You Don’t Know My Name

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.  Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV)

Note: Thanks  to pianist and songstress Alicia Keys for the inspiration for the title.

One of my favorite Alicia Keys songs was the one that shares its title with this post. Here, Alicia sang about her frustration in getting to know a young man who apparently is oblivious to her.

Today’s Fundagelical Christians are pretty much the same lot. If Jesus was here right now, he would say the same thing.  I’ve learned over my 50+ years that Christianity (its evangelical variant) is a religion about Jesus; not following the teachings of Jesus.  Many parade their faith in front of everyone else-especially on Facebook-instead of living it. To paraphrase 2Live Crew, they walk around saying, “Me so holy” as if the world’s going to applaud them.  They talk about protecting marriage, bringing God back into (fill in the blank), running a democracy on the Ten Commandments, “family values,” and a whole host of other stuff.

However, ask one of these people about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, referring the homeless to a warm and dry bed, protesting injustices at every level, watching our for our children, etc, and you’ll probably be greeted with silence.  These are “busy” (busybody’s more like it) Christians that are flitting about like caffeine-stoked butterflies going from place to place talking about their “relationship” with Jesus.  Yet these same folk are not doing the work of Jesus mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph.  Like I said, they have a religion about Jesus, who’s nothing more than a name to drop and a supposed after-life insurance policy.

This is sad, because these people never took the time to know Jesus.  How?  By studying his words: what did the man really say?  What are the “hidden things” he told his disciples about the Kingdom/Queendom of God, which-according to said Jesus-is inside us?  Why dis he do what he did, risking everything including his life?  The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that Fundagelical Christians are like the man in Alicia’s song: they don’t know Jesus’ name.

What is Jesus’ name?  Glad you asked!  Jesus is a variant of Yeshua (his Jewish name), which mean “God is salvation” in Hebrew.  Now if we look at Jesus, he was the prototype of the life that God saves.  Saves from what?  Saves us from our (unhealthy) ego-driven lives: certainty; security; religiosity; concern with material rather than spiritual things; hatred; intolerance; and other things that have us live on a lower realm.  Look at Jesus-a man who was infused with God, who was free of all the shit that we carry around and yet was still human.  And that same “salvation” is offered to us today by looking to God (who is in us) and discovering who and what we truly are “in Christ”.  However, we don’t want to: we’re comfortable with a God “out there” based on what the Bible says while doing busy “church work.”

In the end, many of the Fundagelicals are going to run into Jesus and will be in for a spiritual “shock” when they realize that they never took the time to know him.  They will find themselves isolated and separated from him in their lives.  They’ll be the ones in churches still “seeking” God, and thinking that just “having faith” is going to help them.  They’ll be the ones busy “doing good.”  And they’ll be asking Jesus, “Lord didn’t we (fill in the blank) in your name?” And Jesus-like Alicia Keys-will say to them:

You don’t know my name…

Peace.

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Until WE Change…

PHOTO: In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, speaks alongside his wife, Janay, during a news conference at the teams practice facility in Owings Mills, Md.

PHOTO: In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, speaks alongside his wife, Janay, during a news conference at the teams practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (Photo by Patrick Semansky/AP). Image from abcnews.com

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.  Proverbs 26:11 (KJV)

The media is abuzz with the Ray Rice story.  Unless you were under a rock during the last week or so, what happened was that Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice was caught on videotape beating on his then fiancee, Janay Rice in an Atlantic City elevator back in February.  Since that revelation hit the airwaves, the Ravens cancelled Rice’s contract.  I’ve seen clips of the video myself on the news and find it disturbing.

However outraged people may be, there are those who still defend Rice and his actions.  One is Janay Rice herself.  The other is boxing champion Floyd Mayweather.  Plus, it’s came to light that the NFL knew about this video before we saw it for ourselves.  Plus, there are still women who will probably defend Rice; and will watch the game.

Don’t get me wrong-I do love some football.  However I see a bigger issue at hand.  Many of us in the US of A have turned sports celebrities like Rice into almost “gods”-especially in football.  Rice was not the first NFL player accused of domestic violence, or any major criminal infraction.  For years, we’ve condoned such behavior-especially if the player was a star player.  We didn’t mind our sports leagues giving our stars a suspension-just as long as it wasn’t forever and our star can get back to playing and entertaining us.  And when such players were fattening the NFL-and owners’-bottom line, no one gave a damn.

This stems from the age-old culture of violence that pervades this nation.  We have devolved from “Make Love, Not War” to “Make War, Not Love.”  If you watch an NFL game, you see it open with the singing of the National Anthem in tribute to our military serving fighting overseas.  Plus, we tack on the Fundaglical (Fundamentalist Evangelical) element to the game (players “thanking God” for a touchdown and the endless “John 3:16″ placards).  This same idiocy has metastasized into our overall culture to the point that we don’t give a damn about what Rice did anymore.

Until we as a culture change and bring a more peaceful and holy attitude back to the table, this violent shit like what Ray Rice did will not change.  Until we change and embrace, “Make Love, Not War” we will still embrace violence in all its forms.  Until we change and stop deifying these athletes-even tacking Fundagelical X-tianity to them, we’ll still have more of this.  Until we change. stop “supporting our troops” as killers, and instead support them as people who need to have a quality of life upon returning home; we’ll still support whatever violence done overseas.

Tomorrow will be the 11th Anniversary of the “9/11″ terrorist attacks here in America.  We’ll have our “never forget” signs, our memorials, our tributes, etc.  However, we need to understand that it’s our culture of violence here in America-and abroad-that ultimately produced the backlash that brought about September 11, 2001.  And despite that dark time in our history, we Americans have not changed.  And like Fido in tonight’s Scripture text, we keep going back to the vomit, the folly, of violence; with no change in sight.

Until WE change, nothing will change.  We’ll have more Ray Rice’s who we’ll forgive-and forget-as we let them entertain us on the field.

Peace.

 

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Swimming Into Deep Waters

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  Matthew 13:11 (KJV)

My son, Carrington completed another summer at day camp.  One of his favorite activities is swimming at the pool.  Carrington would “regale” us with his exploits about swimming into the deep end sans life jacket.  If so, this little guy beat me by a few years before I myself ventured into a pool’s deep end.  However, once I started swimming in the deep end I was there all the time. 

I’m started to venture into other deep waters myself these days.  I’ve been interested in the esoteric meaning of Scripture.  For a long time I’ve felt that the Bible was saying more than what I’ve learned during my Christian roadtrip. I’ve also studied various sites and a couple of books that there are two types of Christianity. 

The first type is the exoteric where Scripture is taken literally and is considered history.  Stories like the Creation, Flood, Exodus, Virgin Birth are all considered real events.  This is the kind of Christianity prevalent in the Christian world; your typical “Sunday morning” variant. 

The second variant that I’ve mentioned earlier is the esoteric.  Here, Scripture is figurative and has a hidden meaning that can be discovered if one is willing to take the time.  The stories in the Bible are all internal events that happen to us-symbols of our internal states; not so much actual history.  In fact, the argument for esoteric Christianity could be found in Scripture itself; the texts in this post are examples.

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  1 Corinthians 4:1 (KJV)

Esoteric Christianity is also seen in Gnostic Christianity, which has given the Church in general fits for centuries. I sometimes wonder if the esoteric variant was the first true Christianity which was later squashed into almost non-existence by the institutionalized Church called “Christianity” founded by Constantine the Great in the 4th Century CE.

I don’t know where my swimming will take me.  However, I’m confident that I won’t drown.  I think I may discover a whole new shore when I’m said and done.

Peace!

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Crossing a Fine Line and Heading Down a Slippery Slope

Image above: Scott Olson via Getty Images (Courtesy of The Huffington Post)

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Matthew 26:52 (King James Version)

As we watch the news of continued protests in Ferguson, MO in the wake of the death of (unarmed) 18-year old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, we see a disturbing trend taking place.

For years, we’ve seen the deaths of unarmed Black (and other minority) male youth at the hands of law enforcement (and a few private citizens), or other forms of police brutality.  And only now, Whites are beginning to feel the sting of the same-especially in the wake of the above events; and the recent #Occupy events.  More and more, our police officers-sworn to serve and protect the public-have been doing almost the opposite.  And this is sad, because there are many good police officers who do their best to serve the public trust.

However today we see a number of our police acting with impunity against anyone who they feel is a problem: minorities; GLBTQs; artists; innocent unarmed protesters, the mentally ill; and even harmless homeless folk.  Today, we see complaints of abuse of power by these officers, which many times seem to fall on deaf ears in police departments all over the land.  We see activist groups giving tips on what to do if stopped by the police; the ACLU even has an app to record police action on your smartphone.

And to add fuel to the fire, we seeing a growing militarization of our police forces.  When I was coming up, you had SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) officers, however they were for special high-risk situations like hostage takings.  However, we now see our police with body armor, helmets, assault weapons that rival a small army, even armored vehicles.  What’s up with that?  Is our police becoming afraid of the public?  Is the police afraid of the next riot?  Even military veterans have criticized this militarization.

When I think on the above, I think how these cops have crossed the fine line between “to serve and protect” and “to terrorize and arrest.”  We see how some have literally gotten away with murder; and how a police officer was acquitted after brutalizing a mentally ill person.  These officers have allowed power to get to them and have traded their consciences for cowardice disguised as “control.”

And once the above fine line is crossed, these people start heading down a slippery slope-a slope leading to their eventual downfall.  You see in tonight’s Scripture, Jesus was being arrested (of all things).  At that time, Peter took a sword and sliced off one of the arresting party’s ears.  Jesus warned Peter that one who lives by the sword (or violence) will die in like manner.  This is something many of these law enforcement people don’t realize: violence begets violence.  No matter how much protection these cops have-either from the courts or equipment-they cannot escape that Divine Karma that awaits them.

I hope and pray that justice comes for Michael Brown’s family; and a peaceful resolution to the events in Ferguson.  However for any police officer who crosses the line, becomes a militarized terrorist on the public dime, and starts down the slippery slope to his/her own downfall?  All I can say is “God help you” (if He/She does).

Peace (and justice) for all.

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So You Think You’re Going to Heaven

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 7:21 (King James Version)

Just a reminder to those Fundagelical X-tians out there who think they have some special “boarding pass” to the Next World….

Sleep tight!

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Which Way Do We Go?

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See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil…  Deuteronomy 30:15 (King James Version)

I’m getting to the belief that humanity is at a fork in the road; and God is giving us a chance to decide which road to take.  The only problem is that we don’t have too much time to make a choice.

The first road-albeit a unknown one-is where we grow up.  We learn we have to care for the Earth, not abuse it.  We have to level the playing field for all, not just the “1%.”  We have to come clean in our religions and learn to work together to heal humanity, no keep wounding it.  We have to love all, not just our select ones.  We have to try to repair as much damage as we could; knowing full well we have to accept the consequences for that which is beyond repair.  We must shut off the war machine once and for all.  It’s tough, however it may ensure the survival of our species.

The second-and familiar road-is that we continue on our present course.  We keep having wars.  We keep widening the gap between rich and poor.  We keep abusing the Earth, continually transforming the environment into an unlivable one.  We keep forcing our religions down each other’s throats with violent fundamentalism.  We allow the corporate world to wreak its havoc in government.   We keep going down this path, and only God knows where we’ll end up (and I think He/She won’t want to know).

In tonight’s text from Deuteronomy, this familiar verse was part of Moses’ final words he gave the Israelites before he died.  The Israelites were soon to enter the Promised Land and Moses wouldn’t be there with them.  Moses wanted to make clear to the Israelites what would transpire if they either obeyed or disobeyed God.  The above verse could easily be speaking to modern humanity.  I believe God is standing before us and saying these same words.  However, unlike the ancients, we don’t have much time.

Every day, if we don’t make a choice for the first road, we go further down the second road.  If we allow The Powers that Be to keep us from choosing, we decrease our chances for some livable future.  We must turn this tide now!  We The People (globally and locally) must shout out a collective “STOP!!!” and backup to where the first road begins.  We must now accept the “life and good” the text speaks about-even if it means massive change on all levels and in every sector.  We may not get to live the “life” we’ve been faking all these years, however we’ll still have humanity and a scaled-down sustainable civilization.

However, we keep delaying, we move further down the second road.  We will ultimately and consequentially have to accept the “death and evil” Moses warned about.  Then one day-maybe in the foreseeable future-we’ll have an unlivable world where we’ll find ourselves quite possibly on the way out as a species.

The title of tonight’s post is, “Which way do we go?”  That’s a question only we can answer.  I hope and pray we go the right way since our very survival depends on it.

Peace.

 

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Fuck the Poor

This could easily be rehabilitated for low to mid-income families.  However, why do that when you can...(see below)

This could easily be rehabilitated for low to mid-income families. However, why do that when you can…(see below).  Photo by Me.

As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.  Ezekiel 16:48-50 (English Standard Version)

When I was coming up, I used to hear people say “It’s a sin to be poor.”  What they usually meant was that the financial and material struggles they contended with was sinful in their scope.  They implied that there was some moral aspect to the poor-related vicissitudes they faced, despite the fact that they were never below the national poverty level.

Fast-forward to today.  Anyone living in the good ol’ US of A could say the same thing.  A recent tidbit of news circulating is that in New York City, developers of high-rises that house mostly the monied, will have a “poor door” for the few with low income who live there.  To me, this smacks of the “Colored” doors seen in the American South during the Jim Crow era (and some parts of the North too).

Not just in NYC, but in other parts of the US we see this “fuck the poor” attitude.  Despite growing numbers of the unemployed and foreclosed, we have representatives in Washington cutting away at long time safety nets for such people.  Today, we see more concern for banks, corporations, fat-cat politicians, and celebrities than We The People (or the 99%).  We have major cities phasing out low-income neighborhoods for higher-income residents; or increasing the property taxes to chase the low income folk out.

Even amongst We The People (me too), we have this “fuck the poor” attitude.  We complain about how our taxes are supporting “welfare queens,” or “lazy” people on unemployment or disability.  We play “blame the victim” with those who lost their houses due to the mortgage mess, or were downsized from a company through no fault of their own.  We say, “had they been more careful” or “they should’ve been saving their money”.  How quickly we forget that a catastrophic illness to us or a family member could wipe out our “wealth” in an instant.

Plus, how many of us are complaining about the fact that our taxes are financing a bloated military that’s dragging the US into bankruptcy while making us pariahs in the world’s eyes?  How many of us are protesting the real “welfare queens,” corporations that are given “personhood” status; the very same corporations that laid off some of us while they still generated a profit?  How about these career representatives in Washington that are making a killing now, and with their future pension?  Have any of us called for scaling down their pay and imposing term limits?

...When you can build THIS instead, and only let the high-income folk in!

…When you can build THIS instead, and only let the high-income folk in!

Today’s Scripture was a reminder to Israel about Sodom’s fall.  Through the prophet Ezekiel, God warned that is wasn’t a homosexual lifestyle-as some thought-that did Sodom in.  It was the inhabitants’ contempt for the poor while they lived in luxury.  Many of the Sodomites were “living large” while their fellows were struggling to survive; which sounds a lot like America at present.  And in the end, that’s why God destroyed Sodom.

Uhh…America?  News flash?  What do you think is happening here?  Our status as a player on the world stage is going downhill.  Our infrastructure’s crumbling.  Despite all the police and security technology, We The People are still getting angry. Plus, our economy’s not as robust as Washington and its puppet media wants you to believe.  I believe God’s getting tired of our “Fuck the poor” mentality in America; and is soon ready to say, “Fuck America” and let this country go bankrupt.  And it will be such a way that not even the wealthy can get away.

We have the means to empower our poor so they can become self-sufficient.  This is being done on a smaller scale in parts of our country (and not reported in mainstream media).  We can give them to power to contribute to the greater good.  We can also crack down on our politicians via the ballet box to make living affordable for the lower-and middle-income crowd.  We can also divest our monies from companies that keep fleecing us via the government, and watch them squirm.  There are a whole lot of ways we can help and empower the poor so they’ll be poor no more…

Or it will be business as usual.

“Fuck the poor?” We could keep at it.  However, we do it at our own peril.  Peace.

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