Monday, October 20, 2014

Scripture Truth revealed in shadow…

If I haven’t learned anything I’ve learned the messages we send out are many, layered and often mixed.  Our biggest issue ultimately is our inability to control the thoughts feelings & actions of others.  Boy if I could do that, I would never have to take responsibility for my own.  So lets lay it on the line...If I have learned nothing of religion & even those who claim no religion, I have learned that how we seek, investigate, experience, think about, interact with the higher place/energy/being found within & without our individual material existence…that place within us that tells us how we make sense of our world & the experience of it… I have learned no matter what version of philosophy, religion, spiritual practice, cultural context…it repeatedly speaks & points to life giving truth… AND due to the human condition is just as quick to be used in every attempt to control what makes “me” uncomfortable in others – which in reality actually becomes a very destructive force to life, love & freedom.



There is much to criticize about what we call the Holy Bible, from the actual text, to the context, to what is in & what is not, to how it is used.  I am one of the first to raise the hard questions that become blatant spotlights on what seems contradictory, paradoxical & and if read believing it is the “inerrant word of God,” it often reflects a God who seems at best bipolar & at worst sadistic.  I personally have come at it from a number of perspectives.  My introduction was fundamentalist indoctrination, which served to feed into & reinforce the belief within me that even though I instinctively understood there was power that was not my own, that was a part of creating me, it hated me.  I believed I was worthless, and had to earn my value by becoming everything I was not, this would include the attempt to control my very thoughts, feelings & beliefs.  Emotional manipulation was the weapon, recruitment the goal.  Whether one thinks of evil as an entity – the devil, a force – energy/will or as a self determined act, admittedly it worked its damage well, the evil that attacks me most is emotional, mental & spiritual insecurity.



A few things which have become clear with time, study, experience is that our material lives – that includes the breathing we do in this time & place on this earth, in these bodies – has limits – we can call it natural law – our physical body only last so long.  We hold within us varying degrees of knowledge, skill, gift, understanding, vision.  We come with a variety of biological, historical & cultural experience.  The point being I’ve come to recognize, I have little knowledge & experience to judge another person or the path in life they walk.  I also recognize no one else can legitimately hold judgment over mine.  Consequences are a whole other can of worms.



Some things scripture has taught me, through story, context & experience…Full & abundant life requires Love – unconditional acceptance of what is – a love that holds within it truth & freedom.  Humans hold within them all that makes life possible & all that can destroy that very life in this time & place.  The Gospel or Good news found in the story or life of Jesus is not whether he was man, God, prophet or not, healer, heretic, messiah, symbol real or fiction.  The Gospel or "good news"is quite frankly and on many levels simply offensive.  It at once holds us to account for our own thoughts, beliefs & actions AND at the same time frees us by giving us permission to be just what we are.  The offense is that it is in living life that abundant life is found, not in some formula of control – of myself or of others.  The irony is that one develops self control, wisdom, and experiences comfort, peace of mind & heart in the midst of pain, violence & chaos.



Take one short New Testament story that has been much used to justify taxation that has nothing to do with taxation.  The story can be found in several places, including Matthew 22:15-22.  The setting…One large oppressive military state has taken over the region & imposed their own laws, blending an odd mix of being allowed to keep ones religious practice as long as the “feds” (emperor/senate/Rome) had priority in everyday life.  The consequences for not adhering to the law – local, religious, cultural or national could & often did end in death.

The characters…some religious fundamentalists, and a few “sheeple herders”  who are not happy with the new kid on the block, his ideas & practice threaten their comfort zones – that is it triggers their fear.  He is preaching to the sheeple that have longed for a different way to live out from the under oppression.  These who have sought him out do to the rumors they heard about what he had to offer.  The religious nuts (Pharisees) are determined to stick with the control script, the sheeple herders (Herodians) are just out to cover their own ass, come together to form a tenuous alliance in order to mark their turf to this infidel – he wears the wrong gang colors & has a big mouth.



The set up…taxes…paying them supports the state, not paying them can get you killed…either way the question posed is a set up…Jesus was no idiot – he may or may not be many things – but idiot is not one of them.  One of the rules that sets up several stories on money in new testament, is that only Rome could distribute silver coins.  One of the religious rules was that one could not even depict human face on something like a coin, it was tantamount to idol worship, to even use a coin with an image is blaspheme.  Jesus says show me the coin used to pay the tax & asked the question “who’s image is on it?”  His response is “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s & to God what is God’s.”  He doesn't explain what that is, how that is, or even the ritual to make sure to do it right…he simply threw it back in their lap…with the truth…You are free to choose” 
      
It begs the question, “what will you choose?”



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Who decides identity?

I have often found myself challenged by my greatest enemy…insecurity/doubt…When I’m at my best it is easy to blow off the accusations of others.  When I am vulnerable I become hurt, angry & defensive…typically because I’m afraid “it’s true.”  The beautiful irony of the Creator’s wisdom is it often holds together what would appear to be contradictory.


So some recent accusation (testing if you will) have been made of the claims I make in my personal identity.  They include poser, troll, nose, imposter, charlatan & fake.  They come like this, “Bitch you don’t know shit,” “you can’t understand cause you haven’t had to deal with…(fill in the blank).  More often they come in the form of challenges to my core beliefs – like when a couple of friends are in conflict and want me to pick sides or get triangulated between them.  Or when I open my mouth with something I know won’t be pleasant to hear, and then I get the blow back I never like feeling.  My ego wants to step in and make better what I cannot.


For those that need to hear I am able to say that I have learned much about love & grace surviving in both the bush alone & on inner city streets alone.  Some of the things I’ve learned…

*A true hunter hunts only for what is needed, utilizes all that can be, gives thanks for the life and gives forward what is of abundance.
*A warrior fights for the sake of Justice AND Mercy, Peace & Freedom.
*Wild is NOT evil.
*The Light is most bright in the midst of the darkness.
*Respect an OG, you can’t hustle a hustler, & Never - I repeat Never underestimate a Bitch.




Truth…the voice is an old internal voice and one the world reinforces.  Truth…the voice helps me to check myself, own my shit and take responsibility for my actions.  Also true is that it lies to me, trying to convince me that because I have darkness within I am not acceptable, that I do not belong, that I have no place.

I am a white faced girl, with Mexican, Chiricahua & Italian heritage, raised by a demon, left to the streets, indoctrinated by the systems, filled with the Spirit and given a voice that is not my own.  I smoke cannabis daily as my medicine, I speak Gospel as inspired, I live humbly and act with justice/mercy as I learn.



As I walk the path set before me, I look behind to see where I’ve come.  I look ahead to see where I might be headed.  I look around me to learn what is possible AND delight in what is.

I have come to recognize that the “I” has given me individuality & choice, freedom & responsibility.  However, I also recognize the “I” cannot be without “WE.” 

Biologically I am made from the same material the rest of the world is made up of.  I have DNA that is encoded with what I need to be.  My existence has already been sanctioned with or without your approval.  I have experienced evil at the hands of others.  I have participated in evil with my own hands.  I have acted with ignorance & with wisdom.  I have known violence and choose peace.  I have known hate & choose Love.  I have known poverty & am one of the richest women I know.  I have known Fear & choose to Live. 

What sets humanity apart is not its superiority or its own since of superiority.  What sets humanity apart is we have been given the freedom to choose.
      

I am as I am & as I choose to become…


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Instinctual needs for Love & Freedom



No longer bound by shame & insecurity...I know freedom...one of my favorite prophetic voices was Martin Luther of the Reformation...in speaking about the way it is to live the freedom given through faith, he addressed the question of what it might look like...two of his quotes that resonate with both the wild in me that draws me to be independent & the draw in me to be loved in family & community...


In addressing "Christian Freedom" he states..."I am the perfect Lord of all subject to none, I am the perfectly dutiful servant of all subject to all." In addressing the fear propagated by church doctrines that use fear to motivate, Luther reminds us of Divine unconditional acceptance - LOVE...and encourages us not in doing harm but in not fearing to Love fully stating, "Sin Boldly!"


Christian Faith is NOT about keeping your ass out of hell, getting a free ride to be destructive nor is it about "don't worry be happy" - Life is hard... Love is beautiful...shit happens... healing is possible... Shame & Blame have failed...Look within to awaken to what is around you...


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Prophets – The Real Shit

In modern times, there are any number of misconceptions of what a prophet was, or wasn't in the time of Ancient Hebrews.  Every time a war breaks out, tensions between nations arise, massive death due to natural disasters of some kind, there is a shout out for the “End Times, Last Days, Judgment Day etc.”  Thing is the end of the world comes for us all it happens when we stop breathing.  In that moment judgment is made – your body whether it decides for itself – cause that’s what bodies do, or “it’s just our time”, or some type of divine intervention – the judgment is – your finished in this world – we don’t exactly “know” with any certainty what comes next. 



I resist the designation prophet.  I was taught that the “age of prophets” is over, the prophets where “holy,” “saintly” “respected” “priestly.” So let me flush this out a bit.  Indeed some were priests and carried official title to the claim prophet.  Most were ordinary folks, shepherds, scribes, merchants and farmers.  They all grew to be deeply faithful to the Creator.  Moses known as the “Law Giver”, a slave, advocate and activist; Deborah in the book of Judges is recognized as a “prophetess” is a Judge or Governor – Indeed folks even in the ancient world a woman could aspire; Samuel a miracle child given over to be a priest – anointer of Kings; Elijah the international diplomat; Elisha the miracle worker; Isaiah likely an academic & scribe; Jeremiah the reluctant whiner; Jonah the rebellious prosecutioner; Daniel the visionary & dream interpreter, and many more greater & lesser, men & women. 


I write as one who believes, prays, and studies history, culture, social and governing structures along with ponders, dreams, questions & experiences life.  I write as one “inspired” by/through this reality.  I see, hear, smell, taste & touch the world around me.  I feel emotions deeply, those that come boiling up from within, & those that radiate from others.  As a result I am keenly aware of injustice & am outraged – AND – I have experienced the power of divine love & forgiveness.  I experience - I see - I ponder - I pray – I hear – I speak – I name what is and what is probable – I live in reality and speak with faithful Hope.


Each of the prophets, within the context they found themselves, questioned, prayed, experienced – FELT - and SPOKE – into that context – what was and what could be – named the truth in reality, pointing to the probable consequences – for good or ill – and offered hope.  Those that got in the book got in because – in spite of each being persecuted in their time – what they said was truth and revealed itself by becoming reality. 

Do the prophets speak to us today?  Damn straight they do – not because they knew our future – but because they understood the reality of their circumstances, interpreted that reality, were inspired to speak into that reality and it came to fruition.  AND, guess what folks– we are human and we have a tendency to repeat history.   Are there present day prophets?  That is for you to decide.  


Live Freely – Love Fully – Speak Boldly 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Respect - Sex - Faith

Because I seem to attract a wide range of individuals from all walks of like -  AND I DO MEAN ALL - I realize that some here (that is those on my fb page)- do not - whether by ignorance or just plain being a fucktard - don't have a sense of common respect - so I will again offer a word...

Give the respect you expect - that means if you want to be treated in a certain way - then treat yourself & other that way...

Example - just because this is fb land & we are "free" to do & be what we please - doesn't mean our words & behavior doesn't affect others - my language is often offensive to some - they have the choice to pay attention to it or not - more often what they find offensive is the fact that my core speaks to a truth that cuts across most comfort zones - including my own...

So - a more practical example - SEX - with all the mixed messages from - old school to - free sex - that are out there - let me offer my opinions about practical guidelines...shits & giggles aside...Now I'm not a Nanny - nor do I wish to be - but if you are on my fb page & I hear of multiple accounts of abusive behavior - I will confront you directly, I will block & report you if you persist...I am also speaking from the experienced perspective of a hetero woman...the following can apply to you for either gender...

First - Guys - it is true we ladies like sex too - it is NOT typically true that it is a turn on to have some asshole message us a pic of his package as an introduction - nor start a conversation with a lude comment...playtime happens within relationship - you have to get to know someone at least a little, before taking it there - otherwise it is unwanted - unsolicited abuse...There is a difference between flirtation, playful adult innuendo & outright vulgarity - learn it...

Second - Ladies - exploring playtime is a healthy & healing process - because of the mixed messages we have received about our bodies - AND THEY ARE OUR BODIES - and what it is to be a woman - but you need to know your limits - set your boundaries & be cautious - do not accept what is unacceptable to you  - if you are old school or easily offended then don't put yourself out there in a way that will be misread - it only serves to add to the damage - I would encourage you to look at yourself as you would your own child - what would you want for her? How do you see her? How would you nurture & love her?  Remember you too are a child worthy of love...treat yourself accordingly - fake it till you believe it - if your have to...practice makes perfect...



As for the faith perspective & scriptures - again the scriptures have less to do with how we go about fucking each other - and more about how we use power to fuck each other over...to discover the truth one must filter through the layers of historical, cultural, societal context - in the first (old) testament women were typically seen as property & had no rights or protection - until the law was given (God's gift of grace by the way)...in the new - the playing field is leveled - even & especially for St. Paul - who most think to be chauvinist - he is more like our first feminist - he points out repeatedly that there is no longer distinctions of class, race, gender etc...always balancing his opinions for both parties in the relationship - from his historical/cultural/social perspective - ultimately it comes back to the only law given - the law of love - active & sacred...love God/life - love the other - and love the self...what that looks like only you can decide - God knows your heart - and that is all that counts...

Live Freely - Love Fully - Speak Boldly     Namaste...Author Jesus' Bitch

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Do we know the value of of a gift?

Random thoughts of Jesus' Bitch

I've seen a number of news posts of gang violence running rampant again in the big cities - including the shooting of a 5yr old boy here in Portland...

I have been overwhelmed with what I have learned of the history & fight to reclaim a God given plant for the use & benefit of medicine for mind - body & spirit...

I have witnessed the damage to creature & tree, earth & air & water - that our consumption & reckless disregard for life has caused...

Sad truth of this age - we have attached a $$ value to everything including the spirit - attempting to make the gift of life a commodity with a price tag - turning economics into our religion - I will not give up without a fight - that which was freely given - I will give that which I have been given...for the sake of love...for I do not value the $$...

I cry out with Divine breath in lament & call upon the Great Spirit to teach us to walk the path that values & promotes life...May mother earth forgive our destruction and give us what is needed to heal...




Friday, July 4, 2014

Celebration of "Independence"

Religious tradition notwithstanding - biology reveals that life is interdependent - fuck with the balance & the whole system goes outta whack - from the loss of a species that can cause another species population to explode with huge ramifications - to the reality that we humans can't even reproduce without another human...

Whether we like it or not we are bound & dependent on one another...So what then can we say of the concept of freedom?

Freedom/Liberty – Divine freedom – or love – is a gift of grace – a freely given gift – no strings attached – God/I am/Jesus/Spirit (higher power) - saying in action – “I insist on freeing you from the condemnation of the law (the imposed limits of your behavior - the rules/boundaries - civil, religious - stated & unstated - public & private) – "I insist on freeing you from the guilt & shame of not living up to them - by loving you even when your fuckin shit up – you can’t earn it – and you can’t make me stop loving you – but you are free to choose” – which means you are also free to walk away & not accept the gift…although to reject it is deadly – not cause God thinks or wants you punished – but because God/Creator/Great Spirit/Earth is the source of Life – walking away from life = death…It is a simple mathematical equation…

This means we are free - the question then becomes what/how shall we live that freedom? At the heart of almost every faith tradition I've come across is the concept of Love. Not a simplified, superficial emotion & hormonal state...

Love – active divine (or Agape) love that infuses all relationships cares for the other & lives freely in such a way that recognizes the gift, beauty & autonomy of the other - one can't be forced to love - love is compelled in freedom - & revealed in interdependence – the emotions of love are simply a bonus.

Love is revealed in relationship – with the divine, the self, the other, the community, society, the critter, the tree, the earth, the cosmos.



So what has all this to do with Independence day? Just this - no matter if we claim Christian tradition, Pagan, Buddhism, Native Spirituality or other tradition which speaks to love, respect & freedom...Love teaches the balance that brings responsibility into play...not for the sake of blame & shame - but rather to restore & heal the damage created by being out of balance - Christian tradition calls it salvation - to heal, restore, make whole within relationship...

Jesus said "I leave you with one command (one law) Love as you have been loved by me"

So I offer my thoughts as we celebrate the notion of Independence in the US - the leaders on both sides are only muppets in the same drama that has repeated itself at nauseum over the eons - till the people get sick & tired of being sick & tired sheeple nothing changes - the gluttony for power & $$ is allowed to reign free - for the masses - our biases are used to control & manipulate us - distracting us from the real danger - we the sheeple are being herded by wolves - for LOVE's sake it's time to clip the wool out of our eyes & away from our ears...lest we become the main course at the feast where mint jelly is the key condiment...



St.Paul was insistent in his letter to the early church - about this Divine gift, he was especially vehement in his letter to the Galatians who were in-fighting based on their biases & differences, "For Freedom Christ has set you free - therefore do not submit again to the yolk of slavery." (5:1) Live Freely - Love Fully - Speak Boldly

Monday, June 9, 2014

A few Questions folks have asked me to address...

What do you place value in/on? 

Life – all life, human, critter, plant, earth


Love – active divine (or Agape) love that infuses all relationships – the emotions of love are simply a bonus.  Love is revealed in relationship – with the divine, the self, the other, the community, society, the earth, the cosmos.  (Also see Post L-O-V-E is a four letter word)


Freedom/Liberty – Divine freedom – or God’s love revealed in/through Jesus – is a gift of grace – a freely given gift – no strings attached – God saying in action – “I insist on freeing you from the condemnation of the law – guilt & shame - by loving you even when your fuckin shit up – you can’t earn it – and you can’t make me stop loving you – but you are free to choose” – which means you are also free to walk away & not accept the gift…although to reject it is deadly – not cause God thinks or wants you punished – but because God/Creator/Great Spirit is the source of Life – walking away from life = death…It is a simple mathematical equation…


Truth – that which points to what is real & has meaning, and may or may not be tangible…


Faith – trusting/believing in that which can only be revealed – the assurance of hope – the conviction of that which is not certainty…


Peace/Shalom – a sense of internal well being – and what comes with the external experience of Love, Freedom, Truth & Faith


What is the difference between faith & religion? 


Faith is found within relationship (self to cosmos - as above)…religion is everything we add to explain the “rules” or morality of practicing that faith – from the language or form of how we teach it – pass it on – to the ritual acts used to celebrate a faith (ie – church)…to how we live into or express what we believe…


What ticks me off? 

Injustice

Deceit
Abuse
Cruelty
Self righteousness
Judgmental-ism
Arrogance
Guilt
Pity
Shame
Rules - LOL

What makes me happy? 

The positive experience of my values expressed to/through/for/with me


What do you mean when you say you are witness?

A witness speaks to – points to – lives – practices - those things that reveal truth…it is an act of living faith… A witness can only speak to their experience of the evidence…A witness cannot be judge, prosecutor or jury…

Monday, May 5, 2014

L-O-V-E is a four letter word


If you’re anything like me the idea of love is enticing & the reality of the experience or lack thereof – is superficial & painful.  It is a double edge sword – we spend all kinds of resources trying to acquired, find, experience this illusive phenomena.  The messages in our culture tend to be superficial & sentimental at best – lacking in reality – and destructively cruel at worst.  We talk up love as if it is the end all be all.   We throw our hands up, get hurt & angry when we feel left out of the experience of Love.

I have spent my entire life desiring, searching, studying, growing and experiencing in others this enticing thing we call Love. The ancient Greeks have five words to describe this, illusive phenomena that we in English use only the one word to try and describe.

Storge – is used to describe a parental love; Xenia – a love of the stranger that results in hospitality; Philia – a love that encompasses loyalty, virtue, equality, and familiarity – the love of friends, family & community – it is the love in which one finds safety & security;



 Eros – romantic, passionate, longing love – literal meaning “in love” -the love of beauty internal and external – the love which draws souls together seeking truth and beauty – a spiritual and bodily love (the root word of erotic)  This is the feeling or "emotion" of love.



Agape – an ideal or Divine love – unconditional love - Love of the soul – it is the verb “to love”  Truth be told even for the ancient Greeks these terms cannot be so clearly segregated, and often one finds them blended.  The glue that binds them is Agape.




Agape Love is the love I know best – it is a Godly love. The word itself is a VERB - a word of actions not feelings.  It is a love that not only includes us – as human – but all of creation/cosmos.  It is something that can only be revealed rather than defined.  Love happens in the way we treat each other & the world/creation.  If one looks closely at the way scripture refers to love, even in the poor English translations it is our actions we are called to when referring to love.  God's love is about the actions toward us, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. . ."(Jn 3:16)  The hardest part is that it is an action from the heart – it is not based in knowledge or logic - it is without selfish motive, it does not expect to be reciprocated, it does not require payment - it does not act for getting ourselves in good with God, or getting our asses out of the fire.  It is something we do, just because - we want to make the other happy, to give pleasure, to give a free gift, to lighten the load, to ease the suffering - even to give of ourselves for another knowing that the most likely response will be oblivious, even the rejection of what is offered, or outright violence because of what is offered.  It’s best defined in St. Paul’s, often quoted – rarely understood, first letter to the Corinthians, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.” (13:4-8a.) This is the love by which “IAM” created us,  touched my soul, changed my life and called me to live out of.  This is the love that calls me – us - to our better selves.  A Love – in which nothing is required, yet provokes change – it compels a response in kind.  The gift of the Spirit is when love is recognized & expressed even through our brokenness.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daddy cleans up the mess


God is chalk full of surprises.  The question is - are we able to see?  Faith development, spiritual growth is just that – it is process not a one hit wonder – not a magic pill.  It isn’t magic in that way.  I have a pretty dramatic and radical experience of the divine.  In many ways it looks to many, and at times even to myself as if I suddenly went from being broken, abuse victim with a hole in my soul – to having an experience or encounter with the sacred that made me whole - an now life is good, wonderful, prosperous etc.   I call this “don’t worry be happy” theology.  My life sucked, took the Jesus pill, now life is full of sweetness, light and delight.  I’m diabetic so sugar is not my friend – now what?

Last week we took a bit of the proverbial apple of knowledge.  Only to discover how good we had it before we knew how good we had it.  Snap the shit just got real.  In discovering the questions and exploring the infinite possibilities we find ourselves playing in the mud.  The consequences to which can bring benefit or destruction.  The earth brings many healing properties and the minerals found in the land are also found in our own bodies and need to be replenished.  Making mud pie can be fun.  Mud also can contain harmful parasites that invade & kill our bodies.  After playing in the mud it is always good to shower or bath and change.


So once again we discover death by knowledge.  Except didn’t we say Jesus was the resolution.  Now we can be clear – perhaps.  Jesus dies for sin, is then raised again – to/for what?  “Jesus saves”  “Jesus died for you”  “Jesus forgives you.”  Saves? – from what or why not prevent?  Died for me? – how does Jesus dying have anything to do with me?  Forgives? – for what being born – deciding to be tortured by the people responsible for taking care of me?  After a child plays in the mud a nurturing parent helps to clean the child, teaches the child how to clean up after themselves, and mops up what the child missed & provides a clean outfit.  And soon they move on to a new activity – how about playing with the crayons.

And so out of the grave Jesus comes to play.  He has handed me a new set of crayons, and given me the choice of a number of ways to use them, in coloring books those where the pictures have rigid lines, and those that the edges aren’t so clear, all the way to blank sheets of paper to create something original.   The picture that is in my imagination  is fluid, full of depth, texture, color, vibrancy and contrasting elements of light & dark, fire & water, earth & sky.  I’m not sure even the piece of paper is enough – what if I want to color on the wall – it could use some color.  I think crushing a little sand into the paper would give it texture don’t you?  Uh-oh – I just ripped the paper.  Oh – look over there paint – how about a mural.  Yea – a mural of depicting the spirit of my favorite healing plant - cannabis.  Oh – set in a party celebrating the resurrection.  Oh- wait what if I painted it on the side of the church building. 



Jesus has a box of colors for you and wants to play.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Death by knowledge

Yesterday began Holy Week for the Christian tradition.  No matter which version/expression of the church you hail from – the core of Christian faith is centered on Jesus and his trip through the cross.  To the logical the whole thing is rather nonsensical or as sacred text states it – “foolishness.”  To those in the church – well sometimes we get caught up in the details – usually the ones that are specific to supporting our general perspective of the whole thing and how to make that makes us – or more to the point make you - behave.  We’ve been arguing from day one what really happened – didn’t happen – who’s responsible – and finding ways to make it look like we are on the “right” side of the equation.  We draw our lines in the sand and say “red rover red rover come on over – if you think it - believe it - behave it the way I do – come over – otherwise keep your shit to yourself.”  

Then came the divisions, public & private, councils, creeds, those included those excluded, buildings built to worship in which cry out – your not welcome “if.”  In our attempts to define, refine, explain, justify, prove that which cannot be proven – we judge, tear down, condemn and sadly we have even used it to justify our violence, killing and wars. Theology calls that the use of the Law.  Martin Luther referred to it as what God uses to drive us into his loving arms.   I call it “behavior management.”  “I AM” calls it death.

And therein lays the clue to the trouble – knowledge – the more we think we know the more we try to nail it down, explain it, and prove it – and the pattern repeats & continues.  Every damn time we think we have it figured out something happens to fuck it up.  Look at the stories – two versions of creation.  Tower of Babel – if God is so jealous – insecure – you’d think it was a requirement to have humanity actually come together to accomplish such a feet in an attempt to connect.   The story of Israel freed from Egyptian slavery.  Jerusalem – from day one to the present - need I elaborate?  I easily get caught up in and distracted by the details – they can be helpful in clueing us into the big picture – but when we get stuck on them we perpetuate - in action - what is at the core of the problem – “original sin” – in traditional language.   So let us go back to the beginning – perhaps we can explore and in the exploration discover a bit of truth.

In the beginning nothing was – “I AM” – starts making shit happen, creating, playin in the elements – makin mud pie.   "I AM" - no gender attached in the language - creates the "dirt being" then gives it the power of co-creating through "naming" of the creatures...looking for a natural partner - when none is to be found - one is drawn out of the "dirt being" = man "out of dirt being" = woman.. I AM says it’s all good - now I got this shit – all you gotta do is steward – tend to, nurture, care for what is - you can do anything you want - EXCEPT - there is a tree over here - called knowledge - trust me you don't want to eat it - to do so will cause death -(now remember there are many forms of death).  The phrase “ignorance is bliss” has its origins – I’m just sayin.  What is at stake is that we are given the choice to trust that I AM got’s this shit under control - or attempt to do things for ourselves – oops



And Jesus was the solution and resolution - not heaven - heaven is icing on an already fabulous cake...Jesus is the repair that we could not make through knowledge...The story continues next week…Don’t you just hate waiting for the sequel?

Monday, March 31, 2014

I Grieve for my church with Joy

I Grieve for my church with Joy,

We strive to make life safer, easier, better.  In our drive to avoid pain & suffering we often miss something don’t we?  Our drive can lead to great science, invention inspiration and industry.  Our pain can lead us to revenge/retribution, violence, destruction & war.   Like our brothers & sisters in the creature world we are hard wired for flight or fight.  Healthy fear warns us of danger, enables us to protect ourselves gives us time to flee.  Healthy anger makes us strong, gives us courage and fortitude.  Anger & Fear gone wrong is everything that destroys ourselves, each other, and the environment we live.

So today I grieve.  I sit with a pain that is not my own, and that is.  I weep tears of sadness, loss and longing.  I see but through the fog, how free will, the ability to choose has lead to our very destruction.  Who is the I - the us?  Today I grieve for our church’s in whatever form they take – but in particular institutionalized bodies that call themselves Christian.  We forget the stories.  We forget the history.  We loose sight of the truth – the whole truth – not our particular version of the truth.  We react to our fear & anger that turns ugly on our person, on each other on the world.  We take a little bit of knowledge, immature emotions and turn it into fact, morality, law and to prove our points we beat the crap out of each other with judgment, rejection and condemnation.  An example is how we take the writings we call Holy or Sacred, and we pull out of context a character, idea, behavior and we use it to prove “our” own points, projecting our fear & anger outward judging ourselves & each other, condemning. 

In the beginning was “I AM.”  Not man, not creature, not element, not male or female, not religion, not nation.  Can I prove it?  No I can’t.  Can it be proven otherwise?  No it can’t be.  Even science, what we claim as empirical evidence is based on certain assumptions & principles, all of which in and of themselves cannot be “proven.”  Do I need to prove it – sometimes it feels like it – but every time I try to defend my religion – if I am being rigorously honest with myself – I am responding in fear creating barriers, putting up walls between me and the other – all out of fear losing something I value.  The story continues – out of nothing everything was created, out of the primordial ooze life breaths and I AM said it is good.

Then enters choice & will.  What is becomes what could be.  Enter temptation and knowledge.  Innocence is lost.  Curse & Blessing come to play and we begin to count.  Who’s in, who’s out?  What is mine, what is yours?  We measure, compare, judge and condemn.  Death comes in many forms.  And a pattern emerges and repeats.  We rise, corrupt, destroy, fall and rise.  Take the stories, Noah called to pilot a rescue boat to save a handful along with the creatures. Abraham promised a legacy which becomes tainted not in the who’s of who’s – but in his will to create that which was already promised.  Moses, taken out of slavery to free slaves only to be denied the promised land due to his will.   David, called from shepherd boy to King to coveting a woman not his own.  A nation a people lifted out of slavery to rule, only to fall again and again and finally to be scattered.  

And the pattern repeats, the Rise & Fall of Rome.  Nations are formed, rise and fall.  Continents divided.  State lines mapped.  Lines are drawn, we -they, us – them, mine - yours.  Jews - gentiles, christians - pagans, muslims - infedels, evangelicals – mainline, fundamentalist - progressive.  Walls are built for comfort, peace of mind, safely.  They divide and speak to who’s in and who’s out, who belongs who does not.  And we count, we tally the sins, the costs, the blessings the curses – we count, worry, fear, project, judge and build adding brick upon brick to the walls of division.  Temples and glorious houses of worship are built, torn down and built again.

The more is see the more I long to be blind again.  I am overwhelmed by the enormity of the connections that have lead to our fall.  I feel the burden of responsibility for my part in the unfolding drama.  I weep for the illness within that causes us to hurt ourselves, each other and creation.  I weep for the pain we cause each other by our inability to accept & embrace ourselves and each other as we are – as we were created – as I AM made it – “it is Good.”  I weep for the needless divisions we create out of our fear & anger.  I weep for the loss of the innocent.  I weep for the counting we do as we add to the cost or think we can save our buildings & social clubs by getting asses in pew with money for our dwindling treasuries.  I weep for those who are left in the cold, alone and abandoned by our failure to give freely the love we have been freely given.  I weep for the price WE have attached to the unconditional love & acceptance of I AM.  I weep for the destruction we cause to body, land, creature, earth and now even as we reach beyond to the stars.  We leave in our wake destruction, want and waist.  I watch and I wait and I weep.

From where will my help come?  Hope enters.  Promise is made in the rainbow, in the counting of stars & sand, in the burning of bushes, in the cry of the prophets, in the suffering of a man on a cross.  I AM who is was & will be shouts out in grief over the destruction and in his wrath cries out for love’s sake.  Entering our reality with the gentle, healing, nurturing power of love to make right what went wrong.  A seed germinates under the earth.  The earth aligns with the sun and is warmed as winter yields to spring.  A tree sprouts buds with the promise of life.  Mama Grizzly awakes in her den to playful innocents and she leads them out into the world.  The stone is rolled away from an empty tomb.  Easter is coming.  I remember what was.  I weep for what is.  I hope for what will be.  I take another step.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Welcome to the Party – it’s called Life!

I AM is your host.  Absolutely everyone is welcome - our host does not discriminate by age, race, nationality, class, gender, intelligence, orientation, skill level, body image, culture, fashion sense or any other division.  There is no cover charge, the bar is open, the food, ganja, and drinks are on the house.  We have some good shit, steaks, lobster, pizza, and for our vegan friends we have fruits, vegi’s, nuts & whole grain breads from around the world.  Oh, you got to try some of the deserts, chocolates, cakes, pies, candies.  We have the original horticulturist on staff, who along with those delightful fruits & vegi’s has provided for us the finest indica, sativa, and hybrid ganja.  We have oils, concentrates, smokables & eadables, along with everything you need to enjoy them.  We have a wide selection of beverages, the cleanest spring waters, milk, kool-aid, pop, wines, beers and liquors.  We have some kick-ass tunes.  The entertainment is the bomb, award wining celebrities, sports figures, gamers, and the DJ has a poppin selection that is sure to have you dancing.  So come on in, chill, get some refreshments, mingle, dance and enjoy.  We are here to get down with love, peace & joy.  We have only one request Love – receive the love, be loved, give love.

I AM is also your bouncer, so check yourself – love, peace & joy are not simple sentiment or feelings.  Love looks to the well being of the other above the self.  Peace requires stepping out of our history, biases and emotion to find commonality.  Joy is deeper than happy – one can discover Joy in the midst of suffering – it is found through knowing we are loved & no one and nothing can take that from us.


Let’s get it on!  DJ spin some vinyl. Hay – can someone pass me a pipe. Anyone up for a game of chess? 


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What’s in a Name?

What is your name?  What name is on your birth certificate?  What is its significance?  Has it been changed over the years?  My name has changed many times over the years.  Often I carry different names at the same time.  Some of those names legal, some in the form of a nick name or aliases, some are label’s others have given me.  A name/label holds within it ones identity.  Who am I in relation to those around me?  How am I experienced by others?  I may claim, wear or reject the claims of the designation.

My parents named me Jeana-marie Louise Johnson.  Each of these names is connected to their history, my heritage, these are the names of those who have gone before me.  The spelling of “Jeana,” is a weird thing my biological father had for wanting all his children’s names to start with a “J.”  So a compromise was made.  Johnson is a stolen name, an alias.  The family story is that great-grandfather (paternal) was on the lamb for murder in the mid-west.  He fled west to Arizona and started using Johnson, and married a Chiricahua Apache woman.  My great-grandmother’s name and heritage were almost completely annihilated from our family memory.  Grandfather was sent to a mission school, where he learned to hate and turned it inward, denying our history even to himself.
 
Over the years that name has taken many forms. From just Jeana, which was enough to get my attention, to mother’s call when I was in trouble “Jeana-marie Louise…!!”  You’ve heard that voice.  In school I was labeled, teacher’s would say she is quiet or shy, she doesn’t socialize with others.  Kids called me fat and stupid.  As an early teen I began to take on the persona of thug, bad girl, slut, bitch etc.  As I began healing and working my formal education the names that came included, lazy welfare bum, victim, lost soul, white trash, bitch, survivor, student, advocate, service provider, social worker, pastor.

Several years back, I went through another of those rough patches that life can throw at us.  One part of that mess was that my marriage came to an end.  My X had informed me many times over the years that if that happened that he wanted his name back.  At that point quite frankly I was happy to oblige.  Yet, after all I’d been through in my life, all the healing, success, failure I just could not wear the name of my birth.  My father was a violent and deviant sociopath.  I was not willing to claim any longer the inheritance he left in his wake.  Yet mother on the other hand, having had her own role in the story, takes up her part, owns her responsibility, has made possible healing through her active love along the way that has helped to make whole what was broken.  Then there are the stories through my Italian and German ancestors I am named after, which needed to be honored.  Therefore, I took the original spellings back, and went to my family elders for permission to take on the family name of Pezzi.  A formality perhaps, but I wanted to offer my respect for what that name is for them & their history, as well as claim my place within that family. 

I often hear the phrase, “let go of the past.”  This can be helpful in keeping us in the present and looking toward the future.  However, there is value in our history, even a history of violence, dysfunction and brokenness.  Robert McAfee Brown, in the preface of the 25th anniversary edition of Ellie Wiesel’s work, “Night” offers us insight.  Ellie Wiesel was a survivor of the death camps at Auschwitz and Buchwald, Rabbi, Professor and Nobel Peace Prize holder.  Brown writes:
“Among the few who survived the onslaught of that formidable shadow [of death] turned substance, was Elie Wiesel, whose deliverance condemned him to tell the story to an unbelieving and uncaring world.  But because of his telling,  many who did not believe have come to believe, and some who did not care have come to care.  He tells the story, out of infinite pain, partly to honor the dead, but also to warn the living – to warn the living that it could happen again and that it must never happen again.  Better that one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand others hearts need not be broken at all.” 

Within the main-line church denominations we teach that our baptism is where God, names, identifies and claims us as one of God’s own, blessed, beloved child.  We are adopted into the family.  Because this is traditionally done early in life most can’t actually remember the event, even though we are reminded often to remember our baptism.  Within that memory, hold the name that identifies our heritage, who we are, who we are becoming, and who we belong too/with.  It is not a one-time event but an education and process we live into.  Attached to this naming is a responsibility to the community to teach, learn, nurture, grow, inspire and return, give back.  Again, it is not a one-time event, rather a process that is on-going.

In Mark’s gospel, is the story of an encounter which included labels, divisions, insults, name calling and claiming, teaching, healing and identity.  Jesus wants to get away from the crowds he needs some space.  He goes to a place he is not likely to be known or even noticed.  He goes to the hood.  You know that place where “those” people are.  He is not interested in connecting with them, just hiding from the “us.”  Then, if it don’t beat all, one of them finds him.  Now, this wasn't just one of them, it was a woman.  Law, culture, race, gender are all part of what would have prevented this encounter.  But this was no meek and mild woman – she was a mother – a mother with a desperately sick child.  She was one determined and tenacious spitfire.  She had heard rumors of a healer, so she sought him out and mustered up the courage to approach him.  Once found, she asks him to help her.  He has no reason whatsoever to care or want to help her.  He says to her, in effect, “Bitch you kidding me, what I do is for my kid’s.  I’m not giving you the bread from their table.”  Un-deterred she retorts, “even bitch’s get the scraps falling from the table.”  Having heard her plea, he relents, “Indeed, go home your daughter is healed.”
Rather than argue or deny her identified place in relation to Jesus, she embraces it, flips it, teaches him something new and ultimately accomplishes her objective.  

Many folks are confused, intrigued, offended and curious as to why or how I can call myself “Jesus’ Bitch.”  Technically the word bitch refers to a female dog.  We all know we have made it something else.  It is used today as an insult, an attitude, a term of endearment and even affection.  “Who the hell do you think you are bitch?” “Hey bitch, let’s hit the club.”  I have a history that includes a high-risk street life.  I have the playful loving heart, passion and tenacity of a bulldog, once I bite into something you’ll be hard pressed to un-clench these jaws.  Along with having an attitude throughout my life which moved from in your face defensiveness based out of insecurity - to a confident - I don’t really give a shit what you think about me - it then made since that this story was used as the passage at the center of my ordination.  As my very dear friend, mentor and pastor Doug Vold preached it:
We who know Jeana-marie are often inclined to think this story is about her. She has used that language. She could tell her story, if someone asked her to. And we are blown away by that story, to be honest. Those who know it more are the more deeply drawn into its drama and its wonders. It is a story, by the way, that includes an amazing and tangled history with God, full of sharp exchanges, and more than witty repartee. The Syrophoenecian woman could look tame by comparison!
But all that is to get the subject of this story wrong. It is not really a story about Jeana-marie. It just looks like it. And Jeana-marie is the first to say so. This is a story about God, and God’s grace. This is a story about God’s love that reaches farther and deeper than we can ever imagine. This is a story about God’s promise that crosses barriers of gender and culture and personal history and, at times, even outright rejection. This is a story about a gospel in which crumbs become feasts and the gift of acceptance and grace, itself, can draw us into a life, into a world, into a story that is bigger than we are. This ordination of Jeana-marie is a story of God, God’s grace, and how it hit its mark.”


So, I claim my name, with memory and with attitude. I am Jesus’ Bitch. I will wear it in faith, love and humility.  I ask for the faith and courage to live into it and share it. What is your Name? 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ever ask yourself, "What can one person do?"

Perhaps you can relate – ever had what seemed like profound inspiration?  I hear something interesting, it gets processed through the filters in my brain – my memory, my history, my emotions – and bang a light goes on/off – whatever.  All of the sudden it makes since, and it weaves its way through me as I process, developing into what I think are great ideas.  However, unlike mathematics, A + B does not always = C.  Too often the ideas, although exciting, don’t turn to action/implementation/outcome. 

There are many reasons for that reality, lack of knowledge or know how, lack of resources, lack of energy, health issues, lack of time.  It soon becomes overwhelming, and I realize it’s too big an idea for one person.  Perhaps if I pass the idea on, someone will take it up – yea right as soon as pigs grow wings.  It doesn't take long before I've moved from all that is “lacking,” into the self-pity and blame game.  It starts with “I should do this…”“if only I could…” “why bother I’ll just screw it up…” “no one will listen…” “no one cares…” “why bother…” “Fuck it another one bites the dust…”

Then I add it to my list of failures.  So how can one break the pattern?  And don’t say, “think or be positive.”  (ok you can say it but…)  The next person to tell me to be positive better be out of foot range, cause my foot will likely find its way to their ass.  Think Positive implies that if I think happy thoughts somehow shit will magically come to pass.  Sorry folks life just isn’t that easy.  And yes I often wish it were.  It takes a bit of effort and personal responsibility.  Don’t get me wrong, positive can be a good thing, but not a magic pill.

We, that is the church (I don’t care which version/denomination/non-denomination) have been complicit it promoting this magical thinking.  We say things like, “Pray for it, believing and it will happen.”  This notion implies that when it doesn’t happen, it’s because I didn’t believe enough.  Or we will say something like, “sometimes God’s answer is no” or “you didn’t ask for the right thing or in the right way somehow.”  So, we are left with believing that God is an evil magician, or somehow something within me has the ability to make God do God’s magic.
 
It’s not that there isn’t truth in those statements, simply that it isn’t magic.  The truth is revealed within/amongst those thoughts.  Positive thinking can keep us open to the possibilities.  Prayer allows us the opportunity to vocalize – internally & externally –and meditate on our thoughts, fears & hopes.  Hope can feed our positive thinking.  But the truth is much simpler & much bigger.  The truth is that on our own we can’t do much of anything.  As infants & children, someone or a number of people, have to care for us and teach us how to do the most basic of things.  Our relationships with one another become influential.  Our biology becomes a factor.  Our community and how we see ourselves within it or outside of it, becomes a factor.  Society and environment become influential.  It’s not that God couldn’t choose to act in such a dramatic and magical way, rather that God has chosen to utilize what already is.

As a person of faith, I make certain assumption about the “natural order” of things – I do the same when thinking scientifically, we refer to what we call “natural laws/principles.”  Those assumptions, are based on our observations filtered through our history, personality, experiences, education etc.  One assumption I’ve come to claim is that I do not have the power to change one element into another, nor do I have power over others, sometimes I don’t even have the power to get my ass out of bed in the morning.  My second assumption is that something, some force, some process has/had the power of creation – the ability to make something out of nothing.  I call that power God.

There is a story in our sacred writings,  which speaks of Jesus being “tempted.”  The first temptation says in effect “If you are of God, you could transform a rock into a loaf of bread.”  The temptation is not one of simple hunger rather it is one of identity and power.   Jesus response is to claim his identity.  Just before this scene God speaks to identify Jesus as his “beloved son.”  Claiming his identity in relationship to his Dad, Jesus chooses to also let what was created be what it was meant to be, as Dad intended.  Can anyone say, “Respect!” 

Next the tempter/antagonist/accuser takes Jesus to the center of community life – the biggest stage around.  Lights, camera action – the spotlight shines – “throw yourself down, Dad’s got ya covered – he will send out the rescue squad and they will catch you before you hit the dirt – and everyone will see how awesome you are.”  Become a celebrity and the world will follow you.  I mean get real, how exciting is it to feel admired, appreciated, lifted up, paid, followed.  Glory is very tempting.  And again, with glory can come power.  Jesus response is one of what we call obedience, not in the since of blindly following another’s will, rather of trusting that the one in charge has put together an effective & working plan.  Jesus is already at the heart of the plan, so he chooses to stay the course, even through all the injustice, suffering, pain, grief and death – trusting by faith – Dad has it covered.  We can call that one, "humility."

Now we come to the final challenge.  So Jesus is taken to the highest place available in order to get a good look at the world and all the nations.  “I will let you conquer & take power over all these nations.  All you have to do is give me the glory and your allegiance.”  If Jesus won’t use power to change the natural order, and he won’t use glory to gain the power of celebrity, perhaps the power-over or use of force will work.  As the Genie in the movie Disney's Aladan stated, "Hail the conquering hero."  Jesus response, “pay attention I’m not interested in using power in such a way.  Get lost!” Jesus chooses the way of "Peace."

Throughout the rest of his life & ministry, Jesus uses not power over, but the power found in/through/amongst relationships.  The first relationship is with Dad.  Knowing & trusting the love of his parents he understands his role & place within the family dynamics.  The second relationship is with others, he walks from place to place encountering one person or small groups of folks at a time.  In the gospel according to Matthew, he uses ordinary things to make happen the miraculous.  He touches, he speaks, he takes dirt & water to make mud packs to cure blindness, he takes a few fish & some bread and starts passing it around, soon everyone has shared what they have and there is plenty with enough to spare.  The third relationship is with society and its clashing culture, politics, economic, and structures/institutions.  He chooses the way of peace rather than force.  He chooses to be his human self rather than taking away human free will.  He chooses to love.

Jesus is able to love because he knows/is love.  He knows the love of God.  He lives that love in and through each encounter as he journeys.  He pours himself out for loves sake, allowing us to be who we are, and to freely choose.  As he loves, he teaches/reveals how it happens.  It happens in such a way that as we are loved we become loving.  It is not law in the way we tend to think - as in the movie Dogma (one of my favorites) “Do it or I’ll spank you…” or perhaps as stated in Bruce Almighty "Oh smite me mighty smighter..."rather our love becomes a natural response and in living into it we get better at it, we become lovers, we are loved again and can love again.

So how is that translated into where I started?  Well, in spite of my history or perhaps because of it: I’ve known love.  I’ve got some street smarts.   I have learned & grown.  I acquired an education.  I developed my gifts & skills.  I became self-aware in such a way as to become aware of those around me, their lives, experiences, needs, desires, and hopes.  Yet it is process and the pattern is not linear – more circular and paradoxical in nature.  Sometimes I fail and my failure becomes what was needed.  Sometimes I succeed and that success was tainted.  The point is that through the power of love I’m able to recognize most of my limits as well as my gifts & skill sets.  Through the power of love, I’m able to care for those closest to me.  Through the power of love, I’m able to take one small step at a time to be loving in the wider communities I’m a part of, which filters into the wider society and culture, world.  I can’t change the world, but I don’t have to.  I can take action, one step at a time – but I have to choose to take the step, then the next and so on.  I can use the voice I’ve been given.  With, in, through, because of the power of Love, so can you.

Peace be with you

(As a note & example – some of my reflections today were directly inspired by the preaching of my friend & colleague Rev. Mike Keys)