Posts Tagged ‘who are you?’


Anti-semitism, isolationism, wars, Islamophobia, dominance of Christendom are all traps that words like Paul writers centuries on can be used for (Romans 9). He writes about the faith journey, the journey of discovery. How it is not always the words said, but the heart presented. That is that in the journey one has to realize it is the one that takes the risk. These are examples being used in his writing of Israelite and Gentile, the same we would use examples in our own world to make a point. Like Jesus did with his parables of the Good Samaritan, one seen as a traitor but turns out to be the hero. So Paul is writing about those that are seen as “holy” and “with God” yet they are just show, and it is the struggling heart of the outsider that shines through the love.

It is an astute heart that looks beyond the literal, and sees the way a philosophical discourse is structured (Romans 10). It is a structure that Paul reminds the gathering in Rome, it is not an exclusive love. It is not meant to be horded or lorded, but rather shared. It is a journey- a pilgrimage of discovery, renewal and rebirth. It is like a comic book universe that reboots, so it is with our lives and the release of baggage as we release the old and let the new in. It is not just the summation of knowledge, ritual and rites, checking off the right laws followed. It is more than that.

It is the deep dive of actions in faith that moves beyond legal and illegal, into the right and wrong territory, it is a life lived that others can look to and knows what you held to be true. A life lived that shows others and, upon remembering, ourselves what we truly value.

The new path though may mean bucking from the old, as Paul points out, the fear of change (Romans 11) can create a freezing like stone or cement. This is a big shift, much ink and video has been spilled on the topic of change management, saving x, y, or z organization or denomination- mainline, non-profit, corporation, etc. What it comes down to is the shift will challenge the norms of the old that harm or rest power in a few. The shift to the new that is healthy will inspire and carry through a good transformation for society. The journey will entail grieving over the loss that if not counselled properly will lead to destruction, and pain that is unnecessary. In the midst though, one needs to be present to what is happening, deeply listening to find the divine guidance to what is truly meant to be birthed. Not what one wants to birth for their own ego (or as we would say back then, sin).

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] Do not be conformed to this world,[c]but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

Romans 12:1-2 (English Standard Version)

Be the authentic you. Understand what vocation your life has shaped you for. It understands that we all have our role within each group we are a part of, and that our gifts are meant to be used. It is a tough call, because one would then assume the gifts should lead to money. In a perfect world this is true, but in our imperfect world it may be that other employment or source of funds makes it able to chase your purpose in life. It truly is a vocation by tent making, or vocation of career, or a mixture of any and all of the above (Romans 12:3-21).

Paul’s words have also led to 3 ways that believers will engage with politics, either an attempt to convert the whole to their morals (social conservatism); create a Just Society (Social Gospel) or disengage entirely as it is all in God’s hands, and as such one should not participate (Romans 13:1-7). I believe Paul was laying out another point that one should not resist just being problematic, ensuring you are a citizen above reproach so that when you do speak out or acting out in accordance with love it is noticed and has an impact:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

-Romans 13:8-10 (English Standard Version)

For it comes down to the point that the greatest commandment is love. That is the root of our actions, and that we are to love self and neighbour (Romans 15). This means one cannot disengage from public discourse, but one needs to understand how they are engaging and what is the goal (Romans 13:11-14). The goal is the kingdom that was near, being here as it was presented in the Gospel of Mark. It is about a transfigured world where the hungry are fed, the sick are cared for, the elderly and the orphan have homes and are loved, homelessness is over, peace reigns, oh hope is the core that lets love shine through.

The transfigured world is one where we accept one another as we are. We understand how some things we do have ripple effects that can affect others, and we care for that person and vice-versa. It is worlds where one is loving of self and neighbour, not wrapped up in selfish pursuit of the material, and that we understand our individual human rights, come with communal responsibilities. When both are in harmony a world is humming along, all are cared for and can be authentically who they are (Romans 14).

As always Paul signs off with plans to visit, greetings and thanksgivings (Romans 16:1-23). It is a winding path this Labyrinth of Rome, unlike a maze though, it may be winding,

but there is no dead ends, it takes us to the centre where we can rest. Rest, reconcile, renew, and reflect.

Who are we meant to be?

Who are we now?

Who are you?

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

-Romans 16:24-27

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It has been awhile since I have written a mass recommendation for group change theory work. The last time was Irshad Manji’s (2005) The Trouble with Islam where I encouraged groups of all stripes to read this memoir calling for transformation, and then compare/contrast it to their own journeys—that is replace Islam with whatever belief system one held and see where growth and transformation was needed no matter how regressive or progressive the system was.

There is a cancer in the city’s corridors of power. It is a cancer that is spreading…a system that is corrupt as it is incompetent.

The cancer is a toxic mix of neo-Nazism, white supremacy and a hate group that literally seeks to wipe away everything that is modern and urban, and start all over again in a primitive, Far Right nirvana that will only accept so called “Aryans”. And the organization that is supposed to be preventing this? The organization that is, instead indifferent to this spreading Cancer—or, perhaps, even secretly assisting it?

                                                                                               -(Kinsella, A Recipe for Hate,  p.241)

Today I finally completed Warren Kinsella’s (Dundurn, 2017) A Recipe for Hate is a downright masterful, mystery allegory weaving a mystery tale form the 1977-79 Portland, Maine growing Punk scene, into an allegory for our world today. Yes, I wish I could say it was simply a timepiece mystery, but Nazism and systematic hate appear to be harder to exterminate than 21st century bed bugs.

This is a book I encourage people to read. If you can only read it by yourself, fine, read and process the story. Listen to the rhythm of its soul and what it means for us today. Which character (s) resonate with you? Why? Which do not? Why not? When does this happen in your own life? What instincts may this tell you about yourself in knowing whom to trust? Who has darker secrets at play?

If you can read it in a book group even better, explore the character and system dynamics laid out. If the book group is part of a broader ideology or belief system even better. For the conversation can even deepen:

  • When is our organization like the Punk scene?
  • When do we become the organization (police, schools) that is supposed to stop the spreading cancer? Do we succeed or fail? Or are we frozen?
  • When are we the hate? Or, like the history of the skins, do we allow a segment to be co-opted by the hate?
  • What old hates still fester in community? What new ones go unsaid?

At the root, it is a well written mystery, that will keep you turning the pages. Which is what good fiction is supposed to be. I am not going to reveal many plot points outside of the broad strokes, because I want you to experience the roller coaster with unfiltered eyes.

Truly though, when you enter the story and reflect on any or all the questions, individually or better in a group conversation over coffee my hope is that it becomes the tiny ripples in the pond that change…change our trajectory at this point in history where we are secretly and quietly feeding the cancer once more. Change it to where we finally are the chemo that destroys it and the system moves to recovery and rebuilding in healthier ways.

Basically, know that hate exists. It permeates between what we have seen in the past. It exists across all ideologies and belief systems. It needs to be destroyed. Full stop. We are in this together, neighbours and family.

Let love win, and if it is only this once against systematic cancer hate…then it has won big.