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.