if not us, then who?

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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Through every season of my life, in retrospect, I see the major players of the Jesus story in myself.  I have been the prodigal son, the denying Peter, the wayward woman at the well, the mocking crowd at the cross, and much too frequently the doubting Thomas.

Today, Thomas is asking, “If you are real, if you are who you claim to be, why is the world such a screwed up mess?  Can’t you do something?”  God answers –

“I did.  I created you!”

IF NOT US, THEN WHO?

life-sustaining society

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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“If there is to be a livable world for those who come after us, it will be because we have managed to make the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-Sustaining Society. . . . While the agricultural revolution took centuries and the Industrial revolution took generations, (the Great Turning) has to happen within a matter of years. It also has to be conscious—involving not only the political economy, but the habits, values and understandings that foster it.” —Joanna Macy – Pace e Bene

Can we do that?  We, who have been the most voracious consumers of this earth’s resources, who have built an empire on the backs of slave and immigrant labor, who have tilted the political process in favor of the corporate elite, who have widened the gulf between the prosperous and the poor, who have thumbed our noses at environmental consciousness….can we do that?  Not over the course of centuries or generations, but within a few years we must make our decisions.  Can we build a life-sustaining society which honors the entirety of creation?beard-beggar-face-35015

 

poverty or simplicity ?

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

LIVE FREE OR DIE

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It is not surprising that many of my daily inspirational readings focus on Matthew  11:29 –

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

For my generation, these are probably the most difficult times Americans have ever experienced.  Our nation has been cut in two by opposing political forces and we are struggling with an unfathomed health crisis.

We have been bamboozled by a capitalistic economy which places unmerited value on materialism, property and assets leaving the majority of us in the lower echelon of a prosperous society.  We are seen not as symbols of simplicity, but as statistics of poverty.  We have been victimized by a social culture which tells Americans that we are better than the rest of the world.  We have been deceived about the earth’s resources – that there is not enough for all mankind; therefore, we should horde and accumulate.  We are continually bombarded with our deficiencies rather than our blessings.  The cup is always half empty rather than half full.  But, Matthew 11:29 says that we don’t have to carry those burdens.

The Gospels are often called ‘the Good News’.  Contemporary theologians tend to emphasize the salvific promise of this ‘Good News’ as the salient message.  However, the ancients who wrote the scriptures in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were also carrying a message to the disenfranchised, the poor, the oppressed, the underprivileged, the down-trodden not so much about eternity in heaven but about joyous survival on earth.

This message is one that proclaims a freedom from the problems and cares of a materialistic world.  That freedom happens when priorities change.  Today’s America is just a blip on history’s radar screen.  Yes, it is important and we need to pay attention, but it is not important enough to throw our lives into continual depression, fear and defeat.

What can I change about today, what can I not change about today?  Pray about it,  surrender it and then get on with life.  Let Jesus handle it.  His yoke is easy and his burden is light.  In Psalms we are told to “be still and know God.”  The Jewish tradition renders this as “cease striving and know God.”  The wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “let go and let God.”

I will trust in those who have “been there and done that.” smiley face 2

 

Reparations

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reparations – Ta-Nehisi Coates

“What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. . . . Reparations would mean a revolution of American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.”

—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations

Stunning words from Mr. Coates!  Finally, white power and white privilege accustomed to the old, distinctly American adage “money talks” is challenged to the crux of what African-Americans want.  They don’t want handouts, payoffs, hush money, or bribes.  They want white America to do a conscience check and transform the inner soul that makes us racist and bigoted.  What a challenge!  Can we do it?

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a sacred earth ?

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“One of the reasons we’re destroying the planet is that it has lost its sacred dimension for us. The planet as given to us by science is a physical reality essentially meaningless in itself. It’s a resource for our physical activity.”

—Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth

Centuries ago science overtook faith as reality.  The wisdom of the ancients tied the sacredness of our earth and of nature to a power beyond the understanding and reasoning of mankind.  But man’s arrogance demanded an answer to all questions and the discovered explanations which they accepted denied the sacredness of Creation.  The earth has become just another vehicle for our selfish endeavors.

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RESTORATION

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YES MAGAZINE

Years ago when living in Pennsylvania, it was a short Sunday afternoon drive to the mountaintops of the state’s share of the Appalachian Trail.  An autumn trip on interstate 81 provided spectacular color and views of the surrounding countryside.

Unfortunately easy access to this mountain interstate also provided to the city of Philadelphia an inexpensive place to dump their garbage and to international corporations cheap land for construction of gigantic distribution centers.  Landfills and warehouses began to dot the views along the roadway.

Strip mining for coal also became more profitable because of the interstate access.  It was cheaper and easier than the shafts and tunnels of traditional mining.  Huge gouges appeared in the previously pristine landscape.  Pennsylvania was not the only victim as other states such as West Virginia suffered the same pillage and rape.

I receive newsletters from YES MAGAZINE via e-mail.  Today’s mailing details the recovery efforts of one such mining area in West Virginia.  Dedicated environmentalists, enlisting local residents facing unemployment due to a decline in coal mining, are attempting to build farm communities over the filled-in mines and covered-over landfills where the devastation occurred during the past decades.

Granted, it’s an economic undertaking to improve the lives of local residents, but can we also see these works as acts of love directed to restore our Creator’s creation? Love is not only for mankind, but for every mountain, every river, every forest, every tree, every creature put here for our enjoyment and need.

“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce.  But you came and defiled my land and made it detestable.”  JEREMIAH 2:7

Scroll to the bottom of the page provided above in the YES MAGAZINE link for a free subscription to their newsletters.

is it still night?

 

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How can we determine the hour of dawn, when the night ends and the day begins?
‘. . . when you look into the face of another human being and you have enough light to recognize them as your brother or sister. Until then it is night, and the darkness is still with us.'”

—Sheila Provencher

Pace e Bene

misfits, runaways, losers

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The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes MATTHEW 5:1-11, amplified version 

If you have ever been to Bible School as a child, if you have participated in a Christian church service, if you have thumbed through the New Testament, you assuredly are familiar with the Beatitudes – the “blessed are” verses.

Often misunderstood, verses 1-11 tells us about the Jesus crowd circa 32 AD.  The powerful of the mighty Roman Empire and the elite of the Jewish hierarchy judged the followers of Jesus to be insurrectionists, rebels and losers.  The story of Jesus tells us that they were the target audience of the Gospel teachings, the ones whom Jesus loved dearly, for whom he was crucified.

I am a content misfit (according to today’s Western culture), a runaway, a loser.  Join me in my insane, joyful approach to life, will you?

(the portions in red and underlined are my emphasis)

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and when He was seated, His [a]disciples came to Him. Then He began to teach them, saying,

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent change], for they will be comforted.

“Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the [b]gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled]for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God]for they will be [completely] satisfied.

“Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.

“Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.

10 “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for [c]doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

11 “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. 12 Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.smiley face 2

I want to be one of the biggest losers in the Jesus crowd.