It was back in the 1930s that young British woman by the name of Amy Buller walked on the stage during the rise of the National Socialist movement in Germany. Connected to the likes of the saintly William Temple and pursuing her studies in German, she chronicled the rise of the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler. Such was her reach that she actually organized delegations of intellectuals and leaders from England to visit Germany and have face-to-face conversations with those she claimed were forming an alternate religion. With Hitler proclaiming the future new charmed era for Germany with him as its messiah Buller was alarmed how impressionable the needy people and especially young people were. This led to the publication of her provocative book, Darkness over Germany.

On May 16 the first English edition since 1945 was launched at a forum in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. It is a pregnant moment to revisit Buller’s writing and its insights. With radical nationalism and forms of facism on the rise throughout the world it is important to heed  parallel alarms from another time. Perhaps that is why this edition is subtitled A warning from History.

We can only hope that attentive and courageous souls today will know and name facism when they see it, and especially the way it coopts religion in its service. As in the rise of facism during the Nazi atrocity, religious people today often fall into supporting and even endorsing false regimes that represent the opposite of the way of Jesus. It is disastrous for their souls, of course, but even more so for the world.

Fleshy Word all around

Posted: May 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

Christ of the sea
Land and mountain,
Jesus of bread
Feeding and hunger:

Guide me to places
You are, with You,
So that in the end
We sail the same rough seas
Fear sinking like a rock
And faith rising
Like a great wind-driven song.

(Timothy Carson, on the rails just west of Shrewsbury)

You have invited me to take one more foray
into the shadows
out where I am not inclined to go
but which holds the next surprise.

And so I ask for what I do not know
which makes it hard to ask at all
at least with any specificity.

Maybe it is really not asking
as much as opening.

But open to what?

Deep is the well of what we shall become
for it does not yet appear.

Will you give me enough faith
to take the next unknown step
or fearful one
or least deserved one?

I ask, open to, trust in
your graceful inclination
to have me be more
and to learn of you.

(Timothy Carson, from a train between Gobowen and Leicester)

 

Corrymeela

Posted: May 10, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags:

imagePart of my sabbatical pilgrimage has taken me to the northernmost shore of Northern Ireland and the Corrymeela community. Founded in the 1960s, the spiritual community parallels other ecumenical communities established in its time such as the Iona and Taize communities.  The purpose of Corrymeela is to bring together souls in the Spirit as they join together for spiritual renewal, restoration, reconciliation and peacemaking.

During my time here I will participate in a clergy retreat as well as lead a retreat on Limninality and Spirituality.

One of the spiritual centers of the Corrymeela community is the Croi, the chapel. C The Croi was created to parallel the sacred Celtic stone mounds of the same name and the community descends into the circular space of the Croi to meditate and pray. And here is the credo the community recites each day at the close of meditation and prayer:

Courage comes from the heart
and we are always welcomed by God,
the Croi of all being.

We bear witness to our faith,
knowing that we are called
to live lives of courage, love and reconciliation
in the ordinary and extraordinary moments
of each day.

We bear witness took to our failures
and our complicity in the fractures of our world.

May we be courageous today.
May we learn today.
May we love today. Amen.

If you were a member of the House of Representatives and voted to end The Affordable Care Act by way of your new bill on healthcare, you would have voted to end the health insurance of 24 million Americans, cap lifelong benefits, put people with pre-existing conditions BACK in jeopardy. You would have limited maternity care and mental health services.

You would have voted to pass this off to the states, a formula for disaster. That is exactly what you when you want things unattended and unfunded. Sending to the states is how you kill things.

Over ten years this will cut $1 Trillion from the budget. Simultaneously the upper income brackets will realize a tax cut of $1 Trillion. That is a massive transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the upper classes.

Be not confused: The deficits with Obamacare could have been adjusted and fixed. They were not because there was only one goal: Destroy the legacy of the former president. Opponents continue to sabotage the implementation of the act.

This has not passed the Senate yet. It will be dramatically re-packaged before and if it moves forward to the desk of the President.

Now for some predictions:

This action by certain members of the House will yield a whole set of consequences in the 2018 elections. But that is not the most important thing.

Most importantly all of this may lead us to what we need to do most: Adopt a single payer system of universal health insurance for all citizens, Medicare for everybody.

This requires clarity: health care is a right, not a privilege. We will all pay for it and everyone will benefit.

It is morally unacceptable that all citizens do not have real access to quality and affordable health care. Other countries have done it and so can we if we have the will to do so. This most recent outrage enacted by people who have health insurance against those who do not may be the straw that broke our moral back.

 

 

Okay, let me give you the straight stuff: I want your presence, passion, creativity, love in the community of the church. I know, less and less of you are choosing to be a part of the Christian community. Many of you never have been; it’s an odd universe, the Christian one is. It’s not even your parents’ universe because they may have checked out long ago. But today, this Easter, I’m really not thinking about them. I’m thinking about you and your generation. As far as I can tell you are the solution to almost anything out in front of us now. I’m not dropping the weight on your shoulders. But I am appealing to you.

If I were you, honestly, I would have my doubts about the church. It’s not just that it’s organized – heck, educational systems are organized as are softball teams. No, it’s the way church takes place and what it seems preoccupied with that repels you. Frankly,  if I were where you are now, I really wonder if I would opt in. And I’m a lifer.

So here is my pitch and I’m staying with it:

You don’t really have an aversion to ancient forms of wisdom or even tradition. In fact, many of you respond to the deep long-lasting truths and practices of religious communities. You love to take the ancient and let it collide with the modern in new ways. What you’re tired of are worn out preoccupations along dogmatic lines. You love the insights of Jesus but are just exhausted to tears with the seeming obsession with pelvic ethics. A person’s sex life is as important as any other part of life, but it seems that is the only preoccupation of Christians. You’re done with that. And really, so are many of us.

You want to know how spiritual life addresses issues of peacemaking, solutions for hungry people, reconciliation between the divided, and a justice that isn’t a program as much as a way of life. You want to believe that the ancient creation stories really do speak to environmentalism. You want all kinds of Christians to come together and focus on what matters. You don’t want to be part of the exclusivism that rejects other faith groups but instead finds common ground and the sharing of wisdom through love. You don’t want to be something that creates hate and insiders and outsiders. Surprise, neither did Jesus.

And face it, you’re done with big heavy legislative church. You want real community, You want to figure out how to love. You want God to be a force – and certainly not a superhero in the sky. By the way, we’re done with that image of the sacred. You want an experience on the inside that is shared with others and feels universal, like it’s been around forever and will be. You don’t want the central message to be that you are a piece of crap that needs to be cleaned up. You want to hear that the same same force of love that animates the universe spins around in you in remarkable ways. You don’t believe in a God who needs to be appeased with blood sacrifice to make things right; you want a God who so loves that remarkable sacrifices are made,

So here is the deal: I want you to try out a Christian community. And if one doesn’t work try another one because some of them look new on the outside but are just the same worn out stuff on the inside. Come on in, claim the deep reserves that fill you with awe, become an answer to the despair of the world, gather together friends who thrive on depth and make a go of it. And here is my promise to you: If you’ll trust in the Spirit to do the work, wrestle with the ancient texts to find the way, gather to be together rather than alone, and find a mission you can’t not do, I will help you do that – not on my terms or anyone else’s terms, but on your own and in your own way. I want to pass the baton to you and let you run with it like you want to, like you know you can make a difference. I will so cheer you on. I will love you and weep for you and laugh with you.

We need you, the Spirit is waiting, and your time is now. And after you gather your tribe you’ll become the leaders – just another sign that Christ is always risen and always rising.

I mean every word of this. I don’t know how to say it better or differently.

Much love Millennials. This is your time.

Call it Maundy Thursday

Posted: April 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

Tonight I saw a 90 year old man in a wheel chair light a candle for his late wife and weep, a five year old stand and stare at the character of Jesus praying alone in the garden, the young hipster couple communing together, adults preparing for their baptisms having their feet washed, and a young teacher who has never witnessed the whole story live lean against a wall and quietly sob.

And that’s just what I saw. Imagine everything I didn’t see. And that’s just one of the reasons I love Holy Week, the most countercultural week of the year. I mean really, servant leadership?