( I originally wrote the reflection below several years ago as I underwent a particularly challenging realization with the institutional church of which I was a congregant eventually resulting in my departing the church for what for me is a much more meaningful spiritual life centered in celebrating the gifts of all spiritual traditions and being grounded in the evolution of True Self (discipleship) and belonging together in authentic communities (the kingdom or kin-dom). My relationship with the Divine Cosmic Will (God by whatever name) has never been stronger.)
My increasing awareness, especially now in my life, is that Jesus is always with the outsider and outcast who suffers and hurts for the world and shares the pain of others.
Jesus leaves the institutional worship place, sometimes in anger, as we see in the Temple story of the ‘den of robbers,’ to be with those who are on the outside and who just can’t cut it in those places anymore. I think of this as the spirituality of imperfection. Certainly we all are united in our imperfections.
Other good and innocent souls linger there as well perhaps holding onto the law and its rules of right and wrong not having yet experienced the truth, beauty, and goodness of our shared suffering and wounds and imperfections.
God send me into the messiness of this world with the imperfect souls such as myself so that we might commune together in the dark shadows and light spirits as your Beloved children through grace, love, mercy, justice, peace, and hope!
poem: limping to the narrow gate
of Eternal Life
this morning, awakening
under a blanket of ice,
more sub-freezing and ice
coming, and then the big snow
covid continues nipping our heels
in a world of political turmoil
and nations divided with
endemic injustice holding steady
in this deep freeze season,
society fragile under cultural dominance
in an era far from the divine consciousness
besieged from all sides
limping into forty days of Lent,
smack in the face of our hubris, conceit,
and sentimentality, reflecting and praying
the plank be removed from our eyes
here&now working poetry
February 15, 2021
photos by Herb Stone
‘Pure Ice with Snow to Come’
poem: one can not serve two masters
to what dominant influence
are you captive
to what master has your life
become like chattel
is your master
fear, greed, envy,
pride, desire, wrath,
power, control, domination
or is your master
grace, love, Self truth,
wholeness, mutuality, healing,
belonging, Cosmic consciousness
who are we,
what is our purpose,
what is our life’s meaning,
what is it we intend to create here
mind your surroundings,
what are you receiving
with open hands and
on what do you stand
truth, beauty, and goodness
or falsity, repulsiveness, and depravity,
what is it you intend to create
on this Earth with this one, wild life
that which is not transformative
for the personal and collective good
is transmitted as suffering from
person to person and generation to generation
choose to be the change
the world needs and
apply yourself through
disciplined practice benefiting all beings
dedicate yourself to
creative expression which
sets all free, liberates, and
connects all in kinship and belonging
here&now working poetry
February 4, 2021
2) Kate Deciccio, ‘Amanda Gorman, American Poet’
The alt-right political movement, emboldened by ex-president X over the past six years, found a safe haven, and in many cases support, in the contemporary white churches of the U.S. With their cheap grace, free of repentance and confession, and their ‘country club’ mentality of catering to members for a membership fee, .i.e, tithing, these churches and their members invoke the name of Jesus in heretical blasphemy.
It is, of course, ironic that the contemporary church offers sanctuary and support to the modern empire and its oppressive regimes. As far back as the medieval church, the doors of churches were painted red to signify they were places of refuge and sanctuary for those needing to escape oppression, particularly the oppression of the Empires, who were all powerful and whose citizens had no rights. And today, it is just the opposite, with the church providing sanctuary to the oppressor Empire.
And so, tragically, we find the contemporary white institutional church simply to compromised and complicit with the dominant culture of power, control, and violence to do anything about this subversion of its’ true mission which is to act according to the Gospels and its’ kerygmatic vision of God’s kingdom, i.e., the alternative community of true belonging of all through radical grace and radical love as proclaimed by Jesus, the Christ.
This interjection of the dominant culture into the churches true mission is called ‘Christendom,’ and more contemporarily ‘Christofascism,’ and has been around in the history of the church since the Edict of Milan signed with Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire in 313 which established the Emperor’s protection for the then persecuted Christians. ‘Christofascism’ is reflected in the Nazi’s political efforts to subvert and control the Christian church in Germany in its’ efforts of ethnic cleansing, mass genocide, and world domination.
And so what does the future hold for these failing churches? The theologian and author, John Douglas Hall, asks in his 2010 article in The Christian Century, ‘ “What then is the mission of a church that can no longer count on its favored status in Western civilization to ensure its meaning and its continued existence?” Hall’s answer is that the church must recognize its failure to act according to the Gospel and begin to witness and serve outside or on the edge of the dominant culture. For the church to survive and be faithful to its message, it must change, or ultimately die, according to Hall.’ (note: the Hall quote is from an article in ‘Sightings’ by Charles Maynard, a professor at the University of Washington).
The role of the white Christian church in the rise of the alt-right political movement can not be over-emphasized, and its’ untenable consequences for our democratic nation and all its citizens must be recognized. Those white churches so complicit and supportive must be resisted at every turn by people of good conscience, and its influence eliminated by those of the true faith knowing truth will overcome the lies of the alt-right.
Book suggestions for further reading regarding Christianity’s complicity with the dominant culture and its’ failing churches: 1) ‘The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance’ by Dorothee Soelle, and 2) “What Christianity is Not” by John Douglas Hall.
The two quotes below are foundational to my understanding of God and Christ consciousness, by whatever names, and to the spiritual practice of my daily life. While the quotes are from the Judeo-Christian tradition perspective, my study of other traditions supports that these perspectives are represented in them as well thus they are universal in their applicability.
The first quote is from Marcus Borg, a New Testament theologian and author. And the second quote is from Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament theologian and author. Both are highly respected scholars and teachers in their fields and have written prodigiously.
Both quotes below address the non-partisan aspect of the political nature of Jesus’ Way and ancient Israel’s resistance to the dominant imperial Empires. They are political because they affect the way in which we live together in community. Their practice in our personal and collective lives includes resistance to the imperial accounts of reality grounded in power, control, and violence and the advocacy of alternative realities grounded in radical grace and radical love of authentic communities of belonging.
“The way of Jesus was both personal and political. It was about personal transformation. And it was political, a path of [nonviolent] resistance to the domination system and advocacy of an alternative vision of life together under God.”
“….the tradition of emancipatory covenant making….affirms human agents who have the capacity and responsibility to act transformatively for the well-being of the human community and the ecology of creation. All of that pertains to the ancient context wherein the subversive narrative of Israel lived in ongoing tension with imperial accounts of reality, and amid that tension resisted imperial accounts while proposing alternatives.”
And so we see that our struggles today against the imperialistic Empire’s accounts of reality (i.e., our resistance to insurrectionists attacking our democracy) in their dominant power, control, and violence are age old in their tensions between violent domination vis-a-vis liberation and freedom to live together in alternative communities of the Truth of Self and the authenticity of belonging. Until all are free none are free. The suffering of the other is also my suffering. So we resist and dream our dreams and see our visions of a better way together for which we must never stop working.
Tat tvam asi. That I am.
Shanti, shalom, peace dear Beloveds.