Ravi

The Ravi Zacharias Scandal. This kills me.

I admired this man so much. My wife and I went twice to see him speak. Once in New Hampshire, once in New Jersey. I loved his vernacular, his intensity, his spiritual prowess. His ministry was global, and RZIM was perhaps the most revered apologetic ministry on the planet, packed with Godly people who could defend Christianity like nobody’s business. Ravi was a Man of God extraordinaire. Clearly he was anointed.

He was a sham.

Ravi’s words were excellent, and largely true. But he didn’t believe them. He wasn’t just ‘in sin,’ he exemplified sin in ways unimaginable to his brethren. In fact, very, very few people would ever be capable of sinning as he did. It would be beneath them. Sure, men have their desires. This is nothing new, and is far from shocking. If Ravi had an affair, (or even multiple affairs) that would be very disturbing, even shocking for those who thought they knew him. But no one knew him well. It is possible Ravi didn’t even know who he was, himself.

What I am addressing is the man. What most of us thought we knew, we knew not. He defiled himself, as he defiled others. (No one is in ‘the defiling business’ without being defiled by it). Ravi – beyond reproach – attacked his victim’s witness, and accused Lori Anne Thompson and her husband of attempted extortion, then sued his victim.

In retrospect, the man was quite an egotist: as proud as proud can be. When seen, his humility was sheer bombast. It was all a show. The Word of God was his tool, and he used it masterfully. Many who heard him became apologists, as a result. Those lucky enough to be ‘chosen’ would help build his ministry. The larger his ministry became, the deeper became his sickness.

We now gain a newfound perspective on what Ravi dubbed ‘Apologetics with a Touch.’ “We are to be neighbors to our world, reaching not only the mind, but caring for the heart and the physical needs of the body as well. What greater opportunity to express the glory of God?” Hiding in plain sight: our gullibility itself needs to be examined with great fervor.

Ravi said: “Everyone has a worldview, which offers answers to four necessary questions: 1) origin, 2) meaning, 3) morality, and 4) destiny. In turn, these answers must be correspondingly true on particular questions and, as a whole, all answers put together must be coherent. Going a step further, the three tests for truth must be applied to any worldview: 1) logical consistency, 2) empirical adequacy, and 3) experiential relevance. When submitted to these tests, the Christian message is utterly unique and meets the demand for truth.” This man’s secret life was logically inconsistent, empirically inadequate, and experientially irrelevant to the Christian message. It is a rare individual capable of lingering in the depraved depths he carved out for himself.

Ravi was a con-man of the highest order. You don’t liaison with God, then dance with The Devil, without contempt for both.

This is so hard for so many of us. It feels personal because it is personal. This wasn’t someone who spoke about God but had an affair, or three, or dozens. This man twisted God’s word – in pursuit of Satan – and used young women to spew the latter’s desire. In lieu of God, in opposition to The Holy Spirit, in defiance of everything he was known for, Ravi conned and used these young women. He reportedly told them they were serving God by servicing him, then paid ‘generously’ for their silence. He conned the adoring public into believing his persona was real. He conned his entire ministry. He funneled funds for his conniving, controlling, coercion of untold numbers of women. All under the cloak of secrecy. All with thanks to God for giving him these ‘opportunities.’

Truly sick.

Ravi conned his wife and family. None of his friends knew what he was. He didn’t buy into the program he sold. His ministry was merely a means to an end, and to that end, he ended innocence, trust, and most importantly, respect. Every time you take advantage of another, your self respect is absent. Ravi showed he had no respect for women, but let us not forget how that plays out in the real world: If you spend your time disrespecting women, you aren’t a man worthy of respect. Your integrity is inextricably linked to how you treat others. In the midst of all this, Ravi had no personal integrity. This is demonstrably true.

When someone has an affair, it is consensual. As far as we know, none of these sexual relationships were consensual. Though any affair violates the marriage, consent is still king. Without consent – it is abuse – culminating in rape.

Whenever ‘the world at large’ is unaware of our actions, this reveals who we really are: We are ‘who we are in secret.’ Though he kept ‘the secrets of his sickness’ out of the public eye, could he have thought God was unaware? Did he not think there would be a day of judgment that he would face? Ravi didn’t just undermine God’s authority. He wantonly, blatantly scoffed at God.

Ravi didn’t galavant. He wasn’t merely prurient. Ravi ravaged. He contrived. He stalked. His desires weren’t simply larger than those of other men. He was perniciously plotting, planning, coercing and constructing an entire global network of massage parlors – to massage his nether – and never tell. He even invested in these places of business, so he could control both the income and the outcome. This was methodical. This was maniacal. Sin didn’t ‘find’ him, instead, he constructed a life in pursuit of sin. He mapped it out. This was ‘Intelligent Design’ run amok.

The blueprints had his fingerprints all over the body of his purpose.

Ravi told women they were ‘his special one,’ that their relationship was ‘a gift from God.’ These words are normally reserved for your wife, or even your lover. These words didn’t mean anything to Ravi. They were designed to entrap and ensnare these women into believing something Ravi knew was not true. If he had just had multiple affairs with many women on various continents, we would all be astounded, yet almost all would forgive him, shameful as that would be. Instead, what he did wasn’t just immoral, it is illegal in most civilized parts of the world.

We didn’t know it then, but we do now: This defined him.

To clarify: Ravi wasn’t defined by these actions because I said so, or the public (who loves to bash and loves a scandal) decreed it true. It is true because Ravi made it true. He customized his life in pursuit of this defining characteristic. I didn’t do that. I didn’t want that. Nobody wanted that except for Ravi. He accomplished what he set out to do. He defined himself with his actions. We all do. No one escapes this.

I am in the process of writing a book that deals with integrity. We are our integrity. No one can take your integrity away from you, but you. Still, many will take it away from themselves. Disrespecting another is disrespecting yourself. Disrespecting yourself is disrespecting God. Ravi spent his time, energy, and ministry funds – – in pursuit of disrespecting God. This is why it is not ‘but for the Grace of God’ it could happen to me, or to you. It can’t. This takes a sick and twisted individual. I don’t pursue the denigration of others, I abhor it. My book – My Life’s Thesis – is about demonstrating respect for others as ‘the highest good’.

Matthew 25:40 ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me.’ This knife cuts both ways. This applies to the good deeds, as well as the bad. Respect is paramount.

Do I look at ‘other’ women with lust in my heart? Yep. But I don’t wish I could force them upon myself unwillingly, in the name of God! No, no, no. That is an altogether different beast. Not much ‘danger’ that I should walk down that path and decide “this is the life for me!” There is no ‘moment of weakness’ in consistent deliberation of carefully constructed clandestine scenarios, where you impel your rising protrusion onto and into a masseuse – who is supposed to massage – anything else! Treating women with disdain is the consistent decision that Ravi made. He couldn’t have made these recurrent decisions if he didn’t believe them. Like the post-modernists he derided, Ravi created his own truth, and acted ‘as if’ God was not real.

Ravi customized his ministry to finance the furtive life he designed. This ended with his death, in May, 2020, but his legacy remains. Will he be remembered for the great things he said about Christ? Certainly more than if he never had his ministry, but far less than if he hadn’t deliberately and persistently abused his power and position, for his own depraved desires, leaving the tattered shrapnel of scared, scarred and broken women in his wake.

Perhaps we can take solace in this: It is far better to have no legacy, than to have Ravi’s.

Here is the report: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/rzimmedia.rzim.org/assets/downloads/Report-of-Investigation.pdf

Bethel Church

I hate the New Age Movement.

There is nothing I have seen which separates ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ from New Age. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

New Age is all about ‘sprituality’, and ‘energy’, and ‘vibrations’ and resonating with The Cosmic Energy. All of this, of course, is done for selfish reasons. What good is it if you can’t get what you want?

I hate the NAR, as well because, (and I have said this for a long time,) the abuses in the Charismatic Churches give Christianity a bad name. All of Christianity.

There was this young girl named Olive, whose parents were a part of Bethel Church. Two year old Olive died. A horrible tragedy. Bethel Redding – a place of miracles – asked God to resurrect this child. Money poured in. Prayer meetings were held. God was being tested. He is The Great Healer. He is The Miracle Maker. He can do anything.

They ‘held off’ from burying 2 year old Olive. They ‘believed’ in a MIRACLE.

What is it about God’s Omnipotence which would have prevented him from resurrecting Olive from her burial spot?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The reason the burial needed to be held off was to help convince The Congregation, (as well as the grieving parents, friends and relatives,) that she would ‘pop’ back to life. However, if she was 6 feet under ground, she would just suffocate and die. AGAIN. So, Bethel didn’t bury her – – just in case God answered their resurrection prayers, but ‘forgot’ to un-bury her.

Also: The finality. How can you ‘sell’ a resurrection if you are going through the ‘motions’ of burial? In comparison, this would not be a Christ-like ‘burial’ resurrection, it would ‘merely’ be a re-animation, as it were. Makes things easier for God, doesn’t it?

Bullshit.

NAR is all about ‘do for me’. Bethel is all about selling miracles. Bill Johnson defends his actions, because he is CEO of The Miracle Church. The litany of miracles already serviced under Bill Johnson’s CEO-ship is reason enough to believe. However, in order to believe the miracles already meted out, you had to be ‘sold’ the miracles.

Bethel Church sells miracles. Despite the fact that Bill Johnson is one of the least ‘Charismatic’ preachers ever, he and his Church are in the business of selling miracles.

These miracles don’t exist outside the sales of said miracles. They aren’t verified by the medical community, ever. They are verified via testimonials of the people who believe them. NAR and its brethren will lengthen your leg. Truly, miraculously, lengthen your leg. It will be done in front of the congregation, with a multitude of witnesses. Just don’t ask your doctor to measure before and after. These measurements are sure to contradict the MIRACLE you have witnessed. After all, witnessing an attested miracle is direct testimony. A doctor is entirely unable to verify or dismiss the miracle, as long as he didn’t witness it.

Here is a really simple question: Was Olive’s resurrection request made in order to ‘serve God’? In other words, if these resurrection prayers weren’t met, could God have ‘helped Himself’ to this resurrection? Was this a resurrection which would have served God? If so, why did Bill Johnson need to direct the actions of God?

What about all the other people who have lost loved ones? If God answered this prayer, wouldn’t He be snubbing all those others? Why Olive?

Pedophiles, prey on the naive and innocent, The NAR Church preys on the lost, lonely, and despairing. People that want desperately to believe. They are victims. They are prey. I pray they don’t get victimized one minute longer.

But let’s break this down: Bethel has just proven – beyond a shadow of any doubt – that CHRISTIANITY is bullshit. If you believe in Christianity, then you believe in these types of miracles, right? But we now know that these miracles – not only don’t they happen – they aren’t possible. Christ never rose from the dead. It is all the same. It is all bullshit.

Compare this with New Age. This movement is all about controlling your environment – CHANNELLING power – for your own purposes! Why do you think it is so popular? Isn’t this what we all want? Of course it is.

This is not what Christianity is about.

Christ is not selfish. God is not selfish. Us sapiens, now we are a selfish lot. That is what we do. That is why Christ came, to save us from ourselves. Espousing ‘miracles’ in the name of Christ isn’t just blasphemy, it is heretical. It is anti-Christ-like. It is, in no uncertain terms, evil. 

With ‘New Age Spirituality’ we can love, love, love ourselves. Loving ourselves is where it all starts, isn’t it? If there is anything wrong with you, the 21st century New Age Therapist and the New Age adherents all agree: You need to love yourself more! In fact, if you aren’t engaged in narcissistic endeavors, you may be mal-adjusted, and in need of some self-love. Here comes New Age to the rescue. Here comes Bethel to serve your miracle needs! You want more? We got MORE!

There is no defending them. The whole movement is ‘in on it’. God loves The Church for sure, but if we just look at miracles, God prefers the Charismatic Churches. There are more Miracles Per Congregant found there than in any other Church!

Bethel was going to raise this 2 year old girl FROM THE DEAD! Actually, it was Jesus who failed, really. Bethel did everything they could. Jesus just failed Bethel. I don’t know why Jesus failed, but surely Jesus failed. Jesus failed. Jesus failed…

Apparently Jesus didn’t get ‘the memo’. Perhaps he wasn’t aware of the need. Either Jesus didn’t hear the prayers, or The Congregation didn’t BELIEVE properly. If these parents weren’t racked with enough guilt, they can rest assured their beliefs fell short of what was required for their ‘belief’ quota. Thanks to Bethel, Jesus is impotent. Bethel made sure that the world at large knows this, because Christ’s failure is the Bethel message.

Hasn’t Bethel demonstrated that Christ’s power doesn’t exist? His power doesn’t exist only in the confines of Bethel Church, but at any Christian Church. Every Christian Church is now subject to this standard. Christianity is proven to be a lie. They raised the BS bar for all the world to see. Bethel is no longer ‘the messenger’. They have delivered the Ultimate Christian Message: BULLSHIT!

I shy away from Bullshit. I can sense it. I can smell it. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t smell good, and it is always self-serving.

I once attended such a Church. There were only a few of us there, as it was a mid-week service. After forming a circle, we began to pray, and I closed my eyes in prayer.

Suddenly I heard some weird noises. I opened my eyes to witness a man on the ground, flailing about. The Pastor waved at him: “Be gone. Out of him, evil spirits.” I wasn’t aware my presence had brought this ‘presence’ here. If I was to buy into it, I had seen evil spirits take a hold of a man while my eyes were closed, THEN the Pastor exorcised these demons – right in front of my eyes – until the man rose again. (I could sense and smell BS.) I was creeped out.

Afterwards My wife and I spoke to the Pastor, and relayed a story of a man falling from a bike, right in front of our car, unconscious, several years earlier. My wife laid hands on him and prayed. The Pastor said: “I was there.” Really? You were there? The odor was forming steam around The Pastor. I would never return to this Church again.

It isn’t that this resurrection miracle didn’t take place. None of the miracles do. According to The Miracle Churches, miracles are commonplace. So common, in fact, they can be expected. Once something is expected, it fails to be a miracle, by any definition.

I believe when a baby is born, just a little over a pound they can survive. When they do, surely it is a miracle. I believe people can have stage 4 cancer, and have it go into remission. Super rare. A miracle, really.

Christ rose from the dead as a miracle that needed to take place. It was a miracle because  resurrections don’t happen. When Jesus rose from the dead, all would know He was The Christ. I wouldn’t dare put Olive in this arena. So why would any Pastor?

I sincerely feel bad for her parents. They were lead astray, by leaders who knew better. I refuse to believe Bill Johnson was lead astray by his own beliefs. That isn’t how it works. That isn’t how any of this works. He knew this miracle would not come to pass. I know this, because he has directed a multitude of unverified miracles sold under his direction.

Decades ago, I prayed infrequently. When I prayed, my prayers were answered. Time and time and time again. I prayed infrequently because I thought of it somewhat like the lottery. The more I pray, the less likely my prayers will be answered. So I would ‘save them up’ for really important stuff.

I now know God was telling me He is real. I can lean on Him.

When my Mom had a heart attack, I asked God for some more time. I was already on borrowed time, so I didn’t ask for much. Just ‘a little more time’ with Mom.

Mom died a couple years later.

My father had heart surgery a couple years ago. I prayed, constantly, that he have a successful surgery, and that I am able to spend some more time with him. After he was finished, the surgeon came out to meet me, my sisters and Step-Mother. The surgeon was exhausted. It was the Doctor’s demeanor, more than his words, that frightened me. I headed back to Massachusetts from NYC, when my sister called to tell me Dad had seizures. I turned my car around and returned.

The next day, Dad was sleeping, and hallucinating. Not sure what that was about, but I know I didn’t like it. Dad stabilized, and I returned home.

For the first few months, Dad was very tired, sleeping constantly. Then he began to get better. Still, he needs consistent care. As a result of this, my sisters and I will alternate caring for him, when my Step-mom has to go away. While Dad isn’t what he once was, (no one is,) because he needs care, I am spending more time with Dad than I would if he was better. God isn’t just great, he is wildly generous.

I love God. I love my Church. I love that God is there for all who truly seek Him.

As for miracles: God listens. Without greed, that is miracle enough.

The Quest for Meaning

There has been lots of talk recently of doing away with ‘religion’ altogether. This would be the wonderful manifestation of a truly enlightened society. I woke up and thanked God for the day. The ‘enlightened society’ thanks no one.

Methinks the thanks is thwarted heretofore in the process.

What would it look like, if we could actually abolish religion? Would we be a calmer – –  more reasonable species – – intent on furthering mankind?

Why?

‘Truth’ is the casualty of marginalizing religion.

It isn’t that religion is truth, for it is not, but the search for truth is the sole thread searing through all religions. This isn’t a religious stance, but a truthful one. Mine isn’t an argument for religion, but for truth. We can only find what we seek. If we stop seeking truth, what then, will we find?

This has brought us empiricism, and I love empiricists. They adhere to life’s testable, reliable facts. ‘Proof’ is what they seek. They insist: if it isn’t empirical, it cannot be relied upon. Empiricism – for them – is the only viable way to reaching the truth in any matter.

Empiricism: What a concept.

Truth (as we know it) isn’t pliable, but it does change. This is an empirical truth.

Atheists, unbeknownst to them, insist on non-logical processes. Oh, they may say: “Think about it! Be logical…” but they are depending on a non-logical process to bring about a ‘logical mind’. Without a logical predecessor, logic itself is the outcropping of an illogical process.

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”

-Albert Einstein

There is truth, and it is ‘out there’. In fact, it very well may be ‘out of this world’. If life has meaning, something other than our minds, (and their neighboring cousins,) is responsible. When being brutally honest with themselves, atheists will admit that ‘meaning’ is just a comforting delusion. Barring the quest for ‘ultimate truth’, meaning isn’t just illusory. It is the ultimate illusion.

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We are truly responsible not by abolishing the quest for Ultimate Truth, but through seeking it ourselves.

Try accomplishing that without chafing against religion.

On Gay Marriage

Marriage is a religious institution. Marriage, whether it is mine or someone else’s, has nothing whatsoever to do with our government. Rest assured, though, if there is money to be made from any proposal brought before congress, it will surely pass. There might be resistance, but it will pass.

The conservative right will be all up in arms. This is not because they believe it is a legal issue, but because it goes against their religious beliefs.

The left will claim victory. This is not because their religious beliefs have been substantiated, but because it coddles their political perspective.

But just you wait. The lawyers will rejoice. Champagne corks will be as loud as the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Political expedience will always surpass religious agendas, in congress, every day of the week. Let’s not forget: an enormous conglomerate of politicians have already passed the bar. They know what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

And the gander are flocking to be fleeced by the geese.

Divorce: You just can’t have it without marriage. There is no money to be made on a gay couple who separates. For that you need ‘legality’. Once the courts become involved, the money will flow into the hands of lawyers like oil spilling into the gulf. The environmental impact from the Gulf spill will be nothing compared to the lawyers impact on the bank accounts of divorcing gay couples.

Although nobody gets married to get divorced, the courts cannot benefit until gay marriage becomes a legally sanctioned financial sieve.

Religious practices aren’t governmentally sponsored, condoned, condemned, or restricted. In the United States, laws aren’t supposed to be made which violate any religious practice. From a purely legal perspective, there is no reason gay couples shouldn’t have equal legal rights.

I’m just not so sure they deserve equal rights to the legal fleece.

Scientific Proof of The Virgin Birth

The Virgin Birth is a governmentally sponsored program, taught in public schools.

I’m not kidding.

It isn’t just viable, it is a done deal. Scientific FACT, as it were.

Though we are told it is both theory and fact, the theory has more holes than the human body has pores. Everything enters through these pores, yet the one organism which takes in the information is led astray by The Science of Theory.

I used to sit firmly on the other side of this debate. Unfortunately, I don’t lean with a political party. This leaves me to fend for myself when it comes to the daunting task of thinking. Ultimately, we are all experts in the realm of experiencing our own lives.

The scientific explanation of organic matter evolving from nothingness just doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it is because entropic origins mutating into highly structured cells and organisms hasn’t been explained in a manner which my wanton feeble mindedness can easily approach. However, all is not lost.

I may yet evolve into a being capable of processing such ‘proven’ processes.

Is it possible the origin of life and the origin of species are unrelated?

There must be instances – scientifically reliable data – which proves this happened before and/or since, no?

Because ‘the origin of the species’ doesn’t explain the origin of ALL species, Darwinian evolution throws scientific method in the middle of a ‘random chance’ argument by example.

Science purports:

1.) Thermodynamics is scientifically sound.
2.) The Big Bang is scientifically sound
3.) Evolution is scientifically sound.
#1 doesn’t rule out #3. #2 gives it some problems, but doesn’t rule it out. However, #1 and #2 seem incompatible, since energy must come from somewhere.

The Resurrection is not disputed by evolutionary theory. In fact, it is like sparklers on the 4th of July. Christ rising from the dead pales in comparison to Darwinian science: a virgin cell formed, (parentless,) from nothing.

Every distinct life-form spawned from the self-procreating Virgin Cell on a lifeless planet.

Thankfully, our taxpaying dollars educate our youth that The Virgin Birth is FACT.

(BANG!)

Rapture

Okay, okay… so it didn’t happen. The heavens didn’t crash down upon us like cardboard walls on a television set. We are all still here. The birds are relentlessly chirping. Moving veritable mounds of molecules, they live by example: Sing.

So we sing to the heavens, and the gates of hell have closed their entranceway as well. The DJ at my brother-in-law’s wedding announced the upcoming moment when the scheduled event was to happen. I felt nothing. There wasn’t an ominous overtone. The skies were clear and gorgeous. The ground only moved for those who overindulged. But I like to think I am aware of spiritual shifts in the cosmos. With nothing whatsoever to base this assertion, I believe I would have sensed the impending doom. Now, alas, I will never know.

Is it possible we are already there? What if the event took place, but God is taking us – one by one – rather than all at once? That may not be biblical, but neither was the fallen prediction. If one person was gone, would the world notice? As the days went on, I think we most certainly would. If the dude pressing the button at the crosswalk flew into the sky and didn’t return, I would definitely make a note of that. (I would also begin to fear for my own soul, but how long do I expect this post to be?)

Look, it happens to the best of us. We predict we will be millionaires by a certain age, then we predict the government will sap all our earnings for our entire life. Only one of these predictions is guaranteed. The silver lining is that even if we achieve prediction #1, we haven’t avoided prediction #2. While that should make you rest easier, I predict it will not.

I try to keep my predictions predictable:

I predict I will write a blog about Harold Camping’s prediction. I predict this will change less lives than his prediction about The Rapture.

I predict I will love my daughter no matter what she does. Stay tuned.

I predict there will be hardship ahead for myself, and for all of us. I predict many will be unprepared.

I predict The Bible will provide solace for those who read it. I predict those that don’t will deny the solace could exist for them.

I predict I will stay calm. I predict that will work well for me.

What’s gonna happen to the churches?

What’s gonna happen to our churches if the economy tanks?

This was on my mind this past Sunday as I looked up at the balcony pews. 100 years ago, these would all be filled. Of course, people understood what was important 100 years ago. Modern man is on a quest to gather the latest accoutrements with which to ful-fill our lives, disappointed when we don’t get to show them off to the appropriate party. As discontent sets in, we remember: there are always more things to acquire.

Our love life is not exempt.

Look at the ‘stars’ in Hollywood. They always have some nice looking hottie to grab hold of while they prance around in public. Stars like being seen arm in arm with beauty. This makes them look better. Alas, they have achieved what the masses think they want: I want to be envied.

How sorely this misses the point.

When our economy tanks, who will fund our churches? Catholic Churches have closed down by the fistful. Although other churches are not immune to this phenomenon, when the Goliath of Christianity continually cowers to the crumbling economic maladies and residual fallout of it’s dwindling supporters, what will happen when the spiritual dung hits the fan full force? Will it be enough to stop the fan from moving?

I’m not scared.

My wife constantly marvels at this aspect of me: “Nothing scares you,” she says. It’s true. What is the worst that can happen? Death? If so, then I’ll be fine.

What will happen to religion in a fiscal cesspool? Hold on to your seats, we are on the verge of finding out. While Christianity is celebrated in the church, our churches are not the message. The Message is far bigger than the conglomerate of our churches. No matter what happens to our economy, Christianity will prevail.

In a financial crisis, people will be scared. (In case you haven’t been out amongst the people, they already are.) They will hold tight to their money. Many will renounce their beliefs, feeling that the economy is the benchmark of happiness, and shows how God is rewarding them. When the money dries up, many will feel betrayed. They will lose sight of God. But God will be right there waiting. When we shun God, that only hurts us.

Wait till the crisis hits. There will be lots of bad stuff, but take a good look around you. You will be amazed at how many great people there are. People will come out in droves just to lend a helping hand.

This is our nature.

Once the crisis is over, we need to remember this spirit. Churches don’t provide spirit, they only place the call. Though a crisis brings out the best in people, we don’t need to wait before we answer the call.

Faith & Love

Let’s kill the mother f***er who has the gall to love us.

I was pushed into Catholicism – at 7:30 AM mind you – from a very early age. I was forced into St. Mary’s Catholic School on North Street in Greenwich, against my will. That lasted one semester. After a brief hiatus at GHS, I was in college and free from the confines of organized religion. I was not to return until age 37, when I met Father Gene, and subsequently got married in a Catholic Church. Father Gene re-established my faith, and even made me feel good about Catholicism. He retired a few months ago, and I am struggling with my religion, once again. The Catholic Church is so full of scandal that it is hard to feel any sort of loyalty to it.

But my loyalty is not to the Church. It is to the faith. I share my faith in Jesus with my wife, Taryn. I share my religion and faith with my daughter, (though my wife insists our beliefs are really Protestant.) Father Gene believes the semantics don’t matter.

Protecting priests who sodomize children has transcended the church: this is Catholic Legend. This is Sickness in Motion. This practice is so far removed from The Message, it reams the sphincter of Christian consciousness. The covert sexual conduct of Priests – and the Church protecting them – is not indicative of The Faith.

I have faith in Christ, and I attend Catholic service. My attendance does not make me a supporter of these actions. Paying taxes is not the manifestation of my support for the government’s actions, or their use of the funds garnished from my labor. There is a marked difference, though: Unless you regard jail time as a valid option, taxes are not optional. Church attendance is. So sue me.

A Jihad is not right, but neither is bombing those who are wrong. Warring factions are always – without exception – misinformed. The Jihadi might claim to be ‘warriors of God’, but misinterpretation of The Word can be found almost anywhere. The back of cereal boxes isn’t worthy of worship. Contributing to the demise of mankind isn’t what God had in mind.

“If what Jesus said was good, what can it matter if he was God or not?” -Kurt Vonnegut

‘Love your neighbor’, is hard to resist. But Jesus didn’t stop there. Jesus implores us to love our enemies. While we can’t expect such conduct to come easily to our mortal minds, this is what he asked of us.

Perhaps Jesus doesn’t understand the circumstances. Maybe it isn’t the right tact. We need to seek out, mutilate, and destroy our enemies! When the US levied missiles on hallowed ground, hatred fueled the fire.

Fighting love is a bit more daunting. The more you fight the more you lose. Eventually the walls of resistance always come down. It is just not possible to hate love forever. As my wife said: “The problem with hatred is that it ruins you.” Whenever we hate the haters we become our own worst enemy. It is like we have become suicide bombers of our own psyche.

At the root of any conflict is an internal struggle. Whenever you engage in conflict, you become conflicted. However, once grounded in your beliefs, the power of conflict evaporates like mist in the summer sun.

I recently watched a movie (available on Netflix) which was titled, ‘Lord save us from your followers’. I agree with the basic premise wholeheartedly. Followers mostly muddy up the message.

War is nothing less than a constant kindling of conflict. Peace is insupportable within these parameters. Supporting our troops became synonymous with supporting the war, early on. Oddly, there are many who want to defeat our ‘enemies’ so badly, they will pray for Jesus to give us the strength to drain them of their lifeblood.

Alas, Jesus never got the memo.

We are separated from our enemies through consciousness, and nothing more. Try as you might, you will never overcome that basic fact. When hatred reigns, you lose. That is why loving your enemies is the only possibility for resolution. Retribution never creates resolution. Even if you are victorious in battle, you have lost the best part of yourself.

Our political system is fatally flawed. It interferes with itself too much. Both parties try desperately to out duel the other. During a campaign run there is no scraping the bottom of the barrel. Political runs are good ol’ American Ugliness at it’s finest.

I have never been a believer in UFOs, at least insofar as spaceships from another planet are concerned. My reasoning is simple: Why are they only in the air? Why don’t they land? Still, if there is life on another planet – which creates ships able to cross galaxies – one thing is for certain: They are peaceful. They have managed to become an advanced civilization for one reason and one reason only. They did not destroy themselves. That could never happen on the little blue ball we inhabit unless we change our ideology.

We need to be warriors of peace, first and foremost. Perhaps Our Government needs to ask: What will bring us closer to peace? Only when peace is the goal do you ask the questions which resolve in peace. If peace is not the goal, we need to overhaul our government. We must insist on peace. It is the only resolution which will sustain our lives – not just for the moment – but for generations to come. The Mystery doesn’t lie in the White House.

Bruce Cockburn said: “You can’t be attached to the outcome of your efforts. Chances are you won’t live to see it, even if there is an outcome.”

Jesus died on the cross, saying “Forgive them Father, they know not what they’ve done.”

Love always wins, whether we are around to see it or not.

Compulsion Rules:

1.) It has to happen.

2.) There isn’t any option.

3.) Compulsion rules.

4.) Writing rules the compulsion.

Too bad the writing isn’t compelling.

Perhaps any compulsion is compelling, as compulsion propels the actions. The study of compulsion is compelling, even if the compulsion itself is not.

Take the hand-washing obsessionist. This isn’t a very compelling compulsion, though the fact that he washes his hands – to free the dirt which was picked up from the towel he used to dry his hands after washing them – is rather compelling. But writing is different. Writing is supposed to have meaning. Even those who write for no specific reason must find there is a meaning in putting it down. Otherwise, why would they bother?

I have read some really fascinating stuff recently. Much of it was from people who were inspired by Yaweh, while some was from the Good Book itself.

Parables are used in the holiest of places, and they touch all our lives. Still, I am left to wonder how a story extracts itself from parablism. Seemingly, every story contains a parable. Star Wars is a classic story of good and evil. It is a parable, is it not? Is it the complexity of a tale which wrests a story from potential Parable genreality?

The writing flies out of me, at times. Sometimes I am driving down the road at 70 miles an hour and I feel the compulsion to stop, find a coffee shop, pull out my journal and jog down the thoughts. They are always different once situated, but if they were strong enough, a skewed version bleeds out from the pen.

There is so much happening – right now – it seems. I am unaware of whether there is a shift in the makeup of the world at large, or whether my perspective is shifting, which is opening up possibilities all around me. One way or another things are great, and getting better all the time.

Have I have been distancing myself from the news that much?

I have been formulating a perspective paradigm, and trying it out in the real world. So far, it seems to be proving itself. Not that there is any other possibility. The premise is simple, and easily translatable to your life: Personal experience trumps information gleaned from any other source. It doesn’t matter what the source is, or how reliable you believe it to be.

Think about it. How often do you hear information from a newspaper, television or radio which compels your opinion? Your opinion gets filtered by external sources, then your experience is compelled to match that which you already believe. But what if you believed a certain thing, then tried to find sources which matched them, and discarded those that didn’t? While most people tend to keep pushing the buttons of information they favor, they fail to grasp the most critical part of this relationship:

The sources – not yourself – control your life perspective!

Taryn and I went to a Seventh Day Adventist Church a couple of weeks ago. There was a bible study, followed by the service. 4 and a half hours later we emerged. Wow.

This church felt very spiritual. We met many loving people who believe in God. Taryn and I are merely Christians. We have practiced our various ‘religions’, but we believe in essentially the same thing. She was brought up Baptist. I am a recovering Catholic. While we can engage in heated debate over The Word – it’s meaning and literary literality – we still fall under the jurisdiction of Christ. When you read The Book, you discover multifaceted, heavily documented discourse. There are wars. There is anger, pain and deceit.

Ultimately, there is love.

Yaweh is Spirit. The Spirit is Love. Jesus is Love Incarnate. The spirit of Jesus is in our blood. It goes round and round like that forever. (Hold onto your seat: here it comes again.)

When we pulled into the parking lot of the Adventist Church, there was a disheveled, middle aged man who appeared to be holding a joint. He asked if we had a bible, and Taryn handed him the one in her hand. I thought: This should be an interesting experience. I’ve never know anyone to get stoned and get high on Jesus. I had always separated them in my own life, but that is me. Jesus doesn’t make this divide.

He thanked us profusely, walked away with the bible, and lit up his hand-rolled cigarette. Taryn and I probably own a half-dozen bibles. I said to Taryn: “If we give away all of our bibles, I will keep buying them. It is well worth the money.”

The price of a bible is the antithesis of it’s value.

Having sought to write about the compulsion of writing itself, today I was compelled to write about God. As a missed assignment, it still gets credit. That is the beauty of writing. It all counts, no matter what happens. I am not dismayed over the divergence in direction. The fork has brought me here, and by that criteria alone, this is where I need to be.

I need to write more than I do, even though I write more than anyone I know. It is bursting out, now. There is my journal, my book, and my blog. Then there is all the meandering thoughts which still haven’t made their way onto the page, pushing to get out. They are incubations waiting for me to give them life. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by them all, but living Christianity puts things into focus. When love is the overriding message, the energy can be a bit much at times. These are the times you know it is real, so you can’t ignore the feeling. Why would you? So you share it, pass it on.

Here’s the bible, dude.

My Wife. The Rebel.

I should have known it before I married her. My wife is a true Rebel. No, it isn’t her flaming red hair, or the long skirts, or just the insistence on being gorgeous which prompted this action. No. That would be too simple. That would be too obvious. This one had to do with her ‘behavior’ in CHURCH.

Sunday I was in my semi-usual position of Lecturing, and My wife accompanied me into church. Naturally she was beaming her gorgeousness, and she was holding something in her hand. Those that know my wife also know it is quite common for her to curl up with a book. But there would be no curling. This was church. You can probably see where this is headed…

I have had many conversations with Father Gene about our faith. I have spoken to him about Taryn converting. This priest is rather a rebel himself, because he said, “Why do you want to do that? You both believe in Christ. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your marriage. At some point she may decide to convert, or she may never. Just enjoy each other.”

Doesn’t Father realize this attitude doesn’t fuel the funds to funnel into the Catholic Church? Ahhh, but that is why I love him. Before Taryn and I got married, I timidly approached him about wanting to marry Taryn – a Protestant of all things – and my desire to remain Catholic. I asked if there was any way he could marry us. He told me he couldn’t, but gave this suggestion:
“Get married,” he said. “Go find a justice of the peace. The important thing is that you get married.”

Rebel Priest.

Father Gene believes in love first and foremost. Consistently, Father’s sermons invite us to eliminate the walls which divide us from each other. “Unless you have walked in a man’s shoes, don’t criticize. Reserve Judgement.” Father Gene’s messages are resoundingly about unity, forgiveness and love.

My relationship with Father Gene is almost a dozen years old. He isn’t just a priest, but a friend. It’s personal. When three churches consolidate into one in the fall, Father Gene will retire. While I am secure in my faith, I cling to the hope my Catholicism won’t be downsized without his guidance.

So here was my rebel wife, in broad daylight, walking right into church holding this book in her hand. Sitting in the front row she opened it up just a few feet from the altar: The Holy Bible.

I have gone to Catholic Church for nearly a half-century. In that time, I cannot recall anyone bringing a bible into church.

Is this the reason Father Gene isn’t pushing her to convert to Catholicism?

My rebel wife. Maybe she’ll start a revolution.