Sunday, January 31, 2016

"God's love must be experienced first--and then our moral behavior is merely an outflowing from our contact with that infinite source toward all other people and things. Love is the powerful horse; morality is then the beautiful cart that it pulls, not the other way around." —Richard Rohr

This is so simple that I think it is easy to miss the profundity of it. In my experience, Christians tend to place their focus on "sin management." Many pastors and teachers convey a message that God's orientation towards us (whether favorable or wrathful; blessing or cursing) is directly related to our effectiveness at managing sin. Thus, for example, many Christians reject LGBTQ people because to welcome and affirm them (they've been told) would be to allow "sin in the camp" and incur God's punishment. And many Christians live in a continuous state of low-level self-indictment--always aware of how they disappoint God due to their moral failures. The Pharisees made these same mistakes: they believed they had to get everything in order according to their interpretation of God's expectations of purity, and only then would God come to their aid and bless them. Jesus's message to them was--essentially--that they had gotten it backwards and, as a result, their religion had become exclusionary and oppressive and destructive; the very antithesis of God's intent.

But when we begin by simply surrendering to God's unfailing, relentless, unconditional and unequivocal love, we begin to undergo a transformation that starts deep on the inside and slowly (without our effort) works its way outward. We become more peaceful, more simple, more aware of others--because we know experientially that at the ground of our existence is union with God "in whom we live and move and have our being." We become like sponges saturated with God's love and oozing it out wherever we go. Love is the cause. Morality/behavior is merely an effect. Not the other way around.

I have found that an effective way to learn to surrender to God's love (which is always present) and allow God's Spirit to do the quiet inner transformative work is through contemplative practices such as Centering Prayer and other ancient Christian practices (such as what Rohr teaches) which foster an emptying of one's self in exchange for a filling with God's Self (actually, God already fills us, we just have to get out of the way in order to see it).

Friday, January 22, 2016

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -- Jesus

"But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'" -- Luke 15:2

"We have to be so careful who we let into the churches. You have immoral people who get into the churches and it begins to effect the others in the church and it is dangerous.” – Franklin Graham

Phariseeism is alive and well in the 21st century.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"The basic problem with war is that, whether we are 'the good guys' or 'the bad guys,' it promotes and rationalizes the very worst part of ourselves: we are encouraged to kill and brutalize other human beings. (In one sense -- the most important sense? -- once a war begins there are no good guys or bad guys, just groups of people trying to hurt other groups of people.)  In doing these things to others, though, we also do them to ourselves.  This karma is very simple.  To brutalize another is to brutalize myself--that is, to become the kind of person who brutalizes." 

-- David Loy

Saturday, January 02, 2016

"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again."

-- Og Mandino