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.