Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The American Religion

The central tenets of the American religion are these:
1. If you can get rich, you should.
2. You can get rich.
We have churches dedicated to these beliefs, for which there is no evidence (you have to take it on faith). There is a whole mass media dedicated to this religion, including "Think and Grow Rich", which sold 70 million copies and somehow did not end the depression. Every presidential election (the election of the new priest of America) has one major candidate which promotes this religion.
And this religion has their sinners: the poor. They are the ones who, according to this faith, reject wealth and then demand to be assisted because of their own decision. And these sinners try to make the faithful guilty for their "filthy, disgusting" lives. So they are forced by this religion to live a hell on earth by increasing their poverty and pouring shame upon them.
Reject this religion. Be freed from it's condemnation of those who are not rich, which likely includes you. Recognize that being rich or poor is chance, more than anything else, and that the poor have the responsibility to work on surviving and the wealthy have the responsibility to be grateful and to help those who have fewer resources than they.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why Do Churchies Not Read Their Bibles?

Most church-goers do not read the Bible, even though almost all of them have one. There’s a couple reasons for that.

First, because the Bible is way more difficult of a book than sermons make it seem. We want our Bibles to be like children’s Bibles, full of stories and to the point. However, it turns out that this millennia old volume was written to ancient people, not us. It is full of genealogies, laws, architectural notes and rantings about ancient politics. It has an extraordinary amount of cultural detail that isn’t explained. Most people who pick it up to read it cover to cover give up by Exodus, if they even make it that far. Frankly, its much easier to pay someone else to study it and explain it to us, like churches have done for thousands of years.

Second, the Bible isn’t necessary to live a spiritual life. Love is, Jesus is, God’s spirit is, but the Bible isn’t the only door to open up a person’s spirituality. For some people it really works and for others it causes them to kill their spiritual life by diving into arguments about detailed interpretations.

 No one should complain to people about not reading their Bible. They should complain if they fail to love as Jesus loved.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Where is God?

Wherever one's heart is filled with compassion and they act for the benefit of another, God is present and working.
Even in spaces where apathy, violence and unjust anger rule, God is right around the corner, looking for the opportunity to create love.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

On Brokenness

Once there was a blind man named Bill.  Bill was a kind person, always helpful, he had a pretty good sense of direction, really, for being a blind person, and he could tell people how to get anywhere.  He was generally of a friendly disposition and he loved children and pets.

His main problem was that he didn’t know he was blind.

He strongly suspected it.  He knew he wasn’t perfect.  He made mistakes.  Heck, everyone does.  But he couldn’t admit that he had a problem that no one else had.  He thought that everyone listened to the television, lost in mystery.  He thought everyone ran into poles on a regular basis when they walked down the street.  He thought that perhaps he was a bit more clumsy than others.  But it wasn’t a big deal.

Of course, everyone who spent time with him knew.  He kept his eyes closed, since they were useless, so at first people just wondered why he kept his eyes closed.  Then they realized the obvious truth, so they figured that he was just a really independently-minded blind man.  They didn’t say anything to him about it.  After all, it wasn’t their business.

All this was fine until one day Bill ran across a child who was lost.  When he would meet an adult who needed directions, he would just tell them verbally in his even, precise tone.  And the adult would get there, no problem. 

This time Bill considered that he should direct the child by hand.  After all, the child needed more protection.  So he took her by the hand and led her down the streets and paths that he knew so well in his mind. 

But he couldn’t see the ditch he ran her into.

And he didn’t see the tree that he ran her into.

He didn’t see the silent dog that bit her on the path.

When she just cried, louder and louder, he comforted her and told her, “Don’t worry, we’ll be home soon.”

When he did take her home, she was so beaten and broken that the child’s mother called the police and had him arrested for child abuse.   When he was told of the charges, he said, “But all I was trying to do is help.”

* * *

I am broken. 

Some of my brokenness is sin, but not all of it.  I have weaknesses, injuries, trauma and mental deficiencies that make me less capable, less of a loving person.  It is not accurate to say "I am a sinner".  Rather, I am broken.  I can't accomplish all that I should.  Or that I feel I should.  I am broken.

So are you. And everyone we know. Which means we need to be patient with each other. We are all broken in different ways, and we don't trust the way other people are broken. 

We could understand if everyone were broken in the same way. But because we are all broken differently, it is even more important to work at understanding.

But it is not enough to know that we are broken.  We must know what our brokenness is, and how our brokenness can hurt others.  There are people all around us who are vulnerable to our weaknesses, and we may not know how we can hurt them, unless we look into it.

We need to know ourselves.  Not just our personalities, not just our types, but we need to know how we are broken and how we can hurt others.  We might be able to be fixed, in some ways.  We may not.  But we have to take care not to be ignorant enough of our brokenness that we hurt others.

Part of loving others is to know how we are broken.

Part of loving others is to give ourselves space so our brokenness doesn’t harm others.

Part of loving others is to take care around people who might be especially vulnerable to our brokenness.

It is not enough to see how my brokenness affects myself, but also others.  I must be aware of those who will be hurt by my brokenness, although I never meant to hurt them.

This week I hurt people.  I was wounded by trauma and I ended up wounding others because of the trauma I experienced.  

I was hurt enough that I shouted at a mentally ill person, who experienced her own trauma.  Later, I apologized.  And she wept, openly, because I admitted my own weakness and response.  That didn't heal her.  But perhaps it healed part of our relationship.  I hope so.

I want to be more aware of how I harm others because of the harm placed upon me.

Father, may my brokenness never cause another to be broken.  Let the cycle stop here.

On Holy Artifacts

There are no holy books.

There are no holy places.

There are no holy objects, no holy artifacts, no holy clothing.

A single artifact can be used to bring someone to God or to rape a child. The same book or phrase can be used to stir love or hate. The best an object can be is potentially holy, not objectively so.

The Spirit infuses in us a desire and drive and energy toward compassion, love and mercy. We choose to obey that drive and so produce a holy, compassionate act. A holy act of love can lead to a holy, merciful habit. A holy habit can become a holy, loving life.

Father, deliver us from those who use what seems to be holy to produce unloving action.