Stay Anonymous by Jane Tawel

Stay Anonymous

By Jane Tawel

September 11, 2018

I’m Nobody

Who Are You?

Are You Nobody too?

Then there’s a pair of us – Don’t tell

They’ll banish you know.

How dreary to be Somebody

How public, like a frog

To Tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog.

**Written in 1891 by Emily Dickinson

 

I have recently observed people in power from my outsider’s view as a Dickinson -ian “Nobody”.  I have of course, worked for people in power. Many of the people I have worked for or with are professing Christians, and many of them have achieved a power that has sadly become so masked by “feel good” philosophically excused uses of power that they have no remaining understanding of the dangers of human or national power.  There have in my experience, been several of these powerful leaders who adhere to a particularly odd rule that they will not even read anonymous notes addressed to them, let alone take them seriously  unless the anonymous person “reveals” herself or himself. They claim that there is something subversive, something unethical, about not being willing to put your name on a message.  These powerful men, (and they are most often men but not exclusively so), can take that line in the sand stand because they have enough power in their particular sphere of influence to say and do what they want to and let the chips fall where they may –because of course they assume that like always the chips will never fall –because they have power. And so it goes round and round. But frankly  from the peanut stands here, the anonymous collective opinion is that the very notes leaders should be reading are the anonymous ones.  The notes we should be reading as Americans today are the anonymous ones – not just the current famous one, but all the anonymous “notes” of anonymous people without power trying to speak truth to power throughout our long and checkered history.

 

It is true that one reason people speak anonymously is because they are afraid; but they also speak anonymously because what they have to say is so true that it should brook no argument and yet, because we have gotten to a point in our history as humans where we  seem unable to even admit we are wrong or mistaken,  or uninformed, let alone,  that we are sinful or evil; people will  not admit they are ever wrong and will even argue outrageous lies and not be held accountable. If we cannot accept we are wrong then we definitely can not change course and stop being wrong. And because of this widespread disease of self-justification and self-righteousness and just plain pig-headedness –anonymous speakers know that the argument for and revelation of Truth will be used by the people in power to silence or muddy the truth.  These necessary truths can include correctable truths like  pointing out that what a leader said showed prejudicial views and should be corrected to revealing larger and larger truths  like  money is being spent in wrong ways by our leaders or our leaders are using their power to abuse children.  If I received an anonymous note, would I be obsessed by wanting to know who it is from – yes, that is natural –but would I discount that there may be some truth in the message that I need to listen to – I pray not. I pray I would want to know the truth if it is meant to change something, to better something, to create something good, and not a truth meant just to punish or shame. I hope I want to learn and grow from truth,  no matter how much it might hurt me.

 

Especially anyone who wants to claim a Judeo-Christian worldview should take these unsigned notes coming anonymously as spiritually serious.  You see, if there is fear created in people who work for or with us, then that is quite plainly not “of God” as much of Holy Scripture advises us. (2 Timothy 1:7;  Matthew 10:26-28; etc.).  The second reason is that if someone writes to me anonymously then I must understand that my natural inclination is to protect self-interest, to defend myself, to not admit wrong or sin, so  that I am actually, by the very anonymity of the writer, being lovingly – yes – lovingly! – honored by this person writing without name to me because they care enough – yes care! – about my changing for the better for my own soul’s sake. Do I put the anonymous writer on too high a pedestal? I hope so because of course the writer is in this situation, the “least of these” that the Bible tells me I will need to treat justly lest I be judged lacking someday by the God-man Messiah who came to be the least of these among us.  Jesus didn’t even write to us anonymously – He didn’t write to us at all.  He was so certain of His mission and His understanding of God’s True truth, as revealed in The Hebrew Scriptures and as revealed in His close relationship with His Father, that He didn’t write to us at all.  He didn’t need to because it was already written in God’s Word, in God’s World, and in God’s Nature. Jesus simply lived powerlessly amongst us and  because of His radical choice, He now lives in absolute power at the right hand of God –because of that choice of laying down all the power in the world to the glory of God and the salvation of His people. My dying to my own sense of power is the only way to ever live eternally in the power of the resurrection. I can’t be made whole, new, perfect, if I am clinging to the imperfect powers of self and  of this place and time  in which I  temporarily live.

 

The reason people write anonymous notes is because they don’t have power and think that speaking their truth to a person in power is critical and important enough that they must do so . They of course also may not want to risk losing their jobs. They may not have a golden parachute or a non-disclosure clause or a helpfully rich relative.  There are times of course when people must risk their jobs to do and say the right truth. There are times people risk  not just their livelihoods, but even their lives to speak truth to Power.  But as a little person who has many times felt compelled to speak truth and who has also supported anonymous note writers in their choice of anonymity, I will tell you that I think the real subversive actions are from  those people who have power and will not use that power to look within themselves and figure out why someone is so afraid  or so sure –that they must remain anonymous. The times I have felt compelled to speak truth to power, whether boss, relative or sojourner in Christ, still in remembrance, hurt my heart. The times however, that I did not listen to True Truth spoken to me, hurt my soul and that is more painful and harder to course correct by far.

 

Especially people who claim to follow Jesus as The Christ, should be humble enough to understand how their own power has perhaps blinded them to truth or to the different needs and inferior power structures of “The Other – the Biblical “lesser than’s”. Anonymity reveals needs just as much as signing one’s name to needs, and what anyone with the power to address someone else’s needs  should do with that power  is to follow Biblical injunctions to “die to self” and give to the least of these. We modern day Pharisees and Sadducees are the truly blind guides, the truly subversive abusers of the Good News, the truly unethical, and when we judge the anonymous writer we are leaving the planks in our eyes and judging the speck in theirs.

 

Jesus often told those He healed to stay anonymous and allow Him to remain anonymous from the powers of Rome and the powers of Religion – at least a little longer so that He might heal more, bring Good News to more of those with ears to hear and eyes to see.  Several of the writers of the remembered actions and stories about The Christ were anonymous amalgamations of people who chose a name to put on the Gospel. – decades after The Christ died and rose again.  These Gospel writers weren’t of course anonymous during all the years when the Gospel was orally spoken throughout the world, and so the religious and national powers of the time could kill them for speaking non-anonymously. Paul, who probably often wishes today from His heavenly view, that he had written his letters anonymously so people couldn’t abuse now what he said then, often used his eloquent words to speak to the idea of power. But those aren’t the popular bits that Christians in power today are fond of. We are too contently busy protecting our power and not busy enough taking a knee.

 

I started to write in my first paragraph that I have never wanted to be one of the powerful ones, but that would be a lie. As a parent, I can cringingly, with deep remorse, remember abuses of my power over my children. As a woman, I can remember abuses of my power. As a wife. As a teacher. As a friend.  As a white person. As an American. As a brother or sister in Christ.  Because you see, we are all sinners and all choose, sometimes daily, to eat from the apple of power to use good and evil for gain.

 

As a parent, it took me forever to realize that parents have necessary power  for so long over our children that we have a hard time seeing when we are abusing it or when we are wrong. And we can see this played out on our national scene and in our churches today – this inability to give up one’s power and admit that you – or the horse you backed – or your pastor, pope, priest, or president is wrong; and  then to realize that even powerful people should be informed, chastised, held accountable, and helped to do something differently than he / she has been. Frankly,  sometimes for our good and their own eternal good, these people need to be removed from that position of power before the consequences multiply – for all  involved souls, large and small. You see, we are all sinners, all wrong, all mistaken, and  all eventually powerless and no matter our name, we end the game the same. Hence, we are in this together. We must all recognize that our nature is to abuse our power, no matter how rich, how poor, how weaponized or nuclearized; how democratic or “Christian” we are – Nations included; churches included; businesses included – I included.

 

Our human nature is to desire power in one realm or another and that is a gift,  as long as that power recognizes first, that it can never remain if it keeps trying  to usurp God’s inherent power and that secondly,  it can never ultimately succeed if it keeps trying to usurp another human being’s inherent  and spiritually equal power. We are created to use our personal or national or religious powers for Good.  But of course the mythological telling of The Fall of Human kind is based on the True Truth that all human beings, men and women alike, long for the power that belongs to God and  long for the power that belongs to some one next to them, and long to use that power for the knowing use of good AND evil. And in this we sin daily by abusing our natural powers to become un-natural, ie what we were not created to be.  We also have tragically misused this power given to us as humans in our sins against the power of nature; this power that was given to us in order  to serve the needs of our planet as overseers. We have destroyed not just other humans but the natural goodness of the earth. And we become more and more powerless in that realm because power abused is always power unloosed. Here in lies one revelation of the Christian worldview that “we fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers”.

 

It has been good for my soul to become a little gray -haired nobody. What has been hard for my ego and sometimes hurtful for my pocketbook has been glorious for helping me to walk “further in and further up” as C.S. Lewis might say. Walking in the shoes of people who experience prejudice their whole lives, not just when they are old women has brought me closer to the Messiah who turned our idea of power right side up from the upside down view we prefer as power-hungry sinners. Observing the hypocrisy rampant today has forced me to make different choices myself and to strive harder to act out, not just preach out Good News.  I am reading Holy Words and  those who illuminate True Truth, whether they write for Christianity Today, The Los Angeles Times, or WordPress with new intent on how to live rightly and fervor in how to look inwardly and outwardly at myself and others with those things that remain: faith, hope and the greatest of all, Love.

 

I am more cognizant and accepting of the reality,  that the days of my life in which I have been the most  of a “nobody” have been not only the best days of all, but also the days most like what we are told  we will live in a new Heaven and new Earth. Being a nobody is truly the path to freedom, joy, and Jehovah’s Kingdom, where my name doesn’t matter; only the Way, Truth and Light matter – only He matters.

 

I am reminded of the verse I chose to be a life verse, (while the Angels watched and howled with laughter at the ironic  Bible verse choice of this power-hungry but pathetically weak human). I chose this verse oh -so -naively when I was a high schooler and full of pride, ego, self-righteousness, and misguided power.  It is from a letter signed by Saul, who changed his name in order to give up His power and lay down his life as His Savior did to the least of these. For Paul he gave up his power to serve not only those in his camp, the Jews, but also the Gentiles who desired to be part of God’s people, Jesus’ Jews.  My verse, Galatians 2:20 reminds me that “I am crucified with Christ, yet nevertheless, I live.  Yet not, I, but Christ lives in me.  And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith, of the Son of God –Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

 

See, one of the things about being dead -dead is that you eventually, no matter who you were – President, Pharaoh or Pope – become unknown, anonymous, a nobody, dust.  But we who believe in the Hebrew God  of Revealed Power, and  The Holy Scriptures that reveal True Truth, believe there is a way out of eternal death and into eternal life; a way out of the anonymity of human beings who are from dust and to dust will return; a way into being known forever with a new name that will be our identity known forever, seen forever, living in the light of truth forever in Yahweh.  But unless I become that which is dead to self before I physically die, then no matter how big the lights of my name today, no matter how much power I yield, I am a nobody. The Way of The People who want to claim to be little Christs is only walked by dying to being a somebody in the service of King Jesus, who became a nobody to live with us –yesterday, today, and forever. We become a part of the Some-Body of Christ only by becoming a Nobody to ourselves. It is through giving up the power of our own flesh and desires to honor and serve in the life of faith in the Lord the giver of Life, Jehovah God.

 

Sometimes dying to self for the greater good, means leaving a job that is sucking the soul out of you. Sometimes it means going to a third-world country to bring some good news; and sometimes it means letting a third-world country experience living freely in the good news of your own country. Sometimes it means speaking out for black men in America by taking a knee with them. Sometimes it means giving a twenty to a homeless person and foregoing the McDonald’s drive through. Sometimes it means protesting our current Babylon / America’s injustices, one border atrocity at a time.  Sometimes it means losing your job or getting suspended because you walk out against gun violence.  Sometimes it means speaking truth to people in power,  standing shoulder to shoulder with others or all alone, with your own name proclaimed loudly enough that you might even get killed.

 

But every once in awhile, dying to self, means that you remain anonymous because you know deep inside, that you don’t matter at all and that ultimately, True Truth has a way of fighting its own battles. And that Truth will set you free.

 

And for some of us in power dying to self means  not discarding but in fact, reading the anonymous note written to and perhaps even about us,  and then humbly, contritely, giving up the ultimate power of being right and joining the eternal cast of nobodies.

 

We may choose  to be like the multitude of somebodies that this world assures us we all can be. We may choose to use our gifts not for making the world a better place but for making us more powerful, for getting us ever more stuff than we need. We may walk in that wide way of the world and think we are somehow being unique and special. Aren’t we  encouraged that we can all be Greatness and Power just by our own desire to “Just Do It”, right?

But some of us in order that someday “we will be like Him”, may choose to be nobodies. Because He became a Nobody. We may choose to walk humbly before God, no matter our title or resources, and to give unto others as we would desire to have given unto us. We may choose to believe that it is true Truth that some day we will only have left what we gave to the least of these and that all our skills and talents and powers will be dross and dust. We may choose to believe that only our Love will remain. We may choose to lay down our lives as if we were nobody just like a Nobody from Nazareth did for us. And only with that choice, which might include  choosing to be changed by and live by the words not just of famous but also of anonymous writers,  are we assured that one day, we will be Somebody worth being. We will in fact be with Somebody, worth being.

 

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“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (As recorded as the words of the Nobody from Nazareth in the Book of Matthew)

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Were Still Alive, What Would You Do for Free?

 

 

If You Were Still Alive, What Would You Do for Free?

By Jane Tawel

September 4, 2018

Laborious Thoughts on Labor a Day after “Labor Day”

 

 

It’s trendy to think through those imaginary conundrum questions. “Would you kill a thousand people for a million dollars”?  “If you could steal money without being caught would you? These constructs are intended to reveal something about our ethics.  Most of us  get to play around with the idea of what we would do for money without consequences, because it will never be an actual real -life  choice for us (unless  of course you are currently an American Congressman).

 

The other imaginary conundrum that strikes me as an odd way of thinking – and stay with me here — is when people say, “My grandma would have been 104 today if she had lived.”  And I of course, as the overthinker that I am, immediately note (hopefully not out loud) — But…. She…. Didn’t… Live ….. Right?  I mean, if  Ghandi had lived he would be 149 years old this year.

Yowza! – If Methuselah were still  alive he would be like 3069 years old today, right?  But if he were still alive and what he would be doing today IF, doesn’t really get me very far, does it?  And what someone dead would do if they were alive is just like the question, “What would I do for a million dollars?“

 

Would you kill one person for a million dollars, isn’t really a fair ethical conundrum because unless you are a hit man, you don’t get paid for killing someone; You hopefully, get  caught and get life. And then you get sort of the reverse of the question, “If my grandma were alive, today”; you get the question, “IF I didn’t get life in prison for killing someone for a million dollars what would I be doing today”?

 

But all of this leads me to an actual ethical, moral, world view question we seem to have stopped asking ourselves long ago.  This is the question, “What would I do if I didn’t get paid for it?”  And this I believe, if you read the Hebrew Bible, is at the root of the Judeo-Christian worldview. It is how we were created and always intended to live. It is how Jesus radically lived as a human. And it is a conundrum question that we need to, I believe, very quickly start asking ourselves no matter what our belief community.  There is a “it’s going to be too late” quality to our lack of desire to ask ourselves this question. This question seems to me to be desperately needed as a searing light, or an emergency surgery for people claiming any sort of relationship with God.  If we do not start looking at the Biblical paradox of leaning into a God who supplies all the world’s needs and who requires us to give up all of our wants for the desires of His heart, we will not be known by the Messiah who lived this radical “It’s all free”  life while among us.     We will not be ready for heaven unless we are living on earth as it will be in heaven.

 

So I ask myself a lot of questions about this and my questions now are quite unformed and my vision of what I am trying to see very distant, unattainable and hazy.  Because of course I am, like everyone, cursed – for now, until my own resurrection and a new heaven and new earth. Genesis 3:17 has God bluntly describing what our future careers will feel like: “cursed is the ground because of you; through toil you will eat of it all the days of your life”.

 

Here is the crux of what I am struggling with. We who claim the name of Christ as Messiah, and we who would claim to be the people of the one true God Jehovah have given ourselves over to the false idols of manna and self-accomplishments. And this is no where more evident than in the current day  constructs of capitalistic, self-serving, personality worshiping, American churches.

 

I am reading some paradigm changing books by a man named Garry Wills. In two different books of his, he has opened my mind to reflect on the lives of both Jesus and Paul in radical, belief shifting ways.  In regards to this topic though of work, money, Judeo-Christian belief, evangelism, freedom, service etc. Wills has given me pause.  First, Garry Wills opened my eyes to the idea that some theologians and scholars believe that Jesus’ did not work as a carpenter for Joseph.  They posit that Jesus’  “hidden years” before his three year public ministry to the Israelites, were spent with John the Baptist and other disciples, living hand to mouth in the mountains and living a life of “evangelism” in places far from Jerusalem. This means Jesus worked for food and trusted God, as He says to The Twelve, “for I have food you know nothing about.”  Then we get to Paul who people always claim worked as a tent maker but Wills points out that Pricilla and Aquinas who were Saul’s mentors in the faith, were tent makers, and that it is more likely, Paul worked whatever hard grueling task was available in the communities he served with in his travels.  Paul even claims to be a slave and to do slaves’ work, and Wills writes that this is because Paul actually fed himself by working along side the slaves so that he could witness to them of The Messiah, Jesus.

 

So the following mash-up is where I am going to go off-road and hope that this garbled mess of questions and ponderings will perhaps be a small pebble dropped in the pond of some one else’s desire who like I, longs to “know God with all my heart, soul, mind and Facebook postings.”

 

 

Question A: What would you do for money?

Answer:  That is your job, your toil. That is what you must do to supply what you need to live – until you either die eternally or live in Christ eternally.

 

Question B: What would you continue to do even if you didn’t get any money  or  perhaps even accolades for doing it?

Answer:  That is your ministry.  That is your freedom in God. That is what you do for God and others and  therefore, you cannot do that thing for any personal gain.

 

And unlike the questions raised about killing people or dead people still alive, these are questions we should be answering, because our answers, whether we know it or not, have effected the entire world.

 

What we of course need to look at is not what Grandma would be doing if she were still alive, but what did she do with her time while she was alive?  What did Grandma do with that Time?  What am I doing with the resources, talents, money, abilities, and time that I have WHILE I’m alive?  What did Grandma do with them? Or Gandhi? Or Methuselah?

 

And of course, this is what we do look at with people we love or people who become famous, like Gandhi, for doing certain things with their lives. But we don’t like so much asking ourselves those questions while we are living, because we might have to make some changes, take some risks, give up our ideas of how things should be, and treat others differently.  We would definitely be forced to see God and Jesus differently. We like to create a giant chasm between the conditions of living now and the conditions of living “in heaven someday”. Hence the idea of living on earth as it is in Heaven is scary and more than that, irritating.

 

Let’s face it, once we are dead, well, we are all sort of hoping that the construct changes, right? Once I claim a certain religious set of precepts, then I am supposed to anticipate getting something – eternal life, blessings, the love of God, salvation for no work on my part, etc. I get something – eternal salvation – for nothing, no work. But is there any indication in the Bible or in reality that that could possibly be true?   Here’s a little ditty I wrote:

 

Thinkin’ about our life on earth;

Comparin’ to future rebirth.

No more sorrow?

No more pain?

No more money?

No more gain?

And no more Time—

Eternity?

So what does that mean NOW for me?

 

 

 

The conceptual construct we should be thinking about is a bit unsettling for most of us who might  desire to claim to live by a Christian worldview without counting the cost – the cost that The Christ warns us about.  You see the Biblical way is not one of pay for me but cost for me – cost of money, cost of talents, cost of my life. The real question must therefore be:  What would I do for no money?  In other words,  ask yourself this — what would you do even if you did not get paid for it?  Jesus goes further and asks his disciples, “Will you follow me, giving up everything even a place to sleep, even the praise of others?” This is why the story of Mary and Martha hits home.

 

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38 – 42)

 

 

I last wrote about my struggles in thinking on what it would mean for those who claim a community in Christ to be free  in my essay entitled, “Tear Down Those Prison Walls”. In it I quoted Meister Eckhart who wrote, As long as we look for some kind of pay for what we do, as long as we want to get something from God in some kind of exchange, we are like the merchants.  My rock and hard place is that I have loved growing up in churches but what I sense today is that we as Christians in an uber-capitalistic, uber-individualistic/humanistic nation have erroneously and grievously confused jobs with ministry. We have made Christ’s corporal body of individuals into a self-serving, self-satisfied corporate-structured business. We treat the pastors differently than the janitors. We need money to keep our programs going. We sit with people who think like us and look like us. We pay salaries commensurate with the CEO’s of other American businesses. We go there and leave there and live no differently with other humans on Monday than we did on Saturday night. And most telling, we do not go to hear God but to hear a paid motivational speaker give a good lecture – a little motivational talk, some prayers that make us feel good and safe, and some paid performers who make us smile and cry and feel something much like the movie we watched on television did last night. And none of this has anything to do with a desire or need to worship and sacrifice to a Holy Un-safe God.

 

It is obvious that we confuse the role of representative with that of paid ruler, and I believe this is true not only in the halls of our nation’s governments but most tragically true in our churches and Christian institutions as well. It is the Aaron / the golden calf problem.  We want to be God’s people but like the Israelites did, we find Moses’ truth telling and stuttered mumbling inconvenient.  Moses’ God makes us extremely uncomfortable – better to put a bit of distance between us and let the professionals take over while we worship American Idols. We’ll meet you after Sunday Service pep talks and feel-good pats on the back, for some Golden Arches Cattle Happy Meals. God will be safely kept stored at the alter til next week. No need to look on Him or let Him look inside us.  Just give Aaron our gold and keep surfing toward that promised Promised land which we much prefer to be waiting ahead for us, not worked for now in this wilderness.

 

I have loved going to church my whole life, hearing sermons, hearing choirs and praise groups, hearing prayers; I still love to, frankly. But I believe that just as God had to smite the person who felt the Ark of the Covenant needed his protection and just as The Christ had to whip through the courts of the Temple; it is time for the American church to realize, God does not need our protection and we have become the money changers at the doors of God’s temple, the Body of Christ, His People. What we have created as opposed to what God intended needs to get a major Reset.  I know there are people saying this smarter than I and people doing this braver than I.  But I think one place for most of us to start is by first really  looking outside at Jesus and the apostles who followed Him and be honest about what they say and what they did and how they lived.  Perhaps this is the time to ask that other question, “If Paul were still alive he would be 2000 years old; what would he write in his letters to our churches?”  And of course we should ask daily, “If Jesus were still alive,….. oh, wait a minute….. Oh…..

 

After looking outside we should then move to  searching inside and my suggestion would be to fling the idol of making money to the curb and ask yourself, “What would I do for free?”

 

So what follows is a little personal journaling and this where my off-roading hits the stratosphere of unmooring thinking.

 

  1. Would I raise my children for no money? Well, some people would say I did but that isn’t true.  If my husband had not worked to put food on our table and school books in their hands, I would not have been able to not get paid during those years of child-raising.  So I worked for our family while he worked for money.  Hence, this was not a ministry. Plus, parents get praise for raising good kids.  That is payment. Believe me I know because now that my kids are adults, parenting really does become ministry.
  2. Would I teach for free? Well, I have done, but no, in general that is a job. It is a job that certainly deserves more payment than it gets.
  3. Would I write for free? Well, I do but only because no one has offered me money for what I write. LOL.  I pay a lot to purchase what good writers write. I love to read good writing; good thinking; good theology; good art. Real writers, like all artists, are another group of people who do what they love and thankfully, sometimes, because they get paid for writing, can put food on their tables because of it.
  4. Would I stay married if I didn’t get paid for it? Would I clean my house if I didn’t get paid for it? Would I keep pets if I didn’t get their doggie praise for it?
  5. I am fascinated with the structure of the Jehovah Witnesses – none of whom get paid for “ministry”. They take vacation days from work to witness; they have no paid “Sabbath” speakers; and those who work on the magazines get paid a minimal stipend, not a salary which they must find elsewhere.  They believe we should be living Kingdom life on earth as it is in Heaven. Is this why we call them a cult? So we don’t have to ask ourselves if we “Christians” should be living and worshiping Jehovah in the same manner – because we definitely don’t want to practice Christ’s Way, that way,for sure! How many pastors, cardinals, youth leaders would continue to work for The Church if we didn’t pay them a salary and they had to get a job “out there” to feed their families?

 

Now here are the other considerations I’m mulling over.

 

  1. If you work or teach at a Christian school that is not ministry? No, you are paid for your knowledge and hands on work.
  2. If you pray at a Christian school is that ministry? No, you are being paid to be with those people.  I learned this the hard way.  Prayer is a thing we do because we want God to bless our work and money- making enterprise.  Perhaps this is why Jesus cautions us to pray alone in a closet. Praying for our business to gain is not what prayer is for.
  3. If you are a pastor getting paid to speak on Sundays is that ministry? No, it is a job. You are lucky I guess, that people want to pay to hear you speak but don’t think this is how things were meant to be in Christ’s Kingdom.  If you are a pastor that visits the sick or helps the homeless, and you get a salary for doing it, because that is your job title, it is not ministry.  If you are friend who visits the sick after work, or a volunteer at a soup kitchen, that is ministry.
  4. If you are paid to pick up garbage that is a job. If, as you rack up points on your fit-bit, you pick up trash on the streets that some no good litterer has dropped, because you care about the earth, that is ministry.
  5. If you give to your church, and it has become someone’s salary, you are part of the corporate structure. You are buying a product just like I am willing to buy the products of theologians and authors in order to read and learn. There is nothing wrong in this, and I have done this of course because I want to support the institution in its work. But the key is, this is supporting someone’s work, not God’s ministry to us through His chosen people. This is not a sacrifice to God, this is a purchase from a merchant in the outer courts of God’s temple. You are buying the product of a teacher, or theologian, or music director in order to learn and perhaps provide their services to others who want to learn.  This is, however,  not what our worship or ministry was meant to be; and how far we have come in believing so is the story of the wayward selfish journey of humankind from The Genesis. What was meant to be The Way to gain The Soul  has become a profitable religion of us versus them to gain The World. Our current lack of that which was set up as worship of God and care for our planet and all beings within it, is the result of the incremental course misguidedness of steering away from God’s true north.
  6. If you give a dollar to a homeless person, that is ministry. If you give them a granola bar and a tract, that is control.
  7. If you teach Sunday School for no pay, that is ministry. If you run the Sunday School for a salary, that is not ministry.  That is you using your skills like any worker would. Nothing wrong with that– but please don’t ask for understanding, support, special praise,  or prayer in any other way than the guy would – and Should! – ask for those things, when he slaps a patty on a burger at McDonalds; or when she picks strawberries in a field; or when they clean your toilets, or weed your gardens; or babysit your children so you can make money. That is, if you want to see the world as God sees it or you want to live as the Body of Christ.  Read Holy Scripture – you will be surprised that it does indeed say this.

 

There is of course nothing wrong or sinful with using one’s skills to feed oneself.  In fact, there is something wrong or sadly unable, in some way with people who do not  or can not use their skills in order to eat and shelter and buy clothes. And you are lucky if you get to use the skills you enjoy and even love using  in order to feed yourself and perhaps a spouse or kids or pet.  Working is what we must do – now – since The Fall, since sin and living by the toil of our hands came into being. And the Bible is clear we are to be known  as God’s people by our being good workmen, not ashamed of our use of our skills.  The thing is, they are not a part of our eternal being. Work as we know it, will be changed just as our bodies will be changed when we are resurrected into That Life.

 

Will we use our skills in “Heaven”.  Yes.  But will we need to use our skills to eat? No. And that will make all the difference in the world.  In that day and place, we will be resurrected to what we were always meant to be as humans; beings who work with no pain, only joy. People who work  and create completely in harmony with each other, and to glorify The Creator of All. Only then, when we are restored to right relationship with God and in eternal service to Christ the King in a new heaven and a new earth, will our work no longer be for money or personal gain, but will in fact be the ministry to God and each other that we in our inner most parts, long for.

 

And this paradigm shift in living, is what should be making all the difference for those of us still “in the world but not OF the world”.  Just as we look at young children, and think, “ah to be young again and not have to work”; so we should look at those who claim to be reborn into life in Christ. Paul, the worker bee and missionary wrote to his brothers and sisters in the community at Galatia, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”.  We are to be slaves, to Christ alone and when we take up that great eternal work, we will understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28 -30)

Maybe the only thing I personally do daily without getting any pay or any praise in return, is study God’s Word and God’s World;  and maybe  lie awake at night feeling God’s presence and trying to listen to Him (in between the times I beg Him for stuff, of course). Both of these things that I think I do for free are pretty frightening and make me feel not accomplished but weak.  These uses of my time and resources, seem to strip something from me before possibly adding something to me. I’m trying to do more things for free, especially now that I have been “let go” from a Christian job that I wasn’t a “good fit for” – hahahaha. Who would guess that?

It’s been a searing way for me to understand our confusion and mistaken theological worldview between “Christian” jobs  (in quotes) and “Christian” people  (in quotes) and Christ – not in quotes. And since my adult children don’t need me any more, so I have lots of free time to do free stuff. I’m refusing to write about the things I am trying to do as a freedom evangelist, since that would mean I might get something for it, like praise. See, being with out work that I loved – motherhood, teaching – gives me a whole new perspective on the world as created in our image versus the world as God desires it in His Son’s image.

 

Figuring out the difference in my life between doing something for self and doing something for God and others is super, super-duper, almost impossibly difficult. But in the final analysis, the question of why and for Whom I am working is the same as the question: “If my grandma were alive, she’d be 104 years old and I wonder what she would be doing?  So I guess it all boils down to, “If I were really alive in Christ, what would I be doing for free?”

Our lives are meant to be lived in the paradox, the tension of when we are most slavish, we are most free; when we are most weak, He is most strong; when we are dead to self; we are alive in Christ; and when we are most poor in things of this world, we are most rich in things of real eternal value. And if we trust in the provision of He who is Eternal,  He will make us worker bees whose nets are cast and overflowing in a sea of human beings; gaining those treasures that will never rust, never rot, and will because they are worked out  in slavish Love, remain forever and ever. Amen.

So here is the Question of the Hour:  “If you were still alive, what would you do with your time today? If you were living in eternity today, what would you do for free? What would you really  keep doing as a servant of God if you didn’t make a dime from it?

rebellion-01

 

 

The following are Biblical Meditations on God’s view of Work, Service, and How We Should Live. According to Jesus:

.

Jesus, our Brother and King reminds us to keep our hands to His work and to serve as He serves, “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.” (Luke 12:37-38)

 

The Christ’s Words as found in the Book of Matthew, on how the God of His People the Hebrews and the Creator of the Universe, expects us to work and live:

 

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tear Down Those Prison Walls

Tear Down Those Prison Walls and Run Free

By Jane Tawel

August 18, 2018

jesus-behind-bars-prison-wooden-figure-jesus-churc-church-easter-39923275

 

Meister Eckhart

As long as we look for some kind of pay for what we do, as long as we want to get something from God in some kind of exchange, we are like the merchants. If you want to be rid of the commercial spirit, then by all means do all you can in the way of good works, but do so solely for the praise of God. Live as if you did not exist. Expect and ask nothing in return. Then the merchant inside you will be driven out of the temple God has made. Then God alone dwells there. See! This is how the temple is cleared: when a person thinks only of God and honors him alone. Only such a person is free and genuine.

 

This quote by Meister Eckhart expresses well what has been on my mind as I look at American Christianity in particular, and The Church in the world in 2018. In my own country, it seems that the curtain has been suddenly and violently pulled back revealing the underbelly of a monstrous misunderstanding of what many of us claim is the truth of God in Christ’s revelations and the words of Holy Scripture.

 

We have gone so far into making Christianity a capitalistic individualistic religion that most of us can’t really see at all how to live The Jesus Way anymore.  We have sold Christ’s Kingdom for paid ministry.  We have justified our gains by calling them blessings. We have shared what we can afford to share and assumed that Christ died for us without any need for us to die to ourselves and live for the love of our enemies. We have disagreed with each other without any purpose higher than our own self-satisfied viewpoint. We have condemned the sinner and refused to condemn the sin of our own pride, greed, and smallness. The speck in our own eye has blinded us to the needs of a dying planet’s planks of rainforest proportion. We have found idols without names and joined cults of personalities without souls. The broad path is Walmart-sized while the narrow path is being littered with the trash of the world’s super-economies.  We are lost and we do not know it, because the marketplace is thriving. And we think that what we do in churches can make up for what we have done to God’s Temple.

 

It may be time to stop calling ourselves “little Christs” until we relearn what that means in this time, in this place, in this trial, in this suffering, in this mammoth Babylon made of paper money, security cameras, and nightly numbing entertainments. Perhaps it is time we stopped training pastors and priests and paying them at all; instead listening to the sidewalk prophets lying homeless on our streets. Perhaps no one should accept money for publishing a devotional Bible. Perhaps evangelism should be as free as the Salvation Jesus offers us. Perhaps instead of moaning about cakes and billboards and carpets and even cancer, we should meditate long and hard on what is profiting our souls as we continue to gain the world.

 

Maybe we should worship in parks and living rooms and share what we bring  — of our goods and of our goodness –to be together in spirit and in truth. Perhaps my job should be just that – my job –and my ministry, my religion, my image bearing should be just that – something wild, something free, something communal, something out of my control, something healing, and lonesome, something humble and meek and bold and crazy – just like Jesus’s ministry was. And is. Or could be, anyway.

 

When is it “Time’s up” for me – for us – to understand that the path is narrow, and almost impossible to walk on. The Jesus Way means I must separate my need to live from my need to live in Him. I must be willing to work to feed myself and work to feed others; to provide fish for my table must be separated from being a fisher of men.  This is actually the opposite of the Gnosticism that we now embrace as Christians, thinking that my daily body life can be sanctified if somehow I have “Jesus in my heart”. I must find a way out of thinking that there is no struggle in the dichotomy of this world now and this world as it was meant to be and as we are meant in God to recreate it. I must let my left hand serve my human needs without knowing what my right hand is doing serving the needs of souls. We must see how far we have fallen into the Solomonic way of thinking that we can have it all and still have Eternity in Christ. I must give up any personal gain that I can fathom, if I want something on earth, as it is in heaven.

 

Perhaps it is time for a temple cleansing. If Christ came to tear the curtain between the Holy One and the sinful ones; then perhaps it is time for us sinful ones to rip apart the curtains of our earthly mansions and looking through the dusty windows of our humbled souls, see the world as God sees it.  Janis Joplin sang it well: “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” Or as Jesus said, “What is all your profit really worth, if in the end, all you get to keep is what remains of the God-likeness in you?”  Jesus came to set us free but we have to walk through the prison doors to enjoy that freedom.

 

Perhaps it is time for us to see the prison bars of capitalism and self-serving individualism that we have constructed and  falsely called “Christianity”. Perhaps it is time to tear down those bars and then start setting other prisoners free. Perhaps it is time to tear down the walls of the churches, to stop selling in the temples, and to with fear and trepidation seek the freedom that comes from true worship and true servant-hood.

 

As Jesus said, “It can all be summed up like this:  Love a God Who is not you.  And also –Love others in exactly the same measurements and judgments in which you love yourself.”

 

Maybe it is time to rip apart the walls of our hearts with no apparent protection from the onslaught of freedom. Perhaps it is time to repent from our foolish self-blinding way of seeing our world, and see through the eyes of Christ. And with the eyes of Christ, we can run free indeed.

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free.”  — Jesus, The Christ (as quoted in Luke 4:18)

Today in the newspaper, I read about a woman who was imprisoned for seventeen years because a false witness lied to the police and no one cared enough to find out the truth. We want to say that we are following the path set out by Jesus but instead we are reclining at our tables while a whole world is imprisoned by lies from the Father of Lies. The oppression of greed goes hand in hand with the oppression of need. Do we care enough to find out the Truth? Do we care enough to find out the truth about The Truth, The Way, and The Life — Messiah? Can I get a witness?

But on “That Day”, The Lord will separate the greedy from the needy. No matter where or when we live, how much we have or don’t have, we are not at all worthy. That is a lie of Satan from the time of Adam and Eve. Yet many in  The Church are fond of telling us that in this cheap grace era but expensive Christian era; that somehow we are worthy. We have stolen  the dross of wealth instead of giving up all for the solid gold crown of eternal worthiness. We are all sinners, guilty as charged. There is only One Witness who is True and who can set us free. Jesus. The Witness, who is The King, who is the Judge, will one day ask me if I lived as a witness for Him.  God will one day ask me as a hard trial lawyer or a judge would, if I own enough to pay to get out of jail. And none of us will be able to say, yes, — not even Mr. Amazon himself.  Will The Church continue to think it is about what we own and not what we are? Should those who want to be like Jesus, claim any freedom to “practice their religion in freedom”? No, we have no freedom except the freedom to give up everything, and take up the cross of Christ. If we who are guilty die with He Who was not guilty, then we will live in resurrected freedom forever.

Jesus has our get out of jail card and the right directions on the path to eternal freedom. Above this world’s prison bars is this message: “If you want true freedom, even the ultimate freedom from death, then give up everything, and follow God.” And this is absolutely impossible to do. And yet, Christ did it. And Christ offers to do it for, in and through us.

Perhaps it is time, we let Him set us free.

155784-425x312-Prison-Tattoo

 

 

 

Getting My Monster On

Getting My Monster On

By Jane Tawel

August 5, 2018

 

 

 

I am growing older and I would think that having had so many people in my life that I have loved, liked or been irritated by (sometimes all of those for the same person, of course, in the same moment), I would think –that I would think less about me and more about them.  But I find I wake up each morning with myself immediately on my mind.  And it is depressing.  I feel depressed. I feel patched together, sort of like a “human-wanna-be”.  When I look in the mirror or try to hold a conversation,  or actually, try to move any part of my body including my eyebrows, I think to myself, this is what zombie movies are trying to tell us.

 

First of all, I am not keen on an old body. It doesn’t wake up well. Even after stretching while still lying in bed, even though I daily rejoice in good health and the ability to still do things I’ve always done, even if not as fast, my body, well – the song, “the old grey goose she ain’t what she used to be” comes to mind.  My sister, Janet and I decided I shall now call what used to be my daily run, my daily “wog” – a sort of “interval training” of walking and jogging. Thankfully, I have always preferred to exercise alone because a wog is not a pretty sight. Unless you are a toddler wogging, and toddlers are cute no matter what.  Although old people do have many traits in common with toddlers, like balance issues, speech issues, and potty issues, toddlers have change to look forward to, whereas old people have changes to dread.

 

Second of all, I am not that amazed by my mind. My mind is now a bit like the LPs I used to buy, scratched and skipping. Just like old records, old minds tend to repeat a lot too.

 

I am not especially happy with what people now call my “Legacy”.  My personal Achievements? – well, mommy pigs raise their piglets with love and duck teachers inspire their little student ducklings. If animals can achieve it, then what sets my human achievements apart? I realized the other day it seems the only thing humans do in this day and age, even while hanging out with other humans, is to practice using their opposable thumbs. I mean, seriously, you look at a whole airport full of human beings holding these tiny little shiny rectangles and working their opposable thumbs like crazy and you think, well, shoot, Koko could do that! I think it is such a great joke that texting on cell phones is not done with our five fingers but with our two thumbs, making us all look a bit less human and a bit more apelike. This to me is one of the great proofs of my own theory of Devolution.

 

But ultimately what obsesses my ever increasing down -time thinking, is my disappointment and sadness with what I have done and not done with my soul.  This would mean in catechism language, my sins of omission and commission. And be forewarned — I love, like, but am also irritated by those who would give me “pep talks” on this, or write up a nice little disclaimer to attach to these words of self-assessment.  Thanks, but no thanks. Because frankly, any of us who try to learn more about what a good and worthy human is supposed to be must understand that the mirror is cloudy because we keep blowing hot air on it; and the glass is dim because we insist on using our own ego-framed spectacles and not God’s eyes, Christ’s view. Our souls have become more like Dr. Frankenstein’s machine created monsters than the God-imaged creative supervisors of a beautiful planet.

 

It would be humorous if it weren’t eternally damning to look at the Biblical injunctions we choose to take literally and compare them to the ones we choose to take metaphorically. We look at what we like and find personally useful about our own journey in our culture, society, situation, nation, or group and then pick and choose the things we like or don’t like in what God and The Christ have tried to teach us about living this thing we call “being human”.  We argue about context and out of context issues as if we know what the hell – and I do mean hell as in the place – we are talking about and what the heaven – and I do mean heaven as in the place – the other person is talking about.  And honestly, the more I look at what God has created on this planet and how we have abused our rights to it; and the more I look at what Jesus said about being human and how we have abused our rights to do humanness with other humans, I think, I am still completely upside down and trying to walk forward on just my head. And I can pretty much guarantee that we were not created to walk that way. We were, quite simply, to created to walk in love with God and others. But even our idea of what Love is has become a parody.

 

My son Gordon and I like the movie “Young Frankenstein”. One of the most famous scenes in the movie is when Gene Wilder, that great physician Frankenstein, is told by Igor, Marty Feldman, to “walk this way”.  Feldman is a sort of monster with a hunchback and a limp. He of course means that Wilder is to follow him by coming “this way” but Wilder takes it in literal context and follows humorously behind Feldman by walking trying to imitate Igor’s  limp and hunchback. We have as humans taken out of context what God means when He says to “walk this way”, and while we look in our own mirrors and see a human evolved to walking upright, God sees us as the devolved monsters our selfish souls reflect.

 

When God came to live among us, He had to take on the form of us and He asked us to imitate Him and walk this way. God, in Jesus, took upon Himself, a limp and a hunchback and by doing so He recreated what it means to be fully human.  Unlike Dr. Frankenstein, Jesus did not create a monster but revealed to us what monsters we have become. We look on the physical in others and ourselves and see the monstrous there, while never seeing that the real limping monsters  are internal. Unless we daily follow the path set out for our souls, we will keep imitating the wrong way to walk.

 

It seems silly and demeaning to choose to walk with a limp and hunched over, but that is the only way to walk as The Christ did.  His last walk on this earth was hunched under a cross and He limped toward Calvary, condemned as a monster. “Father, forgive them; for they don’t really know what they are doing.”

 

If you wake up some mornings, or all mornings as I do, and aren’t quite sure what you are doing, what you have been doing this whole time on earth, and what tomorrow might mean that you can not do – then the Great Physician, Dr. Christ, has an impossible dream for you made possible only by following His quixotic example. The dream is made possible only by being recreated as a human being, born again.  This means that if The Son of God, the perfect Human, spent His time on earth thinking about others, caring for others, loving others, healing others,  dying for others,  then  if I want to live each day as a real human being, I need to believe that what He proved was possible is possible for all of us. To live is to die to self in order to live forever.

 

It is possible to think less about me and more about Him and more about them. I just need to retrain my way of walking and follow Him.  I need to accept the beauty of a wog well lived, no matter what others think. I need to walk not this way; I need to walk The Way.

 

As I try today to get a view of this world from God’s upright position and not continue to see it while trying to walk on my head, it will, daily feel like I’ve been spun around dizzily like an old record on a turntable. I know I will look as awkward as my wog. But to be reborn, means that if I keep growing, I will eventually be a toddler. And toddlers are cute no matter how they walk.

 

It will hurt to walk with God’s limp instead of my own strident stride forward.  It will seem that I am being silly and unrealistic to hunch my soul over in humility. I may even have to stop using my opposable thumbs so much and turn to the fellow human next to me and love them. But one advantage of being allowed to live as long as I have is the realization that in the final analysis, Jesus really had it right.
“Come, follow me,” says the God-man. “I am The Way. Walk The Way.”

 

Time to get my monster on.

young frank

Maybe You Have Left Us — A very long meditation poem. By Jane Tawel

Maybe You Have Left Us

by Jane Tawel

November 20, 2017 – July 22, 2018

This is a very long poem-like meditation, a modern-psalm-ish thing of lamentation. It is something I have worked on a long time and just need to be “finished with” for now. It came out of this ache and longing, I guess, to come to grips with a struggle within myself about with how far off course I feel we seem to have sailed in our ideas about God and His / Her relationship with us humans and our planet. It is based on Biblical records of God’s coming and going, Jesus’ coming and going, and the willful coming and going of the Holy Spirit. You will find pathetic sophomoric allusions to The Great Thinkers of the ages, like L’Engle, Dickinson, Greek philosophers, Dolores O’Riordan and The Cranberries, Shakespeare, Pink Floyd,  and  so on — listen to them instead of me, of course.   It is also a meandering collection of random droppings from nights of lying awake in the night and wondering, Are You there, God? If so, I’m rather lost down here.  And finally it comes from a deeply dissatisfied weariness of facile answers and cheap grace talk. It is not for the faint of heart nor the short of time. LOL! Perhaps like any personal thoughts, the sharing of mine  might open a door for someone else’s thoughts, valuable to them.

 

 

We’ve cornered You in books and boxes–

Dry pages turning over Your name,

like dirt turning over a gravesite, so

Maybe getting bored or irritated?

Maybe? You Have Left Us?

 

We gather publically to kneel easterly in modern streets

And fight neighbors over thievery- aged space

to beg You for things and more things.

And You are known to get angry at abuses of Your name, so maybe,

Maybe You have left us?

 

We rant like ants in a bowl of super-sized Super superstitious  Super-sized Super Stars.

I’m thinkin’ –Maybe You have left us?

 

We think of You as the putz who promises persistently to part the Red toilet-bowl-sized Seas of people’s petty problems.

You are the definition of a putz: “one who engages in inconsequential or unproductive activity”. See you Sunday if I can make the time for You. If not You’ll forgive me with Your Walmart-priced grace. Welcome to Discounted God-grace.

We still hope you will continue to pick up the bill and get us out of our fixes and hand over the goodies without much effort on our parts. That is how we see You — #Genieinabottlegod.

 

 

But didn’t I see somewhere on a dusty shelf that

we used to view You as

Someone who created us

out of dust

to be gods.

Isn’t there a repressed memory (oh, god, I long to repress it!)

That once in paradise

we lived like

gods

owning out- of- this- world power, wisdom, glory, truth,

beings who were with you, were

like You;

we lived

created to creatively create as mini-Me gods

in Your eternal Being-With-ness.

But that was a long time ago,

When You were With Us, #emmanuel.

 

Here– Now–

we wallow in our wimpy wan and selfish greed

mistaking greed for power

preferring to beg You but not to be like You.

Frankly, we would quite prefer not to expend the energy it must take to create and By Jove!-

it is much easier to destroy stuff, in the image of some random, soul-sucking goddess of the ancients

Yep – that is us -Toys Ares are Us. #bestBastBuys

Just another game somewhere with machine guns, killing the zombies which Ares just

A bunch of panty-waisted school kids from over the border of otherness.

 

We beg You for incidentals

in a world crying for LIFE!

writ large indeed.

We praise You for our gourmet buffets

in a world crying for clean and living Water.

We hammer up cameras to spy on thieves

and miss the daily stealers of our souls.

We blithely tip the cup

on Sundays before brunch

and rise on Mondays to brazenly pour out cups and cups and cups and cups…

into the landfills of our nations

while neighbors worship– roofless, shoeless, dirty,

in their hovels of holiness.

Are You there? Hello?

What language is Your Spirit speaking where?

Oh, God, maybe You really aren’t there when I feel like you aren’t there?

Oh, God, maybe you have left us?

 

 

We shut the city gates, and build the Western Walls, eyes in the skies help keep our carpets clean, we celebrate our blessings of being imprisoned against those who are licked by dogs, who gladly take the crumbs from a table we no longer sit at in reverence, no longer wasting our perfumed lives weeping repentance in the footsteps of You.

We daily eat the flowing bread and drink the wine bought with the price of an hour’s litigation, thinking that the one meal we ate, ingesting You into our tiny, closed up hearts was enough to feed us ’til the Judgment– trusting that Your once upon a time, in a land far, far away sacrifice of being spitted -on and spitted on a stake for our future consumption, believing against any reasonable belief that  Your One Man-band’s sacrifice on the deathly cross paid up all our bills. We daily leave Your offered Feast for offal feats and for the remembrance of how good that one meal tasted. Long, long ago we rose from Your table, barely able to move from stuffing ourselves so full, and we thought we put You safely into our little closed up hearts like a napkin to wash our faces with after eating at  other banquets; Son of Man as convenient Handi-wipe; and You remained behind longing for a homeless person’s dirty feet. And as we waste away our waists in the wasteland of  our corpulence, I lie awake at night needing a good massage to work out all the knots in my scar-tissued back and I remember how You had some serious scar tissue back there too and I have to wonder if  You finally just decided to once and for all show us Your back side on Your way out  #don’tlettheDoorhitYouonTheWayout.

maybe you have left us?

 

We put You at the end of swords, and guns, and bombs, and bombs and guns,

and turn our plowshares into Wikileaks and tweets.

We honor you with words spit out as fast and killing as bump stocks.

We think You only face one way, Northeast was it?  with all your other faces, you are so not

halal, not kosher, not evangelical, not shriven

and, oh god, do we even know your name?

maybe Y-u have left us?

We look at each other through cloudy mirrors called TVs and cell phone screens

And are so bloated with appetites for apps we can’t see our feet meant to teeter on

The Narrow Way;

And after so much Botox and Lasix our eyes can’t focus

And we no longer look for You in the dimmish glass.

Our mirrors have been turned to selfish selfies and perjuring posts making our lives look large

But about you? — how small can I make your name? and how do y-u spell that?

We have fallen into the habit of containing You in buildings and museums. As if the God of Noah, Abraham, and Moses could cramp Himself into a container built without holy specs.  You tried to tell ole David that.  I notice now when people touch their hands to light up the touch screens with stuff about you, or put your body in their mouths, they don’t fall over dead.

Is that ‘cuz You have left us?

Frankly, though (and I can call you Frank or Shirley or anything I want – what was Your name again?) Frank, old Boy —

If I’m to be perfectly honest with You, Frankly;

We would rather You did not show up in Persons.

Remember how awkward it has always been when You have?

 

So, maybe you can leave us –#hopingitwon’tmatter

Anyway,  I plan on catching you on The Other Side

Once I finish ruining this dark side of the moon.

 

We like to think, being more used to breaking international treaties, that this has always been a one-way street with You. Our favorite praise song is “I Did It My Way.”

Fun Fact: The word covenant doesn’t even come up on spell-check.

We like to think You always save us by day’s end — Dear God, please RSVP and BYOLWF —  Show up please, with Your lambs and wood and fire (I hope You know I mean metaphorically cuz I’ve recently gone vegan to lose some weight, but I’m telling everyone it’s cause I love little animals so darn much).

We like to think we ‘pecial persons are  the final Hurrah People. Forever lisping childishly, we didn’t mean to bwake it, pease fix it fohwa us, pease?

I heard an old, old story that

You came once to save us by being one of us

Just in time for The End,

Remember?  You threw that big cook-out

with Lamb on a big wood skewer

marinated in our sins and

deliciously surviving the Fire.

Now You are being saved up for dessert later

Wrapped in heavenly golden streets

Waiting for me right after I finish eating

my million-dollar 24 Karat Gold Chicken Wing. #oncesavedalwayssaved

 

but maybe You cancelled your reservation to dine in my neighborhood

and You plan on taking a rain-check

something like the rain-check You took before the rainbow?

or maybe You just left us?

 

We do not want to count the cost ticked off in Your centuries of multiplying corpses.

Costs ticked off tend to tick us off.

Some of us are counting on the Prime Number Corpse You raised.

Others of us count on the corpses we bomb in Your honor.

And there are those who think our corps are the only people

at the core of Your Great Plan of Salvation

Never realizing they too have eaten the core of the dirty apple.

Well, it’s so much nicer here in Texas, than in the Corpus Christi You had in mind.

Some of us want to be left alone with you-ness-less-ness, simply left alone by-non-you, to breathe through nihilistic nostrils through our first world- stressness, seeking a type of nascent meditated-medicated corpse-ish-ness we think sounds peaceful, aum, aum, aum, without a thought of how to die for those who breath in bomb-fumes, rat-fumes, death-fumes,  third-world fumes of  fumigated philosophy.

uncertain next- breathless-ness.

and maybe, just maybe, because we insist on living,

and You insisted we must die

then maybe You could no longer dwell in our corps? Our corpses?

maybe You have left us?

 

Isn’t there a verse in some holy book or other that promises if I just say You exist that You will stick around to make everything Almighty-alrighty– just for little ole me?

 

We have created an idea that there is a need in You!

We have created this idea because we need to believe You are for us.

But that is a need that cannot exist if You are who You are –I Am

No prepositional prepositions around Yourself

No conjunctions connecting Your outstretched limbs,

No ifs, ands, or buts,

just Being-ness. #freetobeYounotme

We say: “You need us to love! You need us to watch! You need us to do Your work, to kill the infidels, to spread Your words, to give foreign children boxes on Your birthday, to gather once a week to sing songs and be taught by highly paid motivational speakers, to post up Your commandments, to hide our faces, to make our nations great, to make others follow Your laws, to give You our service, to give You our hearts, to give You our only ten percent and no more, to give to, pray to, sing to, speak to You! You! You! Rah, Yea, You! You need US to love you, need US to love you, need US to love you!”

But maybe You didn’t need to stick around?

We believe in you because little ‘ole God (how small can I make your unknown name?) needs Us.

But need is not a word I think You comprehend. I could just as well ask You to tell me the color and shape of a Dream. I may as well ask You to give me the equation for Hope. If You have the time, could you tell me the meaning of Time?

But hope has lost her feathers and must be singing elsewhere,

plucked naked in the company of stars.

Ah, Jesus H. Christ! Did the H stand for Holy or How-ie, as in How do I get out of Here?

How do I find The Way to where You are, Jesus How-ie? Christ!

 

 

I am left with only the remembered space of

You

now empty.

And what am I to do?

if YHWH El Eloah Elohim Elohai El Shaddai Tzevaot Jah Mashiach Ruah Hakodesh

have left me?

 

I often wonder over here

if maybe You are in

Korea or India or Nauru?

But maybe You have left us all, all together, left us– for God so loved the world He eventually just had to walk away and count up His losses?

 

What if You have gone elsewhere

Like any good Mother would

To see her children?

What made us humans think

we were born as Your only children?

It is legal after all to divorce your Parents and if we divorced You

Then maybe You are taking care of the kids who didn’t.

 

What if You have born quintessences in

galaxies galore

to explore

that we know nothing about?

What if You have a whole family

Of lovely children that

Look and act just like You?

What if You have a special Son You’ve been meaning to hang out with more?

So maybe You have left us?

 

What if You are wedded

With beings that are far more like You than we could ever know?

(After all, after The Fall,

we gave up on that quixotic idea,

preferring to be zombies dressed up with no place to go).

 

What if You are dancing and singing with supernova-stars

While we watch Idols win prizes that decay?

What if while we seize the day,

Your Son has come out Tomorrow?

What if You are building worlds with feathered bird-like Phoenixes

While we burn out and then burn up, never to rise

In the only resurrection?

What if You have found others who have lived with

pierced hands and piercing eyes

and You have yoked together

in radiant death-sought death defying

otherness?

 

If all who once dangled dancing on this lopsided Orb

with broken feet and empty suitcases

have ended up Up- there out there somewhere else

with You,

while the rest of us are just vacationing here,

biding our time, instead of biting Yours,

if They godlike are now circling

in the cacophonous kaleidoscopic Caper,

cavorting through constellations as Your Corpse

Your Body as Macrocosmic!

but some how You Yahweh

individualized in little ole me time and place

right here right now

as it is in Your Heavens and yet

so beyond the measure of our Season, Space and Scope,

on this brief Stage

with no flag flying

but the Banner of Love

If?

Then?

I could choose to live in the mangled mode of your mysterious materiality, mothering the mother of all manias with my Maker. #meaculpamymaster

 

But, oy vey

This day

I wonder – Oh Woe — if

maybe You Yourself have packed up

and moved on in a Tesseract of Space and Time

Tessered  beyond

My teeny tethered ability to fathom it;

while I unbeknownst are

unknown? #Ineverknewyou

what if you have left us?

What if you have left Us?

what if You have left us?

what if when we left You…..

 

YOU let us?

 

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.– John 3:8

 

Just Laugh – a Poem by Jane Tawel

Just Laugh

By Jane Tawel

July 6, 2018

 

For my husband, because sometimes (okay, lots of times)  I just have to try to make him laugh.

 

When you are feeling super down

The circus hasn’t come to town

And no one wants to join you at the caff;

Just pick a point across the room

And let your tummy just assume

That you can let it all go– and just laugh.

*

 

If politics has got you glum

Or your feelings have been hurt by mum

Or your boss has just rejected your bar graph;

Why, don’t you know that it’s a choice

To just release your inner voice

(And quite behind their backs) you can just laugh.

*

Now maybe you have bigger woes

Like unpaid bills or untrue beaus

And you think that my advice is too facetious;

But I’ve found when I feel like an ass

If I can summon up a laugh

I feel a bit more like an able genius.

*

 

While watching shows upon the telly

You sometimes need to start your belly

Cuz it’s been out of practice for a while;

And if you really can not giggle

Then I’ll allow some room to wiggle

And you can start by forming just a smile.

*

 

So the next time you are feeling sad

Or maybe mad, or just plain bad

And you made a silly or a great big gaffe;

Just look yourself right in the eye

And realize no one’s going to die

If you open up your mouth– and laugh and laugh.

20819400_1519568008065736_3487391952060299561_o

 

The Very Social and Political Good News

The Political and Social Thriller We Call God’s Word

by Jane Tawel

June 26, 2018

Recently a Facebook chum posted a message by a preacher who is well known, and who has a lovely accent. In this message, this preacher, whom I have enjoyed tuning in to occasionally on the radio, boldly proclaims that Christ did not preach a Gospel that calls people to address the political, social and economic issues of our times.  This of course could not be more wrong. In fact it is frighteningly wrong, if you read the Bible with the intent of understanding it as God’s ultimate plan and message for the world and all the people who live in it.  This sort of idea that Jesus doesn’t mean us to preach or live a “social” gospel could only be spoken by and clutched at by rich, privileged people – like us. There are many stories of people in the Bible who preach this “good news” and they are never on the right side of God. We must remember that Jesus was not one of those privileged, rich, majority rule people. Quite the opposite.  We also must remember that Jesus preached a very political and social message and it got Him killed by the state and the religious rulers of His time.  Some of us wear a cross to remind us of this agenda of Jesus’ – or rather it is one important reason as to why we should wear it, I think. We who believe, must accept that the cross is Christ’s and symbolizes not how we should die but how we should live, and in “taking it up” as we are admonished to do, we also take up His agenda. He is quite clear on our necessity to do this if we want to claim to know Him and be known by Him.

 

There are many people throughout the centuries who have written on how we should read the life of Christ and especially how we should read the Hebrew Bible which is what Christ based His message and life on.  I encourage those who believe the Bible to be God’s inspired Holy Word to us, and who want to dig deeper into who Jehovah is and what The Christ means to us, to read them.  However, I also encourage anyone who believes that the Bible is merely an interesting tome of collected essays, stories, poems and proverbs, and myths to read the Bible and perhaps some other books that illuminate what God’s and therefore Jesus’, messages from another Place and Time are to us in this place and time.  But far beyond that suggestion, I encourage all of us – self included – to step away from judging and reading the Bible as something I and others can “use”, or something I need, or something that will “prove” something, and especially to not read it as something that will make me feel better about what I am not doing. Perhaps it would be helpful at this juncture on history’s timeline to read the Holy Scriptures as we would any great book.

 

Perhaps we should step away from what we think we want to find there and read the Bible as we might read any great work of literature. Because in all great books, you will find a deeper meaning, a truth, a light for the journey. In great tales we find people like us, people like we want to be, people like we don’t want to be, and  perhaps a small inkling that when we put the book down, today could be different. When we read a  Great Story, we can be changed. I might walk away from a book and think, perhaps today my small life  could  be lived in Epic Proportions. In fact that is exactly what The Bible says; that an act as tiny as the offer of a cup of water to a person in need, has reverberations in the world that change history. Perhaps, my life is, in reality, being played out in an alternate world,  something greater with possibilities that only a hero could accomplish and for which the true meaning of will only be revealed at the end of my story.  In fact, this too is what the Bible says; we can all be queens and kings with many crowns, but the crowns aren’t earned the way we think they are. It is truly a very odd story, this story between the pages of  the Bible.

 

Suggestion: Read the Bible as you would read Tolkien’s Mythological Trilogy, Madeleine L’Engle’s Sci-Fi, or C.S. Lewis’ retelling of Greek Myth or his Space Trilogy.   Step away from reading the Bible as either personal devotion, or as merely a book with some decent rules to follow,  or for some, as a weapon that has been used against you; and read it as a super great collection — a hodgepodge really — and a tale, although without fairies,  about what is Really Real, if only we could catch more than a little glimpse of it. Read the Bible as it was written, in mythological form, which as even the unbelieving Joseph Campbell knew is more important and true than history. And as all great saints have known, myth, metaphor and poetry are  the only practical way into The Truth.  True Truth must always in the end and ultimately be written as metaphor, symbol, story, poetry,  and lived as model or example. We have only to look at who we love most in the world to know that.

This idea of the Bible as somehow “going beyond” what we think we know,  is especially true for anyone who believes we are a fallen race; an incomplete, unfinished creation; a longing for Utopia people; a planet diminished by an original great Evil event; or at minimum, individuals who are,–depending on your Point of View –sinful, weak, broken, limited, yin and yang, good and evil. The Bible holds truth that is true for anyone who believes that there is something unique but not perfect about being Human  and that there is also Something, Someone, Other Things, that are not humans – that are not Us.

 

The fact that I use the term, Point of View, or POV, should not be lost on us, as that is a literary term one must always grapple with when studying a book, an hypothesis, history, or human relationships.  Some of us believe that Scripture has been written by men and women but somehow mystically given or “inspired” by Jehovah, one true God above gods; therefore, the Bible is from God’s POV.  Others believe that the collection of writings in the Bible are all reflections of the POV’s of the authors who were all creating ways to think about, talk about, and write about their relationship and understanding of each other and an “Otherness”, they called God.

 

Now the other thing that changes the reading of the Bible, is my own individual Point of View.  I have a rather large collection of books that my husband kindly reminds me I have already read.  I sweetly remind him right back, that I may some day want to re-read them.  I wake up each day with a slightly altered POV, and therefore, rereading a book, especially the great ones – is always a delightfully new learning experience — a stepping in a new part of the flowing stream, so to speak. I highly recommend a little experiment in reading the Bible, or for many of us, in re-reading it; an experiment in what we would learn and discover if we re-read the Bible from a different Point of View.

 

So here is a suggestion. Read the Bible as if it has been written to show us what is really going on among the powers that we can see and those we cannot see; between the mystical, spiritual powers both within us and without, but also the very real powers both politically and socially that the Bible simply calls This World. Read the Bible stories about both the powers that fight for others (Good), and those that conversely, fight for selfish gain (Evil).  Read the Bible as if it is written to show us what was created as a perfect planet, and what we might have again in a perfect world if only we fight for it as Jesus did. Read it like I do all books that reveal the dystopian leanings of all of us and with the desire to not remain at peace with  the increasingly dystopian world that is indeed very political and social.  Read Scripture as if there really is an ultimately knowable and clear and constant line between what is Good and what is Evil, what is Truth and what is a Lie, what is on the side of Justice and what is Greed, what is Demon-like and what is God-like.  Read the Bible as if there are heroes who have hubris and who fail, but who in the final judgement, end up on the side of Good, and on the side of the very social and political King of the Humans, Jesus. Read the collection of writings in the Bible, as if there are seemingly beautiful, lovely, nice  and successful people who are actually when revealed by The Author, not as they appear and can even be completely corrupt and horrifying; or those characters who make the famous and powerful their idols and live lives sycophantic and servile to what will one day be revealed as Evil. Look at the Bible characters as you would those from the great myths we like to read – Gollum, Boromir, Elwin Ransom, Meg Murray, Sam Gamgee, Arwen, and on and on. And then cast yourself in your own story. Who do I want to be?  For those of us who say we want to be “little Christs”, i.e. “Christ-ians” or have the “character” of Jesus, well that means we will be very involved in the stories of our times. Because Jesus was.  That is what makes Him the most  unique and perfect King and His Story the greatest among all the stories ever told

 

I have respect for the  Christian speaker, who is trending now with this message on what we are to do about the current political and social problems of our time, but he could not be more misguided in his point of view, if he is talking about Jesus’ “Good News” or Yahweh’s “Good News” to His people. The messages of The Others in Great Stories and the messages of Jehovah and Jesus in The Story  of course always  have to do with “social issues”.

As an “uber-individual-as-that-which-matters” and information as cure-all culture, we have difficulty seeing what is in one great story, behind the curtain, and in The Bible Stories,  seen only as through a cloudy glass;  but we will of course — frighteningly– still be held accountable for living in our particular part of the story, even though we can not clearly see or completely understand.

At the end of all stories, comes the final reckoning, or as we say in literature, the Climax followed by the Dénouement. We can look at  Christ’s teachings and actions to understand that ours is a very social and political journey, as well as a personal, familial, and communal one; but we need look no further than  what the Bible says will be the Denouement for the Earth. There is a story that is written in the last book of those collected in the Bible – a dreamlike, symbolic, mythologically proportioned book simply called “Revelation”. In this vision given to a follower of Jesus, Christ’s criteria for judgment is indeed very “social”. We are called to read the words in the Bible and to figure out our relationship to The Christ and The Creator/ Father and to know that the “Gospel” is all about  what we do and who we really are in our deepest selves – our souls.  Revelation of course means To Reveal The Really Real and this book of John’s is about finding some keys, some clues so we can know a little bit more surely, that there is a real and true Kingdom  on Planet Earth that we must as human beings strive to live in  as other beings do in God’s Heavenly realms. We are to live with others as imperfect fallen created beings, who are still trusting that if we practice holding things lightly in our hands as Mother Teresa encourages; practice radical generosity and love as the Hebrew idea of Jubilee; practice faith that there are many things unseen being lived out among us; practice radical love of enemies and trust that Someone radically loves us; if we go into the day’s battle to die to self but live to Christ as that great Hero Paul did; if we live out His Story in our history; then and only then are we really real in a really real alternate Reality.

We are not created nor excused to live an individual “salvation”.  There are no truly great stories written about a hero who lives only for his own individual gain. Do you really want to be cast as Gollum in your story? We find self-obsessed nihilistic stories incredibly depressing for a good reason. We may live our lives  quixotically; we may end up bruised and battered and momentarily defeated, but we must not think that we are meant to stay in a corner reading good stories that help us as individuals.  We are meant to Be The Story.

We are called to live socially, politically, spiritually, emotionally, physically and relation-ally, moment by moment just as we were “once upon a Time”, in The Beginning intended to live. We are meant to journey with companions together in upside down commitment to the world – the whole world – the oceans, the Syrians, the Guatemalans, the honey bees, the soybeans, the birds of the air and the puppy dogs, the people who look like us and the people who don’t, the people who talk like us and the people who don’t, the people who believe like us and the people who don’t.

 

IF we choose the right way to read The Stories, and the right characters to emulate, then in God’s Point of View, we will have earned the right to enter into His Eternal Story, The Story that Will Never End. And this is the story that our characters were created to be a part of from The Beginning. Any of us who want to speak as emissaries of the Good News and who venture to speak  for the Son of God must do so by servitude and love and this must be the Plot lines of our lives; because a story without action is not any kind of great story at all. To be like the radical characters of God’s Story, we must also live out these great actions without a thought for our own gain, without our own glory just like The King and Lord who wants the best for the world– in every dimension, lived His life. Jesus came to speak and live and rule for the least of the least, for the most undeserving, most home-less, poorest, most powerless. He came to live among us as That Character in our story. Christ is the God of the Epic disguised as the beggar at the door. We decide daily if we open the door to the beggar or not; we will not be told whether this time the knock at the door is just another beggar or in the Real Story is The God. This not knowing how my story ends must influence how I respond to the powers of this world and to the powerless of this world. My answer to the knock at the door must always illuminate who I really am in today’s tale, because it did Jesus.

 

One of the Great Books is Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth.  In the novel, Juster explores the many facets of influence that one’s Point of View has on oneself and on others and on the Truth. Juster says  as Christ did, that it is best if we stay as child-like as possible for as long as possible.  Jesus, says, “Come and snuggle in, and listen to My stories like a little child listens to stories. If you don’t become childlike, you can have no part in My Kingdom’s Story. If you do, you just might learn something and fight great battles; and then when you grow up, you just might do something of mythical proportions in My Kingdom which has no end.” In The Phantom Tollbooth, the protagonist, Milo is on a trip. Much like all heroes, the trip is a metaphor for Life’s Journey and Norton Juster uses an alternative world to show Milo, and the readers, what is truly True in our own world– if only we get childishly humbled enough to see it.  At one time, Milo meets a boy who grows from his head in the sky, down towards the earth and so this character,  Alex is waiting to grow up enough for his feet to touch the ground. As Alex floats along in the sky, and Milo walk, they talk about their disparate Point of Views.

 

Would it be possible for me to see something from up there?” asked Milo politely.

“You could,” said Alex, “but only if you try very hard to look at things as an adult does.”

Milo tried as hard as he could, and, as he did, his feet floated slowly off the ground until he was standing in the air next to Alex Bings. He looked around very quickly and, an instant later, crashed back down to the earth again.

“Interesting, wasn’t it?” asked Alex.

“Yes, it was,” agreed Milo, rubbing his head and dusting himself off, “but I think I’ll continue to see things as a child. It’s not so far to fall.

 

As we get older, we may or may not realize that we do indeed have a constantly long, long way to fall. But  little children realize that it is always much farther to fall if there is no one around to help. Jesus says, as the real – the true—the perfect – the future and present Ultimate Human Being and the King of Heaven and of Earth – that this world’s story must be read and then must be entered into like a child. And all children love to hear stories.

Just as Lucy finds her way into Reality and to Aslan, by walking through the Wardrobe Door, so can we. Pick up a Bible today and find a good corner to curl up in and read a great story of Good versus Evil, of heroes and gods, of battles and miracles, of queens and poets and serpents and giants and little boys who slay monsters and of the One True Present and Future King.  Read the stories of saints and prophets, the poetry of artists, and the inklings of a world that is more porous and entered into by God and Other Beings, than we could imagine. Read God’s Word like a child who wants to learn how to live, not just for herself, but for a world in need of heroines in both great and small ways.

If you are like I, you would prefer to never have to “socialize” again and think it would be a wonderful day to just stay curled up and introverted-ly imagine a different and better world told in stories in a good book, like maybe the ones in The Bible. Some times we want to believe that we can be close to Jesus all alone in an imagined individual story. But as with any good story, if it remains just an idea between pages, then it isn’t really real at all.

 

We are not called to live a personal tall tale, but a radical, revolutionary, World-changing, Truth revealing, Mythologically proportioned social, political, communal, other-oriented, God-fearing, Good versus Evil battling, and miracle believing Epic Story. We are not meant to live as the protagonist of a story but as the image bearers of The Protagonist of All Stories.

If we want to claim the God of the Bible as the Author of our Point of View, and The Son of God, The Christ as our Leader, Hero and Lord, then we, in our own chosen place and time, must live out His Story.

Otherwise, our stories will not be worth reading. They will definitely not be worth “saving”.  They will not make any one want to re-read our stories. They for sure will not be worth preaching about. And they definitely will not be The Good News of the Messiah King, Jesus. The Good News of Jesus is  a great political and social thriller — the ending is to die for; the sequel — well, He left that up to us.

 

Read any Good Books, lately?  If not, have I got a great story for you.

 

david-versus-goliath