Sunday, July 27, 2008

Matt 15:21-28

It is Sunday and maybe anyone who reads this is not in a church today. There is something not working in the formula for perhaps some of us that has worked in Christianity for hundreds of years.

I believe there is an adage of sorts that says that the best way to learn a subject is to teach a subject.

I am fumbling with my faith in my quest to do something or get someplace other than where the (forgive me for saying this) cookie cutter religions what us to go, accept, purchase and not complain about the product etc.

This practice and or theorectical homily was assembled in accordance to a one year lectionary and in conjunction with the second Sunday of Lent.

A bit abstract for me but a great learning tool for myself and for one who in retrospect being so painfully shy in his youth as to think he could not get up and deliver somthing like this.

It also got a large number of hits on another site. Odd/Curious thing?

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The opening reading from Psalm 121 is something that really brings home some very specific memories to me.

I had been, and very briefly, an elder in a congregation that used this Psalm as the cornerstone of it's being.

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth."

That congregation started over sixty years ago on the edge of the desert. It had then a majestic view of mountains to the north. Now it is sandwiched in between parking lots, fast food joints and office buildings.

Though I can visualize when in something like 1948, a dozen families made a commitment to buy a small parcel of land. On that land they built a church and a grade school. I have met some of the children educated at that school over the years. One stands out in memory as having been in the Peace Corp.

If you think of all the good that affected the human race and coming from the children educated there, well the possibilities stagger the imagination. I think of the promise of God to Abraham about how the number of his descendents would number more that the sands of the earth or the stars of the sky.

For those of you, who have never lived and worked in the desert, let me tell you something. It can get hot. How hot? Very hot. But they say it is dry heat.

Ladies and gentlemen. One hundred and twenty degrees in the desert in the summer is comparable to being a dressed up Thanksgiving turkey coming out of the refrigerator at five in the morning and being rudely placed into a preheated three hundred and fifty degree oven. And they call it dry heat.

The desert reduces you and your psyche to some bare minimums. There is a line from a popular song "A Horse with no Name" of many years back. "In the desert you can remember your name, cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."

Little wonder God chose Jesus to wander about a desert for forty days to get his head on straight for the difficult task of his brief but revolutionary mission to preach the good news of the coming more freely of the spirit of God into the human race.

And following through with the reading of Roman 5:1-5

"Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought us that blessing of God's grace that we now enjoy."

Romans is always very simple and clear in saying what we as Christians are all about.

I could stand here and talk about faith or grace. But most of you know what those things are about. Or so we think we know.

Today's gospel reading is an obscure passage. I say obscure because when I read it to make comment, I did not remember this text with any clarity. I probably read it once, was speed-reading or the like. It did not strike a chord in my gut. It is not the most familiar or popular group of lines in the Christian testament.

In fact I had to read this passage several times and went back and forth between my New Century Version Bible and then back to the old standard, a rock of ages, the King James version. Even then, I only got a light feeling about what seems very not in character with our familiar view of Jesus. I finally got some insight from a few lines of Martin Luther in one of his sermons to feel comfortable enough in my skin to talk to you about it.

A woman of Canaan, a non-Jewish woman, comes to the miracle worker Jesus to beg a cure for her sick daughter. Jesus ignores her. He does not answer. She makes a big fuss and his followers want him to send her away presumably with her request fulfilled.

Jesus stands pat and states that "God sent me only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel".

This harkens back to Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill."

So here is this predicament. Jesus does make exceptions as to who he might help outside his primary faith of Judaism. But here I think he is reading the mind and heart of the woman badgering him for a small miracle for benefit of her daughter.

Jesus quite ungraciously calls her or refers to her as a dog in the line "It is not right to take the children's (of Israel) bread and give it to the dogs."

But the woman is persistent. She wants a favor. She loves her daughter. How can she, a gentile and a pagan, reach into the heart of this very Jewish rabbi?

The woman concedes that she is a dog when she says that "Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table".

Jesus liked her response. And so he replies "Woman, you have great faith! I will do what you asked." The woman's daughter was cured.

We can knock at God's door and hope that he opens that door, or he can stand on the other side of the door and say that he doesn't know you. If one, or any of us, in our true hearts, can prayer long and hard and request grace to get through the day or a difficult phase in our lives, it is only God who can bestow grace.

Faith, faith, faith in our hearts opens the door to grace and the peace and love of God.

Never forget that.

Always remember that.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Five Recommended Ingredients for Living

This is something competely from my secular side.

This is a work in progress. Tastes change. Memories change. Recipes are always being revised.

I could not but help draw parallels between the flow of life and the use of metaphors to explain some things. No big book philosophy here. Just trial and error flavors, some empirical mixed in, along with spices derived from life's ebb and flow.

Doing some genealogical studies a few years back, I looked and looked on the Internet for a recipe for "chili sauce" that my great aunt Rose had assembled in her Nicetown kitchen (Phila.) Some fifty odd years ago during a long summer break in grade school.

My father had a vacation and little money. He also wanted Aunt Rose to share a recipe that his mother had used to make. Aunt Rose was getting along in years. We went to a farmer in the country, bought fresh veggies and assembled something like an Irish-American version of salsa. Then there was the "canning" of such into mason jars.

I lost Aunt Rose's recipe that my father had written down. The "chili sauce" that she had made resided in my stored memory until I found something close to the original in composition and after I made it - in taste. In retrospect the Quest or the end of the search was probably as satisfying as the food.

I found a recipe in the 1923 Fanny Farmer cookbook under the label "Celery and Tomato" relish on the Internet that fit my memory and visuals of those two long dead relatives, my father and great aunt Rose, on that day in the kitchen five odd decades ago. The Internet does in many small ways serve humanity or at least this human from time to time.

Now having had consciousness in this realm of mortal existence for close to half a century, may I share my own recipe and mention of ingredients for adding the (?) right measure of spice into a perhaps balanced life experience?


Five Recommended Ingredients :

Quest (seek). Respect. Management. Generosity. Joy (rejoice).

Interested in the Recipe ? Read on.

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Seek the Universe (quest):

Seek, question, study, learn, and interact with all things and everyone.

Find your comfort in the scheme of things.

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Respect Life:

Try to communicate with all living things (yourself included).

Recognize and respect that which is a living stem of the Tree of Life.

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Manage your Resources:

Micro and Macro - These to include small and big things including personal finances and intellectual concepts among others.

Do not let the world control you. You should control your world.

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Give:

And if not give, try to share. Be generous of yourself to others.

What you have is temporary; give back to society and to individuals real and abstract goods.

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Rejoice (joy):

Enjoy Life. Do not delay or postpone that enjoyment under any circumstances. Do that which gives you satisfaction provided it does no harm to others or to yourself.

Project proudly and freely the talents learned individually and those talents that are gifts of the Universe.

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http://ezinearticles.com/?Five-Recommended-Ingredients-for-Living&id=1027011


(and of course the "chili sauce" recipe)

Tomato and Celery Relish

1 onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 large green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large bunch celery, chopped
2 allspice berries
2-1/2 cups canned whole or fresh tomatoes
2/3 cup vinegar

Mix ingredients, heat gradually to the boiling-point, and cook slowly one and one-half hours. Cayenne or dry mustard may be added if liked more highly seasoned.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

the All - the Universe

In the theme of some gnostic style thinking – (which came first (?) the chicken or the egg(?)),

and that Jung thing, a central or a common consciousness – a commonality ...

I was moved when I saw a famous quote of retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong :

”I admire our ancestors, whoever they were. I think the first self-conscious person must have shaken in his boots. Because as he becomes self-conscious, he's no longer part of nature. He sees himself against nature. He looks at the vastness of the universe and it looks hostile.”

It reminded of something I wrote in my spirit journal in the last year or two. Of course it is a free flow of thought, not poetry, and perhaps a common thought on the same subject.

... first man and first woman were infused with the spirit of the universe.

At their beginning, their eyes saw the marvels that their ancestors had ridden as a flow.

With eyes first opening came a knowledge of before the beginning of first man and first woman.

After the beginning, first man and first woman could no longer ride a flow of energy – a flow of nature.

Eyes first opened made for hearts saddened. Something was lost with the gain of eyes first opened.

The parent of first man and first woman – nature – was still nature but somehow apart.

Knowledge of the great divide – before the beginning and the chaos afterward –

Opened an inner voice.

We are –
but who are we in relation to the all –
the universe?

- -


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nostalgia and the Latin Mass

Forty five years later I still remember some of my altar boy Latin:

Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctae.

(May the Lord receive the Sacrifice from your hands to the praise and glory of His Name, for our good, and that of all His holy Church.)

We altar boys were responding in many places for a silent audience behind us. Then came the “The Secret”. The Priest said the day’s secret prayer etc.

I wore a black cassock and white surplus. To accent this were white gloves, a celluloid 1920's style collar with brass collar button and a white silk scarf tied into a bow. This description reminds me of some secular lyrics from a Sinead O’Connor song. Wow! Where’s the party?

There is this return to the Latin Mass thingy in the R.C. church. I don’t understand it on one level but then I tend to see things from some very odd angles.

I read the comments of a priest once about how a “Cardinal Ratzinger wanted fewer and only obedient Catholics in the church”. I cannot find the context or the argument on the Internet anymore. The concept remained in my mind and I had to wonder how you could support a leaner meaner R.C. machine.

I grew up in the Philadelphia experiment of Saint John Neumann whereby the immigrant Catholics built a separate but superior education system. That bygone formula consisted of many, many Catholics contributing a little here and there and on a regular basis.

Indeed, having moved to NYC some thirty years ago, they were restoring St Patrick’s cathedral for it’s centennial around 1979 and the concept of how this great Gothic structure had been built literally with the pennies, nickels and dimes of the faithful was a common concept mentioned in the press releases. ( I do not like the majority of the stained glass in St. Patrick’s but that is another story. )

At the basis of the Constantine Church from its beginnings around 325 C.E. is, if not money, then property and the generation of goods for trading. In the most basic European sense of anything, property is not shelter, property is land and crops and trade (income).

Where does this new leaner, meaner more obedient future R.C. church come from? It comes from the lonely dying boomers whose property and portable cash wealth, that was estimated a decade ago at about six trillion dollars.

No doubt most of that goes to children and grandchildren but hey, even Public Broadcasting System stations these days are begging for consideration in your last will and testament. They do that on pledge breaks in between snippets of The Lawrence Welk Show etc.

Oddly enough, the people clambering most for the nostalgia of their youth and the return of the Latin Mass are old farts such as myself from the boomer generation (but not me specifically).

Comments on many blogs and customized websites exclaim the joy of being able to go to a Latin Mass just like when they were young etc.

Hey, it’s all marketing (and The Golden Rule) these days and the reward is BMW’s for the clerks at the Vatican and Mercedes cars for the big shots. Funded in the near future by mom’s estate.

Have I ever mentioned before how cynical I can be? It is one of my cardinal sins and or virtues.

I don’t knock this craving for stability (nostalgia) or the comfort of the village of one’s youth when the village was real and not virtual. I did the same when I sought out the grace, that many times accompanies a group of the faithful in prayer, and in celebration of a common liturgical service in a mainstream Protestant church.

The fear of death is as motivating a thing as any, like the fear of God, to look for some concrete answer as to what happens passed death. Buy your tickets to eternity now and buy them early.

Vorrei prenotare un posto a sedere.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jul/16/italy.religion
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blessed are the Seekers of Truth - Whoever and Wherever You Are...

I recently called an old friend that I have known for decades. The conversation got around to her granddaughter who was going to grade school at a Greek Orthodox school. Her granddaughter was learning Greek at a very young age. “That’s great.” I said. I then added “that’s one of the things wrong with America these days. They don’t teach the classical languages, Latin or Greek anymore...”

Well the way I think, I remember that Jefferson, among others, knew at least a half dozen languages including Latin and Greek.

So when I hear a typical carnie evangelical talk about this being a christian nation and the founding fathers meant this or that and so on and so forth about the U.S. Constitution, I get a little bewildered.

This strange logic is in keeping with the Bible being the exact and unerring word of God, foregoing any explanations of translations from Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Greek into English (17th Century) to English (20th Century) to go on and on.

I find it annoying lately about these telly evangelicals living in their eighteen thousand square foot homes telling the audience that Jesus meant this when he said that and he meant that when he said this...etc.

Having been an elder in a small congregation, I understand the need to raise funds. Selling a New York Times best seller for seven or eight dollars above retail to the congregation is an acceptable means to me to get some chump change together to help pay the church's electricity bill.

There is one book that comes to mind that I never could read or understand. The title is The Purpose Driven Life. I am not totally knocking it. Success has many surprising parents. I think that there are a dozen or so concepts and the author pushed “word search” on his word processor using a biblical data base. The word search categorized the concepts with tithing at the top of the list as to what God and Jesus wants us to do to have a fulfilling life.

So I tell someone that I do not understand this book that is explaining the bible to me and that person says that I should buy the workbook and attend classes to understand what a purpose driven life is. So let me get this straight. I need a workbook to understand the book that explains what God and Jesus really meant about this phrase or concept or that.

Hey, I read my bible and if I don’t understand one particular passage or that, I do some research.

I will in no way tell any other Christian what they should believe or not believe and I will always use the subjunctive tense to say what I think something in the Bible might mean and within the framework of a lifetime’s exposure to a sacred and secular – Christian culture.

Getting away from my frustration of looking at a media circus and snake oil and former used car salesmen explaining what Jesus really really meant - I escape back to something quite simple to get into the flavor and nature of the Christ.

There is a line by the late comedian Milton Berle about how “laughter is an instant vacation”.

Many times a person such as myself wants an instant retreat from the world or reminder of the simplicity of, and want to touch (retouch), the true spirit of Jesus.

With that in mind I turn to the beginning of Matthew 5 and read the Sermon on the Mount which contains the Beatitudes.

I also prefer the King James Version to hear the sometime poetic flow of Shakespearian like English and the spirit of a great many scholars translating from many ancient and dead languages to keep the words of Jesus alive to this day:

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil...

( do you need another book or a workbook to understand the preceding ? I don’t think so. )

God Bless.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

in Jesus there is no male or female

An exciting thing is happening today in Boston.

Three women of the R.C. church are going to be ordained priests in a growing underground movement that is tired of the dinosaur ears of the Vatican trying hard not to listen or even imagine that those women thingies are valid as human beings or as the equal possessors of souls, same as the lowest man in God’s Kingdom.

Their ordination will no doubt be valid, if technically illegal by R.C. rules, in whatever means they use, traditional or with an unbroken line of Protestant clergy, some sects of which have never abandoned the R.C. rights of ordination.

Where will these women minister to the flock? In people's homes, the way it was in the beginning of Christianity.

Go Girls. Go! You may be excummunicated by the end of the week with paperwork and ink and pens all signed off by the exclusive all male, or if you prefer all boys club of the Vatican City State. ( do you know that my spell check did not recognize the word “excommunicated” – if my robot computer so vastly smarter than myself does not know the word than it must be an obsolete, archaic word? )

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/07/graniteville_woman_to_be_ordai.html

The Christian Church, the People of God, is being reborn. A new rebirth of faith and brotherhood and sisterhood all around this planet is happening and growing. Dogma is not as important as the breath of the Holy Spirit upon us.

The R.C. Church, the General Motors of church institutions, only hears and touches what it wants to hear or touch and that sense is at present an exclusively male sense.

In Jesus there is no male or female.

I read that in a comment on an Internet response to a local woman, one of the three, from Staten Island, NY being ordained today. There is very little in the way of media coverage of this new underground Christian movement. One is reminded of the original primitive underground Christian movement and the martyrs who dared go up against the dinosaur of the Roman Empire, defunct now except in the minds of the boys at the Vatican.

Guess what boys? The other half of the planet and the universe is female.

One follows some of these things on the Internet. The R.C. church does not seem to care who belongs to it anymore. Take no prisoners for Christ was the motto of the late, not so great, founder of the catholic, not christian, church - good ole general Constantine. He never even bothered to convert except on his deathbed and that was I think just a PR type rumor.

When the Roman Catholic church demystifies the golden idols of the office of the Pope and their first big patron Constantine, maybe the business of Jesus will come back into vogue.

There was a Henry VIII type land grab attempt recently at Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish in St.Louis. The R.C. church apparently needs money for its lawyer fees and the euphemistically labeled national “altar boy fund” regarding recently publicized lawsuits.

Closing inner city schools, churches and selling real estate is the primary collateral damage of these long tolerated practices and accompanying litigation.

Apologies are nice but somebody has to pay the bills so why not dump them on the poor.

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=774086

The priest originally from La Crosse, after a long fiscal battle with the bishop's palace over control of parish property, participated in the ordination of women and the church used this as an excuse to try and seize property under its ancient and Constantine granted rights.

The attempted land grab, the tossing out of the clergy onto the streets and the shunning of the parish, seems something like that of a junkie’s need to feed the altar boy fund. Management has its fiscal priorities. This is not Jesus !

This real estate deal was done by none other than the Archbishop of St. Louis who in the middle of the 2004 elections publicly announced that Presidential candidate John Kerry, a war hero, could not receive communion under his jurisdiction.

Kerry had not sought communion there, but the publicity, power hungry, archbishop sized the opportunity to disrupt a democratic process to announce his medieval point of view.

The Archbishop has since been rewarded for his catholic though not christian acts by a promotion to the Vatican high court, the Scalia of God. If they give him his red hat, I predict he will be a future pope.

God save us all!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Loose Change

The Pope is in Australia talking to young people about Moral Relativism and I am encouraged if he is asking these impressionable minds to study Sartre, Hume, Spinoza and Nietzsche and not to accept his Cliff Notes version of the subject matter. There is the old line about how if you can frame the perimeters of the argument then you can probably win the argument.

I doubt that Jesus ever studied Sartre, Hume, Spinoza or Nietzsche or ever had the need to.

This week a famous publication, The New Yorker, had a “satiric” cartoon in the minstrel style of the original mission statement of the magazine founding in the 1920’s. Ultra liberal types seem to be accommodating themselves to the fact that the next President of the United States is not going to pure bred, burb bred, or drug brain dead like themselves. Oh the insecurity of the ruling classes! Oh the cost of psycho-therapy these days!

I make reference to the fact that there was an American flag burning in the oval office fireplace of this “satiric” spoof illustration. Spoof illustration for The New Yorker would have had Christopher Hitchens being water boarded and seeing a vision of Mother Theresa (God rest her great soul!).

I got put in my place by someone and was told that the burning flag thing was a cartoon and therefore not a valid talking point. Whatever.

After almost two decades of non-stop radio hate-mongering and right wing fascist propaganda sputtering out of the burned out, thieving, lying, pension fund looting conservative movement, I think that maybe the boring monolithic Byzantine politically correct brain dead democrat club is about to return with a vengeance, to descend onto this country in the same horrific manner as the recent conservative non-thought movement, and like a plague on logic in the near future.

It is good to be the elite in the USA, to only have to deal with your politically correct neighbors in the local country club and only occasionally wonder who all the other people on the TV screen or outside your gated community or concierge-doorman serviced high-rise are all about. Then the percocet takes effect and all is well with your world.

The global economy and the global mindset is not going away. The idea of you living in peace and harmony in your global village (gated community) and communicating by telegraph with the rest of the world, to and from your mines and mine overseers, from out there somewhere, and people earning a quarter an hour or even better a quarter per day - That model, that monster is about to bite America in the ass. Is biting us in the ass right now.

Was the collapse of Christianity part of that half century old Ivy League model of perfection with the corporate spreadsheet model of the global village?

When our secular world invaded the other parts of the planet with fast food and disco - Was there a back up plan or an exit strategy for the impromptu corporatist non-moral system exported along with the cappuccino?

When we set out on the crusades were they to conquer Islam or to bypass the greedy christian middlemen of Byzantium? What did we get from the crusades? Diapers and Gothic cathedrals? Perhaps the real Holy Grail in Jerusalem was an old Greek mathematics book to make cathedrals possible.

In any case, the global conversion is on. Do the world’s montheistic religions merge (yuck!)? Do they learn the tolerance they all claim to have at the base of their philosophies? Does a little bit of Buddha get thrown into the formula? I don’t know.

This primitive Cultural Christian can see great things in our future as a planet and as the people of God. I know that the Sermon of the Mount will be reiterated in the centuries to come both here and beyond here and travel with the human race to the stars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

True Values of a Human Being

What price do you put on a human being? To be fair, I do not know how this question is approached in other religions? No doubt the value and recognition of a human being has evolved over time.

Christians claim to put a high price on the value and dignity of every human being.

In Jesus’ time, there was slavery as an established and grossly inefficient way of doing work. How efficient? You worked your slaves to death. No pension or retirement plans back then. There was a huge and non ending supply of fresh meat for the meat grinder of the military/mercantile empire of Rome.

Of course with an entity like the Roman Empire, everybody in terms of race and or religion or even personal beliefs was grist for the mill of a giant non-stop 24/7 beast from hell.

Our elites over the centuries have unearthed beautiful statues and rediscovered the magnificence and simplicity of the Roman city plan. Rome has been reinvented a thousand different ways in literature, art, architecture, law, religion since the great rebirth or renaissance in the West.

Our view of Rome in the past is I think much more kind than that ancient civilization deserves to be viewed.

I am big on timelines in looking at history. Of course, Rome continued in the east in Constantine’s Xanadu city of Contantinople until 1453 when the latest enemy at the gates got over the gates and that city became the jewel of somebody else’s empire.

Since the reformation, I see personal freedoms and rights slowly evolving in western Europe to the point where civil institutions have stood for the rights of man and not religions.

Religion in the west has always stood for the afterlife. If you can’t get it here, you’re likely to get there. How convenient.

Jumping forward on the timeline to the present, I hear someone on the television talking about outsourcing and how an accountant earning $50k per year can be replaced by ten accountants in New Delhi who earn $5k per year. Efficient yes. Fair?

I am looking at the financial institutions in the west, in the USA in particular today, and am wondering why the value of human beings was not in any recent financial equations. I wonder why somebody at Freddie Mac or is it Fannie Mae got $14 million in salary one year. Freddy and of course Fannie have to do with packaging of home mortgages into securities that are traded globally. I have to wonder what these high earners did to deserve such large salaries. I have to wonder if anybody saw any spikes in their spreadsheets as the cost of a home in America doubled and tripled and quadrupled over a handful of years.

Wall Street, these days, seems merely to be a casino shooting craps and charging fees, fees, fees, on the few lucky ones that have pension funds left to be looted by the privileged financial classes.

If one recognizes human beings as people, if one knows the price of the loaf of bread in America or the rest of the world - One has to wonder where the common sense was when paperwork coming into these institutions stated that the people applying for these questionable mortgages could afford them.

It would appear that the disintegrating quality of securities sold overseas shows evidence of the original paperwork being forged or falsified. I used to work in the mortage business when everything was above board. I know the difference between a bona fide mortgage package and a scank loan package put together by commissioned salespeople motivated not by morality but by bonuses.

The big MBA types, motivated by bonuses, managing the wealth and legacy of the United States saw no problems in the whole burgeoning mess until the present collapse of confidence in our government and financial institutions at present.

Somewhere in this whole bloody local and global mess, besides the lack of morality, is the lack of people, common people, the value of people other than as a commodity, in the financial equations invented at Harvard, Brown, and Wharton in the 1960’s when the concept of a global village and a global economy became the undisputed goal of all future business and diplomatic efforts of the United States.

We may be on the verge of greatness and a great global empire. But at what cost? What is the price of a soul? My soul? Your soul? What is the price of our collective souls as well?

What are the true values of a human being in terms of the sacred and or the secular? Locally? Globally?

It may be a secular world but where in the education system of so many college graduates, who have run this nation into the ground, where is the value of a human being or the dignity and respect for his or her soul? Whose bottom line is more important – God’s or Caesar’s ?

Where is Jesus? He is in the streets with the people. They are the very valuable People of God.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Garden Party for Christ

I feel certain when the vested academics and theologians get together over tea in a regional convention, they use four and five syllable words to describe the latest titter tatter in the news.

The latest recycled tourist thing unearthed in Jordan is a stone tablet with ink on it, faded ink, which presumably science cannot read every word missing in a 2100 year old historic relic. Of course, there is a story that there was a different variation of the Messiah theme before Jesus and yes, now, Christianity should just shrivel up and die. The other shoe has fallen so to speak (again).

Which brings me back to the polyglot language of the academics and vested types whose careers, pensions and present standing in the titter tatter club of floating conventions. Excluding the general population is a general theme in Christianity since Constantine.

A major portion of the general christian population of the roman empire were women. In fact the primitive christian church was an institution nurtured by women and the hearth as the apostles and disciples and converts began to travel all those well built avenues of communication also known as roman roads.

I have seen the title “primitive” and Christian put together on the name of churches. Many of these protestant sects are aiming for simplicity, something that the reformation started but never quite finished as the schism institutionalized itself into yet another bureaucratic entity.

So beside the title of cultural or secular Christian, I drive past the label of primitive and settle on another layer of description, and arrive at pre-title-ist Christian.

The way I see it, Jesus and the Apostles started the church, the people of God, along those information superhighways, roman roads, before Constantine and his personal glory agenda hijacked the whole show or in reality part of the show.

The title-ist church, the Constantine catholic church, latin and greek divisions, happened when the General handled over the title of deed to basilicas to the males of the then primitive, pre-title-ist church. Women were completely wiped out of the equation or more accurately the equation got rewritten by the golden rule. The golden rule? “He who has the gold (and or army)makes the rules”.

And if you have any understanding of real estate or legal terms, you understand that celibacy has to due with clear title on a property and nothing to due with chastity etc.

If you understand the flow of society through the standard cookie cutter roman city, the basilica is the quasi all purpose building, open on many sides, where the general business of the city was conducted.

On one day, the magistrate sits and hears petitions and conducts trials. On another day, the produce market comes indoors out of the rain or the snow. On Sunday, the church service is conducted. On most other days, the building is an army recruitment and induction center.

Sounds cynical of me. There are however a few grains of truth in what I say. To say that Christianity has been totally sidetracked for 1700 years is a bit bizarre even for this mad hatter.

I look at the Lambeth Garden Party, see quite another perception, and consider how lawyers and chartered accountants and priests are all gathered in titter tatter as to who, male or honorary male, hold the deeds of title to some real estate plums around the globe.

Are we about to witness a bona fide restoration of the rights and dignity of women after 1700 years of shamful neglect in the Christian church?

Is this groundbreaking or is it just another tired Vatican II PR type ploy?

The Pope is praying for an all boys team to lead the Anglican church.

Is all this Jesus? I don't really know.

Then again, I am primitive or is it pre-title-ist. And I do not like or know too many words with more than two or three syllables. Please forgive my humble ignorance of these multi-syllable church matters.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

General Faith

I find great energy in the Acts of the Apostles. This account written to “Theophilus” (a lover of God) is the root of my reassuring my faith in the beliefs of Jesus and his message.

It is difficult sometimes to have faith in what others say they have seen or witnessed. It is difficult to believe when so many before have accepted faith blindly and not questioned it. There are many twists and turns in the road of life. So too, a road to faith, has it ups and downs as well as twists and unexpected turns.

For a renewal of faith, for a renewal of energy, in the belief that Jesus is the unique messenger sent by God to bind all nations and all times in some common belief system, I turn always to Acts. If you struggle that hard for something as in those pages, maybe there is something worth struggling for.

What first century Christians believed in is perhaps much different than what third or fourth century Christians believed in. Much different than what I in my heart might believe in. My beliefs are not that important. They are many times shifting with the trends and winds of man. I look to Paul and his cronies and I see a very human church with many everyday problems in an everyday world - foundation stones of a new and future global faith.

Paul and Peter and the other apostles could get that old chi-ro mojo going via the Holy Spirit and work a few real miracles amidst both believers and non-believers alike. It has always been a group effort thing. Grace flows more freely when all present are asking for the same thing or acting in concert with one another and in the name of the Almighty.

The biggest problem, in those early years, was probably crossing the “t”s and dotting the “i”s. This in terms of remembering what the Master said and what he meant and throwing in a little basic Psalms and Isaiah to plot the story and the vision and be able to live with the current mission statement of the new cult.

It was viewed as a cult. Paul and his avenging horsemen going up to Damascus was about wiping out a nest of these new believers and heretics of the old faith.

I mentioned this energy thing and Acts to a friend in his house some ten odd years ago. He was also a recycled R.C. who had found a place in the comfort of the local congregation. He mentioned how christianity keeps splitting up into cults and sects. I had to think about that a bit. Of course when does a splinter group become a cult and how many does it takes to become a sect etc.?

Out of those thoughts came the thought that faith in another’s faith is perhaps extraordinary faith. I look at Paul to try and see the global gentile view of any matter at hand.

What we see today as a break down of old time culture is perhaps the way that people in the emerging global culture embrace materialism without question. There is no old fashioned sense of a balance of things. You probably should give up something when you embrace something else. If you do not do this then perhaps you have no concept of the value of things real or spiritual. Few, I think have dedicated time or energy to these concepts.

The electronic comfort bubble of cell phones, virtual reality and 24/7 sensory overload or addiction make many blind to the outside the door decline in the quality of life. The selfish lifestyle within that doorway can be had at the push of a button and the use of plastic. A person’s home, once his castle, can be a prison as well without one necessarily being aware of it

The breakdown in religious observance and or religion and God as the center of the culture is something I see in flux as a new global pagan god of materialism emerges. This new selfish thing makes people not wanting to seek the comfort of the concept of God or even to explore spirituality within. This new selfish thing ignores the soul of self and does not recognize the existence of or dignity of the soul within one’s neighbor.

When you can reduce people to numbers, they can be dismissed as statistics and factored out of any equation, political and or economic. Hitler, Stalin and Mao amassed many statistics to their credit in their evil little inhuman lives. And then there is Wall Street...

Which brings me to an observation. What we in the west as Christians have been told -what christianity is about - for 1700 years – is what the civil authority says it is - since General Constantine started his own designer religion to facilitate his ambitions of blood and conquest.

I think that the needs of Constantine the Great are a bit different than what our spiritual needs are today. Some church councils endorsed some obsolete and archaic concepts in the past as pillars of faith. Perhaps some new honest and human councils can start plotting 21st century spiritual priorities for a new global faith of all nations.

The words of the peasant and prophet and a true son of God in the form of Jesus are greatly ignored or misunderstood these modern days. Why is that my dear brothers and sisters?

There is a basic historic model. That the spiritual needs of the population should be addressed after General Moses or General Constantine or General Mohammed have set up the civil state. I believe that the sacred and the secular should be separate as much as possible in society.

The civil discourse and the commerce of nations is important but “what does it profit a man or woman if he or she gain the whole world and suffer the loss of their immortal soul?”.