the high road

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The lying which our parents strongly admonished with a good spanking is now labeled as ‘alternative facts.’  Those of us who were urged by parents, teachers and clergy to always take the high road are miserably lost in today’s social and religious babble.  But, thankfully, there are still a few unmovable parameters with consistent guidelines that lead us through troubling times.  It doesn’t really matter if we call those parameters values, morals, standards, God, spirit, wholeness, righteousness or moral compass.  When the world is mucking along on the low road, we can always be assured of safe passage on the high road if we follow the inner voice speaking our truth.

Not always convenient and often frightening, this road leads us through the darkness of worldly concerns such as poverty, injustice, racism, hatred, corruption and untruth.  It inevitably shows us to the other side where joy, peace and contentment dwell.  It is a place where we know without doubt that all which is within us is bigger than anything the world can throw at us.  We are capable of winning those battles with the world when we simply find that quiet space within and follow the directive of ancient prophets who said, “Be still and know.”

Psalm 46, verse 10 tells us that God will be known in the stillness of our souls.  Forgo the chatter and chaos of an insane world system.  Trust an alternative world order which promotes love and peace.  That is the truth which history’s prophets and wise men/women discovered within.  Believe the ancient and contemporary mystics who knew God dwelled within them and in all of Creation.  Be still and know.

Those who claim that the only God is the one whom they profess in their particular faith are missing the universality of an energy force which permeates every cell of every body regardless of theology.  Muslim brothers and sisters know God, brown-skinned neighbors know God, neighborhood Hindu shop keepers know God, Buddhist monks living in the Himalayas know God.  They name this energy according to their traditions, but God is God.  Be still, learn, and know.

LOVE

 

HERE COMES THE SUN – rise up joyously


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SEBASTIAN VOORTMAN photographer

If I were a miracle worker, every child on earth would have a breakfast waiting for them on the kitchen table, every mother would have the resources to feed her family with nutritious foods, every father would have a job that provides for a comfortable home, every morning would fill the house with cheer, sunshine and laughter.

But, I am just me.  So, I guess the little things I can do to make this world a better place will have to suffice.  Feed myself in a way that leaves food on the table for the next person, live my life without excess comfort, bring whatever cheer I can to those less fortunate.  Love the Muslim brother and sister down the street the same as I love me.

HAPPY RAMADAN, MAY WE SHARE TODAY’S SUNSHINE EQUALLY AND JOYOUSLY.

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the arrogant Christian

ARROGANCE – conceit, haughtiness, egotism, superiority, pride, overconfidence, superciliousness, self-importance, condescension

HUMILITY – the cure for arrogance

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Which will it be?  Which am I?  Arrogant or humble in my faith walk?  How about you?

Here’s the quiz:

  1. Do I pridefully share my unsolicited testimony with strangers?
  2. Do I believe my concept of God is the only valid belief and that only those like me are ‘saved’?
  3. Do I deride other religions?
  4. Do I believe only those who profess the New Testament ‘road to salvation’ will know an eternity?
  5. Do I believe Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindi, even Christian sects other than mine are ‘lost’ and will burn in hell?
  6. Do I believe it is my duty to defend the God which I understand even to the point of warfare and murder?
  7. Do I believe it is righteous to murder those providing abortion or those receiving abortion knowing by heart the 10 Commandments and “thou shalt not kill”?
  8. Do I believe my government ought to be governed by Christian principles?
  9. Do I believe the Judeo-Christian scriptures are infallible and inerrant?
  10. Do I interpret every verse and passage of those scriptures literally?
  11. Do I believe non-believers deserve my scorn and derision?
  12. Would I help a destitute refugee of another creed, faith, or race?

LASTLY

Would I recognize Jesus, the Christ, if He were standing in front of me in the guise of  a starving child from Yemen, a 14 year-old Honduran girl pregnant by rape, a young family fleeing persecution in Syria, a ghetto black man from Chicago addicted to drugs, a homeless woman living in the nearby woods?

Would I?  Would you?  The Christian world celebrates the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth this week.  What’s hanging on my personal cross, on yours?  Arrogance, maybe?  Will we resurrect into the man or woman whom the universal God of all mankind designed us to be?

(There is only one correct answer to the questions in the above quiz – humility)

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the Gift

They came from the East bearing gifts;  but the One they came to honor was the greatest gift of all.

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“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Can we imagine a world as described above?  Probably not.  And most likely we should not expect it anytime soon.  Back in the 1960s, when life was young and irreverent, my contemporaries who had taken time to read the Revelation of the Bible would exclaim,

“Cool, far out, that dude John must have been on some kinda awesome drugs.”

Drugs indeed.  In my generation drugs, alcohol and sex were the answer to all of life’s problems.  We proclaimed it on the streets and in our music.  That was the world in which we lived.  Many stayed there, some died there, but God, for unknown reasons, brought a few into His world of forgiveness and grace – a place where all the sorrows and pain still existed, but we now had the tools to co-exist with death and heartache living life abundantly.

That is what the ‘greatest gift’ given to us in the teachings and words of Jesus, the Christ, is all about.  The world is what it is, always has been a violent, miserable place and probably always will be.  But, now we don’t have to wallow in it.  We have a place to go deep within and commune with a God who wants peace and brotherhood for all mankind.  That light we experience within can defeat the darkness surrounding us.  Like Jesus, we were born to live it and share it.  Black, brown, white, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, male, female, gay, straight – all were invited to the table set by the birth of a baby in Bethlehem two millenia ago.  I’ve been invited, you too.  C’mon, let’s party hearty over the birth of the Good News!  AMEN.

MERRY CHRISTMAS 🙏❤

 

WMDs

In any alternative dialog the Las Vegas tragedy could have been headlined as “Madman employs weapons of mass destruction to murder 59 concert-goers.”

Bush used the threat of WMDs to involve us in a war in 2003 which saw nearly a half million Iraqi citizens murdered in addition to thousands of American military personnel.  Our overwhelming use of firepower did not bring resolution to the people of Iraq, our persecution and consequent prosecution of Hussein did not stop the advance of international terrorism, and our military presence in principalities controlled by centuries-old tribal disputes has not deterred madmen from doing the things which madmen are known to do.  They murder.

The American breed of madmen is encouraged by the epidemic of violence which has blackened the souls of thousands of grieving countrymen.  The American breed of madmen is assisted in his/her diabolical schemes of murderous rampage by undeterred access to weaponry designed to be used only by soldiers fighting in combat situations.  And the American breed of madmen is supported by a senseless interpretation of rights under the 2nd amendment.  This underlying creed has facilitated the unfettered growth of the NRA (National Rifle Association) into an organization which became “an avatar of white anxiety” that viewed President Obama as someone who “wanted to deprive gun-toting Americans of their constitutional right to bear arms.”NRA

“The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end,” Trump thundered before cheering throngs at the NRA’s annual meeting in April. “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

Under Mr. Obama’s Presidency, annual gun production skyrocketed 239 percent and the NRA membership hit a record five million.  It poured over $30 million into Trump’s campaign and millions more to stack Congress with gun-friendly lawmakers.  All but one of the NRA backed candidates won.  NRA millions

We Americans live in a war zone.  The terrorists we truly need to fear do not face the east five times daily to pray, they are not sequestered under the leadership of a man named Kim in North Korea.  The terrorist organization in our midst is a well-funded , politically involved, 5 million-strong, violence-promoting corps of quasi-militants who gather under the auspices of the NRA.  We need to wake up. This is not the NRA which decades ago protected the rights of sportsmen to own shotguns and rifles for hunting.  This organization promotes the accumulation of WMDs under the guise of 2nd amendment rights.  It is government approved terrorism.

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“Declare your jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see – Egoism, Arrogance, Conceit, Selfishness, Greed, Lust, Intolerance, Anger, Lying, Cheating, Gossiping and Slandering. If you can master and destroy them, then you will be ready to fight the enemy you can see.”
Al-Ghazali
Persian Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic.
Born in Mashhad, Iran
September 27, 1057
Died September 27, 1110

VIGIL IN SMALLTOWN

 

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Tonight was one of those moments in life when existence takes on new meaning.  We labor under daily drudgery, shattered dreams, and worldly turmoil.  The moments which rekindle the fires that make life exciting and meaningful are to be cherished, embraced and remembered for future reference.

Tonight I participated in a prayer vigil for the Orlando victims, the 49 beautiful people who were gunned down while celebrating life and youth in a place which they considered to be a safe haven for the LGBT community.  They gathered at Pulse to dance, sing, and party with peers who came from all walks of life, all professions, all creeds.  They were murdered by a disturbed man who allegedly  shared their passion but could not reconcile his religious tradition to their lifestyle.

America’s response has been predictable.  There has been a great outpouring of sympathy and love for the friends, families and loved ones of the victims.  God bless America.  There has also been a response from radical Christian and Muslim sects cheering the deaths as the direct intervention of a vengeful God pouring his full wrath upon a sinful nation. And then there was Trump polarizing America, inciting even deeper Islamophobia among the voters.

But, tonight was a very personal directive in my life.  Those 49 victims will not have died in vain as long as I have breath in my body.  You see, almost 100 like-minded people were at that vigil.  100 people pledged to live life offering love, peace, honor, and respect to all races, all creeds, all ethnicities, all religions, and all sexual orientations.  It’s not too late; we can save mankind from self-destruction and I will be an instrument of that saving peace.  That is my personal promise to those who died too young in Orlando.  They have not died in vain.  They have inspired ordinary people at my vigil here in Smalltown, USA and vigils worldwide to stand up to the hate-mongers and the hatred they intend to spread. Our loving God of peace will prevail.  Amen.

THEY HAD A DREAM

 

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John Lennon was an English musician who gained worldwide fame as one of the members of the Beatles, for his subsequent solo career, and for his political activism and pacifism. On 8 December 1980, Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman in the archway of his residence in New York City.

“you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

 

excerpts from Martin Luther King speech,  August 28, 1963, steps of Lincoln Memorial

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will 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.”Isaiah 40:3-5 New International Version (NIV)