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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Words Are Not "It"

 Appreciating art does not make us a masterful artist. Enjoying a concert does not make us a composer. Reading a book does not make us an author. We must learn skills, practice, practice, practice. We must fail, pick ourselves up and keep on until we at long last become masterful at our chosen skill.

So too with spiritual life. Reading a Scripture, listening to speeches, reading what other people understand, etc does not lead us to enlightenment, to awakening, to Knowing God, Wisdom, Truth, to know and know that we know deep within our very souls.

Aldous Huxley said a lot about this, such as:

In no circumstances, however, can the study of theology or the mind’s assent to theological propositions take the place of what [William] Law calls “the birth of God within.” For theory is not practice, and words are not the things for which they stand. 

 I am drawn to the way William Law put it, "the birth of God within." Of course I know we live and breath and have our being in God, live every moment in the Presence of God.  For most people, it seems, this is like knowing there are radio and television and wifi waves right now wherever we are, but if we don't have the equipment to utilize them, they might as well not be there.

We can intellectually know a bunch about God (or whatever word you want to use to point to the Divine), without ever having touched the life- transforming experience of the Divine.

I am convinced that most of us walk around hungry, even starving, for the birth of God in our lives. We try to end that hunger with other things (food, drugs, politics, sports, shopping, gangs, gurus, the cult of culture, etc), with no success. Those are not the things for which our hungry soul seeks. We crave a spiritual and robust walk with God, direct, real, Oneness. 

It seems to me, we can only have this with a sincere change of priorities. With actually meditating, contemplating, praying, journaling, in other words, engaging in known spiritual practices that lead to such a life. And, at the same time, turning away from the opposite, from the substitutes we've been trying to use to satisfy our inner hunger. As Paul once said, in Philippians 4:8 & 9

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (NIV translation)

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Power Corrupts

Back in Political Science class we were told - Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Aldous Huxley said:

No infallible method for controlling the political manifestations of the lust for power has ever been devised.

We see the lust for power in politics, religion, and actually most groups. Every election year we see it on full display. It seems to me that it is overblown ego and unrealistic assessment of oneself. Lord Acton said that there are no good great men. Wow! That's pretty extreme. But still we must beware of being seduced into the web of a man who is in full blown lust for power. People can get their lust ignited in that circle. Lesser people in the hierarchy of power can feel superior by association.

If we seek spiritual enlightenment, it is essential to remove lust for power from ourselves. We cannot lust for power and also be spiritually awake. We humble ourselves before the Divine and seek to know and love that Presence. We seek to walk, talk, and be a conduit of the Infinite Light and Love. We join Jesus in sayimg, It is not I, but the Father within doing the work.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Painful Friendship

We have friends, a husband and wife and children, whom we love. They are good people, living what they believe. We enjoy being at their home, coming to their potlucks, enjoying music and Bible talks. We realize they are not where we are in theology, but they are good people and we like being with them.

So what's the problem? you might be asking.

They had a guest speaker come who spoke not only the opposite of what we believe, and have come to understand from extensive study, prayer and contemplation, but so far from us that he is in another galaxy. To us, what he spoke was bizarre, unfounded, harmful, besmerching of God and Christianity. He called himself a Pentecostal Presbyterian. His is a god who turns non- Christians into zombies, for example. He is delusional, saying the Bible is not translated accurately, so he's re-translating it using the Interlineal Bible. Not knowing Greek and using this system is ludicrous. I could go on, but this hopefully gives the flavor of the situation.

When I told our friends of my objections to his presentation, they said that they didn't understand the problem. We had a long back and forth via text. Finally, I said that in good conscience, if this is what you teach and believe too, I cannot stand with you.

It is painful. I just cannot support crazy theology. Too many people have been traumatized by crazy theology. I can't even imagine how much damage this man's so-called translation of the Bible will do, let alone his violent god and his zombies.

So with sadness I release and let go, blessing them and wishing them God's  highest and best. At this point I don't know where our relationship will go. I am sad.



Saturday, February 10, 2024

What Do You Know? Some Thought Inspired by "The Perennial Philosophy"

When we learn something, our knowing changes us. We learn to walk and talk and learn ever more complex things. Once our knowing  becomes woven into our system of reality, our intuitive ability is overshadowed and can become extinct for all practical purposes. It's a bit like the old saying, My mind's made up, don't confuse me with facts.

With our eyes we can only see a tiny fraction of the trillions of stars. People made assumptions based on what they saw. If a high powered telescope is used, what we can see expands and keeps expanding with stronger and stronger telescopes. We become like super beings compared to those only using their eyes.

Let's take that to spirituality. There is one Divine Reality in everyone and everything. All is sacred. This sacredness is and has been known by many peoples across history- indigenous people, Celtic Christians, mystics, poets, scriptures, etc.

BUT a person cannot directly experience and know this unless certain conditions have been met. 

What are these conditions? 

  • Make yourself clear via forgiveness practices. Let go. Work to hold no anger or resentment or regret regarding oneself or anyone.
  • Practice unconditional love. Show up to every moment radiating love without discrimination.
  • Be pure in heart. Let go of all behaviors, thoughts or attitudes that are not pure and holy.
  • Be humble. Know it is One Divine Reality working, moving, flowing through you. Therefore, let ego drift away.
  • Spend time daily in the quiet, listening, contemplating spiritual truths, praying. Make a space for daily sacred time. 
  • Write thoughts and insights in a journal dedicated to that purpose.
If you do these things, you will become awake to what those who do not do these things are unable to know. You will be like the person looking through the powerful telescope and not just looking with human eyes. You will be awake in ways you never imagined. You will be in tune with the Infinite.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Hear My Sermon/Talk

   On YouTube:


Yesterday I was honored to give the sermon at our church. If you'd like to hear my message on The Sermon on the Mount, please go to our church's YouTube channel.

I'd be interested in your feedback.

I pray you are having a blessed beginning to 2024.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Mining Spiritual Texts

 One has to live with the texts, and then they unfold. -- "Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy"

It is my experience that very little of enduring value is on the surface. Here is a statement from Bonhoeffer's biography that states it so well. In today's jargon we might say that we need to unpack it.

One of the important practices is called lectio divina, or divine reading. Pick a short scripture or some inspiring quote and take 5 to 10 minutes total. Begin by reading it slowly several times. Then read each word and roll it over in your mind. Then sit still and quiet for a couple of minutes. Have your journal and pen or pencil handy and begin to write without censoring, stream of consciousness it is called. Just write for a couple of minutes without stopping. Read what you wrote. Often you will be amazed at the insights that flowed through you. 

The more you engage in this practice, the insights will be deeper and more meaningful. Best case, do this daily. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Celtic Christianity

Ever since I discovered Celtic Christianity, I have been in love with it. I wrote a little book on it and taught seminars about it. It nestles softly in my soul, cozy with I have come to experience and believe. I'm going to be starting a series on it next week, so I am reading some  new things, right now "Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul." Here's a tiny quote.

Pelagius taught that it is not so much what you believe about Jesus that matters. The important thing is becoming like Jesus, becoming compassionate...

Celantia, who asked Pelagius for a rule of life. “Tell me how to live,” she begged. To which Pelagius responded, “Don’t ask me.” The source of such a rule “is inside your own heart.” ...
If what she read within herself was in conflict with the teachings of Jesus, then she had misread her heart...
Pelagius’s response to Celantia is saying that the teachings of Jesus are like a touchstone for the soul, a measuring rod of inner wisdom. --- J. Phillip.Newell

All of this lives within me as truth, as my guide posts. 

Maybe you could read this quote daily for a week, and let it unpack in your heart.