a Quaker shares

Sadly, many of those who disparage the Christian walk have never taken the time to research or embrace the truth of the Christian way of living as emphasized by the character of Jesus in New Testament scriptures and other mystics throughout history.¬† Instead, media blips of a dying faith, a ritual life of religious intolerance, and a hypocrisy CANDLEsimilar to that which Jesus encountered in Jewish culture are displayed on screens worldwide as the universal nature of the “evil” Christianity destined to betray humanity.

Father Richard Rohr in his daily meditation at cac.org quotes the Quaker pastor, Philip Gulley, in presenting to us the true nature of the Christian mindset:

Quaker pastor Philip Gulley superbly summarizes how we must rebuild spirituality from the bottom up in his book, IF THE CHURCH WERE CHRISTIAN.  Here I take the liberty of using my own words to restate his message, which offers a rather excellent description of Emerging Christianity:

  1. Jesus is a model for living more than an object of worship.
  2. Affirming people’s potential is more important than reminding them of their brokenness.
  3. The work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgments.
  4. Gracious behavior is more important than right belief.
  5. Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.
  6. Encouraging the personal search is more important than group uniformity.
  7. Meeting actual needs is more important than maintaining institutions.
  8. Peacemaking is more important than power.
  9. We should care more about love and less about sex.
  10. Life in this world is more important than the afterlife (eternity is God’s work anyway).

If this makes sense to you, you are already inside of Emerging Christianity.

namaste rainbow

The 10 points listed above clearly indicate that the prevailing world view of our faith, especially that of the strident anti-religionist, is based on misinformation and error.  Jesus is more than a mythical character whom some Christians remember and worship at Christmas.  The story of his life is an example to be lived by us in our lives today.  It is the greatest story ever told.  Namaste.

“do something”

“To repeat, if God operates as me, God operates as thee too, and the playing field is utterly leveled forever. Like Jesus, Francis, Clare, and many other humble mystics, we then rush down instead of up. In the act of letting go and choosing to become servants, community can at last be possible. The illusory state of privilege just gets in the way of neighboring and basic human friendship.” CAC.ORGCANDLE

Father Richard, in this daily meditation, begins by discussing his upbringing within the community of white privilege, the favoritism shown to whites, the status of higher education, numerous challenges which whites do not endure and which non-whites face on a daily basis.  It is truly a different world for those of us who walk the earth in this life as Caucasian.

When I realized and accepted within my heart the truth of “Namaste, I bow to the divine in you,” the Spirit within would no longer cover my inbred white privilege.¬† It refused to entertain all the excuses I held for my bias and prejudices.¬† It forced me to look upon my brothers and sisters whom God created in various shades and hues as beings loved just as much by the Creator as me.¬† I no longer had an excuse to trivialize the plight of people of color.¬† Our “white” world via politics and extremist religions has demeaned, ostracized, brutalized, and oppressed those children of God and it is my challenge as a white man to make restitution.

In order to do so, Father Richard exhorts me to take the route of ancient mystics who, rather than aspiring to rise toward a perceived heavenly God, focused  downward and joined the suffering and oppressed masses living on the edge of survival in an ungodly world.  That is where true obedience will be found, where salvation shall be experienced, and ultimately where the living Jesus dwells.

Most of my life has been spent anticipating the great white mansions in the far reaches of the Universe where God and Jesus sit side by side on their thrones waiting for me to arrive for my final judgement.¬† (Incidentally, both of them in my past have been “white boys”.)¬† I no longer wait for that occurrence because the truth as revealed to me, the GOD OF MY UNDERSTANDING, is right here, right now living in the hearts of all humanity regardless of race, religion, nationality or creed.¬† I must now choose on a daily basis whether to commune with God and his indwelling truth or return to a denial of that truth.¬† It’s very simple theology; it is awe-inspiring and breath-taking.

The path which I walk has been tortuous and twisted.¬† I have endured the full spectrum of faith experiences from belief in a God who was vindictive and vengeful, to a God who was aloof and unapproachable, to an errant acceptance of atheism, to the revealing grace experienced in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.¬† Even during my period of strident atheism, I came to realize that my denial of God’s existence only¬† fortified that his existence was real; otherwise, why would I expend so much energy denying him.¬† If God is dead, then I should probably take up knitting or crocheting doilies instead of rallying with the oppressed masses or with a suffering alcoholic in forging a better world.¬† If God is dead, then I would need to depend on the “goodness” of mankind to save us from physical and spiritual destruction.¬† I can’t do that because goodness is not inherent, it is derived from a Source.

Matthew West in a very powerful song questioned a God who would allow all the suffering endured by mankind, “God, why don’t you do something?”¬† The reply from his Lord was, “I did, I created you.”¬† I was created to do something, but it all happens through and by the grace and direction of a Higher Power.smiley 3

 

labels

As a retired guy trying to get by on social security, I welcome offers from friends to help them occasionally on painting jobs.¬† My “expertise” accumulated over many years as a painting contractor fits hand-in-glove to their need for experienced casual labor.¬† Such has been the case over the past few days.
The client on this most recent endeavor is an extremely pleasant woman whose gift for gab is obviously a plus in her customer service business.  Quick to smile, offering us egg rolls for lunch, and helping as much as possible, this lady talks easily about her adventure in life.  Born in Vietnam, lived in Saigon, she remembers the Vietnam War and shows by her attitude her delight in being American.
Yes, she is American, just as I am.¬† There was a time during the height of the War when I uncharitably would have tacked on more adjectives to my description of this lady.¬† My HP has changed my thinking and my ways, but even today I catch myself sending out a simple,¬† “Lord, forgive me for being such a jerk back then.”
My ego has a need to differentiate me from others.¬† It urges me to attach stereotypes, to use crass descriptions, and to believe I am better than others.¬† My ego wants me to label everyone I encounter in an effort to separate from their own humanness.¬† I unwarily fall into ego’s need to control and define who I am.¬† This temporary drift into “uniqueness” is in direct contradiction of the higher Essence which lords my life.

I know today that ego is not the controller.  All the labels I use to define me, to describe me, to stroke my sense of self are merely attempts by an ego wanting to be back in control, to preserve its identity.  And all the labels I put on others are attempts to put separation between me and fellow humans.

rainbow-solidarity
St Francis, in a well-known prayer, ends with: “…..for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying to self that we are born to everlasting life.”¬†prayer of St. Francis
Rumi, a 13th century Muslim and Sufi mystic, wrote: “What have I ever lost by dying?” ¬†Rumi
Rumi and St. Francis knew the joy and rebirth realized by death and dying of ego.
“Only after you have fallen into the True Self, will you be able to say with the mystic Rumi, ‘What have I ever lost by dying?’ [2] You have discovered true freedom and liberation. When you are connected to the Whole, you no longer need to protect or defend the part. You are now connected to something inexhaustible.” ¬†Richard Rohr

grease (not the musical)

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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

the narrow gate

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14¬†But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”¬† MATTHEW 7:13-14

Many theologians and religionists have attempted to kill the message of Jesus for motives of profit and power.  For the most part they have been successful.  By attributing our character defects to the realm of sin they have brought countless repentant followers to the confessional booths or the altar railing seeking a reprieve from a condemning God.  For some parishioners there is an implied monetary or physical penance.

Imagine the freedom we can achieve if we view Jesus, the man and the teacher, as he truly was.  He was not an ascetic punishing himself daily for being human.  He thoroughly enjoyed life.  He thrived upon being another human amongst a brotherhood of men and women struggling to survive under Roman and Judaic bureaucratic control.  He loved a good party.  But most importantly, he did not pass judgment based upon the defects inherent in all of mankind.  He urged a better way, a self-less way, a way which would lead to personal freedom coming from within.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  JOHN 14:6

Within the powers of reasoning and logic which are God-given, what if we translate this ambiguous verse as follows:

I am the way: I am the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through truth and life.

Religionists and theologians who base the exclusiveness of Christianity as the only “true faith”¬†on John 14:6 obviously will shudder with horror and will refute this translation which would subsequently force them to question the literalism and inerrancy of their scriptures.¬† We all are faced with a personal choice to either accept the teachings and preachings¬†of the church fathers as written in stone or to embrace the freedoms with which our Father endowed us to THINK.

Perhaps we need to¬†visualize the “narrow gate” as a:

life of simple living, altruism, non-violence, and peacemaking.”¬†¬† https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/

and not a moralistic, ego-based attitude of religious asceticism.