in my actions
in the breathing
indicators and signs
Monday, August 30, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Certainly I am an Anglican, if for no other reason, in that I wrestle and struggle on the Via Media, the place and journey between faith and reason. Of course, faith (Spirit), and reason don’t exclude each other. The sometimes rough ride in the relationship between Spirit and reason is understandable. However there was a time when Spirit and science did exist in mutual understanding and the two were indistinguishable from the other, in that they were both pursuing the revelation of truth, in the workings of God in creation, and in human experience. Prior to the Enlightenment, it was then natural for reason and Spirit to work towards understanding human experience in the classical disciplines of theology, philosophy and natural philosophy, what we now call science.
It is ironic that “science”, now as some religion of the absolute, was born in the Enlightenment, as the “founding fathers” of Enlightenment were people of faith and even clerics. Science has become a religion unto its own, one only need to visit the Museum of Natural History in London to observe science’s sense of worth. Architecturally, the museum is a cathedral. If not for the sign out front, I would have expected to hear choirs rehearsing as I entered the edifice.
Before the presumed supremacy of science, Copernicus, Galileo and Newton pursued the understanding of what they called natural philosophy. They weren’t setting out to disprove God, but to understand how God set things in motion and how God then sustains these things set in motion. They didn’t view their pursuits as anything more than one part of a whole of understanding. They didn’t hold natural philosophy above theology and philosophy, they considered understanding all three components of knowledge necessary in the whole human development of people.
Do not misunderstand; I am in no shape or way “anti-science”. I love science, rational thought and reason. Nor should it be thought that because I know the spiritual life, that I or any like me should be thought of as “superstitious”. It is a narrow mind which can’t see the difference between superstition and spirituality and it is an equally narrow mind which only sees that spirituality and science must exclude each other.
There are scientists also who presume an absolute, definitive and singular attitude towards science’s ability to establish and maintain the parameters of reality. They believe in this being their realm, and themselves as its sole arbiters. There are scientists who have a holistic view of reality and knowledge, acknowledging the spiritual aspect of persona, and maintain an objectivity regarding the place of science in understanding the mystery implicit in human existence. Reason does cohabitate our existence in Spirit.
There are also those religious who have run presumptively amok, who have placed their religious beliefs ahead of everything. They assert their views as the singular authoritative, and absolute correct interpretation, of all things omniscient. They too have claimed the exclusive right to determine and dictate the parameters of reality within the confines of the God/human relationship as they believe it. This is hubris of the highest order, to attempt to put shackles on the infinite possibilities of infinite being, to restrain the discretion of the Creator in our relationships as given to us, as in loving the Creator and loving creation.
I understand this. I understand the illusion of confidence in certitude. I understand the role this illusion plays in science and religion, which seeks to put doubts to rest, to hold the primal wolves of animosity at bay. Whether one is religious or practices the religion of atheism, many of us search for an ideological anchor to both orbit around and to keep us from flying into the infinite fear of possibilities.
We all at times would be dogs on chains bound to a stake, and at times, we all perceive running in circles around the stake as freedom. It could be freedom in context to the chain’s length, but it’s not the same as running unfettered through the woods or across a field. I’ve seen dogs chained like this, at times running themselves around, winding the chain around the stake until their collar has them pinned to the stake. The smart ones though will use the leverage of the tight chain which pins them to the stake, to slip their collar and take off running, a fantastic sight! Struggles can lead to freedom.
Playing football in high school, after season, we players had a choice for how to spend the winter, make the basketball team, or in my native tongue, wrassilin. There was no other choice, we weren’t going to be allowed to do the do-nothing required to get out of shape. I wasn’t very fond of wrestling, but it did keep me in shape. Wrestling also made me stronger, more flexible and more agile. It was also very close constant contact with the challenger, sweat on sweaty and sometimes bloody grappling, striving not to be pinned between two opposing forces, the opponent and the mat. Wrestling, it turns out, was more than anything else a matching of wits, eye to eye. It was not enough to have skills, but one had to be interpreting and anticipating the opponent’s moves, thinking several moves and feints ahead, in order to gain the necessary leverage on the adversary.
Wrestling is not about the violent trading of blows, no punching, no kicking, no weapons; wrestling is grappling with the opponent and finding leverage as the subduing means. Wrestling is finding the center of mind and body, to find the balance, and leverage on the forces which weigh on you in a given space and time; good skills to have.
These days I’m wrassilin with Media, more specifically, with liturgical language which perpetuates certain non-sustainable properties to the Deity, which is a distraction from my healing relationship with God and from being healed in relationship with God, but that’s another discussion for another time. The point is I’m wrestling with this and in some ways the outcome isn’t the point, a point, but not the point. The point is found in the act of wrestling, facing the challenges, getting out on the mat, sweating, getting beat-up a little, bleeding a little and building some character, as we say. Trusting in the process because of what my intention is, to grow in the life of Spirit.
The history and traditions of spiritual life are recorded as humans struggling to understand their notions of God in context to their particular time and place, to wrestle with what it means to be in relationship with the Spirit and each other. The issues change as we have changed through history in our ancient journey; they become larger in the ever expanding circle of compassion and justice, our meaning in God and each other. It is a tremendous challenge to struggle with the Spirit and to keep-up with the ever expanding circle of God’s love; wherever we are in history, it’s hard for us to meet the challenge of the Spirit in our hearts and minds.
The wrestling mat has a circle painted on it, the ring. The challenges are inside the ring, challenges known and unknown, here and now. I must enter the margins, into the ring of mental and spiritual challenges to find my center, my strength and to accomplish growth. It’s in the ring where the Spirit challenges us to wrestle, to grow in mind, body, spirit and heart, in the ever growing understanding of what it means to love God and creation.
Monday, August 23, 2010
wears a tangled
in hollow eyes
Soiled smelly clothes
hang as drapes
on spirit's bones
With broken nails
on dirty hands
spirit reaches out
in rattling lungs
Under the overpass
Friday, August 20, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
This summer has seen The Episcopal Church ordain an openly lesbian to bishop. The Lutherans have made way for LGBT’s to be ordained and have recognized and accepted as priests LGBT Lutherans who were ordained outside their jurisdiction . The Anglican Communion, have decided for now, to allow The Episcopal Church to remain, even with gay and lesbian bishops. We have also seen California’s Proposition Eight overturned. The tide has worked its way back in, fresh full of water and abundance.
Out goes the tide as the Anglican Communion refuses to take a firm stand against violence against gays in Africa and the African bishops who promote bigotry and turn a blind eye to this violence in their provinces. The Church of England still refuses to consider a gay Dean for bishop. Here in Georgia political ads are currently being aired denouncing the idea that homosexuals have the same rights as hetero citizens…where in the Liberty Documents did the Founders state that our God given inalienable rights are only for “heterosexual men created equal”?
The legal arguments for denying LGBT’s exercise of rights they already possess are too absurd to argue here and now. We are all of the Creator, designed to live fully in the nature in which we are created, to do otherwise would be to live in an un-natural state, and would be to deny the discretion of the Creator. The scriptural arguments against full inclusion for LGBT’s in the church are simply opinion. These arguments are nothing more than a dog chasing its tail. For every person who quotes Romans 1, I can quote Romans 2 (you will never hear an anti-gay someone quoting Romans 1 also quoting Romans 2). I can remind people that Paul even referred to his writing on human sexuality as “opinion”. I can remind people that Paul wrote that in Christ there is no gender and that in Christ we are all one, which means we are therefore equal. There is no mention of homosexuality in The Ten Commandments or in The Gospel. But at this point, I’m not concerned about arguing opinion over scripture and human sexuality.
The greater concern is the consequences of these arguments denying the LGBT community, our community in Christ, their rights of full inclusion within Christianity. To violate the rights of our LGBT community is to act in violence towards them and ourselves, spiritually, emotionally, legally and vocationally. For Christianity to promote any form of violence upon our LGBT brothers and sisters is to promote all forms of violence, even physical violence and murder. Over the past ten years violence against the gay population has been on the increase. I have yet to see evidence of agnostic or atheists committing these crimes. These crimes are being committed by religious people, by Christians.
These violent Christians, these modern deluded Inquisitors, are gaining inspiration and taking comfort in words from someone. These shadow Christians are finding motivation and encouragement from someone. These contorted Christians are taking the voices of condemnation against our LGBT brothers and sisters as a blessing upon their works. Whether or not the intention of clergy who condemn the LGBT community is simply to run them out, or worse, doesn’t matter. All that matters are the end results, violence and bloodshed. Any clergy who promotes LGBT discrimination, or remains mute ultimately bears responsibility for the violence which ensues. Like Saul at the stoning of Steven, these clergy have blood on their hands. Saul didn’t throw one stone, but the stone of his heart did nothing to stop the violence. We don’t need to throw stones for ourselves to bear the stain of violence. All we need do is quietly stand mute and still in its presence.
Yet Saul was converted and transformed into the Paul who declared us all, every one of us, as One in Christ. So too are we Christians to be transformed in Christ, to declare and live as One in Christ. We are to love one another as Christ loves us. We are to live in the grace of God’s free love to us and to likewise freely love one another. Am I Saul or Paul? Our transformation, my transformation, is as ever present as is God’s love for us. Like God’s love for us which never ends, so too our being transformed by God’s love never ends. Our transformation through God’s love has no place in it for any discrimination or any form of violence towards our LGBT brothers and sisters. We are blessed by the transformative inspiration of our LGBT brothers and sisters, who refuse to abandon us, who in the face of violence against them bear witness to God’s love in their peaceful persistence, and in their determination to faithfully love in the face of those who despise them.
We bear the responsibility of loving and make ourselves accountable by our loving. We should be searching scripture for our reasons to love one another, not for reasons to with-hold our love. What matters is the loving ethic of Jesus and the Good News, as loving God and each other, to judge not and love one another as Jesus love us. We as disciples, as God’s children, have no choice but to love. To love is to believe. To love is to repent. To love is to forgive. To love is to be forgiven. To love is to be righteous. To love is to make us all blessed. This is the conversion point of our transformation.
Friday, August 6, 2010
like the knitted orb of seeds
of the dandelion
the breath of
disaster to scatter them
to the sweet earth of our mother
a kicking foot
a child’s breath
your sweet knowing
that I may flower
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
My dear darling cousin posed a question a few days back, “What do you do when your faith dies?” I guess she wanted to ask someone who is well practiced in such experiences, as I know what it is to have faith die… many times. I’ve also experienced faith reborn, most times.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t lost faith at some point or another. Loss of faith comes in many sizes and degrees, yet we all experience it. This is one of the common things which can help bind us together. I think we all travel the same path in the life of our souls, only under different circumstances and at different paces, as though we are walking to the rhythm of a different song in our heads and hearts. Yet we all pass by the same road markers as we move along. Sometimes we end up in a ditch by the road and folks pass us by until we hear someone’s encouraging word and take a helping hand up.
I really don’t know what’s going to happen over the next several weeks. They will be hard, trying to make rent, pay bills and find work, me and 9,999,999 other folks. In these times, I wonder how many of them like me have asked themselves, “Where is God, ‘cause he ain’t in my checking account.” But I know better in my heart of hearts.
Augustine described the relationship of Trinity as “Lover, Beloved and Love”. I also see the Trinity as a template of our bond as God, Me and You, a simplified form of “love God and your neighbor”.
Relationships are where I find the Spirit to be alive. Relationships are being alive.
What for me has been restoration of faith has been found in the healing of the stubborn insistence to love and be loved. I've also found that when my faith has been lost or died, what was lost was faith in things or ideas, hopes or desires ("good" and "bad) which had no final bearing on loving, our godliness.
For me loving relationships are testimony to the reality of God, the first love, the miracle of that which has no meaning other than the sacred irrational decision to participate in love. The answer for me to keep going is simply to keep going, to not dwell in the place of anxiety, but to again keep moving to dwell in the sacred place of relationships, God, me and you.
The past year has been horrid economically. It has been a year full of anxiety, a year full of self-doubt.
It has also been one of the very best years of my life. I have been emptied out and filled with something new. I have done volunteer work. I have been in self-examination, doing what therapists call “the work”. I have discerned. I have studied and meditated. I have written poetry, a lot of poetry. I have also had more time for family. I’ve had more time for my parish family and have become very involved there. My dog Faldo has been very happy too, having me around more. In everyway but one this has been one of the very best years of my life.
The only way to explain it is in my growing relationships, the wonderful beautiful people the psalmist describes as “being gods” who have reached out to me and given me the amazing ability to reach back. I still have a lot of trouble asking for help, but I’m better as I realize our foundational prayer is comprised of requests for help too, so it really is OK to ask for help.
I am reminded in the past year that God also resides between us, in the otherwise empty space we fill with compassion, love, help, hugs as needed, and much needed laughter, the sound of angels singing. In God’s nature, God is compelled to fill emptiness and we are the vessels used to pour out Spirit to each other. We are filled; emptied, filled again and so it goes. So many have filled my emptiness for which I’m so grateful.
I have toyed with virtually every form of pleasure seeking, but have never found anything that feels as good as love, loving and being loved. The relationship of love with others is unmatched. I have been determined to fill others likewise, as I can. It feels good. I don’t know what the future brings, but I’m confident that I am being loved for something other than my employment or economic status, which could be the best part of this past year.
Much has died in the past year. With the love of Spirit and with the love of the many who have shared their love with me, much has been reborn.