Friday, February 29, 2008

ARE THEY JUST DISTRACTIONS? OR WORSE

Continuing here with the mention I made to The Shack yesterday, I wanted to mention something from the chapter In The Belly of The Beast. In the book it is presented like this: The trinity of terrors...the systems of religion, politics, economics.

It seems many people are awakening to and breaking free from the controlling aspects that religion presents. I wonder if there is as much or any thinking going on about how we are controlled by the other two and how they effect us all.

It's been very interesting to me to find out that finding some freedom from the religious system (thinking and living) was easier than beginning to experience some freedom from the other two. Wonder why that is?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

OBSCURED

What are the things that keep us from seeing other things as they really are?
It's amazing how things can be right in front of us and we can't see them for what they are. I am convinced that one of the most destructive examples of this is created by religion. When we make god the center of it all and our perception is off, let's just say the potential for big problems becomes very complicated. Dangerous extreme confidence in this area, especially when in most cases people perceive god to be angry, and above all other things, committed to holding people responsible for their "wrong doing," we end up feeling justified playing the role of that god in other people's lives.

In the book The Shack, the chapter Here Comes Da Judge does such a wonderful job describing this destructive pattern and then it is immediately followed by the chapter In The Belly of The Beast which paints a picture of ways this then plays out in our everyday lives.

Things aren't as they might seem to us humans, and with that being the case, this has become something so important for me to remember.



Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS


My 18 year old daughter wanted our family to watch the documentary tonight called Invisible Children. There is an exciting hunger in this younger generation to see change in this world...a desire for justice (honorable relations) to spread across all tribes and nations. Let's encourage them and let's get in behind them and be a part of it also.

Here is a clip from the documentary.
and another

THE END OF ALL RELIGION...DO NOT BE AFRAID


It seems to me this turns out to be a providential act of the Creator. The end of religion that is. From the moment humanity set out on this adventure of attempting to do it on our own, humans have been running in fear of gods that were good to them when they were good and bad to them when they were not. In turn people are left with attempting to please the gods or to outright reject them.


I'm done running because there is nothing to fear and my desire is to learn to rest in the relationship I belong in.




Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A THOUGHT OF ELLUL'S THAT CAME TO MIND WHILE I WALKED THROUGH REAGAN'S PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY


My friend Dan and I went through the library while we were out in California back in January. Jokingly, hehe, Dan told Wayne once we returned to Wayne's home that I was a terrible person to go to a Presidential Library with.


I can't imagine what he could be talking about? Hmmmm

This is the quote from Jacques Ellul:

"The more a society magnifies human greatness, the more one will see men alienated, enslaved, imprisoned, and tortured in it."

This is what Dan is referring to in his first comment


Monday, February 25, 2008

UNFOLDING IN SIGHS





Remember how we chased it like shadows
Life was the ocean; we wanted to swim
Looking back now, it’s just how the path goes
They tell you it’s over; you never begin

We don’t give ourselves time - the way that we used to
To watch it all happen, unfolding in sighs
You’d think we were blind, the things we can see through
The things we look past when emboldened inside

CHORUS:
But it’s alright now, it’s alright
The ghosts of our glories are gray-bearded guides
The sound of our sorrows has stirred us inside
(But) I think maybe I’ve never felt more alive
*
I thought of these lines from the song It's Alright by Ellery tonight when I was looking back over the past few years since I began writing here on this blog. I've met some wonderful people... many of you I met over on The God Journey and others have been friends of others that have over time just began to share your journeys here and on some of the other blogs I check in on. I am amazed at how we have all changed and grown so much over these few years. We've all got to watch some wonderful things unfold in each others lives.
I'm guessing, but I am pretty confident that all of you have never felt more alive? Most times the growth, the unfolding, has been birthed through much disorientation and pain, but like myself I'm sure all of you would say you wouldn't trade it for anything. It's all been worth it and I am certain these changes aren't close to being over yet. SO WE WALK ON.
*
The song ends with this:
I don’t know how to make peace or find it
We’re most of us stories we’re scared to explain
But what if there’s sound, somewhere caught behind this
A song we can sing while we’re lying awake
*
I would venture to guess that we are learning how to find peace and some of it has been through having the courage to tell our stories that for too long we kept inside...afraid of what others might think. I hate what fear does to us and it is so refreshing hearing about how you all are walking out of the prisons that had been created by that fear. I have been so blessed that I have been able to listen in as these songs, your songs, that have been hidden inside have begun to be sang openly as you all express the wonderful freedom that has been opening up for you all. I look forward to the new songs that have yet to have been heard. I'm hearing and experiencing some beautiful harmony.

PARADIGMS SHIFTING? DO NOT BE AFRAID

Thanks to my dear brother/friend Rick, I have something I want to share here. I love the mysterious ways of the Spirit. Yes, I mean mysterious..like the wind. We don't know from where it comes or where it is going, but I am grateful for the close proximity and tangible presence I am learning to recognise better and better with each and every passing moment.

Rick linked to these teachings over on my dear brother/friend Rob's blog and they so fit into especially the last few posts I have made here and much of what the Spirit has been opening my eyes to over the past few years. This is so confirming and I am convinced that it is what will open the doors of freedom into life with Father, Son, and Spirit free from fear. As you will hear, the god image stands in the way.

I followed Rick's instruction and skipped the first download and began with the second one. I'm not even completely through them all but felt that I wanted to link to them here for whomever desires to listen.

Perichoresis 101

Sunday, February 24, 2008

FEAR WILL NEVER PRODUCE HARMONY IN RELATIONSHIPS AND BEYOND


It's been a quiet day around here and I have spent a lot of time just thinking. Whether I was in my truck transporting my two younger daughters and their friends or sitting at this computer, or talking to my accountant, these thoughts of living free of the fear based conformity that our society uses to maintain some sense of order has been front and center in my mind today. It's such a strong force that shapes us to think and respond in certain ways and mostly we are unaware of it. And as Walter Brueggemann says, alternative thinking becomes a difficult task, but to even begin to imagine things differently one must be aware that they are stuck and are being influenced by many things that control them.


As I have said before, Jacques Ellul has been a wonderful help to me in learning to think differently...outside of how I had been shaped to process things. Believe it or not, Ellul might sound complicated but in actuality he has helped simplify things for me. It's funny how complicated and confused we have become, that when we hear something that is actually simple it sounds complicated. This is where allowing ourselves to begin to learn to think differently becomes so important.


Another friend, Paul Young, the author of The Shack, has also been such a big help to me as he walked with me through many practical things pertaining to this life that is to be lived in this world. I mention Paul because during this time today of thinking about learning to live in freedom (found in the Father, Son, and Spirit) that transcends all man's best efforts to make sense of it all, I kept thinking about something Paul wrote on his blog several months ago that I wanted to share here again. It's been here before on my blog and it comes to mind often as I walk through my days with the people around me. The way society goes and functions is antithetical to living in a way that honors and prefers the "other". I'm not shocked anymore by the hurtful destructive things I see or hear of in regards to what someone has done to another human being. This is what our societal machine perpetuates. I am interested in the renewing of my mind to something wholly other. To learn to be governed by something other than the fear based forced conformity of this world and it's many systems.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

EVERYONE IS PLAYING DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE SAME GAME...UNLESS


I am letting Ellul do the work around here much lately. I know it might look a bit lazy, but hey, all this blog is about is simply what is inspiring and challenging me at this moment...some of my own pondering and some thinking being done by others. I share it here with this thought in mind: if sharing it openly is a help to someone else...all the better. So it's really just an act of making my confession in public. So here is something I read tonight from Ellul's book, Perspectives on Our Age.

"We need a transcendence. When I say this, I am not being apologetic, I am not seeking to defend Christianity: that doesn't matter to me in the least. Nor does this need to prove the existence of God. I simply mean to say that only one of two things is possible.

One possibility is that technique becomes our destiny, a kind of growing fate that grows and takes over all human realities. No culture will escape as we have seen in the Third World. And parenthetically, when I said technique could trigger crisis, I meant that there are determinisms during crisis just as there are determinisms during a time of equilibrium. Thus, the first possibility is that technique can become fate in the old and religious sense of the term by introducing an absolute determinism into society and our world.

The other possibility is that something exists that technique cannot assimilate, something it will not be able to eliminate. But this can only be something transcendent, something that is absolutely not included in our world."

THIS IS NOT ABOUT RELIGION

In Christ, God descends and walks with us. Religion is the exact opposite. It leaves us attempting to get to where he is.

ACTUALLY CHOOSE TO GIVE THE GOVERNMENT MORE POWER?

Yea right. But I am not fooled anymore thinking my choice to not willingly just send politicians who actually say up front that their plan is for bigger government makes a difference either. IT IS WHAT IT IS. The government's power expands under them all and there is always people suffering under the oppression it creates.

"For while the state is a power to be organized, and an organizing power, if the Church sets itself on the same plane it ceases to be authentically the Church.Now as the Lord never leaves his Church even when it is guilty of betrayal, he steadily dismantles the organisms which are carefully set up in the politico-juridical, sociological, or administrative sphere. This means that a system of Church and state can never succeed. The relation has thus to be thought of dynamically as the encounter between an organized, institutional, and organizing power with a power of a very different order which has no pretensions to the exercise of political power or division of human powers but which unceasingly represents another thing or rather another person----one that is fundamentally other and that belongs to a different sphere." Jacques Ellul

"No matter what may be its form or level, it inevitably tends to enhance itself and to initiate a movement towards centralization. No political power will ever reduce itself or accomplish decentralization. There is a law that power will grow without limit. The only recognized limit is fact. Power will always go as far as it possibly can geographically or judicially. It ceases to expand only when it comes up against an obstacle that is more powerful than itself. Power is under the necessity of becoming absolute and totalitarian. This depends neither on the men who wield it nor on the ideology nor on the circumstances. Political power would not be power if this were not so." Jacques Ellul

"The problem is to know in what direction things are moving: the Political or the Technological? The answer seems clear to me. And my entire analysis flows from this perspective: it is not that political problems are disappearing, but rather that the free play of traditional political forms is an illusion." Jacques Ellul

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BREAKING FREE

As we begin to know of our position with Father, safe within his love, our eyes will be opened to all the things we have grabbed hold of in an attempt to feel safe and secure that actually have just exacerbated our fear.

Monday, February 18, 2008

MANIPULATIVE CONSUMING IMAGES...ILLUSION OR REALITY

I ran across this documentary while looking for some video lectures by Neil Postman. A couple years ago I stumbled upon his book Amusing Ourselves To Death and found it to be a very interesting read especially in light of what I was going through at the time in regards to coming to understsand in a clearer way all the external controls we are surrounded by. Then last year I read Jacques Ellul's book The Humiliation of The Word and it helped describe in greater detail the problems created for us through the onslaught of images. If you have the time and are so moved to take the time to watch these videos or read either of these books I think you might find them very interesting and hopefully helpful.

"The orchestration of press, radio and television to create a continuous, lasting and total environment renders the influence of propaganda virtually unnoticed precisely because it creates a constant environment." Jacques Ellul


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Sunday, February 17, 2008

MUSICAL STORIES




OVER THE RHINE

CHANGES COME...I look for redemption in everyone

NOTHING IS INNOCENT NOW ...the fear we bore will eat us alive from within.

THE INNOCENCE MISSION

BROTHERHOOD OF MAN ....We meet an older man who seems to know I miss my dad. And he smiles through the limbs.We talk easily with him until the rain begins. This is the brotherhood of man


BRIGHT AS YELLOW ...And you live your life with your arms stretched out. Eye to eye when speaking. Enter rooms with great joy shouts, happy to be meeting.

MOBY



U2 and MARY J. BLIGE

ONE ...Is it getting better Or do you feel the same Will it make it easier on you now You got someone to blame?


U2


Love has come again
I am gone again
Love is the end of history
The enemy of misery
Love has come again
I am gone again
Love is justice, a charity
Love brings with it a clarity
Love has come again
I'm alive again
Alive...

LOVE WILL WIN
U2
LOVE AND PEACE OR ELSE ...As you enter this life I pray you depart With a wrinkled face And a brand new heart.
MISS SARAJEVO THAT WE DON'T BECOME A MONSTER TO DEFEAT A MONSTER

Saturday, February 16, 2008

FAITH IS SOMETHING TOTALLY OTHER


"Belief is a refuge and flight from reality. It is seized upon as protection, as a guarantee or insurance policy. Faith is taking risks, leaving behind safety and security, scorning guarantees, stepping out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee. If we live by faith there is no need to plead with Him to save us from danger. It is enough to know that since He is there, even if the danger should prove mortal, whatever God's love wishes is being done and will be done in us, no matter what."



Jacques Ellul

Friday, February 15, 2008

FAITH VS BELIEF

I don't know who this guy is in this video but he is talking about a brother I have grown to appreciate very much. I remember vividly the day I found this article on line shortly after emerging from a painful period of transformation in my life. My spirit sang a simple chorus of YES...YES...YES.

Here is the video and the article is linked here

WHAT'S MORE COSTLY?


Is the concept of an angry God that is ready to wack people when they get it wrong harder and more costly than a God that demands we humans give up any rights we might feel we have to wack others we think are wrong or evil?


I think people hang onto the angry mean God that they contend shows us he loves us by being rough, tough and threatening because those same people want to hang onto being rough, tough and threatening to those they disagree with and are afraid of.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT:


Jesus creates some big problems for those that want to continue to walk that way with others.


Think about it, the loving God, revealed through Jesus, is far more costly to us than the angry one is.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

LEARNING TO TRAVEL LIGHT


I'm learning to recognize how this world loves to dump more and more on me by the endless choices it offers. Not just material things but also and maybe mostly IDEAS. Now the difficult part...learning to untangle from the effects caused by things I have already picked up and also learning to not pick up any more of the things God has not given. These things will always become a distraction and a burden regardless of how enticing they may look.

My desire to pick up unnecessary things is not as much a problem these days, Father has done a marvelous work, but unraveling the lingering mess is a little more difficult and takes a little more time and effort. The freedom I can see on the other side of this looks so sweet, but there is a scary scary beauty already here today. I don't want to miss it. I will proceed moment by moment.
My favorite Over The Rhine song comes to mind this morning

Etcetera Whatever
Don’t speak.
Words come out your eyes.
You’re wet with this nightmare.
Like thorns you hold these secrets to your breast,
your slender fingers closing into fists.
Trace your bruise
like a guilty streak.
Hold the pain.
You’re a connoisseur.
You think you have no other gift to give,
but we have so much left to live.
We don’t need a lot of money.
We’ll be sleeping on the beach,
keeping oceans within reach.
(Whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free.)
I will stumble there with you
and you’ll be laughing close with me,
trying not to make a scene
etcetera. Whatever. I guess all I really mean
is we’re gonna be alright.
Yeah, we’re gonna be alright.
You can close your eyes tonight,
‘cause we’re gonna be alright.
So come on now,
I can almost see that place
on a distant shore.
And courage is a weapon we must use
to find some life you can’t refuse.
We don’t need a lot of money.
We’ll be sleeping on the beach,
keeping oceans within reach.
(Whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free.)
I will stumble there with you
and you’ll be laughing close with me,
trying not to make a scene
etcetera. Whatever. I guess all I really mean
is we’re gonna be alright.
Yeah, we’re gonna be alright.
You can close your eyes tonight,
‘cause we’re gonna be alright.
All that I can see is your eyes.
Close your eyes.
Close your eyes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

DISTRACTIONS

Have you ever given much thought to the oppression and turmoil created in our lives and in the world by the political, economic and religious systems?

Jesus, the one we are to follow seemed to not be distracted by them. He saw them for what they are and that was enough.

I love how Bono presented this in the song Vertigo.

"All of this, all of this can be yours
All of this, all of this can be yours
All of this, all of this can be yours
Just give me what I want and no-one gets hurt…."

I like to think of Jesus in this moment actually saying....Whatever!!!

Luke 4:1-13

Monday, February 11, 2008

THE REALIST


"The pessimist complains about the wind; The optimist expects it to change; The realist adjusts the sails." — William Arthur Ward


While watching an interview and a movie this past weekend on TV I heard two different people refer to themselves as realists. One was the Dean of the school in the movie Dead Poets Society and the other was President Bush. Hearing both of these men employ that word to describe themselves got me to thinking.


I would say that I have become a realist also, but my philosophy and how I see the world and how it works and my place in it couldn't be any more different then the Dean in the movie and our President or any other politician for that matter.


My first reaction to hearing these men say this was, "Whatever!" but as I continued to think about it I realized they were being honest about themselves. They have just put their trust in something other than what I have. Their realism enslaves them to the Powers of this world and causes them to wrestle with it in an attempt to change these Powers to something other. They think they have control of it and can gain more control by their effort.


I must admit that this is how I lived most of my life. And I think mine had even been made more dangerous and deceptive because a "belief in God" was worked into that world view I had adopted. And God was certainly on my side and against all those that believed differently than I did. I think this is at the heart of the mistake humanity makes over and over. I know it is so when it comes to the religious minded. Muslims make this mistake, Jews make it and Christians make it also.


I am a realist, but some huge changes have happened and are continuing to happen day by day. Like in the quote above, my sails have been adjusted and left unlocked, in a position that changes (hopefully more freely everyday) according to the direction the wind is blowing. And I am not talking about the wind of the doctrines of men based upon what serves their agendas, but by the wind Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about. The Spirit of God. You don't know from where it is coming or where it is going, but to follow Jesus and to be a part of the reconciling work he is about in the world, this is the only way.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

TALKING AROUND THE PROBLEMS

This week as many of you have probably heard on the news, we had a mass shooting here in St. Louis where 6 people we killed including the shooter. It happened in the community that our salon is located. Just a few miles from us actually. It's got me thinking again about the mess law always leaves us in. Don't miss understand me, I'm not suggesting that we do away with it. What I am suggesting, is that as long as we continue to talk around the problem nothing will ever change much.

The conversation quickly becomes framed by this question: "What can we do to keep this from ever happening again?" It always leads to more law enforcement and more strict measures in security as an attempt to eliminate the threat. It's interesting that this is the path we continue to follow yet none of us are made any safer. It's also interesting that the shooter was apparently reacting against this very thing (the way the law was being enforced) based upon the note he left and the things he had been complaining to others about.

This is what law leaves us with. I understand that society needs it to maintain some level of civility but that is all it can ever give us...some limited measure of civility.

As long as the individual remains trapped, society remains trapped. No form of law can save us from this. Only grace can.

CONFORMITY OR HARMONY


Conform to the degree that it is necessary (except when it goes against the freedom we have in Jesus) but never be fooled into thinking that conformity is what God is after.


Conformity works through compulsion...by someone's exercise of power and fear.


Harmony is about freedom and it comes only by way of Father's love.

Friday, February 08, 2008

ANOTHER OF MY GARDEN DREAMS

Japanese Moss Garden

SOMETHING THAT MADE ME FEEL A LITTLE MORE ALIVE TODAY







I took a walk through the garden today and noticed that my hellebores are loaded with blooms and well on their way to their late winter/early spring show. These beauties became one of my favorites several years ago. For one reason they get such an early start in the garden and the other reason being their subtle beauty. They are not blooming yet but it won't be long now.

I've also been thinking of starting a new blog this spring around my love for gardening. We'll have to wait and see.

SICK

It is amazing how the flu and the cough from hell can so radically change things. It is taking my full attention and all my energy at this time to just get through each day. So, that is why I have been so quiet. A client told me yesterday (with a laugh) that it was very strange being with me for an hour and me not saying anything. It feels strange to me also.

Be back soon.

Monday, February 04, 2008

PAGE 123 OF THE SHACK

Tina tagged me so that is how this post came to be. I always feel strange tagging others but going to page 123 of the book that is sitting in front of me and skipping the first 5 sentences and putting up the next three just worked really well with the things I have been talking about here on my blog. So I will at least share that.

"In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system, whether political, economic, social, or religious---any system actually. First one person, and then a few, and finally even many are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of that system. In one form or another this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war, and every abuse of relationship."

THINKING BEYOND WHAT SEEMS RATIONAL


The days of small change turns out to be the very necessary incremental changes that make up this process of transformation. To think it happens all the sudden is as silly as attempting to leap across the Grand Canyon.

Here's where I see the importance of alternate thinking at work. In the beginning of us seeing something new, that new thing we are seeing seems impossible and down right unreasonable. Flat out stupid sometimes. The tendency is to do what this world has shaped us to do...push it aside and say it is not rational. The outcome is we remain stuck.

Fear keeps us in the mindset that spins the idea of power and violence in such a way to where we are faked into thinking it actually makes sense. Or at least that we have to keep the option in our back pocket as a necessity for survival. We are then left in a condition that makes it necessary to put aside many of the things Jesus said. This is where learning to occupy the new space that he has shown us today is so important. Day by day, moment by moment he invites us to go a little farther with him into deeper wider freedoms. There is more than enough grace that is given to us for each day and each moment if we learn to stay there with him.

I chose to use power and violence in this post because that just happens to be something that God has been walking me through for a few years now. It applies to every aspect of fear in our lives though. To think back on how disorienting this was for me back when this process began and how things have changed so much for me in regards to these things is certainly nothing but stunning. The moment Father begins to deliver us from fear is the moment prison doors begin to open in our lives that have held us captive. Prisons of our own making that we constructed thinking they would protect us. The power of God to break the chains of fear that hold us is his love for us. He genuinly wants to be with us and wants us to feel safe to be with him.

Fear is a powerful controlling force in our lives yet it is no match for Father's love. To walk out into the new space his loves opens up to us might not seem rational...but it is real. The spaces we have spent most of our lifes and that we spend so much time protecting are lies.

I'm reminded of this from The Shack.

"There are times when you choose to believe something that would normally be considered absolutely irrational. It doesn't mean that it is actually irrational, but it surely is not rational. Perhaps there is suprarationality: reason beyond the normal definitions of fact or data-based logic; something that only makes sense if you can see a bigger picture of reality. Maybe that is where faith fits in."

Saturday, February 02, 2008

THE ONLY PEACE THE WORLD KNOWS IS PARTIAL

Actually the notion of peace through violence is a lie.
"To reach “the peace that surpasseth all understanding,” humanity must give up its old, partial peace founded on victimization—and a great deal of turmoil can be expected."

Rene Girard


Check this out

A STUNNING CONTRAST

My day at work today began and ended with experiences that couldn't have been anymore opposite. Conversations with two people who were so clearly stuck in their paradigms and unaware of it and two co-workers who are learning to approach life through new paradigms. The two stuck displayed an extreme confidence in what they were saying and the two moving into new freedoms (that I get to observe everyday at work) were less certain about everything yet full of hope and wonder. What a difference.


I know where I want to live every moment. I will take the life of faith that embraces the reality of the uncertainty of this life yet is full of hope and trust in God, over the life of misguided extreme confidence in things that might look like they offer certainty and security and yet aren't certain or secure at all.


It really is a stunning contrast.