Namaste

“We need to be more concerned with following Jesus, which he told us to do numerous times, and less with worshipping Jesus—which he never once told us to do.”

richard rohr

Whomever we name as Lord and Savior has to be the guiding essence in our lives.  As one brought up in the Christian tradition, I of course have Jesus as my reference point.  I believe the teachings and the words attributed to this messenger of God are the entirety of what a person needs to live life successfully and compassionately.  His disciples addressed him as “Rabboni” meaning teacher or master.  He was not viewed as a preacher, a figure we are more comfortable with in Western Christianity.  He did not chastise his followers with threats and condemnation from his pulpit.  No, the Jesus we see in the Bible was always in the midst of everyday life, enjoying the company of fellow Jews, partying at weddings, consoling hurting friends, and practicing what he knew as the truth.

That is what western Christianity has lost in its zeal to convert the world.  It exhorts proselytes to bow and worship before crosses and man-created theologies rather than to get out there, rub elbows with all of God’s creation and humanity, and be a light in a darkened world by following the examples set by Rabboni.

Jesus endorses freedom of thought and justice for all humanity through actions of love, peace, compassion and inclusion.  I must believe that if Jesus and Buddha had met , they would have smiled on the world and greeted each other with Jesus saying, “God’s peace be with you.”

Buddha would have folded his hands, bowed his head, and returned with, “Namaste”, meaning I bow to the Divine in you.

What a wonderful world we could have if we all pretended to be Jesus and Buddha bowing and respecting each other’s chosen path to enlightenment.

bends, turns & detours

As with any journey, the destination is not always what we imagined it should be and quickly we discover that there are bends, turns, and detours to negotiate.  Such is the quest for sanity and serenity in sobriety.  When I had accomplished what seemed impossible, one year of continuous sobriety, I thought, “Aha, this is it, I have arrived.”

Yes, in a way, I did arrive.  But, I soon realized I had just touched the surface of what sober living entailed.  Thirty-six years later, I have yet to arrive.  The drinking is no longer the problem.  It’s actually easy now.  Don’t drink and I won’t get drunk; one is too many and ten is not enough; I won’t drink even if my ass falls off.  No, it’s not the alcohol anymore, it’s me and all the baggage stowed away in my head which continues to need an inventory and cleaning.  I suppose all of us are like that and the main difference is that we recovering alcoholics are fortunate enough to have a program geared specifically for us in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Perhaps the most difficult clean-out of the brain is releasing the religious indoctrination of our early years.  Today, as an old man approaching the septuagenarian decade of life, I no longer judge harshly the experiences of a childhood overwhelmed with a theology of condemnation and hell-fire although those experiences were definite contributors to my addiction.  I don’t harbor anger and resentment over injustices done in the name of a vengeful God.

But, I also do not forget.  The quest I am on leads into new and exciting ventures in the realms of spirituality, it leads into exploration of varying faith communities, it leads into appreciation for the ancient religions established long before the advent of Christianity.  And I do this comfortably because my mainstays are  love, compassion, peace, and nonviolence.  If, in the scriptures and writings which I encounter, those four companions of universal Oneness and solidarity don’t jump off the page and fill my brain with a sense of completeness, then I must move on.  I trust that inner spirit today.  Where it leads, I will follow.

And so, I try to walk the path of Buddha, worship corporately with Lutherans, and fellowship with sober people.  It’s a fine mix of all the best things in life when I maintain priorities and always remember that my name is Larry and I am an alcoholic.

hate in the good ole USA

(reference links for this article)

*FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL

 *AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION

*LIBERTY COUNCIL

THE PRAY IN JESUS NAME PROJECT

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE

CATHOLIC LEAGUE

The groups listed above would appear to be benign, American-values organizations dedicated to advancement of spiritual principles and family affairs.  In truth, they are poster children for bigoted, intolerant religionists.  These groups are on the watch list of the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center).  All are considered to be anti-LGBT+.  The three with asterisks are listed as LGBT+ hate groups.

All came forward with statements praising Trump’s transgender ban.  Their agenda is obvious and their methods and scare tactics are in line with the man who won the White House with their endorsement.  They have put a justice on the SCOTUS giving the evangelical Christian movement the necessary clout to repeal a woman’s right to choose and the marriage equality Amendment.  You’ve heard them on radio, television, and internet whining about the persecution Christians are suffering at the hand of a liberal, hell-bent population.

Link to the SPLC website to learn more about hatred in the good ole USA.

splc

 

grease (not the musical)

cropped-p1010001.jpg

cac.org

“If we would imitate Jesus in very practical ways, the Christian religion would be made-to-order to grease the wheels of human consciousness toward love, nonviolence, justice, inclusivity, and care for creation.”  Richard Rohr

Is your particular denomination, sect, or theology greasing the wheels of human consciousness?  Does your particular denomination, sect, or theology emulate the love, nonviolence, justice, inclusivity and care for creation which all of your scriptures attribute to Jesus?  No?  Then how dare you affirm your interpretation of your holy writings as the inerrant and infallible word of God?

I have never been one of those “in your face” promoters of any particular faith walk.  You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?  Someone in your church, in your neighborhood, on your media screen?  My way is the only way, my way is Biblical, my way is God’s truth.  Maybe I’m describing you.

Again I say, “If your faith does not affirm Jesus (or any of the other of God’s messengers who brought us the same message) as a reservoir of love and compassion, then perhaps that faith which demands blind obedience to creeds and tenets is not genuinely Godly.  No, I’m not “in your face”, I’m simply posing a question

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

matthew 10:34

That sword of which Jesus spoke could be a reference for the need then to excise the law-ridden, hypocritical theology of the Jews.  We have the same scenario today.  Religionists who have abdicated their moral authority to celebrate equality and justice for all of God’s humanity regardless of  faith tradition, politicians who have bedded down with those religionists to rein in a sizeable voting bloc, and voters who have transgressed their profession of morality to gain political favor by electing a man who has shown absolutely no moral fiber or integrity….all are destined to fall to the sword Jesus carried into the theology foray.

No, I’m not here to be “in your face”.  Having suffered a torturous and humbling journey through the jungles of “Christian fundamentalism” and having survived that journey with a deeper and more sustaining faith than ever in my personal quest, I am here merely to ask questions.  Does your church/denomination grease the wheels of human consciousness toward love, nonviolence, justice, inclusivity, and care for the creation?

rainbow-solidarity

me, a philosopher? tsk

It is often too easy to get mired in the realms of religious philosophy.  No credible source whom we know or about whom we have read has physically sat down with God and discussed the kingdom, heaven and hell, salvation, etc.  Some claim to have special insight and it is these whom we should distrust the most.  When there appears video and audio of this personal God meeting on YouTube, then maybe, we could agree with the philosophy which a religionist proclaims as truth.  The preceding words are, of course, somewhat facetious and tongue-in-cheek.  But, truly, nobody knows with certainty what awaits in eternity.

Therefore, we must rest on the assumption that maybe your theory on things eternal is valid and maybe another’s theory is valid.  Maybe your interpretation of scriptures is true, maybe another’s interpretation is spot on.  Certainly we can agree that of all the creations attributable to mankind, religion has probably been the most devastating in numbers of human lives murdered and in souls lost.  When any religion or any religionist lays claim to having the inerrant, infallible, indisputable word of God, then that religion’s adherent must surrender his innate God-given ability to figure things out for himself, i.e., THINK.

Recently, a fellow blogger posed the question, “Why are you here?”

In spite of all suppositions set forth by theologians, religionists, your theory, and my theory, it all boils down to this:

what am I willing to contribute in forwarding  the evolution of mankind to the intelligence and compassion which the universe demands as a condition for continuation of the human race?

 

 

 

 

God as I understand God

Having been reared in a community of WASPs, all of whom collectively and exclusively claimed the inside scoop on God and Jesus, you can only imagine my skepticism at my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where God was not his God or her God or the church’s God but God as “I UNDERSTOOD GOD”.   My opinion mattered and my interpretation was valid.

“God can be the chair, the table, the AA handbook”, they told me.  “Or God can be the AA group.  Just accept that there is a power greater than you, a Higher Power.” I understood that concept because I knew that alcohol had been a greater power than me for many years.

It was within this realm of AA compassion and love that I finally, at age 34 years, discovered a God who was very much unlike the condemning, judgmental entity of my childhood.  Of course I slipped several times back into the theology and philosophy of the Bible thumpers whom I had disengaged upon sobriety.  I finally realized that what appealed to me about their “ways” was the black or white in all situations.  There was no need for personal discernment because the infallible, inerrant, word of God was the only right path and straying from it was the best way to get to hell.  It’s a scare tactic we would expect of cult groups, not mainline Christianity.

What these godly folks did not understand was that most of my adult life had already been spent in the hell of addiction.  Their scenario of hell paled compared to what I had endured in 17 years of alcoholism.  After several years of continued sobriety, I finally trusted in the success of Alcoholics Anonymous and their “God as I understand God” and in my own ability to navigate the perils of religious fundamentalism and intolerance.

The only requirement for AA membership was a desire to stop drinking.  That was a no-brainer.  But the fellowship of drunks from all walks of life and all religious backgrounds who were able to sit around a communal table and respectfully accept each other as brother and sister went beyond anything I had learned in my WASP church experiences.  The Bible and its strict adherents somehow missed that element of faith.  Throughout all the years of preaching and admonishing from the pulpits of my youth, compassion was amiss and condemnation was the keyword.

It is, therefore, with ruffled feather that I read about theology and religion that has self-appointed itself as the inerrant  interpreter of God and, in Christianity, of Jesus of Nazareth.  Numerous messengers have been sent of which Jesus was just one.  Until the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faithful accept that the only true God whom they proclaim is also a universal Being who is inclusive of all humanity and all faiths, the eternity of the Kingdom will be just another illusion plotted by religionists to gain power, prestige, and wealth.

 

FLASHBACK: 1970

Recently a family member threw a term (not a term of endearment) on me which was common and expected back in the protest era of the 1960s and 70s.  My broad shoulders back then and determination to live my life as my conscience dictated deflected comments and words meant to belittle and diminish.  Our cause became a mantra for equality in the courts of law and acceptance in our communities.  I thought we had made great strides.  But the election of 2016 exposed through the candidacy and subsequent election of Trump an America still saddled with bigotry, hatred, and intolerance for people like myself who follow the beat of a different drummer.

Thank God I am at an age when I truly don’t give a rat’s butt what others think of me.  It’s a blessing.  But insensitive language from a family member still hits home.  As a  society which promotes itself as the bastion of egalitarianism and tolerance, which claims to be the greatest people of the world, which boasts the largest Christian population anywhere, perhaps it is time to evaluate and do a self-inventory.  Are we what we think we are?  Is there honesty within us or do we deceive ourselves?

I have found peace through a lifestyle which teaches an inner search to truth and enlightenment.  It is not found in the church I attend or the people with whom I associate.  It’s an inside job which painful names or hurtful people cannot touch.  That revelation within continues to tell me, even when behavior and speech of others attack, that we are indeed a universal brotherhood dependent on each member of this earth’s humanity, dependent on a healthy ecosystem, and equal in all respects.

“Solidarity: I am you, you are me, we are one.”

rainbow-solidarity

The current political atmosphere and social divisiveness are a test of what America truly is as a people.  Our responses to the challenges we face will determine if this great experiment of ours is real or merely a flash in the pan as so  many great societies before us.  Let’s celebrate Flag Day remembering that our ‘red, white, and blue’ represents all of us, not just those who have assumed an exclusive and intolerant brand of patriotism.