Monday, November 30, 2009

Praise Him With a Dance - 2

In yesterday's post, Roy talked about the different instruments mentioned in Psalm 150. And he mused whether all mankind is the orchestra...the different instruments representing the many, varied aspects of mankind? The trumpet, the lyre, the harp, the organs, the crash of the cymbals...

The NIV renders Psalm 150

Praise the LORD . Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD .
Praise the LORD .

In the Young's Literal Translation, verse 6 is translated

 All that doth breathe doth praise Jah! Praise ye Jah!

When annie posted a link to an article about The Dancing Saints mural at St. Gregory's  Episcopal Church in San Francisco, it fit so well with the back and forth musings between Keith and Roy.

Psalm 150 also talks of praising the Lord with dancing...and the mural is an awe inspiring work depicting the saints...both likely and they praise the Lord with dance.  Yes...that is Jesus...larger than the other Saints...dancing in the center of the mural.

Dancing Saints

The artist, Mark Dukes

....recently completed a ten-year commission to create a giant, neo-Byzantine, iconographic mural titled The Dancing Saints, which covers the entire modernist rotunda of St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, home to a progressive Episcopalian community in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.

There are other pictures of this amazing work or art that can be viewed HERE and HERE. 

More tomorrow....


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Praise Him With a Dance....

This post is another example of several things...from different areas/aspects of my doubt stored in different "folders" in my brain suddenly coming together...with an almost  magnetic like force to form an idea for a blog post.  I think I mentioned this a few days ago. 

A week or so ago, Keith emailed me to tell me his views on the last verse in Psalm 150...what is usually translated "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."  He thought perhaps the word "let" might not actually belong in the text if one was faithful to what the original language conveyed.  Sure enough...after checking in a literal translation (Young's) and a Hebrew Lexicon (Interlinear Analyzer 2 at Scripture 4 All) we discovered that the verse should actually read more along the lines of,

Everything that has breath praises the Lord.  

In an email he wrote to our friend Roy, he said:

In addition much can be added about the act of breathing in Scripture. God breathed into man and he became a living soul. It has been said that when God exhales we must inhale. I also think that the Hebrew word Ruach means spirit as well as wind and breath and air. And in saying that, if I am not mistaken it is the same word that is translated as "cool" as God walked with Adam in the "cool" of the day.

To which our friend Roy replied:

I wonder also if it is not a prophetic picture? We have the example of an entire orchestra here.....those that play all forms of instruments each instructed to praise the Lord. It would seem ALL instruments are instructed to praise. So. if all mankind is the orchestra is there a day ahead when all will praise Him in benevolence, mercy and all other wonderful aspects of kindness, love and goodness? We know all man's works praise the Lord now though hard to understand those that cause such misery at the present time. But, does this Psalm, on one level, point to that day when all will turn their own "music" (that higher life that is within them by His power) toward Him openly and freely, unhindered?

     So many depths and variances of meaning!
     Again then, if we apply the Psalm's meaning inwardly on an individual basis is it not necessary that the orchestra within each of us be subdued and coordinated to give off a harmonic music toward the Lord? My stringed instruments are not in unison with my wind instruments and such.....But, He is orchestrating the music within so that on a certain day and in brief blasts now the music harmonizes and comes together in Him. There shall be a day within when the last trumpet shall sound, that is, the last trumpet/ instrument shall come into harmony within me in Him. Then, He shall set me free to descend upon mankind with a shout, that is, He in me. And, even at that moment that beautiful music brought together in my heavens shall descend within me to the lowest parts of my earth gathering me together as it enables me to be a vessel to gather all around me together this last trump setting free the orchestra of His life within raising me to the heavens and gathering all around me in Him and by His excellent grace! We are blessed to see and experience those glimpses now......

More on this in my next post....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Interfaith Christmas and All Year Round...

Several things have popped up lately that I think go along with this happy whatever you wanakuh series of posts.  One in my AOL mailbox...and one showed up randomly on a google search while I was looking for something pretty much unrelated.

The first was a link to an article that annie found and posted on EU entitled, Three Clergymen, Three Faiths, One Friendship.  The article is about Rabbi Ted Falcon, the Rev. Don Mackenzie and Sheik Jamal Rahman, the “interfaith amigos.” They travel around the country speaking about interfaith dialogue. They are buds in spite of doctrinal differences. How do they stay friends since religious beliefs are such a hot button topic and oftentimes cause such discord?

Rabbi Falcon told the crowd at the Second Presbyterian Church here. “We try to honor the truth. This is the truth for you, and this is the truth for me. It may not be reconcilable, but it is important to refuse to make the other the enemy.”

During their presentation, each of them tell the audience what they value the most in their own faith tradition. 

The minister said “unconditional love.” The sheik said “compassion.” And the rabbi said “oneness.”

But then, they fess up and reveal what they regard as untruth.

 The minister said that one “untruth” for him was that “Christianity is the only way to God.” The rabbi said for him it was the notion of Jews as “the chosen people.” And the sheik said for him it was the “sword verses” in the Koran, like “kill the unbeliever.”

And about those "kill the infidel verses in the Koran?"

“It is a verse taken out of context,” Sheik Rahman said, pointing out that the previous verse says that God has no love for aggressors. “But we have to acknowledge that ‘kill the unbelievers’ is an awkward verse,’ ” the sheik said as the crowd laughed. “Some verses are literal, some are metaphorical, but the Koran doesn’t say which is which.”

And neither does the Bible, Sheik Rahman.  Many of the religious squabbles among Christians are because every denomination picks and chooses which verses they deem literal and which verses they deem spiritual.  




The other article I came across this morning...and it is not nearly as current.  It is an interview between Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo about interfaith dialogue.  Tony sums up a very important point.

In a mystical relationship with God, there is a coming together of people where theology is left behind and in this spirituality they found a commonality.

It seems to me that when we listen to the Muslim mystics as they talk about Jesus and their love for Jesus, I must say, it's a lot closer to New Testament Christianity than a lot of the Christians that I hear. In other words if we are looking for common ground, can we find it in mystical spirituality, even if we cannot theologically agree, Can we pray together in such a way that we connect with a God that transcends our theological differences?

So we make sure we don't compromise what we believe. But we also make sure that in mystical spirituality we find a kind of oneness that we leave judgment of who goes to heaven and who goes to hell in the hands of God and just preach the truth as we understand it.

Could it be that the little pet doctrines that we cling to are not all that important to God?  Perhaps there are so many irreconcilable differences even among Christians...(thinking free will/determinism, the various atonement theories, inerrancy of the scriptures)...because God purposed it to be that way?  Perhaps theology (or to borrow an annie term..."theory-ology ") is not what God wants us to focus on. 

And Shane says: 

When it comes to living out the Biblical vision of justice and peace, there are times when I feel like I have more in common with folks of other religions than I do with some other evangelicals. I have often found that while we may not agree theologically, we have a similar vision for how God calls us to live. Can we work together in service and action, even though we disagree theologically?

These two articles sound promising...hopeful but as Tony says:

There is going to be one segment of evangelicalism, just like there is one segment in Islam that is not going to be interested in dialogue.

Hmmmm....Ann Coulter comes to mind.  Jerry Fallwell...Pat Robertson....Fred Phelps...Kirk Cameron...Jack Chick, John Hagee. 

But there are other evangelicals who will want to talk and establish a common commitment to a goodness with Islamic people and Jewish people particularly.

The article contains several stories which tell of actions, heroic and selfless, that crossed religious lines. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Recycle Your Faith Website

Check out the Recycle Your Faith Website. Self described thusly:

Short and compelling videos are posted every Monday at Each video encourages spiritual exploration through candid interviews, thought-provoking topics, and stories of people attempting to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Various perspectives are presented and topics are left unresolved. It is our hope that these videos challenge you to question your faith and perhaps recycle it into something more closely resembling your personal experience with Jesus.

I watched ten or so of the high quality videos..most of which are under 3 minutes...but with lots of thought provoking ideas to sit up and pay attention to. It would probably not be a web site to recommend to very traditional Christians because they talk about all kinds of things, including the inerrancy of the Bible, homosexuality, leaving the institutional church and other controversial topics.

There are also two interviews with Paul Young (of The Shack fame). One is a snippet...3 minutes or so...and the other is a longer interview. About 17 minutes. It is a very candid interview about his past. I didn't know how much of his real life story paralleled Mack's story. Some of the statements that impacted me the most were..

It took me fifty years to wipe the face of my father off the face of God.

Shame destroys your ability to distinguish between an observation and a value statement.

He talks about his visit to a prison in Edmonton.

This gal comes over, falls into my arms. She is weeping. She's weeping and her tears are running down MY face. And she whispers as she's weeping, between her sobs, "do you really think Papa is fond of me?" And I said, "Honey, he's especially fond of you." and she said, "That's all I needed to know."

Check out this video...check out the site. And for heaven's sakes, if you haven't read The it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not Dissing Christmas....

I am very open to and accommodating of the beliefs and traditions of other faiths during the holiday season and I veer more toward the "Happy Whatever You Wannakah" way of thinking.  But I am not dissing Christmas.

Granted, as a family, we do not go all out for Christmas. The kids usually know what they are getting ahead of time (because I try to buy them what they actually want...and forgo any attempt to "surprise" them) I don’t think we go overboard.  I think we are quite practical. There have been times the two sets of parents...Keith and I and their dad and his wife.... have pooled funds in order to purchase a “bigger gift.”  We try to keep spending reasonable.

Keith and I don’t do the party circuit...nor do we buy gifts for each other....I don’t bake endless pans of cookies....wrap stacks of presents...deck the halls with more than a Christmas tree and a plaque on the front door....I don’t shop till I drop....but....I have a very soft spot in my heart for Christmas. I can’t read or listen to the “Christmas Story” in Luke without tearing up when the angel declares...

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

There are two holidays in particular when I vividly remember the reading of the Christmas story.

The first one I remember so clearly because I’m the one who had to read it. Out loud. In front of the church. At the Christmas Eve service no less!!! The pastor...Vernon Burrows....had this thing for my voice and the “lilting” (his word) way I read. We lived in Nashville. He was from Texas. It must have had something to do with the absence of a southern drawl....but he called on me to read all the time.

Now the church was small...and there were probably less than 100 people at the Christmas Eve service. We are not talking mega church here....but I was just as nervous. I didn’t know how to pronounce some of the words so I called my best friend, Kathy, several times during the day while I practiced. ”How do you pronounce this. How do you pronounce that?” Kathy was a long time Christian and she, more than anyone, was the person who helped to introduce me to my heavenly father. I worried about it all day...I was nervous but I did it...sweaty palms, heart racing, my kids rooting for me.

One year later, Kathy’s husband Monte, read the same passages from Luke... as we all sat around the big brick fireplace in my family room. Christmas Eve services had been canceled because of the weather but our families, being from the north and not fazed by a little bit of snow, got together anyway. Christmas that year was bittersweet. My sister had passed away that very morning, in the very early morning hours...from terminal cancer that lasted six weeks from diagnosis to her death. I jokingly told my pastor that Vicki was “in heaven” that Christmas, getting ready to "celebrate Jesus' birthday"....along with

a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Truthfully, I don't care if Jesus was REALLY born sometime in September...or if many of our holiday traditions were birthed in a pagan culture and really have no connection to Jesus.  Christmas is still the season, more than any other time of year, when many pause amidst all the secular trappings and holiday hoopla and, for a moment, however doubting...however fleeting, think about the "reason for the season."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Letter versus the Spirit of the Law

Because the AFA takes such a legalistic view of things...seeing mainly black and white and not any gray, they find themselves in a dilemma. What do they do with the Gap now that the are compliant with the rules for inclusion in the yellow...and possibly even the green..... list of retailers. Since the Gap now uses the word Christmas in its holiday advertising, they are (technically) compliant. Technically, yes, but the commercial (which I really like) is very satirical and seems to poke fun at the whole issue. The fact that they are part of the brunt of the joke has not escaped the AFA. They are conducting a poll to determine whether the Gap's standing on their "Naughty or Nice" list (no kidding...that is the name of the list) should be changed.

Even though I totally disagree with the whole list and the whole premise of these holiday wars between the secular and the non-secular...I would have to't change the Gap's listings from red to green. Even though they now qualify for inclusion in the green list (since they comply with the letter of the "law) they do not qualify based on the spirit of the AFA law (aka rules and requirements)

Let me be clear. I totally disagree with this whole thing...the whole naughty or nice list...the Christmas wars. I am focusing on this particular situation as an example of what happens when we follow the letter and not the spirit. Dwelling in the land of black and white is not as clear cut as one might think. For me, dwelling as I so often do in the gray, I can clearly see that the Gap does not comply with the spirit of the requirements the AFA sets for inclusion in the green list....which is to embrace and honor Christmas. In other words, oftentimes when you filter things through the letter and not the spirit of the are screwed.

Which in a round about way brings me back to something I posted last year at Christmas time. And I am going to repost it this year because I think it gets to the heart of what I mentioned in my first post...The Joy and Spirit of Christ. It is a letter from God to his children.

Dear Children,
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My Son's name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I didn't send my Son in December, it was some of your ancestors who decided to celebrate My Son's birthday at what was, in ancient times, a pagan festival; although, I do appreciate Jesus being remembered...anytime.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate Jesus' birth just,

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My Son's birth, then make room on your lawn for the nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all my followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all the trees. You can remember me anytime you see a tree.

Instead of fusing over trimmings and traditions, consider giving My Son one of the gifts below this Christmas…

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone who's hurt you in the past, forgive them, and give them the gift of a future-free from the pain, shame, and guilt of yesterday's yuck.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile, it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. Be sensitive to the needs of others. A few cans of food or a simple gift can go along way towards good will on earth.

10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Please, if you love me, love my children-all of them, especially the ones that challenge your traditions. I'll take care of all the rest.

Invite others to a Christmas festival that has more to do with eternity than all the trimmings and traditions of December 25th.

"Merry Christmas!" means: "I love you." - God

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christ Follower vs. Christian....

Digressing from the holiday topic at hand....

The following quote that I found in my inbox this morning goes along with a post I wrote recently about following Jesus.  87 Times Jesus said...Follow me.  I think one can believe all the "right doctrines" about Jesus...yet show no outward evidence of this belief in the way they live their life. 

The quote also brings to mind the series of You Tube videos that parody the Mac vs PC commercial...Christ Follower vs Christian.  If you have not seen them it is worth a visit to You Tube to check them out!!

But anyway...following is the Merton Quote....

"Christian faith in the full sense of the word, is not just the
acceptance of 'truths about' Christ.  It is not acquiescence in the
story of Christ with its moral and spiritual implications. It is not
merely the decision to put into practice, to some extent at least, the
teachings of Christ.  All these forms of acceptance are compatible with an acquiescence in what is 'not Christ.'  It is quite possible to
'believe in Christ' in the sense of mentally accepting the truth that he lived on earth, died, and rose from the dead, and yet still live, 'in the flesh,' according to the standards of a greedy, violent, unjust and corrupt society, without noticing any real contradiction in one's life."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Gap Compares Christmas to the Pagan Holiday Called "Solstice" !!!!

The other night while Keith and I were sitting here in the living room, something he heard on Bill O'Reily about the endless Christmas wars prompted him to say...tongue in cheek...

"The Pagans are upset about Christmas because they want their holiday back." 

I "got the joke" because I know the pagan origins of so many of our Christmas traditions...many of which came from the celebration of the Winter Solstice.  Apparently the AFA either doesn't know or chooses to ignore this.  There is another page on their site dedicated to the new commercial from the Gap..."Happy do whatever you wanukkah."  Lyrics and video follow:

Two, Four, Six, Eight, now's the time to liberate
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanza, Go Solstice.
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go add a tree,
You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.
Happy do whatever you wanukkah, and to all a cheery night.

Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, go whatever holiday you wanukkah.



About the commercial the AFA says the following:

 Did you notice it? Gap compares Christmas to the pagan holiday called "Solstice." Solstice is celebrated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft! what's your point?  News flash American Family Association.  Christmas IS an adaptation of the Pagan Holiday...the Winter Solstice.  The Gap did not make this up.  Whether or not Wiccans practice witchcraft...or observe the Solstice is a subject to take up with google...or a Wiccan.  About the relationship of Solstice to Christmas, Religious Tolerance says the following:

CHRISTIANITY: Any record of the date of birth of Yeshua of Nazareth (later known as Jesus Christ) has been lost. There is sufficient evidence in the Gospels to indicate that Yeshua was born in the fall, but this seems to have been unknown to early Christians. By the beginning of the 4th century CE, there was intense interest in choosing a day to celebrate Yeshua's birthday. The western church leaders selected DEC-25 because this was already the date recognized throughout the Roman Empire as the birthday of various Pagan gods. Since there was no central Christian authority at the time, it took centuries before the tradition was universally accepted:

  • Eastern churches began to celebrate Christmas after 375 CE.
  • The church in Jerusalem started in the 7th century.
  • Ireland started in the 5th century
  • Austria, England and Switzerland in the 8th
  • Slavic lands in the 9th and 10th centuries.

Many symbols and practices associated with Christmas are of Pagan origin: holly, ivy, mistletoe, yule log, the giving of gifts, decorated evergreen tree, magical reindeer, etc. Polydor Virgil, an early British Christian, said "Dancing, masques, mummeries, stageplays, and other such Christmas disorders now in use with Christians, were derived from these Roman Saturnalian and Bacchanalian festivals; which should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them." In Massachusetts, Puritans unsuccessfully tried to ban Christmas entirely during the 17th century, because of its heathenism. The English Parliament abolished Christmas in 1647. Some contemporary Christian faith groups do not celebrate Christmas. Included among these was the Worldwide Church of God (before its recent conversion to Evangelical Christianity) and the Jehovah's Witnesses.

For more on this (and to prove that neither the Gap nor I made this up) see the following web sites....

This one

And this one...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Season's Greetings...The Joy and the Spirit of Christ...

I am always amazed at where I end up on these weekend mornings.  I get to "see the world" without ever leaving my favorite spot on the sofa as I watch the night turn to day through the sliding glass door that leads to the back deck. Weekend 'em.  At least the weekend mornings that do not require me to be out and about.  I  always get up before the crack of dawn...what annie has referred to as "o' dark thirty"...but it is being "up" and not being "out" (as in out and about) that is my joy on these weekend mornings.  During the week, my world travels (as in World Wide Web)  are cut short because of work.  But on the weekends, the house is usually very quiet in the mornings and I can click away to my heart's content. 

So anyway...I can't really remember where I even started clicking this morning but I ended up on a site called The American Family Association.  If you are familiar with the site...and have read much of anything on this blog you will not be expecting a link to appear in my sidebar any time soon.  Highly unlikely.  

For eight or so years they were part of the Disney Boycott...initiated by the Catholic League, joined shortly thereafter by Southern Baptists and Assemblies of God...and supported by organizations such as the AFA and Focus on the Family etc. etc. etc. The gist of their complaints were the various anti Christian themes in many of Disney's movies. And...because Disney provided equal benefits (including insurance benefits) for their gay employees. AND.... because they permitted Gay Days to be held at Disney theme parks.  Disney actually experienced record financial growth during the the goal to affect Disney's bottom line was pretty much a wasted effort. 

Which brings a round about way....(what, you expected succinct?!!) to the subject of today's post. The AFA (and other organizations like it) are still attempting to affect the bottom lines of companies deemed un or anti Christian. With the holidays upon us...hey...opportunities abound to single out companies that do not promote the standard Christian partly line view of Christmas!!  

The AFA has dedicated a section of their web site to alert Christian consumers which retailers are for and which ones are  against Christmas.  They even provide a color coded list of retailers a glance...Christians can determine where to spend their Christmas dollars.

Color Code:

Company uses the term "Christmas" on a regular basis, we consider that company Christmas-friendly.

Company refers to Christmas infrequently, or in a single advertising medium, but not in others.

Company may use "Christmas" sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it.

There were many comments in response to this list....mostly positive because, I suppose, most of the people who frequent the AFA site are evangelical Christians who want to divert their cash flow to "green stores" and are happy to have a definitive list as a guide.  A snippet from one of the comments caught my eye...

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year to EVERYONE who believes in the joy and the Spirit of Christ!.

Which birthed some questions...

What does this commenter wish for those who don't believe in the joy and Spirit of Christ?

And more importantly...WHAT exactly IS the joy and spirit of Christ and is it experienced only by those who conform to a traditional Christmas celebration?

And as far as that goes...what is a traditional Christmas celebration?

More to come......

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Name Is Legion For We Are Many

A few weeks ago, I came upon an article about a 6 year old girl who has schizophrenia.  Her name is Jani...short for January.  My heart went out not only to Jani but also...perhaps especially, to her parents.  If you google "6 year old with schizophrenia" all kinds of articles come up.  The one I am going to quote from in this post was an article in the LA Times called Jani's at the mercy of her mind.

It presents a very unique insight into the Jani's world, her illness, her parents struggle, her relationship with them and her brother...and her relationship with a plethora of imaginary characters.  Many of them are rats, cats and other animals.  There is a cat named 400 and a girl named Wednesday that persuade her to do bad things.  Violent things.  Hitting, kicking, biting, screaming. Wednesday bites her until she complies. 

According to the article I read, Jani's case is very rare.  Schizophrenia usually hits in the late teens or early 20's. 

Doctors and other mental health experts don't fully understand the disease, which has no cure. Jani's extreme early onset has left them almost helpless. The rate of onset in children 13 and under is about one in 30,000 to 50,000. In a national study of 110 children, only one was diagnosed as young as age 6.

"Child-onset schizophrenia is 20 to 30 times more severe than adult-onset schizophrenia," says Dr. Nitin Gogtay, a neurologist at the National Institute of Mental Health who helps direct the children's study, the largest such study in the world on the illness.
"Ninety-five percent of the time they are awake these kids are actively hallucinating," Gogtay says. "I don't think I've seen anything more devastating in all of medicine."

When I read about Jani, one thing that came to mind was the story in the Gospels (in Matthew, Mark and Luke) about the demonic.

My name is Legion for we are many.  I wonder if his "many" tormenters had names like Jani's do?  Odd that the Bible never flat out claims that Jesus cured anyone with a mental illness...they were always possessed by a demon.  Today most of us scoff at the thought of demon possession, yet many still take what the Bible says about it at face value.


More on come. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sticks and Stones - 2

And Adam Hamilton has this to say:

How can we actually avoid speaking ill of others?  Here's what I do when I am at my best and exercising restraint:

First, I remember the call of Christ to avoid judging and to avoid calling names (Matthew 5:21-22)  My aim is to do Christ's will.  Speaking ill of others does not accomplish that aim. 

Second, I try to search my own heart to see what is behind my need to speak ill of the person.  Usually the motivation will be fear, jealousy, insecurity, or revenge.  I remind myself of the words of Mark Twain, "Among human beings jealousy ranks distinctly as a weakness; a trademark of small minds." 

Third, I make it a point to look for the good in the other and to focus on lifting that up rather than pointing out the person's weaknesses. 

Fourth, I remember the biblical call to humility and remind myself that I may not be seeing the other person the way God sees him or her.  I may not know all the facts.  And I remember the many ways in which I fall short of God's plans.

By the time I've walked through this mental exercise, I find it easier to practice what my mother taught me growing up: If you can't find anything good to say about someone, don't say anything at all. 

Sounds like good advice...

I used to have the following saying taped to my computer monitor.


              hand mouth 

      Plaque can be found at Tumbleweed Pottery

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sticks and Stones...

The other day, following a link on my AOL welcome page...which is sometimes very similar to a rumor mill/gossip rag...I came across a video of Sharon Osbourne, along with a couple Sirius radio announcers, trashing Susan Boyle.  It was all good the tradition of Howard Stern. They all had a big laugh...thought it was a hoot to say nasty, mean spirited, hurtful things.  It made me shudder.  It stayed with me a lot of the day.

I always thought that even though Sharon is married to Ozzie...a guy who has gnawed the head off of a live bat...that she was quite classy.  She also seemed...from the little I've watched of America's Got be kind. The things she says on the video are the polar opposite of kind. 

So while I mulled this around in my head a lot of the day, I realized, no doubt due to the gentle, convicting illumination of the Holy Spirit, that I am sometimes...often...guilty of the same crime. I've made fun of people.  Usually in my head, but sometimes out loud..

Many times I have not behaved all that differently than Sharon and her cohorts...finding humor at the expense of someone else's shortcomings.  Didn't Jesus address that?  General idea being that if we harbor something in our heart (hate for our brother...lust)  we are guilty to the same degree as if we acted upon it.  Whether we blurt it out or quietly snicker to ourselves, the root is the same.  Although restraint (and clenched lips) are preferable because it spares others pain, we need to take a good hard look at the root of what causes these thoughts and emotions.  Where does the meanness come from? 

All this mulling around made me think of some stuff I've stored in the archives of my brain (and somewhere in the archives on my computer) Two separate writings from Christian men I admire...Max Lucado and Adam Hamilton about some guidelines to govern our big mouths.  

First the advice from Max....

The Defeat of the Tongue

Insensitivity makes a wound that heals slowly. If someone hurts your feelings intentionally you know how to react. You know the source of the pain. But if someone accidentally bruises your soul, it’s difficult to know how to respond.

Someone at work criticizes the new boss who also happens to be your dear friend. “Oh, I’m sorry—I forgot the two of you were so close.”

A joke is told at a party about overweight people. You’re overweight. You hear the joke. You smile politely while your heart sinks.

What was intended to be a reprimand for a decision or action becomes a personal attack. “You have a history of poor decisions, John.”

Someone chooses to wash your dirty laundry in public. “Sue, is it true that you and Jim are separated?”

Insensitive comments. Thoughts that should have remained thoughts. Feelings which had no business being expressed. Opinions carelessly tossed like a grenade into a crowd.

And if you were to tell the one who threw these thoughtless darts about the pain they caused, his response would be “Oh, but I had no intention…I didn’t realize you were so sensitive!” or “I forgot you were here.”

Listed under the title of subterfuge is the poison of insensitivity. It’s called subterfuge because it’s so subtle. Just a slip of the tongue. Just a blank of memory. No one is at fault. No harm done.

Perhaps. And, perhaps not. For as the innocent attackers go on their way excusing themselves for things done without hurtful intention, a wounded soul is left in the dust, utterly confused. “If no one intended to hurt me, then why do I hurt so badly?”

God’s Word has strong medicine for those who carelessly wag their tongues.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

The message is clear: He who dares to call himself God’s ambassador is not afforded the luxury of idle words. Excuses such as “I didn’t know you were here” or “I didn’t realize this was so touchy” are shallow when they come from those who claim to be followers and imitators of the Great Physician. We have an added responsibility to guard our tongues.

These practical steps will purge careless words from your talk:
1. Never tell jokes that slander.
2. Never criticize in public unless you: have already expressed your disappointment with the other person in private, have already taken someone with you to discuss the grievance with the person, and are absolutely convinced that public reprimand is necessary and will be helpful.
3. Never say anything about anyone in their absence that you wouldn’t say in their presence.

More tomorrow....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thoughts On Turning That Page...

I sat on the couch this morning...alone in the (very) early morning darkness and cried.  My journey this morning started out on a blog I've visited before, but not often...I read a post or two, then clicked on one of the links in the "Blogs I Follow" section.  The Needle and the Damage Done - Thoughts from the mother of a heroin addict. 

In one of her recent posts, The Day the Nightmare Began she said

Last year, Dec. 18 to be exact, was the beginning of the realization that my son had a serious drug problem.  I think its a good thing that we can't foresee our future because if I would have known then what this year would be like...I don't think I could have handled it.  One day at a time is more than just a "slogan" its a survival mechanism.

I think back to the day ...four or five years ago when I discovered that Beth was smoking.  Smoking cigarettes.  I was distraught.  It was like the end of the world. 

If I had known then what I know now...I don't think I could have handled what was to come, either.  I wrote quite a bit about it here on my blog during the summer of 2008...when Beth ran away 5 times in a month...when we had to get Child Protective Services involved just to find her. The psychiatrist who flat out told us she was an addict.  The psychologist who just didn't know. The two steps forward and one step back.  The two steps forward and three steps back. Hate filled, belligerent, angry. More than I care to go into here in this post. 

I have more hope now than I have had for a while...but I am not deluding myself into complacency.  I know that anything she tells me has about a fifty percent chance of being a flat out lie. 

Her boyfriend..the one who exacerbated so many of our problems...the one who spent 9 months in boot camp when he was 16...and then spent 9 months in a lock down adolescent rehab when he was 18 has relapsed again.  Beth broke up with him a few months ago.  That is a hopeful sign for me.  He has since been charged with yet another burglary.  He is using again. The script of his life seems to be written.  I have an enormous amount of empathy for his dad. 

On another blog I visited this morning...there was also a post that touched me deeply. The blogger posted a picture of her son when he was 13...before the drugs started.  She talked about him and his funny, endearing quirks, his kindness, his concern for her...and she closed with the following...

Yes, as a mother I'm caught between the memory of that boy, my beloved, and the boy that stole my car.

I so understand what she is saying. I'm not really sure how to wrap up this post.  Visit these blogs if you feel led (and from there you will find links to the blogs of several dozen other parents facing the same situation) Pray for these parents and their children...and all those, the world over, (my family included) whose lives have been affected by addictions. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More About That Path

And a quote from Anne Lamott who is quoting E.L. Doctorow about "the path"

"E.L. Doctorow once said that 'Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.' You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard." — Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)

Hmmm...just enough light to see a few feet in front of you. 

The other night I was going through some old AOL files on the geriatric computer that sits in the dining room. The computer is about 7 or 8 years old and the files date back to about 2004.  There were over 4800 emails. Many of them were written to yahoo email lists...the Wider Universalist Fellowship, Christian Universalism and others.  It is eye opening to go back and read emails you've written even just five years ago. 

There was one email I came across that was in reply to the following question:

Were you given a book of your entire existence from birth to death, opened of course to today's page, would you dare turn that page to know what "the morrow shall bring?"

        Photo by

                             Photo by TON70

My reply...

Hmmmmm....would I turn the page?  Ignoring the fact that it might all be predetermined whether I would turn the page or first reaction is that I would not.  If tragedy looms ahead, I don't think I would want to know for sure. 

Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. KJV

Would I want to know if tomorrow my health would fail....or one of my kids would be don't think I could cope with the certainty of it.  So, no, I don't think I would peek ahead to future pages and chapters to see what was going to happen.  If we are believers in UR, we know how it all ends anyway......

That reply was written during the period of my incessant, obsessive, relentless search for the answer to the free will/total determinism question.  You know like the old Miss Clairol commercials...Does she or doesn't she? (have "free will") Even though I wouldn't "bet the farm" on the conclusion I've come to, I do have more peace about the question. 

And my answer to the question about the book of my life.  Well, it is the same answer I gave five years ago.  I wouldn't turn the page.  I guess it is really God's mercy that he gives us just enough light to see a few feet in front of us....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

He Leadeth Me...

4 Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD;
point out the right road for me to follow.

5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.

When I read these few verses from Psalm 25 today, I realized how well they fit with the past few posts. You know about him leading and me (trying to) following?  I should whisper those words every morning...before my feet touch the floor.  I should write them down and tape them to the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror and my computer monitors.  Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. 

A confession of sorts, I really like Southern Gospel music.  Not everybody does.  I do.  In fact, I have 59 videos saved in my Southern Gospel playlist on You Tube.  Among them, the following video by The Martins..He Leadeth Me. Since I can't carry a tune in a bucket, anyone who can sing a cappella simply astounds me.  I could have the New York Philharmonic playing back up for me...and I'd still need the bucket :)


Thursday, November 12, 2009

87 Times...

This seems to go well with my last post...about following Jesus.  A quick disclaimer, though, lest anyone think I am insinuating that I've got this WWJD stuff down. Not by a LONG SHOT.  I think this song is quite convicting...

I am simply going to post the link to the webpage where you can hear it in its entirety...and post the lyrics below because I think "there is something here for everyone."  If we are honest, we see ourselves falling short in at least some of the areas addressed in the song. 

Link to song (#2 in the list of songs on the right side of the page)

Bryan Sirchio
Songs For Justice Walkers
"Follow Me" (87 Times)

I met this preacher from Australia
He read the Bible searching for its dominant themes
And he counted 87 times when Jesus said... "Follow me."
Well you know that got me thinking
Maybe that's the bottom line of what "Christian" means
'Cause "I follow Jesus" is deeper than "I believe"
'Cause it don't take much to mentally agree
With a set of beliefs written down in some creed
Now don't get me wrong,
we need to know what we believe
But lately I've been wondering...

Am I following Jesus, or just believing in Christ
'Cause I can believe and not change a thing
But following will change my whole life
He never said, come, acknowledge my existence
Or believe in me I'm the 2nd person of the Trinity
But 87 time he said... Follow me

But if I'm a follower of Jesus,
Then why am I such a good life insurance risk?
And why, when I do my giving,
do I still keep so much when so much hunger exists?
And if I follow Jesus, then why do I have so many friends
among the affluent, and so few among the poor?
And if I follow Jesus,
why do missiles and guns make me feel more secure?
And it don't take much to mentally assent
To a statement of faith we can confirm and forget
But following will change our lifestyle if we get it and
more and more I'm wondering...


Yes, we need to know what we believe,
to follow the Jesus who's real
God save us from the Christ's we create in our image
(you know what I mean...)
The Jesus who's as left wing or right wing as we
The one who baptizes our cherished ideologies
The one who always seems to favor our side
against some enemy

Now I don't mean to sound self-righteous
God knows I've got more questions than answers to proclaim
But its been over 20 years now since Jesus called my name
So forgive me if I'm mistaken
But there's something wrong with a lot of churches
in America these days
And I think the Spirit's trying to tell us
There's a question that the churches need to raise...

Are we following Jesus?  Or just believing in Christ?
'Cause we can believe, and not change a thing
But following will change our whole life
He never said, come, acknowledge my existence
Or believe in me, I'm your first class ticket to eternity...
But 87 times he said... Follow me...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No Turning Back...

Back in Nashville when I "found the Lord" or should I say...when he found me...I was attending a Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It was a start up church pastored by Vernon eccentric old guy who thought outside of the box while at the same time believing very traditional things about the atonement, the existence of an eternal hell etc. etc. etc.  Vernon baptized me and my three kids..back when they were in elementary school. 

Cumberland Presbyterians we were not dunked.  The four of us stood up in front of the small congregation and recited the required affirmations and statement of beliefs.  I wonder if I could affirm those same beliefs at this stage of my spiritual evolution?  Not sure...and it doesn't matter.  That was really the starting point for my walk of faith. While I was attending that church, a hopeful agnostic, God apprehended me, whispered his assurance that he did, indeed, exist and that he really was with me. 

And that is sort of my true north.  Listening to that same voice that whispered to me back in Nashville. 

Pastor Vernon had a penchant for a particular song written by S. Sundar Singh. We sang it almost every week (much to the dismay of those in the small congregation who much preferred more modern praise and worship music)  My best cyber bud, annie, often closes her posts with a quote from the song. The hymn is entitled, I Have Decided To Follow Jesus....and I am including a video of some really cute kids singing it for your viewing delight.....


And in case you missed some of those (out of the mouths of babes) lyrics.......

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

So to the best of my knowledge..what my spiritual discernment discerns...that is what I am doing.  Following Jesus. 

Isaiah 30:21 - You will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left."
And I  just keep listening for his voice... This is the way..walk ye in it...whether it turns to the right or to the left.  No turning back.  No turning back. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Odd Man Out...

I've evolved a lot since I started this blog a couple of years ago.  It seemed as if God dropped the name and the idea into my head.  I had a few blogs prior to this...and made some random, haphazard posts but never really stuck with it.  They reside somewhere in cyber space (or in the case of AOL Journals...which shut its doors last year, the "archives" are archived here on my computer) This one...Mercy Not Sacrifice...was different. 

But I have changed a lot since the inception of this blog...when "sonship" seemed a very appropriate tag.  I think I've probably become a lot more pluralistic...and I guess I've taken Universalism to the next (in my opinion...logical) step.  I still see our relationship with God...our maturing sonship but I don't think my definition would match the definition of Eby, or Prinzing...or Roy...or Keith.  

I have been a Christian for about 11 or 12 years (cannot remember exactly) but I don't remotely fit into the Christian stereotype. I do not confine my beliefs to any one set doctrine, creed or dogma. I don't limit my spiritual reading/exploration/ponderments to just those shelves in the bookstore labeled "Christian."  I have been told that I am blown about by every weird doctrine that comes along. Not so...but I am not afraid to look for truth anywhere and everywhere the Spirit leads me. I am evolving in my beliefs at what sometimes seems breakneck speed. And even though I still consider myself a Christian, I am way too new agey for most standard party line Christians.


....because I claim Christianity as my "home" faith and Jesus as my savior and because God speaks to me through the Bible, I don't really fit with many who are on a different spiritual path than Christianity. Thus, the title of this post....Odd Man Out. I often feel as if I don't belong anywhere.

I participate on more than several (but less than many) forums with varying focuses...some are very traditional and some are more new agey.  I think perhaps when the more new agey folks check out the link to this blog (which I usually include in my signature) the very traditional picture (Forgiven) and scripture quoted in the header...might turn them off.  Yet, at the same time, I think when traditional Christians visit, the topics I write about sets off the "slippery slope" alarm. 

I don't exactly fit anywhere...which is sometimes a very lonely place to be. 


Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Sonship Tag...

The other day it occurred to me that I should probably explain one of the tags I use the most frequently on this blog...the Sonship tag

I found UR shortly after I became a Christian via Tentmaker while searching out the differences between arminianism and calvinism.  Tentmaker came up in the search engine results.  I don't think I stayed very long the first visit but I did save it in my favorites and went back to it at a later date.  How later, I can't remember.  But I went back and even though at first I was very skeptical, it did not take long to become (as William Barclay proclaims) a convinced universalist. 

I began to participate on the message board...and became cyber buds with several people on the board.  Two in particular.  Roy and Keith.  Roy is still a friend, although contact is sometimes quite sporadic...and Keith.  Yep...the same Keith I mention on this blog all the time...the Canadian guy I'm married to. 

It was mainly those two who shaped my early understanding of universal reconciliation.  Their beliefs were very similar...and both recommended teachers such as Preston Eby and Ray Prinzing.  I listened to quite a few Ray Prinzing tapes in the beginning of this journey.  Their teachings focused on the "elect"...the first fruits...the believers who were destined to become the "manifested sons of God" who would eventually set creation free. 

"Sonship" is similar to learning to live out of the christ nature as opposed to the carnal nature.  To become progressively aware of your true nature.  In the teachings of Eby and Prinzing this is a process orchestrated by God..."training for reigning." 

That's not exactly what I mean when I use the sonship tag...and it is amazingly hard to pin down an exact definition especially since my beliefs have evolved.  More on that tomorrow.  In the meantime, you can check out this page of links to some of the Sonship ministries.

Friday, November 6, 2009

More Contradictions About God...

In yesterday's post, I quoted from the book, Poor Old God, He Always Gets the Blame by Arlene Claire Cartwright.  In the book, the author also talks about the schizophrenic God so many religions teach/preach.  While looking for the URL for the "Hey, God" book I mentioned a few posts ago, I came upon another "Hey, God" book.  Hey, God; Got a Minute? By John Barr

It is a tongue in cheek story about a guy named Herman who has a series of visits with his dreams, sort of...and he gets to ask God some of his (many) questions.  Herman does most of the talking in these encounters.  God is somewhat elusive and cryptic. He reminds me a bit of the God in all of those "Oh God" movies but with a bit more "attitude."  Most of us can relate to Herman's questions and ponderings and confusion about who God really is. 

Some of his opinions about preachers and teachers might explain some of the contradictory images we have of God.  Some excerpts from the book follow:

"Hey, I still got things I don't know, God.  But the kind of guys I'm talking about don't instruct as much as they bully.  They tell you what to believe, how to believe it and what's going to come down on you if you don't.  I once had a guy hand me a list and say, "This is what we believe.  You want to join us, you gotta' believe it too."

God says:

"They are encouraging you to open your mind to their words Harold"

Herman again:

"Yeah, okay, but it doesn't sound to me like they got much room in those words for debate, and that means that they intend the opening-of-the-mind thing to be one sided. You should hear these guys, God"'s anybody with a loud voice and the idea that you've called on him to "spread the good word" even if that "good word" contradicts the next guy's "good word."  I gotta' ask you God, doesn't that, get you mad?  I mean, it's like these guys think you have a split personality, that you hand out contradictory callings?"

"Anyway, these guys can also be found in basilicas, bethels, churches, mosques, synagogues, tabernacles, temples, you name it--I mean if you want to. 

God also says:

"If you are referring to a time when they gather in worship, it is likely that the one doing the speaking feels he or she is being guided by me."

Herman again:

"Well, that's what I mean about thinking it through, God..  He thinks he's being "guided" into saying "black" at about the same time a guy in a place down the street thinks he's being "guided" into saying "white" I mean, I got enough smarts to see a problem with that, why don't they?"

Anyway, their audience just sits there nodding and smiling, as if there couldn't be any doubt about the truth of what they just heard.  I tell you, God, this gets me to thinking that there's nobody out there who has any idea what the real skinny is.  They come on like they do, but it's obvious by what they say, and by what other guys say about what they say, that they don't"

This doesn't really solve the dilemma but Herman certainly identifies the problem...and clarifies at least some (most?) of the reasons for the existence of so many contradictory images of God.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More From Poor Old God, He Always Gets the Blame

In a post a few days ago, I mentioned the book, Poor Old God, He Always Gets the Blame.  Following are a few more snippets from the book.

Do you have two Gods? does seem that most Christians do have two Gods.  The God we see in Jesus and the God depicted in the Old Testament. I've written about this before...HERE. Scroll down past the post on homosexuality if that doesn't interest you.  Below that there are a bunch of posts about the OT God (or as an avowed atheist on the Beliefnet forum refers to him...about BibleGod)

The God of your heart and the God of your intellect?

Does the God you talk to match the God you talk about?

I once had two Gods. 

For 31 years I lived my life with two Gods--one filling me with terror, misery and despair; the other with ecstasy.

She goes on to talk about how she thinks the Bible perpetrates these two views of two gods. 

Thus we are left with a God of contradiction--with two Gods: the God of our heart and the god of our intellect.

Following these two Gods is bewildering.  They leave us in a quandary about the meaning of love.  One the one hand, the Bible tells us that Christ called us to love on another as God loves us, to love our neighbor as we love ourself, to turn the other cheek and to keep the Commandments; while on the other hand, it instructs us to fear the Lord and portrays a god who is worthy of fear by telling us the He flooded the world, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and drowned the Egyptians.  Loving as God loves seems impossible.  What should we do? Should we do as God says?--or do as God does?

That is our quandary isn't it?  Should we do as God says?--or do as God does?  For me..I've solved the dilemma by filtering everything through what is revealed about Jesus in the Scriptures...the image of the invisible God.  "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father."  I definitely am not the WWJD poster girl but at least I know what God is not by seeing who God Jesus. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Christian Universalist Association...

The Christian Universalist Association is holding a series of meetings next weekend (November 6 - 8 ) in Nashville, old home sweet home.  I lived there for about 5 years (or so) about 15 miles from downtown.  Ask me not, north, south, east or west of the city because I would not have a clue.  I spent most of my time in the the neighborhood where I of Gallatin Road, near the mall.  I went downtown a few times but not many...

The conference, "The Reconciliation of All - On Earth as In Heaven" is being held at

Howard Congregational UCC
2802 Buchanan St.
Nashville, TN 37208
(615) 254-6335

Among the speakers...

Tim King, Rev. Kalen Fristad, Rev. Eric Stetson, Woodrow Luca, Susan Smith, Logan Green, Rick Spencer, Rhett Ellis, Marquis D. Hunt,  and Charles Slagle.  Some of them I am familiar with...some I am not.

But it was title of some of the sermons and workshops that caught my eye.  Some of the topics seems to lean a bit toward pluralism...which I am not saying is a bad thing.  I'm just saying...

Some of the sermons....

    • "Universalism: Past, Present and Powerful." Message by Rev. Kalen Fristad
  • "Into the Universal Light: The Full Meaning of Universalism." Message by Logan Geen
  • "Christian Universalism and Interfaith Reconciliation." Message by Rev. Eric Stetson

And some of the workshops....

    • "What Is a Believer? (Not What Is a Christian)" -- with Rick Spencer
    • "Universalism and Human Emotions, Yours and Everyone Else's" -- with Rhett Ellis
    • "The Spirituality of Universalism: Beyond a Faith with No Hell" -- with Logan Geen
    • "Destined For Salvation: God's Promise to Save Everyone." Adult Sunday School class led by Rev. Kalen Fristad

Comments?  Thoughts? 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I've Lost Track...

I've lost track of what I written lately but I know that the following quote I ran across just now fits somewhere...amongst my blog musings of late. And so without further ado, I post it here for your consideration.....

"The words liberal and fundamentalist are used today not so much to identify oneself as to label the enemy." Lesslie Newbigin in Proper Confidence

More on Prayer....

And today...carrying over last night's activities...still cruising the internet....reading, writing, pondering.  It is overcast today, rainy...with rain predicted throughout the day.  Good excuse to spend a large chunk of the day reading, writing, pondering and cruising the internet.  Keith does not seem to object to the plan.  I am sure we will venture out to Denny's later for lunch/dinner but for the most part I rather enjoy the view from my resting place here on the couch. 

We've been hitting Denny's a lot lately because of the steady stream of coupons that we keep finding in the paper and in our mailbox.  BOGO's abound.  Gotta' love BOGO's.  If the point of coupons is to lure more customers into their restaurants, well, it has definitely worked with us.  Our visits to Denny's have increased exponentially. The more coupons we get, the more visits we make.  And they have THE best pancakes...

But.....I digress!!  :-)

In my internet meanderings this morning, I came upon a book on Google Books called Poor Old God, He Always Gets the Blame By Arlene Claire Cartwright. The author talks about the way many of us pray:

We have been led to build barriers between God and ourselves.  Most never pray or yearn to see God because they've been told that that's impossible.  So, instead, when they pray, they ask God for what they need and thank Him for what they have.  Although many of us were taught as children that prayer is a lifting up of our minds and hearts to God, whenever groups get together to pray, the talking usually starts almost immediately--please, please, please; thank you, thank you, thank you.

No wonder why many never experience contemplative prayer or see God.  God is never given a chance to say a word or to reveal His magnificence. 

No wonder so many keep asking God to take good care of them and their families.  God is never given a chance to reveal that He cares for more than we do.

God cannot seem to get a word in edgewise.  As Neale Walsh says in one of his Conversations With God books:

God is speaking to everyone all the time. The question is not to whom does God talk, but who listens. This is clarified by the statement that God can communicate with you in the next song you hear, the next breeze that caresses your ear, the next conversation you overhear. "All these devices are mine. All these avenues are open to me. I will speak to you if you invite me."