… on… speed bumps…

We all have speed bumps that crop up in our lives.   It may be a death, an accident or loss of some other sort that causes us to slow down and even stop to reconsider our direction in life.   This is a good thing.  Life’s tragedies large and small can be a sort of amazing grace.  And sometimes they can even make us better.

Story Of Our Lives #83

Wherefore I am well pleased in infirmities, in damages, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses — for Christ; for whenever I am infirm, then I am powerful.

~ 2 Corinthians 12:12 (YLT – Young’s Literal Translation)

 

… on… hate….

messages-from-the-future-22-evn-smlr
Being a citizen of the United States Of America the past 8 months have been excruciatingly difficult to endure.  We have a President (along with other White House leadership) with no self-control, no discretion, no discipline, no compassion and no love who continues to emotionally/psychologically abuse, harass and harm the very people he is supposed to lead.  Never has so much damage been done in and to the office of President of the United States than has occurred under Donald Trump.  It will only go to deepen the cynicism and distrust that people have for politicians.  I think the notion of a politician being a force for good is not even possible with the current leadership.  It has been depressing to daily and sometimes hourly see breaking news stories of how the President has, yet again, done something so outrageous and shocking that it is virtually unbelievable.  We are being forced to watch a reality media show that is seemingly never-ending.  And the media is focusing on the sensational.  Now I have no great love for the media and that is about the only thing Donald Trump and I have in common.  Our reasons for disliking the media are completely different.  I would like to see more investigative journalism and less sensational journalism.  Trump just decries anything he doesn’t like as “fake news”.  But it’s NOT fake news it is the reality we live in.

This past weekend we saw many developments in the United States.  The rise of racism, talks of secession, hatred for all things non-white.  And in the past few months we’ve been seeing the increased likelihood of nuclear war with North Korea, Venezuela, and a trade war with China.  Sure with all this “madness” it would be easy to throw in the towel and say it is WAY bigger than anything I can have any power over or change.  But I’m not ready to do that.  Now more than ever we need to be strong.

We do need to look at both sides of a story but we also need to address and stand up to those values and positions that would harm others or enslave them for ones own enrichment.  For example: The American Constitution has a provision for free speech and lawful assembly.  These laws apply to ALL people – even people who believe differently from me. So for neo-nazis, white supremacists etc; we must acknowledge they have the right to protected free speech (we just don’t have to like it).  Just like people who oppose them have the right to protected free speech.  Now I know a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable with that notion. But as a follower of Jesus Christ I am a FIRM believer in what he taught about loving ones enemies (I’ll explain more on that later). It’s just that in these troubled times it is difficult to STOP, take a moment, consider, weigh ones reactions before making those reactions public.  But that is exactly what we must do.  I do not love Donald Trump’s policies I specifically hate his approach to what should be collaborative, positive working relationships.  I hate his non-stop “twittering”.  But I do NOT wish him dead.  I hate now Trump and many in the white house continues to hold his business interests (even if they are in his children’s names – who are his official presidential advisors and aides) creating conflicts of interest. I cannot hate a man who is misguided, foolish, delusional and emotionally unstable.  I can honestly say I’ve had to think about this long and hard.  The past 8 months have shown me that we all have the capacity for hatred but we do not all act on that.  I understand why people may think that the only way to solve this crisis we face in America is to kill or assassinate Donald Trump.  I understand because I felt myself slipping into the same hate for hate thinking and had to stop myself.  I pray to God that Donald Trump is not assassinated.  Here’s why.  I don’t have any confidence in the Vice President that would take his place.  And killing Donald Trump would only give the alt-right extremists the martyr they’d love to have – which they would use to justify further violence.  On top of that as a Christian I am against the death penalty for anyone because I believe that just as God gives life he also takes it away it is not up to man take life away.  And anyone who behaves abominably should have the opportunity to change or, to use an archaic term, repent.  If they are killed we are depriving them of that opportunity.  So death is NOT the answer.  But Donald Trump should be impeached and that needs to happen ASAP (in my opinion).  I seriously doubt that Trump will survive to the end of his first term.

Sadly America can only blame itself for creating AND electing Donald Trump the tyrant. No one should be surprised by what he is doing.  He used the same tactics in his reality TV shows.  People who have participated in his shows “THE APPRENTICE” and “CELEBRITY APPRENTICE” have noted how Trump would pit people against each other, he would harass and harangue people to create and build drama in the show.  He is a victim of his own celebrity – believing in a false value of self.  Unfortunately, we can see that what works on television isn’t what works as a world leader.  He has also gotten support from an “Evangelical Right” that uses scripture to justify and encourage Donald Trump giving him a false moral justification for all he does.  This same type of Evangelical movement that uses the Christian Bible to justify white supremacy also supported Hitler and The Third Reich (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Evangelical_Church).   I also think it may be time to do away with the electoral college.  There was a time when the electoral college had value.  But in the internet age the electoral college is an archaic institution that can only do more harm than good.  It is time to elect leaders only by popular vote.

Now about love.  It may seem odd and unlikely to read about love in this type of post.  I think it is necessary to bring the needed balance and provide level-headed options to the discussion.   Please consider this; how do we love a tyrant, a despot, an oligarch, a hate-filled man? We CANNOT react in the ways he reacts.  We can find ways to slow down the discussion allowing time for all parties to think about their positions.  We can act respectful to them without agreeing with them.  We can seek to remove them from their position for their own good.  Donald Trump is clearly over his head and he is being battered on all sides continually and that would be enough to make anyone crack.  The kindest thing we can do for America is also the kindest thing we can do for Donald Trump.  Impeach him.  Remove him from the position that is causing him so much distress.  And wish him well as he leaves.  Now I’ll be the first to admit this is easier to type than actually practice.  Love is not some easy fluffy romantic notion – it is something we have to work at.

One of the benefits of writing this is that it also reaffirms what I believe and helps give me the strength I need to practice what I “preach”.  I cannot hate Donald Trump I can only hate the carnage he has created while in office.  I do not believe there are evil people only evil actions.  And I choose to not act evil or out of malice toward my fellow Americans, or any living beings.  And if I do act evil (because I am human and have occasional weakness) it is a weakness that I quickly seek to remedy.

Matthew 4:43-45 (NIV) “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, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Feel free to agree or disagree on any and all points.  That’s why it’s called free speech.  We can disagree and still be respectful.

***If you think more people should see this post – feel free to re-post.

“Je Suis Charlie”

Some thoughts on recent events:

Has anyone stopped to think that this is exactly what Terrorists want?
Polarization
Solidification
Determination
Reactionary rigidity
A fight

Terrorism CANNOT be prevented
Terrorism CANNOT be fought
Terrorism CANNOT win

Terrorism CAN BE overcome!

Sure people who commit criminal acts should be prosecuted.
But to increase military, police, surveillance is counter-productive.
Profiling an entire group of people under suspicion for the acts of a few is very Hitlerian.
A totalitarian state is what the Terrorists want. Don’t give in to totalitarianism in the name of security.
There is no security in life.

Our politicians, political, military and law enforcement leaders need to completely rethink their
approaches to so-called terrorism.

We need to also ask ourselves about media reporting of these events? Is there bias? How does the media use language that generalizes and therefore seems to implicate a larger group which then seems to make the problem larger than it is?

The biggest problem is that people try to understand (and fight) terrorism as if it were some sort of war between states. But terrorism (as it has come to be known) is nothing more than the criminal acts of a few individuals.

Terrorism by its nature cannot be predicted.
If you try to predict terrorism you end up with a society where people are convicted of crimes before a crime is created. We are getting closer and closer as a society to what sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick called “thought crime” in his excellent story, MINORITY REPORT (also a good movie).

How is terrorism overcome?
I think the best advice (which should be used by politicians, military, law enforcement and prison officials) comes from someone who lived a couple thousand years ago.

“You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to stand up against someone who does you wrong. On the contrary, if someone hits you on the right cheek, let him hit you on the left cheek too! If someone wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well! And if a soldier forces you to carry his pack for one mile, carry it for two! When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something from you, lend it to him.

“You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbor — and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Then you will become children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. What reward do you get if you love only those who love you? ~ Jesus, The Christ (Matthew 5:38-46)

That will be the way terrorism is overcome. Again, terrorism will happen – it cannot be prevented but it can be overcome.
MESSAGES FROM THE FUTURE #42
messages from the future #42 wm sm
I’M YOUR HOPE


WHAT YOU’VE BECOME

Sure, everyone is praying for the “victims” which is good. But what about the boys who committed these crimes? Are you praying for them to or do you just think they “should get what’s coming to them”.
I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you pray FOR the boys who committed these crimes.
Don’t pray about them, pray FOR them.

A Christmas Prayer

Lord God,

Father in Heaven

Thank you for this day

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth

A man who would be, and did, become Messiah

The hope of all Israel and all of humanity

A man who taught, and showed us,

That we CAN have a relationship directly with you.

In this way he was the door, the gate,

Through which your spirit that dwells within us

Has been awakened.

We thank you for this awakening that removes all Hindrance

Even if that separation is political, social, religious

And now we thank you for this meal

And time of togetherness between family and friends

We bless this meal in the name of Jesus

That it may give us physical strength and stamina

We bless you that you may give us the mental and spiritual  strength and stamina

To be a blessing to others we come in contact with;

Removing all wrong perceptions

In Jesus name, Amen.

I believe the best prayers are not prayers of thanks and requests (or to use consumerism terms – supply and demand).  The best prayers are when we pray what we believe – not what we want or hope for.   For example when we pray the Lords prayer do we hope these things are true that are mentioned OR do we really believe them?  And how do we believe them?

Maybe some day I’ll dissect and expound on the Lords prayer specifically.

But for now – Merry Christmas everyone.  Enjoy one of my favorite Christmas songs.

Being and Nothingness Pt 1

So good morning my friends.
I woke up this morning thinking about the connection between being and nothingness as part of the life cycle (although those words to describe just came to me as I’m typing here). Most people are afraid of nothingness but let’s call it spiritual existence for the time being. I think we come from God and return to God. Our very being is rooted in God or whatever name you give God. I use God here because it is the one name for the ultimate being that most people I know use.

I had an image rattling around my brain which I created this morning.

being a

I’m thinking about spiritual existence as a primary existence and that it needs the physical experience for it’s development which is why we are born physically. This could also explain why God came to earth as a man [Jesus] – aside from the evangelical understanding of the word “salvation”. I was also thinking how we begin aging the moment we are physically born. Aging is not something that happens when we turn 40. And the reason for this aging is that the physical experience from a spiritual perspective was never meant to be permanent or finite experience but just a transition being part of a spiritual beings maturity. I wonder if this misunderstanding of the “place” of our physical existence is responsible for why people make the judgements they do and take respective actions. For example. If we view our physical existence as separate from spiritual – the physical experience is all there is; therefore aging is a bad thing fraught with disease, weakness and terrors. In that case the only response would be to try and avoid aging by whatever means possible (medication,surgeries, fashion, youthful thinking, etc). I’m reminded of an advertisement for a “beauty” product where the main character says, “I don’t intend to grow old gracefully, I’m going to fight it every step of the way.” That just seems absurd, ridiculous and ultimately harmful.

For spirits that wish to mature, they must undergo the physical experience – it is not a choice. I also think Freewill develops before a physical birth happens and therefore not all spirits experience a physical birth and never mature. The physical experience is like going through a gate at a carnival. And we choose how we experience the carnival of life. Either it is a joyride and fun house or it is a house of horrors and freak show. Unfortunately, I think the latter has become the common viewpoint. The other thing I’ve begun to think about is that the human experience is the catalyst for how the spirit/soul will mature and live it’s remaining existence. In other words, If you choose to see yourself as a victim and allow your thinking to see all of lives experiences from a negative point of view that is how you will spend eternity. Now I’m not just saying everybody be happy. Let’s face it – SHIT HAPPENS!!!!! And sometimes it happens more to some than others. There’s no rhyme or logic it just IS/DOES. As a result there are times when we will be pissed off, angry, curse, hurt, suffer or inflict these on others as a reaction. But it’s this lifetime when we have the opportunity change our viewpoint and change our thinking and ultimately our actions before we leave this carnival and go back to a solely spiritual reality. We need to understand that about ourselves and also others when they lash out at us.

We are first created spirit, become physical beings and then return to spirit. After we are physically born we develop, mature and age in human terms. And it is during this process that we can have a spiritual awakening where we understand our human existence as part of a greater experience. I wonder if this is the primary role of parenting; to assist/train the child for a spiritual awakening.

All religions (including Christianity) are started by two kinds of people. First, those who had an awakening experience and secondly, those who seek control of the human experience. The problem is that these religious people stop maturing and become spiritually stillborn. They create a dualistic system of belief that forces people to choose the founders experience instead of letting them be free to have their own experience. Because a dualistic system of belief says either/or when it creates a set of rules, guidelines, regulations and then says, “This is what you need to believe, and this is the type of experience you need to have.” “This is what your spiritual experience should look like.”

Are there people who have never been awakened? I think there are. The sleepers are those who become so preoccupied by the material, physical, human experience and have chosen to shutout all other experience. Many of these people are very religious and some even participate in religion. They are religious in their devotion to partisan human experience instead of pursing and engaging in nonpartisan life experience (human AND spiritual).

Jesus is quoted in Matthew 12:31-32 where he talked about being a divided being. The Pharisees (a Jewish sect) had just accused him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub (or the Devil/Satan – for modern readers). Jesus said that nothing can survive (i.e. “stand”) that kind of division and is ultimately defeated. He also said that people who make such a dualistic distinction are actually either choosing humanity over the spirit, denying the spirit, or choosing the spirit and denying humanity. And he referred to that division as blasphemy against the spirit – the one sin that is unforgivable. So here we have the strongest case for our human AND spiritual existence being connected.

So in conclusion, here are some questions to ponder:

– Where do I stand?
– What do I believe?
– Do I view life as a house-of-horrors or joyride?
– Do I focus on horrors and in my ineptitude inflict horrors on others? (the news media has mastered this)
– Do I nurture and raise my children to become spiritually awakened to see the connection – between “real” life and spiritual life?
– How do my beliefs affect my life?
– Am I denying the Spirit in some way, either through unbelief or in my daily practice?
– What am I doing to mature spiritually for when I leave this carnival of life?

Your belief in Christ will NOT save you…

Today I’m writing about the institutional church’s emphasis on missions, evangelism and promotion/marketing the salvation of the soul. For too long I have heard that if we only believe in Jesus then we will be saved. But this is untrue a fallacy and deceit. Okay some readers may start quaking and shaking because I’m challenging one of the basic tenants of the what has been preached as “the faith”.

The problem arises when, in our challenged attention span, we fail to understand the scripture/teachings in the larger context and what it means for our lives. For example, Jesus said, (in the ever popular verse)

“For thus God loves the world, so that he gives his only-begotten son that everyone who is believing in him should not perish but have life eonian.” – John 3:16(Concordant Literal New Testament – CLNT)

Out of context this verse clearly suggests that belief alone will save. But wait! What is the larger context where this appears? To understand the context we must read the entire section where this verse appears – John 3:1-21 in addition to the larger context of Jesus overall teachings throughout the gospels. Jesus is having a conversation with one of the Pharisees named Nicodemus who was a chieftain. Briefly, Jesus talks about how the times have changed and are changing. Previous perceptions of heaven are re-evaluated. Throughout his ministry Jesus talks about Heaven being here and now. In this section of scripture he points out that the Pharisees were making distinctions between celestial and terrestrial existence/being. Jesus says in verse 13 that the only one who has gone to heaven (as the pharisees teach) is the one who has come from heaven. In short, Jesus brings heaven back down to earth. The “one” he speaks of is the only-begotten son of mankind. And the belief in what the only-begotten son of mankind has done (bringing heaven down to earth) is what saves mankind. He then goes on to say that our actions here on earth reflect what we believe. So it’s not the belief that saves us. IT IS our actions here and now that reflect what we believe that matters.

So it’s not so esoteric as a “soul” that is so often preached in churches. It has nothing to do with heaven as a separate place to escape from this existence or find as a reward for believing. Belief alone will not save; it is how our actions are determined by our belief. As is written in James 2:19-20

“…the demons are ALSO believing and shuddering. Now are you wanting to know, o empty man, that faith apart from works is dead?” (CLNT)

Many translations turn that question into a statement. But it is in fact a question and the writer goes on to say that actions are not separate from belief. Actions illustrate and are inseparably linked to belief. No wonder so many so-called Christians, church workers and religious people are accused of hypocrisy and bigotry; saying one thing while doing another. It’s our actions here and now in this existence that show what we truly believe. Our actions at work with our co-workers, customers, suppliers, investors shows what we truly believe. Our actions at home with family and neighbors shows what we truly believe. Our actions in our “play” or social activities show what we truly believe. Going to church or saying we are Christian doesn’t mean squat! Anyone can, and does, do that. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter heaven. He continues by saying that the people who experience heaven are those who do Gods will. In other words, not most who go to church or say their Christian will never experience heaven as Jesus taught. Only those whose actions are in line with what Christ taught will experience heaven on earth as he taught.

Enjoy this delightful satire

A Culture of Victimization

(fyi- this is a re-post from my previous blog in August, 2012.)
Scene from THE CROW “Victims, aren’t we all….”

I’ve been thinking about the things that put me “around the bend” regarding the institutions of the church. First of all I don’t believe the Church was ever meant to be an institution. It was just a label given to groups of people who got together from time to time.

The scene above from the excellent film, THE CROW, is a modern parable. A parable on the consequences of viewing ourselves, our churches, our religion, our culture as victims. When we view ourselves as victims we will only know violence, hatred and revenge. I’ve often told people, I am not and never will be a victim. That does not mean that others won’t try to make me a victim or victimize me in some way. But I choose to never see myself as a victim. That’s doesn’t mean my life is any easier. In fact, because of my choices, my life is at times more difficult than what it may need to be (I’ve been told more than once to just “play the game”).

This does not seem to be the case for the Church/institutional Christianity. It seems that the “church” everywhere is embracing victimization. For further proof one only needs to look at the elaborate security systems churches have in an effort to protect their investment. And that may be part of the problem. The investment for the church has become something other than the people who make up the church. Fund raising is used to prop up the institution. The Church has entered the realm of monument building. And it will do everything it can to defend and prop up it’s monuments. In short Churches have become “Like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27) Everywhere we turn the so-called Church is on the attack. Defending it’s turf, complaining about its circumstances, and seeking anti-christian (legal/political) means of resolving it’s conflicts has become habitual behavior. In this age when the media is filled with stories of hate-crimes against different religions it is easy fall into the trap of victimization.

Why is victimization a trap? As soon as someone sees themselves as a victim they have already decided to react by complaining about their situation, lashing out, placing blame, even attacking the perceived cause/source of victimization. It’s done in the name of defending themselves. This is a very unhealthy and unproductive mindset. Sadly this is especially true in America since 9/11. Gun sales have risen sharply since that time. Sadly many of these buyers claim to be Christian. I know of people who try their best to use different bible passages to justify taking up arms (always out of context for self-justification). I know of one Christian who recently bought a gun in the name of defending his family. He sees himself as a minister of the gospel. But I ask what precedent does this set for your children? What example does that give to others? How does this even coincide with Jesus’ teaching – which you claim to follow? In fear, we already see ourselves as victims. When we are afraid we make unhealthy choices not only for ourselves but also for those around us who we may claim to be protecting. We become slaves to that fear of victimization. The result is we victimize ourselves. Sadly this has permeated the so-called church. We have applied this mindset to our beliefs – in spite of the actual teachings of the Source of the faith.

When we claim that we, our church and/or our religion are victims we are in bondage. We are trapped by our thinking. We have stopped promoting a gospel of love and freedom. We create and defend a gospel of bondage. We have created our own chains. Is it any wonder that Christianity has such a bad name today? Is it any wonder that church institutional membership is declining? Who wants to be in bondage? Not me! Jesus came to set people free from the very things that the church is doing.

Where I grew up and where I live there’s a lot of talk about being a “slave to Christ”, “in bondage to Christ”. Now the church has taken some archaic language in the bible and twisted it to support its gospel of bondage. As is surrendering one’s rights to the church has something to do with being Christian. It doesn’t. First of all slavery should never be promoted. If a person chooses to enslave themselves that is their choice. When the Bible is talking about being a “slave to Christ” it is not talking literally but metaphorically. It is about aligning oneself to the teachings of Christ and making every effort to live them in daily life and not give up trying even though one fails. That’s different from giving in to institution demand and mindset to defend the faith – as if faith was something to defend. This has given rise to an increase in Christian Apologetics. Genuine faith cannot be defended – it can only be lived.

Now, I want to be clear – I’ve NEVER heard a church or Christian say, “We are victims”. But a person doesn’t need to say it in words. As I’ve suggested all along – it’s in our attitudes/mindsets and our actions. Look at the Christians (whether Orthodox, Evangelical, Protestant, Catholic, etc) who seek to punish those they perceive are criminals (criminals being; those that object to, criticize, ridicule, distort and slander a person’s faith or religion in word and/or action) And this they apply to the arts, politics, science, education, lifestyles and other religions/belief systems. What has happened is that the Church has come to see itself as separate from humanity and not a part of it. This separation has had dire consequences. It is “Us vs. Them”. The church does not promote unity, healing, love among humanity but is a source of division. It not only puts one on the defensive but it becomes justification to attack and is used as a reason to go out and proselytize others in an effort to “bring them into the fold.” Instead of Christianity’s institutional leaders directing the path taught by Christ, this thinking is supported and encouraged. It is even applied to the institutions themselves – thus the evolution of the Gospel of Bondage.

This is inappropriate and was NEVER supported by Jesus. And that’s part of the problem. Jesus is being taught as the Messiah, that Savior of Humanity that did a lot of cool things and told some cool stories. But by-and-large the Church has stopped investigating his teachings. People use other scriptures out of context to justify their actions, thoughts and lives without testing them against what Christ taught. But if it doesn’t align with what Christ taught it is anti-christian.

So how should we then live? If we are Christians we need to re-investigate Jesus actual teachings and seek every effort to apply them to our lives. Teachings like forgiveness, love, compassion, mercy, caring for ALL people (not just those of our own faith or those who agree with us). When we can do this for people who are against us we no longer see them as separate from but actually a part of the big picture – a part of God’s creation – a part of the human family. We need to understand what he taught about the kingdom of heaven and what it means for us today.

We each have our function and purpose on this earth. We are part of one existence. Part of the God-consciousness itself. Each of us may be a different part of the body (i.e. someone may be a hand, foot, eye etc) but we can’t survive without each other. In fact we need each other. But If we reject others for their beliefs, actions, etc we are actually rejecting a part of the body that we are a part of. When this happens we are slowly killing ourselves by self decapitation. Have you ever seen a decapitation that was a good thing? Decapitation is ALWAYS violent and ugly.

A personal story:
I work in the Customer Service industry. No, not retail, not something that glamorous. I actually work the phones for a utility company. That means that I have the opportunity to be verbally attacked and even threatened – and it does happen from time to time. When I started this job (nearly 5 years ago) I literally had no idea what this would be like. Naturally at first I was on the defensive and it seemed that almost every call was a personal attack. And it’s hard not to feel that way when you are being verbally attacked or having your life or family threatened. Add to that we have a changing work-place environment based on the changing economy that adds challenges to the relationships I have with co-workers and supervisors. This all adds up to one stressful day. I tend to be more emotional anyway so dealing with these things are very difficult at times because it is my nature to react emotionally first and intellectually second. I am getting better at taking a moment (a breath, a pause, a heartbeat) to step back from the situation. But my growth and change has not been easy. I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy. But I view it as necessary. I keep a phrase by my computer that I look at quite often to remind me. It is simply, “Like water off a ducks back, let it roll over me.” The next step was to, as I’ve been talking about, viewing these people I deal with not just as “callers” or “co-worker’s” or “management” but as part of the human body – my body. It is a real game changer to think in this way. I can say that the outcome of my calls has been significantly different from when I started with this company. I still have a long way to go but I at least feel that I am on the right path. But again, it all comes down to the fact that at some point I decided NOT to be a victim or victimize others by being defensive.

We need to diminish our conflicts and differences not escalate them. It’s a choice. The choices we make now not only affect our actions but the actions of others both now and in the future. If we choose to perceive ourselves, our churches, our religion as victims we are making a very dangerous choice with dire consequences, both short-term and long-term. So don’t ever call me a victim. I am not and never will be a victim no matter what happens to me in this life. And it feels so good to say that. 🙂

Scene from DANGEROUS MINDS – “Choice”

Music today by Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn – GOSPEL OF BONDAGE

From the album ‘Big Circumstance’ (1989).
GOSPEL OF BONDAGE by BRUCE COCKBURN

Tabloids, bellowing raw delight
Hail the return of the Teutonic Knights
Inbred for purity and spoiling for a fight,
Another little puppet of the New Right

See-through dollars and mystery plagues
Varied detritus of Aquarian Age
Shutters on storefronts and shutters in the mind –
We kill ourselves to keep ourselves safe from crime.
That’s the gospel of bondage…

We’re so afraid of disorder we make it into a god
We can only placate with state security laws
Whose church consists of secret courts and wiretaps and shocks
Whose priests hold smoking guns, and whose sign is the double cross

But God must be on the side of the side that’s right
And not the right that justifies itself in terms of might –
Least of all a bunch of neo-nazis running hooded through the night
Which may be why He’s so conspicuously out of sight
Of the gospel of bondage…

You read the Bible in your special ways
You’re fond of quoting certain things it says –
Mouth full of righteousness and wrath from above
But when do we hear about forgiveness and love?

Sometimes you can hear the Spirit whispering to you,
But if God stays silent, what else can you do
Except listen to the silence? if you ever did you’d surely see
That God won’t be reduced to an ideology
Such as the gospel of bondage…

10 Things

Dumpster Diving #78 Nearly Ten The Geometry of Time

Dumpster Diving #78 Nearly Ten The Geometry of Time

10 Things that Christianity got WRONG:

10.) Thinking Heaven is about escaping life instead of living life.
9.) Emphasizing the divinity of Jesus and diminish his humanity.
8.) Choosing Duality instead of seeing Jesus as the ultimate non-duality.
7.) Missions; let’s face it, it’s proselytizing a sales pitch to try and get others to be part of the group.
6.) Reading the Bible literally – ’nuff said.
5.) Having a personal Jesus – teaching that Jesus came to change their world instead of helping THEM to change the world.
4.) 7-day church.  It only promotes separation from the world not participation in the world.
3.) The “right” to bear arms against anyone we disagree with – to defend ourselves.
2.) 10 commandments/rules and regulations/rituals – [even though Jesus said that he was the end of the law]
1.) Exclusivity, being part of the “chosen”, us vs. them – [even though Jesus Christ was inclusive]

10 things Jesus NEVER saw coming:

10.) That he would have a religion named after him.
9.) A government which allowed him to be murdered would turn him into a state sponsored religion.
8.) People would actually pray to his mother.
7.) Temples/Churches would be built in his name that had nothing to do with what he taught. [And most of the people who attend those “temples” and read this still won’t “get it”.]
6.) That some worthless King(James) of England would make a political move and commission his own Bible that would be written with the intent to justify/legitimize his own English Church and that this would become the standard for “modern” Christianity even though it is inconsistent and full of errors in translation.
5.) That people would use him as an excuse to disengage from the world – except when they want donations.
4.) That his name [Jesus] would become a marketable commodity where trillions of dollars would change hands – even in church.
3.) The industrial revolution.
2.) The technological revolution.
1.) The internet and the information revolution.

10 things Jesus actually taught:

10.) That he would be the source of much misunderstanding and division turning, even, families against each other causing much suffering.
9.) Pray in a closet – not in public.
8.) Politics gets it wrong.
7.) Religion gets it wrong.
6.) You can have peace regardless how horrible your life circumstances may be.
5.) You’re a narcissist? – so what! love God and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
4.) It’s your faith, what you believe, that heals you. Healing comes from within.
3.) Love your enemies – because when you do, you no longer see them as your enemy.
2.) The kingdom of Heaven is within you – here and now.
1.) Churches are like tombs filled with the bones of the dead.

Bonus – The thing Jesus’ life revealed – He is the Saint of Impossible Causes (like me).

Religion and Humor

FACING TRINITY

FACING TRINITY

And now for a little irreverent humor.
Holy Trinity – Larry, Curly & Moe
Three Stooges – Father, Son & Holy Ghost

It is important to laugh at one’s own religion. It is healthy. One sign of a healthy person is when they can laugh at themselves. Wouldn’t it also make sense that the sign of a spiritually healthy person is someone who can laugh at their religion? Again I write from the Christian perspective because that is my religious background. I’ve found humor in the Bible, things that made me chuckle like a great Joke is when Jesus tells his disciples that Peter was the rock he would build his church on. I’m sure the disciples had a big guffaw over that because Peter was so wishy-washy. He repeatedly said one thing and did another – for example, Peter says to Jesus, “I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth” then he denies he even knows the guy – 3 times.

So with today being dedicated to humor here are some great videos that I enjoy that look at Christianity very humorously. I hope it brings a smile your face and heart. Peace.

a throwaway takeaway

THE PART YOU THREW AWAY

I want to start by saying, I love Atheists. Even though I’m a Christian I love how Atheism continues to ask the hard questions. My personal experience with Atheism is that in America it seems to be primarily a backlash against Institutional Christianity and how Christianity is preached and practiced. I would add that I think there is good reason to agree with some of the arguments Atheists make. A favorite story I recently came across was this one by magician Penn Jillette who talks about why he is an Atheist – and it generally expresses what I’ve heard from all who are Atheists.


So why this introduction on Atheism? Well I think he makes a very important point when he says,

“What we get told about the Bible is a lot of picking and choosing…. When someone’s trying to interpret something for you they always have an agenda.”

And I think that this is important and offers a clue why institutional Christianity has gotten so out-of-whack. When I started reading the Bible for myself and stopped depending on what others told me about what I believe and why – I found so much more. I found stories, concerns and issues that, in my 50+ years of existence have never been taught. Now reading the “source material” has not led me to Atheism like Penn Jillette but it has made me see what has happened to my spiritual tradition over the last 1700 years.

Now about the text I really wanted to talk about. And yes I have an agenda but it’s not to reinforce institutional tradition and understanding; I want to offer up some questioning, discussion and exploration. My text today is from Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians. First chapter. In this letter he comes out swinging. In verse 7 he writes,

“Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

He then goes on to say later in verse 9,

“If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

Now I could focus on Paul’s strong combative language but that would miss the point of what Paul is saying. I could also say that we need to support our religious institutions – but again, that would be missing the whole point of what Paul is saying. It’s not about defending ones position or traditions. I want to focus on what Paul refers to as “the gospel of Christ” – notice, he says gospel OF christ which suggests the content and subject of Christ teachings and revelations. He does NOT say the Gospel ABOUT Christ.

I’ve written before and would like to refresh here that sometimes the archaic language is problematic for contemporary readers. The word “gospel” literally means “good news” straight-forward and simple. And Paul says that the message we should cling to is the same good news that Jesus taught. As I’ve said before, in another post, the good news that Jesus taught was that the kingdom of heaven is within you (near and here now), you are forgiven, and you are loved without exception. But ever since Christianity was adopted by Rome (312 AD, under Constantine) as the state religion the message has been the good news ABOUT Jesus Christ, the person. It’s a subtle prepositional change from “of” to “about” but it is significant. Even a popular Bible dictionary defines the word “Gospel” saying it’s about

“all that God has done, is doing, and will do in his risen Son, Jesus Christ.”

Never once does this dictionary define the “good news” as Jesus defined it. Never once!. The message was changed from what Christ actually taught, and how he lived out his teachings, to WHO he was. This is where the problem starts. It’s like Jesus was the envelope for the message and the message (or letter) in the envelope was the good news for humanity – ALL of humanity. But when the focus changed from the good news that Jesus taught to the man himself it was akin to saving the envelope and discarding the message that was in the envelope. Or maybe a better analogy in these technological times is – It’s like being thrilled that you got an email and moved it to a special folder but never opened the email or read it. And Paul also addresses the issue of letting others tell you what the bible means. It’s like letting someone read the letter you got in the mail, picking out and telling you the parts they think are important and/or acceptable then discarding the rest. Meanwhile you have no real clue as to what the entire letter said. And when one person, priest, pastor etc does this for a whole group of people – this is how the message becomes institutionalized. This individual is gone. One person is now telling other what the experience looks like and the individual has no say if they want to continue to be a part of that group. I think this is what Paul was talking about when he said that the Galatians had allowed someone to tell them what the good news was about and they lived according to that message as opposed to based on their own individual experience.

The institutionalized church has treated the word of God like SPAM long enough. The only way to get around that is for each person to read the source material for themselves (as Penn Jillette would encourage). Understand the context in which it was written and then make your decision. Understand the flow of history and how the ideas have changed. One thing that Apostle Paul points out in this letter specifically is that he discovered this stuff on his own. After his conversion he did not associate with the other Apostles or become indoctrinated by them. He specifically says,

“I did not consult any man.” (vs.16)

In his own life Paul was so overcome by the good news that Jesus taught that he went immediately into Arabia and only later returned. In fact it was 3 years before he went back to Jerusalem to meet Peter. (vs.17-18) So Paul had 3 years of just getting acquainted with Jesus teaching on his own. No seminary, no school. Just life and living. In fact if anyone could have disputed the whole thing it would’ve been Paul because he came out of the institutionalized Jewish tradition. When he met Peter, Paul only stayed with him 15 days and then he left again and didn’t return for another 14 years to meet the other Apostles. There is not a single institution that would allow this today. The faith of Paul was incredibly personal and he had a connection to God that allowed him to develop on his own to practice and reveal the good news in a way that was unique to his life experience. Today you would be sent to classes (“sunday school” for the lay person) or seminary (for those who want to make money doing this) for further indoctrination. I know I’m questioning authority here but I believe it is necessary. We MUST question authority that is both political and religious. This attitude toward individualism is echoed in the book of the Bible known as I John, where the author says,

“…you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about all things, and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.”

Now “anointing” is another archaic word. It simply means to pour or rub oil or ointment on a person or thing and that’s how it was used in the Old Testament. But its meaning changed in the New Testament to signify a divine appointment as a result of a relationship between the physical and metaphysical (or man and God). Through this one-on-one relationship a person learns directly from the Bible through their own individual reading and is responsible for applying principles to their life. The choice is always ours. This anointing, this relationship, is free and available to everyone regardless of their beliefs. This openness in the Christian belief system is rarely (if ever) taught these days as institutions try to keep their people “on point” or “on message” always trying “bring it back home” when they feel it starts to get too individualistic.

So, I’ll put this in plain English – Don’t let anyone tell you what the bible should mean for you. Read the Bible for yourself. Ask questions of the source material. The answers are there. They may not be revealed all at once. And because it uses some archaic language it may take some time to understand it. Don’t get sidetracked by the envelope or package the message came in but read the message for your self. Peace.

Sources:

  • THE HOLY BIBLE (New International Version), published by Zondervan Publishing.
  • THE HOLY BIBLE (King James Version – Thompson’s Chain-Reference ), published by B.B. Kirkbride Publishing
  • THE REVELL BIBLE DICTIONARY
  • Penn Jillette interview courtesy of Youtube
  • CHRISTENDOM: A Short History Of Christianity And It’s Impact On Western Civilization, by Roland H Bainton

What happens when we let other pick and choose what we read and comprehend? I think the overall tune is forgotten like dropped notes teh melody eventually fades. Tom Waits say’s in his tragic song, “You’ll soon forget the tune that you play, ’cause that is the part you throw away.”
Tom Waits – THE PART YOU THROW AWAY