Wednesday, February 27, 2019

En Christo

I may be a Christian monastic, but I believe we all worship the same God. We all are a part of the body of Christ, although it goes by different names in different religions.  We all are one. And this idea it's rooted in a rich theological history.

I'll add that this INCLUDES all of my LGBTQIA siblings who are just as much a part of the body of Christ as anyone.  The recent acts of the UMC are unfortunately very human (our need to exclude and make rules).... but not very Christian. 

From fr Richard Rohr today.

Succinctly put, Pauls term En Christo means humanity has never been separate from God—unless and except by its own negative choice. All of us, without exception, are living inside of a cosmic identity, already in place, that is drawing and guiding us forward. We are all en Cristo, willingly or unwillingly, happily or unhappily, consciously or unconsciously.

Paul seemed to understand that the lone individual was far too small, insecure, and short-lived to bear either the “weight of glory” or the “burden of sin.” Only the whole could carry such a mystery of constant loss and renewal. Paul’s knowledge and experience of “in Christ” allowed him to give God’s universal story a name, a focus, a love, and a certain victorious direction so that coming generations could trustingly jump on this cosmic and collective ride.

I hope that Christians will come to enjoy the full meaning of that short, brilliant phrase, because it is crucial for the future of Christianity, which is still trapped in a highly individualistic notion of salvation that ends up not looking much like salvation at all. Paul calls this bigger divine identity the “mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the very beginning” (see Ephesians 1:9-10).

Every single creature—the teen mother nursing her child, every one of the twenty thousand species of butterflies, an immigrant living in fear, a blade of grass, you reading this meditation—all are “in Christ” and “chosen from the beginning” (Ephesians 1:3-4, 9-10). What else could they be? Salvation for Paul is an ontological and cosmological message (which is solid) before it ever becomes a moral or psychological one (which is always unstable). Pause and give that some serious thought.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Flashback to An Earlier Post about The Journey of the Cross

I wrote this a while back for Holy Week, but it feels apropos for today...

As a person that did not grow up in the Church, I have been continuously shocked at the way that American mainstream Christianity seems to skim over the shocking reality of Jesus's walk to the cross, then into death, and then resurrection.

We tend to look at the path from the perspective of hindsight. In other words, we know the ending. The suspense is eliminated, because we know it turns out okay in the end. We know that God delivers on the promise of resurrection. We know that Jesus ascends to Heaven.

But what about pausing to consider the journey on a moment by moment basis? What about removing hindsight and placing ourselves into the present moment alongside Jesus as he began the journey to the cross?

The pattern of walking into the unknown - and suffering there - can be found throughout the Bible, from Moses to Abraham to Jesus and more. The great Philosopher/Theologian Soren Kierkegaard dissected this theme throughout many of his writings, but most notably in "Fear and Trembling." Kierkegaard explored the story of Abraham...asking us to imagine the suffering of walking for three days KNOWING that God has asked you to kill your son.

Erase the benefit of hindsight - eliminate the knowledge that it turns out okay in the end - stand in the midst of that horrific walk - from that space, faith looks entirely different.

Faith then becomes the humble choice to continue to walk in the way of God, even when the outcome cannot be seen or imagined...even in the midst of great suffering...even when it seems absurd or impossible. Faith is the recognition that even if the very worst happens, God will redeem it...God will turn it into something beautiful...God will give us the strength to endure.

I spend a great deal of time contemplating the path of Jesus to the cross and beyond. He was betrayed, mocked, tortured, and crucified. He suffered more than any human at the hands of fellow humans claiming to do the work of God. He both cried out to God to forgive his persecutors, AND he questioned God from a place of deep human suffering ... "Why hast thou forsaken me?" But this was not enough. Jesus was then sent to Hell for three days only to then return to Earth for 40 days....and it was only after that incredibly long and painful road that he finally ascended to Heaven.

In the Apostles Creed, the above journey is recited, from the perspective of hindsight. Pausing again to imagine what Jesus endured on a moment to moment basis...not knowing if God was going to deliver on the promise of resurrection...the journey begins to take on a different that is so powerful that it should both inspire and deeply offend our human sensibilities.

God became fully human. God was tortured. God was crucified. God endured unimaginable suffering. And in doing so, God gave us the prototype of what it really means to LOVE.

How can I be more LOVING? How can I endure the pain of the present moment, allow myself to cry out to God (as Jesus did), and simultaneously deepen the vessel of LOVE within my spirit?

Monday, February 25, 2019

A Religion of Inclusion

If religion,  particularly Christianity, encourages a person to question the fundamental worth of a fellow human.... if the pastor encourages parishioners to lean more toward exclusion rather than inclusion.... if churchgoers feel a sense of certainty about who is "in" and who is "out" as far as Church, God and Heaven are concerned,  then I'd suggest that it's time to take another look at the Christianity being followed. Christianity has a lot to atone for,  especially as humans have used the religion to further human interests for thousands of years.  Look for the paradoxes. It should be difficult to grasp and full of Mystery.  Prayer should ultimately lead to humility AND greater LOVE.... and I'm personally devastated repeatedly by the ways humans use Christianity to cause harm.  As a Christian, I say NO.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

We are ALL Connected

We are ALL connected. We have different language for it,  but it's pointing to the same Universal Mystery.

From Richard Rohr
Another Name for Every Thing

What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within of every “thing” in the universe?

The Christ Mystery anoints all physical matter with eternal purpose from the very beginning. The word translated from the Greek as Christ comes from the Hebrew word mesach, meaning “the anointed” one or Messiah. He reveals that all is anointed! Many people are still praying and waiting for something that has already been given to us three times: first in creation; second in Jesus, “so that we could hear him, see him with our eyes, watch him, and touch him with our hands, the Word who is life” (1 John 1–2); and third, in the ongoing beloved community (what Christians call the Body of Christ), which is slowly evolving throughout all of human history (Romans 8:18). We are still in the Flow.

All of us take part in the evolving, universe-spanning Christ Mystery. Jesus is a map for the time-bound and personal level of life; Christ is the blueprint for all time and space and life itself. Both reveal the universal pattern of self-emptying and infilling (Christ) and death and resurrection (Jesus), which is the process humans have called “holiness,” “salvation,” or “growth.” For Christians, this universal pattern perfectly mimics the inner life of the Trinity in Christian theology [1], which is our template for how reality unfolds, since all things are created “in the image and likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

For me, a true comprehension of the full Christ Mystery is the key to the foundational reform of the Christian religion, which alone will move us beyond any attempts to corral or capture God into our exclusive group. As the New Testament dramatically and clearly puts it, “Before the world was made, we have been chosen in Christ . . . claimed as God’s own and chosen from the very beginning . . . so that God could bring everything together under the headship of Christ” (Ephesians 1:3, 10, 11). If all of this is true, we have a theological basis for a very natural religion that includes everybody. The problem was solved from the beginning!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Blue Phoenix WOMAN

A compilation of my exploration of WOM•AN through digital painting.  I taught myself to use a digital platform,  then cultivated my own style of drawing over the last few weeks.   Now it's time to translate this drawing to HUGE canvas paintings. Stay tuned.   Prints available at