Thursday, November 19, 2015

New Book Announcement

I have written a biography.

It is called Hard Core Love: Sex, Football, and Rock and Roll in the Kingdom of God. It details my search for God and the meaning of life in two of the world's most glamorous entertainment industries.

Sound interesting?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Romans 13

I think about conservative Christians’ refusal to accept President Obama (Obama-nation as Herman Cain so disrespectfully puts it) and wonder what part of this Word of God they don’t get.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2

Am I reading this right? Am I missing something? Am I reading the wrong translation? Is there another interpretation? Is there another scripture that over rules it? Is there an addendum somewhere that says, “Unless….”

Today I heard Rep Peter King call Ted Cruz a maniac. Is that the Republican party bringing judgment on itself?

What does everyone think?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sin And The Presence Of God

I’ve been considering why it is we don’t feel the presence of God in our lives the way we should and I had an experience recently that points to part of the answer. The sense of separation we feel has been so ingrained in us for so long it’s difficult to overcome, even when we know better. I want to say that I don’t write this with any animosity to the Catholic Church but only because I’m beginning to see an evolution of spirituality underway which hasn’t been clear to me before. I seem to understand where we are a little better when I see where it is we’ve been.

I was raised a Catholic, taught by nuns and priests for twelve years through elementary and high school, but it had been more than 30 years since I had been to Mass. My uncle was visiting on a Sunday recently and had asked me to take him, and I agreed. St. Joseph’s was amazing - vast and ornate with beautiful marble statues of Jesus lying in the arms of the Blessed Virgin on one side of the altar and rising gloriously into Heaven on the other. In the middle a huge crucifix hung, the sad face of Jesus looking down at me. There was a large iron gate below the crucifix which enclosed a second altar on top of which housed the Tabernacle which contained the body of Christ. It was a marvelous thing to behold and I marveled at the profundity of it all. Unlike most protestant churches I’ve attended, this looked and definitely felt like a place where God would live. An old lady sitting next me had the ecstatic look of an angel who had just seen the face of Jesus. I began to have high hopes for an enlightened experience of my own.

The choir sang triumphantly as the priest, a white-haired Cardinal type, followed a solemn procession of acolytes, altar boys and lesser deacons down the aisle to the front of the church. It took five minutes for him to get there. The sound of singing and smell of incense rose to the highest ceilings of the church and filled it with a sense of God’s holiness. I could almost feel His heart beating in my chest. When everyone was in their place and the choir had stopped singing the priest turned around and spoke the first words. “Let us have a moment of silence to be reminded of our many sins - through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”. When he spoke again he said, “Heavenly father, look down on us we beseech thee and forgive us our sins. We are unworthy that you shouldst come under our roof, but only say the word and our souls will be healed.”

Zap! Immediately I was no longer in the presence of God. I was aware only of the distance between us. From that moment on what I saw looked more like a performance of ritual, people moving about the stage attending to various duties of ceremonial service. The old angel seated next to me no longer seemed so radiant. Actually she appeared to be begging for something.

A few lines of scripture were read and another song was sung, then suddenly the Iron Gate creaked open and everyone fell to their knees. The deacons were entering the second altar and opening the tabernacle. I imagined myself on a dusty hill, watching the high priest enter the Holy of Holies. I could hear the bleating of sheep being sacrificed in the parking lot. The deacons returned to the stage, each with a gold chalice filled with hosts symbolizing the Eucharist. The congregation rose and slowly filed toward the altar to receive Holy Communion. It had been years since I had received Communion in a Catholic church and I noticed some people taking it in their hand. The priest acted surprised when I opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue. After a moment of hesitation he placed the wafer on my tongue. I remembered what the nuns taught us and was careful not to touch it with my teeth. I let it dissolve and clasped my hands prayerfully as I made my way back to my pew.

After a few moments of appropriate reverence I looked up to see the participants busily moving about the altar putting things away. A few final prayers were offered up. Then everyone went to their knees again as the Tabernacle was being closed. Someone locked it with a big gold key. The Iron Gate swung closed and God was safely back in his box.

Everyone stood and filed towards the exits, leaving him there.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Big Faith

The disciples had enough faith to leave their occupations and their homes and families in order to follow Jesus. They lived with him and learned from him through all the years of his ministry. Some had even been on the mountaintop when he was glorified and transfigured. A bright light enveloped them and a voice from heaven proclaimed Jesus as the “beloved son” of the Father. Yet their belief in him could not heal the demon-possessed boy when they came down from the mountain. When they asked him why, Jesus said it was because of their unbelief. Unbelief? What was he talking about? They believed in him. What more is required? The Church says belief in Jesus is all we need. Apparently, according to Matt 17:20, Jesus says it isn’t enough. In the New Century Version he says their faith was “too small”. The question is, If faith in Jesus is too small, then what is Big Faith?

How do we learn to believe what Jesus believed in order to do what he did? 

The first thing we need to understand, and admit to ourselves, is that our historical tendency to worship Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God is not sufficient in itself to produce Christ-likeness. 2,000 years is long enough to wait for this “small” belief to miraculously transform us. The bible says it comes by the renewal of our mind. Among other things, that means a new understanding of the nature of man and our relationship to God. Jesus’ great discovery was the divinity (Christ) in himself. Paul says that same Christ is in us and is the hope of our glory. We must not balk at the extraordinary concept of the divinity inherent in man. It is ours to take hold of. Jesus tried to teach it by modeling it for us. God is spirit and that spirit lives in us the same way it did in him. It’s time for us to start believing that.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


It’s a new year and I feel a renewed vigor to find out why I don’t have the mind of Christ yet. PauI said it’s the goal of the Christian life, but how and when do we get it? I’m going to be 70 this year and there isn't a whole lot of time left. I don’t see it happening to many of my friends either. Most of them seem to be just getting by. But just when I decide that it’s only wishful thinking I read where Jesus says, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”. He wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t possible. I still think we’re missing something. Anyone who reads my blogs knows I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t get the Mind of Christ by believing the right things about Jesus. In Discover the Power Within You Eric Butterworth says, “You must come to believe about yourself what Jesus believed about himself”. I believe that. Now what was it that Jesus believed?

I would think that his final prayer before leaving the earth would be some of the most revealing words he ever spoke, and also the most likely to be remembered verbatim by the gospel writers. And what does he use this momentous occasion to say? He asks God to show us our unity with one another and our connection to him, and to the Father. He prays, "that I myself may be in them" and "that they will all be one (read remember that they are one) just as you and I are one, just as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. I am in them and you are in me“. This One-ness he speaks about only began to make sense to me when I learned a little bit about Quantum Physics. It was a kind of missing link for me for the understanding of things the bible says about God and our relationship to him - things like his spirit living in us - like him being everywhere and knowing even when a sparrow falls - like numbering both the stars in the sky and the hairs on my head.

Jesus knew what the rest of us are just now beginning to learn about quantum physics - the reality of life that creates, governs and sustains the universe lies far beyond the material world which has captured us all. How often did Jesus tell us not to fall for the things of this world? In the Gospel of Thomas he had much more to say about this illusion. Alas, The Church condemned the Gospel of Thomas as heresy so no one was allowed to read it. As a result we’ve gotten so involved with our earthly existence we have not seen the true reality of life (“the truth that can set us free”). Remember the great words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”. This involves a proper understanding of the word “eternal”. It means more than without end. It also means without beginning. That means we have existed since the time when there was nothing but God from whence we all came. All of life is a constant flow of His energy (“made in his image and likeness”) connected in a dazzling array of different manifestations. God is Christ teaching us the truth about who we are (“saving us”). He is also Jim Pons trying to figure it all out. 

Jesus also said that Jim Pons is not of this world, even as He is not of it. What then, am I of? It’s beginning to look like some magnificent manifestation of divinity that we're all part of and connected to. Somewhere in our understanding of that magnificence is our connection with God… and the missing Mind of Christ.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post Election Thoughts

I just watched a YouTube message from a preacher reminding me what Romans 13:1 says about honoring the authorities that God has installed. It's a well known and oft-repeated verse. Less well known is Romans 13:2 which says, “Whoever resists that authority has opposed the ordinance of God, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” People seem to believe as long as they're not marching in the street they're adhering to this scripture. But is marching in the street the only way to resist authority? If I stay in my house with my computer can I speak resistance in a kind of anonymous way that God won't notice? 

I have never in my life seen more unashamedly slanderous opposition to the President of the United States than I have during this election period. I can't believe I'm saying it but it's almost enough to wonder whether or not race is really a non-issue. I'm not talking about those who disagree with his policies, just those who hold animosity for the man who is our duly elected leader. I can even understand (though it sounds terribly misdirected) someone like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowing, "My number one priority is making sure president Obama is a one-term president.” But when a good Christian like Sean Hannity can go on the air and refer to the President as a liar, an agent of the devil, even the anti-Christ... can it still be in adherence to Romans 13:1? The fact that he covers himself with the biblical admonition, “Let not your heart be troubled" doesn't excuse him. In fact it’s so disingenuous it makes me physically sick to my stomach. People who feed on this kind of thing are spreading the same kind of damage on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The continual demeaning of the President does more than just ignore scriptural teaching, it is contributing to the polarization of our society, damaging it in a way we don't seem to recognize. 

Maybe we really are bringing judgment on ourselves.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is God's Love Enough For Us?

There’s something troubling about the way we live our lives these days. Last night at a local restaurant we sat next to a family of four that didn't speak a word to each other. Each one was pressing buttons on a hand-held electronic device, in communication with someone else, but totally absent from each other. We just don't take time to be present anymore. Everything we do has such a frantic quality - the way we shop, the way we travel, the way we treat each other, even the way we entertain ourselves. A family of four will fight traffic and the elements and spend close to $1,000 to see an NFL game in an economic downturn. We seem to have a deep need that isn’t being met which is causing us to fill our lives with busy-ness and clutter, as if we could, as Kierkegaard put it, “hold chaos at bay for one more day”. The Church tells us we have a God who's love is sufficient, but is it? If so, why do we have such a compulsive need for fulfillment and validation from the world? There must be something the Church isn't telling us. For some reason we're not understanding the fullness of God’s love. Either that or something is keeping us from receiving it. It’s been several months since I’ve written because I’ve been told to take a break from finding fault with the Church. But the bible tells us to examine ourselves to see if we’re in the faith. The question is, What is it we have put our faith in?

I’ve said it before and I need to say it again. If the Mind of Christ was being modeled by more of us in the Body of Christ there would be no problem, and I wouldn’t be looking to create one. If church attendance was a more deeply satisfying experience, if believers were leading joyful and victorious lives, if the blind were seeing and the lame walking… if there weren't so many men in church addicted to internet porn.

The truth is, our faith tradition has resulted in a powerless church, an apathetic community of believers, and a prevailing disappointment for many who are seeking transformation by the power of God. Joy may be glimpsed from time to time, only to be stolen by the routine of daily living. Most of us have decided to accept this deeply flawed routine because we don’t have a vision for anything else. We've been told we're sinners and all we can do is wait for Jesus and hope for the grace of God which we don’t deserve. We don’t question this belief because it's all we have, and when our world is threatening to turn upside down we need something to hold on to. 

And so we accept our Mega-church pastors who drive luxury cars and live in luxury estates,  then preach on Sunday what Jesus said about not needing a second pair of sandals. We’re no longer appalled by politicians who smile while they lie to us, saying whatever it takes to advance their objectives and ignoring what Jesus said about letting your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' be 'No'”. It doesn’t bother us that the church condemns abortion by proclaiming the Word of God and the sanctity of human life, then looks the other way while our sons and daughters go off to kill other peoples' sons and daughters who understand God differently than we do. It’s easy enough to overlook what Jesus said about who our brother is, and how we should love our enemies. We’ve learned to rationalize all this stuff so completely we don’t even have to notice it anymore. Meanwhile the hypocritical and self-serving life we live is becoming harder and harder to satisfy us.

I recently decided to go back and read the stories about Jesus in the New Testament again in hopes that some new revelation would come, but I just found the same thing I saw last time. It's amazing how the truth of it can continue to escape us. We don’t have the life Jesus said we could have, because we don’t do the things Jesus said we should do. Could something as clear as that be the stumbling block that keeps us from finding fulfillment in God's love? Is that the reason real contentment seems to be escaping us? I need to look at this more fully someday, but there's one thing I know already. The Church has put so much emphasis on the atoning Death of Christ we forget about the victorious Life of Jesus. Like a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, we carry his Cross down the wide road to the Good Life he told us not to take. It's a lot easier to worship God from there than it is to walk in the footsteps of one who said, “Follow me”.