In sickness and in health

African healer Credo Mutwa in “Shaking out the Spirits: a Psychotherapist’s Entry into the Healing Mysteries of Global Shamanism” by Bradford Keeney says this about disease:

“Every one of us exists in two worlds at once. There is another earth existing side by side with this earth. In the other earth, we are all cannibals. When a person develops cancer, we believe it involves the cannibal counterpart of ourself from the other world that is slipping into this world to devour us. When a person is attacked by cancer, he must never show fear or else he makes himself weak. Disease, being a living animal, is ahead when you are afraid. In the religion of the Great Mother, you must not call anything or anyone an enemy. If you do this, you make it stronger. … When you have cancer, you must never panic. You must fight your sickness with a great calm. You must, above all, realize that what kills you is not so much the actual disease itself as it is your own mind that is tempted to surrender to the disease. Take your mind and occupy it fully in a very exciting project or occupation. This will give the body time to heal itself. This I know. I have kept diabetes, tuberculosis, and cancer at bay with this understanding.”

I believe there is a hidden message to this. I believe that this is telling us in a roundabout way how to prevent disease. From learning how to heal sickness, we can learn about how to create health.

Here it is – If you engage yourself in an exciting project, in something of great purpose and meaning, then you will prevent disease from striking at you. Laziness, sloth, inactivity causes disease. It opens the door.

It is when we do not live out our purpose in life that we get sick. We were created for much more than eating chips on the couch and watching reality TV. We were created for so much more than engaging in gossip and worrying about what latest trend we should follow.

God has created us to do good in this world. God has created us to be a force for change. We weren’t created for ourselves.

The prophet Micah tells us – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV)

The prophet Isaiah tells us more (Isaiah 58:6-7)

6 Isn’t the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?

We are created to heal others – to feed, clothe, and house them, and to rescue them from all kinds of prisons (mental, physical, educational, psychological). We are to be the hands of God.

We have to take care of these bodies that we have been given. They are delicate machines and need to be maintained. It is important to do this so that we are in our top form to be able to do the will of God in this world. Yet we must remember that we must do this only so that we can serve God. We must never believe (like so many modern ideas say) that we should just take care of ourselves. Self-less service is why we are here, not self-ish gain. We were not created to bask in waves of delight for delight’s sake. God most certainly wants us to be happy, but even more certainly wants us to be useful to others.

These thoughts from “The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary” might help you see a way to help yourself so that you can help others, or a way to remind others how to unlock their own healing from within –

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:
1. When did you stop dancing?
2. When did you stop singing?
3. When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
4. When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.”

So healing is to be found in dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence. Do those things and you will get well. Do those things and you will prevent sickness. It isn’t really about when you stopped doing these things – so much as starting to do them again right away.

Re-visioning church – playing church vs. Being the Church

Re-visioning. Not revising. Not changing, so much as looking at it again and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Jesus has to be the center of it. Not a minister. Not a “worship team”. Not the building. If Jesus isn’t the cornerstone, then it isn’t church. It is a façade.

Church isn’t the building – it is the people. It is the people that Jesus came for, that Jesus died for.

So how do we re-vision church? First, read the Gospels. Read what Jesus said. Look at what he did. Then look at what is happening in your church community if you have one. How closely does it adhere to that message?

It is time to strip everything away that isn’t Jesus. Any policy, any program, any activity that isn’t in line with Jesus’ message, strip it out. This leaves more room for actual work.

In the past two thousand years we’ve put so much into the idea of “Church” that we’ve often misplaced Jesus along the way. I think we’ve started to worship the idea of Jesus more than actually follow him.

Our job is to do the work of Jesus in the world. We have to heal, to reconcile, and to love.

Any church organization that is run like a business has gotten off track. Jesus didn’t do this. Why do we make it harder than it has to be?

I think the problem is that we think it has to be harder than it is, so we’ve put more into it. The “car” that is Christianity was really streamlined. We’ve put so much stuff in it and on it that it hardly goes anymore.

It is more common these days that “Christian” is equated with intolerance than love. That alone is a sign that we’ve gotten it wrong.

Jesus tells us in John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. 6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

This is our template – we have to abide in Jesus if we are going to be Christians. Otherwise we are just “playing church” and not Being the Church.

Paternosters

decade

Paternosters are one-decade rosaries. They are more easily documented than rosaries, since many rosaries were destroyed during the Reformation. Beaded cords used to recite prayers have been found in many cultures and over many years. In fact, our word “bead comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “biddan” meaning “to pray” and “bede” meaning “prayer.”

It was very dangerous to be a Catholic during the Reformation. To possess a rosary or any other Catholic paraphernalia was to risk imprisonment or death. One way that Catholics chose to practice their faith in secret was to carry Paternosters instead of rosaries. They were easily portable and concealable. It was possible to use the paternoster discretely while going about daily life in public because it could fit in the palm of a hand.

Pre-Christian people valued certain stones for their talismanic or protective qualities. Among these were coral – to strengthen the heart, rock crystal – for purity, amethyst – to protect against drunkenness, and agate – for protection. Other materials that were used included amber, carnelian, and emeralds. When Christianity became popular, beads fell out of favor. God was to protect you – not the beads. But old habits die hard. When people made rosaries, the used the same stones, for the same reasons.

Paternosters are not meant to be worn, but used. Following the standard order for rosaries, the prayers go as follows: at the cross, recite the Nicene Creed. At each of the ten following beads (Aves), recite the “Hail Mary” prayer. At the final bead (the Paternoster), recite the “Our Father” prayer.

References –

The Book of Beads – Janet Coles and Robert Budwig
The History of Beads – Lois Sherr Dubin
Sacred Origins of Profound Things – Charles Panati

Answer – on intercessory prayer.

People often ask me to pray for them. Sometimes I hear an answer back of what they are supposed to do – some blockage to address, some wrong to be righted. They rarely want to hear this.

Perhaps they think their obligation is over just by asking for prayers. While it is important to ask for help, it is also important to be able to receive it. Receiving it in this case means listening to the answer to the prayer.

I think a lot of this resistance comes from the modern church structure. We are taught to be passive in our faith. We are receivers, not doers. Things happen to us. We don’t make things happen.

We are taught this when we are expected to be silent or to recite from a script during our worship service. This is the model we are given in the modern church service for how we are to interact with God, and how God interacts with us. Sit down. Shut up.

But this pattern is not God’s pattern. This pattern ensures docility and compliance. The Bible is filled with the exact opposite pattern. Our role models are active and willing participants in doing God’s will.

We are the hands and feet of God. When someone says “How could God let this happen?” the question really should be “How could we, the people of God, let this happen?”

So it makes sense that people don’t know how to react when I tell them the answer that I’ve heard. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me even. Rarely is it something simple or obvious. This is in part how I know the answer isn’t from me. I couldn’t have made it up because I don’t even understand it.

Sometimes the answer is to do something. Sometimes it is to stop doing something. And I don’t always get an answer. That is part of it too. Sometimes we just have to live in the middle, in the not knowing, and have faith that God has it all under control.

When I pray for myself or someone else I’m often asking for a change in a situation. Sometimes I’m asking for a boon or a favor. But just like if I was asking for a boon from an earthly king, I have to understand that it might not be just, and it might not be right.

With an earthly king, the request may not be in his power. With our heavenly king, it is always in God’s power. The issue is that we can’t see things the way that God sees them. God knows the history of everything even before it happens. This is what God means by the title “the Alpha and the Omega.” Time means nothing to God.

So sometimes what we are asking for isn’t really what we want, or need. We think it is, but we don’t have the whole picture.

When we pray, sometimes God needs us to do our part to make the result happen. We should welcome this work as an opportunity to serve God. So when you hear an answer, whether you hear it yourself or it comes by way of an intercessor, see it as a blessing.

Boat – on an anchorless faith.

I’m starting to think that the Episcopal church is better off without me. The whole deacon discernment process was put on hold a year ago. I understand now that there is no way I could speak freely and have them put their stamp of approval on me.

Because how dare I say that God is talking to me?

As Christians, our goal is to be connected with God. How can we possibly do the will of God if we can’t hear God?

Oh, right, I forget. We are supposed to trust that the priest/minister/pastor is hearing from God, and telling us what to do.

Yet, this isn’t what Jesus wanted.

So I’m on my own now. I’m non denominational. I’ve been without a church home for half a year, and it is a bit terrifying. There isn’t a road map for this. I keep wanting to go back to the old way, but then I feel a pain in my gut every time I think about it. I know that I can’t. I know that isn’t my path.

I’ll go to a Christmas Eve service. I’ll take communion in a gym. I’ll celebrate Christ in the pool at the Y. I’ll go to my spiritual director. I’ll go to a friend’s house where we share what the Spirit leads us to share. I’ll host events at my house. I’ll pray over my meal in silence at a buffet. I’ll make healing jewelry for a grieving friend. I’ll write.

God is connecting with me in new ways.

It is like I’m on a boat, sailing far away at sea. I’m no longer following the coastline or the man-made lights along the shore. The lights I’m following are the same lights that sailors have followed for thousands of years.

I’m going backwards to go forwards.

The radio doesn’t work here, this far out. There’s no map on the sea either. I have no way of knowing if I’m headed the right way. I have no way of knowing if I’m lost.

I’m pushed along by the breath of God, and that suits me just fine.

This is the same breath that created the world, that gave life to Adam.

I feel safe in this boat, this ark, the ark of Noah, the ark of Moses as a baby. Both went out on trust, went out in wooden boat on the ocean, adrift. Both were there because all was lost and the old ways didn’t work anymore. Both were there because to stay where they were meant certain death.

The Covenant has an ark too. So do Torah scrolls.

The main body, the sanctuary of a traditional church building is known as a nave. It is from naval, from ship. It is an ark for people. It looks like a ship, upside down. The sharp pointed roof is the hull of the ship, pointed towards the sky.

I don’t want that ship anymore. I want to take it and turn it all upside down and set it afloat again.

I don’t think that God wants us to be grounded or set in our ways, or stuck in one place. I think God wants us to be forever trusting in God’s ways, and the only way to do that is to set sail, rudderless, anchorless, free. God wants us to take us further than we’ve ever gone and right where we need to be.

God is, was, and shall be. The Hebrew YHWH is a contraction of these words. It is a good name for God, the infinite, the forever, the now and always is. God is endless and eternal.

We can’t understand this, we humans. We invented time. We invented the idea that tomorrow follows today and each day has a separate name and that time takes place. Perhaps that is why we are confused. We don’t understand God because we can’t limit God. We can’t define God because God is indefinable.

Wake up. Hear the gulls. The day is dawning here.
There’s no shore, but we are not alone.
The beings of the sea and sky keep us company.
Wake up, and smell the salt in the air.
We are safe.
We are home.

White is white – on blind obedience to the Church, and going it alone.

Some of you will remember that I was in the deacon discernment process for the Episcopal Church. This means that I believe (and the priest believed) that I was being called by God to serve “the least of these” – the poor, the homeless – those who have no one to serve them. Some of you have been reading along since April of this year, when I stopped going to church. The part that is interesting to me is that only a handful of people have even seemed to notice I’m gone.

I’ve recently written to the team that was involved in the process. It took me this long to get over my anger at and sense of betrayal by the priest. I didn’t want to write an angry letter. There are/were (what tense do I use?) nine people on that team, all trying to “listen” with me to see if it was a call from God. None of them have written back. I then sent a copy of the letter to the Bishop. Nothing, again. I feel like I’m standing at the front of an auditorium and the microphone isn’t on so nobody can hear me. Or maybe they are ignoring me, hoping I’ll go away. But the weirdest part is that more people from a church that prides itself on being welcoming and friendly hasn’t contacted me.

I was very active in this church. I was there every week. I was the leader of the team of lectors and chalice bearers. I was also an acolyte. I served up front as part of the worship team nearly every week. It is a small church. I’m hard to miss.

To be a deacon in the Episcopal Church is a big crazy process. It takes years. It takes homework and meetings. You have to submit your transcripts. You have to submit your baptism and confirmation records. You have to submit to a physical and psychological exam. Basically, you have to submit. They want to make sure that you are hearing from God, sure, but they also want to make sure they can control you. They want to make sure that the Church is safe by not signing off on a wacko, sure, but they also want to find out if the priest or the Bishop tell you to do something, you’ll do it.

The odd part is that you have to go through all this for an unpaid position. You are expected to keep your day job. You have to do more at church and in the community, but you don’t get paid for it. They have this whole multi-year process to shape you into a deacon. The process is arduous.

But it turns out that they don’t really have a framework to teach you how to follow God when the Church isn’t. That’s the scary part. There’s a group in the Catholic Church that embodies this blind faith in the Church. The Jesuits say that if they see that something is white, and the Pope says it is black, they are to say it is black.

I’m not about that kind of obedience. I understand it, somewhat. We humans are fallible. I entered into this process because I know of my weakness. I’m bipolar. So I wanted training and oversight. I wanted to make sure that if I thought I was seeing white, it was indeed white. It is my greatest hope that I not deceive or mislead anybody. I think it is really important to make sure it is God’s voice I’m hearing and not my own imagining.

I left church because I could see white and everybody else was doing black. The more I read of the Gospels, the more I realized that what we, collectively as a Church, are doing, is wrong. It isn’t about building church buildings or having ordained ministers. It is about building up the Body of Christ – by teaching every person who is called to be a Christian how to be a loving servant of God and how to hear the voice of God. Everybody. Not the elect, not ordained people – everybody.

I think everybody needs to go to Cursillo and be woken up to the Holy Spirit. I think the homework assignments for the deacon process are very helpful for helping people “hear” their calling. I think small groups where people “listen” to each other and keep each other accountable are useful. I think reading books by progressive Christian authors about their struggle to integrate the ways of God with the ways of the world are helpful. I think we all need to work on our faith rather than take it for granted.

Perhaps this is what they are afraid of. Perhaps this is why they haven’t contacted me. I represent a total upheaval of the way things have always been done. No more church buildings. No more vestry. No more priests. Church isn’t a social club but a way of life – and that life is service. Perhaps this frightens them.

It is like the early Christians, who knew in their hearts that what they were doing was right, was in fulfillment of all the promises that they as Jews had been told. They knew that Jesus was the Messiah. But everybody else railed against them. How dare you upset the way we’ve always done things? How dare you tell us that we are doing it wrong?

I get that. People are like that.

But white is white, and black is black, and the blinders are off now.

Hindu/Christian

Is it about being Christian, or being Christ-like? What is more important? The label or the work?

Perhaps you have seen the video about a Hindu man of the Brahman caste who quit his job to feed the poor and destitute in his city in India. His name is Narayanan Krishnan. He cooks breakfast, lunch, and supper and goes out into the streets and feeds them. He doesn’t just drop the food and leave. He feeds them by hand, himself. This is against the rules for his caste to do, but he does it because he feels it is the right thing to do. He also will shave them and bathe them if needed. He has commented that it is important to feed the soul as well as the body – to let these people know that someone cares for them as a human being, and that they are loved.

He and his team feed thousands of people every day. They feed the old, the sick, the mentally ill. They feed all the people that society has thrown out, has deemed as worthless.

This Hindu is very Christ-like. It isn’t about faith or religion, but service and love. Of course, there are plenty of people who say they are Christian who will say that he is going straight to hell – meanwhile they aren’t doing anywhere near the amount of service he is doing.

Jesus says in Matthew 12:50 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother.”

There is also story in the Gospels about the disciples getting ticked off because they see people who aren’t part of the group doing their work. They feel jealous and threatened. They are angry. In Mark 9:38-41 we read “38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.” 39 “Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterward speak evil of Me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of My name, since you belong to the Messiah—I assure you: He will never lose his reward.”

I believe the goal of Christianity is to bring Jesus to people, rather than bringing people to Jesus. That we are supposed to serve them in the same way that Jesus served them – love, heal, feed, encourage. Not to convert them. But I say this on my blog and “Christians” attack me for it. I find it crazy that I’m all for the love and the service and they freak out over it. Like love is a bad thing.

I’ve decided I no longer care what they think. They are on their own path. For me to try to convert them is just as pointless as them trying to convert me. I’m trying to love them anyway, to see their pain and their need to control in their words. They were taught this intolerance, these words. They haven’t woken up yet. They think I’m asleep too, that I’m blind too.

They’ll throw the “I am the way” verse at me as their proof that you can’t be Hindu and be saved. They don’t get it. It isn’t about being saved so much as saving. Who cares if you “are saved” and you keep it all to yourself? Who would want to convert to a religion that is all about guilt and control? Not me. This is why I say I’m reluctantly Christian. Actually I think “Jesus follower” sounds better. More accurate.

I’d rather know of a Hindu who does the work of Jesus than know of a person who says they are a Christian but all they do is tell people they need to “accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”

What is the value of “accepting Jesus” if you don’t do the work? It isn’t about lip service. It is about service. It is about humbling yourself. It is about being a servant. It is about taking up the yoke and following Jesus, by doing His work.

In James 2:14-17 we read “Jesus says “14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.”

Christians argue all the time about what denomination has it figured out and what doesn’t. Christians also say that Christians as a whole are better off than non-Christians. More enlightened. Closer to God.

Nobody is, if they aren’t willing to do the work.

In Mark 9:33-35 we read “33 Then they came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Jesus came to teach us to serve, and to teach us that God is real, and loves us. That is it. That is what we are called to do. We are to serve everyone. We are to let them know that God is real, and that God loves them. We are to show them love. Not guilt-trip them or judge them.

Matthew 25:31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’
40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!

42 For I was hungry
and you gave Me nothing to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43 I was a stranger
and you didn’t take Me in;
I was naked
and you didn’t clothe Me,
sick and in prison
and you didn’t take care of Me.’

44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’
45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(All translations of the Bible are from the Holman Christian Standard Version.)

Religious books

When I say “religious” I don’t mean just Christian. I mean “follower of God”, the Creator, the Divine Spirit – whatever you name the Force that animates us and created us and loves us.

These are books I’ve read that I find useful or helpful. They are in no particular order. They speak to what it means to have an active faith. They are about living a life that is directed by love and service. There is a lot of questioning in there too. If you local library does not have these books you can ask them to order them via Inter Library Loan.

CALL # 277.3 M6437t.
AUTHOR Miles, Sara, 1952-
TITLE Take this bread : a radical conversion / Sara Miles.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : Ballantine Books, c2007.
DESCRIPT xviii, 283 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT Christian converts — United States — Biography.
SUBJECT Church work with the poor — United States.
SUBJECT Food relief — United States.
ISBN/ISSN 0345486927.
ISBN/ISSN 9780345486929.

CALL # 248.32 B87717p.
AUTHOR Brown, Patricia D., 1953-
TITLE Paths to prayer : finding your own way to the presence of God / Patricia D. Brown.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT San Francisco, Calif. : Jossey-Bass, c2003.
DESCRIPT vii, 343 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
SUBJECT Prayer.
ISBN/ISSN 0787965650 (alk. paper)

CALL # 248.4 C4542c.
AUTHOR Chan, Francis, 1967-
TITLE Crazy love : overwhelmed by a relentless God / Francis Chan ; with Danae Yankoski.
IMPRINT Colorado Springs, Colo. : David C. Cook, 2008.
DESCRIPT 205 p. ; 21 cm.
SUBJECT Christian life.
ALT AUTHOR Yankoski, Danae.
ISBN/ISSN 9781434768513 (trade pbk.)
ISBN/ISSN 1434768511 (trade pbk.)

CALL # 242 S8442s.
AUTHOR Stevens, Becca, 1963-
TITLE Sanctuary : unexpected places where God found me / Becca Stevens.
IMPRINT Nashville, TN : Dimensions for Living, 2005.
DESCRIPT 125 p. ; 18 cm.
SUBJECT Stevens, Becca, 1963-
SUBJECT Meditations.
ISBN/ISSN 0687494206 (pbk. : alk. paper)

CALL # Fiction Kazantz.
AUTHOR Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957.
TITLE Saint Francis : a novel / by Niko Kazantzakis ; translated from the Greek by P. A. Bien.
IMPRINT New York : Simon and Schuster, 1962.
DESCRIPT 379 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT Francesco d’Assisi, Saint, 1182-1226 — Fiction.
ADD TITLE PhtŻochoulŻes tou Theou. English.

CALL # 231.3 C4542f.
AUTHOR Chan, Francis, 1967-
TITLE Forgotten God : reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit / Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT Colorado Springs, CO : David C. Cook, 2009.
DESCRIPT 186 p. ; 21 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. 167)
NOTE It doesn’t make sense that Almighty God would have children
characterized by fear and insecurity. Could it be that we’ve
forgotten the One who distinguishes us from every other
religion and cult in the world? Chan returns us to the Holy
Spirit as the Bible describes Him.
SUBJECT Holy Spirit.
SUBJECT Spiritual life — Christianity.
ALT AUTHOR Yankoski, Danae.
ISBN/ISSN 9781434767950 (trade pbk.)
ISBN/ISSN 1434767957 (trade pbk.)

CALL # 813.54 L235g.
AUTHOR Lamott, Anne.
TITLE Grace (eventually) : thoughts on faith / Anne Lamott.
IMPRINT New York : Riverhead Books, 2007.
DESCRIPT 253 p. ; 21 cm.
SUBJECT Lamott, Anne — Religion.
SUBJECT Novelists, American — 20th century — Biography.
SUBJECT Christian biography — United States.
SUBJECT Faith.
ISBN/ISSN 9781594489426.
ISBN/ISSN 1594489424.

CALL # j248.32 M118p.
AUTHOR MacBeth, Sybil.
TITLE Praying in color / Sybil MacBeth.
EDITION Kids’ ed.
IMPRINT Brewster, Mass. : Paraclete Press, c2009.
DESCRIPT 38 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.
SUBJECT Prayer — Christianity — Juvenile literature.
SUBJECT Color drawing — Religious aspects — Christianity — Juvenile
literature.
ISBN/ISSN 9781557255952 (pbk.) :
ISBN/ISSN 1557255954 (pbk.)

CALL # 291.43 S9744p.
AUTHOR Sweeney, Jon M., 1967-
TITLE Praying with our hands : 21 practices of embodied prayer from the world’s spiritual traditions / Jon M. Sweeney ; photographs by Jennifer J. Wilson ; foreword by Tessa Bielecki ; afterword byTaitetsu Unno.
IMPRINT Woodstock, Vt. : SkyLight Paths Pub., c2000.
DESCRIPT 83 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. 83)
SUBJECT Prayer.
SUBJECT Body, Human — Religious aspects.
SUBJECT Hand — Religious aspects.
ISBN/ISSN 1893361160 (pbk.)

CALL # 283.092 M6437j.
AUTHOR Miles, Sara, 1952-
TITLE Jesus freak : feeding, healing, raising the dead / Sara Miles.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass, c2010.
DESCRIPT xx, 171 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT Miles, Sara, 1952-
SUBJECT Saint Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church (San Francisco,
Calif.) — Biography.
SUBJECT Christian converts — United States — Biography.
SUBJECT Church work with the poor — California — San Francisco.
SUBJECT Food banks — California — San Francisco.
SUBJECT Christian life — Anglican authors.
ISBN/ISSN 9780470481660.
ISBN/ISSN 0470481668.

CALL # 801.9 L5662w.
AUTHOR L’Engle, Madeleine.
TITLE Walking on water : reflections on faith & art / Madeleine L’Engle.
IMPRINT Wheaton, Ill. : H. Shaw, c1980.
DESCRIPT 198 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT L’Engle, Madeleine.
SUBJECT Christianity and the arts.
ISBN/ISSN 0865474877.
ISBN/ISSN 087788918X.
ISBN/ISSN 0877888965.

CALL # 299 H69t 1982.
AUTHOR Hoff, Benjamin, 1946-
TITLE The Tao of Pooh / Benjamin Hoff ; illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : E.P. Dutton, c1982.
DESCRIPT x, 158 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
SUBJECT Milne, A. A. (Alan Alexander), 1882-1956 — Characters — Winnie
the Pooh.
SUBJECT Milne, A. A. (Alan Alexander), 1882-1956 — Religion.
SUBJECT Children’s stories, English — History and criticism.
SUBJECT Winnie-the-Pooh (Fictitious character)
SUBJECT Teddy bears in literature.
SUBJECT Taoism in literature.
SUBJECT Taoism.
ISBN/ISSN 0525244581.
ISBN/ISSN $0525244581.

LOCATIONS Goodlettsville-Suppression & Main
CALL # 248.32 S5419i.
AUTHOR Sheets, Dutch.
TITLE Intercessory prayer / Dutch Sheets.
IMPRINT Ventura, Calif., U.S.A. : Regal, c1996.
DESCRIPT 275 p. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. [263]-264) and indexes.
SUBJECT Intercessory prayer.
ISBN/ISSN 0830718885 (hardcover)
ISBN/ISSN 0830719008 (trade paper)

CALL # 296.4 D261t.
AUTHOR Shendelman, Sara.
TITLE Traditions : the complete book of prayers, rituals, and blessings for every Jewish home / Sara Shendelman and Avram Davis.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : Hyperion, c1998.
DESCRIPT 255 p. : col. ill. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. 239-243)
SUBJECT Judaism — Customs and practices.
SUBJECT Fasts and feasts — Judaism.
SUBJECT Jewish families — Prayer-books and devotions — English.
ALT AUTHOR Davis, Avram.
ISBN/ISSN 0786863811 :

CALL # 813.54 L235p.
AUTHOR Lamott, Anne.
TITLE Plan B : further thoughts on faith / Anne Lamott.
IMPRINT New York: Riverhead Books, 2005.
DESCRIPT 320 p. ; 21 cm.
SUBJECT Lamott, Anne — Religion.
SUBJECT Novelists, American — 20th century — Biography.
SUBJECT Christian biography — United States.
SUBJECT Faith.
ISBN/ISSN 1573222992 (alk. paper)
ISBN/ISSN 0739457985 (pbk.)
ISBN/ISSN 9780739457986 (pbk.)

CALL # 813.54 L235t.
AUTHOR Lamott, Anne.
TITLE Traveling mercies : some thoughts on faith / Anne Lamott.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : Pantheon Books, c1999.
DESCRIPT x, 275 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT Lamott, Anne — Religion.
SUBJECT Women novelists, American — 20th century — Biography.
SUBJECT Christian biography — United States.
SUBJECT Mothers and sons — United States.
SUBJECT Faith.
ISBN/ISSN 0385496095 (Anchor pbk.)
ISBN/ISSN 0679442405.

CALL # 283.092 T2386a.
AUTHOR Taylor, Barbara Brown.
TITLE An altar in the world : a geography of faith / Barbara Brown Taylor.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : HarperOne, 2009.
DESCRIPT xvii, 216 p. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. [213]-216)
SUBJECT Taylor, Barbara Brown.
SUBJECT Episcopal Church — Clergy — Biography.
SUBJECT Anglican Communion — United States — Clergy — Biography.
SUBJECT Spiritual life — Christianity.
ISBN/ISSN 9780061370465.
ISBN/ISSN 0061370460.

CALL # 283.092 T2386L.
AUTHOR Taylor, Barbara Brown.
TITLE Leaving church : a memoir of faith / Barbara Brown Taylor.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT [San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, c2006.
DESCRIPT xiii, 234, [1] p. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. [235])
SUBJECT Taylor, Barbara Brown.
SUBJECT Episcopal Church — Clergy — Biography.
SUBJECT Anglican Communion — United States — Clergy — Biography.
ISBN/ISSN 0060771747.
ISBN/ISSN 9780060771744.

CALL # 253.53 G92h.
AUTHOR Guenther, Margaret, 1930-
TITLE Holy listening : the art of spiritual direction / Margaret Guenther.
IMPRINT Cambridge, Mass. : Cowley Publications, c1992.
DESCRIPT 146 p. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes index.
NOTE 92-27431BL.
SUBJECT Guenther, Margaret, 1930-
SUBJECT Spiritual direction.
SUBJECT Women — Religious life.
ISBN/ISSN 1561010561 :

CALL # 283.092 P96414d.
AUTHOR Proctor, Minna.
TITLE Do you hear what I hear? : religious calling, the priesthood, and my father / Minna Proctor.
IMPRINT New York : Viking, 2005.
DESCRIPT xiv, 274 p. ; 24 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. [257]-262) and index.
SUBJECT Proctor, Gregory, 1941-
SUBJECT Episcopal Church — Clergy.
ISBN/ISSN 067003326X (alk. paper)

Thank you for your concern for my soul.

Thank you for your concern for my soul.

Thank you for reaching out to me, exhorting me to “return to the gospel” and to “repent of my sins.”

Your fervent pleas, so heartfelt, only further me on my path.

I follow a Jesus who isn’t prepackaged. I follow a Jesus who offers the Word, instead of lines from a script.

I’m sad to report to you that your message to me reads very harshly. I’m pretty certain that it wasn’t meant that way. I’m pretty sure that you are motivated out of your idea of love. We have to gather in all the lost sheep, after all. We are taught this.

But your words remind me of the times that members of my family tried to shame me as well.

That is what this is.

It is the same as a parent yelling at a child, telling her loudly and firmly that she doing something wrong. They feel that she is doing something so wrong that it is essential to stop her right then and there, before she wrecks her life. They do this out of love, they think.

It is the same as a well-meaning aunt or brother calling the wrath of God down on this same child, for different reasons, for many years. These same people change wills to benefit themselves. These same people lie to get their way. These same people manipulate with other abusive weapons.

God and Jesus should never be used as weapons. They should never be used to abuse another person.

I offer you a new way of understanding God, and Jesus, and the world. I offer you a new way of interacting with them.

I invite you to try to see your words from the perspective of the non-believer. I invite you to see how throwing Bible verses at them does not lead them into the fold, but turns them away. It turns the bread of life into a stone, the same stones that were meant to stone the adulteress. Instead of feeding, your words condemn.

I invite you into an understanding of God as the source of love.

I invite you into this love.

God first spoke to me when I was twelve, standing in my back yard. God has spoken to me many times since, and everything He has told me that was going to happen has happened. I have wrestled with this knowledge, knowing that it is unusual.

Yet I stayed away from Christianity for a long time because of people exactly like you, who made me feel shame for who I am. I stayed away from Jesus because I couldn’t see him for the Christianists who stood in His way.

I invite you into a new relationship with Jesus, and God. I invite you to discover Jesus by serving Him, by finding Him where He is hiding in plain sight. I invite you to find Him in the soup kitchen, at the tornado site, in the mall. I invite you to find Him while you are teaching a foreigner how to read our language. I invite you to find Him while listening to the heartache of a stranger who has been excluded from church.

I invite you to discover the joy that comes from letting God work through you.

I invite you into a relationship with a Jesus who loves all, serves all, and died for all.

I invite you into a bigger love.

This path isn’t paved. This Way is narrow and hard to see. It is a beautiful journey.

I will pray for you, as I hope you will pray for me.

I wish you peace and blessings on your journey.

Love, not fear. (my theology in two pages)

It is time to stop approaching God on our knees.

Show reverence, respect, of course.

But Jesus makes us worthy to stand before God. Countless times angels appeared to people in the Old and New Testament and people threw themselves down to the ground, and the angel tells them every time to get up, to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid, fear not.

God needs us on our feet so we can serve Him.

There has to be a balance. Too many people these days have taken to the thought that they are God, because they have within them the light of God, which we call a soul. But we are the creation, we are not the Creator. We did not create ourselves. The world existed long before us, and will exist after us.

My theology isn’t a particular one. It is a gestalt, a blend. It is what has been revealed to me. Take it as you will.

I believe that Jesus came to point to God, rather than to himself. I believe that Jesus came to show us a way of life that leads to God.

We need to remember (or know) that God is everything. God is one. God created everything, and everything is God. We are like fish, swimming in the sea that is God. Even the fish are part of that sea that is God.

My theology is derived, gets words from, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the words of Sufi mystics. I’ve found truth in Hinduism. I enjoy reading from all faiths, as well as listening to the voice of God that speaks to my heart.

I believe that God is constantly seeking us. I believe that we are all ministers of and to and for God. I believe a hierarchy of “ordained” and “lay” ministers is dangerous and leads to a sense of “greater” and “lesser than”.

I’ve been asked to cite chapter and verse of how I got to my assertions. To tell you how I got here is to try to point out each block that builds a building. I cannot point out exactly which trees lead me to this forest. I cannot lead you step by step along the path that will lead you to where I am. My belief comes from a lifetime of seeking and being found by God.

To try to point out each piece of the jigsaw puzzle is to miss the whole picture.

I’ve mentioned before in my blog that I am bipolar. I make no secret of it. Take my words as you will. Even if I didn’t reveal that, you should always read/research/reflect on what anyone says for yourself. Never ever entrust your path to another person. Buddha tells us this, and there is a lot of goodness in this. I’d rather have a person encourage me to question than to be expected to follow blindly.

Don’t follow. Walking along with is safer. If you follow, you can’t see where you are going.

My faith is new, and ancient. I’m not creating it out of whole cloth. Neither am I ripping up bits of pieces from all other faith traditions that have been before and making a quilt for myself either. I’ve seen a thread, a theme that runs through. I believe that thread runs from God to us and back to God. I believe that thread connects each of us, across languages, across countries, across cultures, across history.

That thread is a thread of love. We are created by a loving God. We are loved by God beyond words. We are here to make this world better, to let God work through us. We are here to let others know that they are loved by loving them.

We are here to wake up to ourselves, to our calling, to our lives. We are here to be active participants in our lives and in the life of our community and world. We are here to be fully alive.

I keep saying the same things over and over, in different ways. One day I’ll have all the words, and it still won’t be enough. I know I’m missing pieces. I know I’m forgetting to tell you an important part, but I don’t know what. One day I’ll have the experience that will give me a way to explain it. Meanwhile I wrestle, and I try.

You make love visible through living it. Love out loud. Live fully.