Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category


The North Star is said to have guided the Magi (Wisemen) from the East to the Creche (hence the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany) of a gift of light into the darkness of the world. This advent we hitch ourselves to a wagon train the to the stars as Gene Rodenberry pitched it in the 1960’s to CBS. This advent trek will be a different look at the five gifts that birth of a baby brought at the solstice: Hope, Faith, Peace, Joy and Love through the lens of the original Star Trek (thanks to the beauty of Netflix, DVD/Blu-Rays and Public Libraries you can watch along and reflect as well. Welcome to the Advent train to the stars…a different style of pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred in the season of waiting:

Space, the final frontier
These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise
Its five years mission
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new life
And new civilizations
To boldly go where no man has gone before

-Captain James Tiberius Kirk, USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Jungian psychology speaks of the Shadow self. It is the parts of us that we suppress, and sometimes as we wear out it becomes our dominant traits. The goal is to overcome the shadow and bring peace into our being. It has been a topic of many episodes within Enterprise, and Deep Space Nine known as the Mirror Universe (as well as many excellent graphic novels and novels). Star Trek’s second season’s fourth episode, Mirror, Mirror was the catalyst.

A transporter accident swaps Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura between the universes. OfImage result for Star Trek Mirror, Mirror course the brutal Mirror Universe dopplegangers are quickly discovered in the main universe. In the Mirror Universe Kirk is confronted by a twisted logical sadist in Spock. One seeking power for power’s sake, at the heart of the Terran Empire. You advance through assasination, it is the love of money and power that drives expansion.

In the battle of inner turmoil though, Kirk notices a glimpse of his friend from across multi-verses. People are reduced to nothing more than pawns for power and control. InImage result for Star Trek Mirror, Mirror some respects property ala slavery. Sounding familiar on this journey of waiting for the light at the darkest time?

Kirk points out to Mirror Spock that the more enlightened empire he wanted was possible. The reconciling of the shadow to be the authentic self within Spock had begun with a simple seed of peace planted by Kirk. Beginning the journey of ascendance to the head of the Empire, as the Emperor…making the changes for the better he foresaw, to the point in the Mirror Universe the positive was seen as…well you get it.

Who is your mirror? These are the shadows that create the gremlins that speak negatively into our life and sabotage us. Confront them and bring out the voice to the light that is emerging. Have your gremlin-shadow meet the voice bringing you to peace within.

What would it take to bring peace into your being?

Your world?

Ready to crack the mirror?

Advertisements

Change management, much like efficiency has become buzzwords around multiple industries from human services to political organizations to spiritual gatherings to corporate board rooms.

But what is change? And why do we only manage it?

Alberta currently can be a case study in drastic change. Change creates friction. Leads to identity politics in some instances where groups entrench to be on the preserve or change sides. Perhaps there is a frozen entrenchment were yelling just happens (hello NDP-UCP Governance)… but the root is missed completely.

See change happens. It is part of human society, and human life. It can be expected (such as boom and bust economic cycles, and the need to diversify). It can be that even though the wealthiest may not be doing as well, the economic shift is changing things. Those are some examples. Others are when belief systems shift, say in a church denomination one is apart of. It can be seemingly as insignificant as a focus on youth or children, as innocuous as leadership-governance structural changes or simply a new cleric. Yet ripples are sent, some stay, some go. Emotional weight hits many, and we yearn for a black and white existence.

Unfortunately the world has never been black and white. It exists in worlds of gray mostly due to the pesky of factors- humanity. As I wrote in the past about ISO systems and such under efficiency, it was the strategic process of an organization mapping out what they did, and what role did what in the process so that anyone could walk in and take the thick binder off the shelf and know what to do.

The mechanics of the work. The how, not the why.

That is the cusp of change management. Reactions to change need to be processed, not managed. You can manage chaos as a manager or director. This can mean continuing to push forward, pull along those who are willing or need survival income, but many will fall off and be lost in the wilderness to different levels of harm. Either financial, emotional, physical or spiritual. In the end though you can claim being proficient in change management as you had mapped out a process, a manual anyone can now pull off the shelf to show the system and that it is implemented. Yet in the push-pull to accomplish, what was missed is the values-morals-ethics that brought one to your organization.

It is not so much about managing change, as processing grief. We are at a time in human history where we know much about grief and trauma. Great knowledge, yet without application there is no wisdom. We seek those who can manage, not those that can lead. Mostly due to the fact that true leadership in the icky field of values, in grief work is not something that comes with fancy title but is the one that others seek out to understand and process with.

It is in the journey of processing. The ritual of acknowledging what has been lost. Celebrating what remains, that one can become open to the new being birthed within their community, organization or institution. The same journey of healing one goes through with a death in their life, or an enforced change of life circumstance due to health. It is a journey. It happens with every life change, we go through a grief cycle it can be brief or long dependent on what is changing, the social and professional supports we have access to, and if the new reality fits within our existing values, or are those values being challenged for growth or change or holding firm to the values and making a different change in life.

When it comes to change it is a harder conversation, and requires and understanding of those who are in the journey. It is not about managing change for the outcome wanted at a strategic level.

It is processing grief for the new direction to be birthed organically.

But it is messy, and requires seeing all pieces of the organization as people, not cogs. Are we willing?

 


That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.

-Epistle of 1 John 1:1-4 (English Standard Version)

The Johannine Community was formed around the mystic-Gnostic interpretation of the teachings and life of Brother, Jesus of Nazareth. The second most prolific writer (after Paul) in the Christian Testament, and one of the most controversial. John, known as the Evangelist, the Apostle, one of the Sons of Thunder (with his brother, James) for their headstrong ways to dive in without thinking or fully knowing. Part of the inner-circle of three as reported in the Canonical Gospels. Tradition dictates he was the disciple Jesus said would not pass away before his return; and many mis-interpret the beloved disciple at the cross in the Gospel of John as him. Though a mystic reading of the Gospel of John, makes one realize the beloved disciple is each person in the world, and draws us into the journey.

John, is controversial due to his writing of Revelation. A highly misunderstood book of the Christian Testament. That due to a literalness movement at the turn of the 20th Century with the coming of the Scoffield Study Bible, and a misuse of passages in Thessalonians. It created a strain of theology, that was best on display in the late 20th Century in the Left Behind, Christian novel series and movies. Revelation was also controversial, because many argued against its inclusion in the Christian Testament, this can be due to the allegorical nature of the work. It was also highly sedition writing, as the images used for those in the know, was about the overthrow of the Roman Empire. Not surprisingly that this came to John to write while in exile on the island of Patmos (which led to the rather astute joke on my part in Bible college that Revelation came out of a licking of tropical hallucinogenic frogs on his part).

I would say in regards to John’s strain of Christianity, it became canonical as a method to keep the more moderate Gnostic-Mystics within what the Empire would subsume as the Church after Constantine’s conversion. I say after, because it was Constantine that brought in a harsher level of what constituted a “Christian” than had existed previously.

Which brings us to his letters, although the first one is not really a letter as much as I see it as an accompanying commentary to his Gospel. All three epistles were written between 94-110 CE in Ephesus, and one can see through the three the development of early church structures.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

-Epistle of 1 John 1:5-10 (English Standard Version)

Light will shine in the darkness confounding and confusing it. Do not hide your light, under a bushel as This Little Light of Mine tells us. But what does it all mean? Very philosophical language of the time to explain an unknown God that had no image. Yet, it was important because it spoke to the interior of a person. Cleansing out the sludge. Or as the metaphysical movements such as New Thought would phrase it, the false self, that needs to be denied in affirmative prayer.

Not only do we need to deny the false self, the shadow, the darkness, but we need to encourage the light. That is need to let it shine (yes I know isn’t that song getting stuck in your head now…this little light of mine, I am going to let it shine…). Through affirming our true divinity.

It also lets the light grow brighter into the community. For where other forms of the Christianities (ala Pauline) focused on the meal part of the Last Supper. Those in the Johannine Community focused on the servant part: the washing of feet (much like Anabaptist’s today). The writing of John also simplified the Great Commandments even more for his community members:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another

-Gospel of John 13:34 (English Standard Version)

What happens when you remove the bushel,

and let your little light shine?


Ah 62 CE or thereabouts as (Saint) Paul (formerly Saul) of Tarsus was in prison following his voyage to Rome. Yes, we have hit an undisputed authentic letter of Paul, his shortest epistle, and one of the top 4 shortest in the Christian Testament (2 & 3 John and Jude coming before). Paul had some aid in a co-authorship some believe with his disciple Timothy. It was a short letter to the city of Colosse (note Epislte of Colossians). It was for the whole community, but specifically written to the wealthy church leader (possibly bishop) there, Philemon. We know Philemon was wealthy, as the letter deals with forgiveness and reconciliation with a slave, Onesimus, who had left Philemon’s home, and his role to serve Paul in prison.

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

-Epistle of Philemon 1-3 (English Standard Version)

First off let’s tackle the elephant in the room with this tweet thread (as it would probably come to Colosse today). Slavery is wrong. The church used passages and writings such as Philemon to prop up the slave industry for far too long. We still see the remnants of it today with language used around sweat shops; no raises in minimum wage; fights against living wages; and those that would defend sex trafficking (or sex trade for those who have not freely chosen it). Paul was a man of his time period when slavery was apart of the socio-economics of the day. He is not writing to endorse the practice, for other writings of his boldly spoke out against slavery (there is no slave, no free). Do not use these words to endorse caste system for that is not the purpose.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.[a] For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you

-Epistle of Philemon 4-7 (ESV)

It is within these words that Paul truly lays out the worth of every human life, every image bearer. Contrary to current and ancient belief on the matter:

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus,[b] whose father I became in my imprisonment.11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant[c] but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

-Epistle of Philemon 8-22 (ESV)

Level up to justice and equality. In Paul’s fashion calling out an outdated practice for one that calls themselves into leadership. It is not about the labels, the hierarchy. It is a flat plain of belonging. Forgiving the affronts of society, which is what Philemon had to struggle with for Onesimus left to do the good work of caring for another. In other words, Philemon had to let go of ego and his prestige to welcome Onesimus back. Not only welcome him back though, but become a living example of forgiveness, and the next step reconciliation. In our world, it is apt to remember forgiveness does not mean condoning actions- what Paul is showing here is actions were good and Philemon is being held back by societal construct of vengeance on property- the truth was spoken, much like truth and reconciliation.

As with some actions in our society of violence, reconciliation can be a personal matter to your own being, not letting the pain control you anymore, or the abuser. In some situations it can be an agreed upon moving forward, as we have seen in South Africa, where truth was spoken, and is taught of the horrors of the past, but the society has agreed to move forward with a new beginning.

The fresh start of the Roman prison system. If you survived your time, upon release no record followed you. That is what Paul is communicating to Philemon by saying see Onesimus as he would Paul. Destroying any caste system that Philemon would attempt to fall back on, for the new path.

What caste system belief is holding back the whole you?

 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you,24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

-Epistle of Philemon 23-25 (ESV)

Acknowledging others within the movement. Thanking those you work with for what has been accomplished. Simple leadership secrets that build a person up.

Onesimus was heading back to his owner…would a new reality await?

What new reality awaits you?

 


Ah a conclusion for this piece of the journey. The Pastoral Epistles close of with the Epistle of Titus chapter 3. It continues what it means to be a servant leader, as Pseudo-Paul attempts to guide in the Way, but at the same time trying to continue to distance Pauline Christianity from Petrine, James, or Johannine to name but a few. Yet still trying to keep the Pauline flavour of grace alone. But a stumbling block is hit, as the change of one’s heart, the falling away of the sludge; the light dispersing the Shadow Self. In other words, the personal Transfiguration leads to actions in alignment with the love being lived into and out of. The new hope of life.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

-Epistle of Titus 3:1-11 (English Standard Version)

It does not mean there will not be conflict, heated discussion. What it means is at the core, as we explored last chapter, is the Holy Mystery. Due to this, the resonance of what is true reality…in other words avoiding the foolish controversies. Those stumbling blocks we create for ourselves simply because we are driven by love of ego, money, power and the list can go on. Those things that allow for a slippery slope into the corruption spoken of. Esteem, character being known only by who your ancestors or parents are or that you are responsible for their “sins” or debts…it does not matter.

Pseudo-Paul was trying to get through this wall.

Delving into the darkness. Centering yourself. As taught in mindfulness, those things that led Thomas Merton to leave his hermitage and live with Buddhists to rediscover the practice of mindfulness and meditation within the Christianities. It is the tools the Universe holds to discover the true self.

For every tool, there is a counter-measure that allows you to be warped, not who you are meant to be:

When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

15 All who are with me send greetings to you.

Epistle of Titus 3: 12-15 (English Standard Version)

Image may contain: text

A meme from Facebook that seemed fitting.

This is the key for leaders. It is not the responsibility of a leader to push, pull and by whatever means necessary to get the work done regardless of who is harmed, bullied, traumatized or burnt out along the way.  It is a leader’s heart to be the one coaching the community (staff) to their best possible selves. Stepping through and purging the gremlin-saboteurs; guiding to the right places that facilitate healing.

The goal is to aid in the holistic growth to make the community, team, and person better.

 

Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

-Epistle of Titus 3: 15 (English Standard Version)

Join the pilgrimage to wholeness.

Aid others to discover the path.

Be who you truly are, not what the world makes you believe you can never be.

You are.

Pastorally Yours 12

Posted: December 12, 2018 by Ty in Brunch & Bible, Spirituality
Tags: , , ,

Via Media it is obviously Latin. It is also the cornerstone of Anglican theology. Translated as the middle way. It is what the first chapter warning against extremes, brings to the community. For it you are not entrenching in an ideological fortress where are you?

The Middle.

Bring into your mind the image of a Labyrinth. This is the pilgrimage of life and leadership. The calming of the pendulum swinging that can happen with any new ideas. It is about a slow and steady ascent to the core. The middle in other words:

Image result for finger labyrinthBut as for you, teach what accords with sound[a] doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants[b] are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative,10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

-Epistle of Titus 2:1-14 (English Standard Version)

The move to the core is about shedding the extreme. That which the voice of populism can create actions contrary to heart and soul. Can create thinking that is contrary and dark compared to the light that exists within. It is this journey within a community that crafts a true port of welcome at the Core. The middle, keeps one safe, creates a heroically safe space for discovery, conversation and learning.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

-Epistle of Titus 2:15 (ESV)

For it is once we gather at the core, no one can be turned away for they are an image bearer. As such they cannot be disregarded, for they are neighbour. They are part of the oneness that is everything. It is our journey of the middle path to rebuke the sludge that keeps the light (true self) hidden. Exhort that which has emerged as the true self to build, what Brother Jesus termed “the Kingdom”. That is paradise, a place where all belong, and no one is an outcast.

Are you ready to journey to the core?

Welcome to the Via Media.


Ah just Titus remaining on this journey. If you have a suggestion for an Epistle for reflection please leave it in the comments.

(Saint) Titus was the first Bishop of Crete. He was a disciple of Pauline Christianity. If you hold to a Paul authorship then they were written in the mid-60’s CE; but most scholars hold to a Pseudo-Paul authorship like 1 & 2 Timothy and place the writing around the mid-Second century. It is part of the Pastoral Epistles, letters written from the voice of Paul, to young leaders, both Timothy and Titus were mentioned in the journeys of the Acts of the Apostles. Crete is the largest island in Greece, and a hub for religious mosaic and commerce. It is a cosmopolitan centre, where much of what afflicted early followers of the Way had flourished, most notably religious exclusion due to their unknown Monotheism in the divine being of Jesus; and economic persecution via no one doing business with them as they would not swear oaths, and rumours abounded of their gluttony, cannibalism, etc.

Ah the Pseudo-Paul voice within these words is attempting balance, a move away from the character of Elders shown in 1 Timothy. He touches upon two challenges facing the gathering for survival:

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,[d] and his children are believers[e] and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer,[f] as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound[g] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.[h] 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans,[i] a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”[j] 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

-Epistle of Titus 1: 5-16 (English Standard Version)

Did you catch it?

  1. Circumcision Party.
  2. Cretens

Okay first off, Circumcision Party can be as painful as it sounds. It is not a circle and snip though. What it is, is the fundamentalists of the gathering. These are the ones that still want to be part of the origin religion of Judaism, and as such are holding the gathering to the 613 laws, plus commentary, plus ethical add ons by religious authority including and not limited to circumcision to be a member and be within the chosen. Obviously, if you trace original Paul, and back further to Brother Jesus’ teaching in his own journey, it was the fulfillment of the laws, prophets and rituals that made them not necessary. For the essence they were being moved towards as a people to change the world is what as needed. Yet, change is scary. Badly handled change can do harm. In the Reformation it created wars. In organizations today it can create mental and emotional distress and trauma in staff and leadership. The CP was attempting to maintain control, and saw a new-young leader as the way to do it.

The second part was the power and glory front. The no matter the means, just get to the glory, esteem, power and money for yourselves. This stereotype of Crete is where the anglicized term “cretin” came from. It was not only in the marketplace and Empire government, but existed as the other fundamentalist end. Yes, extremism is not just on one end of the spectrum. It exists in any system, and it is what is needed to be avoided, for within the extremes one can easily slip into corruption for it becomes about proving oneself right in their beliefs not about making one better or their community.

These were the cautions being brought to Titus. To know himself, but also not to succumb to populist movements that in the end supplant life giving love with hate. For it no longer is about divinity within. It is about the pursuit of power. Titus being new to a leadership role is being cautioned. It is a caution leaders, and people within any institution can and should here.

What cautions for extremism would you write to yourself that exist in your community?

Write a Pseudo-Paul letter to yourself.