betrayal

 

the last supper da Vinci

They followed him, believed him, ministered with him, sacrificed for him, learned from him, loved him, and then –  betrayed him.  

The world refers to the above painting as the LAST SUPPER.  The original mural painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century is housed by the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.  It represents the final meal taken by Jesus with his disciples before his trial and crucifixion as told in the Gospel of John. (1) (2)

Up until the end Jesus served his disciples.  The book of John tells us that before the meal, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and then approaching Simon Peter, Peter said:

“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I am doing, but someday you will.  No,” Peter protested, “you will never wash my feet.”  Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

The narrative continues in verses 14 and 15:

“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example to follow.”

In ancient times the trails were dusty.  It was a matter of ceremonial etiquette to present to the visitor to one’s household  a bowl of water for washing the feet. In a well-to-do household a servant would have been assigned the duty.   Jesus took this one step further and became the servant whose chore (or privilege) it was to wash the feet of his guests.  His entire ministry is summed up in THE LAST SUPPER – serving a spiritually soiled and hungry humanity.

Judas Iscariot is known infamously as the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a kiss in the garden of Gethsemane for a handful of silver coins.  The death of his master and teacher earned Judas a mere handful of silver.  For us today, the task is to recognize and correct the many times we also betray Jesus, the one we name as Lord.  Our doubts are a betrayal, our addictions are a betrayal, our unspiritual thoughts, our lustful behavior, our profanity, our cheating, our lies, our violence, our greed, our prejudice, our gossip – all are acts of betraying the One who blesses us every hour of every day 24/7.  He has washed your feet then shared his bread and wine.  He put himself on a cross because he loved us enough to suffer crucifixion and die ignobly so that we could receive through the Gospels blessings from a loving, compassionate, just God, the same God whom he called Father.

Greater men than you and I have been traitors.  Simon Peter, the Rock, the Father of the Roman Catholic Church, when leaning into Jesus at the supper asked to go with Jesus to his destiny:

Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”  Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”  Peter asked, “Lord why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.”  Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?  Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (3)

Is it just my imagination, or do I hear a multitude of roosters crowing?

(1) THE LAST SUPPER

(2) JOHN 13:1-30

(3) JOHN 13:36-38

 

the angry Christian

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.

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I probably would not write about faith and recovery if I did not have an unyielding, nagging directive to dispute the abounding, fear-filled theology which controlled my life for many of my early, formative years.  It is my sense that many others also suffered and continue to suffer an “ism” of hell fires and damnation.  It is for them that I return to the memories of pain caused by delusional theology in order to propose another way, the Way proclaimed by Jesus, our Christ.  I am the way, the truth, the life seems to be lost on a religion more concerned with retribution, payback and profit than restoring life abundantly to the world’s lost and dying.  Mega churches, millionaire televangelists, a gospel of affluence are obviously missing the mark set by Jesus to minister to the poor and downtrodden, to seek heaven at the bottom of the social ladder rather than in the far reaches of the universe.

In the book of Mark, a man comes running to Jesus asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus answers that one must live by the commandments.  To which the man said he had followed them all.  Then,

“One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross and follow me.” (1)

The man went away sad.  We don’t know if he sold his possessions or if he cherished them more than a relationship with God.  Soul sickness, however, does not discriminate between rich and poor.  Selfishness and avarice are not limited to wealth and power.

Fortunately, through the recovery rooms of AA and the loving compassion of fellow trekkers, a restoration of soul for me was possible.  The first step in this restoration was grasping the concept of “God as I understand God.”  It is a foundational tenet of AA’s recovery program which has enabled millions of doubters like myself to find mental and spiritual health in a sea of unhealthy religious dogma.

God hates me, and God wants to burn me in hell’s fires.  Imagine living with those thoughts for the first 33 years of your life?  I tried to drink myself to death thinking I could drown with alcohol those haunting visions.  I tried to wear the atheist armor and the agnostic unbelief to no avail.  God still despised me and was waiting for me to commit the ultimate sin that would seal my fate in hell.  In truth, during the years of alcoholism, I was already serving my sentence in his realm of fire and brimstone.

I don’t go there today because the God of my understanding does not take me there.  Together we find green pastures and still waters.  We are as One enjoying peace, solace, contentment, and treasures of the soul.  It seems silly to me today that anyone who is seeking would choose a vengeful, wrathful, hateful old man as their God.

From Richard Rohr @ Center for Action and Contemplation:

In authoritarian and patriarchal cultures, most people were fully programmed to think this way” (the life of Jesus as a ransom to an angry, demanding God) – “working to appease an authority figure who was angry, punitive, and even violent in ‘his’ actions.  Many people still operate this way, especially if they had an angry, demanding, or abusive parent.  People respond to this kind of God, as sick as it is, because it fits their own story line.” (2)

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(1) MARK 10:21

(2) CAC.ORG

on my way

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.

 

My first thoughts this morning were to pack a bag and head to Gonstagos to spend some time with my brothers in the caves of solitude and meditation.  It’s a wonderful fantasy island in the Mediterranean Sea as yet undiscovered by the world and hidden from a crucifying humanity.  The brothers and I dwell in tranquility among the caves of the towering cliffs overlooking the soft blue water surrounding us.  It’s a retreat which I envision more often in today’s world of turmoil and dysfunction.  You could also go if you like.  It’s free and all you need to take on this trip are an open mind and a willingness to surrender. 😎🙏

JOIN ME ?

 

repent! and be saved?

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.
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Today, the thought ‘repent and be saved’ for some reason entered my brain and stayed there for a few moments.  Whoa!  Did I have a really good time last night that this morning I don’t remember?  Many years ago that would have been a legitimate concern when I staggered home and to bed in a black out too drunk to remember how I got home.  But today I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke weed.  Yes, I still screw up and do unspiritual things, but now I have a memory to remind me that amends and corrections need to be made.

When I sat down to my blog, I googled “repent and be saved.”  The first entry was this:

Before anyone can be saved, they need to come to the realization that they’re sinners and believe that Jesus died and rose again so their sins could be forgiven.  That is what the phrase “repent and be saved” means.  Therefore, when we’ve asked Jesus to be our savior, the repenting has been done.

Ohhhh, I would love to pick this apart, but I’ll focus on the word repent.  What does that conjure up in your mind?  Yeah, me too.  I am totally unworthy of living on this earth because I am an immoral piece of human flesh who is absolutely devoid of any redeeming qualities which would satisfy the white-haired, fire-breathing, judgmental old man sitting in heaven with lightning bolts in hand ready to zap me for being a human failure.  If I don’t repent I’ll never be a part of the heaven crowd.

The implication of the word repent is moralistic.  It is used far too often by preachers and religionists intent on controlling a gullible audience being primed to swallow their particular brand of theology.  Some of the church-goers in my past drank like I did, lied like I did, cheated like I did, repented and got themselves saved and felt assured of a place beside Jesus in heaven.  They continued on with a life of drunkenness, lies, and cheating.  Didn’t change a thing about themselves, but they claimed they were saved by the blood of Jesus.  Yeah, OK.  I’ve got some swamp land down here in Florida that’s going to be prime beach front real estate in a few years.  Interested?

We know that the scriptures which comprise our New Testament were translated from ancient writings composed during the first 2 centuries following the walk of Jesus, the Christ, on this earth.  They were written in Greek.  In subsequent translations of the original manuscripts, the Greek word metanoia was translated as repent. The word repent lent a more powerful, moralistic connotation for a budding Roman Catholic church intent on religious and political control.

If you have a Concordance, look it up.  The Greek metanoia also means “to change.”  For me this was a game-changer.  I am no longer being judged; rather, I am being challenged.  I am being urged to change my mind about life, about Jesus, about God, about me.  And it is not a once and done deal.  This will be an ongoing, everyday process growing into the example presented to me – Jesus, the Christ.  Paul is attributed the book of Romans.  In it he writes in chapter 12, verse 2:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Remember what Jesus said to the woman accused of adultery facing stoning at the hands of the scribes and Pharisees?  In their eyes she had committed a grave sin and deserved death by stoning.  In Jesus’ mind she had done wrong just as every man standing there had also erred.  They were made to realize that none were perfect.  One by one the accusing scribes and Pharisees left until there were only Jesus and the woman.  He did not condemn her nor throw moral judgement on her.  He simply told her to go and not make the same mistakes again.  He told her to change her life.

Mark 1:15 quotes Jesus as saying:

The time has come.  The kingdom of God has come near.  Repent and believe the good news.

Change your thinking and believe the good news.

ROMANS 12:2 

JOHN 8:4-11

MARK 1:15

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let’s try Christianity

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.

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“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”  Gilbert K. Chesterton

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“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  Mohandas Gandhi

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What is there to dislike about Christianity? Why would Gandhi publicly say that?  He obviously saw something in the practice of Christians which does not emulate the “Christ”; otherwise, he would like Christians.  Perhaps Gandhi was having a bad Hindu day when he framed that famous quote.

Or perhaps Gandhi saw the truth of a religion which had become arrogant, self-serving and dominionized since the days when the man from Nazareth said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  Undoubtedly, Gandhi was aware of Christian missionary zeal which enslaved indigenous people and slaughtered thousands in the name of God.  He would have read about the Christian Crusades from 1095 through 1258 which decimated Muslim and Jewish populations.  And surely he, an advocate of non-violence, knew about the violent nature of America’s Christian leaders interacting with other world governments.

Gandhi understood our Christian culture better than we do.  Oh, we profess to be seeking the peace of God and goodwill toward men, but our behavior betrays who we are.  We cheated Native Americans out of their lands, stole Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War and then abandoned our territory to poverty, and murdered or otherwise deposed international leaders with whom we disagreed.  We continue to harbor racist attitudes toward members of minority groups, we demean the LGBT+ community, and we trivialize the importance of immigration.  We fear the growth of Islam, the advance of brown and black citizens, the decline of aged, white, Christian America.  We harbor outdated ideals of nationalism and isolation.  That’s why we, Christian Americans, are hated and distrusted.  That is probably why Gandhi liked our Christ but not us.

But it could be different.  Jesus, that man from Nazareth who taught the Way to his disciples, is still teaching today.  Just read the words, follow the examples, understand the parables and learn what it means to be a Christian.  Then follow.  Remember the verse about wolves in sheep’s clothing?  That’s what Christianity has become.  We have become a brood of vipers speaking from both sides of the mouth and miserably missing the message of Jesus, the Christ.

Those of you who disagree with my assessment, please don’t wax eloquent about your concern for my soul.  I would sooner see your concerns directed to the homeless, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the orphans and widows, the millions displaced by war, the children ravaged by human slavery, the thousands standing on our southern border hoping for a better life.  I would rather hear your prayers for black and brown brothers and sisters, gays and lesbians, transgenders, Muslims, the poor suffering discrimination, battered women and children; yes, pray for them rather than for my salvation.

Today I am a disturbed Jesus follower.  I would be the one standing aside Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers in the temple.  I would be with him challenging the Pharisees over their obtuse obedience to man-made laws.  Jesus is our Christ.  He is both human and divine teaching us how to conduct lives of humanness and divinity.  He is our example showing us how to love unconditionally.  Jesus never instructed us to worship him – he only told us to follow him.

I am the way, the truth, the life.  John 14:6cropped-candle.png

hell & damnation

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I am an avid reader.  In my mind I see myself reading the great classics, the newest block-buster sci-fi, the works of great thinkers, etc.  I stop by my local library and check out 4 or 5 selections anticipating spending an evening wrapped up in one author’s adventure or another’s philosophy.  At home in my favorite recliner, I open the book, read the intro and within 15 minutes I am snoozing.

Yeah, in my mind I’m an avid reader.  I suppose that I am doing a service for my local library by increasing their weekly circulation statistics, but, do I read much? No.  However, I did find a book that aroused my interest more than most books do.  Settling down to once again “practice” reading, I scanned the table of contents.  “Oh, there’s a chapter that looks interesting, I’ll just peruse it before starting.”

The first paragraph of that one chapter, chapter 14, saved me several hours of reading chapters 1-13.  It told me that, although an inherent alternative sexual orientation was not in itself a sin, practicing it was.  “Ah,” said I to myself, “perhaps I am reading it incorrectly.”

No, I did not misinterpret the words.  With closed book in hand, I then contemplated what was being proposed.  A man is not to be judged for his inherent disposition as long as he abandons himself to lifetime denial, gives up truthful relationships, lies to potential partners, and lives in a world which certain religious philosophers have deemed as moral.

Hmmmm, sure sounds like ‘love the sinner, but hate the sin.’  I vividly remember those words from the times of morality preaching leveled on me.  Shake my hand, hug me, welcome me, preach at me and then judge me behind my back with others in your church.  Sorry, that hypocrisy doesn’t float my life anymore.  Anybody wants to be a part of my life, well, I come as a package deal.

Some may ask why I’m so jazzed up over this.  A judge in a nearby city overruled the city’s ban on conversion therapy.  If you don’t know what conversion therapy is, you need to jump on Google and educate yourselves.  The judge sided with Christian leaders who stated the ban on conversion therapy, which in some cases employs electro shock therapy on minors who professed to be gay, was an attack on their religious rights to raise their children within the moral laws of the church.

Aw, I’m over all that crap that forged my life for too many years.  My buddy Gabby would say, “If y’all ain’t got nobody else to saddle up with judgement and damnation, then go for it.  I’ve got broad shoulders and I ain’t afraid of your burning hell fires.  EEEEEEHAW.”

But I pray for the kids.  You should too.  And if you agree with the judge that Tampa’s city-wide ban on conversion therapy is illegal because it infringes on your freedom of religious expression and it’s OK to use humiliation of kids as a form of treatment, and if you believe that shock therapy is a legitimate deterrent for your children, then send up a prayer for yourselves too.  You’re the ones who need to worry about hell fires, not me.
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meditation

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I give it to you,
the pain,
the sorrow,
the disappointment.
Too long it has
lived here,
too long.

I now release
the sadness and grief.
I release the anger,
I release the bitterness
and unforgiveness.
Take it,
burn it.

I beg of you
to let us continue,
to embrace
that which is good,
wholesome,
worthy,
glorious.

Release the resentments,
the vile thoughts,
that which hinders,
that which betrays,
that which condemns.
Bring us peace,
Bring us compassion.

In your power
hold us,
comfort,
console,
guide,
resurrect,
transform.

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