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

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



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


and even cruel


and suddenly

empathy and compassion are gone

healing and hope too


in their place is coercion


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


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




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



living wages

health care


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





Friday, July 22, 2022


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


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


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


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.”



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!



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




Jesus embodied the Divine






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



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




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


your mind

your actions?




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




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



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?





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!


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




It is contagious and insidious

and we all are infected


I am

You are

They are




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)



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?


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

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Like begets like

The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.

Shakespeare, "The Merchant of Venice," act III, sc. V, l. 1

(xref Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)


Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.

          Lamentations 5


If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.       

          AA and many others



It seems to be an immutable rule of the universe

Like begets like


Hate creates more hate

War creates more war

Violence creates more violence


The worst behaviors (and attitudes) of human creatures

Seem to have a life of their own


Like the infamous Tribbles

They also multiply

In a troubling manner


Not just continuing

But escalating


Give a person a little power

They will use it

Use become abuse

The abuse becomes more profound


We see it in politics

In the church

In schools

In families


The destructive and the damaging

Get carried forward

From generation to generation

Person to person

Causing us to repeat the same mistakes

Create the same suffering


When will we ever learn?

That answer is truly blowing in the wind!


Not even death ends the process

An abusive parent may die

But the seeds planted by that abuse are often carried forward

By the children


A ruthless totalitarian may be deposed, even killed

But the ideology lives on

To be picked up by another

And blossom again


How do we stop those things that steal the joy from our hearts;

our turn our dancing into mourning?


It is easy to say, simply

All we need is love


It is not that this is not true

But it is perhaps not enough


Because we can love the wrong things

Such as guns

Or power

Or money


So specifically, we have to love Love (the Sacred / the Divine / God)

And we have to love the way of Love

Which involves humility, justice, generosity, equality, sacrifice

Which involves the common good


And which involves letting go

Letting go of power (and our love of domination)

Letting go of retribution

Letting go of greed (the need to accumulate)

Letting go of hate



The list is endless


Letting go too of hurt, forgiveness

And the past, self-forgiveness

And saying

(in effect)


This stops here

In the same way Jesus took hate, violence, and all the sins of humanity

Onto the cross

And said, this ends, now!


I am not sure how we stop gun violence

But I am very sure it is not with more guns


I am not sure how we stop hate

But I am very sure it is not with more hate

(I know people who hate people and I hate people like that ?)


But I suspect when Jesus said “I am the way”

He meant just that

That his way of humility, forgiving, healing, listening, caring, giving


Is indeed

The way


I know the arguments

About accountability

About how, if we go the path of Jesus

“They” (whoever “they” are)

Will walk all over us!  Even kill us.


Well, yes!

Jesus died on a cross, didn’t he?


But it seems remarkable that this one who died


Is still a driving force in our world


A force for good

When followed

A force for evil, when claimed but not followed


There are lots of ills in this world

We are trying to solve most of them the wrong way

By always doing what we’ve always done

And always getting what we’ve always gotten


(How’s that working for you?)


Maybe we should try something else?

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Fear is the door

… fear is the door in the heart that lets evil spirits in

          Buck Ghosthorse, Lakota (quoted by Matthew Fox)



What is going on in that mind of yours?

What is going on in mine?

What goes on in the mind of the one who

must, must, must own a gun?

What goes on in the mind of the person who lusts after wealth?

What goes on in the mind of the abuser?

The user?


Our minds are like a house

With an open door

Letting in all kinds of guests

We do not want

(and perhaps some that we do)


Who is there, lounging in our minds

Spilling beer on the carpet

Their feet upon the coffee table

Sprawled on the couch

Smoking in the bathroom


Who have we let in?

And how did they get there?


Who is the bully in the hallway?

Pushing us around,

Causing us to cower in the corner?


Sadly our minds are filled with many things

Fear of the future

Regret about the post

Cares that freeze our soul






They all crowd in until

We can barely breathe

Barely move


Until love and peace

Joy and hope

Are crowded into the corners

And silences


And fear is the door

That lets them in


Fear of others

Fear of the future

Fear of poverty

Fear of violence

Fear of being powerless

Fear of change


Perfect love we are told

Casts out fear


Perhaps it is time to do some housecleaning

To let the wind of love

(Come Holy Spirit)

Blow through the windows of our soul


Perhaps it is time for the “transforming of our minds” (Romans 12:2)

That comes when the fire of love

(Come Holy Spirit)

Burns brightly


This day, what do we (or at least I)

Need to usher out the door?

Whom do I need to escort out of my being

To what things to do I need to proclaim

“Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out!”


And what do I need to welcome in?

So that I can see the beauty

Revealed by the early morning sun

Feel the fresh breeze

Participate in Joy

Have hope

Share love?

Friday, July 1, 2022

It only takes a second


The work starts

As soon as you open your eyes in the



Hopefully you got

Some good rest last night


Why go into the city or the fields

Without first kissing

The Friend


Who always stands at your door?

It only takes a second.

                     Hafiz (The Subject Tonight is Love  trans. Ladinsky


The works starts

As soon as we open our eyes

The work of love


The work of healing






It is hard work!


The new is grim

Our situations are difficult

It feels as if the world is out of control

And there is little we can do


About the abuse of power






But it is our work

To create reconciliation




It is our work to help drag the Kingdom of Love

Kicking and screaming into reality


So it seems

We had better start our day right!


With a kiss!

With an intimate moment

with Sacred


With Love

With that power that created the mountains and valley

The streams and lakes

The animals in all their beauty

The sun, and moon, and all stars


We had better start our day there

Before we face those power

That deny love and live


Where we start matters

What we feast on, in those first moments of the day



O taste and see that the Lord is good;

happy are those who take refuge in them (Psalm 34.8)


Love is waiting

Ready to embrace and empower

Love is waiting

For you to open the door

And greet it with a kiss


It only takes a second