Monday, April 30, 2018

There Will Be Teeth in the Grass

"And when you give me your clothes
And when we're lovers at last
Fresh air, perfume in your nose
There will be teeth in the grass

And when you give me your house
When we're all brothers at last
There will be food in our mouths
There will be teeth in the grass

And when there's nothing to want
When we're all brilliant and fast
When all tomorrows are gone
There will be teeth in the grass..."

~Sam Beam


"Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
    Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
    as if a man fled from a lion,
    and a bear met him,

or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
    and a serpent bit him.

Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
    and gloom with no brightness in it?

I hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
    I will not look upon them.

Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to the melody of your harps I will not listen.

But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

~The Prophet Amos

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Not Impossible

She placed the stars in the sky each night 
as the sun set low and red
"I used to think it was impossible
but now I know better," she said.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Word of God (Can Not Be Contained)

The Word of God is not contained!

Reasonably speaking (if one accepts the notion of a God), the Word of God is that which God says, that which God thinks, that which God wants.

Many conflate “the Bible” with God's Word, because we've used that term as a title for the Bible over the years. But the Bible doesn't call “the Bible” God's Word, nor has God. That's just our tradition.

Which is fine as long as we don't forget that the tradition does not need to be taken literally.

What IS God's Word then? Seems to me that IF one believes in a Good and Gracious God, a God who is defined as Love, then God's Word is ALL that is good and true and pure and loving. As we find in the Bible where the author of Philippians writes...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable -
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -
think about such things.

~The Apostle Paul (probably – Philippians 4)

IF one accepts a Good, Loving God, then ALL that is good and loving (just, pure, kind, compassionate, helpful, brave, unwavering, etc) is of God. That which is hateful and cruel is NOT of God.

And IF all that is good and loving is of God, then it stands to reason that all those words that promote that which is Good and Loving are at least passing on themes of God's Word, God's Will... if not God's Word outright.

In the CS Lewis book in the Narnia series, The Last Battle, the Calormenes are a (crudely drawn) Muslim-like people who worship Tash. This is a clearly false and evil god in the book. One of the Calormene citizens, Emeth, has been a devout follower of Tash all his days. Near the end, he meets Aslan. This is the story of that meeting...

There came to meet me a great Lion... then I fell at his feet and thought, “Surely this is the hour of death, for the lion will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him...”

But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, “Son thou art welcome.”

But I said, “Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine, but the servant of Tash.”

He answered, “Child, all the service thou has done to Tash I account as service done to me...
no service which is vile can be done to me and
none which is not vile can be done to him.

Emeth replied, “Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.”

“Beloved,” said the glorious One, “unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly, for all find what they truly seek.”

~CS Lewis

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

Scripture points to Jesus, not the other way around...
the point of Scripture is not to lead us back to Scripture.
The point of Scripture is to lead us to Jesus Christ.

~Rachel Held Evans

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

Take someone who doesn’t keep score,
who’s not looking to be richer,
or afraid of losing,
who has not the slightest interest even in his own personality:
he’s free...

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself...

Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground.
Be crumbled, so wild flowers will come up where you are...


The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

You do not have to sit outside in the dark.
If, however, you want to look at the stars,
you will find that darkness is necessary.
But the stars neither require nor demand it...

The way we live our days,
is the way we live our lives...
~Annie Dillard

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

I feel safe in the midst of my enemies,
for the truth is all powerful and will prevail...

Life is a hard battle anyway.
If we laugh and sing a little as we fight the good fight of freedom,
it makes it all go easier.
I will not allow my life's light to be determined by the darkness around me...

Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff.

~Sojourner Truth

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

...As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection..

Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you...

Whether we and our politicians know it or not,
Nature is party to all our deals and decisions,
and she has more votes,
a longer memory,
and a sterner sense of justice than we do...

Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand;
it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy...

~Wendell Berry

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

~Jesus (John 3)

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me
will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.

~Jesus (John 14)

Jesus did many other things as well.
If every one of them were written down,
I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

~John 21

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

And the Word of God is not – CAN not be contained.

Thanks be to God.

Friday, April 6, 2018

You Know Who Hated Immigrants? The "Sodomites."

I've been doing a little reading in the Bible about Immigrants/Foreigners/Strangers. As hopefully we all know by now, the term is used frequently in the Bible, almost always in defense of those sojourning in a nation not their own. We see “alien” often listed with widows and orphans as people who we should be especially welcoming to and supporting of. And why was this? Because then, as now, the widowed (often, the poor woman with limited resources), the orphaned (those with no familial support) and the foreigner were all people with limited support and prone to being maligned and abused and taken advantage of, especially in a culture where support was almost exclusively linked to family.

I'll probably be posting more eventually, but wanted to share one new insight I had today...

Interestingly, I found that the very first appearance of the word, alien is the Lot story (Genesis 19), where the “all the men” of Sodom (recall that town?) were angry at Lot for welcoming in strangers (very strange, they were considered angels in the story, so VERY foreign...) and for being “judge-y...” You see, they wanted to gang rape the visitors and Lot dared to refuse to remove his protection from the visitors.

The word, “alien,” is used in this story by the men of Sodom as a sneering epithet towards Lot (“...this OUTSIDER comes and acts all self-righteous!...”) as the outsider being all moral and defending the angel/visitors (also, very much “aliens” or sojourners).

This use of “alien” as an epithet, is very much the same way that our current administration and the anti-”illegals” crowd uses “immigrants” and “Mexicans” and other “outsider” words as an epithet, to suggest that being an immigrant is akin to being a monster, a rapist, a threat.

So, in this first use of the word “alien” in the Bible, we see its embrace as an epithet by some of the people who are now-famous for being evil. And, as we see later in the Bible (Ezekiel), the Sodomites were NOT known for being evil for “being gay” (contrary to popular wisdom,) but for refusing hospitality to strangers/immigrants/foreigners.

Of course, good, reasonable, moral people should - in contrast to these evil ones - embrace the outsider and the immigrant – especially those merely seeking safety and refuge – because, as God often reminds the people of Israel, “YOU, too, were once aliens, and mistreated... don't do that!”

Monday, April 2, 2018

Some of Jesus' Teachings, This Easter Week

Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, explained what his mission was...

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because God has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
God has sent me
to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and
recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free..."

And when John the Baptist asked Jesus if he was "the One," Jesus said...

"Go and tell John what you hear and see:
The blind receive their sight
and the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear,
and the dead are raised up,
and the poor have
good news preached to them."

And when he was teaching a lesson to a wealthy man who'd invited him to dinner, Jesus said...

"When you give a dinner or a banquet,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or rich neighbors,
lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.
when you give a feast,
invite the poor, the sick, the lame, the blind,
and you will be blessed..."

When the rich young ruler asked what he needed to do in order to be saved, Jesus said...

"If you want to be perfect, go,
sell your possessions
and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.

Then come, follow Me."

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle 
 than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus gave his most complete recorded sermon, the sermon on the mount/plain, Jesus taught...

“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets."

and Jesus continued teaching...

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. 
If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
Give to everyone who asks you, and 
if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 

Do to others as you would have them do to you."

And when Jesus taught his parable about who is in the Realm of God, Jesus said...

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; 
take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, 
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me, 
I was sick and you looked after me, 
I was in prison and you came to visit me."

And then Jesus' parable addresses those who aren't in the God's Realm and their terrible fate...

"Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, 
I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, 
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

Jesus' teachings, this week of Easter, where our current president just told us, in not so many words.

"Happy Easter, everyone... and by the way, we're NOT going to allow those DACA Dreamers to be welcomed after all! Nasty Mexicans and liberals are making me do this!"

What a way to remember the teachings and life of the one we celebrate on Easter.

And upon entering Jerusalem, following the praise and adoration of Palm Sunday, Jesus saw the vendors in the temple taking advantage of the poor in the temple (selling "approved" doves - the offering the poor gave - at a great profit, Jesus was outraged.

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? 
But you have made it a robbersden.”

...Because of his anger at those who were taking advantage of the poor (and others).

After this event, the Bible tells us...

"The chief priests and the scribes heard this, 
and began seeking 
how to destroy Him..." 

And then, Easter.

Happy Easter, all. May we remember the teachings of the Easter God.