“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” —Martin Luther King, Jr
In my Lutheran worship service, after the prayers, “the peace of the Lord” is extended by the pastor. The congregants then take several minutes to greet each other with hugs, a hand clasp and a repetition of “God’s peace.” It symbolizes the attitude we are encouraged to assume in greeting the world with a universal message of love and compassion.
During the Christmas season the words “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” will take center stage in celebratory endeavors. It is a sentiment which our enlightenment envisions for all of humanity regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof. It is a dream shared by John Lennon, IMAGINE, Martin Luther King, Jr., millions of pacifists worldwide, and me. Sadly, peace seems to be, in the Christmas season of 2017, the last item on the agenda of the world’s politicians, strident religious leaders, and governments. Just as a popular song by Lennon in the 1960s anti-war movement laments, “why can’t we give peace a chance” GIVE PEACE A CHANCE , we also wonder what is so tough about peace?
Indeed, why not give peace a chance? What is Larry doing today to give peace a chance? Hmmm, that’s where it starts, does it not? I can’t change the world, but I can surely, with divine help, change me; if each of the world’s 2 billion plus inhabitants could assume a commitment to peaceful co-existence, we might have a chance. Yes, I know, it’s a pipe dream, but, the process has to start somewhere with someone. Let it begin with me. As the Buddhist would ask, “How is your good heart today?” As Jesus would say, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I have within my being the solution to the worldwide pandemic called heart dis-ease. Lord, bring it on, let the cure begin with me.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” Luke 2:14 KJV
Folks, Gabby is saddened today reading all the bullshit coming from the leaders of the world. It’s kinda like watching a backyard brawl of 8 year olds bad-mouthing each other. “My guns are bigger than your guns. My daddy’s got more money than your daddy. I’m smarter than you. I’ll wipe your ass off the face of the earth.”
I go to music in the bad times. How about you? The theme of this blog is John Lennon’s “IMAGINE” , but one of my favorites is the song below. Crank it up
“When you can become little enough, naked enough, and honest enough, then you will ironically find that you are more than enough. At this place of poverty and freedom, you have nothing to prove and nothing to protect. Here you can connect with everything and everyone.” RICHARD ROHR @ CAC.ORG
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” ― Dave Ramsey,
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Janis Joplin ME AND BOBBY MCGEE
Same message, different messengers. Fr. Richard is speaking to our sense of spirituality, Dave Ramsey is addressing rampant consumerism, and Janis….well, we’re not quite sure which drummer Janis was following but all three of them speak of freedom from ourselves, from that inherent, squeaky, little voice which tells us that who and what we are is just not good enough. It’s the voice that enslaves us to religious doctrine, to consumerism and to self-doubt.
Fr. Richard is of the Franciscan order and a proponent of the ancient mystics including Jesus of Nazareth. He teaches that rather than climbing the ladder to heightened spiritual awareness, we need to descend, to strip ourselves of ourselves, and recognize our Oneness with all of humanity. When we lower and join into the world of poverty and oppression with the masses we then become One. When we earnestly harbor compassion and good will for all of God’s creatures, when we strip of worldly desires, we have nothing more to lose and thereby become free.
Like most of you, for me to grasp this concept of our reality is difficult. It requires a revolutionary definition of self which is totally alien to modern Christian orthodoxy and absolutely anathema to today’s popular “prosperity Gospel”. Mother Teresa, of course, would be an excellent role model. But, we cannot all give up jobs, families, commitments to go work in the slums of a 3rd world country. However, we can make a conscious effort to eschew the trappings and trap of wealth and consumerism by recognizing the wisdom and truth of the ancients and by living lives which uphold and honor the rights of all of God’s creation.
“…..nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too…” John Lennon IMAGINE”
“I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places shall be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 1963
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using the tactics of nonviolence and civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs and inspired by the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. Jan 15, 1929 – Apr 04, 1968 (age 39) en.wikipedia.org
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
JOHN LENNON Oct 09, 1940 – Dec 08, 1980 (age 40)
The following scene from WEST SIDE STORY also shares a dream. Young lovers from different cultures fight the racism of their neighborhoods to pursue a life together. Tony and Maria plan to escape the hatred of gang violence surrounding them; however, in the final scenes Tony is shot and dies in Maria’s arms. She picks up the gun and screams, “Now, I can kill too because now I have hate.” But, she cannot hate nor kill.
Martin Luther King, Jr., the preacher, John Lennon, the songwriter, and Tony, the gang member all shared the same dream to live peacefully in a violent, hate-filled society. They realized that dream prematurely through untimely deaths.
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” John Lennon
John Lennon was not the ideal poster child for the American boy of the 1960s. The long hair, the music, the rebellion landed him on the watch list of the FBI which considered him a subversive and a threat to the security of the USA. It was a contentious time in American history with the battle fronts at home entrenched in the Vietnam War protest and the civil rights movement. Yes, John Lennon, the threat to the stability of a country rife with controversy, was loved by the Woodstock generation and despised by parents, politicians, and established religionists.
The Beatles foray into the discipline of TM sent shock waves across the oceans to shake the traditional values of WASP America. On the evening news we saw video of the four cavorting with the Maharishi pursuing Transcendental Meditation much to the chagrin of a white Protestant population back home in America. The social and political mores of a system built upon an inerrant Bible linked to unquestioned patriotism could not adjust to interlopers from a heathen religion in an ungodly region of the earth.
Lennon was murdered in 1980, but his lyrics and music are timeless. john lennon “imagine”
“When asked about the song’s meaning during a December 1980 interview with David Sheff for Playboy magazine, Lennon told Sheff that Dick Gregory had given Ono and him a Christian prayer book, which inspired him the concept behind “Imagine”.
In that interview Lennon continued with this dream:
“The concept of positive prayer … If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion—not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing—then it can be true … the World Church called me once and asked, “Can we use the lyrics to ‘Imagine’ and just change it to ‘Imagine one religion’?” That showed [me] they didn’t understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea.”
“….not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your God thing-then it can be true……”
We can only imagine. We can dream.
“Imagine”. Just allow yourself for a minute to imagine a better world. What would be in your better world? Hatred? Bigotry? Injustice? Cruelty? Intolerance? Oppression?
No, probably not. Everyone in your better world would have enough food to eat, clean water to drink, decent shelter, and resources to provide for the family. The people of that world would not fear their government, their military, or their neighbors. No one would be a billionaire and everyone would have sufficient finances to live a clean and comfortable life.
In that world the earth and its resources would be cherished and valued. Fossil fuels would be a relic of the past. Everybody’s air would be clean, clear, and pure. Waterways and skyways in this better world are free of human trash. The elements of nature flourish in their natural state of being. Animals are not hunted and killed for sport.
The world’s religions would realize that all faiths have a piece of the God puzzle. Diversity in worship would be embraced and celebrated by Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu in solidarity with the One called Spirit. Religious hypocrisy and persecution is non-existent in this better world’s profession of faith.
The world’s richness is shared by all of humanity. None go without. Countries do not vie for power or prestige. There is no reason for war or killing. Each culture values its heritage, its traditions, and its history, but, none is elevated above the validity of the other.
Individuality is respected and promoted because all humanity understands that each creature is created uniquely within the framework of God’s presence in all, though all, and within all. There is no separation from God or from each other. What is done to our brother or sister is also done to every presence on earth. We live in unity and peace.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but, I’m not the only one.” John Lennon
Join us. We are the dreamers who envision our earth and civilization saved from the destruction that awaits if humanity does not come to terms with what it has become . Having succumbed to the will of human ego and self-absorption, our leaders deceive us, our religious leaders lie to us, and our oligarchs exploit us. The fate of our habitat is spiraling rapidly into a fiery and final demise from which there is no return.
Do not believe the religious soothsayers who claim that scriptures foretell of a restoration and rebuilding after the final destruction and therefore welcome a worldwide catastrophe. They are dead wrong, because they live in dead theology. They are spiritually dead.