Saturday, January 30, 2010

Two Mirror Thoughts on Forgiveness....

Again, annie posted a quote from Henri Nouwen on Emerging Universalist the other day that I took notice of because it goes along with what I have been writing about lately. 

Healing Our Hearts Through Forgiveness

Forgiving the other is first and foremost an inner movement. It is an act that removes anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge from our hearts and helps us to reclaim our human dignity.

Hmmmm....and some of what Eckhart says in A New Earth mirrors this thought.  He talks a quite a bit about forgiveness and grievances and grudges.  He sees it as one of the main egoic structures of the human mind. 

A long standing resentment is called a grievance.  To carry a grievance is to be in a permanent state of against and that is why grievances constitute a significant  part of many people's ego.  Collective grievances can survive for centuries in the psyche of a nation or tribe and fuel a never ending cycle of violence.

Perhaps this grievance thing is one of the reasons the 4th Step asks us to go beyond listing only other humans we are ticked at/resentful of. We are also asked to consider institutions and principles we harbor resentment towards. Also, while I am on the subject...I found, as I read AA literature over the past week or so...that they refer often to "self" and "self will"....which is just another way of saying egoic mind.  The unconscious "me, me it's all about me" part of us.  These old grudges and grievances are poison...

A grievance is a strong negative emotion connected to an event in the sometimes distant past being kept alive by compulsive thinking, by retelling the story in the head or outloud of "what someone did to me"

"A grievance will also contaminate other areas of your life.

How so? By getting all wrapped up in your "they done me wrong" dwelling on it, you see events that are happening in the present through the eyes of the past.  You know, as in "my perception is my reality"?  Everything is filtered through this preconceived, possibly distorted perception. will react to someone with whom you have a history of conflict, through the eyes of conflict.  

And about forgiveness...and this ridiculous criteria Jesus sets up for us when he talks about 7 times 70.  What do we do about those people in our lives who do really nasty, mean spirited things that hurt us.  What about physical abuse...emotional abuse...people who steal from us, lie about us....etc. etc. etc.  What do we do about that?  Well, we might have to take practical steps to protect ourselves, but the key (according to Eckhart) is not to turn them into enemies.  Because ultimately when we have an "other" to rail against...when we have an enemy to fight, we are the one who pays the greatest price.  We are the one who suffers the we nibble away at that poison waiting for the enemy to drop dead.....

Friday, January 29, 2010

Two "Mirror" Quotes on Love...

I spent some time poking around Robert Rutherford's site the other night.  I listened to one of the songs several times...Grace Triumphs Over Judgement....

Very cool song...that expresses the following....

Grace Triumphs Over Judgement.....peace will win out over annihilates every kind of hate...and hope is victorious ever more. Light will swallow up all darkness. Faith will conquer every fear...prejudice will die as we raise the banner high....
Sin is gone...he is here...peace is here.


The song has gone through my head repeatedly for the past couple of days.  Similar to an ear worm...except that ear worms are usually songs you don't like much but, by some cruel quirk of fate, they play on and on in your head.  Similar because the song kept repeating itself over and over....dissimilar (to most of the earworms I get) because  the song is a great song and I like it a lot.  And I think you will too.  And I urge everyone to go have a look see at Robert Rutherford's web page....and blog. 

And the mirror quote on love?  It is a "poem" by Emmet Fox.  I had to dredge it from the archives in my brain (with some help from google) below it follows in it's entirety.

Love Will Conquer
There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
no disease that enough love will not heal;
no door that enough love will not open;
no gulf that enough love will not bridge;
no wall that enough love will not throw down;
no sin that enough love will not redeem . . .
It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble;
how hopeless the outlook;
how muddled the tangle;
how great the mistake.
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.
If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world . . .
Emmet Fox

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And the Last One -Letting Go Of Resentment

In a comment on Stepping Over Our Anger...the first post, Will mentioned a verse from Psalm 18 that had comforted him during a troubled time in his life...
Psalm 18:29 For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall.
His mention of that particular Psalm caused me to go back and reread it.  As it turns out, I've already written about about Psalm 18.  One of my favorite verses is Psalm 18:35 which the NCV renders:
You stoop down to make me great.
I love that verse because he does truly stoop down to make us great...but there is lot more stuff to take notice of in this Psalm; stuff that just so happens to go along with the theme of these past few posts.
So, as I've mentioned, Step 4 in the Twelve Steps of AA is about introspection...about performing, with God's help, a fearless moral inventory. It is about shining  the light of reason on our old resentments. It helps us flip the switch in order to see our own complicity. About that Ray Prinzing need to curse the darkness.  Simply turn on the light.   Psalm 18:28 words it this way:
For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.  NRSV
The Message says this...
God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. Psalm 18:24
Psalm 90 talks about how our iniquities are set before him
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
I reread several chapters in a New Earth today at the gym.  The following phrase caught my eye
Seeing is freeing... 
Indeed it is...
And again in Psalm 18, it declares
you rescued me from the man of violence.18:48
Perhaps I am taking this verse out of context a bit...but I wonder if the "man of violence" dwells within us rather than outside of us.  The carnal scripture.  The egoic mind in A New Earth.
There was other stuff I underlined and took note of as I read (my dog eared copy of) A New Earth at the gym...and that makes this a good place to say....
More on that....tomorrow.   

Monday, January 25, 2010

And Still More On Stepping Over Our Anger

Okay...lets take a look at Step 4.

Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

You can find the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions on line HERE.  Web sites with instructions, insights, opinions and commentaries abound.  Just google any variation of 12 Steps and you will find them...lots of them.

It is Step 4 that deals mainly with introspections and self assessment.  It starts out in a round about way...asking us to list those individuals or institutions we resent/hold grudges against/or are angry with.  No trace of the moral inventory of OURSELVES there.  Easy enough list to generate.  No problem with column one.  The actual worksheet describes it thusly:

1. Column 1: Page 64: “In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry.” (Complete column 1 from top to bottom. Do nothing with column 2,3,4 until column 1 has been completed.

Okay...on to the second column.  In that column we identify just what it is about the person, situation or institution that pisses us off.  The instructions say to start at the top...and work our way down...listing why we were angry with each of the people/things in Column 1. Again...not too difficult.

2. Column 2: Page 64: “We asked ourselves why we were angry.”

Okay, now what?  We identify what was wounded.  Again, not too difficult or humbling.  In fact, so far, most egos probably revel in this process

3. Column 3: Page 65: “On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries. Was it our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations, which had been interfered with? “

Again, pretty easy to identify. But then...THEN....we move on to the final column.  This one is not so easy because it takes the focus off of them...and puts the focus on us.  We have to look at ourselves.  (There's that "put down the magnifying glass, pick up the mirror" thing again.  Damn...not the mirror) 

4. Column 4: Page 67: “Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man’s.”

Now, I should point out the the previous three steps have more or less acknowledged that we cannot do anything by self effort alone and it is God who will work the changes in us.  This list is not about self effort or willpower or whatever.  It is about awareness, thinking things through...acknowledging our part in difficult situations.

I think the introspection and self assessment shines the light of reason on these dark places in our hearts, these resentments that govern our thought process.  Ray Prinzing used to say there was no need to curse the darkness.  Simply turn on the light. 

More about this tomorrow....

Oh...and if you want to take a look at some of those work sheets...with the prompts about resentments, fears etc.  Check THIS out, and THIS and THIS.....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More On Stepping Over Our Anger....

Confession...I talk to myself.  Out loud.  Not only do I talk to myself, I talk to other people.  People who aren't there.  Usually people I am pissed off at.  I sometimes say what I wish I would have said...sometimes what I am going to say...and sometimes what I would say if there were no holds barred and I didn't care about the nuclear fall out from telling it like it is.  Or wait...probably telling it like I THINK it is would be a more accurate assessment. 

Eckhart Tolle talks about a woman who rode the same bus he did...a woman who kept up a running dialogue...a conversation with herself and an imaginary non existent person.  She was very angry...and expressed the anger, out loud, for all to hear.  Eckhart thought she was as crazy as a loon...

He writes about the experience in his book, A New Earth and I found an online interview from 2008 where he tells the same story.  I am thinking that he has probably told that same story countless times in countless interviews sort of like a singer who has a hit in the early days of their career and then are forced to sing that same song ad nauseam...for the rest of their professional lives. 

Ms. Tippett: You know, you told a story in A New Earth about an experience you had, which was actually a few years before you really had kind of a breakthrough and came out of that, where you experienced a woman talking to herself on the train, right? On the tube train.

Mr. Tolle: Yes.

Ms. Tippett: Tell that story. Kind of caught in her thoughts, and then you came to understand that you had some of the same problems.

Mr. Tolle: Yes. So she would — I would sometimes see her on the train. I call it the tube, the subway, in the morning. And she would continuously talk to herself or, rather, to an imaginary person in a very angry voice. Continuously complaining, "And then he did this to me. Then he said, and I said — then how dare he tell me this," and I watched in amazement how can anybody be so insane and still apparently have a job? Because she would catch the subway every morning.

Ms. Tippett: [Laughter] She was going somewhere, right?

Mr. Tolle: And one day I was sitting opposite her on the subway, and she got off at the same station that I needed to get off to go the university library. I followed her, and we got closer and closer and finally I realized, oh, my God, she's going to the university.


Mr. Tolle: Because at that time, I still thought the university was the great temple of knowledge, and the professors and so on, they had all the answers and I would eventually find them too. I was washing my hands in the bathroom and I thought, "My God. Her voice. She never stops talking." And I suddenly realized, well, I do that too, except that I don't do it out loud. And then I thought, "I hope I don't end up like her," and somebody next to me looked at me and I suddenly realized in shock that I had actually said these words aloud just like her. I said, "I hope I don't end up like her." [Laughter] So I realized my mind was as incessantly active as hers. Our only difference was that my thought was mostly based on feeling sorry for myself. It was kind of depressed kind of thinking. My patterns were fueled by anger. But that was only a very brief …

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Mr. Tolle: … flash of realization. But I always remember it because that was — it took years before I finally was able to really step out of the stream of thinking and realize there is a place inside me that is far more powerful than the continuous mental noise with which for many, many years I had been completely identified, just like that woman.

Yep...I know that feeling well.  The constant audio going on in my head.  And I've actually...dare I admit this without concern that the guys with the white coats will show up unexpectedly at my door...I've blurted out things in public places.  Just like Eckhart did.  Just like the lady in his story.  I remember distinctly one sideways WTF look from a woman in the parking lot of the grocery store...when, as I pushed  my empty cart to the cart corral, I said a few things to myself out loud.  Yes...out loud in an annoyed tone....with nobody anywhere near me to be annoyed with.  Hmmmmm. 

I told this little tale to Emily yesterday as we chatted in the kitchen.  She laughed and said, "Mom, you're nuts" and then suggested I get a blue tooth earpiece and wear it 24/7...or at least when I am out and about in dispel any concerns about my sanity  :) 

But back to the women in the parking lot. I wonder if, perhaps, she was doing the exact same thing I was doing...conversing with the voice inside her head....but with the good sense not to do it out loud.

This reminds me of a quote I ran across recently in a book by Henri Nouwen, Home Tonight, Further Reflections On The Parable of The Prodigal Son.....

 There is one sort of person who seems to be silent, but inwardly criticizes other people. Such a person is really talking all the time. From Desert Winds by Yushi Nomura

So where am I going with all this?  A lot of what fuels this inner dialogue...this merry go round, whirlwind....sink hole ...of thoughts is resentment.  As  expressed in the quote by Nomura, even if the words are only spoken silently, in our minds, they are still just as hurtful, harmful...dysfunctional.  We must rid ourselves of the resentment...the old anger, the wounds that we've covered with a bandage and left to fester and ooze their toxins...

And that is why this 4th Step from AA's 12 Steps seems brilliant. 

More on that....tomorrow...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Three Stages of Human Consciousness?

I came upon a snippet today (one of many interesting fragments of thought I came across this morning) while “researching” a whole bunch of other ideas that have been ping ponging around in my head for the past few days (weeks/years/lifetime?) I come across about a million quotes/thoughts/ideas/excerpts that would make a good blog post every time I sit down with my laptop, pick up a book, read the Bible, watch a movie or read the posts on the lists. More posts than I could ever hope to write…more thoughts than I can ever hope to think through.

Perhaps this is the sad travail it talks about in Ecclesiastes…you know…that God hath given to the sons of man to be humbled by…. exercised with…wearied of….burdened by (depending on the translation of Ecclesiastes 1:13 you happen to read) But alas that is the subject of a whole other post so I am going to leave that alone for now and just get on with the snippet du jour that I came across by happenstance (and google) this morning….and what came to mind when I read it.

The link on google, led to a PDF file…which led back to the web site I skimmed some of the writings there…long….deep…metaphysical. I don’t have the time or energy to be exercised with all the wisdom there this morning. I think some of Ken Wilbur's  theories are incorporated in this writing…entitled, An Integral Theory of Evolution. It is about 19 pages long…and written in a very scholarly fashion…with footnotes and references and too much new information for me to ponder in it’s entirety. So anyway…..back to the snippet….

……. we can look at the phylogeny of human consciousness from about 25,000 years ago in three stages, which we can call innocent, mental, and spiritual. During the first phase, our ancestors were like innocent, young children, from the Latin nocentem, present participle of nocere, ‘to hurt, injure’. So someone who is innocent is literally ‘harmless’. It seems that this innocent matrifocal or matriarchal age was comparatively peaceful, in contrast to the conflict-ridden mental epoch.

I am thinking that we are probably in the thick of…heading perhaps to the death throes of…..the conflict ridden mental epoch. The reign of the carnal/adamic/natural/egoic man. If Jesus ushered in the beginning of the spiritual age….the age of the realization of the christ in you, the hope of glory, perhaps we are in the transition period. The out with the old, in with the new. (Doesn’t Paul talk about this in his theories of old man/new man…the new creation man?)

And this age of innocence…when our ancestors (adam and eve?) were like innocent, young children. When they walked in the cool of the day (in the spirit) with God--when they had no inkling they were naked. Eckhart Tolle thinks the Fall came about when mankind started to think solely with their brains. Is that when the pineal gland shrunk to the size of a grain of rice and the pituitary gland…the gland that controls all things human, took over? When mankind closed their “third eye” and began to overthink things….and have been overthinking things ever since? The day we ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” and wandered away from the Tree of Life?

We are a species that has lost its way. Eckhart Tolle/ A New Earth

And doesn’t the Bible….if not taken literally, illustrate these three stages pretty graphically? The Garden…the age of innocence, the Old Testament with its atrocities and carnality oozing from every page (but with the voice of the spirit breaking through here and there...spoken by the prophets who sometimes proclaimed the true character and nature of God) And then the New Testament….the Gospels, where Jesus, THE prophet proclaimed what our true character and nature really are. Declaring boldly that the kingdom of God is within you and "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" A living, breathing, walking amongst us expressed image of the invisible God….the God who lives within us and in whom we live and move and have our being? And then the rest of the New Testament with Paul’s proclamations of what is carnal and what is spiritual….leading into the promises written about in Revelation….the new earth…the New Jerusalem.

Are we in the midst of the continuation of scripture? Are we living in the age of the  New(er) Testament? The ushering in of the spiritual age? The New Earth? The awakening?



A new species is arising on the planet. It is arising now, and you are it! Eckhart Tolle/ A New Earth

A new species? Perhaps what the Bible refers to as “the new creation man”?

These are just my thoughts this morning….not etched in stone….and I may rethink them as the day goes on and decide they don’t fit….but for now, this morning, they seem to make sense....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stepping Over Our Anger....

This is sort of a continuation of the thoughts from the post the other day... Clean Slates and the Cloud of Forgetting.

annie posted another quote from Nouwen:

Stepping over Our Wounds
Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on. The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there. Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or the "discarded one." Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them. It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there
comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on.

While researching the above quote (which pretty much involves typing different search queries into google) I came upon the following from the AA book, Twelve and Twelve....

"When we harbored grudges and planned revenge for defeats, we were really beating ourselves with the club of anger we had intended to use on others." 

Sort of along the lines of drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.

The links that came up seemed to focus on Step 4 of the 12 Steps:

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

So I googled that....and as I skimmed some of the links, it made quite a bit of sense....the steps, the program, the faith in a "higher power."  I was struck by the similarities this idea shares with some of the other teachings/methods/philosophies that help us sort through the muddle of what is spiritual and what is carnal/ego/adamic. 

Nouwen said that it might be good to have a look at our dark feelings and explore where they come from.  It is exactly this overdrive...that the 4th Step is all about.  After these questions have been thoroughly explored, then, perhaps, that is the moment we can step over our old wounds (even self inflicted wounds) leave them behind and travel on. 

In AA, getting to the bottom of things...this moral inventory of a huge part of the path to sobriety. I can't seem to retrace my cyber steps back to the site where I read the following:

If you harbor resentments, you will drink. 

Is all this introspection a good thing?  If it shines the light of awareness on the tricks of the egoic mind, then yes, it is a very good thing.  There are all sorts of resources on line to help with this step.  Resources specifically AA but that remind me a lot of Byron Katie's, The Work...only wordier....or perhaps more all encompassing.  And cognitive behavioral therapy when we examine our thoughts to see if they fit into the ten or so categories of "stinkin thinkin."  I see this step in the AA program as another tool to uncover the subtle ploys of the ego.  I don't think it is only useful for alcoholics. 

Another quote I happened upon....

'Put down the magnifying glass and pick up the mirror.'

Doesn't this echo the same core message that Jesus conveyed when he said:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this....but I will probably just muse a bit for the next post or two.....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Questions and Answers....

A while back I came across  an e-book  produced  by  a very popular blogger by the name of Seth Godin.   He has several blogs and web pages (including lenses on Squiddo) and has also authored quite a few books...including the e-book that contains the article...that contains the idea...for this post (and for at least one other post yet to come) The book is called What Matters Now.  Kind of an eclectic grouping of quotes, short (very short) articles and blog posts about a range of topics from a variety of authors.  Be sure to check it out. 

The article that caught my eye and birthed this post was about how web communication has changed...well...changed communication.  But not just communication. It has also changed the way we search for answers...for truth...for knowledge.  It has given us answers...but sometimes conflicting answers. It has given us questions without definitive answers...and plenty of questions, too. We may end up with more questions than when we started looking for answers. That can be a good thing.    

The article mentions how, in times past, we mainly looked for our answers in books.  And we found answers in books.  But many of our questions don't have just one definitive answer. Oh sure.... algebraic equations or scientific formulas may have just one answer but there are an unlimited number of questions that do not. Like questions pertaining to theology and philosophy, baking, abortion, 

Yep, for sure, art. A trip to the Carnegie Art Museum a few summers ago confirmed that art, like beauty, is definitely in the eye of the beholder. There is no carved in stone criteria for what is and what isn't art. 

So books provide answers but answers that are filtered through the viewpoint of the author.  Answers that are many times one sided and single dimensional. 

But alas...the Internet...with its message (especially google)...has changed the way we search for information.  As the article points out,

A hyperlinked world...the made for this way of networked knowing.  A hyperlinked world includes all the differences and disagreements, and connects them to one another.  We are all smarter for having these differences only a click away. 

The challenge now is to learn how to evaluate, incorporate, respect, and learn from them.  If we only listen to those who are like us, we will squander the great opportunity before us: To live together peacefully in a world of unresolved differences. 

Yes, that is the challenge.  THE challenge.  One needs only to join a yahoo e-list to realize that we aren't there yet. THE challenge looms in front of us.

My quest for answers on the Internet changed my life. It continues to change my life. It has inspired my spiritual growth to travel along at warp speed.  While searching for answers, I just so happened to find my husband on Tentmaker, a UR message board.  I have found friends online who have embedded themselves in my heart as deeply (if not deeper) than the people I interact with every real life.  (hi annie!!)  And I have found people with opinions I vehemently disagree with.  Sometimes I'm not all that crazy about the people who hold those opinions, yet I try to interact and disagree agreeably. 

Perhaps some of the answers we find online have little to do with the questions we start out with or the topic at hand.  Perhaps the answers we find have more to do with tolerance and respect and reigning in those emotional responses and learning  "to live together peacefully in a world of unresolved differences." 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cardboard Testimony....

Last weekend while browsing through some of the blogs I have saved on my bloglines account, I happened upon a blog...linked from Kansas Bob's blog, called Altered.  It chronicles the journey of a Christian woman diagnosed with ALS....self described as:

My purpose in writing this blog is to share what God is teaching me in my battle with ALS. In a revealing and honest way. My desire is to constantly be transformed by Him. Changed. ALTERED.

I am amazed at the courage, honesty, kindness and faith displayed in her writings.  Awed. 

In one of her recent posts, she included a link to a video, Cardboard Testimonies.  The video has probably been online for a while. There have been over 2 million hits on You Tube.  When I went there just now to get the code to embed the video in this post, the count was 2,164,796 and 305,464 Views on Tangle (formerly God Tube).  That's a lot of views.

I've watched the video several times.  The other night, Emily and I sat on the couch and watched it together. We talked about some of the stories depicted in the video. Life stories condensed to a few words written in bold black letters on pieces of cardboard.  Side one...who I was.  Flip it over to side two...who I am now.  A new creation in Christ. 

I tear up every time I watch it. What a visual testimony of the difference God can make in our lives.  From spiritual rags to spiritual riches.  From emptiness to my cup runneth over.  From despair to joy.  From turmoil to peace.  From hopelessness to trust.  From fear to victory.  From bondage to freedom.  Watch the video.  It is well worth the investment of nine minutes of your time.  And check out some of the other Cardboard Testimony videos listed on You Tube.  On Altered there is a post about the testimony that took place at Jill's church last included.

So what do you think your sign would say? 


             cardboard testimony 2 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Revisiting the Gay Wars....

I read an article on line (where else?) last night...about a gay man who spoke about his life, his coming out, his families reaction, etc. at a very conservative Christian college.  It was a really interesting article but...dumb me...I did not bookmark it and for the life of me....I cannot find it in my "history" on AOL or Chrome...and I can't get it to come up in a google search.  I hate when that happens! link to the article.  Also...recently on the yahoo e-list, Christian Universalism, where I am a (mostly lurking) member, another battle in the gay wars was waged.  No winners...and one (very) conservative member there, stomped off in a huff...supposedly never to return. These two things jogged my memory about this post that was hiding out in the queue. It was written a month or so ago but shuffled to the holding tank (the Someday/Maybe file)  which comes in very handy on a morning like this when I am hung over (figuratively speaking) from staying up too late to watch Gray's Anatomy.   Queued post follows....

On the blog Pomomusings, in a post written about a year ago...

The Bible and Homosexuality, Enough with the Bible Already...

the author suggests that, for those who are steeped in condemning....or defending.....homosexuality using the Bible as their weapon of choice, they might want to set the Bible aside for a while.

Christians have a history of using the Bible as a weapon (this is a bit of a caricature – but probably not far from the truth). Whether being used to condone slavery, oppress women or support wars, it’s clear the Bible has been misused by many [insert here accusations that I as well am misusing the Bible with my hope for acceptance of LGBT folk]. When the Bible becomes used as a weapon, as a tool for discrimination, as a way in which people can justify beliefs of hatred and injustice – one has to think and wonder if we haven’t gone horribly wrong somewhere.

For some, I believe the Bible has become an idol. Some place the Bible above Jesus’ compassion and love, Jesus’ radical inclusivity, and hold steadfast onto what they believe to be the correct interpretation of a small amount of verses that speak about same-sex relations. To those who repeatedly start quoting Leviticus and Romans verses as soon as anyone brings up the topic of homosexuality, I’d suggest perhaps you stick your Bible back up on the shelf for awhile. Perhaps it should collect a little bit of dust. And maybe, just maybe, you need to go out and grab coffee with someone who’s gay. Maybe you need to hear their story, learn about what they’ve been through, how they’ve experienced Christians and the church.

He goes on to say

So I’m not arguing that we should throw out the Bible; but at least for some people, it might be more productive – and better for society – if they put the Bible aside for awhile, stopped listening to the hateful rhetoric of James Dobson & Friends, and engaged in some thoughtful reflection and conversation with the LGBT community.

Isn't that the truth?

Check out this website. Some very interesting writings reside there. Including a 7 or 8 part series summarizing the book Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Clean Slates and the Cloud of Forgetting....

In my last post, I (re)quoted Henri Nouwen’s thoughts on a nonjudgmental presence. A flurry of similar thoughts by Nouwen and Richard Rohr hit EU right about the same time...all posted by annie....They were all interrelated.  They almost seemed to play off of each other!

In one of Richard Rohr's daily devotionals he said....

The sin in the beginning of the Bible is “to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). The moment I sit on my throne where I know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, then I’m capable of great evil—while not thinking of it as evil! I have eaten of the wrong tree, according to the Bible. Don’t judge, don’t label, don’t rush to judgment. You don’t usually know other people’s real motives or intentions. You hardly know your own.

Isn’t that the truth?

What the author of the classic Cloud of Unknowing says is that first you have to enter into “the cloud of forgetting.” Forget all your certitudes, all your labels, all your explanations, whereby you’ve put this person in this box; this group is going to heaven, this race is superior to that race. Just forget it. It’s largely a waste of time. It’s usually your ego projecting itself, announcing itself, and protecting itself. It has nothing to do with objective reality or real love of the truth.

I like that phrase…the cloud of forgetting.

And now to what Nouwen has to say...

One of the hardest things in life is to let go of old hurts.We often say, or at least think: "What you did to me and my family, my ancestors, or my friends I cannot forget or forgive. ... One day you will have to pay for it."

Sometimes our memories are decades, even centuries, old and keep asking for revenge. Holding people's faults against them often creates an impenetrable wall.

Perhaps, as well as with our preconceived notions about race, sex, age and socioeconomic position, we need to take a serious look at this cloud of forgetting stuff when it comes to old hurts and slights and estranged relationships. When we cling to the past, we sully the future. I know this is true…yet sometimes I hold on for dear life, even when I don’t want to. Forgiving is hard. Forgetting is even harder. And I'm not even sure forgetting is always the wise course of action. 

When Emily was small, she and I were like fire and water.  We butted heads all the time. Thankfully, she has grown into a perfectly delightful 16 year old.  She is one of my favorite people to spend time with.  Sometimes...back then when she was a total pain in the ass... when our dealings with each other had deteriorated to what seemed be a totally irreconcilable situation...and there was nowhere to go but up, one of us would suggest "starting again with a clean slate."  Perhaps that does not just work for headstrong, argumentative little girls and their exasperated mothers...but perhaps it can flow into other interpersonal relationships.  Starting each day with a clean slate?

                     Slate & Pen

Anne Lamott a snippet buried within an essay in one of her books I've been reading of late....

 if you want to change the way you feel about people, you have to change the way you treat them.

Which would obviously require at some point starting over with a clean slate.  Does that take agreement from both parties (like Em and I both agreed)?  If only one party starts anew, does that work?  And how many clean slates does one bestow on others?  In a recent e-mail from annie, she talked about the 7 times 70 thing in in forgiving an unlimited number of times.  This directive came from the lips of Jesus no less! 

This clean slate pondering leads to a lot more questions than it answers....

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Nonjudgmental Presence...with Kids?

The other day, in my post about the movie, "Silent Night," I posted a quote by Henri Nouwen...

A Nonjudgmental Presence

...... Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our mind about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we will only create more division. Jesus says it clearly: "Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; ... do not condemn; ... forgive" (Luke 6:36-37).

In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.

And it reminded me of another quote I have saved...scrawled on an index card…from Knowing When It's Right by Nancy Rosanoff

Remember that the most powerful act of parenthood is to listen and support your child to discover their own truth. Then ask, "what would my child (15 years from now) have wanted me to do?"

Well isn’t that just the hundred thousand (million) dollar question. In 15 years what would my child have wanted me to do?

Would they....she…thinking specifically here of one of my three kids....have wanted me to talk her out of the dinner plate sized octopus tattoo on her right hip? The one she got lickety split on December 29th, the very day she turned 18?


octopus tattoo

And what about all the other decisions, large and small, trivial and monumental?  The struggles we've been through, the turmoil, the arguments, the angst?  When she is 33 will she think I did a pretty good job? When she is 43?

And, just for the record, if there is any justice in the universe...any sowing and reaping....any karma.... she will have a totally unruly, belligerent teen on her own hands…and she will be trying to decide the right things to do.

Doug Larson summed it up quite nicely when he said:

Few things are more satisfying than seeing your own children have teenagers of their own.

And Eckhart also has some advice about raising kids in his book A New Earth…

If you have young children, give them help, guidance, and protection to the best of your ability, but even more important, give them space---space to be. They come into this world through you, but they are not "yours". The belief "I know what's best for you" may be true when they are very young, but the older they get, the less true it becomes. The more expectations you have of how their life should unfold, the more you are in your mind instead of being present for them. Eventually, they will make mistakes, and they will experience some forms of suffering, as all humans do. In fact, they may be mistakes only from your perspective. What to you is a mistake may be exactly what your children need to do or experience. Give them as much help and guidance as you can, but realize that you may also at times have to allow them to make mistakes, especially as they begin to reach adulthood. At times, you may also have to allow them to suffer. Suffering may come to them out of the blue or it may come as the consequence of their own mistakes.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could spare them from all suffering? No, it wouldn't. They would not evolve as human beings and would remain shallow, identified with the external form of things.

Not specifically about kids, in The Power of Now he says:

I cannot tell you any spiritual truth that deep within you don't know already. All I can do is remind you of what you have forgotten.

And perhaps amidst all the struggles, they will...unbeknownst to them...return the favor….

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stranger than we can think of....

The AOL welcome page gets me off track every morning....akin to the National Enquirer...with snippets of gossipy info and real news stories you might not find anywhere else...stories that just have to be checked out.  Well, this morning it was a story on the yahoo main page...very similar to the AOL Welcome Screen... that got me.  It was a brief snippet about the Kepler Telescope...a telescope that is scanning the skies of our universe, looking for planets...especially those planets that are similar to earth.  So far, the telescope has honed in on five planets....all too hot (by thousands of degrees) to support life...and one of the planets has the consistency of styrofoam.  It also found two mystery objects.  A snippet from the article follows:



WASHINGTON – NASA's new planet-hunting telescope has found two mystery objects that are too hot to be planets and too small to be stars.

The Kepler Telescope, launched in March, discovered the two new heavenly bodies, each circling its own star. Telescope chief scientist Bill Borucki of NASA said the objects are thousands of degrees hotter than the stars they circle. That means they probably aren't planets. They are bigger and hotter than planets in our solar system, including dwarf planets.

The new discoveries don't quite fit into any definition of known astronomical objects, and so far don't have a classification of their own.

Hmmmmm.....we've heard the (bullshit) story about hell being deep inside the earth...proven, of course, by that team of Russian researchers who found it while drilling on the ocean floor.'s true. Check it out HERE if you don't believe me.  But now...perhaps, instead of hell beneath the earth...couldn't it be on one of these mystery heavenly bodies?  My hairdresser in Nashville was convinced hell was in a black hole in space. 

It would not be the first time someone considered this....scientists have already discovered a planet that "literally fits the classic description of hell."   And when I googled to find the original "beneath the earth" article, a you tube link came up with a whole bunch of videos that prove the existence of hell.  Ignore these warnings at your own peril.  When you find yourself in flames that are 26,000 degrees Fahrenheit you will have only yourself to blame!!! 

Sometimes you just have to shake your head in wonder at how ludicrous the belief in a fiery hell really is....definitely worthy of a bit of sarcasm!! How it besmirches the image of our Father...who is love and light...and will have all come unto the knowledge of the truth!!!  But anyway...

All this rambling to simply post the quote from the article that caught my eye....

"The universe keeps making strange things stranger than we can think of in our imagination," Jon Morse, head of astrophysics for NASA. 

Indeed he does....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Desmond Doss - "I couldn't picture Christ with a rifle killing people."

During New Year's break, Keith watched a movie about Desmond Doss...The Conscientious Objector. It is the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II veteran who joined the army to serve his country, yet refused to carry a gun or harm the enemy. He did not believe in killing...simply stated...

"I couldn't picture Christ with a rifle killing people."

Wikipedia says:

Desmond Doss refused to kill, or carry a weapon into combat, because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. He thus became a medic, and by serving in the Pacific theatre of World War II helped his country by saving the lives of his comrades, while also adhering to his religious convictions.

He was tormented by his fellow soldiers, mocked and ridiculed for refusing to carry a gun. Yet he stuck to his beliefs and showed a selfless, christlike attitude toward those who tormented him.

In an article in the Advent News Network the producer of the documentary, Terry Benedict, talks about the profound effect Desmond Doss had on reconnecting him with his faith:

"You think you're living the good Christian life, walking in faith, but when I started the project, I learned what it really meant to walk in faith," Benedict said. Doss, the filmmaker added, "is always at peace and I've learned how to be at peace when everything is breaking out around you. There was no way I couldn't be affected [by Doss' story] and not be a better person."

And when President Roosevelt presented Doss with the medal of honor he said:

“I am proud of you. You really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being President.”

Doss was the first conscientious objectors to be awarded the Medal of Honor. (There has been one other conscientious objector awarded the medal of honor.....Thomas Bennet, from the Vietnam War) Doss single handedly...amidst whizzing bullets from the Japanese, lowered seventy five wounded soldiers to safety using a rope he rigged with two loops. He put the legs of the wounded in the loops, wrapped them up in the rope and lowered them down. Most of the men had to be dragged to the escarpment's edge. Doss weighed about 150 lbs. He prayed the entire time...

"Lord, help me get one more. Just ONE more."

After the last man was evacuated, Doss himself made his way to safety. His commanding officer determined that Doss had lowered one hundred men down the cliff....but Doss thought it was probably closer to they compromised on seventy five.

One of the articles I read mentioned that once Doss tried to tend to a wounded Japanese soldier. One of the American soldiers with Doss told him that if helped the enemy he would have to kill him. I imagine that Doss' heart was so filled with the love and compassion of Jesus, it didn't matter to him whether the wounded soldier was Japanese or American. He saw a brother in need of help.

What a great story...a true story...of faith and courage. To read more about Doss check out the article HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

T'was the Season - Jesus is Ours!

Actually the ponderings in this series are not new. Not too long ago in another post called "None But Jesus" I mused about this same topic. I was spurred on by a comment by Beatrix on a yahoo list I am on.

Beatrix said:

Still our god-imagery is rich in its diversity all around
the world. Perhaps there are many "faces" of God, as
some wise folk have suggested. I have followed the
Continuum of these faces come down through the
ages, but Jesus is ours!

Yesterday while poking around on an ecclectic website called the Reluctant Messenger....a site I am going to post about...I came upon the following

Is Krishna also Christ?

The Master seemed delighted as he started instructing Chester. "In the Bhagavad-Gita, we learn that Krishna created everything and sustains all things by his glory. Chapter 9 teaches that the entire material universe is created, prevaded, maintained and sustained by him. In Chapter 10 we learn that he is the source of everthing and that all existence is because of Lord Krishna. '... I am the seed of all creatures; nothing animate or inanimate could exist without me.'

In John 1 of the Christian New Testament we are taught that 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth .... grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.'

We also learn in the Bhagavad-Gita that total devotion to Krishna will allow man to achieve eternal life and never know death again.

In the New Testament we learn that Christ is the the only way. '...that whosoever believeth in Christ should not perish, but have everlasting life.'

What does your logic tell you about this paradox?" The Master waited.

Chester licked his lips. "Here are two different religions revealing to us the creator of all things who, is also the way to achieve eternal life. Either one is a fraud or both are the same holy manifestation recorded at different times from two different cultural and historical viewpoints. The logic is clear and simple."

The Master announced, "The Krishna of Ancient Hinduism is the Christ of Christianity. Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, and Christos is the Greek version of the word Krishna. When an Indian person calls on Krishna, he often says "Krista." Krishna is a Sanskrit word meaning the object of attraction." So when we address God as "Christ," "Krista," or "Krishna," we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Jesus said, "Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name," that name of God was Krista or Krishna. "Christ" is simply another way of saying "Krista," and "Krista" is another way of pronouncing Krishna."

How does that fit with what Beatrix had to say about the faces of God down through the ages? But Jesus is ours!!

I do think there are "many faces of God" down through the ages...and...I don't quite know how to reconcile these many faces with the Bible's clear teaching that Jesus is the name above all names. I don't discount the path to God others follow....around the world and down through the ages....but for me...Jesus is the way.

The other night while clicking here and there, I stopped off at my playlists on You Tube. I have several Alan Jackson videos saved because....yes....I really like country music and I really like Alan Jackson. Among them is his rendition of "I Love To Tell The Story"....

The lyrics to the first verse are:

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

Which is sort of what the comment "but Jesus is ours" means to me. There are other faces of God down through the ages...but Jesus is ours and "he satisfies my longings as nothing else can do." He does. While I might read the words of and about Krishna (which I have not yet...but intend to do so eventually) and I might find wisdom and truth there...and it might enhance...strengthen my relationship with and understanding of's just not the same as when I read the words of the Gospels.

There are four verses to the song..and I like them all...but especially the first...and the last:

And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
'Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

1 Oh sing unto Jehovah a new song; For he hath done marvelous things: His right hand, and his holy arm, hath wrought salvation for him. 2 Jehovah hath made known his salvation: His righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the nations. Psalm 98....NAS

Monday, January 4, 2010

'Twas the Season....

Well, yesterday morning when I got up and looked at FUBAR (our very, very crooked Christmas tree)  like Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy I declared: "You're Going Down, Red Knight...Down, down, down"  Well...okay I called the tree FUBAR not Red Knight...but it did indeed go down...and out the back door by the trash await trash pick up on Friday.  I did get a twang of remorse as Keith dragged it out the back door...and thanked it for being our tree this year. I will remember it as the crookedest tree I have ever..ever had.    

The living room is back to normal now.  The trimmings are all packed away... and I've got most of the pine needles vacuumed up.  So kind least here at the McAndrew household...the Season is truly over. 

I know some people celebrate Christmas into January and there are the Greek Orthodox who celebrate the holiday later on....but for most of us, the Christmas season begins the day after Thanksgiving (although I lag way behind there) and it ends on New Year's Day.  For most colleges, winter break lasts longer than that...and there will probably be drastically reduced Christmas merchandise on the shelf across from the Valentine stuff for a while to come...but Christmas 2009 is pretty much over. 

Our celebration was quiet...and on New Year's Eve...while all my offspring were out running around, Keith and I toasted in the New Year here in our living room (no place I'd rather be) with a glass (or two) of wine and a movie.  Silent Night.  Another movie based on a true story.

The story takes place in war torn Germany, at a hunting cabin where a German woman (Elizabeth Vincken) sought refuge from the fighting for her son, Fritz, on Christmas.  First three American soldiers, one severely injured, ended up in their home...followed not too long after by three German soldiers.  Elizabeth was a spunky one...hated war...and insisted that if they were going to seek refuge in her home on Christmas, they would all have to agree to a truce and their guns had to remain outside.  Surprisingly they all agreed. 

It was a heartwarming holiday story...demonstrating that even though people may be very different in many ways, in the end, perhaps we are all more alike than different.  


    Silent Night


An account of the real, true story can be found here.

And just now as I was going through snippets of info and disjointed thoughts that I have saved for future posts, I came upon a quote that annie posted to EU the other day...a quote by Nouwen:

Being Safe Places for Others

When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them. Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another. When people realize that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door
and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many times this happens even without our planning. Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it. Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.

Which is exactly what happened in the movie...they left their guns at the door and entered into conversation with their the urging..insistence... of Elizabeth.  She did not condemn or judge the soldiers and her home became a safe place for them to take down the walls that separated them.  Great quote...great movie...great (true) story.....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Who is Jesus? More Christmas Season Ponderings....

About the time some of this other stuff was hitting my inbox, the following was posted on the Thomas Merton list where I am a (lurking) member. 

Charles Brittain from Oklahoma City, writes:
I am a progressive Christian, one who follows your scholarship and that of my pastor. In fact, you have visited our church and I have heard you speak in person. It was a wonderful experience for me. The problem I'm having at this present holiday season is that the scholarship and the traditional Christmas music and the visuals are not in agreement with each other. I feel that I abandon my intellectual knowledge when I participate in the traditional forms of Christmas liturgy and imagery. Can you suggest how that I may enjoy both the scholarship and the traditions of Christmas without feeling conflicted?


            Question Mark 5

And Spong has a long answer for this guy....which he starts by saying:

There is no doubt that most people have literalized the images that Matthew and Luke have in their birth stories of Jesus (See Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2), but I do believe it is quite clear that neither Matthew nor Luke thought of them as literal events. The great majority of biblical scholars share that perspective.

And then he goes on to present proof that the birth story is just a bunch of hooey...IF we literalize it.  If we don't...if we look for the spiritual implications, well, then...there is a lot there to celebrate and embrace.

The facts are that stars do not travel across the sky so slowly that wise men can keep up with them; angels do not break through the midnight sky to sing to hillside shepherds; and human beings do not follow stars to pay homage to a newborn king of a foreign nation, especially when the same gospel that tells us this story also tells us that Jesus was the son of a carpenter. To continue this train of thought, no real head of state, including King Herod, would deputize eastern magi that he had never seen before to be his CIA to bring him a report of this threat to his throne. That is the stuff of fairy tales. 

A star does not lead magi down a wagon track of a road six miles from Jerusalem and then bathe the house in which the baby lies with heavenly light to show these Magi where the child they seek is to be found. Wise men do not bring gifts that symbolize kingship (gold), divinity (frankincense) and suffering (myrrh) that will mark the life of this infant. No one is that prescient. 

Virgins do not conceive except in mythology, of which there were many examples in the Mediterranean world. Kings do not order people to return to their ancestral home for enrolling for taxation. There were 1000 years between David and Joseph, or some 50 generations. David had multiple wives and concubines. In 50 generations, the descendants of David would number in the billions. If they had all returned to Bethlehem, there would be no wonder that there was no room at the inn! 
A man does not take his wife, who is "great with child," on a 94-mile donkey ride from Nazareth to Bethlehem so that the expected messiah can be born in David's city. One lay Roman Catholic woman theologian said of that account, "Only a man who had never had a baby could have written that story!" No king slaughters all the boy babies in a town trying to get rid of a pretender to his throne, especially if everyone in that town would have known exactly which house it was over which the star had stopped and into which the Magi had entered. The whereabouts of the "pretender" to Herod's throne would not have been hard to identify if this were a literal story that really happened.

Certainly, both Matthew and Luke were aware that they were using these stories to try to interpret the power of God experienced in the adult life of Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew drew his wise men story out of Isaiah 60, where kings were said to come on camels "to the brightness of God's rising." They came bringing gifts of gold and frankincense. Matthew expanded this story with details drawn from other biblical narratives like the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon and the truckload of spices (myrrh) that she brought with her (see I Kings 10) and the story of Balaam and Balak from Numbers 22-24 in which a star in the East plays a prominent role. Traditional Jewish writings also used a star in the sky to announce the births of its great heroes, Abraham, Isaac and Moses. 

Matthew wrapped his interpretation around the well-known story of Moses. That is why he repeated the story of Pharaoh killing the boy babies in Egypt at the time of Moses' birth, transforming it to be a story of Herod killing the boy babies in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth. 

What these narratives were designed by the gospel writers to proclaim are: 
   1.. Human life could not have produced the presence of God that people believed they had met in Jesus. 
   2.. The importance of his birth was symbolized by having it announced with heavenly signs, a star in Matthew and angels in Luke. 
  3.. In the life of Jesus, they believed that heaven and earth had come together and that divinity and humanity had merged. 
  4.. Messiah for the Jews had many facets. Messiah had to be both a new Moses and the heir to the throne of David. The Moses claim was in the story of how Jesus was taken by Joseph down to Egypt so that God could call him as God had called Moses out of Egypt. The heir to David was the reason his birth was located in David's place of birth (Bethlehem) instead of in Nazareth, where Jesus was in all probability born. 
  5.. This Jesus draws the whole world to himself, even the Gentile world of the Magi as well as the humble lives of the shepherds.

These are the interpretive details of the Christian myths. All of them came into the Christian faith only in the 9th decade. None of them is original to the memory of Jesus. Neither Paul nor Mark had ever heard of them. John, the last gospel to be written, must have known of these birth traditions, but he doesn't include them and, on two occasions, calls Jesus the son of Joseph (see John Chapters 1 and 6). 

Given these pieces of data, there is no way the authors of the Christmas stories in the Bible thought they were writing literal history. They were interpreting the meaning they found in Jesus. As long as we understand that, I see no reason why we can't sing, "While shepherds watched their flocks by night" or "O, little town of Bethlehem" even if there were no shepherds who attended Jesus' birth and the probability is that he was born in Nazareth, which is what the first gospel Mark assumes. 

As far as I know, adults don't believe there is a literal North Pole inhabited by a jolly elf named Santa Claus, who harnesses his toy-laden sled to his reindeer in order to bring gifts to all of the children of the world on Christmas Eve. Yet we still sing, "Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer" and "Santa Claus is coming to town" without twisting our minds into intellectual pretzels.

My suggestion is that you separate fantasy from history and then enter into and enjoy the fantasy of the season. Dream of Peace on Earth and good will among men and women, and then dedicate yourself to bringing that vision into being. In that way you will understand the intentions of the gospel writers.

Thanks for writing. Enjoy the holidays, and Merry Christmas.

- John Shelby Spong

Bishop Spong also has some writings on beliefnet...many about the Christmas question but I noticed that there were also some on the Resurrection. Thinking that he probably sees that as myth too??? 

I am not ready to give up the resurrection.  Doubt of the Resurrection is nothing new...even Paul addressed it....

12 Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. 14 If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. 15 Yes, we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn't raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead aren't raised, neither has Christ been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. 18 Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. 1 Corinthians

And for another writing that deals with this from a much more traditional perspective, check out Preston Eby's writing Five Reasons Why the Sons of God Should Not Celebrate Christmas. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Message and Mission of Christ Conference

The other day on EU, Dena posted the following link to the 2010 Transmillennial Texas Regional Conference...theme of which is...Jesus.  Following is "e-flyer" from the website.  Their stated purpose is:

Viewing God's redemptive work as truly universal, not just in potential but in fact, not only restores the majesty of God but also answers so many of the nagging issues which trouble Orthodoxy. This understanding, variously known as "comprehensive grace" , "gospel of inclusion", or "ultimate reconciliation", provides a viable biblical viewpoint without many of the logical inconsistencies and obvious ethical problems so pronounced in traditional Christian theology.

It is for the purpose of sharing this new view of God and his purpose for mankind that this web site is dedicated.

The website has quite a few articles that discuss inerrancy, Christianity, Churchianity etc. etc.  The articles I clicked on were not long and drawn out.  Check out the site.  The information about the conference follows:

Theme: The Message and Mission of Christ

The Sjolander Road Fellowship announces the fifth annual Texas Regional Transmillennial Conference for February 5-7, 2010. The conference site will be 4464 Sjolander Road, Baytown, Texas (approximately 30 miles east of Houston, exit 795 off Interstate 10).

Many would probably assume that the message and mission of Christ are too well known and understood to be the topic of discussion in any meaningful way. In the conventional understanding Jesus was the God sent Savior who died to pay the price for all mankind's sins and thereby make it possible for those who "accept" Him as Savior to enjoy the blessings of Heaven. Under this paradigm, mankind's sin, or lawbreaking, is the problem which separates God and man, and Jesus primary mission was to end this separation by appeasing God. Supposedly, all these "facts" are biblically indisputable.

Well, are they really? This gathering proposes to challenge an array of speakers of various backgrounds to re-examine the entire issue of what Jesus came to do and how He accomplished that mission. The problem with much that passes for Bible study is that it starts off assuming much and challenging and confirming very little. It is the desire of the organizers of this year's conference, that speakers feel perfectly free to question everything, leaving no assumption of Orthodoxy untouched. Let the evidence speak. Any quest to find a more reasonable and majestic God in the Bible cannot be condemned, except by those who have a vested interest in the fearful status quo.

Individuals interested in participating in the presentations and discussions in person are encouraged to see our website,, or to contact us at or 281-383-7054 for details, including a schedule of speakers. As an alternative, anyone can hear all the presentations live on-line, making arrangements by e-mailing Kevin Beck at

Friday, January 1, 2010

'Tis (Still) the Season - The Christ Is NOT a Person???

Well, in my web browsing this morning...I visited a forum called Now For You Forum.  I am a member there...but mainly lurk.  This morning, on a whim, I clicked on the forum's icon on my AOL "carousal" aka "bookmarks bar" and after a short meander around the site, I came upon the following intriguing thread, The Christ is NOT a person....

Hmmmm...I know that Christ means "the anointed" and is not (as Keith has said to me numerous times) Jesus' last name.  Pondering how this relates to being "in Christ" is beyond the scope of this post.  I read that there are 88 occurrences of the term "in Christ" in the New Testament.  Again beyond the scope of this post, but might make an interesting series of posts at some point in the future. 

The thread on the Now forum was about the book, The Christ is NOT a Person available on Amazon and all over the place, including Google Books which offers a limited preview (the happy medium between "snippet view" and "full view")  I also found the author's (J.C. Tefft) website which gives a lot of information about the book, including excerpts, reviews, summary and a link to an ongoing series of podcasts where the author discusses the teachings in the book.  The following from the website:

Listen in each week from November, 2009 through February, 2010, as JC takes you on an evolutionary journey through time. Shows are archived, so you can listen to your show of choice at any time.

Some of the titles include:

Who Wrote Biblical Scripture?  Is it Fact, Fiction, or Both?

The Advent of Man, as Metaphorically represented by Adam and Eve

and several others that deal with:

  • What is true faith – not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim faith, but true faith? What is the nature of revelation and insight? We’ll explore how the Biblical stories of Abraham and Jacob reveal an ever-growing deepening of an awareness within Man that is above and beyond the self, as seen through the lens of the ancient mind.
  • How did Moses become the first Hebrew priest and prophet? Was Moses a miracle worker, or an enlightened being who was largely misunderstood in his own time?

I haven't listened to any of the podcasts, although I would like to...and may.  Anyone who listens to the podcasts are encouraged to post comments below.  Or anyone who happens to read the book...

The book has been endorsed by Eckhart Tolle, by the way.