Wednesday, February 10, 2016

choose

Hmmmmmm.... interesting.

On economic policy, contemporary establishment democrats have more in common with contemporary republicans than they do with the FDR/LBJ democrats. Carter and Clinton took the party away from economic progressives. The Democratic Party, which was once the party that saw economic inequality and poverty as the core causes of economic instability, now sees inequality and poverty as largely irrelevant. Instead of eliminating inequality and poverty to fuel the capitalist system and produce strong economic growth, establishment democrats now largely agree with establishment republicans that the problem is a lack of support for business investment.

So Bernie Sanders is not merely running to attempt to implement a set of idealistic policies that a republican-controlled congress is likely to block. He is running to take the Democratic Party back from an establishment that ignores the fundamental systemic economic problems that lead to wage stagnation and economic crisis. Those who say that the Democratic Party cannot be reclaimed by the FDR/LBJ types or that if it is reclaimed it will flounder in elections against the GOP are thinking too small.
...
This is not a contest to see who will lead the democrats, it’s a contest to see what kind of party the democrats are going to be in the coming decades, what ideology and what interests, causes, and issues the Democratic Party will prioritize. This makes it far more important than any other recent primary election. The last time a democratic primary was this important, it was 1976. Only this time, instead of Anybody But Carter or Anybody But Clinton, the left has Bernie Sanders–one representative candidate that it is really excited about. The chance may not come again for quite some time.

Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal building on the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. She doesn’t understand the pivotal role inequality plays in creating economic crisis and reducing economic growth. She has been taken in by a fundamentally right wing paradigm, and if she is elected she will continue to lead the Democratic Party down that path.

Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist building on the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. He understands that inequality is the core structural factor in economic crisis and that growth in real wages and incomes is required for robust, sustainable economic growth.

It doesn’t matter which one is more experienced, or which one’s policies are more likely to pass congress, or which one is more likely to win a general election, or which one is a man and which one is a woman. This is not about just this election, or just the next four years. This is about whether the Democratic Party is going to care about inequality for the next decade. We are making a historical decision between two distinct ideological paradigms, not a choice between flavors of popcorn. This is important. Choose carefully.

This article is really quite good in outlining the differences between Clinton and Sanders....

In the very same way we must chose what type of Christian we wish to be --bible based fundamentalist or sacramentally based Traditionalist-- Democrats, too, have a very clear choice before them.

And I fear the nation is having to make a choice --fascism/ribald capitalism based in racism and economic oppression etc.... or the type of government which tempers blatant capitalism with social structures that strive to protect the least among us and our mother earth.

Great meditation material for Ash Wednesday, heh?

So... at prayer this morning, before I begin to run (from Amos 5)

They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Therefore because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate....

Economic inequality and poverty.... Yes. They are biblical issues. Oh yes. And they are matters of faith. And prayer. And action.

Choose.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Day before the Day we ponder death and sin

So... it's too late to begin the kind of prayer that does more than scratch the surface dirt of my life.... I've already answered the phone twice and the door twice before 8 this morning.... My "zone" prayer has been interrupted too much. Already.

But, there was something shared online about why to bring kids to Ash Wednesday services... it's never too early to begin thinking about mortality and teaching our kids to think about mortality. And sin. That was the bent of the article. They mentioned how they were unsure if they should take their infant up to be marked with the ashes... how others were disturbed at the sight of an infant with the ash cross on their forehead.

And all I could think was, 'oh, honey.'

And there was something else about what Bill Clinton said in a stump speech about the new average age of death of the white middle class --and how the age is becoming younger... because their hearts have been broken... Yeah. The average age of death of the white middle class is beginning to look more like those who live in poverty....

Loss of privilege. Loss of access --to better foods and healthcare. Poor education.

And last night, I sat with family at the ER until 10:30 or so... an infant who had become blue around the lips and fingertips. Baby has been sick for a couple of weeks. Frightened parents. Having to trust in the "Indian" hospital, which diagnosed me with constipation and sent me home with stool softener... when two weeks later I was having emergency gall bladder surgery --and that kind of scenario is played out over and over again at that place. Doctors who are trained off-shore and could not be licensed to work in any hospitals in our turf --except Federal ones in poverty stricken places like this....

Broken hearts, indeed.

And I learned last night that somebody who had died while I was gone had probably been badly beaten with a broom stick by a family member.... It (the beating) had been going on for a while. Everybody was too scared to do anything.

Too scared.

And the woman at the door this morning --with her ten year old child... I didn't even ask why the child wasn't in school --it was volunteered. The child had been talking about suicide. So, I took the child's head in my hands and said how grateful I was that they had said something, how brave I thought they were to ask for help. And the child looked at me and said, I'm not brave. I have no courage. If I did have courage, I would have died already.

--and my soul stumbled for the words... my mouth like a fish, gaping, trying to suck oxygen out of water.

Where is the hope I can offer? On the stoop of my door...

Come to the pancake supper tonight, I say to the mom.... They are fringe church-goers here. They have recently been sucked in by the wretchedly powerful fire-breathing fundamentalists who tell them they are inhabited by evil spirits and that they must wage spiritual warfare to survive.... Strong and violent religion.

And I struggle to offer hope... with the liturgy of Ash Wednesday looming...

Joel and I talked. I said I much preferred "Fat Tuesday" to "Shrove Tuesday."

Shrove, Shrive, Shriven, he said. It means 'confess.'

Yeah, like I said, I much prefer "Fat Tuesday".

He said something to the effect that everyone has forgotten the old ways... about beginning Lent "clean."

Clean.... Clean from what...? But I didn't say that out loud.... Until now.

Anything we could confess, we can see... and the things we need to repent of, we are usually blind to... until that terrible wonderful day.... and then, we are already clean, not because of anything we ourselves have done or said, but because of the faith and life and love of another.

We burn the palms we strew in his way in our Great Parade of Betrayal, and mark our foreheads with the ash. And yet, he named the one who betrayed him three times before the cock crowed as the "Rock" upon which the Church is built.

I wish --instead of the contradictory gospel --telling us about the hypocrites who disfigure their faces and pray publicly, while in the liturgy we disfigure our faces and pray in public... the liturgical disconnect of the truth we live.... I wish instead we could hear from John --we are wrong about sin, wrong about what is right, wrong about judgment...

Oh, I wish....

(Proverbs 30:1-4, 24-33)
The words of Agur son of Jakeh. An oracle.

Thus says the man: I am weary, O God,
I am weary, O God. How can I prevail?
Surely I am too stupid to be human;
I do not have human understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the holy ones.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of the hand?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is the person’s name?
And what is the name of the person’s child?
Surely you know!

Four things on earth are small,
yet they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people without strength,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
the badgers are a people without power,
yet they make their homes in the rocks;
the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
the lizard can be grasped in the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Three things are stately in their stride;
four are stately in their gait:
the lion, which is mightiest among wild animals
and does not turn back before any;
the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
and a king striding before his people.

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been devising evil,
put your hand on your mouth.
For as pressing milk produces curds,
and pressing the nose produces blood,
so pressing anger produces strife.

And Paul says it this way (Philippians 3 ending with verse 11)
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

So simple. So very complex and weighty.
So easy. So very difficult.
Off I go....

Thursday, February 4, 2016

God willing

So, yes.... I have been one to day-dream/pray. I do that....

But, I also am an "active" pray-er. Which is why I walk and pray. Or mow the lawn and pray. Clean the house/church and pray...

So, while Joel has been in the hospital --and MY nerves were okay until HE started doing end of life things like finally filing for pension, filling out a will, writing down all his pass codes on everything-all organized in a book, alphabetically... and organizing all debt info and credit card info....

Yes, I realized how nervous he was, and how nervous I was.... wracked....

So, this is how I prayed.... I began to build this --a patio....


the half-built patio interrupted by snow showing the retaining wall blocks
at the edge of the will-be patio, now filled with snow

trying to get the gravel at a 3% slope over a 14 x 22 foot area... has been a beast

--but was obviously interrupted by snow... There is a lot more there than meets the eye. Five inches of level gravel --each of those border stones weighs about 30 pounds... and the sand, which is only yet partial..... yadda yadda...

And when it began to snow and I was forced inside, I took on a project I had been putting off... the closet area in the basement bedroom....


fancy closet with one fancy city jacket
and the rest is my grubs to work in the yard here!


Well... God willing, this will be our retirement home. About seven years from now... so trying to do things in a good way....

The baskets on the top shelf... I was going to put everything in plastic tubs --it's summer bedding and extra sheets up there now. But, since the closet area is open to the whole downstairs room, and the baskets were less expensive, and MUCH prettier, I decided to go all fancy on it....

So... one day.

One day.

Actually, the patio area is bigger than the house. Isn't that the way it should be?

So, himself got all worn out yesterday up and walking around... and his bowels did what they were supposed to do, so there was much rejoicing in heaven and all over Rapid. And he thought yesterday afternoon they might let him come home today, but by the end of the day he said maybe not--between the pain and exhaustion....

So, there is nothing to do but wait... and see.

And, in the meantime, I will pray... probably on the patio... because it is supposed to get up to 45 today... and 50 over the weekend....

At prayer this morning (Hebrews, ending with 12.2)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Off I go. Please pray for D who was transported by ambulance from Eagle Butte last night. I will visit D today, too. God willing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

every part of it

He's out of ICU... which is the best news!!!

Now --his bowels got to do their thang for him to get some solid food.... and to come home. So, now you know how to pray for him.

Off I go--

At prayer this morning (John 6:52-59)

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

Is it any wonder that we were considered cannibals? Yeppa.

But, everywhere I look, all I see is his flesh and blood. The whole cosmos... all of it. Given for us. And us, undeniably part of it. Wholly. Holy.

Amen.

Off I go.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Patio. Deck. Truth. And those words.

It's snowing. Last week we were sitting out in the sun. Today, it's snowing. On my half-built patio.

My half-built patio... began as a patio... and then, because the price tag was so so so high, it turned in to a deck in half the space... and then when I went to dig the holes for the foundation of the deck, I realized I would have to dig a hole right next to the foundation of the house... so, that wasn't happening.

Then, with the tremendous gift of help from my neighbor, we began to lay out a patio where the deck was going to be --and the work went fine... a 12x12 space... which wasn't what I wanted...

So, after sleeping on it, and dreaming and refiguring and coffee... I now am building a patio. Again. Just is, it won't be a concrete slab... and doing the work myself (with the help of my neighbor) makes almost affordable....

Figuring how much gravel base we moved --we literally each moved at least a ton...

And now it is snowing. On my gravel base.

So, when Joel went in to the hospital, he thought we were gonna have a deck... and now it's a patio. Again.

Oh well.

I guess I better do something inside today. And then go spend time with my beloved. We "shared" a cup of coffee together this morning... video chat. Me here at the cottage with the dogs, and Joel there in ICU, already sitting up.... 'they won't let me sleep,' he said. 'they wake me up every fifteen minutes. Protocol, they say.'

Poor kid. Well--we'll know when they cut him loose from the ICU --probably today. And hopefully send him home in two more days. God willing.

So... that's all I'm thinking about.

At prayer this morning (John 8:31-36)
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

I remember the liberty we felt when we began addressing the patterns of addiction and dependency in our family.... Free. At last. Although we lost so many "friends"... and even family.

And that initial release --that initial freedom --has led to more and more realizations. Of sin. And forgiven-ness. Constantly confronting the realizing the slavery... it's hard work. Really hard work.

We --Joel and I-- talked last night about words --one being generosity. How the way we see it --as giving for the delight of it all, not for the responsibility or duty or any of the rest of it all... We've messed up generosity. And thinking about how or ways of being generous --all messed up.

And another word --surrender.... When we surrendered to addiction, we didn't "give up." We didn't "give in." We didn't wave a white flag and walk away. We dove in to it.

When the disciples claimed they were descendants of Abraham and had always been free, they were not only in denial. They didn't understand freedom. Liberty. The liberty Jesus was talking about. Which is ephemeral and eternal. Which is why it is so hard to talk about.... It is NOT the "Truth" of the pundits and the powerful. It is NOT the "truth" of someone with resources.

It is a path. A way. A road. A surrender. Without division of body, mind or spirit. Because there is no such thing as division of body, mind or spirit....

So, I will add "truth" to that list of words such as generosity and surrender....

--and know that I am loved. Beyond reason.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, February 1, 2016

time is like manna

He took off his wedding ring and gave it to me. Not in a bad way --but because he had to take it off for surgery. At first I wore it on the same finger as my own ring. But it was too big for me. So, I wore it on my index finger of my right hand.

It was strange... to wear his ring... to think that for the time being I carried it all... not for a moment did I think that "I" "carried" it all... I don't mean it in a weighty bravado or even a theological sense. But I carried the sign, the symbol.... Only I was conscious of who we were are might be.

By the end of the day, it felt like a dry run of that course of grief and loneliness. Eating alone. Talking to the dogs alone. Processing the day, alone. And I know that in a very real sense we are not alone, never alone, but the physicality of it.... It felt, with his wedding ring hanging off my finger, like a dry run of widowhood.

--with an open door, because I knew it was not true.

--and I felt his vows, his promises, his presence, hanging on my finger....

The weight of him. I carried it. I felt it.

But, last night, when I walked in to the ICU --he was sitting up in one of those recliners. Tubes every where. And he was able to speak. The conscious spark in his eye --the spark I hadn't seen in three days. It was there. And he chewed on Jello. Sipped on vegetable broth. Coughed perfectly. Laughed. Stretched out an ICU smile.

So, I gave it back. His ring. The weight of it.

And fixed him a hot cup of coffee. Without milk. Nectar of the gods....

On the way home, I heard a country song that made me laugh and cry, as country songs do... and I promised myself that I would remember this line or that verse because they were simply perfect. This morning, I can't remember any of it.... except the ephemeral perfection of that moment....

--the sacrament of time....

At prayer this morning (John 6:27-40)

Jesus said, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in trust him whom he has sent.”

So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe trust you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in trusts me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe trust. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will desire, but the will desire of him who sent me. And this is the will desire of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will desire of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in trust him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

The works of God... trust... faith....

The bread --the manna.... A sign... of trust.... --to get greedy with that... never a good idea....

And it occurs to me this morning, time is like that manna....

Yeppa. Off I go.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

sunbathing in South Dakota. In January.

Yesterday we sat out in the sun. Sunbathing in South Dakota in January.... Yes, I have heard of a January thaw... and we're having it.

It's supposed to get up to 56 degrees today. Which will mean mud. There are definitely four seasons here --1. Hot.   2. Falling Leaves and Brown Grass.   3. Frigid.   And 4. Mud.

The mud will wake up today. But, it will be a false alarm. Probably. Most likely.

Never a dull moment. ALWAYS stunningly beautiful. Breathtaking. Awesome.

So, today, I think I will work outside. Digging holes, or something. Anything. Just to be outside. Move. Vigorously.

Tomorrow, Joel goes in to the hospital for surgery --to repair his stomach wall. He has a hernia the size of a paper plate.... He has asked the doctor for abs like Brad Pitt.

Oh, yeah, honey. Dream on.

But, with God, all things are possible, heh?

He will be in the hospital for at least five days.
I ask for your prayers.

And please pray for D, I, I, K, N, J, R, W, C, D and family....
And thank I thank God for all of you.

At prayer this morning (from John 5)

[Jesus said,]
“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life."

When folks (in my current context) tell me that Christians are people of a book, I say --ummm, no, not really. We are a people of water, oil, fire, bread and wine. And the book of which you speak, is a collection of love letters to and about God from our spiritual ancestors....

Just sayin'....

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

when I let my dogs out in the yard....

I heard a difficult story the other day... about someone who stood in the corner and cried while members of their church just looked on. No comfort. No prayers. No hands of encouragement.

And we sat there, together, and shook our heads --all in agreement.... The church is a cruel place.

And it made me think. And wonder. And pray. And when one of us in church point out or make manifest or bear the cruelty of that place --the gossip, the bullying, the hypocrisy, someone usually ends up leaving or is forced (on so many levels) to leave. No healing. No reconciliation. No forgiveness. Just departure. Time after time after time.

And it is no longer just departure from a congregation. The leaving usually means departing the institutional church.

And this morning, my history/theology professor from seminary posted this, The Suicide of the Liberal Church by Chris Hedges.

As usual, Hedges cuts right to the quick....

The self-identified religious institutions that thrive preach the perverted “prosperity gospel,” the message that magic Jesus will make you rich, respected and powerful if you believe in him. Jesus, they claim, is an American capitalist, bigot and ardent imperialist. These sects selectively lift passages from the Bible to justify the unjustifiable, including homophobia, war, racism against Muslims, and the death penalty. Yet there are more students—2,067—at the evangelical Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary alone than at the divinity schools and seminaries of Yale, Harvard, Union, Vanderbilt and Chicago, whose combined enrollment is 1,537.

The doctrine these sects preach is Christian heresy. The Christian faith—as in the 1930s under Germany’s pro-Nazi Christian church—is being distorted to sanctify nationalism, unregulated capitalism and militarism. The mainstream church, which refuses to denounce these heretics as heretics, a decision made in the name of tolerance, tacitly gives these sects credibility and squanders the prophetic voice of the church.
...
The liberal church committed suicide when it severed itself from radicalism. Radical Christians led the abolitionist movement, were active in the Anti-Imperialist League, participated in the bloody labor wars, fought for women’s suffrage, formulated the Social Gospel—which included a huge effort to carry out prison reform and provide education to prisoners—and were engines in the civil rights and anti-war movements.

These radicals generally were not embraced by the church hierarchy, which served as a bulwark of the establishment, but they kept the church vital and prophetic. They made it relevant and important to the oppressed, the poor and to workingmen and -women. Radicals were and are its hope.

The loss of an array of prophetic voices on the national scene such as Phil and Daniel Berrigan, William Stringfellow, Rabbi Abraham Heschel, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King Jr. left the liberal church as morally bankrupt as the rest of the liberal class.
...
What remains of the church, if it is to survive as a social and cultural force, will see clergy and congregants leave sanctuaries to work in prisons, schools, labor halls and homeless and women’s shelters, form night basketball leagues and participate in grass-roots movements such as the anti-fracking struggle and the fight to raise the minimum wage. This shift will make it hard to financially maintain the massive and largely empty church edifices, and perhaps even the seminaries, but it will keep the church real and alive.

[--and a quote from William Stringfellow--]
The premise of most urban church work, it seems, is that in order for the Church to minister among the poor, the church has to be rich, that is, to have specially trained personnel, huge funds and many facilities, rummage to distribute, and a whole battery of social services. Just the opposite is the case. The Church must be free to be poor in order to minister among the poor. The Church must trust the Gospel enough to come among the poor with nothing to offer the poor except the Gospel, except the power to apprehend and the courage to reveal the Word of God as it is already mediated in the life of the poor. When the Church has the freedom itself to be poor among the poor, it will know how to use what riches it has. When the Church has that freedom, it will be a missionary people again in all the world.
During the rise of the American species of corporate fascism—what Sheldon Wolin called “inverted totalitarianism”—the liberal church, like the rest of the liberal establishment, looked the other way while the poor and workingmen and -women, especially those of color, were ruthlessly disempowered and impoverished. The church and liberals were as silent about the buildup of mass incarceration as they once were about lynching. The mainline church refused to confront and denounce the destructive force of corporate power. It placed its faith in institutions—such as the Democratic Party—that had long ceased to function as mechanisms of reform.

The church, mirroring the liberal establishment, busied itself with charity, multiculturalism and gender-identity politics at the expense of justice, especially racial and economic justice. It retreated into a narcissistic “how-is-it-with-me” spirituality. Although the mainline church paid lip service to diversity, it never welcomed significant numbers of people of color or the marginalized into their sanctuaries. The Presbyterian Church, for example, is 92 percent white. It pushed to the margins or sought to discredit liberation theology, which called out the evils of unfettered capitalism, white supremacy and imperialism. The retreat from radicalism—in essence the abandonment of the vulnerable to the predatory forces of corporate capitalism—created a spiritual void filled by protofascist movements that have usurped Christian symbols and provided a species of faith that is, at its core, a belief in magic. This Christian heresy is currently on public display at Donald Trump and Ted Cruz political rallies.

Oh, do go read it all... --and a quote from the end-ish part....
What does it mean to worship God and theologize in a world where people are suffering? What does it mean for an institution to thrive in the presence of that suffering?

On top of or with or alongside all of this is the image in my mind's eye of letting my dogs out in to the yard... and them running as fast as they can down the steps to the fence line, and circumnavigating the fence line all around the yard, totally ignoring the middle.... And they spend all their time literally pissing at the fence....

--the borderlands.

And somehow, I think my dogs have it right... and my friend who stood in the corner and cried has it right....

The church, the Church needs to be at the borderlands. At the edge.

Yes.

For me, the first of the last questions --what does it mean to worship God and theologize in a world where people are suffering-- is not so difficult. I have found places to worship and acknowledge God in the midst of suffering. The cry in the wilderness. Getting lost there for however long it takes to put down what we don't need to carry with us. That is true worship. Tears and anguish and sacrifice are very honest ways of worshiping.

But, for me, the second question is the question of our age --what does it mean for an institution to thrive in the presence of that suffering-- because so much of the suffering in our age can be named as a consequence of institutional life... global warming vs. what it takes to heat and maintain our buildings --raw greed and gross capitalism in regards to divesting from the deadly vs. pension funds  --you can name them all as well as I can.

Again, I quote, "It pushed to the margins or sought to discredit liberation theology, which called out the evils of unfettered capitalism, white supremacy and imperialism. The retreat from radicalism—in essence the abandonment of the vulnerable to the predatory forces of corporate capitalism—created a spiritual void filled by protofascist movements that have usurped Christian symbols and provided a species of faith that is, at its core, a belief in magic."

Yeppa. Transactional theology. If I do or believe this, then this might happen.

Now, if this were easy to resolve, Christians might have done something a very long time ago.... But at the core or corps of all this is SIN. Yeah, that word.

And I do not "let off" the institution because it is ear-deep in sin. I do not let myself "off" because I am swimming in sin --personal and systemic.... Sin is hard to see when your eyes are full of it....

Which, I guess, is why my dogs have right... we, as individuals and as members of various institutions, need to learn to piss on fences, to remember there is more, so much more.... and why my friend was right to stand and witness to the suffering --even if it meant standing alone weeping in the corner.

--and yet, through our multitude of pathologies, we cannot even see the fence(s).

--and we ostracize, but, spiritually murder those who point them out....

At prayer this morning (John 5:1-18)
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.

One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews the churches said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there.

Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews the churches that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews the churches started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” For this reason the Jews the churches were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

Do we want to be made well?

Sometimes, I think not.
Sometimes I do not think we can see that we are not well...

--we are addicted to "me" --not the great I am.
--we are afraid....
--we are in denial....

There is so much good in the Church.
There is so much wickedness.

Oh, Church....

Well, now... off to let my dogs out in the yard....

--yeppa--

Just sayin'.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ahhhh flesh.

I am still technically "unplugged" and taking a break from "normal" routines. But I do ask your prayers for our long-time friend, Ted, today. He is having a tumor removed from his head today, and will lose an eye and some of his cheek in the process.

And I ask your continued prayers for my beloved. His surgery will be this Friday.

Please pray for I --they found an intestinal bleed.
Please pray for another I --his body is running away from him... so to speak.
Please pray for another I --having heart check ups, potential stint stuff.
Please pray for N,J,K.

And, they just came up and told me my car was ready --I'm getting it service. New plugs --which is what they do after 90,000 miles. Three years. 90,000 miles. Gee!

At prayer (Philippians 3:4b-11)

I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Ahhhh, flesh.
Love it.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

and in not at all an irreverent way, really.

Heheheheheh!!!! Yeah. It's older, but, hey....



At prayer this morning (and in not at all an irreverent way, really. Canticle: A Song of True Motherhood, by Julian of Norwich)

God chose to be our mother in all things *
and so made the foundation of his work,
most humbly and most pure, in the Virgin’s womb.
God, the perfect wisdom of all, *
arrayed himself in this humble place.
Christ came in our poor flesh *
to share a mother’s care.
Our mothers bear us for pain and for death; *
our true mother, Jesus, bears us for joy and endless life.
Christ carried us within him in love and travail, *
until the full time of his passion.
And when all was completed and he had carried us so for joy, *
still all this could not satisfy the power of his wonderful love.
All that we owe is redeemed in truly loving God, *
for the love of Christ works in us;
Christ is the one whom we love.

Joel's surgery has been postponed... again. Now to the 29th.

Well then. There we are.
Off I go.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Absolutism. Tyranny. Divine right. Anglicanism was a response to that... and the Borgias. Thank you very much.

I spent yesterday feeling punky....  mostly nauseous and all the wonderful things that happen to a body when it feels that way --feverish etc.... I found it difficult to keep water down....

Thinking that Joel was to have surgery soon enough, we kept our distance from one another. But, the mystery and miracle that is Body, is recovering today. And then we found out his surgery was to be postponed.... But, still, I hope it was just something I ate, not something contagious. I wouldn't wish this on anybody.

All of it did give me the chance to sit still. Very still. And read.

I appreciated receiving an email with my own Bishop's words with regard to the statement of Archbishops/Primates of last week about sanctions/consequences/punishments against the Episcopal Church. Basically my Bishop said, be still... know that God is God... practice forgiveness... encouraged all not to take up posturing... all are welcome.

I love my Bishop --he has steadfastly maintained a radical hospitality like that. Always. All ways.

His statement echoes that of the Rev. Bill Countryman --who writes here
My guess is that the Archbishop of Canterbury invited his fellow primates to gather in the hope that he could at least prevent our incipient schism from growing worse. It is a legitimate goal. Schisms that reach fully institutionalized character are notoriously difficult to resolve. Whatever issue is claimed as the occasion for schism assumes an importance that it may never really have deserved simply because it becomes the distinctive badge of the community resulting from the schism. It must continue to be justified as the only acceptable decision, even if, in later years, it should cease to seem so important after all.

The Anglican tradition’s combination of dispersed authority and respect for tradition is both blessing and weakness. It helps avert the kind of political authoritarianism that created the Inquisition and provoked the Reformation, but it has difficulty in satisfying people’s desire for clarity. Once people are truly furious with one another over a contested issue, there is no authority that can rein in the warring sides. In this respect, of course, we are in precisely the same situation as earliest Christianity. No voice could successfully reunite those Jewish Christians who insisted on full conversion of Gentiles to Jewish identity with those who regarded the Gentiles’ presence in the church as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s work. In the same way, no voice in contemporary Anglicanism can reconcile those who feel that the existence of gay, lesbian, and transgender Anglicans is radically transgressive with those who are persuaded that it is an important victory of the gospel. The only hope of preserving church unity is to find, foster, or create a majority who are prepared to regard the issue as an adiaphoron, a matter that should not occasion division.
....
The gradual increase in the power of the early papacy was fueled in part by requests that the Bishop of Rome intervene in local quandaries in Western Europe. The parallel rise of the patriarchates of the East owed something to the same process as well as to the emperor’s desire to quell conflict in the church. In the long run, however, the result was an increasing rigidity that had difficulty making room even for innovations of great spiritual value—with divergent and unpredictable results as exemplified in the cases of, say, Francis of Assisi and Martin Luther. The Reformation broke with the absolute power of the papacy, but held onto much of the rigidity of the Western Christian mindset and became, as a result, a welter of competing and conflicting organizations, divided by disputes that sometimes seem of dubious value in the present era. The desire for doctrinal purity occasioned much division. One distinctive element of the Elizabethan settlement in England was the effort to hold these diverse elements together under a single roof—an effort never completely successful even in the resulting Church of England.

We now have significant elements of schism among Anglicans. There are churches that refuse to share communion with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, and wish to have the secessionist elements grouped together in the Anglican Church in North America officially recognized as their replacements. There are those who resolutely oppose this program. If the Archbishop of Canterbury hopes to prevent this situation from becoming more entrenched, he must probably aim at buying time in which to foster the growth and consolidation of the group that sees the matter as adiaphoron and rejects the idea of dividing over it.

This will not be an easy matter, given the global character of Anglicanism. The status of lesbians and gay men (still more of transexual persons) varies enormously from culture to culture. And it is part of the larger issue of gender, which also remains unresolved among us. It is no accident that many of the churches that are particularly angry about the embrace of homosexual persons are also opposed to the ordination of women. And it is no accident that the leadership of these groups is entirely male and presents itself as emphatically heterosexual.

But the fact that the task is difficult does not mean that it can or should be lightly abandoned. The unity of the church is more than an institutional convenience, more than a theological premise, and more than a concern of professional ecumenists. It is a matter of deep spiritual value. God’s creation of humanity in God’s image and likeness, implies, as I have said elsewhere on this weblog, God’s search for friends. And since God has created so many of us and of such different temperament, experience, and culture, it seems reasonable to infer that our very multiplicity is part of what we bring to God as God’s friends. The great danger of Christians in any one place or time is that we shall begin to identify the gospel with the practices and prejudices of our particular time and place. Only a community of discourse that is large and varied enough to disrupt that kind of fossilization is ultimately adequate to the needs of our growing friendship with God, this friendship for which God created us and to which we are learning to respond through God’s grace.

Accordingly, I praise and honor Archbishop Welby for his efforts to keep us all in conversation and not yield prematurely to the forces of disintegration. At the same time, there are consequences of the meeting that bode ill. Most significantly, it has reinforced the apparent power of the Consultation of Primates, a gathering that has no theological or constitutional rationale for exercising this kind of authority. It was first created as a consultation, and anything beyond that on its part is a usurpation. It has become, in effect, a weapon of convenience for those who wish to suppress theological debate on topics that they have defined as out of bounds. This is a dangerous precedent both in its own right and because the group’s meetings are essentially secret—out of the eye of the larger church in a way that our local conventions and synods or the global Anglican Consultative Council are not. Moreover, those who wish to control the discourse are resorting to the age-old schismatic device of trying to bar their opposition from participation. I fear that by reinforcing these precedents of secrecy and exclusion Archbishop Welby’s initiative may prove more destructive than helpful, for they cut against the real need—to foster the community of those who are committed to broad unity and disinclined to dig trenches between us.

(Rev. Countryman was my Greek and New Testament professor at seminary.)

Perhaps it has been my experience of the abuse of authority which leads me to mouth off as I do... perhaps it has been my experience of political protest and organizing --ever since I was a child-- that has so profoundly formed me....

Change --in one's own life, much less a community, much less an international institution-- takes profound discipline. And, I know in a 'deep' way that the church is not complete without the "mouth" and the patience to be still and know that God is God. The "push" and the "pull"....

But, perhaps... just thinking out loud here... perhaps we are not too big to fail...  And, please, I am not advocating dissolution, schism, whatever you wish to call what may happen. But, I am standing in a spiritual place which loves, I mean Loves the Anglican Communion.

And, I am striving to not let it be an idol.

We ARE One. Not because we say so. But, because that is the reality of God's creation. We are all made in the image of God, as Countryman says. God's glory is made manifest in our diversity.

The trouble in our greater Church, as I see it, is that that diversity is not honored. And it is not the Episcopal Church which has left the table --we have been shoved away from it, or others have walked away--sometimes with great spiritual violence. By bullies and presumed purists in a seat of authority which they see as seat of power. And, indeed, our institutional structure has no historic mechanism to truly deal with that.

(I am confident that there are those who will say that we are the bullies. There is plenty of historical evidence to uphold that. I don't deny it. I live in a place which is ground-zero of such circumstances. But, just because pancakes are on the table doesn't always mean it's dinner-time, if you know what I mean.)

Authority. And Power.
Aye matey. There's the rub.

Who's to say what Is and what Isn't....
Aye matey.

And, as to what the Archbishops/Primates did... well....
THE communiqué issued by the Primates in Canterbury last week does not bind anyone, because the Primates’ meeting has no jurisdiction, a canon lawyer said this week. It represented “completely unacceptable interference” with the autonomy of the bodies to whom it had issued requirements.
...
The communiqué constituted “completely unacceptable interference with the autonomy of each of these bodies as they transact their own business”. It was “absolute nonsense” to suggest that an ecumenical body such as the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), or an Anglican body such as the Anglican Consultative Council, be bound by a decision made by the Primates’ meeting.

The Anglican Consultative Council is the only instrument of the Communion with a written constitution. Professor Doe suggested, however, that, in the light of the communiqué, the Archbishop of Canterbury could feel “bound” not to invite the Episcopal Church to the Lambeth Conference.

The events of the past week highlighted the consequences of the Communion’s failure to adopt the Anglican Covenant, Professor Doe suggested. He spoke as a member of the Lambeth Commission, which had proposed the Covenant and helped to draft it.

The Covenant was, he said, a means of “setting out clearly the jurisdictional boundaries of the instruments of the Communion, including the Primates’ meeting. . . What we have with the Primates’ meeting is an assumption of authority which has no basis in law. It is merely the result of assertion and assumption, and the Covenant project would have filled that vacuum and provided a set of house rules for the Anglican Communion to address these issues. It never happened.”

Ahhhh... see. A bid for the Covenant. If only we had Authority and Power sitting in the same seat, all would be well....

The invitation to absolutism. It's called tyranny. Divine right to rule.

The Church has been there. Done that. Anglicanism was a response to that.... and the Borgias. Thank you very much.

Let's not do that dance again. Let's not remake what we ran from in the first place. Let us continue in that very difficult response to the glory of God. All of us are made in the image of God, and we are not the same.

Thanks be to God.

At prayer this morning (Hebrews 6:1-12)
Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this, if God permits. For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt. Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over.

Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Diligence. Hope. Patience.

Yeppa.

Oh gee... we just got word that Joel's surgery has been postponed AGAIN....

--sigh--

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

There we are. There we go.

---and another one down...



--sigh--

...and what... I think to myself... and what....

So.
Yeah. They were good. Very good. Formative for a generation. I loved them.

There we are.
But, I still preferred this, actually....





or this...





--because they were catalysts...

Just me. Just sayin'.

Life is so quizzical, heh? So full of mystery. So unexpectedly short. So uncertain....

At prayer this morning (Hebrews 5:7-14)

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

About this we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become dull in understanding. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.

Oh dear.
There we go.

Taking Joel for his pre-op today. God willing.

Monday, January 18, 2016

dreams of and for and by the church....

I had one of those dreams...

So much water it was coming in through the walls of the church. So, I had built an "Escher-like" water fountain in a church yard, wherein the water was perpetually running in a stream. It was quite clever... or so I thought. I had dug it all by hand. Kept the water from coming in through the walls. Used found materials at hand. Water wheels in small tributaries that kept it all going.... Running water.




And attendance dropped and people grumbled....

And someone came and told me they hated the fountain, it was dangerous. Unnecessary. It had to go.  I said, But you need it, really you do. Without this, the church becomes a swamp --Look at it! But still they said No. And I woke up... so discouraged... so furious....

So, I told Joel... about the fountain in my dream... all my work... dug by hand... rejected. I had awakened from sleep angry... and he said, Living waters--of course it is necessary. And then he kept on about the "well" and stagnant waters....

And, I guess, here am I, beginning some 'time away' and worried about what I will return to... I have PTSD when it comes to time off, I guess.... One time, I returned to no job. Another, a changed job--a pawn in a twisted political ploy against a new-be bishop, not the job I had been hired for. Another, a twisted confrontation. Another, undermined.... It all happens when I am gone.

So. I guess I can't help but worry what I might return to....

I know. A dangling preposition. Oh well.

Ain't the church... ain't the church....

---sigh---

So, I remember. How much we are all in need of that running water.
And, I will strive to let it all go, until it's time....
And I will quit digging for a time... poetically speaking, of course.
For my own sake. And, for the sake of all....

At prayer this morning (from the Lectionary of the Confession of St. Peter, 1 Peter 5:1-4)

As an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it-- not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.

And... by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail

From the Birmingham jail, where he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in longhand the letter which follows. It was his response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South. Dr. King, who was born in 1929, did his undergraduate work at Morehouse College; attended the integrated Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, one of six black pupils among a hundred students, and the president of his class; and won a fellowship to Boston University for his Ph.D.

WHILE confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little else in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every Southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliate organizations all across the South, one being the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Whenever necessary and possible, we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago our local affiliate here in Birmingham invited us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promises. So I am here, along with several members of my staff, because we were invited here. I am here because I have basic organizational ties here.

Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.

You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being. I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. I would not hesitate to say that it is unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time, but I would say in more emphatic terms that it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of this city left the Negro community with no other alternative.

IN ANY nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country. Its unjust treatment of Negroes in the courts is a notorious reality. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in this nation. These are the hard, brutal, and unbelievable facts. On the basis of them, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the political leaders consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.

Then came the opportunity last September to talk with some of the leaders of the economic community. In these negotiating sessions certain promises were made by the merchants, such as the promise to remove the humiliating racial signs from the stores. On the basis of these promises, Reverend Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to call a moratorium on any type of demonstration. As the weeks and months unfolded, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. The signs remained. As in so many experiences of the past, we were confronted with blasted hopes, and the dark shadow of a deep disappointment settled upon us. So we had no alternative except that of preparing for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and national community. We were not unmindful of the difficulties involved. So we decided to go through a process of self-purification. We started having workshops on nonviolence and repeatedly asked ourselves the questions, "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" and "Are you able to endure the ordeals of jail?" We decided to set our direct-action program around the Easter season, realizing that, with exception of Christmas, this was the largest shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic withdrawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this was the best time to bring pressure on the merchants for the needed changes. Then it occurred to us that the March election was ahead, and so we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that Mr. Conner was in the runoff, we decided again to postpone action so that the demonstration could not be used to cloud the issues. At this time we agreed to begin our nonviolent witness the day after the runoff.

This reveals that we did not move irresponsibly into direct action. We, too, wanted to see Mr. Conner defeated, so we went through postponement after postponement to aid in this community need. After this we felt that direct action could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask, "Why direct action, why sit-ins, marches, and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are exactly right in your call for negotiation. Indeed, this is the purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. I just referred to the creation of tension as a part of the work of the nonviolent resister. This may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. So, the purpose of direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. We therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in the tragic attempt to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that our acts are untimely. Some have asked, "Why didn't you give the new administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this inquiry is that the new administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one before it acts. We will be sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Mr. Boutwell will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is much more articulate and gentle than Mr. Conner, they are both segregationists, dedicated to the task of maintaining the status quo. The hope I see in Mr. Boutwell is that he will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from the devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was "well timed" according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "wait." It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger" and your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodyness" -- then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

YOU express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. To use the words of Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes an "I - it" relationship for the "I - thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. So segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, but it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Isn't segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, an expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? So I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court because it is morally right, and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances because they are morally wrong.

Let us turn to a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself. This is difference made legal. On the other hand, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow, and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

Let me give another explanation. An unjust law is a code inflicted upon a minority which that minority had no part in enacting or creating because it did not have the unhampered right to vote. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up the segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout the state of Alabama all types of conniving methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties without a single Negro registered to vote, despite the fact that the Negroes constitute a majority of the population. Can any law set up in such a state be considered democratically structured?

These are just a few examples of unjust and just laws. There are some instances when a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I was arrested Friday on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong with an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade, but when the ordinance is used to preserve segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest, then it becomes unjust.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience.

We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws.

I MUST make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

In your statement you asserted that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But can this assertion be logically made? Isn't this like condemning the robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical delvings precipitated the misguided popular mind to make him drink the hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because His unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to His will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see, as federal courts have consistently affirmed, that it is immoral to urge an individual to withdraw his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest precipitates violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth of time. I received a letter this morning from a white brother in Texas which said, "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but is it possible that you are in too great of a religious hurry? It has taken Christianity almost 2000 years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." All that is said here grows out of a tragic misconception of time. It is the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively. I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.

YOU spoke of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I started thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency made up of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, have been so completely drained of self-respect and a sense of "somebodyness" that they have adjusted to segregation, and, on the other hand, of a few Negroes in the middle class who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because at points they profit by segregation, have unconsciously become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred and comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up over the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. This movement is nourished by the contemporary frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination. It is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incurable devil. I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need not follow the do-nothingism of the complacent or the hatred and despair of the black nationalist.

There is a more excellent way, of love and nonviolent protest. I'm grateful to God that, through the Negro church, the dimension of nonviolence entered our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, I am convinced that by now many streets of the South would be flowing with floods of blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble-rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who are working through the channels of nonviolent direct action and refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes, out of frustration and despair, will seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies, a development that will lead inevitably to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The urge for freedom will eventually come. This is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom; something without has reminded him that he can gain it. Consciously and unconsciously, he has been swept in by what the Germans call the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America, and the Caribbean, he is moving with a sense of cosmic urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. Recognizing this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand public demonstrations. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations. He has to get them out. So let him march sometime; let him have his prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; understand why he must have sit- ins and freedom rides. If his repressed emotions do not come out in these nonviolent ways, they will come out in ominous expressions of violence. This is not a threat; it is a fact of history. So I have not said to my people, "Get rid of your discontent." But I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled through the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. Now this approach is being dismissed as extremist. I must admit that I was initially disappointed in being so categorized.

But as I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist in love? -- "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice? -- "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? -- "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist? -- "Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God." Was not John Bunyan an extremist? -- "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a mockery of my conscience." Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? -- "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." So the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this. Maybe I was too optimistic. Maybe I expected too much. I guess I should have realized that few members of a race that has oppressed another race can understand or appreciate the deep groans and passionate yearnings of those that have been oppressed, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent, and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too small in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some, like Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, and James Dabbs, have written about our struggle in eloquent, prophetic, and understanding terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They sat in with us at lunch counters and rode in with us on the freedom rides. They have languished in filthy roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of angry policemen who see them as "dirty nigger lovers." They, unlike many of their moderate brothers, have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.

LET me rush on to mention my other disappointment. I have been disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand this past Sunday in welcoming Negroes to your Baptist Church worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Springhill College several years ago. But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say that as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say it as a minister of the gospel who loves the church, who was nurtured in its bosom, who has been sustained by its Spiritual blessings, and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

I had the strange feeling when I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery several years ago that we would have the support of the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests, and rabbis of the South would be some of our strongest allies. Instead, some few have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams of the past, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and with deep moral concern serve as the channel through which our just grievances could get to the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous religious leaders of the South call upon their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers say, follow this decree because integration is morally right and the Negro is your brother. In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churches stand on the sidelines and merely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, "Those are social issues which the gospel has nothing to do with," and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely otherworldly religion which made a strange distinction between bodies and souls, the sacred and the secular.

There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators." But they went on with the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven" and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.

Things are different now. The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's often vocal sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I meet young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are presently misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson scratched across the pages of history the majestic word of the Declaration of Independence, we were here. For more than two centuries our foreparents labored here without wages; they made cotton king; and they built the homes of their masters in the midst of brutal injustice and shameful humiliation -- and yet out of a bottomless vitality our people continue to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

I must close now. But before closing I am impelled to mention one other point in your statement that troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I don't believe you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its angry violent dogs literally biting six unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I don't believe you would so quickly commend the policemen if you would observe their ugly and inhuman treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you would watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you would see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys, if you would observe them, as they did on two occasions, refusing to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I'm sorry that I can't join you in your praise for the police department.

It is true that they have been rather disciplined in their public handling of the demonstrators. In this sense they have been publicly "nonviolent." But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the last few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. So I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.

I wish you had commended the Negro demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer, and their amazing discipline in the midst of the most inhuman provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose facing jeering and hostile mobs and the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman of Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride the segregated buses, and responded to one who inquired about her tiredness with ungrammatical profundity, "My feets is tired, but my soul is rested." They will be young high school and college students, young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience's sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage.

Never before have I written a letter this long -- or should I say a book? I'm afraid that it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else is there to do when you are alone for days in the dull monotony of a narrow jail cell other than write long letters, think strange thoughts, and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything in this letter that is an overstatement of the truth and is indicative of my having a patience that makes me patient with anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

overturned their tables

They want their Covenant.
They want a two-tier Communion.
And they want us on the third rung.

Do we even remember the political and monetary machinations --the manipulations by conservative Americans purposefully out to destroy main-stream churches, the Episcopal church in particular. Follow the money, leaked press releases --all that. The outright bullying and name-calling. The mind-numbing and soul-searing plethora of scum... not to mention the stolen properties and other assets.

Have we forgotten?

They haven't even begun.... They have plans to accomplish their goals.

The other day, on a bulletin board, I saw an invitation to a two-day seminar on spiritual warfare... what the perceived ills are, how to fight them. It was, frankly, frightening. Sick. Weird. Destructive. Dangerous. Claiming to be Christian.

Okay. Fine. We can pretend this type stuff doesn't exist in the Episcopal Church. That we are safe...

Then, please explain to me what happened in Canterbury this week. That bite in our rear-ends took most of us by surprise, and we can all just say --oh, well-- that doesn't affect us here at the local level. We can get on with being church. It doesn't really matter.

But it does matter. And it matters not because of the very small picture of the Episcopal Church --but because of the future of the whole Church itself...

We have choices to make. But, mostly we need to recognize the landscape before us, and prepare ourselves and the generations to come for what lies ahead....

If we don't know it now, we should --we are entering an exile....

Some will call it a "post-Christian" or at the very least a "post-denominational" world. Fine. I can deal with that. In many respects, I welcome that. Because it will strip naked our assumptions about how to 'be' church.

But realizing we will be brought to our knees in this journey --and we must decide what is most essential to carry with us in this exile....

What is the Good News?
How can we live it?

I earnestly believe we are entering an era of un-doing and re-making. The first generations of Christians had writings that might cost you your life to carry --but they didn't have the "bible." They had places to meet, but they didn't have church buildings. They used language and images that spoke to the culture at large. They had water, oil, bread and wine... and a smattering of letters.

Mostly what they had was division, arguments, fear (have you read Paul?!) --and the personal presence of leaders who may not have been fearless, but they were not fearful. Willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. To embrace living the Life, the One Life we share in.

Before all of this Canterbury stuff is over, we will have been shaken to our roots. We have a good, kind and prophetic Presiding Bishop who is calling us to live in to a greater love. Yes. We should.

But we should not be blind to the landscape.
We need to be prepared --and I don't mean a hunkering down, a hoarding, a vicious preparedness. No, that is for those whose spiritual lives require that Covenant and a two-tier Communion.

We, as a Church, must be prepared to give it all away.
As a sign.
In love.

At prayer this morning (ending with Hebrews 4:13)
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.

Canticle: A Song of the Heavenly City
Revelation 21:22-26, 22:1-4
I saw no temple in the city, *
for its temple is the God of surpassing strength and the Lamb.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to light it, *
for the glory of God shines on it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
By its light the nations shall walk, *
and the rulers of the world lay their honor and glory there.
Its gates shall never be shut by day, nor shall there be any night; *
into it they will bring the honor and glory of nations.
I saw the clean river of the water of life, bright as crystal, *
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
The tree of life spanned the river, giving fruit every month, *
and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
All curses cease where the throne of God and the Lamb stands,
and all servants give worship there; *
there they will see God’s face, whose Name shall be on their foreheads.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

John 2:13-21 (NRSV)
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body.

--and we who have been baptized are that Body, and members of it.

Cleaning house.
It ain't such a bad deal... but it does require a whole, new Way.

Yeppa.

--so, you may ask... what are you doing to get ready?
Oh. Yes.
But that's a whole other post.