Explorations Category


Puzzled

Puzzled

You know what I find puzzling?

I am puzzled by the contradictory behavior of those who identify as conservative Christians and/or Right-wing Republicans

Don’t these Christians believe that “God is love?” If so, then why do they praise and support the behavior of Mr. Trump, a man that freely endorses the hatred of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ folks through his conduct, repressive tweets, abhorrent Facebook posts, and oppressive, ignorant words and speeches?

That really puzzles me.

If Christians believe these words of Jesus, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned,” then why is acceptable to say, “Having God’s unconditional love does not mean you have God’s unconditional approval?” (Miles Mcpherson). Do they want me to be afraid of God; the very God that repeatedly says throughout the Christian Bible, “do not fear, for I Am with you?” What is there to approve or disapprove of? What is there to be afraid of?

Going to Hell?

As much as you believe you are separate from God, from others, from the natural world and from creation itself, you are in hell. The more you believe this, the more hellish it becomes–it is that simple. Many people, here and now, are living in, through and out of that illusion.

If God “loves a cheerful giver,” then why do these folks validate policies and legislation that ‘steal from the poor and give to the rich’ in the service of greed and partisan politics? Jesus said to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the imprisoned, welcome the stranger, and give the thirsty something to drink.

Maybe these are the people to whom the eighth century prophet Isaiah was referring when he said,

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who change darkness into light
and light into darkness,
who change bitter into sweet
and sweet into bitter!
Isaiah 5:20

I have heard this verse and others like it used to reprimand those of us who will NOT shame or reprimand anyone of the LGBTQ+ community, women who have had abortions, and/or any other such “Sins.”

I am genuinely perplexed by people who preach the ideals of community, love, unity, and profess to believe in Jesus’s words, yet openly castigate those who, whether they believe in Jesus or not, willingly abide by the precept “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I don’t get it. But then what is there to understand?

We are here in this world together to “concentrate not on what is seen but on what is unseen, since things seen are temporary, but things unseen are eternal.” In order to remember in this way, we must fully surrender to Love.

“One could say all of this human world in the beliefs of separation can be boiled down to one simple thing, forgetting … forgetting that we are also Christ, extension(s) of and therefore One with God… And then of course the corollary, that awakening is simply a journey of remembering.”  J.F.

Or as Paul says in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

How do you “remember?” How do you “renew your mind?”

Prayer, meditation, quiet time, enjoying nature, being creative, reading, playing music, dancing, recreating, compassionate conversations … ?

Whatever your preference, just remember Whose you are and to Whom you belong.

Truth

Truth

What is truth?

“So then,” Pilate said to him, “You are a king, after all.” Yeshua (Jesus) answered, “You say I am a king. The reason I have been born, the reason I have come into the world, is to bear witness to the truth. Every one who belongs to the truth listens to me.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
John 18:37-38

Between the lies, misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda with which we are bombarded these days, finding and knowing the truth can be difficult if not nearly impossible.

Is Brieitbart News telling the truth? Is the Lincoln Project telling the truth? Are Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News telling the truth? Dare I ask, is Franklin Graham telling the truth? Anybody and everyone, including myself, have an opinion that can be broadcasted via the vast expanse of social media platforms. Are any of our opinions ‘truth?’

Pilate “found no guilt” in Jesus. How did he know? Or did he just not care? If he didn’t care, then why did he ask “What is truth?”

Oxford Languages defines truth as “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality; a fact or belief that is accepted as true.”

This definition seems rather subjective to be the definitive answer to “what is truth?” My “reality” is not the same as your reality which is not the same as someone else’s reality. Who decides what is ‘accepted’ as true?

When the President of the United States is sworn into office, he places his hand on a Bible and swears to defend the Constitution of the United States. By placing his hand on the Bible, he is making what is supposed to be a true promise, a seemingly authoritative and unbreakable vow. Unfortunately, we know how that has turned out these last three and a half years. I can say unequivocally I despise President Trump’s illusions of truth.

Before you get offended, you may not know that Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, John Quincy Adams, and Franklin Pierce did not use a Bible when they took the oath of office. And let’s not forget the false claim that President Obama placed his hand on a Quran. He actually used two Bibles.

Does that mean he was twice as truthful as President Trump? Maybe, but he is certainly countless times more genuine and respectable than President Trump, at least in my humble opinion.

When giving testimony in a court of law, witnesses are sometimes asked to place their hand on a bible and “swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Does that necessarily mean they do? From what I have seen and read about the current Attorney General of the United States, William Barr, I would have to say no.

If it doesn’t matter whether you place your hand on a Bible or not when swearing to tell the truth, then what binds us to telling the truth?

“The word truth in Aramaic is sharira and in Hebrew, it is ‘emit which means genuineness, authentic and sincere … Rabbis point out that the Hebrew word for truth – אֶמֶת (eh-MEHT) – begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, א, continues with one of the two middle letters, מ, and ends with the last letter, ת. This Biblical Hebrew word therefore encompasses the gamut of reality.” Ulpan.com

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:17-19

During his final hours of life, Jesus prayed this prayer for his disciples and defined truth as “your word.” Additionally, Jesus defines truth within the process of sanctification which is defined as taking something—in this case his disciples—and “set (them) apart as or declare (them) holy” and/or dedicate them for a “divine purpose.”

Yesterday, by divine coincidence, I was reading in the book of Jeremiah, a prophet from the Hebrew Bible born 650 years before Jesus. In regards to his calling to prophetic ministry in chapter one verses four and five Jeremiah writes:

Here is the word of ADONAI (the LORD) that came to me: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I separated you for myself. I have appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”

Before I formed you … I knew you.” God has an intimate knowledge of us before we were ever conceived. Or we could say, our consciousness is consecrated in the Truth prior to the act of physical conception and any earthly form of being in the womb or out.

We are pure Being, perfect at-one-ment, flawless Truth. Therefore, it would seem this ‘gamut of reality’ is dedicated to a ‘divine purpose.’ In other words, our world appears to be less subjective and more spacious; we are called to purposefully give our attention to what is real.

In Chapter 4: 4 Jeremiah tells his listeners, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, remove the foreskin of your hearts …” Paul echoes this sentiment in Ephesians 4:18, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

There are literally hundreds of verses in both the old and new testaments of the Christian Bible that warn readers away from hardening their heart.

How does this hardening of heart occur?

By believing that we are separate from God; that we are separate from Her creation; that we are separate from each other and all living creatures—that’s how.

If God ‘knew’ Jeremiah before he was ever conceived, then She knew me and She knew you—She knew ALL of us and everything. Any judgement other than Love, and anything that gets in the way of this sanctifying process of remembrance, is a lie.

Nevertheless, to you who are listening, what I say is this:

“Love your enemies!
Do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
“If someone hits you on one cheek,
offer the other too;
if someone takes your coat,
let him have your shirt as well.
“If someone asks you for something,
give it to him;
if someone takes what belongs to you,
don’t demand it back.

“Treat other people as you would like them to treat you. What credit is it to you if you love only those who love you? Why, even sinners love those who love them. What credit is it to you if you do good only to those who do good to you? Even sinners do that. What credit is it to you if you lend only to those who you expect will pay you back? Even sinners lend to each other, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing back! Your reward will be great, and you will be children of Ha‘Elyon (the Most High); for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Show compassion, just as your Father shows compassion. Luke 6: 27-36

The question remains, how do I apply all of this in these current realms of madness so permeated with insane delusions?

To behave with these understandings is also to be willing to call out lies wherever we see them and most especially any residual lies that remain as a part of our own conditioning.

Why do you believe what you are believing?  Through what conditioning are your beliefs being shaped? Whatever your conditioning may be, and however conscious or unconscious of it you are, it is what informs truth as you see it.

https://www.chaimbentorah.com/2018/08/hebrew-word-study-truth/

https://kingdomcruciformity.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/john-wesleys-practical-theology-of-entire-sanctification/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/obama-used-quran-for-oath/

Obviously

Obviously

Am I missing something?

How can assorted Republican leaders still be refusing to wear masks? How can Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) assemble “his staff members to tell them in person he had tested positive” for the virus and still forbid them to wear masks?

How can people still refuse to believe that President Trump is racist after he tweeted the following?

“I am happy to inform all the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood…. Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”

This legislation, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule (AFFH), passed in 2015 “was explicitly intended to end racial segregation in housing.”

How can sending paramilitary forces to end peaceful protests NOT be seen as a form of tyranny?

How can people honestly believe the discredited lies of Dr. Stella Immanuel over the science-based facts of Dr. Anthony Fauci?

This short list does not even scratch the surface of all the malevolence that assaults us every day. The fast pace with which this chaotic spread of fear and disinformation attacks us is overwhelming; it feels like an endless, winless boxing match with Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali.

I cannot look away or stop speaking out! To do so would simply be ethically irresponsible and injudicious no matter how much grief and despair I have felt especially in this last week.

Obviously, Trump is Putin’s puppet. Obviously, evangelical pastors, such as Franklin Graham, have dressed the wolf in sheep’s clothing and continue to protect and promote Trump as a pro-life voice, when he is clearly anything but pro-life, especially in the larger sense of the term. Obviously, President Trump is a pathological liar.

I simply do not understand how people cannot see President Trump for the evil that he so clearly personifies. Even as I write this, the words of Jesus are ringing in my ears:

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

What am I missing?

To those who identify as Republican conservatives and/or Christian Fundamentalists, and especially to those who believe “Trump is the fulfillment of prophecy” prior to Christ’s second coming…

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhXwbcGSKJ8 )

…do any true Christian teachings or honest Republican values, not to mention any of Jesus’s actual words justify racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, greed, selfishness, and utter disregard for the environment; or make supporting Trump’s re-election morally, ethically, and/or spiritually correct?

NO, not for anyone who truly believes the words, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Or these words, “One should never do something to others that one would regard as an injury to one’s own self.” Or these, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

What is worse is that once people are so heavily invested in, indoctrinated by and identified with Mr. Trump and the ideology he represents, there is no reasoning with them. They do not seem to be capable of a sensible discussion.

This lack of openness and blatant disregard for caring and compassionate conversation with regards to solving complex problems is the real issue. This is what keeps me up at night worrying about my grandchildren’s future.

We are teetering on the edge a cataclysmic cliff and a vast majority of people are behaving as lemmings ready to jump, refusing to ask why.

Why do people think that helping the unemployed under the Heroes Act will make the jobless not want to work or pay their rent?

Why do people think it is acceptable to rescind the Affordable Care Act during a pandemic leaving over 20 million people without healthcare?

Why is it permissible to deregulate environmental laws designed to protect all life on this planet?

Burying your head in the sand is not working! What solutions do you propose?

Are you afraid of the messiness answering these kinds of questions engenders?

Could all of this be what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:13-14?

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

I am not questioning God. I am questioning the beliefs and delusions that appear to be informing the maniacal behavior of many of Her beloveds.

Am I missing something? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I don’t need to hear a presidential debate to make a decision about who I will be voting for in November.

The choice is absolutely and irrefutably obvious to me.

Radical Change

Radical Change

I use to be a far-right fundamentalist …

… but I came to see how my extreme beliefs hurt people whom I had made a promise to love as the result of a decision to follow Christ.

Folks who continue to identify as I once did would probably view me now as a radical-left liberalist, and you know what? I am OK with that.

“What would ever make you change your mind?”

Returning to University at the age of 36 as a “non-traditional” student to finish my degree, being a teacher for 17 years, and volunteering at a local food pantry are three life events that had the greatest influence on shedding my illusory beliefs of separation and alienation.

None of these experiences, you will notice, took place within the walls of a church. Isn’t that the way it should be, learning and living out our faith in the “real world?”

The job I held the longest prior to becoming a teacher was as a pharmacy technician at various hospitals near where I lived. While working in both in-patient and out-patient hospital pharmacies, I was exposed to various calamitous circumstances. I witnessed a baby die due to SIDS. On occasion I was nearby when ‘codes’ were called in Emergency Rooms. I interacted on a regular basis with veterans who were missing limbs and/or who suffered mental health issues due to their military service.

While these situations may have helped me become kinder, gentler, move loving, and more empathetic, they did little to dent the chink in my armor as far as issues of diversity and strongly held, black and white beliefs on matters of spirituality, sexuality, and race relations.

One of the first assignments I was given in my ‘Seminar in Education’ class was to examine my attitudes towards multiculturalism. My paper was entitled “Joy for Learning—A Multicultural Experience.” In it I explored my myopic prejudices concerning race and religion, up to that point in time. After re-reading it today, I can see how much I have changed since then, 24 years later.

My entire undergraduate experience challenged me to question my conditioned beliefs and pre-conceived ideas. Everything from Mathematics to World History to Physics to English Literature and Educational coursework was part of my journey with, in, and through the eyes of God. The diploma that hangs on the wall in my office is as much Hers as it is mine.

Sixteen of my 17 years as a teacher were spent at a middle school where more than 25% of the students are minorities and a third of the students receive free or reduced lunches. This learning environment was very different from my own white, middle class, suburban educational experience of the 1960’s and 70’s.

The philosophies of “sharing my joy and enthusiasm for learning” and “students should see my acceptance, tolerance, and respect for all people” set forth in my college paper were put to the test in varying ways. Additionally, for the first time in my adult life I worked with lesbians, all of whom were in committed relationships with their partners.

I know what the Bible says about sexual orientation. I also know how easy it is for me to see God in my image rather than seeing myself and all human beings in Her image.

God’s grace and love is extravagant! This radical love is the whole point of the prodigal son parable. Do you understand how shocking it was for the son to ask for his inheritance? The son’s request “implies a wish that his father was dead,” and was considered unforgivable. When the wayward son returns home, the father’s response was just as equally surprising. He runs to his son with open arms without reluctance or hesitation.

This parable should inform how we choose to live this life, here and now, more than just as determinant of our eternal destination.

When I volunteered at the food pantry, I met clients who endured circumstances I could not even begin to imagine. This one experience more than any other indicated whether I really gave heed to Jesus’s teaching in Mathew 25:35-40 about the least, the last, the lost and the lonely.

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

“None of this sounds very radical.”

How about this?

“I believe in full LGBTQ+ rights.
I believe we should protect the planet.
I believe everyone deserves healthcare.
I believe the world is bigger than America.
I believe to be “pro-life,” means to treasure all of it.
I believe women should have autonomy over their own bodies.
I believe whiteness isn’t superior and it is not the baseline of humanity.
I believe we are all one interdependent community.
I believe people and places are made better by diversity.
I believe people shouldn’t be forced to abide by anyone else’s religion.
I believe non-American human beings have as much value as American ones.
I believe generosity is greater than greed, compassion better than contempt, and kindness superior to derision.
I believe there is enough in this world for everyone: enough food, enough money, enough room, enough care—if we unleash our creativity and unclench our fists.”
John Pavolitz

To this I would add:

I believe loving as Jesus loved or Gandhi loved or Sister Teresa loved is more important than being able to quote chapter and verse of the Bible or any sacred text.
I believe that any and all both extremes of black and white thinking can be perverted to express hate towards those we may view as seemingly other than or separate from us.
I believe I would rather err on the side of love than of judgement.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

And I believe that just because I can sometimes think I have it all figured out …

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
‘   Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man,
   I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
   Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
   Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
   or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
   and all the heavenly beings* shouted for joy?

‘Or who shut in the sea with doors
   when it burst out from the womb?—
when I made the clouds its garment,
   and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed bounds for it,
   and set bars and doors,
and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
   and here shall your proud waves be stopped”?

‘Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
   and caused the dawn to know its place,
so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
   and the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal,
   and it is dyed* like a garment.
Light is withheld from the wicked,
   and their uplifted arm is broken.

‘Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
   or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
   or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
   Declare, if you know all this.
Job 38:1-18

… I don’t have it all figured out. Not even close.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+38-42%3A6&version=NRSV

Eyes

Eyes

Head hanging, smoking a cigarette, walking with slumped shoulders—in comparison to the bright shiny morning, the young man’s countenance was rather dreary.

I was refilling my bird feeder when he passed by on the opposite side of the road. I sang out a cheery, “Good Morning.” He looked up grinning from ear to ear and replied in kind. What really caught my attention was the light in his eyes as we briefly connected before the moment passed and he journeyed on down the road. Hopefully his heart felt lighter, I know mine did.

Then there was this …

“I’m pretty sure you were my sixth grade Science teacher.”

I was in the check-out line at the grocery story, wearing my mask. The young woman bagging my items was wearing a mask too and yet, with so little of her face showing, her eyes looked familiar.

“Mrs. Spurlock,” I said with my hand on my chest in reference to myself.

My instincts were confirmed when she briefly removed her mask so I could see her whole face. We both marveled at how we recognized one another under these challenging and interesting circumstances.

Shakespeare and Milton are among those given credit for the English and Traditional proverb, “The eyes are the window of the soul.”

Cicero said, “The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter.”

Maybe this is the real reason so many people refuse to don a face-mask? Not wearing a face mask may have less to do with first amendment rights and/or the “virus is a hoax” and more to do with the desire to hide the content of their heart and soul. Such folks falsely believe they can remain hidden by staying in plain sight.

Face mask or no face mask, this is just not possible!

Jesus had a few things to say about eyes as well, like this from Matthew 7:1-5.

Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For the way you judge others is how you will be judged — the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!

Through the use of this parable, Jesus seems to be asking us to examine our motives, our beliefs, our illusions—all things we envision as separate from Him.

What is looking out through our eyes? What is being perceived, apprehended, seen? What is it that is seeing through the eyes? Is seeing about projections, all those shadows of our own conditioned beliefs, or is seeing something else?

The Sermon on the Mount, from which the above quote is taken, acts as a decipher for the Torah, God’s Judaic laws found in the first five books of the Old Testament of the Bible. If, as Jesus says, the greatest commandments are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind (Deuteronomy) and … love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus),” then the Sermon on the Mount describes how to do just that, simply by unmasking ourselves.

The ‘logs’ and ‘splinters’ —our illusions of separation—blind us. If we really took a hard look at our answers to the above questions and let Jesus’s words resonate deeply within our souls, would all the labels and ideologies with which we appear to so defiantly and concretely identify ourselves and others, have any meaning whatsoever?

No, of course not! We would be unmasked; free from separation, aware of the Wholeness of our Being!

In our lostness, we throw labels around using them as judgements and accusations, deeming others less worthy of love and grace than ourselves. “Take the log out of your own eye before you take the imaginary splinter out of someone else’s eyes.”

Political ‘logs’ is one such marker. I am tired of being tagged as a “Democrat” because for some people, registered as Republicans, that seems to be their politically correct dirty word. Do phrases like “a good Democrat is a dead Democrat” or “Radical Left Do Nothing Democrat” or “she’s a Democrat, you know” (spoken in hushed tones) sound familiar?

If that terminology is part of your vocabulary, did you notice I afforded you the grace to say “registered as a Republican?” I am simply registered as a Democrat. If anyone would like to know why I made this deeply considered choice, I would be happy to sit down and share with you within the framework of a caring and compassionate conversation.

Another ‘log’ I am tired of is ‘Christian.’ Again, I am simply a follower of Christ.

The word ‘Christian’ first appears in the book of Acts in the New Testament of the Bible. In the Greek translation of chapter 11 verses 25 and 26 ‘Messiah’ is translated as khristos, and consequently anglicized as Christ, from which the term Christian is derived.

In the Complete Jewish Study Bible the verses read as follows:

Then Bar-Nabba (Barnabas) went off to Tarsus to look for Sha’ul (Saul); and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They met with the congregation there for a whole year and taught a sizeable crowd. Also, it was in Antioch that the talmidim (disciples) for the first time were called “Messianic.”

‘Messianic’ meaning a follower of the Messiah. Other Biblical translations use the phrase ‘the Way’ as in “they were followers of the Way.” Notice that the ‘t’ in ‘the Way’ is NOT capitalized! Could that be because ‘Way’ refers to the person of Jesus—his life as a passage–and not to a set of do’s and don’ts designed to conflate hierarchy and patriarchy, and therefore arrest loving relationships?

One way or another, mask or no mask, there is no hiding.

As the saying goes, “You can run, but you can’t hide” because …

You yourselves are your letter, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

The time is now to see the Way as open … open to truthful and tender transformation.

“Caring for those around us isn’t merely a nice habit to cultivate; Jesus says that is central to our character as a whole.” Lois Tverbert

Imagine the kind of true awakening and awareness that would take place worldwide, and the resulting healthful global benefits if we all realized Whose we are, and to Whom we belong.

Dissonance

Dissonance

So, if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault — but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. Matthew 18:15

A while back I was offered the opportunity to share some devotions within the framework of a weekly remote on-line gathering. One of my messages, called ‘Agents of Healing,’ met with resistance from someone amongst the listeners.

Comments on my writings from friends and family here on this site tend to be affirming and encouraging. This is not to say that there may be those of you out there who might disagree with some of what I write, but the overall support I have generally received has left me feeling both immune and vulnerable to criticism—more than I realized.

I was unaware of this person’s objections until someone acting as a go-between contacted me, at the request of the person who wished to remain anonymous. Due to his or her anonymity, I did not have any opportunity to respond directly.

This person’s manner of sharing his or her criticism broke my heart, not so much because what I said may have hurt him or her, or because he or she disagreed with me, but because I did not have the chance to openly discuss our differences and possibly find some common ground, some reconciliation, some compassion and caring for each other’s differing views.

Interestingly, the ‘Agents of Healing’ post that I shared that this person seemed to be objecting to, included this excerpt . . .

… I do not expect you to agree with me on politics or anything else for that matter, but I do hope you will love me as I love you. Disagreeing with one another and blatantly ending any conversation gets us nowhere. But disagreeing within the framework of love, mercy, and compassion . . . this is where real listening, sharing, problem-solving, and consensus can occur …

Jesus, as the verses that begin this post state, seems to see a great deal of value in face to face encounters in order to bring about harmony.

I realize using the word ‘harmony,’ could seem for some to allude to complete agreement; let us explore that . . .

During choir rehearsals, prior to the pandemic, when practicing a piece of music, certain chord and note progressions would invariably trip us up because of the dissonance they created. We sang those segments over and over until we were able to render them correctly. Our choir director, pointed out how the dissonance would eventually resolve into beautiful consonance.

New research published by Nature magazine “argues that people’s general preference for consonant chords over dissonant ones ‘stem from the so-called harmonicity of consonant intervals.’ The aversion to the dissonant notes is not so much to do with the notes themselves, but with the jarring clash of their overtones.”

I find this fascinating–the purposeful engagement of dissonance within a musical composition—side by side notes working in concert to bring about harmonic resolution.

This same technique is used in the field of education, “when new information is presented to learners that is unfamiliar or contradictory to their existing knowledge or schema, this triggers a phenomenon referred to as cognitive dissonance. … Piaget (1975) defines the state of cognitive disequilibrium in much the same way …” (Springer)

As a teacher, I frequently and purposefully employed cognitive dissonance to engender higher level thinking skills. Within the context of dissonance, there is much more space for ‘aha’ moments.

Could this be a metaphor for what our world is now experiencing or needs to experience? Can seeming opposite points of view coexist for the mutual benefit of all God’s children? If so, how?

I suggest we begin this discovery together, by first learning to let go of our beliefs in the illusion that we ARE what we are believing. One can become so identified with or entrenched within ideological labels and beliefs that one’s heart becomes hardened, in other words impervious to tenderness and truth. The ‘jarring clash of overtones’ or disequilibrium cannot serve its true God-given purpose within concrete imaginations that are resistant to change.

Once again, I commend the Black Lives Matter movement and organization for channeling this awareness into the world. “When black lives matter, all lives matter” is a profoundly tender and truthful realization that can—if we allow it–energetically draw beloveds into symbiotic conversational relationship.

I do not know why my critic could not come to me, nor do I hold any ill will towards him or her. I pray for all of us to unite in compassionate and creative conversation.

I do believe that is what Christ wants …