Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Power of Witness

In this video, Peter Gabriel talks about how people can be tortured, raped, and hacked to death, yet have their stories denied, buried and forgotten -

unless they are captured on video.

His program, Witness works to put cameras - and now mobile phones - into the hands of human rights workers around the world so that people can see the truth of what's happening to real people - real men, women and children - across the Globe.

Yet, these terrible injustices are not just occurring in Third World countries.

Life-wrecking abuse and injustice is alive and well in the U.S., in our fields and slaughterhouses.

For instance, in Florida, migrant workers are locked up, cheated out of pay, robbed of their names, stacked 10 to a room. It's modern day slavery in which immigrants have become a 20th century slave class, used and thrown away and scapegoated by business and politicians alike while being labeled as "aliens," "illegals" and "criminals."

Will we continue to turn away from their suffering? Will we be like the apostle who denied Christ? Remember what Christ said: that how we treat the least of our brothers is how we treat Him.

See this video in which Gabriel hopes that, through awareness, we can respond with compassion and reach for the Light.

As Horace Mann wrote:

Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.

What can you do?

1) Contribute what you can to Witness.

2) Don't be afraid to speak up against those who advocate for oppression and apathy.

3) Affirm this world is being transformed through awareness and empathy, compassion and activism, and through bringing the Light of God's Love here, on earth, to right the wrongs.

The problems of the world have a human face. Make it your business to look into it.
Destitute, afflicted, tormented. Hebrews 11:37

To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is a sin. James 4:17

I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality. 2 Corinthians 8:13, 14

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Targeting Immigration: Immoral Politics

The article, Impounded Fathers gives us stories of human suffering, stories like that of the immigrant father from Honduras who was imprisoned, then deported from the U.S. after a routine traffic stop in Miami.

Forced to leave his wife behind - who was also detained by immigration officials - he also was forced to leave his 5- and 7-year-old sons behind, who were placed in foster care.

Not understanding what had happened, the boys, when they were taken to visit their mother in jail, asked why their father had abandoned them. Realizing that the only way to reunite his family was to allow his children to be expatriated to Honduras, the father resigned himself to this, only to get caught up in a custody fight with American immigration officials who have threatened to keep the boys permanently in foster care on the premise that their parents abandoned them.

And thus are hard working people - who have slaved in this country as farmhands in our fields and butchers in our slaughterhouses, low paid assemblers in our factories and lower paid janitors - dehumanized and abused.

Ah, but this kind of heartless goose-stepping is only getting rid of about 18,000 people a year. We have 12 million immigrants to dispose of. If we aren't going to grant them amnesty and citizenship, then what do those who hate these people (and they are people with hearts and souls and hopes and dreams) propose to do about it once we lock them in?

As Lawrence Downes writes in 'Silent Amnesty': Where The Hard Right Goes Soft On Immigration :

Once we lock down the southern border, we lock ourselves in with 12 million illegal immigrants. Let’s assume we don’t want to deport them all, with a forced-resettlement program big enough to empty the state of Ohio. If we don’t want another Trail of Tears and don’t want anybody legalized, we will have to get rid of these people some other way.

This is where the rigor of the right turns to mush. Mr. Romney talks as tough as anyone about securing the borders and despising amnesty. He is proud of the way he tried to heap layers of misery on illegal immigrants when he was governor of Massachusetts. He calls the legalization provisions of the Senate bill utterly unacceptable. But he has laid out no alternative.

Why not? Why have Mr. Romney and all the hard, hardhearted radical "right" politicans - who are so, terribly, awfully wrong - not proposed some final way to "get rid" of our "illegals?"

1) Because their policies, taken to their extreme, are inhuman. There is no solution, not unless we wish to be the next Nazi Germany, building concentration camps and ovens for an American-style "Final Solution."

2) Despite whether the vehement hate expressed by politicians against immigrants is real or affected, it's a paper tiger: a political wedge used to manipulate votes. Although these politicians may pander to Neo-Nazis who might jump on a "Final Solution" bandwagon, their real goal is the maintainance of a confused immigration policy that creates a scapegoat, that forces immigrants to skulk around underground in order that they (the hard right politicians) have someone to kick around before elections.

3) Our economy, since our inception, has been built on the backs of slaves. While slavery is no longer legal, our immigration laws have been designed - purposefully - to bring us the next best thing: a powerless, voteless, cowed class of low paid workers unable to unionize, for fear of deportation. The system we have didn't happen by accident. It's desired by those who make higher profits because of it.

4) If we undertook mass deportations, our entire country would become a nation of spies dedicated to emptying itself of the very people who keep it going. At the very least, with our fields and slaughterhouses empty of workers, the nation would starve.

To treat people like objects, to hate and despise people while exploiting them should not be an American value.

I pray God no one thinks it is a Christian value.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Evil: The Absence of Truth

Charlie Rose interview: Al Gore on the need for truth

M. Scott Peck, the author of The Road Less Traveled wrote: "Evil is the absence of truth."

If so, the United States of America is in the grip of evil, because truth has been replaced by lies, conjecture, gross commercialism, a rejection of science and the reduction of political questions to a matter of "spin."

No one can seriously deny that "spin" is the substance of our discourse today.

Even the idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old has gotten enough media attention and "spin" so that those few who insist on trying to lower every other Christian to their level of ignorance, are gaining ground in what should be a joke, not a debate.

As Michael Patrick Leahy, editor of the Christian on-line publication Christian Faith and Reason writes:

"The premise [of the earth being 6000 years old] worked well for The Flintstones cartoon show, but has zero credibility within the scientific community in general and the Christian scientific community in particular. Most Christians, and almost all Christians who work as scientists are 'Theistic Evolutionists.'"

Yet, we can call upon no one to remedy this but ourselves. Blaming others - fearing others - is a waste of time and feeds the beast.

American monk Thomas Merton wrote: “There is no use in our being upset by weakness and sin in anyone, we are all in the same boat…” and we are “…responsible to everyone for everything.” He urged, instead, that we “…come to terms with what is inmost in our own selves,” be someone “…who identifies himself with the sinful and suffering world in order to call down God’s blessing upon it,” and “…take upon oneself all the guilt.”

[Quotes: "Striving Toward Being, The Letters of Thomas Merton and Czeslaw Milosz," November 9, 1960, p. 98, p. 39; "Contemplative Prayer," p. 30, para. 3, s. 2; p. 31, para. 1, s. 1.; "Striving Toward Being, The Letters of Thomas Merton and Czeslaw Milosz," September 12, 1959, p. 55.]

Merton is correct. So how do we take responsibility? Start by watching this must-see interview of Al Gore by Charlie Rose in which they talk about how fragile our democracy has become, and what our response must be.

Our democracy is in peril because the public forum has been filled with banality and exploitative messages designed to sell products, confuse us, and grab our attention from what matters.

There is no longer any effort to lay out the pros and cons to an argument during "news" segments. Everything reported is "spin" - sound bites and "campaigns" to sell ideas. Facts and evidence no longer matter, as they once did in our republic. The most effective and well financed campaign succeeds in selling a course of action, no matter how flawed.

For instance, before the War in Iraq began, Senator Robert Byrd speaking to a near empty Senate, raised intelligent - and accurate - objections to the invasion. But no one was there, no one was interested in the facts - not the Senate, not the media, not the American people.

I remember that time and how, to simply mention the facts or raise questions about the wisdom of going to war, was met with angry faces and charges of being "a traitor" or "pro-terrorist."

I wrote an op-ed piece at that time arguing against the war and read it to my critique group. Not one person even heard the quality of the writing itself. They didn't give an actual critique. Instead, the men - who had gotten red in the face and were furious - condemned my ideas. Their "critique" consisted of generalizations they had been fed by the administration and parroted by the media, after which they claimed I "didn't understand."

The last four years and the debacle that has unfolded has shown that they were the ones who did not have a firm grasp on the facts.

How did that happen?

Through the use of Republican think tanks, strategists, marketers and lots of money, a skillfully crafted campaign of emotion manipulation was produced to embed the message within us that war was what we wanted - and what we needed.

As Bill Moyers said, in his speech to the National Conference For Media Reform:

"'In Orwell’s 1984, the character Syme, one of the writers of that totalitarian society’s dictionary, explains to the protagonist Winston, 'Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.'

An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only on partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, to ask questions and be skeptical. That kind of orthodoxy can kill a democracy — or worse." ~ Bill Moyers

Over 3000 American families have lost their loved ones - with tens of thousands grieving over the injuries sustained by those who have come back maimed - because that kind of media control works - and worked in 2002 - 2003 when those messages, promoting war, were broadcast thousands of times by FOX, and by every other network who had gotten the message from this administration that to try to present the facts would insure those networks lost money and lost their seat at the news table. By design, no alternative voice was heard.

Gore quotes Andrew Card who, in a moment of unusual candor before the 2002 elections, answered a question about the timing of the media campaign to build support to invade Iraq as follows: "well, when you have a new product to launch, it's customary to start your campaign after Labor Day."

So the war in Iraq was a product launched. Imagine. A product that has killed so many and destroyed a country. And many are still buying it.

As Jonathan Mermin says, “In other words if the government isn’t talking about it, we [the news media] don’t report it.”

We tolerate this. Not only that, but we parrot how all the lives will have been wasted if we withdraw. Is this not a tragedy? That we will sacrifice even more lives to live in denial that the ones lost already were lost in service of a partisan strategy to control opinion and national direction?

As Americans, we have a problem. Other than PBS - which has been de-funded and its overseeing corporation packed with right-wing ideologues (Republican strategist Grover Norquist vowed the GOP would "stick a knife in" and kill once and for all) - there is no television media that we can believe. Yet people watch TV an average of 7 hours a day. As a result, we are, literally, having democracy programmed out of us.

And that is the intent of the radical right-wing that created this game.

As Moyers said in regard to the tremendous success of his PBS program NOW: "The more compelling our journalism, the angrier the radical right of the Republican Party became. That’s because the one thing they loathe more than liberals is the truth. And the quickest way to be damned by them as liberal is to tell the truth."

Christian moralist Thomas Merton saw this trend back in the 1960's and detested it, urging people to reject "the gray slop of images" with which we are being programmed.

We know a politician can say anything and - even if he is lying - he won't be debunked. Rather, the opposite is true. A campaign can be started by monied interests to convince voters, through swift boating that an honest politician - or a veteran - is a liar or a traitor, which is what happened to John Kerry and, before the 2006 elections, Patrick Murphy.

Not only does the media not tell us - loudly - who the monied interests are behind these baseless attacks, it feeds on them. Neither does it dissect what politicians say and point out untruths. In fact major media doesn't usually even cover what's important. Instead - when it mentions politicians instead of Paris Hilton's antics - it focuses on how politicians "look" and "deliver" and "sound convincing."

Since most U.S. media is controlled by five mega corporations - that want to continue to control and manufacture public opinion - millions have been spent on campaigns 1) to kill Internet radio (which will be fined out of existence beginning July 1st), 2) to get the U.S. Post Office to raise rates on small publications (which will force many to cease publication) and 3) to abolish Net Neutrality.

Do your nation a favor and watch this video. We are ALL responsible for the decisions made in this country and we cannot blame President Bush or the GOP for it all. We've allowed our consent to be bought, to be manufactured. We share in the blame for the disaster in Iraq and for the disaster - that, to our eternal shame - continues in New Orleans.

As Christians we have a moral responsibility to save the habitability of the earth, which is at risk and which our current administration - bought, paid for and controlled by the oil industry - denies. Yet the handful of "scientists" whom they use to dispute those thousands across the globe who clamor for policy changes to combat Global Warming, worked previously for big tobacco by denying cigarettes were addictive and caused cancer.

As Americans, we have a moral responsibility to save democracy in this country, which is under attack by the radical right wing of the Republican party.

Ask God to make you an active vehicle of truth, social justice, healing and peace. Make it your business to dig out facts and not be fooled by spin.

To do anything else is to practice a dead religion and serve the evil of untruth.
Faith, if it hath not works, is dead. James 2:17

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me. Psalms 43:3

It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. I John 5:6

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Lessons Of The 67 Million Dollar Lawsuit

A good friend of mine is outraged over the 67 million dollar lawsuit against the owners of Custom Cleaners in Washington D.C.

Although my friend is a very good person (who has volunteered hours helping others) and comes across as a very gentle soul, he told me he'd like to throw the plaintiff "over a cliff," especially since Roy Pearson is a judge, himself, and is using his legal expertise to create a living hell for the Korean couple who, allegedly, lost a pair of his dress pants.

And isn't that the natural reaction against outrageous injustice and abuse of power?

Yet, that is not what God is calling us to do.

The thing we must face is that Mr. Pearson doesn't have any characteristic that couldn't be triggered under the "right" - or wrong - circumstances in each of us.

Each of us is supremely capable of tunnel thinking, of becoming outraged over some real or imagined injustice and overreacting. For instance, although Mr. Pearson has not, personally, harmed my friend, my friend would like to "throw him over a cliff."

Yet, to overreact against Pearson like that is to emulate him. In overreacting against him, we feed the very problems within our psyches that he represents.

Pearson is simply "the canary in the coal mine" of our collective subconscious. He's blasting our ears with a shrill warning about our own, individual need for change. The question is: Will we hear the call to change ourselves, or will we cop out by hating him?

Of course it's easy to get angry, defensive, afraid that someone will do that type of thing to us. It's a natural gut reaction to want to "solve" the problem by just blowing him away. But we're in funny times. Get rid of Pearson - without facing our own "inner Pearsons" - and another will take his place, formenting an even bigger miscarriage of justice.

The point is, we are each members in giant systems of injustice. Can we say we are not when billions of people are living under $2 a day, 840 million live with chronic hunger and forty million people will die of starvation this year?

From World Food Program:

In southern Sudan, the hungry eat seeds which, normally toxic, become edible only after a ten day soak, while tree bark has been favoured in North Korea.

Some mothers, who don't have any food, boil stones in the hope that their children will fall to sleep while waiting for their "supper" to cook.

We each must recognize that our contribution to injustice - which can be be made through inaction - is just a matter of degree. Yet, until more people start to understand this and react differently, things are going to continue to break down into the kind of insanity we are seeing because it's not coming from one or two individuals, but from each of us.

Of course there's a part in each of us that wants to throw Roy Pearson over a cliff! We clawed up out of the mud through evolution. Our biology is violent. Our fight or flight response is engaged with the speed of a hair trigger and easily overpowers the more rational part of the brain. This is why road rage is such a problem.

Therefore, no blame is attached to having such feelings, as long as we don't act upon them.

Yet it is our responsibility to recognize that such feelings - even if we do not act upon them - are not helpful, and that we must be willing to take this opportunity to influence the whole by urging our personalities to move closer to our Higher Selves.

The goal before us - in this violent and difficult time of clashing ideologies - is to be able to see that the most extreme characteristics of humanity are expressing and calling each of us to make choices about who we intend to be.

Why? Because the goal of the each human being - whether he or she knows it or not - is to merge one's personality with one's Higher Self - the God self, known as "The Christ Within" or, as my friend says "the saintly self."

It takes a lot of patient work and there is backsliding, but there is no other path that will take us to a compassionate, fairer and safer world.

So, while we may fall on our faces with hate, it is our responsibility to drag ourselves back up into love. We must will ourselves to evolve our consciousness, and work to find ways to be fearless without hate.

Until we do that, we can expect the situation to continue to degrade. Why? Because the "high" and "low" - spiritual and material - "saint" and "sinner" aspects within us all are in conflict within each of us.

Evolution of the body was only God's first step in creating us. Now we are working on evolution of our minds.

Where Christians have failed God is through denying His process. We will get nowhere denying the facts of evolution. Neither are we helping when we avoid personal responsibility for the condition of the world by blaming "the devil."

It has been a Christian tradition to isolate oneself from the real world - hence monasteries and cloisters. In the U.S. we "regular" Christians flock to "safe" suburbs - so we don't come in contact with the "bad" stuff. We also, often, live in denial of our own "evil" professing to love and forgive everyone when we have done everything in our power to avoid being tested.

Unless one is the actual Christ, one is unlikely to have learned to love unconditionally. That's why environment is so important. We tend to conform according to our environment. Yet even in the safest environments American Christians are still self-destructing. That's why, in an October 1, 2003 poll conducted by Focus On The Family, 47% percent of families said pornography was a problem in their home and Safe Families reports that over half of evangelical pastors admited to viewing pornography.

We must stop denying that we are part of the problems we see "out there."

We must accept that we need to deal with this stuff internally instead of pointing our fingers at others. Insisting that social problems lie outside of us is supremely unhelpful and robs us of the opportunity to heal ourselves and our collective.

As Christian mystic Thomas Merton wrote, "We must come to terms with what is inmost in our own selves..." or, in other words recognize that everything "out there" is "in here" and "...take upon oneself all the guilt."

When we do that, we are living the life of The Christ. As we move into a higher perspective, we will truly begin to see what Jesus taught us - that there is no one to blame and that our main work - if we would make the world better - is almost all internal.

Perhaps that realization has finally dawned in Ireland where two sworn enemies Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness have joined to form Ireland's new government.

Make no mistake, these two men did not do this alone. There's been a change in consciousness among the people of Ireland that is allowing this to happen. And this is a great sign because if this kind of positive change can happen there, it can happen anywhere.

In regard to how to help resolve the 67 million dollar lawsuit, pray for and bless not only Mr. and Mrs. Chung, but also Mr. Pearson. Affirm the suit dissolves into the nothingness from which it came. Sit with your eyes closed, love your Source and Creator God for several minutes and then turn that great love toward the people involved. Visualize the love of God as White Light and see it dissolving the problem. I guarantee you will have a positive effect not only on this suit but on the climate of distrust that pervades the nation.

Yet, even more than sending healing to this one particular bit of chaos, if you can, through prayer and meditation, get to a place where you can "hold harmless" those who frighten you - if you can see a man like Roy Pearson as a test for yourself rather than an enemy - perhaps even see what he is doing as a cosmic joke rather than allowing it to engage your fear and loathing - you can help evolve humanity.

And wouldn't that be a nice thing to do?
I reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it. I Corinthians 4:12

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

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Friday, April 20, 2007

"Christian" - A Commitment, Not Just A Label

Beware of those calling themselves "Christians" yet who do not model their lives in anyway upon Christ's.

For example, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who has been indicted on corruption charges, appeared on Charlie Rose last night, April 19th, in an interview.

Mr. DeLay, who epitomizes what the Republican party stands for these days, calls himself a Christian. He made the following statements:

In regard to the tragedy at Virginia Tech:

"We need to remove the ban on guns on the Virginia campus and allow people to defend themselves and allow people to get conceal carry licenses."

In other words, he said that if more people brought guns on campus, students would be safer.

I only wish that Charlie Rose had asked him this question:

Mr. DeLay, if concealed guns make people safer - why did you did not work to reform your own place of work, the Capitol, and end the ban on guns there while Republicans were in power and could have passed such a bill?

Surely, if he is not a merely a hypocrite but actually believes in the pro-gun philosophy he endorses, he would have felt safer knowing that everyone in the Capitol - from the janitor to the Whip - was armed?

Yet, you and I know he would never dream of introducing such a bill. He wouldn't dream of allowing people who came and went - including other representatives - to carry guns into the Capitol building.


We all know the obvious answer. It wouldn't be safe for him. The presence of guns make people less, not more safe. So just as it wouldn't be prudent to allow them in the Capitol, it is insanity to allow everyone who wants to carry a gun to do so on our college campuses.

The fact is, every developed nation on earth spawns the kind of disturbed individual as Cho Seung-hui.

Yet the United States is the only nation in the world that insists on arming them.

Why? The weapons manufacturers and the NRA are allowed to, literally, call the shots over three hundred million people

Therefore, it is no surprise that we lead the world in these kinds of grotesque tragedies that other nations manage to avoid through proper gun controls.

In regard to education, Mr. DeLay said this:

"I think we ought to abolish the office of education. It's [education of our citizens] not a federal responsibility and it shouldn't be."

In other words, people - no matter their economic condition - should not be educated unless they can pay all costs of it themselves.

Furthermore, Mr. DeLay evidently believes there should be no standards for education. He would make education - and literacy - of our citizens optional.

Imagine - as the entire third world struggles to achieve literacy and some degree of education among its citizens - Mr. DeLay would turn back the clock and throw us into the Middle Ages.

Bottom line, if you're poor, you do not deserve to learn how to read. One can interpret Mr. DeLay's position in no other way.

Of course this would serve him and his kind very well.

Those who cannot read or write, and those who have not been taught critical thinking, would be unlikely to every find out the degree of corruption that is rampant in Republican-brand politics so that Mr. DeLay and his party could continue to get elected based upon lies and distortions, and continue their economic rape of the nation.

A case in point, President Bush changed 90% of environmental laws to our detriment. For instance, the Appalachian Mountains - and the communities below and around them - are now being systematically destroyed through mountain top removal mining.

Lastly, Mr. DeLay painted himself as a victim in regard to his criminal indictments. He warned the American people against those who would "win at all costs and destroy people in order to win power and hang onto that power."

Ironically, Mr. DeLay described himself and the actions of the GOP perfectly.

John Dean, former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon has explained in Conservatives Without Conscience how the Republicans, under Tom DeLay, completely subverted the democratic process from 2000 to 2006 by excluding democrats from the legislative process, crafting legislation in private sessions and forcing votes in violation of house rules.

Democrats, thinking that the American public would not care about how the rules were being broken - and that Republicans would distort the issue as they did everything else - thought it would be futile to try and explain procedure to a public that makes decisions based on ten-second sound bites.

Sadly, they were probably right.

Given the incredibly dirty tricks - and outright lies - that Mr. DeLay and his party used in 2000 and 2004 to get Mr. Bush elected - not to mention what appears to be illegalities in the way he got Texas reapportioned - he was surely warning us about himself and his party when he said that the American people had to be "warned" about those interested in:

"Winning at all costs and destroying people in order to win power and hang on to that power."

I must wonder: is he a very crafty politician projecting his own sins upon the other party or he is simply, in the final analysis, without insight?

Either way, what a grotesque individual!

If only all national politicians were forced to answer questions and go through a round of televised debates before their elections. I would hope that someone like DeLay would not be elected - or re-elected - if his hazy thought processes were clearly held up to the light of day.

Maybe the entire process of campaigning as we know it should be abolished and replaced by widely broadcast forums and objective debates, both on a state and federal level. Otherwise, how can we know the true character of those for whom we are voting?

Surely, although Mr. DeLay calls himself a Christian, anyone who is aware of his career of questionable activities can tell that he does not follow Christ's basic principles.

And anyone who watched him and listened to his words last night could see that he has trouble defending his own positions - and could not defend them in the light of Christ's example.

Would Jesus say: "forget the poor - don't educate them?"

Would Jesus say: "carry a gun and be ready to shoot anyone who threatens you?"

Would Jesus lie and connive for power and later project his own misdeeds upon others?

You know the answer.

Mr. DeLay is a self-styled "Christian" in name only. It has been convenient for him to label himself as a Christian and use a Christian front as a cover for his questionable activities. It has been useful for him to beat the drum against abortion and divert attention away from all his corrupt practices.

For instance, in 2003 Majority Leader DeLay set up a charity for abused and neglected children, with part of the funds going to the 2004 GOP convention.

The New York Times described it as "aides to Mr. DeLay... acknowledged that part of the money would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises. ... 'They are using the idea of helping children as a blatant cover for financing activities in connection with a convention with huge unlimited, undisclosed, unregulated contributions,' said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington group that helped push through the recent overhaul of the campaign finance laws."

Beloved, being against abortion does not make you a Christian. Being a Christian is more complicated than that. It requires an intention to do good, to be honest, to be kind, to be generous and practice forgiveness.

If we based all our decisions for voting upon this criteria - asking how Christ-like a candidate is rather than how well he attacks and smears someone who is pro-choice - we would have a far better government - and a far stronger nation - than we have today.

But if we keep on voting for people just because they say they are Christians, the coals that are falling on our heads will continue unabated. Being a Christian is more than a label. It is a lifetime commitment to do good.
Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth. Matthew 22:16

I have given you an example , that ye should do as I have done to you. John 13:15

The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to that that are bound. Isaiah 61:1

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

On Kindness and Saving The Earth

Everyone is talking about what happened at Virginia Tech. All I will say is that it is a mistake to characterize Cho as "a madman" or "crazy" as some have done. To do so keeps us from asking the right questions.

I may comment about what happened in the future but not now. People are in a state of shock and grief. It is not the time for analysis nor a time to demonize Cho, but a time to pray for those who have lost their loved ones. Ultimately, this event calls us to be real in our lives, and to be as kind to each other - including strangers - as humanly possible.
What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy god? Micah 6:8


I have written before on the need for Christians to spearhead a movement of environmental activism. Sadly, that need is more urgent than previously thought.

It appears that, in regard to global warming, the release of methane into our atmosphere is the big "sleeper" threat that has not been publicized.

Scientists have documented that methane has been "pushing up" under the ocean, as the ocean has warmed, creating pockets - underground volcanoes if you will - and they bode ill for our future.

The reason for the concern is because, as the seas warm and the gas expands, those underground extrusions must eventually burst releasing methane into the atmosphere.

What does this portend?

"A warning of" what this could mean "occurred in 1986 when lake Nyos in Cameroon 'burped' an amount of gases killing 1800 people, following a much smaller scale disaster on neighbouring lake Monoun two years earlier, which killed 37 people.

While carbon dioxide has been fingered as the main culprit, there seems to have been a "fiery" component to the eruption indicating possible presence of combustible methane: "Skin discoloration found on some victims were tentatively interpreted as burns, but this diagnosis is still controversial. Witnesses on topographic highs report a loud noise originating from the lake and, in the case of lake Nyos, flashes of light visible over the lake".

Worse, Greenland's glacier is melting faster than it was thought "like a bathtub with holes drilled into its bottom." This means global warming could be happening far faster than people realize. If so, the release of methane may be inevitable because much methane is stored in permafrost and, as more permafrost melts, more methane will be released.

As John Acheson writes:

"How likely is it that humans will cause methane burps by burning fossil fuels? No one knows. But it is somewhere between possible and likely at this point, and it becomes more likely with each passing year that we fail to act.

So forget rising sea levels, melting ice caps, more intense storms, more floods, destruction of habitats and the extinction of polar bears. Forget warnings that global warming might turn some of the world's major agricultural areas into deserts and increase the range of tropical diseases, even though this is the stuff we're pretty sure will happen."

Once triggered, this cycle could result in runaway global warming the likes of which even the most pessimistic doomsayers aren't talking about.

The granddaddy of these catastrophes occurred 251 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when a series of methane burps came close to wiping out all life on Earth.

More than 94 percent of the marine species present in the fossil record disappeared suddenly as oxygen levels plummeted and life teetered on the verge of extinction. Over the ensuing 500,000 years, a few species struggled to gain a foothold in the hostile environment. It took 20 million to 30 million years for even rudimentary coral reefs to re-establish themselves and for forests to regrow. In some areas, it took more than 100 million years for ecosystems to reach their former healthy diversity.

As news media continue to focus all attention on the death of the 31 Virginia Tech students - even as hundreds continue to die daily in Iraq - a disaster of vast proportions is preparing to unfold. I still think we might avert it. But we have very little time.

This past winter I stopped eating meat. Besides the suffering that goes on in slaughterhouses - which far surpasses the brutality of the Canadian seal hunt - the environmental impact of raising animals for food was the "straw that broke the camel's back" in making meat utterly unappetizing to me. By going vegetarian 36 fewer animals - give or take - will die a year, but more than that, there is the decrease in the greenhouse gases that are generated by raising animals for food.

I really don't think Global Warming is going to shorten my life, although I may be wrong about that. But the idea of virtually all life on earth being wiped out - along with the best of what humans can be - is monstrous.

We give expression to God here on earth. To destroy ourselves - out of neglect, ignorance or apathy - is a slap in the face of our Creator.

Instead, we must all do everything we can to save the planet, save the animals and save each other, for in doing so, we glorify God.

You have a wonderful brain and a wonderful mind. Your heart is big and bold. Pray to God today and ask for guidance on how you can best serve the causes of preserving the earth and spreading kindness.

For inspiration, see how one man is encouraging people to generate their own electricity for household uses while, simultaneously, improving their health.

If only Cho had stopped focusing on his resentments. If only he had opened to God, opened to love and been able to forgive any slights he received. Imagine if he had turned his great power to be destructive into a great intention to do good.

Let his failure be a lesson to us all to dig deeper, try harder and turn to God to help us become more loving and more helpful, no matter how lonely or abandoned we have felt, or what has happened to us in the past.

If we open to the truth, we will find out that we are not alone.
In him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:38

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace. Job 22:21

Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. John 16:32

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Must Go

Michael Meyers, executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition and a former assistant national director of the NAACP, writes in The Washington Post article Let the Idiocy Be Heard that Imus's radio program should be kept on the air.

I could not agree less.

After decades of studying history, politics and psychology, I am convinced that the minds of people are as malleable as water. They will fill with whatever is poured into them over time.

As a result, people become what they hear and see. Their minds can rise to greatness, or descend to the depths, depending upon that to which they are exposed.

And you know all the rubbish we are exposed to today, from all corners.

This is why we must continually call upon God to purify our thoughts, to fill us with love and guide us in right action. It is so easy to take offense, to disdain, to demean, to diminish and to laugh at others.

A glance at the events of the twentieth century alone shows us that there is, apparently, no limit to the ability of people to scorn, abuse, torture and kill their brothers and sisters without conscience.

It is psychological fact that most people need very little encouragement to behave inhumanly. Approval or encouragement to do so is often enough.

For instance, put an individual into a group of people banding together in hate - and as in Rwanda, spurred on by radio hosts - and that person easily becomes a different human, a human that knows no moral bounds.

All it can take is to believe that those we hate are different - and less - than we are. Yet, if you look around the world today, you see that belief is rampant.

Yet, as Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram demonstrated in his experiments - and documented - it doesn't even take that. People easily subvert their own morals to the authority of someone else:

"Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."

So how does this relate to Imus and the fact that MS NBC has decided to drop him?

I maintain that, to allow a person such as Imus to encourage people to disdain others - not for the quality of their thought or the morality of their actions, but for the color of their skin - is the most basic type of injustice, and something we can no longer afford because it feeds the injustice and inequity perpetrated against people of color in this nation and abroad.

Thomas Aquinas addressed the idea of injustice and clearly came out against ignoring it when he wrote, “Unreasoned patience sows the seeds of vice, nourishes negligence and encourages not only evil people, but good people to do evil.”

In other words, he who does not feel anger in the face of injustice and does not act to try and remedy that injustice is, himself, feeding injustice.

If we would, as a nation, be on the side of justice we must begin to stand up against planting the seeds of injustice. Those seeds have born too much fruit, including the torture that has gone on in Guantanamo.

Allowing Imus to infect us with racial hatred makes us complicit in the perpetration of injustice we see being inflicted upon dark-skinned men and women at home and across the globe.

Those who do not insist he be taken off the air, and who think that giving racists a voice somehow weakens their cause, are deluding themselves.

Worse, as good men and women of conscience, they put themselves in the position of abetting the injustice which they despise.

Imus, one of the indicators - and insidious fertilizers - for thoughts that have, collectively, worked to keep racism alive, must go.

He has been a test of our tolerance for racism, smallness, meanness. We have tolerated him up until now, but even MS NBC now sees that it is now time to take a stand and say to him and to those who would continue to poison the world with racism:

"No more. We will no longer support this."

I applaud that move.

The best we can do for Imus is pray that he awakens from the profit-seeking delusions that made him cater to the worst in human beings.

The least we can do is thank God that MS NBC has finally seen the light.

There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Freed Brits Are Home

Iran has released Britain's sailors.

Thank you for your prayers. With every prayer you sent a stream of God's Light to them.

In gratitude, please say a prayer of blessing and thanks for Iran, her people and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. No, Iran is not perfect, which is all the more reason to ask for blessings on her behalf.

Sadly, Tony Blair is giving Iran no credit nor apology. He is neither expressing gratitude to Iran or to those who prayed for the sailors' release.

Instead, Tony Blair is crowing that Great Britain gave nothing - no concession, no money and not even an apology - in exchange for their return. Worse, he is launching a new, antagonistic posture by alluding that Iran is supporting terrorism in Iraq.

Beloveds, this is no way to thank Iran - or God - for such a gift and blessing.

Mr. Blair has shown his true, ungrateful nature, that same unhelpful nature that helped President Bush create the War in Iraq.

Simply put, he would have loved to invade Iran, but it was untenable. A hypocrite, he, obviously, was speaking false words of concession to Iran while his ego was smarting over being unable to do anything about his sailors.

Now he appears to want revenge, even if it's a petty, name-calling kind. Because the sailors spoke so well of their captors, I suspect that Blair's desire for revenge is boiling over within him.

Can it be any clearer that this war was started by men full of arrogance and blind self-importance? Men who think that "might makes right" and are too blind to see the obscenity of misusing the might at their fingertips? Men whose wealth and power tend to dissolve their inhibitions, deactivate their empathy and make them act recklessly.

Blair seems incapable of accepting an olive branch when it is handed to him. How tragic that he is not embracing this as an opportunity to stop his sabre rattling against Iran.

The lesson for the people of Great Britain - and the lesson for Americans, 80% of whom say we are Christians - is this:

Will you follow the non-violent teachings of Jesus Christ? Will you practice gratitude and humility? Will you reach out a hand in peace? Will you take the opportunity God has arranged for you? Or will you slap God's hand away because he is working through a man whom your leaders have told you is your enemy?

When military might is your idol and you embrace it as a replacement for faith in the power of God's Love to work miracles, things can only go from bad to worse, as they have in Iraq.

Please, pray for Iran, her people and president.

Please pray for those British soldiers, that they are not accused of being traitors for responding as human beings, not puppets.

Please pray for the people of Great Britain, that they bring in more enlightened leadership.

And please pray for Tony Blair. Ask that his foolish, hardened heart is awakened to the tragedy into which he has led his people - and would lead them further - through unnecessary hostility and war.

We must realize, Beloveds, that what is being played out on the world stage is a reflection of the little dramas that go on, daily, in our own lives.

We each have these same choices to make every day, in terms of whether to nurture petty hurts or forgive a stranger, neighbor or a relative.

Are we, too, incapable of recognizing a gesture of reconciliation? Do we refuse to to be grateful, and choose spite, instead? Where is it that we are choosing to shut our hearts down, rather than opening them?

This entire drama gives us the opportunity to ask the same questions of ourselves, that we would pose to Tony Blair.

Beloveds, when the people of Britain decide the world is too small to nurture resentments and start wars of aggression, they will have a new leader who leads them in peaceful ways.

Likewise, when we in the U.S. decide our hearts are more important than our egos, and that our souls are more important than being able to crow about some imagined moral superiority, we will be incapable of electing a radical hawk like George Bush.

Yet, to see the change you want, you must begin with yourself. So pray for Bush and Blair and, even as you work to reverse the policies they have put into motion, forgive them. Realize that they are giving you an opportunity to live consciously, and to choose between faith and fear.

Perhaps, more importantly, will you forgive that guy who cut you off on the highway and made you feel afraid or stupid? Or do you refuse?

Your answer will determine the state of the world.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21,22

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Oh, Now Blair Is Disgusted

Tony Blair says it is "disgusting" that Iran is broadcasting videos of the sailors it is holding captive.

"I really don't know why the Iranian regime does this [show captives on TV]," because it just arouses disgust, he told reporters Friday.

So he is saying that the broadcasting of videos showing healthy, unfettered captives is loathsome, sickening, nauseous?

Oh, please.

Iran's taking of the sailors may be described as stupid, as provocative, as wrong, as frightening, as bullying, as counterproductive, as desperate, as playing on fear, as counter to God's desires.

But showing that those sailors are alive and well and that they are not - as were the prisoners in Abu Ghraib - chained, stripped, tortured, raped and otherwise abused, is hardly "disgusting."

No, "disgusting" is what was done in Abu Ghraib, what is being done in other Iraqi prisons and, despite the widespread outrage about alleged similar abuses in Guantanamo, what is being sanctioned by keeping that prison camp open and operating.

What is, perhaps, even more "disgusting" is the fact that approximately one-third of our female troops have been the victims of rape, or attempted rape, by their male "comrades" in arms. From a New York Times article on wide-spread Post Traumatic Syndrome exhibited by female soldiers:

"Much of what we know about trauma comes primarily from research on two distinct populations -- civilian women who have been raped and male combat veterans. But taking into account the large number of women serving in dangerous conditions in Iraq and reports suggesting that women in the military bear a higher risk than civilian women of having been sexually assaulted either before or during their service, it's conceivable that this war may well generate an unfortunate new group to study -- women who have experienced sexual assault and combat, many of them before they turn 25.

A 2003 report financed by the Department of Defense revealed that nearly one-third of a nationwide sample of female veterans seeking health care through the V.A. said they experienced rape or attempted rape during their service. Of that group, 37 percent said they were raped multiple times, and 14 percent reported they were gang-raped. Perhaps even more tellingly, a small study financed by the V.A. following the gulf war suggests that rates of both sexual harassment and assault rise during wartime. The researchers who carried out this study also looked at the prevalence of PTSD symptoms -- including flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbing and round-the-clock anxiety -- and found that women who endured sexual assault were more likely to develop PTSD than those who were exposed to combat."

Rape is a fact of life in Iraq. In fact, several women soldiers have died of dehydration rather than risk rape by venturing out from their barracks at night for water when they were thirsty.

Given all we know about the lies and motivation to start the war, and the atrocities that have occurred because of the war, perhaps what is truly "disgusting" are the attitudes of Bush and Blair who began this odious war.

Yet, if it is also "disgusting" [i.e. sickening] for Iran to rub Blair and Bush's noses in their own sorry muck, then I stand corrected, because that is exactly what Iran is doing.

Iran is saying: "Look, we can take prisoners and treat them like human beings. We, whom you have labeled as 'evil' are behaving far better than you, who label yourselves as 'good.'"

Regardless of the fact that Iran is scaring the hell out of the families of the sailors whom it has taken, regardless that we are all frightened over possible outcomes both on behalf of those sailors and for what it means in the larger scheme, regardless that Iran has retaliated in a flagrant move to chastise Britain not just for the inhuman treatment of terrorism suspects but for the arrogance and stupidity of sending sailors into Iranian waters, anyone who is not completely blinded by his or her own ideology must concede that Iran is making a valid point or two here.

Despite how badly the war goes, Blair and Bush continue in their blind arrogance, one sending troops into Iranian waters, the other insisting that his "surge" will produce a miracle and transform the debacle that is Iraq into a peaceful nation.

God help all the troops - and the civilians - who suffer at the hands of these fools.

Politicians in glass houses really shouldn't throw stones. The fact that Bush has papered over his glass house so no one can see what's going on inside, is irrelevant. The fact that Blair tries to equate the broadcasting of Iran's videos with what we saw come out of Abu Ghraib, is pathetic.

It would be better for Tony Blair to admit publicly that Iran has made her point. Meanwhile, Great Britain has given Iran hostages to use as pawns in her desperate goal to get the West out of the Middle East.

God help the hostages, even if they are being well-treated.

Please pray for them. Affirm that they are released, safe and sound, and returned to their families.

Please pray that, somehow, we are guided to make amends for starting the War in Iraq.

And pray that we gain enough wisdom and love so that we never ever enter into another war with such arrogant blindness. Certainly war - and fighting - must be our last resort, if we resort to it at all.
The battle is not yours, but God's. 2 Chronicles 20:15

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Loans That Change Lives

As multi-national corporations praise the benefits of globalization, the international Trade Unions Congress reports that the manner [specifically the laws under which the world-wide exchange of goods is being carried out] is short-changing the poor, driving them deeper into wretched poverty.

A few companies, like Starbucks, follow their own path and do not go along with the philosophy of making the powerless poorer just because they can.

However, the majority seem interested only in enriching their own pockets and the pockets of their shareholders to the maximum degree possible, despite the very real human cost as that extra margin of profit is extracted. Working with those corporations, is the World Bank, which has never made micro loans to the desperately poor. Yet as micro-lenders have proved, very poor people can use even very small loans to create small businesses and rise out of extreme poverty.

Thankfully, individuals and small, organized groups of people have come forth to help the poor help themselves.

One of these is Kiva.org. Praised by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, CNN Money, The Village Voice, the BBC and Business Week , Kiva acts as an intermediary between you and the very poor person you would like to help.

Through Kiva you can loan a person in a Third World country enough money to start a business and change his or her life. As the loan is repaid, you get your money back.

Imagine - you can change a life with as little as $25. Kiva works with local micro-lenders who screen applicants and approve business plans. All you have to do is choose a person whose business plan you want to support, then charge the amount you want to lend on your credit card and let your money get to work. As the loan is repaid, you get your money back.

This is a great way for us in the First World to share our immense blessings with those in the Third World whose raw materials and cheap labor have, for decades, enhanced First World lives.

Go to Kiva.org, make a loan of $25 today. Then give yourself a pat on the back for giving love in yet another way, just as you were sent here to do.
As my Father sent me, even so send I you. John 20:21

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Let's Grow Environmental Evangelism

There are over a billion Christians in the world. The United States, which effects the world so profoundly, is home to over 200,000,000 Christians.

So I was excited when 86 evangelical Christian leaders decided, about a year ago, to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."

Among signers of the statement, were the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges and leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army. Also signing on were several pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller The Purpose-Driven Life.

So I really expected the Christian wing of the Republican party to listen to their contituency and get on board this environmental ark, so to speak.

I thought that, at last, instead of starting more culture wars or wasting energy in partisan politics, that the most influential Christians in U.S. politics would urge us to make peace and unite in regard to the most pressing issues facing humanity: environmental degradation and Global Warming.

As a result, I envisioned Christians in the United States uniting their hearts and minds to compel political leaders to not only stop corporations from polluting, but reverse the damage that has been done over the last 200 years.

I thought we might even hold out an olive branch to those not of our faith and join with them in assuming responsible stewardship of the earth.

I considered what an excellent opportunity this would be to heal the relationship between Christians and science, since science must play a part in finding our solutions.

I imagined that this life-or-death issue - that will affect us all, no matter who we are, where we live, what we believe or how much money we have - would unite us all, help us make the necessary changes in our own lives and help us transcend the issues that have exhausted our nation and ourselves.

I pictured us all working together for this great good, and how that would energize and empower our entire nation and give our lives meaning.

After all, can you imagine what will happen when Americans stop focusing on disagreements and start working together for this common good?

I thought that, surely, this is a "pro-life" issue that all Christians can get behind. In fact, we could spark a world-wide Christian environmental movement.

Can you see it?

Can you picture one billion Christians approaching the challenge of stopping Global Warming with the fervor of a revival, with faith infused by the Christ within? Our actions might even help heal the anti-Americanism we are seeing.

What miracles we could bring about under the grace of God!

Alas, if the radical right-wing political contingent that claims to represent American Christianity has its way, none of these empowering visions will manifest. These particular evangelicals, apparently, prefer for us to continue full steam ahead in befouling and destroying our only nest.

Rather than uniting Christians to save the world (and their grandchildren) they still want to fight with other Christians and non-Christians about abortion and homosexuality. In fact, they want to get the attention of Christians off Global Warming and back on their made-for-TV culture wars.

Those radical Republican "Christians" who had the chance to get something right after having squandered so much time, money and faith in dividing the nation, have decided to work against saving mankind.

They have now sent out a message to their faithful telling them to shut up about climate change.

You know, if I used the language of evangelicals, I would say that these men are doing the work of the devil.

But it is not the devil that is tempting them.

At best, they are misguided in that they cannot see the forest for the trees. They would concentrate on "family values" even though there may be no families left in a hundred years to practice those values.

At worse, they are acting on their own selfish desires to keep those who follow them under their thumbs. It is, after all, in their interest to keep the nation - and Christians - divided because they can play one against the other that way, to accomplish their own agendas of gaining and keeping personal power. None of them, after all, will be around in one hundred years to see the consequences.

If these men are motivated by selfish reasons then, surely, they are Christians in name only. Regardless, they give Christianity and Christians a bad name.

While it's tempting to feel anger or despair, I ask you to pray for the misguided souls who are trying to downplay Global Warming. Pray for James Dobson, Gary Bauer and Paul Weyrich who told the policy director of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Rev. Richard Cizik, to shut up about Global Warming.

Affirm that God awakens them to the consequences of their actions. For with every day we delay in cutting CO2 emmisions and conserving energy, we seal the fate of not millions, but billions of poor people who are living on the edge as we speak.

We also seal the fate of not just polar bears and penguins who seems so far away, but of the honey bees that pollinate our crops and make food production possible.

"Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food," said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation. Yet honey bees are disappearing in such record numbers - perhaps in the billions. Our food supply is endangered.

Called Colony Collapse Disorder, at least part of the problem seems to be related to changes in climate. There was an unusally warm autumn and an early winter in beekeeping states in 2006.

As Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of a megachurch in Longwood, Fla., said: "As Christians, our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to love our neighbors and to be stewards of God's creation. The good news is that with God's help, we can stop Global Warming, for our kids, our world and for the Lord."

Thank God for this growing awareness and bless all those Christians, such as Reverend Hunter, who signed the initiative.

Pray for those opposing environmental action and affirm that God either gets them on board, for the highest good of all inhabitants of the earth, or that those men, to include James Dobson, Gary Bauer and Paul Weyrichlose, lose their influence and are replaced by more responsible stewards of the faithful.

Prayer To Grow Environmental Evangelism

Dear God,

In Jesus' name we affirm that all Christians awaken to the danger of climate change.

In Jesus name we affirm that it is easier and easier for us to conserve energy as individuals and as a society.

We thank You, dear Jesus, that it is a joy to become aware and purchase products only made by environmentally responsible companies.

We thank You, Jesus, that powerful Christian evangelists promote environmental activism among their faithful.

We thank You that, together, we are invincible in reversing the damage caused by pollution and Global Warming.

We thank You, Jesus, that all those who would continue to despoil the earth or advocate the despoiling of the earth for selfish political purposes disappear into the nothingness of political obscurity from which they came.

We thank You, Jesus, that all those who would continue to selfishly despoil the earth for profit lose their market share.

Thank You, Jesus, for empowering us so we now reclaim, restore and protect our beautiful earth.

She is Your beautiful gift to us and we protect and preserve her now in gratitude.

And so it is.

According to their pasture, so were they filled. Hosea 13:6

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It's A New Year - And A New Chance

It's a new year and, if you haven't started, it's time right now to prune your inner and outer life.

Do you have a drawer that you can't stand, stuffed with junk?

Clean it out. Be ruthless.

You will have trouble doing it, of course, because that drawer is an outer representation of some inner chaos within you. And, of course, we all resist changing even when we know it will help us in the long run.

Do you have a behavior that doesn't serve you?

When you decide you are not going to put up with the chaos of that awful drawer anymore, be sure to do it with intention. Imagine that you are getting rid of all the junk in your psyche that keeps that unwanted behavior alive.

"As above, so below" - everything is connected. What we see in our lives is a direct result of what's in us.

If you don't like some of what you're seeing - either in your individual life or in the world - then it's time for change.

But you knew that.

It's time for a new beginning and new hope; time to rekindle the belief that we can fulfill the longings we feel for "something better" - be it more time, more beauty or more connection in our lives.

Come on this journey with me, for I'm traveling right along side you, out of sight but not out of mind.

Hold on and let's go as, once again, we take on the challenge of perfecting our minds and souls so we can love life, ourselves and others more fully.


I Start A New Year And A New Life

Dear God,

I come to You as I come to no one else,
for You know me as no one else does.

Thank You, God, that as I pray you fill me with your transforming energy.

It is a new year and You beckon me to forgive myself,
for I am innocent in Your eyes.

It is the least I can do for You, Lord;
the least I can do for all you have given me
and continue even in this moment to give me.

I forgive myself for the year that has passed,
for hopes unfulfilled,
for dreams abandoned,
for love unreturned
and for another year of aging.

I forgive myself for all the self-criticism I delivered to myself
- which surely you felt -
and for the pain I have endured at my own hand.

I forgive myself for wanting to give up,
and for indulging in negativity.

Lord, I did the best I could,
so I forgive it all and let the old year
- and the old life - go.

Today is a new day in a new year.
The past is gone; there is only now.

I ask for Your help.

Remind me, Lord, to live in the Now
and listen to Your loving voice.

Let me hear You.

Let me know, in my heart of hearts,
That I am good enough today
In this moment

I commit to transformation.
I commit to bringing peace to my soul.
I commit to calling my power back.
I pledge to use my power for the healing of myself
And the healing of the world.

I start over and create a joyous new me.

Thank You, Eternal Father
Thank You, Eternal Mother

I love You.


adapted from Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New Life
The Lord's mercies...are new every morning... Lamentations 3:22-23

I will put a new spirit within you. Ezekiel 11:19

Monday, December 18, 2006

Call On Your Guardian Angel

Fitting in your Christmas shopping around work and family demands can become stressful. Yet, the season is supposed to be a time to reconnect with Spirit and feel peace.

To help you stay focused on your real mission at Christmas - the spreading of love - use this prayer to help you get through the next few days with grace and ease. Remember, your Guardian Angel is always with you, waiting to be acknowledged and called upon for help.

I Am In The Arms Of My Angel

Dear God,

As I drive during these holidays, I affirm I am safe,
for I am in the arms of my Guardian Angel.

In the arms of my Angel
I am guided to be observant,
I never drive when too tired,
And I slow down rather than speed up.

Lord, I know that my purpose in driving
Is the transporting of Your Love,
Not the frantic searching for last-minute gifts.

So, as I shop, fill me with patience and understanding.
If someone is pushing to get by, inspire me to let him go.

Help me remember that this is the time to exchange love

- not horn honks
- not insults
- not insurance policy numbers.

And, in traveling distances to be with family,
I affirm that my Angel keeps me and my family alert.

We allow enough time to get to our destination,
We are sensible and make safe decisions if the weather turns bad,
And we rejoice that we can all be together next year.

During this magical time, I am in the arms of my Guardian Angel.

Thank you, God, for this help and love.


adapted from Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New Life
He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalms 91:11

My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths. Daniel 6:22

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Reconnection With The Divine

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, December ushers in winter. Hushed snowfalls and long nights set the stage for powerful reconnection with the Divine during our celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

We in the Northern Hemisphere are most fortunate. Just after we experience the longest night of the year on the Winter Solstice (December 21st when there are 24 hours of darkness north of the Arctic Circle and, conversely, 24 hours of daylight south of the Antarctic Circle) we are reminded through celebration that the source of our being - the Light Of God - never diminishes.

Just as Christ never moves away from us, neither does our magnificent star. As we tilt away, Sol shines as brightly as ever, giving the Southern Hemisphere her summer. There's a cosmic lesson here: the Light never moves away from us, no matter how it seems. So let us affirm that our faith stays as strong as the Light.

My Faith Is Strong

Dear God,

My faith is strong and You work miracles through it
For I am One with You and You fill me with Your healing force.

Together We promote harmony
Together We promote healing of every kind.

In Jesus' name, the One who inspires us to be both human and holy,
We affirm that everyone on this planet works together
United in peace and joy.

Jesus said: ask and ye shall receive
Jesus said: knock and the door shall open

He did not say: figure out what is best to ask and ask only that.
Neither did He say: Your father in Heaven will say "No."
Nor did He say: some doors will be closed to you.

Jesus said, as recorded in Luke 17:6:

If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed,
Ye might say unto this sycamine tree,
Be thou plucked up by the root and be thou planted in the sea;
And it should obey you.

By the power of these words, I am aligned with You,
O Mover Of Heaven And Earth.

My faith is strong and You work Your miracles through it...
...and through me.

And so it is.

Praise Hosanna in the Highest.


Adapted from Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New life
I finished my peace mural - it's six feet tall and 15 feet long - and I will be taking it to a peace conference in Winnipeg sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society. When I obtain a good photo of it, I'll post it here.

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Psalms 37:5

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Create A New Life

I'm working on a large peace project - an art mural - which is exciting. It's something I've wanted to do for years. In a way, I've created a new life for myself in dedicating my life to this work.

If you would like to dedicate yourself to an abandoned dream about which you once felt passionate, consider creating an "inner movie" in your mind in which you begin, proceed through and accomplish your project or goal. To help create your new life, here's a prayer:

I Create A New Life

Dear God,

I create a new life.

To my old life, I say: I release you.

I release fear of smiling at others.
I release fear of rejoicing when I am happy.
I release fear of being myself
And moving to the song within me.

I create a new life.

To my old life I say: I release you.

I release the things that hurt me.
I release resentments against those who could not love me.
I release expectations that are not for me to fulfill.
I release trying to be like anyone else
and look, instead, to being the best "me" I can be.

I create a new life.
I embrace the Holy Spirit of God
And I am led to what comes next.

To my old life I say: I release you.

I embrace a vision for myself as healed, whole and happy.
I embrace a vision of myself as loving, joyful and creative.
I embrace a vision of myself as loved and fulfilled.
I create a new life in which I am wholly adequate.

I create a new life.

And so it is.

From Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New Life

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace! Romans 10:15

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. Philippians 3:13,14

Sunday, August 20, 2006

On Blessing Your Work

Do you love your work? Do you get along well with everyone? If another person is in a bad mood, do you just let it go, or do you let it ruin your day?

Do you complain about what is going wrong? Or do you make the best of it, look for the "silver lining" and praise what is going right?

Do you find fault with your co-workers? Or do you look for the good in them?

Since we spend so much time at work, it's vital that we approach our work with the right attitude so we create positive experiences.

Why? Because good experiences at work will positively impact our personal lives and everyone with whom we interact. Likewise, unhappy or frustrating experiences are likely to spill over onto those we love and poison our family and friends.

If you have great experiences at work then, chances are, you are already doing what the following prayer says to do.

If you dread going to work, then pray this prayer every day in order to begin to change your internal voices so that you create better experiences.

You will be glad you did.

I Create Positive Experiences At Work

Dear God,

By Your Grace, at work:

- I open to wisdom
- I open to discernment
- I open to revelation.

In the course of my work, I interact with people.
They may be sad, angry, or under pressure.
The fact that another person is unhappy
does not mean I need "catch" that unhappiness.

When a person speaks to me
I note if I feel offense.

Then I remind myself that each person has a magnificent Self
- even if that Self is not being shown to me.

I open to wisdom and I know what to embrace
and what to release.

I choose not to take offense, but to bless the person before me and send him or her love.

Likewise, I bless anything that is going wrong and insist on seeing it with humor,

For I know all things pass, especially if I keep my attitude positive.

Let me realize this: I create more.

Whatever I focus on and embrace, I create more of.

So, by Your Grace, I focus on the positive and release the negative:

I focus on the person who is kind,
I give thanks for the person who is helpful,
And I am both kind and helpful to myself and others.

Thank You, Lord, that I am open to hearing Your loving voice.

As a result, I focus on the positive
I release the negative
And I create positive experiences at work.

And so it is.


Adapted from Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New Life
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Acts 9:6

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. Ephesians 4:1

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings! Isaiah 52:7

Thursday, August 03, 2006

You Are A Creator

One of the secrets in life is that God does not create your life for you.

You create your life for you.

Sure, God gives you the energy, makes things happen, coordinates events and creates miracles, but only in response to what you have asked.

The irony is that while you may be asking for positive things consciously, you may be asking for negative things subconsciously.

The way to make your consciousness and subconscious congruent - so you are clear to God and asking for what you want, not what you don't want - is through prayer and positive affirmation.

Prayerforce can help you by filling your mind with positive feelings and thoughts as you read each prayer. On top of this the affirmations in each prayer begin to create a new, receptive place in your mind for more positive ideas and beliefs to take hold.

Once strong ideas of worthiness and joy take hold, it's just a matter of time until your dreams must manifest. That's cosmic law - God's law.

You are a creator and you create your life.

Make it joyful and make it count!

I Am A Creator

Dear God,

I am a creator.

I alter everything through my existence.
I bring things to pass through my actions.
I give birth to new life.

My touch on the world has consequences.
Inform me of them, Lord.

Let my touch alleviate suffering, Lord,
And never cause it.

Guide me, Wisdom of the Universe,
To create in merciful and kind ways
According to my deepest need
And best passions.

By Your Grace I create in joy
Not pain.

I create solutions
Not problems.

I create love
Not fear.

And I create a new me
Who is a believer in miracles.

by Your Grace, I am a powerful creator
Of a new and better world.

And so it is.

Adapted from Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New Life

The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 1 Corinthians 12:7

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Secret

Tonight I watched a remarkable film - twice.

The DVD is called The Secret and explains the power of mind vividly.

We create everything we see. More than this - and this is a lesson I had not really learned - is that our emotions are a barometer that shows us the quality of our thoughts and what they are creating for us.

When we feel bliss, we are on the right track, thinking thoughts that are creating the world we want.

When we feel angry, sad, frustrated or vengeful, we are on the wrong track. We are thinking thoughts that will, eventually, manifest a world of hurt for us.

This is the basis of Carl Jung's quote: What you resist persists.

It is the basis of Biblical scripture that says: Resist not evil.

In other words, do not focus on the evil you see - fighting against it. Instead focus on visualizing the world you want.

Certainly the world would be better off if we all created fun and love for each other, visualized peace and concentrated on creating good feelings.

To quote Esther Hicks, in regard to how we create reality, feeling is everything.

To that end, here's a prayer to create fun - and good feelings - in your life.

I Have Fun

Dear God,

By Your Grace, I'm having fun
As I enjoy, indulge, toy
Laugh, jump for joy or run
- I have fun.

I experience exuberance and zest
Delight and rest
And I've only just begun
- to have fun.

I doodle and play
Moodle and delay
Find a hammock and lay
Under the sun
- having fun.

I do all the things I've wanted to do
Like fly a bright kite, make chocolate stew
Learn to sail iceboats or play a kazoo
Whatever turns my old crankeroo
- I have fun.

Whether singing or playing or dancing or swaying
Writing or planting or designing a shoe
Whatever I'm doing, I have fun with You.

Yes, I'm smiling now, Lord
Because I'm having fun with You.
Yes, I'm here to have fun, Lord, with You.
And I do.

Thank You, Joyful Creator.


From Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New Life
Whosoever keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing. Ecclesiastes 8:5

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace. Isaiah 55:12

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The One Percent Solution

We are Light.

Yet this is not just a spiritual idea.

Einstein taught us that matter is just a form of super concentrated energy, super concentrated light, if you will.

Why is this important?

Because energy vibrates.

And why is that important?

Because during a three year interval, a group of meditators raised the vibration of humanity to the point that conflict began falling away.

It's true.

From 1988 to 1990, at a location just outside New Delhi, India, a single philanthropist supported a group of 8,000 experts so they could spend their time, together, practicing advanced Transcendental Meditation techniques.

During those three years a war between Iraq and Iran that had lasted seven years and claimed millions of lives came to an end, the Soviet Union’s brutal invasion of Afghanistan was called to a halt, the Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union dissolved, and forty years of Cold War ended.



People have a vibration. In fact, as health and safety experts know, different parts of our body vibrate at different frequencies.

In fact, science has shown that our bodies are complex bioenergy fields that exist, grow, work and change in a complex of intersecting and interacting electromagnetic fields.

This means we are vibrating beings in a vibrating universe: beings composed of vibrating light particles that interact with all other things in our world which are, likewise, composed of packets of vibrating light.

Just as a vibrating string can set other strings near it vibrating at a similar frequency - known as resonance - so do the vibrations which we create through our thoughts (which impact and alter the vibration of our bodies) impact and influence the minds and bodies of others.

Given that our vibrations of love and compassion will raise others up and our vibrations of anger, fear and hate will drag them down, we have a decision to make.

In what direction do we want to influence the world? Toward war or peace? Because we are, at this moment, influencing it one way or other other.

Yet - and this is the miracle - higher (positive) vibrations are stronger than lower (negative) vibrations!

To transform our current chaotic world into a peaceful one, we need just 1 out of every 100 people to meditate daily. We need only one out of a hundred people to empty his or her mind of anger and fear and raise his or her thoughts to the vibration of love.

The energy those people generate will provide us with the solution to our current climate of terror, fear, war and chaos. That "One Percent Solution" will raise the energy of the world and begin a shift toward peace, harmony and happiness in which the conflicts we see today are dissolved and everyone starts on an upward shift.

The truth is, we don't need a benefactor to hire 8000 people to meditate. What we need is a commitment on the part of people of conscience to learn to meditate and commit to meditate - and pray - on a daily basis as a means of transforming our world.

Peace starts in the mind, with the emptying out of anxiety, fear and hate and raising one's mental, emotional and physical vibrations so they create inner and outer peace.

Please commit today to becoming part of the One Percent Solution. Then begin to empty out and be at peace with this prayer:

I Empty Out And Am At Peace

Dear God,

A mind can be too full;
Too busy to enjoy loved ones.

Lord, I am willing to be empty
And without expectation.

By Your Grace,
I empty out.

I empty myself of presumptions, desires, jealousies.
I empty myself of fears and requirements.
I empty of the need to control anything
Or anyone.

I step back and pretend I'm an observer of a play.
Empty of criticism towards those around me,
I watch and observe without judgment.

I let others be who they are
And what happens is your sweetest secret:

I find a place of peace without push or pull
And rest secure in the love between our hearts.

Willing to let go,
I empty out
And wait for You to fill me.

I am at peace.

And so it is.
Thou shalt meditate therein day and night. Joshua 1:8

Whatever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Prayer For The Unexpected

Do you fear the unexpected?

Are you always waiting for "the other shoe to drop?"

You can't be blamed. After all, so much of what is unexpected turns out to be negative.

For instance, look at the bombing of Lebanon. Three weeks ago that was entirely unexpected. Likewise the difficulty and blocks in evacuating people quickly was unexpected. For evacuees, boarding ships without food or water or bathrooms was an unexpected and distressing shock.

Yet, to the millions of refugees for whom these kinds of conditions have been normal - people fleeing violence and starvation in Africa, for instance - and especially for children born in refugee camps (and some who live in garbage dumps) - these kind of living conditions are what they expect.

Since we in the West do not expect to be threatened with bombs (or do we, now post 9/11?), hunger, thirst, inconvenience or callousness on the part of government officials about our welfare, it would be fascinating to talk with people recently evacuated to find out what their fears were about traveling, unexpected events and Israel.

Have they felt a great deal of empathy for those displaced around the world? Were they feeling guilty about our comfortable way of life?

Perhaps and, if so, it would make sense that feelings of guilt - or a desire to understand, viscerally, what being a refugee means - put them in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Yet, the news seems to show that many of them are blaming others for their plight.

Of course that makes complete sense, as that is how we are used to perceiving the world. They didn't bomb anyone, they weren't involved in this conflict directly.

But, what they - and you and I - do not understand is that we all are part of it. Our beliefs, our fears, our angers, our complicit approval - or apathy - contributes to all injustice and conflict.

I applaud them all for being there and experiencing, first hand, what it's like to be in a war zone, and what it's like to glimpse what it is like to be a refugee, forced from your home with nothing but the clothes on your back.

They will bring their stories back.

God willing, we will all become more compassionate as a result.

It would be fascinating to talk to them and find out what caused each person's decision to go to Lebanon. What conspired within each person to send him or her this last month - as opposed to last year - to visit or vacation?

Whatever the answers - and they are specific to individuals - what has happened to them will forever color their beliefs about travel, about Israel, about what "the unexpected" means.

As Catherine Shainberg writes in Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming "...in perceiving your world, you create it," because "You make the world fit into the parameters of your...attractors."

In other words, whatever you expect the world to deliver to you - however you expect others to act - that's what you'll get.

Likewise, just as the outer world reflects the state of your inner world, your inner world is a reverse of the outer world.

So, what about us in our safe little ruts here in the West where we feel, even if we don't think it: Please God just keep everything the same, keep me safe?

Considering the change - and the unexpected - that is everywhere, wouldn't it be a good idea for us to affirm that any unexpected change winds up being a positive event for us rather than a negative event?

Yet if we fear the unexpected, it's likely that anything unexpected will be negative.

Therefore, to have more positive experiences we must either change the world or change ourselves.

Which do you think you can do easier?

People keep trying to change the world.

But, unless you have an army and billions of dollars, you cannot impose your will on the world. And even with an army and money your hold will be temporary, especially if you are acting out of selfishness, fear or ignorance.

We can't change the world - not permanently - without changing ourselves.

Only through changing ourselves can we attract what we want - as opposed to what we don't want.

Bear in mind, also, that God blesses only equal contracts. If you try to change yourself so you can use, abuse and exploit others for your own financial benefit, it won't last. Just as Ken Lay lost Enron, so must all injustices be eventually undone.

So if you fear the unexpected, consider a different approach.

Try welcoming the unexpected.

Here's a prayer to get you started:

I Am Open To The Unexpected

Dear God,

I open to the unexpected.
I appreciate the joyously unrehearsed.

In the presence of my family
and in the solitary time I take for rejuvenation,
I see the world with new eyes as I am:

Enraptured by the fragile wings of a butterfly
Engrossed in a book that speaks to my heart;

Lost in tracing silver veins in a maple leaf
Shined upon by the smile of a stranger;

Delighted by the phrasing of a child
Hugged by a friend;

Inspired to jot down an idea
Amazed by a personal discovery;

Freed to create, write, paint, sculpt
Given a message I needed, through a stranger;

Filled with the immense gratitude that creates miracles
Guided to make someone's day more beautiful;

Deeply pleased by the sweetness of my spouse
Invigorated by exercise or activity;

Or awakened to pray for the world.

I am open to the unexpected.

And so it is.


from Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New Life
Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment. Psalms 60:3

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