Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jesus as King? Christ the King? An Anathema!

    As one who is trying to be a disciple of Jesus, attending church is often a challenge. This last week was very sad for me. It was 'Christ the King' Sunday, the culmination of the Christian Year which goes from Advent to Christmas, to Easter, to the celebration of the formation of the Church, to the logical conclusion of the reign of Jesus (the Christ) as King, ruling over all creation and the hearts of all men, even the women. There's only one problem. Jesus would be not only amazed at the idea but horrified. Nothing could be more opposite to his whole being than the idea of power, the very foundation of 'KING'.
  How many times had he refused everything to do with the role of king (messiah)? Hadn't that been the most identifying mark of his ministry? Love to him was the opposite of power. True, his followers hadn't accepted that idea. They had used force to take over the city, had handed it to him on a platter, so to speak. But he had abandoned it and left the power to the Romans.
  Even though the experiences after his death had shown that love was greater than power, his followers soon forgot and again came to believe that Jesus would come again to be their king, a cosmic Messiah, and thirty-odd years later joined the Zealots in that hope. They were wrong. They all were killed.
  Yet, year after year we perpetuate that lie. It is deeply engraved in our songs, hopes, writings and story. It has never led to anything but death and despair. It is so utterly against the message of Jesus, the call to act on our own and accept the fact that we are each children of God. How can we not hear Jesus? Why do we ignore his words and call and give in year after year, wasting our lives, waiting for God to do everything for us?
  Churches, if this is the big finale, the end of what you have to say, maybe it had better be the end. Really. There's so much more to the reality of Jesus, and you're just not saying or doing it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


       One of my favourite sayings comes from the Jewish tradition: Don't expect miracles, but recognize them when they happen.  This is with the understanding that miracles are not super-natural events, as we now view them, but any event or moment in which the holy is experienced. It might be a revelation brought on by the sight of a new leaf on a tree, or by an unexpected word from a stranger.
      Judy and I bought the one and only cafe on this lovely Amherst Island some six years ago, deciding to run it in the summer and sail in the Bahamas in the winter. Judy had grown up here and I certainly felt at home among the varied folks here.
      We did this because it was 'right'. The cafe would never be a 'business' in the usual sense, but the island, any inhabited place, needed somewhere to eat and talk. The cafe hadn't been open in five years. We knew that we couldn't run it forever, and indeed, having no experience what-so-ever, didn't know if we'd last more than the first summer. We did.
      It soon became apparent that our expectations, business-wise, were fairly accurate. We did our best to involve others on every level knowing that sooner or later, it would have to be run on some kind of community basis or close.
      After five years of summer operation, we ran out of steam. A wonderful island cook took it for this last summer and did a fine job, but one summer was enough.
      A month ago, talking around a table with friends after an event, the topic of the cafe came up, along with the possibility of making it an island project. After a few bottles of wine, everyone there was really excited about the concept. We set a date to meet in a month, time to spread the word. We did. Last week, meeting here at the house a friend shares with Judy and me.
       It was a miracle. Only a start, certainly, but a miracle, never-the-less. In this culture, everywhere we look and hear, the pressure is to be independent, alone and self sufficient. To rely on others is a sign of weakness; to do things, anything with others, shows that you're not strong enough on your own. If you need help, hire it. Keep control. Call the shots. Any time that people take a serious look at co-operating on any venture is a miracle, a visible sign that love (the Holy) is among us and within us. Any time we put the welfare of the whole above ourselves, any time that we really understand that our welfare does depend upon the whole, the holy is present.
      There were over twenty people represented in body or spirit. All that talent and experience, talking about the possibilities and sharing their hopes, doubts and wants. It was wonderful. We were so caught up in the moment and the challenge of the event and future that it is only now that I've realized how wonderful the night was.
      I have no idea what will become of the idea. I certainly hope that it will take form and will succeed, that the cafe will become a place of great food and fellowship, for the 'clients' and those who share in the running of it. It could provide much needed employment for island students and raise funds for other projects. But, if that one meeting is all that happens, it will still be a miracle to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Rare Religious Experience

     Last Saturday evening Judy and I attended a local barn dance, an annual 'cultic' event that signals the end of summer and the resultant changes. Many cottagers won't be seen for six months, as well as the 'snow birds' soon departing. There was, as usual, great food (pot-luck) and our favourite band did a wonderful job of keeping us on the floor. To me, it soon became more than just a very enjoyable social evening.
    In our sophisticated and 'modern' culture, we are so used to separating events and experiences into different slots, economic, recreational, family, religious, social, and so on. We are probably the most fragmented culture the world has ever seen. We are also the least mentally healthy.
   'Religious' to many of us has become a 'bad word'; we might prefer to use 'spiritual'. Both these words refer to a piece of us that we usually keep quite private and apart from our 'usual' lives. What a shame. As I have used the word in the title, religious is not a set of beliefs, but an acknowledgement of a capacity and need in each of us to join our deepest selves with not only each other, but the whole cosmos in which we exist.
    How did this dance come to be so transformed for me? To be honest, I had some 'help from my fiends'. Judy and I are both waiting for knee replacements. Judy will be first in line, having one knee 'done' in just three weeks. I'm waiting for both of mine. We're both pretty slow moving right now and becoming increasingly limited by pain. I rarely take anything to help the situation but I have found that the right combination of Tylenol 3 and tequila enables me to dance for quite a while. (Polkas and 'jive' are still not possible.)
    We danced. Just as important, I sat. I enjoyed listening to the hum of friendly conversation, seeing the mix and flow of the folks there, from teens to those in their nineties, very wealthy and very not, pro or con on the wind turbine issue, fourth generation farmer or summer people. I allowed that wonderful 'hum' to roll up within me and go out, spin around the world and mingle with all the other 'hums', to enter the collective of star dust from which we all come. I tried to be open to the countless combinations of hopes, hurts, dreams, concerns, fears and love that was not only within that room, but was represented there of all people and all times. I was blessed by and within it.
    Using traditional Christian imagery, the Holy Spirit was alive and well, flying as a dove over and around us, I doubt very much if She would have been as active in any church service the next (Sunday) morning even with the formal prayers and hymns. The popular songs of joy, life, sorrow and love that the band shared were quite enabling for 'holy joy and live' to be experienced.
   I hope, upon reflection, that more of us will recognize the 'holiness' of events, be they in crowds or alone. We are spiritual beings and our capacity to grow spiritually is only limited by our fears and imaginations. We are truly foolish if we allow the past to turn us off to new life. Let us begin to share again what we truly are and may become.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


   Some years ago, when attending a family reunion in Washington State (I was born and raised south of the border.) a cousin asked me why I was still living in Canada. "You don't have as many freedoms up there, do you?" he asked, assuming of course like most Americans, that they had rather a monopoly on 'freedom' and 'bravery'. I replied with a question of my own, "We aren't free to carry .357 magnums in our glove compartments but we're free to get sick. Which to you think is the most important freedom?" He mumbled something under his breath an turned away to seek a more compatible conversation.
            Talking about freedom is tricky. We all assume that we all mean the same thing: freedom for ourselves, the freedom to do what we want in  order to gain our dreams and goals. This last week was Canada Day and in churches across the land, on the Sundays before and after, many words were said about 'freedom' and many prayers of thanks were offered for this wonderful country in which we are so free.
            I couldn't share in most of them. In the first place, I don't give thanks to someone who doesn't deserve it; to think that God chose to place me in this position of wealth and power and chooses to place others in situations of pain, abuse, poverty and enslavement, negates all I know about a God of Love. I don't think that God made this piece of geography or its inhabitants any more blessed than another. What I will do is give thanks to God for the knowledge and awareness that I am loved and have the power and opportunity to DO something about the world and change my part it in.
           But, back to freedom. Yes, in Canada we are free, often in ways we can see are denied to others. But what do we usually mean by that word? More often than we admit we are thinking of the freedom to quire wealth, even if it is on the backs of others. We assume, still, that we are free to abuse the earth and to maintain our position of power without any change or real question.
          The truth is, we certainly are free, free to chose what-ever path we might. But, as 'Christians', the path we choose us supposed to be one that benefits the poor and the earth. That reality is rarely 'unpacked' from the pulpit, for those who pay the bills are of a different mind, choosing solidly the paths that keep them exactly where they are, or even, will improve their lot, materially. We are free to chose the path of Jesus of Nazareth. That call is always there for us, even if we rarely hear it and even more seldom see any evidence of its existence, but it is still there.
           It is so much easier to applaud 'freedom' in and of itself. To ask 'freedom for whom?' is just too embarrassing, even if that's what Jesus did.
          In this week of Canada Day up here and Independence Day down there, let's give a little room for the bigger picture, a chance to hear a question that urges us to choose just who or what we have in mind as the beneficiaries of the 'freedom' that we give thanks for and desire.
           "Thank you, God of Love, for the freedom your Word give us, to see the paths you offer us and to chose that which lead to life and love. When we abuse or ignore that freedom, help us to open our eyes and not complain when it is obvious that we have not used your gift of freedom for your purposes of life but instead, have empowered death.  Amen."

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Needed Change is Hard

     I don't know about you, but I hate change. I'd like my younger body back, people to understand me more, world peace and no more hunger, but still, I really do resist change. I'd gladly change most other people if I could, and I'd be tempted to change most of the world, come to think of it, but again, I really do hate it when I have to change.
    Which is a real problem if I'm trying to follow the Way of Jesus of Nazareth, because it's all about changing.
    This is why churches have come to be about believing and not following; it's just so much more easy. To learn and grow, we first must be open to change, in ourselves. We rarely are. And so we die without finding any new life. Good people, hoping for the best and believing completely in God and all that stuff. But not changing and for the most part, wasting all that Jesus of Nazareth was about.
    Example. Last week I helped out in a dinner for the 'needy' that was held at a large downtown church. Over eighty 'clients' were fed. The doors were opened fifteen minutes before the food was served. Everybody knew what to do and where to sit. The servers were all behind the table which was laden with good food. Grace was said, people lined up, were served, ate, and left. After all of the needy had left, the servers went upstairs to the main kitchen and had their own meal, on real plates, and had a fun time talking and sharing.
     There was nothing wrong with the evening. The servers were good folks doing good things, taking their time to help others. The more needy were fed and had a bit of time 'out' and most seemed to enjoy the meal and occasion. I know I had a good time and would be involved again if asked. I'd guess that everyone had a good feeling about the meal. We went home thinking that we had done 'our part' in helping others.
     But was anything learned? Was anything changed? Did we really do more harm than good? Did that small involvement keep some us from becoming active enough to work on the causes to the problems of our society rather than the symptoms?  Did anyone meet God in a new understanding or self-giving? I doubt it. Except for a few moments, there was no contact  between the 'givers' and the 'receivers' other than a smile, nod or comment in the actual putting of the food upon the plate. There was no sharing, no chance to touch in any meaningful way. Everything that happened enforced the old facts and stereotypes. It may have been nice and accepted, but it was certainly not the Way of Jesus of Nazareth.
    If that was an example of the 'work of the church', it is clear why churches are dying.
    Why couldn't the servers have eaten with the guests?Maybe a pot-luck with congregational members also?  Why not invite the guests to help clean up? Why not have the meals in people's homes instead of a barren hall? Dozens of questions come to mind. The answer to them all is the same: it would mean a personal challenge and change. Complete control would be lost.
    And so, we missed again the chance of even a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus talked about.  It's so sad that all that work and time went into the event, and is replicated dozens of times a week in most larger centers, but no real change is possible because of the simple truth that the nice people who are 'doing it' don't want to be vulnerable to any real change. In fact, they are keeping God's Spirit ever so small, even while they think they are doing God's will.
    Churches, when you chose to change your hearts, hands and habits, then and only then will you find the joy, courage and strength of God's Spirit. Please, pray and do it. The world is dying here and we need God's Word to be made Flesh. We need change.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Whole Truth in "Truth and Reconciliation"

 As Canadians will know, the 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission' has completed it's task. For those from the U.S. who are reading this, the task of the Commission was to look at the affect of the federal policy of Residential Schools. They forced, for seven generations, parents of aboriginal natives to hand over their school aged children to be taken away and educated by the white culture, in segregated schools, usually run by one of the major churches.
      As our first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald said, the idea was to "take the 'Indian' out of the children." We Canadians have always taken a certain pride that we were at least more enlightened than 'those Americans', whose president, Andrew Jackson encapsulated their native policy with his infamous saying of "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Now, we aren't too sure. The scars from our actions will be here for generations to come.
      The commission did a very complete job, but for one thing. One truth has been ignored. The underlying fact of the assumed Christian theology that allowed and even urged this tragedy to occur has not been mentioned. It is the same understanding that enabled the Spanish and English to enslave natives and to treat all 'others' as non-people. The commission deal with the symptom and not the cause.
      Contrary to Jesus' understanding, since the 300's, Christians have believed that all others are going to a hell of one kind or another. Since all who didn't believe in their doctrine of original sin and in the sacrificial death of Jesus, were doomed already, it was logical to think that the pagans didn't count anyway and were less than human. Any writings, customs and ways of living that did not reflect the 'norm' of Christianity was  therefore to be banned or destroyed. From the burning of the great library in Alexandria in the 400's, to the Crusades, to the outlawing of the American Aboriginal sweat-lodges, this arrogant, unloving and narrow belief and the resulting actions have always been alive and well, within our churches.
    We were taught that if we loved God, we could even kill in order to 'save' others from their hell-bent ways. Since we were God's people, His only people. Our way was right and no other ways held any truth worth preserving. The terrible actions of the government and churches in our Canadian past (up to the 1990"s) are predictable and certainly not surprising results of what churches believed and in large, still believe.
      The terrible truth about the residential schools is now there for us. We know, for instance, that those children had a higher mortality rate than did soldiers in W.W. I. and that new and smaller sizes of hand-cuffs were manufactured specifically for their use.
    Of course, all of the involved churches are now dearly and officially sorry. They admit the error of their ways but I don't hear anything about coming clean with the error of their Christian Doctrine  that caused the tragedy and many more before it. Week after week in church after church, it is declared that we are forgiven 'in and through Jesus Christ', assuming that no others are. Those few churches that have given up this Augustinian and anti-Jesus of Nazareth view seem to have nothing else to say, so we don't hear from them.
      Unless the whole truth is shared, by the churches themselves, it is clear that they have learned nothing, their apologies not-withstanding, and have earned even more, the pity and neglect that is felt toward them by most people.
      Churches, the truth will set you free. Real reconciliation can only happen, churches, if you admit to being wrong in belief. God is bigger than you are. Celebrate this! Accept it and get on with following Jesus, as you are called to do. Because the Commission did not name the root cause of the tragedy, you now have the opportunity to take the initiative yourselves. What do you have to lose? Become reconciled, not only to the past, but to the future.

Friday, April 3, 2015

How Could We Have Been So Wrong?

     He's right over there. See? On that hill. You can see the three crosses from here. It's only  been two hours since they put him up, so he's probably still alive. It might take days. God, I'm so ashamed. Here we are, most of us with daggers or short swords beneath our cloaks. After all, we had the city in our hands for two days. The Romans were afraid to come out of the Fortress Antonia for we outnumbered them ten to one. We still could win, you know, if we had the will. But we're too confused to act. Uncertain.
   Look at us. Afraid. Without a leader. They've been killed or captured this morning. We were out-smarted and played for fools. We thought we were so smart. We thought we had all but won. We had the city in our hands and were waiting for Jesus, as the Messiah, to give the word to take out the Romans and their followers. But he didn't. He went back to his  camp in the hills. And was captured late last night. Identified and sentenced  before Pilate, even before most of the city was awake. Some of us tried to rescue him and it was a slaughter. The Romans knew of that plan also, and were ready for us. Our leaders are there on the other two crosses.  Here we are, the remnants, pitiful and watching out for Romans and Palace Guards. Too afraid to approach the cross for fear of being identified. Letting the women do our mourning for us.
   How could we have been so wrong? Oh, I know that Jesus never said that he was the messiah. In fact, when we would bring up the subject in any way he always told us to shut-up and never mention it again. But we just thought he was playing hard-to-get.
    He was always talking and working toward his Kingdom of God. What were we supposed to think? How can you have a kingdom without a king, a messiah? And how can you have a kingdom unless you kill the Romans and their supporters?
    Does this mean that his vision is dead, an idea that is not of God? I refuse to believe that God was not truly with Jesus. I just felt that in my most inner self. Or have we just not understood? Did he really mean that we should love, even our enemies? Should we actually allow those who are unloving and against the God of Creation to live and rule? Even the Romans?  Even Pontius Pilate, the worst of them all, who has killed so many of us?  Is love alone enough to enable us to oppose them?
     I simply don't know. All I know is that right now I'll have to watch my back and join with others who I can trust. Maybe, together, we can figure out what Jesus would have us do, even though he's dead. His words and will are still here. That may be enough. And perhaps it won't be. In a few days, or maybe months, it will be more clear.
    Right now, I'd better leave to a place where I can mourn for Jesus and the dream that has been killed.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


    Tomorrow will be, in hundreds of thousands of churches around the world, Palm Sunday. There will be songs of triumph and the welcoming of Jesus as Saviour, King, Messiah and, the deliverer of forgiveness from our sins. In many churches, small palms will be distributed and many (if any are available) children will be involved. Jesus will be portrayed as a conquering hero, welcomed by the masses.
   Of course, the whole picture has less to do with the reality of two-thousand years ago, than with our reality right now.
   We do so much need to make a king or divine figure out of our heroes. In that, we are the  same as the people back then. They needed a Messiah, a king who would rid the land of the hated Romans, a king who would be righteous and do the will of Yahweh, who again, would rule over the land as a true ' Kingdom of God'.
    Several times the people had tried to make Jesus accept the role as messiah. Most of his disciples had urged him to 'go for the crown', so to speak. Most had simply not accepted the fact that his vision and calling did not follow that road of violence. He had not been able to convince them of his Other Road and Way of love. Even his most trusted followers could see no other way than the usual.
   His entrance to Jerusalem was no triumph of the will of God, but an admission of failure, for Jesus  was very alone as he sat there on the donkey, being welcomed by a crowd that was full of adoration and worship, celebrating a victory that would only come with violence and more hatred, everything that he was against. Had he ever asked for adoration and worship? Had he ever asked to be more than a voice and prophet? Hadn't he always pointed toward Yahweh as the giver of life?
  In every way, he must have viewed his surroundings as failure, proof of the smallness of people and  his inability to convince them of the larger vision and love of God. He had accepted, at last, the cloak of the messiah, knowing that only if he accepted it, and then rejected it, would the people have a chance of knowing and understanding that that path of power and violence was not the path of God.
   But, here we are, once more, still denying the reality of what happened, joining, not Jesus and his reality, but of the people then, once more living in denial and illusion, in our own wants, needing Jesus to be our messiah, or even better, a God, to do it all for us. Not one who urges us to become God's children ourselves, to take for ourselves the power and responsibilities that are offered us.
   There are so many songs that I simply will not be able to sing tomorrow morning. I will be there, even in the choir. For me, it will be a day of mourning, but I will still be there, surrounded by people, good people all, joining in the praise and celebration. I am one of them, but I will feel so different, for I know that their way of thinking is part of the problem that is so limited and is keeping the simple message of Jesus of Nazareth from reaching the world today.
   I will share the sorrow and tears that Jesus shed, even while others shouted with joy, hoping that some day, even one day soon, they will begin to understand the deadliness of their ways and the hope and love that is their's if only their eyes and ears will open to God's love and call.
  But for now, it is still the tears, for the churches simply will not see and try to understand.

Monday, March 2, 2015


                                      A VISIT TO A WONDERFUL, BUT DYING CHURCH

     Yesterday I left our little island and took the short drive to Kingston, to attend a larger church and experience something a bit different. I chose a congregation that I knew had once been a 'flag-ship' of sorts, know across the country, even. I am aware of the trends in general, of  how all of the 'mainline' churches have declined drastically in the last couple of generations, for I have been part of that picture, but it really hit home to me yesterday.
   Firstly, let me say how welcomed I was, how I felt right at home. The service, music and message were good, loving and sincere. In no way am I finding fault with those hard working and wonderful people who are doing their best to support and continue their beautiful church and traditions.
   But, it is dying. They know it, for their average Sunday worship attendance last year was under fourty; ten members had died or left while none had joined and there was one baptism. There is no need to dwell on other factors.
   It was pure coincidence that the annual report had just come out, in preparation for the up-coming annual meeting, so I was able to get an updated picture of congregational life. It is probably fairly representative of hundreds of others across North America and Europe.
   The annual  budget of about $180,000  is not being met by fund raising or givings. Most events are measured by how much money they generate. Two thirds of the budget goes to meet salaries.
   I know well how hard it is to give up or to radically change habits and traditions that have been part of our lives. I understand how the members of this and the  hundreds other 'sister' congregations, year after year, decide to not to decide on any real changes, let alone seek with new eyes, ears and hearts, the Call of the God.  Most congregations are simply choosing to die in their old ways, instead of choosing life, for them and others. I understand this. Assisted suicide is now legal. But it is not necessary.
   Instead of the usual way, what if the people of a congregation question the traditional need to have paid personnel, including a professional preacher? The people would have to  do things for themselves, learn how to share and do. What if they would actually begin to pool their stuff, homes, skills, gifts, just as the early followers of Jesus did in the beginning. What if they started to give away all that they could, to neighbours and strangers in need, sharing housing, food, all that they had?
   Just imagine the scandal, amazement and attention their actions would arouse. Students from Queens would come a-running; they would have to defend their actions in court because of the by-laws broken. Wonderful!
   The possibilities are endless once the decision for life is taken.  What is most sad, is that this one decision is simply not being made.  A people who have spent their lives worshiping and operating in a certain way are still assuming that those ways are equal to faithfulness for them.  They alone can determine that.  Again, this is understandable.  But again, all of creation is the loser, for the lesson we are being given by churches is that God is as small as these people and their dying traditions. This, of course, is not true.
    We can only hope that very soon, there will arise people who will join in a life/worship/faith style that is true to the God of Love and Creation that addresses the reality of today.  It will flourish.More importantly, it will be Joy, Fun, and a challenging life.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Responding to the fact of Islamism (ISIS)

Hello again.
   It's great to have this avenue of engagement/escape, where I can muse, wonder, question and share, assuming the best, that some might read and ponder on their own, similar things. Now, where angels fear to tread.
  Who can not be affected by the self-righteous, judgmental violence happening in our world? Nearly every day we hear of educated and fairly well-off youth  in our own culture (the country doesn't matter) leaving it all behind and trying, successfully or not, to join ISIS, offering their young lives in attempting to establish a radical Islamic Caliphate, where all who don't agree with their thought are killed or enslaved. If this fact does not evoke a reaction in people everywhere, they are brain dead.
  How do we react? 'BOMB THEM ALL!' is an automatic answer, one that is hard to argue against, because we all know of the evil ISIS are enacting. They must be stopped. That much is certainly true.
  I have a problem, however. I really do think that the Way of Jesus of Nazareth is the Way of God. Though I must take seriously that members of ISIS also have that understanding, that their way is that of truth, I cannot allow their understanding from paralysing me. As in all things, the question I must ask of myself is, "What is the Way of Love?"
  Firstly, ISIS must be contained. Even though that will assume violence, even though the Way of Jesus was that of non-violence, I must, relunctanly and in sadness, advocate and support violence, the way of evil, hopefully, a lesser evil, to contain a greater evil, in the hope that dialogue and understanding might prevail in the future. So, a policy of containment, military action to hold ISIS to the territory they have already under their control, and to re-take some areas in which they are most harming and killing.
  But 'BOMBING THE HELL OUT OF THEM'? No. We must love them at least that much.
  Above all, we must recognize that in this world, especially in this modern world, nothing happens in a vacume, in and by itself. All things have causes.
  The history and very nature of Islamism is a recent one, a movement in the Middle East and Africa that has blossomed in the last 60 years or so. Every place where it is flourishing is a country or area that was under power of a foreign (European) power for generations, where probably the very 'country' was a creation of foreign empires and where the local people have really never had a chance to grow and be empowered, at least, not for any length of time. The people's identity is still in the local tribes, peoples who have always been exploited and not recognized.   So, politically and socially, they are frustrated, angered and suffering. They are open to another way. They need a new way.  The old ways have betrayed them.
  Spiritually, they have seen nothing good in the so-called 'modern world', its greed, injustice, systemic violence and the system of education that has come with it.  It has offered only false promises. They have experience only the corruption of the wealthy of their lands, those that accepted the 'modern' and 'western' ways. Only those in power have benefited in any way from the obvious wealth and opportunities of the world at large. Their moderate Muslim faith has been as ineffectual in their lives as had the usual Christian faith in theirs. THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!
  Do any of us disagree with them, really, not with their resultant actions, but in with their frustrations? Who of us do not think that there must really be a better way? That there must be a way of life that blends spirituality, commerce, life and the whole of our existence? Do we all not know this and yearn for this? How can we blame people who, however terrible their actions be, for their motives and dreams?
  In the near past, our young people might have joined cults, the Moonies, Jones Town, etc.. The youth are idealistic, yes, but often their vision and priorities have much to teach the older, who are more apt to just let things slide. We usually complain about the youth being unmotivated, but when they are, they often call the statusquo into question and react against their elders. That is usual.
  So, what can I do? Not much, on one hand, but everything I can, on the other. I can try my best to clearly announce the deadness of the present 'belief-but-non-action' that passes off as Christianity in most churches. I can encourage/critique/challenge people of all and no 'understandings' to accept their role in the earth and humanity, to the awareness that we all, even ISIS, are in this journey together, that we can respond (are responsible?) to and for each other, that only the law of    love will bring us through this journey into a lasting future.
  If we allow the  power of reaction, violence to violence, to prevail, in this instance and into the future, there is simply no future for us that I want to share. All governments will urge us to travel that path of easy answers. Only a rational loving people can oppose that assumption.                                       There is a chance, however small, that this challenge of Islamism will be remembered as the beginning of a change, the start of a movement where people of all stripes started to look at the world, to challenge the powers and  values that are responsible for the conditions that foster fundamentalism of all brands. May we stretch ourselves to see more than comes to us in the usual news.
  Please, ask yourself what the loving response is for you. And share your answer. Dialogue with your neighbour and try to imagine what that conversation would be like if you could talk to those who have been through enough to support ISIS.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Very Old and Very New and Radical Idea of One-ness

  I'm going to try, very hard, to not make such a big thing about blogging here. I've been quite hesitant to share and it's not done me any good. Here it goes.
  All of the old faiths share one common assumption, that there is a 'one-ness', somehow, in the totality of things. The approach may be different and the names, of course, will vary, but that One-ness is still there, beyond and within, seen and unseen, in all we can imagine and far from our imagining.
  Until recently, this concept has been seen as merely 'spiritual' and 'other worldly', beyond reality and normality. It's quite wonderful and affirming that this concept of 'one-ness' is now in the science books, that even the so-called god-less  people of science (according to the fundamentalists, who insist that the earth is 6000 years old) all affirm the one-ness and wholeness of creation in their various theories, of string, quantum, wave, particle, etc..
  If we would really take the time to think about this reality, most of our problems as humans, would change for the better. What if the wealthy and powerful  really begin to understand that they were no more important than a leaf on a tree, a mole in her hole? What would happen if people really began to understand that we who control the earth are no more important than what we control, that the earth is just as 'holy' as we are?
  Science now teaches us that All really is ONE. All thought, matter, energy, light, ALL is ONE.
  That includes what we are: our joys, sorrows, hopes and dreams. Everything includes and influences everything else. WHOAH!  That's scary, for it implies that what we think, dream, etc, influences everything else, not just what we do. This idea implies that maybe, even with certainty, that we people (and maybe the whales, dolphins and others?) who can imagine, are influencing much more than we have thought.
  In all of the space that we have been able to see (not much of it, I admit) we have yet to find other life. If thought is part of the whole, if what we think, projects to all else, how important it is for us to grow in love, for all of creation is affected.  From our isolated little planet in our small solar system, might be coming the power to change and affect the unimaginable.
  What damage is greed, hatred and intolerance doing, even beyond our earth? What eternal changes will be made if we change our ways of thinking, really trying to grow in love beyond all other desires? Up to now these goals have been for rather selfish reasons, to 'get into heaven' or some such. Those might have been good enough reasons, in their time, if you believed in a God of heaven and hell. But now, the goal of love is way beyond the merely personal. We are told that it connects to everything, and even is beyond time.
  Take some quiet time and think about this stuff, no matter what your religious beliefs are. This reality makes our specific religions subservient to a greater whole. Thank God for that! It brings us all  together, like it or not. We really are responsible and influenced by each other. None of us can get off the hook, claiming to be isolated and mere  individuals, able to think and do what we will and  be  unaffected by others. That has  always been a lie: now, it's just officially the truth. What we think, our degree of love or hatred, does make a difference. Luckily, this is in our control.
  Thanks for being here. Send some loving thought my way.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Don't Give Up: Give Your Spirituality a Chance.

Hello and happy new-year, again. It's official. Less than half of the people in our so-called western culture call themselves 'religious' in any way. The reason for that, it seems, is that they know they are not Christians. People know only what they have experienced and most of us know that Christians come in two bunches. One branch believes that a God, even while claiming to be loving, condemns most of humanity to a hell and insists that people 'believe' that He had his one and only son killed because all people are so terrible, that somehow this death makes right all the world's wrongs. To most westerners today, this simply doesn't make sense. They know they aren't like this, so they can't be religious, since those 'fundamentalists' claim to be religious, to have the only true understanding.
   Then there are those of another stripe of Christians, those who don't really believe in heaven or hell, but don't really believe anything else either. They claim to believe in a God of love but you wouldn't know it by what they do. They're going about the business of wrecking the world, just like everyone else. There's no reason to take them seriously, even though they, too, claim to be religious people.
 If these  two types were all there is to religion, I guess I'm not religious either. But there is more.        Most people claim to be 'spiritual', and of course, they are right, in that we all spiritual in nature, how-ever we might define it. Dozens of people each year make it a point to tell me how 'spiritual' they are. In a second sentence, they assure me that they don't need anyone else.
  They're right, of course. We believe on our own. That is a truth. Another truth, however, is that we can only grow with others. If we stay alone, we wither and die, never being challenged, fed, encouraged and helped in ways that count. It is tragic that increasingly, because of the faults and limitations of existing churches, people are becoming even more isolated and small in love and life. We are made to share and grow in love. This is the purpose of life. When this is not the core of any religion, that faith needs to change or die. But it is most tragic to throw out the baby. The fact that the Nazis were elected to power does not mean that democracy is evil. The fact that Christianity is now in the hands of the narrow minded or the small-hearted does not mean there is no love nor meaning in the core of the faith.
  There has never been a time when the world more needed love and understanding, a time when all are called upon to put the common good before all else, a time to challenge the wealthy and powerful. Nothing short of a spiritual revival will meet this challenge. At the heart of any change is going to be the understanding that we are all connected, not only two each other, but to the earth. In that this means sharing and growing  'in spirit' with others, it will be 'religious' in nature. In that it will not be dogmatic and judgemental, not so.
  May all of us claim our spiritual abilities, needs and potentials, knowing that we are all needed as never before. If the old paths upset you, leave them. But don't let them stop you. Giving up and limiting your spiritual/religious journeys is stupid and so harmful to yourselves and to all of us. Give yourselves and love a chance, by any and all names. But DO it. A-men!