Saturday, March 31, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, April 1, 2012
[Palm Sunday in the Christian Calendar]

I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.
The Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced..

from Psalm 50, appointed for Palm Sunday

[ The full Readings for Palm Sunday can be found at:

Palm Sunday has one essential message for us on the subject of “being saved”, i.e., finding the path by which we “rise to Life”. That message is this:

The exercise of worldly Power, however gotten, will never inaugurate the “Kingdom of God”.
That “Kingdom”? The Human Community of Peace, Justice, Compassion, Kindness, Wholeness.

No proud war-horse. A donkey.
No crown of gold. A mocking crown of thorns.
No stately robes. The simple clothes of a Speaker of Truth and Love.
No grand, eloquent speeches. Silence.
No elegant fans of feathers waved by slaves. Palm branches, strewn by humble seekers.
No savage war fueled by hate and destruction. Laying down one’s Life for one’s human family.
No army. Except of Lovers.
No “lording it over”. Washing of feet.

The Gospels of the Passion turn everything on its head.

Jesus said, “I came not to be served, but to serve.”

It is the message we all need to hear in America … and in the World … today.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday evening, March 30, 2012

Love is so exquisitely elusive.
It cannot be bought, cannot be badgered, cannot be hijacked.
It is available only in one rare form:
as the natural response of a healthy mind and healthy heart.

Eknath Easwaran

Words to Live By

Easwaran is absolutely right from my experience and belief. If what you get or give can be bought, badgered, or hijacked, it isn’t Love.

I deeply appreciate his pointing out that Love is not some mushy, emotional, self-demeaning, or self-abasing thing. It comes out of a healthy mind and a healthy heart.

The Gospel has taught me how to have a healthy heart and mind. I hope your Path has too.

Brian’s Reflection: Friday evening, March 30, 2012

Love is so exquisitely elusive.
It cannot be bought, cannot be badgered, cannot be hijacked.
It is available only in one rare form:
as the natural response of a healthy mind and healthy heart.

Eknath Easwaran
Words to Live By

Easwaran is absolutely right from my experience and belief. If what you get or give can be bought, badgered, or hijacked, it isn’t Love.

I deeply appreciate his pointing out that Love is not some mushy, emotional, self-demeaning, or self-abasing thing. It comes out of a healthy mind and a healthy heart.

The Gospel has taught me how to have a healthy heart and mind. I hope your Path has too.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, March 29, 12

I, small and mortal in this world,
I see the Creator of the World within me
and I know that I can never die
because I am within all life
and all of life wells up in me.


Here’s the challenge I see for us here in these words ~ first, How do we understand who we are? Are we just individual, unattached entities in the vastness of the human race and of the Universe, or are we utterly connected and integral with the All?, and, secondly, How do we as mortal beings, get free to Live Fully?

My own Life experience has led me to embrace that there is infinite value in our “individuality”, and that we are one with the One. We are “complete” in our individuality … but we are not imprisoned by it. Once we embrace (and live in) the reality that the Creator of the World is “within me”, and that we are “within all life”, we are can grasp the possibility that “I can never die”.

I think that this is the core Truth in the paradigm of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. “To give one’s life in love for God and the whole World” as Jesus did means to know that “all life wells up in me” and that “I can never die”. That’s what frees us to live. Read the wisdom of the ages; most will say in some form that if we “die to Self” we will transcend the power of Death.

What is the path?

Of course, it’s Love.

Our prime work in Life is, I think, to walk that Path.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We're all just walking each other home.

Ram Dass

All of us make excuses for the way we live our lives. “The Devil made me do it”. “I can’t help it”. “It’s the way I was raised”. Etc, etc.

The Reality is, I think: We all have a choice. Perhaps not about every detail. And yes, perhaps there are heavy extenuating circumstances. But I still think that everyone has the opportunity to make choices, whether we choose to exercise it or not. The ability is an existential part of being a person.

Choice is true of Attitude, and of Principle, and of Belief. All this is what I’m pondering today.

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

In other words, we can choose, or at least try hard, to live by this simple guide ... or not. Dass’s words are a reflection of Jesus saying, “Love one another”. Of Confucius saying “Do not do to others what you would not want done to you”. Of the insight behind Karma.

I "forget" a lot of the core values that I want to live by, and have to re-bind myself to them often. (That’s what “religion” is.)

Today I’m re-binding myself to: “We’re all just walking each other home”.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Life and death. They are somehow sweetly
and beautifully mixed, but I don't know how.


My mother and I could always look out the same
window without ever seeing the same thing.

Gloria Swanson, actress; she was born on this
date, 1899, at Chicago

Well. I’ve thought about Life and Death over the decades. Gloria is right. For over 40 years I’ve preached about it … and my brain and intelligence have tried to make sense of it, for myself and for others. It isn’t easy! Countless theologians have tried too … but I don’t think it “works” without poets and artists. Which is to say, the human Imagination is critical. That’s what “sweetly and beautifully” remind us of.

However, I think I know some of the “how”. Physical birth and physical death are mythical symbols of a timeless reality. There isn’t a moment of this earthly life that we aren’t alternating between Living and Dying. “Being” is the flow between them, at least as I experience it. We are constantly “letting go” and “taking up”. Every moment, the body sheds its physicality … until every few years we are totally what we were not. Everything is replaced. I find the same thing to be true of an evolving person psychologically, psychically, emotionally, neurologically, metaphysically, ”spiritually”, morally, ethically.

You can see when human beings are not evolving, when the process has malfunctioned: Santorum, Bachmann, Limbaugh, Dodson, Cheney, Robertson, Khomeini, Putin, Bush, Harper, Paisley, Mugabe, to name a few … the list is depressingly long. Death has taken hold; Love and Kindness and Caring and Compassion have been squeezed out. What is left is a cadaver. I see the spectre of Death as I gaze about the World … with, thank God, oases of Life.

We all perceive differently, as Ms. Swanson illustrates in the comment about her and her mother. I think its because - certainly these days - we idolize Difference rather than Commonality. Most religion makes it clear that we are One with the Universe and with each other … but (as my cousin James says) Ego overpowers us. Ego has an important role to play in the establishment of Identity … but is easily seduced for darker purposes.

If we want Health, Wholeness, both individually and as a race, we must constantly alternate between Death and Life. That is the message of the profound myth of the Christ’s death and resurrection. Die to separation and live to unity. Die to selfishness and live to generosity. This list, too, is endless.

“God” is not going to come on a cloud, intervene and “fix” this.

“God” is only going to heal us when we allow Her to remove our hearts of stone and give us a heart of flesh.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, March 26, 2012

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.


Where you come from is gone,
where you thought you were going to never was there,
and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.

Flannery O’Connor, author, poet, social philosopher;
she was born on this date, 1925, at Savannah GA

In the Gospel Myth (remember: “myth” = “truth story”) , Pontius Pilate asks of Jesus, “What is Truth?” Jesus has no answer.

Not because Jesus couldn’t have said anything … but because it was a rhetorical question. Pontius Pilate represents all of us. Most of the time, we fear knowing the Truth. In the human community - alas – most of us are afraid to know the truth about Ourselves, about Reality, about Joy or Freedom, about the consequences of our failure to love. Besides: if Jesus had answered Pilate, most of us would not have been able to embrace His answer. The truth is, we all have to work it out for ourselves …. as St. Paul so wisely noted …. in “fear and trembling”.

I have said that I read Fiction in order to hear the Truth. I certainly have heard it in Flannery O’Connor’s writing. People who have grasped Truth and who speak it are “odd”. They are not the “norm” among the human community. I find it fascinating that some of the great Truth-tellers throughout literature (which includes the Bible) are definitely “odd”. Rejected (prophets); despised (including Jesus); ridiculed … and very often badly treated.

As to the second quote ~ in a very powerful sense, O’Connor speaks to the ultimate meaning of the extremely “difficult” messages of the doctrine of the Trinity, and of “Eternal Life”. The “acclamation” in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer (“Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again”) points to the same reality : Past, Present, and Future collapse into Truth, which is that every Reality exists in the present moment.

I hope that you will find it deepening to ponder Ms. O’Connor’s words today.

I hope that you will know the Truth … and that it will place you among a growing number of the human community called …



Saturday, March 24, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, March 25, 2012

… You alone can bring into order
the unruly wills and affections of sinners …

from the Collect for the Fifth Sunday in
Lent, Year B, Revised Common Lectionary

[ The full text of the Readings for the Fifth Sunday in Lent can be found at: ]

We human beings are forever hopeful that things will change for the better. Indeed, we humans have “unruly wills and affections” … and always will have in this Life. So, the Collect voices our eternal hope that “God” will “fix it”. However, as my esteemed colleague Fr. Harry Cook points out in his new book “Long Live Salvation by Works: A Humanist Manifesto”, Faith without Works (as the Scripture also says) doesn’t accomplish much!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God” says the Psalm; “renew a right spirit within me”. Again, more hope for an “external” fix. But the Psalm says nothing like, “Work with me God, and I’ll work hard at doing what I need to do for Your love and grace to change me”!

The reading from Hebrews points out that Jesus constantly went to His heavenly Father “with loud cried and tears” … and the Gospel shows that Jesus worked hard at manifesting God’s compassion, justice, love, healing, etc. Jesus is, of course, “the God-in-us” … so the point is made that we must work constantly at finding the blazing presence of God-in-us … and manifesting it in “Good Works” which speak both of “God” and of our realized human and personal nature. As the Greeks express to Philip in the reading from John, “We would see Jesus”.

The message in the John reading is clear: Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” We must get beyond our half-baked concept of who we are as human beings, and embrace our identity with “God” … meaning with the qualities we have attributed to God … Love, Gentleness, Kindness, Self-giving and more.

“When I am lifted up” … says Jesus in the Gospel passage. Meaning: When we get our act together, the World will be transformed.

Wouldn’t that be delightful.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, March 23, 2012

Both dreams and myths are important communications
from ourselves to ourselves. If we do not understand the language
in which they are written, we miss a great deal of what we know and
tell ourselves in those hours when we are not busy manipulating
the outside world.

Erich Fromm, German-born American psychoanalyst and social philosopher;
he was born on this date, 1900

Ah, Erich Fromm … a man after my own heart! It has long been my theological insight and my psychological experience … prompted by the Bible, I might add! … that what Fromm says is “on the money”. The story of Abraham talking with the three Angels … Abraham talking with himself about the presence of God within. Jacob talking with God as he slept on the plain … Jacob talking with himself about the presence of God within his own deepest Being. Joseph hearing the message to go to Egypt … Joseph talking with himself about the deep inner instinct to preserve one’s inner being (represented by the “child of God” in his care) from the “wrath” of those who seek to destroy that divine presence in us. Peter dreaming of the “sheet let down filled with unclean creatures” and being told by God not to permit such “man-made” distractions to distract us from God’s generous and all-encompassing Love.

Literalist and “fundamentalist” Christians today do not understand this critical level of understanding. They are victims of a deaf heart. They do not hear the messages that the God Within is sending. They become unable to hear the message of Devine Compassion or of Unconditional Love…and, to put it in anthropological terms, they “join the Devil”. The “devil” is, of course, pleased.

I had an interesting dream last night. I was in a huge church building. I was aware that the building was normally sparsely filled. And that it was an old, traditional “Anglo” parish. But this morning, it was packed to the walls … and there was a large group of Hispanic kids singing and dancing … and the Anglo congregation was clapping and responding positively. I was walking around … wearing a black shirt and a collar, which I haven’t done for years now. People were pressing huge amounts of money into my hands. There was so much that it was slipping out of my hands. Every few minutes, I had to run to the altar, where I dumped the money into a beautiful, very large, gold and jeweled bowl, and then run back for more.

I understood the dream instantly, both while dreaming it and when I awoke. First I knew it was Me talking to Me … talking to myself about the soul’s of us all needing healing and nurturing; and, secondly, about the riches that come to the soul when human beings love each other, are not judgmental, open themselves to our Oneness with each other.

If we can step back from those moments when we are “busy manipulating the outside World”, can listen to our dreams and myths, we can finally hear the Gospel.

We are all “made in the image of God”.

God is Love.

As we sow, so shall we reap.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, March 22, 2012

If it's true that we are here to help others, then
what exactly are the others here for?

The Inimitable …Maxine!!

The “Others”? Simple, right? I have no idea who “writes” Maxine … but she or he has got her/his shit together, mythologically speaking … and psychologically speaking.

“The Other” is that hidden aspect of the Being of each of us. I have a sticker on my car back window. It’s of Eric Cartman, of “South Park”. Eric is, I recognize, my Alter Ego, my Dark Side. Not that I “act out” of my Alter Ego most of the time (I suppose I’m lucky … or it may be that I have “spiritually worked” at this!) – but I easily recognize it. I keep a sticker of him on the back window of my car … just so I don’t forget that I and everyone else has an “Eric Cartman” lurking in our Psyche. … and denying this points to psychological delusion. Bottom line: Everyone Sins!

You get this, in terms of Maturing – of Evolving ----- right? “The Others” are here to remind us that we need to tend to our Selves, to our inner Reality. It’s so easy to blame, to load the responsibility for our anti-social, destructive behaviour on “the others”.

We need to listen to Maxine.

We are here to help others … and the “others” is, as Pogo said, Us.

First task: Heal our Selves. Then there are “no others”. There are only as Jesus made clear, Us.

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Prayer of St Nicholas of Flue (1417-1487)

My Lord and my God,

remove far from me

whatever keeps me from you.

My Lord and my god

confer upon me

whatever enables me to reach you.

My Lord and my God

free me from self

and make me wholly yours.

He was born in Switzerland on the plain of
the Flueli; married, had 10 children; then,
with his wife’s consent, became a hermit, living
as such for 25 years, eating nor drinking nothing.

The more “exaggerated” and implausible these stories become, the more I value them. The implausibility firmly separates them from a slavery to the literal, and makes it clear that this is a “teaching” … an opportunity to understand human longing and the Mystery we call “Divine”.

Exaggeration to make a point is a long-standing tool of Scripture; Jesus often used exaggeration to make a point ….. remember “If your eye offends you, pluck it out” ?? Even the most “fundamentalist” people I know don’t take it literally … as witnessed to by their lack of inaction.

Astrophysics says that we are all made up of atoms that were spewed into the Universe at the “Big Bang” and at later imploding of stars … that we are all “stardust”. In my mind, this may be “literally” true ... but even if you don’t think so, there is that sense of Exaggeration, this time in my view poetic, that fills us with wonder … or at least it does me!

The Biblical (or other ancient) creation stories were a prophetic shout of what was later to be discovered. And the Science an affirmation of the human Imagination.

How about that!

Brings me, anyway, a deep sense of Belonging and Peace.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I am so thrilled by the privilege of life, and yet
at the same time I know that I have to let it go.

William Hurt, actor; he was born on this
date, 1950, at Washington DC

I am too! … thrilled, that is, “by the privilege of life”. I can testify to the deep truth of Hurt’s wisdom /experience. Do you remember that wonderful moment in 'Shogun'? A woman feels she must commit “seppuku” – ritual suicide. She prepares … and gets to the last second before killing herself. At the last instant, she draws back. BUT. She had gotten to the point where she had freed herself from the fear of Death … and she was then free forever. The freedom came from anchoring Death and Life, skirting close to the Unity of the Two. Life, the Bible says, is “stronger than Death”.

“Letting it go” is the “secret moment”. Once we can embrace Death, It no longer has any power over us. We are then free to Live. Past and Future fall away. Only the Present exists. Living in the Present is to have found Eternity … to have collapsed Time.

Let It go. Then we experience what Jesus expressed. We experience Life as baskets filled with grain and “running over”. Once we tame Death, all boundaries fall away. Life takes us by the throat and demands that we Live. Not to do so becomes unthinkable.

The life of Jesus teaches us this path to Freedom. Somewhere on His Journey, He let go. I do not think He knew where the path of Love He chose would lead in exact detail … but He was not afraid - and He taught us all not to be afraid. His rising from the dead affirms that He chose rightly. He calls us to join Him on that Path of Abandonment to Love.

Life is indeed a privilege. A wildness of ecstasy.

Do not let it go.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, March 19, 2012

It may be that our role on this planet is
not to worship God - but to create him.

Arthur C. Clarke, philosopher, physicist,
mathematician, “science fiction” author, dreamer.
he died on this date, 2008, in Sri Lanka, age 91

Michelangelo once said something to the effect that there was a statue already present in every piece of marble … his job was to release it.

I think that this is what we humans genetically do: we sense the presence of the great Mystery that is Life in everything … including ourselves. It’s part of our DNA. One of the destinies of every human being is then to unearth this fascinating Mystery within ourselves. Some call this Mystery “God”.

Every great spiritual teacher has tried to manifest this Mystery, to lead their followers to It, to project this Mystery, this Deity, from out of their own Being. Jesus certainly did. He spent his Life merging with this God-Mystery, and then living His Life out of this Truth. Most Christians will know of what is called Jesus’ “Great High Priestly Prayer” from the Gospel called “John”: “Father, may they be one, as You and I are one”.

Whether Dr. Clarke knew it or not, he was speaking to the innate reality of the unity of what we call “God” and our Selves. Traditional Christian (and other religious) thought says that “God” created All Else … that “God” is completely Other. Yet I think that what Clarke points us to is that this Unity of which Jesus speaks is not something to be effected, but rather an existing Reality that is to be “created”, uncovered, experienced. This Unity … longed for in what in Christianity is called the “Unitive Way” … is a Given. “God” and “We” are and always have been One. Human Life is therefore a Journey into this Reality … and this is what all religious life should be. God and We co-create each other. Whether they know it or not, I think this is what the Roman Catholic Church was trying to express when they defined the doctrine of Mary as “Co-Redemptrix” ..... Redemption unfolds when we merge with God.

I don’t think that Clarke is saying that we “create” God ex nihilo, as if God did not previously exist. He is simply reflecting the Mystery of the pre-existent Unity of “God” and “Us”. Jesus represents this Reality: He is called “the Only Son of God” … and Jesus (and Paul) makes it clear in the Gospel that this Son/Daughtership is as true of you and of me as it is of Him. We are “God’s Daughters and Sons”. As a matter of fact, Jesus underlines the truth by saying that we will do “even greater things” that He … meaning that we are His equals. If we think of our heart as a Galaxy, God and We are binary stars revolving around each other at the center.

Clarke’s deep insight is this: “God” cannot be Known until She emerges in our comprehension as that hidden Star always to be found dancing with us.

When that happens, God and We come into Being.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, March 18, 2012
[ on the Readings for Lent IV, Year B, Revised Common Lectionary ]

[ The full Readings can be found at:
Any quotes, except for the Collect, are from The Message ]

The liturgical year has an “ordered-ness” about it. Starts with the Reign of God (Advent) and marches right on to Full Life in the Spirit of God (the long Pentecost season – I don’t like it being called “Ordinary Time” ; I must be getting crotchety in my advancing age!… though I suppose Life in the Spirit is supposed, like living in the Reign of God, to be the “ordinary norm”). “Death and Resurrection” is the “ordinary” path to Life, as the Gospel presents it. Lent keeps lifting up the heightened vision, the pattern, before us in the person of Jesus.

The Gospel of John today says something very compelling: " This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."

As you hear this Gospel tomorrow, perhaps think of the passage about the 7 demons that were cast out of a person and the inner space “swept clean” …. but soon that inner space was invaded by many more. The teaching here is meant to remind us to check what our “inner space” looks like. Is it “addicted to denial and illusion” and not liking exposure? It can happen easily to any of us! Spiritually healthy are aware of this. We always have to be vigilant about sweeping the inner space clean ….. and not leaving it empty but filled with God-light, and with the active intention to live in “truth and reality”. This requires vigilance.

The writer of the letter to the church in Ephesus boldly reminds us of our propensity for being lazy about the state of our hearts/souls/inner life! But he goes on to remind of the generous love of God (as does the Psalmist this morning) … reminding us that inner light is always available. Jesus is the shining Reality of that light.

Moses chastises the People for failing, in their freedom, to recall that a generous and loving and freeing God is at the heart of their lives (and reminds them of God’s covenant love). I really don’t know why the writer of Deuteronomy chose the symbol of the Snake raised up to recall them to health. But, I find it interesting, psychologically and spiritually, that the antidote to the “snakebite” is to gaze upon a similar “creature”. Whatever else it may portend, I think we are being reminded here that there is a resemblance between Dark and Light Within … recall the Psalmist saying “Darkness and Light to You are both alike”. In other words, there is a hint that spiritual darkness is often found in the shadows of the human Ego … but that Light is to be found in overlaying that shadow with the Divine Shadow … and the Christ is our Alter-Ego.

I find the Collect imagery beautiful! Jesus is “the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him…” . “Bread” … think of all the references in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures: Methuselah “offering bread and wine”; God sending manna in the wilderness; King David eating the “Shew-bread”; the Passover bread; Jesus speaking of the Passover Bread and Wine as His “Body and Blood”; Paul gathering the Christian community around the sharing of the Bread and Wine; WE gathering to merge God with ourselves in the elements of the Bread and Wine/Body and Blood of Christ … ALL of them Life-giving.

May worship tomorrow be full of the Wonder of a generous God. And may it remind us that we are called to be generous Givers of Life … of Light, not Darkness … to each other and to the World.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, March 16, 2012

Everybody, my friend, everybody lives for something better to come.
That's why we want to be considerate of every man – Who knows what's in him, why he was born and what he can do?

Maxim Gorky, Russian novelist & short-story writer;
he was born on this date, 1868, at Nizhny Novgorod.

We Human Beings are, in my observation, a remarkably optimistic lot. All Hell can be breaking loose - like the World today - but we think it will get better. Well I remember all those men and women with AIDS for whom I had the privilege to minister! It was horrible in those early days, and most of them dealt with dreadful things. Yet, most lived and hoped for a better tomorrow.

Often religion shifts this Hope to what comes after this Life. Well, OK; I can see the possible usefulness of this. But, I like and prefer Gorky’s focus on this earthly Life. I think that this is what God desires, reflected in ideas of “the Kingdom” and “on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

One of the central principles of the Gospel is To Serve our fellow human beings. Jesus made it very clear that He came “not to be served, but to serve”.

I’m with Gorky. I want to strive to be considerate of every person I know … to think, when I see them, “What’s in this person? Why was she or he born? What can she or he do?”

And help.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, March 15, 2012
[ The Ides ]

It is not women's liberation,
it is women's and men's liberation.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice
of the US Supreme Court; she was born
on this date, 1933, at Brooklyn NY

Is this “theological”. Oh yes … in spades!

In America, and in many other “places” including Islamic and Judaic as well as Mormon, Evangelical and Pentecostal and Roman Catholic Christianity, Scripture is interpreted through the lens of Patriarchy. So let me be clear: Patriarchy is a construct of male politics … not of God, not of Jesus, as I understand it in my heart and mind, and through forty years of theological reflection and of reflection.

Wagner understood the Reality. Zeus and Hera were the Male and Female aspects of the human construct of Deity. Both had power … and both strove to exert their power. At optimal they were equal … though at times one “ascended” and at times the other. That is the way the process goes … but the underlying Reality remains Equality.

The full nature of Humanity is manifest in Male and Female together. Neither is inferior. And Humanity is “created in the image of God”. “Liberation” can’t be for one without the other. If Male is not liberated, then Female is not … and vice versa. Madam Ginsburg has hit the proverbial nail on the head. May I add a bit of personal agenda/insight here? : Gayfolk are symbols of the need to see this Unity in the perceived Duality.

If Woman and Man are not equal, they are neither of them free to be who they are. Just look around the World today and see the horror that is created when we get this wrong. Men denied their true nature; women demeaned and excluded from making the full contribution to our shared humanity and World civilization. Not only is there pain and sorrow, there is the retardation of spiritual growth … a wallowing in diminished Humanity.

Get the point??

Let’s move forward. Peace lies there.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nothing is ever the same as they said it was.

Diane Arbus, photographer, social commentator;
she was born on this date, March 14, 1923
[ 23 years before I was … my God! ]
[ And today I saw a doc who was born in 1970 …
24 years before I was … my God! ]

“They”. That should be a warning. The reality is that there is always an anonymous “they” who seem to control (or be fighting to control) what Life is or should be. I completely and adamantly disagree. We should not give the “theys” that power. “They” are often anti-Life, anti-Freedom, anti-Diversity. And usually closed to the fact that Life expands day by day… that that’s the very nature of Life.

I think that this is the very character of Life … it is “never the same as they said it was”. If it were the same, that would be Death, stasis. Life is meant to change, open, develop. The great symbol of this is Jesus: He constantly demanded Change. Constantly He pointed out what gave Life and what denied Life.

I rejoice that “nothing is ever the same as they said it was”. People – usually people with a personal power gain to make - say it’s brutal, tribal, divided, etc. I completely disagree. That’s what many would have us think. But people like Jesus come along and challenge that assumption, that teaching. Jesus says simply: LOVE. And if we will do that, we instantly discover that Life is tender, Shared, One. To do this would be only to manifest what, at the core, we all know: we are One human family in the context of the mystery of Love.

Diane challenges us. Look at each human being … and find yourself in that person.

Believe me, from my experience: each of us is there in the other.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something.
It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.

Mary Lou Retton, the first American woman to win an
Olympic Gold Medal in gymnastics, Los Angeles, 1984

I think Mary Lou’s right about the “fire in our hearts for something”. I think what that fire is is to Become Ourself. It may indeed be that we all have a “passion” to accomplish some unique goal or to accomplish some unique deed. But those are but symbols … signs of the ultimate longing to know and live out who we Are. I deeply believe that this is ‘God’s Plan’ for us.

There is a force working against the achievement of that goal. It is a kind of spiritual entropy. To put it another way, it is what I would call a “low doctrine” of what it is to be Human. And may I be bold to say that this “low doctrine” lies at the heart of a certain persistent Christian (as well as other) theology … and to me most obnoxious in the pervasive theology of the 1928 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer … one which thank God I missed, having joined the Order of the Holy Cross in 1967 when they had begun to use the new liturgical forms then just published by the Episcopal Church in preparation for what was to become the BCP 1979.

The 1928 BCP had us groveling before God, beating our breasts as sinners, proclaiming our “unworthiness to gather up the crumbs under Thy table” like cringing dogs … even as we were supposedly in the midst of the Community of the Redeemed. The 1979 BCP was to yank us out of that wallowing in sin, reminding us in that felicitous and theologically sound understanding that God has made us “worthy to stand before you”. We were reminded that our “passion” is to be one with God … for which Jesus so powerfully prayed, and in that Unity to act as one with God in Love.

The goal to which Mary Lou points is the passion to be One with God, in Her love, Compassion, Mercy, and Justice … to be a living flame of that Oneness. After all, “passion” derives from the Latin root ‘to suffer with’ … reminding us, as does Jesus’ Passion, that the fire in our hearts is to be in loving solidarity with all our sisters and brothers in the Godly path of Love.

The “fire” is the same for us all … though each of us will manifest it in our own way.

May each of us find it, and keep it lit.

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, March 12, 2012

I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.

Jack Kerouac, author, political philosopher; he was
born on this date, 1922 in Lowell MA [he died at age 47]

Confusion. What a relief! Both to recognize one has it, and to see it is an important tool towards becoming whole. It’s also very helpful for getting free from a lot of things that inhibit our growth.

Most of us, of course, do not like to admit confusion. That’s where people like Jack (if I may be so personal; I’ve always felt close to him since I read On the Road when I was young) are such a blessing.

I’m confused by a lot of things. “Christians” who don’t seem to speak or act like The Christ - including myself at times. How you get a voice out of the telephone; music by shining a laser on a metal disc; an Internet site by tapping a little picture on your iPad; why so many people are horribly maimed by war and yet support leaders who embrace force, etc etc etc. Human beings: I doubt even God understands us!

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day in Silver City … sunny and in the 70s for the week ahead, and the juniper pollen has decreased so maybe the wretched sinus drainage and coughing I’ve had for over 2 weeks will slow down. Having a massage today. And Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto is blasting from my Bose - heaven!

They trump Confusion, in my Life anyway. If you’re confused, give thanks, relax, and let it pry you open today!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, March 11, 2012

[ On the Weekend, I usually comment on the Readings for the Liturgy in the Episcopal Church. But of course I believe/hope that they contain Wisdom useful to all people, and I try to illustrate that Wisdom.]

.. that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul .. [from the Collect for Lent III]

The Ten Commandments [from Exodus 20]

The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes. [from Ps. 19]

The message about the cross .. to us who are being saved .. is the power of God [I Cor 1]

Stop making my Father's house a marketplace! [from John 2]

[ The full texts for the Readings for Lent III RCL as used in the Episcopal Church can be found at: ]

It’s Lent. Of course, the readings are focusing us towards Holy Week, and in particularly what we call the Triduum … Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter/The Day of Resurrection. Why? Simply put: to proclaim the life-giving power of Love.

Today’s Readings focus on the primacy of Love over Rules, reminding us that Rules/Commandments which do not lead to a Life of Love as manifested in the Hesed of Yahweh, in the Gospel, in Jesus, and in the Cross must be discarded, renewed, or reshaped for contemporary Life. In the Liturgy today, Christians can’t “hear” these Readings without hearing the quiet voice of Jesus saying to His followers on the day He shared the Passover meal and washed their feet, “I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you”.

Here’s what I suggest we “look for” on Sunday:

The Collect (Gathering Prayer) speaks of an “almighty” god. I think it’s important to ponder just what “almighty” means when applied to God. The Collect reminds us that God does not prevent us suffering bodily adversities or things which “assault and hurt the soul”. God defends us. God’s unconditional Love pours over us and infuses us … if we permit it. We will always be mortal and vulnerable; but Love “defends” us … the promise is that Love is stronger even than Death … as the Resurrection shouts!

The Ten Commandments: in the time of Moses, these basic Commandments reflected in a clear way the difference between Yahweh and other deities. Yahweh is presented as the God who “shows steadfast love” forever (“to the thousandth generation”). (Don’t get sidetracked by the nastiness part, the “punishing the children”” stuff; in my view, that’s the work of the myth-writers of the time writing in their cultural context.) Worship only Love , no idols … including Commandments. Don’t co-opt God for anything other than Love. Honour ancestors. Do not abuse friends and neighbours. Learn Love, and Do Love.

Ps 19: If God’s commandments inspire Love/Compassion, then of course they will “delight the heart”! To me, America’s right-wing “Christian” types inspire no “delight of the heart” … I see no rooting in Love.

I Corinthians: The Cross is Christianity’s prime symbol/icon … not because it stands for the suffering and death of Jesus, but because it holds up Jesus’ love for God and for God’s people. “There is no greater love than to die for one’s friends” … essentially meaning that we find our deepest self in serving others in Love, as Jesus taught in washing his disciples’ feet. This is not the “World’s” wisdom, but it is God’s Wisdom. (Such love, by the way, includes loving our selves too.) The Cross is not primarily an invitation to die physically; it is an invitation not to let our Egos get in the way of finding the “true wisdom”, the path to Humanity at it’s most superb. The Readings today invite us to ponder the great Mystery of Love … how it is the core reality of God, of us, of Existence.

The Gospel reminds us that all religion deteriorates. The word “religion” is rooted in the Latin verb “religare", to (re)bind to” … like a ligament (same root) binds muscle to bone. Religion is what we do to bind us to the core truth of Love and the God Who represents it. “The Temple” here is a symbol of Religion … and Jesus is portrayed as firmly making the point that the temple religion of His time had deteriorated into a tawdry business. It had become detached from the Love of God. It can happen anytime, to any of us in our religious communities. The Gospel/Jesus today is saying to us all, “Pay attention to your ‘organized religion’; if it does not bind you to the God of Love, to the Way of the Cross, renew it … and your heart as well.”



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat
match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with nature.

Joseph Campbell, philosopher, mythologist

On the whole, I think that the Biblical creation stories are engaging. And I have always been glad that there are two such stories in Genesis! I think it’s very instructive to us, to see that there are two different view-points, two different perceptions, at play right from the start. It should put us on our toes.

What I regret are many of the dogmas that have developed from a wide perspective of interpretations! Especially the attitude that developed - and alas continues in many places to this day - about woman and woman’s relationship to man. Instead of seeing it as a story about “man and woman” making some “bad” decisions, Patriarchy has used the story to bolster it’s own power. To our eternal detriment as a human community, I would say.

Another regrettable misinterpretation relates to the Earth and to all that exists on It, and our relationship to It. Of course it’s not surprising that we who inherited this Myth fell into the “sin” - yes, the Sin (i.e, against Truth and Love) - of claiming power over it, to do with it as we wished.

And there lies one of our major problems in terms of our human dis-ease, our alienation from our nature. Dr. Campbell points to it wisely. We have tended to treat the Earth as an expendable inferior, a slave. We have not understood that in doing so, we have done the same to our Selves.

I believe what Joseph Campbell says is accurate. We are an integral part of the whole of Existence. We are stewards in It, not Masters of It. I think it important to remember that if we wound and main the Universe, we are wounding and maiming ourselves. I think we can see that in the woundedness of our human community right now.

I feel One with the Universe … and so I feel One with “God”. I think this is the goal of all of us.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Thought for a Lonely Death-Bed

If God compel thee to this destiny,
To die alone, with none beside thy bed
To ruffle round with sobs thy last word said
And mark with tears the pulses ebb from thee,--
Pray then alone, ' O Christ, come tenderly !
By thy forsaken Sonship in the red
Drear wine-press,--by the wilderness out-spread,--
And the lone garden where thine agony
Fell bloody from thy brow,--by all of those
Permitted desolations, comfort mine !
No earthly friend being near me, interpose
No deathly angel 'twixt my face and thine,
But stoop Thyself to gather my life's rose,
And smile away my mortal to Divine ! '

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, poet; she was
born on this date, 1806, in Durham, England

May none of us ever have a ”lonely death-bed”! We ought each to die with loving friends around us.

The Episcopal Church is not in the presumptuous habit of creating “Doctors of the Church”. SO I will take it upon my self to designate Elizabeth Barrett Browning as such!

From my point of view, a person as illustrious and as spiritually wise as a “doctor of the church” would certainly know the utter truth of these lines:

No deathly angel 'twixt my face and thine,
But stoop Thyself to gather my life's rose,
And smile away my mortal to Divine ! '

I’ve spent 45 years as a disciple of Jesus and of His Heavenly Father of Unconditional Love. Elizabeth has “nailed Him” ….. and could there be a more appropriate phrase, given the glorious mythical symbol of the Cross as the ultimate symbol of Divine Love?!

There is no “deathly angel” between us and God. She has got it right.

There is no hesitancy of God’s to stoop to meet us. She has got it right.

Our human life is indeed a “rose” … think of Mary as the “rose ‘ere blooming” … and think of each of us as a reflection of the Theotokas, the “Bearer of the image of the Divine”. She has got it right.

There is no vengeful God; that is a creation of faithless souls. Never would the God of Unconditional Love not smile upon us and welcome us home. She has got it right.

Hail Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Doctor of the Church!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, March 5, 2012

I will love the light
for it shows me the way,
yet I will endure the darkness
for it shows me the stars.

Og Mandino

“Light”. I was thinking about it today, as Dennis and I walked the Dragonfly Trail in the Gila National Forest. It was a magical New Mexico day at 6300 feet in early March. Warm … even the wind; we were in polo shirts. and sandals. The sky an endless blue from horizon to horizon. Western bluebirds getting bluer as Spring approaches; Western Scrub-jays more vibrant; Dark-eyed Juncos their tails flitting white. I was so glad that I could see clearly and sharply … I had been taking Vesicare which did indeed help my problematic issues after radiation and seed implants for prostate cancer, but it blurred my vision! Not acceptable … to me. But, Life hands us these things to deal with … and I will always choose quality of Life!

Anyway: the New Mexico light was enchanting this morning. It shouted of the joy of this Earth, of the wonder of being Human, in a simple, clear way. I was indeed enchanted! How I do enjoy being able to tell people that Dennis and I live on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits in the Land of Enchantment!

Have you ever tried to make your way in the pitch dark with a bright light in your hand? I have. You’re blinded. You have to put the light aside in order not to stumble. It’s because you’re looking too limitedly. I’ve found that in order to navigate Life successfully, you have to take the long view. In Christian mythology, it’s the message of the Transfiguration.

“Light” shows the Way. And I thank God that we have many Lights! There is such Wisdom available about this Path we are born to walk! Glorious minds and hearts from human beings who are epiphanies of “God” … the name we give to the Wonder that gives Life to Life. In my culture, I was led to Jesus Christ and the Gospel … and over the years I have jettisoned all the baggage that has been loaded on Him and seen His simple Message: Love One Another”. If those who followed Him loved and loved His Message, the World would be so very different.

We tend to negativize “darkness”. But essentially, “Faith” is embracing the Darkness. I see Darkness as the great Mystery that Life is. We try so hard to comprehend it all … but Life can’t be “comprehended”. It wasn’t meant to be comprehended. It was meant to be wondered at and danced with and gone on adventures with. When we can do that, we are free. We have discovered what it means to Live.

“Endure”? I think it only has to be “endured” if we do not know we are God’s Child. When we know we are Of God, the Dark leads us down the road to the “stars” … to the unfettered Kingdom of Love.

I am beyond “endurance”. I have been gifted with Abandonment.

It’s the only Way.