Month: March 2015
Transcendent God, buy viagra
lover of our souls:
Help us recognize that
you are the mysterious essence of our being.
You enter our city
on a donkey,
through the intimate family door,
and you come only to love us.
We strive to follow
in the way of the Master, Jesus the Christ.
Help us recognize you in our midst
by recognizing you in ourselves,
and in every person we ever meet.
In this way,
may we all become
the transcendent examples of compassion
exemplified by Jesus,
entering through the intimate door
to each other’s souls.
Entering the Spiritual Temple, help part 2
I remember celebrating Passover with my mom’s family, see and it was largely a celebration of remembrance and thanks. We remembered God’s activity in the release of our Jewish ancestors from Egyptian captivity. We remembered Moses and the founding of the first Jewish nations. We gave thanks to God for God’s continued blessings.
The Christian side of my family celebrated Palm Sunday, generic and even Good Friday and Easter, with the same sense of remembrance. Although I didn’t realize it at the time—nor do I think my grandparents realized it, this was also a celebration of thanks to God for freeing people from captivity to the sinful ways of the world. At Easter dinner, we remembered Jesus and his activity for the common human good. In these celebrations we also gave thanks to God for God’s goodness and mercy.
While both of these celebrations were beautiful in their own way, they were largely celebrations of the past, of traditions. Any Passover celebration or associated Christian celebration I’ve attended in recent years is also about remembering and honoring events from long ago. Remembering our past is important, but it seems to me all we’re really remembering is a series of events. We’re no longer actually thinking about why we remember these events.
What is the spiritual meaning of being released from captivity?
God’s activity through Moses in ancient Egypt, and God’s activity through Jesus the Christ in Roman occupied Judea, should remind us that God is alive within us. When we realize our Oneness with God—like Moses and Jesus, we are set free from whatever is enslaving us. The story of the exodus and the stories about Jesus from Good Friday through the resurrection on Easter are all metaphors about the freedom we find when we start to understand the mystery of God working within and through us. Passover and Easter are about “getting it”.
These stories are important to remember because today we are still enslaved, and if we speak out against our masters, we too will be crucified. We must open our hearts and minds to the force of God so we can experience an awakening that changes our being. We must become like Christ by experiencing and trusting the energy of God within. Once we experience God within, we can begin changing the world—like Moses and Jesus, without fear, even when the Empire conspires against us. We are with God, doing God’s work. We have become the spiritual temple. Our fate matters not, because the only thing that’s important is doing God’s work recalibrating our world toward justice, quality, love and compassion.
Today, we are enslaved to a global culture of consumerism. We are told to buy, and to buy often. We have become commodities in a commoditized world, slaves to a system that convinces us more is better and that buying things will satisfy our deepest longings. Our global culture has turned us into cogs in a giant, international corporate machine designed for one purpose: the creation of profit. We have lost our humanity—perhaps even freely given it, to a business entity that now has the rights of a person, and the power to remove the rights of every person.
If we are moved to speak out against the international machine, we are called names that we have been programmed to believe lessen our human worth: socialists, communists, non-Christians. We’re told we’re unpatriotic. We elect officials who destroy government programs that aid the poor, a class of people intentionally created by the international machine in order to make it impossible for us to rage against it.
Every one of us participating in the global machine is a Jewish slave in Egypt and Jesus on the cross. Like Moses and Jesus. It is our job to listen to the voice of God speaking to us—and God is speaking to all of us, all the time, and take action. God is trying to free us. God is still waking us up to the reality of systemic sin that enslaves every human on the planet. Perhaps at this year’s Passover and Easter celebrations, we can remember that. And be changed.
Meditation: I AM love and compassion. I am not a cog in a machine. I AM a child of God. I AM ready to be moved, and to move others, always to your loving embrace.
Entering the Spiritual Temple, seek part 1
For hundreds of years, store Jewish families would leave their homes and make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There, order they would gather to worship in the Temple and celebrate Passover. Jesus made this pilgrimage with his parents every year of his life. By the time he was in his 30s, one of these trips would be his last.
This Sunday, most Christian churches will celebrate Palm Sunday, Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem for one last Passover celebration. They will tell a story about Jesus entering the city humbly, on a donkey, through a lesser city gate, while the Governor and Roman Legions entered magnificently, on war Elephants through the main city gate. Christian preachers around the world will use this contrast in different ways. Some will talk about the social and political inequality of the time and how it compares to our current troubles. Some will talk about the power of God through Jesus over and above the power and might of the Roman Empire.
These are all good and valid spins. However, I’ve started to realize that, while we’re pretty good at finding social liberation metaphors in the Bible, we’re not quite as adept at finding the spiritual metaphors. And this one is so obvious! Are you kidding me? There are two different gates in this story, people!
One gate, the main gate, is the one used by the majority of people, and the one through which the Roman Empire enters Jerusalem—the Holy City. Here, Jerusalem itself, as it is in other places throughout the Bible, is the very being of God. Rome stands for all people—both Jew and Gentile, who think of God as something to be conquered or contained; something that can only be perceived and experienced by the select, the elite. The Jewish priesthood of the time kept God behind the walls of the Temple, which was behind walls, which was then behind the walls of the city itself. People did not get close to God; people went to Priests, who had a special ability to converse with God. At the main gate, God gets all bottled up, and the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem conveys the irony of this situation. Passover is in part about remembering when God was with the people during their desert exile—no temple needed. Yet this story shows clearly that once again, the people have tried to contain God in a little box.
By having Jesus enter through a different gate, the authors of this story want the audience to understand that Jesus asks us to look at God the way our ancestors did—as an intimate lover who comes to us through the common door—not as a mighty overlord who demands a fancy parade.
Think about the doors on your own home for a moment. Do friends and family come in through the nice front door, or do they let themselves in through the garage? When your loved one gets home at the end of the day, does he or she come in through the front door, or through the garage door, the intimate door, the door that leads right to the soul of the house (usually the kitchen)?
This is what the Palm Sunday story asks us to consider: That God enters not through a massive gate, but through the intimate doorway to our soul. When Jesus enters Jerusalem and is met by people throwing an ancient symbol of triumph at his feet (Palm branches were used by the Roman Emperors as symbols of victory and triumph), the authors want us to understand that God wins. God is victorious over the pomp and circumstance of empire. God breaks through the little boxes in which we continually try to place God.
The spiritual point of the Palm Sunday story is that God is victorious by simply coming in through the garage door and saying, “Honey, I’m home.” No parade necessary.
Meditation: God, I’m home. Come on in.
Words can never describe
the depth of our love for you, for sale
our most glorious lord God.
The depth of your love for us
knows no bounds, advice
and we do our best to return
to the rest of the world
the love you freely give us.
We try to thank you
through our every thought
and every action.
We praise you
by dutifully following Jesus,
the Master whose path
illuminates our lives,
even when we are suffering
our darkest nights.
Our modern world,
like the world of Jesus,
makes it difficult
to stay on the path.
By turning away from you—
by neglecting our half
of the covenant
you made with us,
we have created an artificial society;
a global community yes,
but one held together
by the most tenuous
of human-made threads.
We have forgotten that
the only true community
is your community,
dear Holy One.
We long for a world
populated by people
whose hearts have been softened
with your loving presence.
We pray that your Spirit
will ignite the spark of the Christ
within each of us,
and remind us that we all,
are your children.
we send our prayer-filled energy
for the healing of the world,
for the awakening of our spirits,
and for the courage to fight the empire,
into the endlessness
of your eternal energy,
and dwells within us all.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ,
who fought violence with love,
who eliminated hate with compassion,
and who insists we practice
a faith with substance,
instead of blindly participating
in a hollow religion.
Living in the Mystery, prescription part 2
Most of us grew up being taught that the universe began with the Big Bang. We were probably also taught, or presumed, that before the Big Bang there was nothing. However, Big Bang theory does not imply nor explicitly state that before the Big Bang there was nothing. Rather, the idea is that before the Big Bang, the universe was infinitesimally small. There was no time; there was no “space” as we currently perceive it. There was just an unfathomably small something waiting to explode into being. The Big Bang was the event horizon that created all the stuff that creates all the stuff in our universe, including space and time. Including us.
I have often thought of the Big Bang as an explosion of God’s consciousness, a self-awareness moment that created all physical matter. What if the Genesis creation myth is superimposed on Big Bang theory? Could not God be Creator by simply becoming self-aware? Knowing that Big Bang theory also presupposes an eternal universe (just a very small one), this allows for God to be preexistent and eternal also. Rather than the alien sculptor portrayed in Genesis, and rather than discounting God because of our scientific advances, perhaps we can reconcile the two by expanding our ideas about the nature of God, the way our universe has been expanding since the Big Bang.
The universe has always existed. God has always existed. The two things are more mysteriously interwoven than we are capable of understanding. Reimagining our faith through science is an expansive, freeing experience. Science allows us to consider a God that’s not created in our image, in new ways that get us outside of the alien architect, humanoid, Santa-Claus, Judge and Jury God of old.
There was a Big Bang, and before that, there was still something. God was, is, and always will be, mysteriously creating through the conscious core of God’s very self. We are not and can never be separated from God, because in an explosion of imaginative creativity, God formed the atoms that form the stars, the stars that form us, and the parallel, warped space-time universes that imply eternal life as an aspect of our ever evolving and changing consciousness. If the universe and God are preexistent, then the matter used to create matter before matter existed can only be consciousness. This also implies that everything is created from the material consciousness of God. We are more a part of the being of God than we’ve ever imagined, and working on realizing and experiencing that astoundingly intimate relationship is an important step in our spiritual evolution.
The more we learn about the universe, the weirder it gets and, for me at least, the more it proves God is a beautiful, loving, and infinite energy constantly pushing the universe, and everything in it, forward to realization of Oneness. There is no reason faith and science cannot coexist, and more importantly, drive humanity forward as we continue to strive to create a more loving, compassionate, peaceful and equitable world
By the way, the first person to propose the universe was expanding, and that it began with an explosion from an impossibly small point? Monseigneur Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître, a Belgian astronomer, professor of physics—and Jesuit Priest.
Meditation: I am part of the infinitely expanding mind of God. And so is everyone else.
Living in the Mystery, pills part 1
One of the big reasons people claim they do not believe in God is what I call the Endless Loop of Creation Problem. If we were to write the ELCP as a computer program, advice it might look something like this:
let God create Everything
Do you see the problem here? The very first line of the code actually creates God as the creator. Until God is somehow created, medical nothing else can come into being, yet if God is the creator of everything, and nothing comes into being until God creates it, who or what created God in the first place? Hence the endless loop. If there was a time when there was nothing, and God created everything out of nothing, where did God come from? The atheist position is that God had to come from somewhere, which implies something created God, or even if God created God’s self, there is still something out of which God could be created, which means there was something that existed before God.
This endless line of “where did that come from” questions causes many people to conclude God cannot exist, or if there is a God, there is still something even more powerful which created God, and something more powerful still that created the thing that created God, and so on and so on. I’ve been there. Most of you reading this column have probably at least struggled with the ancient question, where did God come from? Answering that question poorly has created an entire industry: Ancient Aliens. God is an ancient alien who came here and either interbred with the indigenous, primitive species, or seeded the planet whole cloth as an experiment in genetics. Either way, God is an alien humanoid.
It shouldn’t surprise us that the people who wrote and are described in the Bible struggled with this problem, too. Where did we come from? It’s probably one of humankind’s oldest questions. Trying to answer it leads us to all sorts of crazy conclusions, all colored by our limited understanding of reality, and our self-centered insistence that all life in the universe must look like us—including God. This is an unimaginative, short-sighted answer to the questions of the nature of God and human beings.
There is a better answer, an ancient Judaic answer. When asked why God did this or that, the ancient Rabbis in their playful wisdom often answered simply “It’s a mystery.”
It’s a mystery. If we’re going to believe in a cosmic singularity—God, then certainly much of God’s activity is and must be mysterious. We are human beings. Our experience in this universe is like that of a newborn infant. We’re still crawling around trying to figure out which switch makes the lights turn on at night. Trying to define the nature of God is way beyond the scope of our ability now, and it was even more beyond the scope of the ability of the authors of the Bible. Yet, they did a remarkably good job of describing the mystery in beautifully poetic language. God is eternal. God is spirit. God is human. God is nature. The conclusion our biblical ancestors came to is profound in its simplicity: God is. Everything else is commentary.
Meditation: I open myself to a mysterious experience that defies logic and reason.
Mysterious and motivating
Force of the Universe:
Connect us to your love.
Flow through our souls
like bolts of lightning
through the dense electrified blanket
of a highly charged summer sky.
Energize our being
with love and compassion, ampoule
focus and clarity,
joy and lightness of being.
Help us tread gently
through this life,
ever more aware of
the precarious nature
of our relationships
to each other,
to our precious planet,
and to you,
We don’t know how you work,
We just know you are.
We feel your presence
within and all around,
ever more and always gently
into the image of perfected humanity,
as it was seen in Christ
so long ago.
Help us achieve a greater state of being,
to recognize the Christ-like nature
We are all part of the very being of God.
Our ancestors called us your children,
because we are indeed
created from your very being.
You are in our DNA.
You are our DNA.
We can never be separated from you,
we can only falsely believe
But separation is a myth.
Nothing is separate.
Nothing is apart or alone.
The truth is our Oneness of being,
with each other,
through each other,
from each other.
We are One
and One is all.
With our attention focused on Oneness,
life looks different.
The world looks different.
Through your eyes we see love.
In your passionate embrace,
we feel love.
Focused on you
and our intimate,
unbreakable bond with you,
we are love.
Dis-integrate our distractions
and our barriers,
and awaken us to our integration
with your very being,
God of all Being.
For all who suffer:
the oppressed and the oppressor,
the patient and the healer,
the politician and the proletariat,
dis-integrate our barriers.
Open our minds and hearts,
and make our lives—
Evolving to Spirit, seek part 1
A new fossilized jawbone was recently discovered in Ethiopia. This discovery pushes the arrival of our species back on the evolutionary ladder by almost half a million years. This discovery is exciting for a number of reasons, health not the least of which is as a reminder that evolution is a very, viagra very slow process.
I find this story particularly timely, because I have found myself, perhaps like many of you, growing impatient with a world that seems ever more intent upon complete and utter self-destruction. I look around the world and see new forms of slavery and abuse, and wonder what happened to all the progress we made in the 1960s? Did we actually make any progress, or have we been fooling ourselves? Is there no relation to evolution and the way we treat each other as a society? Our tools have changed, but have our habits and instincts? We still kill each other over little patches of land or control of a resource. I find it hard to believe we can’t do better after three million years.
The historical record shows we have undeniably evolved physically and mentally. I just wish our spiritual evolution—the part of us that makes us loving, compassionate, forgiving creatures, had kept up. If the pace of our spiritual evolution was the same as the pace of our physical evolution, I think we would be completely different beings, inhabiting a completely different world right now.
To be clear, I do not think we are physical beings that contain a spirit. That is dualistic thinking. There is no duality, there is only One and Oneness—but coming to that realization requires spiritual evolution. This is the sort of evolution exemplified in highly enlightened and connected beings like Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed (in chronological order).
Spiritual evolution is our ability to connect with the something greater than ourselves we instinctually and historically call God. This is not separate from our physical nature. This is not an alien architect. This is not a white guy with a beard in heaven. Those concepts are evidence of how little we have evolved spiritually. As we have naturally moved into new physical and mental forms, our ability to understand our interconnectedness with each other, with our planet, and with the Infinite Fundamental Force of the universe seems to have been stunted.
I believe we are deeply within a new phase of human evolution, one that is more about our spiritual connection to each other through the realization of our Oneness with God. This movement towards love meets with resistance form the establishment, because it distributes power equally among God’s people (which is all of us) and removes power from the hands of the wealthy few who have enslaved every single one of the rest of us. It is an evolution that helps us perceive God as the force that runs through and creates everything, rather than as a being who looks and acts all too human. It’s an exciting time to be alive, and one in which finally, inevitably, we might realize the incredible lightness of being that comes from awakening to a much more evolved state of being.
Meditation: I am awake to the love I am. Help me awaken others.