Connecting Inner and Outer Worlds

July 9th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Connecting Inner and Outer Worlds
Sunday, July 8, 2018

Go down to the palace of the king and declare, “Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” —Jeremiah 22:1, 3

The primary role of religion and spirituality is to reconnect, the very meaning of the Latin word religio. The Greek word polis—which led to the word politics—simply means city or public forum, where people come together. Why have religion and politics become so antagonistic when they have similar goals?

The Hebrew prophets and Jesus clearly modeled engagement with both faith and the public forum. However, unlike its Jewish forbears, in its first two thousand years Christianity has kept its morality mostly private, personal, and heaven-bound with very few direct implications for our collective economic, social, or political life. Politics and religion remained in two different realms, unless religion was uniting with empires. Christianity looked to Rome and Constantinople for imperial protection; little did we realize the price we would eventually pay for such a compromise with Gospel values.

“Separation of church and state” is important to safeguard freedom of religion and ensure that governments are not dominated by a single religion’s interests. But that does not mean people of faith should not participate in politics. Today many believe that “inner work” is the purview of spirituality and that we should leave the “outer world” to politicians, scientists, businesses, and workers. Most of the negative feedback I receive is “Don’t get political!” Yet how can I read the Bible and stay out of politics? Again and again (approximately 2,000 times!) Scripture calls for justice for the poor. The Gospel is rather “socialist” in its emphasis on sharing resources and caring for those in need.

Like it or not, politics (civic engagement) is one of our primary means of addressing poverty and other justice issues. I am not talking about partisan politics here, but simply connecting the inner world with the outer world. As a result of our dualistic thinking, the word “partisan” has come to be synonymous with the word “political.” And so many church-goers do not want to hear the Gospel preached—as it might sound political!

To be a faith leader is to connect the inner and outer worlds. In the United States’ not-so-distant-past, Christians were at the forefront of political and justice movements to abolish slavery, support women’s suffrage, protect civil rights, and establish and maintain Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Today I am encouraged to see many of my Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist brothers and sisters actively engaged with the political realm, speaking truth to power, and holding our political leaders accountable. Being political is a basic civic, human, and spiritual duty!

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Contemplation in Action
Monday, July 9, 2018

What is the relation of [contemplation] to action? Simply this. He [or she] who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love will not have anything to give others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas. There is nothing more tragic in the modern world than the misuse of power and action. . . . —Thomas Merton [1]

There is no such thing as being non-political. Everything we say or do either affirms or critiques the status quo. To say nothing is to say something: The status quo—even if it is massively unjust and deceitful—is apparently okay. The silence of many Christians is used to legitimize the United States’ obsession with weapons, its war against the poor, Israel’s clear abuse of Palestine, politicians who are “pro-life” on the issue of abortion but almost nothing else, the de facto slavery of mass incarceration, and on and on.

As humans we can’t help but be political whether we recognize it or not—so let’s learn how to participate in the public forum as God’s image and likeness! Over the years, I’ve met many social activists who were advocating for crucial justice issues, but they were still largely living out of their false self with the need to win and look good—and defeat “the enemy.” They might have the answer, but they are not themselves the answer. In fact, they are part of the problem because they still trust in power over love.

Jesus and other great spiritual teachers first emphasize a primal transformation of consciousness. Untransformed liberals often lack the ability to actually sacrifice the self or build any spiritual foundation beyond the next victory. The Left usually has the gift of critical thinking, but that very mind is often too negative and arrogant. It doesn’t know how to collaborate in a non-partisan way. In its idealism, the Left often becomes ideological, dualistic, individualistic—problem-solvers more than long-term rebuilders. Liberals are seldom faithful to any lasting community. Thus, they become something other than Love.

The Right, on the other hand, idolizes anything that preserves its own privilege and status quo, but often neglects to ask, “Is this bearing any fruit for others?” Conservatives confuse their private order with universal order, confusing order itself with the Reign of God (this despite both Jesus’ and Paul’s clear dismissal of the law as salvific). Nor do they see that the law and order they invoke is usually highly self-serving. The conservative gods are normally personal security and well-being. The Right—even most conservative “Christians”—considers calls to universal love naïve, ridiculous, and even dangerous.

Liberals, however, tend to have high and good ideals, but tend not to rely upon any collective or truly spiritual foundation to make these ideals believable or lasting. Their god is often individual freedom and choice more than real love in action. Faithfulness is not high on their list of values. They do not commit to much of anything. Both groups avoid love in different ways. In the end, both sides are highly individualistic. Rare is the Christian who draws upon the common good (Tradition) and also serves the common good (Love in action).

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JULY 4 WHEN YOU WORSHIP ME in spirit and truth, you join with choirs of angels who are continually before My throne. Though you cannot hear their voices, your praise and thanksgiving are distinctly audible in heaven. Your petitions are also heard, but it is your gratitude that clears the way to My Heart. With the way between us wide open, My blessings fall upon you in rich abundance. The greatest blessing is nearness to Me—abundant Joy and Peace in My Presence. Practice praising and thanking Me continually throughout this day.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” —JOHN 4:23–24

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. —COLOSSIANS 3:16

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. —PSALM 100:4

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Myth of Scarcity

July 6th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Myth of Scarcity
Friday, July 6, 2018

Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, identifies three core myths that keep us locked in an economy of scarcity:

There’s not enough to go around. . . . Somebody’s going to be left out. . . . If there’s not enough for everyone, then taking care of yourself and your own, even at others’ expense, seems unfortunate, but unavoidable and somehow valid. . . .

More is better . . . drives a competitive culture of accumulation, acquisition, and greed. . . . [It] distracts us from living more mindfully and richly with what we have. . . . We judge others based on what they have . . . and miss the immeasurable inner gifts they bring to life. . . . Our drive to enlarge our net worth turns us away from discovering and deepening our self-worth. . . .

The belief that we need to possess [more] is the driving force for much of the violence and war, corruption and exploitation on earth. . . . In the campaign to gain, we often pursue our goals at all costs, even at the risk of destroying whole cultures and peoples. . . .

That’s just the way it is, and there’s no way out. There’s not enough to go around, more is definitely better, and the people who have more are always people who are other than us. . . .

[This myth] justifies the greed, prejudice, and inaction that scarcity fosters in our relationship with money and the rest of the human race. For generations, it protected the early American slave trade from which the privileged majority built farms, towns, business empires, and family fortunes, many of which survive today. For more generations it protected and emboldened institutionalized racism, sex discrimination and social and economic discrimination against other ethnic and religious minorities. . . . .

In [our] resignation, we abandon our human potential, and the possibility of contributing to a thriving, equitable, healthy world.

We have to be willing to let go of that’s just the way it is, even if just for a moment, to consider the possibility that there isn’t a way it is or way it isn’t. There is the way we choose to act and what we choose to make of circumstances.

Can we recognize that better comes from not more, but deepening our experience of what’s already there? Rather than growth being external in acquiring and accumulating money or things, can we redefine growth to see it as a recognition of and appreciation for what we already have?

It is a fundamental law of nature, that there is enough and it is finite. Its finiteness is no threat; it creates a more accurate relationship that commands respect, reverence, and managing those resources with the knowledge that they are precious and in ways that do the most good for the most people.

Knowing that there is enough inspires sharing, collaboration, and contribution.

___________________________________________

July 6, 2018

Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

I AM YOUR FATHER-GOD. Listen to Me! Learn what it means to be a child of the everlasting King. Your richest duty is devotion to Me. This duty is such a joyous privilege that it feels like a luxury. You tend to feel guilty about pushing back the boundaries of your life to make space for time alone with Me. The world is waiting to squeeze you into its mold and to crowd out time devoted to Me. The ways of the world have also warped your conscience, which punishes you for doing the very thing that pleases Me most: seeking My Face. Listen to Me above the clamor of voices trying to distract you. Ask My Spirit to control your mind, for He and I work in perfect harmony. Be still and attentive in My Presence. You are on holy ground.

ISAIAH 9:6; For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

ZECHARIAH 9:9 NKJV;  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal .

ROMANS 8:15–16; The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

EXODUS 3:5; Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

 

Scarcity or Abundance?

July 5th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Scarcity or Abundance?
Thursday, July 5, 2018

God as Trinity reveals an economy of grace—overflowing love. The Gospel stories of “multiplication” clearly show a world view of abundance. When Jesus feeds a crowd with very little food, he’s revealing the nature of spiritual reality more than just performing a miracle (see Matthew 14:15-21). Notice that the apostles advise Jesus against it: “But how will two fish and five loaves be enough for so many?” They, like most of us, live in a worldview of scarcity. In every multiplication story, the Gospel writer emphasizes that there is always much left over, which should communicate the point: the universe always has more than enough of itself to give, if the portals of mind and heart are left open. Simply observe seeds, spermatozoa, and the lifecycle of rain and stars!
America’s unhealthy economics and politics persist because we largely operate out of a worldview of scarcity, which leads to actual scarcity: there is not enough land, healthcare, water, money, and housing for all of us, and there are never enough guns to keep us safe. Charles Eisenstein writes:
The money system is a game of musical chairs, a mad scramble in which some are necessarily left out. . . . It is an outgrowth of our attitude of scarcity—an attitude that rests on an even deeper foundation: the basic myths and ideologies of our civilization that I call the Story of Self and Story of the World. But we can’t just change our attitudes about money; we must change money too, which after all is the embodiment of our attitudes. Ultimately, work on self is inseparable from work in the world. Each mirrors the other; each is a vehicle for the other. When we change ourselves, our values and actions change as well. . . .
In our current money system, it is mathematically impossible for more than a minority of people to live in abundance, because the money creation process maintains a system of scarcity. . . . [This] rests on a foundation of Separation. It is as much an effect as it is a cause of our perception that we are discrete and separate subjects in a universe that is Other. Opening to abundance can only happen when we let go of this identity and open to the richness of our true, connected being. [1]
As many have said, there is more than enough for our need but never enough for our greed. In the midst of the structural stinginess and over-consumption of our present world, how do we change consciousness and operate from mercy and graciousness? The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the mind is apparently unable to imagine anything infinite or eternal. So it cannot conceive an infinite love, or a God whose “mercy is everlasting” (Psalm 136) as the psalmist continually shouts, or grace which builds upon grace (see John 1:16).
Transformation of consciousness will always depend upon a foundational and sustained Flow—that we must allow in both receiving and giving. Only a personal experience of unconditional, unearned, and infinite love and forgiveness can move you from the normal worldview of scarcity to the divine world of infinite abundance. That’s when the doors of mercy blow wide open! That’s when we begin to understand the scale-breaking nature of grace.

__________________________________________________________

 

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

July 5, 2018

Draw near to Me with a thankful heart, aware that your cup is overflowing with blessings. Gratitude enables you to perceive Me more clearly and to rejoice in our Love-relationship. Nothing can separate you from My loving Presence! That is the basis of your security. Whenever you start to feel anxious, remind yourself that your security rests in Me alone, and I am totally trustworthy. You will never be in control of your life circumstances, but you can relax and trust in My control. Instead of striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle, seek to know Me in greater depth and breadth. I long to make your life a glorious adventure, but you must stop clinging to old ways. I am always doing something new within My beloved ones. Be on the lookout for all that I have prepared for you.

ROMANS 8:38–39; For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, [] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

PSALM 56:3–4; When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

ISAIAH 43:19; See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

 

July 4th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Changing Sides
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
U.S. Independence Day

God chose things the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise. And God chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. —1 Corinthians 1:27

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun to rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. —Matthew 5:43-45

Christianity is a bit embarrassed by the powerless one, Jesus. We’ve made his obvious defeat into a glorious victory. Let’s face it, we feel more comfortable with power than with powerlessness and poverty. Who wants to be like Jesus on the cross? It just doesn’t look like a way of influence, a way of access, a way that’s going to make any difference in the world.

We worship this naked, homeless, bleeding loser, crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, but we want to be winners . . . at least until we learn to love the so-called little, poor people—and then we often see they are not little at all, but better images of the soul. Yes, those with mental and physical disabilities, minority groups, LGBTQIA folks, refugees, prisoners, those with addictions, those without financial wealth—all who have “failed” in our social or economic success system—can be our best teachers in the ways of the Gospel. They represent what we are most afraid of and what we most deny within ourselves. That’s why we must learn to love what first seems like our “enemy.”

If we look at all the wars of history, we’ll see that God has unwittingly been enlisted on both sides of the fight. It’s easy to wonder what God does when both sides are praying for God’s protection. Trusting Jesus as the archetypal pattern of God’s presence and participation on Earth, I believe God is found wherever the suffering is. I believe this because that is precisely where Jesus goes. He makes heroes of the outsiders and underdogs in almost all his parables and stories. To miss that point is culpable and chosen ignorance. The awakened and aware ones—like Jesus and Francis of Assisi—go where people are suffering, excluded, expelled, marginalized, and abused. And there they find God.

Imagine, brothers and sisters, how different Western history and religion could have been if we had walked as tenderly and lovingly upon the earth as Francis and Jesus did. Imagine what the world would be like if we treated others with inherent and equal dignity and respect, seeing the divine DNA in ourselves and everyone else too—regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, appearance, or social class. Nothing less offers the world any lasting future. We must be honest about that—and rather quickly, I think.

——————-

JULY 4 WHEN YOU WORSHIP ME in spirit and truth, you join with choirs of angels who are continually before My throne. Though you cannot hear their voices, your praise and thanksgiving are distinctly audible in heaven. Your petitions are also heard, but it is your gratitude that clears the way to My Heart. With the way between us wide open, My blessings fall upon you in rich abundance. The greatest blessing is nearness to Me—abundant Joy and Peace in My Presence. Practice praising and thanking Me continually throughout this day.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” —JOHN 4:23–24

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. —COLOSSIANS 3:16

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. —PSALM 100:4

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling – Deluxe Edition Pink Cover: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Jesus Calling®) (p. 195). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

The Economy of War

July 3rd, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

The Economy of War
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
My spiritual father, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), was a nonviolent and “soft” prophet—keeping God free for people and people free for God—during a pivotal period when Western civilization was moving into rationality, consumerism, and nonstop war. Francis himself was a soldier and his father was a wealthy clothier. From this personal experience, Francis was able to offer a positive critique and an alternative way of living. His radical message and lifestyle were a warning about what money, power, and war were about to do on a much larger scale.
Francis refused to be a “user” of reality, buying and selling it to personal advantage (an I-it relationship). He granted personal subjectivity to sun, moon, wind, animals, and even death, by addressing them as brother, sister, friend, and mother—intimate I-Thou relationships. Like Jesus, Francis was a non-exclusionary bridge-builder. He tried to stop Christian crusaders from attacking Muslims. He wanted Christians to carry the Gospel of peace to the Islamic world, not to take up weapons. But he had little success with either side. [1] Francis tried to point us beyond the mere production-consumption economy and the typical us-versus-them mentality, which still dominates the world today.
To be a contemplative means to look at reality with much wider eyes than mere usability, functionality, or self-interest; it is to experience inherent enjoyment for a thing in itself, as itself, and even by itself. An act of love is its own reward and needs nothing in return. This demands that we learn to love the stranger at the gate, the one outside of our comfort zone, who cannot repay us and so we can be repaid by God (see Luke 14:14). Do you realize how revolutionary that is? It is what Charles Eisenstein means by a “gift economy,” and yet most do not realize he is merely repeating what Jesus already taught but has never been seriously considered by most Christians. [2]
When we can recognize the image of God in every living being, the ethics and economics of war reveal themselves in all their evil and stupidity. As one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries, the United States’ over-sized defense budget says a great deal about our priorities: $668 billion for defense vs. $190 billion for education, housing, infrastructure, and other basic services. [3] It might appear that the U.S. is fighting fewer wars with fewer troops; however, more work is being given to private, highly paid contractors (while many active service members and veterans qualify for food stamps). Why don’t we say, “Thank you for your service!” to teachers, too? The military gives us needed security, but teachers give us the health and culture that allows us to flourish inside that security. Security is not an end itself. Human flourishing is.
The Souls of Poor Folk identifies the United States’ irrational attachment to war:
The massive U.S. defense budget has never actually been about “defense.” . . . Rather, their goals are to consolidate U.S. corporations’ control over oil, gas, other resources and pipelines; to supply the Pentagon with military bases and strategic territory to wage more wars; to maintain military dominance over any challenger(s); and to continue to provide justification for Washington’s multi-billion-dollar military industry. [4]
We are willing to accept the most glib and superficial justifications for our constant war economy, and there is no end in sight. How could this possibly be the will of God? For mature Christians and for other people of faith, war must be the very last resort after all other means are used to protect the defenseless and innocent.

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Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

July 3, 2018

MY CHILDREN make a pastime of judging one another—and themselves. But I am the only capable Judge, and I have acquitted you through My own blood. Your acquittal came at the price of My unparalleled sacrifice. That is why I am highly offended when I hear My children judge one another or indulge in self-hatred. If you live close to Me and absorb My Word, the Holy Spirit will guide and correct you as needed. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Me.

LUKE 6:37; Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

2 TIMOTHY 4:8; Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but.

TITUS 3:5; Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

ROMANS 8:1; Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

 

July 2nd, 2018 by Dave No comments »

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.

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. We pray that our nation will see Jesus’ words in us. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

When politics undermines our theology, we must examine that politics. The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”

It is often the duty of Christian leaders, especially elders, to speak the truth in love to our churches and to name and warn against temptations, racial and cultural captivities, false doctrines, and political idolatries—and even our complicity in them. We do so here with humility, prayer, and a deep dependency on the grace and Holy Spirit of God.

This letter comes from a retreat on Ash Wednesday, 2018. In this season of Lent, we feel deep lamentations for the state of our nation, and our own hearts are filled with confession for the sins we feel called to address. The true meaning of the word repentance is to turn around. It is time to lament, confess, repent, and turn. In times of crisis, the church has historically learned to return to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord. That is our foundational confession. It was central for the early church and needs to again become central to us. If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar was not—nor any other political ruler since. If Jesus is Lord, no other authority is absolute. Jesus Christ, and the kingdom of God he announced, is the Christian’s first loyalty, above all others. We pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Our faith is personal but never private, meant not only for heaven but for this earth.

The question we face is this: Who is Jesus Christ for us today? What does our loyalty to Christ, as disciples, require at this moment in our history? We believe it is time to renew our theology of public discipleship and witness. Applying what “Jesus is Lord” means today is the message we commend as elders to our churches.

What we believe leads us to what we must reject. Our “Yes” is the foundation for our “No.” What we confess as our faith leads to what we confront. Therefore, we offer the following six affirmations of what we believe, and the resulting rejections of practices and policies by political leaders which dangerously corrode the soul of the nation and deeply threaten the public integrity of our faith. We pray that we, as followers of Jesus, will find the depth of faith to match the danger of our political crisis.

I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We, as followers of Jesus, must clearly reject the use of racial bigotry for political gain that we have seen. In the face of such bigotry, silence is complicity. In particular, we reject white supremacy and commit ourselves to help dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate white preference and advantage. Further, any doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language must be named as public sin—one that goes back to the foundation of our nation and lingers on. Racial bigotry must be antithetical for those belonging to the body of Christ, because it denies the truth of the gospel we profess.

II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world—to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God. We lament when such practices seem publicly ignored, and thus privately condoned, by those in high positions of leadership. We stand for the respect, protection, and affirmation of women in our families, communities, workplaces, politics, and churches. We support the courageous truth-telling voices of women, who have helped the nation recognize these abuses. We confess sexism as a sin, requiring our repentance and resistance.

III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. (Matthew 25: 31-46) “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.” God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are “oppressed,” “strangers,” “outsiders,” or otherwise considered “marginal” is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not “good news to the poor,” it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18).

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the “strangers” among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34). We won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children, and we will resist repeated attempts to deny health care to those who most need it. We confess our growing national sin of putting the rich over the poor. We reject the immoral logic of cutting services and programs for the poor while cutting taxes for the rich. Budgets are moral documents. We commit ourselves to opposing and reversing those policies and finding solutions that reflect the wisdom of people from different political parties and philosophies to seek the common good. Protecting the poor is a central commitment of Christian discipleship, to which 2,000 verses in the Bible attest.

IV. WE BELIEVE that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives. Truth-telling is central to the prophetic biblical tradition, whose vocation includes speaking the Word of God into their societies and speaking the truth to power. A commitment to speaking truth, the ninth commandment of the Decalogue, “You shall not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16), is foundational to shared trust in society. Falsehood can enslave us, but Jesus promises, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). The search and respect for truth is crucial to anyone who follows Christ.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. Politicians, like the rest of us, are human, fallible, sinful, and mortal. But when public lying becomes so persistent that it deliberately tries to change facts for ideological, political, or personal gain, the public accountability to truth is undermined. The regular purveying of falsehoods and consistent lying by the nation’s highest leaders can change the moral expectations within a culture, the accountability for a civil society, and even the behavior of families and children. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society. In the face of lies that bring darkness, Jesus is our truth and our light.

V. WE BELIEVE that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles (the world) lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26). 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 support democracy, not because we believe in human perfection, but because we do not. The authority of government is instituted by God to order an unredeemed society for the sake of justice and peace, but ultimate authority belongs only to God.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger that threatens democracy and the common good—and we will resist it. 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.

VI. WE BELIEVE Jesus when he tells us to go into all nations making disciples (Matthew 28:18). Our churches and our nations are part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries. The most well-known verse in the New Testament starts with “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). We, in turn, should love and serve the world and all its inhabitants, rather than seek first narrow, nationalistic prerogatives.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT “America first” as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal. We reject domination rather than stewardship of the earth’s resources, toward genuine global development that brings human flourishing for all of God’s children. Serving our own communities is essential, but the global connections between us are undeniable. Global poverty, environmental damage, violent conflict, weapons of mass destruction, and deadly diseases in some places ultimately affect all places, and we need wise political leadership to deal with each of these.

WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED for the soul of our nation, but also for our churches and the integrity of our faith. The present crisis calls us to go deeper—deeper into our relationship to God; deeper into our relationships with each other, especially across racial, ethnic, and national lines; deeper into our relationships with the most vulnerable, who are at greatest risk.

The church is always subject to temptations to power, to cultural conformity, and to racial, class, and gender divides, as Galatians 3:28 teaches us. But our answer is to be “in Christ,” and to “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.” (Romans 12:1-2)

The best response to our political, material, cultural, racial, or national idolatries is the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus summarizes the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:38). As to loving our neighbors, we would add “no exceptions.”

We commend this letter to pastors, local churches, and young people who are watching and waiting to see what the churches will say and do at such a time as this.

Our urgent need, in a time of moral and political crisis, is to recover the power of confessing our faith. Lament, repent, and then repair. If Jesus is Lord, there is always space for grace. We believe it is time to speak and to act in faith and conscience, not because of politics, but because we are disciples of Jesus Christ—to whom be all authority, honor, and glory. It is time for a fresh confession of faith. Jesus is Lord. He is the light in our darkness. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Bishop Carroll A. Baltimore, President and CEO, Global Alliance Interfaith Network
Rev. Dr. Peter Borgdorff, Executive Director Emeritus, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Dr. Amos Brown, Chair, Social Justice Commission, National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.
Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary
Dr. Tony Campolo, Co-Founder, Red Letter Christians
Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church
Rev. Dr. James Forbes, President and Founder, Healing of the Nations Foundation and Preaching Professor at Union Theological Seminary
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary Emeritus, Reformed Church in America
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, Senior Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, GA
Rev. Dr. Richard Hamm, former General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Faith Community Organizer and Chairman, Community Resource Network
Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church
Bishop Vashti McKenzie, 117th Elected and Consecrated Bishop, AME Church
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Co-Convener National African American Clergy Network
Dr. John Perkins, Chair Emeritus and Founding Member, Christian Community Development Association and President Emeritus, John & Vera Mae Perkins Foundation
Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Fr. Richard Rohr, Founder, Center for Action and Contemplation
Dr. Ron Sider, President Emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners
Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, Director, NCC Truth and Racial Justice Initiative
Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Convener, National African American Clergy Network; President, Skinner Leadership Institute
Bishop Will Willimon, Bishop, The United Methodist Church, retired, Professor of the Practice of Ministry, Duke Divinity School

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Let God Be God
Sunday, July 1, 2018

It takes a long time for us to allow God to be who God really is. Our natural egocentricity wants to make God into who we want God to be. The role of prophets and good theology is to keep people free for God and to keep God free for people. While there are some “pure of heart” people (see Matthew 5:8) who come to “see God” naturally and easily, most of us need lots of help.

If God is always Mystery, then God is always in some way the unfamiliar, beyond what we’re used to, beyond our comfort zone, beyond what we can explain or understand. In the fourth century, St. Augustine said, “If you comprehend it, it is not God.” [1] Would you respect a God you could comprehend? And yet, very often we want a God who reflects and even confirms our culture, our biases, our economic, political, and security systems.

The First Commandment (Exodus 20:2-5) says that we’re not supposed to make any graven images of God or worship them. At first glance, we may think this means only handmade likenesses of God. But it mostly refers to rigid images of God that we hold in our heads. God created human beings in God’s own image, and we’ve returned the compliment, so to speak, by creating God in our image. In the end, we produced what was typically a small, clannish God. In America, God looks like Uncle Sam or Santa Claus, an exacting judge, or a win/lose business man—in each case, a white male, even though “God created humankind in God’s own image; male and female God created them” (see Genesis 1:27). Clearly God cannot be exclusively masculine. The Trinitarian God is anything but a ruling monarch or a solitary figurehead. [2]

Normally we find it very difficult to let God be greater than our culture, our immediate needs, and our projections. The human ego wants to keep things firmly in its grasp; so, we’ve created a God who fits into our small systems and our understanding of God. Thus, we’ve produced a God who requires expensive churches and robes, a God who likes to go to war just as much as we do, and a domineering God because we like to dominate. We’ve almost completely forgotten and ignored what Jesus revealed about the nature of the God he knew. If Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (see Colossians 1:15) then God is nothing like we expected. Jesus is in no sense a potentate or a patriarch, but the very opposite, one whom John the Baptist calls “a lamb of a God” (see John 1:29). We seem to prefer a lion.

———————–

The Power of Money
Monday, July 2, 2018

As I shared yesterday, we’ve made God in our own image—a projection of our human fears and insecurities. Ironically, our image of God also creates us. As a result, Christianity has often been oppressive, violent, and prejudiced against women, just like our image of God. Thankfully, we can reimagine God through good theology and contemplative wisdom. In her book The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist explains the power we’ve given our image of money and reminds us of our true longings and needs.

Money is not a product of nature. Money doesn’t grow on trees. . . . Money is an invention . . . a fabrication. . . . Money still facilitates the sharing and exchange of goods and services, but somewhere along the way the power we gave money outstripped its original utilitarian role. . . .

We have made money more important than we are, given it more meaning than human life. Humans have done and will do terrible things in the name of money. They have killed for it, enslaved other people for it, and enslaved themselves to joyless lives in pursuit of it. . . .

For most of us, this relationship with money is a deeply conflicted one, and our behavior with and around money is often at odds with our most deeply held values, commitments, and ideals—what I call our soul. . . . I believe that under it all . . . what deeply matters to human beings, our most universal soulful commitments and core values, is the well-being of the people we love, ourselves, and the world in which we live.

We really do want a world that works for everyone. We don’t want children to go hungry. We don’t want violence and war to plague the planet. . . . We don’t want torture and revenge and retribution to be instruments of government and leadership. Everyone wants a safe, secure, loving, nourishing life for themselves and the ones they love and really for everyone. . . . I also believe that under their fears and upsets, even the deepest ones, everyone wants to love and be loved, and make a difference with their lives. . . . I believe people also want an experience of their own divinity, their own connectedness with all life and the mystery of something greater than we comprehend.

Each of us experiences a lifelong tug-of-war between our money interests and the calling of our soul. When we’re in the domain of soul, we act with integrity. We are thoughtful and generous, allowing, courageous, and committed. . . . We are open, vulnerable, and heartful. . . . We are trustworthy and trusting of others. . . . We feel at peace within ourselves and confident that we are an integral part of a larger, more universal experience, something greater than ourselves.

JULY 2 LET ME SHOW YOU
My way for you this day. I guide you continually so you can relax and enjoy My Presence in the present. Living well is both a discipline and an art. Concentrate on staying close to Me, the divine Artist. Discipline your thoughts to trust Me as I work My ways in your life. Pray about everything; then leave outcomes up to Me. Do not fear My will, for through it I accomplish what is best for you. Take a deep breath and dive into the depths of absolute trust in Me. Underneath are the everlasting arms!

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. —PSALM 5:2–3

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages]. —ISAIAH 26:4 AMP

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, “Destroy him!” —DEUTERONOMY 33:27

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Changing Our Economy

June 29th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Changing Our Economy
Friday, June 29, 2018

Pope Francis often says, “This economy kills.” [1] The divide between the wealthy and the poor in the United States continues to grow. A handful of billionaires are literally “making a killing,” while millions who live below the poverty line are “making a dying,” and very few make a fair living. Just one tangible example: without access to affordable health care, roughly “40 percent of Americans [take] on debt because of medical issues.” [2]

The Vatican recently called attention to the poverty of ethics and morality within the global economy. Their report states: “No profit is in fact legitimate when it falls short of the objective of the integral promotion of the human person, the universal destination of goods, and the preferential option for the poor.” The economy must “aim above all to promote the global quality of life that, before the indiscriminate expansion of profits, leads the way toward the integral well-being of the entire person and of every person.” Markets, the Vatican observes, “are not capable of governing themselves,” and so it is our duty as citizens of Earth and followers of Jesus to hold businesses, banks, and political leaders to higher standards. [3]

How else might we participate in co-creating a new economy that is equitable for all? Jim Wallis writes, “While it is good to protest, having an alternative is better.” [4] The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. More and more companies are practicing fair trade, reducing waste, using renewable resources, and investing in healthy communities and ecosystems. Support or start one of these businesses!

As Paul Hawken suggests, “We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. . . . One is called restoration and the other exploitation. . . . The world begs for dreamers to set up shop, invent a new product or social technology, and create the kinds of breakthroughs that will bring us together to act responsibly as passengers on this magnificent place we call home.” [5]

Jesus invites us to stand in solidarity with the poor. We must come close to real people who are hurting. We then can amplify their authentic stories of suffering and cries for change. The Poor People’s Campaign did just that this spring:

It shows us that poor and marginalized people from all backgrounds, all places, and all religions are organizing and fighting for their lives, rights and deepest values. It insists that all humans have dignity and that life is sacred. . . . [6]

We know from history that when those most impacted by injustice band together with moral leaders, clergy, activists, and all people of conscience—that is when we can make a change. That is when our country gets better for everyone, not just a select few. [7]

_____________________________________________________

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

June 29, 2018

AS YOU GET OUT OF BED in the morning, be aware of My Presence with you. You may not be thinking clearly yet, but I am. Your early morning thoughts tend to be anxious ones until you get connected with Me. Invite Me into your thoughts by whispering My Name. Suddenly your day brightens and feels more user-friendly. You cannot dread a day that is vibrant with My Presence. You gain confidence through knowing that I am with you—that you face nothing alone. Anxiety stems from asking the wrong question: “If such and such happens, can I handle it?” The true question is not whether you can cope with whatever happens, but whether you and I together can handle anything that occurs. It is this you-and-I-together factor that gives you confidence to face the day cheerfully.

PSALM 5:3; In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

PSALM 63:1 NKJV; Joy in the Fellowship of God – A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts.

PHILIPPIANS 4:13;I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Morning and Evening Devotional (Jesus Calling®) (p. 372). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Usury:The Root of Evil

June 28th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Usury: The Root of Evil
Thursday, June 28, 2018


Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

“You owe me.”

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

—Hafiz, paraphrased by Daniel Ladinsky [1]

The economy of exploitative profit has no place in God’s kingdom. The economy of grace—gifts freely given and received—is the way God and nature operate. [2] Charles Eisenstein explains the “sacred economics” of a gift economy and how that has been twisted into the unhealthy system we have today:

At its core, money is a beautiful concept. Let me be very naïve for a moment so as to reveal this core, this spiritual (if not historical) essence of money. I have something you need, and I wish to give it to you. So I do, and you feel grateful and desire to give something to me in return. But you don’t have anything I need right now. So instead you give me a token of your gratitude. . . . Later, when I receive a gift from someone else, I give them that token. . . .

Money becomes necessary when the range of our gifts must extend beyond the people we know personally. . . . Traditional, decentralized gift networks gave way to centralized systems of redistribution, with the temple, and later the royal palace, as the hub. . . . They soon diverged from the gift mind-set as contributions became forced and quantified, and outward disbursement became unequal. . . .

We are faced with a paradox. On the one hand money is properly a token of gratitude and trust, an agent of the meeting of gifts and needs. . . . As such it should make us all richer. Yet it does not. Instead, it has brought insecurity, poverty, and the liquidation of our cultural and natural commons. Why?

The cause of these things lies deep within the very heart of today’s money system . . . usury, better known as interest. Usury is the very antithesis of the gift, for instead of giving to others when one has more than one needs, usury seeks to use the power of ownership to gain even more—to take from others rather than to give. . . .

The money created [by the U.S. Federal Reserve] accompanies a corresponding debt, and the debt is always for more than the amount of money created. . . . Usury both generates today’s endemic scarcity and drives the world-devouring engine of perpetual growth. . . . To make new money to keep the whole system going . . . we have to create more “goods and services” . . . [by] selling something that was once free. . . .

Completing the vicious circle, the more of life we convert into money, the more we need money to live. Usury, not money, is the proverbial root of all evil. [3]

____________________________________________________

 

Jesus Calling

Sarah Young

June 28, 2018

TASTE AND SEE THAT I AM GOOD. This command contains an invitation to experience My living Presence. It also contains a promise. The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness. This knowledge is essential to your faith-walk. When adversities strike, the human instinct is to doubt My goodness. My ways are mysterious, even to those who know Me intimately. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways and thoughts higher than your ways and thoughts. Do not try to fathom My ways. Instead, spend time enjoying Me and experiencing My goodness.

PSALM 34:8; O taste and see.” Make a trial, an inward, experimental trial of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for yourself; but if you taste …

ISAIAH 55:8 – 9; For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways.

PSALM 100:5 NKJV; For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

 

The Cost of Consumption

June 27th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

The Cost of Consumption Richard Rohr
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

People hate this kind of talk. Raw truth is never popular. —Amos 5:10, The Message

Coming to grips with the history and reality of our money culture is challenging. But with awareness comes opportunity and motivation for change. Contemplative practice helps me hold the tension of suffering with my responsibility to participate in its healing. I can live with fewer comforts and conveniences when I see my part in global warming and poverty. I can hold companies and politicians accountable for their actions, voting in elections and with my wallet.

Paul Hawken offers some hard truth that I hope you can read with a contemplative, nondual mind:

. . . It is highly inconvenient to acknowledge what is happening in the environment. That awareness runs counter to what we have been taught—and what we expect and want from our lives. The United States was founded by acts of exploiting land, people, and resources. [Christianity legitimated human slavery!] We have enlarged that principle and do it the whole world over in the name of trade and growth. . . .

Business is rewarded for producing the best product demanded by the market at the lowest price. The free market is efficient because the producer has every incentive to be as thrifty and innovative as possible. . . . Free market industrialism took root in a world in which trade was expansive and global. Resources of unusual abundance were wrested away from indigenous cultures in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, furthering the fortunes of the trading, industrial nations, which took what they wanted with force. It was colonialism, and it is practiced today, not by adventurers but by transnational corporations or proxies in host countries.

Business did not anticipate a time when those resources would diminish or run out. It was inconceivable that the vast plains and forests of the New World could be exhausted, or that the abundant new fuels of coal could produce enough waste to foul the air and the seas, or that the use of oil could eventually lead to global climate change. So the system of rewarding the lowest price, impelling companies to exploit the cheapest sources of labor and materials, could not anticipate a time when the lowest price would no longer be the lowest cost, when seeking the cheapest means to get a product to market would end up costing society the most in terms of pollution, loss of habitat, degradation of biological diversity, human sickness, and cultural destruction. . . .

[Thankfully] the restorative economy is beginning to prosper. In the United States today, tens of thousands of companies are committed to some form of environmental commerce that competes with businesses that are not willing to adapt. The impulse to enhance the economic viability of life on earth through the recognition and preservation of all living systems is becoming increasingly central to religion, science, medicine, literature, the arts, and youth. It will be the dominant theme of generations to come. [1]

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JUNE 27 REST WITH ME A WHILE. You have journeyed up a steep, rugged path in recent days. The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty. Look neither behind you nor before you. Instead, focus your attention on Me, your constant Companion. Trust that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey. I designed time to be a protection for you. You couldn’t bear to see all your life at once. Though I am unlimited by time, it is in the present moment that I meet you. Refresh yourself in My company, breathing deep draughts of My Presence. The highest level of trust is to enjoy Me moment by moment. I am with you, watching over you wherever you go.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” —MATTHEW 11:28 NKJV

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. —PSALM 143:8

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” —GENESIS 28:15

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Protecting the System

June 26th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Feast of John the Baptist
When the economic institution is our primary lens, as it is in the U.S., religion tends to be diluted by pragmatic, win/lose, and power attitudes. God is bought and sold more than loved, waited for, or surrendered to. This is why Jesus’ anger (and even destruction of property) was aimed at those selling and buying in the temple (see Matthew 21:12).
I once saw a cartoon in the New Yorker depicting a pedestal holding a dollar. People are bowing to the enshrined bill, and one of them says, “The reason I like this religion is that at least we’re not hypocritical.” Americans have this dangerous illusion that we’re a religious people. Yet it’s evident that God is not on the pedestal here. Clearly our consumer system is the priority, and everything else is subservient.
I once was teaching a class that was to be attended by a wealthy banker. I had been warned that he might take me to task for my criticism of the American Way, so I was prepared for the worst. As I talked, I watched him listening attentively, occasionally becoming stiff-shouldered. Sure enough, at break time he headed right for the podium.
“Father,” he said, putting his hands on my shoulders, “I’ve got something to tell you. Not only is what you said true, but it’s much truer than you even imagine.” Then he explained to me a study documenting that the United States government’s savings and loan bailout of 1989 was the biggest transfer of money from the poor to the rich in human history.
“But there’s really no one to blame,” he added, in spite of the visible few who went to jail for their corrupt actions. “The whole system is skewed to protect those at the top at all costs.” In fact, I added, it’s to protect the system itself, because the system is our goal. We abhor and denigrate welfare for the poor but hardly blink at welfare for corporations or for the banking and military systems. Money is tight for education, health care, and other public services but our military budget only continues to grow.
Paul Hawken, an American entrepreneur and environmentalist, shares a similar insight he learned from a farmer in Maine:
The problem with the United States is that it usually hits exactly what it is aiming at. And for decades now, we have aimed for money and possessions. We got it. It was not evenly distributed and is now highly concentrated, posing as great a threat to democracy as any foreign power ever did, but that is what this country made—money. In the process, we completely forgot that success and failure, when measured by currency alone, are impostors, and that our lives, the transience of which often becomes evident all too late, can have little meaning unless we feel in our passing that we were able to serve the nature and humanity [and God] that gave us our breath and soul. [1]

____________________________________________________

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

STAY CALMLY CONSCIOUS OF ME today, no matter what. Remember that I go before you as well as with you into the day. Nothing takes Me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you so long as you look to Me. I will help you cope with whatever the moment presents. Collaborating with Me brings blessings that far outweigh all your troubles. Awareness of My Presence contains Joy that can endure all eventualities.

PSALM 23:1–4 NKJV; The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

2 CORINTHIANS 4:16–17; therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

PSALM 28:7; The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.