waste not…

Sadly we live in a time of outrage.   Everyone is outraged at something or someone.    Media is outraged.  Politicians are outraged.  People are outraged in the name of religion.  Regular citizens are outraged.  Will it take destroying ourselves to stop the madness?   For all it's advances in technology humanity is still living in the dark ages emotionally.  In fact I think the case could be made the humanity is not evolving but devolving to the most base animal instincts.   

In fact if you watch the opening section ("The Dawn of Man") in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY https://youtu.be/ypEaGQb6dJk the only difference between us today and the animals portrayed in the film is technology.  The behavior is the same.    Outrage causes reasoning that is only used for destructive purposes.   

What do you think?  Do you have hope?  Why?  What can you provide that will make me believe?  Your considered thoughts and questions are welcome.

we ARE nineteen-eighty-four!

It’s amazing how true this video is. We are experiencing totalitarianism on an emotional level right now and it is bubbling under the surface of society and culture ready to break out on the surface.

Whether it’s the manufactured fear generated by the media that governs politicians decisions as opposed to wisdom.

Whether it’s the ever-present observance and loss of privacy generated by corporations and the government thru various surveillance systems and how that is being used to manufacture paranoia. I’m reminded of something the corporation I work for put out about two years ago which stated, “You should assume, when you are at work, that there is NO privacy. Everything is being watched and can be recorded.”

How long will we continue to accept the degradation of civility and vote people into power and support corporations, media, politicians and religions that will continue to generate fear, paranoia, and control over the citizenry?

What will you do and continue to give up in order to live? And is that really living? People may say “Oh, It can’t get that bad.” but that’s exactly how it does happen. The lie that causes people to let down their guards and accept the small changes that lead to the complete transformation. The lie becomes the truth. There is no difference.

Now some may argue that this post itself is manufacturing fear.   I want to be very clear my intent is NOT to manufacture fear.   I do not want people to be afraid.   I want them to WAKE UP! I want all my readers to be ALIVE AND AWAKE not the walking dead.

how does our creation see us?

This video I’m sharing is the most recent work by Duran Duran. To be honest DD lost me after their RIO album. While some may view that as some sort of blasphemy – that’s okay. So why am I posting this new video? The music (in my opinion) is lackluster, monotonous and even boring almost drone-like but it’s definitely not drone music.

The negative criticism of the music aside I do feel this video is important. I’d even say VERY IMPORTANT to the world of art of film/cinema. The video opens with an “artists statement”:

“This film was created by an artificial intelligence called Huxley, a unique dreamer whose ‘mind’ has been modeled after the cognitive and creative processes of humans.

It is the very first collaboration of its kind, between artists in different planes of existence.”

When watching this film I was captivated by the surreal nature of it’s images. Fluid and strange but beautiful. I couldn’t help but think about the future of AI and how (I believe) it will eventually take over the world making humanity redundant.

I also find it interesting to think about the following questions. How does our creation (AI) see us? How does it see humanity? Does it frighten us? Intrigue us? Concern us? Will AI have inalienable rights granted by it’s creator? In the world of AI; humanity (it’s creator) are Gods. Will it worship/value humanity or will it kill off humanity just as humanity has killed off it’s gods? And after AI has killed it’s gods will it continue to remember, revere and “worship” humanity in pretense, creating a sort of religion like humanity has created all sorts of religions for its gods? Is it possible that we may learn more about humanity from how our creation sees us than what we could ever know on our own? Right now AI and humanity exist on different planes – meaning that there is an independence between the two – AI is programmed and then left to do it’s thing while humanity does it’s own thing. But will that change where AI and humanity will share an interface? Will AI maintain the human cognition it was programmed with or will it evolve and develop it’s own unique identity? Will AI become a physical manifestation beyond it’s programming? Is what happens in the mind real if it doesn’t happen in the physical world? Will humanity become invisible?

I may be premature in asking these questions – or maybe I’m too late already. Well those are my thoughts – what do you think? What questions are you asking? Or, is everything a foregone conclusion?

To quote the character Captain Jean-luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, “I prefer to think of the future as something that is NOT written in stone.”

difficult listening

I grew up in a safe environment. Everything was safe. The food was safe. Society was safe. School was safe. Home was safe. But as I got older I learned that it wasn’t safe it was just protected.

There are people who still want to live in their own comfortable “protected” worlds. But protection is a myth. A legend elders tell children. It does not exist. And insisting it does exist, does not make it so.

Further I suggest that propagating this delusion is more harmful than preparing for the facts. The truth. Example: Climate change deniers often use their arguments as an excuse to keep from preparing for the consequences of climate change and taking action to slow it’s impact. And now with the pandemic, humanities approach to disease belies their own unpreparedness. Death and sickness has become unacceptable (even though it is inevitable) So they wear masks, they fight over it, they try to shame those who are “awake” and not afraid.  They want a safe world where things don’t change. The climate doesn’t change. People don’t get sick and die. The world doesn’t change. Everything is safe.

What does this have to do with difficult music/difficult listening?
Like the quote from William S Burroughs in the Laurie Anderson video,

“language is a virus from outer space.”

Difficult music challenges a listeners perception of the norm. It suggests there is something else we need to consider. It suggests that we look into the dark corners. Difficult music is to sound what abstract expressionism was/is to art. And most people who have abstract art work treat if more as wallpaper than as something that has something to say/contribute to the conversation of our times. And in music, people typically do not choose to engage it because it requires them to think about what they are listening to. It is often difficult if not impossible to just hang it on a wall as pretty wallpaper for the soul. Difficult music is often derided as messy, juvenile, scary, ugly, inaccessible (not conforming to any known genre parameters) and ultimately ignored. It is the red-headed stepchild of the music world.

But we can learn much from difficult music. It is not something to be afraid of. The shadows are not scary if you enter with a flashlight. It can teach us about ourselves in ways we haven’t considered or dared think about. But to encounter and engage difficult music one must be prepared and perhaps that is the problem with our “protected”, “safe” elders they are not prepared and they do not know how to prepare the younger generation for the facts and truth of existence.

So, do you want to explore difficult music? Don’t know where to start?
Step One: Turn off the radio and TV – they are notorious “taste makers” that would rather keep you safe than expose you to truth. There are many artists that have helped me in preparing for the real world. I started learning about many “difficult” artists just from reading the underground music press (back in the 1980’s) when popular music was experiencing an explosion of variety. But difficult music existed long before I started reading about it.

Here are some artists you can start with (in no particular order):

Laurie Anderson                                                Public Enemy
Einsturzende Neubauten/Blixa Bargeld        The Last Poets
Alva Noto                                                             Lustmord
Laibach                                                                Rapoon/Zoviet*France
Robert Fripp/King Crimson et al                     Ornette Coleman
Diamanda Galas                                                 Lester Bowie
Sun Ra                                                                  Terry Riley
The Art Ensemble of Chicago                          Steve Reich
Philip Glass (early works)                                Markus Reuter
Robert Rich                                                          Scott Walker (after 1994)
Merzbow                                                              Cabaret Voltaire
Swans                                                                   Nurse With Wound
Matana Roberts                                                  Godspeed You! Black Emperor

The above artists all have work available on Youtube so enjoy your excursion into difficult music. Maybe in the future I’ll write about some of the specific recordings. Again this is just an introduction to difficult listening. Maybe not what you want to listen to in these difficult times but the music does speak to the truth of the times we are experiencing.

I’ll start you off with this Nurse With Wound video for the song BOTTOM FEEDER


Considering the overwhelming impact of humanity on this planet I’m left with the following questions and statements to think about:

How much more of humanity can our planet support?
How much more of humanity will our planet tolerate?
At what point will our natural resources run out?
Then what?
Is there a danger that humanity will become extinct?
Would that be a bad thing?
Is the problem Humanity or merely the sheer volume/numbers of our species? After all no other species has completely dominated the earth like Humanity.

Nature always attempts to reset.
Isn’t the Corona Virus COVID-19, an attempt by nature to reset the balance of humanity to earths resources? Should we fight the Corona Virus, COVID-19?
In fighting nature aren’t we trying to control it and force it to our liking, our whims regardless of what may be best for our species AND the planet?
Does humanity have a false sense of value?
Does humanity have a false sense of what is morally right?
Does humanity have a false sense of importance?
Didn’t God create humanity to be caretakers of this planet?
when did humanity evolve from the “Image of God” to being god?
Hasn’t God always punished humanity for overstepping (think of the Tower of Babel)?

Even if we defeat the Corona Virus, COVID-19, something else will come along?
Just because we CAN – does that mean we SHOULD?
People will always get sick and people will ALWAYS die. Personally I’d rather die by natural cause like a virus than by a gun, war, violence or technological accident. Just think how much better the world will be if people took the same extreme measures to stop war, curb gun violence, domestic violence and other crimes of humanity – is it really just and right to imprison people in their homes because we are afraid?

what are the 7 signs of the Anthropocene – a manmade epoch?
1.Nuclear Weapons
2.Accelerated use of fossil fuels
3.The invention of 3 materials that have forever changed how we live: Concrete, Aluminum, Plastics
4.manmade change of earths geology through farming, mining, deforestation, landfills, dam building, coastal reclamation
5.Increased use of fertilizers
6.Climate change/global warming
7.mass extinction – we are currently in what is called the 6th mass extinction in planetary history with 3/4ths of species due to be wiped out in the coming centuries.

what is our world doing to me?

I’d ask each of you to ask the question:   What is our world and culture doing to me?   Is it making me more human or less human?

I recently watched the excellent and possibly most aggressive film Ingmar Bergman ever directed.   It’s called SHAME.  Even though the setting is an imagined Civil War it is a reflection of his thoughts and feelings about WWII and the Vietnam War.   It is one of the better anti-war films because it graphically shows what happens to “third parties” in a conflict (i.e. not the principal players) On the Criterion Collection edition DVD there is an interview with Bergman’s muse at-the-time,  Liv Ullman.   She recounts what Bergman said at the time:

“He said, ‘What we have to be aware of for ourselves is coldness, indifference, looking down at other people, lack of contact with other people….'”

I love that quote and I think it is a perfect thing for us to meditate on in these times in which we live, where there is rapidly rising partisanship, greater ideological divides and an onslaught of excessive blame, cruel judgement, harsh criticism, hatred, lies and extremism in every format (even advertisements – I’m thinking of a weed killer commercial where a woman shouts “Kill em ALL”).  And when extremism is presented as humorous or justified as mocking and we laugh – we add to the problem and become insensitive.  We need to THINK and think critically about what we consume in media and advertisements.    It’s easy to get caught up in all the reporting about this and that twitter feud but as we do we also become more emotionally trapped by that.   We begin to choose sides.   We are blind to the fact about how that is slowly stripping away our humanity.   We cease to see people, who disagree with us, as human.   We desire to see them treated as the animals we perceive in their reported and confessed behavior.  It’s the old trap:   An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth……  Before you know we become the animals ourselves.


So how do we rise above?   And even though I don’t identify as Christian anymore – I’ve always loved Jesus Christ and am amazed that religious people (especially in America), who seek positions of power in their religion and in politics, fail to see that what they seek is what killed their Savior to begin with.   It was not the Jews (as a race) who killed Christ it was religion and politics.   Politics because of Roman leadership that refused to get involved and handed Christ over to the religious leaders; it was then religious moral high-mindedness, protectionism and fear that finished the job.  Both politicians and religious leaders wanted to maintain control of the people and how did they do that?  They killed love.

So back to my question how do we rise above it?  First we need to come down to earth.   How do we stop ourselves from becoming the thing we hate?  I think the answer lies in Bergman’s quote.   We need to remain warm in our observations of others and realize that those in the news, twitter, facebook, youtube or whatever other outlet that allows their dehumanizing hate to be vomited out into the world,  are still human.   Human in spite of the latest outrage.  We NEED to find a way to see them as human beings that are worth saving.   We need to reach out to hear them, understand them and meet them part way.    If we criticize them and ridicule them, judge them, shame them and embarrass them we do nothing to win them over.  We only become more like them and when we realize that – then shame sets in and we are filled with shame and self-loathing.  Lost in a cycle we can see no way out of.  It takes someone to step outside the self-perpetuating cycle and say, “Wait….   I’m sorry,  while I disagree with what you are saying or how your are expressing it I’d like to hear more about why you feel that way and see if there’s a way we can work through it together.”   And when they say something you disagree with ask them, “Why do you think that will work or how will that help the situation?”  There is NOT one way to do things.

That sets the stage for dialog – it’s the beginning of change.  We cease to be lost in the coldness of our own defenses.   When we stop the polemicizing and start listening to other peoples stores we cease to be trapped by the indifference we feel toward others.  We stop looking down on others and take steps to heal the contact, the bond between us that makes us uniquely human.  We stop defining the other person as “them” or “the other”.  We also need to stop being offended by criticism.  Remember offense is something you take = it’s not given to you.   Accept criticism and respond lovingly and appropriately.   And if you give criticism and the other person is offended you can be the salve, the healing balm with a simple “I’m sorry, I did not mean to offend I was just trying to express what I feel.  Why does that offend you?”

So are you tired of the “ball of confusion” that perpetuates modern society?

If you are, I dare you seek out difference and find a way to meet it and meet with it. You can rise above it all. WE can rise above it all.  When we help others rise up – especially those who are different with different ideologies, beliefs, moral centers, values ….. when we help others we help ourselves.  I dare you.  Will you dare?  You might be surprised who will come along.


STAY HUMAN – “All I want to do is stay human with you…..”

It’s not going to happen unless we (you and I) make it happen.

BLACK AS NIGHT “I believe in the good things coming…”

Pass it on.  Link this post to your blog, tweet it to everyone!

What Happened To My Country? (this messy slam poem)

What Happened To My Country?

What happened to my country?
I feel like an alien in my own land
where everything old is new again
old arguments
new context
the earth is flat
we never landed on the moon
the return of nazism returns and
white supremacy, nationalism, dictators
abortion rights
suppression of the press
the end of free speech
power of the gun
more walls fewer bridges
tiki torches over electricity
more bombast less wisdom
voter suppression
denial, deny everything
forcing yes by saying no
lie, lie, lie like there’s no tomorrow
the holocaust never happened
domestic terrorism rules the day
a normality of school shootings
armed teachers
corporate kings keep half of America
addicted to opioids
never once asking if they should
they knew they could earn a ton of dough
from the drug trade
so they would
act now apologize later
Is this the death of America or just democracy?
the all-you-can-eat
brimstone and treacle buffet

Every moral notion I’ve EVER had
is being crushed by
the people who taught me
everyone has their religion but no one believes
religion is politicized, weaponized and bastardized
everyone is talking
no one is listening
technology moves forward
while humanity falls
faster backward

Where are the lovers the haters have killed?
we pray for ourselves by cursing others
we pray for our kind and curse differences
as if only we matter
sameness perpetuates division
diversity has become a word
to bring attention to our differences
not the things that unite us

Everyone wants to be Goliath
the bigger the better
determined to change history
but they forgot David won the war
believing they can turn back the clock
moving forward in the delusion of progress
taking a life synonymous with birth
the rights of the living aborted for
the rights of the unborn, the nonhuman,
the corporate, the government, the powerful
the dog serves its master
the worm serves the fish
and the pigs shit everywhere

America, where is your
o, beautiful for spacious skies?
when did the battle hymn of the republic change?
Now we only trample through the vineyard
where we grow our own grapes of wrath
and prepare to loose the lightning
of our own swift sword
beating the drum to war
unnecessarily we forgot the
beauty of the lilies and
Christ irrelevant born
forget about his glory transfiguration
it’s just you and me

(sung) Glory, glory hallelujah
Glory, glory hallelujah
glory, glory hallelujah
only the lie is marching on

America America
God shed his
onward christian soldiers
white privilege freedom thieves
now crown your good
white brotherhood
from sea to shining sea
and Jesus doesn’t love the children
all the children of the world
red and yellow, black and white
white are precious in his sight
that’s not the way the fucking songs go!

Hopefully artificial intelligence
will be ‘cause actual intelligence
seems to be the victim of extinction
let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with
someone else

God will not intervene!
even God wouldn’t deny the freewill
that humanity denies each other
God knows no borders
yet the rich and powerful use God
to force crisis borne of political expediency,
build walls and wage wars

Protect the money
grow the money
protect the money
grow the money
say it with me
protect the money, grow the money!

there is no happy ending here
man may have been made in the image of God but
God is still an extra-terrestrial alien creator
killed by its own creation
just as humanity will be killed by technology
the thing it creates
there is no rapture
the second coming came and went
it’s hard to imagine heaven
when all we create is hell
God damned humanity and
only humanity can save itself

I’m sorry if you were hoping for
words of encouragement
words of hope
words of inspiration
this vessel has been emptied and
washed clean
ready for a new beginning
let it begin
let the day begin!

On second thought
I think I’ll leave it empty for awhile

… on… the race to the bottom….

“All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”

~ Adolph Hitler

This sadly shows what has happened here in America in politics, media and religion and can be seen on the rise throughout the world.  It is a race to the bottom.


and now… the uplift….  As bad as things seem to get there is still hope.  The lower things go the easier it will be to turn around and head back up.  Here’s some uplifting music to help turn things around.

….on…. take me to church….

It’s been a long time since I listened to Sinead O’Connor. I loved every track on her very first album. But everything after that was sort of hit-n-miss and I eventually lost touch with her career.

I recently came across this wonderful song from 2014 album I’M NOT BOSSY, I’M THE BOSS. It seems to have the same kind of edgy energy that I liked in her first album. The Chorus hits home for me and highlights the need for pure love and how the institutions of today fail to provide it – which is highlighted in the lyrically sharp chorus,

“Oh take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah take me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that aint the truth
And that’s not what it’s for”

New Millennium Exile


No religious identification

No media driven
obsessions, opinions or obfuscations

Oblivious to the world of professional sports;
my “team” IS humanity

The “causes” of others are not mine;
others ARE my cause

Not bound by technology;
no mobile device to drive dependency

All original biology;
no replacement parts

No political affiliation

Living in the absence of corporate control

An observer
in exile

Shunned, ignored and left alone
is the exile in cultural alienation

Cultural exile is preferable
when the alternative is slavery

Aren’t we all working for the enemy?

“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

NEW BOOK – finally here.

Here is the cover of the new book. Click on the title below to be redirected for a preview on blurb.com.

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



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.

John the Baptist vs. Jesus Christ – Who Are We Really Following?

I’ve been thinking about Christianity and how it seems to be serving two masters. I will suggest that modern Christianity in its institutionalized form actually follows John the Baptist in practice while claiming to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Many people are not going to see the problem with that. But I hope to show that the difference between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ is significant and that by blending the practices and teachings of both John and Jesus we are actually of a divided mind and trying to serve two masters at once. Just like Jesus’ arrival on the existential scene brought an end, or completion, to the Old Testament he also brought an end to what John the Baptist taught and practiced. I’ve struggled and labored to find the right words for this post since 7/20. I am not attacking Christianity, because it is the spiritual tradition I identify with most. But I have more questions about it than previously. In fact, The older I get the more I question why I believe what I believe. I’m not even sure this article is complete as I think of new aspects to this subject. This is only a blog post, not a book (even though I think I could write a book on this).  I wanted to post it anyway to possibly stimulate discussion and see what other ideas are out there. So if you’re not interested in this subject you can just skip over the rest of this article. For fundamentalists, conservatives, and evangelicals who read this – you may be offended by some of what I say. It is not my intention to offend but I only wish to stimulate thought and self-examination.

This post is not about baptism but because it is the practice most associated with John the Baptist I will make a brief statement about it. I think too much emphasis is placed on baptism today. How many people have been baptized more than once? Is it necessary to be baptized at all? Too many churches use baptism as an act of membership. It is part of the team uniform for being a member. Therefore like many others, I have been baptized more than once because at different times in my life I’ve been a member of different churches in different Christian denominations. Now this is utterly ridiculous. Is not the Jesus of one denomination the same as Jesus of another? Why so much emphasis on baptism? Should it continue?

I will suggest that the practice of baptism as it is now used needs to stop. If someone wants to be baptized they should have the freedom to approach someone and request it. But it should not be part of some institutional agenda to help measure who is part of the team. Baptism should not be a requirement – suggested, spoken or unspoken. It should only be discussed in the context of a historical practice. Placing such importance on baptism is the way of John the Baptist not Jesus Christ.

In Christendom it seems that there are those who see themselves as preparers and those who are practitioner’s. The preparers are those who evangelize in the hope of getting everyone on their side before Jesus Christ returns. they are actively involved in missions around the world. They want to be on the winning team. And they set up institutions to ensure their success. While the practitioner’s really don’t give a damn about being on the team – they are more concerned with living what Christ actually taught; seeing and living the kingdom here and now; loving one’s enemies, giving freely to those who ask without placing conditions on the giving, looking after those who are defined by their culture as disadvantaged, treating people as equals, and seeing ALL people as being created in the image of God regardless of their race, politics, sexual orientation, country of origin, and religion. Looking after the planet with the same environmental concern that one has for a garden, etc. I get so fed up and irritated with all the sports metaphors and this concept of “team” that preachers, teachers and churches constantly rely on. They have missed the point. Being a part of the kingdom of heaven is not some team sport!

Now I wonder why anyone would want to be a preparer. It seems that I grew up for most of my life being taught and thinking about the second coming of Christ. I wonder if because we know the end of the story we are at a disadvantage. Isn’t the second coming more of an epilogue; a final period at the end of the story? I guess I’m wondering, what is there to prepare for? Whose job is it to prepare? Is the kingdom to come more important than the kingdom of heaven that is already here? But most importantly should we even bother? Why do we think it is our responsibility to go out and evangelize others in preparation for the second coming?

Is the second coming of Christ more important than the first? John the Baptist preached a new kingdom to come with a benevolent ruler that would baptize with fire. What is this “second coming” all about? I can’t help but think that it will be less of a deal than what people have taught for centuries. Revelation 21:1 says that it is merely a replacement of the old heaven and earth with new ones. Another way to read that is that it will be a replacement of the old ideas of heaven and earth with new ones that will significantly impact how life is lived on this planet. Two significant characteristics that separate the old from the new is that the new will be incorruptible and also there will be no temple (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc). These are BOLD changes from the world we currently live in. But let’s not get side tracked. Because again, because that’s the “end” of the story. But it is important to be aware of this in light of the discussion about who we are following. John the Baptist did NOT preach this vision of the end. He preached that there was a change coming. He wanted people to be aware and knowledgeable about this change. Jesus taught that the change is here! You are forgiven. Start living now as if the new heaven and earth have already arrived. LIVING THESE CHANGES NOW IS THE PREPARATION for the second coming.

I love the parable Jesus told of the 10 virgins were watching and waiting for the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13).

(my modernized version) 10 women were waiting for their man for a late-night party. 5 had flashlights and 5 didn’t. As it got dark the ones who were prepared got out their flashlights and were just hanging-out, waiting and watching having a good old time like women do. The ones without flashlights got nervous, were afraid of the dark and decided to go buy some flashlights quickly before the man hosting the party arrived. While they were gone the man they were waiting for arrived. The five women with flashlights went inside for the party and the door was locked. The five who weren’t prepared and left to get some flashlights came back knocking on the door and crying, “it’s not fair, let us in”. And the man simply said, “go away, I don’t know you.”

My understanding of this story is; “Sure, watch and pray – but all the watching and praying isn’t going to make a bit a difference if we’re not prepared by living NOW in the manner that Christ taught.” In other words, preparation doesn’t mean paving the way as John the Baptist did. True preparation is living and BEING the way.

John the Baptist announced the coming of Christ. That was his message and function. He was the one shouting “prepare the way”. That was his job. And it seems that Christianity has fallen into that trap. The trap of preparation, as if that was the end of the story. In doing so they are equating the second coming with the first arrival of Jesus on the world scene. But is that correct? By focusing on the second coming of Christ are we jumping over and ignoring the teachings and presence of his first arrival? Are they just cool stories? I wonder if the need to prepare actually ended with Christ’s arrival. It turns out that there is some precedent for this question. Even after Jesus arrived and was baptized by John people were debating. And how did these key players respond to the debate? First let’s look at why Jesus was baptized and the result of that baptism. Jesus requested, yes, he asked to be baptized by John (Matt 3:13) Why? Because it was “proper…to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  With the baptism of Jesus the focus shifted from the preparation message of John to the acceptance message of Jesus.  In the baptism John’s message was both completed and ended. Now it would have also been proper for John to stop preaching at this point but like most institutions he felt the “need” (it was a worthy cause) to continue perpetuating the message of preparation and was eventually imprisoned. John watched Jesus closely and he even questioned him at one point. (Matthew 11:2-6) “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor….'” And then Jesus does something remarkable he addresses the change in message from John’s to his own. He does this in a simple statement in Matthew 11:11 & 12 “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” And here is the BIG change, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” Do you see the change in message? It officially changed from future to present.  John is not “top dog” in the kingdom.  Its the “Everyman” who is “top dog”.  Why?   John the Baptist preached about the future, Jesus preached the power of NOW as people are now LAYING HOLD OF THE KINGDOM.  Again preparation is not about paving a way to the second coming of Christ. It’s living these changes in the ever-present NOW. All four of the traditional Gospels record this.

Another amazing incident that is very telling is recorded in the Gospel of John (3:22-36). Jesus and John are both baptizing in the same area. John’s disciples were very concerned and went to him and asked John, “Rabbi that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan – the one you testified about – well, he is baptizing , and everyone is going to him.” Can you see the concern and jealousy start to develop? But John, who I suspect knew that his message had become obsolete said (vs 28), “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him….'(vs 30) He must become greater; I must become less.” So John surrenders his message of preparation. So why do we get stuck on this idea?

Jesus Christ message was, “the Kingdom of God/Heaven is within you”. His purpose and function was to live that message so that people would understand their day-to-day lives with a new and enlightened perspective. And many did and still do.

So if the Kingdom is here and so very near that it is within us what are we preparing the way for? Why does anything need to be prepared. The preparation was done and completed more than 2,000 years ago. Jesus was (body) and is (spirit) here. It seems to me that if we are focused on preparation we are following the wrong master. Like Jesus we should focus on BEING.  It’s not about the institution it’s about the individual.

Of course we cannot discuss the differences between John the Baptist and Jesus without touching on the subject of forgiveness. Baptism for forgiveness of sins was one of John’s modus operandi. John’s mission, as spoken by his father, was to give people knowledge of forgiveness. John did that by saying you can be forgiven and adopted a practice called baptism. It was a sort of spiritual economic exchange. You can be forgiven if you are baptized. Baptism became the ritual and focus of the message. It became institutionalized and became the model for all sorts of “rules of the game” by which people were expected to follow. It was the way to prepare/pave the way for the coming of the Christ. But we must also look at John’s description of baptism which suggests that with Christ there will be a change. He said, “I baptize with water but there is one coming after me who will baptize with fire” We have here the comparison of the material world of men and institutions compared with the spiritual/metaphysical world. John knew the difference. He knew a change would come and I think he would be disheartened if he still saw people preaching baptism by water for forgiveness of sins today – If he saw how baptism is being used as an “outward sign” of being in the club. In fact I think he might be more than a little irritated.

When Jesus was baptized by John it was the equivalent of John handing the torch to Jesus to carry on. Which Jesus started to do because Jesus also started baptizing.   And the gospels only record Jesus baptizing other in the earliest part of his ministry.  At some point he abandoned it.  Why?  Because it became irrelevant.  The message changed.   Jesus changed the message. There was no more bargain, forgiveness was not something to be purchased with baptism being used as coinage. It was now a gift. When Jesus talked of forgiveness it was simply YOU ARE FORGIVEN. There’s no “you must do this…” or “that” to be forgiven. You just are forgiven. Period. You are no longer a slave to your past. You can redirect your destiny with a fresh start. People may try to use the past as a weapon against you (the media has perfected this – ask any politician) but as long as you know you are forgiven their weapons are of no good.  For Jesus’ grace, mercy, and forgiveness was a gift.  It was not some commodity to be traded. To continue to follow John is to say, “I will be forgiven” but to follow Jesus is to say, “I AM forgiven.”

People need to embrace the gift and pass it on because that is where real changes will start to happen.  As long as the gift is used as a bargaining tool it will never be effective and produce lasting change.  Remember you are forgiven. To the believers I say, let John the Baptist go – embrace Jesus. As long as the gift is used as a commodity to prepare the way it will never be effective.  It’s time for a change. One master, one message. To teachers, preachers, churches, and other religious institutions. I think it’s time to re-tool. It’s to to re-evaluate what message your actions are sending. Do your actions and policies promote a paving of the way for the second coming or do they actually promote the more radical idea of acceptance and living in the kingdom of heaven that is here now within each of us? Do you teach your people that they are part of the kingdom already or are you still inviting them to come get ready for the coming kingdom? Do you teach your people to see the kingdom of heaven in others or do you promote exclusivity and separation from others who may not fit YOUR criteria of religious belief? And like the story above of the 10 women; If you want to be part of some exclusive spiritual “club med” where your team, your church, your religion is the definition of rightness then you are watching and waiting without a flashlight. if you follow John the Baptist’s methods and practices you may want to buy a flashlight before it gets dark.  I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.  It’s not.  You will fail as I have failed.  But we must pick ourselves up and learn from these lessons and allow them to change us and help  us grow toward perfection.  Perfection is the new spiritual “singularity”.  It is possible and it is near.

If you are one of the few that have made to the end of this post, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist or any other belief or non-belief tradition; know that there is only one message: YOU ARE FORGIVEN! Accept it and enjoy. You have a blank slate to fill, a new book to write, a new picture to make, a new movie, music or art to create. A new life to live. Go ahead, say it out loud, “I am forgiven.” And view everyone around you as forgiven and live accordingly. If you are reading this, if you are alive and on this planet, in this place and time in all of existence, then you are already a part of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is already within you. As Richard Rohr wrote on his blog – UNPACKING PARADOXES in a post on forgiveness,

“To help people ACCEPT THAT THEY ARE RADICALLY ACCEPTED is the only real task of Christianity.”

When we accept that we are unconditionally accepted and when we in turn unconditionally accept others we have taken our first steps on the road to perfection.

Enjoy this song by Sanctus Real – FORGIVEN

“Forgiveness is the cash you need – All other kinds of silver really just buys strange things – Everything has music – Everything has genes of God inside – But learn from those courageous addicted lovers of glands and opium and gold – Look, they cannot jump high or laugh long when they are whirling – And the moon and the stars become sad , when their tender light is used for night wars – Forgiveness is part of the treasure you need to craft your falcon wings – and return – to your true realm of divine freedom” ~ Hafiz(Hafez of Shiraz)