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Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Thank You Attitude

Meister Eckhart said if the only prayer you say is thank You, that would suffice. Thankfulness and gratitude are a deep form of prayer. We see in Psalms, for example, many shouts of praise and thanksgiving.

We are thankful for the streams of sunlight streaming through the trees, for the majesty of the mountains, for the powerful ocean waves, for the song of the bird, the wagging tail of the dog, for the gurgle of the baby, for the twinkle of humor and the sparkle of love in the eye of our beloved. We are thankful for life itself.

And all of this is made possible by something more than we can imagine or name. We use words to point at that More such as God, Divine Presence, etc.

We have a banquet of blessings for which to give profuse praise and thanksgiving. That is not to say there are no challenging times, no off putting tastes or smells, no weeping. But, when we are attuned to the blessings here, we can move through those times gracefully. They are seen as the twists and turns that lead to maturity.

Matthew Fox wrote that in the verse, "be perfect as your Father in heaven," the word "perfect" translated from Greek does not mean the perfect we might think of, without flaw.  Rather the word  fully understood is - be adult, mature, show compassion.

An adult, mature way to be is living in an attitude of gratitude, thanking God for the glories of this earth and all that abide here.

I give thanks for you. I am thankful you read my thoughts shared here with you, and hopefully contemplate the ideas. I am thankful that some of you share this blog with friends and family. I am thankful that these ideas are read in many countries by wonderful people. I am thankful spirituality is a core focus for you as it is for me. I send you my love.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Terror Lurking

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, terror struck Sri Lanka. Eight bombs tore to shreds the peace of churches and hotels. Some deranged men thought it somehow desirable to destroy fellow humans and their supposed safe spaces. They thought of them as easy pickings, not as brothers and sisters.

I know there is a lot of prayer going on today. Since Jesus encouraged us to pray for our enemies, I think we are called to pray for the perpetrators and all on earth that think as they do and may be planning evil actions this very moment. These people are out of attunement  with God. The Spark of God in them is covered by hate, ignorance and propaganda. They struggle in darkness.

Oh Divine Presence, knowing you are with us always, I lift to you those fellow brothers and sisters who live far from Your Light. They struggle with ugliness in darkness. They believe it is acceptable, indeed desirable, to destroy those they call "other." Touch their very souls with Your healing grace. Lead them to Your Light and Love. Save them from their ignorance. Open their eyes and hearts to Truth. Oh how we  long for them to come back to live as brothers and sisters with us. Oh how we long for the end of terror. We ask for Your Will to be done. We seal this in the name of Christ with the ancient seal of faith, Amen, Amen and Amen

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Spark

As you know, if you read me often, I read a lot of mystics and also about mystics. I am often struck by the frequent references to that spiritual core within all people which is already there, variously called "the spark," " the seed of God, " "the Christ within," and so forth .

Hand Denck (16th century), the great mystic of the Anabaptists, said such things as:
An inner Voice, a Spark of Truth which I partly feel in me, tells me that I have not yet in me that faith that works life... He who seeks Him in truth already has Him, and without this inner Spirit to guide and direct him, one cannot find him, even in the Bible.
Rufus Jones said: "Hans also said that the true and primary faith must rest on 'facts of experience, directly given,' on what he rightly calls 'an inner witness which God, by His grace, plants in the soul.'"

The mystics, it seems to me, pretty much all, in all religions, tell us to tune ourselves to God through finding, nurturing, and embracing the seed or spark of God. Furthermore, that spark is already within us. No one can steal it, damage it or put it out.

Just as an out of time piano is heard and  known  to be out of tune, even by non-musical people, a life out of tune with God is apparent to others. A person way out of tune may be unaware themselves, however.

We used to joke that some people need a check up from the neck up. Maybe we could add from the spark out.

With the decline in religion in today's world, the rise in addictions and violence, with the incredible rise of homelessness, with the rise of uncivil discourse, etc. I think it is accurate to say we are in a situation where vast numbers of us are out of tune with God.

Let us each work on attuning ourselves  and igniting the spark in our souls. Let us use the great spiritual masters and writings as guides, knowing though we must each find our way to live The Way.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Hardy Americans

It has seemed to me that we have been a hardy, vigorous, courageous, innovative, plain speaking, hopeful people. Our ancestors, whether recently or centuries ago, mostly came for a freer life.

There were Irish orphans, Africans and others who came as slaves, also the indentured servants, who did not originally have freedom. That is a sad part of human history, not just here, but all the way back to early human history. All of those who came under duress, were hardy souls too, souls whose DNA courses through our veins today.

We are the people who dared to fight for freedom from the great British empire with a ragtag army. We are the people who fought and died to end slavery. We are the people who ended facism, stood up to communism, stood against terrorism, landed on the moon, invented, transformed and led.

I see a disturbing trend that goes in the opposite direction. As I survey today, I sadly see a rise of wimps. Many people are offended by everything. They have to have "safe" spaces. They call anyone who has an opinion different than theirs horrible names. They make up bizarre words such as ungrammatical pronouns and call people names if they don't use them correctly. They try to shut down free speech. They rewrite history. They want to tear down our republic because their ill-informed history says we are bad. Confusion is spreading.

I think we must speak truth to power. We need to restore integrity in history, in dialogue, in all areas. We need to stand up to be the next great generation. Let us be strong, compassionate, vibrant people who again lead to an increasingly better world 🌎.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Catherine of Sienna and Today

Her earthly years were short, 1347-1380. Her voice speaks to us today via her writings. She spoke fearlessly into the immense corruption of the church of her day. She had an intense passion for Christ and for the church to become Christlike.

That passion is felt by many of us nowadays. There is seemingly quite a bit of funny business going on in high places of church and government.

I feel the call echoing down the halls of time to do what Thomas a Kempis wrote, imitate Christ.

If an idea or action does not align with what we know Jesus taught and lived, jettison it. Shift to live as closely as possible to a Christ-like life.

Do you hold anger? Forgive and love. Do you see some as outcasts to be ignored or punished? Love them as you love yourself. Do you disagree with someone? Listen respectfully and debate calmly. Do you see corruption? Speak up. Pare away that which is not of Christ.

If we all did this, we would be close to utopia. The Kingdom of Heaven could be experienced here and now.

It may not be likely, but it is possible.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Christianity Is Important to Me

My understanding and relationship to God and Jesus are at the core of my being. Since early childhood this has been so for me.

So, recent stats that show Americans with no religion has gone up 266% in the past 30 years to 23.1% of our population, hurts my very soul. And the 62.5% decline in mainline Protestants makes me want to weep. There are some projections that following this trend, it will be gone by the end of this century.

I ask myself, how can this be turned around? Are there others with this concern who will join the conversation to seek a way to pivot? Are there courageous people who will seek a new theology that is more closely aligned with The Way, the following and living of the Christ message?

Can we jettison Augustine's misguided original sin and turn to Original Blessing? Can we see the Niceane Creed as an interesting piece of history, but stop pretending Constantine and the extreme minority of bishops who came up with it were in tune with Jesus' teaching? Can we peel off the barnacles that have covered the original teaching?  Can we shift to understand the unscientific stories as parables rather than literal history? Etc...

For example, Augustine's original sin changed the prior understanding of the Eden story and shifted away from the life of Jesus to believing this and that in order to get into heaven. It handed huge power to the church as dispensers of eternal life, so nevermind this life.

I could go on and on. I urge you to look into history for yourself.

I call for a new theology that is true to Jesus' life and teachings, restoring it, removing piles and piles of things people have decided to add, interpret and skew. To start, reread the Gospels in several versions, then the Epistles. Get some good history let's say from Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossen, Mathew Fox, N.T. Wright, Bart Erhman, Amy Jill Levine, John Shelby Spong, or others - all or some of them depending on how much you want to know.

Join me in  restoring the teaching that gives us hope of a positive future.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019


Our pastor is taking a renewal leave for May and June. I am blessed to be asked to give three of the sermons. For me, the preparation begins with inspirations. I jot down bits of ideas, read spiritual books, look for scriptures, pray, contemplate and, as if on its own, a sermon is born. Then I create a PowerPoint and a handout. By the time it is time to speak, the ideas are dancing inside as old friends and are ready to burst forth.

I only share genuine ideas that come from not only the recent preparation, but also come from a lifetime of spiritual study, prayer, contemplation and writing. I only share what I know to be true, at least at my current level of understanding. I know understanding is fluid and unfolding, never static.

In writing this blog and my books, I also use similar preparation. I write from my deepest understanding. I am not swayed by outside judgments. What I write is authentically from my years of spiritual experiences and study. I never say or write something I consider false.

It is exciting to me to begin the adventure of birthing three sermons. I wonder what surprising ideas will unfold, what new ways to look at things will pop up, where God will lead me this time. I set my mind and heart upon this road. Let it begin.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Extremes vs Balance

In the early middle ages and the middle ages, some little educated and unsophisticated groups found earlier mystical writings and carried them to extremes that led to very unspiritual places. They latched onto the idea that God being all made them equal to God, once they arrived at some level or the other. So they no longer had to live under the law. Spirit, they said, told them they could do whatever came to them, and they were personally led by the Holy Spirit. There was reported to be a lot of sex involved. People seem to be eternally gullible.

I agree that God is everywhere, not stuck in a body high above the clouds. That does not make me God, it makes me able to attune my life with God. I also believe that actually living in harmony with God means moral, kind, loving, generous behavior. It means paying attention to the consensus of what are the right and correct behaviors. It means studying holy writings and contemplating them for guidance.

Being a Christian of mystical persuasion, I also know I don't have to reinvent the wheel. Others have walked where I walk, others whose understandings have had the test of time. I can find Guidance in scriptures, with writings of spiritual greats, with contemporary thinkers and in my meditations.

Balance is an important position to maintain. I often think of Aristotle's Golden Mean - neither too far to the left nor too far to the right.

If we start getting carried away on a tangent, let's restore our balance. If we are over the top emotional about something or other, that's our lower brain and not our higher reasoning. If we launch a crusade, beware of being a bit tilted.

My aim is to be calm/at peace, centered, focused, not attached, and yet passionate about life and God in a deep and profound way.