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Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai EḼad - "Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One." ~ Deuteronomy 6

A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. ~ Paul Simon

Last week I had jury duty and was called to a court room in a selection pool. The judge first went row by row and asked if anyone had physical limitations that would prevent them from serving. One man raised his hand and announced, "I have a selective hearing problem."

After an awkward pause the the judge asked, "Selective?"

The man replied, "That's what I've been told."

Still not sure if the man was serious but suspecting he was being played as the setup, the judge asked, "And who told you this?"

"Mostly my wife." said the man to much laughter in the room, and from the judge.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how words and what we say make a difference.

The same can be said about hearing. What we hear makes a difference. And, the truth is, we all have selective hearing problems. We have a tendency to hear what we've come accustomed to and expect to hear. Unfortunately our current propensity to live in echo chambers and silos of social media, cable news, and sectarian religion exacerbates the common human tendency toward tribalism.

Maybe our modern challenge is not so modern after all. The "Shema" quoted above is at the center of both morning and evening prayers of the Jewish People. Perhaps the need to hear and listen has always been a challenge for us, but even more so in such a noisy world.

Our challenge to listen is at least two-fold.

First - listen to yourself. Turn off the social media and cable news. Spend some time in silence and reflection on what you, not somebody else, think and feel.

Second - change the channel. Listen to another voice. Put yourself in another person's perspective. Seek common ground.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Does not wisdom call,
   and does not understanding raise her voice? 
On the heights, beside the way,
   at the crossroads she takes her stand; 
beside the gates in front of the town,
   at the entrance of the portals she cries out: 
~ Proverbs 8

Most days I take an early morning walk. This time of year with days getting shorter and Daylight Savings Time still in effect it is usually still dark when I walk. There are several stretches of street in our neighborhood that are not well lit. I usually encounter others walking, some like me for exercise and others going to a nearby high school with an early start time.  Many of those I encounter are women.  My practice when approaching someone in a dark area, especially from behind, is to announce myself just to let them know I am approaching.

This morning in a particularly dark block, because the sidewalks are canopied by trees, I was coming from behind upon a young woman.  As usual I said, "Good Morning. Just letting you know, I'm behind you."  She replied, "I know." Without any consideration as to why, I walked on the sidewalk because I could. She intentionally walked in the middle of the street because she felt unsafe.

All of the #metoo postings in recent days, including my wife's and daughters', have stirred my soul and my memory. Regrettably, I remember instances, especially when I was a young man, when I intentionally and unintentionally disrespected women. I could write some of it off as socially acceptable behavior of "the times" but I won't.  Just because something is socially acceptable doesn't make it right. For too long male privilege has hidden behind the innocuousness of  "boys will be boys" while "girls should be who boys want them to be."

We men learn our unearned privilege early. One seemingly innocent memory is of my three older sisters rotating "doing the dishes" after meals while my brother and I only did them when we were occasionally paid by our sisters to take their turn. We were told certain jobs and professions were "men's work" or "women's work." And even though many men, like me, had strong mothers who really ruled the roost there was always the facade of "father knows best." 

There are darker memories of sexual exploits during the so-called "free love" years of my late teen and college years, some carrying over into young adulthood. In therapy I learned such behavior probably came from the repression of sexuality in a fundamental religious culture - still not an excuse. And of course there are the countless unaware and unexamined transgressions of privilege - the jokes, stories, suggestive language, lingering stares, and silent consent.

In my professional life I've readily and unconsciously enjoyed the privilege of higher position, better pay, and more benefits than women colleagues doing equal work. I still do, even though I say I'm for equality.

So the cry of my daughter in a recent #metoo post asking her male friends to "step the f*** up!"  prompts me to step up. Not so much to say "me too" but simply "me" because I am and have been part of the problem no matter how much I try to justify it.

To women reading this, I've never experienced the indignity and pain I hear in your stories and I ask your forgiveness for my part in helping create and sustain it. I'm not sure if I even know how to step up, but I'm at least taking a first step. Perhaps the best way is to sit and listen. All I know to say is, "Just letting you know I'm behind you, and with you." Also, I know that with you I am preaching to the choir, so please share this post with your male friends.

To Men reading - LISTEN! Sophia-Wisdom is proclaiming Her Truth among us.   

#StepUpForMeToo  #MeToo


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What I Heard You Say

Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from evil.
~ Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 5:37

I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
~ unknown

In today's world of email, tweets, posts, clips, texts, blogs, and bytes I sometimes wonder if anybody is communicating with anyone.

I recently listened to a fascinating interview with Nobel Prize Psychologist Daniel Kahneman.  In the interview he shared the following story:

My wife and I, we had dinner with a couple of friends, some years ago. And we came back, and we talked. We went to bed, and we talked about our experience. And my wife said of the man with whom we’d had dinner, “He is sexy.” And then, immediately after that, she said something that struck me as completely bizarre. I mean in fact, it is bizarre. She said, “He doesn’t undress the maid himself.” And I turned to her, and I said, “What on earth are you saying? What do you mean, ‘He doesn’t undress the maid himself’?” Well, what she actually had said was, “He doesn’t underestimate himself.” And I heard as “He doesn’t undress the maid himself.”...Now, this illustrates how the mind works, and it illustrates how ready you are to produce some interpretations, rather than others. But one of the striking aspects of this story was that it didn’t occur to me, at the time, that because it was such an unlikely thing for her to have said, she hadn’t said it....That did not occur to me, because I heard it. I “knew” what she had said. The only question was why she had said such a crazy thing. And our mind works like that a lot of the time. 

As a minister I've preached a lot of sermons over 25 years. One thing I learned early on is that I preach one sermon but the number of sermons heard is in direct proportion to the number of people in the congregation.

The point of all of this is simply to remind us that words and how we say them and hear them matter, whether emailed, tweeted, posted, texted, broadcasted, or spoken and heard face to face.

Maybe it's time for all of us to take time to speak and listen more intentionally beyond 140 characters at a time and preferably more personally. The old saying "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me." is not true. 

Words really do matter!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

OEP Anniversary Edition

Today is the sixth anniversary of One Eternal Presence (OEP)!

The Wednesday after the first Sunday which is World Communion Sunday (I'm sure I could work a phase of the moon in there somewhere) of October always marks the first post on OEP in 2011.

I hope my reflections and ramblings continue to speak have value for you. If so, I always appreciate hearing about it. However, the best way to show appreciation for OEP is to share it with others. There are several ways to do this.

If you read OEP on social media take a moment to like, share, or comment. If you want to receive it in your email simply follow this link and sign up! On the blog site itself,, you can also signup for email or become a blog follower.

For those who already receive OEP in your email, you can always forward the email to family and friends.

To my fellow OEP Pilgrims I send a hearty Thank You! and hopes for another year with you.

Iniquity and Steadfast Love

‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,  keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’
~ Exodus 34

Fourth generation of the fourth generation
visited by Genocide, Slavery, and War
rooted in Racism and Misogyny -
fateful lightning and terrible swift sword
shock and awe, silent deadly drone, fire and fury
Gettysburg-Hiroshima-My Lai-Wounded Knee-Tulsa-Edmund Pettus Bridge-Kent State
firehose, attack dogs, tear gas, profiling cop , nervous trigger finger
quiet neighbor, fellow worker, boy next door, least likely to, stays to himself
the lone wolf is not alone
never far from the pack.

Steadfast love
A thousand generations
Abounding through Grace Compassion, Care, Joy, Hope, Love, Life
before generations
before there was a "Lord"
as long as can be imagined, farther than Hubble can see and hear
timeless - spaceless
as near as breath
behind, around, and through
sunsets, summer breezes, music, laughter, dancing,
fresh fallen snow, ocean spray, majestic mountain
Never Alone
One Creation, One Humanity, One Eternal Presence
from generation to generation to generation to generation...forever

Iniquity visits - the Persistent Guest.
Steadfast Love abounds - the Eternal Host.