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27 April 2009

Forgive us our debts...

I am neither an economist nor the daughter of an economist.
Yet it seems to me that something is wrong when the way to save our common economy is to spend, not save our individual resources.
I know that when we as individuals fall into economic difficulties, the economy will not spend its wealth on us.

I think of the early forms of the ancient prayer...
Forgive us our oipheimata - debts - as we forgive our debtors (oipheletais).
Forgive us our hamartias - sins - as we forgive those who are indebted to us (opheilonti).
And the earliest of all, Mark:
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Beloved in heaven may also forgive you your paraptomata - trespasses.
It is not as simple as to be in debt is to trespass, to sin.
But is is that debt makes people vulnerable to exploitation. And that a financial system that requires exploitation - and an underclass (or several) to exploit is inherently sinful.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Forgive us our sin as we forgive those who sin against us.
Forgive us for placing ourselves in debt and holding others in debt.
Forgive us for trespassing against ourselves and others.

Forgive us for sinning against ourselves, each other and You.

Of Patrimony and Matrimony

Patrimony is one's ancestral legacy, in a word: heritage.
Matrimony is one's spousal union, in a word: marriage.
Patrimony is passed down through the ages.
Matrimony is temporal and temporary, (F/LDS theology not withstanding.)
In spite of all of the matriarchs and their daughters, female judges, women prophets, female disciples, saints and martyrs, the heritage of the Church is still constructed as a patrimony.
And that there is no word for female ancestral legacy reveals the limits of the sanctified imagination ~ as my ancestors taught me. (The designation of the corresponding term for something other than a corresponding body of knowledge eliminates the possibility of deploying the "natural" term for this natural purpose.
If a thing cannot be named, it cannot exist ~ as my sages taught me.
Now, where's that Wikedary?...

26 April 2009

Homophobia Kills

Our children are killing themselves because they believe that they are better off dead than living in the world we have created.

They would rather be anything - including dead at their own hands - than to have one more person call them by a gay slur.

They know that their parents will hate them, that God will hate them and they already hate themselves.

It doesn't and shouldn't matter that they are not gay or straight or even aware of their God-given sexual orientation.

They are children.

And so are their tormentors.

Their tormentors are other children who have been steeped in the homophobia - no homohatred - some say misanthropy that pervades our society, homes and congregations.

These children have been taught to hate as agents of our society.

They are our enforcers.

Children are flexible.

They can be retrained, retaught.

Children can be taught to love themselves and other people.

But they must be taught by people who love themselves and other people.

Perhaps the most difficult task of all is reaching a child who is not yours, whose parents, family, culture and congregation present a united front of hate and spiritual violence, sanctioning physical violence.

Train your children in the right way,

and when they are old, they will not stray.

Train your children in homophobia and hatred,

and when they are old, their hatred will become greater.

Train your children in loving-kindness, and when they are old,

they will love others and perform acts of kindness.

Broad Church

What are the limits of the breadth (Breath) of the Church?
Something less than the embrace of God.
The edges of the Church's limits are sharp and ragged ~ wounding, killing.
The Church is limited by its own vocabulary:
Ekklesia - a hellenized assembly with all of their cultural baggage: hierarchy, patriarchy, kyriarchy, dualism.
Oikomene - the (divine) household: a thing of walls and territory and boundaries and limits as focused on keeping insiders inside and outsiders outside except when converting outsiders and forcefully divesting them of their essential identities.
Must we fall so short of God?
Might we extend our embrace in imitatio Dei?
Might we approach something like infinite love?

25 April 2009

Heterodoxy or Heresy

What is heresy?
Is heterodoxy heresy?
What is orthodoxy?
What are the essential core elements of Christianity?
Virgin Birth?
Biblical literalism?
Biblical Inerrancy?
American nationalism/patriotism?

Must I believe all of the above?
Must my praxis reflect all of the above?
Is there some critical core mass?

Who decides? God and the Church... Who is God? What is the Church? Who speaks for God? Who speaks for the Church? Whose voices are heard? Whose voices are silent? Whose voices are silenced?

It seems to me that the shouters - not those filled with the Holy Ghost as my ancestors would say - but the yellers and the violent, they have defined God, Christianity and the Church for the rest of us.

They have labeled some of us as heretics, murdered and martyred us.
Yet we survive. We are the Church.

And I, I speak to and for God.

22 April 2009

When Will I See You Again?

In the Oral Torah of enslaved Africans in the Americas,
our sages taught:

Soon'a will be dun wit da troubles of da worl'
da troubles of da worl'
da troubles of da worl'
soon'a will be dun wit da troubles of da worl'
I' gwine home to live wit God.
I want to see my mother...

Will we see our loved ones again?
For those who believe in heaven, the answer is yes.
People imagine seeing their loved ones ~
children who have died too soon, perhaps in the womb,
parents, lovers.
How will we know them? What will they look like?

I know a mystic who has seen the other side.
She says, Each soul transforms through each age of their lives,
even the ages they never reached.
Each soul can be seen as they were and as they would have been.
The bereft mother can see the child she lost
and the woman she would have been.
Each soul is in constant flux, musical, lyrical and fluid.

On that day, we shall know and be known.

21 April 2009

Inner Visions

2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a woman in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.

Our contemporary world is much less comfortable with visions and people who have them than the ancient world. Even in the world of religious belief and practice, mystics and visionaries are often executed first and canonized later.

But that doesn't stop the dreams, or their telling.

I know a woman who has seen visions of God and saints in heaven. And I know from the ordination boards on which I have served and with which I have worked that this would have rendered her unfit for ordination in the eyes of many. In the eyes of some, psychological evaluation and medication may have been deemed essential.

But the dreams, ah the visions!

A waterfall of molten metal, flashing gold and silver and reflecting a light dazzling and warm as far as the eye could see, from straight up and to each side. The sound of thunder and crashing waves. She knew it was speech yet could not understand the words. And behind the curtain of undulating metal there was... The dizzying assaults of visual and auditory stimuli stilled just enough to interpret them. Not a curtain, but a hem. And above and behind the hem...

I saw the Living God sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of God's gown filled the temple of my sight.

Unrolling the Scroll

Unrolling this digital scroll
with fear and trembling
anticipation and trepidation
I begin a new thing.

My whispered words take flight
in rays of light.