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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bona Fide?

It takes some restraint to try and keep this blog non-political even though the contents often have political dimension, since the very nature of One Eternal Presence is that all things are interconnected. Sometimes this interconnectedness is more obvious than others.

In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on immigration that speaks of certain immigrants needing a "bona fide relationship" within the United States in order to gain entry, I looked up "bona fide" and found the following definition: genuine; real; sincerely, without intention to deceive.

Many experts in law have already pointed out the legal quagmire this phrase creates. It begs the question: What is a "'genuine; real; sincerely, without intention to deceive' relationship?" 

How we answer this question is at the core of who we are as human beings. As a Christian I can't help but hear the words of Paul and Jesus when they were faced with the same question in their time.  

Paul said to the Romans and the Philippians:   
- Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. - whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Jesus said:
 But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

So, perhaps in the end, "is it bona fide?" is not only a good question but the ultimate question - one we should be asking not only of immigrants but of our leaders and ourselves.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

All, Each, Other, Self = God

"To love another person is to see the face of God."
~ Les Miserables, the musical

We are all, each, someone else's other.  

We are all, each, someone else's self.

I'm convinced more and more that the central teaching of Jesus and so many other sages, prophets, and visionaries "to love the other as we love our self" is the only way to truly know and love the Eternal Presence we call "God."  In doing so we discover that we are "the light of the world" and "the salt of the earth." Jesus teaches us to be fully human and in the process we discover our divine nature.

Author John Philip Newell shares the following story in his book A New Harmony: The Spirit, the Earth, and the Human Soul:

One day as we sat in the Lal Bagh Gardens, we were approached by an elderly Indian gentleman. He greeted us kindly and entered into conversation. After a few pleasantries, in which I learned that he was a retired banker, he said with a gentle sideways wagging of his head, “I have one question for you. Who are you?” I sensed that he was not asking me what my name was, but, wanting to feel my way into the conversation, I said, “My name is John Philip.” To which he replied, still kindly nodding his head from side to side, “I was not asking you what your name was. I was asking who are you?” So I said to him, “I come from the same One you come from.” This pleased him well enough that he proceeded with our discussion, in which he expounded for me the heart of Hindu wisdom. He spoke of the Self within all selves and of true self-knowledge as consisting of an awareness that our selves are rooted in the One who is at the heart of all life. He then said, with an even more emphatic wagging of his head, “I must be going now, but I have one final thing to say to you. You are God. And until you realize you are God, you will not be wise, you will not be happy, and you will not be free. Namaste.”


I recently did an interview about my book "Hidden In His Own Story..." with Ron Way of "Author Talk." 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dashes and Commas

...more on Religion and Spirituality

Experience is what actually happens in life while belief is reflection on the happening. Unfortunately too many of us spend more time reflecting and thinking about what happened and will happen rather than giving full attention to what is happening right now. We seem to be in a constant state of coming from and going to while, for the most part, oblivious to where we are. 

How many times have you been driving, walking, or going in some fashion only to realize that you've gone from point A to point C and can't remember B? Now think about this same dynamic in larger frames of time. What about yesterday, last week, or last year? Do you ever find yourself asking, "Where did the time go?" 

Because of my current location in Florida, where a lot of older people live, I've held a lot of funerals in the past couple of years. Occasionally a family requests that someone read a poem about this dynamic in our lives. It's called "The Dash" and is about the dash between a person's Born and Died dates. You can read it here.

The Christian religion even does this with Jesus albeit with a comma instead of a dash. The foundational creed of Christianity, "The Apostles Creed" reads, "...was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate..." Jesus's whole life experience is a comma. What a Christian is asked to "believe" is all about the past and the future. Ironically, the comma, or life of Jesus, is about living and loving in the present, which he calls "the Kingdom at hand."

Religion loves dashes and commas, Spirituality prefers run on sentences. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Spiritual But Not Religious

"Religion is believing in someone else's experience. Spirituality is having your own experience."
~ Deepak Chopra

More and more people these days are identifying themselves as "spiritual but not religious." There is also much discussion and consternation within religious circles as to what this really means. The quote above captures, better than I've seen, the essence of this disconnect between spirituality and religion.

Religions, especially those we label as "organized" or "institutional," survive by turning the experiences of others, usually from thousands or hundreds of years ago, into doctrines and beliefs. These doctrines and beliefs then become the basis for morality that governs our actions that in turn create experiences that, not so surprisingly, reinforce those beliefs and doctrines.

Spirituality, on the other hand comes from experiencing relationships with creation through other people, nature, and imagination that spurs morality based on values rather than belief and doctrine.

Another way to say this is:

With Spirituality
Comes Morality

Morality is doing what is right,
Regardless of what you are told

Religion is doing what you are told,
Regardless of what is right

Spiritual people are not God-less
We just happen to honour the
"GOD"  in all of us.

Divinity is in you, as it is in me  

~ source unknown

There is much more to ponder about this whole "spiritual but not religious" movement in the world today.  However, these thoughts may give us some hand holds and anchors to grasp as we grapple with the Mystery.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


As the Day of Pentecost approaches it occurs to me that we Christians keep celebrating the same holiday (singular) over and over. Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and all in between seem to have the same theme. In some form or fashion the various stories tell of the Presence of God dramatically invading humanity.

Ironically we celebrate these holy days as events in the past with longing that God will show up again. We say things like "If it could only be (insert holiday) everyday." Now don't get me wrong. I enjoy celebrating holidays, but what about just a regular old Thursday?   Perhaps the real purpose of the holiday(s) is to remind us that the Divine is always with us in common things like mangers, tombs, wind, fire, language, bread, wine, - in short - everything!  Every day really is Christmas, Easter and Pentecost!  Happy, Merry Chri-ster-cost!