the world in black and white

“Both read the Bible day and night, But thou read’st black where I read white.”  WIlliam BlakeCANDLE

When we, her students, got restless and inattentive, our English teacher in 11th grade would line us up, one row of classmates against the wall and the other row against the window.  Then she wrote on two slips of paper the exact same word or short phrase and handed a slip to the beginning student at the head of each line.  That person was instructed to whisper the writing on the slip of paper to the next student and pass it in the same manner of whispering on down the line.

It was a great lesson in life when the last student in each line repeated what had been whispered.  Never was it the writing on the paper and never, ever, were both lines in agreement with the word or phrase that our teacher had written.

So it is with anything I read.  My life’s experiences, my upbringing, my inherent prejudices, my likes and dislikes all temper the reading material at hand.  Where I see black, my best friend may see white.  Where I see a tragedy, my partner may see hope and renewal.

I try to read scriptures with an open mind, but, even then where I see black, my neighbor across the street may see white or many shades of gray.  In the best of circumstances we simply agree to disagree.  However, the civilization in which we participate today does not provide us with the best of circumstances.  Brothers are driven to disagreement and divisiveness by what they read.

In the realm of religion much of that division is fueled by theologians and Biblical scholars who justify their credentials in the world of philosophy by theorizing and then naming that theory “truth”.  Whose truth is it?  Yes, it is their truth but, it must be tested by the litmus test of “inherent rights” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  This is not an American invention, rather, it is confirmed by the centerpiece of Christianity, Jesus whom Christianity titles as the Christ.  Therein is the caveat of religious theory.  Every bit of it is man’s philosophy based on interpretations formed in man’s mind.  Where I see black, you may see white.

So, what do I do?  Do I simply give up passing a message down the line because the end result will never be agreement?

No, this is where the God-given innate traits of logic and reason come into play.  I need to apply the standard which Jesus taught in the message of the Gospels.

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

Does my message honor my Lord?  Does it promote the well-being of not only myself, but, all creation?  If not, then that message is not logical or reasonable because the bare, minimal truth of anyone’s life is survival.  Every one of the 2 billion+ people on this earth is driven by that spark inside which says, “I will survive.  I have a right to live in freedom, liberty, and happiness.”

That drive has nothing to do with religious doctrine.  If I apply this basic right of all humanity to my message and that message doesn’t cut the mustard, then I am wrong in my faith assumptions.  In my mind that is the nugget of truth which religionists have missed.  God is undefinable by human standards.  God is indescribable by human words.  God simply is.  No religion owns God.  God is that ultimate mystery which terrorizes some men while other men rejoice.  Where some men read black, others read white.

smiley-face-2

 

 

 

weekend in prayer

CANDLE

As followers of Jesus and the teachings Jesus established of love, compassion, tolerance and egalitarianism as presented in the Gospel writings of the Bible’s New Testament, we are commissioned to present to the world a faith which espouses the truth of Jesus of Nazareth.  We stand in solidarity with all faiths which promote non-violent interaction with mankind, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, we stand in solidarity with those who do not profess any faith but also choose to live in peace with the world’s humanity.

Our truth is under attack by a minority who claim Biblical inerrancy.  Their values advocate violence, intolerance, bigotry, and oppression in the name of their god.  Please pray with me.

Almighty God,

Men and women are meeting this weekend in our nation’s capital under the guise of VVS, Values Voter Summit.  They claim to hold godly truth in their rhetoric of hate and bigotry.  They advocate violence against their fellow man in the name of their god.  They claim exclusive knowledge of the will of the eternal Being we all name as God.  

We can only rely on the wisdom gleaned through your teachings in our scriptures.  We stand on the words of Jesus when Jesus told us to love the Lord God above all and then to love our fellow man as ourselves.  We believe the words of Jesus when Jesus told us that love and compassion were the only way to walk with you.  We accept into our souls the Spirit of the Holy which leads us in non-violent coexistence with all of God’s creation.  

We will not judge the actions of those opposed to us.  We cannot wish harm to those who hate us.  We can only ask you to remove the scales of intolerance and hatred from their eyes and the festering of darkness from their hearts.  This is our right and duty as children of God, as purveyors of your Holy Spirit.  

In all things may we be grateful for your unending grace and protection .  AMENnamaste rainbow

Following is a reblog of the post ‘A GATHERING OF BIGOTS’

The Family Research Council (FRC) is hosting its annual Values Voter Summit Oct. 13-15, a rogues’ gallery of the radical right, this year keynoted by President Trump himself.

The FRC is an organization that has relentlessly vilified LGBT people – portraying them as sick, vile, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to children and the nation. Because of its demonizing lies about the LGBT community, it has been named as a hate group by the SPLC.ORG  Like its host, the Values Voters Summit claims it stands for “values.” But whose values?

Key leaders in the established anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim movements will gather this weekend in Washington, D.C., for the annual Values Voter Summit (VVS), along with President Donald Trump and his former strategist and Breitbart executive Stephen Bannon.VALUES VOTER SUMMIT 

 

Among the CONFIRMED SPEAKERS at the Value Voters Summit October 13-15, 2017 in Washington, D.C., will be a who’s who list of conservative right religious and political figures.

STEVE BANNONTONY PERKINSJERRY BOYKINLIBERTY COUNSEL, ACT FOR AMERICAFRANK GAFFNEY, JRROY MOORE (Alabama candidate for US Senate),

Bigotry is not an American value. You can stand up for equality and speak out against the bigotry displayed by the Family Research Council. Here’s how:

Let people know that President Trump is lending the legitimacy of his office to a hate group that relentlessly demonizes LGBT people and works to deny them of their equal rights. Share this message on social media.

Expose the Family Research Council’s true values.

Educate yourself. Read our profile on the Family Research Council.

Take action against hate in your community. Follow our 10 Ways to Fight Hate guide.

a place for everyone

As bloggers, some of us aspire to more intense undertakings such as a novel or a book of poetry while others are content to simply scribble on and on into oblivion.  I fall into the latter category with an exception.  I would like my writing to make a difference in someone’s life.

My most recent post, ROY MOORE VERSUS TRUTH, details the advancing candidacy in Alabama’s United States Senate race of a man who has been described as a “homophobic, Bible-thumping firebrand.”  Indeed some of his verifiable quotes would give credence to that assessment.

I walk this earth as a dedicated anti-religionist.  “Religionist” is a term I use frequently to define someone who supports his/her intolerance, bigotry, racism, homophobia with their religion’s label and their religion’s scriptures.  Most often they view that scripture as inerrant, literal, and infallible.  The religionist’s adherence to a theology of hatred and condemnation precludes the universal message of love, compassion and brotherhood as given to us by Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad.  For additional clarification, I too love the verses and the wisdom of the great scriptures, but believe it is indefensible for anyone to use those writings as a catalyst for violence.

Perhaps as a means of qualifying myself to the those who are non-believers or to separate myself from people like Roy Moore, I inevitably have a need to mark my anti-religionist statement with an asterisk.  * “But, I am blessed with an undying faith in a Higher Power.”

What I share about myself is not a self-promotion.  Rather, it is a need to reach out to those who do  not understand a faith unbounded by theology or religion, those who have been deeply scarred by purveyors of religious hypocrisy, and those who have been misled by misguided religionists.  It is my personal vision of hope in perilous times.

The bowed head and folded hands presented in “Namaste” say, “I bow to the divine in you.”  When I greet my brother who does not profess a faith, I say “Namaste” because I know the divine exists within everyone.  When that brother who does not profess a faith acknowledges and accepts who I am, he is also saying “Namaste”.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we valued each other more?

Thanks to Scottie for his comment on my post ROY MOORE VERSUS TRUTH.  His short comment encapsulates the essence of Jesus into one paragraph.

“While I do not share his faith , nor am I religious in any sense……..I support his view of what faith should be……..there is not only a place for everyone, but a hope for how things could be if we valued each other more.” SCOTTIE @ Scotties’sToyBox

 

namaste rainbow

 

NAMASTE

silver lining

silver lining

Hello from Florida, the land of the powerless and sweat-soaked.  Nice to be back.  I once again have AC and internet.  Yes, those conveniences were missed, but, the days without them forced an adjustment in daily chores and in priority thinking.  Neighbors helping neighbors, people being courteous, washing dishes in the sink, turning t-shirts inside out for another day’s wear, and cooking campfire coffee somehow take a man back to the truly important things in life.  Providing for basic comforts and needs is relearned from a childhood spent dealing with the capriciousness of farm life.  Summers without adequate rainfall meant sponge baths in the sink instead of a tub bath because the scant water supply was needed for the livestock; a poor corn crop meant no  new school clothes; sinking commodity prices meant repairing the old worn out refrigerator rather than buying a new one and making the 20 year-old-tractor last another year.

My grandfather and great-grand father with whom I lived as a child knew a hard life.  Farming was never accredited with the appropriate respect for the risks taken to provide food for their families and the city folks.  There were no guarantees back then on investment return and we were all called hicks and hayseeds.  But my forefathers were as dedicated to their life’s calling as any college degreed professional.

They were devout men.  They were earnestly sincere, devoted, godly, reverential, genuine, ardent, and true.  They were not religious although they supported the local church and its ministries.  They were pacifists who rejected the ideology of war and the country’s war machine.  They quietly raised their families to be loving and compassionate.

When times like this past week enduring hurricane Irma strike and force us to our knees, I catch glimpses of many years ago living in better times in a benevolent community of godly people that understood who they were and what their purpose was on earth.  The religious pomposity and hypocrisy we witness in today’s sects can’t hold a candle to the goodness of my people.  The corruption of today’s government would have been a mere side note in my grandfathers’ daily life.  They had more important things to consider.  They had families to enjoy and communities to build.

Irma has shown a silver lining to this simple farm boy.  I hope to return to those boyhood times more often now, to draw upon the wisdom and compassion of my folks, and to hold in proper perspective the noise and stench of our world today.  Even as the internet lights up my computer screen again, I will seek the inner knowing and the wisdom of my forefathers to maintain a grasp on the truly important things.  They were a happy, content community poor in materialism but wealthy beyond any of the glitz ruling our society today.

smiley 3

 

dare to dream

“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

IMAGINE 1971

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.

JOHN MCCAIN

I googled John McCain last night and was appalled by the number of results which labeled him as “Hanoi John”, a traitor, a coward, a friend of the communists in Vietnam, ad nauseam, etc.  They were no less distasteful than Trump’s loser quote during the campaign.  I never totally agreed with the Senator’s political philosophy, but the man has qualities which should endear him in the annals of politics and should receive words of praise rather than disparagement and anger.

“During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While McCain was on a bombing mission over Hanoi in October 1967, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. The wounds that he sustained during war have left him with lifelong physical disabilities.”          JOHN MCCAIN

In spite of the tweeting twat’s assessment of McCain as “a loser, I like winners”, and subsequent infantile outbursts about the Senator’s betrayal of party agenda, John McCain is a surviving POW, a man who made service to country his lifetime endeavor, and Senator McCain is deserving of our respect and honor.  I don’t care what your politics are, his courage and sacrifice cannot be deleted from American history.

In his remarks following Trump’s address to the BSA, Senator McCain stated:

“we are an important check on the powers of the executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and, in many respects, to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!”                                                                                                               the new yorker

With his nay vote on the health care bill, John McCain exercised his ability to cross party lines and vote his conscience.  To the consternation of Trump and fellow Republican butt-kissers, Senators McCain,  Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have shown the American voter that there is a smidgen of integrity, ethics, and compromise in the Republican party.

The choices are yours in the upcoming elections of 2018 and 2020.  As a veteran, I admit that I am biased when looking at a candidate’s service history.  That directed my vote in 2016 when we had a choice of Hillary or Trump.  Neither was off-the-chart acceptable but Hillary had a legitimate history of public service.  While Trump was berating a verifiable war hero, his service record was nonexistent thanks to 4 deferments during his draft years.  When questioned about his military deferments, draft-dodger Donald Trump once said that the danger he faced from getting sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”  HOWARD STERN INTERVIEW

In 1997 with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump talked about how he had been “lucky” not to have contracted diseases when he was sleeping around:

I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era.  It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

Our political world today is disgusting.  Heroes are ridiculed.  Elected leaders who have the audacity to vote conscience are harangued.  We were asleep at the helm when a segment of Americans brought Trump and his cadre of billionaires and white supremacists to power.

In retrospect, Trump was indisputably ill-equipped to serve with the men of courage and valor during the Vietnam era.  He did not have the necessary integrity and sacrifice to serve others rather than himself.  The facts of life on Earth force most of us to grow up.  Apparently Trump has never faced those facts.  According to the oath of the Boy Scouts of America,

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

whom he flamboyantly and repulsively addressed, he doesn’t even make it to the starting gate regarding the race for wisdom and maturity.

We can do better.  We deserve better.  The elections of 2018 and 2020 will give us an opportunity for redemption.  Get to know your candidates and get out and vote.

 

 

 

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

SERENITY CONNECTION: john lennon

“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.

 

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?