Pope Paul VI

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”orange tree

 

“If you want peace, work for justice.”

 Pope Paul VI

 

As a precursor to thinking about world peace, it is necessary to recognize that governments and government agents cannot enforce peaceful co-existence.  Governments desire power above peace,  governments covet profits from its nation’s war machine and munitions industries above peace, and governments employ military might as an insurer of peace within its own borders at the expense of violent oppression elsewhere in the world.  The great Roman Empire was created on this principle.  The American experience also became an empire in this manner.  Peace on an international level is unattainable without the intervention of a supernatural mediator.

Perhaps that is what Pope Paul VI is inferring in this quote.  Wise men know that mankind is violent and warlike and that the governances created by man are equally so.  The peace envisioned is not going to happen in the halls of government but rather within the temples of man.  Man is a spiritual being housed in a physical body, his temple.  When that spirit is tuned in to a greater universal force, the process of peacemaking can begin.  It is a miracle of interior transformation which prepares each individual to journey to the destiny of enlightenment offered by his/her Creator.

The transforming process begins with a recognition of inherent ego and its continual demand to be self-satisfied.  Slowly ego is replaced by sacrifice and awareness of surrounding suffering.  The injustice of world systems becomes increasingly apparent as the individual reaches out to live in solidarity with all brothers and sisters, to seek justice for all people.  Justice mothers the driving desire to share resources equally, to treat others compassionately, and to extend peaceful co-existence to the entire creation.  Striving for universal justice becomes the life work which will usher peace into the worlds existing within the temples.  No government can deter or destroy that which dwells within.

 

Margaret

“If Muriel had said, ‘I am sorry, my father says no,’ I would have stayed in Vienna and they would have killed me.”

Muriel, my sister, corresponded with a pen pal from Austria, Edith Muhlbauer.  Edith was 17 years old in 1938 when the Germans crossed the border and occupied Austria.  That same year in November on Kristallnacht all but one of Vienna’s synagogues were burned to the ground by mobs, 8000 Jews were arrested and 5000 were sent to Dachau.

The Muhlbauer family lived in an area of Vienna where many Jewish professionals lived.  As the situation with the Nazis grew worse Edith wrote to my sister and asked if she could come live with my family.  We did not have the money but my father asked members of his Rotary club for the money to bring Edith to England.  They also agreed to provide money for her needs and to share hosting in their homes.

Edith arrived at our home in April of 1939 bringing 2 red handbags as gifts, one for my sister and one for me.  Our home was very small, didn’t have a proper bathroom.  She was accustomed to much nicer accommodations in Vienna and she was very careful with her wonderful wardrobe.  I remember Edith would not go for a walk in the countryside because it would ruin her shoes.

Our father was concerned that this worldly girl from Vienna would lead Muriel and me astray while Edith felt our puritanical lifestyle here in England revolving around church and work was repressive.  She was tall and beautiful with dark, styled hair and she wore lipstick.

I was brought up Methodist.  Methodism means method.  It means sticking to your guns, dedication, triumph over adversity, reverence for education – the very qualities Jews have always cherished.

MARGARET THATCHER, the Iron Lady, sister of Muriel, friend of Edith, served as prime Minister of England from 1979 – 1990

“When people ask, ‘What can one person do?’ Thatcher responded, ‘That is the question that people so often ask.  Never hesitate to do whatever you can, for you may save a life.’ 

written in 1st person narrative by larrypaulbrown from information credited to the following sources:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/margaret-thatcher-s-family-sheltered-austrian-jew

Sources: Robert Philpot, “How Margaret Thatcher’s family sheltered an Austrian Jew during the Holocaust,” (June 29, 2017);
Robert Philpot, Margaret Thatcher The Honorary Jew: How Britain’s Jews Helped Shape the Iron Lady and Her Beliefs, Biteback Publishing, (June 29, 2017).

 

 

 

 

racial thoughts

As a young man I always knew it was out there somewhere in the nether regions.  I saw it in movies and television shows.  Sometimes it plastered the front page of my newspapers.  But, it was always in somebody else’s world, not mine.  My world was orderly, civil, simple, and pleasant.  Neat, uncomplicated, unthreatening, predictable.

I liked my life that way.  It gave me a sense of assurance that tomorrow would be just as uneventful as today.  Life was unexciting, unchanging, uninvolved, unemotional when it straddled that fence-riding, noncommittal country lane to nowhere.  No threats, no worries, no anxieties, no challenges, and certainly no engagement with that demonic something that was out there in the backwoods waiting for an opportunity to destroy and devour my world.

But, it inevitably happened.  It came charging out of the woods screaming, “Here I am, you stupid bastard.  Your ancestral nightmare is coming out of the shadows of generations past to turn your contrived, serene, peaceful, simple, orderly, civil world into a pile of dung.”

“I am loud.  I am cruel.  I am vindictive.  I am dangerous.  I am violent.  I am judgmental and I am screaming in your face to destroy your perceived sensibilities.  I will make you angry, then depressed, then guilty, then sad, then angry again and I won’t go away because I am that vile, force of darkness which you have denied in your stupid little Pollyanna world.  Now, white boy, deal with it.”

The voices of past hatred, intolerance, and bigotry rocked my white man’s world.  I felt the pain of those who had been oppressed for so many years.  I heard the suffering cries of a black man who was lynched.  I smelled  the horror of the Jews being turned to ash in the incinerators.  I saw the tears in the eyes of the native Americans forced to relinquish their lands to the white invaders.   And my ancestors, white men, were responsible.  Guilty as charged.

Responsible for the genocide, the murder, the decimation of indigenous peoples, the plight of slaves, the hoarding of earth’s resources, the destruction of nature’s beauty.  It was my people who pillaged and plundered everything which God had intended for all mankind to use wisely. It was my people who claimed to be superior to all other races, who believed they had a God-given right to dominate, who believed their God was the only true God.  It was my people.

Oh Lord, hear this white man’s cry.  Chastise, discipline, punish us as a people for closing our eyes and shutting our ears to the needs of the world’s oppressed minorities.  I ask your forgiveness but I also accept your righteous judgment.  Grant me the courage to personally right the wrongs which I can and to walk shoulder to shoulder with all brothers and sisters in shoes of equality and compassion.

Once again there are certain of my people who would return us to the horrors of centuries past.  Do not let this seething anger which I feel rising today over the words and actions of my misguided white brothers overwhelm the work which needs to be done in active non-violent confrontation.  Calm my soul, focus my attention on your faithfulness and righteousness in the days ahead.  As they sang it in the 1960s, “We shall overcome.”  Hatred, bigotry, intolerance, racism shall be overcome with you, Lord, leading the charge.

Amen

 

 

 

 

paying for forgiveness

money changers

Some pictures from Bible stories have more staying power than others.  As a young boy, I remember thinking, “OK, what’s all the fuss about?”

The cleansing of the temple of the merchants and moneychangers is recorded in all four of the canonical Gospels: Matthew 21:12–17, Mark 11:15–19, and Luke 19:45–48) and near the start in the Gospel of John (at John 2:13–16).

Historically, this was the way things were done 2000 years ago.  Supply and demand was a principle of economics back then in Jewish culture just as it is now.  The religious hierarchy established sacrifice as the only way to come before God and the temple merchants capitalized on the edict.  Name your price was the rule of the day.  The wealthy would buy an ox to sacrifice, the upper-middle class a lamb, the less prosperous a dove, and the destitute a sparrow.  Widows and orphans sacrificed enormously of their personal holdings to buy a pair of sparrows for their sacrifice at the altar of God.

The Roman Catholic Church picked up on this practice using cash rather than animals as the price for penance and forgiveness.  When Martin Luther came onto the scene the custom was challenged.  Thank you Martin.  Today, we accept forgiveness and grace as a free gift from an Almighty God who demands nothing in return other than our transformed lives.

But, how does this Bible story fit into our lives today as Christians, as followers of the man who overturned the money-changers’ tables in the temple?  Jesus upset the tables of commercialization in the temple, of the cozy relationship between religion and money.  How does it apply today?

“What would Jesus do in our context? He might once again disrupt the temple—the unholy alliance between religion and empire.”  cac.org

I think we can truthfully make the transition naming the unholy interaction of religion and government as today’s temple moneychangers.  Separation of church and state is not just about a feared, theoretical bogeyman awaiting in our temples of worship to create a theocracy such as Israel experienced during the times of Jesus.  The threat to America’s separation of church and state is real and it is entirely possible considering today’s national politics.  We are hanging on to a freedom guaranteed by our Constitution which must be vigilantly protected collectively by those of us who are believers and those of us who are not.  Our government bedded down with our prostituted churches are not empowered by anyone’s God to impose a nationally sanctioned theology.

Father Richard Rohr goes on to say about Jesus today:

“I think he would teach the wrongness and futility of violence in human affairs. He would be passionate about compassion and justice as the primary virtues of a life centered in the God whom he knew. And of course, he would teach the importance of a deep centering in God. Richard Rohr @ cac.org 

Jesus deeply understood justice because the society in which he lived was harshly unjust.  The Judaism of his day snuggled cozily in the Roman bed of nationalism to create a society which severely oppressed the common man.  Jesus, the human, was a revolutionary and a zealot in his short lifetime and paid the ultimate price on the cross.  He, along with thousands like him, suffered the horrors of crucifixion because he stood up for justice for all mankind, all of God’s creation.

Am I also willing to suffer for what I believe to be right?  Would I carry my cross to my personal Calvary?  How about you?  Scoffers beware.  We are quickly entering the national scenario where a segment of Christians historically claiming to be the persecuted are becoming the persecutors.

rainbow-solidarity

 

 

Calling out racism

Washington Post

SPLC

The above two links were part of my morning read today.  Although I have made a commitment to disengage from the name-calling and the finger-pointing, my conscience will not allow me to disengage from the issues which are controlling America’s destiny.  It is too important for our children and grandchildren for us to dismiss these issues as a passing occurrence, a blip in history.

The Washington Post article addresses the inevitable conversation with one who is racist and initiates a racial rant or an inappropriate racial joke.  (Yes, I still believe in politically correct speech, it is not a sign of weakness).  It happens to all of us at some point in our interactions with the world and more often than not, unless we are prepared to speak out, we will defer any comment or correction.  Usually, afterwards, we feel extremely uncomfortable with our decision to remain quiet.

For me, the strategy is to tune in to key words in the conversation which will engage my offense strategy.  When slurs or demeaning comments are made, I find that simply and CALMLY offering an alternative opinion is usually enough to change the conversation to the weather or the price of beef anuses on the stock exchange.  If the offender becomes agitated or threatening, plan B, escape, becomes the action of choice.  Physical confrontation never resolves any issues.  Please refer to the POST article for further pointers.  We cannot remain silent when racism occurs.

The SPLC article entitled “AMERICA, THE TRUMPED” details how the current Administration has been whittling away at our civil rights.  People of color, LGBT, physically disabled, people of faiths other than Christianity are being threatened by the powers which control our government from the Executive Branch to the Legislature to the Supreme Court.  This dismantling of rights which have been gained by blood and tears throughout America’s history often occurs behind the smoke screen of bluster and bullying which have become hallmarks of Trump’s presidency.   We must remain informed and prepared to take action in the elections of 2018 and 2020.

As I have stated, it is not my desire to dip into the cesspool which we call contemporary politics, but every voice which speaks out for civility, tolerance, and equanimity will be heard by the most Sovereign of all powers.  May we find that voice and use it constructively.clapping

…been to the mountain

In the small world between my ears I can think of nothing as frustrating or disgusting as politics.  The limited federal government envisioned by the men of wisdom who forged cropped-patriots1.pngour experiment which was never before undertaken by like-minded citizens has ballooned into an unwieldy and corrupt behemoth which favors wealth and power at the expense of commoners who keep the country’s machinery running.  We are the simple, unassuming folks who pay bills on time, raise families, volunteer in our communities, and trust in the power of love and compassion.  We support our local charities, tithe in church, and buy those outrageously-priced Girl Scout cookies every spring.  We don’t ask for much in return other than a chance to run our lives without interference from legislators and politicians who see us as a ticket to power and riches.  We are the backbone of a great country composed of every creed, every race, and every lifestyle imaginable.  We are America and this America which we embrace will not disappear nor hide behind closed doors in the face of governmental tyranny and oppression supported by imbecilic minds and moronic behavior.  They may have the money to build palaces unto themselves, eat filet mignon (or cheeseburgers) every night and adorn themselves in designer clothes.  They may travel in jets to vacation spots worldwide at our expense and they may spend weekends knocking a little white ball around manicured, artificially beautified acres of greenery, but, when the final tally is made, when life for them is over, they will be as naked as jaybirds, poor as church mice, and answerable to a Supreme Power saying, “I knew you not.”

OK, that’s my political rant for the day.  Now, on to the  important things fluttering within my brain waves.

The eternity I seek is not some faraway place in the distant future.  It is happening right now, right here in the world of LarryPaulBrown.  Every breath I take and every thought I have is a moment of eternal commitment.  Whom or what I choose as the focus of my commitment determines what my present moment will provide to me.  It can be spent within the peace of a loving, compassionate God or it can be a endured in the chaos of a world gone mad.  It truly is up to me where I go with my mind and my life.  By no means have I attained a sustained state of bliss, but I have seen moments of what is  available and I want more.

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his last speech the night before his assassination in Memphis gave one of his most powerful insights into that which is available:

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like any man, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 3, 1968)

We all need to go to the mountaintop and look it over.  From that lofty state of mind the things of this earth are irrelevant.  Our eyes will see the glory.  The coming of the Lord has happened.  It is right here, right now.  Just open your eyes, spread you arms and receive Him.brilliance

 

 

 

Marianne Williamson & MLK,Jr

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY – JANUARY 15, 2018

(I have read and loved Marianne Williamson for many years.  This snippet of one of her talks is absolutely apropos for today’s national climate)

APRIL 3, 1968

 

APRIL 4, 1968