Posts Tagged ‘Social Gospel’


Progressive spirituality/Christianities within their current context I find tedious.  There is no scholarship building upon what has come before, rather it is a re-treading of old battles already fought. Why is this? I blame the regressive state of Western Culture. The loss of the ability to critically think, coupled with the conglomeration of media and the commodification of the human experience has led us down a rabbit hole. There is also the drowning with knowledge overload, and opinion as fact that has removed the ability to discourse, and discover wisdom.

It is a sad state on my journey as I look upon those writers that have shaped them, death, illness and retirement has stripped away those that have crafted cornerstones we should be building upon. The voice of progress, universal love and inclusion, liberation and social gospel is shrinking. Thinkers such as Marcus Borg, Desmond Tutu, Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, Agnes MacPhail, Pierre Trudeau, Padre Pio, Leonardo Boff, meta-physicians; Dalai Lama, Pope Francis I, transcendentalists, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, Multiple saints & mystics, Mother Teresa, Nikos Kazantzakis, Stuart A. Schlegel, John Dominic Crossan, Matthew Fox, Martin Luther King Jr., Tommy Douglas, J.S. Woodsworth and the list goes on and on. The voices of and for the marginalized have been relegated back to the beginning of a cycle still debating that which human rights and suffragettes should have dealt with.

Yet “Progressive Spirituality” much like “Conservative Theology” got subsumed by “Prosperity Gospels” and “Salvation/Sanctification” (look at a Joel Osteen for the epitome of the lost track of universal love for the progressives). This is why during my time of medical sabbatical I was excited to find out post-stroke Bishop Spong had written a new book, but saddened as I read his preamble to it that this was definitively his last. It is his call for reformation, for the work already done and grow upon it.

He touches on the different times the Christ experience has been mislaid. The Fourth century experience we had codified as “Christendom” which would be as unrecognizable for the original community as it is to us in this day. He also touches on the Reformation, which aside from the land and power grab of the princes/royals to break the state hold of the Vatican. It was possible as well do a shattering transformation of cultural understanding as the plagues had shown that even the “Holy” lost a 1/3. The peasant class was open.

We are in a time like this. Even if traditionalists keep fighting against it. Holding to outdated understandings. Science has revealed much on creation, maybe not the why, but the how. We are in a world where we are taking control over our own destinies. Where we can accept equal marriage, we can accept medicine, accept being able to transplant organs, understand different ways of experiencing life. We can see through new eyes, yet we bring the old eyes leaving our understanding of the intrinsic piece that makes us whole left out in the old patriarchal imperial cycle. And yes, progressive thinkers who are emerging today instead of referencing what came before and building, are trudging up the same mountain again.

This is where Unbelievable (2018) rises. It is still American-centric, but Spong roots his 12 Thesis firmly in what has come before, and lays out a path forward. A new starting point for dialogue and discourse, being able to let go of what is no longer working or that which is harming.

So as we seek to understand the love triangle of My Neighbour, I leave you with excerpts for this work to see if it is something you wish to purchase for your journey, or to explore within your community:

John Shelby Spong (2018) Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today (HarperOne).

“what we must do is find the meaning to which the word “God” points.” P. 31

“Is the denial of theism the same as atheism? Is there no other alternative?” p. 38-39

“That is the universal human experience that our ancestors once called “Original Sin”. The experience was real; the interpretation was false. We are not “fallen sinners”; rather, we are incomplete human beings. Our old theology is dead. The door begins to open on a new way to tell the old, old story.” P. 89

“Every Jew would know that to refer to a grown man in Jewish society as “the son of a woman” was to suggest that his paternity was unknown. … we might infer a covert reference to her being pregnant outside of marriage, for there was no estate more lowly in in first-century Judaism that that of an expectant mother with no male protector.” P.112

Atonement theology, especially in its most bizarre “substitutionary” form, presents us with a God who is barbaric, a Jesus who is victim and it turns human beings into little more than guilt-filled creatures. P.153

Bulletins during Lent in many churches look as if they might have been purchased in a local sadomasochism shop. They feature whips and nails, and if they elicit any emotion at all, it is guilt. P.162-163.

In Jewish worship, however, the lamb was a symbol, not of a sacrifice that an angry God required, but of a human yearning to achieve the fullness of human potential. P. 165

The Easter experience in the new Testament, contrary to what we have traditionally been taught over the year, is not about bodies walking out of graves. It is far more profound than that. It is about God being seen in human life. By “God” I do not mean a supernatural, invasive God, who violates the laws of nature in order to enter time and space. I mean a transcendent dimension of life into which all can enter, an experience in which life is expanded, love is unlimited and being is enhanced. P. 188

The ascension story is both powerful and real, but it is not, and was never intended to be, literally true. P.196

Before prayer can be made real, our understanding of God, coupled with our understanding of how the world works, must be newly defined. P. 249.

I have no use for life after death as a tool or method of behaviour control. P.258

We are called by this new faith into radial connectedness. P. 270

When I contemplate the meaning of Jesus I come back again and again to his image as the ultimate boundary-breaker, in whom what it means to be human is constantly being expanded. P.278

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I am not even going to pretend what I write is without bias. I know this. I was raised in Canada in a working-class family that was taught to give a damn about their neighbour. Pretty much the lens I bring to life, as a minister I read my gospel through the lens of the Charter, why? I was one of those pesky Social Gospellers dreaming a better world every minute of every day. I also hold an unwavering belief that people are mostly inherently good, and despite evidence to the contrary, will make the best decision they can possibly make in a given circumstance. It is the one that does not learn as they grow that stagnates.

Due to my wonky brain, it has been a while since I have been able to provide comment to some political happenings, with clarity comes a moment to provide some clarity so here goes:

  • Women’s March: Sad it still needs to happen, but looking at our world we know why it needs to happen until we have truly moved beyond this label to being true equals on our planet. Ideologue extremists on both sides remember that you have the right to express these views because your grandmas and further back took up the fight for equality, so let us always keep the eye on moving forward as one family, humanity, not on bickering, tearing down and regressing.
  • Jason Nixon, MLA and the Sexual Harassment bill (Google it, or even just check #ABLEG feed on twitter). I am not going to discourse on the ethics of whether a sexual harassment claimant should be fired, it is the 21st century and that discussion should be null (for those who believe it is not the answer is no they should not be fired). But where the ball was really dropped was in governance as the case could have created a bridge for discussion and better laws for all. This happened because there were loopholes, and what I have read pressure from a bigger corporation on a small business owner. The bill put forward was to close loopholes for the abused, BUT and this is where ideological pissing matches hurt all…there was an opportunity for the Official Opposition Party Leader to come prepared speaking from his own experience where wrong was done and wanting to ensure another company owner was not placed in this position by a larger corporation and in inter-provincial gray areas. These are the amendments proposed to aid all Albertans for a better, safer future. That did not happen (if it did and I will gladly publish them).
  • Summer Student Job form and Reproductive Rights clause. Ah more virtue signalling from extremists (Virtue Signalling a new term I learned from friends in the religious right attempting to show your piety). They want you to believe it is about being pro-abortion. Read the form, all government RFP’s are online and able to read the clauses. The short 3-4 sentences is a check box stating you will adhere to charter rights, gender rights, sexuality rights and reproductive rights. This was done for many things, one that has come to light is that extremists groups have been using government funds (anyone of my generation or older probably remember the W-5 expose when the Canadian government funded the Neo-Nazi movement on our shores—so do not want a redoux of that)…but more it shows the quickness to literalness:
    1. Laws and freedoms are written in such a way for interpretation, and many things have started by test cases being floated, norms being accepted (e.g. equal marriage, dying with dignity). But also modernization and fights from the brave like Dr. Morgentaller, made abortion de-criminalized and funded—which leads to it being include in charter rights under gender rights. BUT Reproductive rights are more than just abortion. This speaks to autonomous control of your body. It speaks to things like honouring the choice of birth control (contraceptive, external, rhythm); to have or not have children; and thanks to Alberta’s (and Canada’s) horrendous Eugenics history, not forcefully sterilizing persons with disabilities, as we have and had a history of doing.

It also speaks to a medical practitioner not being able to force their religious views upon you when it comes to treatment. If you as a man or a woman elects for a vasectomy, tubal ligation or hysterectomy regardless of age and whether you have kids or not, you should be able to access. To the other end, regardless of above mentioned if medically it would solve an issue the doctor should not be able to use your age, or whether you still want kids to stop you from choosing the treatment (e.g. hysterectomy) as an option instead of suffering for years with a medical condition.

Do not let literalism sidetrack and important conversation. And if you as a group truly feel reproductive rights is the hill you want to die on, take it to court as a charter challenge, I have a hunch there is a great machination for clear addition of this to the charter through praxis, and eventual Supreme Court Decision.

 

  • Saint Ralph Klein is an Albertan myth. Many are wanting to herald back to those “halcyon days” of yore. Yet I challenge you to speak with your grandparents and baby boomer parents about the state of their health care. The Klein Government in the mid-90’s pulled a fast one on our elders. Treated them with disregard and disrespect, removing excellent medical care, and then played a shell game to replace it (check out Kevin Taft’s Shredding the Public Interest for more on this) will a for pay Blue Cross and cost-share prescriptions. Each Premier and Health Minister since Klein has been complicit in this disregard for our elders (and yes NDP this includes your current government). Think of it, each generation that retires has added to the building up of our communities and social contract, they deserve the best. The message sent is poverty and stress is okay. Both of those we know are huge factors in worsening health. I call on Premier Notley and our Health Minister Hoffman to not only return our coverage for seniors’ health care to Pre-Klein levels, but exceed and renew this social contract with our Elders, for it is the right thing to do.

Finally, the greatest division I see happening within Canada is how easy we like to throw immigrants and refugees under the bus, and/or shelter users. Bullocks. For those that have settled the prairies before the prairie provinces were made, and shortly after remembering your family came here, went through settlement shelters where they were given education, money, health care, and land grants on the prairies for settlement. Our forebears knew we were all in this together and did not allow division based on religion or country of origin break them apart. They settled our provinces, grew prosperous together as Canadians. Let us keep building this dream together.

P.S. always remember political parties and ideological affiliations are perfunctory constructs, constitutionally the legislatures provincially and federally are to be elected bodies of independents working collaboratively to provide Peace, Order and Good Governance for Canadians. We have two elections coming up- 2019 provincially, and 2020 federally prepare to vote for the Alberta and Canada you want for yourself and your neighbour, but also stay engaged in between holding our elected officials to their role in governing in the best interest of the citizen.

How do you want your neighbour to treat you?

How do you treat your neighbour?


With each new passing or announcement of retirement from the progressive theological movements I share with my wife, we ask, who will take up the torch?  And no, Rob Bell is not the answer or the Emergent Church movement. Yes, they are doing good things in pushing boundaries in their traditions, but compared to where Labour Church, Social Gospel, Creation Spirituality, Progressive Christianity, Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, Queer Theology, Truth and Reconciliation resonances, Human Rights, Social Justice, New Thought, Metaphysics, Jesus Seminar, Philosophy, history, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, science and ecumenical dialogues (to name but a few) have brought us, they are reinventing the foundation stones, instead of adding new floors to the towers already standing tall and strong.

I have been trying lately due to some health challenges of the holistic being to reclaim the towers, and not have to reinvent the foundation stones (I am stubborn that way). After the first night of decent rest in months it hit me, that part of continuing to build the towers is to go to your own spiritual roots.  Within myself, and my family those roots are the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament. I will be the first to admit, the Hebrew Bible can at first blush appear to contain stories of hate, genocide, blood lust and horror. They are foundation myths and legends of their time speaking to the people then and what they had gone through. The challenge for us is not to take a 21st century lens back to the historical story, but rather bring the story into a 21st century lens.

Huh?

A 21st century lens pushes these stories to obscurity, or that which should not be spoken about.

Yet bringing the story into a 21st century lens allows us to see what we have missed and continued to repeat due to our literal, fundamentalist or non-reading of the text.

This is one of the things that struck me as I sipped on my fourth cup of morning coffee. It pertains to the horrid collection of laws found in the Third book of the Torah (or Pentateuch for those Greek types), Leviticus.

Really these are laws about how to keep yourself alive, don’t spark wars with your neighbours and by bringing the story into the 21st century lens that abuse shall not happen without consequence (as seen with the hard passages around abuse of women in Leviticus 19:29:

c“Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity.

(English Standard Version)

            For me speaks directly to the abolishment of the Sex Trade. All of us are either children of someone’s daughter, or have a daughter, and forcing anyone to do what they choose not to do, or to make profit from the dehumanization of another is reprehensible evil.

This method also brings a different reading into those infamous few of Leviticus 18:22-23:

22 hYou shall notlie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 i And you shall not lie with anyanimal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to ananimal to lie with it: it is jperversion.

(English Standard Version)

 

These texts have nothing today with the LGBTTQ2+ community. They are a direct redaction into what is legendarily believed to be the writings of Moses post exile from Babylon. In Babylon, the free and slave were forced into sexual predatory worship within the temple. It was led by the Clerics and to show worship after providing the usual animals and money forced participation for absolution was found in sexual penetration through varied orifices of animals, and/or human beings by the worshipper or with the Cleric (yes historical anthropological context can be disturbing).

But wait…removing the literal sentiment, what type of warning does this sound like for the people?

That your worth as you are created matters.

Do not let one in authority force you to that which you do not want to do.

When one in power forces you under the auspices of atonement, absolution, because God said, because you will make first line, I will ensure you get an A, you will get the role only if you….

Hidden in a text we have argued over a literal understanding of, we have missed a millenniums long warning of metaphor and allegory going:

Children,

You were abused in captivity, and were not allowed to flourish healthily into the true you. Do not repeat this pattern of abuse. Be the ones that shatter the cycle, know that you are loved, equal, and belong together in loving communities, loving relationships with whomever you choose.

BUT (and this one is important) you must choose the path of new and love, not the path of known hurt and abuse.

I implore you as you lick the wounds of leaving slavery and abuse, PLEASE, speak the truth, then CHOOSE to move forward as a healthy community by throwing off the monsters and casting them out.

Choose L-I-F-E.

Choose L-O-V-E.

Amazing what happens when you contemplate deeply into the Holy Mystery and attempt to answer the WTF as to why this passage exists.

So as community in the Christianities, are we going to answer the Levitical warning and:

           Choose L-I-F-E?

           Choose L-O-V-E?


Welcome back to the journey of being an outcast to cast out. The Aquarian Gospel chapter 139 flows out of the previous 138, and is the continued journey of discovery for the man who has been cast out, but found belonging in a new community. Now to seek further understanding of the choice made.

You have spent time writing and reflecting on your story in the now, and like the man making the tough decision to step into the story of you that is meant to be.

It becomes a time for Holy Reading for your journey. Take time to centre yourself in a comfortable place for contemplative prayer/meditation. You will be visiting the story three times in this sitting, with each visit having a question of focus for deeper contemplation.

As you centre yourself, bringing your breath deeply, and exhaling deeply.

Feel the room around you begin to fade away.

Feel the room of the 21st century become replaced by the dusty upper room. There are many men and women clamouring, eating, laughing around you. Smells of the ancient city, you are bid welcomed by this labourer turned teacher many talk about—some as sinner or devil others as the way.

Receive the offered food of simple bread, grapes and wine.

Rest on the cushions as you begin to take it all in. The journey to wholeness is in full swing.

Hear the story for the first time. On this visit, what memories are evoked for you? Which one brings the most visceral reaction in your being? Stay with this memory for a time to see what comes through for your journey in the now?

The first visit:

Jesus meets and instructs the man who was blind. Unfold the mysteries of the kingdom. The sheepfold. Declares himself the shepherd. Goes to the home of Massalian, where he abides certain days.

1. When Jesus heard what had been done and how the priests had cast the man whom he had healed, out of the synagogue he found the man and said to him,
2. Do you believe in God and in the son of God?
3. The man replied, I do believe in God; but who is he, the son of God, of whom you speak?
4. And Jesus said, The son of God is he who speaks to you.
5. The man inquired then, Why do you say, The son of God? Is there but one?
6. And Jesus said, All men are sons of God by birth; God is the Father of the race; but all are not the sons of God by faith.
7. He who attains the victory over self is son of God by faith, and he who speaks to you has overcome, and he is called son of God, because he is the pattern for the sons of men.
8. He who believes and does the will of God is son of God by faith.
9. The man in joy exclaimed, Lord, I believe in God, and in the son of God.
10. And Jesus said, I came to open prison doors, to make the blind to see; but, lo, the Pharisees are blind from birth.
11. And when I put the salve of truth upon their eyes, and bid them go and wash, and speak the sacred Word they will not go; they love the dark.
12. A multitude of people pressed about the Lord, and he stood forth and said,
13. You men of Israel, I say to you, The fold of God is large; its walls are strong, it has a gateway in the east, and he who does not enter by the gate into the fold, but climbs into the fold some other way, is thief and comes to rob.
14. The shepherd of the sheep stands by the gate; he gives the secret sign; he knocks; the watchman opens up the gate.
15. And then the shepherd calls his sheep by name; they hear his voice and follow him; they enter through the gate into the fold.
16. The sheep know not a stranger’s voice; they will not follow him; they flee away.
17. The people did not understand the parable that Jesus spoke; and then he said,
18. Christ is the gateway of the fold; I am the shepherd of the sheep, and he who follows me through Christ shall come into the fold where living waters flow, and where rich pastures are.
19. False prophets come and go; they claim to be the shepherds of the sheep; they claim to know the way; but they know not the word of power; the watchman opens not the gate; the sheep heed not their call.
20. The shepherd of the sheep will give his life to save the sheep.
21. A hireling flees to save his life when wolves infest the fold; and then the tender lambs are snatched away, the sheep are scattered everywhere.
22. I am the shepherd of the sheep; I know the sheep of God; they know my voice, as God knows me and I know him.
23. The Father loves me with a deathless love, because I lay my life down for the sheep.
24. I lay my life down when I will, but I may take it up again; for every son of God by faith has power to lay his mortal flesh aside and take it up again. These words I have received from God.
25. Again the people strove among themselves; they were divided in their views concerning Christ. They could not comprehend the words that Jesus spoke.
26. Some said again, He is obsessed, or he is mad; why listen to his words?
27. And others said, His words are not the words of one obsessed. Can unclean spirits open up the eyes of one born blind?
28. Then Jesus left Jerusalem and with Massalian he tarried certain days.

-Aquarian Gospel 139:1-28

As you prepare your heart for the second visit into the story. It is time to centre on the emotions that bubble out as you are taught directly at this time of transition/transfiguration by Brother Jesus.

Spend time living into that emotion and how the Holy Mystery within can resolve it by illuminating the truth of you.

The second visit:

 

  1. When Jesus heard what had been done and how the priests had cast the man whom he had healed, out of the synagogue he found the man and said to him,
    2. Do you believe in God and in the son of God?
    3. The man replied, I do believe in God; but who is he, the son of God, of whom you speak?
    4. And Jesus said, The son of God is he who speaks to you.
    5. The man inquired then, Why do you say, The son of God? Is there but one?
    6. And Jesus said, All men are sons of God by birth; God is the Father of the race; but all are not the sons of God by faith.
    7. He who attains the victory over self is son of God by faith, and he who speaks to you has overcome, and he is called son of God, because he is the pattern for the sons of men.
    8. He who believes and does the will of God is son of God by faith.
    9. The man in joy exclaimed, Lord, I believe in God, and in the son of God.
    10. And Jesus said, I came to open prison doors, to make the blind to see; but, lo, the Pharisees are blind from birth.
    11. And when I put the salve of truth upon their eyes, and bid them go and wash, and speak the sacred Word they will not go; they love the dark.
    12. A multitude of people pressed about the Lord, and he stood forth and said,
    13. You men of Israel, I say to you, The fold of God is large; its walls are strong, it has a gateway in the east, and he who does not enter by the gate into the fold, but climbs into the fold some other way, is thief and comes to rob.
    14. The shepherd of the sheep stands by the gate; he gives the secret sign; he knocks; the watchman opens up the gate.
    15. And then the shepherd calls his sheep by name; they hear his voice and follow him; they enter through the gate into the fold.
    16. The sheep know not a stranger’s voice; they will not follow him; they flee away.
    17. The people did not understand the parable that Jesus spoke; and then he said,
    18. Christ is the gateway of the fold; I am the shepherd of the sheep, and he who follows me through Christ shall come into the fold where living waters flow, and where rich pastures are.
    19. False prophets come and go; they claim to be the shepherds of the sheep; they claim to know the way; but they know not the word of power; the watchman opens not the gate; the sheep heed not their call.
    20. The shepherd of the sheep will give his life to save the sheep.
    21. A hireling flees to save his life when wolves infest the fold; and then the tender lambs are snatched away, the sheep are scattered everywhere.
    22. I am the shepherd of the sheep; I know the sheep of God; they know my voice, as God knows me and I know him.
    23. The Father loves me with a deathless love, because I lay my life down for the sheep.
    24. I lay my life down when I will, but I may take it up again; for every son of God by faith has power to lay his mortal flesh aside and take it up again. These words I have received from God.
    25. Again the people strove among themselves; they were divided in their views concerning Christ. They could not comprehend the words that Jesus spoke.
    26. Some said again, He is obsessed, or he is mad; why listen to his words?
    27. And others said, His words are not the words of one obsessed. Can unclean spirits open up the eyes of one born blind?
    28. Then Jesus left Jerusalem and with Massalian he tarried certain days.

-Aquarian Gospel 139:1-28

The final visit, spend time listening directly into the attunement of your heart and life vocation truly called into. Take time to sketch out the image that comes through clearly that reflects this vocation for you.

The Third visit:

  1. When Jesus heard what had been done and how the priests had cast the man whom he had healed, out of the synagogue he found the man and said to him,
    2. Do you believe in God and in the son of God?
    3. The man replied, I do believe in God; but who is he, the son of God, of whom you speak?
    4. And Jesus said, The son of God is he who speaks to you.
    5. The man inquired then, Why do you say, The son of God? Is there but one?
    6. And Jesus said, All men are sons of God by birth; God is the Father of the race; but all are not the sons of God by faith.
    7. He who attains the victory over self is son of God by faith, and he who speaks to you has overcome, and he is called son of God, because he is the pattern for the sons of men.
    8. He who believes and does the will of God is son of God by faith.
    9. The man in joy exclaimed, Lord, I believe in God, and in the son of God.
    10. And Jesus said, I came to open prison doors, to make the blind to see; but, lo, the Pharisees are blind from birth.
    11. And when I put the salve of truth upon their eyes, and bid them go and wash, and speak the sacred Word they will not go; they love the dark.
    12. A multitude of people pressed about the Lord, and he stood forth and said,
    13. You men of Israel, I say to you, The fold of God is large; its walls are strong, it has a gateway in the east, and he who does not enter by the gate into the fold, but climbs into the fold some other way, is thief and comes to rob.
    14. The shepherd of the sheep stands by the gate; he gives the secret sign; he knocks; the watchman opens up the gate.
    15. And then the shepherd calls his sheep by name; they hear his voice and follow him; they enter through the gate into the fold.
    16. The sheep know not a stranger’s voice; they will not follow him; they flee away.
    17. The people did not understand the parable that Jesus spoke; and then he said,
    18. Christ is the gateway of the fold; I am the shepherd of the sheep, and he who follows me through Christ shall come into the fold where living waters flow, and where rich pastures are.
    19. False prophets come and go; they claim to be the shepherds of the sheep; they claim to know the way; but they know not the word of power; the watchman opens not the gate; the sheep heed not their call.
    20. The shepherd of the sheep will give his life to save the sheep.
    21. A hireling flees to save his life when wolves infest the fold; and then the tender lambs are snatched away, the sheep are scattered everywhere.
    22. I am the shepherd of the sheep; I know the sheep of God; they know my voice, as God knows me and I know him.
    23. The Father loves me with a deathless love, because I lay my life down for the sheep.
    24. I lay my life down when I will, but I may take it up again; for every son of God by faith has power to lay his mortal flesh aside and take it up again. These words I have received from God.
    25. Again the people strove among themselves; they were divided in their views concerning Christ. They could not comprehend the words that Jesus spoke.
    26. Some said again, He is obsessed, or he is mad; why listen to his words?
    27. And others said, His words are not the words of one obsessed. Can unclean spirits open up the eyes of one born blind?
    28. Then Jesus left Jerusalem and with Massalian he tarried certain days.

-Aquarian Gospel 139:1-28

As you complete sketching the image re-enter your meditative breathing. Allow the cushion to vanish, the noise of the upper room, know the Cosmic Christ within Brother Jesus exists within yourself as the ancient world fades away and your contemplative space now reforms.

Bring yourself when you are ready to a focus on the image sketched.

Sit in a meditative contemplation of this image.

Let your breath become more regular.

When ready re-open your eyes.

Spend time each day looking at the image.

But today…

What is one step you can take this week to make this image more of a reality in your life?

—The social gospel is about transfiguring the world into the true heart of the Holy Mystery—that transfiguration begins with our own—


What blocks you in your false life from living truly free and within/through the Holy Mystery?

What holds you in the past, and not being able to step fully into the glory of the present?

leaving-the-church

Aquarian Gospel chapter 138

Brother Jesus discourses on ancient laws that were designed to limit harm to others. To bring more a balance to a situation of reprisal (eye for and eye, instead of massacring your whole tribe for the loss of my eye). It was pointing to the pain that existed within or that selfishness that holds one in blindness of what truly can happen in your life. This story uses an existence that the ancient world could understand to show this juxtaposition. A blind man.

What is the blindness you exist in today? It is not a physical impediment. Are you in the wrong job? The wrong life? Can you not connect to that holy work (vocation) that fills you up? The soul flow that energizes you and aids you in being deeply rooted into the cosmic dust we are formed from?

This is the story of blindness.  The blindness kept the man out of true community, for he was isolated. In the 21st century our isolation is created through giving ourselves fully into the wrong work, the wrong life, the selfishness we mistake for holy love, that is true self hatred and destructive.

As this story unfolds, it shows that this is where the unjust, the oppressors, those that seek power and control over others want us to exist in.  Just look to the Pharisees response, not seeing the celebration of a holy family member becoming whole. Rather it is to challenge that it can’t be holy because it happened contrary to the control mechanisms, it happened on a day of rest. But whomever stated that the work of loving neighbour as self, was the work we are to rest from on the Sabbath?

The man’s own parents even though celebratory, bowed to the oppressors and lived into the injustice towards their son out of fear of being cast out themselves. But the man stood his ground, even though now whole, awakened, he was still once more cast out because he shook the foundation of the oppression (perhaps the first Marxist calling out the cabal creating the opiates of the masses?).

Move into this story yourself. Each of us have had moments of needing to willingly or being forced out of those situations where we need to make the moral over money or belonging or safety choice. Where we needed to walk in the Holy Mystery and trust blindly. For let’s be honest, the Holy Mystery is well, a mystery that is meant to be lived.

Take time to centre yourself with a candle or light imaging prayer. Feel your body relax before you come back to the words of the text with a fresh heart.

The Christines in Jerusalem. They meet a man blind from birth. Jesus teaches a lesson on the cause of disease and disasters. He heals the blind man.

1. The Lord with Peter, James and John were in Jerusalem; it was the Sabbath day.
2. And as they walked along the way they saw a man who could not see; he had been blind from birth.
3. And Peter said, Lord, if disease and imperfections all are caused by sin, who was the sinner in this case? the parents or the man himself?
4. And Jesus said, Afflictions all are partial payments on a debt, or debts, that have been made.
5. There is a law of recompense that never fails, and it is summarised in that true rule of life:
6. Whatsoever man shall do to any other man some other man will do to him.
7. In this we find the meaning of the Jewish law, expressed concisely in the words, Tooth for a tooth; life for a life.
8. He who shall injure any one in thought, or word, or deed, is judged a debtor to the law, and some one else shall, likewise, injure him in thought, or word or deed.
9. And he who shed the blood of any man will come upon the time when his blood shall be shed by man.
10. Affliction is a prison cell in which a man must stay until he pays his debts unless a master sets him free that he may have a better chance to pay his debts.
11. Affliction is a certain sign that one has debts to pay.
12. Behold this man! Once in another life he was a cruel man, and in a cruel way destroyed the eyes of one, a fellow man.
13. The parents of this man once turned their faces on a blind and helpless man, and drove him from their door.
14. Then Peter asked, Do we pay off the debts of other men when by the Word we heal them, drive the unclean spirits out, or rescue them from any form of sore distress?
15. And Jesus said, We cannot pay the debts of any man, but by the Word we may release a man from his afflictions and distress,
16. And make him free, that he may pay the debts he owes, by giving up his life in willing sacrifice for men, or other living things.
17. Behold, we may make free this man that he may better serve the race and pay his debts.
18. Then Jesus called the man and said, Would you be free? would you receive your sight?
19. The man replied, All that I have would I most freely give if I could see.
20. And Jesus took saliva and a bit of clay and make a salve, and put it on the blind man’s eyes.
21. He spoke the Word and then he said, Go to Siloam and wash, and as you wash say, Jahhevahe. This do for seven times and you shall see.
22. The man was led unto Siloam; he washed his eyes and spoke the word, and instantly his eyes were opened and he saw.
23. The people who had seen the man for many years sit by the way and beg, were much surprised to see him see.
24. They said, Is not this man the Job that was born blind, who sat beside the way and begged?
25. He heard them talk among themselves; he said, Yes I am he.
26. The people asked, How were you healed? who opened up your eyes?
27. He said, A man whom men call Jesus, made a salve of clay and put it on my eyes, and bade me say a word and wash in Siloam seven times; I did as he commanded me, and now I see.
28. A certain scribe was passing, and he saw the man and heard him say that Jesus, by the Word, had opened up his eyes.
29. He therefore took the man up to the synagogue, and told the story to the priests, who asked the man about the miracle.
30. The man replied, I never saw the light until to-day, for I was blind from birth.
31. This morning as I sat beside Siloam, a man I never knew put on my eyes a salve that people say he made of clay; he bade me say a word and bathe my eyes in water seven times; I did as he commanded and I saw.
32. A lawyer asked the man, Who was it opened up your eyes?
33. The man replied, Some people say, His name is Jesus and that he came from Galilee; but others say, He is the son of God.
34. A Pharisee came up and said, This is the Sabbath day; a man who does a work like this, regarding not the Sabbath day, is not from God.
35. Some of the priests were much amazed and said, A wicked man could never do a miracle like this; he must possess the power of God. And so they strove among themselves.
36. They asked the man, What do you think about this man from Galilee?
37. He said, He is a prophet sent from God.
38. Now, many of the Jews did not believe the man was blind from birth; they said, There is no power to open up the eyes of one born blind.
39. And then they brought the parents of the man before the Pharisees that they might testify.
40. They said, This is our son who was born blind; we do not know how he received his sight; he is of age and he can tell; ask him.
41. They were afraid to say what they believed, that Jesus is the Christ who came to manifest the power of God, lest they offend the priests and be cast from the synagogue.
42. Again the rulers said, This Jesus is a wicked man. The man who had been healed stood forth again and said,
43. This Jesus may be sinner or be saint, I do not know; but this one thing I know; I once was blind, but now I see.
44. And then the scribes and Pharisees reviled the man and said, You are a follower of this man from Galilee. We follow Moses, but this man, we know him not, and know not whence he is.
45. The man replied, It is a marvel that you know not whence he is, and yet he opened up my eyes.
46. You know that nothing but the power of God can do such things.
47. God hears not sinners pray, and you must know that he is not a wicked man who can employ the power of God.
48. The Pharisees replied, You wretch! you were begotten and were born in sin, and now you try to teach the law to us. And then they cast him from the synagogue.

-Aquarian Gospel 138

When ready, have your journal ready. Seek where the Holy Mystery is guiding you in life at this moment. Which role in the story speaks to your current situation?

  1. Peter/James/John
  2. Blind Man
  3. The parents
  4. The Pharisee

Take time to re-write the story from that point of view. Remember during the re-write to include insights and emotions as the character.

Spend time each day for about a week re-reading your story, asking where it is speaking into to your life now.

How does this ancient wisdom speak to your modern life?

Ready to step from story to life-story?

kids


Faith without works is dead. That is one of those sentiments that can tend to stick with you. Traditionally it is from one of the most contested epistles within the Christian Testament. That of James, whom tradition teaches was a brother of Jesus of Nazareth, it also shows the matrilineal lineage of the early tribe as an ascent this quickly into leadership and teaching would be via Mother Mary of Nazareth, those whom was adopted by the Beloved Disciple (which is you read the Gospel of John through a mystic lens then it should be us inserted into each instance of the term being used, so it is us that opens our arms to the one society would turn out for being outside).

But I digress, for this does tie into the Aquarian Gospel readings, which seem to be more thematically clumped as the work progresses. Chapters 137-141 create an arc of teaching that would make James proud (and for those that have spent any real time in Marian theology and her call to the world of hope, justice and inclusion, as well).

Yet it starts in Chapter 137 with a teaching on prayer. Where Jesus lays out the Lord’s prayer, as Levi has imagined it into his era (there are many different versions one can find by simply googling, the one’s from the Indigenous perspective are quite good). Yet it is pared with a parable of a wife in need for caring for the traveler:

A housewife was alone at night and, lo, some guests arrived, and they were hungry, having had no food for all the day.
11. The housewife had no bread, and so at midnight she went forth and called a friend and said, Loan me three loaves of bread, for guests have come, and I have naught for them to eat.
12. The friend replied, Why do you trouble me at midnight hour? My door is shut; my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise to give you bread; to-morrow you can be supplied.
13. The housewife asked again, and then again, and then because she pled, and would not be refused, the friend arose and gave her bread.
14. Behold, I say to you, Ask firmly and you shall receive; seek trustingly and you shall find; knock earnestly, the door will open up.

It is much like the petitioning when the masses were hungry, and one step forwarded, a child (again someone without voice in the world) to show the way. From that miracles happened, perhaps it was like this where those who had but were unwilling simply became willing. It is how our world truly runs, we are an interdependent species and as such we need to care for one another to make this world work.

Some would call it justice, some a social contract, some a social gospel or a liberation gospel But what 137 does is line it up that it begins with prayer, and then prayer/meditation leads to action, and action leads to compassion which leads to loving our neighbour as ourselves.

Or truly living into this from the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 25 (3)

To Be Continued as we reflect on Chapter 138

prayer_orig


woodsworth

J.S. Woodsworth was a Methodist minister, who was a labour and human rights activist, pacifist, during the general strike in Winnipeg would be beaten by authorities and imprisoned. He would lead the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation during the hey day when they almost reached popularity enough to form government if not for machinations by the two mainline parties working the first media campaign.

He wrote Canadian Social Gospel theology out of his time as the superintendent of the Winnipeg Mission, the gateway to Canada for new comers where mats were provided, health care, employment training, education, and then tracts of free land on the prairies.

Over his lifetime his theological beliefs would transform from Christian to Social Gospel to finally surrendering his ordination, as he became a universalist that moved close to if not truly becoming a Pantheist. Though judging by reading the liturgies he would craft for his Labour Church would show much more of a Panentheist, understanding the inter-connectedness of all of creation within the Holy Mystery.

He comes to mind as we simply touch upon some readings from the Aquarian Gospel for your own reflection on answering Woodsworth’s question above.

Am I that Neighbour?

Where does the following stories resonate in your own life?

How are you called to be a neighbour?

Aquarian Gospel:

Chapter 132

Chapter 133

Chapter 134

Chapter 136

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Gospel of Saint Matthew 22:34-40 (English Standard Version).

Loving God and neighbour, starts with loving yourself as the connected very blessed being you are created to be.

Out of this love that connects your core within and throughout the Holy Mystery, is that which connects you with your neighbour.

So as you step into your daily life, reflecting, praying and meditating on the 4 chapters above…now what is your action steps?

Are you that neighbour being called out in Holy Love?