Archive for the ‘society’ Category

One Power

February 7, 2008

YouTube – One Power Video

Thoughts on the Budget

February 5, 2008

As I watched the news yesterday and listened to the President and commentators talk about the newly proposed $3+ trillion budget, I was amazed and saddened at the same time!  First, I can’t get my head around ‘trillion’ other than it’s a very big number!!!!!  Hence the first amazement.  Secondly, as I heard of the proposed 8% increase in defense spending  (and this doesn’t include paying for the war in Iraq) and a freeze/cut in domestic spending, I had my second amazement moment!  And then I found myself sad.  My thoughts flew to “are we really so afraid of the world” and “do we really value life so little” and “doesn’t this administration understand”.  As I sat with these thoughts and feelings, I found myself saying a prayer – “Oh God, this can’t be real – Oh God, what do we do?”  I slowly began to be conscious, really conscious, of those thoughts and where I was going with them – to my own place of fear and yes anger!  As I became more aware, I took a deep breath and opened to the reframing and rephrasing of my prayer – “Oh God, only Love is real.  Oh God, I am open to what is mine to do.”  This shift in energy – thoughts, words, feelings – brought me to a place of greater peace, if not greater understanding.  Since then, I have given more thought to the feelings and thoughts behind that intial reaction and I must admit that I am concerned that, at each budget cycle, the idea of reducing defense spending in order to provide the necessary funding for positive domestic programs is never discussed.  And I want to make it clear that when I speak of defense cuts, I am not talking about “not supporting the troops.”  I’m talking about reductions in research into new weapons that make war less messy; I’m talking about reducing cronyism and waste in the defense contracting business; I’m talking about less support, or at least of efficient support, of the military-industrial complex.   Speaking primarily from an intuitive position with only a neophyte’s research, I believe that if we were to refocus from weapons research and wasteful spending, we could provide better health care and benefits to those who are now serving in our armed forces.  We could support those men and women returning to lives that have been turned upside down.  We would be able to focus creatively on re-tooling our industrial base to fit markets and jobs needed to move us into a greener, more connected world.
My deepest desire is that we as individuals and as a nation bring into our consciousness the awareness that every life is precious, that every individual has infinite value, and that what we spend our money on is, in fact, what we hold most dear.   I do believe that as individuals and as a nation we hold life sacred; that when we can conquer our fear, we make choices that support life and peace, not destruction and war.  I believe that our voice – that my voice – is important in sending that message to the individuals we have elected to govern for us (note:  I didn’t say govern us, rather govern for us!). 

Regardless of which party’s nominee wins, it is vitally important that we, the people, let him or her know that we expect governance based on prinicples of love and compassion, not on fear and destruction, and that this governance starts with a serious look at how we are spending our money! 

PS – perhaps the lawmakers could spending a little less time worrying about steriod use in baseball and a little more time on creatively working on bringing quality education to all or what new markets/jobs are being called for in this new century!!!

The True Church

July 11, 2007

Pope Benedict’s recent summary and clarification of Dominion Iesus,  a theological treatise about ecclesiology published by the Vatican in the year 2000 during the pontificate of John Paul II, is an interesting piece of work.  In his clarification document, Pope Benedict XVI asserted yesterday that the Roman Catholic Church is the “one church” that Christ “established here on Earth” and that other Christian denominations “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense…..” 

In the Baltimore Sun we find this quote: “It’s a clarification of the meaning of the word church,” said Lawrence S. Cunningham, who writes a column for the Catholic magazine Commonweal and is a theologian at the University of Notre Dame. “Behind this document is the worry that the language of ecumenism has become too flabby and too imprecise, and too Pollyannish about glossing over real doctrinal positions.”  Again from the International Herald Tribune,  ‘The document released Tuesday focused largely on the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church, which it defined as being traceable through its bishops to Christ’s original apostles. Thus, it said, the world’s Orthodox Christians make up a church because of shared history, if “separated” from the “proper” Catholic tradition; Protestants, who split from Catholicism during the Reformation, are considered only “Christian communities.”  The document repeated church teaching that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the mediator of salvation, though other beliefs can be its “instrument.”‘
Father Johnathan, writing for Fox News, says that this clarification was written for theologian and should not be taken as a press release.

As a person who believes strongly in the power of words and that clarity is important, I applaud the Pope’s desire to be clear, if not his interpretations and methods.   And this document does make the position of the Roman Catholic Church clear.  Perhaps it would have been better if it had been released only to theologians, because now it clearly has reached the world in “press release-ese”. 

The International Herald Tribune headline reads: “Pope restates ‘defects’ of other Christian faiths….”  The Baltimore Sun headline reads: “Pontiff  asserts Catholic primacy.”  The Chicago Sun-Tribune reads: “Catholicism is the only true church, Vatican declares.”  ABC and Reuters reads: “Vatican says other Christian churches ‘wounded.'”

As a person who has travelled an eclectic road with God, I don’t need the Pope to define for me what the True Church is.  AND if he sees it as part of his calling as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church to define it for them, then God bless him.   I feel sad that he, and judging by the press coverage, many in the rest of the world, seem to think that he might be the arbiter of this question for everyone else.  I believe that his words, regardless of the reasons for issuing them,  will not help bring unity and peace to this world.  It is my belief that going back to old language, old rituals, old thought patterns will not bring about evolved thinking, believing and doing.  

From the depths of my being, I affirm that together we will find new words, the new rituals, the new thought patterns that represent God, the Infinite Spirit, the Eternal One – and that these “new” ideas and concepts will show us how to recognize and apply the truths taught by all the great teachers in a unifying, inclusive, and nonviolent way.  

“The church of Christ covers every department of our existance and enters into every fiber of our being. 
We carry it with us day and night, seven days of the week.  We live in it as a fish lives in water; as we become conscious of its enveloping presence, we are transformed into a new creature.  Life becomes an ecstasy, and our cup is full to overflowing.”  from Talks on Truth, Charles Fillmore. 

Question of Fear

July 5, 2007

In Sojomail, the weekly email-zine sent out by Rev Jim Wallis, he listed 4 questions that he was not able to ask the three leading Democratic candidates during the Candidate Forum on Faith, Values, and Poverty held on June 4th.  The first was about our commitment to Africa; the second concerned the impact that the world view outlined in the beatitudes (peace, justice) would have on their leadership; the fourth dealt with the relationship between faith-based initiatives and the government.  All of these are relevant questions.  However it was the third one that really caught my attention –
“3.   The command “be not afraid” appears frequently in the Bible, and yet U.S. foreign policy seems to be driven by fear, primarily of terrorist attacks. Our leaders seek to justify the most important decisions in foreign policy with dire warnings of impending attacks. Have we let fear push out wisdom and prudence as the primary virtues of foreign policy? Should the biblical command “be not afraid” have a role in foreign policy decision-making?”

And actually, I would broaden the question – I would replace the word “foreign” with “domestic and foreign”.  We seem to have fear of terrorists, fear of immigrants, fear of recession, fear of inflation, fear of liberals, fear of conservatives, fear of homosexuals, fear of aging, fear of death, fear of criticism, fear of change – and on and on –  as conscious and unconscious influences in our societal and governmental decisions. The question has been asked, “Is the threat real or is this a manipulation tactic by decision makers to push through an agenda?”  And if the threat is real, do we, as individuals and as a government, really have a good understanding of the causes behind the threat?  And then, why fear, rather than optimism around solutions?  Why does it seem easier for us as a nation and as individuals to move to fear rather than hope?  

When we’re not sure that the ground under our feet is stable, we get anxious, fearful – When ‘who we are’ is no longer clear, we get anxious, fearful – When our purpose, our vision is no longer clear and well-defined, we get anxious, fearful.  When these conditions exist, we find fear and, to reach past fear,  we are called to do some re-defining.  In this country, we have had a number of these redefining moments in history.  After most of these “moments,” the pace of the world around us was such that we had breathing space to clarify, regroup, rethink, realign.   The impact of a decision made during these “realigning” times was not necessarily immediate – it took a bit more time for the news to get out, for all of the primary and secondary systems to be affected.  Issued created by the decision could be surfaced and tweaked before the whole world knew!  We as individuals had a bit more time to absorb the effects of the change.  We had time to integrate the “New” and become comfortable with the new terrain under our feet.  This “time” gave us the opportunity to move from fear to hope, to love, to stability. 

Our world today moves at a much more rapid pace; the level of real-time connection is amazing.  The amount of information each individual has access to tends to be overwhelming.  The rate of change is astounding.  The following quote from Ray Kurzweil, inventor and futurist, brings this into perspective:
“Centuries ago people didn’t think that the world was changing at all.  Their grandparents had the same lives that they did, and they expected their grandchildren would do the same, and that expectation was largely fulfilled….What’s not fully understood is that the pace of change is itself accelerating, and the last 20 years are not a good guide to the next 20 years.  We’re doubling the paradigm shift rate, the rate of progress, every decade.  This will actually match the amount of progress we made in the whole 20th century, because we’ve been accelerating up to this point.  The 20th century was like 25 years of change at today’s rate of change.  In the next 25 years, we’ll make four times the progress you saw in the 20th century.  And we’ll make 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century, which is almost a thousand times more technical change than we saw in the 20th century.”

When I ponder this quote, I think of my father – The year he was born, the Wright Brothers were still working to get us to accept airplanes as viable modes of transportation.  Before he passed away at 83, men had walked on the moon and there was an international space station.  Dad said on several occasions that her was having a difficult time keeping up!  And even if Mr. Kurzweil is overestimating the rate of change by 50%, this 21st century is going to be a really wild ride! 
Now, back to the original question – should the guidance of Jesus – “be not afraid” – play a part in our world – our governmental policy – our daily lives?  If fear comes from change and uncertainty, then in a time of such change and uncertainty, how can we ‘be not afraid’?   Can we find things of which we are certain – can we use these things to build a more stable foundation, a more peaceful world?   I don’t know about things of which we are all certain; however, I know there are ideas – concepts – that appear to be universal and perenniel.  For me, these provide a good starting point.  More on them next time!