My Books Available Now on Amazon ebooks

Amazon Kindle books now have some of my books. Please keep checking for more titles as they become available. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

There Are Tons of Ways of Looking at Everything

 I used to do an exercise in workshops around this very idea. Example:

Let's form small groups of about 6 people around one chair. Now imagine with me that you have never seen such a thing before. Maybe you live in a remote jungle in a community that has nothing that looks like this. Now brainstorm together what this strange object is and what its uses might be.

People came up with the most fascinating array of ideas. Maybe you can play this game with yourself right now, or later with friends and family.

One of the points is, that once we decide what something is, we don't have to think about it again, it just gets a label and then it's settled. This is much more important when we think about social issues, racial issues, economic or political or religious issues... We already have a position on this or that and are often unwilling to rethink it.

Let's brave a religious issue. Some say that we should actually describe the current most followed religion "Paulianity." Ouch you might say, or how dare you, or blasphemy. But think about it. I know the Gospels are long after Jesus' life, but they are likely at least partially related to what Jesus said and did.

I mentioned recently on this blog about the sheep and goats and the difference being who took care of the needy and who didn't. There are other similar references to doing good as a requisite for a good eternal life. Think rich man who was told to follow the Commandments, who responded he already did that, and was told then give everything for the poor. How about the poor woman who could only give a mite to the offering, but was upheld as a hero. Think of the beatitudes or the two great commandments.  I think you get the picture. Jesus, as his brother James did too, uplifted those who were good and kind and generous and who would therefore have a good eternal life. 

But then Paul, the self-appointed apostle who never met Jesus, enters the conversation. What quotes of Jesus did he offer in his 7 authentic letters? What was his idea for a good eternal life (salvation)? Believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, that was Paul's core message.

Paul's view won historically, so that is what is taught in most so-called Christian churches. Paul's idea "Paulianity" I suggest is actually what it is. I'm not trying to disparage Paul. He said many thoughtful things, many of them more Greek than Jewish. I enjoy reading Paul. But his eternal life insurance plan is far different than the one Jesus taught.

I urge, and have for decades, let's go back to the ethical teachings of Jesus in order to be able to say honestly that we follow Jesus, maybe without the apocalyptic side of him. Obviously the Son of Man did not come in his lifetime, or any lifetime, to wipe out evil and establish God's Kingdom. But then, we could do that ourselves, if we activated the ethics of Jesus.

There is another way to look at everything, then another way, and another, and on and on.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

After This Life

Perhaps because of my experience last week, I have been contemplating life here and what comes next.

Plato and Socrates played important roles in our foundations of thought, including in the formation of early Christian thought. What were their basic premises about what  happens after this life?

The basic idea was that possibly the soul and the body were two different things, and death was the soul leaving the body. Then the soul had to go through some purification to get ready to return to earth and try to do better or to go somewhere else.

Even if this were not the case, it is better to live a good and honest life and do one's best to be a good person.

In general, I think these possibilities make much more sense than what emerged centuries after Jesus of a violent and horrible deity that delighted in obscene tortures of those misguided souls who didn't march to some ignorant theologian's musings turned edicts.

Sometimes I feel upset for God for the horrible things made up about the One said to be pure unconditional Love. In what way does obscene torture speak of unconditional love, except in the mind of the psychopathic killer? I also feel sad for the people who actually believe the misguided men who made that all up as well as other fantastic and wild ideas that have nothing to do with Jesus and his life and teaching.

Mark is the oldest Gospel by far, written sometime after the destruction of the Jewish Temple and much of Jerusalem in 70 CE. It's not written during Jesus' lifetime of course, but at least 40 years later. It's not by an Aramaic speaker, but a Greek speaker. It's written somewhere in the Mediterranean area by an unknown author (the Gospels were given names sometime after 150). We don't have any original copies, only copies of copies of copies. But at this time, this is the best we have.

Try an experiment. Pretend you have not read the other parts of the New Testament, and just read Mark. Just read Mark for a month or two and let just Mark tell you what he understands about Jesus. Don't add details you might "know" from the other Gospels, written later by the way, between 85 and 100 or maybe 120 according to some scholars. Try to understand what this first Gospel that we have is saying on its own. Try to peel away the man-made theologies laid upon it by later men. 

I am very interested in seeking Truth, in trying to understand Jesus without centuries of misguided and sometimes evil people making up stuff about his teaching and him. I am seeking to believe Jesus rather than believe in the made up theologies. I am seeking to live according to his moral and ethical teachings. I am seeking to peel the layers away that obscure him. I hope you will join me. Maybe it's time we save Jesus.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Life Continues- Here and Beyond

 "Life Continues" is a saying of one of my soul sisters, Evelina. This week has brought that to the fore in my life.

Wednesday we went for a "meet the new doctor" appointment, our doctor of 25 years had retired. I had some chest pains, she had her staff give me an EKG, and she called 911. Firemen and paramedics filled her offices, and I was whisked to the hospital in an ambulance. In emergency the EKG showed the same blip as in the doctor's office, so they admitted me for observation, which turned into 3 days and a number of tests.

It began to feel like a mission experience. I often say that wherever we are, we need to remember we are ambassadors for Christ. I was given the opening to speak to quite a few people who told me how inspiring our conversation was and how it made them want to do more and be better. From the paramedic in the ambulance to the nurses to the cleaner to the techs, I had this opportunity to hear their stories and share a bit. It almost felt magical.

Then yesterday I had the second half of the nuclear stress test. They put radioactive liquid in my veins and then a chemical that makes you feel like you're running a marathon. My chest expanded, my head expanded, then I broke into a sweat and was dizzy. Then my blood pressure dropped low and both numbers were almost equal. Suddenly the room and all the people started going away from me, getting smaller and smaller. Then I saw a white veil, a sort of filmy curtain between us. I felt immense peace. I was safe and in a seemingly familiar place. Then I was back in the room, they had put the bed so the head was way down and the foot way up. They put me on a saline drip. And my blood pressure was rising. They had me drink some caffeine. And one by one, the people left the room.

Gilbert, my beloved and kind husband, was in the room. He saw what was going on, saw my stark white face, and he began praying. I am sure he is part of the reason I didn't keep on going away, as well as the medical personnel of course.

So, it seems that God is not done with me yet, and I have more to do here. I am so very grateful for the wonderful/awful week I just lived. How blessed I am. Life Continues.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Apocalypse or Not?

In historical scholarship, Jesus is often spoken of as an apocalyptic prophet. His ministry began with the fiery apocalyptic John the Baptist. He spoke of the Son of Man coming to end the violent and evil world and establish a Kingdom of God free of evil and suffering. His later followers taught he was returning soon, in their lifetimes.

The Cambridge University dictionary defines apocalypse: a very serious event resulting in great destruction and change.

But what if it was a different kind of apocalypse of which he spoke? What if the end of the evil world could come simply by living the things he taught? How earth shattering would it be if people began to live with love and forgiveness and generosity? What a death blow to evil it would be if we all lived as he taught!

One of the big hints about this is his story about the sheep and the goats coming to judgement day. The sheep are welcomed in, he says not because they believed in him. They were welcomed because they took care of him, giving him food and drink and comfort. They said they didn't remember doing that. His response was that whoever they did it to, it was like doing it for him.  The goats were directed to hell, and they asked why. He told them it was because they didn't give him food and drink and comfort, etc. 

That ties in with James' idea that faith without works is dead. How we live, the choices we make, change everything. It's not claiming Jesus lives, it's living as Jesus called us to live. We can be made new. The world can be made new.

It's not likely, but imagine with me the powerful, the greedy, the mean spirited, the evil doers suddenly had the fog drop from their eyes, ears, hearts, souls - and they turned to live whole- heartedly out of Jesus' playbook. That would be the most amazing apocalypse ever. The end of all that is evil!

It is not likely, but it is at least remotely possible. It begins with you and me. Can we live as he taught us? Can we begin a ripple that reaches out to include more and more? Can we begin the apocalypse of love and not the one of destruction toward which the "leaders" on our lovely planet seems bent on creating? 

Ask yourself, which apocalypse do you want to be part of?

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Many Faces of Sin

The New Testament term for sin, hamartia, comes from the sport of archery; literally, it means “missing the mark.” New Testament sources teach that we suffer distress, mental and physical, because we fail to achieve the moral goal toward which we aim: “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” --- Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

I have read this idea many times and places over the years. I'm currently rereading this book, and it seemed to me we might discuss this idea.

The idea of sin has occupied the hearts and minds of people for eons. Some claim it to be the work of evil forces. Some say one dip into it means torture for all eternity. Some have said all you have to do is pay a penance, and you're off the hook. Some say all you have to do is believe a certain way or in a certain person.

What is defined as sin is different in different times and cultures. What is defined as sin right now varies wildly. In general, the 10 Commandments have been a basic guide to stay out of sin for many people, and as an under-girding for much of the world.

Considering the archery reference for sin is incredibly helpful. It takes sin out of some dark metaphysical place to personal evaluation and personal responsibility. When we do not honor our own moral compass, we create problems at every level for ourselves and others. And then we can re-aim, try again and get closer and closer to that which our inner self knows is the right and moral thing to do and to be.

My long time guide to check oneself out comes to play here  - What would I think or do or say if I stood in the Presence of God? For I do in fact stand there now and always.

Monday, July 3, 2023


Gnosis, knowing, insight, intuition, epiphany, and other words related, have been the ground out of which great art, literature, science and human progress have sprung. 

The Gnostics, early Christians, later became known as heretics because of the Imperial need to control. The empires could not allow a variety of opinions, so a rigid belief structure was put in place. Believe this or lose everything, often even your life. 

Many weird stories were made up about the "heretical" Gnostics and concerted smear campaigns ensued . Sometimes the weird stories were true about a small group or two, but everyone was included whether or not they fit. Elaine Pagels wrote about Gnostics:

On this basis, like artists, they express their own insight—their own gnosis—by creating new myths, poems, rituals, “dialogues” with Christ, revelations, and accounts of their visions. Like Baptists, Quakers, and many others, the gnostic is convinced that whoever receives the spirit, communicates directly with the divine. One of Valentinus’ students, the gnostic teacher Heracleon (c. 160), says that “at first, people believe because of the testimony of others …” but then “they come to believe from the truth itself.”

It occurred to me that Gnosis in general needs to be encouraged, right now. We would do well to turn within and listen. There are many far fetched  notions being flung around currently. Many of us feel queasy about at least some of them, but we haven't grounded ourselves in our own knowing. The Gnostics taught that we can tune in to The Spirit, The Divine Presence and be enlightened and guided directly. I know this to be true. 

My suggestion is - select some notion, take it within, sit quietly asking for insight about it, listen, journal about it, read what you wrote. Consider it. Is there more you need to know, or are you at peace about it now? If you need to know more, repeat the exercise the next day. Listen to your inner knowing, your gnosis.