Violence in Sacred Spaces

Al Noor Mosque Christchurch New Zealand

I’ve waited for the dust to settle to speak about recent events. Violence in Sacred Spaces is not an issue that happens in other places, other countries, other provinces, other cities.

Here in Quebec, Alexandre Bissonette walked into a mosque in Quebec City and killed six worshipers, praying in their sacred space. The Muslim community is still reeling from that violence, because it happened again.

This time, New Zealand was the country where peaceful men and women lived, because they felt safe, and accepted by the people of Christchurch, a little over a week ago, a man walked into Al Noor mosque, and a second mosque and killed fifty people and injured many more.

I think to myself, violence in sacred spaces is not new. Dylan Roof walked into a Christian church and killed indiscriminately.

I’m not sure where the notion of killing people in sacred spaces began, I cannot recall, by my memory, where this line of attack was delivered to the masses, that killing of religious people was an acceptable choice.

TODAY … here in Montreal, in one of the most hallowed religious churches in Montreal, St. Joseph’s Oratory, on Mount Royal, a priest was in the middle of saying mass in the main sacred space, where worshipers gather from all over the world, and from our own community, a man walked up to him, during the commission of saying mass, and stabbed the priest in broad daylight, in front of a church full of innocent people, and tried to kill him.

Thankfully, the video shows, how people in the church jumped in to part the two men, and to save the priest from death … The elderly priest was rushed to the Montreal General Hospital, with non-life threatening stab wounds. He was later released, is in good shape, save a little beaten up by the experience, saying … He wants to go back to work, in a place of peace.

I was raised in the church. I served Holy Mother church for many years, and I thought serving the church as a vocation was going to be my lot in life, but God, had other plans. I know today, through considerable reflection about God, He knew the location was not right, nor were the people in that place. I know this today.

Today I serve my God, in many capacities, through the rooms of recovery, and with my friends and fellows. This is the life I always wanted, but it took a turn down a rabbit hole to get here.

I studied Religion and Theology in University and I have two sacred pieces of paper, who attest to my knowledge and my educational abilities.

I just don’t understand what drives people to walk into a sacred space and kill people. I mean really, you could choose any location to do that kind of murder. I believe it is some kind of shock factor that people get a rise out of killing in a church or a mosque, as if to say,

NONE OF YOU ARE SAFE, ANYWHERE !!!

That is just sick and demented.

It saddens me every time we hit this act of terror, where ever it may happen. The battle of the religious groups is historical. It goes back millennia. I mean the world began with conquest and religious strife.

The world moved from rags to riches, because men with religious leanings, got on a boat and traversed the oceans, only to find, indigenous peoples, living their lives, as they did, only to arrive, approach, and kill. So that they could plunder their riches to fill their coffers back at home, and to become filthy rich.

Some by sword, Some by war, and for the most part, by disease.

Indigenous communities all over the world, a millennia ago, were decimated by disease, brought to the new world by the conquerors of Holy Mother Church. Millions of people died, in the first scourges of religious warfare of sacred spaces.

In Europe, the battle between the three monotheistic religions, they being Christianity, Islam and Judaism, built, lived, fought and died, to bring their superior religion to an area, and conquer people into submission.

Killing in Sacred Spaces is not a new proposal.

There is really nothing we can say, as a whole that will make a hill of beans difference, because governments sit on their hands when it comes to logical process of stopping mass killings.

But New Zealand has done something the world over were gobsmacked by. In SIX DAYS, out from the double mosque killing, New Zealand, passed a common sense gun control measure, banning military type guns from New Zealand.

SIX DAYS … Imagine what the rest of the world could do in six days, if we had the resolve and the backing of governmental parties, if we ourselves could make this kind of resolution, and make it stick.

SIX DAYS !!!

We mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters in other places. We pray for them and their communities and their families.

If we were able to say, Never Again, and make it stick we would. But that is just not possible, because crazy, gun nuts, fucked up people are still out there. They just need the right dog whistle blown in their ears, and they too, may one day, commit another heinous act of terrorism.

Killing has to STOP.

We must act, NOW.

Let us pray for our departed brothers and sisters.


Essay: Knowledge

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A long time ago, in a galaxy, far far away, I went back to school at age 34. Growing up, my parents told me that they would never pay for my college education. However, when I graduated high school, Junior Achievement gave me a scholarship to the local community college in Miami where I grew up.

There was a trade-off for the gesture though. One that I did not pay back accordingly. Telemarketing is an evil business, and one I highly recommend you avoid at all costs.

But I digress …

That first year was not all of a washout. I did pretty well. Took a psychology course that rocked my socks off, taught by a female professor who rocked my world.

I could never get the hang of writing term papers. All those steps, and papers, and note cards, and bibliographies … ugh !!!

Over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house we go …

After that, in my second year of studies, I landed in a Catholic Seminary. The church paid for that, even though I was asked to leave after only a year, because I was not part of the men abusing boys club. That was a dirty little secret.

After that, alcoholism took its toll on me. That ride into hell began swiftly, and ended in a grand crash and burn at age 26.

Today, I walk on hallowed ground, that has not been trodden by men, such as myself, at the age we are in, living with a fatal disease, “now manageable” that was supposed to kill us ages ago.

But like a fine wine, we will not be uncorked until the right time.

From my parents, I learned a great many things. Early on, I learned how to be responsible for a house, by gaining the key to the front door, at an age, in today’s world, kids that young need constant supervision. Back then, we were free range kids.

It was such a simple time, the 1970’s and 1980’s.

We did not fear the world, and the people in it, like we do today. Freedom was something we did not take for granted, but appreciated. Neighbors, were neighbors. Kids in our neighborhood would travel in packs from one house to another, day in and day out.

We were not saddled with smart phones, or a PHONE for that matter. We were not attached by umbilical to a computer day in and day out, like we are today.

Taking care of a house, and being responsible for my brother, was a big deal, however my brother never paid me any attention. And memories of him are negligible. He does not seem to want to know me today, because he lives in his resentments like both my parents do. My father went to his grave resenting me, and my mother would rather eat dirt than acknowledge me in any way, shape or form.

I learned how to work, well, early on. I had some of the best jobs in my life, throughout my life, in certain stages. My first job was in a grocery store, bagging groceries, and cleaning and stocking. I scooped ice cream for a season. Another great job, was a short order cook in a chicken shack, (2 actually).

Skip ahead a few years, and many alcoholic drinks later, and I land the most important job I will ever have in my life. Working for Todd, (read: God). Hands down, the best of times and the worst of times, were spent cleaning garbage, plunging shitty toilets, filling ice buckets and stocking beer, bar tending, and the best job, Working in a DJ Booth.

I learned practical life lessons, that I still draw on to this very day, from Todd (read:God). What I failed to learn from the Big Book, that first round, was that I needed practical life knowledge that would help me survive. Sobriety was important. If I had died prematurely, what would have been the need to learn anything. I could have just decided to kill myself slowly with drugs and alcohol, like all my other friends did.

Todd (read:God) had other ideas for me.

When I started this blog 14 years ago, its main goal was to catalogue all of my memories, while I could still access them, before they were forgotten. What I have learned about life is PAGED –> over there.

When Todd, departed my life, and his solid voice of counsel was gone, his steady hand, and voice, and physical presence in my life, was gone, I thought I was going to die. I had no idea how to make it alone in the world, at age 29, circa 1996.

I did fail miserably.

Years later, in 2001, I got back on the horse and began riding for my life. It took me a while to begin to work my way out of my hole of insanity. Opportunities opened to me and I took each one of them as they came.

Providence was in my favor. I set myself right with God, and He moved heaven and earth for me, that I am solidly sure of today.

God is the fine thread that is woven throughout my life. The year I spent in seminary, I devoted my life to God, and I promised to serve Him and Him alone, for the rest of my life. Interestingly enough, it took me a long time to figure out HOW I was going to do that, after being dismissed from the church proper.

Troy took me to my Second, First meeting. I stayed for a second Second meeting an hour later, and met the folks who would carry me back into life, as it happened. Some of those initial friends, are still friends to me today. Albeit, from farther away.

A year into Sobriety, my rehab counselor Margo, asked me what I wanted to do with my life, now that I had achieved a year sober. I had to think about it, at first. The answer I came up with was I want to go back to school.

What did I know then ? I had my lessons. I had some solid, terrifying life experience to bank on. I had survived, 9 years, I was still alive… 2003 was a good year.

On February 13th 2003, I became a Canadian Citizen. In September of that same year, I began my university career. At age 34. A long time ago, I promised God that I would serve Him and Him alone. Religion and Theology was given.

However, I began my university career in Psychology. That was short-lived.

From the very start, when I began to write about myself, there were many detractors, who used to batter me with vile shit. Saying things like, “A gay cannot be a Christian, and why would a gay study religion and theology, when gay is incongruous with scripture?”

Some say they know God.
Some say they know their Bibles.
Some say that they speak for one, and believe in the other.
Then there are those who know neither.

What I did not know then, I know now. I may not have known, all that I needed to know, and I used to get in the mosh pit with the vipers at first, (Not very sober, mind you) until I stopped being taken for cheap.

I boded my time, and I studied hard and well. And over a ten-year period, I finally collected two very important pieces of parchment.

University bachelors Degrees in Religious Studies, and a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry.

All the while, getting sober at the same time, and caring for my husband, because he is mentally challenged, and was very ill for a very long time.

For years, I was chief cook and bottle washer.

I know a great many things about a number of topics. I may not know everything there is to know about certain subjects, I have my truths.

I know how hard mental illness is on the human who is ill. And I know what mental illness does to significant others, and families by extension. I learned this all the hard way, one day at a time. 15 years later, we both survived it.

In sobriety, I thought to continue into the Masters of Theology.

What I did not know, was a harsh lesson.

All the men and women I studied with over the last ten years, followed that track into the Masters Program. However, I was an outside, one, because of my age, two, I was getting sober, three, I was married, and four, it wasn’t all about ME.

On the very first day of Master’s Classes, I walked into that first classroom, with my fellows, and it was obvious to me, something was WAY OFF.

My friends had outgrown their pants. Their heads we double their original size. They had coupled and tripled up together, congratulating themselves on conquering the world and holding it by the balls.

It was obvious that I did not get the memo that went around telling me that over that last summer I should have stoked my EGO and carried it into class.

I did my best. But I knew very soon, that I could not produce Masters Quality work, in the academic sense, to the degree I needed to produce. I got to a point, in my studies that I could not compete, nor was academically astute to continue any further.

And as fast as the Theology department had swung the door open for me, they swung it shut so fast, it took my breath away. They did not even blink an eye.

I went from hero to zero in minutes flat.

I still write, as often as the mood hits me. I, like some of my friends, I have made over the years, have a career. It may not pay the big bucks, but it suffices.

How do you parlay degrees in Religion and Theology, into a career in Sobriety ?

One day at a Time.

The Preachers Circle I belong to, still exists. My mentors Elder Christensen and Pastor Randall, and Father Donald are true and solid men in my life.

I read like a mad man. When I got sober this time around, part of my daily routine, at the end of the day, is a little prayer and meditation. Then I crawl into bed with a good book.

To my credit, I have at least a couple hundred books on shelves in my bedroom, in my library. They come from Indigo, and begin life on my bedside table. When I finish each book, they go on the “READ PILE.”

Knowledge … I may not know everything there is to know about MANY things. Gladly, I can say, that I know a few things, about my area of expertise. I read, to learn about subjects that interest me.

I know better than to state categorically, that I have certain knowledge. because that would invite pitchforks and fire.

I was talking to a friend the other night. He had just returned to Canada from a world-wide trip over seven months. Going from Canada, to India, to Nepal and then ending in Israel.

Israel and Palestine is a topic fraught with complications. To pick a side, is dicey. To say you agree with one and not the other, you take your life into your own hands. I don’t know everything about that area of the world, but I do have an opinion, based on solid reading, written by solid trusted sources, ON THE GROUND.

My degrees in Religion and Theology come in handy when broaching the subject of lands steeped in Religion and Faith.

A long time ago, when people would say vile things to me about what I was studying or denigrating my abilities of what I know, I caved under that kind of scrutiny.

I cave No Longer.

When I turned 40 … That little door in my brain opened. And little by slowly, I realized that “I knew things for Sure.” I had forty years of hard-earned and fought experience behind me, that I have a story nobody can take from me. And experience that would curl your toes if I discussed the nitty-gritty of the scourge of AIDS, and what I experienced on the ground, as I lived it.

My forty decade was a watershed for me. It changed the way I see the world around me.

I survived 25 years. And I have that story in my arsenal of knowledge.

Now in my fifty decade, I am still waiting to see what is going to come next, because I am in uncharted territory, medically, spiritually and physically. This is the task a hand, to make the most of every day, every moment.

Life is all about what you know, how you learned it, and how you apply all the knowledge you have inside you, to better the world around you and the people you call your friends, and the family you have.

My biological family wants nothing to do with me, even though I have worked terribly hard at reconciliation over the years, to no avail. My father went to his grave hating me, never giving me that chance to amend that relationship, and my mother is on that same hateful and spiteful road herself. My brother is also on that hateful road too.

Fuck me for trying.

I heard last night that mining the past for the missing key to life, is pointless, because the answers are NOT in the PAST, but reside in the present.

However, I have spent the past fifty odd year data mining the past, divining all the secrets and lessons I could remember and write down, hoping to find the key to who I am and why I am here, and what it all means.

Some of my friends find this kind of task too daunting. This was the choice I made in my sobriety, to learn the stories that needed to be learned, to mine the past for nuggets of truth, and synthesizing all that information and incorporating all that knowledge into the bank for my own personal use.

I’ve spent a lifetime, bettering my life. Life is hard work and not for the faint of heart.

Once you get told that Jeremy you are very sick and you are going to die a miserable death, so go home and kiss your ass goodbye … I did that for a short while, and tried to kill myself in the drink.

THANK GOD that TODD (read: GOD) stepped in.

Because I live to tell that story as often as I have to, to make sure you know that there is life to be lived, as long as you believe you are worthy of all good things.

There IS a GOD and I am not HE.

Knowledge is Power. Use it wisely.

Belief, Faith and Practice …

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When is it important to expect Belief, Faith and Practice to be unified?

I have given you some comments via other writers on the recent rash of states decisions to promote the practice of hate and exclusion, in the name of religion or the practice of ones faith, or the fear that the freedom to practice their faith and religion is being diminished because a Christian would have to serve his brother or sister, and that brother or sister being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered.

I can say, with pride, that I have earned degrees in Religion and Theology.

I can also say, with pride, that I have the faith of a family and faith of my own to draw on.

When it comes to recovery and my belief, my faith and practice, are rock solid. I have no doubt, in my mind, that there is a God. And I am not He.

Today I speak with my voice to tell you that I am FED UP with governments choices when it comes to legislating hatred on a state level as well as on a governmental level. I am FED UP with Christians who speak from both sides of their mouths, when it comes to faith and practice.

When can you call out a Christian for being not – so – much – a – Christian?

For every man, woman and child on earth, there is a way to practice faith, be that faith among the lists of faiths that are claimed on the earth.

Some say they know God.
Some say they know their Bibles.
Some say they they speak for one, and believe in the other.
Then there are those who know neither.

**** **** ****

I have, in the past, been called to task for my faith and my practice, when it comes to my education as a Homosexual Christian. I have, in the past, been victimized by one particular church in the United States, who seem to think that being a Homosexual and a Christian, are incompatible with God’s word. That I could not possibly be both. That I can’t be both.

That what I am, is incongruous with who I claim to be.

Today I want to call out all of those Christians, that Speak the name of God, out of one side of their mouths, and also speak and practice hatred out the other side of their mouths.

I don’t believe that God honors a human being that speaks His name so confidently and at the same time can speak and practice hatred and bigotry.

You cannot claim to speak for God and speak His name, and do the exact opposite by your actions. Your faith must abide with your practice.

God does not abide in Hate
God does not abide in Bigotry
God does not abide in Homophobia
God does not abide in Exclusion
Jesus Christ, as I live and breathe, never condoned exclusion
Jesus went out of his way to pointedly INCLUDE everyone that was excluded

We are amid Holy Week and Passover right now. The most blessed and anointed time of the liturgical year for Christians and Jews. Everything we claim to be and the faith we claim to practice, began during Holy Week.

Was everything that Jesus did and said, faith and practice, just words in a book? How can you look yourself in the mirror every day and call yourself Christians, when you cannot stand up and do and say what Jesus asked you to do and say?

What did he say?

For what ever you do to the least of these you have done to me.
Love your neighbor as yourself.

You cannot serve two Masters.
You cannot serve God and hate your fellow man or woman
Your Faith and Practice must abide
Live the Word, Breathe prayer

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

We cannot stand by and allow the Right, The Christian Right, to roll over and rip apart the fabric of the nation, that we are all a part of and the world at large. We cannot allow Christians who profess Christian faith to oppress and exclude our brothers and sisters, because of their sexual orientation.

This is NOT a just cause.

This is plain and simple. I’m really not sure what Bible these people are reading, nor where it is written that based on ones “Faith and Practice” I (read: GOD) Divine you the right to exclude your fellow man or woman, because of their sexual orientation ! Where did God ever mention exclusion of Gays and Lesbians, Bisexuals or Transgendered humans?

We’ve had this discussion. It is appropriate to mention Matthew Vines and his groundbreaking book, God and the Gay Christian. He, with his minions of believers, are changing the face of Christian faith and practice. We have discussed those seven biblical passages that the most vehement of Christians, still stand behind that allow them to hate and exclude.

When I was a child, I was introduced to God, by women I revere and honor to this day. Everything that I am, came from what they taught me about Life, God, Faith and Practice.

My parents claimed to be Christians, Catholics and Believers. They spent decades waiting for a man of God to absolve them for their choice in preventative birth control, when Holy Mother Church, kicked parishioners out of the fold, because of their choices of preventative birth control.

They eventually got that absolution. They turned around and served God to the best of their ability. And they did that work gladly and without complaint. But when it came to the fact that I was a homosexual, their faith and practice splintered.

They began to speak out of both sides of their mouths.

Well before I ever decided to come out of my self imposed closet, I knew, well and good what they actually thought about Jews, Niggers, Dark skinned Asians. and Homosexuals. I knew this was truth because I listened to them for years, pontificate their hatred and bigotry and serve God at the same time.

My father abused me terribly, because he feared me becoming a homosexual, because I was friends with adult homosexuals and that was an abomination. And he was going to beat homosexuality out of me if it was the last thing he ever did.

But they could not serve two masters. Practice went by the wayside. I cannot tell you what their faith looks like today, because I, along with my aunt Paula, have been blacklisted by the family, shut away in the darkness of radical faith and resentment, to have our voices and lives shut in the dark, never to be acknowledged.

When I got sick and came very close to death, from AIDS, I turned to my family for faith, support and practice. They in turn, turned their backs on me and denied me love, faith and family.

The last holiday I went home for Christmas, my father humiliated me in front of a table full of guests they had invited for dinner. He went on to encourage me to “die quickly!”

My mother, a Christian, a Catholic, at one time, worked in Home Healthcare for the sick. She served the least of these, albeit grudgingly. Every night after work, with colleagues in tow, would come home, pop a beer or two, and talk about the faggots with AIDS that they had to visit with medication to help keep them alive, and their only wish, in that moment, was that for them just to die already !

My parents called me things like dirty homosexual.
They called me sick.
They called me an ABOMINATION …

And they claimed they could use these kinds of words because they read it in their bibles. And believe you me, we had a bible. I never saw them open it nor read from it.

I knew what good faith and practice was. I went to church. I served God. I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary, only to be told that my faith and practice were not good enough to pass muster and they told me to leave and not return.

In my darkest night of horror, the family I trusted to stand with me did not. When I needed them the most, they were absent, by choice. Because of their faith !!!

It then fell to the man named Todd who stepped in and became God incarnate, and he saved my life, when I should have died, by the side of the road, alone and destitute.

He chose to step in. He chose to save me. From all those others in our circle, he picked me.

Because He loved me unconditionally, as God loved me unconditionally.

The family I came from, could not and would not love me unconditionally, because of their faith and practice. Because I was one, a homosexual, and two, because I had AIDS, therefore God’s judgment came down upon me and He spoke my death to them.

Sadly, families all over North America still believe, in faith and practice, that because we are Homosexuals, and some have AIDS, God has spoken his condemnation upon us for our past transgressions and for who we are as human beings.

Therefore we are owed no Love, Respect or Salvation.

It is ABOMINABLE for a Christian to speak out of both sides of their mouths. You cannot serve God and hate your neighbor. You cannot claim to Love God and hate your neighbor.

You cannot love God and Hate your neighbor.

Every day you decide to hate your neighbor, or exclude your neighbor you spit in the face of Jesus and you desecrate the faith you proclaim. You did not do as Jesus asked you to do.

Therefore, can you, Christian, still call yourself a Christian, and hate your neighbor?

That answer is NO !!!

What Would Jesus Do ???

… Jesus Wept …

Easter Meditation

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One day the Lord spoke to them and they started walking through the desert. Men, women, children the elderly and the herds and flocks. Where they were going was not known, but it was apparent that they were going to get somewhere. If only they walked a step or two.

A young man spoke up and said “I will walk ahead of the tribes, I will lead them as the Lord leads me.” And the Lord asked the young boy, “are you ready to walk for the glory of God,” why “Yes,” the boy answered. So be it the Lord said, “now lead them, but take only that which you need and nothing more.” I will walk with You Lord, he said without a second thought.

The Lord said that the way will not be smooth and there are things you will see on the way that will test your faith, yet I the Lord will make the way straight and the path smooth, if you have faith in Me and the Glory of God the father. Yes, I have faith, the boy replied, so walk my son.

A few days into the journey the boy came across a woman with ragged hair and little clothing. She was elderly and needed some water. The boy was only carrying what he had, and he gave drink to the woman and quenched her thirst. She said to him, that she was lonely and afraid of the road, and the boy replied, woman, have no fear, for I will walk with you until nightfall and we will camp under the canopy of heaven. That day they walked together and the woman was grateful for the company and the water.

That night, they made camp, the tribes of the Lord.

The Angel of the Lord came down and struck the rock and water flowed. They all drew water from a spring that appeared and everyone’s thirst was satiated. And the animals were watered as well. Food was passed from group to group until every last one was fed. That night they sang the song of the Lord until everyone was sent to a sleep protected by the Lord himself.

The very next morning, rested and fed, the tribes packed up their wares and started the journey as they did the day prior. The sun hung low in the sky, and by high noon, sweat was pouring off the brows of the people. The young boy made his way in front of the pack, leading them as he was guided by the spirit of the lord. Soon after noon the boy came across an elderly man who was being carried by two men, visibly shaken and tired.

The boy looked up to the sky and said, what can I do Lord?

The answer came and the boy took the arm of the litter and helped carry the man for the rest of the day, until darkness fell and camp was set up for the night. Once again, the Angel of the Lord came down and struck the rock and from the rock a spring came up from the earth once again, the people and the animals were watered. The tables were set and the people were fed to their fill. Once again, they praised the God of Abraham and in the coolness of the night they slept under the canopy of the heavens.

On the third day they awoke to a cloudy day, grateful for the relief from the sun, they gathered up their wares and began to walk once again. Today the young man was tired. He had been leading this lot for days now, and yet the lord said, Keep walking. So he did.

On this day he came upon a young person drawn from travel, covered in dust from the desert. Visibly the boy had not eaten in days and was close to death.

The young man stopped and knelt down next to him and shared his water and some bread from his pack. He lifted the boy into his arms and carried him for the rest of the day. Hours passed and the boy was filled with faith and strength as he carried his charge on his back. That night at camp, the young boy gathered some bedding and laid his friend in a cool soft place.

That night the Angel of the Lord appeared and once again, struck the rock and water flowed. He bathed the young man whom he had carried all day, then they broke bread and shared living water from the earth. Miracle, you ask, quite possibly so.

That night all were fed and after the plates were cleared and all had been fed, they gathered before the fires and praised the God of Abraham. They rested beneath the canopy of heaven.

For 38 days and 38 nights, the boy walked with his people, helping each soul he encountered to the best of his ability as God had commanded him to do.

On the 39th day they awoke. The angel of the Lord was there at first light and he told them, the journey was almost over, walk on as the Lord commands.

That day was no different. On that day the young boy would meet his final “person.” She was laden with child, and was walking alone carrying everything that she needed. No man walked by her side, no assistance came to her. She was visibly close to giving birth, and the Boy took her hand

As night fell, the boy gathered the women together and they prepared the woman for birth. A call went out to the men and they gathered together some wood for someplace to keep the child. As was foretold, the Angel of the Lord appeared to them once again, and struck the rock and as happened each night before, water flowed.

That night the stars shone brightly, the heavens were alight with song. Something was about to happen. For after the meal, the woman called for the boy and he appeared by her side. The time had come and she wanted to share the birth of the child with him, for he walked with her a step or two. That night under the canopy of heaven a child was born and she asked the boy his name.

He answered, “My name is David.” She smiled at her son, and spoke to the heavens, May God in heaven be blessed and may he bless my son David, born this night. The heavens replied with a thousand shooting stars… What a glorious vision the host of angels come down from heaven to sing to David, the newest member of the tribes of Abraham. That night they rested and slept in peace.

On the 40th day the young boy awoke, there standing before him were 40 men, women and children. All of those whom David had walked with through the desert. At that moment an Elder man spoke to David and said follow me, there is someone who would like to see you David, HE has asked for you by name.

The people before him parted and through them David walked until he reached a hill that was green with foliage and there a spring bubbled up. “Take off your sandals David” a voice spoke to him. David did not skip a beat. As David looked up from undoing his shoes, There the Master sat on the rock before him.

David’s eye welled up with tears, he had done exactly as he was instructed, as the Lord had told him. He had led his people through the desert helping each soul he met on his path. The Master knew what was in his heart and soul. David was without words. The Master got up from where He sat and approached David and wrapped his arms around him, and said……..

“Well done good and faithful servant. In YOU I am well pleased.”

What for? David said, all I did was what you asked of me while I walked. And the Master replied, “you know David, each time you helped one of these souls on your journey, you helped ME.” “What the least of these you have done for my brothers and sisters you have done for me.”

The Master reached down into the pool of water and blessing the water he blessed and baptized David the Boy, and then David the infant. And for a moment the heavens opened up and God’s voice was heard, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

And from the sky a beam of light shone forth into the desert and the sands were parted and there in the swirl of dust a city appeared. It is there that the people made their homes. The journey had ended. And a placed blessed by God was theirs to live in.

So will you walk with me a step or two. The journey is long and the road may be rough, but as the Lord says “I will make the path straight and your burden will be light.” Take only that which you need. And if you meet someone of the road, stop and ask your questions, share your water and food, for you never know when the Master will reveal himself to you.

Are you ready to start walking !!!

Sunday Sundries: Guest Post: Uncomfortable Truth

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I have friends who are teachers, students, and fellows in Religion Circles. Religion, for many, is a dying subject. Like some of my friends, my Religious education went nowhere. I spent countless monies and years of my time studying a subject that would not produce a career in my chosen field.

My friend Steve, works in Manhattan, in the publishing field. He also is a student of Religion and studied Old World Languages and Religions of the far East and taught religion for a while, until he fell out of favor with those he worked beneath.

Steve has a blog I read daily. There is always something to learn about life.

Tonight I am posting his entry for Sunday: Uncomfortable Truth

Ugly. That’s not a word I use lightly. The phenomenon of racism is ugly. More than that, it’s insidious. I recently attended a community course on racism sponsored by the Central Jersey Community Coalition. Since our government won’t condemn racism our communities must. This five-hour course was an eye-opener for me. I had known that race was a social construct with no basis in biology or any kind of science. What I hadn’t realized is that race was invented as a means of maintaining “white” power. And it was done so deliberately. The course leaders outlined the history of the modern concept of race and showed how it is primarily an American phenomenon (not exclusively, but it was intentionally orchestrated here). The idea was to keep property in the hands of wealthy whites.

During the discussion many topics came to mind. The primary two, for me, were capitalism and the Bible. These strange bedfellows are far too comfortable with one another. Both can be made to participate in the racism narrative. Capitalism appeals to the basest and most vulgar aspects of being human. Greed and selfishness. Wanting more for me and less for you. As one participant put it, it’s a zero-sum game. Your loss is my gain. We support this system every time we buy into the myth that life is about consuming. Buying more. Contributing to the economy. That which is lost is mere humanity. This is the narrative our government has adopted. The election of one of the uber-wealthy has demonstrated that with a nuclear missile shot heard round the world.

And what of the Bible? As the story of the flood unfolds in the book of Genesis, Noah develops a drinking problem. Naked in his tent, his shame is seen by his son Ham. Hungover the next morning, the only righteous man alive curses his son’s progeny. Then after the tower of Babel story, those cursed races, in biblical geography, end up in Africa. Christian preachers long used this myth as the justification of slavery. Races, after all, were decreed by God at that very tower. The tower shows us for who we truly are. Human hubris led to divine folly. And now we have a nation of liberty built on the basic premise of inequality. Racism is beyond ugly. It’s evil. The Bible may be complicit, but we need to take over the narrative. Race does not exist. Scientifically there is no such thing. Although race doesn’t exist, racism most assuredly does. Like all evils we must bring it to the light to make it disappear.

Monday: Thoughts

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What does one say, after another senseless killing of innocents ? How many times can you say “I’m sorry, or I feel your pain, or I stand with you ?” If the world does not stand together every day and every hour and every minute, we aren’t doing our jobs.

This utter disrespect of life, needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth.

The governments who support terrorism, need to be stopped. The Radical Teachings of a religion that is based in peace, need to be eradicated from teaching institutions. Weeds like this need serious weed killers. The world is in a position that extreme measures need to be taken.

We need to stop the killing at any cost.

I’ve been hearing people talk about where the Islamic Order for killing came from, it came from Mohamed himself. Sadly, there are those who have taken his words quite literally, and this order of Jihad has brought us to he point where, the world needs to act decisively.

I am not a scholar of Islam. I studied Islam in University, and was the only branch of my studies that I failed. I just was not able write a paper worthy of respect and recognition.

Bastardized religion is a scourge on our world, and this problem is not confined to one single faith practice. This problem is well-known, and wide-spread, however some would never admit that they speak a creed, and follow a faith, that is not true faith.

This evening I had a discussion with a friend about what needs to be done. I’m not sure a radical idea would gain traction and work. We are just not in a place to radically change the face of our world.

Canada is a country that has had its share of religious violence. Canada has its issues with people from other places, and the length this nation stooped and did irreparable damage to entire populations of men, women and children.

We have irreparably tarnished our relationships with Indigenous people’s who were here well before we were all here. And even today, recognition and reparations are long in coming.

Radical Islam has found its way into our country. And terror has been visited on both Canadians and Muslim’s alike. This is just fact.

We are not a nation that is immune to terror related violence. Then again, we are not Europe or the Middle East. We are removed from those theatres by an ocean and we lie much distant from the center of ignition.

Our citizens far and wide worry that with the Canada 150 Celebrations and here in Montreal, for our 375th, are we really safe and insulated from terror, that which we have seen happen world-wide ?

The Answer is NO.

Millions of people will be gathering over the summer months to celebrate, and we wonder, are we next ? How will our governments and our authorities, provincially and locally, provide protection when we have seen the lengths some will go to wreak havoc on unsuspecting innocents ?

We hear the words, “Canada is safe …” “But we cannot guarantee you 100% that you will be safe in public spaces.” But life must go on. Our nation has spent some serious money, preparing the ground for celebrations.

Underneath, how can you openly celebrate your country and your life and your good fortune to live here, when in other big cities around the world, people are dying in the streets.

I just don’t know what to tell my friends, who live in other cities, when they speak their questions to me. They beg the questions, and they know the answers, but still, we live with uncertainty.

Tragedy has become commonplace around the world. The perpetrators of Islamic Terrorism, have infected our national conscience. Too many people have been killed in too many places, for us to be able to ignore this taint in our common lives.

Living with having to have eyes in the back of ones head, or living with the need to always be looking over ones shoulder is terrible. yet, this is where we stand today.

We are wary of our neighbors. We do not love each other as ourselves. We are suspicious of those who are different. We hate too easily. Hatred is such an easy out for us, as the “Go To” way to live… Just Hate Everybody.

Hatred is easier than knowing yourselves, or your neighbors. Hatred is too easy, when we need to understand and have compassion.

You cannot point your finger and your fist towards everyone at the same time. It is far too easy, to judge everyone and everything. But what other choices do we have, when the world seems to be complicit in the blind, financial, and religious support of those whose only goal in their religious observance, is to kill the Infidel Indiscriminately.

Is this what God would want ? Is this what the Greater Power wants of us, to hate, and to persecute and to kill each other ?

That answer is categorically NO.

We must go on living, but not accept what it seems to me, a world that has allowed this unconscionable killing to go on for as long as it has been going on.

This centuries long episode of Conquer, Convert and Kill has to end.

We must find the resolve to call on our governments and our leaders to do Something, Anything. Everything.

Living a life in constant fear is not a life at all.

THE WORLD NEEDS TO ACT. DECISIVELY. NOW

The Gospel of John – Revisited April 20, 2009

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Jesus Teaches Nicodemus – Jn. 3:1-8

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

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In the Gospel of John, there is no mention of miracles, as in the other Gospels. Miracles in John are called “signs” and we can see here in this reading from today that John is telling a story of Jesus evident here is the High Christology of John. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Jesus is talking about things above, not things of the earth.

The narrator gives an explanation of ambiguous statements. There are literal and non-literal understandings, and also spiritual meanings. In John 3:1-3, we have the statement being born from above or born again, this is a spiritual or celestial birth. Nicodemus misunderstands Jesus, and the author of the Gospel plays on this passage.In this discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus (1:21) (3:28-30, 36) the information is not adequately integrated. (11-13 – 31-36) there is an opposition between earth and heaven.

Let us look further into the Gospel of John:

There is a difference between John and the synoptic Gospels.

  • John the Baptist’s witness of Jesus (1:19-34)  John the Baptist is never named “The Baptist” in John
  • Jesus’ purification of the Temple (2:12-22) this is placed at the beginning of John, but is found further on in the synoptics
  • The feeding of the 5,000 (6:1-13)
  • Jesus walks on water (6:16-21)
  • Peter’s confession of Jesus (6:66-71)
  • Mary’s anointing of Jesus at Bethany (12:1-8)
  • Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (12:12-19)
  • Jesus’ last supper (13:1-30) Jesus washes feet
  • Passion and Resurrection Narratives (Jn 18-20)  The discussion between Pilate and Jesus’ crucifixion scene

Miracles in the fourth Gospel:

Only 2 of the 29 synoptic miracles are found in John. The feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on water. Five other “signs” are absent in the synoptics

  1. Water into wine (2:1-11) Mary is named Mother of Jesus
  2. Healing of the Royal Officers son (4:46-54) maybe (Mt 8:5-10)
  3. Healing of the man at Bethzada (5:1-9) on the sabbath
  4. Healing of the blind man (9:1-7)
  5. Resurrection of Lazarus (11:33-44) This action seals the death of Jesus

Chronology of the Fourth Gospel:

There is one journey to Jerusalem in the synoptics (1 year) yet John mentions 3 passover feasts (approximately 3 years) John (2:13, 5:1, 6:4, 7:10, 10:22-23,11:55 and 12:1-12)

  • Jn 2:13 – The Purification of the Temple  in Jerusalem
  • Jn 5:1 – The festival of the Jews – Jerusalem visit once again
  • Jn 6:4 – Passover mentioned – Jesus feeds the 5000
  • Jn 7: 2-11 – Jesus goes to Jerusalem
  • Jn 10:22-23 – Feast of Dedication (In the Temple) Jerusalem
  • Jn 11:55 – Passover
  • Jn 12:1-12 – Jesus is going to come to Jerusalem

John has access to other materials. There are tensions in John (problems) it’s not about chronology but Theology in John.

Johannine Double Christology: everything that pertains to the identity of Jesus Christ. Christology much more present, not so much ethics of the kingdom of God, focuses more on faith, the only prerequisite for eternal life.

John 20:30-31

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This you see the Subjunctive aorist – “That you may come to believe”
Here you see the Subjunctive present – “These are written so that you will continue to believe”

There is something more in John about Jesus. (Jn:1-18) refers to Jesus divine origin – this inclusion refers to Jesus having a divine origin with God which comes back at the end of the Gospel, on the part of the doubter (20:28) “My Lord and My God.”

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The Gospel of John was written in stages or redacted in stages.

  1. Pre-Johnannine (John) traditions were independent traditions from the synoptics (record of sayings and deeds)
  2. Kernel of the Johannine traditions basically is or represents expansion of stage 1. They added Joahnnine theology also from the people who were preaching at that time.
  3. The actual redaction of the Gospel – the writing
  4. A second edition of the Gospel
  5. And we end up with the final edition of the Gospel (chapter 21)

From a Source perspective John was not a one shot writing. The prologue in John is the interpretive key to John. There is the community of the Beloved Disciple.

AUTHOR – is not necessarily the writer (21:24) from whom received the tradition – the message giver.
EVANGELIST – The writer composes the work elements of tradition recording of the author and put tradition in narrative form this adds theological flair.
REDACTOR – is the one who completed the editing work of the evangelist, there may be more redactors.

The authorship of the Gospel of John: Was the Gospel of John written by the Disciple whom Jesus Loved?

Jn 13:23 – Only the Beloved Disciple knows who will betray Jesus
19: 26-27 – He was at the foot of the cross
20:2 – At the Tomb
21:7 – Redactional chapter – fishing with Peter
21:20-24 – Testimony of this person – person who wrote the Gospel received testimony from the Beloved Disciple.

The Disciple whom Jesus Loved:

13:23 The Beloved Disciple
19:26-27 – Beloved Disciple identified with Mother
Jn. 20:22-23 The Outpouring of Spirit – Johannine Pentecost, the result will be the mission.
Jn. 19:30 – Jesus Giving up his Spirit – the Gospel is written for “insiders”

The Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple are representative of the Johannine community. The symbols of water and the symbols of the spirit (Jn. 7/ 20:20-23) When Jesus dies – he gives up his spirit. Everything happens at the Cross – The cross is the moment where Jesus dies and returns to the Father. When the Son of Man will be lifted up (on the cross) The Christology of the Son of Man ( refers to Daniel chapter 7 ).

Christology of the Son of God

Jesus is more than the Messiah, carries attributes that traditional Jews would have given to the Messiah. The Son of God carries glory and power of the Father and the only begotten son.

Johannine Christology of the “agent of the Father” Judicial clauses – Jesus is the plenipenitentiary – the mediator. Someone sent with the power of the one who sent him.

Jewish law elaborated a Charter of Rights, responsibility of the one who was sent. Responsibility clauses are discernable (sender and agent) the relationship between Jesus and the Father – Judicial Christology.

Mandate Clause:
The existence of the mission. Choose the right representative – the son or elder son. The person invested with full rights and the same authority of the sender, the Father in John is the sender – Jesus is the one who is sent. (Jn. 3:31-34, Jn. 5:21-23, Jn. 6:39, Jn. 13:3, Jn. 17:10)

The Judicial Equality Clause: (Jn. 10:30,38, 12:45)
There is a judicial equality between the sender and the agent this explains a series of passages – (Jn. 5:23, 12:44, 13:20, 15:23 ) There is an equality between Jesus and the Father. (Jn. 13:16, 15:20, 14:28)

We would never know the Father except through Jesus

The Obedience of the Agent Clause:
The agent had to be faithful and obedient. (4:34, 6:38) “I come to do the will of him who sent me” (7: 16-18, 18:28-38, 12:49-50, 14:24, 5:43) Jesus only teaches what he receives from the Father.

The Return and Reckoning Clause:
Mandate – equality – responsibility – return with an account. This is the theme of the return of Jesus to the Father. (13 – 17) (13:3) In John 17:1-4 Jesus knows his work is done, Jn. 17:6 it is made known to the Father.

Why is Jesus the Plenipenitentiary – to introduce the Father

Prologue 1:1-2 and the word was turned to God (in the Greek) There is an auto revelation of God – seen through the prophets of the Old Testament. This word will become incarnate. Jesus will be the one to incarnate the word – the culminating point – that Jesus comes from the Father. The word (Divine Autorevelation) Christology of the Son of Man.

The Son of Man differs from the Son of God

Daniel 7:13 apocalyptic literature. Designates Jesus as eschatalogical judge – (Synoptics – Divine Heavenly Being)

John – Son of Man titled 1:50-51 The ladder of Jacob in Genesis – the some of man is associated to heaven, ascending and descending. (3:11-15) Son of Man related to heaven because he is descended a heavenly being.

Numbers 21:4-9 – The Son of Man will be lifted up, believe in him (the Son of Man) elevation of the Son of Man. The source for eternal life. John 3:11-15 (Born from above) (2Cor 5:17, Gal 5:6) Being someone new. John 6:61-62 Ascending to where he was before. The elevation of man has to be seen, taken note of. John 12:20-36 The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

John 12:31-33 Eschatalogical judgment coming. The Prince of the earth (the devil) will be debunked.

We have here the double existence of lifting up the Son of Man. Lifted up on the cross – The cross as way to return, to ascend – everything happens at the crossas supreme king. (the crucifixion and elevation)

This is a realized eschatology – In John the eschatological moment comes at the cross. The elevation is the death. Why does the writer need a second Christology?

The cross is a shame ( Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

Various Laws

If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Cursed be the one who is hung on wood.

Here the cross becomes a participant – not a scandal for the Son of Man. The two Christologies integrate the cross, the Son of Man is returning to God to give a report. For the Son of God – the cross is a problem.

Jesus is in total control of his destiny. John 13:27 …

We find a lower Christology in the Synoptic Gospels Mt, Mk, Lk – The Son of God is linked to the Messiahship. in John Jesus is the plenipenitentiary of the Father. Jesus the Son of Man is lifted up – The death of Jesus with his elevation is Glorification encapsulated in the Crucifixion scene. It is a relaized eschatology – at the cross.