Hope is Not Now – an essay by Jane Tawel

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Hope is Not for Now

By Jane Tawel

March 23, 2019

We mistake all kinds of things for things they are not, because the only gods we have left are ourselves. We mistake religion for humanism; we mistake God for personal best buddy; and we mistake faith for self-empowerment.  And then there is our mistaken idea that somehow we should and can “choose” hope in order to be happy. We mistake hope for happiness.

 

I started out this morning, thinking about the world, thinking about myself, thinking about God, just like I do most mornings.  And I thought about things I’ve been thinking and writing and reading lately and I said to myself, “Self, you need to write a happy, hopeful little story that will cheer people up.”  And I drank my first cup of coffee with that determination until I read the headlines, read some Facebook posts, read a couple blogs I follow, re-read part of my own blog, and read the Bible.  The headlines assured me that there was hope the bad guys would be caught and punished, but I’ve been alive long enough and know enough history to know that won’t really happen until Christ comes again. Dashed hopes for justice are a part of being human if you live long enough.  A Facebook post by a friend of a friend asked for prayer about his suicidal thoughts. In the past year, I have personally known three young people who committed suicide because they just couldn’t believe there was hope for them. A blogger I follow talked about her childhood and sad memories of a father she never knew. I have my own sad memories of my childhood which no matter how old I am, can be rubbed raw by the hopelessness of ever changing the past.  My own most recent blog is about the decay of morality, truth, and gospel in people who claim to know God. I love, love, love people who claim to know God and yet in my current place and time, I feel a sense of terror at what so many of them are basing their future hope on. And the Bible passage I read this morning, from what we erroneously call the “Old” Testament assured me that I am nothing more than dust, a passing breeze on the winds of Time. And I realize how often I have let ego and desire lead me into a false and unbiblical sense of hopefulness that I am someone whom God might want to hang out with forever.  So I let our old dogs out into the yard and made my second cup of coffee. I take light milk and honey in my coffee, please.

 

I sat down feeling helpless and hopeless. Helpless to help fellow travelers across the world who suffer for belief, suffer for their faith, or who just plain suffer because they feel too much of the dark deep things that humans feel.  I sat down hopeless that I can be part of any real change, see any real change, not just in others, but in myself.  I look back over a life that has included so many, many whole days of pointlessness, and so many days I was filled with and following sin. Sin – hurting others, selfish talk and action, greed and coveting and lying – those sins God hates most; stealing, murder in my heart, lust – all of it.  And I am at a loss to tell stories of hope, because in the light of the reality of who I am, who we are; in the light of Now is the darkness of the real state of being of Forever and Never.

 

So I just put down all my reading and I looked up. And out. The vestiges of last night’s dew clung to the morning cheery grass and the dew pounced in on my doggies’ paws and I laughed with them instead of scolding them.  A floor is easily mopped.  The sun trickled through the filmy clouds’ filter in the same rhythm as my coffee trickled into my carafe and both waited to warm me, body and soul. The pan was still soaking in the sink, with a few strings of cabbage and cheese clinging to the sides of the now still soapy sea of dish water. The strings of leftovers played like strings of violins on my heart, reminding me that last night my son was home to join us for dinner and I made one of his favorite dishes. Because I could. Because I have enough money, enough strength, my hands still function despite early arthritic throbs, and I have time.  And there it is. Time. And if you have time to look around, then you have time for hope.

 

Time is what we have had, have now (if we’re lucky) but biblically it is what we will no longer have in The Kingdom of God.  And Hope? Well, how does hope fit into a future with no future, so to speak? Hope is one of The Big Three, that the entire Word of God assures us will last outside of Time, will last forever, and is part of God’s True World. Hope is one of the things we were created to Be, not have.  As it says, “So now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  The Psalmist says “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.”  And in Hebrews, it says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Isn’t it interesting that every single one of these verses uses the world “now”.  The reason hope is so tricky, so ephemeral, so fleeting, so ultimately unsatisfying is because of our imprisonment in Time, because hope can not exist, except fleetingly, in our constant “now-ness”. The proverb says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” and it is so easy for others to impact our hopefulness and defer our quest for it.

 

Hope is not happiness, but rather hope is unhappiness with the ways things are now completely infused with the faith that the “Now” was never what God intended for us. Hope is the current tossed and turning belief that the “Then” will be something even more beautiful, lovely, true, and wholly wonderful than we can know or even imagine.  Hope is, as Dickinson writes, “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the song without the words and never stops at all.”  And though we can’t always hear Hope’s tune and we can’t always sing hope’s song to those in need of it; we can take our Time and as Isaiah said, “wait for the Lord; who shall renew our little birds of hope and give them wings like eagles”.

 

Sometimes in the noisy outskirts of Los Angeles, I have a difficult time hearing the birds.  But it is usually, frankly, because I am too busy, too preoccupied, too stressed, or thinking behind me or ahead of me, to listen. It is also because I am primarily a visual learner, I find my strength and major happinesses in what I see, whether around me or on the page of a book.   The thing about hope though is that, as Paul wrote to the Romans, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

 

The three things that remain are faith, hope and love. Love needs me to see others as I see myself and use my hands to care for them.  Faith needs me to speak to my Heavenly Father and honor Him with my words, speaking of faith to others who need it.  And Hope? Hope needs me to listen.  Hope is the thing that listens – to the birds of the air, the children in the next room, the music of the spheres, and the ticking of the clocks.  Most of all, Hope needs me to listen for the still, small voice of the Creator Parent Who has hope for me yet; to listen to The One Who has hope for the world, and Who Is The Hope of the Universe.

 

And now I confess I will go make myself my third cup of dark coffee with milk and honey.  There was once a man named Moses who felt hopeless to change his sinful past in light of a Holy God.  Moses felt hopeless about his present life since he had few skills and no real community of friends and family.  And Moses’ hope for the future, well, what is the future for a nomad with no place, no people, no plan? And then old Moses started listening to God. And listening to the cries of God’s people.  And what Moses heard God say is, “I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey”.  Milk and honey. Flowing. When Moses asked God, “Who shall I tell people you are.” God said, tell them that I AM. I AM outside Time and therefore, outside hopelessness. I Am Hope. Hope flowing backwards through your past, today in your present, and hope flowing like a river of milk and honey toward your future.

 

And so I get up. And hear the little chirps outside my back door. And hear my husband breathing in the next room. And listen to the tap, tap, tap of my fingers on the keys. And listen to the scratching of ears by my old dogs. And hear the sound of my next deep breath. And I stand up in the Now of Uncertainty with the hope of one more delicious cup of coffee with milk and honey. And I pray with faith and love of The Lord, that my hope will be not in anything – not in me, not in them, not any other gods – but only in He Who is Hope. And I listen for the still small sound of I AM. And I accept my calling, not to seek hope, not to require hope, not to expect nor see hope, but to Be Hope. Because Hope is one of the things I am which will never die. Hope is not Now. Hope is Forever.

 

Zombies in Your Head

Zombies In Your Head

By Jane Tawel

March 2, 2019

 

Thanks to my son, Gordon, I was introduced to a profoundly spiritually wrenching song called “Zombie”.  I try to listen to this song weekly at least. This song was written and originally performed  about twenty-five years ago by Dolores O’Riordan of “The Cranberries”. Dolores was raised a Catholic in Ireland and was a great admirer of Pope John Paul II.  O’Riordan bases her song’s haunting lyrics  largely on the religious violent catastrophes that have on and off engulfed Ireland since 1917.  The second version of this same song that  I listen to as often as possible is by “Bad Wolves”. It was supposed to have included Dolores’ vocals, but she left the world before it could be recorded. The version by Bad Wolves, opens up the specific context; the singer, Tommy Vext remarks, “(Dolores’) lyrics in that song still reflect social unrest, political turmoil and humanity’s persistence in modern struggles,” Vext told Rolling Stone. “The reasons might change, but there’s still collateral damage with people’s struggle for power and freedom.” Tommy Vext  is an American heavy metal singer who had to testify against his twin brother who, while high on drugs,  tried to murder Tommy.  Tommy speaks at 12-step groups and for relapse programs across the country.

 

The refrain of “Zombies” repeats, “in your head, in your head” followed by phrases like “they are fighting” or “they are dying”.  I try to listen to this song at least once a week as an important prophetic message.  It reminds me of what humans can become if they allow violence and the worship of money or power into their heads, hearts, religions, and politics. Humans all too easily become zombies.  Today when I listened to “Zombies”, I was suddenly struck by the irony that earlier today I had been listening to Selah’s version of “O, Sacred Head Now Wounded”.  The historical attribute of the words of this song, go to Bernard of Clairvoux, a medieval lyricist and poet. Bernard grew up in Burgundy and as a young nobleman, he was stinking rich and powerful.  He gave up all his wealth and power to follow The Christ and remains one of the most revered historical followers of God; revered by people across the spectrum from John Calvin to Martin Luther and is considered to be Dante’s last guide in The Divine Comedy.  The actual lyrics and music of this hymn were composed by a man named Paul Gerhardt, a Lutheran in Germany who lived in the mid-1600’s.  He spent a lifetime composing hymns and trying to convince his church going brethren to stop attacking and fighting with other over doctrinal issues within the church. He died  primarily of a broken heart and his last words are reputed to have been “us –no death has power to kill”.

 

I guess what I am thinking with a heavy heart and spirit today, is that perhaps, as that profoundly heady writer, C.S. Lewis (an agnostic when young who later became a leading voice in Christianity) wrote, we might make it “further in and further up” into Christ’s Kingdom on earth, if at the start of every church service, we listened first and prayerfully to the lyrics and music of the world’s prophets like the Doloreses and Tommys of this world. The prophets of the ages who sing the songs of change were and are all very flawed humans, but the words of their prophetic messages survive the ages because they are true Truth, whether we call them hymns or alternative music.

All of God’s Truth in fact presents to us an alternative music of sorts.  But singing the hard words of songs that demand change; singing boldly and feelingly on the shores of Israel or Babylon or Ireland or America as the ancient souls and prophets of all times must, can be dangerous; sometimes dangerous to others and sometimes dangerous to themselves. Bernard believed in the persecution of Muslims and Dolores most probably died of a drug induced suicide. Alternative music doesn’t make us perfect; truth doesn’t keep us from sin and brokenness; and prophets are human like every one else; but at least they are trying not to be zombies.

There’s a movie I have never seen, called “The Zombie Apocalypse”.  The title is enough for me because I think this is what the end of the world will look like to the angels: a bunch of zombies who still honestly think they are human, killing each other. The human race has, since the first murder by Cain of Abel, been stupidly and fearfully at war with ourselves. We are all at war with God. We long for peace but defeat ourselves with our mutually exclusive longing for power. Maybe if we began each day by personally accepting our vulnerability as humans, we could reverse the zombie process. Maybe if  before church or synagogue or mosque members try to  perform super-human Godlike, spiritual acts, they would face their own inner zombies, then just maybe we could truly begin to create a kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven — a kingdom of peace and love and joy and hope and real boys and girls created in the image of God. Perhaps if we realized that most days we are behaving like Zombies rather than the human beings created in a God’s image that we are called to be, maybe then we would really begin to understand how to worship the Savior who is the Protagonist of Paul’s lyrics in “O, Sacred Head” but who is also the Protagonist who dies in Dolores’ wars.   Maybe to be fully in Christ’s image,  we need to hold within our own heads and hearts the contrast and paradox between these two sets of lyrics.

 

“Zombie”
(originally by The Cranberries)

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence causes silence
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it’s not me
It’s not my family
In your head, in your head, they are fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their drones
In your head, in your head, they are crying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh

Another mother’s breaking
Heart is taking over
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken

It’s the same old theme
In two thousand eighteen
In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their guns, and their drones
In your head, in your head, they are dying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh

It’s the same old theme
In two thousand eighteen
In your head, in your head, they are dying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh yeah

 

 

“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”
by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676

  1. O sacred Head, now wounded,
    With grief and shame weighed down,
    Now scornfully surrounded
    With thorns, Thine only crown.
    O sacred Head, what glory,
    What bliss, till now was Thine!
    Yet, though despised and gory,
    I joy to call Thee mine.
  2. Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee,
    Thou noble countenance,
    Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee
    And flee before Thy glance.
    How art thou pale with anguish,
    With sore abuse and scorn!
    How doth Thy visage languish
    That once was bright as morn!
  3. Now from Thy cheeks has vanished
    Their color, once so fair;
    From Thy red lips is banished
    The splendor that was there.
    Grim Death, with cruel rigor,
    Hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
    Thus Thou has lost Thy vigor,
    Thy strength, in this sad strife.
  4. My burden in Thy Passion,
    Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
    For it was my transgression
    Which brought this woe on thee.
    I cast me down before Thee,
    Wrath were my rightful lot;
    Have mercy, I implore Thee;
    Redeemer, spurn me not!
  5. My Shepherd, now receive me;
    My Guardian, own me Thine.
    Great blessings Thou didst give me,
    O Source of gifts divine!
    Thy lips have often fed me
    With words of truth and love,
    Thy Spirit oft hath led me
    To heavenly joys above.
  6. Here I will stand beside Thee,
    From Thee I will not part;
    O Savior, do not chide me!
    When breaks Thy loving heart,
    When soul and body languish
    In death’s cold, cruel grasp,
    Then, in Thy deepest anguish,
    Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.
  7. The joy can ne’er be spoken,
    Above all joys beside,
    When in Thy body broken
    I thus with safety hide.
    O Lord of life, desiring
    Thy glory now to see,
    Beside Thy cross expiring,
    I’d breathe my soul to Thee.
  8. What language shall I borrow
    To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
    For this, Thy dying sorrow,
    Thy pity without end?
    Oh, make me thine forever!
    And should I fainting be,
    Lord, let me never, never,
    Outlive my love for Thee.
  9. My Savior, be Thou near me
    When death is at my door;
    Then let Thy presence cheer me,
    Forsake me nevermore!
    When soul and body languish,
    Oh, leave me not alone,
    But take away mine anguish
    By virtue of Thine own!
  10. Be Thou my Consolation,
    My Shield when I must die;
    Remind me of Thy Passion
    When my last hour draws nigh.
    Mine eyes shall then behold Thee,
    Upon Thy cross shall dwell,
    My heart by faith enfold Thee.
    Who dieth thus dies well!

 

In Lewis’ end to the Narnia books, it is the unicorn, that almost angelic and mystical creature of lore and myth, who says on reaching the Promised Land, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that is sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!” I like to imagine that today while I listened to their music, Dolores and Paul and Clive were all singing together, “I Belong Here”. Someday we will all wake up to a new world the prophets of the ages have passed through to, and we will suddenly realize that either we spent our lives on earth as zombies and didn’t know it; or we thought we spent our lives as  mere humans, but were really fantastic and myth-like creatures of angelic stature.

All of us humans, just like Dolores, Tommy, Bernard, Paul, and yes, even Clive, spend our whole lifetimes looking for the answers to “that same old theme”, even in 2019. We long to see what this world is really like, could really be like and there are moments when the planet, the soldiers, the immigrants, the mothers, the fields all look a little bit like what we imagine they all could be — should be –but never fully are.  Some of us spend lifetimes singing against and fighting against the zombies of hatred, racism, prejudice, greed, lies,  violence, and self-idolization that surround us. Some of us spend lifetimes fighting those zombies who sidetrack us into theological quagmires and even try to convince us they are not zombies but Godly.  Some, like Dolores and Paul, just keep crying out truth in the streets until they die of broken hearts.  Some of us like Tommy and Bernard and Clive spend  lifetimes trying to fight the zombies of false idolatry masquerading as religion, and fighting the demons of greed and self-pride masquerading as guardian angels. Some of us may only have enough alternative music within us to give someone a jug of water at the border or our extra coat in the winter or a hug across the aisle, just trying to help other humans not become zombies. Some of us only have enough strength to try for just one more hour, to fight the zombies within our own heads.

Some of us look to The Christ; who layed down His sovereign God-head, and took us his creatures, “in to his head, in his head”. And took us into His heart. In His heart.  And then He layed down that Sacred Head,  despised, wounded and killed, so that we might never again be alone; so that we might have the ability to fight the zombie within; so that we might have the ability to destroy the zombies without. So that we might know how to survive the temptations and powers of the zombies, both without us and within us.  So that we might live as the humans Christ’s God created us to be.

Unless daily, His Sacred Head wounded and bleeding, bleeds from my own thoughts; unless daily His Sacred Heart beats within my own chest; until and unless His God-like humanity is revived and reborn in me, a zombie in need of a human Savior; unless all this and daily this, then I will be just another zombie pretending that I know what it means to be human and pretending that I know and am known by a God who loves all humanity. Pretending, not being; zombie, not human.  “For that Being who is neither human nor anything humans can truly understand, loves His creaturely humans so much, that He begot a human son and gave Him a life on our planet; and whosoever turns from his or her sinful and broken zombie-ways and follows the human life and death Way of God’s Son, shall not die a zombie, but live forever, more human, and more God-ly than we could ever imagine.” (John 3:16 paraphrased)

For safety and hope today, and for worship of a God who made me in Imago Dei, I pray these words  and sing with the saints of alternative music:

“My Savior be Thou near me. My Guardian,  own me thine. Another head hangs lowly. Heart is taking over. We must be mistaken. Zombie, zombie, zombie. Oh, Sacred Head, now wound me.  Remind me of Thine Passion. My Savior be Thou near me. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah…. Further up and Further in. Amen.”

 

 

The Cranberries: Zombie

https://youtu.be/6Ejga4kJUts

Bad Wolves:  Zombie

 

 

Selah:  O, Sacred Head Now Wounded

Sheep Gotta’ Seep An essay by Jane Tawel

Sheep Gotta’ Seep

By Jane Tawel

February 24, 2019

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In the past few years, more than ever before perhaps, I have been seeping. And conversely, more than ever,  I have been being seeped into. The short definition of to seep is (of a liquid) “to flow or leak slowly through porous material or small holes.” I have always been a seeper; or would I be a seepie?  My spirit and character are such that whatever is in the human environment near me or being made known to me, seeps into me as if I am porous. This is often and in some ways good; and often and in some ways bad.  If you are a seepie, you will know what I mean. If you are not a seepie or seeper, then you will meet people like me and find us emotional, passionate, questioning, empathetic, insecure, philosophical, needy, bossy, uncertain/certain, and someone to be taken in small doses. Think about the small amount of tea leaves that you need to seep in hot water to get the right brew and that’s about the amount of a seeper a non-seeping person wants. We seepers are not the thick- skinned ones of whom the world relies on. We are those with the angst of prophets. Seepers are those who mirror the clogged pores in a thousand unwashed faces. We are the ones with a thousand Quixotic holes; those who don’t just point out the windmills of the times, but actually feel the winds of the times as if we are the windmills.

 

And yet, frankly, lately, don’t we all feel a bit as if we have a lot more small punctures in our being for the outside fluidity of the world’s mud and tears; holes pierced in our survival armor that allow the world’s raging and rising emotions to seep in? Isn’t there at least for most of us, some days a sense that the tide of Time is rising to dangerous, climate-changed proportions; filling our solid mass with what feels like a daily shifting ebb and flow, shifting the very sand beneath our metaphoric feet and flooding our hearts and minds with the wreckage we can’t imagine being able to clean up after the hurricane-proportioned current events? This is not just true for some of us on national and community levels, but on the very  small planes of existence within our own small families.  More and more people that we know, in the news, but also in our homes and churches and synagogues feel this ebb and flow in tsunami wave proportions and can not continue riding those waves to the end of their appointed time.  The tragedy is that the very people who should have answers for despair or hopelessness, find themselves standing in the large waves of sorrow and mourning over lost lives and lost purposeful lives.

 

I have long claimed to believe in a God who seeps. Yes, what makes the God of my Judeo-Christian worldview so fascinating is that He is a completely other being Who yet allows the feelings of His /Her (for God is not gendered in our way of being gendered)—allows Her creatures to make Him feel. God allows us to put into His Holy and All-powerful Being, the small holes of our need; to puncture His omnipotence and pierce His omniscience; in order that His love may flow freely to us; providing all we need. The pierced hands, feet and side of The Christ create the perfect metaphor for what God allows us to do to Him.  The God of Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Leah, David, Mary and Jesus, begins the tale of our history in Genesis, with His Being “hovering over the earth” and from that moment of creation, God continues to flow into and amongst His Creation. But Adonai, The Lord, is nothing if not clear that the flow of God’s spirit can be as forceful as a hurricane or can dry up like a desert. We forget to our current and future peril that throughout recorded history, we human beings must also create in ourselves and allow the world’s needs to pierce the small porous holes of  love in our souls. We must remain porous in order to be a part of the God-flow.  When people harden their hearts, stiffen their necks, break the covenant formed by the bloody  flow of sacrifice; when we like sheep go astray, relying on our wooly thinking and herd mentalities to keep us safe and “on top of the heap”; then God can no longer seep into our lives. Our lives are now become as hard and impenetrable as the stone or golden idols we have chosen to worship. And our drying up has been so incrementally orchestrated by Evil and brokenness; that we  will often call our empty, hard shells of belief things like “hard work”; “getting ahead”; “supporting our programs”; “evangelism”;  “increasing our donor base”; “being non-judgmental”; or “taking care of number one”; “being patriotic”; “supporting authority”; “seeking peace”; and even sometimes calling it “grace”. The list is endless of the purloined armor of worldview choices that we surround ourselves with to protect us from the Seeping Flow of God’s good commands and loving desires for our very beings.  Our spirits are more armadillos than sheep.

 

Listening to Bob Dylan and attending different churches and a synagogue or two and a Kingdom Hall or two and a volunteer event or two and a school or two, and reading a newspaper or two and talking to young and old friends, and so forth and so on – well, I lately revisited some quotes that have had me thinking about the particulars of the time and place in which I find myself. 1. “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” (G. K. Chesterton) and 2. “Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?” (John Wesley) 3. “America was not founded on Christian principles.” (John Adams, founding father) 4. “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” (Dave Platt, Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream) and of course I could quote the prophetic C.S. Lewis until the end of time but this one is apt: “ If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” (Lewis)

 

And what has all this to do with listening to Bob Dylan. Well, we like to listen to the prophets like Dylan that proclaim, “The Times They Are A’Changin’”, do we not?? We listen to them with a sense of self-satisfaction (“I was right”) or with false hope and dismissal (“So I just need to wait until God makes things better for me.”). And then we like to turn off those prophets and go about our lives as if truth did not matter to little old us.  We choose different truths to get through our days and nights, rather than trusting that God’s Truth is not only more relevant but more timely. I would be remiss if I did not share the lyrics of Dylan with you because although written in 1963 (imagine!) they are as prophetically prescient and currently critical as ever.

 

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Songwriters: Bob Dylan

The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Witmark Demo – 1963) lyrics © Audiam,

 

 

 

As Dylan says, if we are non-porous stones, we will sink. We must be as hole-y and wholly open, like sponges, to God’s truth and love; and we must seep ourselves in both truth and love in equal parts.  As we in our own times a’changin’ feel the waters of the world rising, we must learn to swim.  In that great archetypal story, sung today not just by Dylan but by Jews the world over; (and sadly almost unknown and unsung by many of those of us grafted onto the Tree of Jesse), God is always willing to save His people from the floods of their time. In the great history of God’s people, they approached  the Red Sea of the Enemy and although they were horribly out of practice and had grown hard skins and stiff necks in their relationship to God and others; God’s people had to be ready to “swim” or drown; knowing that the God who creates the seas, also controls the seas. And yet the God who created humans, chooses not to control them. In this way, He invites us to model His behavior with our own out- flowing love and care for our planet and for our fellow humans.

 

The point is, some of us look at the past, history, to find our meaning. We choose the past in order to count on our accomplishments or on ideas like being chosen or like believing our salvation comes from someone long ago in the past doing something that makes me safe and saved.  Some of us look to the future and decide none of this past stuff – even my own past bad or good stuff – matters. We decide that what matters is the future; having a ticket to some future world or “heaven”; trusting if we vote for or worship with the right folks that the future will be different; trusting that the earth doesn’t matter but only a place where we never have to deal with any of this bad, painful, uncertain, feeling stuff again.  And some of us look to the present only, trying to be “mindful”; taking care of what I need; caring for only those I love; trying to change the world in which I live; eating, drinking and being merry for tomorrow I die.  And all of this is so very, very partly right and so very, very astoundingly wrong.  Because we humans are blessed with free will and consciousness and we are cursed with the free will of God allowing us to be in control and yet we do not – can not– understand so many things, even lacking true understanding of our own human hearts. We are given the God-like qualities of being emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, conscientiously porous creatures while being cursed with the pain of sure and definite death, the burden of the solidity of sin, and the broken useless shards of the knowledge of good and evil. And perhaps worst of all, we are moment by moment aware of the linear, unchangeable, and  non-porous factor of the hard march of Time.

The thing about Time being linear is that none of us can disagree on that reality (at least not for long); and the non-porous nature of Time makes it very hard for us to understand or even believe in a god.  Because True God is not linear. Though we often want Him to be linear (God knows my future or God knew me before I began sort of stuff); these are merely poetic attitudes of praise to God, not a reality that God shares with us. While God does enter place and time on our planet, squeezing His vastness into our smallness; God does this for reasons and in ways we can not truly comprehend. Like the burning bush of Moses or the wrestler of Jacob, God becoming small does not make Him different than what He Is. It should however, make us different. The Judeo-Christian God is the exact opposite of Her creatures in terms of Time and Character.  And that is why we stumble in our understanding and commitment to God. Because God is completely un-porous in His Character and in His very Being while being completely Porous as Adonai, the Cradle and Arbitrator of All Place and All Time.  God allows Goodness and Love to seep from Him but never allows Evil, Hatred, Despair, or Death to seep into Himself.  God being outside any linear idea of Time, and outside any solid sense of place, has Her own view of the Universe to which someday, we may be privy as beings finally taken out of time and place.  Jesus came to show us how this could be done – exiting Time– and He was resurrected from His actual linear time and place to God’s timeless and place-less; death-less and evil-less; brokeness-less and sin-less, existence in Eternity.

About 2000 years before the Prophet Bob Dylan, there was another prophet who sang the songs of change to His people and proclaimed that in His life, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.  His name was Jesus and many believe him to be the Promised Messiah. Jesus said several things about the porousness of time in our lives with His Father.  He said, that “God loves the planet earth so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes and lives as He did, will have eternal life.”  Jesus also cautioned those who would believe, that we should remain alert and keep working through the days since the night of the end would come at a time no man can predict. The prophecy is not for future prediction but for present affirmation and commitment. Christ told us to focus in this very moment, on that which is eternal even in the linear confines of our own selves; since we do not know when that day will come in which the world as we know it will end forever and be remade as it was meant to be – perfect, timeless, and holy whole, being finally, completely porous for God’s light to shine through and yet more solid than we have ever been.

 

Jesus showed us a whole bunch of stuff and it is worth reading and re-reading his life story as committed to paper by some people who are now considered the authors of The New Testament.  But one thing Jesus did very well.  Jesus seeped. The most memorized verse in the Bible and also (and because it is) the shortest is about the Seeping Jesus.  In John 11:35 we find, “Jesus weep-ed”. Jesus did a whole lot of seeping. You will find him seeping in other people’s problems and sorrows, both those foisted on humans by the world and those resulting from their own choices. Jesus saw the seeping sores of lepers and seeping sores of hardened hearts and healed both. Jesus seeped in our prayers and needs with his ears by listening; he served us with his hands by the powerful flowing of his healing. He seeped in our journey with his feet by walking our dusty byways and by washing our own dirty feet, showing us the way we should serve others. The Lord who could see God in Heaven, saw mankind with human eyes; seeping by being One with The God of Hagar; the God who sees.

 

The Christ mirrored His God by providing miraculous flowing water to seep into the lives of the thirsty and undeserving. And Jesus could do this because He daily, obediently, joyfully, carefully, and wholly and hole-y whole- heartedly,  seeped in the life of His Father. He did this through conversation with God; obedience to God; and worship of God. Jesus was sent by God to seep in humanity in all its beauty and ugliness. He was also sent to remind us that we were created to seep in the knowledge, love, and covenantal relationship to the One True God.  Jesus spent his time on earth seeping in His Father– His Father’s commands, His Father’s sorrows, His Father’s joys and love, His Father’s grace, mercy and stern judgment; His Father’s commitment and His Father’s holy Otherness. And this why Jesus was able to proclaim that in Him, the times truly were a-changin’; because in Jesus was God’s Kingdom, alive and well on planet earth and available to all who choose to “seep” as The Christ did.  In Christ was Jubilee; a way of living that was completely free from greed, lies, hopelessness, loneliness, despair, one-upmanship, or uncertainty. In Christ was God-life seeped in and seeping out to all who would listen, trust and obey. In Christ was not only Times a-changin’, but hearts a-changin’, and even death a-changin’.

Jesus left us to follow The Father into Abundant Life, into life in a radically different kingdom, the Kingdom of God as created first for us in Eden. Jesus did not leave us behind to gamble on what He did yesterday, nor to bank on what we hope to gain from Him tomorrow, not even  to worry or count on what we have and are this very day.   He left us to see and live out a different Kingdom; to seep in a different Kingdom; to open ourselves to the Kingdom of God that is porous between our world and God’s world. That Kingdom is right beyond our reach, seeping from Heaven into Earth by God’s great love. To know God is to know that although it looks as if the waves will drown us sometimes, God can be the Ark of our salvation, the Walker on Water, the Savior from the floods. And though the ebb and flow of Time, while everything to us now, is nothing to God.  Eternity means that when my porous body returns to dust, my soul will rise impermeable.

 

The Christ teaches us to pray the Kingdom’s seepage into the whole world, “on earth as it is in heaven”. And this is the belief that the world is in fact a very porous place.  Jesus left us many metaphors – profound and deep keys to understanding. Christ often used the metaphor of the leaking through liquid of God’s not-yet Kingdom:  in the flowing of the water he use to wash dirty feet and to stave the thirsts of the multitudes; in the gushing of wine he gave to combat the raging thirst of longing for God; and in the sinless outpouring of his blood that seeped from His hands and feet and side as He died to show us how we might live.  But one of the most profound metaphors He left for us is in that of the hard stones of the Jerusalem Temple and the heavy, blinding curtain symbolizing our separation from God. What makes this metaphor profound is that Christ makes porous, something that was in fact impermeable. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ punched holes in the heavy curtain of separation between God’s dwelling place on earth and Her chosen people.

 

The heavy, unassailable veil between God’s World and our world was torn apart at the successful completion of mission of The Second Adam, The Christ. Jesus was the very imago Dei that we each were created to be. Messiah’s life, death and resurrection revealed the truth of our histories, the hope of our futures, and the true meaning of our present lives.  The impermeableness of relationship between God and human was overwhelmed by God’s begotten Messiah, Jesus. Jesus was the porous incarnation of and between God and humans and He has made the impenetrable veil separating God and us, porous again.

 

The Judeo-Christian worldview, especially as revealed in the Bible, is full of irony, paradox, incomprehensibility, poetry, metaphor, and failed attempts.  We would do well not to fight them or explain them away or cut and paste them to suit our current world’s needs.  But rather, we should allow the flood of truth, love, and light provided by a God who cares for us, to ooze and percolate through and within us. We should perhaps see ourselves, not like a human mega-coffee-shop chain, but rather more  like little varied, multi-colored, multi-flavored, fragile tea bags who must seep ourselves in the often Hot Water of a God who wants to take our bitter, useless little tea bag lives and turn them into something wonderful – perfectly seeped and nourishing, healthful, living overflowing cups of living watered lives. By this will the steam of our praise rise to fill the nostrils of A God who has seeped into our very souls.

 

This is our worship — remaining porous and malleable to the movement of Adonai in the world within and through us. For while the times may change and the waves at moments overwhelm us, we can know a Savior who commands the stormy waves to be still. By allowing the character of The Christ to seep into our souls, we can trust in that same Savior who allows our prayers even now to seep into His heart.  Jehovah promises that “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”(Isaiah 43:2)  The Messiah promises that “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14).

Today I ask myself: Am I willing to be thirsty? Am I willing to be porous? Am I willing to accept my need for God’s Hot Water to turn me into something new? Am I willing to humble myself to my need for The Christ’s living water? Am I willing to pass through the waters? Am I willing to be seeped into the character of Christ? Am I willing to seep out love and living water for others?  Am I porous enough for God?

Will I, today, be an acclimatized aging and armor-hardened armadillo or a ceaselessly serving and served-up saved seeping sheep?  Will the wooliness of my thinking and my thick fleece prevent me from trusting that God is really real and really Good?  Will I like Gideon, allow the Lord’s dewy hand, so porously overflowing with His salvation, to permeate my fleece and guide me in His ways of righteousness?  Will I become pierced with the hole-y-ness of a God and the holiness of The Christ?

 

I would love to have the mature writing ability of a Bob Dylan or the Psalmist David, or a Dickinson or Donne.  But even childish writers like I are committed to casting our small little pebbles into the flow of Ideas.  I love stories ostensibly written for children but which have eternal teaching moments for all ages.  There are also just some wonderfully silly  and plain fun children’s books, not just by the famed Dr. Seuss, but others. I am often so filled with the seriousness of my own time that I forget to be open and porous to the lightness and joy and humor of being alive. One children’s book that came to mind while writing this was one my own kids liked. It had a wonderful bunch of illustrations by Margot Apple and was written by Nancy Shaw. The book is titled Sheep in a Jeep. It’s a silly one because sheep are silly.  We, God’s sheep are rather silly when all is said and done.  But somehow, still, He chooses to love us. Here is my re-write (I wouldn’t dream of trying to draw any thing until I reach heaven) of “Sheep in a Jeep”

 

 

Sheep in a Heap (of Trouble)

By Jane Tawel

February 24, 2019

Beep! Beep!

Sheep in a heap,

On The Way that’s very steep.

If the sheep don’t fall asleep,

God’s True Way will in them seep.

 

Uh! Oh!  The sheep won’t go.

But the Shepherd loves His own sheep so.

God wants us humbled,

But we sheep still grumble.

Uh! Oh! Sheep in a heap of trouble!

Headed again for hell’s shiny rubble.

God sends a Savior in a flash.

Christ’s sinless blood on the cross is splashed,

To Raise the sheep from eternal ash.

 

 

Caught in Time’s briars,

We sheep, helplessly mired,

Ignore all  the signs

That point to the Divine.

 

Sheep always yelp,

God always helps.

Oh, dear, sheep still fear

But still refuse to let God steer.

Sheep in a heap.

 Sheep weep.

Oh, the Shepherd’s love—deep, deep,

That He would choose the sheep to keep.

 

Postscript: If you have kindly read this far, I highly recommend you read the prophets – those found in the Tanakh of the Hebrews, those found in the Gospels of the Gentiles, and even those written on the subway walls. As Mr. Dooley said about the “news”, and Mr. Niebuhr said about the “olds”, we who would look to truth in love should seek to be “comforted in our afflictions but to afflict those who would be merely comfortable”.  The prophets of all ages and times have tried to do this through word and action, song and poetry; and with anger, sorrow, angst, humility and love.  Prophets and poets allow themselves to be porous, so that perhaps others won’t be so afraid to do likewise.  Allow yourself to be seeped in the words that, as the dictionary defines a true prophet, “is an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God”.  You may emerge full of holes but some of us think it is the only way to be holy and whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do We Really?

Do We Really?

By Jane Tawel

February 3, 2019

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All the assumptions we make.  And we just take it all for granted that because we call ourselves something, label ourselves something, that these things are true.  And we like them to be true because that is what gives us personal meaning and usually a paycheck or two.  One of my favorite sayings of the current younger generation is when someone says something, and they sing-song with a bit of Socratic sass: “But is it? Is it really?”  “Was he?  Was he really?”  “But did you?  Did you really?”  With the emphasis on really, this seemingly silly question has all the power of Pilate’s “What is truth?”  I imagine if Pilate and Jesus were talking today, as they did in John 18, their conversation would go something more like this.

 

Jesus :“I have come into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth, hears my voice.”

Pilate: “But do they?  Do they really?”

 

Here are some assumptions I hear people making, and being the stickler for the needed role of an antagonist in any good story, I will present how one might wonder about the “truth”  of things people base their lives, livelihood, and even salvation on.  This of course is a partial list of just my own particular meditations today.   We can add on to these and ponder them for eternity; or rather until God’s Kingdom comes. Then the fat angel sings and it’s game over.

People say a lot of stuff about what “Christians” believe.  Here is some of my personal “Socratic” dialect about some ideas that I have been struggling with lately. As is my bent, I will open my stream-of-conscious rather bent and banged up thinking here.  I will use the second person “you” as a more colloquial version of the more proper third person “one”, meaning of course this is at heart, a first person reflection in the final analysis.

  1. We should lead like Jesus. Jesus was a good leader. But Jesus proclaims himself not a leader at all but a servant and follower. In fact, Jesus flees the leadership role that could make Him a king of nations.  Jesus flatly states that he can do nothing in His own power but only what His Father, Jehovah, does through him.  To put the final “nail in this coffin”, It is very clear that when we are judged, if we have been a leader, we will have gotten our reward while on earth.  Only those who serve as and with the least of the least will be chosen to lead with The Christ. We may all be created as equal, but we do not go through life as equals which brings us to false idea #2.
  2. All human life is sacred. There is, I am afraid, nothing at all in the Bible that implies this. The metaphor found in Psalm 139 is merely that, a personal poetic reflection on the part of the servant of God and chosen Jewish king, David. This current Western idea that each human life is special and sacred is purely a religion born out of Humanism and wealth and the warping of “Christian” thought. This humanistic, individualistic religion that we erroneously call worship of God is nothing more than worship of self, and is not a Judeo-Christian worldview at all. I could go on and on with proofs from God’s Word about this but read it for yourself from beginning to end and you will wonder how we got to believe that each human is sacred.   To give you only one indication, read the story of God and Sodom and Gomorrah and of Abraham’s plea for God to save just ten people worth saving. This idea that a human life is sacred is blasphemy in fact. There is none sacred but God, the Bible says.  We can choose covenant with God and be chosen in that way and only in that way to have a life that is more than dust.  But it is by our keeping covenant with God and living as The Son of God lived, that we become holy, sacred, eternal soul. I am afraid it is an incredibly important thing to think through in this day and age of the rather (sometimes literally) “Micky Mouse” -Americanized- Christianity-ese. It is  critically important because people use this idea of all life as sacred to be “pro-life” about the abortion of unborn fetuses, but not “pro-life” about the born lives of illegal immigrants or not pro-life about people who do not vote or worship as they do.  People support this idea of each human as sacred, in the ridiculous worldview that you can “ask Jesus to be your  Savior” and then he is because “God loves you no matter what”.  There are so many “Christian” songs that flat out say this over and over and it makes me tremble because if you read the actual tome that we call God’s Inspired Word”.  You will realize that:
  3. God does not love you no matter what you do. There is absolutely no indication in God’s Word that this is true.  Let me just give you one example: Moses. Yeah, that star among God-followers.  God was going to kill Moses and then – well, read the story for yourself of  Moses’ wife, that wonderful pagan woman called Zipporah.  Which brings me to this.
  4. God is not my friend. God is not that friend Who comes whenever I call Him to help my team win the game.  God is God.  Again, read God’s Word.  Actually read it; don’t show up to have the experts tell you on Sunday how much they love you because Jesus  loves you and died for you.  He didn’t. Jesus, a Jew, died for a Holy God, his Father, Adonai.  Jesus completed the whole cycle of being human in perfect covenant with a Holy God. Jesus died to show us that we could be reborn through our own deaths (both literal and figurative, as He did)  if we lived in covenant with Yahweh, as Jesus did.  Jesus is very, very clear that He did not come to throw out the Bible, what we blithely call to our peril, the “Old” Testament, but to fulfill and live it as it was meant. Not as the religious leaders had interpreted it but as The Christ lived it. We are meant to live it too. But it is not this wide road that is easy to stroll down because your own particular life is so sacred. Nope.  It is a narrow road that you choose, but as Robert Frost said, that choice will “make all the difference”.  I should be different because God loves me enough to make me different enough to be with Him. Which bring us to #5.
  5. God loves me. Well, yes and no.  God loves me but not because I’m me.  The Bible tells us that God loves “the World”. God made the world perfect and He made humans perfect. And then we messed  ourselves up and messed up the world and continue to do both of those things.  Read the bits in the Bible about how God “chastises and disciplines those He loves” and then decide if you want A Holy God to love you.  Because frankly most of us live like animals.  This is where those who don’t believe in God have it partially right.  We are like animals and we can choose to live like animals if we want; “eating, drinking, and being merry” for tomorrow we die. And that’s it.  Scripture implies that if we live long enough, we get three choices in this world: 1. To live for self and get as much as I can for me and my family, just like the doggie families, and ape families do. When my days are over enjoying this wonderful life, I will either lay down with gratitude or regrets or a mix of both, and then return to dust and cease to exist. The place of buried animal bodies, or the ground from which no man returns, is what the Bible calls Gehenna.  2. If on the other hand, you lead your life and choose to be cruel, wicked, to abuse God’s name, to abuse power, to abuse others, to enjoy evil in word and deed,  and perhaps even if you just commit those things we call the sins of omission, ie not doing the things you were meant to do for Good; then God is pretty clear you will be punished even after you think you escape judgement through death.  Those people will go to hell, complete with the demonic gods they have enjoyed while alive on earth.  3. You can spend your life living on the planet as best you can in relationship to a God we can no longer see. We can no longer see God as Adam and Eve could, because we have chosen sin instead. But God provides a way “back to The Garden” so to speak; and that is by following the rules, worshiping only Jehovah, and loving others as we love our own selves. This is the option we have to live in a covenant with  The One True God, Yahweh.  These people live to glorify the name of Jehovah, live for the least of the least in this world, study Truth, learn how to love and trust and hope again after The Fall, and resist the temptations that The Christ did: those temptations of power, greed, and self-worship.  These people will rise from death to a new earth and to even something  new and unknown – a “Heaven”, the place where at last we can be in the same space as God is and not die. These people will see God and live.
  6. Everyone wants to go to heaven. No, they don’t. You  may have been taught that you will go to hell if you don’t listen to Christians. Well, ironically the only people Jesus, the founder of the little Christs sect, says will go to hell, are the leaders of the religion he practiced.  Matthew 23:15:  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” This is sobering to say the least for any of us who have taught any thing about Jesus.  And while, I have always loved the practices and people of today’s churches,  the incremental off -course steering that The Church has done for the past centuries, has us so far off course as to frighten me. Which brings us to something we might call semantics in #7, but semantics are crucial to explore when you are thinking about Jesus who is called The Word.
  7. Jesus loves his church. He doesn’t.  He couldn’t because he never used the word and there was no such idea as we now know “the church” in any of Christ’s teachings. In fact, in what we call the “New” Testament, another scary thing we’ve come to believe, there is not a single time the word “church” is used.  Church is a misinterpretation of several Greek words.  Again, you can read and google this for yourself.  There is, of course, much proof that to follow God, we must live in communities, caring for each other and worshiping together.  There is much proof that we are to live as followers of Christ with others who want to follow Him, like his disciples did. But the point is, we have turned the religion of Christ (and by extension of His early followers, including the people who wrote the Gospels and Paul) into something they would neither recognize nor I would venture to boldly say, would they approve of.  So let’s just say this for now.  Jesus was a Jew. Jesus believed that He was the Messiah of The Chosen People who were the Jews, the Hebrews.  Jesus believed that it was through the Jewish Scriptures  and lives of the Hebrew covenant keepers that God, The Father is best revealed.  He also believed though that the Jews had abused their status and that “there would come a day when God will be worshiped neither on the Jewish Mount nor in the chosen confined temples of any other peoples, but by all peoples in “spirit and in truth”.  Then He claimed that the day had  in fact arrived with His way – The Way – of worship of God. Jesus did not come at all to form a new “organized religion” and we have programmed and capitalized on Jesus’ beliefs out of all recognition and wisdom. The main word that Jesus used that should make all the difference in our understanding of who He was / is was not “church”, congregation or synagogue.  The word Jesus used was “Kingdom”.  And He did not preach His own earthly kingdom, but The Kingdom of Yahweh.  Which brings us back to the “really”, “is it really” of #1, in #8.
  8. The Gospel / Good News is that Jesus is the only way to heaven. No, He isn’t.  Jesus is the only way to The Father.  And Jesus came to bring The Kingdom of The Father back to our understanding and to make available the germination in us  of how The Father’s Kingdom can be restored to our world / planet/ Eden. What Jesus taught is that: “I am The Way (to God), The Truth (about God), and the Life (with God). No one comes to Jehovah except by means of my way.”  In fact, this is why early followers of Jesus who were Jews or converted Jews would never have called their religion “Christianity” because it wasn’t.  It was Judaism.  They called what they believed what Jesus called what He believed: The Way.  If you don’t want to truly know a Holy God and become holy, you won’t go to “hell” (necessarily).  You will merely have enjoyed a good or an awful life depending on your status, personality, and circumstances and you will return to the dust of this planet like all animals and plants will.  Nothing wrong with that choice.  If however, you think that you want to live forever in the presence of God as we were intended to do in Eden when humans were created in the image of Divinity, then it is best to try to figure out how we are really meant to live now.

Because claiming to be something, doesn’t make it so.  I would love to claim that I am a gorgeous twenty-three -year -old with a million dollars in the bank and five houses in various parts of the world and a private plane and that every one who meets me loves me and that  I could rule the country, maybe even the world in the way it should be run, and  that I get do-overs on every minute I’ve messed up and that God loves me no matter what.  And you would have to ask me with all the Socratic sass you could muster, “ But–Are you? Are you really?”

If you think Jesus did all the work for you, or that because you were born into some cultural religion or other, or that just because you are alive, that those facts– which the Bible says, fall randomly like rain, on the good and the evil — that those facts make you something you want to be; and that God loves you no matter what; well then, you may want to look around at what we are doing to God’s world, to God’s other children, to  our own bodies and souls, to God’s planet, and what we do in blasphemy of God’s Holy Name, and you may want to humble yourself; and ask yourself when you think you have it all figured out:

Do you? Do you really?

 

The Miracle of Eating Toast

The Miracle of Eating Toast

By Jane Tawel

January 15, 2019

So when you pray, pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name always be kept holy.
May your kingdom come
and what you want be done,
here on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us the food we need for each day.
 Forgive us for our sins,
just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us.
 And do not cause us to be tempted,
but save us from the Evil One.’ [The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.] (Jesus Messiah– as written down by His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13, NCV)

The older I get the more I realize that I don’t need prayer to get through any normal given day. But I do need miracles. I also realize that the only reason I am still here, walking and talking my way through this place and time is because of a lifetime of miracles, wrought each day by the miraculous creation Jehovah set in motion at the planet’s beginning; at humans’ beginning in Eden; and by His grace and sovereignty for each of our lives, and every day ever since The Beginning, all the way up to my own small life and the small lives of my beloved children.

Believing in miracles is simply the radical point of view, that my needs are being met. If death is the curse, then each small factor of existence is being met by the miracle of continued life. We easily talk about the miracle of a baby’s birth and then quickly forget all about a human’s miraculous-ness every day thereafter. But if I take a moment to meditate on the very air I breathe, the working legs that support me, the brain that still analyzes what it sees (even if sometimes  hazily or often incorrectly); if I take time to contemplate the miracle of those people who stop to say “hello” or who call to say “I love you, Mom”; or if I actually taste the food I eat or enjoy the water I lap greedily, or become astounded at the multitude of colors and shapes of cacti or lizards – if I for one little minute choose to regard all of these things as the miraculous provision they are—well then, “normal” daily life becomes something profoundly amazing and my mere human existence, an heroic adventure. If I see God’s daily set -in -motion planet as a place of miracles, then I become a miracle-worker.

Jesus, who healed paraplegics, raised dead people, and created matter, tells those who see the world as He does and who choose to follow, faulted and fearful, in His Way, that they will “do greater things than I have done” (John 14:12). Imagine if even one or two humans began to believe that and then live that.

We like to tell the stories about Jesus manipulating common matter by turning the water into abundant flowing -over wine; by his feeding thousands with small supplies of fish and bread; or his instructions on fishing that netted his disciples so many fish their nets burst; and so forth and so on. These miracles of Mind over Matter remain part of a story about the Man-God, trapped between pages of a good book of stories about Him. But if we see Jesus as the new Prototype of Humanity, the Second “Adam”, then we see that The Christ, after years of seeking first The Creator’s Kingdom on earth, Jesus found that these miracles were in fact simple tasks. He laughingly says to the amazed eyes of those who watch Him do His magic tricks, “which is easier to say:  to the lame, get up and walk, or to say your sins are forgiven?”. (Lk. 5:23) And though He hadn’t a penny to his name nor a “place to lay his head at night”, Jesus had no worries, no stress, no selfishness, and no greed. He walked and talked through His life as if God were available, relatable and in charge of it all. In terms of daily sustenance, He said with a wink and chuckle, “Don’t you know, I have food the Father feeds me that you know nothing about?”(Jn. 4:32)  The Jewish Messiah told His disciples – and us – that “If The Father cares for the little birds enough to feed them, don’t you think He cares enough to feed you?”(Mt. 6:26,27) In effect He was asking, “Don’t you remember? Have you stopped believing? Have you so little faith? Do you remember God’s provision of the trees in The Garden? Do you worship Him for saving your ancestors by the simple creation of manna in the wilderness? Did your priests and kings not have in their need the miracle of the Showbread in the Temple? Was not Abraham given the lamb for the sacrifice? And did Yahweh not see that the table was set for you at your own home yesterday? Don’t you know that though you find the water, scarce and precious, that God provides it? And that God can make it spring from a rock if He so chooses?  Jesus’ mantra, so to speak was, “Why do you worry about tomorrow, what you will eat or drink? Doesn’t today have enough worries for you that you want to borrow more against tomorrow?”(Matt. 6:34)  Of course what He was needling and ribbing us about is that if we say we believe in a Benevolent God who gave us the whole good earth to tend and care for and “rule over” and “supervise”, then our worries are of a world not of God and are self-manufactured. They are Sin-manufactured.

And this is because we don’t see our needs being met as miracles but rather as things that we are owed. We have come, tragically, to see our wonderful lives as a bottom line, to be added to by more work, more money, more people, more stuff, more, more, more. We don’t see all of life as not a bottom line, but a complete circle. And in breaking that complete circle with God, we have also stopped thinking about what death means, or could mean. We stop following the commandments of how to live on the earth as we were intended. And we allow our neighbors, those we are meant to treat as God treats us,  to in fact have to wait and beg for true miracles as they starve or become diseased for lack clean water or live on the streets like modern day Lazaruses in view of rich folks’ homes. Because we are unwilling to work The Christ’s common miracles for our neighbors.

The perfect circle as a concept is a miracle in itself. So too, the circle that is this planet; the circles contained in our solar system; the circles that are our cells; the circles that are our families and communities.  Each day of my life can be seen as one more chance to start a new perfect circle in God’s Kingdom on Earth. The Christ encourages me each morning, “Be perfect just as Your Heavenly Father is perfect”. (Mat. 5:48). The circle of life represents wholeness or the Hebrew idea of Shalom. But most days I choose to live life as another long string of dots marching forward toward the next day’s line – disjoint, disconnected, un-whole and unwholesome. We can see each day as a line, moving us toward death as on a treadmill, an assembly line of disconnected lives muddling throughout the planet together, ever pressing forward toward just another day of “getting ahead”, passing the other guy in the race, looking forward toward the end of the unseen line’s end and never stopping to look inward. For at the middle of the circle of all of our days’ small dots, therein lies the truly miraculous — our souls.

I wake up – hallelujah! And I begin again! Hurrah! with just one little dot of existence – my Life! That dot becomes two dots as I open my eyes, and three dots as I rise or perhaps, someone must help me rise into my wheelchair or out of my crib.  And then the truly, truly miraculous happens! Oh Miracle! The most amazing dot of all is added to my breathing, sensate self – I drink and eat and the earth provides sustenance for my next moment. Perhaps I eat a piece of toast or a bit of cereal. Perhaps I can only be fed from a tube a nourishment provided by a nurse or loyal mate or a mother. But I eat my “daily bread”, that which A Creator has provided for my life.  And the circle of my day, my whole life really, re-begins — because this moment will be all I can know for certain. This moment begins to take shape, as the next dot needed for my life is provided. That next moment’s dot may be the great gift of running water from a tap or it may be a bottle of water a person gave me while I beg on the street because I am homeless. That dot may be a well in my village that I recognize as miraculous while I wait in line in order to fill my container. That dot may be a drive to work or a walk to the bus stop or the great gift of dishes left over in the sink to clean this morning or it may be another application to fill out with hands that know how to write and a pen filled with ink.  The next dot might be a co-worker’s complaining needs that I can meet, a spouse’s depression that I can hold in my heart, a child’s tummy ache that I can soothe, or a stranger’s rude outburst at the grocery that I can hear.  And I can see each opportunity as yet another indication that all I have – my eyes, ears, hands, mouth, breaths, family – all are miracles. Because life itself is miracle. When Jesus tells Nicodemus, “you must be born again”; is He not saying, look at the miracle of your life which The Creator has provided? Jesus says in truth, let your inner most being,  your soul be re-born today into a new relationship with the Creator of All.

The dots of another day are my existence in the world, guaranteed only for that moment, and they provide two different choices for me. I can let God recreate in me and use each of my life’s dots to create a circle – a renewed wholeness in the image of Him; or I can see those dots as my right , my due, as a little god, and as we all do since The Fall, I can let life’s dots go all pear-shaped. Again. Because frankly, most days are lived without my intentional point of view that each moment is a miracle awaiting my embrace of it. And so I do not take control and then trust that control to The Control of a loving Providence, but rather I speed through my life feeling out of control.

To see life as miracle takes time and love. Miracles must be nurtured. Miracles take an attitude of constant prayer, and as Jesus taught us, prayer must start not with finding my “brand”, but  with hallowing the name of God. And then prayer must move to a view of the world as Us, not me.  Give Us today…. But my repentance must accept that I rarely stop and breathe out and in and look around me and look in someone’s eyes and listen to the miracle of their speech or listen for the movement of God’s spirit in the world around me.  I worry and analyze and talk and talk and work harder and get more and think about tomorrow’s agenda and take notes on things and make lists for stuff and shop for stuff and get irritated at that person and worry about that person and feel anger for those people and my hip hurts when it’s hot and my knee hurts when it’s cold and nights are long and days so very much shorter than when I was young and it’s all so much that I wonder how I will ever get it all done and then it’s time to crash into my lumpy bed and fall asleep if I can until tomorrow starts but I worry about what I have forgotten I have to do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow….  And life becomes a drudgery. And Heaven is merely a perhaps someday reality if I prayed the right magical prayer which I am saving up for the future. Heaven is rarely among us now, and not, as The Christ proclaimed, among us every day if we choose to live as He did. And I live as if I have absolutely no idea about the “powers and principalities” of Good  — the miraculous –that are all around me and can take residence inside me. Of course, the powers of Evil are quite happy to sneak in to the gaps I leave open in the circle of my life. And I shall simply accept those evil powers as another normal day and pray that God does His usual normal, non-miraculous stuff until I need a “real” miracle

In the recorded words of the prophet Isaiah, God tells us that “if you are willing and obedient, you will eat of the good things of the land” (Is. 1:19) The very beginning of humanity began with God giving humans good food to eat (Genesis 1:29). God provides all the good we need to live, but it is our choice of whether we see this as miracle or our right. And if we see it as our right, then God will allow us to shove Him aside and let us eat of the food which does not nourish the soul. Which brings us full circle back to the miracles Jesus, the Son of God, performed. Ultimately Jesus had to come right out and tell us that the miracles of God-given food were nothing compared to the miracle of our souls, nourished by living water, and Christ’s  own body and blood as food. And if we want to live as The Christ did and live forever as The Christ is living forever with The Father, we must see each morsel of our lives as we do that first miracle of birth. We must daily be reborn, forming a life meant for eternity. A life that as it was with The Christ, will be resurrected from Death. A Miracle.

Wendell Berry writes in an essay in Sex, Economy, Community, Freedom, and Community: “The miraculous is not extraordinary, but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air, and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances, will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine – which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.”

In the past year, I have come to often meditate on this re-trending idea that is contained in the word, “mindfulness”. Many people claim to have coined this idea and it is often connected to Buddhist scholars of the 20th Century in connection to meditation techniques.  But it is in fact, the original mindset of The Chosen People of God dating back as far as we can read about them, to Abraham, David, Ezekiel, – even to Adam and Eve.  In fact, one could argue that it was Adam and Eve’s mindfulness that made them so happy and perfect at The Beginning and their chosen and sudden lack of “mindfulness” that led to their downfall. Eating from the Tree of Good and Evil, could be seen as Adam and Eve not trusting God for just that moment, being mindful of what they were enjoying eating, being thankful for the air, the puppies, the unicorns, and the cold fresh spring water. It can be seen as the pride of thinking ahead for themselves and only themselves, and not trusting  God for providing the best food – the best of everything — for them tomorrow.  It is because Adam and Eve stopped believing that Life was miracle, not personal accomplishment, that they and we ended up in this rat race. Because people were created to be at their very best by trusting in the moment and enjoying what that moment provides; giving thanks to their Creator for that moment’s joyful provision. But when we stopped doing that and wanted more, more, more, more and ate from the Tree of Not Just Goodness but Possible Evil in Case Evil would Get Me More than Good Would – when we stopped trusting that our needs would be met; then we were cursed with a need to achieve-no-matter-what; we were cursed to work through the sweat and stress of our hard labor; the pain of our labor in birthing our kind; the weeds in our wheat; the bugs in our soup; the fear of the other people who might have or get more than me; and the hatred of those we love most because we need more from them than that moment’s companionship in the journey. And so those moments of inspiration and creativity rather than being common place miracles, become rare and mere glimpses of what our lives can be like, and we hope and pray, will be like when The Kingdom is come forever. Meanwhile, because we don’t worship God for the miracle of our existence, we ironically lose the very powers we were meant to use wisely for good on this earth. We  continue to abuse and destroy the miracles of our planet and the miracle of the human soul. And in gaining the world by our own efforts, and being mindful only of self and our desires, not the miracle of this moment, we lose the miracle of the world God freely gave us.

And so we no longer know how to pray. Because prayer is being mindful of my need for A Provider. Prayer is believing that earth is meant to be like Heaven. Because for Jesus, it was. That is why He could teach us to pray, “Thy will be done on planet earth, as it is every where in all the other universes and wherever You are truly present – The Heavens.”

We no longer truly thank God for the miracles of the mundane.  Bless this food to our bodies, we beg, but we do not truly find flight in the gratitude of a body that can miraculously work or profoundly surprisingly walk. We do not thank God on bended knee that in His righteousness and holiness, He has seen fit to protect us from evil yet again, even the evil of disease or disaster.  We do not thank Him for the minutiae of the miraculous– the salt in our shakers or oil in our pan or light at the end of a wick or switch. We paste on the words of “For Thine is the power and glory forever” as we would paste on a return label on a bill we are paying.

This morning I heard on my little I-pod the song “I Can Only Imagine” by the amazing creators known as “Mercy Me” and it just struck me, “we have this song all wrong”.  Well, at least I have this song all wrong. With apologies to the song writers, who probably have the song all right in their own hearts and minds –when we sing about being only able to imagine what it will be like when we see Jesus and are ushered into the presence of The Father and “walk by His side”, then we are missing the whole point of Jesus and of our very existence as believers and eikons.  We are not to imagine what Kingdom Life will be like, but are meant to imagine – and the word “imagine” here could also be translated as “have faith” – that Life Here and Now is like that. God’s Chosen People are meant to choose to experience our lives and our neighbors’ lives and the whole planet as the miraculous creation of a Kingdom on earth as it is in The Heavens. We are meant to live as if God’s perfect Creation of our world is available and that it truly has always been, is now and will be again. We are meant to see that Jesus did not have to imagine what it would be like when He was with The Father in Heaven, because He lived as a human in complete relationship, complete wholeness with The Father while on earth. Jesus said, “I come to bring you abundant life, filled and flowing over.” Jesus proclaims, “In me, you see the Kingdom of God among you.”.  We do not as the song says, have to imagine if we will stand in the presence of God, or  if we will instead sing, or dance, or fall to our knees – we should be doing all that now, here, in worship of the miracles all around us; in worship of the miracle of God loving us enough to provide another moment; the miracle of our ability to be mindful, in constant prayer with a Parent/ Creator/ Mother who longs to re-birth us into new shalom, wholeness, and abundant life.

The miracle is not in what Jesus was able to do but in what we are able to do in Him, if we only “imagine”.  I think maybe if we interpreted Jesus’ words “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed” as His saying, “Do you not see what a Miracle even this small tiny little seed is? Imagine what you could do if your itty bitty faith meant that you believed that miracles surround the very air you breathe, the very water you drink, the very hand you hold, the very bread you eat, the very blood that courses through your veins.  Look and see what the Lord has made.  It is good, so very Good, that it is sheer miracle. Don’t wait to imagine what Heaven is like.  Have faith that Heaven on Earth is within your very being, your very soul. That is how you will have me, The Messiah, abiding in you and with you, forever.”

Miracles are so easy to miss because we keep waiting on something big and grand and something to happen tomorrow or beyond our ability or reason. But this whole life, is truly beyond our reason, isn’t it? The miracle is that we have been given the ability of gods. The tragedy is that we squander those abilities for the mundane.

And so we keep missing the miraculous moment when we wake up, and the miracle of eating toast.

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A Recipe for A True Taste of Christmas

A Recipe for  A True Taste of Christmas

By Jane Tawel

December 11, 2018

 

First, get poor. Literally. Wonder not only where your next meal will come, but be shunned by any group of so -called safety net groups. Be outcast by your religious institution for being sinful and “unclean”; and be considered an illegal alien by the country you have grown up in.

 

Next make sure if you are not yourself currently in labor with an expected child, that you are the spouse of a very pregnant woman. Decide to relocate with no job, no insurance and with no health care,  no doctor, and no Douala around. If you can’t manage being pregnant or the spouse of someone pregnant by Christmas time, then, make sure you are really, really, really sick with something that could easily kill you and that makes it hard to walk or talk or even focus on anything other than how you feel physically which is in pain, afraid, and, well, in pain and afraid.  Oh, and make sure you are of an ethnic religion that the entire world is prejudiced against.  Like Jewish, maybe? Then…

 

Take a 90 mile  (157 kilometer) trip by foot. In worn sandals or barefoot. On dusty dangerous dirt roads. Make sure as you travel (remember, very pregnant or very ill) that you are dependent on the kindness of strangers for the food and water you need on the 90 mile trip. Make sure that even if you arrive after about a week’s walk, that you have no where to stay and that you know no one when you arrive at your final destination.  If you do arrive that is, considering the violence in the country in which you are currently living, where not only criminals and terrorists abound but even those who are meant to uphold the law have become lawless.  I mean the police / soldiers, governors / senators, and priests / rabbis. Those lawless ones who can demand any thing of you or from you since you have no rights.

 

Since you are treated like an animal, decide to have your baby in a sheep shed. At least it is out of the elements and will be safe from the wild dogs. If you can not manage a pregnancy in a sheep shed, this Christmas, and have opted to merely be super, super sick to recreate the true experience, then simply leave your medications behind and after your 90 mile walk, find a little cage at the southern border of your country and snuggle in with all the other outcast, unwanted folks. This will help you feel like the parents of the Christ child felt on the day we celebrate his birth.

 

And as you contemplate this recipe for preparation of a true Christmas, remember that the angels, and kings , the God as Father and miracles  –they are all part of a story that people told long after the Jewish parents, Mary and Joseph had to tell Jesus about the night He was born.  That night, Mary and Joseph were just happy to be alive and that their kid was alive.

 

And as you prepare your recipes for a true Christmas, remember that Jesus loved being alive, just like we do. And that He didn’t want to die, just like we don’t.  But that He believed that only in His death, could He have eternal life with God, just like we can.

 

So celebrate Christmas and celebrate the fact that today, you are alive.  And being alive can  feel like nothing or it can be every thing. And being alive means you can make choices today.

The recipe for my Christmas celebration should be the same as every day.  Will I choose the ingredients for my life that the Jewish Messiah did? That the Jewish parents of Jesus did?  Will I choose to walk the long, lonely, painful road not just to Bethlehem but to Calvary? Will I find joy in a sheep manger as easily as I find joy around a hearth with my well-fed and well-cared for loved ones? Will I be willing to care little for my own comforts in comparison to my great thirst to know and love Jehovah, the Lord? Will I look at others as my brothers and sisters on a planet we have mutually wrecked while mutually mutilating each other, body and soul, and try to heal rather than grab more before it all runs out? Will I believe that there is a future day of celebration when Jesus is the ruler of all humans – a ruler who serves as we serve Him? An eternal dawn where the planet is no longer just one big sheep shed and that the recipe for eternal peace, love and joy will be finally re-made by The Chef who created it in the first place?

Will I who claim the road to Calvary, take The Christ’s first baby steps on the road to Bethlehem?

What meals and snack ideas do I have for eating and making for others while traveling Life’s road? Jesus’ idea for a good meal on the road, was His body and blood. Messiah knew in His heart the truth of this Hebrew recipe: “Oh, taste and see that The Lord is good! Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)

 

 

A Recipe/ Psalm for a Judeo-Christian Holiday

By Jane Tawel

Dear Creator,

First fill my cup with thirst.

May my hands kneed love in need of You.

Spice up my heart with passion for Your Word.

And let the Oil of my faith in Your Covenant

Never run out.

May a small teaspoon be the only portion

Of my earthly gain

So that my eternal fill will

Be only eaten in Your Forever

Feast of Body and Blood.

May I never turn away from my table

 strangers and sojourners; and

Just as You have always fed

Both the good and bad

With sunshine and rain;

May I not stand in judgement

Over the meals that others make;

But instead look to the small

Morsel of my own small self.

May no matter how many times

I eat of You;

Or how much I am served of

Your words and Your Word,

May I hunger only more;

May I thirst only more deeply

For Your Approval,

For Your Love.

May I receive at Your mighty hands–Hands

That created all the ingredients and recipes for all  living things—

A wee little Christmas star—

One star out of the billions of stars that rate the universal Creations—

May I get a little half star,

rating my life today

As worthy of You.

Please, Oh Lord of All,

Messiah, Christ-child,

God of the Ages,

I humbly offer today,

A morsel – an offering of my life,

Of my small snack of a soul.

May you multiply the ingredients of my life today,

As You always do increase

Our silly little

fish and loaves.

 

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Read Their Names. by Jane Tawel

Note:  It takes all the chutzpah I have to post the following, not because I don’t believe it but because I have lost jobs, friends and family from trying to speak out about important things and I have lost hope that any one really wants to change. I see people just going on with their lives as if we are not living in a frightening age right now and most frightening of all, I see people who claim to know God or Jesus act as if somehow God’s grace will cover their sins against others.  Just a head’s up:  If you actually read the Bible, it is pretty clear that it won’t.  America is like the rich nameless man in The Christ’s parable. The rich man  lives with homeless Lazarus at his door and spends his life eating, drinking and being merry behind his safe mansion doors, and then when he dies and realizes he is not actually going to heaven after all, has the gall to say to God, “oh if only You had told me!  At least go tell my brothers so they will be saved.”  God’s reply would be well for us to take to heart today: “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 19:31).

 

Some of us believe that Someone did rise from the dead.  And we still are not convinced.

Read Their Names

by Jane Tawel

November 17, 2018

 

“It’s starting to rain again; it’s… the rain had (uh) slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it (uh) just enough to keep it from…It’s burst into flames! Get this, Charlie; get this, Charlie! It’s fire… and it’s crashing! It’s crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It’s burning and bursting into flames and the… and it’s falling on the mooring mast. And all the folks agree that this is terrible; this is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world. Oh it’s… [unintelligible] its flames… Crashing, oh! Four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it… it’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It’s smoke, and it’s in flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity! And all the passengers screaming around here. I told you; it – I can’t even talk to people, their friends are on there! Ah! It’s… it… it’s a… ah! I… I can’t talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest: it’s just laying there, mass of smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and talk and the screaming. I… I… I’m sorry. Honest: I… I can hardly breathe. I… I’m going to step inside, where I cannot see it. Charlie, that’s terrible. Ah, ah… I can’t. Listen, folks; I… I’m gonna have to stop for a minute because I’ve lost my voice. This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.”
— Herbert Morrison, Transcription of WLS radio broadcast describing the Hindenburg disaster.

 

“Said his grieving and furious mother: “My son was in Las Vegas with a lot of his friends, and he came home. He didn’t come home last night, and I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts. I want gun control, and I hope to God nobody sends me any more prayers. I want gun control. No more guns.” — Mother of Telemachus Orfanus, killed November 7, 2018 by The United States of America’s inability to deal with guns.

 

Read their names below. Read each one. Then realize the next time your child or grand child or your spouse steps out the door to get a coffee, or your grandpa goes to his place of worship, or your kinder gardener goes to class!! — it could be their names. OH THE HUMANITY! It is way past time to change course. Way past. Read each name and then tell me: Does this feel like freedom to you, America? No, what you are witnessing time after time is the “worst catastrophe in the world”. Moses did not use prayer to change the world, he acted. Jesus did not stop at prayer for the Caesars and Pharisees and Sadducees and unclean poor of the world; he wrested the weapon from Peter’s hand and said go change the world. Gandhi did not change the world through his “thoughts”. Mother Teresa did not change the world by “thinking” about the lepers of India. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior had to walk across bridges and go to prison not just preach and pray. Read the names. Then do something if as you claim, you really love your country, your freedoms, your children, and your God. Read their names. They do not appear on your favorite show, they were not your combatant enemies, they won’t be getting another life in a video game, and none of them will be home tonight. And we have decided we love our guns, sitting in our little home safes, protecting us from what? Unless you are hunting for your food, no one should need a gun in America. And maybe if no one else had guns, we wouldn’t have overstressed cops killing innocent security guards mistaking them for just “regular” black people; instead of the hero that Jemel Roberson was before he was killed by a gun. Read his name. Read their names. When did we become zombies who love our guns more than we love people? Oh, the humanity.