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”.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On the question of relating to our fellowman - our neighbor's
spiritual need transcends every commandment. Everything else
we do is a means to an end. But love is an end already,
since God is love.

Edith Stein. A Jewish woman, she converted to Roman
Catholicism, and became a Carmelite nun. She was killed
at Auschwitz. On this date, 1998, she was canonized as a
saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

Authentic “saints” always transcend boundaries. In modern times, the Carmelites, at the powerful pressure of Pope John Paul II, were allowed to build a convent near Auschwitz. Jews worldwide objected ….. and in my view rightly so. It was clearly a political move on the part of the Roman Catholic Church, designed to use a Jewish convert for propaganda. Shame. If the Roman Catholic Church were being faithful to Edith Stein, they would have understood her words that our “neighbour’s spiritual needs transcends every commandment”, and recognized that it was contrary to Love to deflect the World’s attention from the horror of the Holocaust for the Jews. And I say this as a Gay man and a Christian, many of whose Gay sisters and brothers suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

Jesus said, “Love one another”. Because to experience God is to know that God is Love. And Love is never restricted by partisan religious politics. Love can have no conditions. Love erases Self, and all of Self’s petty self-interests.

This is what the Christian Church needs today: the renunciation of partisan dogma and self-preservation in order to be faithful to the self-renunciation of Jesus. Jesus did not die for the “salvation of Christians”; He died for the gathering of all people, through the power of Love, into the Community of Compassion and into the one family of Love.

“Our neighbour’s spiritual need transcends every commandment”. Do you think that if we followed this path, the Christian or any other religious community would decrease?

No. We would envelope the World in Love.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, October 10, 2011

… when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who
was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, `Friend, how did
you get in here without a wedding robe?' And he was speechless. Then
the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, and throw him
into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
For many are called, but few are chosen."

The Gospel called “Matthew”, chap 22 (read for Sunday, October 9, 11, RCL)

[ The whole text, for your pondering, is found here: ]

First: do Jews or Muslims (of whatever stripe) have a lectionary that is followed for worship? Are there websites where they can be found? I’d appreciate knowing..

So: a Kingdom Parable. The central dynamic of the Gospel is to call human beings into the “Kingdom of God”. What is It? Simple: It is the community that Lives Divine Love. Most sensible Christians believe that all human beings are called into the “Kingdom”, and that the Christian Church is called to be a living symbol of this truth.

People often get sidetracked by the passage I’ve quoted. Misunderstood, it sounds very unfair. One must understand this “man without the wedding garment” in the context of the story, which powerfully speaks of the nature of the Kingdom of Love, of its inclusivity, of its importance for the well-being of the human community.

Many things can keep us out of the Kingdom Community. Excuses abound, as the parable relates. The man without the wedding garment is each of us. I once read that at fancy weddings in ancient Middle Eastern times, everyone invited was given a wedding garment. This man reminds us that each human being has been given a garment and invited into the Feast. In other words, to be a loving, compassionate, kind, just human being is of the essence of being human/divine. The “violence” of the man’s being cast out is to remind us that the greatest “sin” is to deny our essence and our destiny ….. to refuse the wedding garment.

Home for us all is in the community of Divine Compassion.

The parable says to us all: Come Home.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, October 7, 2011

Insurrection is an art, and like
all arts has its own laws.

Lev Davidovich Bronshtein; he was born
on this date, 1879, in Yanovka, Ukraine.

My whole being tells me that it is time for a religio-theological insurrection. On a world-wide basis.

The word “insurrection” was not used in English until the 15th C. It derives from the Latin verb “insurgere”, meaning something like “to gush up from within”. And from Within is where this must surge.

To put it another way: it is time for the shift to begin of which Nicholas Wade writes - a shift from the age of Homo Sapiens to the age of Homo Universalis. It is time for the human race to start thinking and acting from a different centre if we are to survive as an evolutionary experiment and not just peter out as yet another failed evolutionary branch. The path we are on right now seems on every level to be leading to that failed end. However, being an optimist, I express my hope that the human race could, if it chooses, manage to prolong our “experiment”. My problem is, I have this absurd hope that the Inner Light within us can lead this change ….. but my mind knows that the Inner Light has so often been enslaved by what we call “organized religion”, by the religious equivalent of the Corporation, an entity warped by self-interest, greed, and the enslavement to Power.

An example of how the movement of Divine Compassion and Justice can be thwarted? Today is the 80th birthday of (in my opinion) one of the greatest men to understand and live the Gospel: Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Dalai Llama was invited by him to come to South Africa to share in the event. The South African government did not grant His Holiness a visa. They said that it had nothing to do with pressure from the Chinese government ….. which any intelligent person will know is a patent lie. Mammon rules in our World.

It is time for the emerging Homo Universalis - and especially those who partake in organized religion - either to reform or to do away with all the religious corporations which have perverted the spiritual core of what it is to be Human or to be made in the image of the God of Love.

It is time for us to develop the Art of Religious Insurrection: to move from fragmentation to Unity, to honour the paths by which human beings have sought to understand Compassion, and to learn what it means to give of ourselves that we might all live in Holiness and Peace.

[ Who was Lev Davidovich Bronshtein? Leon Trotsky. ]


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, October 6, 2011

When you’re blind to your own nature, the Buddha is an ordinary being.
When you’re aware of your own nature, an ordinary being is the Buddha.


At this moment in time - and God knows things change! - I firmly believe that there is no “ultimate truth” which says what is true about human nature. Every group of people who thinks about it eventually comes up with their own “truth”, and this becomes enshrined in their culture, religion, literature, philosophy, etc. I do not believe that there is “one way”, and that every one else is wrong. For example, “traditional Jews” believe that they are God’s “Chosen People”. (Reconstructionist Jews do not believe this, nor do they believe that God “gave them” the land now called Israel.) And it seems by their pronouncements that the Roman Catholic Church believes it is the only “true religion” by which one can be in a “saving” relationship with God. And it seems that Muslims believe that their Muhammad is the last “prophet” through whom God will speak. In my view, such views are the work of Evil in the human heart, causing endless bloodshed, hate, prejudice, division, and all manner of wickedness in the life of the human community.

These days, I am deeply intrigued by the question of our identity and our nature as human beings. There are endless propositions about this. My choice - a choice which I believe every human being is responsible for making - is expressed by Huineng, and I believe by Jesus: What we call “God” is the source of all Life ….. and all Life is a manifestation of God. I do not believe that “God” is entirely “the Other”, entirely different from all else that Exists. I choose to believe that Jesus prayed for oneness with God because there is no other truth, no other path by which we know who we essentially are. God is God, we are human ….. and we are One.

If I do not know that I am One with God, and that every human being and all other creatures are therefore part of me, I will be tempted to treat other humans with dishonour. The result can only be the misery we are experiencing in the World these days. But if I know that I am One with God and with all other things, I will honour all Existence as Divine ….. and Peace and Compassion will define us.

Personally, I know that I am One with God, that You are I. What I seek day by day is the integrity to act on this truth.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

As long as you're green, you're growing.
As soon as you're ripe, you start to rot.

Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds;
he was born on this date, 1902

Hmmm. Ray Kroc became one of the richest men in the world because he gave people, as he said himself, what they loved. From my personal point of view, he have the world a lethal killer. I rarely ever ate anything from McDonalds, and I have never eaten anything from McDonalds since the day I discovered over 20 years ago that a kid was thrown off his high school wrestling team for drug taking ….. only to discover that it came from the steroids that he ate everyday in McDonalds’ beef. I probably wouldn’t be quoting Ray Kroc, if it weren’t for the fact that his wife, in her will, left millions to NPR in order to make it more independent of political money.

The quote is a little questionable and confusing in terms of its usefulness. The whole point of a plant is to ripen and then to provide full rich nourishment! Yes, if you don’t use it then, at the ripened point, it loses its value. So what has this image to say about being fully human?

To me, it speaks to the wisdom of knowing when to be planted, to die, and then to produce a rich harvest. Yes: that deep wisdom Jesus spoke of. The skill and art of living on that elegant balanced point between vigourous “greenness”, of growth, and of ripeness before rot begins to set in. This, I think, is the art of Love. We must always be growing in Love - and when at any point our Love ripens, we must be willing to “die”, to give it away so that it can nourish and sustain. And out of every giving away, new Love will sprout and grow.

Life is about always being “green”, about ripening, about never allowing the ripe fruit of Love to rot unused. I don’t want to push the metaphor too far - but the cross, in the Christian story, is of a rich fully developed Love poured out at the fullest moment in order to give Life to the World.

In a life of Love, artfully lived, there is freshness and ripeness. Nothing is left to rot.