Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Elevator Message

Im just about to go into our Christmas Eve gathering. Its come together really well and im quite excited about it. Because im leaving on Christmas Day for two weeks vacation in Sydney, I wanted to post this tonight.

I offer my love and gratitude to all. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and I look forward to more fun and heresy when I return mid January......

Christmas Elevator Message

I set myself the challenge of giving a Christmas “elevator talk” this evening. That is, I want to say something meaningful in the time it would take to ride an elevator, let’s say up and down the CN Tower in Toronto. It’s a glass elevator with amazing, panoramic views, so my hope is that this elevator talk might offer you a broader and clearer view of the Christmas story and its relevance in today’s world.

Our gathering tonight features the Sanctuary Choir singing Vivaldi’s Gloria. Huge appreciation to them for all the hard work that went into that. It was a new experience for many of us, including the staff. What’s the difference between the C3 staff and yoghurt? Yoghurt has culture. Except of course Jackie Fisher. Jackie came to the staff a few months back and said she wanted to consider the Gloria for Christmas Eve. Most of us looked at her dumbfounded. The only Gloria we knew was Van Morrison’s rock classic. G L O R I A, bout five feet four from her head to the ground, Gloria……

She said it wasn’t Van Morrison. It was a Cantata. From that moment forward it became affectionately known as the Vivaldi Frittata.

Lack of sophistication aside, Jackie had me intrigued. What relevance does Vivaldi Gloria have for Christmas? I did some research. I loved what I found, and I’m excited to share it with you. Take a long look out the glass elevator of your imagination and be prepared to be inspired.

Vivaldi struggled with health and poverty throughout his life. He had a dubious love life, frowned on by the church of his day. He died a pauper and was buried in an unmarked grave. And yet he was a wonderful human being with a progressive heart and a prodigious musical talent. Vivaldi spent most of his life working in an orphanage in Venice. (Ospedale della Pieta) Abandoned children were passed through a hole in the orphanage wall. The boys were taught trades. The girls got married, became nuns or were taught music. Vivaldi trained the most talented of the girls. His all women’s choirs are believed to have been some of the best in the world. They performed behind metal grilles high above the audience, so that noble men would not be distracted. Instead the angelic voices would take them to heavenly places.

You get the picture. Vivaldi is now one of the most famous composers of all time, known to have inspired Bach. But he spent his life receiving orphans through a hole in a wall and passing on his musical gift.

Doesn’t that sound a little like the Christmas story? The story of Jesus, that has inspired millions of people over thousands of years, began in a backwater inn. A frightened family trapped in poverty, condemned for immorality, fled for their lives.

Doesn’t it sound a little like the story of the world today? People trapped in cycles of recession and anxiety, searching for meaning.

Does it sound at all like your life? Trapped in cycles of self loathing and fear.

Take heart- Vivaldi’s story is every person’s story. The Christmas story is your story. Look out the glass elevator of your imagination.

The message is clear. In the spirit of Vivaldi’s Gloria, let me offer it to you in Latin. Things sounds so much grander in Latin. I saw a great bumper sticker. In Latin it said, “Sona si Latine loqueris” which translates as ‘Honk if you speak Latin”. My Christmas message in Latin. “omnia vincit amor”…..Love Conquers All!

The anxiety of your life. Love conquers all.
The despair and uncertainty. Love conquers all.
Children abandoned and futures unsure. Love conquers all.
The Christmas story of hope against all odds. Love conquers all.
Your story of courage in the face of crisis. Love conquers all.

So now we are almost done with our elevator tour of Toronto. Your vision is broader and clearer. The Christmas story comes into clearer focus. You have your Christmas miracle. The wonder of Christmas is your best humanity offered as a gift to the world. “omnia vincit amor”…..Love Conquers All!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas; the Birth of Genius

My greatest hope at Christmas time is to offer relevance and wonder. When you no longer read the Christmas story as literal history, it opens up amazing opportunity for both. The story becomes every person's story, and mirrors the wonder of human courage (and genius).

There are lots of ways to approach the Christmas story to achieve relevance and wonder. Here are a sample.

You can read it as a story of survival against all odds....

You can read it as a pagan celebration of earth's cycles...

You can read it as the birth of the Christ in every person (the third Jesus)

Or you can read it as the celebration of every birth, and every birthday. This was a new idea for me, and grew out of the Roman idea that each person is born with a designated guardian spirit, known in Latin as Genius, or for a women Juno. It seemed to relate well to the story of Elizabeth and Mary meeting.

"The Christmas story is every person’s story. It is your story. It is the story of life meeting life, and genius being born. Your life is radiant in its genius. You are both mother and child, both the bearer of genius, and the genius itself. You stand at the edge of the great mystery, so near your genius, mirroring life back to itself. Your genius is a naked, winged child, ready to soar. Will you let it soar?"

Read, listen to, or watch the whole sermon here. Let me know what relevance and wonder the Christmas story has for you?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Can Rick Warren Give a Spirit Driven Invocation?

On a tiny peninsula in Washington, inside a domed temple, there is an awesome statue of Thomas Jefferson. He is on a high pedestal, standing calm and tall in a long coat with a gaze that seems fixed somewhere far beyond “today”. Some of Jefferson's most famous words are set in the great stone panels that surround the statue. They are Jefferson’s words of freedom, gifts to future vistors. These words have expanded the vision and compassion of generations of freedom-loving people across the globe.

Jefferson believed that church and state should remain separate. He never, however, imagined that spirit and state could ever be separate. To remove spirit from state is to divorce wisdom, imagination and compassion from a nation’s vision. Without spirit, a nation will die a colorless death.

Much has been said about the selection of Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Pastor, to do the Inauguration Invocation. The progressive world is divided between those who support his selection on the grounds of bridge building, and those who think his selection is an offense to the LGBT community. It feels pointless to add my opinion to those already offered. Too much has been said about a decision that is already made.

Warren will give the invocation. His judgment, as well as the judgment of Obama, will be tested by the spirit in which he offers his words. He would do well to visit Jefferson’s Memorial before writing his invocation. If he catches the spirit of the founding fathers, his prayer will be part of the healing.

Let’s face it. In a few short sentences, Warren can’t possibly say what all parties want him to say. But he can catch the spirit of the occasion. Obama is banking on Warren catching this spirit.

All sides will have to give a little ground to Warren. For my part, I will have to accept that he will probably invoke a more defined, personal God than I care to relate to. Evangelicals will have to accept that he probably won’t take the opportunity to push any family values agenda.

He can’t say everything, but if he catches the spirit of Jefferson, he can say something that unites people. This is a great opportunity for Warren, and because I believe in the power of spirit, I believe Warren can still catch it. He can say something that affirms all people, especially those who have been marginalized by a government that brought religion too close and moved spirit too far away.

Warren has said some ignorant and hateful things about sexuality. Now is his chance to transcend his religious perspective in the interest of healing. If he catches the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, he will weep in wonder at the miracle of human diversity. His invocation will follow suit.

Warren can invoke a God so generous and wondrous that people fall to their knees, imagining the possibilities. He need not put too much definition on the God he invokes, lest he divide the nation further. He can touch the human longing for healing that is so strong at this point in history. He can point us all to our power and purpose that we are the ones we have been waiting for. We elected Obama. Obama takes responsibility for his appointments and decisions. We all create our future.

When Einstein said these words, I can only imagine he was gazing at something like The Jefferson Memorial-

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

I wonder if Warren can help the nation to stand rapt in awe with his words. Obama has done it often enough. The whole inauguration will be an event of such wonder, and transformation. I’m prepared to give Warren a chance. Are you? I expect him to catch the spirit of mysterious connectedness; that our destiny is one, and that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Meditation

I wrote a Christmas meditation for our Sunday morning 'awakening' session. It was transformative to write. It helped to bring the Christmas story back to reality for me. It prepared me inwardly so that i could enjoy all aspects of Christmas this year.

I hope it might be helpful for others too.

The meditation can be used as one piece, or over 6 days before Christmas. There is opportunity for silence in each of the 6 sections.
Before beginning, prepare yourself. Clear some space to sit still, be present, be aware of your breath and body, notice what arises...........

1. Meditating on Birth

Silent space! Holy space! Inner calm, inner light.

Exposed to the whistling, icy winds of winter, there is an inner warmth that is womb like. It is an all embracing mother nurturing your inner child, folded upon yourself comfortable, protected, effortlessly supported and fed. Take a rest from all the seeking and striving. Just be. Surrender to the heartbeat and blood flow of Mother, Universe, Life. Growth will happen quietly while you think you’re only dreaming, or just indulging yourself in this safe space.

Silent Reflection

Holy Life, so tender and mild
Rest in heavenly peace! Rest in heavenly peace.

2. Meditating on Immaculate Conception

Silent space! Holy space! Inner calm, inner light

Every moment in life is pregnant with possibility. You don’t always know how it was conceived. But the miracle of each moment’s immaculate conception awaits your sensual wonder; a new possibility, a new insight, a new wisdom. What virgin birth is awaiting your awareness right now?Say “yes” to now. Say “I don’t know” to mystery. Say “thankyou” to life.

Silent reflection

Holy Life, so tender and wild
Rest in heavenly peace! Rest in heavenly peace.

3. Meditating on the Solstice

Silent space! Holy space! Inner calm, inner light.

After a long Fall of increasing darkness, the Earth lies in wait for the winter solstice. It’s a time of introspection, grounding, preparation for growth. At the right time, the earth will tilt into the radiant path of greater sunlight and the days will lengthen again. But not a moment too soon. At the right time, you will tilt into the radiant path of greater light; a lighter spirit, a lighter perspective, more light. You will radiate this light to the world. What light is waiting to break into the dark preparations of your inner world?

Silent reflection

Holy Life, so tender and Light
Rest in heavenly peace! Rest in heavenly peace.

4. Meditating on the Guiding Star

Silent space! Holy space! Inner calm, inner bright
Many cultures tell stories of mysterious stars that greet the birth of heroes. A star is waiting to greet the miracle that is your life. Do you see it? It brightens the darkest night of your soul, showing the way to your next adventures, showing you how you will be of service to the world. Maybe this path has been a long time in the making, or maybe it surprises you like the first star in the sky; unmistakable and awesome.

Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams

Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams

Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before

Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar

And you'll live as you've never lived before

Silent reflection


Holy Life, so tender and wise
Rest in heavenly peace! Rest in heavenly peace.

5. Meditating on Angels

Silent space! Holy space! Inner calm, inner light
Angels come to minister to you. They are messages of love, purpose and guidance. They are thoughts, feelings, words, actions and connections. Sometimes you go in search of angels. Sometimes angels find you, disturbing the pattern of your comfortable days, sometimes asking you to change course.

Sometimes angels are serendipitous events that stand out for you and remain in your awareness, a beckoning glow, calling you to be more fully alive. Sometimes you wrestle with angels. Sometimes you surrender to their message and meaning.

What angelic messages are in your awareness right now?

Silent reflection


Holy Life, so tender and right
Rest in heavenly peace! Rest in heavenly peace.

6. Meditating on Gifts

Silent space, Holy space. Inner calm. Inner light.
The time has arrived. The space in the womb is feeling too small, and you are ready to be a fully integrated, autonomous but connected being in the world. The alchemy is complete. The solstice is here, ready with stars, angels and all manner of earth’s life. In you, God learns what it is to live and love, be pregnant, be surprised, be anxious, be proud. In you God learns what it is to succeed and fail, to dream and to lose, to be betrayed and to trust. In you, God becomes more God.

All that is left is for you to discern what gifts you will bring. Your gifts are God’s embodied presence here and now; compassion, mercy, courage, justice and care.What gifts will you bring to the world? What gifts will you be for the world?

Silent reflection

Holy Life, so tender and divine
Rest in heavenly peace! Rest in heavenly peace.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Teaching Spiritual Atheism in Schools

My Aussie Heretic ears started burning when I heard this news from Australia. Burning is not generally a comfortable sensation for a self confessed heretic, but this was good news. A Humanist Society is close to being approved for an atheistic curriculum for primary (elementary) school children. Parents will have the option to send their kids to a class where they will be taught that the evidence for the existence of God is as flimsy as the evidence for the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Invisible Pink Unicorn. This is good news for diversity, and free thinking.

Follow this link for the brief news story-,25197,24797395-5006785,00.html

Mind you, I wouldn’t send my own Aussie Heretic protégés to that class. I would be very glad for them to be educated in an environment that includes such a broad range of perspectives. But I wouldn’t send them to the class. I would send them to a class that teaches the facts and spirit of many of the world religions. Then they could make their own informed decisions about what makes sense to them.

I’m comfortable telling my kids that there is no evidence for the existence of God. There really isn’t any evidence. But there is plenty of evidence that the myth around God, and God language, is purposeful. I want them to understand that as well. And they CAN understand that, at the right age.

American author, Ann Lamott, tells the story of the time her 8 year old son, Sam, said to her, "I think the reason they call God 'God' is because when you see something really, really beautiful, you go, 'God, that’s beautiful!'" As Ann said, "OK, that works for me." It works for religious education too.

At a certain age kids realize that Santa is purposeful myth. They realize that there is no evidence for the existence of Santa. At the same time, they realize that Santa language still serves their purpose of Christmas fun and gifts. Why ruin a good party?

I would like to see a curriculum on spiritual atheism in schools. After acknowledging that there is no evidence for the existence of God, we could talk to kids about the power of myth and language. We could talk to kids about what they find wonder-ful in the world, and how they would best describe this wonder.

It’s so natural to use God language to capture even a hint of the wonder of life. We describe a sunset as ‘heavenly’ or a dessert as ‘divine’. We describe best friends as ‘soul mates’. We shout the name of the almighty during our seven (sorry eight) minutes of horizontal hokey pokey and know we are neither addressing our partner nor any deity in particular. We grasp at language to hint at experiences of wonder, and draw on myth that fills ordinary moments with extraordinary meaning. The myth of incarnation is God becoming human, the ordinary becoming extraordinary, the natural becoming miraculous.

What do you think? Should schools in America include some sort of broad, non dogmatic, world religion’s class? Should schools in Australia embrace the inclusion of humanistic curriculum? Should we be offering spiritual atheism to kids who have come of age, no longer need a magical, theistic God and are looking for the power of myth to describe life?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Angels

We had an amazing gathering at C3 yesterday. There was a Sudanese choir from Grand Rapids. Absolutely breathtaking. There should be video of this at the C3 website later in the week. Such freedom and passion. It was great. And we had three dancers in the service from Laura Armenta Studio in Grand Rapids. They were superb, and evoked very powerful reactions from the congregation. One of the highlights of the service was when Laura was teaching the kids to bellydance. She did a great job and the kids were really getting it.

All in all, it was a service that evoked an incredible sense of wonder, and the power of wonder to inspire greater humanity.

The sermon in this context was barely necessary. Christmas had already come alive as a present reality. We recieved many Christmas miracles. There were many Christmas angels present.

I explored angels in the sermon. A lot of time could be spent on the question, "Do angels exist?" It seems more fruitful to ponder why a belief in angels is so enticing. Maybe as humans we have an appetite for wonder, and angels are an attempt to put flesh and bones on this wonder. My intention in the sermon was neither to feed a superstitious belief in literal angels, nor to feed skepticism. My hope in the sermon was to feed the appetite for wonder.

Im interested in other perspectives on angels. Feel free to leave comments.

One note; because of the nature of the gathering, the text of the sermon is a lot fuller than the audio and video. My suggestion would be to read the text this week.

"Angels evoke a sense of wonder and imagination, the sort of wonder and imagination that inspires us to “be” angels for others......

Do you believe that God blesses the world? Or do you believe that the world is full of blessings?
Either way, we can all agree. You are the way God blesses the world. You are the way that the world blesses itself. You are a blessing machine. You are an angel when your blessings surprise you and others into a wider perspective, that you are here to live and love, give and remind, poke and provoke, here to make the world a more wondrous and gentle place. You are an angel, a messenger of wonder."

to read the whole sermon

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Australia The Movie

My life began in a rural Aussie town not unlike “Faraway Downs”, the mythical outpost in the movie “Australia”. My birth town was Mullewa, an Aboriginal word meaning “place of fog”. Mullewa is a dustbowl of a town, hot as hell and as dry as a dead dingo’s donger (to use a crude Aussie euphemism).When I was born in 1968, Mullewa was still swirling in a fog of racial ignorance. I was born in a two bed hospital. The other bed remained empty, while an Aboriginal baby was born in an outside shed. At least that’s how the family legend rumbles around my memory.

The Aboriginal baby was one of the famous Dingo clan. Ernie Dingo is now one of Australia’s most distinguished actors. I would have liked to see him in “Australia”. I like to think that Ernie’s success is an indication that the fog has partially lifted on Australian race relations. The recent apology to the stolen generation by the newly elected Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is another indication of progress and healing.

The myth around my rural birth (my family moved back to the city when I was six months old) has always fired my imagination and a sense of justice. It was my nativity story, except unlike Jesus and his family I was the privileged one. There was ample room at the inn for me. There was no hasty escape from a tyrant for me and my family. But then again, I never walked on water either. Hugh Jackman on the other hand……….

It’s the recalling, and retelling of stories that instills a sense of wonder in me. This sense of wonder makes me believe in the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity and injustice. I imagine the same is true for the people of Darwin. Darwin was named after Charles Darwin who visited the town in 1839. If only they knew then how poignant the name would be. Talk about survival against all odds. Darwin was bombed mercilessly by the Japanese in World War 2. Darwin was then slammed senseless by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. The surviving population was evacuated both times.

Australia is a large place, and Darwin is small and remote. Its survival, let alone its rebirth after tragedy, is itself a miracle of Darwinian proportions. The pub scene in “Australia” after the Japanese attack is profoundly moving. Hugh Jackman, the benevolent “drover” goes into the “whites only” pub with his best friend, an Aborigine named Magarri. He demands that his friend be given a drink. They drink together, and amidst the rubble of a broken town, a small victory of human justice is won.

“Australia” is an important story, and it’s told well. I wish it had been called “Darwin” as this is only a snapshot of Australian life, a play within a play. In any case, I’m thrilled that the rest of the world is invited into the story of Darwin. “Australia” portrays an aspect of the complex triangular relationship between England, a maturing Australia, and the traditional Aboriginal people. Nicole Kidman plays “Lady Ashley” who arrives from England with no clue about life on the land in Darwin. Her eyes are quickly opened to the reality of a young “half-caste” boy named “Nullah”. The police are constantly trying to “steal” Nullah to place him in one of the church run institutions to “breed the black out”.

Stories such as this need to be told, even when the stories are a blurring of fact and fantasy. Half caste kids were still being stolen when I was born in 1968 and into the 1970s. Racism in Australia mirrors racism all over the world, and if awareness and horror are heightened through movies such as “Australia” then they achieve a noble purpose. Ultimately, however, it is the honoring of the human spirit that inspires transformation and justice.

“Australia” offers plenty of that. The droving scene at cliff’s edge is heart stopping. Nullah’s bravery, Dover’s humanity, and Lady Ashley’s determination, are all awesome and inspirational. The scenery is breathtaking, and the desert appears endless. The movie appears endless at times too. But the movie does end, as the desert ends. The Japanese do leave, and people do repopulate Darwin. Racism and hatred do ease, and if nothing else, stories such as this remind me that all things are in constant flux. There is a way of living that rolls with the cyclones, dwells in wonder and offers the type of imagination and determination that helps to lift the fog.

My favorite theme running through the movie is the tension for young Nullah. He is constantly called to the land, feeling the lure of his ancestors. I wonder if it would have been more powerful to keep a veil of mystery over his grandfather, King George, whether he is real, or is an aspect of Nullah’s imagined world. What is real anyway? If I have learnt anything about Aboriginal spirituality, it is the blurring of fact and fantasy, dreaming and waking, present and future.

King George is the sorcerer, the Wizard of Aus, who wants to help Nullah find himself. Maybe Nullah finds himself much like we all do; by seeing all things as mirrors, by realizing that all is part of us and we are part of all that is.

As Joseph Campbell said, "All the gods, all the heavens, all the worlds, are within us." Maybe Nullah had to go walkabout to learn this from the land. Maybe the world needs to retell stories about racism, and cyclones and injustice in order recognize the goodness, the anger and the courage that is within.

Maybe stories such as “Australia” dislodge the screen that shields the Wizard of pretence. When the screen is removed, the truth is revealed. In the words of the Wizard of Oz, “I have been making believe.” Australians, English, Aborigines, Japanese- we are all related. We are kin. We are one at heart. All the divisions, the hatred and the rivalry are just make believe.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The First Jesus

Ive been thinking a lot about story and history this week.

Many years ago i was leading a Bible study in an evangelical church on the resurrection stories. The words just slipped out of my mouth. "If someone found a bag of bones somewhere in the Middle East and they were shown to be the remains of Jesus, i wouldnt even miss breakfast." There was a stony silence in the room. Eyes popped, jaws dropped, and one person said, 'Thats heresy."

It was hard to explain back then, but i have never felt the need for a literal resurrection in order to believe in the empowering metaphor of resurrection. Resurrection is an inner resolve to persevere against all odds. Resurrection is a fresh start, grace and grit, new possibilities. The story of Jesus resurrection has always inspired this sort of inner resolve, and it never needed to actually happen to do that for me.

Lots of stories have that affect. The Wizard of Oz was a very infuential story for me as a child. I thought Dorothy was about as brave as a person could be. I imagined that i was living my own "oz" story, and found courage in the way Dorothy survived.

Does the same imagination apply to elements of the Christmas story? Is there value in the myth even if the details were completely fabricated?
Does the same apply to the whole life and ministry of Jesus? Is there value and inspiration in the story even if none of it actually happened?

The Jesus Seminar is a group committed to accurately portraying the first Jesus, the Jesus of history. They color coded the words of Jesus into those that were more or less likely to have actually been said by Jesus. They generally agree that Jesus was a social revolutionary who taught in parables and metaphors. He was an itinerant Jewish sage who did not die to save sinners nor did he rise from the dead. They found that Jesus was a radical who broke with Jewish theology, ritual and social convention. He preached that the kingdom is unseen but already present, a realm where outsiders were accepted and insiders were challenged to greater justice.

This has been an important work, opening up ways for modern people to nurture their love of the story and teachings of Jesus while being true to history. Of course the Jesus Seminar has not been without its critics. One line of criticism has been that most of the Jesus Seminar scholars have started from a perspective of theology; ie they read their own theological preferences back into the Jesus story.

A new group has now formed, called The Jesus Project. The group has a similar committment to uncovering the Jesus of history, but they are dedicated to not having any theological agenda. They operate with a purely scientific method and scholarly objectivity. The group is made up of historians, biblical scholars and theologians and is sponsored by CFI (Centre for Inquiry). They met this past weekend and discussed a range of options including evidence that locates the tomb of Jesus, and the view that Jesus did not exist.

You can listen to a short audio interview with Robert Price, the co-chair of the group, and hear him speak about his view that Jesus did not exist.

This project presents an important challenge to people who love, or are even interested in, the Jesus story. Would the story and the tradition still inspire you if none of it has any historical reliability? Its a question worth thinking about.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Third Jesus

Deepak Chopra had a brilliant idea when he wrote "The Third Jesus". He offered a simple way to think about Jesus. The first Jesus is a historical conundrum, variously thought of as religious teacher and social revolutionary. Ideas about the first Jesus are always changing, as textual scholarship and archeology bring to light new understandings.

The second Jesus is the Jesus of theology. Again, the second Jesus is a moving target. Theology about Jesus is usually coopted from the way different groups understand the first Jesus; eg liberation theology understands the first Jesus as a social revolutionary so they develop a theology to match. Those who believe in a sin/ atonement theology read back into the first Jesus a supernatural role as divine scapegoat.

The first and second Jesus are both important, inspiring and intriguing. But this is usually the place for division and religious rivalry. The third Jesus points to something universal that transcends and includes all specific "perspectives" on Jesus.

In my sermon yesterday, I spoke about these distinctions, focusing on the Christmas story, the Monty Python movie The Life of Brian and Mother Theresa. Here is an extract-

"Whatever you believe about the first and second Jesus, don’t let it distract you from your essential humanity and life purpose. Something magical is taking place in your life. Your inner star is guiding you to a new consciousness. It might look rough like an old farm shed, and it might not be very grand, but it is a miracle none the less. Wise ones will gather around. They might not bow down and worship you as the Messiah, but they will nurture the birth of this new consciousness that you are part of them and they are part of you. You will dream dreams and imagine peaceful worlds and your intentions and actions will be part of this peace. Your purpose is to birth your own Christ consciousness, and have your own direct and present experience of God."

to read more, watch or listen to the sermon go to

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Universal Jesus

I have been thinking about a Mother Theresa quote for my sermon tomorrow. Something about these words has stayed with me this week. There is something profound about the way she uses simple Christian language to make a universal and compassionate point about presence.

I will see what emerges today...............

"I believe in person to person; every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the one person in the world at that moment." - Mother Teresa

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Heresy of our Time

The words of Bill Moyers in 2006- Prophetic?

A Time For Heresy

It was in the name of Jesus that a Methodist ship caulker named Edward Rogers crusaded across New England for an eight-hour work day. It was in the name of Jesus that Francis William rose up against the sweatshop. It was in the name of Jesus that Dorothy Day marched alongside auto workers in Michigan, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont. It was in the name of Jesus that E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield stood against a Mississippi oligarchy that held sharecroppers in servitude. It was in the name of Jesus that the young priest John Ryan – ten years before the New Deal – crusaded for child labor laws, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and decent housing for the poor. And it was in the name of Jesus that Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to march with sanitation workers who were asking only for a living wage.

This is the heresy of our time – to wrestle with the gods who guard the boundaries of this great nation’s promise, and to confront the medicine men in the woods, twirling their bullroarers to keep us in fear and trembling. For the greatest heretic of all is Jesus of Nazareth, who drove the money changers from the temple in Jerusalem as we must now drive the money changers from the temples of democracy.

read the whole speech here-

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fix It Thinking

Who will ever forget Oscar Rogers on SNL during the early stages of the economic crisis? FIX IT. Find a problem, and FIX IT. Find another problem and FIX IT. Three steps

1. Fix
2. It
He said the light at the end of the tunnel had broken, and “somebody needs to crawl down to the end of that tunnel and FIX IT!”

It was a beautiful satire on what many of us were doing; pointing fingers, ascribing blame and waiting for someone to FIX IT. If this crisis has taught us anything, it surely must be that no one person and no one thing will fix this situation. It will require a lot of people working together over a long period of time to fix it.

There is so much unrealistic expectation on Barack Obama, as if the day after his inauguration America will be flowing with milk and honey, the Dow will climb through the heavens and jobs will be created out of thin air.

It seems to be human nature to expect someone to FIX IT.

Whole theologies have been built on it. As if the planet is a frail experiment, with a supernatural God fixing and meddling, manipulating and “guilting”, repairing and adjusting. As if prayer is seeking an external God to crawl down to the light at the end of the tunnel of our frail existences and FIX IT. As if the church has some divine authority over our spiritual destiny, to FIX IT.

The need for someone to rescue humanity is itself a problem that needs to be FIXED. It leads to inaction, and broken dreams. Of if you think that you are the fixer, it takes other people’s power away.

Live as though everything depends on you. Or, to use Dietrick Bonhoeffer's phrase, "live as if there were no God". This was his attempt to call a post war Christianity (battle hardened and worldly wise) to come of age, to get real and to take responsibility.

The counter point to self responsibility is that the world is made up of people and processes that function outside of me, but are not altogether separate from me. So how do I balance self responsibility and my intimate relationship with all else?

There is a religious maxim, “Believe as if everything depends on God, but live as if everything depends on you.” Maybe this is a reminder that I co-create reality in unison with the flow of Life itself. Or maybe it’s a reminder to balance self responsibility with a detachment from outcomes. I’m not certain what it means. But it does feel right to me to hold a balance between creating my own reality and wearing this same reality as a loose garment for it will surely change.

Susan Jeffers said, “Are you a “victim,” or are you taking responsibility for your life?” I vow to keep Oscar Roger’s voice in my head when I lapse into acting like a victim. FIX IT is a powerless plea. I am a competent, prepared and strong person who creates my own destiny. My destiny finds its expression as an integral part of a cosmic destiny that will flow with or without me. I choose to flow with Life.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Proud to be a Heretic

“Heresy is a cradle. Orthodoxy a coffin.” Robert Ingersoll

Being a spiritual person is all about being a heretic. The word heresy originates from a Greek word that means “choice”. Jesus was a heretic. He chose which parts of his tradition made sense to him. He chose to heal on the Sabbath. He chose to dialogue with woman and to mix with lepers and Samaritans. He was a man of freedom and choice. He created his own reality. For the first three centuries, Christians were people of choice. It was only after the third century that heresy became an evil. Then and now, heresy has become known as straying from orthodoxy. Orthodoxy means “right belief”. As if anyone or any group could possibly claim such certainty.

Freedom, one of the central qualities of Jesus’ life has now become the marker of exclusion. You have to believe a set package of beliefs. This is when religion becomes dogmatic.

Like many people who explore spirituality, but are suspicious of religious dogmatism, I believe that life is a choice. I choose my priorities. I choose where to put my energy. I am not compelled to live and love in a particular way. I live freely and with heart.

My life mission is to live as a loving heretic, to choose a reality that builds a more peaceful world and to empower others to live with choice and heart.

There is a Sioux creation story that captures the call to create your own reality. The Creator gathered all of Creation and said, "I want to hide something from humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality."The eagle said, "Give it to me, I will take it to the moon."The Creator said, "No. One day they will go there and find it."The salmon said, "I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean.""No. They will go there too."The buffalo said, "I will bury it on the Great Plains."The Creator said, "They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there."Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said, "Put it inside of them."And the Creator said, "It is done."

Be a bold heretic. Choose life. Start now. Don’t let religious dogmatism get in the way of the reality you are creating.