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

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Into this Temple come

Come to your Temple here with liberation

And overturn these tables of exchange

Restore in me my lost imagination

Begin in me for good, the pure change.

Come as you came, an infant with your mother,

That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground

Come as you came, a boy who sought his father

With questions asked and certain answers found,

Come as you came this day, a man in anger

Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through

Face down for me the fear the shame the danger

Teach me again to whom my love is due.

Break down in me the barricades of death

And tear the veil in two with your last breath.

          Malcolm Guite



Into this fleshy temple come

O Lord


Prepare to toss a few tables

Into the air

Scatter those things that stolidly

Clutter my soul

Hunkering in dark corners


Taking up space

Fouling the air


It is easy to see

The clutter in other people’s souls

To point the finger and shout

“Hey, look over there!”


It is hard to peer into the dark recesses

Of myself

And see the things that lurk

In the darkness

Fouling the air


Cleanse me Lord

And I shall be clean

scatter greed, and hate, resentment and fear

with your mighty love

drive out all that impedes my path


to the Holy Place

the Holy of Holies

where your reside


deep behind the veil


Clear the path, rend the curtain

Shine in all your glory

Restore in me, the joy of my salvation


Make me a temple in which you reside

And rule

Make me love

Sunday, March 24, 2024

God! Are you there?

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it!” —Genesis 28:16


The Bible I set out to learn and love rewarded me with another way of approaching God, a way that trusts the union of spirit and flesh as much as it trusts the world to be a place of encounter with God…. People encounter God under shady oak trees, on riverbanks, at the tops of mountains, and in long stretches of barren wilderness. God shows up in whirlwinds, starry skies, burning bushes, and perfect strangers. When people want to know more about God, the son of God tells them to pay attention to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, to women kneading bread and workers lining up for their pay….


According to the Talmud, every blade of grass has its own angel bending over it, whispering, “Grow, grow.”  How does one learn to see and hear such angels?

          Barbara Brown Taylor (quoted by the Center for Action and Contemplation)




Are you there?

I wonder sometimes

When my body hurts

And my eyes fail


I wonder sometimes

When I hear the disabled ridiculed

And people laugh

When I hear hate spewed

And people cheer

When I watch as masses, driven by resentment

Are fueled by a desire dominance


I wonder sometimes as I watch us

Destroy the planet for profit

And see dying and starving children

The flotsam of war


O God!

My heart fails within me

My feet stumble

As I see the prosperity of the wicked.


I know there is nothing new under the sun

We have seen this before

The words of an ancient Psalmist echo in my soul

As he laments human arrogance


“Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.

  From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.

  They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance, they threaten oppression.

  Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.”

          (Psalm 73)


Where are you, God?

Why do you not set things right!?

Why do you not bring down the mighty and lift up the poor?

Are you in this place?


Surely, you are in this place.

Help me to know it.


Help me to see you, God of love

In the brilliant reds of the sunrise

In the majesty of the mountains

In the laughing voices of the streams


Help me to see you, Lord,

In the eagle that flies

And the deer that wanders

In creatures large and small


Help me to see you in the little things

In that act of kindness

That kind word

That smile, that laugh

That comes


I need glimmers of your presence Lord,

Help me to see you

Even where it is hardest to see you

In those human creatures who strive and toil

Love and hate

Destroy and heal


We are so confusing, O Sacred

So confused


Help me to see you, lord, in myself

And in all those others

In whom your image is badly blurred

May I see and hear the angels


Softly whispering

You are loved

You are loved
















Thursday, March 21, 2024

The danger of certainty

I walked through an earthquake once

as the ground shifted beneath my feet

and the world swayed

and all seemed undone


I breathed deeply

when the ground was once again


and I stood on solid ground





I long for certainty

It would be nice to know

That God is there

That Love will win


I would love to be certain

About what is right and wrong


I envy, sometimes

Those who say with certitude

The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it



It has been said that the opposite of certainty is not doubt

It is openness

It is faith


And I have become certain that certainty

Can be a curse rather than a blessing

And that it is better to question

And struggle

To seek

And explore


Bertrand Russell once said

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”


There is a strength to certainty

But weakness too

The strength of conviction, perhaps

The passion that comes from believing one is right


But with certainty closedness


A refusal to think, to challenge

To change

we indeed need a degree of certainty to get by

but it is also true that too much of the stuff can be lethal


For with the sureness of certainty comes

What can only be called

Arrogance, conceit, haughtiness


I know the truth, you don’t

I am right, you are wrong

I am saved, you are cursed


The earth is 6000 years old

LGBTQI+ people are sin

God hates all who do not believe the way I do


It is unintentional

Perhaps unseen


But it is there

A stolid, cold, cruelness


Blind faith is truly blind

Blind to people

To pain

To the radicality and irrationality

Of that power we often call God


Certainty stops us in our tracks

It keeps us from learning



From seeing God’s new thing


Give us uncertainty, God

Do not allow us to ever, ever

Believe we understand you (beyond that you are love)

Or to believe we speak for you

Or are the repositories of truth

Or the gatekeepers of the kingdom


Keep us questioning









Let us join the man

Who on his knees in the dust

Cried to Jesus


Lord, I believe!

Help my unbelief


Help us believe

Help us question our beliefs

And lead us forward


Into uncertainty

And a fresh and beautiful







Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Love and love always

My strength is in my faith:

I will not bend my knee to despair

But love and love always,

Even if the stars should desert the sky

And the earth hide her beauty from the sun.


Still I will love and love always

Until my love is much a part of my life

That I can no longer tell where one ends

And the other begins.

          Steven Charleston (Spirit Wheel. P. 56, 57)



There is a grayness that comes

Rolling in like early morning clouds

Insistent and Pervasive


Slowly covering the earth with dark vagueness

Sheathing the mountains

And the sky

Blocking the sun

Until all is permeated with grayness


There is a grayness that comes

Rolling into my soul

And insidious darkness

That comes


Heavy it lies, shrouding my soul

It is laden with images of starving children

Boasting tyrants

Crowds laughing at cruelty

Bombs falling

Leaders lying


It smothers me

Squeezing the life out of me

Weighing me down until I am on my knees


With nothing left to do but to turn my face to the heavens

And cry

How long? How long?


Despair is real

And it wants the final word


It cannot have it

I believe

Lord help my unbelief


"I believe in the sun-even when it does not shine;

 I believe in love even when it is not shown;

 I believe in God even when He does not speak." (anonymous)


I must believe in Love

And believing in love I must love

It is all that I can do


It is all that is left

To love God

To love those around me

To love those I cannot love


At times it feels as if that is not enough

As if it is rank foolishness

But while, for some, hate and untruth is all they have

Love is all I have


I must love and love always

And leave the rest up to Love


Thursday, March 14, 2024

No level Ground

There is no level ground

At the foot of the cross


Lady justice

Is not blind


It is a myth

that any American has an equal opportunity

to “pull themselves up” by the bootstraps


Injustice and inequity live

Justice has been bought and sold


And that ground at the foot of the cross?


That ground is not level or safe

It is a restricted territory, guarded by gatekeepers

Who embrace the Kingdom but reject the Kindom

It is a place where grace is denied


The cries of the oppressed rise

From the rubble of Gaza where children starve and die

From the wire-filled waters of the Rio Grande, where hope is lost

From the cold streets of America,

Where the homeless are tossed and neglected


The empty cross stands guarded


But the risen Christ stands

Tears flowing, eyes raised, arms outstretched

With the oppressed, the addicted

The lost

The vulnerable


This is what he came for

To bring the rulers down from their thrones

To scatter the proud

To send the rich away empty


To fill the hungry

And lift up the humble


And we can stand with Jesus

Our tears mingling with his

Our feet covered with dust

Our hearts aching


We can stand resisting those who abuse power

And neglect the poor

And refuse to welcome the stranger


We can stand

With those who are hated, rejected, and reviled


Or we can linger in the halls of power

We can follow those who preach power and wealth

Who seek to become more by making others less

Who chose power over service

Profit over people

Hate over love

Lies over truth


We can stand with Jesus

Or we can stand against him

Crying “Lord, Lord”

As the sand crumbles beneath our feet



Thursday, March 7, 2024


I have stood on the edge of a midnight canyon

And called out my question into silent shadows:  Why?


Why suffering?  Why pain?

Why the hurt that haunts our lives?

Why the wrong that overwhelms the good?


I get no answer, only an echo.

I will go on asking

Until the next generation of questions takes my place.

Suffering will not have the last word

Not without challenge.


We may not know the reason

But we will have the dignity of the question.

          Steve Charleston (Spirit Wheel, p. 26)



I am one of unsettled mind

And unsettled soul

And unsettled heart


I walk this world

As one who is not home

I am eternally homesick

I long for a place where I can rest

Where the pain will subside

And peace will flood my soul


Where I can sit with Julian

And say

“And all will be well”, “all manner of things shall be well”


Always there is that glimmer of hope

That heart knowledge that God is love

And God loves me

And that love permeates all


Always there is that whisper

That God will not abandon us, or this creation

And that resurrection, newness will always come


I remember that Sacred takes the very instruments of destruction

Serpents in the wilderness and cross

And transforms them, transfigures them

Into healing and life


Surely if Sacred can transform the cross

Even the foulest and most destructive of systems and people

Can be transformed


And out of the ashes of hate and fear

Authoritarianism and greed

Life can spring


But still, this world draws me away from such comfort

And my heart hurts

And my mind races

And faith falters


And thoughts come

And words too

That are not redemptive

Not kind

Not love


Ah Lord

In the middle of the questions

And in the uncertainty of a struggling world

Mute my fear

Calm my anger

Give me enough grace, at least enough


That I may be kind

That I may speak words of reconciliation

That I may challenge gently, with a soft front and a strong back

That I may ask the questions

And speak the truth as I see it


But never abandon love

Because Love will never abandon me



Wednesday, March 6, 2024

It's a good day to live

It is a good day to live…


Let me embrace each dawn as a gift

Let me walk the hours of day unafraid

With grace and faith unbounded.

Let evening find me close to those I love

Warming my soul by the fires of their laughter,


Let me sleep believing tomorrow will be a blessing.

          Steven Charleston  (Spirit Wheel)



I am sitting in the dark

Waiting for the light to come


There is always that moment on long winter nights

As the snow falls and the wind howls

When I wonder

If the light will once again return


Will the sun rise over the frozen hills?

Will the clouds break and let

The brilliance of the sun

Set the world afire?


Sometimes if feels as if the light will never come

Or if it rises will do so weakly

Pale light

Which brings no warmth

No resolution to the cold bleakness


It is hard to have hope these days

So much of the world lies in the cold darkness

Of human suffering, oppression, inequality

Hate is piled on top of hate

Violence begets violence


And our eyes have become adjusted to the light

And daily we trod


Picking our way through the darkness

Leaving it untouched


Yet we are called to the light

To embrace it

And carry it


To be, not candles in the wind

But angel fire

People who set the world aflame

With hope


So let us rise

Let us raise our voices to the heavens


It is a good day to live…


Let embrace this day as a gift

And walk through this troubled world unafraid

Full of grace and truth


May the Spirit burn like a fire

So that we walk in the light

And become light in the darkness


And may we join with others

In singing the song of hope and love

Joining our light together

So that the fire of God’s love

Sets the world aflame


And our souls are warmed

And hope is birthed


This is a good day to live

And serve



His Word is a lamp unto my feet

A light upon my way

And I do well to pay it heed

Until the final day

Until the day dawns

And the morning star

Arises in your heart

Take this lamp and light your way

To your eternal home

                     John Fischer

Tuesday, March 5, 2024


“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause,” (Isaiah 1:17).


“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).


“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Elie Wiesel


“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 19181956



What is justice?


Perhaps justice is as simple as a person getting

what they “deserve”


If I eat too much, I gain weight

That’s justice

It is justice too, of a sort,

If I do something risky and foolish and get injured


But justice is more than consequences

Justice is about setting things right


This is why Sacred demands justice

Love requires justice

It requires that if something is not right

It be corrected


It requires that if something is out of balance

That if one person has too much power

And another not enough

That be resolved


That if one person is harming another

The harm stop

But more, that repair begin


Justice is not just punitive

It is restorative


And justice is for all

The rules don’t change

Dependent on who you are


If there is justice

It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor

A person who is white, or BIPOC

A person with power, or a powerless person


Justice demands that all be treated the same

Because in the eyes of God

In the heart of the Sacred

All are the same




Of all the dangers that are out there

In this angry and torn world

The loss of justice may be the greatest

The loss of justice may grieve God the most


Because a loss of justice is a loss of love


Justice has always been the last defense

Against hate, racism,

The abuse of power,



Justice has often been the one thing

That has saved us, as a nation

As a world


When justice dies

Countries die

People die

Hope dies

Love dies


When justice dies, evil thrives

We have seen it

All too often


And now we see it again

In a country that

Pledges “liberty and justice for all”


And yet

An unjust process

Created a tainted court

And now justice has died


And a malignant person of power

Is not getting what he deserves

Is not treated “equally”


And we are seeing the foundations of justice

Ripped out

Leaving us with a house built on sand


And so we must protest

We may not be able to prevent injustice

We may be powerless to keep our country from becoming

A place where justice, equity, equality

And thus love, have died


But we cannot slide into this abyss

In silence


As I hear the news

Watch a deeply flawed and abusive person

Play games with justice (and with our country)

As I watch a badly tainted (and even corrupt) SCOTUS

Deny justice


My heart hurts

It weeps for my beloved country


Because justice will be served

God’s justice will not be denied


God has always demanded justice

And justice has always meant bringing down the mighty

And lifting up the poor


“For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent.

They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.

They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground

and deny justice to the oppressed…


Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land,

with no one to lift her up.”  (Amos)


O Sacred One

O Love

We know that you always rebuild

But you often rebuild only after we have destroyed

After we have taken the path to devastation


Turn us around Lord

Wake us up!

Stir the fires of love and justice!

Give us voices to protest

Give us the resolve to choose wisely (and vote wisely)


May we choose justice over power

Justice over profit

Justice over retribution


For we would be your people

And walk in your way

Which is to walk humbly, in love and justice

With you

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Capitalism and other things

The time is coming when people will be insane, and when they will see someone who is not insane, they will attack that person saying: ‘You are insane because you are not like us.’

      Abba Anthony


I want to challenge [Christians] to form a stance on how one ought to walk the line between the creation of heavenly good and the formation of earthly goods. Capitalism has been at the forefront of the world’s largest beneficial leaps and behind the scenes in the perpetration of the world’s grossest injustices. It has been a force for good and evil.

      Grant Dunnavan


It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

      Jesus, as quoted in Mark 10



It was like a bomb dropped into the midst of the discussion


The foolish minister suggested that “blessed are the meek”

might refer not to weakness

but to the posture of following the example of Jesus

and humbling


That it might mean letting go of the need to put oneself forward,

To promote, protect, and benefit one’s self

And choosing instead to promote, protect, and benefit the person in front of us.


And then suggested we think of it in terms of the immigrants on the border

And the poor coming into the food bank


And in terms of our economic systems


And then he said the “C” word



Perhaps Capitalism, it was suggests

does not line up with the radicality of the Gospel




The foolish minister was of course me

And the discussion, actually, was healthy as we talked about how capitalism

has driven a lot of good things (and it has).  The world would probably not have seen the advancements it has seen, in medicine, technology, and more, if not for capitalism.


But we also had to face the fact that capitalism, for all of the ways it benefits society, is driven by individual desires to “get ahead.” 


This was once pointed out powerfully by the conservative economist Milton Friedman.  He was asked by Phil Donahue, “When you see the greed and the concentration of power, did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed’s a good idea to run on?”


Quick as a wink, Friedman responded, “Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? … What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy. It’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests.”


I have my issues with capitalism.  And, if the truth were told, I have issues with socialism.  I have trouble with pretty much every economic system that has been devised because they all, even the most altruistic, have one flaw.  They are established and run by human creatures.


And it doesn’t generally turn out well.  This is why, in 2021, the top 10 percent of Americans held nearly 70 percent of US wealth, and the bottom 50 percent held a mere 2.5 percent of the wealth.


Tickle-down doesn’t work.

When profit is the goal, and growth is the goal, the tendency is for wealth to flow up.

So we have historic profit margins, and no increase in the minimum wage.

We have people who have more money than they could ever possibly spend

And people who have no home, not enough food

People who are barely making it

Or not making it


It is easy to say it is the fault of the poor (we do this all of the time)

They make bad choices

They spend money on frivolous things



Shame on them


I know about this

I have done it

Mea culpa

Mea maxima culpa


But this is where we are.  In a place where economic ideologies, and ideologies of power all take us away from the radicality of the gospel.  Of selling all and giving all.  Of making sure we all get there together.  Of picking up our cross and following.  Which means embracing the cost and loss of the following


And some of that loss may be painful

A loss of money






Instead, we are driven by a need for power

And a need to accumulate

And a need to be in control (be safe)


And we chase after leaders who promise us

Power, control, domination, wealth


And promise to remove anything, or anyone, who makes us uncomfortable


And so those furthest from God, out of touch with God’s way

Have great power

And they point at those who are not like them

Those who would welcome the immigrant

Who would take care of the poor

Who would embrace people who are LGBTQI+


And say

They are weak.

They are sheep

They are insane

They are snowflakes

They are anti-American



Martin Luther King Jr was accused of being maladjusted

Because he refused to accept the things the world had come to accept





He responded by saying he was proud to be maladjusted

Because we cannot become comfortable with

We cannot adjust our minds and hearts to go along with





We need to be maladjusted in a world where people have become adjusted

To the wrong things.


I don’t have a solution for greed

Or Donald Trump and the cult of retribution (now he is going to “get” MSNBC”  All enemies are now targets for annihilation)

I don’t have a solution for the desire for power and safety


I just know that the radicality of the Gospel

Challenges so many of the things I have become adjusted to, and comfortable with.


And I have to be willing to pick up the cross of change

The cross of humility

Even sacrifice


If I am going to be the kind of presence in this world

That Jesus wants me to be