Thursday, December 29, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, December 30, 2011

The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts
and the degree of concentration on a single thought
are the measures to gauge spiritual progress.

Ramana Maharshi

I love the way Easterners think. But. Like a lot of all “spiritual” thinking (and, of course, Scriptural thinking) it tends to exaggerate in order to make its point. Which is a problem. Because it tends to modern ears to sound ….. well, exaggerated and nonsensical. Anyway, once you understand this, you can then begin to explore the depths of meaning.

So: I would say. All this elegant principle says is, Try To Concentrate. Don’t think that you will ever arrive at a state when you will be able to do this consistently. And let me tell you, I can relate. I am constantly doing a hundred things at the same time ….. or trying. When I’m sitting at my computer, I am jumping back and forth with a lot of things I’m responding to. When I’m writing a sermon, I have learned that my mind is going to be on a million things ….. and that my sermon is NOT going to be written until that stops. So, I’ve learned to “go with the flow” and not “worry” ….. and then the moment to write arrives and the sermon gets written. It is fail-proof. I just have to be present and available to the moment.

There will always be “unwanted thoughts”. It’s impossible not to have them. But I agree that one indication of “spiritual progress” is being able to hold onto one thought for a bit ….. and then to pull that into one’s vision for who you want to be.

We all have the power to exclude “unwanted thoughts” for a bit ….. and in that moment of freedom, to take a leap forward and advance on the road to Being You.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 22, 2011

Each minute of life should be a divine quest.

Paramahansa Yogananda

These kinds of statements often make it sound as if we human beings are something other than human. Mystics write that we are to “become divine”.

I would say: There is only one goal for a human being: to become a Human Being. There’s the rub. What is a fully evolved Human Being? We could ponder that today, on this Solstice when we ponder the Light growing.

The mystics of many religions and “paths” speak about becoming Divinized, becoming “God”. What do they mean? One thing they certainly don’t mean is that we will become the power of Life in the Universe. That power is Eternal ….. and we human beings are mortal and transitory, at least in this earthly form. But they do mean that there is a resemblance, an intimate connection between “God” and us. In essence, we humans have invented God. And one of the things we have done is to invest God with all the characteristics that we have come to think would constitute the kind of Beings we would like to be at our “best”: Loving, Kind, Gentle, Wise, Just, Vulnerable, Caring.

One premise of much religious thought is that we cannot be fully human unless we are infused by “God”. (be “born again”) The Torah and the Gospel propose this. Putting aside all the tortuous theological gymnastics, fundamentally I agree. But the question still remains: What does it mean to be a “fully actualized” (well, on that path, at least!) person?

One thing I think it means is that we become more and more ….. simple. Which is not to say that we won’t always be “complex” - that’s part of being an evolved life-form. Simplicity is what I think the Beatitude means by “pure of heart”. To desire one thing. The Gospel proposes that it be LOVE. That’s good and simple … at least as an organizing concept. I like to think of Love as The Great Benign Black Hole: regularly you just let yourself get caught in its gravity, get sucked in, get molecularly reassembled, and pop out the other side ready to give it another go!

So: off you go! Good luck, and enjoy the ride!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Education is a weapon whose effects depend
on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.

Guess Who?

Jesus had something to say about this. He called the Pharisees, who were supposed to be the upstanding and most “devout” Jews of the day, the teachers/educators, “whited sepulchers”, i.e., painted on the outside to look good, but rotten and putrid on the inside. Jesus clearly did not think that the rabbis of His day were educating the people in the ways of the Torah, especially by their actions.

Jesus also spoke about the “good shepherd”. “Bad” shepherds, i.e., bad leaders, misled people as to what it meant to be a follower of God. “Good” shepherds protected, gave their lives for the sheep; the sheep knew the shepherds voice - compassion, justice, unconditional love, a passion for the truth - and trusted him.

We are sorely beset by bad shepherds and bad teachers in America and in the World these days, in spades. Many are pretending to be followers of the Judeo/Christian God or the Buddha or the Prophet ….. but their actions belie them. We need to be clear about this and call them on it. I could list several “Christian” leaders and churches that are betraying, in my view, the “sheep” ….. but I think you can do that for yourself. The worst is, these people are leaders and “educators” ….. and as the quote intimates, it is held in hands that deny the essential character of the God of Love, and is aimed at people who were brought up to respect religious teaching but who have been misled by it.

Make no mistake: these religious leaders - and politicians who hypocritically mouth their warped teachings - are destroying trust in each other and breaking down human compassion and connectedness. The man I’ve quoted was a master at it.

This man once said: “Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.” That’s a sign of the utter cynicism of so many politicians and religious leaders today.

The quote is from Joseph Stalin, who was born Josef Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia, on this date, 1879. “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

Stalin also once said, “Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union”. I think they would have been better off if that had been true! La!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Do your best and then relax.
Let things go on in a natural way, rather than force them.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Now, let me think. I can do this now. My partner Dennis was unemployed for 1.5 years. He would apply for jobs, but nothing happened. But, we didn’t “panic”. [Remember those T-shirts a few years ago that said simply, “Don’t Panic!”? ] And we had a wonderful time being together and going birding and doing fun things. We relaxed into prayer, and “gave it all up” to the Universe ….. and lo and behold he got a great job that uses all his great skills as a chef and inn-owner and over 20 years of working in food service ….. and only 14 miles from our property in NM where we wanted to retire! To enter fully into the Great Metaphor, “God is Good”!

However, in my own personal case, I have to admit that “waiting upon God” is congenital with me. And I’ve had a help-meet all these years: the Goddess of Procrastination. I’m just built to procrastinate ….. and I’ve found over the decades that if I just wait, things resolve. This is VERY good for someone who loathes conflict and competition with a passion! [OK, OK, there have been some instances where I have had to “confront” …. but it was under severe duress!]

But: we are not a culture that teaches or honours the process called from the glorious 60’s (and I mean that!) “Going with the Flow”. We are taught to compete, and to engage, and to do whatever we can to make things work out the way we want ….. even if it means trampling others to mush in the process. And in all that, we co-opted Jesus as our guru ….. remember the book “Jesus is my CEO”?? Puh-leeze!

Anyway: maybe the young in general can’t manage the “Go with the Flow” paradigm? If you aren’t out there shaping the World so that you get want you want/deserve, you a branded a wimp. But I think this is clearly a defective spiritual principle. I don’t see the Buddha or Jesus as an example of the “Take the World by the Throat and Wrestle it into Submission” approach.

“Forcing” things, generally I think, leads inevitably to failure, as well as lots of conflict, stress, bad health, and possible heart attack and death ….. oh dear, is this why I’m writing about this?? The propensity for War is an example: it rarely leads to a solution to anything, and it gets a lot of people killed and horribly maimed.

Nope. I’m for “Going with the flow”. Getting in synch with the Universe, knowing we are an integral part of its “flow”, and waiting expectantly for the moment in time when our boat joins the flotilla.

Sounds very “new age”, I know. All I can say is, I’ve done it all my Life ….. and I can’t complain! At 65, we are off on a new stage of the delicious Adventure of “Going with the Flow”.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, December 19, 2011

There's many men forget their proper station

And still are meddling with the administration

Of government; that's wrong and this is right,

And such a law is out of reason quite;

Thus, spending too much thoughts on state affairs,

The business is neglected, which is theirs.

So some fond traveler gazing at the stars,

Slips in next ditch, and gets a dirty arse.

from Poor Richard’s Almanac; it was first published
on this date, by Benjamin Franklin, 1732

Ha! Do you think that some spirit was channeling Ben and came and whispered in my ear a few minutes ago??? Just to make the point that Ben Franklin still has something relevant to say to us today?

With all due deference to my “conservative” friends (I don’t really understand what “conservative” means, do you??), it seems to me that lots of men (and women) are forgetting “their proper station” (i.e., as compassionate and conservative persons, as they have claimed for themselves since G. Bush claimed to be a “compassionate conservative” years ago now) and are “meddling with the administration of government”! And let me tell you something: I was talking with Jesus just this morning and, as the incomparable bumper-sticker said years ago, “He is coming ….. and boy is He pissed”. Himself confirmed this with me in the Hour of Prayer this morning.

Lots of Americans these days, Americans who were brought up to “gaze at the stars” of the American Dream and hope for a good Life, are finding that they have slipped into a “ditch”, and found themselves with a “dirty arse” …. that is, a really miserable life. They are the 99% ….. and the 1% seem above it all …. many of them claiming that they are devout Christians. Jesus is ….. well …. shocked.

Jesus told me this over a Black Russian (it was, after all, after Noon! - and He goes to enormous lengths to make a guy feel comfortable) that He originally blessed the 1% so that they would be able to assist the 99% of His “sheep”, since after all He had made an enormous effort to rescue 1 (%) of the sheep that had wandered away from His Gospel Path. Jesus is astonishingly kind and caring, I have to say! He is not easily provoked to nastiness, alas as I would easily be! (beast beating, “mea culpa, mea culpa”)

So, I am delivering the message Himself asked me to deliver to the many men and women who have “forgot their proper station” for the “business which is theirs”:

Love your neighbours, and see that they have what they need for a decent Life.

Or: Karma being Karma (yes, there is a Christian version of this ancient truth!) you will soon have a “dirty arse”!

Humbly, Brian+

Friday, December 16, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, December 16, 2011

Someday I suspect, when Jesus has definitely
got me for a sunbeam,
my works may be adequately assessed.

Noel Coward, songwriter, actor, singer,
piano player, entertainer;
he was born on this date, 1899

I could have chosen Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist; she was born on this date, 1901. Or noted the fact that on this date 1773 occurred the Boston Tea Party. Or Gregory Rasputin (hmmmm …. name sounds a lot like …), the infamous Russian monk; he was murdered on this date in 1916. Or the superb head of the Southern Poverty Law Institute, Morris Dees, who is 75 today. But, nope. I couldn’t resist Noel, for many reasons, including that it’s near No-el, and because of the “sunbeam for Jesus”!

It took me back! Sunday School at about age 5 at First Presbyterian Church, Verdun, Quebec. Mrs. Clegg playing the piano – a lovely old-then Presbyterian lady – as we impressionable kiddies sang:

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam / To shine for Him each day
In every way try to please Him / At home, at school, at play
A sunbeam, a sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam
A sunbeam, a sunbeam, I’ll be a sunbeam for Him.

Yes, I’ve remembered the words and music for 60 years (and I haven’t sung it since those days). If I were tech-savvy enough, I would have made a little YouTube video with my phone singing it for you and attached it!

I wonder if Mr. Coward learned that song as a little boy? Anyway, I think he is poking fun at the things kids get taught in Sunday School, and at perhaps the ideas that many churchfolk have that if they can just be a “sunbeam for Jesus” they will have (deserve?) a life which will be “adequately assessed” by others.

Maybe. But it’s often not the case.

Well, whatever else this little song may bring to your mind, I would just comment: Jesus, to me, points to the proposition that love of God, self, and others is the heart of being human. I remember the words of Fr. James Huntington, OHC, founder of the Order of the Holy Cross: “Love must act, as Light must shine, and Fire must burn.”

Act. Shine. Burn.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 15, 2011

I've never really taken anything very seriously.
I enjoy life because I enjoy making other people enjoy it.


Kidding, just kidding! Tim Conway actually said those words. He was on Laugh-In, and the Carol Burnett Show. He was born on this date, 1933, and is 78 today. He said, “My career is pretty much over. I'm out in the Valley eating soft-boiled eggs.” I had to chuckle ….. because while I am 13 years younger than Tim and have good teeth, I absolutely LOVE soft-boiled eggs, lubricated with a little butter, salt and pepper, and eaten from a 19th C Wedgewood egg-cup! It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy!

What a vocation, to make other people find enjoyment in Life! I can’t think of anything better. As to God, well, we could speak a paradox: in my view, “God” has never taken anything “seriously”, and God always takes everything seriously. Especially bringing Enjoyment to people. At least, the “God” I have a relationship with does. I have absolutely no truck with a “God” who isn’t in the business of Enjoyment. One of these days I am going to have to write a book about this God ….. because I’m pretty tired of the nasty God that is portrayed by a lot of the most vocal of American so-called “Christianity”. God has no earthly lawyers to defend Her against all the slander and libel leveled against Her ….. so maybe I’d better get busy.

To enjoy Life because we make it possible for other people to enjoy it.

What could be better?

I’m ramping up my determination to peddle Enjoyment of Life, starting now! God’s little Christmas elf!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When, according to habit,
I was contemplating the stars in a clear sky,
I noticed a new and unusual star,
surpassing the other stars in brilliancy.
There had never before been any star in that place in the sky.

Tycho Brahe, scientist, astronomer; he
was born on this date, 1546, in Denmark

A star that “had never been” there before. Hmmmmm. A charming, delightful, and profound metaphor, pointing us to the story of the Magi and the Star ….. a part of our Christian Myth, of our “Truth Story”.

In the Story, the Star leads the Magi to the manger, to the infant born to be King of the Jews. For the Christian Church, this was God’s Son and, later, God Himself, come to take human form and to share human life.

This is the Story which tells us who we are. We are “dust of the Earth” into which the “Breath of God” has come to give Life. Each human being is divine spirit, given a home in mortal flesh. For three score years and ten or more – if we are fortunate – we shall blaze in time and space, each a unique epiphany of the Mystery we call God.

But. We must “listen” to Tycho Brahe if we would find the star that leads us to our Self. We must, “according to habit”, be “contemplating the stars in a clear sky”. In other words, it must be a part of our daily path to strive to live a “pure” Life ….. a life focused on the Mystery called God as the source of our Being. Only then are we likely to notice the new, unusual, brilliant “stars” that appear where they were not before …… when we weren’t aware or paying attention. Life is full of “brilliant stars” - of Holy Wisdom from many sources which, if followed, lead us to the Child Who is our own true Self and a spark of God.

The place where the Star comes to rest is You, is I. Each of us occupies a place no one else can occupy. All Humanity - represented by the Magi - comes seeking this “child”. Will we be, “according to habit”, in the right place and see the various new Stars which appear above the manger of our birth as a Daughter or Son of God?

We are offered countless opportunities to be a “new and unusual star” ….. to deepen our humanity, to be “as Christ”, to manifest the divine in the World. And new “stars” appear “in the sky” where they have never appeared before.

Advent says, “Stay Awake”! Go where the Star leads.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci

“Sophistication” has somewhat a whiff of snobbery, of classism, of elitism, yes? In modern usage, yes. But look at the root of the word. It is rooted in “Sophia”, meaning wisdom. It relates to the character of the Holy Spirit in the Judeo-Christian tradition. And to the character and name of the Greek goddess of Wisdom.

What about “simplicity”. The root meaning I like the best is “freedom from pretense or guile”.

So: the implication from da Vinci, one of the most rich and subtle thinkers of the 16th C Renaissance, is that Simplicity has to do with a wise choice of lifestyle which is free from pretense and guile. Simplicity of Life, then, means choosing a way to live which avoids either over-ornamentation which distracts from the basic beauty of human life (think Rococo) , or from trying to hide the basic enriching truths about Life from others behind subtle or not so subtle subterfuge. (Think of the ultra-rich “spiritual gurus” who hide multiple Rollses and Riviera villas from their followers.)

Jesus once said that it was hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom. I don’t believe he was condemning the rich per se. He was simply saying that riches tempt us to ornamentation, to pretension, to guile. Especially in the “inner Life”. The Judeo-Christian Scriptures are full of injunctions not to be puffed-up, not to think “more of ourselves than we ought”.

The “teaching” is that the more simple we are in our self-understanding, the more authentically we will reflect God, Who is Simple Love. In the end, Jesus was to try and make the same point by in a sense abrogating all the other commandments and teaching simply, “Love one another … as I have loved you”. There in one sentence is the most “sophisticated” way to live.

The Quakers got it right: “ ‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free / ‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be / And when you’ve come around to the place just right / You’ll be in the valley of Love and Delight.

Love and Delight. The most simple, ultimately wise way to live.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, December 12, 2011

God Invented baloney
so some people could be full of it.

Jay Red Eagle, Tsalagi (Cherokee);
the Tsalagi Chief Stand Watie
was born on this date, 1806

There was a wonderful New Yorker cartoon recently that I loved. A man is standing before St. Peter, who is looking at a computer screen on his desk. St. Peter is saying to the man, “Well, you say ‘meek’ ….. but our online personality record on you says ‘passive aggressive’.

I have a picture in my mind of God sitting on Her comfortable divan-like throne listening to all the confessions floating up to Her from all over the World ….. and She is muttering, ‘Baloney’!

Anyway, I ‘got the message’ from Jay Red Eagle’s words. It’s about knowing the truth, especially about oneself. Chief Stand Watie may not have said ‘Baloney’, but he spoke eloquently of the truth of the perfidy of the White Man as they broke treaty after treaty with his people.

I’m hoping that I’m maturing a bit ….. in that these days I am more aware when I am full of baloney. Lying to myself, rationalizing, justifying my self both to myself and trying to deflect others from seeing the truth. I have to admit that I have often been uncomfortable in my skin and in the company of others through my Life ….. and the reason comes down essentially to the baloney stuffing in my personality.

So, appropriately for Advent - but of course for every day - I shall concentrate today on baloney-detecting ….. urged on by knowing that dispensing of inner baloney is both exhilarating and de-stressing. When I get to St. Peter, I want to hear him say, “Honest? It’s a match!”


Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, December 11, 2011

Among you stands one whom you do not know,
the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy
to untie the thong of his sandal.

John the Baptist, from the Gospel called “John”,
chapter 1, appointed for Advent III B RCL

[ The full text is at: ]

“One whom you do not know”: despite the great longing and hope of the Israelite people for the Messiah, despite all the synagogue Shabbat readings, they did not “know” Him.

We’ve started a new liturgical year. Each one starts with Preparation and Self-Examination, and moves through the Great Mysteries of our entering fully into Life. And, as the Collect for today reminds us, it a daily thing!

So, I have a suggestion, as I suddenly “saw” (again!) Being “ready” for Life. A simple format for daily life, based on the yearly liturgical cycle of the Mysteries. It can take as little as 2-3 mnutes

At the beginning of the day, structure it.
Sit quietly for a few moments
Advent: I wish to be prepared for Life
Incarnation: I am One with the Great Mystery of God
Epiphany: I will manifest as Love today
Lent: I will work to be always free to love
Resurrection: I am freed to live fully, following the path of Love
Pentecost: I am filled with the Spirit of Love

And if you want (since we all need/want a practice that suits us), we can pinpoint the flow of our day by focusing on one of these steps as the day flows.

As the Collect today says: “May Your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us”!



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, December 9, 2011

A heartfelt smile gives warmth
enough for three winters.

Mongolian Proverb

Ode on a Mongolian Proverb

a exhilarating, brilliant
Providence fall afternoon.
i slid into tommie’s room
in the aids hospice
to find his former-Marine lover
by his bed
flowers on the table
Tommie asleep …
leaking fluid from his legs
as usual
eyes and cheeks
puffy from meds and edema
breathing unevenly.
i took his lover’s hand
we talked quietly
over all that tommie
was going through ..
and his own stress and depression.
tommie’s eyes opened
he looked at ted
and then at me
and through the utter weariness
and pain that morphine
couldn’t assuage
leaking as it did
out of his bloated and edemic legs
tommie said
hi father
great to see you
light a candle for me
will you?
and then he smiled
the smile of one
who knows Love.
three winters?
that smile has filled
my life with light
for near thirty years.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 8, 2011

It is better to have loafed and lost,
than never to have loafed at all.

James Thurber, author, humourist; he was
born on this date, 1894, at Columbus, Ohio

Iknow. I get “too serious” at times. But you know, I’m really a fun-loving person who loves to enjoy Life. I have to admit though: now that I’m retired, I “work” a bit, and I play a lot! A feel a bit guilty. I feel I “should” be out with the Occupiers, and with the Human Rights Campaign supporting young Gay kids, and with the Southern Poverty Law Center battling racism and bigotry. After all, a 66 year old priest in a long cassock and cross makes newsworthy arresting!

I supported those things, and urged my parishioners to support them and many other things. And I delight to see the younger people today who are working towards those things which I believe the Gospel is all about.

So, while I have limited my social justice interests, I still support when I can, and I still spend lots of time being available to all kinds of people, in person and on line.

But I want to fess up: I’m a really great loafer! In my day is usually a 1.7 mile walk, a swim, 15 minutes in the hot tub (all in our Senior Park), a morning lie-in while I read in bed, and often an afternoon nap, and often a nice lunch with a glass of wine! And we often go to the beach for a walk, and wander the California Central Coast bird-watching, and have lunch with friends.

And so I say: LOAF! Even if you aren’t old. Even the young and busy can get in a bit of loafing each day. It greatly improves health and disposition on every level.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
[ The Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra in the Christian Kalendar ]

The direction and constancy of the will
is what really matters, and intellect and
feeling are only important insofar as they
contribute to that.

Evelyn Underhill, Anglican “mystic”;
she was born on this date, 1875

I’m always glad to find an ally! I’ve been going on about the importance of the will, in sermons and writings, for a long time now. It’s nice to have such a well-respected personage as Ms. Underhill agreeing with me. [ ☺ ]

“Your intellect overpower us”? Nope.

“Your feelings overwhelm us”? Nope.

“Your Will be Done” ….. Yes!

The personality of “God” gets pretty complicated in the Scriptures. One minute God’s saving and loving everybody, the next “He’s” having every man, woman and child destroyed. Very confusing ….. of course because human beings’ feelings and prejudices and fears are getting in the way, and human beings, while trying their best, can’t keep their own issues out of the picture of God they are trying to paint.

I would not be alone in saying that God’s Will is “what really matters”. God’s Will is that His Kingdom of Love, Justice, Wholeness, and Peace should “come”. This is reflected in our human lives and relationships. It is not feelings and intellect which ultimately determine the character and faithfulness of our relationships, but our WILL to Love, to make peace, to honour, to respect, to forgive, to heal.

The old hymn says, “Have thine own way, Lord / have thine own way”. Another way to say it is what Jesus said in Gethsemane: “Not my will, but yours.”

Over all else, let us Will Love. I have discovered it is the path that leads Home.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, December 5, 2011

You have to pick the places
you don't walk away from.

Joan Didion, author, crone. She was born
on this date, 1935, at Sacramento, CA

I “fell in love” with Joan Didion as a writer when I first read “Slouching Towards Jerusalem”, which I read by candlelight at the home of a friend I was visiting on the Cape one warm and long-ago-and-young summer. I haven’t found her latest writing as engaging, but I deeply respect her for her honesty and for her incisiveness and for her surgical way of expression.

I think Ms. Didion is right about picking the places we don’t walk away from. This is one of the critically important skills for achieving an authentic Life. Every human being needs to be taught how to make the ethical, spiritual, and emotional choices which lead to development as a fully-realized human being. The problem is, this requires courageous choice ….. and courageous choice demands courageous teaching. And that we do not have in America, or in many parts of the World. Most of the Americans and most of the other people I have met in my travels are woefully educated ….. and the major reason is Religion. I find Religion (there are some exceptions) to be essentially adverse to shaping persons who are equipped to engage the deepest questions of Life.

In Jesus, for example, I see a man who learned how to make these choices. Did he learn them from his contemporary religious tradition? No. He opposed that tradition on many fundamental levels. He learned them by tapping into the “God Within”, and listening to the voice of the Spirit of God. That Spirit lives in each of us, waiting to be heard ….. and Her voice is one with the innate character of being authentically human.

Most Religions today protect their power, their particular “rightness”. That is a rejection of their nature, I believe. ALL religions exist in order to show us, together, “the places you don’t walk away from”. For a start, read and ponder Eknath Easwaran’s book “”God Makes the Rivers To Flow”. There you will read the wisdom of all the great spiritual traditions.

Today I’m making a List of those things I can’t walk away from if, as I wish, I want to be my Highest Self. I’m grateful for the teachers. I want to love as the Christ. I want to be free of delusion as the Buddha. I want to dwell in the Holy as the Torah teaches. I want to honour the oneness of the Deity as the Prophet teaches. I want to be one with “God” as all the great mystics taught by their lives. I want to be Peace, as the Dalai Llama practices. I want to hug away pain, as Amma does.

There are, I believe, “places” on the path to being human from which we don’t walk away.

May we have the teaching and the courage to pick them.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, December 2, 2011

Love is so much better when you're not married.

Maria Callas, opera diva; she was born on this date, 1923

Well, Maria said some very provocative ….. and very funny! ….. things. I was tempted to choose one of those. But, I opted for this more serious quote. To make a comment or two.

I think that much of contemporary Christianity has tended to make marriage sound like a bore. “Marriage counseling” tends to sound like a course in petty rule keeping ….. and it tends in many Christian settings to perpetuate patriarchy and its negativity (are there any positive aspects to patriarchy in our time and cultural context???). And it still, I think, tends to perpetuate an abysmal and crushingly dull and limited understanding of human sexuality.

So here’s my point: it’s about time that Christianity got its act together about this “love and marriage” thing ….. including the dear Episcopalians ….. who in general project (except for the tight-assed ones) an enlightened view of all this. It’s about time that we got together and devised a “marriage counseling curriculum” that really was able to affirm and to celebrate human sexuality, human imagination and creativity, human innate intelligence, and the integrity of human feeling and freedom.

I know personally that Love is better when you are “married” - when there is a connection of the heart and body AND, critically, an understanding intellectually and spiritually of the true nature of Love which Christianity (as well as other faiths) at its best manifests by its Life and by the teachings of its Founder.

Maria Callas is, I think, an example of a human being who lacked good spiritual teachers.

Occupy your Pew, as it were. Challenge your spiritual community and its leaders to become really good guides to both Love in general, and to “Love and Marriage” in particular.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 1, 2011

My storehouse having been burnt down,
nothing obstructs my view of the bright moon.

Masahide, Zen poet

Delicious! Vast wisdom expressed in fourteen words. I am SO envious! But - Ha! I have to laugh at myself because I am so wordy!

I can give you and example from my own life of a burned storehouse and the bright moon: One day, I realized, tangibly felt in my being, that my partner’s happiness and hopes for the future were more important to me than my own (rather limited) desires for myself. That I would enter into a larger, more imaginative Life if I embraced it. My ‘storehouse’ burnt down ….. and in my inner solar system a “bright moon’ rose dazzling in the sky.

Oh, I wish you conflagrations of storehouses, and stunning visions of bright moons on your journey of Life!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile,
hoping it will eat him last.

Winston Churchill; he was
born on this date, 1874

Churchill was, I suppose, thinking of those who “appeased” Hitler …. and with which he then had to deal as Prime Minister of Britain through the utter horrors of WWII.

I think of his words as a brilliant spiritual metaphor. Our “destiny” is to become a fully realized being ….. understanding that every religion has their concept of what that is. Christianity – at least the sensible and not the wackos of which we have so many these days, alas! – is clear: we are to “be as Christ”.

I see it this way: there are many things that work to keep us from becoming a fully realized being. Those are the crocs! It would be reasonable to think that we would not feed these crocs ….. but we do! I’m not so sure that I can say why we do this. Perhaps it is because it requires work to become human? That becoming fully human can’t happen without our embracing our destiny and committing ourselves to the journey? And that we human beings are by nature spiritually lazy ….. a deliberate design factor, an evolutionary dynamic, pushing us to commit our energies, without which we will fail?

My own besetting crocodile is Anger. At the burning core of my anger is my rage at the way Gayfolk – and I - have been abused and mistreated and lied about in human history. I have of course experienced this, and it has come from society, from the Bible, from Church, from every direction. Over the years, I have learned to “understand” ….. intellectually. I have learned to try and respond rationally to it all. But inside I seethe. My mind and my gut are not aligned. And I feed this crocodile. I keep track of all the discrimination. I don’t seek out ways of dialogue. I am “secure” in who I am, but I have yet, after decades of Christian life, been able to see homophobic people with an understanding eye. I can’t see their imprisonment, or be compassionate. While of course, being a follower of the Gospel of Jesus (as I understand it), Compassion is my path.

I guess I think that if I feed this crocodile, it will “eat me last”. But inside I know that this is not true. This is “the work of the devil”. Self-delusion. While I offer it food, this crocodile eats me. And I am kept from advancing towards my fully realized being ….. from manifesting the Christ within.

So: what is your crocodile? Advent is a time to bring the crocodiles into the light. I have often said that God can’t do anything to heal us unless we acknowledge both the sickness and our desire to be made whole. When the Feast of the Incarnation arrives on Dec 24/25th - that day when we celebrate God’s self-pouring into our Being - we need to be carrying the honest truth into that moment. If we’re not, the crocs will devour us.

Today is Spiritual Crocodile Day. Prepare to wrastle!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Be on the alert for symptoms of inner Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.
Some signs and symptoms of The Advent Virus:

• A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
• An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
• A loss of interest in judging other people.
• A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
• A loss of interest in conflict.
• A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)
• Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
• Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
• Frequent attacks of smiling.
• An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen
• An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

Fears. Well, I’m less fearful. I’ve been pretty good for quite a while at enjoying the moment ….. even in the face of criticism. Judging people ….. could be a little better. Ditto with “interpreting the actions of others” ….. this is a real challenge. Conflict? ….. I’m agin it. Worry ….. work to do. Appreciation ….. doing good! Feeling of Unity ….. Big Time! Smiling ….. I’ve never been good at it ….. but caught unawares at moments I’m known to smile. I’m much better at “going with the flow”. Love ….. It’s my Life Work.

Hey! I think I’m getting into this Advent Agenda! Hope you are too.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 28, 2011

I am in you and you in me,
mutual in divine love.

William Blake, poet; he was
born on this date, 1757.

Yes. I agree. We have to make choices in this life. All pretenses to Truth are relative and arbitrary. Everyone has their opinions ….. and they are simply opinions, based on what each considers “the Truth”. And there are as many “truths” as there are human beings.

Blake’s words are like the Golden Rule. If we treated each other as if we were “mutual in divine love”, the World would live in Peace and Compassion.

Today I’ll try to live mutuality in divine love. I believe it intellectually. I need to make it visceral.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, November 27, 2011
[ Advent Sunday in the Christian Kalendar ]

Therefore, keep awake-- for you do not know when
the master of the house will come, in the evening, or
at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he
may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And
what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.

From the version of the Gospel called “Mark”,
chapter 13 [ appointed for Advent Sunday, 2011 ]

[ The full text can be found at ]

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

[ The Collect for Advent Sunday ]

“When will God be born in me?” Christian spirituality sees this as one, if not “the” essential question for every human being. It lies at the heart of the human longing to discover, to experience, the full meaning of being alive.

Christianity recognizes this by making the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus the “son of God”, the first of the Great Mysteries it celebrates in the yearly liturgical journey. On the surface, the Incarnation seems to be about God’s Son born in human form. But it is far more! It is about the immense mystery we call Life manifesting Itself in you, in me. The Biblical Creation stories use another rich image to speak to the same issue: God breathing the Spirit of Life into the inert dust to make human beings.

The liturgical season of Advent, meaning “to come to”, prepares us for this Coming, this In-Breathing of Life. First, with an apocalyptic vision of the End Times and of Christ’s Coming. Secondly, with the appearance of John the Baptist, proclaiming the Coming of the Messiah. Thirdly, John the Baptist’s call to Be Prepared - how to be open. And Fourthly, Mary, representing all human beings, told that God, Life, will come and be born in her ….. reminding us that we each are Theotokas, God-bearers.

For me, the possibility that at some End Moment of Time the Son of Man will come to judge, to reward or punish, is imaginative, thought-provoking ….. but mostly irrelevant. My concern, my passion, is: “now, in the time of this mortal life”, am I awake to Life’s “daily visitation”? We understand “God” to be the Fullness of Being, and that we human beings participate in that Godlikeness. We have Life to live it fully.

For that to happen, we must Be Awake. We must learn what Life is about, what constitutes fullness of humanity. And, as the great 17th C Jesuit spiritual teacher Jean Pierre de Caussade once said, “God speaks to us in everything that happens to us”. Are we paying attention?

The season of Advent tries to awaken our heart, mind, spirit, body, everything that constitutes our human nature, to God’s Coming ….. to the journey to fullness of Being. And the liturgical year keeps pulling us back to the Mystery.

May we “Keep Awake”.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 23, 2011
[ In Anticipation of Thanksgiving Day ]

All this hurrying soon will be over.
Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.

Rainer Maria Rilke
[ In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy ]

The Thanksgiving Day holiday/”holy-day”. Dennis and I are keeping it with a dear friend and some other friends old and dear and some new. Thanksgiving is, relatively speaking, a holiday that hasn’t been commercialized and contaminated with money (except for food extravagance – but you don’t make too much on a turkey!) No presents, etc. And thank God we don’t have to hear music for it months ahead, like Christmas! (I can’t help speculate that Americans must be very depressed if they need to ratchet up a little jollity two months before the holiday!)

Thanksgiving is a day on which we “tarry” and touch what truly is holy. Yes, we overeat ….. but the real generosity of people comes out, in that at Thanksgiving we do try to make sure that those without have a feast.

But here’s the cliché – and by God it’s OK for Thanksgiving to be a cliché! We tarry with friends and family ….. and if we are lucky, with strangers drawn into our Life and whom we now recognize as in some wonderful way family or friend. So much of Life is hurry, hurry, hurry. And Rilke is right, it will soon be over. Remember Scrooge? He almost got to the end as a miserable, lonely human being. Around food and drink, we are together primarily for two things: to see, really see, how people have made our Life holy; and to recognize what is important in this Life and what is not.

And let’s face it: too few people in our World have reason to be thankful when it comes to material things. But Love! If anything is going to make a difference - to sustain us - family and friends and their love is at the core. I think about the Thanksgivings I’ve celebrated. Some serving food at a “soup kitchen”. Some in another country, with fellow Americans or Canadians grateful for a shared experience. Some with blood family. Some with the Gayfolk who were and are so much the friends and chosen family who upheld me with their Love and affirmation, and I them.

We have this glorious Mortal Life to live ….. and it flies by. We can’t afford to waste any time! We are here to learn what is important for Life, to learn what is Holy. Christians and other religious communities gather every Sabbath to acknowledge the Holy at the Heart – God, and each other.

Of course we should enjoy the “turkey and all the trimmings”! But on Thanksgiving Day we gather to enjoy and respect and Give Thanks for each other, in all our weirdnesses and delightfulness.

I wish you all tomorrow a holy tarrying, full of laughter, delight and Love.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, November 18, 2011

Once upon a time
the world was sweeter than we knew.
Everything was ours;
how happy we were then,
but then once upon a time
never comes again.

Johnny Mercer, American songwriter; he
was born on this date, 1909, at Savannah

“.. for there is nothing either good or bad , but thinking makes it so.” “Hamlet”, Act ii, scene ii. Well, wrong; there are good things and bad things, I think. However, the spin we put on things ….. that makes a huge difference in how we live in this World. And it’s interesting how one “good” thought can alter the effects of “bad”. Silver linings, “God”, Attitude, grasp of reality, all that sort of stuff.

Today, this is what I think. There is always a “sweet World” ….. some-“where”. Finding it, or creating it, or imagining it, there’s the work of each of us. Frankly, I think it’s critically important for us to be able to envision a “sweet World”. “Heaven” is one of those imaginings which supports living.

There never was and never will be a time when “everything was ours”. And, there is a time when everything is ours. Life is chock full of such dualities. There are ways to experience “everything is ours” ….. that is our spiritual work.

I’ve been happy. I know how blessed I am to be able to say that! Discovering what makes us happy ….. that too is the work of a Lifetime. Lucretius said (De Rerum Natura) that the pursuit of Pleasure was humanity’s first work. He is right ….. as long as we understand what Pleasure is (and it isn’t, he says, just hedonism).

“Once upon a time” - that is, when all was perfect - never was and “never comes again”. Johnny’s right. But. While I long ago gave up “perfection”, I’ll never give up the Pursuit of Pleasure, as Lucretius and I think all the great thinkers of the ages understood it.

Pleasure - for oneself and all beings - is the life-giving fire of the Soul.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 17, 2011

People, even more than things, have to be restored,
renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
never throw out anyone.

Audrey Hepburn

Now, that’s real love. In the process of Life, we learn about love. We come to know it’s not essentially about feeling, but about commitment and will. We hold to it because we have come to see what it takes to be the kind of human being we respect and value - and because we have understood the “Golden Rule”: if I know what makes me happy, then I know how to treat others.

As a person, and as a priest, I have been blessed to be given the opportunity to work on and from these principles all my Life. I’m still working on them!

And I have to say that the Christian religion, as I have been taught and have lived it, is just what Audrey says. See the Christ in everyone, and do your best to honour each person as a Christ, as a manifestation of the God Who is Love. So, it may not work all the time; but it is the place to start, and to hold to for as long as possible. That’s what “until death do us part” is all about ….. in the many and various ways that that commitment operates in human relationships.

I’ve been restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. I’ll bet you have too.

Do Unto Others.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The principal thing in the world
is to keep the soul aloft.

Gustave Flaubert

Apologies for not being in touch over the last few days. We have been in New Mexico birding. And later this week it will be time with the tens of thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes (and the Hummers) at Bosque del Apache. What a glorious sight to see them all in flight as they return at dusk! Birds are amazing beings! They are definitely one of the things that “Keeps my Soul Aloft”.

Is that not a superb poetic phrase! And image! “To keep the soul aloft”. “Soul”, to me, is not a separate part of us. It is the essence of Being ….. that mysterious force that propels us along in the enterprise of Life; fills us with hope, courage, and vision; picks us up when we have been dashed to the ground.

My List for keeping the Soul Aloft would be endless! On top is Love (often called God), Beauty, Friendship, Generosity, the Universe. Somewhere in the middle: Laughter, Birds, Memories, Good Books, Warmth; towards the bottom: my iPad, Black Russians, Steak & Kidney Pie, Scotch Meat Pies, Empire Biscuits, tea (with milk and sweet), Tuscany, chiming key-wind clocks.

For awhile, I’m going to make this my succinct “morning instruction” when I awake: “Brian, Keep the Soul Aloft ….. yours and whomever else’s you can assist.”

If your or my soul sinks, it pulls the World Soul down with it.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 10, 2011

When I grow up I want to be a little boy.

Joseph Heller, author; on this date, 1961, his
satirical, anti-war novel “Catch 22” was published.

Canadians in 1961 didn’t hear much about American books. After all, it was before the Internet, etc. And we Canadians were being “patriotic”. I was 17 when I read “Catch 22”, in 1963. Being a little Gay Christian, I was opposed to war, and I loved the book ….. though with humility I have to say that unless I had been told beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have “got it”.

In one famous scene, Jesus tells his disciples that, unless you become as a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And he tells Nicodemus the same thing: you have to be “born again” ….. in a sense, become a child again.

I am hoping, now that I am in my 66th year, that I am on the path to becoming “a little boy” again. I am so aware that decades of my Life have been consumed with all kinds of “stuff” - questioning, and reevaluating, and questioning, and doubting, and examining, and questioning, and formulating, and adjusting, and reshaping, and “sophisticating”, and abandoning.

The implication seems to be that children have an innate sense of Truth. Well ….. I’m not so sure I believe that. But I think I do believe this: that after decades of struggling with Life, we eventually can “let go” of the struggle. And then we can become “a little boy” or girl again. Not as we were then, but informed by our decades of engagement with all that Life is. I think the best way to approach Death, that great Mystery, is as a little boy or girl ….. looking at it all with the openness and wonder of childhood.

Start as early as you can! Let go as soon as you can of the cynicism and pain and closedness of heart, mind, and spirit. Expand! Meet Life with wonderment.

Grown-Ups who have come back die the best.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The universe seems neither benign
nor hostile, merely indifferent.

Carl Sagan, scientist, philosopher;
he was born on this date, 1934

I loved Carl Sagan. He was such a charming man. And I could listen to him for hours talk brilliantly and clearly about the wonder of the Universe, its beauty, its Mystery. Everything he said made sense to me.

Many people of faith have such an annoying habit of anthropomorphizing the Universe. Worse, of transferring to the Universe the anthropomorphized “personality” of “God”. And even worse, of blaming the Universe – or God – for the sufferings we human beings undergo as mortal creatures living on a still-growing and developing planet. But, I agree with Dr. Sagan. The Universe is morally, ethically neutral. The Universe just IS. It is neither “for” us or “against” us.

And I would venture to say that “God” is morally and ethically neutral as well. The moral and ethical policeperson is a trait that we human beings have foisted upon this Devine Being, Whom we have created in the various images of our own fears, needs, and yes hopes. Some of the ethical images we have foisted upon God I agree with, mythically speaking; and many I do not.

But, since I accept that it is a perfectly understandable thing, given the amazing capacity of the human mind and spirit, to endow God with ethical characteristics, I accept that God is primarily defined as Loving, Compassionate , Just, Merciful, and determined to demand that we humans be so too. What defines God defines us. We and God are One, insofar as I understand Christian mystical theology.

The Universe is not against us. What we have to struggle with, especially the things that cause is suffering and pain and anxiety, just are. What is critical for our Life and our happiness is what we do with the deck we are dealt, both individually and, perhaps more importantly, together.

But let’s not forget the wonder and joy. It isn’t all bad by any means. Ponder the old Inuit song:

I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, all those vital things I had to get and to reach, and yet there is only one great thing: to live and see the great day that dawns, and the light that fills the world.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Will you ever understand
how near God is to you?

Lalla, fourteenth century C.E.

She was a mystic Islamic poet and saint from the 14th C, born in Indian Kashmir. She wrote:

“God does not want meditations and austerities
Through love alone canst though reach the Abode of Bliss.

Thou mayst be lost like salt in water
Still it is difficult for thee to know God.”

Lalla is, I think, right. “It is difficult for thee to know God”. And human beings had better remember this if we do not want to fall into delusions of grandeur leading only to destruction.

For most of my life, various “teachings” – especially those in preparation for my ordination to the priesthood some 39 years ago – misled me. On the other hand, perhaps we need to be misled ….. until we come to that point where we have the inner courage and learning to acknowledge the truth. And so I say, Thank God for age!

Now I know how near God is ….. to me and to you and to all of us. In fact, inseparable, indistinguishable. Until we know this, any deity we think we have discovered will be false.

And our humanity will be defective.

As we see.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 7, 2011

I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war.

As a woman I can't go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.

Jeannette Pickering Rankin; on this date, 1916, age 36, she was
elected Republican Congresswoman from Montana, the first
woman elected to Congress, and the first woman elected to a
national legislature in any western democracy. She was the only
legislator to vote against war.

Ms. Rankin was elected 4 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment, forbidding restricting the vote on the basis of gender. The first quote is from her vote re the USA entering WWI, four days after taking office. The second was her vote re entering WWII, after she had been re-elected. In between, she worked tirelessly for Women’s Suffrage, and for Peace.

I think her first vote expresses her principles, including her feminine perspective. (I would have voted to enter WWI; but I deeply value her patriotic stand against war.) And the second, her frustration at the, to the present, continuing refusal to see women for what they are by nature and should be by cultural and political reality: Equal.

But there is a profound Christian dimension, from my point of view. War is unacceptable to any God Whose essence is defined as Unconditional Love ….. in other words, the God of the Gospel of Peace. War may be a fact, but War is never morally or spiritually acceptable, and we must face into our failure.

Our culture (and our religion) is chock full of – in my view - false heroes. To me, whether she so deliberately intended to support the Gospel or not, Jeannette Pickering Rankin is one of my spiritual heroes. When I think of her, and of all she suffered because of her votes, I can only number her among the those of whom Jesus spoke in the Beatitudes when He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for my sake”.

I wish she were here today.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, November 4, 2011

America and Islam are not exclusive and need
not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and
share common principles of justice and progress,
tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

President Barack Obama; he was the first African-
American to be elected (the 44th) President of the
United States on this date, 2008.

I agree that America and Islam need not be in competition. But, America being what it is, that needs to be demonstrated.

Personally I do not see, from the behaviour of many either Muslims or Christians, that we share “common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings”. Is this because extremists dominate in the media? Fundamentalist Christians, and most Muslim media voices, dominate the airwaves – and this is because Americans support, by what they view and by what the corporations support, the view that division and hate and violence “make money” ….. and making money is the defining force in American life. Where in the media are the moderate voices of either Christianity and Islam?

I would agree that both Christianity and Islam - AS UNDERSTOOD AND INTERPRETED BY ENLIGHTENED AND SPIRITUALLY EDUCATED PEOPLE - “share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings”. So, why are these voices from both religions not heard in the media? Because the media in America is in the servitude of GREED. Why is it that we hear ad nausea the opinions of Muslim and Christian wackos on the “evening news”? Why are there no responsible media types who go to sensible Christian and Muslim clerics and layfolk and broadcast their views?

If all we have to listen to are Muslim extremist feudalist narrow-minded tribalist clerics shouting at Friday prayers against American “values” (some of which need to be questioned), and racist, homophobic, sexist Christians railing against everyone with ideas that are in fact contrary to the Gospel of Jesus and the Unconditional Love of God, what the hell do we expect our country is going to be like?

My point? Complain! Tell the media to stop this! Stop buying and listening to their propaganda. Occupy American Media. Occupy your church or mosque. Yes, of course, the Bible and the Qur’an have at their core the words of a Holy and Compassionate God. But both Scriptures have been corrupted by the humans and their agendas who shaped them, and by the clerics who continue to misuse them for their own unholy purposes.

Say NO to this in every way you can. Be true to yourself as a being of Grace, Compassion, and Truth. Let’s go to our Christlike Christian fellows and to our true followers of the Prophet and hold each other up in witness to their holy teachings.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 3, 2011

I consider myself to be a pretty good judge
of people... that's why I don't like any of them.

Roseanne Barr, comedienne; she was born on
this date, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah

When I was in the Order of the Holy Cross, we had a consulting psychiatrist. He was reported by his colleagues to be “one of the best in the World” ….. and crazy as a loon! Though he once told me something interesting: that whenever he had a dream in which he was a participant, he went back into therapy; it was a clear sign that he had lost his “objective distance”. I greatly respected him for one observation he made at our Chapter; he said, “I have never met a group of people who say that they want to live under the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, who are absolutely determined to have everything they want, have sex with anyone, and who, from the newest postulant to the Superior, not to be told what to do by anyone”. He was indeed brilliant, and he had us to a “T” – then; I’m making no assessments about now.

But, the thing I remember the most was his comment, “People come to me for help, and I tell them what to do to get well, and they say they wouldn’t like it; I tell them, “I didn’t say you have to like it, you just have to do it!” (This in his thick Viennese accent.)

We may not “like” a lot of things in Life: people, and the things we have to do for the sake of Love and self-respect and dignity and commitment and faithfulness. Jesus, I’m sure, didn’t like what He went through in order to be faithful to His God of Infinite and Unconditional Love.

But Dr. Holt was right, I think. “Like” is not a category by which to guide our Life. No one likes the suffering that can come from some of the hard choices we have to make, nor the unpleasantness we feel. “Feeling” is a minute dimension of authentic Love. Love is essentially an act of the will.

Spiritual maturity teaches us to do what is just and compassionate, whether we like it or not.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Government is a contrivance of human
wisdom to provide for human wants. People
have the right to expect that these wants
will be provided for by this wisdom.

Jimmy Carter; on this date, 1976, he was
elected President of the United States.

I’ve been writing these Reflections now for over 7 years. There are nearly 1500 of them. Today I want to reflect on WHY I write them.

I write them as my principle form of Prayer. Which is the same reason I love preaching, which I do far less now that I am retired. Five to six days a week, I ponder an enormous range of comments and thoughts from a mind-blowing group of people and sources. I use these to think about human Life, about “God”, about Religion, about Art, about Good and Evil, about body and spirit and mind. About everything. Prayer, for me, is the way I open myself to Wisdom, however Wisdom is communicated.

I write them to Learn. About myself. About the World. About human beings. About emotions. About ideas. About Love and Hate and Mystery and Confusion and Desire and Despair and Elation and Freedom and Slavery and Frailty and Courage and Failure and Success and Sex ….. anything that pertains to being Human.

I write them to hear Wisdom and Graciousness. And to try and understand.

I write them to “train up” my Being. I’ve been at it for decades (along with preaching), and I still believe that at 65 I have lots to discover, and lots to affirm, and lots to let go of.

I don’t write them to tell people what to believe or what to do. I express my thoughts, with the recognition that we all have the freedom and responsibility to engage with Life and to learn its lessons.

I deeply believe that Jesus is not “sectarian”. Jesus is one of many Wisdom Teachers that Life has given to us, given to us by the deep deep Mystery we call “God” to help us to become fully human ….. and I equally believe that that fullness of humanity has to do ultimately with becoming a blazing flame of Love.

Jimmy Carter is, I believe, correct about Government ….. and I passionately hope that we in America will learn this again before we destroy ourselves. And I would paraphrase his words to say, “GOD is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants”.

I would like to think that America is a vehicle for this Wisdom. And that we will heal ourselves ….. soon.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, November 1
[ All Saints Day ]

If in my youth I had realized that the sustaining
splendour of beauty with which I was in love
would one day flood back into my heart, there to
ignite a flame that would torture me without end,
how gladly would I have put out the light in my eyes.

Michelangelo; on this date, 1512, his paintings on the
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were exhibited to the
public. [I first saw them, cleaned, the day Pope John
Paul II died.]

Michelangelo. Passionate. Dramatic. Poetic. Good artists are like that. And great human leaders.

Today we, the human race, need a “flood back” into our hearts of the “splendour of beauty” about Life, there “to ignite a flame “. But. The last thing that I want for any of us is that “the light in my eyes” of the “splendour of beauty” should be “put out”. Oh no. The opposite.

That light is vastly dimmed and flickering. And along with it our humanity.

I’m trying to think of a way I can contribute to the brightening, to the brilliance. That’s what I was thinking as I gazed up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling that afternoon, shining anew after centuries of smoke and darkening.

To live the life of the beauty of Divine Love may seem like torture to some. But it did not seem so to Jesus and it did and does not seem so to the saints.

I would like to have the courage to share in that Life. I would like to have the flame ignited! And I would desire not to have any light put out ….. but to be flooded with it, even if it engulfs me.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, October 31, 2011

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

John Keats, poet; he was born on this date,
1795, at London. (He died in Rome, age 26);
from his poem “A Thing of Beauty”

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Of course. There could not possibly be “beauty” that every human being thought so to be. But, if you put all of us together, might that encompass all beauty?

The picture is of John Keats’ house where he died, in Rome, to the right of the Spanish Steps. Dennis and I gazed on it early on a sunny Roman June morning, and pondered the young man dying of consumption, faithfully tended by the poet Percy Shelley. In the sadness there was, is, a tenderness and a poignancy about the fleetingness of human life which spoke of its own beauty.

On the eve of All Saints, I always think of those, friends, and those to whom I ministered, who died of AIDS. So so different! Some so edgy and difficult, some so winsome and attractive! Most both. One of the greatest things they all taught me was how beautiful every single one of us human beings is. They opened my mind and heart to my own richer humanity as well.

You. I. Everyone. “A thing of beauty and a joy forever.” It’s a revelation that changes everything. God dies every moment to be born a thing of beauty in every human soul.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, October 30, 2011
[ Year A, Proper 26, RCL ]

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father-- the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted."

Matthew 23 [ the Gospel reading for Sunday, October 30 ]

We have a lot of people around us today who “talk the talk” but who don’t “walk the walk” – especially politicians and business leaders, but including many religious “leaders”, who are more into palaces and Rollses than servanthood to their Wisdom teachers and their disciples.

So, think about this today. But. I think the principle “warning” from the Gospel today is directed at each one of us. First: don’t get distracted. You can call your dad or your male priest “father”. You can call those who instruct you “teacher”. As long as those persons meet the criterion: are the “fathers/mothers” Godly, and are the teachers “Messianic”. In other words, are your fathers/mothers and your teachers speakers and doers of the Truth? Do such claim honour because they “lord it over” others, or do they deserve honour because their greatness derives from service to the rest of us?

You and I must be responsible for where we give our allegiance. And for discerning to whom we justly give honour. The quality of our society is up to us. Those who “exalt themselves” must be humbled by us, by our refusal to grant them authority or power. Those who “humble themselves” must be exalted by our granting to them authority. We the people determine to whom honour is due as authentic leaders and teachers.

Where our “treasure” is, there our heart will be also.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, October 28, 2011

A peaceful man does more good than a learned one.

Men are like wine - some turn to
vinegar, but the best improve with age.

See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.

The feelings of my smallness and my
nothingness always kept me good company.

The true and solid peace of nations consists
not in equality of arms, but in mutual trust alone.

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice;
on this date, 1958, he was elected Pope, and
took the name John XXIII

I love this man! If I had to name anyone who deserves the recognition as a true reflection of the God of Love and of Jesus of Nazareth, John XXIII is “at the top of the heap” (as he once jokingly said of himself). He's one of my greatest heroes.

Aside from his great wisdom, his great heart, his great compassion, and his great simplicity, I love his sense of humour and his authentic humility. He once said, “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope!”

In my view, this man was a true reflection of the Christ, and greatly blessed the World. I leave you with his words to enrich you day.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God can make you anything you want to be,
but you have to put everything in his hands.

Mahalia Jackson. She was born on this date,
1911, in New Orleans

I had every album of hers! And I loved the picture of her, eyes closed, head raised, “in touch” with what she was singing. As a young Canadian adolescent, I had no first-hand knowledge of what she was singing about. But I knew it was hurt and power and sorrow and hope and faith ….. and after I came to live in the USA 45 years ago, then I “knew” it.

I agree with Mahalia. God can “make you anything you want to be”. But. You have to know Who and What “God” is. The little tin-pot tyrant, out there punishing and loving conditionally, claimed by various groups as “their” God who excludes others, with whom so many of us were raised? Nope. Not a chance. Serving that God, you will only be a narrow, ungenerous, limited, shriveled version of what it means to be human, by definition made in the Divine Image.

Once you discover the God of unconditional Love Who is co-terminus with you, the nucleus of every cell of which you are made, Who manifests that you are One with every other Being, core-defined by the Mystery of Compassion/Love ….. when you “put everything is his hands”, i.e., consent to be who you are in Reality ….. you know God. And you are whole, “saved”.

“God” never “makes” us do anything, be anything. God just waits to be recognized.

God is All. And we each are of the All.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It is true that we are weak and sick and ugly
and quarrelsome but if that is all we ever were,
we would millenniums ago have disappeared
from the face of the earth.

John Steinbeck; on this date, 1962, he
was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature

I know that I am often cynical. I do express my discontent with “the human condition” and with human behaviour probably more than I ought. After all, I could attribute the fact that human beings have not yet disappeared from the face of the Earth to our belligerence, penchant for aggression, etc. However, I won’t.

Nope. Today I praise the potential and actual goodness of human beings. We can be miserable bastards, true. But for every Hitler there have been millions of Schindlers.

Do we hear about good people and about goodness in the news? Rarely. So, tomorrow (though we don’t watch much “news”) I am going to take note of what I see reported about us human beings in the media, and I’m going to email or write to them and let them know that I don’t want to hear or see the “ugly and quarrelsome” more than 5%; that 95% I want to hear about people doing wonderful, kind, thoughtful, helpful, generous, loving things for the human race and for our planet home.

99 Percenters and Occupiers I place in the latter category, in general. Real heroes, in my book.

And, since I’m in a very slight sense “media”, I make the following report: our neighbour Barbara, bless her heart, brought us a bag of Red Delicious apples from her tree ….. and she was right, they are definitely better than the store-bought one! Thanks Barbara!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, October 24, 2011

One must have chaos in oneself in order
to give birth to a dancing star.

Friedrich Nietzsche

One day, when I was a monk, Br. Robert came by my cell and stood at the door staring at me. I loved Robert! He was a drunk, and eventually alas died young of alcoholism. He was brilliant. He had a wicked sense of humour, and a natural ability to “speak the truth in love”, a gentle smile on his face.

I looked up from my desk. Robert said, “I have been by your cell every day for the last several days. Every day, your fountain pen is in the exact same position on your desk, your sandals are in the exact same place on the floor by the window, and your bed is immaculate. You, Brian. Are. An. Obsessive. Compulsive. Wacko!”

Then he smiled winsomely and said, “Happy Hour. My cell. 4pm. I’m only inviting the best people. Bring a glass.”

I will concede that order and organization - even some low-level obsessive-compulsive behaviour - can be useful at times, especially if one has a “full” Life. But. Giving birth to a dancing star! Now THAT’S a worthwhile goal for one’s Life! It’s one of the reasons that I left the Presbyterian Church and became an Anglican. I found the Reformation approach to Life too “in the head”, as a foundation. My Being stirred more to a good mixture of Primordial mystical chaos!

I’ve opened up over the last few years to more Chaos, or, more accurately, loosened the chains of OC behaviour. On all levels. I’m still in the stage of being a Yellow Dwarf, but I am looking forward to the Red Dwarf stage, and perhaps even a finishing-off stage of White Dwarfism after a spectacular collapse ….. but not too long! Just long enough to be remembered as a gentle spreader of calm cool light!



Friday, October 21, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, October 21, 11

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw ; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

…. from ‘Frost at Midnight’, by Samuel
Taylor Coleridge, English poet; he was
born on this date, 1772,

Coleridge is speaking to his infant son in his cradle, and about God; he says,

so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher ! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

I’m putting aside for today (at least) all my anguish about the World, about the sillinesses people say about “God”, about strife and hate and division, about the utter venality and stupidity and shocking meanness of politicians, and blah blah blah.

I’m just going to bathe in the simplicity of Coleridge’s wish for his son as if for us all. For you my friends (and “enemies”), known and unknown: I profoundly wish

‘All seasons shall be sweet to thee’.

For a moment, for eternity.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, October 20, 2011

I saw that all beings are fated to happiness:
action is not life, but a way of wasting some
force, an enervation. Morality is the weakness
of the brain.

Arthur Rimbaud, French author;
he was born on this date, 1854

Hmmmm. Interesting words to ponder today! Of course you will print them out, and whip them out of your “borso” (my Italian word for any little bag or clutch one might carry – my borso is from Perutti in Firenze) for your 5 daily times of meditation, yes?

Are we all “fated to happiness”?? Do you think you are? I didn’t, a lot of my Life ….. though sometimes I did ….. and it turned out I was!

I find a wisdom in Rimbaud’s words, “action is not life”. We all have to act, But: first must come Be. Then the action is not a waste of force, but a true expression of a Self that has finally emerged.

“Morality is a weakness of the brain”. Oh, I am SO sick of morality these days. Morality has degenerated into finger-wagging, petty, sex-obsessed infantilism. You can’t have morality – or Compassion - without self-awareness.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I think one of the reasons this show has survived
is that it has a big heart at its center. Other cartoon
shows have people crap on each other and make
racist jokes. But I don't think people tune in for that.
I just don't think a show lasts for 10 years without a heart.

Trey Parker, producer, one of the creators, along with
Matt Stone, of “South Park”. He was born on this date, 1969.

I am an unabashed, proud, devoted fan! We own all the complete seasons on DVD ….. and we watch them frequently. I wear my South Park shorts most of the time at home, and for our daily walks. I treasure my Mr. Hanky baseball cap. Cartman is my Evil Twin – and I have a sticker of him on the back window of my car.

Why? Because South Park is uncompromisingly and fearlessly Real. And I am a huge fan of Reality. Especially since we are surrounded by so much Unreality in every area of Life ….. and especially in American Life. I have lived here for nearly 45 years; I’ve travelled extensively here and in the World at large. In my view, America wins the Oscar for fantasy and for refusing to acknowledge what Life and People are really like ….. though I must admit that in the last 10-15 years, a lot of the World is catching up!

So I thank God for Eric Cartman and Kenny and Stan and Kyle and Butters, their families, and all the characters of South Park. They are like prophets, speaking the truth to society. And while they are course to the max at times (in some peoples’ view), they are to me a modern version of Biblical parables. Granted the Parables are far more “subtle”. But both the Parable and the South Park gang explode the truth right in your face ….. if you have the courage and humility to listen. They fearlessly take on every prudery and hypocrisy and prejudice and stupidity and deceit and ignorance and self-righteousness.

In my view, South Park is a Gospel. Good News. And the Good News is what Trey calls the heart that has kept people watching for 10 years. Oh yes, lots of the worst of humanity is exposed. But almost always, at the end of the episode, usually Stan gets 30 seconds in which he calls us all to see and acknowledge what can be glorious about human beings at their best. Only once, that I can recall, has Cartman’s evil ever “won out” … but in his “winning” he condemned himself.

South Park ruthlessly unveils, as does the Gospel, the Reality that we would so prefer to hide about ourselves. But at the heart of both is a deep love and compassion for human beings and their struggles.

Kenny gets killed almost every episode ….. but he is always resurrected. Kenny’s a sign of hope for us all.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bring me the sunflower
Bring me the sunflower so I may transplant it
in my native soil burnt by the sea-salt,
let it display all day to the mirroring blue spaces
of the sky the anxiety of its yellow face.
Obscure things tend towards clarity,
bodies dissolve themselves in a weightless flow
of colors: these then into music. To vanish
is thus the supreme fate of all fates.
Bring me the plant that points to where
pale transparencies rise to the heights
and life itself evaporates like air;
bring me the sunflower crazed with light.

Eugenio Montale
[ translated from the Italian by Margaret Brose ]

My father was the youngest of 12 children, 9 of whom lived beyond childhood. I had 8 aunts and uncles on that side - they are all dead now. What a bunch of characters – 7 born in Scotland and 2, including my father, born in Montreal. And so I had/have LOTS of First Cousins. The oldest alive is in his mid-eighties, and the youngest in her fifties. I’m in the middle at 65.

One of my First Cousins, Norine, age 84, is approaching death to this earthly life, age 84. She has an aggressive lymphoma. We have chatted every month or so for years, talking about the family. She has always been fascinated by the McHugh family - and we have often laughed at the craziness, and talked about shortbread recipes, and Friday night card parties in Verdun, Seagram’s rye and ginger ale being the grown-ups’ very Canadian drink preference. By rights, given all the serious health issues I’ve had, she could easily have outlived me. But probably she won’t. I will miss her, and especially her sense of humour and joie de vivre.

“To vanish is thus the supreme fate of all fates”. The blue sunny sky is a symbol of the place to which we, those “pale transparencies”, all move, where “life itself evaporates like air”. The greatest freedom is to be free, as soon as possible in this mortal life, of the downward pull of the fear of Death.

We are each the “sunflower crazed with light” ….. or so we are meant to be. Displaying “all day to the mirroring blue spaces of the sky the anxiety of its yellow face”. We know we will die. But we face to the Light. We live every day given fearlessly. Jesus and so many others teach us to deny Death any power over our Living.

My prayer today, as I think of Norine: “Give us Life. Make us ‘the sunflower crazed with light’.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, October 17, 2011

Give therefore to the emperor the things that are
the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's.

Matthew 22 [ the Gospel reading for October 16, RCL ]

[ You can see the full text at: ]

In the version of the Gospel story called “Matthew”, this encounter is turned, as is often the case in “Matthew”, into a put-down of the corrupt Jewish religious power structure. And it’s brilliant, for that! What a zinger; a spiritual Taser ! One of the best comebacks in the Gospel. But of course, that version is an attempt of the early 2nd C Christian “Matthew” community to politicize the story.

One could, however, look at it this way – a little simplistic though it may be: inside every human being are set two thrones. On one sits “the Emperor”, on the other “God”. Think of “God” as representing everything that is eminently worthy of being a person made in the image of Love, and think of “the Emperor” as representing choices which renounce Love and everything that Love includes in the Christian understanding of Love/God.

Jesus is simply saying that every human life is lived in the context of community, politics, social responsibility, relationship to authority, etc. But that we must be clear of the heart out of which we live and make our decisions and take action. Jesus said the same thing in another lovely image when He said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If we are not clear, everything else will go askew ….. and the scheming, mean-spirited Pharisees represent the warped human heart.

As I look back on my Life, I see the Wisdom of Jesus’ teaching. Behind every unloving act and its consequences lies a decision made in collusion with “the Emperor”. And the “Empress” always exacts her “tax” ….. immediately or somewhere long down the road.

It’s a wise thing to remember those two thrones, and to be attentive to whom we give our first allegiance.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, October 14, 2011

Humanity I love you because when you're hard
up you pawn your intelligence to buy a drink.

e.e. cummings, poet; he was born on this
date, 1894

Spoken like a true appreciator of irony! I’ve loved reading cummings since I was a high school student.

I proclaim today “Appreciation of the Charming Silliness of Humanity Day”. I mean, here we are with this big brain; with self-consciousness; with creativity; with wit and humour; with all kinds of amazing skills and talents. And yet we do the damnedest, the stupidest things!

I tend to be quite a cynic about humanity. Including about myself. But today cummings reminds us not to be so hard on ourselves. Or on each other. Reality is: big brains not withstanding, it’s part of being human to do stupid, ridiculous, harmful, not-smart, screwy things. Alas, at the present time, we all seem to be in the same boat at the same time. Very trying and very frustrating!

One great human characteristic is to be able to love each other despite it all. So, today is the First Annual LOSS Day - Love Our Silly Self Day. Today I’m going to scan the World and just shake my head and try my best to put aside everything else, and just appreciate the whole human bunch of us because we Are.

It’s a God’s Eye view. If we all do it, maybe our vibes will work a little magic.

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, October 13, 11

Every day people are straying away
from the church and going back to God.

Lenny Bruce, comedian; he was born
on this date, 1925 (and died at age 40)

OK. Let this be said. I can only say so much in my short Reflections ….. and I’m usually exaggerating to make a point ….. and yes there are lot of people in lots of churches, temples, mosques, etc trying their best to be holy and do good. Some are better than others ….. and the definition of “good” and of “holy” are for better or for worse in the eye of the beholder.

That said: I’m with Lenny. Many (my brain wants to say most) religious organizations, and especially their polities and their leadership structures, definitely could use a re-think. Yes, I would say that about my own Episcopal Church too. To refuse a man ordination as a bishop because he practiced Buddhist yoga and held positive views about other religious theologies, or to defrock a priest because he wanted to have dialogue with Muslims in church - what utter rubbish! Well I remember a former Roman Catholic who became a member of an Episcopal church I was serving. I asked him why he switched. He said, “Fifteen years of anti-abortion and anti-Gays ….. what kind of spiritual life is that!” He joined the two Jews who worshipped with us, who were more interested in God than “church”.

One thing I can say about my years of parish ministry, which had a lot of faults: everyone in those congregations knew without a doubt how magnificent is the Love of God and how spectacularly they were loved. And I would say that if there was ever any strong motivation to repentance or goodness or justice or healing, it flowed from that knowledge.

The God of Compassion, Love, Justice, Kindness, Mercy comes first. “Church” second. And I would say that the first “work” of any “church” is to make sure that the “church” is made in the image of God and not the other way around.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, October 12, 2011

But in the next world I shan't be
doing music, with all the striving
and disappointments.
I shall be being it.

Ralph Vaughan Williams, composer,
musician; he was born on this date, 1872

I was “raised” in the Anglo-Catholic (and, I would like to think, central Anglican) theological understanding that the essence of being a priest is not in what one DOES, but in what on IS. Well do I remember my ordination to the priesthood in 1973, and particularly the words as the bishop laid on hands and prayed, “Make him a priest”. I definitely had the sense that I was becoming something I hadn’t been before. A “new creation”. And it was definitely connected with Jesus, the “great High Priest”. (We won’t at this point get into all the complicated ramifications of this!)

What is true of the “making of a priest” is also true of every one of us.

My comprehension is that “this World” and the “next World” are the same thing, in the context of having been baptized into the Kingdom Life. All artificial barriers dissolve. (All. Think about it.) Which means that here in “this Life” we are called not to DO but to BE. To be what?

To be fully Human. To be “as Christ”. To be “divine”. To be “eternal”. To be “free of the power of sin and death”. Oh, there may be some sense that it is not possible to be “perfected “ in this mortal life. After all, this is just one of an infinite number of stages in the great Mystery of Being!

I would like simply to suggest (notice that I do NOT split infinitives!) that we all concentrate on BEING, not DOING. Just BE Love. Just BE Compassion. Just BE Justice. Just BE Kindness. Just BE Joy. Just BE Simplicity.

To me, this is how we will best understand what Jesus meant when He said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden light”.