A Swiftly Warming Planet*

Otherwise I will strip her naked
and make her as bare as on the day she was born;
I will make her like a desert,
turn her into a parched land,
and slay her with thirst. Hosea 2:3 (New International Version)

20160813_151811

The above image was not manipulated. You’re seeing correctly. And this was two years ago! I should know since I took this photo!

Heatwaves throughout the globe. Days of thunderstorms and rain in the US Northeast. Wildfires in the American West and in Greece. Ice shelves calving into the ocean. Sounds like the stuff of an apocalyptic sci-fi film, right? Sad to say, it’s all real.

We as a species are turning Mother Earth into a giant hothouse in space. Last month-June-was the third warmest on record. Our pumping pollutants into the air, the US’s pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement last year, our continued dependence on fossil fuels, along with other factors are contributing to this problem. What’s so sad is that it’s our destructive way of life that’s fueling the fire (no pun intended).

It’s this destructive way of living that is a sin against God, our fellow humans, and to the Earth.  Tonight’s Scripture dealt with sin as well-Israel’s sins against God. Through the prophet Hosea, Good pronounced His/Her judgement against this rebellious lot. God could be easily talking to 21st Century humanity due to our tearing up His/Her world-especially the “parched” and “desert” parts.

God blessed us with the means to slow down this warming process through sustainable agriculture and technological means. However there are many in power who deny our climate change and will not put the aforementioned technologies as a priority. We have politicians who are in bed with the coal and petrochemical industries here in America. Plus, there are many fundagelical Christian types that also deny what’s happening.

In time, God will allow our planet to heat up past the point of no return. We’ll see more violent storms, more heatwaves in normally temperate regions (like where I live), continually shrinking ice caps that will flood out places like Manhattan, London, Amsterdam, Miami, and other coastal cities; and God knows what else.

Whether you believe it or not, God is trying to get our attention through climate change; like He/She tried to get Israel’s attention in the Book of Hosea. God is trying to warm us about our screwing with the climate.  Like the Jews back then, we ignore God at our peril…

Peace.

(*With apologies to Madeline L’Engle)

 

 

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I Told You So

8: Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Article II, Section 1:8 of The Constitution of the United States

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  1 Timothy 5:8 (New International Version)

About two years ago, I posted High Treason on the Campaign TrailI discussed then-candidate Donald Trump’s remarks calling on Russia regarding the 30,000 emails of his challenger, Hilary R. Clinton. I warned about the abuses of power and damage that a Trump presidency could do. I pointed out the treasonous attitude that Trump exhibited back then.

Now let’s jump two years later. This past week we saw now-President Trump commit treason in Helsinki.  Regarding the Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential elections, Trump gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a hall pass by throwing the integrity of the US Intelligence Community under the proverbial bus. He was very generous in his praise of Putin, a strongman that has been a thorn in American foreign policy’s side since the Clinton Administration. This praise has generated criticism from politicians and political pundits alike.

Now we Trump backpedaling, saying that he had “misspoken” with Putin. This is pure bullshit! Trump got busted committing treason and now is trying to cover his ass!

I hate to say it, but I told you so. I warned you about Trump’s treasonous attitude and how it will come to harm us. Trump showed blatant disregard for the Constitution he swore to defend. Plus, as tonight’s Scripture shows, he’s not providing for the household of the Nation as its leader. Trump is worse than an infidel. Tack on Trump’s other sins, and you’ll see that I’m right.

Now there are those out there who will disagree with me and say I’m mistaken. However, current events are bearing me out. And Heaven knows what history will say…

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Protest on Palm Sunday

He disarmed those who once ruled over us—those who had overpowered us. Like captives of war, He put them on display to the world to show His victory over them by means of the cross.
Colossians 2:15 (The Voice)

Since last month’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, school students have walked out of classes all over America to protest gun violence in this nation.  Many of these young people hearken back to the “Freedom Riders” for Civil Rights and the Anti-War (Vietnam) protesters of the 1960s.  And like their socially-conscious “ancestors,” these youth risked reprisal: in this case, from their school districts for doing so (two towns here in New Jersey I know of are guilty of this).

This anti-gun violence protesting has culminated with a “March for Our Lives” that took place yesterday in Washington, DC (the seat of American power) that was organized by the survivor-students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.  Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the nation’s capital accompanied by fellow protesters across the nation and globe.  Despite counter-protests by gun-rights advocates, yesterday’s events took center stage.  This loud message was aimed straight at the powers that be in Washington-and elsewhere-that are in bed with the gun lobby including the National Rifle Association.  This time, our youth has put these legislators and lobbyists on center stage likened to “captives of war” for all the world to see.

Today is Palm Sunday.  Today, we commemorate Jesus’s “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem (the seat of Roman/Jewish power in Jesus’s day) a few days before his Crucifixion*.  Jesus-accompanied by his disciples-rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  Jesus-ever since his ministry on Earth began-has preached truth to the powers that be.  Jesus-like many of us today-contended with the political and religious elites that were in bed with the Roman Empire which oppressed Jesus’s people.

Upon his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus knew the reprisal he would face from the authorities.  Jesus knew that going up against the powers that be with the Realm of God would be death for certain.  He knew the waving palms and shouts of “Hosanna!” would be clenched fists and shouts of “Crucify Him!” in only a few  days.  Jesus’s entry reflected the humility and self-sacrifice that are hallmarks of God’s Realm. God-through Jesus-used a lowly service animal instead of a stallion to bring His/Her Christ into the face of power. To me, this entry was an act of Divine protest against the spiritual and political violence against God’s people. Just like the young protesters about two millennia later, Jesus took aim at the powers that be.

Today, as we celebrate Palm Sunday, we will be called to protest that which is against God’s Realm. God will call us to stand up against the powers that be like Jesus and today’s youth. Will we be willing to stand despite reprisal?

Protest on Palm Sunday? Something for us to think on.

Peace.*Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-38; and John 12:12-19
(Image courtesy of The Washington Post)

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Pause and Reflect at Lent

 

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10 (King James Version)

We’re a noisy lot.  Look at our media-especially television and Internet with their round-the-clock offerings.  Go out in public, and you’ll hear someone chatting loudly on their cell.  Drive, and you’ll have someone with their car stereo turned up to concert hall pitch booming through closed windows.  I live not far from Times Square in NYC, and every time I drive through at night I feel like I’m in a scene from Blade Runner.  It’s enough to make you scream.

What’s worse is the spiritual noise in our lives.  This noise are the myriad thoughts that crowd our mind for our attention.  Thoughts about home, family, career, church, social life, etc…run 24-7 inside us.  This is exacerbated when we allow the noise from the world (mentioned above) to crash into our minds and add fuel to the fire.  This noise can distract us from the weightier things in life (ref. Matthew 23:23), and pull us away.

Tonight’s text is a familiar one, usually read or sung during a worship service’s “Call to Worship.”  Here the psalmist is reminding us to pause and reflect that God is God.  Here they have God reminding us to be still, to shut it down, to take it down a notch.  We need to understand the majesty and power of the Divine in our lives; to recognize His/Her unfathomable being. To also realize that God is to be exalted (given preeminence) among the people-not just Christians either.  We need to pull away from our noisy world, shut down out noisy thoughts and focus on God.

As we still ourselves and recognize the Divine, we will have clarity of mind and spirit.  We will learn from God what He/She has for us in our lives.  We will develop fellowship that nourishes us; instead of the world’s crap that drains us.  As Christians-and others-this is something we sorely need.  Since God calls us to intimacy, this is a good road to that state.

As we continue this Lenten Season, let us learn to shut it down and know that God is God: to pause and reflect.

Peace.

(Image: Fog at dusk at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield, NJ. February 11, 2018)

 

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A Lenten Advisory

54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:54-58 (King James Version)

Ever did what you thought was the right thing, only to be criticized by those you were doing it for?  Ever did what you thought God was leading you to do, yet it was not appreciated by those who you did it for?  Been there, done that, and have the pictures to prove it.

Right now in my neck of the woods, a “winter weather advisory” is posted for an upcoming snowfall Saturday night.  This usually means that snow’s on its way and those in the area in question should get ready for it.  We’re expected to have up to 6 to 8 inches in the NYC area, and meteorologists are giving this “advisory” so we’re not caught off guard.

Tonight, I’m giving a Lenten “advisory” to you my Dear Readers.  As you go through this Lenten journey, God will speak to your hearts and will push you into new directions.  Some of those directions will involved how you interact with others in your life (usually those close to you).  God will move you to perform some act of Christ-like love, compassion, or kindness; maybe even forgiveness-beyond your normal sphere of activities.  You will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and reach out…

…And it’s not appreciated, or worst, criticized.  All of a sudden you feel like the old tow truck pictured at the start of tonight’s post.  You feel like the wind is taken from your sails.  Your feelings are hurt as you feel unjustly treated.  Shit, the “un-Christ-like” part of you wants to (fill in the blank) them.  It sucks, yet it happens.  As you grow during this Season, beware there will be those who don’t (or worse, won’t) grow.  I know, I’ve been there myself-even with those closest to me.

However know that you’re in good company.  Jesus caught the same in tonight’s Scripture.  Here was a man infused with the Divine that we equate him with Him/Her.  Jesus was going through his old neighborhood, ushering in the Realm of God to those who knew him from back in the day.  Instead of listening to Jesus’s message and exchanging their meager existences for abundant life, these yahoos begin to question Jesus.  They didn’t appreciate his ministering to them, but instead criticized him by “putting him in his place.”  They didn’t see the Cosmic Christ ushering in God’s Realm; no, they saw a local boy that they felt could not teach them.  Hence, Jesus made the above statement and was hindered by their attitudes from performing miracles.

If it happened to Jesus, it will happen to us.  It happened to the other Spiritual people God sent to us over the ages.  However, we cannot let what others feel stop us.  We have to grow and keep growing.  You see, those who diss you will be the ones who lose out.  They will one day learn what God was trying to do for them (through you) after you pass their way.  I bet you there were some in Jesus’s neck of the woods who would later hear what Jesus did and would say, “Maybe we could’ve listened more….”

In the meantime, let us continue on our Lenten journey to become more and more Christ-like in our lives.  So-like Jesus-we too can make a positive impact in our world.

Just a Lenten Advisory for tonight. Peace.

(Image:  Old GMC tow truck in New Egypt, New Jersey.  Taken today)

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A Lenten Response to Violence

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3-10 (New International Version)

This past Wednesday, I spoke about the start of Lent on Valentines Day, the day of love.  Ironically, we witnessed another school shooting that took the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland,Florida.  Again, we see the families and friends of the victims, the killer (who’s in custody), the pros and cons of gun control, the President’s platitudes, etc…

Please, I’m not making light of the tragedy.  However, we’ve seen this over and over again: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas.  We get into a cyclical pattern of pain, promises and pronouncements that fade into time before the dead cool off in their graves.  We never sit and address this issue head on.

For those of us in the Boardinghouse of Faith, we have an answer in tonight’s Scripture.  Here we see Jesus starting his Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, which can give us an insight regarding this shooting issue. Christ calls us to be open, vulnerable, to seek peace, to have a passion for righteousness, to be pure (undefiled by society’s crap), to mourn (over the mess in our world-not just lip service), to be merciful, and to be peacemakers. So far, all our other “solutions” have lead to dead ends and dead people. At best, we’re looking for quick fixes.

Tonight’s Scripture calls for openness that cuts into the gun debate and the gun culture that’s uniquely American. Jesus’s words make us face the ugly truths of how our violence-soaked culture, coupled with the lie of Christian heterosexual White male privilege, has enabled these shooters to carry out their crimes. For us, it would be all too easy to maintain the business as usual approach. However, if we’re to heal our society from our gun fetish and more mass shootings, we need to do this and fast.

As we journey into Lent, and as the gun control issue is brought up, let’s learn from Jesus through tonight’s Scripture. Let’s pray that God will call us all to remembrance the words of Christ.

Pray for Parkland, and for other places where gun violence rears its ugly head.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

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Love and Lent

My beloved spoke and said unto me, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.- Song of Solomon 2:10-11 (21st Century King James Version)

Welcome to the start of the 2018 Lenten Season (Ash Wednesday), where we begin 40 days of introspection, reflection, and a chance to grow closer to the Divine. Today is also Valentine’s Day-a day dedicated to love and romance.

It’s interesting that both of these occasions fall on the same day. For those of you who planned to give up chocolate, red meat, alcohol, and sex for Lent; I wonder how you’ll navigate the day. However let me point to a more interesting point.

Today I took a page from Song of Solomon for the text. Although I believe this book deals with the joys of human (unmarried at that) sexuality, I’m going to take it on a different track. God-our beloved-is calling us as away with Her this Lenten Season; that the “winter” of all the stupid shit is over. God calls us to intimacy with Her this Season; and why not start today on Valentine’s Day?

Welcome to Lenten. May you be blessed with the joys of spiritual intimacy with God.

Peace.

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