Community Category


All Means All

All Means All

I woke up this morning thinking of the men, women and children living and dying in the drought-stricken areas of Kenya

The latest IPC report (July to September 2022) on the drought situation in Kenya indicates that; in the ten ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid Land) counties, where AHN members work, more than 40% of the population is facing high levels of food insecurity compared to 24% in all ASAL counties of Kenya and this figure is projected to increase to 47.5% in the period October to December 2022 and will continue to worsen over time.

… then, while walking Polly, my mind wandered to those managing to survive through the catastrophic devastation in war-torn Ukraine

Millions of children are in need of humanitarian assistance as they continue to suffer the deadly consequences of a brutal war not of their making. The war has sparked displacement on a scale and speed not seen since World War II – with far-reaching impact across the region and beyond. By November 1, 2022, more than 7.7 million individual refugees from Ukraine had been recorded across Europe, while millions more people had been internally displaced in Ukraine.

… and a little later, before I left to volunteer at Meals on Wheels, my heart ached for the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs.

Sadly, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and / or queer (LGBTQ+) people face higher risk of becoming victims of gun violence.

I do not feel as detached from these events and other similar tragic occurrences as I once did. Generally speaking, I have in the past felt the sorrow of global, national and local disasters over the years, but now these cataclysmic happenings are much closer at heart and felt with an incarnate intensity in my spirit.

I am not sure what the difference is; perhaps it is because I am in that decade of life where the deaths of people my age start appearing more frequently in the obituaries.

According to World Bank statistics, my current life expectancy is 77.28 years. If that is the case, I have a very short 14 years left—if that–to make a difference in whatever way, shape or form that may be. I find myself hoping that I have demonstrated more love and given more joy than pain and sorrow.

Those sorts of scales matter not to the Divine, I know. Grace and Love look only through the lens of Grace and Love, yet I still wonder.

I met a really beautiful human being at the grocery store one morning. Their deep resonate voice suggested they were male, but their mannerisms and other qualities suggested they were female—which is why I am using the non-binary pro-nouns ‘they’ and ‘their.’ I really do not know their gender and I really do not care. All I know is that during our short interaction, I was deeply affected by their kind and gentle soul which is really all that matters.

Before his death, James Lipton hosted a show on Bravo called ‘The Actor’s Studio’ where he interviewed famous actors of stage, screen and TV.

At the end of the interview, he would ask each actor a series of questions inspired by the show ‘Bouillon de Culture’ hosted by Bernard Pivot. Among the ten questions were: What is your favorite/least favorite word; what sound or noise do you love/hate; what turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? And the one for which I always had a definitive answer: What turns you off?

Man’s inhumanity to man … our lack of empathy to one another is indefensible—how can we continue to treat each other so cruelly?

My mother was a great admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor Roosevelt was THE driving force behind The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages. The UDHR is widely recognized as having inspired, and paved the way for, the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties, applied today on a permanent basis at global and regional levels (all containing references to it in their preambles).

Have you ever read it? If not, you should! Personally, I believe it to be a more sacred and holy document than the Constitution of the United States simply because it undertakes to include and unify ALL of humanity! Not just Americans and certainly not just MAGA Evangelical believers.

Article 1 states …

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

… and it only gets better from there!

All human beings … not some, not a few … not just whites, not just far-right radicals, not just cisgendered heterosexuals, not just males … ALL human beings.

ALL!

ALL means ALL!

This lack of awareness of our global personhood as a “normal” part of life is where all of our problems, calamities, misfortunes, devastations begin … and can end.

I am not suggesting we do not find ways to solve our problems by enacting laws and regulations. Neither am I suggesting that offenders go free. I am saying that those “fixes” are only temporary.

But how do we get to an awakened knowledge of our interdependence?

By unraveling deeply held beliefs, by pulling at the threads of our conditioning, by untangling our theology, by seeing our lies, by dissolving our illusions, by disarming our egos … the result?

… a very different and collectively shared human journey where systems that once seemed necessary in the beliefs of separation would naturally disassemble and we could truly begin to see and realize what has always been true …

… all means all …

God Loves You Like That

God Loves You Like That

“What, then, was Jesus doing in his life and in his death?  The answer must be that in his life and in his death Jesus was demonstrating to men the eternal, unchangeable, unconqurerable love of God.  He was demonstrating to men that God is the Father who loves undefeatably and whose one desire is that the lost son should come home.  

When Jesus entered the world, when he healed the sick, comforted the sad, fed the hungry, forgave his enemies, he was saying to men:  ‘God loves you like that.’  When he died upon the cross he was saying: ’Nothing that men can ever do to God will stop God loving them.  There is no limit to the love of God.  There is no end beyond which that love will not go.  God loves you like that.’  

That is why nothing less than death on the Cross would do.  If Jesus had refused or escaped the Cross, if he had not died, it would mean that there was some point in suffering and sorrow at which the love of God stopped, that there was some point beyond which forgiveness was impossible.  But the Cross is God saying in Jesus: ’There is no limit to which my love will not go and no sin which my love cannot forgive.’”

William Barclay, The Mind of Jesus

Stupid

Stupid

Masked, I was sitting in a local diner with my Dad, waiting for our breakfast when I overheard the gentleman at the next table.  Late seventies or early eighties, this man was expressing his dismay at the current occupant of the White House telling him what to do.  Going so far as to compare President Biden to Hitler.    He further described to his friend how he doesn’t watch the News and he will not go to WalMart because they are now, once again, requiring employees and customers to wear masks.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Miriam-Webster.com defines stupid as: slow of mind, given to unintelligent decisions or acts, acting in an unintelligent or careless manner, lacking intelligence or reason, dulled in feeling or sensation, marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting.

Careless manner … dulled in feeling or sensation … marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking …

I would say these definitions explain the thoughts, words and actions of DeSantis, Abbott, other Republican lawmakers/leaders, and anybody that voted for, votes for or supports them in any way, shape or form.

Angry? You bet!

A great many people are sick and dying because of the actions or lack thereof of stupid people. A great many people will not get vaccinated or wear masks because of the self-absorbed and maladroit leadership of stupid people.

I am constantly confounded by the absurd diatribe that erupts from the mouths of DeSantis, Abbott, McConnell, Greene, Cruz, Carlson, Graham, Hawley, et al, like volcanic vomit. My mind reels wondering how seemingly well-educated individuals can be so mind-boggling, idiotically stupid.

Threatening to defund school systems and not pay school superintendents over mask mandates?  My God, DeSantis, how ludicrous, not to mention stupid!

The health and safety of children are at stake; and so these kinds of mindless and unreasonable decisions break my heart.

I have five grandchildren, two of whom will be headed back to school in three weeks—one in sixth grade and one in second grade—and I am highly distraught and concerned for their health and welfare; for all the children’s health and well-being. My grandchildren will be masked—their parents are not stupid—it is the stupid parents and stupid leaders that concern me.

You know the ones … those like the parents in Idaho that had a mask burning party in March of this year. Or those who say it takes away their freedom and civil rights, or that it is discriminatory, or those who believe the outright, bold face, blatant, sinister lies of the aforementioned bigwigs.

What is it going to take, before people wake up and realize how stupid they have been to remain unmasked?

Stupid people did not wear masks when the elderly got sick and died due to COVID-19. They did not wear masks when the middle-aged began to die. They are not wearing masks now that young folks are dying, with 615,000+ and counting now dead here in the US. Are they waiting for children to get sick and die in greater numbers before they wear masks and get vaccinated?

According to the CDC, “unintentional injuries—such as those caused by burns, drowning, falls, poisoning and road traffic—are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children in the United States.”

Let’s be clear, children’s deaths due to COVID are occurring as a result of people’s intentional behavior, due to the folks who are stubbornly and intentionally continuing to remain unmasked.

This, among other things in this insane world that is deeply lost in so many extreme beliefs in separation, makes me absolutely sick at heart.

Please do not waste your breath telling me about my lack of faith or that I am not a Christian or that I should just pray.  I trust God, I am a follower of the Way, and I do pray.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if a person does not love his brother, whom he has seen, then he cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20

The fact of the matter is every time you look into someone’s eyes, you are seeing God whether you believe it or not. Or if you prefer:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

To be fair, I have done and do stupid things–more than I would care to profess. If we are honest with ourselves and will humbly admit it, the vast majority of us do stupid stuff. If we didn’t, our human world would not be in the predicament it is in— dying in so many ways now.

This stupidity is a result of believing the BIG LIE. No, not the lie that Trump won the 2020 election. I’m talking about the lie in Genesis 3:4-5 …

The serpent said to the woman, “It is not true that you will surely die; because God knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

… THAT big lie.

We took the bait—hook, line, and sinker—and have been believing ever since in the illusion that we are separate from Eternal Love. Even though later in the same chapter, God proved the illusion false by asking, “where are you?”

Until and as we stop seeing and acting out of unconscious belief, we cannot know how our action and activity can become different; or to borrow some of Albert Einstein’s words, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

For more on this, please read Charles Eisenstein’s article;  but be prepared for the ‘twisties.’

I know some people have legitimate reasons for not wearing masks, such as claustrophobia, anxiety, Legionnaire’s disease, interactions with lip readers (WebMD).

I also know that getting the vaccine is a personal choice and that there are some various mitigating factors. I hate needles and the possible side effects of the vaccine did frighten me. Ultimately, I decided the reasons for getting the vaccine far outweighed the reasons not to.

That being said, the very least all of us can do is wear the stupid mask …

… and make sure it covers your nose!

Out of Step

Out of Step

I find myself feeling out of step with the world these days.

Between the pandemic and a recent painful personal experience, I feel like any blinders I may have been wearing have been ripped off. The only place I don’t seem to feel at loggerheads is in experiencing nature.

I use to be a night owl, but since adopting my dog, Polly, I am rousted out of bed between six and six thirty every morning; and I couldn’t be happier! Our early morning walks set the tone for the rest of the day.

Have you ever listened to a foggy dawn? When the fog lays on the earth like blanket on a cozy bed, it dampens any sound perpetuating calm stillness and unfathomable peace. Have you ever looked at a field of unmown grass swaying in the breezy sunshine and seen a kaleidoscope of greens? Absolutely mesmerizing! What about walking through dewy covered grass? One morning I looked down at the beads of perspiration and noticed what I thought was a five-leafed flower. Turns out it was the remains of a dandelion completely seed-barren looking like a misty star. My path was littered with these shining gems.

Birds singing, rooted trees lifting their dancing limbs towards the lemon sun, snow-white puffy clouds moseying across an azure atmospheric dome, amber sunrises, magenta Peonies, deep violet Irises, golden Sunflowers, the mysterious delights of each season …

… this is where I feel most at home. This moment. This now. This awareness.

This is where I go in my heart when …

… I see the human rights abuses of the Palestinians. Prime Minister Netanyahu, what is your objective? You have taken a page out of Hitler’s holocaust of the Jews.

Or I hear Senate Republican lawmakers speak with forked tongues.

Mitch McConnel, aren’t you tired? Aren’t you tired of all your and your party’s lies? Only an artless hasty-witted miscreant such as yourself and your party legislators would be committed to being “100 percent focused on stopping Biden’s administration.” That’s not much of a party platform; certainly not one worthy of re-electing spineless mealy-mouth blaggards to office.

Andrew Clyde, do you seriously believe that January sixth was “a normal tourist visit?” If so, why did you block the Senate chamber doors? Why not welcome them in? Greg Abbot, do you really think that an “extreme six-week abortion ban” is admirable and praiseworthy? You have just set women’s rights back 150 years at least. Brian Kemp, how can you sign such loathsome, oppressive and despicable voting laws? Face it, you are out of touch with the reality of the 21st century as are most of the elected officials in your party.

Wait a minute, I thought I was out of step?

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
—Viktor Frankl

That’s where and who I am.

That grace-filled space of Truth, Beauty, Equality, Diversity, Peace, Love and Light.

If only we all realized that is who and what we are; what a lovely place this would be.

Dear Reverend Graham

Dear Reverend Graham

Dear Reverend Graham,

Your continued support of Mr. Trump is ungodly, immoral, unholy, dishonorable and corrupt; not to mention just plain inexcusable!

What is wrong with you? Do you really not see the truth of who and what Mr. Trump really is?  He has absolutely no sincere interest in defending the free expression of religious faith or safeguarding the rights of unborn children, whatsoever! You are of no consequence to him. He is and has been using you and the faith you profess to gain and maintain corrupt power and unscrupulous control.

You keep defending a man who has committed multiple crimes against women, treason and sedition against the federal government of the United States and genocide against the American people and the world. To say nothing of money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, and who knows what other heinous crimes he has performed.

Mr. Trump is one of the most morally bankrupt individuals in all of history. If I believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, I would say you are the false prophet touting the wonders and accomplishments of the antichrist.

In a recent Newsweek article, you claim:

… the U.S. is entering a “dark winter” not just because of COVID-19, but because God is “turn[ing] his back” on a country with deteriorating morals.

If that is the case, you certainly share in the blame, considering your apparently unswerving subservience to a pathological liar and what appears to be a willful misunderstanding of biblical teachings as well as God.

How could God who is everything ever turn His back on Himself? It is simply not possible. Jesus maintained as such:

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Mark 3:24-25

Jesus never turned his back on anyone, not even the pharisees, sadducees, or teachers of the law. He reserved his harshest words of criticism for them (see the book of Matthew, chapter 23) because, like you, they were all about appearances, pride, and hellfire judgement. Yet his interactions were always Truthful and Loving, all the while he reminded everyone to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly” with God.

Literally speaking, who turned who’s back on whom in the Garden of Eden? Didn’t Adam and Eve turn their back on God? What was God’s response to their betrayal?

Genesis 3: 8-9 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

Where are you is a far cry from what you propose about God’s behavior. Yes, there were consequences to their choices. However, even after God sent the pair out of the garden, He spent the remainder of the Torah and Christian Old Testament wooing mankind into relationship with Himself. Over and over again God is met with resistance and duplicity.

Every sincere and thoughtful examination of the Bible reveals God as lovingly seeking shared awareness with Her creation. Always!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through him, the world might be saved. John 3:16-17

Where is the back turning?

Sincerely,
Susan Fridinger

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-supporter-franklin-graham-says-dark-winter-due-moral-decline-not-just-covid-1558436

Unity

Unity

The following is an excerpt from ushistory.org about the Pledge of Allegiance:

“The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time, it read:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower (a Republican, by the way) encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

What does this covenant mean to you? In light of the fact that Mr. Bellamy wrote it to “be used by citizens in any country,” shouldn’t there be a deeper more enlightened interpretation than simply devotion to one’s country?

There is a lot of talk about “unity” these days … unity and healing.

Both of these concepts appear to be the go-to sentiments since the 2020 election results were called for Mr. Biden by the Associated Press just a week ago. After a bit of research, I found the word ‘unity’ is a fairly common term in presidential inauguration, acceptance and concession speeches especially after particularly contentious campaigns and close election outcomes.

After all, we are the United States of America.

In light of the way so many people vehemently support the Pledge of Allegiance, how can those same folks say “America, love it or leave it?” Also, please note, right-wing Republicans and fundamental Evangelical Christians, that this oath that is at the very heart of your patriotic nationalism was written by a “socialist minister.” How is that for irony?

I have few enough friends on Facebook that it is very easy for me to tell when someone has unfriended me. As a result of my outspoken support of truth in the face of Mr. Trump’s lies and Mr. Biden’s win, I lost several of them in recent times. They felt, it seems, they could no longer associate with me due to, what appeared to them, as my supposed “hatred” of Mr. Trump.

And that’s just the thing …

I do not hate Mr. Trump. I do not hate anyone who supports him. To do so would be to believe they are not also children of God, and that is simply not true. Furthermore, in this very shared, interactive and interdependent world of ours, we cannot ever for very long disassociate from “our enemy” as some bloggers I have read suggest.

Jesus is adamant about how we are to respond to our enemy. Over and over again, His mandate is crystal clear in stories like the Good Samaritan and in the message of the Sermon on the Mount.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:44-47

If you do not believe him, perhaps the wisest king in Hebrew history can persuade you. Solomon said:

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25: 21-22

To “heap coals of fire” on the heads of our enemies means to choose to act out of generous, selfless love rather than vengeance and retribution.

This is not easy! Just ask Malala Yousafzai or Corrie Ten Boom or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

As I write this, I am looking out my front window through my neighbor’s yard to a house on the next block that has a blue Trump banner flying on the front porch. I have never met the person(s) living in that home but I could certainly make assumptions about them.

What good would that do? The anger, frustration and, yes, hatred toward them that fills my heart as I look at that pennant only hurts me!

And just because I have not been formally introduced to them, does not mean that I have not stood in line with them at the grocery store, or sat beside them at the doctor’s office, or had some kind of interaction with them in the course of one of my days.

Whether we know who are enemy is or not, we are called to treat people the way we want to be treated.

Perhaps this the true spirit of awareness Mr. Bellamy was calling forth in all God’s children.

Love is who you are. When you don’t live according to love, you are outside of being. You’re not being real. When you love, you are acting according to your deepest being, your deepest truth. You are operating according to your dignity. —Richard Rohr

For further perspective on this topic, please visit: https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/14/europe/nazi-grandfather-store-scli-intl-grm/index.html

For more on the meaning of “heaping burning coals,” please visit the following site:
https://free.messianicbible.com/feature/time-heap-burning-coals-enemy-2/