Wednesday, December 30, 2009

FINDING YOUR TRUE SELF

The pressure to be something "special" or "extraordinary" gets a hold of people at a very young age. Truth is, it's a shame based pressure that tells us that we aren't enough and that we must pretend to be someone we are not. It's love that makes ordinary extraordinary. The other is fake, and not extraordinary at all. And as long as shame stays in place, love will at best be a occasional visitor.

I watch it in my teenage daughters and their friends and it begins with the game of comparison. And I see how it has carried over into the lives of the adults around me. Shame keeps us feeling that everyone else has something cooler than we have. It also drives unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex because it keeps us looking to others to do something that they can't do and that will always lead us to the game of manipulation and control of others and a willingness to allow others to use, manipulate, and control us. We won't ever find freedom from the inadequate feelings that shame leaves us with, through other shame driven activities. But the lie that these feelings will be eradicated if we are able to find the right combination "out there" inevitably will continue to distract us from the healthy solution...To be our ordinary selves and to find peace and love there because the truth is, it's in our ordinariness that our uniqueness is displayed, once shame is displaced from our lives by love.

I love how Wayne Jacobsen describes the effects of shame on our lives in his book He Loves Me.




"Shame is the unfortunate inheritance of humanities captivity in sin. You were born with her whispering in your ear. Until you find freedom from her in Father's love she will, like a cancer, sink her tentacles into everything you think or do."

"But when you find your security in the awesome love of God, her voice is unmasked. No longer do you have to play her games by worrying about what others think. Then you'll really know what it is to live as God's child in the earth."

"Jesus didn't want to use my shame to spur me to do greater things, he wanted to set me free from it."

"Discovering how much Father loves you will increasingly set you free to walk without shame, before God and with other people. Though shame restrains people from sin under the law, in Christ it no longer holds any purpose."

The true self is found in the uniqueness of the ordinary. And it is love that frees us from the pursuit to be someone we are not. And it is a life lived free of jumping through all the hoops the lie convinces us we must jump through in order to be significant. It's the life of learning to live shamelessly free. If you find that, you will find yourself living a life that is extraordinary in the simplest of expressions.

Monday, December 28, 2009

MY FAVORITE PRIESTS ARE ON A ROLL

Yesterday Henri Nouwen. Today Richard Rohr.

"Ignorance does not result from what we don’t know! Ignorance results from what we think we do know—but don’t! Most ignorant people are, in fact, quite certain."

This is a hard sell and wouldn't preach that well here in America where Certainty has been elevated to sacred status and ignorance applies to everyone but us? But goodness gracious does it ever need to sink in as a desperately needed truth for a people that have been made to think of themselves as God's gift to the rest of the world.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A PROFOUND OBSERVATION FROM HENRI NOUWEN

"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.

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."

I copied this Nouwen quote from a larger excerpt posted by a Fb friend because it so wonderfully fit with my thoughts this day concerning the chaos of the environment I found myself in this morning surrounded by 5 teenage girls (two of my own and three others) and their conflicts.

They were violating everything Nouwen is describing and if we adults were to really pay close attention to ourselves...even when trying to help others, even chaotic teenagers/young adults, we might be surprised at how much our attempts to help are violations of these same things also.

Unless we are freed from the old familiar dysfunctional stuff, we will remain ourselves functioning on auto pilot unaware of the reality that we are just a part of the same mess...regardless as to how noble we might think our intentions are.

THERE'S SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL IN THERE


WOW. Are we ever in need of the process of the renewing of our minds, and how we see things, and how our minds then process what is going on around us, and in us, which then determines the way forward that we choose to go. The ravaged path of independence hides well within what is accepted as wisdom and sound reasoning.

I'm just acutely aware this morning of the delicate work that only the hands of the most gentle gracious lover can accomplish when it comes to untangling the tightly wound complicated damaged puzzles each of us are.

I had a friend once describe it to me (and I love the picture) each of us as individuals are one long unbroken untangled piece of string when we are born and with each and every hurt and disappointment a knot gets formed in the sting and this process happens over and over in our lives until we are a large tangled tightly wound ball. Then we humans attempt to untangle the knots we see in others, when we are tangled up balls of damage ourselves. We pull and tug on those strings and often are just tightening the knots and sometimes we even break the string causing even more damage.

The one who created us, the one who is familiar with our uniqueness and the uniqueness of our damage knows how to untangle the mess without breaking the string. I either want to collaborate with him in that process, when invited to do so, or I want to leave it alone, so as to not add anymore unnecessary knots to the string...or even worse, create a break.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

As much as I do believe that one will have some trouble in this world if they claim Jesus as Lord...Christianity has made this much worse. Once the message of Jesus was subverted by a religion that became the legitimating voice of empire and then marched through the world from one nation to another creating one empire after another...why are we surprised by the dangerous clash between the people of the world's religions that have more to do with locale and culture and power than they have ever had to do with God the Father's liberating plan of redemption and reconciliation of a family.

And I get the sense that most of the trouble the one, who's lord is Jesus, faces in this world, comes from the world's religions (even Christianity) who think they understand God and think he is on their side and is against all others who don't fit into their religion and who think it's their job through force to protect God....which turns out to be more about protecting themselves.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

WHAT BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMEN


The "cry worthy" gift that my three daughters had told me they were making for me was...they went through my blog posts from the past two years and picked out their favorites and printed them off and laminated them and put them in a binder. And yes, I did cry. See, several years ago I had felt like taking the time to write a note to them...the things I would want to say to them if something was to unexpectedly happen to me. Well, I hadn't ever got around to doing that. A few years later I began my blog and one day about a year into having began it, as I sat writing a new post, this thought formed in my head....Isn't the stuff you have been writing on this blog exactly what you would want to say to your daughters if you weren't here to say it to them in person? At that moment I realized that was exactly what I had been doing. It had never dawned on before that moment. I had been sharing the things I had been learning, the things Father has been working into my life...the process of freedom...and now I wanted to begin making a hard copy of it so that Amie, Ellie, and Sam would always have them. And like before, I had put that project off also and hadn't got around to copying any of it yet. Turns out the three of them began doing it a few weeks ago.

The cool thing about it all is the process of writing has been a big part of my healing, my freedom, and while I have been walking through that I had been sharing my heart with these three girls that I love so much...three girls that Father has used in so many ways in my life in helping me see myself more honestly. They have been a part of the exposing of many of my blind spots and I am forever grateful to them. I think our children teach us far more than we teach them.

And beyond that, my blog was the beginning of my Internet experience, an experience that has connected me with people all over the world who had gifts I was desperately in need of. Many of you have played a huge role in all that has been going on in my life over the past few years and I thank you all for that.

All of this is an awesome "cry worthy" gift.

THE INCARNATION IS THE GIFT THAT MATTERS


The message of our liberating king unfortunately becomes something other to those who are caught up in the mistaken notion that it's a message of "my religion is better than your religion" which in turn, in their minds gives them the right to live in a power over way...threatening to crush anyone who threatens their way of life. I hope the liberating message messes with the minds of zealots this holiday season...Christian and other.

Over The Rhine's Snow Angels CD is about the only Christmas music I listen to. I like there anti-zealot spin on this traditional Christmas song

LISTEN TO IT HERE

Little Town(First verse: Traditional. Additional Words and Music: Detweiler)

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy dark and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

The lamplit streets of Bethlehem
We walk now through the night
There is no peace in Bethlehem
There is no peace in sight

The wounds of generations
Almost too deep to heal
Scar the timeworn miracle
And make it seem surreal

The baby in the manger
Grew to a man one day
And still we try to listen now
To what he had/has to say

Put up your swords forever
Forgive your enemies
Love your neighbor as yourself
Let your little children come to me

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

“TRYING TO MAKE IT? NO MAN. I AIN'T TRYING TO MAKE IT....I'M MAKING IT."

I just had to share this. It's just one of those moments.



Check out Carlos out and the story about Danny here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

RESPONSIBILITY IS THE STUFF OF LAW....NOT GRACE


"I had begun to believe the myth called responsibility, and it turned what had been spontaneity into suffocation in my soul. It made even breathing hard work. The storm around me stopped being an opportunity to dance with Jesus and started to look like a sentence of drowning." Michele Perry....from her book Love Has A Face

Being governed by the myth of responsibility is a tyranny....learning to respond from moment to moment to what is going on around you is of the stuff of grace and freedom.

I learned this the hard way. Maybe we all have to? I was suffocating and all I knew was to push for more responsibility from those around me and myself because it was my responsibility to do so. Today I really do see it as the tyranny that it is. My life has calmed down simply because internally I have calmed down. There still seems to be some form of a storm in progress at any given moment but the storm inside me is being displaced.

Learning to respond is all about staying flexible so that you can move with the flowing unpredictable tide of life. It's much more a possibility in that space to be able to live the life of doing (which is a present moment thing) only that which you see our Father doing. Humans are conditioned by the life of independence to attempt to follow principles and rules (law) and try to find the right ones to fit the situation at hand and they never fit which leaves us trying to manipulate people and the situation to conform to the law...(which in most cases is our interpretation of the law because in actuality that approach has led us to act like we are god). Freedom is always destroyed inside that paradigm. That life, is suffocating to everyone.

For this to become a reality, trust in a bigger picture becomes essential. Because in this world, given birth by human independence, fear has become the driving force, and out of fear, the myth of responsibility has captured the human mind. It has led us to believe the lie that if we do all the "right" things we can eliminate uncertainty from our experience and make life work out the way we want it to. An honest look at history...the larger one and our own...tells us something very different.

Friday, December 18, 2009

ONLY LOVE CAN TURN THIS AROUND


It's been an interesting week, beginning with a text message last Friday in the form of an invitation to join a friend on a trip to Kenya to have a conversation with a group of leaders about living loved and being able to help others with that so as to find the way to forgiveness and reconciliation, as they help their communities walk through some very difficult situations. It's so encouraging and humbling to hear of people who are putting love on the line, knowing that it is the only pathway to a better tomorrow, than is hate and retaliation. I'm completely convinced that I have more to learn from them then I have to offer.

This invitation has led to many conversations with my clients at work. I have been pleasantly surprised this week at the number of conversations that have actually been able to get off the ground...the kind of conversation that most often never does and in turn always leaves me sad and frustrated. But I am learning that these things can't be forced.

I have this sense that we are living in a time when many corrections are beginning to be made (or attempts to do so) in regards to offenses of the past and ongoing present. Things of economics...race...religion and so on. The status quo is being challenged and needs to be, but these are never easy times. People don't like change and people's sense of entitlement on all sides have a way of stirring deep emotions.

History and memory play such a huge role in this process and I have learned how tricky history and memory truly are. "Memory, the Self-Justifying Historian"

William Maxwell explains the difficulty in this quote: "memory ...the self justifying historian. What we....refer to confidently as memory...is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling."
I'm guessing that it has always been this way? That people always live within the telling of the stories that define them, the past experiences of the lives of the people that make up their group. The stories told in order to make sense out all that has gone into making them who they have become. But there in lies the problem. People are rarely ever honest about how things actually happened. And that doesn't mean they are lying...even though sometimes that is very much a part of the memory. The mind has a way of bending reality so that the picture painted by the story being told, looks better than it actually was/is. It's a way of sanitizing/justifying bad behavior so that we can live with ourselves.

I know of only one path that has the power to change the equation. The path defined by Love. Some might say honesty would be the answer, but to me that is as tricky as relying on memory. Without love, the kind of honesty we are in need of is not possible. Without learning to live loved and in turn learning to love the other...self preservation mode is left fully intact, and by definition, that leaves us as people who spin the story to our favor while we deny reality.


A message from a brother in Kenya can been read here


Thursday, December 17, 2009

HEARING BUT NOT LISTENING


When we become people governed by ideologies it seems we become people who who can no longer see that the people of differing ideologies are actually people who deserve to be heard and more importantly, respected. People of differing ideological perspectives have ended up there based upon the experiences they have had and the script that has shaped them. Scripts defined by ideologies are the stuff that keep destructive approaches to living in this world alive. It creates a world, for said individuals, made up of enemies...those people out there that are different than we are. It's why we are all in need of making critics a part of our life. I don't want to live surrounded by people that just parrot what I think or believe to be true.

"Given that everyone has some blindspots, our greatest hope of self-correction lies in making sure we are not operating in a hall of mirrors, in which all we see are distorted reflections of our own desires and convictions. We need a few trusted naysayers in our lives, critics who are willing to puncture our protective bubble of self justifications and yank us back to reality if we veer too far off. This is especially important for people in positions of power." from the book Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

The Christianity many of us have grown up in seems to have created such a people that thrive on being isolated from critical thought and in turn inoculated with just enough of God that keeps us from actually being able to hear him and know him, which leads said people to reflect something out into their world that is a grand distortion of God.

We need to learn to listen and and to learn to allow others to help us take a critical look at ourselves.

"One sign of Christian maturity may be a readiness to hear the argument through to the end, rather than what many Christians are eager to do, short circuiting the argument in the interest of quick fix spirituality or missiology." NT Wright

Monday, December 14, 2009

ARE YOU ALL "WORKED UP" OVER POLITICS THESE DAYS?


You can't even begin to imagine how sick I am of the destructive practice of "the politics of personal destruction." And what makes me more sick than even that practice is when it comes from the camp that makes it a point to use the name of God as if they are defending him.


Here is something very profound from Dr. King and Bono, that seems many are in desperate in need of hearing today.

In the book Bono in conversations with Michka Assayas, Bono describes a conversation he had with Harry Belafonte where Harry is describing a meeting he was a part of with Dr. King at the time Bobby Kennedy was named attorney general. Everyone (except Dr. King) was railing on Bobby Kennedy and how terrible of a thing it was that he was named to this position. Dr. King at one point slammed his hand down on the table and ordered them to stop bitchin' and said "Enough of this. Is there nobody here who's got something good to say about Bobby Kennedy?" The response from them all was "NO. There is nothing good to say about him"

Dr. King closed down the meeting and told them, "We will re-adjourn when somebody has found something redeeming to say about Bobby Kennedy, because that my friends is the door through which we will pass." He just wouldn't listen any longer to any negativity about Bobby.

Bono then describes an emotional Harry Belafonte as he spoke of Bobby's death. "When Bobby Kennedy lay dead on that pavement, there was no greater friend to the civil rights movement. There was no one we owed more of our progress to than that man."

Bono then talks about how this story has been so important to him as one of the great lessons he has learned. "What Dr. King was saying was: Don't respond to caricatures---the Left, the Right, the Progressives, the Reactionary. Don't take people on rumor. Find the light in them."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

LIVING FRACTALS...DON'T MISS EM


The evening yesterday closed out with one hell of a Dec. thunderstorm. There was heavy rain, loud thunder, out-of-this-world lightning and hail. I woke up this morning and took the pup on a walk around the neighborhood and the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the temp was 37 but it felt like a spring 37. We are now socked in with clouds again.

I love what it all has to offer. One such thing was when I went to pick my 14 year old up along with 3 of her friends from a high school hockey game last night. It was pouring when they came out and it took them all some time to get up the courage to run across the long courtyard to get to the truck. One at a time they ran. I was laughing my arse off and wishing I had a video camera. During the last one's run, a large clap of thunder, and lightning that lit the night up like day, happened. When she got in the truck she said she had peed her pants. LOL. The ride home with these girls was pretty fun. Connections more important than any of us can even imagine were being formed.

Some might not be able yet to see how this applies here, but for me, it's the heart of the matter. This freeing truth of learning to accept things for what they are instead of always being "worked up" by trying to force things to be something they are not, allows us to "see" past what we are seeing with our eyes and allows us to hear the invitation to join the Spirit in the work the Spirit is doing.

It's all...we all are...a work in progress. And that process is being worked out in an evironment that we cannot control. The lesson here is to stop trying to control it. We aren't the author or the finisher of this and when we begin to understand what our role in the dance is all about and we let go of the severely messed up understanding of what most humans think their role is...a beautiful picture begins to come into focus. A living fractal.

If my days are defined by the chaos and mess of what is going on around me and I can't see the mystery that is unfolding behind it all, I can rest assured that there will be no rest present in my life and I can rest assured that my activity will certainly be contributing to the unrest in the lives of the people around me. It will keep me from seeing the living fractal...the tapestry that the Spirit of the living God is at work weaving together.

Leisure (by William Henry Davies)

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.



Wednesday, December 09, 2009

PATIENCE....ALL IN IT'S TIME


This life with all it's uncertainty is a tricky thing indeed. Eliminating much of the unnecessary stuff doesn't remove the uncertainty but it seems to be a help when it comes to the level of peace we can access. A life of scrambling and a life of peace just don't seem to be able to exist along side one another. But the life of peace makes the necessary stuff much more doable.


My daughters don't yet have much of a life of peace and the realm of necessity is something they have yet to come to understand and they are all caught up in the unnecessary, thinking it's where life and fun are to be found. I just hope for them the transition from having much of it taken care of for them...to it being something that they have to manage mostly on their own goes well for them. The world of uncertainty can be rather brutal on scrambling humans.

But then again it took me 42 years to get to that place where I began to make the transition to a healthier space. I just keep hoping they are able to find the life of freedom sooner than I did. But I'm painfully aware of the reality that this doesn't happen according to my timetable

So with that being the case....myself living a life defined by peace makes it far more likely that I will be able to be a safe place for them and an encouragement and help to them until they begin to find that life of freedom....the one that has to be relaxed into.

Anne Lamott is responsible for this post. Something from her book Plan B came to mind tonight

"My friend Mark, who works with church youth groups reminded me recently that Sam doesn't need me to correct his feelings. He needs me to listen, to be clear and fair and parental. But most of all he needs me to be alive in a way that makes him feel he will be able to bear adulthood, because he is terrified of death, and that includes growing up to be one of the stressed-out, grey-faced adults he sees rushing around him."


And then I was reminded of this from The Shack.


"I've been talking to you for a long time, but today was the first time you could hear it, and all those other times weren't a waste either. Like little cracks in the wall, one at a time, but woven together they prepared you for today. You have to take the time to prepare the soil if you want it to embrace the seed."


"I'm not sure why we resist it, resist you so much," Mack mused. "It seems kind of stupid now."


"It's all part of the timing of grace, Mack," Jesus continued. "If the universe contained only one human being, timing would be rather simple. But just add one more, and, well, you know the story. Each choice ripples out through time and relationships, bouncing off of other choices. And out of what seems to be a huge mess, Papa weaves a magnificent tapestry. Only Papa can work all of this out, and she does it with grace."

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I'M JUST NOT FRIGGIN INTERESTED...LIFE AND FREEDOM ARE TOO PRECIOUS

Call it all progress if you want. I've seen into the belly of that beast and I am not interested anymore. I will not play along, even if it makes me look like the backwards crazy one.



"I may call thirty years an instant, but in this age---which might be called the "Age of Impatience"---that span of time may as well be forever to most people. We get impatient if the car in front of us pauses imperceptibly at a red light. We watch the interminable seconds tick away on the microwave, and get irritated if the computer takes a few extra nanoseconds to accomplish a task that, even five years ago, would have seemed incomprehensible. Technology has compressed time so greatly that we have come to expect miracles to be over and done with almost before we even notice they have begun.

Gardening is an antidote to this manic pace. Gardens aren't created overnight; a good garden takes time to develope, and then can be made and remade, over the course of a lifetime and even into succeeding generations. Plants don't mature in nanoseconds. They follow the pace of the natural world, which for most of the time has been the only measure of time: the passage of days and seasons, the annual cycle of death and rebirth. The late May Sarton, whose intimate journals are full of wisdom about life in the garden, wrote: "Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow cycles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace." Tending a garden can be a continual lesson in letting go, of accepting what is offered and appreciating the moment---because a moment later, what you see could disappear."
KEN DRUSE from THE PASSION FOR GARDENING

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

GRACE CONSTRAINS ME


This sky was the beginning of a wonder-filled day full of inspiring conversations.


And is nearing an end framed by a wonderfully freeing reality as I think about my relationship with my daughters and others my path may cross.


Grace constrains me from forcing you. And at the same time, saves you from becoming dependant on someone else to always have to be there to lead you.

Monday, November 30, 2009

SELF AGGRANDIZEMENT


In this country where we live, where having a "braggable" life seems to be high on most people's list, and that often being tied to money and career...the quest for significance and what it leads people to do has a way of sneaking up on you and biting you in the arse before you even know what has happened.

Allowing the things of this world to allure us with the promises of security, satisfaction, sense of worth, value and significance, will surely be the very thing that keeps us from "knowing" security and living aware of our worth, value and significance. Accepting the world's substitute will set us up to always be faked out and it always sets us against one another...always...while creating justifications that make us feel okay with the violations.

At times it all can still leave me so annoyed. I hate it and what it does to people I care deeply about and yet I understand how easy it is for us to find ourselves caught up in it, even myself, and unaware that we are caught up in it.

The excerpt from Richard Rohr's book, Hope Against Darkness struck me when I read it a few years ago and has stuck with me. The peace mentioned, I feel comes from the life in the Spirit...the annoyance seems to come from not being able to remain there completely yet.

"Saint Francis stepped out into a world being recast by the emerging market economy. He lived amid a decaying old order in which his father was greedily buying up small farms of debtors, moving quickly into the new entrepreneurial class. Francis stepped into a Church that seemed to have been largely out of touch with the masses. But he trusted a deeper voice and a bigger truth. He sought one clear center and moved out from there.

The one clear centerpiece was the Incarnate Jesus. He understood everything else from that personalized reference point. Like Archimedes, Francis found his one firm spot on which to stand and from which he could move his world. He did this in at least three clear ways.

First, he walked into the prayer depths of his own tradition, as opposed to mere religious repetition of old formulas. Second, he sought direction in the mirror of creation itself, as opposed to mental and fabricated ideas or ideals. And, most radically, he looked to the underside of his society, to the "community of those who have suffered," for an understanding of how God transforms us. In other words, he found depth and breadth---and a process to keep you there.

The depth was an inner life where all shadow, mystery and paradox were confronted, accepted and forgiven. Here he believed God could be met in fullness and truth. The breadth was the actual world itself, a sacramental universe. It was not the ideal, the churchy or the mental, but the-right-in-front-of-you-and-everywhere----the actual as opposed to the ideal.

And, finally, he showed us the process of staying there---the daring entrance into the world of human powerlessness."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

LEARNING TO SEE WHAT MIGHT NOT BE VISIBLE


While standing out on the deck this morning looking down on the garden I was reminded of something I have come to see as such a travesty in regards to what seems to be the status quo of religion and religious training. Environments focused on performance ("good" and "bad") have a way of producing something fake on one hand and something that is seen as rebellion on the other. It's the nature of "fear of punishment" and "promise of reward" performance environments. It's so problematic and yet religion leaves us in a place of not being able to see it.

While looking down on my garden I couldn't help but be aware of the reality, that regardless of how it looks today, it's the same garden I have enjoyed since it began displaying it's beauty in early spring. I'm not going to turn away in repulsion and reject or punish it simply because it's not outwardly reflecting the same beauty. Actually I'm going to go down there to care for it and do what it is in need of me doing as far as collaborating along with it so it can just continue to be what it already is. A garden that is alive and growing and maturing whether it is showing any signs on this day of that being true. I'm not the author of it nor the finisher, I'm just a gardener doing my part in caring for it, all the while knowing there is a much greater force at work here, who is very creative when it comes to knowing how to create beautiful things out of things that might not be all that beautiful today to the naked eye. It takes eyes to "see" beyond what I see today in this garden....and in my children and my wife and my friends and even those set on doing me harm. And even in myself.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

REST IS GOOD

It's November 28 and it's 70 degrees. Fall just keeps going and going. I can't remember two consecutive years (from start to finish) in the Midwest with as pleasant weather. I got the camera out this afternoon and took some pictures of a few of my favorite things. Often on a day like today I would take a nap in the garden on a bench. Today I took a nap beside Bailey where she had laid down in a sunny spot right inside from the deck.

Rest is good.








Friday, November 27, 2009

THE LATEST ADVENTURE (OF THE RELIGIOUS) IN MISSING THE POINT

The Manhatten Declaration. You can download it here and read it if you so desire.

Here is something I posted in a Facebook conversation in regards to it and a friend bringing up the encounter with Jesus and the "guilty-themselves-angry-judgemental-mob" feeling it was their duty to stone the one they had caught breaking the rules.

There are a lot of stones being thrown. It seems the point Jesus was trying to make in that moment is so easily lost with people malformed by religious training.

Religion is all about "group think" and every group I had ever been a part of when it comes to the pursuit of TRUTH, with then all other things playing second fiddle to that, is that people feel justified with this kind of exclusive thinking and tossing stone because they assume that their judgements are true. The driving force behind this adventure in missing Jesus' point is that this is how religion shapes people to see G-O-D. And this scary character's justice is all about setting things right by pouring out judgement/punishment on all the wrong doers PERFECTLY. This flawed thinking leads them to think God is the ultimate perfect stone thrower. The closer they think they are to this G-O-D's truth, the more confident they become in their own judgements of others.

All the while God's beautiful justice is completely missed.

This from from Penal Substitution vs Christus Victor by Dereck Flood and he draws a stark contrast, when put up against this declaration, between the justice Father has in mind and is/has accomplished and the justice religious people seem actually still be hungering for.

"Even if we are hostile to God, reacting destructively towards life, violently reacting to the authority images we struggle with - God's response as revealed in Jesus is not to crush us as we might expect, but to break the cycle of estrangement and rivalry with the transforming power of love. We see on the cross, in Richard Rohr's terms, "the naked God". ,God is made small, stripped naked, arms stretched out, so that our false image of a threatening judgmental God is taken away and God's heart of love for us is revealed. The threat is removed; we have nothing to fight against. God surrenders first so we can give up the fight too and come home. The cycle of rivalry and violence is broken through the weakness of God on the cross."

Monday, November 23, 2009

ALL THE SHAKING IS A GOOD THING


While in a conversation with a friend, a book I read three years ago came to mind. One angle of the book I really found profound and timely. Mind you, I read this book several months before the enormous economic crisis came to light for most of the world's population. Brian uses the term Suicide Machine to describe the systems our nation and most of the rest of the world are attempting to operate within. At the time, I was beginning to see the madness in much the same light myself. During that season it was like all of my friends would begin to have convulsions when they would see me approaching. Today they are no longer having seizures while around me, due to the revelations over the past couple years in regards to the systems many have been shaped to trust in that are now proving themselves untrustworthy. They always have been.

What I didn't like about the book was Brian's attempt to produce a blueprint that the world might follow in order to create more just systems. I want to believe that is possible but somehow I'm left thinking that systems will always fail us and placing our trust and hope in them will always leave us disappointed and in full fear mode simply due to the reality that whatever can be shaken will continue to be shaken. And systems will always call for the sacrifice of people when caring for people becomes too much of a drag on the systems. It's just their nature.

Out of curiosity I went through my blog archives to reread some of the posts I made regarding Brian McLaren's book Everything Must Change and I found something though that turns out, has been at the center of a beautiful change that began to happen inside me during the season I faced myself in the mirror and I stepped outside that familiar existence so as to take a critical look at what I believed that in turn dictated how I was living. This speaks of a life that cannot be shaken and a life that actually has the power to change everything....and it has nothing to do with shakable and failure prone systems.

"The phrase "kingdom of God" on Jesus' lips, then, means almost the opposite of what an American like me might assume, living in the richest, most powerful nation on earth. To the citizen of Western civilization like me, kingdom language suggest order, stability, government, policy, domination, control, maybe even vengeance on the rebels and threats of banishment for the uncooperative. But on Jesus' lips, those words describe Caesar's kingdom: God's kingdom turns all of those associations upside down. Order becomes opportunity, stability melts into movement and change, status-quo government gives way to revolution of community and neighborliness, policy bows to love, domination descends to service and sacrifice, control morphs into influence and inspiration, vengeance and threats are transformed into forgiveness and blessing.

In his message of the kingdom of God, then, Jesus proposes a radical new framing story, and he wanted people to trust him enough to give his way to peace a chance. How does he do so? In public, he teaches people (often using parables, which invite them to think rather than telling them what to think) and heals them (which is often described as freeing or liberating them from disease and demons)---rather than propagandizing them (telling them what to think while simultaneously keeping them from thinking for themselves) controlling them (oppressing them under sick and demonic systems of oppression). In private, he eats meals with people---all the wrong sorts of people---to demonstrate that the kingdom of God transforms by grace and acceptance rather than by fear or threats of exclusion. In the midst of Rome's empire, wherever Jesus goes, he creates a family meal where all are welcome.
Some will be quick to note that Jesus also used strong language of exclusion---being thrust into "outer darkness," for example where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth." But in an irony that is so powerful it can hardly be overstated, Jesus applies that language to the typically exclusive (religious scholars, Pharisees,etc.), and asserts that the typically excluded (prostitutes, sinners, even Gentiles) will be included before them (Matthew 23:13, Luke 13:28-30, Luke 4:24-27) Clearly Jesus is deconstructing the dominant system of exclusion---not fortifying it.

No wonder Jesus mixes metaphors so freely: kingdom can be useful in confronting the kingdom of Herod and the empire of Caesar, but it also needs to be deconstructed and augmented by other more intimate and less violent metaphors. So Jesus habitually refers to God as Father rather than King. As the famous prodigal son parable profoundly communicates, the rebel and the upright are equally God's children, as (we could extrapolate) are the Jew and the Gentile, the free and the slave, the religious scholar and the prostitute, the female and the male. The Father's deep desire is to bring all the children home into his feast (Luke 15:11-32)."

Friday, November 20, 2009

BECAUSE I CARE MORE DEEPLY THAN EVER


I have three daughters, who I hope and pray have long and fulfilling lives, as I hope and pray also for your sons and daughters. For that to happen I get the sense that the community we all live in is in need of a dramatic transformation of values. For that to happen the myths and the dangerous delusions must be seen for what they are and how they are destroying us. What has been happening in my life now for over two decades and what I have gratefully come to see has been happening in many of your lives also, gives me renewed hope.

I've recently been introduced to someone who puts into words much better than I do a case that exposes many of the delusions I came face to face with in my life 4 years ago. These were the delusions I lived in regarding the political and economic systems of the nation I live in. Talk about a disorienting scary experience facing these things that had left me so dysfunctional, all the while thinking I was pretty functional due to the fact that it all was working out pretty well for myself and my family. Jesus got my attention in such a way that had me listening. A year of repentance had passed before I ever realized what was happening. To say nothing looks the same to day is an serious understatement. I've never been more full of hope and I have never been more aware of the challenges that we face. And I have never been more convinced that love and grace and understanding are the only way forward.

So here is former US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich. Listen through to the end to hear the pain this man carries around due to this dysfunctional reality we all find ourselves in.




Monday, November 16, 2009

A DAY WHEN THINGS WERE MOVING AND SHAKING




Sometimes things just make no sense when looked upon outside the paradigm of love, because outside that, fear is still in place and is still the defining emotion.
"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." The Shack

Friday, November 06, 2009

THE GARDEN IN REVERSE

Well, another growing season in the garden is coming to an end. Soon everything will be in rest/sleep mode until the temps begin to warm up next spring and things begin to awaken so to do it all once again. I love this process and part of that is sharing it with others. Thanks to all the encouragement through the kind words many have shared with me through this year when they have seen the garden either in person or through pictures. It's been a wonderful year of personal growth for myself, my wife and daughters along with many of you my friends. I look forward with great expectancy to what tomorrow holds for us all. So here are some highlights from the garden. I have left out the fall pictures since those have so recently been posted in other places. One place being here