Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comfort in the midst of Despair

O God, you know the emptiness of my heart. Sometimes I wonder if you are there...if you hear...if there is any hope that my situation will be different. When loneliness looms around me, when my questions are unanswered, when no one seems to care, when days and nights go on and on with no change, when I fall deeper into despair, I pray that you will let your peace fall upon me as gently as the spring rain that waters the earth. Remind me of your unconditional and eternal love for me. Assure me of your presence. Fill my heart with the hope that my life is held in your hand. Lift my pain from so that joy may flow freely again through me. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Article on the Golden Compass Books/Movie

From the Boston Globe: boston.com

God in the dust

What Catholics attacking 'The Golden Compass' are really afraid of

ON DEC. 7 New Line Cinema will release "The Golden Compass," starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, the first movie in a trilogy with the massive budget and family blockbuster potential of "The Lord of the Rings."
Yet, even before it opens, "The Golden Compass" finds itself at the center of a controversy. The Catholic League, a conservative religious organization, launched a campaign on Oct. 9 calling on all Catholics to boycott the film. The group also published a lengthy pamphlet attacking the story and distributed the pamphlet to Catholic schools across the country. Other groups have joined the fray, including the evangelical nonprofit Focus on the Family, whose magazine Plugged In urged parents to keep kids out of theaters showing the film. And the Christian blogosphere is alive with warnings not only about the movie trilogy, but also about the series of books it is based on.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, charges that the books, known as the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, are deeply anti-Christian. Donohue says he fears that the film will inspire parents to purchase "His Dark Materials" for their fantasy-hungry kids on Christmas, unaware that the third book of the series, "The Amber Spyglass," climaxes in an epic battle to destroy God. Some of the book's villains are referred to as the Magisterium - a term used to refer to the Catholic hierarchy. The British author, Philip Pullman, has said openly that he is an atheist, and Donohue charges that his books are designed to eradicate faith among children.
But this is a sad misreading of the trilogy. These books are deeply theological, and deeply Christian in their theology. The universe of "His Dark Materials" is permeated by a God in love with creation, who watches out for the meekest of all beings - the poor, the marginalized, and the lost. It is a God who yearns to be loved through our respect for the body, the earth, and through our lives in the here and now. This is a rejection of the more classical notion of a detached, transcendent God, but I am a Catholic theologian, and reading this fantasy trilogy enhanced my sense of the divine, of virtue, of the soul, of my faith in God.
The book's concept of God, in fact, is what makes Pullman's work so threatening. His trilogy is not filled with attacks on Christianity, but with attacks on authorities who claim access to one true interpretation of a religion. Pullman's work is filled with the feminist and liberation strands of Catholic theology that have sustained my own faith, and which threaten the power structure of the church. Pullman's work is not anti-Christian, but anti-orthodox.
This emerging controversy, then, is deeply unusual. It features an artist who claims atheism, but whose work is unabashedly theistic. And it features a series of books that are at once charming and thrilling children's literature, and a story that explores some of the most divisive and fascinating issues in Catholic theology today.
Pullman wasn't always "the most dangerous man in Britain" as he has been called by columnist Peter Hitchens. Pullman studied literature at Oxford, went on to become a schoolteacher, and then discovered he had a knack for drawing middle-school-aged children to the edge of their seats over classics like "Beowulf." Pullman began to write stories of his own in the early '80s.
It wasn't until Pullman married his talent for epic adventure with the genre of children's fantasy in "His Dark Materials" that he reached a wide audience. The book the movie is based on, "The Golden Compass," came out in 1995 and won the Carnegie Medal, awarded for an outstanding book of children's literature. The sequel, "The Subtle Knife," was released in 1997, and the final installment, "The Amber Spyglass," was published in 2000 to wide acclaim, including the prestigious Whitbread Prize, the first given for a children's book. The series has sold some 12 million copies worldwide.
In interviews, Pullman has gone on record as an atheist, not only doubting God's existence but charging that organized religion has been an instrument of evil in world history. He has criticized C.S. Lewis's Christian allegory "The Chronicles of Narnia," because Pullman sees in "Narnia" a world in which innocence is so prized that Lewis never allows his heroines and heroes to grow up.
But to reduce Pullman to these few juicy sound bites is to ignore the whole of a complex, exuberantly curious intellectual who has infused his writing with a complex, crisply rendered theology.
The trilogy is a retelling of Milton's "Paradise Lost," the classic epic poem from which Pullman borrowed a line, "His Dark Materials." Milton tells of the battle between Lucifer's army of fallen angels and God's rule in heaven. In "Paradise Lost," God prevails. But in Pullman's book, the two child protagonists help to defeat the rule of the Authority and the Authority dies.
When critics say that Pullman's series advocates killing God, this is what they mean. But that is the most literal possible reading, and misses the point of the books.
The "God" who dies in "The Amber Spyglass" is not a true God at all. Pullman's Authority is an impostor, more like Milton's Lucifer than like a traditional conception of God. In the novels, the universe's first angel tricked all other angels and conscious beings created after him into believing he is God, and has spent an eternity building a corrupt empire for the purpose of hanging on to absolute power.
Readers of the trilogy know that the Authority is a tyrannical figure who uses his power to deceive, to conceal, and to terrorize. His death not only liberates all beings, but reveals the true God, in which and in whom all good things - knowledge, truth, spirit, bodies, and matter - are made. The impostor God has spent an eternity trying to wipe out all traces of the divine fabric of the true God - what Pullman calls Dust - because it is so threatening to his rule.
Most Christians are taught to imagine God through the first and second parts of the Trinity, through the Father (God) and the Son (Jesus). Pullman's vision of God is much closer to the third part of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. Dust is the Holy Spirit.
For Christians, then, perhaps the most important concept of all in the story is that divinity isn't just a being, but a substance that loves us and animates us, yet has a mind of its own. In the books, Dust's love for humans is unconditional, even though they often do things to hurt and deplete Dust's influence and presence. Dust has many names in "His Dark Materials": Wisdom, Consciousness, Spirit, Dark Matter.
Dust also has a distinctly female cast. When Pullman personifies Dust, and he does on occasion, he uses the pronoun she. Evoking the third person of the trinity as female is nothing new - in fact it's biblical. Wisdom (Sophia in Greek) is the feminine aspect of the Holy Spirit. One finds God spoken of as she in both Proverbs and the Psalms (among other places). Framing the divine through Spirit-Sophia is nothing new either - this is a move made famous by the work of revered Catholic feminist theologian Elizabeth Johnson, a professor at Fordham, in "She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse," now a classic text among Christian feminist scholars.
God is not dead, then: A false God has died and the true God - a feminine divine - is revealed.
The universe of "His Dark Materials" is far from atheistic or anti-Christian, but to understand why, we must allow ourselves to open up to a theological vision that exceeds the narrow agenda set by some Catholics.
Pullman's Dust certainly moves beyond orthodox Christian ideas about God. Dust is a "spirit" that transcends creation, but all living beings are made of Dust, so Dust is a part of creation. While Dust is indeed the divine fabric of the worlds of "His Dark Materials," Dust is not all-powerful, all-knowing, and immutable. Dust is as dependent on creation for its sustenance as we are dependent on Dust for ours.
This view of Dust echoes many of the theological ideas that the Catholic Church finds threatening today. The most obvious thread is liberation theology, the Marxist and socially progressive rereading of the Gospels born among Catholic theologians in Latin America in the 1960s. Liberation theology teaches that Jesus is a political revolutionary who loves all that God has created and wants all creation to flourish on this earth, not just in heaven. Liberation theology also holds that believers should disregard doctrine that leads to oppression.
This is not an idea in favor with the current leadership of the church. In placing the common welfare above the dictates of church authorities, this movement has sparked a long running battle with the Catholic hierarchy. The Church has issued high-profile attacks on liberation theologians, both in official Vatican documents and, perhaps most famously, in the reprimands issued to the former Brazilian Franciscan priest Leonardo Boff by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a Vatican office led by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The cardinal is now Pope Benedict XVI.
Dust also reflects strains in feminist theology that reframe the divine as feminine and hold that Christians' relationship with the divine is mutual, not hierarchical: We make ourselves vulnerable to God as God makes God's self vulnerable to us. Many see this feminized God as a kind of heresy - a rejection literally embodied in the fact that women are forbidden to represent Jesus through the Catholic priesthood.
Pullman's characters who discover the true God fall so deeply in love with the divine that they will sacrifice everything - even the bonds of first love. They are willing to hold on to this God even if it requires that they wage war with the powers that be, the authorities called Church and Magisterium - those who rule by secrecy and serve a false God who takes the form of the old man in the sky.
It is a beautiful story, and a Christian story. It is a story that could prompt believers to reflect on their faith. It is just not a story that everyone may want you to read.
Donna Freitas is a visiting assistant professor of religion at Boston University. She is the coauthor of "Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman's Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials," and author of the forthcoming "Sex and the Soul" from Oxford University Press.
© Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Friday, October 19, 2007

An interesting way of thinking....

How an “X” Written on Your Hand Can Equal An Act of Kindness... and Improve Lives

By Brian Vaszily, Founder of IntenseExperiences.com

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind. – Henry James

If someone you know reasonably well has written an “X” on the back of their hand, you’re naturally curious what it means. Especially if it is an adult who penned that “X,” as writing on the skin is a far more common pastime of kids and teens.

I am routinely one of those Xing adults.

Perhaps once or twice a month, and despite the fact that my cell phone, computer, watch and probably other gadgets all have audio reminder capability, I’ll find myself scribbling an “X” in the canvas between the back of my thumb and forefinger to remind myself of something particularly important.

Peacock Leaf
”Peacock Leaf,” by Deanna Leonard.

Inevitably anyone who knows me and who sees this has to ask, “What’s that for?” And usually my reason is mundane; the other day I did it to make sure to get my ex-wife a birthday card, for example. “Oh” is all people usually have to say when you give them such boring truths.

But the time before that, about a month ago, the “X” I had scribbled in black on my hand had a more interesting purpose behind it.

Nice Teeth, Brian

That morning, I awoke in one of those super blah moods where I knew that, if I allowed it to, the world and everyone in it was going to grate on my nerves. I realized why I was in this bad mood – not enough sleep several nights in a row, consuming fast food for the first time in a very long time the day before – and I also realized I had better go through certain motions to release those negative emotions before I faced the day.

I went through those motions, but this time – perhaps because I chose to supersize the %$^#& fast food the day before – enough of the blahs still lingered that I had to do something more.

So I decided to try something different.

With a black pen, I created an X on the back of my left hand that was double the size of my normal X. Then I outlined it with a red pen. Now, discounting the voice of an old schoolteacher who warned her students that the ink would surely leach into the skin and poison us, and accepting that my left hand wasn’t the world’s most professional-looking left hand but that was a small price to pay, I felt prepared to face the world.

That’s because that black X in red outline stood for a commitment I made to myself so as not to let my chemical mood get the best of me and ruin my and other people’s day (or worse), and in fact to possibly transform it: no matter who I encountered, the X said, I would pay them a big, honest compliment. Two or three if necessary.

Kindness at all costs, even if I encountered the very devil or the very ex-girlfriend from long ago who stole my entire cassette tape collection.

Since I was the first person I met that day, I looked at my X and then stared into the mirror. “Wow Brian,” I complimented me, “kudos to you for so vigilantly trying not to let your toxic emotions control you.” I also added, “Nice teeth,” because after brushing they looked particularly bright and shiny.

The next person I encountered was my wife. Now, anyone who is married knows that, when you’re in the throes of the blahs, the one other person most likely to pay for it is your spouse. Especially if she’s running late for something and doesn’t like her hair that day. So I looked long and hard at that X on my hand – I would’ve even licked it if necessary – and then paid her a series of important compliments.

And she left the house beaming.

I did the same with my kids and, although both seemed to have awakened on the same side of their beds as me that morning, after my compliments their stomping turned to happier, buoyant steps out the door.

I won’t give you a chronological history of everyone I encountered that day in person, on the phone, and via email or the compliments and kindnesses my X made sure I handed them. But I will share with you two important points:

Three Ghosts Not Required for this Scrooge

First, one of the people I encountered earlier in that day was someone who, in a different, younger life, I would have called a complete and total jackass (in a moment of contemporary weakness I still might use this designation). This person, being full of anger and therefore vindictive, and also being in a position of power, had stabbed me and many others in the back over the years.

I only still dealt with him periodically because business demanded it of me.

The call he was placing to me was not to chat about old times or make amends… on the contrary. Momentarily I wondered if I would fail my X, if I should’ve carved it deep into my flesh versus merely using ink, but I pressed forward. As he launched into the nature of his call, negative tone intact, I dual processed, considering the biggest compliment I could hand him.

When he paused, I inhaled deeply and began: “Before we go on, I just always meant to tell you something despite our history together.” And I proceeded to tell him how much I admired his tenacity in the face of adversity (leaving out his part in the adversity) and several other compliments. (Everyone – and I mean everyone – has some good qualities, something you can learn from or appreciate in them.)

When I finished, and though admittedly I expected him to proclaim my compliments nonsense, an amazing thing happened. His entire tone changed, as did the intent of his call. I could feel him backtracking – still preserving his ego of course – on his intent as he spoke. By the call’s end, he had basically talked himself out of the negativity he had meant to pursue.

I realize kindness is not always this immediately “magic,” and that my compliments to him likely didn’t change the man permanently.

But I also strongly suspect that if I and others more vigilantly responded to his anger with kindness, that act alone really would “magically” help heal his heart and transform his character. His anger had typically been met with more anger and fear – and negative emotions only breed more negative emotions – but what if it had been met with unrelenting kindness? What if it could be?

Though it is perhaps the hardest medicine of all for people to administer, kindness cures where nothing else can.

In Which the X is Transferred to My Heart

The second important point I want to share is that, even before the near-miraculous transformation of Scrooge earlier in the day as noted above, and certainly thereafter, several amazing things happened as I presented compliments and kindness to everyone I encountered:

dB Drag Racing
”Veined Splendor,” by Deanna Leonard.

1) My day brightened… intensely. It is a beautiful thing, and it should be an obvious thing though all too often it is obvious only in retrospect, how shining light upon someone returns light. Simple kind words – to business associates, friends, the man behind the counter at the gas station and other strangers – can transform a day (or more), transforming yours right back.

2) After a certain point, I no longer needed to look and listen to the X on my hand at all. Around midday was the last time I recall needing to look at it, in fact. After that point, the compliments and kindness to friends, associates and strangers just came naturally and easily. It was now penned on my heart (which would make my old schoolteacher really nervous about the ink leaching through if she knew.)

Now, I would love to conclude this piece by noting that since that day I have been committed to constantly practicing kindness, including kindness in the face of adversity.

But that wouldn’t be true.

I don’t always pay sincere compliments to those I encounter, though I have seen the power of it and know doing so would be best. Due to negative emotions or lack of sleep or a headache or any number of other excuses I can muster, I am not always kind … though I have seen how being so can transform people, including me, like nothing else in this world.

I have not been 100% kind and complimentary since then, and I also know I will never be 100% so. But I thoroughly intend to try to be so -- and to kindly forgive myself when I fail and keep trying again – because everything that needs to be said and done can be said and done far more effectively in a kind way.

There is nothing more that we or the world around us needs more than that knowledge, and that commitment.

As J.M. Barrie, author of perhaps the greatest children’s story ever told, Peter Pan, noted, ”Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.”

That is worth remembering, even when it takes a black X outlined in red on the back of your hand to do so

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Daily OM for October 17, 2007

In The Presence Of Difficulty


Compassion is the ability to see the deep connectedness between ourselves and others. Moreover, true compassion recognizes that all the boundaries we perceive between ourselves and others are an illusion. When we first begin to practice compassion, this very deep level of understanding may elude us, but we can have faith that if we start where we are, we will eventually feel our way toward it. We move closer to it every time we see past our own self-concern to accommodate concern for others. And, as with any skill, our compassion grows most in the presence of difficulty.

We practice small acts of compassion every day, when our loved ones are short-tempered or another driver cuts us off in traffic. We extend our forgiveness by trying to understand their point of view; we know how it is to feel stressed out or irritable. The practice of compassion becomes more difficult when we find ourselves unable to understand the actions of the person who offends us. These are the situations that ask us to look more deeply into ourselves, into parts of our psyches that we may want to deny, parts that we have repressed because society has labeled them bad or wrong. For example, acts of violence are often well beyond anything we ourselves have perpetuated, so when we are on the receiving end of such acts, we are often at a loss. This is where the real potential for growth begins, because we are called to shine a light inside ourselves and take responsibility for what we have disowned. It is at this juncture that we have the opportunity to transform from with! in.

This can seem like a very tall order, but when life presents us with circumstances that require our compassion, no matter how difficult, we can trust that we are ready. We can call upon all the light we have cultivated so far, allowing it to lead the way into the darkest parts of our own hearts, connecting us to the hearts of others in the understanding that is true compassion.

Monday, October 8, 2007


How did we get to this place?
Where we may never again see each other's face...
And if we were face to face,
instead of miles from each other's place...
would this painful tearing of each other's hearts continue on?
or would we find a way...
over/under/around/through, I always believed there was a way...
as we wandered further and further into the pain.
And now, I look up, and I can barely see you over there
the anger and pain between us is thick in the air
keeping us both from one another.

We cannot go back
We cannot go forward
The pain consumes us
I am frozen in place
devoid of the grace
to know what to do, what to say, what to be
that makes you know what you mean to me.

How do I say, I am sorry about that day
Mistakes were made on that day
Mistakes were made days after
Mistakes that hurt and killed your laughter,
when I know that were I to change NOW,
turn around,
say it different,
mean it different,
change anything about it,
it wouldn't be believed anyway.

So if I say it one way, I lose you...
If I say it the other way, I lose you...
there is no way to say that doesn't cost me you.
A price too high to pay, really.
But then, I am not the one with the choice here.
And you have made your choice.
And I am the one who will pay
For the rest of my days.
Without my beloved daughter
in my life anymore.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I was told today...

That I'm not a Christian because I believe that knowing GOD through the Holy Spirit is a mystical thing. I was told that anything mystical is not of GOD. And that if I say the Holy Spirit spoke/speaks to me that I am a liar...

So sad, so truly sad that Christianity has become words on a page and not an EXPERIENCE of the heart/mind/soul.

As if ALL THAT IS GOD can be contained in a book...

Why then even send the Holy Spirit if one cannot experience the Holy Spirit...if one's spirit cannot commune with the Holy Spirit? How does the Holy Spirit indwell one if one can not be spoken to by "spirit"???

Thursday, October 4, 2007

On Mysticism...

Mysticism is not the same to every person that experiences it. So, there are various kinds or types of it.. Various mystics adhere to one of two different theories of The Divine: emanation or immanence. In the emanation view, all things in the universe are originating and flowing from God. In the immanence view, the universe is not projected from God, but is part of God.

Mysticism is usually thought of as being of religious in nature, which can be either monistic or theistic. The objective of monistic mysticism is to seek unity and identity with universal principles; while theistic mysticism seeks unity and oneness, but not identity with God.

Apart from religious mysticism is nonreligious mysticism, different though somewhat connected. This is more of an experiencing mysticism through, or from, the earth and nature, although some have thought to have discovered God through such experiences. An presumed authentic experience of mysticism derived from earth or nature is essentially the uniting of the subject and the object. In other words, the person becomes one with the earth and all in it; all boundaries or separation between the person and nature seem to disappear. The person becomes apart of nature, merged with it, and is not separate from it.

Instinctively every one has done what the Pagan religion openly admits to doing, and that is calling Earth, "Mother Earth." This association of Earth as a "Mother" is explained because we all are dependent on "her" for our survival. Just as a child comes to love it's mother who cares and nurtures it, so too, we love our Mother Earth who we feel loves and nurtures humankind as her children. At the very heart of the matter, this is the true definition of mysticism.

Mystical doctrines typically refer to various religious texts from different sects or cultures. Within particular religions, mystical traditions are by nature controversial, and may be considered a heretical or blasphemous belief in some cases. Most mystical teachers typically have some type of history or connection with a mainstream religion even if such belief is actually against their core religion.

The term mysticism means, in part, a stepping beyond traditional interpretation of the religion or belief and mystical traditions are often considered to be more inclusive and universalist, rejecting particular doctrines associated with traditionalist, fundamentalist, or extremist beliefs.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


was in chat with Rob tonight and he wrote a poem on Exhaustion:


Laying back in the arms of my chair
I feel exhaustion wondering if I can bear
Bear the painstaking tasks that come
I want to hide I want to run.

Exhaustion came at the end of the day
I need to keep the debtors at bay
They want my blood, they want my soul
I am too weary to hold my bowl.

I am so tired, I can't sleep right now
I can't raise a smile, I wish I knew how
To be in exhaustion all of my days
I work and work come what may.

For what purpose do I sow these seeds?
Is it for self, is it for greed?
I ponder this question that arises
How many days will be full of surprises?

Finally rest does come to my weary bones
Each muscle aches and I can't condone
Condone the thoughts of giving in
To the lazy side of me that wants to sin.

I don't want to curse God for making it so
Difficult to comprehend the sorrow and woe
The day is long, my back is wrenched
How can I entertain what is meant?

Meant to teach me endurance, holding on to faith
That the day passes quickly, and it's not a race
Each person hits their peak and falls into valleys
A tired worn out soul, exhausted wants to tarry.

When sleep finally comes to this exhausted soul
Resting in the arms of God, I reach my goal
To receive some peace and comfort there
All my days I'll forever be aware.

That God is with me every which way
He turned me loose and denied the grave
Thank you Lord, I am resting in you
I feel your love and I know others do too.

Rob Hough 30/09/2007 12:04

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Many ministers believe that when the wicked die they pass into hellfire, there to suffer endless torture by a vengeful God. Here are ten reasons why Christians who study the Scriptures should reject such a doctrine.

1. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because it claims that the lost will continue living forever, which is contrary to Scripture's plainest testimony: "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 John 5:12). "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20). "No murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15).

2. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because it robs us of our God of love and substitutes a being whose wrath is never appeased. God is "not willing that any should perishm but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:19).

3. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because it cannot be reconciled with the picture the bible gives of Christ. Jesus said, "Suffer (Allow) little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14). Could this Jesus, who gathered little children in His arms and blessed them while here on earth, take little children and torture them throughout eternity?

4. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because the redeemed, who will have a part in the final judgement, could never condemn their fellow creatures - their relatives, grandparents, parents, husbands, wives, and children - to unending torture. Their sense of justice could never permit such an atrocity. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Corinthians 6:2).

5. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because it imposes a punishment all out of proportion to the crimes committed and thus violates the infinite justice of God. "But we are sure that the judgement of God is according to truth against them which commit such things" (Romans 2:2). "I judge and my judgement is just" (John 5:30), Christ tells us.

6. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because it would forever cast a shadow over the happiness of the redeemed to know that somewhere in the universe their own relatives - their flesh and blood - were being tortured, tormented, and toasted over undying flames. But "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Revelation 7:17).

7. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because it demands that an eternal plague of sin taint God's universe and makes it impossible for God to eradicate sin completely from His domain: "Through death he (Christ) might destroy him that had the power of death,that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14). "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

8. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because it perpetuates and immortalizws sin, suffering, sorrow, and pain, and thus it contradicts and nullifies God's promises that these things will no more exist: "And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

9. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because it vilifies God's character and turns Him into a monstrous agent of satan - a miracle worker who keeps the wicked alive moment by moment in a fire that burns but cannot consume, that hurts but cannot destroy. God would have to miraculously sustain the lives of the lost in an aimless and endless punishment. Hence God would in reality become worse than satan himself. Instead, "good and upright is the Lord" (Psalm 25:8; "O taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8).

10. I reject the teaching of eternal torment because of the fruit it has brought forth here on earth. It has caused untold thousands, like Robert Ingersoll, to turn their backs on God and become His bitterest opponents.

Moreover, it has caused thousands of others to do unspeakable things to their fellow humans in the name of God. Many who led out in the infamous inquisition of Europe and the witch-hunts of early America were religious men who believed they were carrying out the will of God. These devout persecutors tortured heretics in order to save their souls from the eternal damnation in the flames of hell.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I cried..


I cried again today...
As I watched you slip away
Out of my life
Because of the strife...
And I cried again today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sometimes the right song...

Comes on at the right time...In this case, we were in the car on the way home from work last night, tense, not speaking to one another, when this song came on...how appropriate, I thought...


I'm tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

Can't you see that you're smothering me
Holding too tightly afraid to lose control
Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
And every second I waste is more than I can take

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

And I know
I may end up failing too
But I know
You were just like me with someone disappointed in you

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
I'm tired of being what you want me to be
I've become so numb I can't feel you there
I'm tired of being what you want me to be

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hope lost...

Sixteen years ago I made a mistake in judgment that caused several disastrous incidents, with one specific incident in my family that actually happened 15 years ago this July. I freely admit I made a horrendous mistake. I carried that burden totally alone for 10 years, without even believing GOD would forgive me before I broke down in a prayer session in a friends home and finally asked GOD for forgiveness. I believe GOD and almost all of my family has forgiven me except the one who was involved in the incident that July.

I have struggled with this for 15 years. I have paid for this emotionally and spiritually for 15 years. And today, for the first time, I've lost hope.

I truly believed that someday, somehow, we would find a way to work through it, past it, beyond it someway. But today, I admit defeat. It can't be done. I can't break down or through the barrier. I admit that my mistake has irreparably damaged my relationship with my daughter. It's my fault. I made a bad call, and I admit it.

In my 32 years of parenting, it's the worst judgment call I've ever made. It will torment and haunt me forever.

Does this mean I'm a bad mother? It does to my daughter. And when I see myself through her eyes, it does to me. It makes me doubt my very being.

When I see myself through the eyes of my other five children, I can almost believe I'm an OK mother. But the one view poisons the whole to the point where I ache with the spiritual burden and know that even though I've thrown the burden on GOD, I don't let him keep it. I take it up again believing I need to continue to be punished, believing that if I accept enough punishment she will come to forgive me and in forgiveness love me and find healing with me...

Until today.

Now I clearly see that there isn't any price high enough for me to pay that will ease her pain and create in her a forgiving heart. And today, I lay it down at the feet of GOD and say, I failed. I created chaos and I can't fix it, please, GOD, touch her heart and heal her. And I turn and walk away.................................

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Max Lucado Devotional

Practicing the Presence
by Max Lucado

How do I live in God's presence? How do I detect his unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear? A sheep grows familiar with the voice of the shepherd. How can you and I grow familiar with the voice of God? Here are a few ideas:

Give God your waking thoughts. Before you face the day, face the Father. Before you step out of bed, step into his presence. I have a friend who makes it a habit to roll out of his bed onto his knees and begin his day in prayer. Personally, I don't get that far. With my head still on the pillow and my eyes still closed, I offer God the first seconds of my day. The prayer is not lengthy and far from formal. Depending on how much sleep I got, it may not even be intelligible. Often it's nothing more than "Thank you for a night's rest. I belong to you today."

Give God your waiting thoughts. Spend time with him in silence. The mature married couple has learned the treasure of shared silence; they don't need to fill the air with constant chatter. Just being together is sufficient. Try being silent with God. "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10 NIV). Awareness of God is a fruit of stillness before God.

Give God your whispering thoughts. Through the centuries Christians have learned the value of brief sentence prayers, prayers that can be whispered anywhere, in any setting.

Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God. By giving God your whispering thoughts, the common becomes uncommon. Simple phrases such as "Thank you, Father, Be sovereign in this hour, O Lord, You are my resting place, Jesus can turn a commute into a pilgrimage. You needn't leave your office or kneel in your kitchen. Just pray where you are. Let the kitchen become a cathedral or the classroom a chapel. Give God your whispering thoughts.

And last, give God your waning thoughts. At the end of the day, let your mind settle on him. Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God. Thank him for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his mercy. Seek his strength. And as you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise: "He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep"(Ps. 121:4 NIV). If you fall asleep as you pray, don't worry. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father.

From Just Like Jesus
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1998, 2001) Max Lucado

Quote from a Forum I am on

On a microscopic or metaphysical level, the bad stuff in human essence or spirit which causes sin is the stuff that won't get in (to heaven). I've seen enough discussion here to know that this notion will be pretty universally (no pun intended) agreed upon by most here, but I reduce the equation further by suggesting that behind every bit and piece of suffering in this life, behind the motorcycle accidents, the stubbed toes, broken hearts--in any content of human suffering--Christ is working in the parallel dimension of the soul's being, making constant 'course corrections' in human spirit (with carryover effects in mind, like its proressive movement away from evil and toward good, and the experiencing of discomfort from the process) maintaining spiritual life in innumerable tiny deaths and rebirths in the ethereal fabric of spirit. In other words, I suspect literally all suffering is related to an equal work in the spiritual realm of death and rebirth. This death/rebirth of falsity in spirit in its restoration to truth (life) appears to have direct correspondence to affliction experienced in time and space...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The restoration of all things

THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS The purpose behind this page is simply to give scriptures which are overlooked by those following the false doctrine of an eternal hell. May eyes and ears open that are sealed. Those who instruct others, that part of God's creation will spend eternity in torment, are unwisely creating fear and separation, which is not from God's spirit. Hopefully, some of these verses will bring you peace and wisdom, as to the redemption of all. God loves the hopeless ones and so should we. After all, they are part of us.

"God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him may be saved."
(John 3:17)

"Who comes down from heaven and gives life to the
world." (John 6:33)

"The Son of man
did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." (Luke 9:56)

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all peoples to myself." (John 12:32)

"As you have given Him
authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him." (John 17:2)

"The Father loves the Son and has given
all things into His hand." (John 3:35)

"...His son, whom He has appointed heir of
all things, through whom also He made the worlds." (Hebrews 1:1-2)

to reconcile all things unto Himself." (Colossians 1:16-20)

"...in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together
in one all things in Christ..."
(Ephesians 1:10)

no man common or unclean." (Acts 10:14-15)

"...the restitution of
all things..." (Acts 3:20-21)

"...God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses..." (II Corinthians 5:19)

not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentence." (II Peter 3:9)

all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." (Hebrews 8:11)

"...God, who is the saviour of
all men..." (I Timothy 4:10)

"...even so in Christ shall
all be made alive." (I Corinthians 15:22)

will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:4)

"...that God may be
all in all." (I Corinthians 15:28)

"...and so shall
all Israel be saved." (Romans 11:26)

"(Christ) was
the true light which lights every man that comes into the world." (John 1:9)

"Consequently, then as it was through one offense for
all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life's justifying. For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the one, the many shall be constituted just."
(Romans 5:19)

"If anyone's work shall be burned up, he will forfeit it,
yet he shall be saved, yet thus as through fire."
(I Corinthians 3:15)

"...he (Christ) is propitiation for our sins: and not for our sins only, but also for the sins
of the whole world."
( I John 2:2)

all is of God, who conciliates us to Himself through Christ, and is giving us the dispensation of the conciliation, how that God was in Christ, conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing in us the word of conciliation." (II Corinthians 5:18-19)


"According to scripture, Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, created all things; reconciles all things; is heir of all things; has authority of all things; will have all men to be saved; His grace comes to all men; He takes away the sin of the world; He gives His flesh for the life of the world. He is the propitiation for the sins of the world; whose gifts are irrevocable, of which life is one of the gifts. He manifested to put away sin. He preached to the spirits in prison and holds the keys to death and hell; who changes not. He is Lord of both the living and the dead; He will destroy all enemies of God, the last one being death; who made all things alive; who completes the work the Father gave Him to do; who restores all things; gave Himself a ransom for all. He takes away the curse and said He came to do the will and work of the Father, who wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that God may be all in all!"

-Summary courtesy of Tentmaker.org

Salvation is not your choice!!!!

Consider these verses:

...God who saves us and calls us with a Holy calling,
not in accord with our acts, but in accord with His own purpose...before the world began." I Timothy 1:9 (Your salvation was planned before the world began; it is not according to your doing)

"No one can come to me, if ever the Father who sends me should not be drawing him. And I shall raise him up at the last day." John 6:44 (God does the choosing, drawing, accepting, etc.)

"Not one is seeking out God." Romans 3:11 (God is seeking out you!)

"You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." John 15:16

You see? God will save ALL! God is not vengeful!

Friday, August 10, 2007

I read a book this week...

shock right? but seriously...i want to tell you about the book because it was one of those life-changing, heart mending kinds of books that one so rarely finds these days. the book was so profound that i am afraid to recommend it to you because i have recommended books in the past and i feel that you might say, oh, geez, she's recommending another book, sigh...but let me try to interest you...

i doubt that i am the only human being on the planet who has trust issues. with people and because of with people, ultimately with GOD.

i doubt that i am the only human being on the planet who has ever wondered, pondered, questioned or debated the problem of evil in the world.

and i doubt i'm the only person in the world who has been through horrendous, soul breaking things in their lives...

this book is for us. every one of us who has ever wondered, pondered, argued, debated, or anguished over the questions of "does GOD really love me" and "how/why is there so much evil in the world"?

i promise you, if you read this book, you will have your heart both touched and healed. maybe not 100%, but you will come away with such wonder and such a grasp of "why" that full healing will have begun. it will challenge you, intrigue you, make you cry, make you laugh, make you feel like maybe, just maybe it could make sense...read it through to the end no matter how difficult it seems to read. it will be worth it. i promise.

the book is called "The Shack" and it's by William P. Young. i recommend this book with all my heart. and i intend to read it again this weekend.

i'm sending this to about 100 people and 15 egroups. i'm sending it to a few people who don't read my emails, don't like me very much, maybe 1 who hates my guts. doesn't matter. the book is too important for petty human issues to get in the way of someone reading it. don't NOT read it because of any issue you may or may not have with me. just like i want you to not dismiss it simply because it came from me therefore it must be irrelevant and/or trivial. so often our perceptions of each other stand in the way of us reading or seeing or experiencing so many great things in life. i, for one, don't intend to let that get in my way with recommending this book.

Monday, June 11, 2007

War, good God: What is it good for?

tonight, on the way home from work, my husband and i listened to a conservative radio personality (NOT rush limbaugh) talk about the need to bomb iran before they have nuclear capabilities, as if he were talking about taking a walk to the park on sunday. my blood ran cold.

i've been called a coward and a pacifist because i don't support the war in iraq. i've been told that the only reason i do not is because i have war age sons. poppycock. iraq is the first war in 54 years of my life i've ever stood up against, because it was entered in for all the wrong reasons.

i've been told i'm not a christian because i don't support george w. bush like george w. bush is somehow equated with CHRIST himself and to not approve of g.w. risks my salvation somehow. that not being for war with the middle east makes me naive. that not being for war in the middle east makes me less christian, because, after all, armageddon will start with iran, don't you know (which we don't, none of us, not one).

i've watched dear friends almost come to blows over the right/wrong of the war in iraq. i've read blogs of families, torn apart, blown apart, shredded.

and now, we are being urged to attack a country because it will probably have nuclear weapons to use against us someday.

i am sad. i am broken. i am tortured by the thought of the world being involved in another world war.

i am angry at the people who are hades bent on plunging us into an armageddon. people who believe that people unlike them are so bad there is no way to negotiate, no way to come to an understanding of each other's culture enough to work our way through this tension, this prelude to world war.

i am angry that i felt the need to run out and get radiation medication and gas masks for my sons. that overwhelming urge to dig a hole in the backyard to hide in. i thought we had grown up, grown past this threat of world war.

so i had to write. i had to speak out. have we become suicidal? to think that beginning a nuclear conflict ANYWHERE on our planet will have a good outcome? that we won't sicken and kill many more than the people we want to target? do we not learn? do we not pay attention? do we not care?

i am weary. and i went to find poetry to express how i felt and found these poems...knowing that in reality none of this will do any good...

Once More Again

by Kevin Bowen*

Once more again,
the body counts on the news.

The lost armies
dragging their sad weights
across the deserts.

We hear a plane drone overhead
and think of fuel
seeping down airshafts,

the slow fall of bombs,
the loneliness of death

The head of homeland security
tells us: our country
is on Yellow Alert.

Already, the government
has retreated to shelters in the mountains
where the generals will take their orders
over the static of an old pacemaker.

What can or cannot be said
is not easy to decipher.

Slowly, we breathe in,
breathe out.

None of us can leave this place.

Kevin Bowen was drafted and served in the U.S. Army 1st Air Cavalry Division in the Vietnam war during 1968-69. Since 1987, he has returned to Vietnam many times, initiating cultural, educational, and humanitarian exchanges. In 1993 he was appointed Director of the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Its Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

Poem for War... against War
By Dennis A Dames

Another day of fighting
Another day of wars
More casualties to count
More wounded mount
Prisoners of war increase
Propaganda consistently release
Who do we believe?
Missiles and bombs hit their targets
Occasionally, they stray- killing the innocents
Reality of wars becomes transparent
The cost is monumental
Affecting tearfully someone's mother, father, sister, brother and more
A love one is gone forever
The conflicts continue
The cycle's renewed
War for peace… a noble objective
Peace for war… an immoral exchange
For war… against war
A world divided… a world apart
Peace is held hostage
By man's inability to love and live in harmony
Why do we fight, and kill one another?
It's the question of the generations
Perhaps one-day war will be defeated…
And conciliation become the blueprint of existence

I was told maybe...but then told no...

An Affirmation for Letting Go

Larry James

I am willing to trust. I know that to the degree I am willing to give up my search for a healthy love relationship, I can have it. I know I can have whatever I am ready and willing to receive. Individual receptivity is everything. Without it, nothing changes. With it, all things are possible. I no longer insist upon my choice.

I know that the only thing I lose when I let go of something I am afraid to live without is the fear itself. I am stronger than anything that frightens me!

I let go of the past, and I am free to think clearly and positively in the present. I am not my past.

Letting go is the natural release which always follows the realization that holding on is an energy drain and it hurts. Letting go happens effortlessly when there is no other choice. Letting go does not mean giving up.

  • LoveNote. . . A life without love in it is like a heap of ashes upon a deserted hearth -- with the fire dead, the laughter stilled, and the light extinguished. - Frank P. Tebbetts

Letting go is a journey that never ends. Never. It only begins -- over and over again -- each time I can glimpse something higher than my own painful certainty over who I think I am. There is always something higher; a life beyond the limits of my present sight.

To see what is farther I must be willing to lift my eyes from their present point of focus. Release always follows revelation and real revelation is always a glimpse of something that was only just out of sight.

I know that stress in my love relationship exists because I insist! What I resist, persists. I am tied to whatever I avoid.

  • LoveNote. . . The heart loves, but moods have no loyalty. Moods should be heard but never danced to. - Hugh Prather

It is a mistaken belief that I must push my love relationship in the direction I choose that keeps me in a strained and unhappy relationship with it. Reality has its own effortless course, and I can either embrace its way or struggle endlessly with mine.

I do not need power to flow.

I let go of that part of myself that is certain it is better to suffer and feel like someone than it is to just let go and quietly be no one. I give birth to a new me that never has to hold on to anything because it is already everything.

I dare to walk away from all of the familiar but useless mental and emotional relationships that give me a temporary but unsatisfactory sense of self. My true identity is calling me and to hear it I must be willing to endure, for as long as necessary, the fear of self-uncertainty.

This form of seeming self-abandonment eventually turns into my greatest pleasure as it becomes increasingly evident that the only thing certain about fear is that it will always compromise me. When it comes to who I really am, there is no compromise.

Let go of the past. The past is yesterday. It is irretrievable. When you relate to the past, you relate to no one or any thing. You are literally talking to yourself. No one else is listening. You have already heard all you have to say about that, so, let go.

A Course in Miracles says, "You cannot really not let go what has already gone. It must be, therefore, that you are maintaining the illusion that it has not gone because you think it serves some purpose that you want fulfilled."

It is certifiable insanity to conjure up your own reality based on the past and relate to it, rather than to relate to the present which is the only reality.

  • LoveNote. . . Relationships are part of a vast plan for our enlightenment, the Holy Spirit's blueprint by which each individual soul is led to greater awareness and expanded love. Relationships are the Holy Spirit's laboratories in which he brings together people who have the maximal opportunity for mutual growth. - Marianne Williamson

I say goodbye to the past and hello to the present.

I am enthusiastic about who I am becoming! I know that no one sincerely asks for a new life until they are thoroughly dissatisfied with the old one. I am and I let go. When I allow myself to let go of what is old, I stay true to what is new.

I believe that as with all insight, higher understanding itself contains not only the instructions I must follow, but the strength I will need to carry them out.

Starting life over again is the key to a new me. I see the beauty and significance of starting over - over and over and over. Every present moment is always new and new is always right now! The new dies to the ever-new in an endless celebration of Life.

This is it!

I live in the present. I never let the past dictate the direction of the present moment. I give my best to my endeavors.

What lies ahead for me can only be good.

True peace and harmony are a part of who I am.

I have come to the realization that what is possible for me to become only truly changes when I am willing to see what is impossible for me to continue being.

My true nature is already fully independent and flying freely. I have found my wings.

I let go and let God. And so it is.

Thank you, Father!

  • LoveNote. . . He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is Love. - I John 4:8

Zoegirl Lyrics



Does anybody know how I feel?
Sometimes I'm numb, sometimes I'm overcome
Does anybody care what's going on?
Do I have to wear my scars like a badge on my arm
For you to see me, I need release

Do I have to scream for you to hear me?
Do I have to bleed for you to see me?
'Cause I grieve, you're not listening to me
Do I need to scream?

Has anybody seen what's been done?
Where was my defense? No one heard my protest
The eyes of God were watching me
It's time to make my peace, let it go and be released
So I can breathe again
I'm on my knees

I've been marked, set apart
But I'm cut so deep and afraid of the dark
One drop of blood from the hole in Your hand
Is enough to heal me and make me stand

'Cause I'm clean, He is listening to me

I don't have to scream for Him to hear me
Don't have to bleed for Him to see me
'Cause I'm clean, He is listening to me
I don't have to scream
I don't have to bleed
'Cause I'm clean, He is listening
And I don't have to scream