Sunday, July 31, 2005

Faith and our Communities

God made us as communal beings. We have depended on each other to survive for Millennia. The family is our basic structure. But it is our extended family, our community that we rely on for survival. God teaches us to love each other, that is the Golden Rule. Love everyone else as much as you love yourself. But today we don’t really apply this rule when it comes to possessions of luxury and comfort. We somehow seem to think that God says it’s OK to live in extreme comfort and convenience even when others in our community have much less and are often facing difficult burdens. Does this happen every day in America? You’d better believe it. But how have we become so focused on our own personal convenience, comfort, and even wealth?
It’s all around us isn't it?
Everyone one else is doing it and that’s just how it is. We’re born into it, like Romans born into the Proletariat. And it just seems normal. But not only is it all around us, it’s glamorized. Yes that’s right, all the slick executives on Madison Avenue make it sexy and attractive – a status symbol for us to achieve the American dream. They say success is having material wealth. When you can look like a Rock-star, then you're someone important.
But there is great injustice in this lifestyle of consumption, because for many, we loose sight of God’s word, love thy neighbor. And where there is power and wealth, just like in the Roman senate, there is corruption. Corruption is caused by greed. Greed is self-importance in spite of the rest of the community - placing your prosperity ahead of the basic needs of those in your community. In other words, we’re exploiting others for our benefit. And the bigger your community is, the more harm comes to the ones you’ve sinned against. Because when you do something in your own interests, you’re ignoring the interests of everyone else around you. And were not talking about private time, which is really meant to be time alone with God.
But I’m talking about what you do by your actions towards others. If your actions in the community are for the benefit of yourself while you ignore the needs of others, then you’re not living for God, you’re living for yourself. And all the luxuries and comforts that you provide for yourself are ways in which you show love to yourself. And to some extent that’s ok, but when the desire for those comforts grows larger than the desire to love thy neighbor, then we’ve got some thorns growing around our heart. Because the thorns say to everyone else – keep back, this heart belongs to me and I’m in control, I’ll decide who I’m going to share it with…
God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be successful but not at the expense of others. As long as we honor His word truth and mercy, give thanks and praise he will guide our path to success. The greatest way we can worship God and live with God on Earth is to follow in the steps of His son Jesus Christ, and all the saints and prophets who have lived and have yet to grace us with their presence here on Earth. Jesus was sent by God to show us the way. And all that follow Him will be saved.
God’s heavenly spirit and his body here on earth – that’s you and me brothers and sisters, must exist as one, and He must have the space in our hearts so we can love each other. That’s all He really asks of us. He wants us to surrender our selves to Him. I must surrender those earthly possessions and desires that consume and possess me, and keep me from living His Holy Word: Mercy and Truth. Amen.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Originally uploaded by jb1touch.
I’ve been taught a great lesson tonight (but it really is the culmination of my life understanding – seeing as it has occurred most recent to me).
From time to time it is necessary for the preservation of human consciousness to disengage from one’s reality and explore the possibilities of humankind from perspectives different from one’s own.
It’s the experiences and thought transformations suggested, that help to create a greater appreciation for all of God’s creation. We are all alike in so many ways. Some are more able to share stories and relate to a greater variety of humans than others who have not yet opened themselves to the possibility of our human condition. We all need certain loves and acceptance, we all need spiritual guidance to navigate the unknown world – which paradoxically is a different reality for each human being. For those seeking to learn divine inspiration and understanding, the end result should always be universal and unconditional love for everything on this planet.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

with each passing hour

It seems I grow more enamored by Portland as I remember the fond appreciations that grew here. They are the little things - brief interactions on the bus, passing new neighbors on the street, they feel like the things that make a community - each individual keenly yet almost unconsciously aware - we are all part of a community. We as individuals color this beautiful peoplescape that is inspiring and endearing at the same time. There is social and/or natural stimulation at every corner.
I got my bike back today and was fully grateful for the fact that good use was made of it in my absence. It's almost like an instrument being played continually instead of being hidden in a closet somewhere (like my bass at mothers'). I'm grateful to Mike as he is to me and that's just beautiful.
A wonderful time was had by all tonight as Tara made an excellent soup and salad while Michael provided artwork stimulation and Matthew provided musical conversation, Lucy and Alex shared fabulous stories of Minnesota.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

a shift of focus

Today I started an internship with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. I will appreciate my co-workers who are both very intelligent and delightful ladies about twenty years older than I. On the same day, I've just met my boarding host for the duration of the internship, she is twelve years my senior and is a PR manager for Tri-met here in Portland. She happily admits that she lives in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, although I would guess that the gentrification happening in St. Johns is creating a bit more of a socio-economic spread. Nevertheless, I am delighted to be among fellow humans in the struggle against the man. Big brother will soon be watching if the Patriot Act is extended.
I feel I must divert much of my attention however to the job at hand. Catharine (my fellow intern) and I have been tasked with some PR and outreach already and we both feel we've been tossed right into the thick of it. But this is nice, Our supervisor Jenny is friendly but overwhelmed with work and there is much to be done. We are all grateful for these endeavours shall prove uplifting and educational by the end.
Today we had the priveledge of observing an energy audit by Doug who is a solar power consultant. The Zen Buddhist space we visited was very well kept and organized. The refrigerator was home to some sublime magnet phrases, but none which I can remember offhand. I learned about the basic design and function of the photovoltaics which operate much like a series of batteries being charged by the sun. A persistent shadow over a portion of the cells will cause the series to become interrupted and will cease to function properly. Therefore it is best to have an unobstructed south-facing roof for best deployment. We also learned today that available solar power in the Pacific NW is relatively equal to the rest of the country on an annual basis. The humidity of the East and Mid-west summers reduce the effect of sunrays on the modules. And of course the climate is milder here with less temperature extremes which means the energy required to condition the building is less. Doug is very cool and Catharine and I enjoyed our time with him and Kakumyo of the Zen Buddhists.
I was grateful for the chance to discuss theology with Catharine who studied it in college and was a Woodstock hippie back in the day. She's a member of United Church of Christ which I was eager to learn more about. I also inquired about Assembly of God and she felt that the two are worlds apart in terms of faith. I increasingly feel that greater extremes of faith can exist under the breadth of Christianity than there are between some sects of Christian, Muslim, and Judaism.
Well in all honesty, Jesus taught us such a good and simple way of life, I don't really understand anything that perverts His message in any way. Catharine spoke of a teacher of theology who termed this way as Christ -ean, to cleanse the word Christian from the mainstream orthodox dogma.
On the bus ride home, I spoke with a young lady who was on her way to church. I asked about her congregation and she said they were very inclusive in their membership and that they had a band and a choir. She invited me to go and told me where it was but I can't remember the name. I will check out the Ainsworth UCC this sunday, depending on what Dustin wants to do. Then the other church on Sunday next. Praise God.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A sticky situation for Journalists - what about integrity?

open message to

I've lost so much respect for Free Press. I've just read your appeal for a federal sheild law for reporters who protect whistleblowers. That sounds fine but you're using Miller and Cooper as examples for why we need this. I find that just simply OUTRAGEOUS and DISGRACEFUL! Shame on you. Don't you understand that these reporters are not protecting whistleblowers? This is such a complicated issue with these two and you're glossing it over implying that they're trying to protect whistleblowers - who are you? Some Karl Rove operative? This is disgusting and I sincerely hope you reframe your appeal. Have you seriously looked into what Miller and Cooper did and their relationship to the administration? I doubt if you'd be portraying them as some kind of martyr if you knew. I'm sorry for the tirade but this is so low and deceitful. Perhaps you can clarify why Miller and Cooper are deserving of federal protection. I'd love to hear your story. If you'd like to hear another side to the story please visit the dailykos.
I look forward to your reply.

On Thursday JULY 14 Responds:

Free Press' ( position opposing the jailing of journalists and supporting a national shield law was taken after significant debate and consideration. As a result of the overzealous federal prosecutor in the Plame case, no reporter will be able to promise confidentiality to a source. The national shield law we are supporting would safeguard reporters' ability to protect their sources unless there was no other way to obtain information for a criminal investigation. Such protections already exist in over 35 states --and they should be extended to the federal courts. But more important than the particulars of one case is the larger principle at stake: without the ability to shield the identity of a whistleblower or source, investigative journalism would be impossible. No reporter who wants to do real journalism can function if their sources can't trust them. Nobody from inside the government -- regardless of their political affiliation -- is going to step forward if they can't be protected. It is doubful that another Deep Throat would step forward today without a shield. If a crime was committed in the Plame case, the prosecution should be pursuing those culpable -- not the journalists who they tried to manipulate. The fact that Karl Rove and Judith Miller are involved in the Plame case is obscuring the big picture. Reporters and whistleblowers must be protected or journalism will get even worse and those in power will be even harder to hold accountable. A reporters' promise of confidentiality is a cornerstone of a free press.