are you a secret?

Am I a secret?

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.”
13 th chapter of JOHN verse 35 

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photo courtesy of PIXABAY

Does my life leave doubt in anyone’s mind that I am a Jesus disciple?  Will people remember me as a Jesus follower?  Or, is my life a secret?  People know my story of drunken betrayal and subsequent recovery, but how many people have heard my story of resurrection?  It is the story of a redeemed alcoholic following the man whom scriptures call Jesus of Nazareth.  If there is one solitary nugget of truth in Christianity’s Bible, it is the narrative set down by writers in the 1st and 2nd centuries as a blueprint to live life in peaceful co-existence with all of God’s creation, all of humanity and nature.  It is the design by which a wretched, lost man can rediscover wholeness and learn to peacefully co-exist with himself and fellow man. It is a story of forgiveness and redemption attributed to the man called Jesus.

The nucleus of the Way, the Truth and the Life is ‘love for one another’ as written so simply yet eloquently in 13 John 34-35.

A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV 

Were we, the human species, to hold that one statement on our hearts in all our affairs, the world would know peace.  There would not be deprivation, poverty or war.  There would not be murder, genocide, or racism.

I can hear many of you saying, “Larry, that’s a nice dream, but it will never be reality.”

It starts with me – it starts with you.  One by one we can find a better way to live in this world even as we are surrounded by intolerance and hatred, even as men despise and revile us because of the love we show for those of different color, those who live in distant lands, those who come to our border as refugees.

The Jesus story does not put qualifiers on the love which he taught us to practice in our lives.  It is not written to love only those of same skin color, same nationality, same religion.  No, the words say, “Love your fellow man as you love yourself.”  Perfection is impossible, but willingness is necessary.  The insanity of this world, of its politics and politicians is unimportant.  The vile names hurled at us and the injury intended for us will be forgotten in the next chapter of life.  All I want to hear when this chapter of life is closed are the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I want to be known as  a disciple.  I don’t want my discipleship to be a secret.  How about you?

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me – a mosquito?

“If you think you are too small
to make a difference…..
just sleep with a mosquito in the room.”
TENZIN GYATZO
14TH DALAI LAMA

DALAI LAMA

Photos by EGOR KAMELEV and icon0.com

Never underestimate your impact.
A butterfly’s flutter is felt on the other side of the world,
a ripple in the brook moves the ocean,
a grain of sand combined with billions of other grains
creates one of nature’s most beautiful masterpieces.

old codger

 

YOU ARE NEVER TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

 

Marianne Williamson – candidate

She’s one of the Democratic candidates for the Presidency.  Marianne Williamson penned this prayer in her book ILLUMINATA published in 1994.

PRAYER FOR AMERICA

We join in prayer to celebrate this nation and
surrender its destiny to You.
We give thanks in our hearts for the founding
of this country.
We give thanks for and bless the souls of those
who came before us to found this nation, to
nurture and to save it.
We ask now that God’s spirit fill our hearts
with righteousness.
May we play our parts in the healing and the
furtherance of our country.
May we be cleansed of all destructive thoughts.
May judgment of others, bigotry, racism, and
intolerance be washed clean from our hearts.
May our minds be filled with the thoughts of God,
His unconditional love and His acceptance of
all people.
May this nation be forgiven its transgressions,
against the African-American, Native
American, and any and all others.
May our lives be turned into instruments of
resurrection, that the sins of our fathers
might be reversed through us.
May the beauty and the greatness of this land
burst forth once more in the hearts of its people.
May the dreams of our forefathers be realized
in us, that we might live in honesty and
integrity and excellence with our neighbors.
May this country once again become a light
unto the nations of hope and goodness and
peace and freedom.
May the violence and darkness be cast out of our
midst.
May hatred no longer find fertile ground in
which to grow here.
May all of us feel God’s grace upon us.
Reignite, dear God, the spirit of truth in our
hearts.
May our nation be given a new light, the sacred
fire that once shone so bright from shore to shore.
May we be repaired.
god bless americaMay we be forgiven.
May our children be blessed.
May we be renewed.
Dear God, please bless America.
Amen.

 

2 men named Jesus?

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The days are many when I question the foundational principles learned in youth, when I retire to bed at night more uncertain than certain, when I, like a child, want to hide under the bed covers to escape from the world.

Those stories I read as a young boy – the miracles, the healings, the parables, the inspiration and hope, the guidance and correction, the ancient shared wisdom – I remember all that.

I think of numerous personal crises endured and conquered, unmentionable forays into darkness, the return from the far land, a prodigal son reunited with his inheritance, testimony of a life resurrected, forgiveness extended – I think of all that.

And yet, tonight, the term Christian confuses me.  Don’t all Christians honor and revere the same Jesus?  Or is it possible there were two homeless vagabonds roaming the lands of 1st century Israel?  Both named Jesus?  Both from Nazareth?

Is there another version of ancient writings telling of a hateful and vengeful Jesus?  Have I somehow not read the Gospel of Exclusion, the one that tells white Americans they are better than the other children of God?

And all the verses that I know by heart, maybe I should not believe that “Love thy neighbor as thyself”  is truth straight from our Lord.  Or maybe “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” was intended only for white folks, not brown and black skins.

Some of you tell me that white Christians are God’s chosen people, that only those who congregate in certain churches will get to heaven, that it is okay to persecute others who follow a different path or those who name their God differently.

Is it really okay?  Some of you say that caging children is acceptable under Christian principle, that denying those seeking safety, security and hope is biblical, that the man and woman who happen to be brown-skinned are not part of your Kingdom.

Others say that destroying our earth’s ecosystem in the name of profit will be justified in the end times because Jesus will rebuild our earth, that those who know the true God will be saved from annihilation.

Are we reading the same scriptures or do you have a different version?  Did the other Jesus speak privately to you and not to me?  Tell me what verse gives you the right to judge and condemn men who are not exactly like you?  I must know.

My Jesus heals the sick, how about yours?  My Jesus mends the broken, how about yours?  My Jesus feeds the poor and hungry, shelters the homeless, welcomes the refugee, how about yours?

“For many will come in my name….and lead many astray.”  Matthew 24:5

“Watch out for false prophets.  They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15

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Weepy

 

the 8 dwarfs

I’m sure you have heard of the Seven Dwarfs – Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey.  But, did you know there was an eighth dwarf in the group?  Sure was.  His name was Weepy, the taller guy in back on the right.  As were the others in the group, Weepy was appropriately named because he was almost always misty-eyed.  When Snow White fled to the forest to escape her wicked step-mother, she befriended the dwarfs and took refuge with them.  All went well for the group until Walt Disney discovered them frolicking in the woods and wrote a tale about their lives.  Unfortunately, Mr. Disney and Weepy did not get along which led to numerous arguments.  Rather than dispatch Weepy to the deeper parts of the forest, the cartoonist simply wrote the beleaguered dwarf out of the script and titled it Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I’ll bet you did not know that, did you?

Do you ever feel like life has written you out of the script?  No longer a player?  Maybe not important?  I do.  Age has something to do with it, but this feeling is much deeper than the number of years on earth.  It’s a pervasive sadness not related to personal turmoil or pain.  No, I am not talking about depression or melancholy.  I am not the Rock of Gibraltar anymore.  What’s that you say?  Larry, you never were a rock.  Okay, okay you could be right, but in years past my strength has been derived from a belief that we would somehow inexplicably pass on to future generations a better, more tolerant world, a world where love and compassion for humanity would override mankind’s greed and ignorance.

In my lifetime. just a blip on the screen of human history, great advances have been made to ensure the rights of all who dwell here, not just the privileged and wealthy and not only the white and Christian.  Women, people of color, gays, the poor appeared to be dawning upon a new era in which all people share the earth together as a brotherhood of men and women.

We seem to be trending back into the darkness of yesterday and that saddens my soul.  I don’t like the script and I want to go deeper into the woods.

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$$ MONEY $$ – is it overrated?

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Lord knows I have carried a basketful of stupid decisions and irrational choices in my lifetime which have determined my ‘prosperity’ status.  But truly,  my recollections from years past point simply to a contented life earned and learned by living a simple life.

We were not prosperous by today’s standards.  But, in my eyes, we were the most affluent and blessed people on earth.  Stuff and money did not matter.  We did not compare to the Joneses.  I never went to bed hungry, never walked to the school bus in rags, never slept without a blanket.  Life was good.  In retrospect, what made life good was the fact that just about everybody we knew lived as we did.  We counted our blessings everyday, helped those neighbors who had fallen onto tough times, worshipped in a beautiful country church with other folks who knew the meaning of sharing, compassion, and humble faith.  Oh, a few thought they were special and had the inside track to God, but most of us just accepted that maybe we didn’t really know all the answers and we tried to live a life that pleased family, friends, and neighbors and in doing so, hopefully pleased God.

Yes, we had abundant security even if we did not have money.  We depended on each other knowing that the world would have to end before any one of us would abandon the other.  Do we have that security today?  Do you know your neighbors’ names or where they were born?  Would your community feed you, house you, and clothe you if hard times hit or would you need to pitch a tent in the woods and eat bugs and lizards?

Compassion prevailed back then because we were a community of individuals who knew each house and family along the country roads leading to church, to the general store, to the Ford dealer, to the Grange hall, to the telephone office where an operator manned (or womanned) the switch board 24 hours a day, and to the undertaker’s house to which  each of us would someday take a quiet journey.  Everybody knew everybody else – Mrs. Johnson’s bouts with depression, the Mitchell children needing new shoes, the insurance agent’s penchant for Jack Daniels, and the milkman’s weekend trips to the city to walk on the wild side.  We did our best to live right, but none of us were cocksure of eternity and none of us claimed to have the answers.  Life was a mystery and we knew it was wise to leave it as such.  In that simple, uncomplicated, unsophisticated bygone community of farmers, our lives had meaning.  Life was precious and each member of that community had a sense of belonging.

Today’s times are troubling.  The ones who proclaim to be spiritual leaders seem to be speaking from both sides of the mouth, their lives betray the words coming from the pulpits.  Some houses of worship have become palatial with a senior pastor, junior pastor, assistant pastor and a staff of office help.  Preaching hell and damnation for those who don’t adhere to their narrow litany of thou shalts and thou shalt nots, they go home to an equally impressive mansion with amenities and ‘stuff’ which most of the congregation cannot afford.

The gospel of prosperity and exclusion which I am hearing from numerous religious leaders nationwide starkly contrasts to the teachings of Jesus that I remember from my little country church years ago.  Humility is lacking, compassion is lacking, love for every member of humanity is replaced by an attitude of tribalism.  The strident position of excessively cocksure Christians evidenced today is alarming.  “You are going to hell, but I’m not because I have discovered the path to salvation.  I am a believer, you are lost.”

I don’t remember in my younger experience that Jesus taught any of those things which extreme-right fundamentalists are pumping from their pulpits.  Maybe I wasn’t listening well enough, maybe I missed the spiritual boat just as I missed out on the prosperity boat.  But, you know what?  I would not trade the soul security and contentment which I learned in that country church attended by simple folks who practiced a gospel of humility and social justice.  I would not trade the peace of mind I have for all the promises today’s prosperity preachers dangle from their pulpits of hypocrisy and intolerance.

Just a few thoughts from a simple man who still believes there is more to life than money.

 

let’s try Christianity

I had another post prepared to share, but a more pressing issue blipped onto my radar screen and I believe this post from a while back is appropriate for today’s religious dialog. 🙏

via let’s try Christianity

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“Imagine no heaven or hell….and no religion, too.  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”  JOHN LENNON

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HERE COMES THE SUN – “we are the world”

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photo by ABHIRAM PRAKASH

The sun also rises on those other than Western Caucasians.  Think about that for a moment, will you?  From the tranquility of Pacific islands to the teeming humanity of India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to the mountains of Tibet and Nepal to the deserts of the Middle East to the common ancestry we have in Europe – they all see the same sun which we see.  So, how can we believe that the sun and all its blessings belong only to us, that only we deserve to be warmed and nurtured, that only we are the rightful recipients of the bounty created by a non-discriminating Source, that only we have the keys to the spiritual mysteries of a universe lit by the sun’s daily light?  Really?  Rather obtuse thinking, isn’t it?

I abhor intolerance and discrimination in any form, but especially that which is fueled by political and religious philosophy.  The sun which we welcome each morning with outstretched arms doesn’t really care about mankind’s learned hypocrisy and prejudice.  It does not withhold its warmth and light based on political leaning or theology.  It has no choice but to rise each morning and make our earth fruitful and sustaining.  To us is left the task of discerning right from wrong, moral from immoral, and justice from injustice regardless of race, creed, nationality, skin color or sexual orientation.  Just as the sun lights the earth, our inner light has to be the moral compass which illumines each step of our daily trek from the moment of awakening in the morning to the stillness before retiring for the night.  The choices we enjoy every day are ours because someone before us cared enough to keep the fire of love, tolerance, justice and compassion burning.

My trek is not that of a preacher or moralizer.  I merely arise each morning giving thanks for the new day and asking for the grace to live up to my inherent potential.  Over 2 1/2 billion humans across the globe live on my earth, bask in the same sun.  I must share with them what has been freely given to me.  Too tall an order, you say.  Not really.  Day by day and one step at a time we can conquer a million  differences in creating a communal eternity capable of sustaining and embracing all of creation.  The source of our energy gives itself freely.  We should, too.

We are the world, we are the children – it’s up to us.

FOR FURTHER READING

FRANCISCAN ACTION NETWORK

“Stand up!  Shout from the mountaintops that you are one of the disciples who is here, not preparing to go to heaven, but to create the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.”

 

good vibrations

My friends, this is happy music.  “Good Vibrations” was a hit in 1966 composed and produced by Brian Wilson.  It’s the stuff which entertained us at sock hops, cruising down Market Street on Saturday nights, picnicking at the beach.  THE BEACH BOYS popularized a genre of music which did not focus on the Vietnam War, protests, and street violence.  Their toe-tapping sounds gave way to the soul’s underside with the advance of THE ANIMALS, ROLLING STONES, BOB DYLAN, JANIS JOPLIN, JIMI HENDRIX, DOORS carrying us to darker spaces.

A blogger, unless blogging for profit, tends to trek through hills and valleys of creativity.  Some days simply do not inspire anything worth writing.  It could be laziness, but the truth of the matter is that quite often the weight of the world is overwhelming.  Wearied to the core by social, political, and religious upheavals continually bombarding all the media screens and soul’s conscience, there are times when retreat is necessary.

For many Vietnam War era men and women, the protest days are over. Instead, there’s a place to go where the eagles fly high, the rivers run deep, the grass is lush.  In that place it is peaceful and kind, no violence nor intolerance.  Whenever solace and rest are needed, this internal heaven can be right here and right now or it can be a million miles away.  Joyfully, in that space the good vibrations of the soul embrace a higher calling.

Namaste. 🙏

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genocide

 

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“I have seen something that will haunt me to the end of my life. That there were children, little children. And what they had done ― ‘they’ I mean the enemy ― they had dug pits. It seems there was no room anymore in the gas chambers. They would throw those children in the flames, alive. That we have seen that and not gone crazy is, that’s a miracle. … For a while I thought maybe I, maybe I was still a prisoner of my nightmare.  But then I met friends, and I told them the same images, and I found documents corroborating it. What we have seen, it’s true.” (1)

No, don’t ever try to fathom the depraved depths of mankind’s inhumanity towards fellow man.  It’s a place too dark, too evil for the soul to enter.  But, we must remember the hell which had been leveled against innocence, against the children and the helpless, against men, women and children who did not fit the acceptable pattern of Nazi Germany.  We must remember these horrors lest that cowardice occurs again in the world of the 21st century.  Today’s political events indicate that we are not above the hatred and intolerance which permeated the white nationalist mindset ushering in the 3rd Reich and its Holocaust.  Never forget the history of mankind’s capacity for darkness and evil.

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(1) ELIE WIESEL