Meditations Category


Shame

Shame

Mr. President,

Have you no shame?

No doubt your supporters will hail your three memorandums and executive order for “enhanced unemployment benefits” as a triumph and blame the Democrats for failing to cooperate with you.

This is nothing more than a contemptable campaign stunt in your bid for re-election.

The Republicans—your despicable cronies in the Senate–sat on their hands after the House passed the HEROES Act well before the CARES Act expired and then those same Senators refused to negotiate a deal, as did you. Meanwhile millions of Americans lived in fear and worry. Your behavior and that of your vile advocates is utterly reprehensible.

This is not about the absolutely necessary help millions of Americans will receive if these directives are enacted. This is about how, in your twisted and narcissistic mind, you no doubt view your actions as magnanimous and benevolent. Those who support you will see you as a hero because they, like you, are incapable of any rational thought.

How those who call themselves conservative Christians can still back you is astonishing. They praise you for your pro-life and anti-gay marriage stance while turning a blind eye to the cold, callous and calculating actions of an egotistical despot.

Most appalling is how you used the pain and misery of those suffering unemployment and food insecurity for your own sick pleasure and gain. You are totally and entirely heartless.

I thought you had sunk to a new low when you responded “it is what it is” to the unimaginable COVID death toll during your AXIOS interview.

I was wrong, but what should I have expected from someone who has shown absolutely no remorse for the dead, dying and grieving.

However, it may surprise you and the readers of this letter to know, I still pray for you because Jesus said to “love your enemies … and pray for those who mistreat you.”

You are making it quite difficult, though.

With respect to the office you unfortunately hold,
Susan Fridinger

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

Decisions

Decisions

Have you heard anyone say the following?

“I decide who I’m going to vote for based on how the person stands on abortion and what they believe about marriage.”

Do you have an understanding of your own decision-making process? Or what is the underlying motivation for it? In other words, on what are your decisions based?

“We make thousands of choices every day. It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. Each decision, of course, carries certain consequences with it that are both good and bad.” Science.unctv.org

If a person is pro-life concerning the issue of abortion and stands with the traditional definition of marriage—including being against gay marriage, does that necessarily make them a morally ethical person?

President Trump claims to be pro-life and anti-gay marriage, and I certainly do not believe he is a morally ethical person. In fact, I dare say he is morally reprehensible! And yet, many people voted for him in 2016 and will do so again in 2020 simply because of where he seems to stand on these two issues.

Do these two issues take precedence over all the other complex concerns the US is currently facing? If so, why?

“Of about 6 to 10 million currently existing species, we have still only identified 1 million; we know more about vertebrate species than we do about plants and insects. But for groups that we know well, knowledge of very recent species extinctions — and for current species, their ranges and the threats to them — allows us to be certain that extinction rates are comparable to those of the great past extinctions.

For example, for birds, of about 10,000 species worldwide, at least 128 have disappeared in the last 500 years, about 1,200 are currently seriously threatened with extinction (all but three from human activities); there is a real prospect of the loss of 500 bird species within this century.” Daniel Simberloff

Does human existence take priority over all other existence? If yes, why? Does the dominion given to humans in the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis of the Old Testament mean we have the freedom to treat all creation any way we want? Are we called to harsh and evil rule or for benevolence and grace?

For all intents and purposes, it appears to me we have ruled over the earth with the harshness and greediness of an evil king bent on destroying everything that does not serve his very own personal wish and whim.

Acrimonious and disgraceful leadership and example is not a sound basis for decision making.

Again, I ask you, on what do you base the myriad of decisions you make in your life, especially those that can and do affect so many people and other life forms either negatively or positively?

I am a follower of Christ and registered as a Democrat and I believe it would be just as morally impoverished to vote against Mr. Trump as for him simply because of his abortion and gay marriage stance.

Extreme, ignorant and black and white thinking is selfish, narrow-minded, hard-hearted and shows a lack of awareness, and/or intelligence. Individuals who live their lives in such poverty are lost—lost in their own merciless illusions of judgement, wrath, and anger. I pity these folks because they must be enduring a lot of pain or fear in order to want to build walls around their hearts and country rather than become pathways for Light, Love, health and healing.

Do you really want to see the abortion rate drop? Then provide women—ALL women, not just women with economic advantages but poverty-stricken women, women of color and all women everywhere–with educational and economic opportunities so they do not have to see men as their only way through this world. Until we do that, we are faced with a patchwork of limited programs that barely if at all meet their physical and/or emotional needs, much less the needs of children born into trying and disadvantaged circumstances.

Abortion and sexuality are just two issues among many others where people want to impose what they see as right for their own bodies and lives onto others by taking choices away from anyone who disagrees with them. How can the difficulties and challenges different perspectives on these issues raise be addressed through impoverished, black and white thinking? They can’t.

And since collective answers to complex and multidimensional concerns are never straightforward, how can choosing a leader based solely on those two issues regardless of your faith or spiritual practice be so neat and tidy? It can’t.

Not all decisions we make are weighted equally and the results and outcomes can range from inconsequential to life threatening. Within such a broad and seemingly unlimited range of possible results, what becomes our basis and motivation for deciding? What are the things that must be considered?

“Before you speak, THINK. Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”

This saying could easily translate to decision making. To it I would add, do my decisions judge others, life and the world in the light of love?

Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” not “force unto others.”

How will you choose?

My choice? I just want to help people—I don’t care about their gender, their sexuality, the color of their skin or anything else that may be used to make us believe we are separate.

I just want to help and be a pathway of Light and Love.