1 (or the First)

Crisscrossing along this landscape
Trying to escape dæmonic rape
With so many paths to choose…

How long will I belong to the days
Of this world of so many ways?

And I long to be one fruitful tree
Planted by a stream of dreams,
Heavenly cream, gleam of angels…

How long will I belong to the days
Of this world of so many ways?

But some are not so in this show;
They glow with an hellish fire
From an eternal funeral pyre

How long will I belong to the days
Of this world of so many ways?

How long… How long?

Note: This poem was inspired by U2’s “40”

Weltanschauung For Breakfast: igNoble Civil War, Part II

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which did death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide:
‘Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?’
I fondly asked. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: ‘God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve, who only stand and wait.’[1]

~ John Milton, “Sonnet: On His Blindness”

“A worldview constitutes an overall perspective on life that sums up what we know about the world, how we evaluate it emotionally, and how we respond to it volitionally.”[2] Weltanschauung. Do I have one? Everybody has one, though, even if they don’t realize it, I suppose, but precisely what is mine now? There are “labelled” worldviews, such as “theism;” can I simply choose one and run with it?

The Judeo-Christian faith still provides me my general orientation, but my emphasis is (and has been, of late) upon the Spirit — “pneumanism,” if I may coin the term. Jesus of Nazareth taught that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”[3] And so also the apostle, St. Paul, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God … (and) it is that very Spirit that bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”[4]

Consequently, one could say – should say, really – that I’m “pneumo centric,” if I may coin yet another term, and I understand the logos of the Spirit to be quite literally the communication of creation and the constituting principal of the same.[5] Thus, I am a creative evolutionist (or theistic evolutionist) as well, fully believing that such a “constituting principal” of the Cosmos is absolutely necessary to our understanding of the universe in which we live, from the smallest constituents of life to the largest, in individual parts as well as the whole.[6] And I take this position as an inference to the best explanation.[7]

The eye cannot see it; the mind cannot grasp it.
The deathless Self has neither caste nor race,
Neither eyes nor ears nor hands nor feet.
Sages say this Self is infinite in the great
And in the small, everlasting and changeless,
The source of life.[8]

The Spirit of Life, the Source of Life; they are one in the same. And did Jesus of Nazareth bear witness to this Spirit? I certainly believe so, even as I believe that he was “filled” with the Spirit … especially “anointed” by the Spirit, which leads me to ask, “How, then, should I live in light of the ‘revelation’ of Jesus of Nazareth?”

Certainly, the Beatitudes come to mind, with their attendant virtues: Humility, meekness, simplicity, honesty, integrity of character, and so forth. And all of these virtues rise up from out of the two greatest commandments of Jesus, to wit: “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”[9] Touché! The prophet Micah said as much, really:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?[10]

It strikes me for some reason that all this is actually more Christian than Christianity! Not that I can say precisely why, but it does, nevertheless, strike me this way.

Be that as it may, any dish of Weltanschauung will include a socio-anthropological perspective. In other words, “What is the human ‘person?’”  I still fully believe that the homo sapien is a tripartite being, comprised of mind, body and soul, and I believe this is also true to some degree of other living organisms, though I’m not prepared to expand anymore on this particular point. Suffice it to say that, because of its tripartite constitution, the homo sapien is in physicality iconic of the Spirit of Life, or God. Yes, whatever else we might say of other living organisms, it is humanity that seems to bear to the greatest degree the imáginem dei.

As divine image-bearers, it only makes sense that humanity would have a proclivity toward what we refer to as the virtuous life (virtuosa vita) and away from the bad, or corrupt, life (perversam vitam.) Which leads me to a side-note on an important subject: Character formation. Prayer and overt biblical reference in public schools were not really “outlawed” because prayer is oh-so offensive and biblical references in academic texts and/or lectures (lessons;) it was the whole and very real indoctrination that caused all the fuss back in the 70s. Character formation occurs in schools whether or not this or that individual school realizes this is happening. It would do well, then, not only to recognize this, but to make the most out of what is and will be present, i.e. character formation. There is no such time or space that is amoral; amorality is an undeniable figment of atheistic-materialist imagination. Alas, though, this is not the point of this essay, so…

Enough for now. Tune in again, same time, same channel…

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[1] John Milton, “On His Blindness,” Donald Davie, ed., The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse 95 – 96

[2] R. Audi, Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 236

[3] Gospel of St. John 4. 24 (NRSV)

[4] Epistle to the Romans 8. 14, 16 (NRSV)

[5] Cf. Allen and Springsted, Philosophy for Understanding Theology, 48

[6] Cf. A. Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies, 271 – 272

[7] A. Peacocke, Paths from Science to God, 130 – 131

[8] Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.6 as quoted by A. Wilson, World Scriptures: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts,  103 – 104

[9] The Gospel of St. Mark 12. 30 – 31 (NRSV)

[10] Micah 6. 8 (NRSV)

igNoble Civil War

AngelofDeathAt the kitchen table alone, after having a bite to eat, my emotions raging (again) … then and there is where I decided to “throw in the towel,” so to speak. Once and for all, I decided my Christian faith was not only gutted but dead, and so I also decided to bury the rotting corpse. This was a few months ago. The morning after felt strange but good; like an enormous burden had been lifted… Then came the “voice,” inaudible but clear: “Begin again, but this time without any of your books and learned-but-pathetic ‘knowledge.’ Begin again with the shortest, clearest, most straightforward gospel – the Gospel of St. Mark. Let it be the beginning of an entirely new journey, and who knows? You might end up meeting the totally unexpected … something; someone, perhaps, you’ve never before met.”

Well, so I began just like that: No books, and no wisdom or learning. I came as close to starting with a clean slate as I could – to be a tabula rasa – and I largely succeeded. And, yes, I was surprised many times upon reading through the synoptic gospels of Sts. Mark, Luke, and Matthew. For one very important example, I felt as if I were meeting Jesus of Nazareth for the very first time, and he was not (of course) the Westernized, evangelical-Protestant version of the Christ. Point in fact, he was all-too-human while being to a certain degree, at least, divine. And he was radical… Not that I’d never realized any of this before; it just came to me in a fresher, clearer … hmmm, what word to use? It came to me as an authentically, flesh-and-blood, dirt-and-grime, narrative, picture-story.

During this extended kind of epiphany, though, I also finally faced up to the fact that my faith had been dead for quite some time … if I ever had a real and vibrant faith! There were just too many questions, too many readily apparent problems for me to continue telling people I was a Christian, but then, I didn’t want to tell anyone I was not Christian anymore; it’s been a predicament up to this very moment, actually. So I will now change to the present tense and say, there are too many obstacles to traditional Christianity that simply cannot be exegetically worked out, or theologically patched over. For example, there really is an enormous difference between the Gospel of St. John and the synoptics. There’s marked difference between what is (academically) referred to as Pauline and Johannine “Christianity,” and just as much difference both of those Christianities and that of the synoptic Gospels… So, three different Christianities from which to choose. (And to the extent that I am still oriented toward this ancient faith-religion, I am far more Johannine.)

Furthermore, there really are two different creation stories, and both really are better off being interpreted allegorically. There really was not any worldwide, Great Flood… Yes, yes; I’d known this for many, many years; all of my adult life, really. It just happened that these realizations come along with others, such as: No good, historical evidence for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because if, indeed, they existed, then they were very simply unimportant in the grand scheme of the whole of the Ancient Near East (ANE). Which leads to another realization: Israel hardly made a blimp on the radar screen; it was a tiny kingdom even at the height of its power and glory, (supposedly during the reign of Süleyman.) And the “God of Israel?” This god paled in comparison to the myriad other deities of the ANE, which really does little to diminish the importance of Yahweh — or the Exodus, the Decalogue, the Temple, etc. — but still…

Questions came to mind, questions I’d refused to grapple with before this spiritual pilgrimage, such as: Why in the world would an all-powerful, singular Sovereign of the Universe require … no, command worship? Certainly not out of necessity, but then why would this deity command “his people” to commit wholesale genocide instead of giving the Canaanites an opportunity to repent, believe in and worship him? You know, kind of like he gave Nineveh an opportunity (because God didn’t want to destroy the people of that great and magnificent city.) And just what was Yahweh up to in all the rest of the world during Old Testament times? Or was he confined to the Hebrew/Jewish people … and, of course, the land? Was the Spirit of God moving and active among other peoples? If not, then why not?

Posizione del Loto e chakra coloratiFor whom were the Hebrew scriptures written? (The answer is obvious, but I consciously asked myself anyway because I needed to openly, honestly answer this simple, straightforward question.) Whom did Jesus intend to “seek and to save?” What was/is the “kingdom of God?” Where is it; how is it constituted? Did Jesus of Nazareth accomplish all he intended to accomplish, or did he fail in his mission to bring about, or usher in, the “kingdom of God?” Moreover, just what did Jesus accomplish? I know the standard answers, but… Why the torturous death (murder) of the Son of God? And if salvation is the answer, (which still makes no sense of the tortured death of Christ), what of the millions upon millions upon millions of people who could not come to Jesus then in the time of Jesus and his apostles, down through the ages, all the way to this present moment? Hell? Oh, and really … hell? Even for the most sincere and devout Buddhist, or Hindu, or Muslim, who lives an exceptionally virtuous, peaceful, happy life? Hell? Because they didn’t “accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?” Hmmm.

Oh, and what exactly happens when one “accepts Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?” Many different stripes of Christians give different answers: They are certainly justified before God, and maybe immediately filled with the Holy Spirit, or that may wait as a kind of “second blessing.” They are filled with “perfect love.” Their residency in heaven is secured from that moment forward … or maybe not! They should be baptized, even if they were baptized as an infant, or they need not be baptized again. They have the right to partake of the very real body and blood of Christ, and should exercise that privilege as often as possible. Or they should join a good, “bible-believing” Church, find out what their “spiritual gifts” are, and begin “ministering” in the church ASAP. And the list goes on, but I will not … I did not. Instead, the list went into file 13 never to be taken back.

fedja-swanson-responseOh, but I could no longer ignore the deplorable state of the Church universal either: All of the divorces and broken families; pornography, teen pregnancy, drug abuse; the extremely fractured Church itself into thousands of denominations; financial scandals; sexual abuse of children; equating genuine faith with true patriotism; etc. But do you know that despite all of this (and much more), I’m still in a kind of “holding pattern.” Yes, because I do believe in “God,” the Spirit of Life, and I want to believe (finally) in prayer; I do not want to turn my back on Jesus of Nazareth, and thus far I have not; and I actually want to live out the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, the Beatitudes … that is, Light and Life, Love and Peace. Ah! But I can never, ever go back to the way things were, back to the turbulent days of spiritual insanity…

But what now? What do I believe?  

Next  → → 

 

Gracious Hand; Exit the Sand

IsaOne hand reached across the sand. Hand with hole in wrist, and I could not resist. Hand to hand to assist; no longer could I persist to insist upon my own demise no matter how much my life I did despise. The disappearance of Bast and sudden appearance of another was quite a surprise, but welcome. No face could I see in my debased estate, but I knew as fresh wind blew that here was one who could offer something anew. I grasped the hand without demand; there was no reprimand but only kind command, “Arise! Be gone with the lies, and claim your prize of life without compromise! It is yours, though you still be oh-so unwise.”

Phantasmal range of change.

Verdant green. Soft bed of grass. Scene of beauty. Lake of crystalline glass.

I opened my eyes to clear, blue skies. Skies above rolling hills to still my heart. Yet stain of remorse; pain of guilt remained, though I strained to forget.

“You need not live with regret,” spoke shadowy figure. “I’ve set your feet again upon the way you may walk; for you this is your new day… Rest here for awhile, but do not stay.” Eyes of soft brown, shimmering crown of thorns. “I do not reprimand; there is no more demand upon your soul, but the hole is for you to fill at will … if you will.” Very still in his presence I offered no resistance, and I seemed to understand, and deemed this One most worthy to heed; this One who even now seemed to fill my need … my need of which I really knew nothing, as the Spirit of Life blew over and through the hillocks.

Reaching. Touching. He bade farewell to fade back into ethereal world somehow more real than reality; the immaterial more potent than the material … and could I comprehend? No. I could only pretend, and that I would not do, but ascend now in my journey again without feign of greatness — I had none — nor courage or wisdom; I’d really only begun. So under bright sun, I made my way to cool, clear pool of water abiding just off the side of celestial lake. Would these be the hills of my restoration, my own mount of transfiguration?

Suddenly I ripped my tattered clothes, stripped naked and like madman ran into the small sea now free of Bastian glee! I plunged myself down into refreshing water as if to drown the plight of previous night. Rolling, turning and churning, I made my way to the bottom and up again into bright light of sun. And I wept, and I kept weeping flood of tears mixed with blood. I plunged again and lunged forward in cleansing font — bathing, purging poison — with nothing to haunt me here; no one to taunt. I was free again to be me … or, at least, to begin to be the me I could now begin to see. And the water felt as if this very element could be daughter of Dyēus.

This time I did not run. This time I swam and shouted, “I Am!”

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Kheba: Pages From Forgotten Ages IV

angel_of_fire_fallen_angel“Had it not been for the crystalline, ethereal swords afforded by the Tri-Mater, and their sons and daughters, we would all have been slaughtered, except for the hypnotized, demonized chosen by the Watchers, frozen by their power for their own treasure and pleasure,” Metuşelah spoke in tone as if reading from an ancient book, with distant look in his eyes. “My father, Henokh, fought early and bought victory with his own blood amid flood of torturous screams… Some of my sisters and brothers died; my own turn would come soon enough…”

We were now seated in the courtyard garden, replete with lush green and flowers and bowers of olden trees. Stone benches were hard on the bone, but I dared not complain of pain while hearing such soul-searing tale.

“Avhnipaala took me as husband — brooking all distinction; she could have had better — when she had command of hundreds; an exceptional band of warriors. She had the hand of an Hiero-Güç archer — one of few — and blew through the enemy ranks like lightening and never sank; every arrow coated with Ruhani marrow… Wave upon wave came, but we did save this region from this dark legion fallen from heaven to ill-leaven earth.”

And so it was, for a time, because of their heroism the people were free of the terrorism of the Watchers, who fled north with their booty of brides under deific chides. And as Metuşelah explained, this is when his great father, Henokh, was lost to the frost of the netherworld as angry ice still sliced the world. One day they were walking and talking, then the Voice called, and without choice his father was gone, never to be seen again; at least Henokh was not guilty of flight of fright. No! Henokh was beacon light to his people… After his “stepping out” to walk about the spirit world, Lemek was shortly born to adorn the absence of so great an Hiero-Güç leader, destined to imitate his grandfather in so many ways in coming days.

methuselah_syndrome_IanLomeThe lull in war was as always before,” Kheba intoned, chilling me to the bone. “Peace seems ever so elusive; that much is conclusive. The Watchers and whores bore their mutant offspring — worse curse of Dyēus — which enraged the Watchers, who then engaged in battle against Dyēus, the Tri-Mater, and all sons and daughters; his angelic host and every heavenly ghost — I well remember — while their mutilated children moved west, southwest to best humanity, engulfing them in unbelivable calamity, all to claim a home where they could freely roam.”

“During this peace, Avhnipaala died when she vied with one of her own,” Metuşelah picked up his cup and drank, then sank back into awful memory. “My beloved had no idea that Rhea had been bitten and, thus, smitten by one of the Watchers.” Metuşelah eyed me closely and could see… “Oh no … no, no my dear lad. The Watchers had beauty, hypnotic beauty.” He shook his head sadly and said, “And they took great care to keep up appearances to ensnare so many … and that they did in plenty, including Rhea.” Tears. Broken heart, the better part lost. “My dear Avhnipaala! She now walks the halls of Valhalla; I know, but how can I not show how much I long for her? After all, I belong by her side, and there to abide forever.”

“Ah Rhea!” Lemek rose in anger that knew no panacea. “She struck my dear mother from behind, and only with luck did find fatal spot for homemade blade! But Avhnipaala bested her! My mother invested Rhea’s headless corpse to the Abyss before she herself lie dying on cold, stone floor!” Lemek walked to and fro, ready to throw himself into bloody battle with all his might. “Yes, my mother was better archer and leader than father,” he bowed slightly toward Metuşelah, who lightly smiled and nodded head toward his beloved son, allowing Lemek to continue rampage begun. “And far, far better than her son or even — yes and I dare to say this day — her son’s wife; for on my very life, Tariqah said the same! Ah! Ah! Is this not so, divine Kheba? She loved my mother as her own mother; my mother loved Tariqah as her one and only daughter!”

Seduce3“Yes, my dear, dear Lemek,” Kheba clearly nodded and replied, while each of us inside felt the pain of losing wife and mother, and apparently without any gain. Metuşelah motioned for his son to come and sit for comfort, but Lemek had some more to say, to sort out … again, as so many times in the past, so this would last as long as need be, yet no one dared feed the fire of anger and remorse; we waited and listened while Lemek ran his course.

“She acted as spy, full of lies! Rhea was the incarnation of lies! And did she ever try, really try, to free herself of Watcher’s curse, to be nursed back to health of mind, body and soul? No! Divine Keba knows! Yes,” Lemek looked at Kheba, his voice shook. “You were with us! You were always true, and ever able and willing to heal… Ah! But Rhea was sister, right? Ha! Damn the bitch! Damn the Watcher’s witch! Tariqah was right to have Rhea immediately out of sight, taken to the uzak-yerde as blight, to rot on spot of rocks and eaten by the birds of hell that yell for such wickd meat? Ha! Why cheat them of such a meal? Surely there was much evil there for them to devour!”

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Avhnipaala  —  means “of warrior kings;” wife of Metuşelah

Crystalline  —  having the structure and form of a crystal; composed of crystals; lit. very clear

Ether  —  ancient: the upper regions of air beyond the clouds; archaic: a very rarefied and highly elastic substance formerly believed to permeate all space, including the interstices between the particles of matter, and to be the medium whose vibrations constituted light and other electromagnetic radiation; adjective, ethere

Hiero  —  prefix, sacred; holy

Hiero-Güç  —  holy (or sacred) power, strength, force, spirit, etc.

Ruh  —  spirit or divine power; adj. Ruhani, mean.  ethereal, disembodied, unworldly, immaterial

Tariqah  —  Means “morning star; victorious warrior; prosperous:” wife of Lemek

Uzak-Yerde  —  remote place; distanced from community/society

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Note: First illustration, “Dark Angel,” (recast as one of The Watchers) found at Wallpaper Abyss; Second illustration, “Methuselah Syndrome,” (obviously recast as one of the offspring of the Watchers) by Ian Lom as found on Deviant Art; Third illustration, “Black Hair Seductress Serana,” (recast as Rhea) as found on Google Plus Photos

Journey to Meet Jésu, ʿĪsā ibn Maryām

Yeshua - middle eastern Jew - open and hidden eye[1]Jesus and his church, are they the same or is one to blame?
Christ and his church, did they lurch forward beyond his words
Of love and reconciliation, dove from above, fleece of peace?
Misunderstand cross to bear, and not to tear people asunder
In self-centered blunder; as he prayed sacrifice to be made
Arrayed in humility without religious charade of such decayed
Preacher-teachers, soul-leechers, modern pharisees with pedigrees
Of false spirituality in neutrality of all charity and equality
Of the very people Jesus came to save? Did someone cave in and
Begin to recreate or have I misunderstood the good that should
Be believed and lived?

Ah! This is why you threw away all I learned and knowledge burned;
Set me on new-old worn path with nothing but demeaning dreaming
To meet the man from Galilee as if for the first time by chime
Of life-clock, so I rounded the block and began to walk, no talk;
And it is the first time, isn’t it? Just a bit scary, somewhat hairy,
But what else but to go on without soul-rïcin, simply now to listen
To old men with glistening eyes tell their tales in simple fashion
And all the passion that goes along with belonging to the same story.
And sometimes they flip-flop and forget, repeat and sweat and fret
In trying to get it right with all their might while I’m still in sight;
And it’s okay today.

So I’m on this pilgrimage to find a little village and one clear image;
Am I wrong? But I can’t belong in the throng that sings the unspirit-song
Of some caricature spawned from oracular vision of hell-warped provision;
Ah! they may be wonderful ~ better that I ~ mindful, trustful and colorful;
But there is the voice that calls me to greet and meet this ʿĪsā ibn Maryām,
Outside the perch of church; without crutch of theology and silly tautology;
Just to find, or be found, unbound to know the Person, not the carnival show!
Is this wrong? Some say I’m damned; I’ve left the fold; I’m out in the cold;
I’ve sold out to hold out against the truth; I’m in the devil’s grip and sip
Intoxicating lies with flies of hell clouding my sight, sapping my might…
But I just want to meet Jesus…
Sit as his feet with sweet wine of life so fine … Is this dangerous?

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Isus, Are You Near? Do You Hear?

walkingAre you here? Are you near? And will you shed one tear?
The path is long, the road of dirt rugged, full of fear;
But do you hear my mournful cries, Isus, and what belies
My doubt as I shout at the iron obstacles I cannot mount?
What did you say so long ago in the dawn of kingdom day
To fix me now so I shall bow and again my faith avow?
Or is it time to sigh and cry, turn away from the lie,
Set eye upon another road to carry lesser heart-load?
To seek an abode, what will not corrode, but my soul fly
To higher heights, where angels dance and spirits prance,
Where freedom rings true, dreams are new, heavenly view?
Is this now to be my course, dear Isus, driven by force
To another source of sweet morning dew and words so true?
Have we journeyed this long only to find I don’t belong;
No redemption song because you were never with me along?
Shall I now find new bed, where to lay my head instead
Of your bosom strong and sure, and with whispers allure,
And promises to cure, only now to be buried full dead?
Oh Isus, do you hear? Are you near? Do you shed a tear?
Or shall I but part with an illusion, some grand delusion,
Or are you real enough to feel enough my heart to seal?
Or has the moment come now … has now the time come?

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San Junia to the Church in America

Mary_Magdalene

Recapitulation of the Epistle of St. James

Junia, apostle of Jesus the Christ, to my sisters and brothers in America, who are called by the name of our most gracious Redeemer, who was sent and filled by the Spirit of Everlasting Life, and our nurturing God, who is Love, Mercy and Grace; it is with heavy heart I write to you, who are estranged from the House of Heaven, uprooted from the banks of the River of Life, and wandering again in the wastelands of darkness, sin and death. So shall I come right to the point?

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters. Some of you have become proud and puffed up through your acts of generosity, imagining that you have somehow achieved something great and profound. Remember, though, every generous act of giving, along with every wonderful gift, is birthed in the heavenlies, coming down to us from the God of Light and Life, Love and Grace, whose character remains the same from age to age.

More than this, even, it is our mothering God, who has given us birth into new life; it is by the Spirit that we become like luscious, fresh fruit growing out from the Tree of Christ, our Redeemer, nourished by his very own blood and water, as we partake of his body, even to grow and extend his body throughout the earth. What? Do you now imagine that you, being mere seed, planted yourself and watered yourself? Or that being mere brick and mortar, you somehow built up yourselves into some grand mansion to be the envy of all who see your magnificence?

You must understand this, my beloved, so I will put it to you bluntly: Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to antagonism; for your antagonism does not produce the fruit of God. So then, rid yourselves of all wretchedness and rancid growth of wickedness; rather, be open and humbly welcoming to the Spirit, who gave you life in the first place! But even more than this, be doers of the good instructions and principles you have received, not merely hearers who deceive themselves!

Those who hear the words of God but are not doers, are like those who look at themselves in a mirror but then immediately forget what they look like as soon as they move away from the mirror! But those who look into the perfect law of life and liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act – they will be blessed in their doing. Tragically, this is not the case among most of you, and so it is that the Church in America is not blessed. No! Rather it is as the Apostle St. Peter said, “Judgment begins with the household of God!” Do you doubt what I say?

By way of example, then, there are those who think they are religious, but do not bridle their tongues; they deceive their hearts, and their religion is worthless. Everyone who looks upon them and listens to them can see the truth of their wretched life, but they are blind. Religion that is pure and undefiled before our mothering God, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress; to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless; and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

What? Have you forgotten that it is the wicked who say, “Let us oppress the righteous poor; let us not spare the widow or regard the grey hairs of the aged. But let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless.” Ah! But what does the Lord our God say? “The wicked will be punished as their reasoning deserves. They disregarded the righteous and rebelled against the Lord. So it is, then, that their hope is in vain, all their labors ultimately unprofitable, their works completely useless; their end, destruction.” Is this the life to which you were reborn, my beloved?

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? And you have shown favoritism for years upon years now; do not believe this has gone unnoticed by God. What? If human eyes can see and human ears can hear and human minds understand your sins, do you imagine the Everlasting One has not taken notice as well? That God has not seen the person with gold rings and fine clothes come into your assembly, and has not seen you fawn over him saying, ‘Have a seat here, please,’ and, ‘Oh, come join us; we would love to have you as a member!’ Such an attitude nauseates God and his Christ!

You turn your backs on the poor woman, or you say, ‘Stand over there where there is room for you.’ You let her know by word and deed that you will not help her or her children, and you will not tolerate her asking for any help. Have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Do you deny this? Then tell me, what do you do when a poor person in dirty clothes also comes into your splendid building, built on the backs of unjust poverty? Do you welcome him? Hug him? Give him new and clean clothes and put a ring on his finger? You know you do not, and if you say otherwise, the Spirit say, “Liars! Hypocrites!”

Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten! Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire! You think you have laid up treasure for the last days, but the Christ said, ‘Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven.’ Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. And ‘he will not show partiality against the poor; but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged. He will not ignore the supplication of the orphan, or the widow when she pours out her complaint.’

You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you. Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom promised to those who ‘love kindness, act justly, and walk humbly with their Lord?’ But you have dishonored the poor; after all, is it not the rich who oppress? Who else is in such a position to do so? Is it not the wealthy who drag people into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? Ah! But you are they, and they are you!

You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of life, love and liberty! For judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement, though. ‘Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining, and like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received,’ as the Everlasting One has commanded through the Apostle.

What good is it, my sisters and brothers, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a sister or brother is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. Yes! Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith! You say you believe what is right, that you believe God is one; you do well. Ah! But even the demons believe that much, and they shudder at the mere thought! What good does it do you, all of your doctrines and confessions of faith? All of your religious customs and rituals?

Have you not heard it said, ‘Blessed is the one who considers the poor; in the day of trouble the Lord delivers that one?’ And that ‘charity – to be moved at the sight of the thirsty, the hungry and the miserable and to offer relief to them out of pity – is the spring of virtue.’ Or again, have you not been commanded to ‘perform a charity every day the sun comes up: to act justly between two people is a charity; to help someone with her mount, lifting her onto it or hoisting up her belongings onto it is a charity; a good word is a charity; every step you take in prayers is a charity; and removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity… Be kind to parents, and the near kinsman, and to orphans, and to the needy, and to the neighbor who is kindred, and to the neighbor who is a stranger, and to the companion at your side, and to the traveler, and to those in your employment. Surely God loves not the proud and boastful or those who conceal the bounty God has given them.’

Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? Understand! Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead!

Instead of living by faith in doing good deeds, you live in luxury and self-contentment, setting ablaze the whole world around you by tongues of fire which themselves are set on fire by hell itself! Every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue – a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it you sing praise and worship songs, bless the Lord God and Christ, cry out to the Spirit, and even claim to speak by Spirit! Yet with the same tongue you curse those who are made in the likeness of God, your very own human kindred! You curse the beloved creation of God even as you presume to worship God! And do you expect to be blessed?

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. So, too, you cannot claim to be followers of the Christ and slander your sisters and brothers. You cannot claim to be followers of Christ, and demean and denigrate those for whom Christ died. You cannot claim to be followers of Christ and disobey him by seating yourselves in the seat of judgment, which belongs to God and to God alone.

Who is wise and understanding among you, then? Show this by your good life and works done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, and devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind, which is evident throughout your assemblies. Listen! Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy; and a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. This, sisters and brothers, God will certainly bless.

Now you have been forewarned, yet again, so beware that you are no longer carried away by the errors of superficial religion, lawless self-indulgence and demonic delusion that parades itself under the very name of Jesus of Nazareth! Instead, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, to whom belongs glory and honor, both now and forevermore. Amen.

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‘Twelve Reasons Why You Can’t Call God Mother…’ Oh Really?

Yesterday I was referred to the article, Twelve Reasons Why You Can’t Call God ‘Mother’, by one gracious reader in response to my blog, “Imagined Conversation With God,” in which I refer to the Deity as “Mother.” I have provided the link above to the actual article, so anyone interested can read the protest points made by the author, Fr. Dwight Longenecker. If anyone cares for me to respond, please ask and I shall do my best to accommodate, extensive footnotes included. Until such interest is expressed, though, blessings to one and all, especially the reader who provided an “alternative perspective” to my own.