Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christians whining and complaining

I am responding to yet another e-mail I received, complaining about how very difficult it is to live in America as a Christian - this time the issue is, we aren't "allowed" to pray in public. You can see a copy of it here if you would like.

This attitude seems like self-pity to me, this e-mail sounds like a whining, spoiled child’s argument - and I don’t support it.
Do we not shine the light of the Almighty God from within?! Are we not more than conquerors?!

It seems to me that some in modern American Christianity take on this kind of martyr position at their convenience, which they put on and take off to make a point - like hypocrites, wearers of masks.
I say - let us choose to let God make us strong and courageous. God needs spiritual warriors, not “happy little martyrs.”

So let’s look at this claim that our right to pray in public places has been stolen from us:

WHO is it exactly that stops us from praying? Who can do this except ourselves? No one, not even “the world, the flesh, and the devil,” can stop us from praying –only our own free will.

What has gone so astray that we do not know that no one can TAKE our free will – we can only give it? I don’t understand the problem of the many folks claiming that we are not allowed to pray – and it is someone else’s fault!
Do we need a crash course in spiritual maturity? Do all our ministers and priests need to be retrained? What could it possibly be except our own choosing of evil that keeps us from doing what God tells us to do?

I am exhorted to pray without ceasing – why would anyone who loves God NOT aim for this?
And then when I miss the mark, as most of us do, how can I dare blame someone else? The government? The society?
Isn’t it “the world’s” JOB to tempt me away from who I am in God and who God calls me to be?

Since this seems to be needed: for whoever chooses to pray in public, here are some simple examples of how it is done:

• When I want to participate in public prayer, I go to church or I fellowship with other believers wherever I choose. Done. I need no one’s permission for this. It is not against the law.

• When I eat out in a restaurant with other believers or fellowship together in a park or at the beach, etc – when we are moved, we pray together. Done. I need no one’s permission for this. It is not against the law.

• When I was in school, and now that I am at work, when a fellow believer is troubled, I pull them aside into a quiet corner and take a minute to pray together. I need no one’s permission for this. It is not against the law.

I do these things habitually. Yes, sometimes in public I get funny looks, but NO ONE can stop me. One time I had to fight my employer around this issue, but we eventually came to a comfortable agreement – the law is on my side, after all…

None of this is rocket science. It is not hard. It takes no gargantuan effort.
If it is not getting done, well then how about we just do it? No need to send e-mails, make speeches, get airtime, annoy legislators – just do it!

As spiritual adults – we do what God calls us to do, period. So what is all the whining about, really? We want EVERYBODY else to do what we do? There is where we cross the line, IMO. It is one thing to pray, it is another to force my particular beliefs down someone else’s throat – THAT is a completely different issue. (I have written about this several times now, having received several e-mails – here is a compilation).

There are those who only feel comfortable praying when others are praying – if the whole herd is doing it. I judge that to be an adolescent concern. On the other hand, it is our job (and no one else’s) to allow God to grow us into spiritual maturity. How about we stop the ‘complaining game,’ and the ‘blame game,’ and all the other temptations, and get down to it!

God bless us all, everyone

Hebrews 12: 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Religious/social/cultural/economic/racial... camps/ghettos

Interview on NOW August 11, 2006: David Brancaccio with playwright, actress Anna Deavere Smith:

I am quoting words, but to see/hear the video is so much deeper, IMO - see link below

BRANCACCIO: How do you hope your work— evoking these characters coming from so many different angles. How do you hope that it moves us in a more positive direction?

SMITH: One of the things I try to talk about whenever I talk to younger people, I do a lot of speaking at universities for example, is out of my experiences of having been in Crown Heights and Los Angeles in the '90s I came away with this metaphor that I call safe houses of identity. That we live in safe houses of identity. And— even in my generation, there was this promise in those— in those days that the— women deciding to be women, blacks deciding to be black, the anti war movement. That there was gonna be this whole new mix up. Everything's gonna be all mixed up. We were all gonna challenge the white hegemony. But what happened was it didn't end up being this mix up. There started to be these little identity camps.

And when I was in LA, I mean this was quite clear. I mean there's the Asians here, the black kids are burning Korean stores, etcetera, etcetera. So what I want to suggest to the new generation, younger kids, is hey guys how about if we come out of those well established houses of gays here, bisexuals here, all these little camps, were all these camps. How about if you come out of the safe house of your identity, where are you gonna end up? So it's kind of fancy words, but I said you're gonna be in the crossroads of ambiguity. And guess what, you can't go back to the house you came out of.

But out here in the middle where there is no house, in this crossroads of ambiguity, we might be able to get something really fascinating happening.

BRANCACCIO: And that's the public space.

SMITH: That's the public space. And I warned younger people it ain't safe. So I don't use words like safety when I teach. I talk about resilience. Knowing how to move, knowing how to be in motion, knowing how to deal with discomfort. So I think we have to get off of where we think we just know everything. And think about becoming more resilient about what we don't know. And getting better at asking questions. And having fewer answers. If we want to accomplish the kinds of things we want to try to accomplish.

Links to full transcript as well as video for above are here

If you want even more, Anna Deavere Smith was interviewed by Bill Moyers last night – links to video and transcript are here

Cool teens working to end the child sex trade

cool teen action, I found out about from Mercy Corps.

As an entirely teen-run organization, Minga believes that we, as youth, are best able to reach our peers and motivate them to get involved in the fight to end the child sex trade. We seek to educate our ...

They are looking to go viral - do you know teens who want to engage with this issue?

In such a gigantic world, it's sometimes hard to figure out what you can do to help stop injustice. Minga offers a lot of ways for everyone to get involved. But, the biggest gift we can receive is not money, but interested youth looking to start a Minga Youth-For-Change Group (MYFCG)!...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

If you want to avoid experiencing reversal...

If you want to avoid experiencing reversal,
just cut off dualism;
then measurements cannot govern you.
You are neither Buddha nor sentient being;
you are not near or far,
not high or low,
not equal or even,
not going or coming.
- Pai-chang

This is one that really hits me where I live,
where it seems I experience the most pain (clearly from attachment).

I suffer over what I have lost,
over what I will lose
- relationships and people in bodies that I love, fitness and wellness, the joy of being in this body
- everything that is not spirit: emotions, thoughts, things... The more I have the more I fear to lose...

I suffer.
 But, it turns out the solution is so very easy:
just let go of dualism...
(I think I will fit that in this afternoon between eating bon-bons and washing my hair ; )

Really this quote validates and encourages me,
but what a journey this is - aye!

the human condition (ahhhhhh)
such a challenging blessing!

Consciously working with God
and allowing spiritual change helps so much with this,
AND my body grieves.

We are all in the same boat.
God bless us all, everyone!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Inside this new love, die

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with a thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now.

~ Rumi

Web/e-mail recommendation AND Mission is...

I receive daily e-mails from The Church of the Saviour
These folks often send useful quotes, and sometimes thoughtful blog posts.

this is what they say about their offerings:
words of encouragement and challenge from a broad assortment of authors. It’s a collection of thoughts that speak of living a more authentic and joyfully integrated life rooted in the rhythms of the inward/outward journey.

If interested, the blog containing all recent e-mail is here.

Here is an example to whet the appetite:

By Jean Vanier

Mission is revealing to others their fundamental beauty, value and importance in the universe, their capacity to love, to grow and to do beautiful things and to meet God. Mission is transmitting to people a new inner freedom and hope; it is unlocking the doors of their being so that new energies can flow; it is taking away from their shoulders the terrible yoke of fear and guilt. To give life to people is to reveal to them that they are loved just as they are by God, with the mixture of good and evil, light and darkness that is in them: that the stone in front of their tomb in which all the dirt of their lives has been hidden, can be rolled away. They are forgiven; they can live in freedom.

Source: Community and Growth

Monday, November 2, 2009

A holy Yea unto life

I have this in a few sections, separated by **********
; ) w

the three transformations

Joseph Campbell writes in his book (The Power of Myth p. 153-154) about the three transformations of the spirit...

"The first is that of the camel, of childhood and youth. The camel gets down on his knees and says, 'Put a load on me.' This is the season for obedience, receiving instruction and the information your society requires of you in order to live a responsible life.

But when the camel is well loaded, it struggles to its feet and runs out into the desert, where it is transformed into a lion-- the heavier the load that had been carried, the stronger the lion will be. Now, the task of the lion is to kill a dragon, and the name of the dragon is 'Thou shalt.' On every scale of this scaly beast, a 'thou shalt' is imprinted: some from four thousand years ago; others from this morning's headlines. Whereas the camel, the child, had to submit to the 'thou shalts', the lion, the youth, is to throw them off and to come to his own realization.

And so, when the dragon is thoroughly dead, with all its 'thou shalts' overcome, the lion is transformed into a child moving out of its own nature, like a wheel impelled from it own hub. No more rules to obey. No more rules derived from the historical needs and tasks of the local society, but the pure impulse to living of a life in flower."

another version

There is another version of Joseph Campbell telling this story, which has different highlights – you can see it here. Start ½ way down pg 75 until almost the end of pg 76.

for the game of creating, there is needed a holy Yea unto life

the direct copy from Nietzsche is longer and denser, if you are interested it is below

check out this one part though, very inspiring:

“Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self- rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea.
Aye, for the game of creating, my brethren, there is needed a holy Yea unto life: ITS OWN will, willeth now the spirit; HIS OWN world winneth the world's outcast.”

Zarathustra: The Three Metamorphoses

I. The Three Metamorphoses.
Three metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.
Many heavy things are there for the spirit, the strong load-bearing spirit in which reverence dwelleth: for the heavy and the heaviest longeth its strength.
What is heavy? so asketh the load-bearing spirit; then kneeleth it down like the camel, and wanteth to be well laden.
What is the heaviest thing, ye heroes? asketh the load-bearing spirit, that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength.
Is it not this: To humiliate oneself in order to mortify one's pride? To exhibit one's folly in order to mock at one's wisdom?
Or is it this: To desert our cause when it celebrateth its triumph? To ascend high mountains to tempt the tempter?
Or is it this: To feed on the acorns and grass of knowledge, and for the sake of truth to suffer hunger of soul?
Or is it this: To be sick and dismiss comforters, and make friends of the deaf, who never hear thy requests?
Or is it this: To go into foul water when it is the water of truth, and not disclaim cold frogs and hot toads?
Or is it this: To love those who despise us, and give one's hand to the phantom when it is going to frighten us?
All these heaviest things the load-bearing spirit taketh upon itself: and like the camel, which, when laden, hasteneth into the wilderness, so hasteneth the spirit into its wilderness.
But in the loneliest wilderness happeneth the second metamorphosis: here the spirit becometh a lion; freedom will it capture, and lordship in its own wilderness.
Its last Lord it here seeketh: hostile will it be to him, and to its last God; for victory will it struggle with the great dragon.
What is the great dragon which the spirit is no longer inclined to call Lord and God? "Thou-shalt," is the great dragon called. But the spirit of the lion saith, "I will."
"Thou-shalt," lieth in its path, sparkling with gold--a scale-covered beast; and on every scale glittereth golden, "Thou shalt!"
The values of a thousand years glitter on those scales, and thus speaketh the mightiest of all dragons: "All the values of things--glitter on me.
All values have already been created, and all created values--do I represent. Verily, there shall be no 'I will' any more. Thus speaketh the dragon.
My brethren, wherefore is there need of the lion in the spirit? Why sufficeth not the beast of burden, which renounceth and is reverent?
To create new values--that, even the lion cannot yet accomplish: but to create itself freedom for new creating--that can the might of the lion do.
To create itself freedom, and give a holy Nay even unto duty: for that, my brethren, there is need of the lion.
To assume the right to new values--that is the most formidable assumption for a load-bearing and reverent spirit. Verily, unto such a spirit it is preying, and the work of a beast of prey.
As its holiest, it once loved "Thou-shalt": now is it forced to find illusion and arbitrariness even in the holiest things, that it may capture freedom from its love: the lion is needed for this capture.
But tell me, my brethren, what the child can do, which even the lion could not do? Why hath the preying lion still to become a child?
Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self- rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea.
Aye, for the game of creating, my brethren, there is needed a holy Yea unto life: ITS OWN will, willeth now the spirit; HIS OWN world winneth the world's outcast.
Three metamorphoses of the spirit have I designated to you: how the spirit became a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.--
Thus spake Zarathustra. And at that time he abode in the town which is called The Pied Cow.

freedom to create with God

My friends ask me an important Question:
why bother to work so f#$%^&n hard to kill the Dragon?

My Answer, one amoung many:

Because then we can enjoy our spiritual freedom
(Paul says – ‘let us labor to enter into rest’ )

and gain the authority to be conscious co-creators with God
(Jesus says – what you bind/loose on earth shall be bound/loosed in heaven)


Sunday, November 1, 2009



Forget every idea of right and wrong
Any classroom ever taught you

An empty heart, a tormented mind,
Unkindness, jealousy and fear

Are always the testimony
You have been completely fooled!

Turn your back on those
Who would imprison your wondrous spirit
With deceit and lies.

Come, join the honest company
Of the King's beggars –
Those gamblers, scoundrels and divine clowns
And those astonishing fair courtesans
Who need Divine Love every night.

Come, join the courageous
Who have no choice
But to bet their entire world
That indeed,
Indeed, God is Real.

I will lead you into the Circle
Of the Beloved's cunning thieves,
Those playful royal rogues –
The ones you can trust for true guidance –
Who can aid you
In this Blessed Calamity of life.
Look at the Perfect One
At the Circle's Center:

He Spins and Whirls like a Golden Compass,
Beyond all that is Rational,

To show this dear world

That Everything,
Everything in Existence
Does point to God.
~ Hafiz


this poem, seems to sum up many aspects of my spiritual experience quite well.

Also, especially the first half, reminds me of Galatians 5, which seems to have always been my favorite New Testament chapter,

which starts with the wonderful verse:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Talks in the middle about walking by spirit, not by flesh.

and ends with the wonderful fruit that is, as we abide with God.
"love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control"