Sunday, September 29, 2013


The ideas and words are in the brain, It's the getting them into words that's causing me to stumble around like a drunken sailor, but here goes anyway.

I’m starting to get really weird vibes about the public face of the church in America. For every group like Soujourners there’s a Joel Osteen or a James Hagee. Heck one of the religious channels in our cable system is still showing old Billy Graham crusade footage. For every group like UMCOR (United Methodist Council on relief) and the Mennonites that are early on the scene when there’s a disaster there’s the Prosperity Gospel, Pat Robertson and I just accepted Jesus and I’m saved; end of story.

I realize this is the shortened, abridged version. You can come away with the impression that just about anything goes hyper individualism and capitalism are the eleventh and twelfth commandments.

On the other side there’s the folks who self identify as atheists. As atheists who show a fair amount of contempt for believers. The invisible Sky Daddy is used a lot. That’s what kind of got my attention. Commenters who are supposedly different individuals who post material that is eerily identical.

Apparently absent from the national stage is the rich umbrella of mystical traditions that encloses groups from the Irish monks to the Eastern Orthodox. When those Irish set out to renew the call in Europe their path stretched from Ireland through the north country of England planting the seeds that gave birth to the Quakers. And every one of them was a mystic. Still the only group I know of that is wise enough to sit down, shut up and listen for the spirit to speak. And then stay quiet long enough to be sure we aren’t talking to ourselves.

Then they made their wasy through what became Germany birthplace of Hildegard and Eckhart. Meister Eckhart who said that “every creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God. If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature – even a caterpillar – I would never have to prepare a sermon.” If you want to know God’s word? Look at your neighbor.

Then it was over the Alps and down to the heel of the Italian boot. Right through Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis. The one who sang a hymn to the birds.

Now we come to that inconvenient hero, Martin Luther King. He not only disappears from the national mythology from August 1963 until his death but there is not mention of the deep and evolving religious faith that was the foundation for his actions. I mean what part of Southern Christian Leadership Conference did we not understand?

By 1967 he was literally calling for a revolution and basing that call solidly in scripture from the old prophets to the Sermon and the Mount and Jesus litmus tests for separating the sheep from the goats.

That is was wrong to put poor young men into uniforms and sent them eight thousand miles to kill the poor young men in Vietnam. That you can’t convince people that democracy is the right road to travel by killing them. Bombs do not lead to the ballot box. You can't solve the problems of poor African Americans unless you end poverty for all Americans no matter their race or color. That you can't end poverty and humiliation in this country without ending it for all; not matter where they live. That militarism, racism and extreme materialism are, if not killing us then stripping us of our humanity. And it doesn't matter whether we we're rich or poor or where we live.

If you want to kill the dream of one man, of the men and women who believed and believe in that dream then do your best to belittle, ignore, “kill” the face of the faith that inspired him and us. Let the Limbaughs and the Becks and the Bachmanns tell us that Jesus didn’t teach us to care for, protect and love our neighbors. That from salvation to the pocketbook it really is all about ME.

Martin's answer would have been a resounding no. The the question was not "what will happen to me if I act" but "what will happen to whoever needs my help if I don't."

Well, there is is. Such as it is. Looks like I got some work to do. 

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

Made sense to me... :)