Reflection: what to say about this frigid winter and the coming thaw?

Reflection: what to say about this frigid winter and the coming thaw?

One word comes to my mind this morning as I look out my windows and scan the news for information.

Monumental!

Here in Nashville, we had several more inches of snow overnight covering the ice and sleet of the last few days since this all began on Monday of this week. Appears to be 4 to 6 inches total here locally. While the ice and snow has closed down most businesses, schools, and vaccination centers, and driving off the main roads is impossible, our power grid has held up and we have had no interruption of electricity. We have not been off our hill for the past three days, and I am hoping we will be able to drive down again in the next 2 to 3 days. For now we are good on food and supplies and grateful.

I am reading and hearing news reports that 70% of the United States is being affected by the frigid winter temperatures, the ice, and the snow with Texas being the hardest hit state in that its’ power grid is not producing enough power and many in that state have no power or intermittent power leading to water pipes bursting, food emergencies, carbon monoxide deaths, and other crises. The weather situation here in the U.S. is unusual for this time of year in that it is so widespread, severe, and long lasting. Historical records are being set. We pray for all in harm’s way and that warming weather will break the frigid cold soon.

With my birthday coming up this Saturday when I turn 73, I am remembering the February birthdays of my youth when it was almost always cold and snowy or cold and muddy. I remember being a bit envious of friends who had their birthdays outdoors in warmer weather. Oh, I would go outdoors and play in any weather, but the party itself had to be inside. Birthdays in our family were always warm and loving and celebrated with cousins and neighborhood friends. Wonderful memories!

And now, here in the icy grip of late winter, in the solitary shadows of our Lenten heart, we quietly contemplate the self within and the coming of spring with its’ warmth and light bringing rebirth in its’ lifting up of new life. Spring follows Winter as Lent is on the road to Easter and Pentecost. Life’s patterns, tensions, and flow are the threads in the tapestry which interconnect all creation and being as one together. Abide in it. We cry, we grieve, we lament, we rejoice, we hope, we offer thanks!

The old traditions help me navigate the uncertain future.

Beloveds, whatever your circumstances, we pray for you all and send our love and blessings for peace and well being.

Note: Photos are from the last several days since the winter storm set in as we look out the windows and venture into the little woods out back. Beautiful and dangerous at the same time.

Reflection: My amazing wife Cathey and her visit to see me in Rome in 1971

Reflection: My amazing wife Cathey and her visit to see me in Rome in 1971

I met Cathey when I was at home in Nashville on leave from the Army in December 1970 on a blind date arranged by mutual friends. We spent two weeks getting to know one another, and when I returned to my post in Italy, we stayed in touch through letters and phone calls. As I was assigned to a worldwide digital and telecommunications center, I was able to call Cathey through military switchboards in the U.S. who would patch us through.

After meeting, it was soon decided that Cathey would come to Italy to visit me that summer in 1971. She was a single woman living on her own and working when we met. So in order to buy airline tickets to Italy, she worked a second job and saved the necessary funds for the trip.

When she arrived, I met her at the airport in Rome, and we stayed in a small pensione in Rome for a week visiting all the sights including the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Vatican and more. Then we jumped in my Triumph TR4 and headed north up the Mediterranean Sea to Tirrenia on the Ligurian Sea near my Army base. From there we explored the surrounding areas of Pisa, Firenze, and Viareggio. Here we ate fresh seafood in the outdoor cafes near the beaches on warm evenings, drank cappuccinos at the cafe across from the Leaning Tower, which we climbed, and saw the great museums and art in Firenzi. One evening a bunch of us went to the Trocadero Nightclub in Viareggio for a night of listening to King Crimson’s music accompanied by a psychedelic light show. A wild time!

Cathey stayed for several weeks before she had to return home and her work. We drove back to the airport in Rome, and I held her long and we kissed, and then she was gone. When I returned home following my Army discharge later that year in September, we reunited and we married two months later in November 1971. This year, 2021, we will celebrate our 50 year anniversary! Cathey is an amazing woman and wife who captivated me from the day we met and forever more.

Reflection: The role of the contemporary white institutional church in the rise of alt-right politics in our nation

Reflection: The role of the contemporary white institutional church in the rise of alt-right politics in our nation

The alt-right political movement, emboldened by ex-president X over the past six years, found a safe haven, and in many cases support, in the contemporary white churches of the U.S. With their cheap grace, free of repentance and confession, and their ‘country club’ mentality of catering to members for a membership fee, .i.e, tithing, these churches and their members invoke the name of Jesus in heretical blasphemy.

It is, of course, ironic that the contemporary church offers sanctuary and support to the modern empire and its oppressive regimes. As far back as the medieval church, the doors of churches were painted red to signify they were places of refuge and sanctuary for those needing to escape oppression, particularly the oppression of the Empires, who were all powerful and whose citizens had no rights. And today, it is just the opposite, with the church providing sanctuary to the oppressor Empire.

And so, tragically, we find the contemporary white institutional church simply to compromised and complicit with the dominant culture of power, control, and violence to do anything about this subversion of its’ true mission which is to act according to the Gospels and its’ kerygmatic vision of God’s kingdom, i.e., the alternative community of true belonging of all through radical grace and radical love as proclaimed by Jesus, the Christ.

This interjection of the dominant culture into the churches true mission is called ‘Christendom,’ and more contemporarily ‘Christofascism,’ and has been around in the history of the church since the Edict of Milan signed with Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire in 313 which established the Emperor’s protection for the then persecuted Christians. ‘Christofascism’ is reflected in the Nazi’s political efforts to subvert and control the Christian church in Germany in its’ efforts of ethnic cleansing, mass genocide, and world domination.

And so what does the future hold for these failing churches? The theologian and author, John Douglas Hall, asks in his 2010 article in The Christian Century, ‘ “What then is the mission of a church that can no longer count on its favored status in Western civilization to ensure its meaning and its continued existence?” Hall’s answer is that the church must recognize its failure to act according to the Gospel and begin to witness and serve outside or on the edge of the dominant culture. For the church to survive and be faithful to its message, it must change, or ultimately die, according to Hall.’ (note: the Hall quote is from an article in ‘Sightings’ by Charles Maynard, a professor at the University of Washington).

The role of the white Christian church in the rise of the alt-right political movement can not be over-emphasized, and its’ untenable consequences for our democratic nation and all its citizens must be recognized. Those white churches so complicit and supportive must be resisted at every turn by people of good conscience, and its influence eliminated by those of the true faith knowing truth will overcome the lies of the alt-right.

Book suggestions for further reading regarding Christianity’s complicity with the dominant culture and its’ failing churches: 1) ‘The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance’ by Dorothee Soelle, and 2) “What Christianity is Not” by John Douglas Hall.

Reflection: The foundation of my Spiritual being

Reflection: The foundation of my Spiritual being

The two quotes below are foundational to my understanding of God and Christ consciousness, by whatever names, and to the spiritual practice of my daily life. While the quotes are from the Judeo-Christian tradition perspective, my study of other traditions supports that these perspectives are represented in them as well thus they are universal in their applicability.

The first quote is from Marcus Borg, a New Testament theologian and author. And the second quote is from Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament theologian and author. Both are highly respected scholars and teachers in their fields and have written prodigiously.

Both quotes below address the non-partisan aspect of the political nature of Jesus’ Way and ancient Israel’s resistance to the dominant imperial Empires. They are political because they affect the way in which we live together in community. Their practice in our personal and collective lives includes resistance to the imperial accounts of reality grounded in power, control, and violence and the advocacy of alternative realities grounded in radical grace and radical love of authentic communities of belonging.

“The way of Jesus was both personal and political. It was about personal transformation. And it was political, a path of [nonviolent] resistance to the domination system and advocacy of an alternative vision of life together under God.”

—Marcus Borg

“….the tradition of emancipatory covenant making….affirms human agents who have the capacity and responsibility to act transformatively for the well-being of the human community and the ecology of creation. All of that pertains to the ancient context wherein the subversive narrative of Israel lived in ongoing tension with imperial accounts of reality, and amid that tension resisted imperial accounts while proposing alternatives.”

-Walter Brueggemann- “God, Neighbor, Empire”

And so we see that our struggles today against the imperialistic Empire’s accounts of reality (i.e., our resistance to insurrectionists attacking our democracy) in their dominant power, control, and violence are age old in their tensions between violent domination vis-a-vis liberation and freedom to live together in alternative communities of the Truth of Self and the authenticity of belonging. Until all are free none are free. The suffering of the other is also my suffering. So we resist and dream our dreams and see our visions of a better way together for which we must never stop working.

Tat tvam asi. That I am.

Shanti, shalom, peace dear Beloveds.

Reflection: Our nation is setting a dangerous precedent with untenable consequences for all its’ citizens

Reflection: Our nation is setting a dangerous precedent with untenable consequences for all its’ citizens

As citizens, we need more protections against Presidents, and other elected officials, who prove to be mentally unstable, including sociopathic narcissist with fascist tendencies, who brainwash and radicalize others through constant hateful lies and disinformation, and who incite others to violence against our government through seditious speech and acts of insurrection.

While the outgoing president may eventually face legal culpability for his crimes while in office, we have had to endure four years of his undermining and attacking our democratic principles as a nation resulting in serious damage to our psyches, our souls, and our social order, and the loss of life through incompetence, neglect, and violence.

One problem we have seen is that the majority of politicians can not be depended upon to police and adjudicate other politicians because they are chiefly guided by their own political self interest, including electability, over the principles of ethics and laws. These politicians are true Machiavellians in their ideology which is called ‘godless. scheming, and self -interested’ in Machiavelli’s book, “The Prince,” which is one of the first works concerning politics and ethics ever written. Apparently things have not changed much as to the behavior of politicians since that book was written in 1513.

Our Constitutional and democratic processes have been put to a severe test which has revealed untenable outcomes in the four year term of a person elected, with outside, foreign influence, to the office of president and who was never fit, and is incompetent, to fulfill that high office with all the powers and influence it commands.

This whole debacle in its’ smoldering aftermath must be reviewed with the objective of not repeating the errors and oversights that led to the election of the outgoing unfit president, and other elected officials, and of identifying triggers and safeguards, and consequences against sitting presidents, and other elected officials, that call for more ready accountability for those who are unfit and who incite anti-democracy radicalization, sedition, and violence.

We are witnessing a trainwreck in the history of our democracy which threatens its survival, and those of us who believe in the non-violent transforming of our democracy to include all persons in a more perfect union, must resist and turn back these dangerous precedents and untenable consequences before it is too late.

Let the hard work begin!

Reflection: Writing about the Insurrection and other national traumas of the past four years and writing to know what I believe

Reflection: Writing about the Insurrection and other national traumas of the past four years and writing to know what I believe

The tagline, “I write to know what I believe”, comes from my poetry blog where I post all my original writing. This has never been so true as for me now.

As I grapple with the recent onslaught of the insurrection and the other trauma of the past four years, I can not help but grieve for the great mortification and ignominy that has been visited upon our nation and its peoples. And thus I write about it. I have written several things recently and posted them, and they have received little response which I attribute to the suffering, shock, and discomfort each of us are dealing with at this time.

In my life I have learned that the worldly and personal suffering visited upon us must be sat with, grieved, and we must cry out and process it before the revisioning and healing can begin. And so I write which is my way to engage all of this and eventually, hopefully, work through it for myself. Sharing our stories, I believe, is the greatest gift one can give and receive, and it is always my hope someone may find my writings helpful in their own journey of authentic becoming and belonging.

Beloveds, I see you and hear you and encourage each of us to collectively share the pain now so we may come together in healing and reconciliation at the appropriate time. First we have much work to do, including accountability, confession, repentance and revisioning before we can heal and reconcile. As for me, I shall continue writing it out towards that end. Much to do! Let us bear one another up and love one another!!

Reflection: The White Nationalist Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the Scourge of Privileged Exceptionalism

Reflection: The White Nationalist Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the Scourge of Privileged Exceptionalism

There are two very significant social/cultural mechanisms at play in the white terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol which can help us all understand better what happened, why it happened, and what is to come of it.

One is that the insurrection demonstrates the threat of the raw power and control of a populist narcissistic fascist figure in their ability to brainwash and command control of others who share their toxic values which are always self serving and always end in violence.

Populism is always framed as an ‘us vs. them’ conflict and contains two primary claims: 1) a country’s ‘true people’ are locked in conflict with outsiders, including establishment elites, and 2) nothing should constrain the will of the ‘true people.’ (reference: https://institute.global/policy/populists-power-around-world)

Populism is always a threat to democracy and there are always people susceptible to its’ appeal ‘to fight the elites as one of the true people.’ This brings to mind Benjamin Franklin’s answer, which is so relevant now, when he was asked if we have a monarchy or a republic, and he responded, “a republic if you can keep it.”

Second, the insurrection, and the weak, disorganized response to it demonstrates the ugly truth of white supremacy in the United States, and its’ continuing toxic legacy of hate, social injustice, and violence directed to black Americans.

Robert Jones Jr., author of ‘The Prophets’ and creator of the social justice media site ‘Son of Baldwin,’ puts it this way: “White supremacy ensures that white folks violence is always framed around “rights” and black folks violence is always framed around “crime.” This is so evidently true as witnessed in the law enforcement response to Black Lives Matter nonviolent protest earlier this year and its response to the white supremacist movement involved in the insurrection at the United States Capitol. BLM non-violent protesters, viewed as criminals, are meet with overwhelming law enforcement force, violence, and arrest while law enforcement’s encounters with white supremacist are much more careful to not infringe upon their ‘rights as citizens.’

Bottom line, populism and white supremacy are two of democracies biggest threats. Those that wrongly adhere to these movements will always exist calling for perpetual vigilance by those who wish to keep our republic guided by authentic democratic principles guaranteeing the liberty and rights of all people. We must forever repudiate the sickness of privileged exceptionalism, and as guardians of democracy must ever resist, at every turn, the forces that perpetuate these evils upon others using non-violent means to disrupt their organization and influence through , as John Lewis would say, ‘engaging in good trouble’ for the common good of all who love democracy and wish to see it reach its’ most full potential.
Doing our part as social/cultural change agents and activist for social justice, let us each awaken from our somnambulance and prepare the way for the common good of all peoples loving democracy!

Reflections: Recuperating and Redeeming the Soul of Our Nation

Reflections: Recuperating and Redeeming the Soul of Our Nation

Sitting here this morning reading the latest news updates and reflecting on yesterday’s attack on our U.S. Capital and our democracy, I feel bereft and forlorn. God knows it has been a very hard year, and more, for all of us and much more for so many others.

Here in my community over the past year we have faced a deadly, destructive tornado to start 2020, the ever worsening pandemic, social injustice and civil unrest, the recent anarchist bombing of our city, and yesterday this attack on our U.S. Capital and our democracy.

And yes, I, like many of you, feel I have left some skin in the fray. Resisting from the very beginning the outgoing presidential administration and its sycophants and the nationalism, fascist, racist, and social injustice it has spawned in our nation at every turn. Those responsible must be held accountable.

Certainly we face more challenges ahead as we work to heal our nation’s wounds and divisions from the flame thrower, hateful, narcissistic fascist bully some would call ‘president.’

With the incoming Democratic presidential administration and its’ control of the U.S. Congress, we long for calmer heads, steadier hands, justice, healing, and reconciliation where deserved. Certainly, those responsible for these crimes and attacks against our nation must be held accountable and face the consequences of their actions. But let us now return to the hard work of becoming a more perfect union for all our citizens with liberty and justice for all. The challenges are many which face us.

Just now, I feel like I need to remove these bloody, shredded clothes hanging from my wounded body, take a deep cleansing soak, get some rest, and recuperate, so I along with you, may return in our efforts together to save the soul of ourselves and our nation.

Beloveds, I always feel better having written it down. And now let us walk each other Home again as True Selves in Authentic Community of Belonging. Thank each of you for being there!

photo ‘A New Morning Dawns Outside My Door’

Reflection: the (w)holly name of the Beloved

Reflection: the (w)holly name of the Beloved

Christmastide 2020

When we personally face the Universal Cosmic Christ

at the nativity and at the foot of the cross, we are faced with two authentic choices: surrender or resist.

Are we seeing the embodiment of Supreme Love or a threat to our worldly way of life?

To whom or what are we loyal?

To whom or what do we surrender?

The powerful and the rich are filled with fear and trembling at the nativity and the cross, and the least of us sing Hallelujah!

There is no serving two masters, a life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. Our life is shaped by the end for which we live.

Note: The Universal Cosmic Christ, by whatever name and tradition, is the embodiment of radical grace and radical love among us and to which we are born, long for, suffer, are resurrected, and live everlasting. Although I use Christian symbolism here, many religious, spiritual, and native traditions embody these truths. And in the mystical traditions, this relationship between the lover and their Beloved is often portrayed as the passionate love between two lovers. The attached music video ‘Surrender’ by Natalie Taylor is a lovely example of this mystical lover/Beloved passion and surrender.
My reflection above reflects the teachings and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Merton, and Richard Rohr who have heavily influenced my spiritual journey as mentor’s.
Love, Grace, Surrender,
Love, Grace, Surrender,

Love, Grace, Surrender….

click on music video link below