Jesus freak?

CANDLE

Yeah, amongst many other terms, this one has been leveled at me by a world that is turned off by the rhetoric of  self-proclaimed religious experts who preach from financial, personal, and political agendas.  For me, being called a ‘Jesus freak’ is confirmation that I am finally doing something right.  It is not taken as it was intended, a term of derision.  No, ‘Jesus freak’ is a badge of commitment.  I’m not here to cast judgement, yea or nay, on anyone.  The fruits of our works shall reveal our hearts.

Several years ago WWJD was an often used acronym, “What Would Jesus Do?”  In order to understand the significance of WWJD one needs to become familiar with the character of Jesus of Nazareth as presented by the writers of New Testament scriptures.  I am not involving myself in the arguments some believers will throw at the previous statement.  Whether I believe that the divinity of Jesus, the Christ, as presented by the Roman Church fathers of the 3rd and 4th centuries is the truth or I believe that the man who lived as a vagabond and beggar with a troop of like-minded men and was crucified for his insurrection against the Romans, I must accept that this Jesus of Nazareth was a remarkable character and his teachings were eternal tenets of wisdom given in a dialog which the common man could understand when viewed in a spiritual realm.  He is accorded the words,  “I am the Way: the truth and the light.”

Whether I believe that Jesus was saying he was the only way to a heavenly God, or I internalize the teachings of Jesus into my personal code of conduct, the Way does lead to the truth and it is light, a personal kingdom of the Lord which dwells within.

But, I have to know those teachings.  I have to process the words given in scriptures with my own powers of discernment, not the interpretations sent forth from the pulpits and  theological doctrine.  Ultimately I cannot trust the “isms” until those tenets strike truth within me.  If this is not one of life’s lessons why would a Creator install in me the qualities of reason and logic?  I cannot deny the wondrous works of the human crafter by negating any part of that crafter’s creation.  I am made a miracle of genetic engineering;  I come complete with a conscience; I am made to appreciate the world’s beauty; I am made with an intelligence which surpasses that of any other earthly species;  I am made in the crafter’s image.

Those assessments of me are confirmed by the teachings of Jesus.  Whenever I conceive a thought, contemplate an action, speak a word, or move onward, the utmost consideration should be “WWJD?”

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roy moore versus truth

“I will continue to resist, and revolt against the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic leaders the Deporables and the Evangelicals support. They think they are doing the “will of God” when in fact they are playing God by their deeds, words and actions. These old white people will get the response from their Creator soon enough. Hopefully their time on earth has prepared them for the heat and humidity.” ENDS AND BEGINNINGS

JUDGE ROY MOORE

Please read the above link.

My heart grows weary in face of the accumulating evidence that America is regressing to the dark years of the 1950s before the advance of the civil rights movements.  Is it possible that Judge Moore truly represents the voice of Alabama?  Does this issue a dire forecast of where America is heading?

My friend at ENDS AND BEGINNINGS in today’s fine commentary illustrates the concern we should have with this potential Senator representing Alabama.

Some of Moore’s more memorable quotes;

  1. “Homosexual behavior is crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.”
  2. “We have child abuse, we have sodomy, we have murder, we have rape, we have all kind of immoral things happening because we have forgotten God.”
  3. “False religions like Islam who teach that you must worship this way are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for.”
  4. “We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

Unfortunately, people who have not been reared in a genuine Christian home see this unholy assault on the moral compass of most thinking Americans as indicative of Christianity.  The faith has suffered immensely at the hands of fundamentalist evangelicals who spout their fears and hatred supported by a translation of our Holy Scriptures which they claim is literal, inerrant and infallible.  Many devout followers have been ostracized for questioning this interpretation.  Those who have been fortunate enough to escape this brainwashing usually walk away from any and all organized religions.

However, I continue to honor the teachings of the Christianity I knew as a young man.  It was a way of life based on compassion, tolerance, inclusiveness, and equality for all of God’s creation.  Yes, that came from the Christianity I knew.  Not all who profess the faith follow the path which Judge Moore advocates.  Although I no longer assume the label, I will always defend the pacifism and egalitarianism of the Christian faith which reared me.  It is the Way which Jesus of Nazareth defines in his Biblical character.  It is the Truth and the Life.

Firebrands like Roy Moore are doing a great disservice to the vast majority of believers who absolutely do not walk his path nor advocate his intolerance.  I often refer to the words attributed to Jesus and it matters not whether those words are authentically his for they are nonetheless verses of great wisdom.  The book of Matthew in chapter 10 speaks of the persecution believers shall suffer for speaking the truth of Jesus.

That truth, the brotherly love and compassion which is defined in the story of Jesus,  is not flowing from the mouth of Roy Moore and others like him.  Rather, it is gushing from those who live their lives in peace and inclusiveness shining a light on the darkened world of fundamentalism.  It is the enlightened faces in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism who endure persecution as described in Matthew 10 for daring to love unconditionally.  Truth does not emanate from the dark corners of racism, bigotry, homophobia, and sexism.  It never has and never will.

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Dhammapada 1: the twin

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Even if the thoughtless can recite many of the scriptures,
if they do not act accordingly,
they are not living the holy life,
but are like a cowherd counting the cows of others.

Even if the faithful can recite
only a few of the scriptures,
if they act accordingly,
having given up passion, hate, and folly,
being possessed of true knowledge and serenity of mind,
craving nothing in this world or the next,
they are living the holy life.

Doesn’t get any simpler than that, does it?  I believe in American culture we would say, “Talk the talk and then walk the walk.”  It’s all about the journey which we walk and not the scriptures we have read.  Some of my friends are well versed in Christian scriptures and they do indeed live by the principles.  Surely they will be blessed.

But, we increasingly witness the preachers of the “talk” who haven’t a clue nor a desire to live the “path” of the Buddha nor the “way” of Jesus of Nazareth.  Their talk is big while their performance is dismal.

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.  Jeremiah 23:1

To my friends in recovery programs, this is not religious stuff; this is the essence of the program we have learned around the tables at our meetings.  Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson did not pull their life-saving principles out of thin air.  No, they took the wisdom established centuries earlier and transitioned it to fit contemporary society.

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nothing to prove, nothing to protect

“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, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness   

“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” 

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