July 2022 Archives



I failed …

I saw God and I failed to acknowledge him.

She was standing on the sidewalk outside of Martins Grocery Store. Pregnant, heavy with child, she held a sign that said, “homeless, please help” and I drove right by her.

I drove right by her!

Because any money I would have given her wasn’t easily handy, I made the excuse that she was working a scam … and I drove right by her … even after she waved at me!

Talk about guilt …

I drove my grocery laden van home, quickly unloaded my bags, and headed back out with cash ready in hand, praying the whole time, “please let her be there, please let her be there.” A thunderstorm had been brewing and was in the midst of erupting as I drove, so I did not know what I would find when I arrived a short ten minutes later … “please let her be there.”

She wasn’t.

God was still standing there, though not a pregnant woman this time, but a rangy, scruffy homeless man. I did a U-turn in the parking lot, rolled down the window on the passenger side, waved at him and gave him the money in my hand.

Through a semi-toothless and gentle smile, he said, “God bless you, ma’am.”

What a humbling experience!

I felt—and still do feel—like Jesus washed my feet.

He’s blessing me?! A woman—with all of her adult teeth–driving a recent year mini-van, who lives in a modest three-bedroom home with her father and dog, with a nice yard, a closet full of clothes and a pantry full of food, and more ‘nice things’ than I care to count … and he is blessing me?

And yet all of my ‘stuff’—as wonderful and of sentimental value as much of it is—means very little in light of his blessing. My heart feels deeply touched, warmed, and moved–burning in fact.

On the way home, I wondered if I had really seen a pregnant woman at all. Did anyone else see her? Was the bedraggled fellow really standing there? Was my mind playing tricks on me? Both beings and their energy seemed very real and vibrant to me.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

As I meditated on the above Bible verse that came to mind afterward, the word that struck me was hospitality, “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” (Oxford Languages) Somehow, though, that did not quite feel like the whole of what I was seeking in my heart, which led me to search for synonyms for hospitality such as friendliness, kindness and helpfulness.

All good replacements, but still lacking insight.

How about hospitable? … “friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests.” (Oxford Languages)

That’s not it either–not really much different from hospitality.

Then I saw it … hospital-ity. As I scrolled down further in my Google search results, I found the following Wikipedia entry:

Why is it called a hospital? The word “hospital” comes from the Latin hospes, signifying a stranger or foreigner, hence a guest. Another noun derived from this, hospitium came to signify hospitality, that is the relation between guest and shelterer, hospitality, friendliness, and hospitable reception.

In the movie “The Green Mile,” Tom Hanks’ character, Paul Edgecomb, is explaining to an employee the importance of remaining calm in the death-row facility of the Cold Mountain Penitentiary where they worked as prison guards. He quietly explains, “Men under strain can snap; hurt themselves, hurt others. That’s why our job is talking, not yelling. You’ll do better to think of this place like an intensive care ward in a hospital.”

“You’ll do better to think of this place like an intensive care ward in a hospital.”

I love that line because that’s it! Isn’t it?

Here and now, in this form and in this space, we are all literally and figuratively living in a hospital. You could say our planet is in the intensive care unit and all of its inhabitants are in one ward or another due to the tremendous strain and pressures of the current times we are living through. We are hurting ourselves and others because of it. Additionally, we are all merely visitors here; this is not by any means our permanent home. We are just passing through and at times we take the role of guest or we take the role of shelterer.

The suffix -ity is defined as: “quality: state: degree.” (Merriam-Webster)

How well we inhabit guest or shelterer depends upon how mindful we are that God is in and among us.

This is an important consideration to bear in mind especially now that Christianity has been hijacked by ultra-theocrats like MAGA Evangelicals and men like Trump, Carlson, Orban, etc. who would have us endorse exclusion, hate, judgment, power, greed, and control.

By heeding the Spirit within us and each other, we can live in and act out of trust, forgiveness, love, compassion, mercy and generosity.

To that end, whatever your spiritual inclination may be, I conclude with the following prayer by Richard Rohr.

Lover of All

Lord, lover of life, lover of these lives,
Lord, lover of our souls, lover of our bodies, lover of all that exists . . .
In fact, it is your love that keeps it all alive . . .
May we live in this love.
May we never doubt this love.
May we know that we are love,
That we were created for love,
That we are a reflection of you,
That you love yourself in us and therefore we are perfectly lovable.
May we never doubt this deep and abiding and perfect goodness
That we are because you are. Amen

… this deep and abiding and perfect goodness that we are because you are.

Catering to Fear

Catering to Fear

Catering to fear and pessimism is a function of the most dangerous belief:  that violence can bring order out of chaos.  Healing the world requires recognizing the damage that this story has done.  Gareth Higgins

Catering to Fear

Two Steps Forward …

“You are supposed to struggle with spiritual texts, but when you make the Bible into a quick answer book, you largely remain at your present level of awareness. There are groups who would describe the Bible as an answer book for all of life’s problems. The Bible is actually a conflict book. It is filled with seeming contradictions or paradoxes, and if you read it honestly and humbly it should actually create problems for you!”  Richard Rohr



When DOES life begin?

Does life begin at conception? Is a fetus a human being with rights? Does abortion stop a beating heart?

For some folks the answers to these questions are quite clear. Yes, yes, and yes.

Me? I am not so sure.

I am uncomfortable with clear cut, black and white thinking and answers especially to complex and multifaceted situations like abortion. In fact, in the last six years, I have come to treasure vagueness, ambiguity and doubt because it allows me to ponder, and meditate on anything and everything more deeply allowing for transformation.

But to answer the question, when does life begin, I contemplated death first.  When does one’s body die?

“If brain death is confirmed, why does an individual’s heart continue beating? As long as the heart has oxygen, it can continue to work. The ventilator provides enough oxygen to keep the heart beating for several hours. Without this artificial help, the heart would stop beating.”

When brain death occurs, beloveds must make the gut-wrenching decision to withdraw life support from their dear one.

I had the utmost honor of being present when my mother crossed over. The first thing I noticed as she got closer to the finish line, was how her breathing changed.

My father and I were immediately alert to the fact that her end in form was near, as her breathing became more shallow with longer intervals between breaths. We huddled near, holding her and watched, grieving, as she gradually stopped breathing and gracefully slipped toward glory. For me, it was the most profound experience of my life to witness her transition.

Breath …

“Then ADONAI, God, formed a person (adam) from the dust of the ground (adamah) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

… “the breath of life.”

If life ends when one stops breathing, then life must begin with breath. Neonates delivered at 36-38 weeks after confirmed fetal lung maturity are at higher risk of adverse outcomes than those delivered at 39-40 weeks.”

Just in case someone gets caught up on the word ‘person’ … “A well-known Hebrew name, Adam means ‘son of the red Earth.’ Its meaning comes from the Hebrew word “adamah” meaning “earth,” from which Adam is said to be formed. The name also refers to the reddish color associated with human skin.” All the elements are in place … hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen—the potential for life exists. Yet the formation of all those elements is not a “living being” until the lungs gasp their first breath.

I am not sure why this is unclear to some Christians …

… which makes me wonder. Are their objections to abortions really about when life begins or whether a fetus is a person with rights, or whether human rights begin as a beating heart? Is the issue for them really about babies?

I raised three sons. On more than one occasion, we talked about birth control, relationships, and the responsibilities that accompany engaging in sexual activity.

I wanted them to know that sexual activity and pregnancy were matters that were not to be taken lightly. I told them point blank that birth control was NOT the woman’s total responsibility—that they were responsible too. This included getting a vasectomy when their family was complete, should they decide to have children, so their partner did not have to continue taking birth control pills due to all the possible side effects.

They also knew if they did get a woman pregnant, that I would be there to help and offer support in any way I could if they needed me.

Some reading this may think I went too far. Maybe, maybe not. I never wanted any women to find themselves in a position to have to decide to have an abortion or not … because it is NOT a simple decision!

What IS simple is forcing people to do something without a thought or care to their physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. The “just do it” mentality allows the enforcers to metaphorically wash their hands of the whole business.

“What do gays believe?”

This seems to be the question du jour within circles surrounding the contentious split in the United Methodist Church. “After decades of rancorous debate over the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists, a special session of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference and three postponements of a vote to formally split the denomination, the schism finally came …” and the conservative Global Methodist Church is born.

However much there is conscious choice and desire, I suspect gays believe God loves them, that God cares about them and that God is active in and through their lives just as God is active in and through everyone and everything.

I love that the rainbow flag is the symbol for the LGBTQ+ community.

Is the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet—spectrum of light really as straightforward as it looks? Or are they infinite hues and variations from one color to the next? Of course there are, so why would it be so difficult to believe that gender and sexuality are also a broad, multi-diverse spectrum?

Yes, I know what the Bible says “… he created them male and female; he blessed them and called them Adam [humankind, man] on the day they were created.” Genesis 5:2  Notice the use of the “them” pronoun referring to “humankind.” Do you really think the “them” is referring to just Adam and Eve … standing there … naked?

Suppose male and female represent the polarities of the human spectrum just as red and violet represent similar for the rainbow. Allegorically speaking, this seems like a more logical approach rather than a literal rendering and understanding of the book of Genesis.

Consider the variety, range, span, scope of all the animals and creatures that are and have ever walked the earth. Our feeble minds cannot comprehend the length and breadth of God’s creativity and diversity. So why would God confine human beings to simply heterosexual male or female? Just so we can be fruitful and multiply? Could ‘be fruitful and multiply’ mean something beyond simply having babies?

Now is about the time in this writing that some folks would quote the Bible verses that they believe condemn homosexuality. Don’t bother. I have read them.

Isn’t there the slightest chance those verses are referring to something else? What could be more sexually offensive, deviant, perverted than pedophilia? I am not judging nor justifying in any way this complicated behavior.

All of this to say that I think peoples’ objections to the LGBTQ+ community have more to say about what is lacking in their own hearts and minds rather than the hearts and minds of gay folks.

You know what I think is really bothering the indoctrinated, judgmental Christians?

Freedom …

… freedom is really what is at stake here …

… women’s freedom of autonomy over their own bodies, freedom for diverse genders and sexualities to marry whom they choose … freedom to marry inter-racially … among other freedoms.

Those who want to maintain control cannot stand freedom.

When I was a teenager, the 1971 musical, “Godspell,” by John Michael Tebelak, was popular. The youth group that I attended actually performed it several times one summer. Suffice it to say, I listened to the album over and over and over again. To this day, I know the lyrics of all the songs by heart.

As I think about Trump, DeSantis, Abbott, Graham, Tucker, Locke (Greg), McConnell, Greene, Cordileone, Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Cavanaugh, Barrett, et. al., I picture Jesus singing to them “Alas For You,” particularly this second verse:

Alas, alas, for you
Lawyers and pharisees
Hypocrites that you are
Sure that the kingdom of Heaven awaits you
You will not venture half so far
Other men that might enter the gates you
Keep from passing through!
Drag them down with you!
You snakes, you viper’s brood
You cannot escape being Devil’s food!
I send you prophets, and I send you preachers
Sages in rages and ages of teachers
Nothing can mar your mood

Because their hearts are so hardened and controlling, theocratic Christians have reduced Christianity to an artificial set of polarized beliefs in duality–dos and don’ts—aimed simply at getting into their imagined afterlife. This is not freedom. This is superficial hogwash and completely denies the God-given free will of Grace.

“ADONAI, God, gave the person this order: ‘You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.’” Genesis 2:16-17

Is this passage really about ‘original sin?’ Or could it be that this is the death of our awareness that we are direct descendants of the Creator? There was a choice to be made. Eat the fruit of polarized duality and separation and buy into the Big Lie, or not eat the fruit and lose the opportunity for Love to be conscious of itself in and through each and every aspect of Creation.

Without being forced, we get to choose to know and be Love in relationship with Love.

Between 1892 and 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance went through two different rewrites and additions. In 1954, President Eisenhower “in response to the Communist threat of the times” urged Congress to add the words “under God.” Personally, I think that was a huge mistake.

One phrase, however, was never altered in all three versions …

… that phrase is “… with liberty and justice for all.”

Synonyms for liberty include freedom, independence, autonomy, self-determination among others.

Seems rather hypocritical to recite the Pledge of Allegiance while removing Americans’ freedoms. Do the words ‘under God’ justify the hypocricy?

There is nothing set in stone with this writing, I understand anyone’s disagreement with what I have written.

These wonderings of a 63-year-old, white, heterosexual, cis-gender female who has doubts about her faith, is disappointed for and worried about all women—whether cis, trans, queer or straight of all ethnicities–and is disillusioned about the direction in which her nation is going are my way of working through my feelings.

Thank you for walking with me.

Do I Stay Christian?

Do I Stay Christian?

Brian D. McLaren

Am I a Christian?

In light of the MAGA-zation of Christianity in the United States combined with the radical Christianization of its Supreme Court, my answer is no.

Do I still read the Bible? Yes. I have read through it cover to cover countless times. Do I still attend church? Yes. I currently attend a progressive Evangelical Lutheran church in a nearby town. Do I still pray? Yes. Do I still ‘believe in’ Jesus? In the sense of a meta-belief, no, in the sense of knowing and loving Jesus, yes.

From the outside looking in, one might say, “yes, she’s a Christian.”

Check the box. She’s labeled. Christian.

Yes and no.

I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus … a follower of The Way.

This is an important distinction with regards to the indoctrinated and judgmental version of Christianity that Trump, Graham, Orban, Tucker, Locke (Greg), McConnell, Greene, Cordileone, et. al. would have one goose step to in subservient obedience.

Brian D. McLaren’s book Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned examines three possible answers to the question at hand—Yes, No and How.

His book, however, is for everyone no matter what your faith or where you are in your life’s journey because the ultimate question is not “Do I stay Christian?” but “What is the quest?”

That is a far more intriguing question.