Sunday, August 20, 2017

If I were a black man.

White friends: I get it. You didn't own any slaves. As far as you know, your ancestors didn't own any slaves.
It's weird to you that statues matter so much.

Imagine with me being a black man, for a moment. You're walking into a court-room, both the symbol and implementation of "justice" in your land, and you have to walk past the statue of a general who QUITE LITERALLY FOUGHT A WAR to keep you enslaved. What message must that be sending?

If we care about our black brothers and sisters at all, it's time to temper southern pride with a little bit of southern repentance.

Ron Reagan famously said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

I agree completely with what Krauthammer says about "the original sin of slavery" in this video.

The hue and cry of American citizens who suffered under STATE-MANDATED oppression until the end of the 1960's is that it has been long enough. The message is: "Mr. President, tear down these statues."

I don't have to like it. I don't have to get it. I have to be empathetic enough: no, HUMAN enough,to understand their desire to put an end to this symbology, and this REALITY.

If that means taking down statues, fine.
If that means changing who's on the dollar bill, fine.

We must acknowledge the original sin of slavery in this country,and we must finally take steps to genuinely turn from that legacy.

If I were the devil (in answer to Paul Harvey)

If I were the devil, I'd convince the church that government is bad, and get them saying let's not feed the hungry or care for the sick, in Jesus name, amen. If I were the devil I would convince the church that greed is good and, despite what the bible says, it will ultimately be better for everyone if we convert "woe to you rich" to trickle-down economics. If I were the devil I would have preachers preaching that men should be allowed to rape the earth and poison their fellow men for love of filthy lucre, and standing idols of conservative politics in their very sanctuaries, until small government politics is literally preached as if it were the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Christians were doing horrible things like cutting food stamps and abandoning the working poor, and abandoning the exiles and sending the least of these packing back to where they came from.

And they'd be doing it motivated precisely by their strong desire to be good.

If I were the devil I would make up down and left right until Christians were the ones resisting the effort to expand healthcare access to workers and Christians are the ones who demand expanded military an contracted education and Christians were the ones who elect, as the most powerful person in the world, a man famous for not paying those he owns money, married 3 times; a serial philanderer and the first man to put a strip club in a casino. A self-confessed molester of women and attempted home-wrecker.

If I were the devil, I'd do it exactly like he's doing it, right now...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Charlottesville NC 2017

I just can't imagine what it's like to be a person of color in America in 2017.

In 2008, you saw Barack Obama get elected president of the United States of America.
I don't know about you, but I thought maybe we'd really turned a corner. Maybe things were truly getting better. Maybe,just maybe, things had actually changed.

Then I watched, mouth agape, utterly dumbfounded as the people I know and love lost their ever-loving minds. The response to that N* in the white house (a phrase I heard more than once) was visceral. White people were terrified. They started believing anything, no matter how outrageous and silly, about him and about blacks in general. Death panels. Kenya. Muslim. Gov't takeover of this and of that. I didn't even know how to argue most of the time, because it was just so completely crazy.

Fast forward to 2016. In a fit of backlash, We The People elect to the highest office in the land a reality TV star who was the first man to put a strip club in a casino and is famous for not paying people the money he owes them, because we wanted a thug to throw out those Mexicans and "restore law and order" to those blacks. 

If it had been a movie plot I would have thought it too unrealistic. I just don't even have words.

And then *they* start crawling out from under their rocks. The "alt-right". They feel empowered. They feel that he is one of them, and that the pendulum of power in America has turned back towards them. They won the election. They have the power.

Every ounce of this is the doing of *MY* people: rural, white, Evangelical Christian people.


I am ashamed.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Forgiveness

I see many people struggling to forgive an move on.
This, for me, has been the key to forgiving.  It's not easy, and it's not quick.  It's a process.  Your mileage may vary:

Various religions and approaches are not the point.
The point is to spend time in quiet, without effort.
Observe the thoughts that arise on their own (not the hey, my back itches, but the he's incompetent and taking me down, or she really hurt me, or even the fears and fantasies ) and then work to understand those thoughts. 

Those thoughts are YOU.

You won't like what you see, because you're not nearly as good as you imagine.  You've got power issues.  You've got control issues.  You don't follow the standards of purity and love and kindness that you expect of others. 

It's important to place no value judgements - you'll never get through it if you view it as good or bad, for now, it simply IS.

So, how does this help with forgiveness?
In time, you'll come to see yourself for what you really are, in the brutal, honest light of reality, rather than what you want to be, or colored by delusions, intentions, and preconceptions.

Seeing yourself clearly in this way will allow you to see other people for what they are rather than what you want them to be, or think they should be.

When you see others clearly, forgiving them becomes at first easy, and ultimately unnecessary.  They simply ARE.  People are neither fundamentally good, nor fundamentally bad; people are fundamentally people, driven by impulses both benevolent and selfish, using gifts and overcoming challenges, and trying to get through their day.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kindness

I was listening to a sermon, when the preacher talked about a lady-friend who had received a diagnosis of cancer.
She talked about the stunned feeling, and the sense of senselessness. She talked the rage that welled up within her at the utter unfairness of it, and the bottomless despair.
In trying to find her way down this path, she at some point had a sort of WWJD moment. Remembering what the head of her order had said, and what the great spiritual leaders would do.
And it came to her like a bolt of lightning: In all situations, be kind.
She has cancer. She's going to die. Soon. What is she going to do?
She is going to strive at all times to be kind.
She is going to be kind to the people who giver her chemo, and be kind to the people who are uncomfortable around her because of her diagnosis and her mortality. She is going to be kind to the people who love her, and are hurting with her, and already beginning to mourn her even as she lingers with them.
She is going to be kind even in these depths of despair. She is going to be kind through tears and pain, and as she lays in her final moments, as this precious life is taken from her in a way that is unspeakably senseless and bewildering cruel, she is going to be kind.
I can only hope to to be like her, someday.
It's so easy to look at the outrages around us and to despair. I don't know that I think that's avoidable, anymore.
But, as Almighty God gives me strength, in all situations, may I never forget to be kind.

#myreligioniskindness

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My entire life has been a spiritual journey. I've made a lot of mistakes, and taken a lot of dead ends paths along the way. I've been an idiot and looked foolish. But, I've learned.

(As the song says, ♪ ♪ ♪ "I promise you I will learn from my mistakes."♪ ♪ ♪ )

Here's what I think I've learned:
1 - Dogma doesn't matter. Speculation about heaven and hell and nirvana and reincarnation and immortality are born of our animal nature, which wants to categorize, organize, and predict.
2 - Guilt is not useful. Again, it's born of our animal, social nature. Wanna see guilt? Look at a dog that got caught tearing up the trash. Guilt does not bring us to the divine, excepting in those rare conditions where it inspires actual change. (I've seen this almost never)
3 - Judgement, of ourselves or others, is counter-productive. It creates separation where there should be oneness. Someone worse than me? Someone better than me? Separation. I'm not what I should be? Unrealistic and destructive.

The only practical path forward involves a regular practice, patience, and tolerance (for ourselves and others).

Regular Practice:

No one would expect to walk into a gym, pick up a dumb bell, put it back down, and look like Arnold in his prime. And yet the church I grew up in told us that we would kneel at an alter, say a prayer, and walk away *CHANGE-DAH*. No. It's great for making you want-to-want-to, but not for effecting real, internal change.
A regular practice is essential. You hit the gym every day. You grow and change. You learn. Your practice becomes more elaborate and effective, and your body and mind more conditioned to accept it.
The spiritual practice is the same. It must be done every day. It must be focused. If you're a Christian, read your bible and pray. If you're a Buddhist, read Holy Sutra, recite and meditate. If you're Taoist, do your standing meditation, your sitting meditation, your taiji forms, and read each day from the Taoist cannon.
They're all working on the same pathways. They're all working on the same intellect. They're all working on the same emotions and with the same ego. They're all working for the same goals.
What is important is this: DO. YOUR. PRACTICE. TODAY!!!

Patience:

As stated, you will rarely see great change overnight. The changes come slowly, over time, with regular practice. At some point, you will find that it's not that you want-to-want-to be generous, but you are generous. It's not that you want-to-want-to be kind, but you are kind. It's not that you want-to-want-to avoid harming others, you are just all about not harming others.
To get there, though, requires patience because ...

Tolerance:



... it's not going to happen overnight, and you're going to have to put up with a lot of failures along the way.

But, over time, you begin to find that your vision is more clear, your emotions are more in check, your generosity has increased, your genuine sense of affection for your fellows is vastly improved, you're not as growly, you're more at peace with life's difficulties, challenges, and changes, and you're more tolerant of the foibles of others.

This is the spiritual path.