Bono Wants Your Soul…

Bono wants to know where your soul is this year.

I come to lowly church halls and lofty cathedrals for what purpose? I search the Scriptures to what end? To check my head? My heart? No, my soul. For me these meditations are like a plumb line dropped by a master builder — to see if the walls are straight or crooked. I check my emotional life with music, my intellectual life with writing, but religion is where I soul-search.

The preacher said, “What good does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Hearing this, every one of the pilgrims gathered in the room asked, “Is it me, Lord?” In America, in Europe, people are asking, “Is it us?”

Well, yes. It is us.–READ MORE HERE.

Cha-cha-Changes, one step at a time.

I’m inspired by ordinary radicals who work with what they’ve got to change the world one step at a time.  I don’t actually know if things will be different for the world…or simply if something is internally different for them…either way, this is a pebble in a pond…life in the Way of Jesus (and for that matter, what I implicitly mean…this is about being more fully human).  A co-worker recently blogged about her family’s own Christmastime tradition. I loved it.  Thanks Gretchen:

In addition to drawing names we find a cause to support with the money we would otherwise spend on things we don’t need. Last year our family bought a pig we fondly nicknamed “Mrs. Bacon” … this year we’ll be buying a goat. Our barnyard purchases are a part of World Vision’s gift catalog which allow ordinary people to bless families across the world with things they actually need. For just $75, our little goat will give a family consistent dairy, an income source, and fertilizer for crops.

Anyone want to go goat shopping?

Also–don’t forget about “Make Something Day“.  While Black Friday is all about a day where we reinvest our carefully earned dollars back into the GDP of Empire, feeding our own culture of never having enough and always wanting something more, camping outside of the mall waiting (like vultures) to swoop down on socks and trinkets that will need replacing several months down the road; Make something Day is all about using your time and energies, creativities and sense of beauty to craft presents or gifts for others–gifts as special as they are.  My own personal sense of what it means to be fully human includes Artistry, Creativity, and connection with Beauty.  This is a celebration that everyone benefits from.

And finally…on a similar note: The Advent Conspiracy.  This was actually started by a local Portland Oregon community of Christ followers looking to connect with the true and subversive story of the origins of Christianities founder: Jesus.  Their understand tied in with 4 statements they drew from that birth story of Jesus.

1) Worship Fully–know the creator…enter into relationship with creation…love your neighbor…

2) Spend Less 

3). Give More–one reason why New Testament “tithing” doesn’t exist is because it was too much of a low bar…10% is an easy way off the hook.  Give more, more of your time, more of your self, more of your possessions…on and on…

4) Love All.

Things are cha-cha-changing…

Hanging

No great epiphanies on this post…

It’s interesting, after over ten years of pursuing the church in a certain stream with definitive next steps, ambitions, anticipations and dreams, Jessie and I find ourselves downshifting into a new gear.

Uncertain about next steps, no specific ambitions to build or borrow, no form and function to protect and invest endless energies into…surrounded by a world of possibility…and honestly, that’s new…and that’s scary.

Keep us in your thoughts if you care to.  We’re trying to learn how to be present and be aware of God’s presence.

More soon.

What might the prophetic look like today?

Have you been left desolate suburbs and city streets?

Have you been withered away and wrenched apart great arctic glacial flow?

Do you fail to gather grain?

Do your crops of corn and wheat and hops cease to grow?

Where are your customers you tower’s of economy and produce, McDonald’s and Starbuck’s?

Where are the sounds of laughter or children running on the playground?

The streets are crawling with disease

The houses are caving in while the naked shiver inside

Does the sun scorch the forests and set them endlessly on fire?

Does the rain ever let up or the floods leave any dry earth?

What of the cars that once gathered supply?

They, abandoned, bring together no more.

What of the planes that littered the sky?

They, like birds of prey, are now extinct. 

How?

Why? Why do the nations rage and war for water as for oil before it? Why do kings and presidents and chairmen tremble for fear—like rat’s scurrying about looking for scraps of bread or a pinch of meat? 

How?

Why? Why do mothers abandon their children as they are born so that an early death will save them from a long life?  Why do father’s venture out of their walled stockade homes and not return? Why do young men—even young men—lose hope?

“I gave you empty stomachs in all of your cities

and lack of nutrition or any bread

And yet you did not turn back to me!”

                                    Says the sovereign Lord.

“I sent plagues among you, like Egypt, I killed your young men with the sword. I struck your victory gardens and private vineyards. I withheld rain in one place and sent to much to another. People staggered from town to town for water and did not receive a drink…still you have not returned to me.”

                                    Says the sovereign Lord.

“What have we done?”  the people ask, the religious beg to know their grievance. “Didn’t we seek you daily? Didn’t we memorize your words? Didn’t we study about your truths? Didn’t we worship you endlessly? Didn’t we gather at the right times? Didn’t we celebrate your Holy Day’s? Weren’t we passionate about you? Was there ever a time that we didn’t speak your name? Haven’t you been our all and our everything? Isn’t it true that we’ve accepted all this from your hand? Didn’t we sacrifice our lives for each other? Didn’t we love our fellow believers enough?  Haven’t our songs been filled with limitless praise and our gestures been full of abandonment to you? What about our adoration, doesn’t it mean anything to you?”

 

                                    Says the sovereign Lord,

“I hate—I despised your religious get togethers…I cannot stand your meetings…Even though you have brought me the offerings of your labors and the deep worship of your heart…I will not accept them…I have no regard for them. Take away the noise of your songs! I will not listen to your guitars or your piano’s or your drums.   You have lifted up the Messenger and forgotten His message.  You have adored Me but not what I adore. 

“Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never failing stream!”

That’s your only way out. 

In that day I will restore your fallen cities. I will repair your broken walls and restore the ruins of your houses and will rebuild it as it was intended to be used…

is this the fast?

…getting noticed…

and that is what most of this is about…

we speak and long to be heard.

we act and need to be noticed.

we think and need to be thought well of.

by each other. by god. by anyone who will comment on the blog. by our friends. by our neighbors. and this is the heart of witnessing. “maybe someone will notice”…

what would it be like to go unnoticed?

what would it be like to go unheard, unthought of, unspoken about?

and in a world where i do all i can to build the number of people who read this blog…where i tweak it to make it visually, ascetically pleasing to your critical eye…where i write inspirational words and think motivational thoughts…where even when i’m being desperately honest, i’m so conscious that you…you…you are listening and watching my honesty…am i doing any of this for god? or for me?

“pride covers me like a disease, i’m surrounded god and i’m longing to be weak, U burn me deeper than i know…and my heart burns for you…and my heart burns for U…”

my people are busy at worshiping me, they love making new discoveries about me…as if they were a people who DID justice…they ask of Me “what’s the right thing to do?” and love having me on their side. but then they complain, “why do we fast, why do we worship God and U don’t look our way? why do we humble ourselves and U don’t notice?”

Well…here’s why:

Your bottom line is your own gain…it’s profit..

Your exploit the people who work for you, driving them to the lowest possible wage and not leaving enough for them and their families to eat off of.

You fast, but at the same time…you bicker and fight.

Do U think the worship I want is a day of humility? To put on a serious face and take yourself so seriously? Do you call that fasting?

This is the kind of day I’m after:

break the chains of injustice, labor to get rid of exploitation on the job altogether, free those who are oppressed, cancel people’s debts. I’m interested in seeing you share your bountiful food (you know…the food that you eat so much of that you complain how stuffed you are from and how you can’t eat another bite, all the while others starve from lack) with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your own homes, putting clothes around the shivering ill-clad and being available to your own families (rather than going off on your exclusive spiritual retreats away from your household duties)…

DO THIS AND THE LIGHTS WILL TURN ON and your lives will turn around at once. You righteousness will pave your own way. The God of glory will secure your passage. then when you pray God will answer: You’ll cll out for help and I’ll say: “here am I”…

(there’s more…)

If you get rid of your upper hand seeking unfair practices

quit blaming victims,

quit gossiping about other people’s sins,

if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down and out,

Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness and your shadowy lives will be bathed in sunlight.

Then, I will always show you where to go…I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places…

I’m not going to say “God help us” or “wow, what a calling”…that’s still hanging out in the talk of the temple courtyards, in the chatter of the self protective insulated religious circles…it gives me time to keep it all hidden and not have to actually live into any of this…

This is God. This is where He’s going. This is where I’m going to…this is another Life…

Sodomy Anyone?

Then God said to Abraham “The cries of the victims in Sodom are deafening, the sin of those cities is immense. I’m going down to see for myself, to see if what they’re doing is as bad as it sounds…” Genesis 18:17-21

The cries of the victims…it reminds me of another crying out that happened that YHWH heard, “the cries of the oppressed who were enslaved in Egypt”…which He had compassion on…and through great and terrible signs brought them out of…God hears the cries of the victims and he reacts in compassion and judgment…but what, praytell, are those cries about? What are they doing that is so bad? Now…before you go THERE to the obvious response…try this one on…

The sin of Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury–proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs…”

Or another translation says

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and underconcerned.  They did not help the poor and needy.-Ezekiel 16:49

Woe.  Literally woe is me.

As long as I’ve read the Bible I’ve always understood that the sin of Sodom, the sin that prophets pronounce warnings to avoid, that Jesus talks about, that Revelation re-hashes, was something that I never had to worry about…something I never had to consciously avoid…I’ve been able to be detached from the indictment of their wickedness…”Not me…I’m not guilty of THEIR sin”…

But wait… Ezekiel says “THE sin”…not: “one of the contributing factors”…not: “a possible reason”…but under the inspiration of God, he lets us in on the directors cut version of why God judged them, on what exactly the cries were, and who the victims and the victimizers were…

Overfed…and underconcerned…ouch.

I’m guilty of Sodomy.

Lord…will you spare us if there are fifty innocent…if there are forty five…if there are twenty…if there are just ten innocent…would you spare us?

They ignored the oppressed and the poor…

but God, a just God–a righteous God–did not…he heard the cry of the victims…

Sadly, then and now, none of us are innocent and all of us are the victims.

U2 says it all some days

I want to run. I want to hide. I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside. I want to reach out and touch the flame–where the streets have no name.

I want to see sunlight on my face. I see the dust cloud disappear without a trace. I want to take shelter from the poison rain–where the streets have no name.

Where the streets have no name–we’re still building and burning down love, burning down love. And when I go there, I go there with You (it’s all I can do).

The city’s a flood and our love turns to rust. We’re beaten and blown by the wind. Trampled into dust. I’ll show you a place high on a desert plain–where the streets have no name.

Where the streets have no name–Still building and burning down love, burning down love. And when I go there, I go there with You (it’s all I can do) (it’s all I can do).

Those on the left (MATTHEW 25 REMIX)

Kevin Beck over at Presence posted a great REMIX of Matthew 25, this is last portion of it, check out the rest here:
“….Then the King turned to those on his left hand and said, “You walked away from me when you opted for the best pews and chairs instead of building a well for my village. You departed from me when you erected a new sign on your multi-million dollar gathering place with your name on it rather than giving food to my drought-ridden community. You knew my people were facing extermination, yet you did nothing to stop it when you could have.
“When I lived on the streets, you told me to get a job. When drugs controlled my life, you sneered at me. When I was in prison, you tortured me. When I contracted HIV/AIDS, you said it was God’s punishment. When I had an abortion, you accused me of murder. When I was aborted, you said I was nothing more than a ball of cells.
“When terrorists bombed me, you said that I was just a cog in the imperial empire. When I was imprisoned with no charges, you said that I must have done something to deserve it. When I was expelled from my ancestral home, you said that God had given the land to someone else. When my child was blown up on a bus, you said that she deserved it and I should be pushed into the sea.
“When I was forced to leave my home to find work, you said I was a felon. When I lost my job, you said I was a market casualty. When my spouse came down with Alzheimer’s, you forgot us both. When I was an unwed teenage mother, you called me a slut and told me not to get an abortion while you refused to help me find a job or childcare so that I could pay for the medical expenses.
“When I married someone you disapproved of, you told me that I was weak, desperate, and lonely. And when it didn’t work out, you gloated that you have never been divorced.
“When my skin color was different than yours, you said I belonged to an inferior race. When my beliefs differed from yours, you called me a godless heathen worthy of God’s eternal punishment. When I belonged to a different political party, you shouted me down. When I enlisted, you called me a baby killer. And when I protested a war, you said I was unpatriotic. When I spoke with an accent, you labeled me a threat.”
Then those on his left hand asked, “When did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked, in need, lonely, weak, helpless, in prison, hurt, afraid, or different? If you needed help, you should’ve asked. We would have done something or at least referred it to the proper ministry committee.”
The King answered, “As much as you didn’t do it unto the least of my sisters and brothers, you didn’t do it unto me.”
Ouch.

more to come and masucline spirituality.

more to come on “Does the Bible Make Sense?”–I promise,and other things also (I am just slammed for the time being)….but until then…

A quote from Richard Roh

This deals with the topic of Male Spirituality and is from his book called “From Wild Man to Wise Man“:

“A masculine spirituality emphasizes movement over stillness, action over theory, service to the world over religious discussion, speaking the truth over social niceties and doing justice instead of any self-serving (so-called) “charity”.  With the complementary masculine, spirituality becomes overly feminine (which is really a false feminine!) and is characterized by too much inwardness, preoccupation with relationships, a morass of unclarified feelings and religion as a security blanket. We will in fact be threatened by any daring Biblical faith and replace them with little schemes of salvation–”private holiness projects”. It just doesn’t work. It is anti gospel.  This prevents a journey to anyplace new, and fosters a constant protecting of the old.  It is a no-risk religion, just the opposite of Abraham, Moses, Paul and Jesus.

In my humble (masculine) opinion I believe much of the modern sophisticated church is swirling with a kind of neutered religion.  It is one of the main reasons that the doers, makers, shakers and change agents have largely given up on the church and Christians. As one very effective woman put it: “After a while you just get tired of the in-house jargon that goes nowhere.” A neuter spirituality is a trap to those of leisure, luxury, and self serving ideas. They have the option not to do, not to change, not long and thirst for justice.  It can take either a liberal or conservative form, but in either case, it becomes inoculated against any deep spiritual journey. That’s why I call it neuter.”

WOW!  That’s a mouthful…and I feel emasculated…

I wish I could get up the courage to ask to get my masculine spirituality back.

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