January 1, 2007 - June 30, 2007
--in memory of Andy (1977-1994)
THE CENTER FOR PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY is promoting what I call THE NEW CHURCH FOR THE NEW AGE with great energy and wisdom. Please visit this website often & contemplate the 8 points & read the articles & buy the books & go to the events & join the forum.
... are the nine attributes of heaven which we experience and enjoy as we embrace our fantastic journey, the ...
+ A SUGGESTION FOR SURFING THROUGH THIS BLOG: Use your TAB key to go from link to link to link. Soon you will move beyond the buttons on the left to the main body of the BLOG. You can use SHIFT and TAB together to go back up the page. When you want to check out a link, press your ENTER or RETURN key (or click on the link with your mouse) and you will go to the selected web page. You can get back here by pressing down your ALT and LEFT ARROW keys together or you can use your browser's BACK button with your mouse. You may have to do this more than once depending on how much exploring you do.
You can really have some fun by keeping your TAB key pressed down for a second or 2 or more. When you release it, press your RETURN or ENTER key and see where you go!! But please do come back sooner or later.
SOME GREAT SPIRITUAL WEBSITES:
+ GodWeb offers "Glenn Beck and the False Prophets " by Charles Henderson. Excerpts: "The other night CNN's Glenn Beck devoted a full hour to the question of whether we are living in the 'end times,' that is, at the end of human history when God will supposedly render a final judgement upon the entire human race with a few, faithful Christians being saved and the rest of humanity sent to hell." | "This is not the first time that Beck has promoted the irresponsible theories of LaHaye and Jenkins, authors of the best-selling Left Behind series, and it probably won't be the last. CNN executives should take a closer look. Their popular host may be using the network to promote a narrow and sectarian version of Christianity that no responsible theologians, Catholic or Protestant, would endorse. Not to mention the implied condemnation of the vast majority of humans on this planet who would suffer unspeakable suffering, death and an eternal punishment in hell were the Beck/Jenkins/LaHaye false prophecies actually fulfilled."
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work at Inner Frontier. Joseph Naft offers his supurb wisdom on "Our Inner Home". Excerpt: "Just as we need a physical place to call home, a place of safety, comfort and nourishment, of familiarity and relaxation, of warmth and kindness, we also need an inner home. Through our spiritual practice we can carve a home out of the unruly and at times embattled wilderness of our inner world. By our inner work we build, furnish, improve, maintain, and occupy that inner home, which calls for as much effort and care as we put into establishing and maintaining our physical home."
I invite you to explore Inner Frontier. It is one of the best websites for practices promoting spiritual growth.
+ Salon offers "A tragic legacy: How a good vs. evil mentality destroyed the Bush presidency" by Glenn Greenwald. Excerpts: "One of the principal dangers of vesting power in a leader who is convinced of his own righteousness -- who believes that, by virtue of his ascension to political power, he has been called to a crusade against Evil -- is that the moral imperative driving the mission will justify any and all means used to achieve it. Those who have become convinced that they are waging an epic and all-consuming existential war against Evil cannot, by the very premises of their belief system, accept any limitations -- moral, pragmatic, or otherwise -- on the methods adopted to triumph in this battle." | "In sum, the great and tragic irony of the Bush presidency is that its morally convicted foundations have yielded some of the most morally grotesque acts and radical departures from American values in our country's history. The president who insists that he is driven by a clear and compelling moral framework, in which the forces of Good and Evil battle toward a decisive resolution, has done more than almost any American in history to make the world question on which side of that battle this country is fighting. The more convinced President Bush and his followers become of the unchallengeable righteousness of their cause, the fewer limits they recognize. And America's moral standing in the world, and our national character, continue to erode to previously unthinkable depths."
Paul has been accused of being ... misogynist, homophobic, a suck up to Empire, a prude, an oppressor (slaves obey masters), a braggart, anti-Jewish, and focused on death and resurrection mythology rather than the teachings of Jesus. Who was Paul and what was he really about?
My working thesis is that Paul was very much like the historical Jesus. He held the same basic values as Jesus did: equality (ie. egalitarian table meals, women as full apostles, abolishment of slavery and oppression), anti-domination (Empire), and that while he didn't quote Jesus very often his ethics were linked closely to those of Jesus (ie. love of enemy, don't return evil for evil, peace, and a profound hope in the renewal of humanity and the creation itself).
Paul, like Jesus, was a product of his time and world-view, but he also transcended it and invites us to do the same as we participate in the new way of being and living."
I agree with my friend. Burton Mack has dealt with Paul's life and message comprehensively and creatively in WHO WROTE THE NEW TESTAMENT? Mack's thesis is that Paul invented the Christ Cult as a way of promoting the Good News of Jesus in a way which would reach many Greeks and Romans and Jews and others. He succeeded. He connected Jesus with the epic of Israel in a bold and innovative way which has stood the test of time. And, yes, sadly, has also been often misunderstood and distorted and misused.
Paul wisely developed the myth of the Christ as a human and divine figure who must be met in a mystical way. Paul is misunderstood by those who read him literally just as most of the Bible is misunderstood by those who take the Bible literally. The power of the Bible is that it points to the truth through amazing stories, metaphors, archetypes, sacraments, songs, poems, sagas, epics and even some historical facts along the way. The Bible becomes the Word of God only when it is understood in a mystical way.
The great sages, prophets, teachers, guides of all wisdom traditions know that the message only gets through to people who are willing to let go and become one with God in a mysterious and miraculous way. Paul did this. His message is subversive.
He said: "For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another." (Galatians 5:13-15 NRSV)
" ... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things." (Galatians 5:22-23 NRSV)
andso much more.
+ Spirituality & Practice offers a book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Emerging Heart: Global Spirituality and the Sacred by Beverly Lanzetta and an excerpt from the book. The central focus of this book is close to my heart and the many of us who are striving to find new global spiritual common ground such as Gary L. Beckwith of the Harmony Institute has identified in The Ten Teachings of all Religions.
+ Common Dreams offers "Eating Cake and Playing Tag; A Farewell Address" by Karen Horst Cobb. Excerpt: "We are well past the time for leaders to show us the way. We know the way! We just need to be committed to it. In light of the horrible escalation of violence and war, it is outrageous that every church is not a “peace church.” I have been preaching to the choir but the choir is more interested in pageantry and pretty cakes than in authentic service. I am returning to the life which was interrupted in October of 2004 when my words tumbled into the public. I will be expressing myself again without words, sculpting my prayers in stone. As the Hopi teach, We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. I leave you now with a startling reality and shocking truth - Tag your it!"
I am adding Karen's blog, Sharing the Sacred, to my blog list.
+ Looking for a good movie to view at home? Spirituality & Practice has excellent reviews of many good movies now out on DVD.
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work at Inner Frontier. Joseph Naft offers his supurb wisdom on "Within the Hour". Excerpts: "We face a continuing challenge: how to practice more frequently. How often do we return to the inside of experience, to being aware within ourselves, to the timeless within time?" | "This is the hour. This is my hour. What can I make of it? Can I live this hour, both in time and in the eternal within? Whenever we remember, we begin again, renewing our hour, every hour."
I invite you to explore Inner Frontier. It is one of the best websites for practices promoting spiritual growth.
+ Spirituality & Practice offers a film review of Babel by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Excerpt: "People today are cut off from each other by race, language, culture, and tradition. Although the mass media and the Internet claim to be uniting us, the separations are more egregious now than ever before. Ideas about who belongs in our communities, coupled with prejudice against outsiders, strangers, and foreigners, make us feel ill-at-ease wherever we are. We cluster in small units of family and community while eschewing religious allegiance to the human family. We emphasize differences rather than celebrate commonalities. The Babel of the Bible is nothing compared to the many forms of Babel in our time. Babel exists wherever people are at each other's throats or stuck in situations that bring out their fear, anger, hatred, or violent behavior."
+ Shuck & Jive offers "Princeton Theology Professor Embraces Same-Gender Marriage" by the blogger, John Shuck. Excerpt: "I was pleased to find this article on the More Light Presbyterians web page. Dr. William Stacy Johnson of my old school, Princeton Theological Seminary, has published a book in support of gay marriage! The book is entitled A Time to Embrace: Same Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics."
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work at Inner Frontier. Joseph Naft offers his supurb wisdom on "Success and Failure". Excerpts: "Egoism and self-centeredness work in the subtlest fashion, employing an endlessly adaptable variety of approaches to maintain our illusion of separateness." | "In Sufism, the first stage of liberation occurs when the seeker ceases to hope for or expect ultimate satisfaction through externals. We need not, however, shun the marketplace altogether. On the contrary, like in the last of the Ten Oxherding pictures of Zen, we can enter life with vigor and even seek success. But all the while we know that our reality is neither diminished nor enhanced by the results we do or do not achieve. Only our spiritual inner work, our striving for integrity and excellence, and our acts of creativity and kindness can enhance who we really are."
I invite you to explore Inner Frontier. It is one of the best websites for practices promoting spiritual growth.
+ Common Dreams offers "The Assault on Reason" by Al Gore, a book excerpt first published by Time magazine. Gore's insights and analyses are sobering and disturbing. We need a big change in America or we stand to lose a lot.
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work at Inner Frontier. Joseph Naft offers his supurb wisdom on "Embracing Our Life". Excerpt: "This embrace of life can only happen now, not in some abstract future. We take this moment as it is, even if distasteful. This moment is our life, our only life, and as such we honor it."
+ Shuck & Jive offers "Armageddon 2" by John Shuck. Excerpts: "Within the last 100 years or so, science has given us a picture of Earth and the Universe that is far beyond what the ancients imagined, or even the Reformers or Founding Fathers of the United States could have imagined. Now we know that
"The Bible is often used as a source (the Book of Daniel, Revelation, and the little apocalypse of Mark 13). It is not difficult to find preachers who by referring to passages in the Bible, suggest that the "end times" are near. Christ will come in a literal way to make a new Heaven and a new Earth. The popularity of the Left Behind novels, televangelists such as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, John Hagee, Jack Van Impe, and others continue to intepret political events in the light of so-called biblical prophecy as if the Bible was talking about us. The basic picture in a nutshell is this:
+ Democracy Now! offers "If We Don’t Deal with Climate Change We Condemn Hundreds of Millions of People to Death", an interview with George Monbiot, author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning. He says global warming is "the great moral issue of the 21st century." You can read the transcript or watch the interview or listen to it.
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work at Inner Frontier. Joseph Naft offers his supurb wisdom on the "Divine Embrace". Excerpts: "Like a loving embrace between two people, the Divine embrace is mutual: God embraces us personally and we reciprocate. And like a human embrace, the Divine embrace can be, if only briefly, not of two, but of One, as we become the other and the other becomes us. Or rather, we both become both." | "The saints are human, just like you. The one way to discover whether you also could touch the Divine is to try it. And if at first nothing comes, then persist day after day, year after year, in a heartfelt and sincere practice, a search toward that highest possibility."
+ I know ... I'm a little late but isn't today and every day a great day to take care of the planet? Spirituality & Practice offers "Earth Day: 12 Spiritual Practices to Honor the Earth" by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Nobody does it better than the Brussats when it comes to finding pertinent quotes and powerful insights on a great variety of topics. Excerpt: "Find a teacher in nature and let her give you a lesson today. Here's an example from Natalie Goldberg: 'Be tough the way a blade of grass is: rooted, willing to lean, and at peace with what is around it.'"
+ I am / You are / We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is mysterious, miraculous and marvellous.
"I am" is interchangeable with "you are" and "we are." The inner connectedness we all share makes us one. We are united by love. The illusion of separateness bursts as we become awake, aware and connected. The abundance of creation becomes real and available. This is amazing grace. This is the law of love. It is fantastic. It is wonderful. Wow! Enjoy! Be glad all over. Now. Here. OK?
It takes practice to become aware, to realize this inner connectedness, to enjoy this amazing grace of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love. Practice makes perfect. Begin by practicing stillness. Then practice silence. Then solitude. Then simplicity. Soon you will advance to detachment, discernment, devotion and delight. Right around the corner you will achieve humility, healing, holiness and heavenliness.
+ The Four Precepts offers "The Divinity of Christ" by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Excerpt: "When we come to look at this question, we see that the man who says, 'Christ is divine' is not wrong. If there is any divinity shown it is in man. And the one who says, 'Christ was a man' is not wrong either. In the garb of man Christ manifested. Those who do not want Christ to be a man, drag down the greatness and sacredness of the human being by their argument, by saying that man is made of sin, and by separating Christ from humanity. But there is nothing wrong in calling Christ God or divine. It is in man that divine perfection is to be seen. It is in man that divinity is manifested. There are Christ's own words, 'I am Alpha and Omega.' Many close their eyes to this, but the one who said, 'I am Alpha and Omega' existed also before the coming of Jesus, and the one who says, 'first and last,' must exist also after Jesus."
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work at Inner Frontier. Joseph Naft offers his supurb wisdom on doing "One Thing at a Time". Excerpt: "In a multitasking society, simplifying is radical. Rather than do two things at once in an attempt to cram more into our limited time, we fully engage ourselves in one thing."
+ Here are The Four Precepts of my friend, Wayne Ferguson:
+ TruthDig offers "Jesus 'Love-Bombs' You" by Chris Hedges. Excerpts: "Rules are incorporated slowly and deliberately into the convert’s belief system. These include blind obedience to church leaders, the teaching of an exclusive, spiritual elitism that demonizes all other ways of being and believing, and a persecution complex that keeps followers mobilized and distrustful of outsiders." | "Families and friends are divided into groups of “saved” and “unsaved.” The movement, while it purports to be about families, is the great divider of families, friends and communities." | "The new ideology gives the believers a sense of purpose, feelings of superiority and a way to justify and sanctify their hatreds."
Chris Hedges, who graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School, is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” He is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a Lannan Literary Fellow.
+ Ekklesia offers "Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence" by Walter Wink. Excerpts: "This Myth of Redemptive Violence is the real myth of the modern world. It, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today." | "In short, the Myth of Redemptive Violence is the story of the victory of order over chaos by means of violence. It is the ideology of conquest, the original religion of the status quo. The gods favour those who conquer."
+ CounterPunch offers Why is the Peace Movement Silent About AIPAC?" by John Walsh. Excerpts: "It is widely acknowledged that the reps and senators are ticked at AIPAC, and their hostility seems to be growing these days. With upwards of 60% of their campaign contributions coming directly or indirectly from the Israel Lobby, the Democratic congressmen are not free to respond to their antiwar base. This opens them to an antiwar electoral challenge on the Left or Right from forces not subservient to AIPAC. And that could cost them their next election, a little thing which has them very worked up. Capuano's cry of 'AIPAC' was no simple outburst of candor but a cri de coeur for his career." | "AIPAC is not just an issue for Jewish Americans or the Jewish wing of the peace movement like Jewish Voice for Peace; it is a major force, although not the only one, driving the U.S. to wars in the Middle East. AIPAC is no less a force for war than is the Republican National Committee. In fact it is worse, because it sinks its teeth into the foreign policy establishment of both parties, perhaps the Dems more so than the Republicans."
MY COMMENT: The denial about how much our foreign policy is influenced by the Israel lobby needs to be confronted directly.
I believe a peaceful and just settlement can be achieved in the Middle East if the USA becomes far more open and honest. We have to bring these things out in to the open. I'm glad that many Democrats are beginning to deal with this denial and with their frustration with the tactics of AIPAC and other interest groups which are distorting our foreign policy.
+ The latest thoughts of Bill Moyers are always worth considering. CommonDreams offers "A Time For Anger, A Call To Action" by Bill Moyers. Excerpts: "I've been spending time with Woodrow Wilson and others of his era because my colleagues and I are producing a documentary series on the momentous struggles that gripped America a century or so years ago at the birth of modern politics. Woodrow Wilson clearly understood the nature of power. In his now-forgotten political testament called The New Freedom, Wilson described his reformism in plain English no one could fail to understand: 'The laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the week.' He wrote: 'Don't deceive yourselves for a moment as to the power of great interests which now dominate our development... There are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States. They are going to own it if they can.' And he warned: 'There is no salvation in the pitiful condescensions of industrial masters... prosperity guaranteed by trustees has no prospect of endurance.'" | "We do not have much time. Our political system is melting down, right here where you live."
+ CommonDreams offers "Cheney Is Wrong About Me, Wrong About War" by George S. McGovern originally published as an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. Excerpts: "(Cheney) said that the McGovern way is to surrender in Iraq and leave the U.S. exposed to new dangers. The truth is that I oppose the Iraq war, just as I opposed the Vietnam War, because these two conflicts have weakened the U.S. and diminished our standing in the world and our national security." | "In the war of my youth, World War II, I volunteered for military service at the age of 19 and flew 35 combat missions, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross as the pilot of a B-24 bomber. By contrast, in the war of his youth, the Vietnam War, Cheney got five deferments and has never seen a day of combat - a record matched by President Bush."
+ AmericaBlog offers "Lee Iacocca blasts Bush & Cheney as 'clueless bozos'" which is an excerpt from Iacocca's new book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone? Excerpt: "You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?"
+ I have been involved in important conversations about the nature of God and the Church at the CrossCurrents forum which is associated with GodWeb. One of the regular forum members wrote: "the corpus of Christian teaching claims that it cannot change, that it is the eternal truth, so -- in Christian terms -- any body of teaching that changes is not, by definition cannot be, Christianity ...":
Here is the post I wrote in response:
This is as clear as you have ever said this and I appreciate your clarity.
Of course, I disagree.
Right from the start, Christianity has been dynamic and fluid. The Bible in itself is dynamnic and fluid. Our creeds are dynamic and fluid. The idea of Mystery has always been central to our doctrinal identity. Our main sacrament, Holy Communion, is called the Holy Mysteries. We claim that we have a way to respond to what we can not know fully, not even close except in a mystical way. Christianity has stood the test of time because it is so dynamic and fluid. It is a Universal or Catholic tradition because it is so good at assimilating ethnic and cultural traditions. It is Evangelical because it is the Good News of love and peace and joy and freedom and justice and abundance and wisdom. It is Reformed because we are dynamic and fluid and willing to change as we evolve and grow. It is Orthodox because we have a very limited "quality control" which makes our process and product universally recognizable.
Eternal truth is certainly involved but not in the literal and narrow way which you so often detect and describe.
Are you familiar with Process Theology?
A great read for you might be QUANTUM THEOLOGY by Diarmuid O'Murchu.
Please suggest a book or 2 for me to read.
I am enjoying this conversation. Thank you for your interesting ideas and your significant and important critique of my wisdom tradition and its practice.
I know you believe we can not contribute to the peace of the world because of our historical and cultural baggage. Sometimes I think you are right. But I do trust the process and look forward to a day when tolerance and understanding and mutual respect brings down the walls of hostility and suspicion and ignorance. I am confident that the church will contribute immensely to this new day as it progresses, as it is enlightened more and more and is radically reformed.
+ Shuck & Jive, "A Presbyterian minister blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus and lightening up," offers "153 or So Long and Thanks for All the Fish". Excerpt: "I think it is cool that legends about Jesus are similar to legends about Pythagorus. We are all connected by symbols and forces much deeper than that of which we are conscious."
+ Common Dreams offers "Praying for the Apocalypse" by Chris Hedges originally published by TruthDig. Hedges has been investigating the Christian Right and has recently written a book called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. Here's an excerpt from the article: "The global nightmare that leads to the end of history is a visceral and disturbing expression of what believers feel about themselves and our world. The horror of apocalyptic violence-the final aesthetic of the movement-at once terrifies and thrills followers. It feeds dark fantasies of revenge and empowerment. This theology of despair is empowered by widespread poverty, violent crime, incurable diseases, global warming, war in the Middle East and the threat of nuclear calamity. All these events presage the longed-for obliteration of the Earth and the glorious moment of Christ’s return. But until then believers are told they must battle Satan. And Satan comes in many guises. In churches across the United States believers are being girded for a holy war, one as self-destructive as that preached by radical Islam."
+ Common Dreams offers "Distract and Disenfranchise" by Paul Krugman. Excerpt: "Median income has risen only 17 percent since 1980, while the income of the richest 0.1 percent of the population has quadrupled. The gap between the rich and the middle class is as wide now as it was in the 1920s, when the political coalition that would eventually become the New Deal was taking shape."
+ Common Dreams offers "Calling Out Idiot America" by Scott Ritter. Excerpt: "So here is the quiz: Explain the relationship between the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Baghdad as they impact the coexistence of Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni populations. / Most respondents who have a basic understanding of Iraq will answer that Karbala is a city of significance to Iraq’s Shiite population. Baghdad is Iraq’s capital, with a mixed Sunni and Shiite population. If that is your answer, you fail."
+ Salon offers an interview with Elaine Pagels on the recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas and other things. She is one of most articulate and educated advocates of Progressive Christianity on the planet. Excerpts: "We begin to see that in the early Christian movement, people discussed and struggled with all the issues that we now think of as normative Christianity, like, What does the death of Jesus mean? There wasn't one kind of understanding of Jesus in the early Christian movement. Actually, there were many." | "I don't think you have to discard all the supernatural stories. The Bible is really about what is beyond the natural. But there are other ways of understanding. For example, the Gospel of Philip, which some people called a heretical text, actually says Jesus had human parents as you and I do. His parents were Mary and Joseph. But when he was born of the spirit, he became the son of the Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. In Syriac and Hebrew, the spirit is spoken of in feminine forms, so metaphorically, one could speak of her as a divine mother, just as one speaks of God as a divine father. So there are Christians who didn't reject the Virgin Birth, but said wait a minute, why would you take it literally? Why don't you take it as an image for spiritual reality?"
+ On June 10-11, 2007, the US Campaign to End the Occupation and United for Peace and Justice are sponsoring a two-day mobilization in Washington, DC to protest the 40th anniversary of Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Under the banner, "The World Says No to Israeli Occupation", the US Campaign and UFPJ will hold a massive rally, teach-in, and grassroots lobbying day. Get involved today!
+ Common Dreams offers "Americans Face A Moral Reckoning" by James Carroll, a Boston Globe columnist. Excerpt: "Why should you not be demoralized and depressed? But the sorrow of war goes deeper than the mistaken policies of a stubborn president. Next to Bao Ninh’s book on your shelf stands The Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson. That title suggests how far into the bone of your nation the pins of this problem are sunk. In effect, the disastrous American war in Iraq is the text, while America’s militarized way of being in the world is the context. Armed power at the service of US economic sway has made a putative enemy of a vast population around the globe, and that enemy’s vanguard are the terrorists. Violent opposition to the American agenda increases with each surge from Washington, whatever its character. Both text and context reveal that every dream of empire brings sorrow, obviously so to the victims of imperial violence, but also to the imperial dreamers, whether or not they consciously associate with what is being done in their name."
+ The Witherspoon Society offers a link to a speech with a serious critique of Israel's policy toward the Palestinians by an Israeli Jew. David Grossman, who lives near Jerusalem, is the author of The Yellow Wind, a report on life in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He gave this speech at the annual memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin, November 4, 2006, in the presence of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Speaking as an Israeli "whose love for this land is tough and complicated, but nevertheless unequivocal," he calls his people face the reality of their current situation, and to change their stance toward the Palestinian people.
He says: "I ask you, how can it be that a people with our powers of creativity and regeneration, a nation that has known how to pick itself up out of the dust time and again, finds itself today – precisely when it has such great military power-in such a feeble, helpless state? A state in which it is again a victim, but now a victim of itself, of its fears and despair, of its own shortsightedness?"
+ I just found an article describing Progressive Christianity by a pastor in Australia which is quite illuminating. The Pastor is Rex A. E. Hunt. His church is The Uniting Church of St James in Curtin. He is the Director of The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought in Canberra.
Here are some excerpts:
"Three books from the many published, have almost become a manifesto for Progressive Christianity: Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity, Jack Spong's Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and Matthew Fox's Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality."
"Marcus Borg (Borg 2000) suggests five ways of re-visioning the Bible. By 'seeing it again' as:
"In a relatively new book by Hal Taussig called A New Spiritual Home: Progressive Christianity at the Grassroots, Taussig lists five characteristics of progressive Christianity:
"God is not a supernatural being outside of the world/creation/universe. Neither is the word G-o-d the proper name of a supernatural being. It is a metaphor used to address the sacred in life, often, but not exclusively, using anthropocentric language."
"From early days there was not one unified group or vision called 'christianity'. There were several. Separate, often not knowing of others existence. And when these different visions met, it was often a clash! For instance, the clashes between Paul and Peter over the very nature of what it means to be 'christian', continued to rage in one form or another, from group to group, for nearly 300 years."
"Marcus Borg (Borg 2000) suggests five ways of re-visioning the Bible. By 'seeing it again' as:
"For progressives prayer could be described as the 'language of the heart'. Not just in some interior realm. And certainly not is some oral heavenly escape. But as an invitation to sense the connectedness of the whole of life - and the 'in-between-ness of God' (Taussig 1999:131) - the 'always present God' rather than 'an elsewhere God' (Morwood 2003:8)."
There is plenty more in this article to illuminate and provoke discussion.
+ What is Progressive Christianity? The Center for Progressive Christianity is promoting a new online book, Progressive Christian Beliefs, by Dr. Delwin Brown, Academic Dean Emeritus of the Pacific School of Religion. The blurb states that the book "explores a progressive Christian perspective for liberals who are searching, conservatives who are open, and others who are curious."
Here's an excerpt from Chapter 2: "The Bible is not our authority in the sense of legalistically mandating conformity to its every teaching. The Bible is the progressive Christian’s authority because in our engagement with it we are authored as Christians. In its rich, dynamic, provocative, and empowering diversity, it is the continuing source of our Christian identity. Reflecting the exousia of Jesus, it grants us freedom, grounds our creativity, guides our thinking, challenges our conclusions, inspires our hearts, and thus it empowers us—in conversation with our contemporary communities—to act responsibly as citizens of the world."
+ Greg Palast offers "Palast Hunts the Real Life Goldfinger for BBC - Watch it on Democracy Now!". Excerpt: "'Vulture fund' companies buy up the debt of poor countries at cheap prices, and then demand payments much higher than the original amount of the debt, often taking poor countries to court when they cannot afford to repay."
+ The 2008 presidential campaign reveals that the plutocrats still rule. Common Dreams offers "The Web Works for the Grassroots, but Political Power Still Lies with the Few" by Gary Younge, a Guardian columnist. Excerpt: "The dominant role of money in US politics is widely acknowledged but all too rarely interrogated. The corruption scandals that made the news last year flouted the letter of the law but did not violate its spirit. Money buys access; access begets influence. It is as close to a textbook definition of corruption as you can get - but it's still legal. 'We have created a culture in which there's no distinction between what is illegal and what is unethical,' says the former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski."
+ The must see spiritual film, Into Great Silence is highlighted by the PBS program Religion & Ethics which offers "Rediscovering the Spirit of Silence" by Benedicta Cipolla. Excerpt: "In some ways contemplative life can be seen as offering a plentiful emptiness -- spiritual abundance amid physical privation. In one of the very few lines of dialogue in Groening's movie, and the only instance in which anyone directly addresses the camera, an elderly blind monk explains that feeling of safety: 'One should have no fear of death. On the contrary, it is a great joy to find the father again…. In God there is no past. Solely the present prevails. And when God sees us he always sees our entire life. And because he is an infinitely good being he eternally seeks our well-being. Therefore there is no cause for worry.'"
+ The Westar Spring Meeting was held this past week in Miami Lakes, Florida. This was the 45th semi-annual meeting of the Jesus Seminar. Progressive Christian blogger John Shuck was there and he offers a summary and some reflections.
+ TruthOut offers "Substance over Image" by Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist. Excerpt: "'Presidential elections are high school writ large, of course,' declared Newsweek's Howard Fineman last month. Oh, my goodness. But in fairness to Mr. Fineman, he was talking about the almost content-free rivalry between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - a rivalry that, at this point, is mainly a struggle over who's the bigger celebrity and gets to lock up the big donors."
+ Must See Movie: Spirituality & Practice offers a review of Into Great Silence. Excerpts: "Welcome to an extraordinary film about the Carthusian monks of Grand Chartreuse in the mountains near Grenoble, France. This order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne (1030 - 1181) in 1084 and is considered to be the Catholic Church's most ascetic order. The monastery itself was built in 1688 and the monks who reside there have dedicated their lives to God, to silence, and to solitude. Visitors are not allowed. But thanks to the patience, creativity, and diligence of Philip Groning, we now have access to what goes on in this holy place where prayers, study, and physical work form the repetitive foundations of daily life." | "This extraordinary film ends with a spiritual quotation that conveys the heart of the monastic life and the bounties of silence: "I am the ONE who is." This film, which both depicts and creates a contemplative experience, is bound to become a classic among spiritual people of every religion and seekers of all stripes. Make every effort to see it in a theater."
+ Sojourners offers a response by Jim Wallis to a new book on the crisis of the African-American community. The book is Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities by Robert Franklin, Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Emory University.
+ The Four Precepts offers an excerpt from Journey of the Heart by Wahiduddin. Here's an excerpt: "The ideal of religious experience is to discover the true peace and wonder of who we really are. But unfortunately, we often miss the point of religion, in which case, as Carl Jung once said, 'religion becomes a defense against the religious experience'. That is, we are all too often so filled with our own petty opinions and preferences, our thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘mine’ that we are unable to experience the true glory and wonder of Life."
+ "Don't try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist;
use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are."
(found at A View on Buddhism)
+ Democracy Now! isn't the only program offering an interview with Chalmers Johnson today. Talk of the Nation (NPR's afternoon talk show) also offers an interview with Chalmers Johnson, author, scholar, former CIA analyst and leading critic of US foreign policy. His new book is Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. It's the third volume in a trilogy on blowback. Johnson argues that US military and economic overreach may actually lead to the nation's collapse as a constitutional republic. The Talk of the Nation blurb states: "A year before Sept. 11, Chalmers Johnson warned that decades of secret U.S. operations overseas would blow back and bring disaster at home." Here's an excerpt from the book: "Like the Chinese, Ottoman, Hapsburg, imperial German, Nazi, imperial Japanese, British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Soviet empires in the last century, we are approaching the edge of a huge waterfall and are about to plunge over it."
We better listen to this prophet.
+ Democracy Now! offers an interview with Chalmers Johnson, author, scholar, former CIA analyst and leading critic of US foreign policy. He is a retired professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego. He is also President of the Japan Policy Research Institute. His new book is Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. It's the third volume in a trilogy on blowback. Johnson argues that US military and economic overreach may actually lead to the nation's collapse as a constitutional republic.
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work on "Being the Decider-Perceiver" at Joseph Naft's Inner Frontier. Excerpt: "Living as 'I,' being the decider and perceiver, does not necessarily mean that we act differently than we would ordinarily. But presence, in the form of will-to-be, changes the very core of our experience and our life."
+ At least some Americans are talking to the Iranian Government. People of faith are. Faithful America, "an online community of people of faith working to build a more just and compassionate nation," offers "Religious Delegation to Iran meets with President Ahmadinejad". Excerpts: "The mission included a fruitful meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - the first time an American delegation has held such a meeting with a sitting Iranian president in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979." | "We are a diverse group of Christian leaders from United Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, Quaker, and Mennonite traditions. The Mennonites have 17 years of on the ground experience in Iran. We were warmly welcomed by the Iranian people, and our time in Iran convinced us that religious leaders from both countries can help pave the way for mutual respect and peaceful relations between our nations." | "What the delegation found most encouraging from the meeting with President Ahmadinejad was a clear declaration from him that Iran has no intention to acquire or use nuclear weapons, as well as a statement that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved through political, not military means. He said, 'I have no reservation about conducting talks with American officials if we see some goodwill.'"
+ The Presbyterian Church (USA) offers a comprehensive list of resources on the Israel-Palestine conflict. One book I plan to read as I consider these resources is (copied directly from the resource page): Wagner, Donald E., Anxious for Armageddon (Herald Press, 1995) Don Wagner, Associate Professor of Religion and Executive Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University, traces his journey from a pro-Israel, conservative Armageddon theology to a more balanced understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the justice questions therein. Three chapters deal with the historical and contemporary dimensions of Christian Zionism. Two chapters offer biblical resources for a justice and peace perspective on issues of land, peoplehood, covenant, etc. The book provides an introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with particular concern for Palestinian Christians. The book, $15.00 plus shipping, may be ordered direct from the Center; call 773-244-5786.
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work on "Transcending Personality" at Joseph Naft's Inner Frontier. Excerpt: "So as our self-centered egoism weakens and is left behind, our personality stays intact, providing a ready vehicle through which our higher intentions can act and through which we can enjoy our inwardly enriched lives."
+ The Diane Rehm Show offers an interview with Author Jane Smiley promoting her new novel, Ten Days in the Hills. Here's the DR blurb: "Author Jane Smiley presents her latest novel which takes place in 2003, in Hollywood, at the beginning of the Iraq War. She says it was inspired by her reading of 'The Decameron,' by Giovanni Boccaccio."
Smiley believes we live in a pivotal time where we have some idea about where we have been but not a clear focus for the future just as it was in long ago Florence which is the historical scene for Boccaccio's book.
+ Progressive Christian blogger Chuck Currie offers "Is It Over Yet?", an important reflection on religion and politics among Progressives. Excerpt: "If the new progressive Christian movement is simply here to serve the Democratic Party let me out of the room quick. There may be times when I'm happy to use the democrats (or the republicans for that matter) as a tool for advancing the church's mission but I won't let it be the other way around."
+ Common Dreams offers "How Failure in the War Has Meant Success for Conservatism" by Thomas F. Schaller (originally printed by the Baltimore Sun). He argues that the Iraq war has diverted us from domestic progress and that's what Conservatives want since they are opposed to progress. Well, I know that's a little harsh but read what he has to say. It makes sense to me and its tragic in so many ways.
+ Far Right tactics can be so devious and destructive. Progressive Christian blogger Chuck Currie was falsely accused of being anti-Catholic during a successful effort to remove a progressive Christian political consultant from the Democratic National Committee in 2004. Now, John Edwards and two of his hired campaign bloggers are being falsely accused by the same extremely conservative Roman Catholic political organization which smeared people in 2004. We sure don't need this kind of division and dishonesty among Christians who are politically active. Let Chuck tell the whole story..
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work on "Swimming Upstream" at Joseph Naft's Inner Frontier. Excerpt: "Perhaps events conspire against us or our body weighs us down with inertia or pain, while inwardly we grow agitated or despondent. To maintain our inner work on those days, we reach deep into our reservoir of commitment and momentum from our previous efforts, reconnect with why we practice, remember the sacred heights that await us, and recall that help will certainly meet us if we bootstrap ourselves upward despite our difficulties."
+ Yahoo! News offers "God, Darwin clash again in Kansas" by Carey Gillam of Reuters. I don't know whether Reuters or Yahoo! is responsible for this faulty, misleading headline. Accepting overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution does NOT mean that there is no God at work in the process. This kind of headline does not help impressionable people as they consider their beliefs about God and science. Wasn't Darwin always a believer? I think he was.
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work on "Evening Presence" at Joseph Naft's Inner Frontier. Excerpt: "To a remarkable degree, presence adds wholeness and fulfillment to the evening, to our interactions with others, to our leisure pursuits, to performing our evening chores, to simply being in our life. All this acquires a much more satisfying dimension if done in presence."
+ Spirituality & Practice offers a 40-day course on one of the greatest mystics and writers of the 20th century, Thomas Merton. The cost is only ten dollars. It begins today so hurry! Perhaps this Merton quote will spark your interest: "If I penetrate to the depths of my own existence to the indefinable AM that is myself in its deepest roots, then through this deep center I pass into the infinite I AM which is the very Name of the Almighty."
+ In my quest for wisdom on the spiritual practice of devotion and the heavenly attribute of love, I just discovered that WahiduddinNet offers an important daily bowl of saki today. Excerpts: "The pleasures of life are blinding; it is love alone that clears the rust from the heart, the mirror of the soul." -- Hazrat Inayat Khan | "The heart of man, as the Sufis say, is a mirror. All that is reflected in this mirror is projected upon other mirrors. When man has doubt in his heart that doubt is reflected upon every heart with which he comes in contact. When he has faith that faith is reflected in every heart. Can there be a more interesting study and a greater wonder than to observe this keenly?" -- Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan
+ Common Dreams offers "Join The Parade For We The People" by Thom Hartmann. Hartmann has a daily AirAmerica radio show. Excerpt: "Americans love the Parade - the idea that We The People are really the ones in charge, and that we want our representatives to represent us, not to 'lead' us. It's in our political DNA. Our Founding document - our original political gene pool - speaks of it: 'Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.'"
+ Here's the inside story of the intelligence failure which led to the fiasco in Iraq still claiming the lives of many Americans and Iraqis. NOW offers an interview with Lawrence Wilkerson who was Colin Powell's Chief of Staff when the former Secretary of State gave the now infamous speech at the UN shortly before the unjust war in Iraq began. Excerpt: "BRANCACCIO (NOW host): You started looking at these documents that said that that information was in fact much more flimsy than you had been led to believe. You must have hit the ceiling. / WILKERSON: It happened over time. It happened very poignantly for me as the Secretary would enter my office, which he did half dozen times a day usually, and he would say, 'This wasn't valid either.' And he would enumerate some part of his presentation. It was very painful."
+ Don't miss this week's Inner Work on "The Taste of Presence" at Joseph Naft's Inner Frontier. Excerpt: "The difference between the programmed life and the truer life is sometimes stark and sometimes subtle. But for this difference we need to acquire a taste. All of us live both kinds of life. Can we distinguish between them, in any given moment? Can we know which mode we are in now? And let that knowing prompt us to move from the half-life to the whole-life?"
+ In my quest for wisdom on the spiritual practice of detachment and the heavenly attributes of peace and freedom, I just discovered that Inner Frontier offers "Stages of the Path" by Joseph Naft. "The path" of awakening and awareness is linked to detachment from beginning to end. The more we let go, the more we know peace and freedom. Naft quotes Buddhist master Achaan Chah: "If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom."
+ In my quest for wisdom on the heavenly attributes of freedom and joy, I just discovered that Inner Frontier offers "Non-clinging: Letting Go of Attachments" by Joseph Naft. He links freedom and joy to the practice of letting go: "On the road to freedom, we must let go of everything as me or mine. One wonderful aspect of the practice of non-clinging is that partial results accrue to us, even early in our path. If we learn not to identify with just a few kinds of thoughts or emotional reactions, we discover a little freedom and lightness, more joy as we walk through life. Non-clinging serves as its own reward."
+ Here are a couple of spiritual books I plan to read soon: Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge and The Sacred Art of Soul Making
by Joseph Naft. Joseph Naft has a fantastic website, Inner Frontier. The entire book is offered online. He offers all kinds of wisdom for the journey of faith in a very organized and logical format. I could never be that organized and logical! So I am glad some one else is!
+ In my quest for wisdom on the heavenly characteristic of wisdom, I just discovered that The Esoteric Quarterly offers "The Seven Rays: a Case Study in the Dissemination of Esoteric Knowledge" by John Nash (PDF format).
+ Ministry of Money offers its First Quarter ezine. Its lead article begins "Breathe deeply for a few breaths. Turn off the endless 'to do' list reciting itself in your head." Here's another excerpt: "I’ll stop – and feel grateful for and appreciate what I already have. Changing direction, perspective, and my mind - and tuning into the spirit of God - requires an act of not just slowing down, but coming to a stop."
+ Ann Monroe offers "Does the Bible Tell Me So? How Americans Misread the Good Book" by Ann Monroe. Excerpt: "With so much in the Bible to be disliked or discounted, there seems to be little left for liberals to do but engage in the same kind of moral prescriptiveness the religious right has made so unattractive. 'Fundamentalists buy into truth as factuality, but Christian liberals have also tended to accept the idea that factuality and truthfulness are the same,' says author and biblical scholar Marcus Borg. 'The mainline Protestant tendency is to ask what we can pluck from the fire, and extract these rather banal ethical teachings.'"
+ Surfing through God Web, I discovered "Interfaith Dialogue, Conversation and Action: A Matter of Survival" by Charles Henderson. He begins: "In the opening years of the millennium it has become even more obvious that inter-religious dialogue is not a leisure time activity: it is a matter of survival. There are at least nine reasons why Christians, particularly, should study, rather than either ignore or dismiss other world religions." He offers nine compelling reasons including some reasons those saying their religion is the only true religion could accept.
+ AlterNet offers "The Radical Christian Right Is Built on Suburban Despair" by Chris Hedges. Excerpts: "The engine that drives the radical Christian Right in the United States, the most dangerous mass movement in American history, is not religiosity, but despair. It is a movement built on the growing personal and economic despair of tens of millions of Americans, who watched helplessly as their communities were plunged into poverty by the flight of manufacturing jobs, their families and neighborhoods torn apart by neglect and indifference, and who eventually lost hope that America was a place where they had a future." | "There has been, along with the creation of an American oligarchy, a steady Weimarization of the American working class. The top one percent of American households have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. This figure alone should terrify all who care about our democracy. As Plutarch reminded us 'an imbalance between the rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.'" | "All radical movements need a crisis or a prolonged period of instability to achieve power. And we are not in a period of crisis now. But another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a series of huge environmental disasters or an economic meltdown will hand to these radicals the opening they seek. Manipulating our fear and anxiety, promising to make us safe and secure, giving us the assurance that they can vanquish the forces that mean to do us harm, these radicals, many of whom have achieved powerful positions in the Executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the military, will ask us only to surrender our rights, to pass them the unlimited power they need to battle the forces of darkness."
+ AlterNet offers "Minimum Wage Rises, Sky Does Not Fall" by Barbara Ehrenreich. Excerpt: "Overall, 29 states have raised their minimum wages above $5.15 an hour, and -- lo! -- the sky has not fallen. Could we have some apologies, please, from the economists who predicted a retail apocalypse?"
+ Thanks to my participation in the forum of the Center for Progressive Christianity, I encountered one of my favorite quotes again: “Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words.” St. Francis said that.
+ Inner Frontier offers "Drawing Down the Blessing" by Joseph Naft in which he says that "No single person, group, lineage, or religion has a monopoly on the Divine potential, whose overflowing love offers a means toward resolving the difficult issues confronting us all." It's a good spiritual practice to work on Joseph's Naft's Inner Work article offered each week.
+ In my quest for wisdom on the heavenly practice of humility, I just re-discovered that Inner Frontier offers "Prayer" by Joseph Naft in which he says that "Humility, the one essential quality for entering the sacred, arises naturally through sincere prayer and also enables it."
+ Creators.com offers "Stand Up Against the Surge" by Molly Ivins. Excerpt: "It is not a matter of whether we will lose or we are losing. We have lost. Gen. John P. Abizaid, until recently the senior commander in the Middle East, insists that the answer to our problems there is not military. 'You have to internationalize the problem. You have to attack it diplomatically, geo-strategically,' he said."
+ In my quest for wisdom on the twelve heavenly practices of the new church for the new age, particularly stillness, silence and solitude, I just discovered that The Orthodox Church of America offers "On Silence and Solitude" by the Very Rev. John Breck.
+ The following is excerpted from the Church Resources page of Presbyterians for Restoring Creation:
Presbyterians for Restoring Creation encourages use of this Environmental Audit Guide (PDF file) created by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) in February 2004. This 13 page guide includes concrete steps to care for God's creation—ways to assess current practices and to measure progress. Knowing a full environmental audit guide may be overwhelming at first for a congregation, PRC suggests simply choosing one topic (energy, transportation, paper products, etc) on which to focus. Be sure to celebrate each important step the congregation completes! Then evaluate and decide if the congregation might engage an additional step. To search for Presbyterian policies (in order to use this with a Presbyterian congregation) that are along the same lines of the Lutheran policies quoted, use the Social Witness Policy Anthology or order the PCUSA Restoring Creation policy listed under “print resources.”.
When will we ever learn?
I became 20 years old in January 1967. I was an early opponent of the war as was my church in Boston. Even as more and more people realized we were in a civil war rather than fighting against international Communism, that dreadful seemngly endless war went on and on and on. Even a change in Presidents made no difference. It wasn't until 1974 that Congress finally said "Enough!" The dire predictions of LBJ never came true.
Now we are told that Iraq is the front line in the global war on radical Islamic terrorism even though Iraq had nothing to do with any incident of radical Islamic terrorism before the invasion and now most Iraqis are preoccupied with settling their internal Shiite versus Sunni Civil War.
When will we ever learn?
+ If you are on the spiritual journey of a Progressive Christian like me, here is an essential new book to read: Spirituality & Practice offers a book review by Frederick and Mary Ann Brussat of Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary by Marcus Borg. You can read an excerpt from the book and I think you will see why this is an essential read. Borg just keeps on delivering. Review Excerpt: "In the epilogue, Borg points to some encouraging signs of hope within evangelical Christianity and within the mainline denominations. They signal an emphasis on practice and transformation over faith and certainty. With this volume and his many other pioneering efforts, Borg has made a huge and trailblazing contribution to the ongoing and unstoppable conversation about Jesus and the 'way.'" | Book Excerpt: "Churches are to be communities of transformation. This means being communities of resocialization. Most of the readers of this book have been socialized into modern Western culture, and most of us into American culture in particular. To be Christian is to be resocialized into a different understanding of reality and way of life — to live in relationship to another Lord and vision, to be shaped by the Bible and Jesus."
+ Shuck & Jive offers "The IRD, You, and Me" by John Shuck. Excerpt: "In addition to being gentle as doves, it is important to be wise as serpents, said Jesus. Part of being wise is to know the players. One of the big players in the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Church (USA) is an organization called The Institute on Relgion and Democracy or IRD. This organization has three prongs, one for each denomination, a staff, and a magazine. I encourage you to browse their webpage."
The IRD is well-funded and passionately and sometimes destructively and divisively promotes its right wing agenda.
+ Scott Peck predicted Another Vietnam. He wrote the following in 1983 in PEOPLE OF THE LIE:
"Twenty years from now, when Vietnam has been largely forgotten, how easy it will be, with volunteers, to once again become involved in little foreign adventures. Such adventures will keep our military on its toes, provide it with real-life war games to test its prowess, and need not hurt or involve the average American citizen at all until it is too late. A draft — involuntary service — is the only thing that can keep our military sane. Without it the military will inevitably become not only specialized in its funciton but increasingly specialized in its psychology. No fresh air will be let in. It will become inbred and reinforce its own values, and then, when it is once again let loose, it will run amok as it did in Vietnam. A draft is a painful thing. But so are insurance premiums; and involuntary service is the only way we have of ensuring the sanity of our military ‘left hand.’ The point is that if we must have a military at all, it should hurt. As a people we should not toy with the means of mass destruction without being willing to personally bear the responsibility of wielding them. If we must kill, then let us not select and train hired killers to do the dirty job for us and then forget that there’s any blood involved. If we must kill, then let us honestly suffer the agony involved ourselves. Otherwise we will insulate ourselves from our own deeds, and as a whole people we will become like the individuals described in previous sections: evil. For evil arises in the refusal to acknowledge our own sins."
This is found in a chapter on the My Lai massacre where the US military killed hundreds of innocents. That massacre was reported. Many more massacres are still kept secret by Viet Nam vets who are enabled to keep their secrets by the rest of us. About 2 million Vietnamese died in that unnecessary and unjust war.
When will we ever learn?
I had hoped -- after going through the Vietnam mess as I came of age in the 60s -- that we would learn from our mistakes. Unfortunately my hopes have been dashed and we are justifying and enabling more massacres, more brutality, more atrocities, more hate, more grief.
When will we ever learn?
I was there when LBJ told us over and over and over again how we were fighting for freedom in Viet Nam. Nixon told us that "Vietnamization" would create a stable democracy there.
When will we ever learn?
+ In my quest for wisdom on the heavenly attribute of love, I just discovered that Wahiduddin's Web offers "The Philosophy of Love" by Hazrat Inayat Khan. This is a chapter in Spiritual Liberty. Excerpt: "No one can know anybody, however much he may profess to know, except the lover, because in the absence of love the inner eyes are blind."
+ I am reflecting on the amazing insight of Joseph Naft on Prayer.
+ TruthOut offers "Bush Tax Cuts Offer Most for Very Rich, Study Finds" by Edmund L. Andrews. Excerpt: "Based on an exhaustive analysis of tax records and census data, the study reinforced the sense that while Mr. Bush's tax cuts reduced rates for people at every income level, they offered the biggest benefits by far to people at the very top - especially the top 1 percent of income earners."
+ Common Dreams offers "Jon Stewart's Gandhian Struggle" by Kelly Rae Kraemer. Excerpt: "Jon Stewart wages a daily satyagraha, an on-going nonviolent struggle in which he clings to the truth, Gandhi-style, making us laugh as he gets us to think. As a result, Stewart, on his fake news show, often does a better job revealing what's going on in the world than the real news media. That's why so many young people turn to his show for their daily news, and that's why I'm glued to the boob tube every night."
My take on the debate is that the debater backing Carter's claims -- Norman Finkelstein --made many important points which the debater critical of Carter's claims -- Gil Troy -- did not or could not address.
Mr. Troy, it seems to me, has not given up on the idea that the West Bank can become incorporated into Greater Israel. So, he rejects the International Consensus that the West Bank should become a sovereign nation.
+ Chris Hedges is one of the most informed and insightful reporters and authors on the planet today. The article in the post below is really important.
I see the Christian Right as a serious threat to democracy as Hedges does. We must be vigilant and expose this danger and try to convince Americans to move away from these intolerant and miltaristic and punitive and repressive beliefs and values. This kind of thinking has always been a part of our republic's religious and political mix and has been overcome before. I am hopeful that it can be overcome again because we have a strong heritage of "liberty and justice for all." This is still an ideal, of course, but we keep making progress.
I see Progressive Christianity as a movement which needs to grow since most Americans are quite committed to Christianity and need a way to embrace Christianity and progressive values. As you know by now, I am devoted to this movement and will do everything I can to help it grow.
The Democrats made significant gains last fall because many of them became more willing to talk about their Christian values (or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Islamic). Those of us who are very spiritual and very political need to expand our movement so that we can move forward and not backward.
I believe the founders of our great nation were very spiritual and often stated their beliefs and values clearly and persuasively. Their Christianity was Christianity at its best because they affirmed the great variety of doctrines and styles and were tolerant and humble and progressive. The way the Christian Right characterizes these founders is often erroneous or misleading.
The Progressive tradition in our nation, both spiritual and political, runs deep and its not a new thing. But it needs a huge renewal effort. I am encouraged by many recent signs and developments.
+ TruthDig offers "America’s Holy Warriors" by Chris Hedges. Excerpt: "If the United States falls into a period of instability caused by another catastrophic terrorist attack, an economic meltdown or a series of environmental disasters, these paramilitary forces, protected and assisted by fellow ideologues in the police and military, could swiftly abolish what is left of our eroding democracy. War, with the huge profits it hands to businesses and right-wing interests that often help bankroll the Christian right, could become a permanent condition. And the thugs with automatic weapons, black uniforms and wraparound sunglasses who appeared on street corners in Baghdad and New Orleans could appear on streets across the U.S. Such a presence could paralyze us with fear, leaving us unable to question or protest the closed system and secrecy of an emergent totalitarian state and unable to voice dissent."
+ EXCITING DAY IN WASHINGTON: I am glued to the tube today -- particularly C-SPAN -- as the Democrats take control of Congress for the first time in 12 years. Yes, I am happy that the Democrats won. But I also watched with fascination 12 years ago when the Republicans took control of the House of Represenatives for the first time in 40 years. Change is good. Democracy moves on as the voters authorize historical shifts in power such as in that 1994 election and now.
Of course this day is particularly significant as Representative Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman to be elected Speaker of the House which makes her third in line for the Presidency and the one who holds one of the most important political offices in the nation, perhaps second only to the President. She is also the first Italian-American to hold this position.
+ Spirituality & Practice offers "The Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2006" by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. How many have you seen? I have only seen 3 out of the 50 mentioned: Little Miss Sunshine, Joyeux Noel, and An Inconvenient Truth. Those are 3 great movies all available now on DVD. I plan to choose more from this great list.
+ Here is a new Message for the Trek:
Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?
Listen! This is what I hear God saying now: “I am making all things new now. I am doing a new thing now. I am creating new heavens and a new earth now. I am creating the creating the new church for the new age which is creating the new, most holy, fantastic, glorious realm of abundance, joy, wisdom, beauty, love, truth, peace, justice and freedom now! Wow!”
Do you hear this "still, small voice"?
I believe that the New Church for the New Age is emerging rapidly now. This is really Good News! God is here. Right now. Wow! God is speaking to us in a new way because our consciousness has grown and we can hear God like never before.
A favorite metaphor of mine for prayer and meditation and contemplation is the Burning Bush. At the Burning Bush, Moses heard God speak in a powerful way which led to the liberation of the children of Israel. Moses is not the only one who has access to God at the Burning Bush. We all do. You do. I do. Envision now the Burning Bush and listen for God’s word to you right now. Let yourself be surrounded and infused with the presence of God and all that God creates in and around your Burning Bush. I would love if you would share with me what you hear God saying when you go to your Burning Bush.
I hear God saying: “My real presence is experienced fully in the New Church for the New Age. I am not talking about an institution, a denomination, a building or even a visible spiritual movement of humanity led by any particular human being or human beings. This new thing goes deeper than that. While many good things happen in the institutional church and in other human endeavors, the New Church for the New Age is a movement of the Spirit which can not be described adequately but can only be experienced in prayer and meditation and contemplation. More and more humans are spending the time and energy required to have these experiences. The result is a transformation of the planet which will amaze and delight every one in the years ahead. A new age is here and a new church is being created to bring about the transformation which will not only save the planet but make the planet a much more fantastic and wonderful realm than it has been … and it is already fantastic and wonderful in so many ways.”
How are you doing? What are you doing? Are you devoting yourself to a spiritual path which is transforming you? You can not experience the New Church for the New Age, the active presence of God, unless you are submitting to spiritual practices which work for you. There are many paths to the one destination. Just make sure you are on a path of purification. Kierkegaard said it well: “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” Purity as both a goal and a means can not be evaded if we are to progress toward living a more heavenly life.
There are many different possibilities for developing these important spiritual practices. At abundancetrek.com, I have identified some specific practices which are essential in any path you might follow. There are links to all kinds of resources.
Once again, I will now point out the first and by far the most important practice.
The practice of stillness is essential. Simply be still and sooner or later you will know God and you will know everything. It’s amazing. Do it. Right now. At abundancetrek.com you can find techniques for this practice so that you will do it and not resist it. The more you practice stillness, the more you will be amazed. But there are obstacles which prevent many of us from experiencing this amazing grace. We have to eliminate these obstacles before the fullness of God can be experienced. It’s not hard to do this. Indeed our human consciousness is being transformed so that we can experience grace upon grace. It does require a huge change in the way we think. But, as I said, this change is becoming more and more available to humanity right now. To you! To me!
I call this change, this transformation, The Great Evolutionary Leap Forward. It’s happening right now. Enjoy. Be glad all over.
Please share. No one has a monopoly on this “new thing” God is doing. Your thoughts are just as important as any one else’s. You are a fantastic and wonderful person made in the likeness of God. Your presence on this planet is no mistake. Share your wisdom, your ideas, your story. I want to hear it. God wants to hear it. We all want to hear your wisdom, your ideas, your story.
Breathe deeply. Breathe fullly. Be still. Be silent. Be centered. Be grounded. Lighten up. Loosen Up. Let go. Let God. Celebrate. Enjoy. Be glad all over.
Right now, right here, embrace this wonderful insight of Franz Kafka: "You do not need to do anything; you do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You do not even need to listen; just wait. You do not even need to wait; just become still, quiet and solitary and the world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
RECENTLY DISCOVERED ON THE WEB:
EXCERPTS FROM WHITEHEAD & HARTSHORNE
a progressive Christian book & website
but get out your wallet!
The Peace & Justice Activist William Sloane Coffin who died last month was the Pastor here for a long time
Click on it and buy it from northernsun.com.