Nurturing Empathy

July 20th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Nurturing Empathy
Friday, July 20, 2018

Sister of Social Service Simone Campbell, famously known as “the nun on the bus,” is one of the most passionately and compassionately engaged faith leaders I know. In last fall’s issue of Oneing, the Center for Action and Contemplation’s journal, she offered some practical wisdom for how we can stay connected with our own heart and others:

I live at the intersection of politics and religion. . . . My faith impels me into the public square. It is abundantly clear that Pope Francis is correct when he says that faith has real consequences in the world . . . and these consequences involve politics. . . .

I currently lead NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, based in Washington, DC. . . . We lobby on Capitol Hill [to shape federal legislation] on issues of income and wealth disparity in our nation. . . . At NETWORK, we often say that our care for the common good is care for “the 100%” instead of the 99% or the 1%. . . .

My meditation practice has led me to see that God is alive in all. No one can be left out of my care. Therefore this political work is anchored in caring for those whom we lobby as well as those whose cause we champion. This was illustrated for me . . . when I was with four of my colleagues lobbying a Republican Senator on healthcare legislation. I commented on the story of a constituent and asked her how her colleagues could turn their eyes away from the suffering and fear of their people. . . .

She said that many of her colleagues . . . did not get close to the candid stories of their people. In fact, some did not see these constituents as “their people.” Tears sprang to my eyes at her candor and the pain that keeps us sealed off from each other because of political partisanship. Compassion spills out of safe containers to flood our lives.

It is breaking my heart that some of these same politicians want to dismantle healthcare and force millions off of healthcare they receive through the Affordable Care Act. Pope Francis is correct when he says that “health is not a consumer good, but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege.” [1] Some in Congress want to take away healthcare coverage in order to make a partisan point. It is these members of Congress that I have a difficult time caring about. . . .

However, I find that our position “for the 100%” requires an empathy that stretches my being beyond my imagining. Finding a way to not vilify or divide into “them” and “us” in today’s federal politics goes against . . . current custom. . . .

So my contemplative practice is to attempt to sit open-handed and listen to the “wee small voice” that sometimes whispers ideas and ways forward.

—————————

SEEK MY FACE, and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know because I designed you to desire Me. Do not feel guilty about taking time to be still in My Presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image, and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness: longing for your true home in heaven. Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? —PSALM 42:1–2

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. —PSALM 34:5

So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe. —PHILIPPIANS 2:15

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Nurturing Empathy

July 20th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr,Nurturing Empathy
Friday, July 20, 2018

Sister of Social Service Simone Campbell, famously known as “the nun on the bus,” is one of the most passionately and compassionately engaged faith leaders I know. In last fall’s issue of Oneing, the Center for Action and Contemplation’s journal, she offered some practical wisdom for how we can stay connected with our own heart and others:
I live at the intersection of politics and religion. . . . My faith impels me into the public square. It is abundantly clear that Pope Francis is correct when he says that faith has real consequences in the world . . . and these consequences involve politics. . . .
I currently lead NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, based in Washington, DC. . . . We lobby on Capitol Hill [to shape federal legislation] on issues of income and wealth disparity in our nation. . . . At NETWORK, we often say that our care for the common good is care for “the 100%” instead of the 99% or the 1%. . . .
My meditation practice has led me to see that God is alive in all. No one can be left out of my care. Therefore this political work is anchored in caring for those whom we lobby as well as those whose cause we champion. This was illustrated for me . . . when I was with four of my colleagues lobbying a Republican Senator on healthcare legislation. I commented on the story of a constituent and asked her how her colleagues could turn their eyes away from the suffering and fear of their people. . . .
She said that many of her colleagues . . . did not get close to the candid stories of their people. In fact, some did not see these constituents as “their people.” Tears sprang to my eyes at her candor and the pain that keeps us sealed off from each other because of political partisanship. Compassion spills out of safe containers to flood our lives.
It is breaking my heart that some of these same politicians want to dismantle healthcare and force millions off of healthcare they receive through the Affordable Care Act. Pope Francis is correct when he says that “health is not a consumer good, but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege.” [1] Some in Congress want to take away healthcare coverage in order to make a partisan point. It is these members of Congress that I have a difficult time caring about. . . .
However, I find that our position “for the 100%” requires an empathy that stretches my being beyond my imagining. Finding a way to not vilify or divide into “them” and “us” in today’s federal politics goes against . . . current custom. . . .
So my contemplative practice is to attempt to sit open-handed and listen to the “wee small voice” that sometimes whispers ideas and ways forward.

________________________________________________________

Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

July 20, 2018

SEEK MY FACE, and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know because I designed you to desire Me. Do not feel guilty about taking time to be still in My Presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image, and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness: longing for your true home in heaven. Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world.

PSALM 42:1–2; As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

PSALM 34:5; Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

PHILIPPIANS 2:15; so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

 

 

Wisdom of the Heart

July 19th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Wisdom of the Heart
Thursday, July 19, 2018

The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? —Terry Tempest Williams [1]
My fellow faculty member Cynthia Bourgeault writes that “the heart is first and foremost an organ of spiritual perception. Its primary function is to look beyond the obvious, the boundaried surface of things, and see into a deeper reality.” [2] Within the contemplative heart you are indestructible, even though you feel quite vulnerable and unsure of yourself in many ways. Inside this sacred space you can love and critique America at the same time. You can weep for the bigger evil of which both sides are victims and imagine an alternative universe because you have now been there yourself. [3]
Parker Palmer reflects on the necessity of heart-consciousness within politics:
When all of our talk about politics is either technical or strategic, to say nothing of partisan and polarizing, we loosen or sever the human connections on which empathy, accountability, and democracy itself depend. If we cannot talk about politics in the language of the heart—if we cannot be heartbroken, for example, that the wealthiest nation on earth is unable to summon the political will to end childhood hunger at home—how can we create a politics worthy of the human spirit, one that has a chance to serve the common good? . . .
Here are five interlocking habits of the heart . . . deeply ingrained patterns of receiving, interpreting, and responding to experience that involve our intellects, emotions, self-images, and concepts of meaning and purpose. These five habits, taken together, are crucial to sustaining a democracy.
We must understand that we are all in this together. Ecologists, economists, ethicists, philosophers of science, and religious and secular leaders have all given voice to this theme. . . .
We must develop an appreciation of the value of “otherness.”. . . [This] can remind us of the ancient tradition of hospitality to the stranger. . . .
We must cultivate the ability to hold tension in life-giving ways. . . . When we allow [these] tensions to expand our hearts, they can open us to new understandings of ourselves and our world, enhancing our lives and allowing us to enhance the lives of others. . . .
We must generate a sense of personal voice and agency. Insight and energy give rise to new life as we speak and act, expressing our version of truth while checking and correcting it against the truths of others. . . .
We must strengthen our capacity to create community. . . . The steady companionship of two or three kindred spirits can kindle the courage we need to speak and act as citizens. [4]

____________________________________________________

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

July 19, 2018

BRING ME ALL YOUR FEELINGS, even the ones you wish you didn’t have. Fear and anxiety still plague you. Feelings per se are not sinful, but they can be temptations to sin. Blazing missiles of fear fly at you day and night; these attacks from the evil one come at you relentlessly. Use your shield of faith to extinguish those flaming arrows. Affirm your trust in Me, regardless of how you feel. If you persist, your feelings will eventually fall in line with your faith. Do not hide from your fear or pretend it isn’t there. Anxiety that you hide in the recesses of your heart will give birth to fear of fear: a monstrous mutation. Bring your anxieties out into the Light of My Presence, where we can deal with them together. Concentrate on trusting Me, and fearfulness will gradually lose it foothold within you.

EPHESIANS 6:16; In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

1 JOHN 1:5–7; Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at.

ISAIAH 12:2; Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”

 

 

Hope and Humility

July 18th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Hope and Humility
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

At a time when our politics may seem bleak and hopeless, poet, peacemaker, minister, and scholar John Philip Newell offers us both encouragement and challenge:
We live in a moment of grace. Through the hedges of our divisions we are beginning to glimpse again the beauty of life’s oneness. We are beginning to hear, in a way that humanity has never heard before, the essential harmony that lies at the heart of the universe. And we are beginning to understand, amidst the horror and suffering of our divisions, that we will be well to the extent that we move back into relationship with one another, whether as individuals and families or as nations and species. . . .
[Newell reminds us of the Holocaust and how Germany, under Hitler’s command, murdered millions of Jews in Poland.] The German nation was not alone in this. Some of our worst inhumanities as nations, including Britain and America, have been perpetrated on foreign soil and kept at a distance, as if to hide from our own soul the sacrilege of what we are doing. . . . Something in our collective psyche has pretended that the families of another land are not as sacred as the sons and daughters of our own. . . .
Think of the hubris of our lives. Think of our individual arrogance, the way we pursue our own well-being at the neglect and even expense of [others]. . . . Think of the hubris of our nationhood, pretending that we could look after the safety of our homeland by ignoring and even violating the sovereignty of other lands. Think of the hubris of our religion, raising ourselves up over other wisdom traditions and even trying to force our ways on them. Think of the hubris of the human species, pretending that we could look after our own health while exploiting and endangering the life of other species. . . .
[This] is opposite to the way of Jesus, who taught the strength of humility, of being close to the humus, close to the Ground from which we and all things come. The humblest, says Jesus, are “the greatest” (Matthew 18:4). Not that following Jesus’ path of humility is straightforward. Constantly there is tension—the tension of discerning how to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, how to honor the heart of another nation as we honor our own homeland, how to revere the truths of another wisdom tradition as we cherish our own inheritance, how to protect the life of other species as we guard the sanctity of our own life-form. Jesus knew such tension. He was tempted to use his wisdom and his power of presence to serve himself, to lift himself up over others. But to the tempter, he says, “Away with you, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10). Away with the falseness of believing that I can love myself and demean others.

___________________________________________________

Sarah Young,

Jesus Calling

July 18, 2018

I AM NEARER than you think, richly present in all your moments. You are connected to Me by Love-bonds that nothing can sever. However, you may sometimes feel alone because your union with Me is invisible. Ask Me to open your eyes so that you can find Me everywhere. The more aware you are of My Presence, the safer you feel. This is not some sort of escape from reality; it is tuning in to ultimate reality. I am far more Real than the world you can see, hear, and touch. Faith is the confirmation of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.

PSALM 90:14; Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

ACTS 17:27–28; God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

HEBREWS 11:1 AMP; 1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

 

 

The Politics of Connectedness

July 17th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

The Politics of Connectedness

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

As I shared last week, the role of religion is to reconnect us—to our truest selves, each other, and to God. If we are all made in God’s image, we are already connected through our inherent, divine DNA. But we’ve forgotten and need reminding! Social psychologist Diarmuid O’Murchu writes about the importance of connection within politics.
Three words encapsulate a new way of being political as we strive to come home to ourselves as a planetary, cosmic and spiritual species: interdependence, sustainability, and justice. In recent decades, we witness a growing awareness of how everything is interconnected and interdependent. But that awareness has scarcely begun to seep into the consciousness of the political arena.
The universe that sustains our existence and the planet that nurtures our relational well-being require political strategies and structures that will both honour and enhance that relational interdependence. And this applies not merely to people but to all creatures inhabiting creation, as well as to the various ecosystems that sustain and nourish our mutual co-existence. In fact, other life forms innately veer in this direction. It is we humans, as vociferous consumers, who threaten the ecological equilibrium. . . .
According to [James Robertson], the shift to a more sustainable political policy will involve:
. . . a shift of emphasis away from means towards ends; away from economic growth towards human development; away from quantitative towards qualitative values and goals; away from the impersonal and organizational towards the personal and interpersonal; and away from the earning and spending of money towards the meeting of real human needs and aspirations. A culture that has been masculine, aggressive and domineering in its outlook will give place to one which is more feminine, cooperative and supportive. A culture that has exalted the uniformly European will give place to one which values the multi-cultural richness and diversity of human experience. An anthropocentric worldview that has licensed the human species to exploit the rest of nature as if from above and outside it, will give place to an ecological worldview. We shall recognize that survival and self-realization alike require us to act as what we really are—integral parts of an ecosystem much larger, more complex, and more powerful than ourselves. [1]
. . . Alternative structures can achieve little without a new vision of how reality works. The real conversion confronting humanity today is a transformation of consciousness rather than mechanistic changes in human or social behavior.
I am consciously advocating a subversive strategy for future political engagement. Current models of political activity are largely beyond reform. We need to withhold our support and redirect our imagination and energy into different, more egalitarian, ecological and sustainable ways for relating to creation and to other people.

_______________________________________________________

Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

July 17, 2018

COME AWAY WITH ME for a while. The world, with its nonstop demands, can be put on hold. Most people put Me on hold, rationalizing that someday they will find time to focus on Me. But the longer people push Me into the background of their lives, the harder it is for them to find Me. You live among people who glorify busyness; they have made time a tyrant that controls their lives. Even those who know Me as Savior tend to march to the tempo of the world. They have bought into the illusion that more is always better: more meetings, more programs, more activity. I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, making time alone with Me your highest priority and deepest Joy. It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised. However, you have chosen the better thing, which will never be taken away from you. Moreover, as you walk close to Me, I can bless others through you.

SONG OF SONGS 2:13; The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

LUKE 10:41–42; Martha, Martha,” the LORD answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

 

Another Power

July 16th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Another Power
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims—laws that make misery for the poor, that rob my destitute people of dignity, exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children. —Isaiah 10:1-2, The Message

Beside the streams of Babylon, we sat and wept, trying to remember Mount Zion. —Psalm 137:1

As a follower of both Jesus and Francis of Assisi, my primary moral viewpoint is not based in the well-being of those who are on top but at the bottom. Parker Palmer describes the impact when this is not our priority: “When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us—our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy.” [1]

In light of this, I will be sharing parts of a document I helped compose with a group of twenty-three Christian leaders and elders of various denominations. We presented “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis” to the White House on May 24 in a pilgrimage of over 1,000 believers. [2] As a Franciscan Catholic, I proudly wore the habit of St. Francis. For the vulnerable who have been rendered more vulnerable by the current United States’ administration, we lament and pray and promise to stand with you. We acknowledge and affirm:

We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.

[As Christians,] it is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else—nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography—our identity in Christ precedes every other identity. . . . “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). [3]

Parker Palmer broadens this shared responsibility to those of other faiths:

All three traditions [Christianity, Judaism, and Islam] are misunderstood because some of their alleged adherents engage in hateful and violent behavior that distorts and defies the values they claim to represent. At their core, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and all of the major world religions are committed to compassion and hospitality. . . . In this fact lies the hope that we might reclaim their power to help reweave our tattered civic fabric. [4]

The Hebrew prophets, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammed first appear to be “nothing,” outside the system, and really of no consequence. But like leaven and yeast, their much deeper power rises, again and again, in every age, while kings, tyrants, and empires change and pass away.

——————————-

Service Instead of Domination
Monday, July 16, 2018

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. —2 Corinthians 13:13

Without the nondual mind, it’s almost impossible for us to find another way of doing politics. Grounding social action in contemplative consciousness is not a luxury for a few but a cultural necessity. Both the Christian religion and American psyche need deep cleansing and healing from our many unhealed wounds. Only a contemplative mind can hold our fear, confusion, vulnerability, and anger and guide us toward love.

Contemplative Christians can model a way of building a collaborative, compassionate politics. I suggest we start by reclaiming the wisdom of Trinity, a circle dance of mutuality and communion. Humans—especially the powerful, the wealthy, and supporters of the patriarchal system—are more comfortable with a divine monarch at the top of pyramidal reality. So Christians made Jesus into a distant, imperial God rather than a living member of divine-human relationship.

Spiritual power is more circular or spiral, and not so much hierarchical. It’s shared and shareable. God’s Spirit is planted within each of us and operating as each of us (see Romans 5:5)! Trinity shows that God’s power is not domination, threat, or coercion. All divine power is shared power and the letting go of autonomous power.

There’s no seeking of power over in the Trinity, but only power with—giving away and humbly receiving. This should have changed all Christian relationships: in churches, marriage, culture, and even international relations. Isaiah tried to teach such servanthood to Israel in the classic four “servant songs.” [1] But Hebrew history preceded what Christianity repeated: both traditions preferred kings, wars, and empires instead of suffering servanthood or leveling love.

Since this is so ingrained in our psyche, we must work hard to dismantle systems of domination. I emphatically state, together with my fellow Christian elders and leaders:

We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials. . . .

We reject any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. . . . Disrespect for the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of our three branches of government, and replacing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward opponents are of great concern to us. Neglecting the ethic of public service and accountability, in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance, are not just political issues for us. They raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority. [2]

What if we actually surrendered to the inner Trinitarian flow and let it be our primary teacher? Our view of politics and authority would utterly change. We already have all the power (dynamis) we need both within us and between us—in fact, Jesus assures us that we are already “clothed” in it “from on high” see Luke 24:49—-“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

———————–

SELF-PITY IS A SLIMY, BOTTOMLESS PIT. Once you fall in, you tend to go deeper and deeper into the mire. As you slide down those slippery walls, you are well on your way to depression, and the darkness is profound. Your only hope is to look up and see the Light of My Presence shining down on you. Though the Light looks dim from your perspective, deep in the pit, those rays of hope can reach you at any depth. While you focus on Me in trust, you rise ever so slowly out of the abyss of despair. Finally, you can reach up and grasp My hand. I will pull you out into the Light again. I will gently cleanse you, washing off the clinging mire. I will cover you with My righteousness and walk with you down the path of Life.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. —PSALM 40:2–3

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. —PSALM 42:5 NASB

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. —PSALM 147:11

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

From Mysticism to Politics

July 13th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

From Mysticism to Politics
Friday, July 13, 2018

Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics. —Charles Péguy (1873-1914) [1]

In last fall’s issue of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s journal, Oneing, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, our good friend and neighbor here in New Mexico and the former General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, traced the path between mysticism—which is actual experience of God or Universal Love—and politics:

Transformative change in politics depends so much on having a clear view of the desired end. Where does that vision come from? Possibilities may be offered by various ideologies, or party platforms, or political candidates. But, for the person of faith, that vision finds its roots in God’s intended and preferred future for the world. It comes not as a dogmatic blueprint but as an experiential encounter with God’s love, flowing like a river from God’s throne, nourishing trees with leaves for the healing of the nations (see Revelation 22:1-2). This biblically infused vision, resonant from Genesis to Revelation, pictures a world made whole, with people living in a beloved community, where no one is despised or forgotten, peace reigns, and the goodness of God’s creation is treasured and protected as a gift.

Such a vision strikes the political pragmatist as idyllic, unrealistic, and irrelevant. But the person of faith, whose inward journey opens his or her life to the explosive love of God, knows that this vision is the most real of all. It is a glimpse of creation’s purpose and a glimmering of the Spirit’s movement amid the world’s present pain, brokenness, and despair. This vision also recognizes the inevitable journey of inward and outward transformation—the simultaneous, continuing transformation of the inward hearts of people liberated by God’s astonishing grace and the outward transformation of social and economic structures liberated by God’s standards of justice.

So, for the Christian, politics entails an inevitable spiritual journey. But this is not the privatized expression of belief which keeps faith in Jesus contained in an individualized bubble and protects us from the “world.”. . . Rather, it is a spiritual journey which connects us intrinsically to the presence of God, whose love yearns to save and transform the world. We are called to be “in Christ,” which means we share—always imperfectly, and always in community with others—the call to be the embodiment of God’s love in the world. . . .

The necessary detachment from this ugly and injurious present political climate depends upon our inner attachment to the mystery of God’s unbounded grace and divine, creative love. That is the foundation from which we can witness to truth, nurture community, and build essential bonds of solidarity with those who suffer. More than ever, politics which offers redemptive hope will begin with mysticism.

_______________________________________________________

Sarah Young

Jesus Calling

July 13, 2018

I WANT YOU TO EXPERIENCE the riches of your salvation: the Joy of being loved constantly and perfectly. You make a practice of judging yourself, based on how you look or behave or feel. If you like what you see in the mirror, you feel a bit more worthy of My Love. When things are going smoothly and your performance seems adequate, you find it easier to believe you are My beloved child. When you feel discouraged, you tend to look inward so you can correct whatever is wrong. Instead of trying to “fix” yourself, fix your gaze on Me, the Lover of your soul. Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising Me. Remember that I see you clothed in My righteousness, radiant in My perfect Love.

EPHESIANS 2:7–8; That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved.

HEBREWS 3:1; Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle …

PSALM 34:5; Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

 

 

Radical Politics

July 12th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Radical Politics
Thursday, July 12, 2018

There is a lot of talk today about “radical” politics on both sides. The politicians and party on the far side often look “extreme” and so the very word “radical” now has a somewhat negative connotation. “Radical” just comes from the Latin word radix, meaning “root.” For something to be “radical” it should cut to the root of the issue and deal with causes, not just symptoms, which politics rarely does on either the Left or the Right.
Authentic religion alone is radical—and that is not an overstatement—because it has the power to transplant our Imperial “I” into the Largest Field. At its best, spirituality moves us far beyond our “private I” and into the Fullest Reality (although I admit this only happens in a small minority of believers). In his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus directly says that our inner attitudes and states are the real sources of our problems, preceding our outward behaviors. Most religion is obsessed with a small number of outer behaviors, and we clergy think it is our job to enforce these outer behaviors. This is largely a waste of God’s time—and ours. Jesus says not only that you must not kill, but that you must not even harbor hateful thoughts and feelings (see Matthew 5:21-22). He clearly begins with the necessity of a “pure heart” (Matthew 5:8), knowing that the outer behavior will follow. Too often we force the outer, and the inner remains fully operative within us like a cancer. Note how many Christians are still racist and classist!
If you walk around with hatred and prejudice in your heart and mind all day, morally you’re just as much a killer as the one who pulls out the gun. That seems to be what Jesus is saying. The evil and genocide of World War II was the final result of decades of negative and paranoid thinking among good German Christians, Catholic and Lutheran. The tragic fascism of Nazi Germany was fomenting in people’s hearts long before a political leader came to catalyze their hate and resentment. Now it seems we are seeing the same in the United States.
Jesus tells us to not harbor hateful anger or call people names even in our hearts like “fool” or “worthless person” (Matthew 5:22). If we’re walking around all day thinking, “What an idiot he is,” we are already in the state of sin. Sin is more a state of separation and superiority than any concrete action—which is only the symptom. How we live in our hearts is our real truth.
Jesus insists that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). For Jesus, prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love, returning to love, trusting that love is the unceasing stream of reality. Prayer isn’t primarily words; it’s an attitude, a stance, a state that precedes “saying” any individual prayers. That’s why Paul could say, “Pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If we think of prayer as requiring words, it is surely impossible to pray always. Whatever we do in conscious, loving union with the Reality right in front of us is prayer. As Leonard Cohen sang, we have had far too much of “killers in high places [who] say their prayers out loud.” [1] You know this is true.
If we continue to fail to address the underlying matters of the heart, mind, and soul, then we will only cut off one head of the Hydra—and then watch it grow many more.

__________________________________________________________Sarah Sarah Young

Jesus Calling

WHENEVER YOU FEEL DISTANT from Me, whisper My Name in loving trust. This simple prayer can restore your awareness of My Presence. My Name is constantly abused in the world, where people use it as a curse word. This verbal assault reaches all the way to heaven; every word is heard and recorded. When you trustingly whisper My Name, My aching ears are soothed. The grating rancor of the world’s blasphemies cannot compete with a trusting child’s utterance: “Jesus.” The power of My Name to bless both you and Me is beyond your understanding.

PROVERBS 18:10; The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

ACTS 4:12; Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

JOHN 16:24: Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling Morning and Evening Devotional (Jesus Calling®) (p. 400). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Questioning Our Loyalties

July 11th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Questioning Our Loyalties
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Most religion is highly “legitimating religion.” It is used for social control and public order by the powers that be and individuals. This oppressive use of religion has allowed much of Christian history to fully cooperate in toxic and unjust societies—just as long as each person had “a personal relationship with Jesus.” This will not work anymore; in fact, it never did.

The American bishops, paraphrasing many recent papal statements, said that “social justice is an integral part of evangelization, a constitutive dimension of preaching the Gospel, and an essential part of the Church’s mission.” [1] Social critique is not an add-on, an option, a choice, or a unique vocation for a few. If we profess Jesus is indeed “the savior of the world” (John 4:42), we must not, we cannot, continue to think of salvation as merely a private matter. We are wasting our time trying to convert individuals without also challenging corporate, collective sin and fully institutionalized evil. (Corporate or social greed is called capitalism; individual greed was once called one of the seven “capital sins”—but no one believes it anymore.) Our morality is split in two! When we send momentarily changed people back into a corrupt system, people can think they are godly but it will never last for long or at any depth. As Jesus said, “the last state of the house is worse than the first” (Matthew 12:45).

Social justice is clearly God’s concern, starting with liberation of God’s people in the Exodus, yet it has taken Christians a long time to be able to see the Gospel in a fully historic, social, and political context. Truly transformed people organically change the world, while fundamentally unchanged people can only conform to the system and wholeheartedly cheer it on (see Romans 12:2). Culture will win out every time over the Gospel if it is not critiqued by the Gospel. That essential critique was much of the point of the evangelists’ writings. However, those politicians and priests who are concerned with their own privilege usually prefer an unaware and superficial populace. The people in the pews are so used to this arrangement that they usually resent any forays into their public morality. “Keep it private and personal, Father,” they say. We can no longer waste time this way in the name of a God “before whom the very nations count as nothingness and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17).

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was not afraid to say it strongly: “We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, . . . but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering. . . .” [2] As long as we unquestioningly buy into the egoic system, where the roots of our narcissism often lie hidden, we’re going to have problems. If we think we can say our private prayers and still genuflect before the self-perpetuating, unjust systems of this world, our conversion will not go very deep or aid in the unfolding of history. There is no one more radical than a real person of prayer because they are not beholden to any ideology or economic system; their identity and motivation is found only in God, not in the pay-offs of “mammon.” Both church and state are threatened by true mystics. Such enlightened people can’t be bought off or manipulated, because their rewards are always elsewhere.

Most of us need to have the status quo shaken now and then, leaving us off balance and askew, feeling alienated for a while from our usual unquestioned loyalties. In this uncomfortable space, we can finally recognize the much larger kingdom of God. Many churches don’t seem to understand this, even flying the national flag in sanctuaries while daring to talk about “one God before us” in the same space. After authentic conversion, our old “country” no longer holds any ultimate position. We can’t worship it any longer as we were once trained to do. Our national identity is okay, probably necessary, but very limited in its capacity for truth, much less universal truth.

———————

WORSHIP ME ONLY. Idolatry has always been the downfall of My people. I make no secrets about being a jealous God. Current idols are more subtle than ancient ones because today’s false gods are often outside the field of religion. People, possessions, status, and self-aggrandizement are some of the most popular deities today. Beware of bowing down before these things. False gods never satisfy; instead, they stir up lust for more and more. When you seek Me instead of the world’s idols, you experience My Joy and Peace. These intangibles slake the thirst of your soul, providing deep satisfaction. The glitter of the world is tinny and temporal. The Light of My Presence is brilliant and everlasting. Walk in the Light with Me. Thus you become a beacon through whom others are drawn to Me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” —EXODUS 20:4–5

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace. —ISAIAH 55:12

You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light. —2 SAMUEL 22:29

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Creative Political Tension

July 10th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Creative Political Tension
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I see our species’ collective shadow on full display today in the United States, exposing intolerance and bigotry at deep levels. Under the guise of avoiding political correctness, truth-telling has been twisted into fear-mongering and scapegoating. When humans cannot face and embrace the insecurities inside themselves, they project these fears outwardly, hating others instead of changing themselves.
People have good reasons to be angry and afraid today. Poverty, racism, climate change, and so many other injustices are causing real suffering for much of the world. Unfortunately, dualistic and oppositional energies cannot bring the change we so desperately need; we cannot fight angry power with more angry power. Only the contemplative mind has the ability to hold the reality of what is and the possibility of what could be. Unless our hearts are transformed, our fears will continue to manipulate our politics, reinforcing a polarized and divided society.
Quaker activist and teacher Parker Palmer has a hopeful, but not Pollyannaish, view. He writes:
Human beings have a well-demonstrated capacity to hold the tension of differences in ways that lead to creative outcomes and advances. It is not an impossible dream to believe we can apply that capacity to politics. In fact, our capacity for creative tension-holding is what made the American experiment possible in the first place. . . . America’s founders—despite the bigotry that limited their conception of who “We the People” were—had the genius to establish [a] form of government in which differences, conflict, and tension were understood not as the enemies of a good social order but as the engines of a better social order.
As “We the People” retreat from the public square and resort to private gripe sessions with those who think like us, we create a vacuum at the center of America’s public life. Politics abhors a vacuum as much as nature does, so nondemocratic powers rush in to fill the void—especially the power called “big money.” . . .
When the Supreme Court gave big money even more power [in the 2010 Citizens United decision], it made many Americans feel even more strongly that their small voices do not count. . . . Wrongly held, our knowledge of the power wielded by big money can accelerate our retreat from politics, discouraging us from being the participants that democracy demands and reducing us to mere spectators of a political game being played exclusively by “them.” [1]
Palmer quotes Bill Moyers: “The antidote, the only antidote, to the power of organized money in Washington is the power of organized people.” [2]
We must bring as much passion to our cause as do those who call for building walls. But our job is to tear down walls and build bridges. We have the capacity to grow beyond ego and nationalism into a new identity, one that holds space for everyone to belong and be loved. I still have hope that human consciousness can and will evolve—but apparently we have not suffered enough yet to realize our need for such evolution.

______________________________________________________

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

July 10, 2018

RELAX IN MY PEACEFUL PRESENCE. Do not bring performance pressures into our sacred space of communion. When you are with someone you trust completely, you feel free to be yourself. This is one of the joys of true friendship. Though I am Lord of lords and King of kings, I also desire to be your intimate Friend. When you are tense or pretentious in our relationship, I feel hurt. I know the worst about you, but I also see the best in you. I long for you to trust Me enough to be fully yourself with Me. When you are real with Me, I am able to bring out the best in you: the very gifts I have planted in your soul. Relax and enjoy our friendship.

2 THESSALONIANS 3:16 NKJV; Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

REVELATION 17:14; They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his.

JOHN 15:13–15; Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.