Who and What We Are

promise

Who and what are we

I believe that we are created by an entity who made us in Her image, His likeness. Although our bodies are not perfect, our images are. What we sometimes forget is to walk the walk and talk the talk. We are to impressed by our own imagined importance to remember that we are all created this way, not just a few of us. We ignore the Christian teachings of loving our neighbor and we love ourselves. Or, perhaps, we no longer love ourselves. We are all creations of God, and therefore, we all deserve to revel in Her image.

To understand this fully, we must listen to what is right in God’s eyes. We must stop listening with our intellect and begin listening with our hearts.

Just because someone looks different from us, speaks a different language, or worships God, calling Her with a different name, we must accept that these others are not our enemies; they are our brothers and sisters. We need patience to fully realize these differences mean nothing.

One of my regular concerns and regular displeasures is that our leaders are more caring about what their own images are than what the images of the people who voted for them are. They forget that they are hired to work for us, not work for themselves. This bothers me . . . always. However, our leaders are also made in the same image as we are, and therefore we cannot treat them as if they are our enemies, even though it seems that they are. I am not passing the buck here, but when we continue to elect the same people year after year, no matter how well they perform, these people lose respect for us. They see that we elect them regardless of their performances. We get what we deserve. With the power that they have, and the seeming lack of interest we show in their performances, it is no wonder that they seem to be corrupt in all that they do. The fault lies with us. We must change to have them change.

Presently, we are on the precipice of a tragic future, both nationally and internationally. We are standing looking at a great divide between ourselves and others living around the world. We are not showing respect, to them or to ourselves. We blame them for our problems.

We are continually being subjected to mass shootings by people who are in no condition to own any gun, much less one that is designed to rip a body into an irreparable condition. This is what assault weapons do. They are designed to completely destroy, and/or immobilize, an enemy on a field of war. They are not designed to be owned by inexperienced teenagers who really have no idea what they are doing and what damage they can cause.

I am overjoyed to see the students in America rallying to bring awareness to our leaders that this has to stop. I am not confident they will listen, but I am confident that these students who are demonstrating today, will elect new leaders when they can vote in a few years. And voting is the key; they will vote, while we are often too lazy to stand in line to vote.

I despise the constant slaughter occurring on our streets and in our schools and churches. Stop pointing the finger at these mentally deranged people; stop pointing the finger at our leaders who are concerned only with their positions in government – power. Look in the mirror and then point your fingers. We get what we elect; we get what we pay for. Shame on us for repeating and repeating this over and over.

Personally, I turn to God for my own comfort; I pray that others will also. There are many who say that prayer does not work. I am living proof that prayer does work. God listens to my prayers. I don’t always get what I want, but I do always get what I need. Please notice the difference!   God acts among us only to the extent that we ask for his action and accept it with our hearts and lives. This is the secret of God’s intervention in history. Ask, believe; believe and ask. She will listen. She does not want us to fail. We can only fail ourselves.

We are made in God’s image; let’s act that way.

Love in Our World – Lacking?

Let all that you do be done in Love.

Love in Our World

Jesus brought Love into the world. We should emulate Him. I don’t mean that we have to literally die on a cross to bring this to others; however, we can allow our materiality-driven existence to wither away to nothing, and instead, adopt a life of service to others. Think of the advantages that would be realized by giving up a minor physical luxury and giving the money we would spend on that to a cause that would benefit our less advantaged brothers and sisters.

In our life of Keeping up with the Joneses, we feel that we must have the greenest lawn, the largest SUV in our driveway, and the 66” curved-screen tv, displayed so that the neighbors can see our affluence.

No, we cannot give up these luxuries; we are too programmed to do that. But, if we scaled down just one of these and gave the money to a cause to help a person living on the streets, or a family of 4 who cannot afford fresh vegetables, that money would go a long way helping these people.

To paraphrase Isaiah, the ox knows its master, and the donkey its manger, but we do not know, nor do we understand. We are weighed down by injustice and act atrociously; we have abandoned Love. We have abandoned respect for each other, respect for ourselves. We need to defend the poor, help them achieve a level of living that is worthy of a human being, worthy of a brother or sister, worthy of a child of God.

The choice is ours to make; God will love us regardless of our actions. But will we really love ourselves. Love’s self-offering means that we love ourselves; after all, didn’t Jesus mention that when he told us to love others as we love ourselves. We do not take the teachings of morality in the Bible seriously; I’m not talking about religion. That is the culture we are forced to be a participant. We can change it.

 

 

Wisdom & Love

love

Wisdom and Love

These are two of the greatest messages we learn about in the Bible. They are also the main images of Jesus that I possess. He taught Wisdom, the Wisdom that has been taught in all cultures from the beginning of recorded history.

We still cannot get it right.

The Sermon on the Mount, one of the most spiritually uplifting messages in Matthew, should be the veritable blueprint for our lives, filled with Wisdom and Love. Yet we reject it; or, rather, we think we have mastered it because we think we got it right at the start. We ignore its teachings, because we believe that we are following its precepts and therefore, do not have to re-examine its meanings.

For many of us, we feel that God is silent; rarely, if ever, entering our lives. However, without words, God speaks to us, filling our hearts with Wisdom and Love; all we must do is listen, but not with our ears. Can we hear God’s message of His Omnipotence, His Love, His Wisdom? We can, if we so desire. He is near to all who want Him as part of life. He hears our cries of despair in this age of “alternate truths” – comforting us as no human can.

My prayer for the day is that we have more Love in our lives, more Wisdom to face the many frustrating and fearful images in the world today. I want to always be able to recognize the goodness, God, in all I meet. I pray that our lives return to the time of being when mankind was a true steward of God’s kingdom.

Heavenly Father, please help me get it right!

 

 

Retirement in a Cynical Age

AtTheFeeder

Many people in the world today tends to be cynical about most things; but do nothing about reversing this trend. I don’t have an answer for this; at least not for everyone. But I do know what helps me calm down. I love being out in the fresh air, communing with nature if you want to call it that.

Even with my limited ability to walk, I love to be out, watching the wild life. Even in these cold winter months, I love watching the birds and squirrels attacking the feeders we have in our own little Eden, our nature-loving backyard Garden of Eden. I remember sitting on our patio in New Jersey as I was editing my dissertation, enjoying the birds all around me, even having them land on the table next to me. They accepted me as if I were a kindred soul.

The is something very reverent about being able to share nature, being invited to participate by those who live in nature all their lives. Sitting in the Garden is similar to being in a cathedral. It is quiet; I enter it softly, breathing quietly, respecting the solemnity of the area. My yard is quiet; even the birds and squirrels vying for food, do it silently. I listen to the scurrying, I listen to the quiet. I listen to the clean colors of nature, as it blooms around me.

Time out for my complaints:

I can forget about what my world, our world has evolved into. The state-run college where I teach is a very pleasant place to work, but they do not want to pay me a living wage. Then the state takes some of that away from me in the form of taxes. Huge corporations, drowning in profits are no different, paying their average working near poverty-level wages. There is no entity in our western world that does not want me to give them money. Money. . . the mammon Jesus warns us to avoid.

The huge businesses, and even the churches, use their power to oppress the average person. These organizations press the need for money, press the desire to obtain more of it. We are told to defy mammon, but all of our social institutions only talk of the need for money. There are some churches and organizations that do stress personal time commitment to a cause, not just give me more money.

I am disappointed by the number of church leaders who are backing the debauchery we are experiencing in our political leaders. From the Crusades to present day, governments and churches back going to war. Government and religion tell us that killing is bad, but both support the death penalty, both support the waging of wars. Both do little to lower the gun violence in our country. The personal right to own and use a weapon supersedes all. Now our leaders want to allow weapons in classrooms and church naves. Wow, are we that enamored by the money that gun sales make that we allow guns in church. Is there no place safe from this madness? Other than my backyard Garden of Eden.

Back to my point of retiring:

So, I am retiring after 66 years of work, going to my Garden of Eden, watching the birds, squirrels and other of nature’s creatures enjoy the food my wife so unselfishly shares. Sometimes, I watch from the warmth of my kitchen window (in the winter) or the warmth of my patio chair (in the summer). Away from the pressure for more money, away from the threat of gun-toting, closer to God’s nature, closer to how I want to unwind from the hypocrisy and cynicism of the world around me.

This will be the first time since I was 9 years old in 1952 that I have not been gainfully employed by choice. Sixty-six years of habit-forming work that I will try break when this final semester ends in May. Wish me luck. I will need it.

I apologize for this miscellaneous meandering of a mixed-up mind.

False Beliefs

winter serenity

False Beliefs:

Rene Descartes’ famous line “Cognito ergo sum” does not seem to be worth anything today. Just because we think, means nothing to people, particularly our leaders. According to them, perhaps, “I consume therefore I am” or “I produce therefore I am” may seem more important. Or at least more to the point. I have a hint for you: our leaders and Descartes are all wrong.

This way of looking at things had blinded us to reality; it has convinced us that more is better . . . a bitter car, a grander home, a new TV to watch the Super Bowl. The only thing this way of thinking leads to is a life of stressful relationships with everyone, family, friends, coworkers. It has created a false competition where none is needed. In some cases, it has created hoarding, so that I have more and you have less.

According to our leaders, there is not enough of anything to go around, for all to benefit from. This begins and ends with money; but, in between, everything else is coveted. Food and housing costs are rising by the month; costs to get a higher education are rising so quickly that even community colleges are out of reach for many.

These beliefs and these practices have produced a greed unmatched in the history of mankind, including the days of Rome’s Caligula.

Our leaders spend money on war, military hardware, and more bombs. Good grief, we have more than enough nuclear weapons to destroy life on Earth 10 times over. But we need more. We don’t have enough money to feed our people justly; we lack the funds to provide healthy options for all; we cannot afford to repair our roads, build new rail lines, or expand highways to accommodate all of the new cars. And, we ration education through higher costs. I know I said this once. But, being a college professor, I empathize with my students who cannot afford to buy the books and rely on financial aid, which many times does not distribute until the third or fourth week of school. These students begin each year that far behind. The world of education seems, no, is stacked against them.

We never have enough money in this country to raise the standard of living for all, but we can give a trillion-dollar tax cut to the very wealthy. Henry Ford gave up a little of his profit to lower the cost of his cars, allowing his employees to purchase one. In the long run, this made him a very wealthy man. Not a billionaire, but a very high-living millionaire. Our billionaires have forgotten this lesson, including our president.

Jesus said that what we do to the least of those in humanity, we do to him. What we do to our poorest brothers and sisters, we do to God.

My wife and I had lunch with Muslim friends of ours yesterday. Two women who give of themselves daily. And, when they meet someone in need, they stop to help. Good Samaritans all. Yet our government looks at the color of their skins and their religious beliefs and declares them enemies of the state, willing to take what little they have and discard them like a pair of worn-out shoes.

I laugh in derision when I hear our leaders proclaim their faith, their Christianity, as they do all of these things to make it more difficult for the non-rich to survive.

Do they think that God is proud of them?

 

A Kindergarten Lesson in Sharing

winter serenity

A Kindergarten Lesson in Sharing 

I am confused about many things; but the one that bothers me most is how we live our secluded lives. We always anticipate a more glorious life. But the life we have is the only one we’ve got, composed of flesh and blood . . . just like everyone else. We share this life with all others.

I don’t care what religion we are, or if we are not religious. What I do care about is whether we are willing to let others enjoy this life we share. How is it possible to be content and happy in this life, when we see poverty and degradation all around us? Jesus, who looked at mankind and was saddened by all the neglect present in his time, teaches us to love one another as we love ourselves. But, maybe we don’t love ourselves. We can only offer hope and courage because of the hope and courage we have found in others.

There is a story about an African missionary bringing a basket of fruit to a native village and offering it to the children. The children raced to the basket, all holding hands. When they got to the basket, they emptied it and took the fruit off to enjoy . . . together. When asked by the missionary why they did not grab a lot for themselves, the children answered that they could not be happy if their friends we saddened by the lack of food.

Jesus tells us to “love one another as I have loved you.” Here is the source of this strength which we can receive from him and pass along to others. These children, who are not Christian, practice this daily.

 The gospels are filled with stories where Jesus ignores the boundaries imposed by acceptable social practices, and openly disregards man-made laws and regulations in order to show compassion. Jesus would have loved this story and would have shared this with many people, while on his journey. He consistently lets those oppressed by society know that they are wanted and loved by God, even if they are ignored and despised by everyone else.

God gives us the responsibility of doing something ourselves about the accepted social norms that are holding us back in doing good for others. We don’t have to do this alone. We have God’s promise of holding our hand and of helping us. But we must take the steps.

Our governments, and others in the positions of power, do everything they can to hoard the basket of fruit. They fear allowing others to share in the bounty. They can only be happy when they have it all.

And . . . they call themselves Christians.

 

 

The Freedom to Stop Oppression in Ourselves

winter serenity

The Freedom to Stop Oppression in Ourselves

What we’re searching for, we already know. We are blessed us with this amazing life, with eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to discern, and a heart in which to perceive something else other than ourselves living in our midst. Do we have the courage to face it?

I say courage, because admitting that we are not the end-all to everything can be difficult. The willingness to give up something, even if it is a little of ourselves, can be a little scary; and since it seems that most people have a negative one-track mind, a little bit useless. It is very easy to say, “Why bother; nobody cares; and if they do, who will it affect.” I live by the code that my mission in this life is to change the world. I know that I cannot do that, so, I try to change something that is within my sphere of influence. It is why I continue to teach at the age of 75.

When I went into teaching, age 53, I vowed to teach as long as I felt I was making a difference, as long as I knew that I continue to change my little corner of the world. My body is continuing to weaken as I age, and I am now in the position of change, a change that is calling me to switch my focus from teaching to some other way to accomplish my promise. I don’t know how I can do this, but I will try.

Maybe by example. One of Jesus’ messages is that being human is good. We have lost sight of this. Our personal needs, at all levels of society, have superseded our ability for compassion. I have heard people say things, such as, so what; when we go to heaven, God will sort things out. Where is heaven? I believe that it is within us. It is not a place to go when we die. Our view of this causes us to be overly harmed our relationships with sexuality, food, possessions, money, animals, nature, politics, and our own incarnate selves.

I see the greed in America, the me first, the lack of respect for others as is demonstrated by all of the sexual abuse news we are confronted with. God will sort it out when we die. When we continue with this abstract falsehood, we will always be subjected to the living nightmare that many in this world live with. I question why some people feel that they have to take from others when they have it all now. Isn’t having it all enough; or are these people just little piggies in a dirty slime. Just a thought: pigs are highly intelligent animals; I wonder if the are more intelligent than mankind. But that’s a topic for another time.

We desperately dance between the loneliness and desperation of our false selves and the fullness of the self that we should be, which is re-discovered and experienced anew as an ultimate homecoming. Our journey is a path of deeper realization and transformation, never a straight line, but a back and forth journey that ever deepens the consciousness of God within us. It is maturing; it is waking up.

We are given free will; but this free will is not a blessing, at least not the way we are handling it. Our unwillingness to allow others to have free will limits our own free will. We are so darkened by all of the oppression of the powerful over others, that our liberties are a curse, not a blessing.

I pray that by trying to change my little corner of the world, life can be a blessing to those, not a curse.