Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Green Light vs. Engine Light

Odysseus (our mini-motorhome) has been “through the mill” since our brief road trip earlier this month.  New arteries, new gaskets, seals, etc. have been installed to make his stress (engine) light go off. We’ve been trying to get him ready for a longer trip, beginning tomorrow.  Odysseus was released by the garage yesterday and given a clean bill of health, which also cleaned me out financially.  Oh, how I wish Odysseus was old enough for Medicare!

When I picked up Odysseus and drove him home, I still detected some health issues.  The “check engine light” didn’t come on (as it has for months now), but his performance seemed a bit below par.  I called the garage and they suggested we return, which we did.  A mechanic did a test drive and assured me again that every thing was in order. If it were not, he said, the engine light would come on, as if I didn’t know that! As I drove back home, I still felt Odysseus was not functioning quite the way he ought.  But I’m no mechanic!  Then, I wondered if the mechanic might have removed the check engine light bulb. And, then I wondered,  if maybe, just maybe, I’m a little apprehensive after weeks of trying to get Odysseus well again.

What to do?  We have a long trip planned—crossing rivers, plains, deserts and mountain places.  Shall we take the risk?  We have places to go, people to see and who are expecting us and reservations made. We decided yesterday afternoon that we must give it a whirl and began the process of loading up.  That process seems to get more complicated each time we do it.  But we have a green light to go—and if Odysseus’ “stress light” lights up, we’ve decided to turn around and come back home.  What have we got to lose?  We cannot really live if all we see are red lights.

So off we go, “a’coddiwompling” (“to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination”) if Odysseus is willing and able. 


Monday, April 29, 2019

How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed

Sometimes in these early morning hours I wonder what kind of seed I have planted along my journey’s way.  Did I plant “good” seeds in my children?  Have I planted seeds  in the lives of those I’ve rubbed shoulders with through the years?  This thought came to me as I looked up momentarily and saw Thomas Merton’s book on the shelf:  Seeds of Destruction, a series of letters he wrote about where he would plant himself in the struggles and issues of our society.  He also wrote an earlier book called Seeds of Contemplation. So, I’m contemplating:  How, where, and when have I planted myself as “seed?”  Were they “good” seeds or “seeds of destruction?” Probably it has included a little bit of both kinds.  The planting of seed is always a great gamble.  It is not always a question of good seed or bad seed; a great part of the planting depends heavily upon where the seed (good or bad) is sown.

“A sower went out to sow.  And it happened that as he sowed, some seed fell along the footpath; and the birds came and ate it up.  Some see fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil, and it sprouted quickly because it had no depth of earth; but when the sun rose the young corn was scorched, and as it had no root it withered away.  Some seed fell among thistles; and the thistles shot up and choked the corn, and it yielded no crop.  And some of the seed fell into good soil, where it came up and grew, and bore fruit…If you have ears to hear, then hear…(Mark 4:3-9).

It is not only a matter of where the seed lands—it is also a matter of how the world deals with the seed.  “You shall bring out much seed to the field but you will gather in little, for the locust will consume it. You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them. You shall have olive trees throughout your territory, but you will not anoint yourself with the oil for your olives will drop off…Crickets shall possess all your trees and the produce of your ground…” (Deuteronomy 28:38ff).

We all “bring out much seed to the field” of life. We sow our seed as we live, for living my life is both the seed and the planting process.  Where have I planted myself?  I hope with Robert Frost that “Love burns (has burned) through the Putting in the Seed.”

You come to fetch me from my work tonight
When supper’s on the table, and we’ll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree.
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)
And go along with you ere you lose sight
Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.
How love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth’s crumbs. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Our Task

There is a strange passage in scripture that has always bugged me and continues to haunt me.  It is found in Isaiah 53:5. The New English Bible puts it this way:  “…but he was pierced for our transgressions, tortured for our iniquities; the chastisement he bore is health for us and by his scourging we are healed.”  The words seem to support the false illusion we humans have that another person can give us wholeness.  It suggests that someone can take away our wounds, and by wounds I mean our hurts, our brokenness, our pain, our loneliness, our fears, and our suffering.  I’m convinced that no person can do that for another.  I cannot take away your loneliness, or mend your brokenness; nor can you take away mine.  To be alive is to suffer.  To live is to be broken.  All of us are wounded and I can’t take your’s away and you can’t take mine away.

The Christian Church has taken the Isaiah passage and turned it into a doctrine called the “vicarious atonement,” or “substitutionary atonement,” which is simply the idea that Jesus died “for us.”  He was pierced, tortured, and chastised for our sakes—“instead of us.” Why is it, then, that we are still suffering?  Still broken in spirit?  Still wounded?  If Jesus took it on for us, why are we still in the state we’re in?  And if Jesus “died for us” why do we still die? Is it all a hoax?  Is it simply a way for us to continue to live with our false illusion that someone can take our hurt and pain from us?

Before you label me a heretic consider this.  Could it be that Jesus was wounded to help us accept our own woundedness?  Could it be that Jesus was broken to help us accept our own brokenness?  Could it be that Jesus died to help us accept our own dying? Could it be that what Jesus did with his wounds, we are to do with our own?

Thorton Wilder in one of his three-minute plays tells of a man who stood one day by the pool of Bethesda waiting for the water to be troubled that he might be made whole again.  To him the angel came and said, “Stand back.  Healing is not for you.  Without your wound, where would your power be that sends your low voice trembling into the hearts of men?  We ourselves, the very angels of God in heaven, cannot persuade the wretched and the blundering children of earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living.  In love’s service only wounded soldiers will do.”  And so, as once more he turned aside, still with his wound, another who had been lame came swiftly from the pool and seeing him stopped short and said, his face clouding over as if suddenly remembering some ancient sorrow, “Come home with me, I pray you.  My son is lost in dark thoughts.  I cannot understand him.  Only you have ever lifted his mood.  And my daughter, since her child died, sits in the shadow and will not listen to us.  Come with me just an hour.”

Is that what Jesus’ wounds were for?  Is that why we are wounded, too?  I think so.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

I've Got A Headache

I’ve been reading the Mueller Report online and getting a headache.  I think I’m going to get a hardcopy from the Washington Post or order the book from Amazon.  I’m tired of looking at the computer screen.  I’m also frustrated trying to get back to a page that I want to re-read, etc.  I’m getting a headache from trying to interpret and understand  the “legal” language in the report.  I realize there are two sides to every story, but this story seems to have so many sides that it becomes almost incomprehensible—boggling my mind.  But, what really gives me a headache are those who comment on “The Mueller Report,” but have never read it.

According to what I’ve been reading, “The Mueller Report” is being read by many Americans.  The Harvard Book Store reports that the demand for the print edition is “absolutely mind-boggling.”  The bookstore was founded in 1932, and the manager says, “We don’t know of any other event in our history that has generated this level of public interest.”  “The Mueller Report” was at the top of the best-selling book charts (Amazon and Barnes and Noble) within twenty-four hours after the redacted version was released online.  This is good—people are reading it—and that helps my headache some.

Many have not read it, will never read it, and yet claim to know what it says.  There are others who have not read it, will never read it, and don’t care what it says, but will argue about what it says even if they don’t care.  And there are those, who will try to read it objectively and make some sense of it.  But what difference will it make?  Those who have not read it, will never read it, will continue to claim that they know what it says.  Others don’t care whether it is read or not read, and in the end don’t care what it says, but will argue about what it says even though they don’t care. 

It reminds me a great deal of the way Christians deal with the Bible.  Many have not read it, will never read it, but claim to know what it says.  Other have not read it at all, and are never going to read it, because they don’t really care what it says.  And then there are those who do read the Bible carefully, objectively, and faithfully, trying to understand it—but they will be told by those who have never read it and never will—that they have read it wrongly.  After reading and studying the Bible, they will be challenged by those who don’t care what the Bible says and who have never and will never read it.  I’m just realizing now that I’ve had this same headache for a long, long time—and it is forever intensifying!

Friday, April 26, 2019

“Brewing Soma” and The “Still, Small Voice”

“Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

Hymns are religious songs of prayer, adoration, and praise.  The Greek word “hymnos” means “a song of praise.”  Hymns have been used for centuries and long before the Christian era.  Egyptians sang their “Great Hymn to the Aten,” the Veda (book of hymns) has been sung in Hinduism, and the Book of Psalms (a collection of songs) has been a part of Judaism, for thousands of years.

This morning I read the hymn “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind,” which is one of my favorites.  The words are taken from a poem, “The Brewing of Soma,” by Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier.  Do you know about Soma?  It is a sacred ritual drink in the Vedic religion (2000 BC) and like similar drinks used in religious rituals, Soma probably had hallucinogenic properties.  Whittier’s poem tells of the Vedic priests brewing and drinking Soma in their attempt to experience the divine.  Everybody drinks the Soma and everybody gets drunk, but nobody seems to connect with the divine.  Whittier compares this experience to some Christians’ use of “music, incense, vigils drear, and trance, to bring the skies more near, or lift men up to heaven!”  But, Whittier, as a faithful Quaker, says such “music, incense, vigils drear, and trance” are all in vain—a mere intoxication.

Whittier goes on,  then, to describe the way in which we can best connect with the divine (God)—and,  of course, that is the way practiced by the Quakers.  This Quaker way is a simple life, Whittier says, of seeking silence and selflessness in order to hear the “still, small voice” described in I Kings 19:11-13, the authentic voice of God.  God’s voice is heard in the silence rather than in the earthquake, wind or fire.  There is no need for Soma (“music, incense, vigils drear, and trance”) to “bring the skies more near, or lift men up to heaven!”

Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desires thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

William Penn Adair Rogers

William Penn Adair Rogers was born November 4, 1879, Cherokee Territory, U.S. (Oklahoma).  He grew up on a ranch and learned to ride a horse and do rope tricks which led him to work various Wild West shows in this country and overseas.  In 1905 he was doing a show at Madison Square Garden and decided to stay in New York City and work in vaudeville.  

While working vaudeville, Will Rogers discovered that people liked his Western drawl and his witticism.  He began poking fun at his audience, the events of the day, and particularly at the politicians on stage.  He soon became a master of the one-liner:  “Every time Congress makes a joke it’s law, and every time they make a law it’s a joke.”

I have a little collection of his one-liners and several of his books, including The Cowboy Philosopher.  On occasion, I enjoy reading those one-liners as I have this morning and I thought you’d like to read a few of them, too.

“If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.”

“Don’t squat with your spurs on.”

“After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roarin’.   He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him…The moral:  When you know you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.”

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.”

“When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.”

“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.”

So spoke—and so speaks Will Rogers today.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


The current adoration and whole-hearted support given to Donald Trump by the religious right continues to baffle me.  It makes no sense.  It doesn’t fit.  It doesn’t make sense given their religious dogma and it doesn’t fit what they preach. This phenomena is similar to the quote I shared a few days ago:  “He is a despicable human being but a good President.”  Just as that statement is untenable, so, too, is Michelle Bachman’s statement, “I have never seen a more biblical president than I have seen in Donald Trump.”   What does being a “biblical” person mean?

The best-selling non-fiction book in the United States for two successive years—1925 and 1926—was Bruce Barton’s The Man Nobody Knows.  Mr. Barton claimed that Jesus was not only “the most popular dinner guest in Jerusalem” and “an outdoor man,” but a great executive.  “He picked up twelve men from the bottom ranks of business and forged them into an organization that conquered the world….Nowhere is there such a startling example of executive success as the way in which that organization was brought together.”  His parables were “the most powerful advertisements of all time.” In fact, Barton pronounced Jesus as “the founder of modern business.”  In the period 1923 to 1929, business (prosperity) was the “god” of American society—and business (prosperity) became the national religion of America.  Every business man, Henry Ford included, was given a “halo” by the public.  Those haloes didn’t fit—but they certainly benefited the businessmen of the time.  And then came the Great Depression!

Bruce Barton’s portrait of Jesus as a great businessman was untenable, that means, unjustified, flimsy, weak, absurd, and illogical.  But people bought it!  Michelle Bachman’s portrait of Donald Trump as being “highly biblical” and that we “will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president in our lifetimes” is untenable.  But people have bought into it!  

Is there nothing new under the sun?  Does history repeat itself?  How long will we continue to buy into the untenable?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Words Are Deeds!

Dr. George Buttrick recalls a day when he sat at a high school commencement staring at a motto in huge letters above the platform:  “Deeds, not words”.  Buttrick knew the motto had it wrong.  Words are deeds.  Words are tremendous, potent deeds.  “Words turn the tides of history, shatter human lives, paint pictures, carve motives, light lamps,” writes Paul Scherer.

He goes on to say, “We have grown used to speaking so carelessly to one another, (even more so now that we have Email, Facebook and Twitter) and cheaply sometimes, as if on this point … we need not concern ourselves overmuch.  Words, we say, are such usual things, such casual, futile things; it doesn’t matter much what we do with them or to what level we let them sink.  Let them be frivolous or bitter or indifferent or vulgar—they’re only words.  It’s deeds that count!”

We deal so carelessly with words.  Words are never idle we have been told and we shall have to give an account for every one we speak.  Words carry sorrows and joys.  Words carry the burdens of the world on their back.  Words start wars! Words divide! Yet with Paul Scherer, I have to say that  “I’ve loved words ever since I can remember—the sound and color and fire of them; I think I stand in awe of them now, and pray God to help me load them rightly with mercy and some loving kindness!”

Think before you act! Think, also,  before you speak.  Words are deeds!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Does Character Matter?

The brief interview has aired several times on cable networks and each time I see and hear it I become deeply concerned.  A reporter is asking a man about his reaction to the Trump presidency and the man responds:  “He’s a despicable human being but a good President.” I’ve tried to understand precisely what this citizen means.  How can a despicable person make a good President?

I’ve asked this question of others and what I am told is that it has to do with the mental image or “prototype” (archetype might be the better word)  that some have of what being a good “business man” means.  A business man, they believe,  gets things done and it doesn’t matter how he gets things done, or who gets passed over, or who gets stepped on, or who gets put down or hurt in the process. It is, they think, the way business has to be done and they believe Donald J. Trump to be a “good business man” (in spite of the facts about his own business record). 

This image of a good business man is not something new.  In the years 1923 to late 1929 the business man was, according to Stuart Chase, “the dictator of our destinies,” ousting “the statesman, the priest, the philosopher, as the creator of standards of ethics and behavior” and becoming “the final authority on the conduct of American society.”  Is such a thing happening again?  Have we decided that only a business man can solve the problems of the age?   Have we determined that ethics, character, and conduct no longer count—and all we want is for the job to be done? But what is that job we want done?  “Drain the swamp?” How does a despicable human being clean up a swamp?

Abigail Van Buren, better known as “Dear Abby” suggested that “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” Albert Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”  Have we decided these things no longer matter?

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Convinced of Easter

I’ve read the Easter stories told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the scripture many, many times, and have not been convinced.  I’ve read (and heard) the sermons of the great master preachers throughout the centuries who have proclaimed a new Easter reality, but those sermons have not convinced me.  I’ve read Luke’s story of the experience of those men on the Emmaus Road and been baffled by it—but not convinced of its reality.  I’ve spent the majority of my life within the Christian Church and that experience has not convinced me of an Easter world.  I’ve read the books of the great theologians and philosophers and even these have not convinced me of an Easter reality.

But I am convinced, nevertheless, that an Easter world does indeed exist— but not through the Bible, the Church, or my  reading, listening, or study.  I am convinced out of my own experience—and yet not my own alone, for that would be wholly subjective.  I am convinced of an Easter world in my own experiences—experiences  which have been verified by the experiences of others over a period of two thousand years.  

Arthur Gossip, a Scottish Protestant minister, tells how he came in the late afternoon of an exhausting day visiting his parishioners in a working district in Glasgow and at four o’clock stood at the foot of a five-story tenement building where one of his parishioners lived on the top floor.  He was exhausted and said to himself, “I’ll go home now, and come back tomorrow.”  At that point, a vision of a pair of stooped grey shoulders started slowly up the steps and a voice seemed to say, “Then I’ll have to go alone.”  Gossip said, “We went together.”  I’ve known a similar experience.  

Peter Marshall, according to his wife’s account in “A Man Called Peter,” experienced an encounter during a storm when he seemed to hear a voice calling out to him.  I’ve known something similar—though vague and difficult to describe.  

Gordon Cosby, founding pastor of the Church of the Saviour, shared his experience as a chaplain in WW II at the graveside of a friend, wherein he sensed, felt, saw, in the dimness of that moment of tears, an Easter world.  

There are countless others—names known and unknown, some educated and some not, some rich and some very poor—but each and all claim to have had an experience with a Person whose presence changed their lives and their character.  Their experiences verify my own experiences, convincing me that mine are real—not made up, not a creation of some mental disorder, not some emotional need.  I thus can say with the Apostle Paul, “And last of all he was seen of me also.” 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

“Music Makes Words Speak”

Noble Ray Price (1926-2013) was a country music singer, songwriter and guitarist.  His unique baritone voice was among the best male voices of country music.  He was a favorite of mine from early boyhood which is why I purchased his album “Faith” back in 1960 while stationed on the island of Crete.  (I still have the original album—but as the years have passed—I’ve moved from the LP to the cassette and finally to the CD version).  I’ve listened to the album over and over again for almost 60 years and always at Easter.  I listened yesterday and I will do so again today.  

Two songs in the album have shaped my theology and have carried me through the years.  When I had the privilege of meeting Ray Price a few years ago, I told him how much his singing had meant to me, especially his album “Faith.”  His humble response was “It’s the music.  It’s the music that makes words speak.”  I send the words without the music and without Ray Price’s wonderful baritone voice and I hope they will still speak to you as they have spoken to me.

[Faith] You must have faith
In everything you do
Faith will help you find the way
Faith will see you through
Faith can move mountains
And change the tide of the seas
You can follow this guiding light
Wherever you may be
Like the darkness comes at the end of the day
There must be an end to the night
And from the depths of your darkest moment
Faith will show you the light
Yes, you must have faith
In everything you do
Faith will help you find the way
Faith will see you through.  

[How Big Is God] Though men may strive to go beyond the reach of space
To crawl beyond the distant shining stars
This world’s a room so small within my Master’s house
The open sky’s but a portion of his yard.

How big is God, how big and wide His vast domain
To try to tell these lips can only start
He’s big enough to rule his mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart…

Ray Price continued to tour into his mid-eighties.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Were You There?

“Were You There” is an Afro-American spiritual often sung at Good Friday services.  Peter Marshall wrote a very moving sermon titled, “Were You There?”  He closed his sermon with these words:  
“More than nineteen hundred years have passed…
The Cross itself has long since crumbled into dust.
Yet it stands again when we choose our own Calvary and
crucify Him all over again, with every sin of commission and omission.
Every wrong attitude…
every bad disposition…
every unkind word…
every ignoble desire…
every unworthy ambition…
Yes, Calvary still stands, and the crowd at the top of the hill.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
I was…Were you?”

The hymn asks us:  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?  Were you there when they pierced him in the side?  Were you there when the sun refused to shine?  Where you there when they laid him in the tomb?  Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.  Were you there when they crucified my Lord.

We have all had the opportunity to be there—I mean really be there—at the Golgotha’s of our society and in our time.  We have all had the opportunity to see “Jesus crucified.” Have you ever fed a hungry person, or given a thirsty person a drink? Then, according to Matthew 25:36ff, You Were There.  “For when I was hungry, you gave me food; when thirsty, you gave me drink; when I was a stranger you took me into your home, when naked you clothed me; when I was ill you came to my help, when in prison you visited me.”  Those to whom he spoke asked:  “Lord, when was it we saw you hungry and fed you, or thirsty and gave you drink, a stranger and took you home, or naked and clothed you?  When did we see you ill or in prison, and come to visit you?”  And he answered:  “I tell you this:  anything you did for one of my brothers (sisters) here, however humble, you did for me.”

We have all been there.  Did we just stand there and do nothing?  Did we just watch and never say a word?  Did we participate in the ill treatment or the neglect?  “Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.”  Were You There when they (notice we always blame somebody else) crucified my (notice how we always take possession and want to claim him as our own) Lord?  

"O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!"
Sir Walter Scott

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Pondering Easter

It wasn’t long after the first Easter that Christians began to deny Jesus and embrace Caesar, “the ‘pharaoh’ of the Roman Empire, as lord and savior.”  The pressure to do so was intense.  Jesus had left them “high and dry” (so it seemed) and now they were undergoing severe persecution—sometimes even more severe and cruel than the cross on which Jesus had died.  They were having problems, too, with all those teachings of Jesus, as they came face to face with the real world.

Jesus had said that everyone—poor and rich, outsiders and insiders, women and men, young and old, those who are healthy and whole and those who are sick, lost, empty, guilty, rejected, shattered, lonely, hopeless, depressed, oppressed—all were to live in relationship with one another and with the Creator who was mending and making a broken world whole.  But who wants to carry the burden of the poor? Or the depressed?  Who wants to live with the shattered?  Who even wants to live in community if it means putting up with such folk?  Who wants to live that way when there is a “world out there” that can give power, security, prestige, and position to “ME?”  So, Christians, over the centuries, simply reconstructed Jesus’ teachings, turned “following Him” into a religion which allowed them to be with Caesar.  They used the  Easter celebration to do that.  God is up there.  Jesus has joined God in that other world beyond.  We’ve been saved by Jesus’ death and resurrection and someday we’ll go there and be with Him.  But in the meantime we have to make it here in the real world, and to make it here means we have to be tough and hard, we have to protect ourselves, and do what is best for us in the here and now.  Our “acknowledged” neighbor has to do the same—and all those others (we don’t acknowledge)  must fend for themselves as well. We are not responsible for them.

This reconstructed Christianity—this fraudulent religion—misses one of the most essential parts of Jesus’ teaching—and the teaching of the whole of Scripture.  Paraphrasing John, the writer of The Book of Revelation, I hear him say, “Please notice I saw heaven coming to earth, not souls going to heaven.”  The story has never been about “us” getting to heaven—it has always been about God getting into us (heart, mind, and soul) and into our broken world.  “Easter,” writes Kunkel, “rebirth, the new phase of creation, is either a convincing inner experience which changes our character and our life, or it is nothing at all.” 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Gethsemane--All Over Again!

She is YOUNG, only 37 years old and that is a negative in and of itself, especially to the old folk in government.  She is from SOMALIA.  That doesn’t help her any at all either.  (Some tried to label Obama as being born in Kenya—as a put down). Being from Somalia has the same stain as Jesus being from Nazareth had:  “Nothing good can come from Nazareth.”  In today’s world many think “Nothing good can come from Somalia.”  She is a WOMAN.  That’s a strike against her, too.  Misogynists have been around for a long time, especially in our political establishment, and do “their thing” in subtle ways. (ref. Feb. 2015 issue of Psychology Today).  She is an IMMIGRANT.  How have we colored immigrants recently?  They are “bad” people,  we are told, criminals, rapists, drug-dealers.  She is BROWN—a woman of color.  That doesn’t help her either.  She is a REFUGEE.  She spent over four years in a refugee camp in Kenya—(Oh no! Not Kenya again!).  Her family came to the U.S. in 1995 seeking ASYLUM.  How are we viewing asylum seekers today?  The current Administration has implied, in spite of the law, that asylum seekers are somehow illegal immigrants. She is the first SOMALI-AMERICAN, the first NATURALIZED CITIZEN OF AFRICA, the first NON-WHITE WOMAN from Minnesota, and one of the first two MUSLIM WOMEN (along with Rashida Tlaib of Michigan) to serve in Congress.  Yes, Representative Ilhan Omar is a MUSLIM.

Ephebiphobia, Xenophobia, Misogyny, Racism, and Bigotry.  Ilhan Omar says, “I’m as American as everyone else,” but we won’t hear her, we won’t believe her, we won’t even see her for who she is.  We will forever see her the way some IDIOT pictured her on that poster displayed at the State Capital in West Virginia:  “Never Forget”—You Said…” and then below the burning towers,  a picture of Omar and the words:  “I am the proof you have forgotten.”  We won’t hear her anymore, we won’t see her, we won’t accept her now, because the most powerful person in the world has done precisely what the IDIOT in West Virginia did!!  False accusations, gross-distortion of what she has said and who she is, have made her “unhearable” and “unacceptable,” when, in fact, she has something extremely important to say to all of us. But, the President of the United States has decided to do her in:  “Look—she’s been very disrespectful of our country.  She’s been very disrespectful, frankly, to Israel.”  Who's next, I wonder?

The man who disrespects any and all who stand in his way has now become the authority on who is being disrespectful!  And the Christians are silent, and the Muslims are silent, and Americans are silent.  Gethsemane—all over again!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Way Up Is The Way Down

Fritz Kunkel in Creation Continues writes:  “The great myth of the Son of God who dies, conquers death, and rises again—the Osiris myth—is about to become history.  The myth is radiant with divine power; it is the way up.  History is gloomy with human anguish; it is the way down.  Jesus is willing and able to realize the way up while he is proceeding on the way down.”

Spend some time with the above quote.  Think about it.  Let it sink in.  Are you familiar with the Osiris myth?  You should be.  Check it out.  Do you know the other myths of the sons of God who die,  conquer death, and rise again?  There are many of them and every Christian ought to have some awareness of them: Tammuz, Mithras, and Balder, are but a few examples.   Every spring (dating back to the 18th or 19th century before Christ) the life of Osiris was enacted in a stirring passion play in Egypt.  Is our Easter simply a replication?  Could it be that there is such paganism in our Christianity?

Kunkel says “the great myth of the Son of God who dies, conquers death, and rises again—the Osiris myth—is about to become history,” that is, the myth is no longer a myth, no longer a legend, or a story, but a historically-grounded happening:  Jesus crucified, Jesus dead and buried, and Jesus risen!  This happening, Kunkel says, becomes real history when it happens within you and within me.  But the Easter story doesn’t stand by and of itself—we must take in the whole of the gospel message, for only then will we, with Jesus, discover that the way down is the way up, that encounters with darkness can mean the discovery of light, and that death, death itself, can become life.  This is what Kunkel calls the “dynamics of redeeming creation becoming visible.”  “Death remains death, and the cross the cross,” says Kunkel.  “No idealism or easygoing Spiritualism is allowed.  The gate is still the tomb.  Yet the tombstones become transparent.  The light appears in the darkness.  The grave opens beyond space and time, and the Spirit finds itself in eternity.”

Now I know the above is a bunch of words and that we stumble over them.  Let me try in a more simple way to speak of the way up as the way down.  Kazantzakis tells of meeting a woman who offered him food.  “Do you know me, I asked…She glanced at me in amazement.  ‘No, my boy!  Do I have to know you to give you something?  You’re a human being aren’t you?  So am I.  Isn’t that enough?’”  The Gospel (the whole of the Easter story) and Jesus’ sojourn among us says that the way up is the way down.  The way down is to take on the attitude of the woman:  “Do I have to know you to give you something? You’re a human being aren’t you?  So am I.  Isn’t that enough?” Finally, that’s what Easter is all about—the way up is the way down.