This is The Abundancetrek Blog from January 1 to April 18, 2008.
| BEAUTY | LOVE | TRUTH |
| PEACE | JUSTICE | FREEDOM |
--in memory of Andy (1977-1994)
... are the nine attributes of heaven which we experience and enjoy as we embrace our fantastic journey, the ...
THE CENTER FOR PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY is promoting what I call THE NEW CHURCH FOR THE NEW AGE with great energy and wisdom. Please visit this website often & contemplate the 8 points & read the articles & buy the books & go to the events & join the forum.
+ A SUGGESTION FOR SURFING THROUGH THIS BLOG: Use your TAB key to go from link to link to link. Soon you will move beyond the buttons on the left to the main body of the BLOG. You can use SHIFT and TAB together to go back up the page. When you want to check out a link, press your ENTER or RETURN key (or click on the link with your mouse) and you will go to the selected web page. You can get back here by pressing down your ALT and LEFT ARROW keys together or you can use your browser's BACK button with your mouse. You may have to do this more than once depending on how much exploring you do.
You can really have some fun by keeping your TAB key pressed down for a second or 2 or more. When you release it, press your RETURN or ENTER key and see where you go!! But please do come back sooner or later.
SOME GREAT SPIRITUAL WEBSITES:
+ This blog is moving. I have now begun to use the very user-friendly BLOGGER format. Soon, I will be posting exclusively at abundancetrekblog.blogspot.com. Please go there now and please bookmark it and subscribe for a feed. I will continue to maintain my comprehensive website here at Yahoo! Geocities.
+ We may hit 80 degrees F. We have had 4 beautiful days. It was chilly, however, on Monday & Tuesday.
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on Karma. Excerpt: "Karma covers our positive actions, as well as the negative. Selfless acts of kindness dispose our environment to deliver the same back to us. Current efforts can create a better future with more possibilities, for example by acquiring an education. The key determiner of karma is our motivation and our intention, because they emanate from and embody our will. That will sets in motion the hidden patterns of karma that shape the events of our life."
+ MYWAY offers an Associated Press article, "Jimmy Carter Defends Meeting With Hamas" by Calvin Woodward. Excerpts: "'I feel quite at ease in doing this,' (Carter) said. 'I think there's no doubt in anyone's mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process.'" | "Although he said the meeting would not be a negotiation, he outlined distinct goals."
+ A More Expansive View ... Encounters with Presbyterians and our Seminaries is a blog featuring a post about the meeting I'm attending.
+ I'm at the Presbyterian Church (USA) Seminary Support Network annual meeting at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center in Fort Worth. I just heard an informative and fun presentation on web 2.0 by Dana Mcmahan and Jonathan Dennis of the Presbyterian Church (USA) staff in Louisville.
+ See a great baseball video. Scroll down to the bottom of this blog.
+ Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 40 years ago today.
God's Politics offers "Recapturing MLK's Radical Vision" by Adam Taylor. He begins: "I have become increasingly convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has become the victim of identity theft. Too often we domesticate King, sanitizing his radical message and selectively choosing his words."
+ Here is some information on the proposed federal budget from the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries:
The federal budget is a moral document, a reflection of what our nation values. Justice and Witness Ministries’ annual faith-based analysis of the federal budget, Winners & Losers, is now available on-line. On February 4, 2008, President Bush sent a $3.1 trillion federal budget proposal to Congress for fiscal year 2009. This 2009 federal budget proposal, which includes an economic stimulus package of $150 billion, would increase the federal deficit to over $410 billion. The President's budget includes an increase in spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but freezes spending overall on domestic programs from education to health care to disease control to environmental protection to home heating assistance for the poor. This budget would also extend almost all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and would add additional tax cuts.
+ I just participated in a Conference on Globalism & Society at the University of Rochester. The keynote speaker, Simon Sreter, spoke on “Global Economic Growth, Health and Security—A Troubling History.” He offered considerable evidence contradicting the Demographic Transition Model still favored by the advocates of the Washington Consensus. He suggested that we can learn a lot from studying the demographic trends of England and Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries. A protected economy, not a laissez-faire economy, brought a higher quality of life to the citizens of cities. A leading reformer was Joseph Chamberlain, a successful businessman who became the Mayor of Birmingham in 1873 “and for the next three years introduced a series of social reforms.” Other cities followed suit bringing improved health and education and welfare to much of England and Wales. The spending of cities increased dramatically. The results were equally dramatic. Chamberlain was inspired and motivated by the Gospels, particularly Matthew 25:31-46. Critics complained of his affinity for “Gas and Water Socialism.”
Other speakers focused on health, energy and education. Susan Robertson taught us a lot about the knowledge-based economy which is promoted by the World Bank. She went on to "reflect critically on this model for economic and social development in terms of its interests and outcomes."
I may offer more on the conference if I find some time to do so soon.
ECUMENICAL ADVOCACY DAYS REPORT
From March 7 to March 10, more than 700 ecumenical advocates gathered in Alexandria VA (just a few miles from Washington DC) for the purpose of being inspired and informed for lobbying and other advocacy work. Over 100 of the advocates were Presbyterians. We were inspired and we were informed.
The music at the opening worship service got everyone moving. If you ever get a chance to hear the Saint Camillus Multicultural Choir, you are in for quite a treat. The music was intimately and intricately connected to the theme of this year’s Ecumenical Advocacy Days: “Claiming a Vision of True Security.”
With over 12 sponsoring denominations and over 30 sponsoring ecumenical and advocacy organizations, a common focus for advocacy work required considerable effort. This effort was worthwhile since the objectives of the conference were both clear and powerful. The lobbying topics included: Changing the federal budget priorities away from military spending and toward diplomacy and development; Responding effectively to the impact of climate change; A non-military approach to social problems in Mexico & Central America; Opposing the growing militarization of aid to African nations; Opposing new nuclear weapons; Developing Trade policies which promote sustainability and justice.
chose a track from the following offerings: Peace & Global Security; Global
Economic Justice; Eco-Justice; Domestic;
I participated in the Global Economic Justice track. I am now more firmly convinced that the church needs to pay a lot of attention to the impact of globalization. Plenty of evidence tells us that the planet and far too many of the people who live on it are not being treated well as most of the global corporations consistently choose profits over people. Instead of sustainability and justice, there is exploitation and oppression. It is urgent that we work at becoming effective change agents. We need to find the time to be informed and to be activists. The planet and the people who live on it are depending on us. We heard from change agents representing a variety of key organizations including: Interfaith Working Group on Trade & Investment; Institute for Policy Studies; TransAfrica Forum; Jubilee USA Network; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Presbyterian Church (USA) Washington Office; Columbian Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office; American Friends Service Committee; California Newsreel; and, National Network for Immigrants & Refugee Rights. Explore their websites and identify yourself increasingly as a committed and informed global change agent. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns offers some inter-active educational games on globalization. California Newsreel offers documentaries on the impact of globalization including one we saw, The Big Sellout. The Presbyterian Church (USA) offers many resources on the impact of globalization including a 61 page “Resolution on Just Globalization: Justice, Ownership and Accountability” which was approved by the 217th General Assembly (2006).
of the 100 plus Presbyterian advocates attended a special dinner on Saturday
night and heard our own Clint McCoy speak on “Advocacy
& Ecumenical Collaboration.” He
urged us to hear the voices of the oppressed today as Moses did at the Burning
Bush. Sarah Pottschmidt
Lisherness, the Director of the Peace, Justice &
Compassion Ministry of the PC(USA)
gave us some ways to “lean into hope.” The main speaker was Ambassador Warren Clark
who recently began work as the Director of Churches
for Middle East Peace. He told us
that debate in
+ FAVORITE QUOTES IN PRIORITY ORDER – as of 3/28/08 & constantly changing!:
+ The New York Times offers "Loans and Leadership" by Paul Krugman. Excerpt: "Mrs. Clinton, we’re assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eats babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive." | " ... Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox."
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on Unification as he completes a profound series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpts: "Ultimately, all true spiritual paths lead to the One God. This has little to do with what we think, believe, or imagine. The Reality is, the same in Its essence for all who come to It, however they may reach It, whatever their particular creed, religion, or way. But in order to reach It, we must cross the chasm of separateness, into the realm of perfection, perfection of surrender and submission, of true and loving emptiness." | "Our inner emptiness attracts the Sacred, just as the Sacred attracts us. But egoism, our knot in the rope of will, always seeks to fill our emptiness with itself, with our own image. The purifying action of offering heartfelt submission in prayer eventually unties the knot of ego."
+ Talk to Action offers "When My Father Said the Same Thing He Was a Republican Hero" by Bruce Wilson. Excerpts: "... Francis Schaeffer, has graciously given me permission to reprint his recent op-ed concerning the ongoing attacks on Barack Obama for sermons given by Obama's long time (and now ex) pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Schaeffer suggests those attacks are both hypocritical and racist, because white Christian pastors routinely engage in both the condemnation of America and in hate speech that, if anything, is worse than anything Wright has said, but they rarely, if ever, get called on it." | "Writes Schaeffer, 'When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.'"
+ The Stages of Prayer series by Joseph Naft continues to be profound. I am catching up but I am still a week behind. Here is the practice for the week of March 17: In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on Ecstasy Through Prayer as he continues a series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpts: "In the upper reaches of prayer, we encounter ecstasy, a rapturous and joyful state of contact with the high spiritual energies of the world of sacred light. Methods abound for attaining such states, but quick methods alone do not offer the preparation acquired through long spiritual practice. Though that preparation is not always necessary for entering ecstasy per se, it is most helpful for enabling us to spiritually profit thereby." | "As wonderful as spiritual ecstasy may be, it should not be sought as an end in itself, but rather as a step along the way to a closer relationship with the Divine. If one seeks only ecstasy, then one may indeed find ecstasy but be trapped by it. In such cases ecstasy becomes an indulgence, effectively blocking further progress on the Way." | "We come to understand that ecstasy does not confer union, being one level removed. But it does spur us on."
+ Here's an important thought found in a report I found at Ecumenical News International:
Nairobi (ENI). Poverty is not natural, but is a human condition created by unjust societies, says Martin Kyndt, the chairperson of ECLOF International, a church-linked group that pioneered microfinance to help people out of poverty. "Although poverty has always been with us, and as Jesus pointed out, will always be with us, it is not a natural condition of nature," Kyndt said on 16 March, while opening an ECLOF and Heifer International workshop in Kampala, Uganda.
+ God's Politics offers "Healing the Wounds of Race" by Jim Wallis. Excerpts: "The cable news stations and talk radio are playing carefully selected excerpts of the most potentially incendiary statements from Rev. Jeremiah Wright's fiery sermons. Wright is the retiring pastor of Barack Obama and his family's home Trinity Church in Chicago. Obama, while affirming the tremendous work his church has done in his city and around the nation, has condemned the most controversial remarks of his pastor. But the whole controversy points to the enormous gap in understanding between the mainstream black community in the U.S. and the experience of many white Americans. And that is what we are going to have to heal if we are ever to move forward." | "The black church pulpit has historically been a place of prophetic truth-telling about the realities that black people experience in their own country. Indeed, the black church has often been the only place where such truths are ever told. And, black preachers have had the pastoral task of nurturing the spirits of people who feel beaten down week after week. Strong and prophetic words from black church pulpits are often a source of comfort and affirmation for black congregations. The truth is that many white Americans would indeed feel uncomfortable with the rhetoric of many black preachers from many black churches all across the country." | "But if you look beyond the grainy black-and-white clips of the dashiki-clad Rev. Wright and the angry black male voice (all designed to provoke stereotypes and fear), and actually listen to what his words are saying about the U.S. being run by "rich white people" while blacks have cabs speeding by them, and about the U.S.'s misdeeds around the world, it's hard to disagree with many of the facts presented. It's rather the angry tone of Wright's comments that provides the offense and the controversy."
+ The Stages of Prayer series by Joseph Naft continues to be profound. I am catching up. I am a week behind. Here is the practice for the week of March 10: In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on Contemplative Prayer as he continues a series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpts: "Contemplative prayer, in its many forms and in all religions, offers a direct approach to God. Typically such prayer begins with an effort of attention that may involve focusing or centering oneself on sacred words and/or melody, a passage from scripture, or a religious symbol. Through that effort unrelated thoughts and cares recede to background as we stay with and keep returning to the attitude and feeling appropriate to the prayer" | "As the session progresses, effort turns to effortlessness and we allow ourselves more and more to be drawn, heart and soul, into the prayer. By centering first and then letting go, we enter the peace of prayer, a boundless ocean of peaceful consciousness with a heart wide enough to embrace all of life." | "Gradually, as we open our heart, the peace and stillness of consciousness becomes porous, revealing the sacred, creative, and infinite realm of Divine light, a light that comes pouring into us in streams of energy. That level of energy feeds our soul in a direct and important way, while offering intimations of infinity and eternity that dwarf our ordinary experience. But though this realm is truly spiritual, it is still not the Ultimate, and we continue our inward, contemplative journey." | "We offer our hope, our love, and our light to that formless and beneficent Intelligence, beyond all matter and conception, beyond space, time, and consciousness, Who nevertheless enters this world and may yet even enter us."
+ God's Politics offers "What Might Have Been" by Duane Shank. Excerpts: "Five years ago today, on March 18, the British Parliament debated whether or not to support the pending U.S. attack on Iraq. It was already clear that the Bush administration was determined to attack, and desperately needed support from the U.K. That morning, Sojourners placed an ad in five major British newspapers – The Guardian, The Independent, The London Times, The Telegraph, and The Financial Times." | "Headlined, 'Prime Minister Blair, it is two minutes before midnight. We need you to be a true friend to America in this critical hour,' the ad began, 'The world needs you to find a "third way" between war and inaction. It is two minutes before midnight, and the world's people are desperate for an alternative to war.' It outlined a six-point plan with solid options for disarming Iraq without war." | "Five years later, with the American, British, and Iraqi lives that have been lost, and the hundreds of billions of dollars that has been spent, we cannot help but wonder how history might have turned out differently had that appeal been heeded."
+ In my continuing quest for wisdom on the important spiritual practice of stillness, I have discovered some great thoughts by Eckhart Tolle in his recent book, A New Earth on pages 255-256 in the paperback version. Excerpts:
Stillness is the language God speaks and everything else is a bad translation.
Stillness is really another word for space.
To be still is to be conscious without thought.
You are never more essentially, more deeply, yourself than when you are still.
+ The Stages of Prayer series by Joseph Naft continues to be profound. I have gotten behind. Here is the practice for the week of March 3: In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers "We Serve through Prayer" as he continues a series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpt: "Faith is contagious and communal prayer works. In churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other venues of worship, we band together in reverent fellowship with our neighbors to address ourselves to the Divine, to pour our heart and soul into approaching God. We each become one instrument in a sacred symphony of prayer. The power of communal worship grows exponentially with the number of worshippers, especially if everyone fully engages in the prayer service. Together in humility and devotion, the assembled carry each other on a rising tide toward the Divine."
+ Spirituality & Practice offers a review of Feast of Love which is now available on DVD. Excerpts: "Feast of Love, a positively enchanting romantic drama, is one of the best films of 2007. Veteran director Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer) has taken the 2000 novel of the same title by Charles Baxter and created a touching, sophisticated, sexy, and thought-provoking meditation on love. In one of the many magical moments in the film, Harry notes wistfully that when one feels truly loved, the heart opens to others, even to those who have left us for another." | "Feast of Love is one of those extraordinary films that seems to get better and better as we let it seep into our consciousness. Besides saluting the beauty and the bravery of love, it reveals the mysterious ways in which life's surprises help us grow a bigger heart."
+ I just found an inspiring and informative and challenging speech given last year by the man who will soon be the Governor of the state of New York, David A. Paterson. Excerpts: "Seven score and fourteen years ago, Frederick Douglass addressed the Ladies Against Slavery Society in Rochester, New York. That speech offered on July 5, 1852 re-educated me about government and its goals. As an African-American, I revere Fredrick Douglass for his tenacity and his courage, but as a public servant I just hope and pray that I can learn from his example. In his remarks made over a hundred-fifty years ago, he talked about slavery, injustice and the immorality of government; he talked about the obstacles to progress and the people who suffered because of it and then he offered a solution. The solution was reform." | "Asian Americans who constitute 5% of the pre-qualified businesses to receive state contracts got 1%. Hispanic Americans who are 16% of the State’s population and 9% of the pre-qualified businesses got .74 or three-quarters of one percent of the contracts. African-Americans who have 17% of the state’s population and 9% of the pre-qualified companies got .66 or two-thirds of one percent of the contracts. Suppose you’re an African-American woman that owns a business, you got .18." | "There was a group of rabbinical students who were discussing in class how they should offer prayer at daybreak when the rabbi asked them but how do you know when to give that first prayer, what is the moment in which you know there is dawn? One of the students said that maybe it is the moment in the wilderness you can tell the difference between a lamb and a dog. Another student said daybreak occurs at the moment that one can recognize the contours and lines in their own holograph in their hand. But the rabbi admonished them. A third student offered that maybe daybreak occurs at the point that you hear the singing of the birds – that it is not sight but sound that indicates daybreak, but the rabbi shook his head. When all of the students had offered possibilities the rabbi told them that actually daybreak occurs when you look into the faces of anyone you meet and see them as your brother and sister, until that time the rabbi said, it is always night."
+ AlterNet offers "Theocracy Rejected: Former Christian Right Leaders 'Fess up'" by Rob Boston. The article was originally published by Church & State.
+ AVAAZ offers you an opportunity to add your name to a petition for a ceasefire in the Gaza-Israel war. "We call for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to stop the bloodshed and agree to an immediate ceasefire, and for the international community to engage constructively and help broker a fair deal for the safety of civilians on both sides."
+ As you may know by now, the IRS is considering the possibility of denying tax-exempt status to a major denomination, The United Church of Christ. Chuck Currie offers "New Information" about this attempt to harass a mainline denomination which has often been at odds with the Bush administration on issues of peace and justice. The complaint against the UCC is the result of the fact that Barack Obama spoke at the UCC General Synod last June. Barack Obama is a long time member of a huge UCC congregation in Chicago. The UCC did not and will not endorse Obama for President or any one else.
+ God's Politics offers "Iraqi Kurdistan: 'I Cry All Day Long'" by Peggy Gish. Excerpts: "Susan sat on her bed, looking frightened and sad. The 27-year-old had lost the lower half of her left leg when at 2 a.m. Dec. 16, Turkish fighter planes dropped four bombs on her home in a village along the northeastern Iraq-Iran border." | "Of all Iraqis, the Kurds have been the most supportive of U.S. military presence in their country. However, U.S. policies concerning Turkish incursions into Iraqi border areas have not only caused suffering to the Kurdish victims, they have increased Kurds' anger toward and mistrust of the U.S. Such policies perpetuate the cycles of violence in these conflicts, when what is needed is leadership toward peaceful resolution."
+ Do you get LINK? It's a TV station which presents a daily dose of Democracy Now! and other alternative news programs plus many documentaries which awaken us and challenge us to respond creatively and passionately and effectively to the perplexing global issues of our times. They also have a great world music show. LINK, which decsribes itself as "television without borders," has absolutely no corporate or government sponsors. It depends on concerned citizens like you and me for funds. Appeals for funds are frequent but they are necessary and, fortunately, often quite informative as guests are interviewed and important books and documentaries are suggested and discussed. As I write this, Station Manager Wendy Hanamura is interviewing Bill McKibben, author, activist, environmentalist.
We get LINK on DirecTV, channel 375. Unfortunately, very few, if any, cable companies offer LINK. At the moment I am writing this, LINK is offering The Planet, Part 1. Here is the promotional blurb for Part 1:
"The first episode of The Planet attempts to correct our use of the term “climate change”, arguing that what humanity really faces is change to all aspects of the biosphere, including the decimation of resources, ongoing damage to natural services such as pollination, and the widespread extinction of plants and animals. This is a global change – one that reaches beyond the climate. Because it's global, it's a marked example of our growing dependence on the behavior of other nations.
The first people to feel such global changes are often the most unlikely – Inuit hunters whose fish are suffering mutations from e-waste, Australian ranchers fighting raging bushfires, Portuguese farmers facing ceaseless droughts, year in year out. We all share the planet, and the decisions we make now will affect not only our own lives, but the future of the whole world."
+ God's Politics offers "Denouncing the Hillary Haters" by Jim Wallis. Excerpts: "Sen. Hillary Clinton has also faced a steady stream of criticism of her faith. Christianity Today summarizes in sad detail and rightly debunks these 'baseless blows to the former first lady' in a recent editorial." | "I can't count the number of times that reporters have asked me about Hillary's religion, just assuming she must be pandering. One asked, 'when was the first time Hilary talked to you about her faith?' I said that it was the first time I met her - after she came to Washington in 1992. The reporter didn't seem to believe me. I explained, as I have to many reporters, how Hillary Clinton was a Methodist youth group kid in Chicago, where her youth pastor took teenagers on 'urban plunges' to the inner city and to hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak. Her Methodism is apparent in her longtime advocacy for children, as well as other issues. Agree or disagree with her politics, it's clear that Hillary Clinton is a committed Christian laywoman."
+ God's Politics offers "Defending the Facts on Obama's Faith" by Jim Wallis. Excerpts: "I don't endorse political candidates, but I will defend them when it becomes necessary." | "So I am going to defend my friend, Barack Obama, from an increasing number of ridiculous and scurrilous attacks on the Internet and in the media." | "The latest incident occurred when a loud-mouth radio talk show host in Cincinnati let loose with a barrage of disparaging remarks against Senator Obama and kept using his middle name—Barack HUSSEIN Obama—over and over, seemingly to tie into the Internet accusations that Obama is really a Muslim who, as a child, attended a Muslim "madrassa" school in Indonesia that taught Islamic fundamentalism, etc." | "Like his politics or not, support his candidacy or not - but don't disparage Barack Obama's faith, his church, his minister, or his credibility as an eloquent Christian layman who feels a vocation in politics. Those falsehoods are simply vicious lies and should be denounced by people of faith from across the political spectrum."
+ Democracy Now! offers "Ex-Speechwriter, Confidante Dr. Vincent Harding on Dr. Martin Luther King’s Courageous—and Overlooked—Antiwar and Economic Justice Activism". Harding is a now retired Professor of Theology. He wrote a significant portion of the prophetic speech of April 4, 1967 calling for America to grow up and move beyond its bullying militarism. Unfortunately, this prophetic declaration is still necessary. Excerpt: " ... it’s important to recognize that King saw these issues not simply as what we call foreign policy issues. King was most deeply a pastor, and King saw these issues in terms of what they were doing to the poorest, weakest, most vulnerable people in this country, as well as what they were doing to the poor of other countries, particularly, in this case, Vietnam."
+ Thanks to Shuck & Jive, I learned that The Interfaith Alliance offers "Top Ten Moments in the Race for Pastor in Chief". Huckabee is definitely not the only one doing the pandering. For example, "Barack Obama asked a congregation to help him 'become an instrument of God' and join him in creating 'a Kingdom right here on Earth.'" And "John McCain says the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation and that he would prefer a Christian president."
+ From March 6 to March 10, there will be an important event in Washington DC, the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. This is being held in conjunction with the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington DC. Related to this important event, The Witherspoon Society offers "Witness in Washington, Vigil in your Community".
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "Faith and Doubt" as he continues a series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpts: "We can expect neither certainty nor proof in matters of the spirit, because they involve worlds beyond the physical. Measurement and logic do not directly apply to the spirit. Because our ordinary life occurs entirely in this material, measurable world, which appears to be the whole of reality, doubts about the existence of God, about the reality of the higher realms arise naturally. Such doubts are inherent in and justified by our life on this material Earth. So if we demand certainty about the existence of God as a pre-condition for seeking God, we block our path before it begins." | "In contrast to doubt, faith is a trans-rational intuition from beyond the realm of thought and emotion, an intuition that perceives the Sacred and receives Its blessing. Doubts occupy the mind, whereas faith engages our heart and transcends our mind." | "Belief and prayer bridge the chasm between doubt and faith. The positive side of doubt, wherein we suspect that notions of the Sacred might be true, opens us to the possibility of belief. Through belief we create a mental-emotional map or representation of the Sacred realm. The more we open our mind to belief in the Sacred, the more it prods us toward the inner work of deep prayer. Prayer, in turn, opens our intuitive perceptions to the reality of the Sacred and carries us into the arena of faith. In approaching the Sacred, with doubt we suspect it’s not true, with belief we think it is true, with prayer we see the Truth, and with faith we know and serve the Truth."
I was tempted to copy and paste the entire article. Naft is particularly brilliant on this subject. WOW!
+ Don't miss Once. See it more than once! Spirituality & Practice offers a fine review of this wonderful film. As I said yesterday, Mary & I were delighted when the Oscar for the best song in a movie went to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova who wrote and performed "Falling Slowly" in the movie and again at the Academy Awards. The critics love ONCE and so do we. Once is not enough to see this movie and to hear the great music!
+ Mary and I enjoyed LA VIE EN ROSE immensely not too long ago. We were delighted when the Oscar for the best actress went to Marion Cotillard who portrayed the great French chanteuse, Edith Piaf, so convincingly. Here's what I posted about LA VIE EN ROSE here on December 27:
+ Mary and I enjoyed ONCE immensely not too long ago. We were delighted when the Oscar for the best song in a movie went to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova who wrote and performed "Falling Slowly" in the movie and again last night at the Academy Awards. The critics love ONCE and so do we. Once is not enough to see this movie and to hear the great music!
+ The Center for Progressive Christianity is embarking "on a Liturgy Project to Positively Transform Worship Services." Excerpts: "While our TCPC website is rich with stories about churches that are constantly developing remarkable liturgical forms, we have never been able to gather these materials into an accessible form. Brilliant innovations in worship in progressive churches around the country are, like lamps hidden under bushel baskets, unknown to thousands of leaders in other churches who would be overjoyed to discover and use them." | "The Liturgy Project will contact hundreds of churches to collect a wide variety of litanies, hymn lyrics, dramas, chants, and art and design concepts. These materials will then be organized and published on our website and in printed, CD, or DVD form." | "The Liturgy Project is a big forward step by TCPC in fulfilling our primary goal of helping progressive churches to grow in spirit and in numbers. We need your help to make it happen. For the first year, we must raise $15,000 in order to implement this project."
+ It's snowing in upstate New York!
It's beautiful. We haven't had enough of this white stuff this winter. I simply love it. So does Gracie the poodle. Standard apricot. Curled up at my feet. Ready for a walk at any time. We have had about 3 inches and another 2 or 3 may fall before its over. That will bring our entire winter total up to about 30 inches. A year ago, we had 60 inches in February alone.
+ On Faith offers "Why We Need a New Jesus" by Deepak Chopra. Very provocative! Excerpts: "Searching for the real Jesus has been a growth industry and an obsession for several decades now." | "Yet in almost every respect the hunt for the real Jesus is misguided." | "Years ago I ran across a book that intrigued me called “Be Your Own Guru.” In a liberated age, that’s an enticing offer. However, your personal vision must come from a deeper value structure – call it myth, archetype, or the wisdom tradition – and Jesus stands as one of the high peaks of that invisible structure. God-consciousness will never perish. Since Jesus once embodied God-consciousness, he is keeping it alive at this moment, offering to teach the way to anyone who wants to find it."
+ ACTION ALERT: Are all people of faith in America Republicans? Most pollsters and many in the media seem to think so. Faithful America offers a petition to pollsters and the media to stop making inaccurate assumptions about the religious affiliation of voters.
+ Congress has been asserting itself in recent days. They have sent a bill to the President which would put a permanent end to the torture practices which this administration has implemented. Will he sign it into law? Here's the letter many of us received last Friday from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture:
We have good news. Earlier this week, on a 51-46 vote, the Senate passed important anti-torture legislation that would prohibit all U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, from engaging in torture or other so-called "harsh" interrogation techniques. This bill has already passed the House of Representatives and now it only needs the President's signature to become law.
This is an enormous victory, and it is in part due to your efforts and the efforts of NRCAT. By emailing and calling your Senators, you made it clear to them that the American people expect Congress to take a clear stand against torture.
Unfortunately, however, the President has already said that he plans to veto the bill rather than sign it into law. If he does so, he will repudiate the will of both houses of Congress and of the American people. Worse, he will keep us an immoral and destructive path.
We ask you to call the White House at 202-456-1111, or to email the President at email@example.com to express your support for H.R. 2082 (the Intelligence Authorization bill). Tell the President that we cannot win the war on terror by abandoning the values that made us great, and that he can help return us to those values by signing H.R. 2082.
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "Commitment to Prayer" as he continues a series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpt: "Commitment to prayer, however, means more than just being regular in its practice. It also means committing to quality, to the search for depth in prayer. Whenever we pray, we look to being present throughout the prayer session, to being whole-hearted and undistracted in the prayer, to being less self-centered in our motivation, to enhancing the subtlety of our perceptions, and to giving ourselves more fully to the Sacred. This is the practice of prayer that evolves as we do."
+ The idea of permitting parts of Sharia law to be applied in Moslem areas in the UK was recently suggested by the Archbishop of Canterbury. On Faith offers thoughts about the possibility of accepting parts of Sharia law in the USA by Susan Brooks Thistlewaite, President of Chicago Theological Seminary (where I got a D. Min. degree in 1982). Excerpts: "This is a very important question and I wish to be very specific in my answer. In preparation for writing this post, I have re-read Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s very helpful book What’s Right With Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West. This is a thoughtful and useful book in many ways and I highly recommend it to our readers. Everyone will benefit if we listen carefully to one another." | "I believe that there is a lot of creative thinking going on in relationship to how we as Americans can be genuinely more respectful of the increasing religious pluralism in our midst, but I continue to believe the best way to accomplish this is to maintain a strict separation of church and state, mosque and state, synagogue and state and as well as the many other religious bodies who have adherents in the U.S. and the state. This protects religion from the state and protects the state from religion." | "Again I urge you to read What’s Right With Islam. There are so many areas where we as Christians have common ground with Muslims and I believe we need to build on those."
+ Spirituality & Practice offers "Practicing Love on Valentine's Day" by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Excerpts: "Love is not something that you just fall into, as the romance novels and hit songs suggest. Love is a spiritual practice. You can get better at it over time." | "Try the Quaker practice of "holding someone in the light" by visualizing that person in the circle of God's love and presence." | "According to Rabbi David Cooper, love is based on a desire for completion - "to be whole, to be in harmony, to be connected, and to be free." As a Valentine's entry in your journal, write about what completes you. It does not have to be a person; it could be your work, an experience in nature, a hobby, or something else."
+ ACTION ALERT: Please consider making a contibution to the campaign to re-elect Dennis Kucinich to Congress. The corporate-owned Democratic Party apparently wants to silence this prophetic and compassionate and persistent voice for peace and justice. He needs all the help he can get to win a primary on March 3 against a well-funded opponent who would tow the line.
+ ACTION ALERT: Christian Peacemaker Teams offers "HEBRON URGENT ACTION: Israeli Civil Administration set to demolish clinic and twenty homes near Hebron this week". Excerpt: "Palestinian residents of the Beqa’a Valley are in danger of losing their health clinic, currently under construction, and twenty homes. The Israeli Civil Administration issued orders to the Israeli military to demolish the homes and clinic by the end of the week."
+ On Faith offers "A Very Undead Christian Right"by Susan Jacoby. Excerpt: "To overcome the political power of the Christian right, what is needed today is not a “return to religion” on the left but an alliance of moderate religious believers with unapologetic secularists on the most important social issues of our day. Together, we can restrain the harmful political influence of the religious right. But if liberal religious believers try to marginalize secularists, particularly within the Democratic Party, the religious right will be the real winner."
Chuck Currie offers "Dalit Christians Still Under Attack In India". He begins: "Christians in India never have had an easy time. They represent only 3% of the population and much of the numbers come from the Dalits, the untouchables of Indian society. Dalit Christians are often targeted for violence and Christian Churches find themselves the targets of terrorist attacks because they teach Dalit Liberation Theology, a Gospel-centered theology that argues that Jesus is the central figure in a movement of social liberation."
+ Democracy Now! offers an interview with Muhammad Yunus, the "banker to the poor" who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. He is author of the new book Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism.
+ The Witherspoon Society offers a very comprehensive report on the recent Conference on Terror, Torture and Security by Doug King. He begins: "Spending three days talking about torture may not sound like much fun. It’s not. But about sixty people came together at Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, Georgia, from Sunday evening, Feb. 3, through noon on Tuesday, Feb. 5, to do just that. Nearly half the participants were students, mostly at Presbyterian-related colleges and seminaries, looking for ways to act against something that seems to betray all they believe in about the Christian life, and about the values of the United States." You may want to download and print this long report so you can give it some serious time and prayer and reflection. King reports extensively on the ideas presented by Lucy Mashua, Eric Fair, Scott Horton, George Hunsinger, Cat Bucher, Edward Leroy Long, Jr. and Mark Douglas.
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "I Pray" as he continues a series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpt: "It starts with freely choosing to pray. That grows into being responsible for my prayer, for how and when I pray. Then we begin to see the crucial difference that presence makes in prayer. The depth and power of prayer depends on whether I am here and present as I pray, whether I am praying, whether I fully engage my body, heart and mind in the prayer. Allowing unrelated, intruding thoughts and images to distract me, weakens my prayer. The degree to which I can focus and hold my attention in the prayer, in its meaning and feeling, in the One to Whom I am praying, defines the quality of the prayer."
+ A POEM BY PATRICK SPITHILL
Burdens of the tortured soul
For those deeds and misdeeds
The wounds and the scars
Neither holy water nor prayer
For this is eternal karma
This highest price to pay
Yet here there is life
+ This poem is published here with the gracious consent of the poet.
+ Surfing through the The United Church of Christ Peace & Justice advocacy pages is well worth the effort. Great theology and great resources for advocating. I found the page on Biblical Foundations for Advocacy particularly illuminating and inspiring.
+ ACTION ALERT: The United Church of Christ Justice and Peace Action Network offers us an opportunity to take a stand for basic justice for workers by urging Target retail stores to treat janitors fairly. Excerpt: "Janitors in a number of Target stores across the nation face many abuses including poverty-level wages and 7-day, 50-hour weeks without overtime pay. Some are locked in at night to do their work and unable to leave in the morning until a checklist of items passes inspection."
+ The New York Times offers an op-ed piece, "Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love" by Nicholas Kristoff. Kristoff asks the question: Why is it OK to mock and ridicule the sincere religious beliefs of a lot of Americans? Excerpt: "Scorning people for their faith is intrinsically repugnant, and in this case it also betrays a profound misunderstanding of how far evangelicals have moved over the last decade. Today, conservative Christian churches do superb work on poverty, AIDS, sex trafficking, climate change, prison abuses, malaria and genocide in Darfur." | "'Evangelicals are going to vote this year in part on climate change, on Darfur, on poverty,' said Jim Wallis, the author of a new book, The Great Awakening, which argues that the age of the religious right has passed and that issues of social justice are rising to the top of the agenda. Mr. Wallis says that about half of white evangelical votes will be in play this year." | "A recent CBS News poll found that the single issue that white evangelicals most believed they should be involved in was fighting poverty. The traditional issue of abortion was a distant second, and genocide was third."
+ Here are the vote totals in the primaries and caucuses so far:
If the Democrats can avoid a blood bath between now and July, November should be a cause for celebration for the planet.
I included all states where both parties had primaries or caucuses and followed the same rules. I left out Michigan where Obama was not on the ballot and Clinton was. I included Florida because those voters really want their votes to be counted and both Clinton and Obama were on the ballot.
I think the voters have decided that February is far too early to come to a decision!
The states that waited now will have an enormous say!
Emotions are running high. Many older women will be extremely disappointed if Hillary is not the candidate. Massachusetts and Califoinia particularly revealed how deep the support for Hillary is. Kennedy couldn't deliver the Massachusetts vote or the Latino vote. Older women came out in droves. They simply do not want to see the first viable woman candidate go down.
Maybe our generation should have one more chance to fix things! We have made mistakes but we also have built a party which is offering a viable woman candidate and a viable African-American candidate and we all love Al Gore!
+ At the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill, NC, my friend Mark Davisdon delivered a powerful sermon entitled Honoring the Dream. You will find significant insights and some constructive ways we can build on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Excerpts: "Although Dr. King’s 'I Have A Dream' speech is the one that is most often recited and most often associated with the thought and activism of MLK, the fullest, most radical articulation of his prophetic vision came 4 years later in a speech he gave at the Riverside Church in New York City to the gathering of the Clergy and Laity Concerned. In this speech, 'Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence', he identified the American trinity of racism, materialism, and militarism as the source of so much suffering in this country and throughout the world." | "Dr. King blazed a path 40 years ago we have yet to pursue: he named militarism as an evil that was destroying not only other countries around the world, but destroying our own soul; and in unmasking militarism as evil he set himself against the prevailing American mythology of unthinking patriotism, the glory and honor of war, and flag-waving support for American virtue and power. His dream was not only the dream of racial equality, but it was the threefold dream of racial equality, the end of poverty, and the abolition of war. And in dreaming this dream he was dreaming nothing less than God’s own dream."
+ It is reassuring to know that many Israelis want to face their history rather than deny it. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions offers "JNF Signs Will Mention destroyed Palestinian Villages" which appeared in Haaretz on Feb. 3.
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "Prayer: Method and Ritual" as he continues a series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpts: "The training we receive in religious practices opens us to the love and wisdom embodied therein. The practices and rituals of all the major religions have been honed and perfected over the centuries for maximum effect. Furthermore, the energies and will of the millions of people who have engaged in those rituals imbues them with a sacred power to draw us toward the Divine. Each time we reenact such a worship service the work of our predecessors gives us wings." | "The religion of our childhood can be an effective doorway to the sacred, because of our comfort with it and the connection to our family heritage. If those forms now seem empty and meaningless, we can reach toward the depth within them, within us."
+ It never ceases to amaze me how the reviewers of films can pan movies which have important messages about relationships and the meaning of life. I'm sure the rviewers who panned License to Wed with Robin Williams and Mandy Moore were not looking deeply for meaning and for the critical foundation for successful marriages. If comedy and cinematic technique were what they were looking for, they got it right. But they missed so much more. I detected this bias recently when the critics panned The Celestine Prophecy.
+ Spirituality & Practice offers a review of The Lives of Others, an award-winning German film about people dealing with the oppressive system of East Germany in 1984 just before glasnost. Mary & I saw it recently and were quite impressed and moved. The interview on the DVD with the writer/director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, is well worth the time. Here's an excerpt from the Brussat's fine review: "'At its best, privacy shields and nurtures what is unique and authentic in people, while its absence or its violation often contributes to dehumanizing them,' Janna Malamud Smill writes in Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life. 'Privacy shelters, and thus offers sustenance to fragile virtues.'"
+ Democracy Now! offers an interview with Alex Gibney, an "award-winning documentary filmmaker. He is the Writer, Director, Producer and Narrator of Taxi to the Dark Side. He received his first Oscar nomination for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Taxi to the Dark Side is a powerful documentary about US abuses in the "war on terror." It has been nominated for an Oscar.
+ GodWeb offers an article on Valentine's Day by Charles Henderson. EXCERPTS: "In these troubled times neither puppy love nor romantic love will suffice." | "My own view is that it's important to make some distinctions about the kind and quality of loving relationships one enters into. And that's one of the very difficult things about the word 'love.' It is overused, more often than not misused, sometimes even wantonly abused by those who invoke it."
+ The Peace & Justice Task Force of Albany Presbytery offers a slide presentation on the importance of the energy saving lightbulbs now being sold widely.
+ It's a new month and that means that The Four Precepts Web Portal & Spiritual Search Page has new articles to savor. The 4 precepts of Wayne Ferguson are:
+ Maybe I should wait until next Wednesday before posting these comments on our body politic but these thoughts are on my heart and I must go ahead and post!
This morning there is great hope in America and on the planet as the GOP electorate has said NO to the plutocracy of both the Rigid Ideology camp and the Religious Right camp. I believe deep in my heart that this particular spell has been broken.
We have been a sick nation in need of healing. The growing power of the Religious Right is a symptom but not the cause of our sickness. It goes deeper than that.
The GOP electorate has rejected both the Religious Right and rigid ideology. This is really Good News for America and for the planet.
Both camps, the Religious Right and the Rigid Ideologists, are in turmoil as they see their era of domination come to an end. Obviously, a Democratic victory in November would be a knock out blow over both camps but McCain, a centrist and a pragmatist would be still be a huge change. The CheneyBushRove plutocratic era is over!
Other plutocrats will still find many ways to thwart the will of the people in the new era which has now begun but at least one of the beasts has been slain. I am talking about demons, the principalities and powers, the "world ruler." (see John 12:31)
If Romney somehow wins next Tuesday and somehow wins in November, then forget everything I just said. Romney is CheneyBushRove all dressed up as an olympic god! He is down but not out. The Domination System is still hoping Romney can win but is now turning to McCain and both tempting him and intimidating him. Read Luke 4:1-13. The plutocrats are also using these tried and true practices of those who would keep their privileged status in tact on Clinton & Obama.
IOW, those of us who are on the side of God's “new heaven and new earth” (see Revelation 21:1-4) have our work cut out for us no matter who wins in November. But we can still celebrate this victory of love and justice which we have already won over those demons which gave us CheneyBushRove.
+ There has been a huge breakthrough in the Presbyterian Church (USA) which has closed the door of ordination to openly gays and lesbians in recent years. The Witherspoon Society offers "Openly gay theologian Paul Capetz restored to ministry of word and sacrament" by Doug King.
+ Are you familiar with the very right wing Institute on Religion and Democracy which regularly undermines the legitimacy of the mainline denominations? IRD tactics need to be exposed and challenged over and over again. John Shuck regularly does this with intelligence, passion and humor in his Shuck & Jive blog. Talk to Action regularly exposes and challenges the IRD. I have no problem with advocacy for policy positions which differ from the predominant policies of mainline denominations. I have a great deal of difficulty when the well funded critics simply don't play fair. Talk to Action offers "One Bishop's encounter with the IRD" by Steven D. Martin.
+ President Bush just might help the Palestinians and Israelis make progress toward peace and this makes Christian Zionists mad. Talk to Action offers "Christian Zionists Feel 'Betrayed' by Bush's Road Map" by Bill Berkowitz.
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "Petitionary Prayer" as he continues a series on The Stages of Prayer. Excerpt: "Any practice of prayer gradually weakens our egoistic self-centeredness. Within the spectrum of petitionary prayer, we may move in the direction of selflessness, from petitioning for our personal, material benefit, to asking for forgiveness, to expressing our gratitude, to asking God to intercede on someone else’s behalf, to asking God to bring us near, to asking to be allowed to serve well, to offering God our love."
+ The Diane Rehm Show offers an interview with Michael Reed, editor of The Americas section of The Economist. He is the author of Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul.
+ At Cursor, I discovered that ThreatLevel, one of the Wired blogs, offers "Mainstream Press Still Gets Wiretapping Debate Wrong" by Ryan Singel. Excerpt: "It's hard to have a rational debate on what powers the government should have to wiretap when even the Associated Press repeats false facts about how the nation's surveillance laws attempt to protect Americans." | "I don't know how many times I've explained this here, but the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does NOT control what the intelligence community does overseas. If the NSA wants to wiretap a phone line in Pakistan and that phone is used to call an American, no warrant is necessary under FISA. Nor would it under any of the proposals under consideration in Congress. This fight is about the government's ability to conduct wiretaps on American soil without getting warrants."
+ AlterNet offers "We're Mad as Hell and the Dems Aren't Listening" by Jim Hightower. Excerpt: "What I am hearing from across the country is a surge of angst and discouragement. In conversations, calls, emails, and letters, people in general (and progressives in particular) are expressing profound dismay at the deterioration of America's democracy, not only because of the BushCheney regime, but also, and especially, because of the fecklessness of the Democratic Congress."
Jim Hightower posts regularly at Hightower Lowdown offering a populist message with great humor as he calls on us to agitate, agitate, agitate!
+ ACTION ALERT: AVAAZ reports that "the years-old blockade of Gaza is at crisis point: with the humanitarian crisis growing, the southern border has been breached and 350,000 Palestinians are pouring across. The situation is out of control -- the world must step in." Sign a petition to end the siege of Gaza.
+ Spirituality & Practice offers "Winter Wonder" by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Excerpts: "'May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.' This blessing was written by the Celtic writer John O'Donohue, who died unexpectedly earlier this month. We remember him as we experience the wonders of this time of year." | "Winter can be a wonderland for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. While on the surface the winter world appears drab, especially compared to the riot of summer and fall colors, with wonderosity we can find much to celebrate in these months. Increasing our appreciation for all of God’s Creation by consciously noticing what arouses our wonder is a spiritual practice." "Wonderosity" is a word invented by Sam Keen "to describe the combination of wonder and curiosity."
Here is last night's post:The Theology & Ethics in the context of Globalization consultation at Stony Point is viewing the film "The Great African Scandal" (2007), which is available to view free on the internet.
"(British) Academic Robert Beckford visits Ghana to investigate the hidden costs of rice, chocolate and gold and why, 50 years after independence, a country so rich in natural resources is one of the poorest in the world. He discovers child labourers farming cocoa instead of attending school and asks if the activities of multinationals, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have actually made the country's problems worse."
The film, which was produced with the help of Christian Aid is on several internet sites; I have copied two below: http://www.mazalien.com/the-great-african-scandal.html
Here's the latest one:
One of the topics this morning at the consultation on Theology & Ethics in the context of Globalization has been involving young adults, looking at where they are at, and facing the reality that they don't relate to institutions, including the church.
One participant said that evangelicals & Muslims engage young people early on, putting them in positions of power, while mainline churches tend to expect young adults to come join us, to follow along with us, but don't really empower them.
To see a story of successful engagement of young people, consider the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago led by Muslim Eboo Patel has been featured on NPR. See the link below:
Writing from Stony Point Conference Center
+ GreenFaith offers an article about the environmental activism of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, Highland Park, New Jersey. Excerpts: "Thanks to the contagious enthusiasm of its co-pastors Seth and Stephanie Kaper-Dale, the Reformed Church in Highland Park (RCHP) has become a leader in its denomination in religious-environmentalism. Over a two-year period, RCHP has made tremendous progress integrating care for the earth into its congregational life." | "'The solar panels on our roof serve as a symbol to me of our church thinking about the breadth of God’s covenant of love,' says Pastor Seth. 'I cannot think of a symbol with broader significance. Probably the most all encompassing threat to the earth that God made and sent Jesus Christ to reconcile to beauty and fullness is the emission of excessive amounts of carbon dioxide. We all know this creates global warming, and it’s a huge threat.'"
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "The Stages of Prayer", a new series. Excerpts: "The starting point of all prayer consists of a kernel of faith, however vague or weak, that there is SomeOne Who receives our prayer. Throughout our life of spiritual inner work, we cultivate that seed of faith, which grows and flowers through the stages of prayer, the stages of our developing soul." | "All true paths have some notion of non-distraction in prayer, of having our attention completely engaged in the prayer. The deeper the stillness, the more focused our attention, our will, the clearer the upward-bound channel." | "Here is one view of the stages of prayer, from simple asking to that ultimate communion:
As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent.
Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.
+ Spirituality & Practice offers "The Best Spiritual Books of 2007" by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Links can be found to all of their fine reviews.
+ Spirituality & Practice offers "How Big Is Your Family?". Excerpts: "Brother David Steindl-Rast, one of our Living Spiritual Teachers, believes that the same love we have for our family should be extended to the whole creation (humans, animals, plants, and microbes)." | "Reaching out to others also resides in our response to the stranger, and in many religious traditions this comes alive in the spiritual practice of hospitality. Belonging to God's great household leads to the unfolding of peace in a world of conflict and divisions."
+ Ecumenical News International offers "It was Christmas, but that's when attack started in Indian state". Excerpt: "The 100,000 strong Christian community account for one fifth of the population of Kandhamal district, with the Catholic Church being the largest denomination, making up half of the Christians there. More than 70 churches were destroyed or damaged in the violence."
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "Divine Presence" as he continues a series on Stages of Presence. Excerpts: "Ultimately, through devotion, surrender, and grace, we let go of our core 'i am,' allowing it, allowing our innermost self to be replaced by the Divine 'I Am.'" | "That opening is a receptive process, both actively and passively. The active and passive modes together remake our soul through a complementary dance of the sacred. In the actively receptive mode, we direct the whole of our being, heart and soul, toward the Divine. We may use sacred words, a name of God or a prayer, to focus our effort. With our attention and intention, we reach out toward the Formless One, toward the Mountain of Purpose, toward the Great Heart of the World, beyond the utter stillness of consciousness, beyond the sacred light, beyond all. And in that rarefied territory, we surrender, we empty ourselves fundamentally, we lay down our innermost self and beg God to enter. But egoism prevents us from doing this purely and adequately. So we practice it daily, again and again, with faith and with love."
+ The Witherspoon Society offers "A 'Jerusalem Gym Rat' reflects on the Christian calling to peaceful resistance" by Shannon O’Donnell. Shannon O’Donnell is a Presbyterian Mission Volunteer, serving with the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. A recent visit to Germany led her to reflect on the courageous Germans who chose the dangerous path of peaceful resistance to Nazism. She says, “I have been thinking of the many ways that people can break away from the mainstream crowd when it is not quite headed in the right direction.”
+ Ouch! This hurts: The Center for Progressive Christianity offers "Survey: Non-attendees find faith outside church" by Cathy Lynn Grossman. Excerpt: "A new survey of U.S. adults who don't go to church, even on holidays, finds 72% say 'God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists.' But just as many (72%) also say the church is 'full of hypocrites.' Indeed, 44% agree with the statement 'Christians get on my nerves.'"
I'm not surprised but I am nevertheless saddened by this news. The Good News of the presence of God's reign is not getting through because many church members are not exemplifying the Good News of God's unconditional, unlimited uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvellous and connects us intimately, intricately and infinitely to everything. Is that too complicated? The Bible simplifies it to "God is love" and "love one another."
+ The pollsters and pundits are continuing to make the tired assumption that all "Evangelical Christians" are Republicans. This, of course, is not the case and never has been. The PBS program Religion & Ethics offers a webcast on "Religion and the New Hampshire Primaries" with this introduction: "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly managing editor Kim Lawton discusses religious voting patterns in the New Hampshire primaries, the role faith-based outreach may play in upcoming races, and the lack of exit polling data on Democrats and evangelicals."
+ Visiting TomPaine.com, I discovered that Gristmill offers "The high costs of doing nothing, part I" by Bill Becker. Excerpts: "Spending on adaptation and mitigation now is an investment, spending later is a waste" | "A dirty little secret of climate change is that somebody wants us to pay much higher taxes and higher energy bills. But it's not the advocates of climate action. It's the other guys. Make no mistake: The costs of switching to clean energy and an energy-efficient economy are far less than the costs of doing nothing."
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "Stable Presence" as he continues a series on Stages of Presence. Excerpts: "When our peace is deep enough, our energies settle and our presence starts to stabilize. Then we see that presence is always available, if only we avail ourselves of it." | "We move toward continuous presence by living in our sensation body, rather than only inhabiting our physical body, random thoughts and reactive emotions." | "The practice of presence for ourselves, for our own private benefit, proves inherently unstable, because what we deem personally beneficial is subject to the whims of our thoughts and emotions. But the intention to practice presence as a service to the sacred and to our fellow humans arises from the depths beyond egoism. Presence serves the sacred by the higher energies it produces and serves our neighbor by its atmosphere of peace."
+ The United Church of Christ offers "Thomas denounces smear campaign against UCC’s largest congregation" by J. Bennett Guess.. Excerpt: "A ramped-up smear campaign against the UCC's largest congregation and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's home church — Trinity UCC in Chicago — has raised the ire of the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, who called the e-mail-driven claims 'absurd, mean-spirited and politically motivated.'"
I had the privilege of working with John Thomas in the 1990s when he was a UCC staff representaive helping us with a special project on ecumenical shared ministries.
+ I have been an active member of an internet forum associated with CrossCurrents and GodWeb for nearly a year. I have enjoyed this forum immensely but have recently decided I must bow out. I came to the forum with a basic faith that the policy found on the start page would be enforced and that it would be a safe place on the internet to share lots of ideas about spiritual things and political things and other things. I had previously found fanatical Christians and fanatical conservatives to be quite abusive on another forum which I had participated in for several years: The Conservative vs. Liberal Debate. At the CrossCurrents forum, I was to find the same kind of abusive behavior but this time from fanatical atheists and agnostics and secularists and scientists and liberals.
Here is the policy at the CrossCurrents forum, which I had counted on but to no avail: “The only requirement is the willingness to engage in civil conversation on the topics suggested above, respecting the dignity of those who hold views and beliefs other than your own. (This does mean that blatant sexism, anti-Semitism, gay bashing, personal insults and abusive behavior are not welcome.)” I don’t know why they continue to post such a policy when the hosts seem to have absolutely no desire to implement it. The lack of respect, the mocking, the ridiculing, the insulting, the bashing I received from some forum members was frequent. The hosts never backed me up in my effort to point it out and try to change behavior.
I know that Christians have done some pretty horrible things over the centuries and even now. But I think the current effort by some to mock and shame and abuse Christians as well as people of other faiths makes little sense.
Here is what I wrote to one of the members, a member who has been kind and respectful to me but nevertheless is quite opinionated about her so-called rational rejection of Christianity and other wisdom traditions: “I totally disagree with you that the rituals and symbols and liturgy are only window dressing. They are the heart of our wisdom tradition. To get enlightened, read MYTH AND RITUAL IN CHRISTIANITY by Alan Watts. A very creative theologian is Diarmuid O'Murchu, Irish priest (although I don't see how he could still be a priest after writing what he has written). Read his QUANTUM THEOLOGY. He resonates with all wisdom traditions and modern science and offers an approach which honors some traditional Christian doctrines but in a very new and different way. He is heavily influenced by the feminist theologianss and the liberation theologians and the creation theologians and the process theologians and those engaging in interfaith dialogue. The Christian wisdom tradition is simply too appealing to be dismissed. You may reject it but hundreds of millions of others find meaning and joy in it. Interfaith dialogue and interdisciplinary dialogue is essential with lots of mutual respect and open mindedness and humility. Unfortunately, this forum does not provide enough safety for such dialogue to take place. You have been very kind and respectful but others hit below the belt with regularity.”
+ Talk to Action offers "Obedience and Tithing" by Sarah Posner. Excerpt: "In his Christmas weekend sermon at John Hagee's Cornerstone Church Mike Huckabee affirmed, as he has in other venues, that he believes tithing to the church is biblically required as evidence of obedience to God. Relating it to his Huckmas story, he said that you align yourself with Herod when you want to make your own decisions, rather than obey God. That type of person says, according to Huckabee, 'I don't care what God wants me to do. I know he wants me to tithe, but I need that money.'"
+ The Four Precepts offers "Raising the Consciousness" by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Excerpt: "The whole striving of the mystic is to raise his consciousness as high as possible. What this raising of the consciousness means, and how it is raised, can be better understood by the one who has begun to practice it. The best means of raising the consciousness is by the God-ideal. Therefore, however much one has studied metaphysics or philosophy intellectually and found some truth about one's being, it does not suffice for the purpose of life; for the culmination of life lies in the raising of the consciousness."
+ In Inner Work at Inner Frontier Joseph Naft offers important wisdom on "The Peace of Presewnce" as he continues a series on Stages of Presence. Excerpt: "Living, even temporarily, as our true self, as “I am,” gives us the possibility of entering the peace of presence through an act of will. That act is letting go, not identifying with all our inner impulses, not clinging to our likes and dislikes, our desires and antipathies, our grasping and our fears. In letting go of considering any of that to be who we are, we come into our self, into “I am,” into equanimity and contentment, into the peaceful confidence of knowing who we are and what we are not."
+ The Four Precepts offers "Aphorisms on Aspiration" by Sri Chinmoy. Excerpts: "Two concepts govern the length and breadth of the world: desire and aspiration. Desire binds us; aspiration liberates us. Desire makes us feel that we are of the finite and we are compelled to be for the finite. Aspiration tells us that we are of the Eternal and for the Infinite." | "Aspiration Is a very brave step / Into the Unknowable." | "Before I started my aspiration-life / I was a lonely heart. / But now I am / A smiling and dancing world-heart."
+ HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Another year, O God.
RECENTLY DISCOVERED ON THE WEB:
by JIM WALLIS & FRIENDS
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Global Warming Solutions
FEAST OF LOVE
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
Bali December 2007
SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE
EXCERPTS FROM WHITEHEAD & HARTSHORNE
a progressive Christian book & website
but get out your wallet!
The Peace & Justice Activist William Sloane Coffin who died last month was the Pastor here for a long time
Click on it and buy it from northernsun.com.
+ Boston.com offers a video displaying a huge dose of forgiveness by the fans of Boston at Fenway Park today. Buckner committed an error in the 1986 World Series which probably cost the Red Sox the World Series.