Jumping – on inclusion and exclusion

I was at a gathering once where there was an opening ceremony that was not inclusive. It was a breath exercise that had us chanting the name of Shiva, a Hindu god.

The group was mixed, and nobody was Hindu. Some were Christian, some had no religion, and some were openly pagan. Some people were quite opposed to Christianity, having been harmed by the church as they were growing up.

After the opening exercise, we were all asked what we felt. We were asked this after all parts of the event – not just here. Several Christians said that they felt uncomfortable with this exercise, because it sounded like they were being asked to pray to Shiva. Some Christians said that they said “Alleluia” instead, and one chanted “Do Re Me”. Some did it for a few chants, but then stopped. They were uncomfortable, so they didn’t want to participate.

I was one of those people, but I didn’t say it at the time. They were saying it for me. I didn’t want the participant who shared this thing which was important to him to feel like we were jumping on him. I did want him to be sensitive to the feelings of his audience, however.

What I did was pray beforehand. I thought of different Bible verses that would apply to this situation. I thought of how Jesus says that if we are connected to Him, nothing can harm us. We can be bitten by snakes and drink poison and we will be safe. This wasn’t that dramatic, but it seemed to apply in a way. Then I was concerned about giving the wrong impression to others. The apostle Paul tells us that we can eat meat that has been consecrated to gods – that it won’t harm us. But he also says that we shouldn’t, because it might give the wrong impression to new Christians. Our actions might cause them to stumble.

I chanted along for a little, but honestly it went on a lot longer than I thought it was going to. I got tired of it and stopped. I opened my eyes to see the teacher looking at me– she thought it was going on too long too.

We had a break immediately after our discussion and the lady sitting next to me stood up and started jumping up and down vigorously and shaking her hands and wrists. She looked a little manic. After a minute of this, I asked her what she was doing and she said that she was shaking it off. She was “so upset” by that discussion, and that it represents her “life’s work”. I got the impression that she thought the Christians were closed minded. She had said earlier that she participated in something called “Dances of Universal Peace”. Right then her “dance” looked like she was ready to jump off a cliff.

I am now very glad that I didn’t say anything before so I could see this happen.

Later we had a time where we were singing wordless sounds. We were given a few open chords, and we started adding in our own sounds – some drum, some shaker, some intoning. Eventually it all became the sound of “Alleluia” over and over. After that, we discussed it again. Several non-Christians said that they felt very uncomfortable with it. One even thought about leaving.

It seemed like an interesting counter to the opening. Now the other half of the room felt awkward. I didn’t notice any Christians jumping up and down, shaking off how angry they were at the non-Christians. Later, at lunch, I happened to sit with several Christians and we talked about

There seems to be an interesting dynamic happening these days. Christians are expected to be considerate of non-Christians feelings, but non-Christians aren’t expected to do the same.

I recall how I created a Thanksgiving dinner prayer that was inclusive and considered the feelings of relatives who were openly against Christianity. They don’t have a faith tradition – they have a visceral reaction against Christianity. The prayer didn’t mention Jesus or God at all, but did give thanks. I took quite a bit of time to make something that would work for both sides. Meanwhile, at all other gatherings, they don’t think about the fact that the Christians feel obliged to pray before a meal. I feel that to eat a meal without giving thanks for it is to act like a dog – just lunging in and devouring food. A compromise would be a moment of silence beforehand, where the non-Christians don’t have to hear a prayer, but the Christians can say one quietly to themselves. They don’t consider this.

I feel like this is happening more and more in our society.

Sure, plenty of Christians have been thoughtless. They have been pushy and aggressive. They have given people judgment and condemnation rather than love and service. They have not been Christ-like. We have had to soften our approach, certainly. But we also have to meet in the middle.

I’m OK with someone not being Christian, but I expect the same courtesy from them. If I’m OK with you living like you want to, I need you to also be OK with me living like I want to. I don’t need everybody in the room to pray to God, but I do need everybody to understand that I am going to. I don’t expect them to pray along with me. I’ll try to do it in a way that they don’t have to hear it. But if I have to participate in their belief system, then why do I have to be silent about my own?

In our desire to make a more inclusive society, we have to include everybody.

The center where we were meeting was a treatment center for addictions. It had elements from many faiths there – Buddhist and Native American being the most prominent. There were Tibetan bells, yoga mats, sage smudge sticks, and carved masks. There were books on mindfulness from Asian religions. There was only one thing that referred to Christianity, and it was a small painting of Mary. It was high up above the lintel of a door, and it was around a corner. There were things there that represented the wisdom traditions of the world – but with one prominent exception.

So much for equality.

Most of the people who were going to be coming to this center normally weren’t going to be members of those wisdom traditions – they were going to be middle-class white people from America. They were going to be surrounded by images of peace from cultures they aren’t part of. Meanwhile, their own culture wasn’t represented, out of a desire to not offend. Something seems odd about this.

I believe that we can share. I believe that we can all participate together. I believe that we can all get along. I believe that for one group to dominate the conversation is to change it from a conversation into a monologue. Yes – Christians have dominated the conversation for a long time. But the answer to that isn’t to silence the Christians and raise the voice of the non-believers.

We aren’t equal unless we all are equal. This applies to everything – belief, gender, race – everything.

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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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)

Renew, rebuild, revive

Is it really possible to renew or renovate? Can you really ever make something old new again? Once it has worn out and you replace some pieces, it isn’t exactly like it was. It is a little different. The wood is a different kind. The handling is a little different. It may be “like new” but it can never truly be the same, down to the core.

When people try to reform a movement they are trying to renew it. They are trying to bring it back to what it was at the beginning. Their intentions are good, but they don’t realize it isn’t really possible. Things have changed. The times have changed. The reason for the movement that started it all off has gotten lost or forgotten.

We can’t really renew the church. We can try to reform it. We can try to rebuild it. We can try to take all the bits that work and piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle. We can take it all down and start again from scratch. Or we can muddle on like we are and try to reform it from the inside.

But one way or another, something has got to change. Too many people look at Christians like they are crazy, and with good reason. Too many Christians are filled with hate instead of love. Too many Christians think their obligation to God is filled if they sit in a pew on Sunday and then do nothing else the rest of the week.

What is the best way forward? Is it to go into the past and read the Gospels in the original Aramaic? Is it to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

I write this not to attack the church, but to awaken it. I want this to work. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the work that he started and I believe that it can be brought to fruition. I believe that love can save the world.

This church, this Body of Christ, is one big dysfunctional family. It is going to be hard for some people to hear these words. Folks hate the idea that their family is broken. But pointing out that it is broken is the beginning of healing.

This is like being in recovery. When a person starts on the path of recovery, she often loses friends. Her best friends were her drinking buddies. When they see her getting sober and still enjoying life, they tend to get hateful. They rarely decide to follow her on the path. They’d rather stick with what they know, even if it is destructive and misguided, than go with something new.

So this isn’t renewal. It is revival. It is new life that I’m proposing. But to have a revival and then continue to do the same old thing won’t work. We’ve added too much to this thing we call church. The extra stuff gets in the way and slows us down. It doesn’t go where it should. We need to strip it clean.

The Lord’s Supper should be an actual meal and it needs to be shared with people who aren’t members. It needs to be shared not with the goal of making them become members. It needs to be shared because people need to be fed. There need to be no restrictions on who gets to eat.

We need to take out all the ritual and the magic show. We need to remove the hierarchy to show that everybody is equal. Everybody needs to be trained to be ministers. All of us have talents that are needed.

I remember a time that I was playing a game of volleyball with the Episcopal student group when I was in college. The priest was there with his son. His son was young and wanted to play, but because he was small his dad thought that he would get hurt, possibly by being tripped over. His son was very upset by this. I saw that he was very good at serving the ball – and I know that I’m terrible at it. I modified the game and made him the server. I explained that his Dad didn’t want him to play only because he was concerned about him getting hurt. This way he got to help out the game and not be in the way. Everybody was happy.

This is part of what we need to do. We need to look at what is essential, and change things. We need to make this work. We need to include everybody.

I’d hate to think Jesus died in vain.

The History of the Church, in beads.

I’m attempting to explain the history of the Church in bead form. I apologize for the dark pictures – this is a work in progress. (edit – I’ve added new pictures that are brighter. )

Here is a picture that gives an idea of what the whole thing looks like.


And another –

It all starts with the cross.


Then the large fancy beads near it represent the Byzantine era. I chose blue, purple, and red because those were the colors God said to use for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.


This section represents the Middle Ages. One church, so one unifying pattern. Lapis lazuli represents the material used by monks in their illuminated manuscripts. The red is antique “white hearts” from the African trade to remind us of history and time.


Here is another picture of this section –

This section has the three colors of the temple, but it is casual and a little jumbled. There is a pattern if you look hard. This is now, the age of strip-mall churches and Mega churches.


And also here –

Pure and unadorned, the color in this section has the best of blue and purple to it, and was started off with red, the color of the Holy Spirit. Blue is also the color of Mary – a human being who said Yes to God and allowed The Divine to work through her to bring forth healing and redemption to our world. This is the future. This is what we as the Church are being called to.


Better lit –