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Needle's Eye

Mark 10:7-31 Sunday 10-14-2018Jesus and the Young Archon.
I’ve heard two reflections on this text since Sunday, and my take kept on veering away in a different direction than either of them. This is the gist of the story:
‘The influential and powerful prince comes and kneels before Jesus to ask him what he needs to do to get an admission ticket to the Kingdom. Jesus disappoints him.’
Of course, being me, I immediately departed from the traditional interpretations. I had in mind the lengthy, grim knowledge of manipulative people that I gained in my 18 years working as a cop. This young fellow was “working” Jesus, I’m sure of it. So then, how do we interpret Jesus’s response, “Why do you call me good?” [To aid in this analysis, I want to dredge up another Jesus quote from John 2:24-2524 But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.” (NRSV) — 24 But he did not …
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At Sea

Psalm 131 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) 131 (0) A song of ascents. By David: (1) Adonai, my heart isn’t proud;
I don’t set my sight too high,
I don’t take part in great affairs
or in wonders far beyond me.
No, I keep myself calm and quiet,
like a little child on its mother’s lap —
I keep myself like a little child.
Isra’el, put your hope in Adonai
I don’t have much to say to add to this. It’s the second shortest psalm in the Bible, and it made me think of verse 20 from the Tao te Ching:

How much difference between yes and no? What difference between good and bad?
What the people fear must be feared. Oh desolation! Not yet, not yet has it reached its limit!
Everybody’s cheerful, cheerful as if at a party, or climbing a tower in springtime. And here I sit unmoved, clueless, like a child, a baby too young to smile.
Forlorn, forlorn. Like a homeless person. Most people have plenty. I’m the one that’s poor, a fool right through.
Ignorant, ignorant. Most people are so bright. I’m the one that’s dull. Most people …

How It Is

“To learn the Buddha’s truth is to learn ourselves. To learn ourselves is to forget ourselves. To forget ourselves is to be experienced by the myriad dharmas. To be experienced by the myriad dharmas is to let our own body-and-mind, and the body-and-mind of the external world, fall away. There is a state in which the traces of realization are forgotten; and it manifests the traces of forgotten realization for a long, long time.”
—Dōgen, from the Genjo-Koan; Shobogenzo.
Yeshua answered, “Yes, indeed, I tell you that unless a person is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born from the flesh is flesh, and what is born from the Spirit is spirit. Stop being amazed at my telling you that you must be born again from above! The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going. That’s how it is with everyone who has been born from the Spirit.”
—The Gospel of John, Chapter 3; The Complete…

A Little Child

Mark 10:2-15
Yes! I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it!”
In church today, I suddenly heard this verse completely differently. I’m reading a book right now that recommends reading the Bible ‘against the grain’. I don’t know if that is what I did, but I was suddenly overcome with a need to write down what I heard in my mind’s ear. Is that what happened to the prophets when they were blown over by the breath of the Holy Spirit? Maybe that’s not such an unusual happening as we are taught to think. Not something that used to happen in far off ancient Israel in a mountain or a cave, but a thing that can come over any of us, anytime.
Anyway, here is what I frantically scribbled down during the exchange of the peace—

“Receive the Kingdom as a little child..”
Not us; not the ones receiving; but the Kingdom, thatis what is like a child!
Receive the Kingdom, abashed after being chided by Jesus— receive it with cheeks flaming because Jesus is indignant…

Solitaries and The Lindisfarne Rule; Part 2

Solitaries of Lindisfarne; Reflections on the Rule:
Our Community prayer is,that I may be as Christ to those I meet; that I may find Christ within them.”
It’s about connectedness.
“Being Christ” is not a role we play, and finding Christ within others is not about grafting our ideas of “Christ” onto people and then using the other person as our “straight man” in life’s onstage performance.
I find this prayer now has become all jumbled up with some new ideas I’ve had about sin; along with some amazing theological perspectives from a Wesleyan minister namedMorgan Guyton.
The sin ideas are about learning to untangle myself from the notion that my sin belongs to me— about unraveling the notion that it’s my obligation to figure out whether my actions are right or wrong.
Guyton suggests that Jesus didn’t come to save us from our own sins, but to save the world from us; from the consequences of our sinning. Combining that idea with the idea that we are all connected, and I got a brilliant flash:…

The Great Wide

The word “God” is not a noun, it’s a verb!
God doesn’t have a plan; God is the plan!
God does not love us just as we are;
God does not pick us up when we fall;
God does not test us to prove our faith;
God does not measure out the amount of suffering we can handle;
God does not look down from above;
God does not punish us for our sins.
Try this
God is the Way we go about loving each other just as we are;
God is the Way we know how to give each other a hand;
God is the Way we test our lifelines before we mount a rescue;
God is the Way we handle our suffering with the oven mitts of grace;
God is the Way that goes in a different direction than ‘above’ and ‘below’;
God is the Way that has no signposts marked “sin” and “punishment.”

God is the Light that the darkness can’t seize,
and the gleam shining in our eyes.

God is the Air we breathe,
and the wind filling our lungs;

God is the Ground under our feet,
and the bedrock upholding our weight.

God is the Fathomless Source,
and the cradle that rocks…

Go Figure

John 9:1-17
“This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
“The phrase “in Christ” cannot be understood correctly without recognizing that Christ was already the source of our being as the one “in whom all things were created.”-Morgan Guyton

So, I want to share the outcome of a really convoluted and intuitive mental process; a process which I decline to describe in any sort of detail. It’s just something that my mind does, and it’s been doing it more and more reliably in the last few years.
The starting point of this process was my increasing frustration with my own attempts to describe the fallacies underlying modern evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity. I suspected that there was a real heresy imbedded in the idea that God punishes for sin, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I still can’t.
The end result was the discovery of a blog by a guy named Morgan Guyton, a Methodist pastor and the director of a body called the NOLA Wesley Foundation at Tulane and Loyola Univ…