poem: limping to the narrow gate of Eternal Life

poem: limping to the narrow gate
of Eternal Life

this morning, awakening
under a blanket of ice,
more sub-freezing and ice
coming, and then the big snow

covid continues nipping our heels
in a world of political turmoil
and nations divided with
endemic injustice holding steady

in this deep freeze season,
society fragile under cultural dominance
in an era far from the divine consciousness
besieged from all sides

limping into forty days of Lent,
smack in the face of our hubris, conceit,
and sentimentality, reflecting and praying
the plank be removed from our eyes

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
February 15, 2021

photos by Herb Stone
‘Pure Ice with Snow to Come’

 

 

 

poem: one can not serve two masters

poem: one can not serve two masters

to what dominant influence
are you captive
to what master has your life
become like chattel

is your master
fear, greed, envy,
pride, desire, wrath,
power, control, domination

or is your master
grace, love, Self truth,
wholeness, mutuality, healing,
belonging, Cosmic consciousness

who are we,
what is our purpose,
what is our life’s meaning,
what is it we intend to create here

mind your surroundings,
what are you receiving
with open hands and
on what do you stand

truth, beauty, and goodness
or falsity, repulsiveness, and depravity,
what is it you intend to create
on this Earth with this one, wild life

that which is not transformative
for the personal and collective good
is transmitted as suffering from
person to person and generation to generation

choose to be the change
the world needs and
apply yourself through
disciplined practice benefiting all beings

dedicate yourself to
creative expression which
sets all free, liberates, and
connects all in kinship and belonging

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
February 4, 2021

Art images:

1) Harry Sternberg, ‘Fascism’

2) Kate Deciccio, ‘Amanda Gorman, American Poet’

(reader’s note: gratitude to those who have
influenced me and whose influence is
flowing through this poem: Jesus, the Christ,
from his sermon on the mound found in the Gospel
of Mark, Gary Zukav, Mary Oliver, Richard Rohr,
Maya Angelo, and Mark Nepo)

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.

poem: savasana

poem: savasana

gonna take a little
rest today
from the resistance

living in times
of injustice, pandemic, and insurrection
is taxing

keeping up the good trouble
is demanding
body, mind, and spirit

in this age
adrift so far from God
can be dispiriting

gonna rest up
binding up wounds
find my repose

the activist
the bodhisattva
the wounded healer

shall return
re-energized
warriors of the heart
Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 17, 2021

art image ‘Savasana Chakra
Garden’ by Kimberly Russick

(reader’s note: Savasana is the ‘corpse
pose’ in yoga which is traditionally
used as the last pose of a class and is
a state of deep relaxation also used to
relieve stress and trauma. Combined with
yoga nidra meditation we enter a state of
consciousness between waking and sleeping
in which we are deeply relaxed while
fully conscious. Namaste!)

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!!