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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.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Science vs God or Science Reveals God

If you believe God created all, but also believe science is opposite of God, hear me out. I had some thoughts in meditation this morning that I want to share with you.

The logic is this:

  • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Everything sprang forth from God.
  • Everything reflects God, for out of Itself all was formed, everything is sacred.
  • Discovering how it works can lead us to know more about how God set it up, to know more about the Infinite One. 
  • Science tells us the laws and procedures that God set up. It does not go against God. It reveals more and more how magnificent God is.

Religious head honchos across history were more concerned about power and control than about enlightenment. They didn't want people to think for themselves. They wanted good little people to believe only them, all else was labeled dangerous and heresy.

Furthermore, they made up farfetched ideas and sold them as truth. It's called various things, brainwashing, propaganda, manipulation, ignorance, etc. 

Some examples: They sold the lie that ancient myths (stories that hinted at some truths) were in fact literal, factual, historical, and to be believed as such; that in times of illiteracy, with no one to write them down, with no one understanding even rudimentary science, all stories on the approved list were factual and required to be believed; etc.

They used shame, shunning, threats, violence, torture, and even death to force compliance.

Yet here we are in the 21st century, and some of this is still stifling people's thinking. There are far too many believing what they have been told without considering it seriously. I suggest that the magnificent intelligence that set up this universe in incredible ways awaits our awakening.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

All Is Sacred

I'm reading John Phillip Newell's book " Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul." I have long been in love with Celtic Christianity, even writing a little book on it. This recent book of his is as powerful as all the others of his that I have read. I want to share a moving quote.

The Mohawk elder stood with tears in his eyes as he spoke. He said, “As I have been listening to these themes, I have been wondering where I would be tonight, I have been wondering where my people would be tonight, and I have been wondering where we would be as a Western world tonight, if the mission that had come to us from Europe centuries ago had come expecting to find light in us.”

But of course they came as an arm of Empire, so unlike Jesus, so unlike the truth of the sacredness of everyone and everything.

But once Empire, via Constantine, took over, it never went back to what it was and what it could be. Once Augustine made up original sin, the innate sacredness was vanished. Layer upon layer of false teaching, controls, coercion, violence and more led Christianity far away from resurrection, newness, and sacredness.

Can we find our way back? it is my belief that it is imperative we do so. Imagine what history we could write, if we looked for the light in everyone and everything.

Go out today and look for the light.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Continued Dive Into the Bible

 Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where have you come from?' say to them, 'We have come from the light, from the place where the light emerged on its own, established itself, and appeared in their image.' If they ask you, 'Is it you?' say, 'We are its children, and we are the chosen of the living Father.'If they question you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest.'"

           ---The Gospel of Thomas, 

               saying  50/114 

This Gospel obviously did not make the cut as far as those who selected the Canon thought. It was known to have existed because others mentioned it. In the 19th century fragments of it were found, and then in 1945 the entire Gospel was found, along with a number of others. Some scholars say it is as old as the Gospels in the Canon. About half of the 114 sayings are in the Bible already. 

I am fond of this Gospel, especially its many references to light. The above excerpt is one of my favorites. 

So I was rereading it this morning and considering the idea that God inspires what people can comprehend, as I recently noted. I decided I would start unpacking some more, beyond Genesis 1 and the Big Bang. I turned to Jesus' teachings and what Mark said about him teaching different things to the disciples than the crowds. What could he not teach the disciples because they didn't know science, but is waiting for us to decode?

The final line caught my eye. Motion and rest = mechanics. An object is considered in motion when it changes its relationship to an other object and at rest if it stays in the same relationship. Except perception can alter that. An atom is always in motion, but as I look at the table, it seems static. 

Therefore, proof that the Father is in us is perception. All kinds of people have told us that we live and move and have our being in God, that the kingdom of God is within, etc. 

We can ask ourselves some questions. Do I perceive the Light of God in myself? Do others perceive it in themselves? Do we perceive it in others? How can we have eyes to see? Let us think on these things.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Reading Sacred Texts

 Only if we will venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us along with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible.

            ---- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This morning, as I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's biography, another way to view our reading came to me.

Imagine God is speaking directly to us, inspiring us just as those who wrote down the original inspirations. It is a personal letter to us.

The Presence of God spoke according to the ability to hear. The bronze age person, no matter how brilliant, could not understand the advanced physics that prove some transcendent Power initiated the Big Bang, for example. So they were told the magnificent creation story of Genesis 1. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth- God already existed and was more than the material world that was created.

I think of Jesus saying we need to come like a little child, and I think I must hear the inspiration as the early person heard. I must walk with God through history, through the stages of maturing, until we come to Jesus who intimately knew God and spoke powerfully out of that knowing. And, furthermore, he challenged us to have that relationship ourselves. He asks us today - do you accept the challenge?

Read the first 3 Gospels, starting with Mark, the oldest, then Matthew, then Luke. God and Jesus are talking directly to us. Set aside what you've been told and do your best to read and listen with new eyes and ears. Let those with eyes to see, see, and those with ears to hear, hear.

Let our hearts and ears and eyes be opened to truly awaken to our Oneness. God is with you.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Nothing Can Do Nothing

I've been watching some Fr. Spitzer lectures on YouTube. I love his joining science and religion. I am going to discuss one of his points today in a very diluted way. To get the full impact of his arguments, watch some of his videos, or go to his website

The Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago was caused by something transcendent of materiality. If you say nothing caused it, you speak impossibility. Nothing can do nothing. 

Plus, the Big Bang was elegantly perfect to create the possibility of life developing. If one thing was a fraction of hundreths of fractions different, it couldn't happen. If gravity was a riny, tiny, tiny bit different, for example, it would have imploded on itself or exploded continuously, eliminating the possibility of life.

So, the bottom line is the Big Bang was created by a transcendent reality that existed outside, before material matter emerged. "Sounds like God!!!" Fr. Spitzer says. 

I think so too. What do you think?