Friday, March 31, 2017

Coming soon...

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."
--the Buddha's speech in the village of Kesaputta to the Kalama clan, 5th century BCE

And so he went on, and said, "That Christ was the Light of the world, and lighteth every man that cometh into the world; and that by this light they might be gathered to God." I stood up in my pew, and wondered at his doctrine, for I had never heard such before. And then he went on, and opened the scriptures, and said, "The scriptures were the prophets' words, and Christ's and the apostles' words, and what, as they spoke, they enjoyed and possessed, and had it from the Lord": and said, "Then what had any to do with the scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth? You will say, 'Christ saith this, and the apostles say this;' but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of the Light, and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?" This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again, and cried bitterly: and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, "We are all thieves; we are all thieves; we have taken the scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves."
--George Fox's speech at St. Mary's Church in Ulverston in 1694, as retold by Margaret Fell

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth."

--Carl Sagan

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

--Dr. Seuss

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"I think the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness."

--Fyodor Dostevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017


She was dying.
We all knew; she knew.
We spoke to one another--
not plainly about it--
but in stilted and shallow
about other things.
I wanted, somehow,

to break the spell of vapidity,
but I nodded and smiled instead.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

"At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.  This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our sonship.  It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven.  It is in everybody, and if we could see it, we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely." 

-- Thomas Merton

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"Today we see in every religion an inherent danger whereby the faithful are allowed to settle for the trappings...instead of continuing to grow through an intensive searching in one's heart for the wild God of the desert who cannot be put into convenient boxes of concepts and doctrines. Western theology by and large has become reduced to a static form of objectifying God's transcendence." 

-- George A. Maloney, SJ

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"I was hungry and you fed me..."

--Jesus (Matthew 25:31-40)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Scientologists. It just hit me. Trump's spokespeople--Spicer, Conway, Miller, et al--talk exactly like Scientologists. They have that same unblinking aggressive certainty while saying absolutely ridiculous things.


"If your compassion does not include yourself it is incomplete."
--Jack Kornfield

Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Bound by all the trappings of power, the powerful must pass through the proverbial needle's eye if they are to realize the fullness of life and love.  But the outsider's perspective--a precondition of wisdom--is inherently available to the powerless, the excluded, the oppressed, the abused.  Jesus, the quintessential outsider, understood this, which is why he continually points his listeners toward the powerless (children, repentant sinners, women, Samaritans) as exemplars of wisdom." 

-- Fenton Johnson, Keeping Faith: A Skeptic's Journey

Saturday, March 11, 2017

"If you think about it, it’s awesomely, amazingly wonderful just to be alive! It’s a wonderful gift, and especially on a beautiful spring day like today. But it took me several years of meditation practice and a heart attack before I really got it that just to be alive is awesome. As I was walking out of the hospital I thought, 'Wow! I could be dead. The rest of my life is just a gift.' And then I thought, 'Well, it always has been a gift from the very beginning and I never noticed it until it was almost gone.'  I think it is true of many of us that we don’t notice what a gift it is just to be alive."

--Blanche Hartman

Thursday, March 09, 2017

"Never forget that [social] justice is what love looks like in public."
--Cornel West

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

"Recent Pew polls tell us that over 20% of the U.S. population and over 70% of the 19-28 year old crowd self-describe as 'being spiritual but not religious.' That is significant, and it perks the interest of scholars of religion. But what does being 'spiritual but not religious' mean?"

--William B. Parsons, Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, On Being Spiritual But Not Religious

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

This is very interesting...

In my forthcoming book 'Presence and Process,' I provide an example for new types of religious communities based upon contemplative practices, which "might provide safe and refreshing places for Dones to re-enter community, and perhaps also serve as low-key access points for Nones (particularly those who consider themselves 'spiritual, but not religious')."

Monday, March 06, 2017

On my daily commute to and from the office I drive by both a Home Depot and a Lowes. I've noticed something eerily different in the last two weeks or so. There are no longer men standing on the periphery of the parking lot looking for opportunities to do day labor.

The reason for their absence is pretty obvious: The escalation of detainments and deportations of undocumented people in America has caused tremendous fear among migrant workers in the U.S. Trump continues to refer to them as "bad hombres," but what we've seen in the news are hard-working mothers and fathers separated from their American-born children, detained in ICE facilities (some of which are run by private for-profit corporations), and then summarily deported. ICE officers are "just following orders" as they tear apart families and destroy lives. People are now in hiding; they've gone underground. Parents are pulling their children out of schools. Men and women are staying at home rather than going out to work.

If you're a white Evangelical Christian, maybe you think this is a good thing. After all, Trump is doing exactly what he said all along he would do, and 81% of white Evangelical Christians voted for him, which means they voted for this. But I can't close my eyes to what an utterly anti-biblical and anti-Christian thing this is. There is a golden thread that runs all through scripture, from Abraham to Moses to the prophets to Jesus to the disciples: We are told to care for the most vulnerable among us--the "least of these." The Jewish and Christian scripture are abundantly clear that this includes the poor, the powerless, the stranger who lacks a support system, the migrant living in our midst, children and women with children, etc.

In the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a parable of "sheep and goats" to describe who is accepted by God and who is rejected by God. To the "sheep" Jesus says, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." To the "goats" Jesus says, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." When the "goats" ask how this could be, Jesus replies, "Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." The point of this strongly-worded parable is not about heaven or hell; it is about what God's will is in terms of how we look after the vulnerable and marginalized in our midst. Jesus often rebuked--in very strong language--the comfortable empowered religious establishment folks of his day who claimed to speak for God. He called them not just hypocrites but damned hypocrites.

The United States of America once prided itself in being a Christian nation. We printed "In God We Trust" on our currency and put all kinds of God language in our official documents. Presidents are expected to conclude their speeches by saying "God bless America." The degree to which the U.S. was ever *really* a Christian nation is debatable (there's that whole slavery matter and Native American genocide issue), but now the facade has been fully ripped away. And, as in the days when Jesus walked the earth, it is the most sanctimonious among us who are revealed to be farthest from God's heart.

The migrants from south of the border who have lived on the margins in North America (and who's ancestors were here before our ancestors) and who are now trying desperately to be invisible, they are our neighbors. And whether we see them or not, God sees.

Here is an example of how the new immigration crackdown is mercilessly destroying families and lives. This report from Oregon Public Broadcasting is about Roman Zaragoza-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant with a wife and five American-born children. He has been in the U.S. for decades and worked in a tree nursery in Oregon until he was recently tracked down and taken away by ICE. He has no criminal record. According to the report, "The family relied entirely on Roman Zaragoza-Sanchez’s income from his job at the nursery. They do not have savings. With him gone, the family is relying on financial help from friends and relatives. Zaragoza-Sanchez’s co-workers collected money for the family, and Rosalina’s brother gave her a loan to pay for an immigration attorney. Friends from school have dropped off food and groceries, and a teacher has offered to drive the four oldest children to Tacoma to visit their father [in the ICE detention facility]."

ICE Plans To Deport Oregon Immigrant With 5 Children, No Criminal Background


Sunday, March 05, 2017

"A person who has occasional profane thoughts but does not act upon them is not a blasphemous individual. Rather it is the person who mouths holy thoughts but behaves profanely who is the blasphemer. Blasphemy is the form of compartmentalization that allows some routinely to profess the truth while routinely acting the lie. Any form of behavior that stems from a lack of integration, that represents compartmentalization, is blasphemy. The businessman who goes to church on Sunday mornings, believes that he loves God and God's creation and his fellow human beings, and then on Monday morning has no trouble with his company's policy of dumping toxic wastes in a nearby stream--who is 'a Sunday morning Christian'--is guilty of blasphemy. Regardless of its intensity, regardless of the degree of consciousness or deliberateness involved, such compartmentalization of religion is invariably blasphemous. And the fact that this country, on whose coinage is written the words 'In God We Trust', is the leading manufacturer and seller of weapons in the world means that we are a largely blasphemous nation. The degree of compartmentalization in American life is such that blasphemous behavior is the norm rather than the exception."

-- M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum

Saturday, March 04, 2017

"In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity."

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, March 03, 2017

"This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss." 

--Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore


Thursday, March 02, 2017

"Even in the Apostles' days, Christians were too apt to strive after a wrong unity and uniformity in outward practices and observations, and to judge one another unrighteously in these matters; and mark, it is not the different practice from one another that breaks the peace and unity, but the judging of one another because of different practices. For this is the true ground of love and unity, not that such a man walks and does just as I do, but because I feel the same Spirit and Life in him, and that he walks in his rank, in his own order, in his proper way and place of subjection to that; and this is far more pleasing to me than if he walked just in that track wherein I walk."

-- Isaac Penington, 17th century Quaker

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Blessing the Dust
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

by Jan Richardson

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.