can people change?”


Yes, and No

But I have spent my life, as both a minister and therapist

Believing primarily in the “yes”


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

love is all we have

The daily reality of our lives is not under the rule of love, but under the rule of law, of force and of punishment.  We talk about love, but we live by hate: we hate in the name of love…

          Thomas Merton


I’m sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that!

          Tom Leher (intro to “National Brotherhood Week”)



Love, love, love, love

Christians this is your call

Love your neighbor as yourself for God loves all


How is it that we get it so wrong?

The intensity of love, we might think

Would lead us into the realm of love.


That loving someone, something,

almost anything

would make us more open, more vulnerable

happier, kinder, more compassionate


and yet it seems, all too often

that extreme love can lead us into places dark and dangerous


perhaps it is not so much love

as it is extremism


Certainly, some kinds of extremism are loaded with danger

An extreme love of power

Or a love of guns

Extreme hate


But one would think extreme loyalty (patriotism?)

or extreme love of God (religion?)

or extreme love of animals (veganism?)

would be good things


Certainly, it seems as though Christianity (for example)

calls for an extreme love of God

“You shall love the Lord your God with all

  Your heart, soul, mind, and strength”


But have we not seen this extreme love of God

turn into hate for others?

Have we not seen horrible things done in the name of God?

People tortured.  Burned. 

Countries destroyed


Does not the “pro-life” movement seem like a good thing?

Who doesn’t want to protect life?

But have we not seen this movement turn cruel?

Dehumanizing women? 

(And there are those reading this who will say a woman who would abort a child deserves to be treated poorly)

Calling all who do not agree with them murderers?

(And there are those reading this who will simply shrug and say “they are!”)

Sacrificing people who are alive for people not yet born?


We are called to love

But we end up hating in the name of love!


It seems, perhaps, that all extremism

Ultimately turns cruel


And yet

There is that call for,

even that need for extremism?


How do we reconcile the need to go “all in” on some issues

and “all in” with God

with the fact that such extremism can separate us from others

cause us to dehumanize others

and then treat others

with blind cruelty


I don’t know

Jesus did

A few other brave souls have at least come close



Not so much


Perhaps Jesus gives us the clue

Even as he saw legalism

And neglect

And greed

And a lust for power in “the other”


He still saw “the other”

as a precious child of God

as a precious soul

worthy of inclusion

worthy of sitting at the banquet table

worthy of being searched for and found

worthy of love


no matter who extreme our love for anything

justice, the planet, God

we must always see the other


see them

as Sacred Children

see them as carriers of the Sacred

see them as precious


This answer feels like “not enough’

and it is, I suspect, harder than it sounds.


But on this day

As in the name of justice, peace, compassion, kindness

I am tempted to become unjust, angry, apathetic, and unkind

It is all I have.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

I keep thinking

I keep thinking of Jesus, peasant child, lying vulnerable among the animals

I keep thinking of Jesus, tiny child, fearful immigrant heading to a strange land.


I see Jesus, tempted to use his power to impress and influence

Tempted to thrill the masses

Tempted to grab earthly power

and rejecting the temptation


I see Jesus talking to the poor, talking to the rich

Talking to saints, talking to sinners


Open, listening, compassionate

Offering a doorway to a new way of life

But no coercion

Just an invitation, to be accepted or not


I remember Jesus, humble and mounted on a donkey

While the power of empire entered through another gate


And Jesus, vulnerable and anguished, praying

Jesus on trial

Asked unequivocally, “are you the King of the Jews”


And answering, “my kingdom is not of this world, if it were

my followers would be assailing this capital, AR-15s in hand”


You say I am the King, but I came into the world for this

to reveal the truth


And how can I ignore Jesus on the cross

Father forgive them

Today you will be with me

It is finished


I see Jesus

Who lived a life of vulnerability, servanthood, compassion, and sacrifice

And said, “THIS IS THE WAY”


I wonder what Jesus would think of us.

As we seek to grab political power in his name

As we stack the courts in his name

As we celebrate wealth, in his name

As we exclude others, from our country, from our churches, in his name

As we flourish AR-15s in his name


I wonder what Jesus thinks as he watches

those of us who claim his name choose dominion instead of servanthood

Lies over truth

Coercion over compassion


I wonder


Lord have mercy on us

Who have lost their way


“Brightest and best of the sons of the morning

Shine on our darkness, lend us thy aid”


Monday, January 10, 2022

Shaken Up

Love wants to reach out and shake us up

Be the bull in a china shop and break a few cups.

The Beloved wants to turn us upside down and inside out


When the Sacred is in such a “playful drunken mood”

Most of us

Quickly slink from the room

Hoping the divine won’t notice  (a paraphrase of a poem by Hafiz)


There is one thing we can say about God

God is not safe!


We want God to be safe

And we want God to make us safe

We want God predictable

We even want to control God


Perhaps this is why we create a God who is not God

Jacqui Lewis suggests that some of us imagine God as punitive, angry, and vengeful because these are aspects of ourselves that make us feel powerful and protected,

rather than vulnerable.


And God knows that we don’t want to feel vulnerable!


It seems to me that God is often in the process of shaking things up

Isaiah images God as a 150,00 lb Caterpillar creating a freeway in the desert

And insists that God is always doing “a new thing!”

Can’t we see it?


Jesus certainly shook things up

Love your enemy.

Turn the other cheek.

Give away all that you have!  Heck, give away half of what you have like Zacchaeus.

Bless those who curse you.

If you want to be great be a servant.


The list goes on!


It is not that God doesn’t comfort.

But as the saying goes, “God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”


When we want to be comfortable God is there

Creating a little chaos.


Where do we need a little chaos today?

We all need some (I suspect)


Right now I would like to see God create a little chaos in the lives of others.

I would like to see God shake up gun-rights folk.

And pro-birth folk.

And I would like to see God shake the foundations of those who seek domination, who seek to control and manipulate, and ultimately abuse.


But in what ways do I need to be shaken up?

Where am I stuck?

Where am I too comfortable?


I do know this!  This chaotic world

With creeping fascism in the US, and the pandemic everywhere,

This chaotic world with its racism and hate has shaken me open


As much as it hurts my heart (and gives me a stomach ache)

These last years have created an immense amount of growth

As I have been challenged to define, and re-define what I believe


About God

About others

About myself


I would love to bury my head in orthodoxy!

But God is not into orthodoxy (Jesus makes that very clear).

I would love to find comfort and security


But here I am, a reed blowing in the wind!

Thank God!

Friday, January 7, 2022

I want a broken heart

I want a heart that is torn open with longing

so that I might share the pain of this love.



Shit happens

This is the human condition… It is by showing up for the full encounter with reality that we discover our hidden wholeness, which was of course present all along.

          Mirabai Starr



my heart hurts

a lot


At times I wish it were not so!

It would be much easier not to care.

It would be much safer to hide behind privilege.


There is something appealing by suiting up in emotional Kevlar

so that I cannot be wounded


There is something alluring in the idea of using weapons

both figurative and literal

to assault those things that threaten or simply anger


But we cannot hide from the pain.

We cannot blast it away with words or bullets


Not without losing touch with that

within us which makes us Sacred children.

Not without denying the divine image.


Just as God takes on our pain, and carries it

and transforms it,

so we must take on not only our own pain,

but the pain of the world.


For as we accept the pain, and let it cut through

our defenses to the heart

that is when we find

that there, at the center of how we are

is what we need

call it divine presence, call it Holy Spirit

call it the true self,


to touch that pain and transform it


to translate it into compassion

and forgiveness

and generosity

and caring


pain and love go together

the alchemy of God




Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The God I believe in shapes me

Until I discover the God in which I believe, I will never understand another thing about my own life. If my God is harsh judge, I will live in unquenchable guilt. If my God is Holy Nothingness, I will live a life of cosmic loneliness. If my God is taunt and bully, I will live my life impaled on the pin of a grinning giant. If my God is life and hope, I will live my life in fullness overflowing forever.

Joan Chittister, In Search of Belief (Liguori Publications: 1999), 20–21, 22.

(via Rohr, Daily Meditations, 11/30/21)



If God

If God is my life

If God is my life and hope




If only

we could let God be God

not just in the sense that we let God rule

meaning not that we let God bully and coerce

but that we let God be THE influencer in our lives


the one in whom we live and breathe

and have our being


the one who shapes us




If only


This morning as I await the sun

longing for the light

I am visited by hungry ghosts


I think of all those encounters lately

where I have responded with anger

and perhaps worse,



jumping into conflict mode

rebutting, rebuking



making my stand, making my point

without having the peace and calmness

to be open

to listen



Why did they say that?

Where did that come from?

Is there any truth in what they say?


I think of my anxiety

my lifelong companion

I worry.  I worry about the little outpost of the kingdom which is serve

as it moves along, faithful, generous, compassionate

but aging


Will it be around in ten years, as it has been for 136 years past?

Will the next generation step-up?

How do we make the church authentic?

How do we draw people with diverse ideologies together into the circle of Sacred love?

How we become the servant body of Christ?

How do we make faith relevant?


And as I stare at my own reflection in the window

As I stare into the darkness

I realize


that the only way out of this wilderness

is to live life connected to Love

to a reality, a power that I cannot define, cannot capture

in a word such as God

but will call God for lack of a better word


that Love that created the universe

and was personified in Jesus

and even now



That Love that as it fills me

touches the anxiety

calms the anger

softens the need to defend


opens me up


this God

this Love


is my life and hope