Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tax the Rich; Jobs for the Poor!

Mary's Song

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and he has lifted up the lowly
He has filled the hungry with good things
and the rich he has sent away empty

This is not Socialism or Robin Hood economics; this is the heart of Christianity. It is the Song of Mary from Luke's Gospel in the very first chapter. Mary exults in the just dealing of God. If that just dealing is not brought to earth by the obedient human heart it will be provided to us by the Mighty Hand of God.

This is what the End is about. It is the purpose of God to feed the hungry with good things, and if the rich won't do that because of the hardness of their hearts, God will send them away hungry.

In order to deliver the rich from this fate we must tax them fairly. Obviously everyone should contribute to the commonwealth of the nation. The poor should give a nominal amount, the working people something more, the middle class, the upper middle class and the rich thus should contribute according to their means.

I suspect that the rich will fight this notion with all their the resources at their disposal. They will buy votes in Congress. They will buy the airwaves, and brainwash the public into thinking that the poor, the foreign, the gay and the government are the problem.

Thus we should cut all programs to the elderly, the disabled, the children in school. They will argue against regulation of the financial system. They will seek to disband the improvements to clean air, clean water. The rich will deny climate change. They will deny Evolution and other Scientific facts

They will decry governmental intrusion into our private lives except when it comes to whom we should choose to love, and how women choose to deal with their own bodies. They will call freedom of choice murder. They will call execution justice. They will deny gay folks a place in our families at work, in the military, in marriage, in school, and in church. This is the abomination!

These are all a denial of Mary's Song.

Mary wants us to tax the rich so that all Americans can get back to work.
She and her beautiful son want to heal humanity of its illness and want health care for all.

Government, poor people, foreign people, gay people are not America's problem.
The rich, the super rich, and the multi-national corporations are America's problem.
Tax them! Hire the unemployed!
Give Americans health care!

Let Mary sing her song so that every human heart may exult in the Goodness of God.
The Kingdom that is within us all demands that Mary's Song be sung by all and for all!

Happy 4th Advent!
Fr. Paul

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

God is Love; pure and simple

I know what Rick Perry said.
I know what Romney said to the veteran in New Hampshire who happens to be gay.
I know what others have said of gay folks, poor folks, foreigners and so on.
But that's NOT what the Holy Writings say; because God has the final Word. God IS the final Word; the Word Who became flesh to dwell among us and this is what God says;

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. ~1 John 4

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Have Come to Bring Good News to the Rich?

To listen to the Far Right Wing in America you would think this is what Jesus said. But I checked the scroll. Wrong!
The Christ of God, The Anointed One couches his entire ministry in these words; "I have Come to Bring Good News to the POOR". They were offensive then, and Praise God, they are offensive now.
The Powers and Principalities would have us believe in Social Darwinism yet at the same time defend Creationism against scientific fact.
What they will defend is the Rich, the Super Rich and the Multi-National Corporation. They will say that Corporations are people and in the same breath blame the poor for being lazy, shiftless and good for nothing.
We are on to them, though, and know that their words are a perversion of the truth.
Thus we take to the streets, and Occupy Wall Street, and hundreds and thousands of Cities and Towns around the world.
The Powers and Principalities moved in on our encampment this morning around 5am. There was no pepper spray, just a brigade of crowd control experts and they arrested about 46 of us and charged us with trespassing. We're a classy crowd in Boston, so it was a gentle eviction as evictions go.
Do not despair Occupy; the Mother of Jesus had to go to a stable to give birth to the One who Brings Good News to the POOR.

I seem to remember that we saved the big financial institutions and corporations because they were too large to fail. But we are evicted from our tents for asking for jobs.
All we want is work.
You saved Corporations and Financial Institutions because you think they are people.
What is the American Worker?
Are we not people?
What are the poor?
Are we not people?
What of the vanishing middle class?
Are we not people?
They were too big to fail!
What of us?
Are we not People?
Are we not Critical to the Recovery?
How can we do this without jobs to pay our mortgages, our car payments, our bills, and to put food on the table for our families?
Do you care more for Corporations than you do for Real Living Persons?
We're not asking for a bail out.
Just give us jobs.
You can send the bill to those Rich People who have 99% of the money and the wealth in this country.
Don't lie to us. We will no longer stand aside and allow you to grind the poor, the worker and the American Middle class into the dust of oppression.

Thus my heart returns to the Bible, because there once was a person who valued us. Many claim him as a Savior, but few have read his words. My heart returns to the Bible because there are so many who pervert it into what they would rather hear. They want Good News for the Rich. But that's NOT what the Book says. My heart returns to the Bible, because that's where we hear Good News for the POOR!

The assigned reading from the Old Testament for most of the Christian world for this Sunday is from the Book of The Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 61. It is the very passage Jesus uses to announce his ministry. These are the words Jesus used when he read from the Prophet.
By the way, you will notice they rejected him then too!

Luke 4
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
Go back to the Bible yourself sometime and see for yourself what Jesus actually said. He concluded his ministry with this statement about the judgement of the Nation. Watch out America! Watch our rich folks.

Matthew 25:31ff
The Judgement of the Nations
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’
A blessing on you Poor!
Jesus came to preach Good News to you.
Is anybody listening to what Jesus said?
Fr. Paul

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Prayer of Self Dedication

Prayer of Self Dedication

It seems appropriate from time to time, to stop and remember that in the hubbub of life, opinion, politics, the struggle/battle for survival; there is this very simple human impulse to pray.

It is seldom we see a prayer of Self Dedication. Goggle that and see how far it gets you. Most prayer is request, petition, intercession and a wholesale shopping list of what we want God to do for us.

What then of this, what of what we offer to God by way of resolve and dedication.

As we begin this new year, let us dedicate ourselves once again in our service to God and all God's people. (Originally I composed this prayer on St. Francis Day of 2011).

A Prayer of Self Dedication
by Paul Bresnahan
New Year's Day 2017

Now in the quiet of the day, I beckon to my soul and listen.
There is only silence
It is a silence I love to return to.
Because I am not alone there.
In that silence I come to my heart of hearts.

The silence becomes a Presence.
And comes to life in a way that invites me to love.
The Presence wants to love me.
I resist that.
But the silent Presence insists.

I look again into the mirror of my soul and see the mystery
It wells up within me to gratitude.
I search for a name for the mystery.
And then I remember "God".

I discover that God is here within my heart.
And God’s heart beats within me and among us.
There is a love that speaks to me.
And extends its Heart toward me and fills me.

I find myself aware and awake.
To the joy of life and sorrow of suffering; the ugliness of hateful violence.
The noble beauty of creative art,
The sin that destroys the self and seeks to destroy others.

God’s heart moves in mine and dispels the fear.
Hear the Word of God and listen
God requires justice, love, mercy and compassion
And Jesus reaches out his arms to the farthest ends of every human heart.

And here I dedicate myself to Jesus.
In the poor and the homeless, the hungry and those who suffer.
The heart of Jesus moves in me, and the love of God
Knows no bounds.

Monday, December 05, 2011

It Gets Better, I promise!

Jamie finally couldn't take it any more. He took his own life and the bullies involved have been suspended from school for a few days, according to the Buffalo Evening News. What is worse; this precious child's death, or a slap on the wrist for the bullies who drove him to his death. Shame on Williamsville!
I've been uncomfortably close to loved ones for whom suicide seemed a way out. I've talked way into the wee hours more times than I can count. I will do that for as long as God gives me time on earth to do it.
Listen to me, God loves you so much that he gave his only beloved Son for you and for me. I even wrote a book, "Everything you need to know about sex in order to get to Heaven" to be sure you knew that you are not going to are going to heaven...AFTER you live a good long life. (If you want that book cheap, or for free, write to me)
Don't let the bullies get to you.
Don't let any self doubts get to you.
Don't let the nagging voices bring you to despair.
Get in touch with someone who you can pour your heart out to...and if you can't find anyone right away, get in touch with me.
It will certainly get better, even if you have to go through a tough patch for now.
Remember my old buddy, Winston Churchill, who was fond of saying; "If you're going through hell, remember, keep going!"
And remember, God loves you and so do I.
As for the rest of you. Stop the bullying. Stop the bullies. Don't put up with any wise cracks about gays. And for God sake, don't let politicians and religious quacks get away with their hate.
Lets talk it up folks.
Tell the kids God loves them and so do you.
Tell them right now!
Listen to their heartache.
Wipe away their tears.
And finally remember this; the basic commandment is this and it is mandatory; "LOVE ONE ANOTHER!"
That is not an opinion...that's what Jesus said before he died for ALL OF US.
I can't see how I can make that plainer or simpler.
This is a matter of life and death.
God loves you.
And so do I.
Fr. Paul

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Of Powers, Principalities and Pepper Spray

You know we're doing something right when the police use pepper spray on an 84 year old woman as pictured left, or on students lined up, unarmed and non violent, as we've seen a hundred times on TV.

These are the Powers and The Principalities: those whose power in in their billions and trillions. They line up the defenseless and the powerless and attack us with high tech torture to quell the human spirit.

But it only serves to propel us on in our struggle. The ringing words of scripture come to mind from the beginnings of the Christian Experience when the Empire that we confronted was the Roman Empire. The Empire we now confront is the Oligarchy of the American Experience.

Only thirty years ago there was an 80/20 split between the Oligarchs and the Middle/Working Class. That split is now 92/8 as a percentage. The "trickle down" promise made by Ronald Reagan, was a lie. The wealth is "trickling up".

This is why we have taken to the streets; to contend against the powers and the principalities until All Americans are working at a decent wage.

To the Streets!

Here is one of my favorite passages. Please note the section in bold.

The Whole Armour of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. ~Ephesians 6

God bless us one and all,

Fr. Paul

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A General Thanksgiving

The table is set; therefore let us keep the feast. Humble perhaps by many standards, but no lest festive than all the others. A month ago today David suffered a stroke. Thankfully it was a very tiny one. Still for a young man, age 31, it was a shock, both literally and figuratively.
We were the beneficiaries of a host of prayers, good thoughts, and benevolent vibes of all sorts .
A short month later, we are here, together as a family to celebrate Thanksgiving.
For Christian folk, Thanksgiving is not only a holiday but a way of life. The Eucharist is a word that means "Thanksgiving". The word, however is a verb, not a noun, for it is in the doing of gratitude that we find life's joy and abundance.
We celebrate the Eucharist at our birth at Baptism, at our Marriages, at times of illness, and of course at the ultimate moment of life when we enter the Blessed rest of Eternal Life. In the meantime, Sunday after Sunday and at all major Feast Days, we mark the seasons with this kind of gratitude.
It is a gratitude that expresses our Love for God by expressing our love for one another. It is no gratitude at all unless it is marked by a quest for Justice through which we strive for Peace.
Today, no less than all days we said our prayers. David said the "Grace" today. He recited with us gathered at our Table the ancient words of the General Thanksgiving that comes from the Prayer Book Tradition.
It seemed especially appropriate that we say this prayer today. It is one of David's favorite. It is among mine as well. We got to the word "preservation" before the voices broke and the tears fell, broken voices and tears of the profoundest gratitude we are capable of.
May God grant us so to live with gratitude that God's joy may be in us, and that God's joy may be complete.

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

May the Blessing of Gratitude be with you all
Fr. Paul

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Black Friday-Boycott Walmart-Occupy Walmart!

Of all the blasphemies I can possibly think of, the idea of Black Friday and Walmart stands highest and at the top of the list! A little Child is born in Bethlehem, homeless of an unwed mother, poor, cold, and destined to die for the poor and those left out in the cold. Walmart opens early for a shopping frenzy of expensive foreign made trinkets for our children. Americans stand unemployed, homes lost, and left out in the cold. And the rich count their billions and roll around in their greed snorting satisfaction.
For many of us who are unemployed, without health insurance, and having lost our homes, a boycott of Walmart will be an easy thing. Millions of us already stay away.
But what if we Occupy Walmart on Black Friday? What if we block the doorways? Pepper sprayed victims from across the country cry out for justice. The Machine is grinding us and moves against our cry for jobs at decent wages.
We'll never get good jobs from Walmart. We will never get decent wages at Walmart. We will never get health insurance from Walmart.
Boycott Walmart this Black Friday. Send a message they will feel in their pocket books. Millions more are beginning to hear your cries for justice.
Boycott Walmart! Occupy Walmart!
This is the Peace that passes understanding...Justice!
Fr. Paul

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Goodness of God

It is a funny thing about the Goodness of God. I discovered it only in the wake of my dad's death at Christmas when I was a boy. It flooded in again in the wake of my son, David's stroke in October. He's coming home Tuesday after an amazing recovery. There is much reality still to be dealt with, but there is this extraordinary thing called the Goodness of God.
I brought Communion to a Charlie today. He's a 20 something and has a pretty rugged go of it with Cancer. Still there is this thing called the Goodness of God. I cannot shake the idea. I suggested the idea of the Practice of the Presence of God. I believe in it with all my heart.
Plumbing the depths of my own heart, searching fearlessly for the Truth deep within I discover the Companionship of God. This gives me the courage to Love the God within, myself and all others I treasure. This I suggested to Charlie.
I've often watched the Pelican dive into the sea when I visited the Gulf of Mexico years and years ago. I love watching such a feat. Up s/he comes with a fish! What magnificence is life!
And so dad, I still remember you, even though you died so many years ago. It was your death that led me to priesthood. Coming up on 39 years now, countless souls blessed, baptized, married, and carried off to God. How good You are to tend my dad and all these good souls.
You are so good to look after David. That could have gone another way. There's still a very long way to go before a full recovery, but this looks so good.
Thanks too for Charlie. He could use a miracle too right about now. He's learning to spend some time with you and this is a very good thing. In then end that's all of us have; thanks for being there for my dad, my son and for Charlie.
Fr. Paul

Good and Evil; Everyone's Fundamental Choice

The problem of Good is as real as the problem of Evil. The first extant document we have of the early church is "The Didache" or "The Teachings". In it is the notion that the pathway to Death and the pathway to Life are always before us. This is true at every level of life it seems to me, personal social and historical. To be sure, large institutions like Nations and Churches have merits. But they also have stains that blot out any hope of seeing redemptive value in what they are. But there is this thought. If we say we believe in Democracy, then of necessity we must have politicians and government. If we say we believe in Justice, it follows then, that lawyers and courts become an inevitable necessity. And if we say we believe in God, then clergy and churches become yet another inevitability. Seen from this view, there is plenty of sin to go around. But there is also beaucoup redemption. The fundamental question for us is which will we choose; the pathway that leads to life or the pathway that leads to death. A ponderous question for each of us to ponder because I believe God is calling each of us to step up to the plate. Apathy only guarantees that someone worse than ourselves will take power.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

America Cracks Down on Human Rights

From Oakland to New York and around America, the crackdown has begun. Democracy; government of the people, for the people and by the people has been successfully claimed by government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich.

Had this happened in Tiananmen Square, Cairo, Libya, or Syria, we would be hearing loud and sanctimonious words decrying gross abuses of "Human Rights"!

Not so when it happens in our own back yard. Thankfully, this will only serve to spur on the demonstrations. American are waking from slumber. It is now clear that the police are merely acting at the behest of the Plutocrats who pull the economic purse strings.

What threatens them is the idea that we want a bail out too. Except we’re willing to work for it. They just wanted the money to dress their portfolios. They are robbing us of our money, our jobs, and our homes, and we want them all back.

This next Sunday is the Feast Day of Christ the King. The Gospel reading for the day is well worth reading. In it The Son of Man summons the all the nations before him and separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep are invited into the kingdom with the these ringing words; “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Of course, the righteous wonder when they did these things to Jesus. And of course the answer is; "Insofar as you have done it to one of the lease of these, you have done it to me."

The goats are then driven away into a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, because when they saw human suffering, they turned away, did nothing, and treated the “least of these” shamefully.

The question I have is this; Is America in danger of failure as a civilization? If we insist on turning our backs away from the least of these, we incur the wrath of Jesus and the long arc of history will bend toward another civilization willing to treat her poor in a kinder and gentler way.

In the meantime, I have news for Mayor Bloomberg and his minions around the country. We are not going away. We will be back in the streets, today, tomorrow and the next day. Take heart my fellow Occupiers; back to the streets!!!

We want jobs! We want justice!

I so admire the courage of these people!

Fr. Paul

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hallelujah Chorus -Quinhagak, Alaska

Notice how Jesus comes to us in the faces of the young and old of an obscure village in the Middle East long ago or in Alaska as recently as today. If we want to think about Jesus coming in the latter day, and at the end times, lets notice how Jesus is here right at this very moment.
This is because the end times are always here and now!
I do hope you have noticed that with the coming and going of one civilization after another, one constant is the command of Jesus; "Love on another".
The purpose of Advent and Christmas is not just to tell an ancient story of a faraway land. This Jesus is our story today, and the job of a people who know how to embrace winter with relish and abandon is the story of the amazing grace of humankind.
We are all kinds of people of all kinds of orientation, gender, class, race, ethnicity. Some day we will learn what Jesus has taught all along; "Love one another".
Learn from these Children.
And remember God loves you and so do I.
Fr. Paul.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Greed Cannot Inherit Heaven!

Poor folks, gay folks, illegal aliens all seem to catch it from the far Right Wing Evangelical/Republican alliance. One wonders if they've read much scripture. As we see in this passage, so we see in history; its not the poor, the gay or the illegal alien who is our problem; it is the rich, the super rich, and the multi-national corporations.
When a nation becomes an oligarchy of the rich, the few crumbs that are spent on those in need are not the problem. It is the greed that concentrates wealth in the hands of the few that is always the undoing of a civilization. When they take away our jobs, our homes and our health care, they incite the public to rise up. It is happening right before our eyes.
Wake up America!
Read this if you don't believe me;

Mark 10:17-25

The Rich Man

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The People Flex Their Muscle!

Your voice has been heard. You have flexed your muscle. The Bank of America and Netflix have reversed their decisions on price gouging.
Now press on! Bank of America, give us back our jobs. You are making money hand over fist. You laid off thousands. Hire every one back.
Now that you have flexed your muscle and know that you have the power to influence and persuade power and on.
The movement is gathering steam.
Not until we achieve full employment at a fair wage with health insurance for all...not until then will we return from the streets.
The power belongs to the people. We will not rest until justice flows like a mighty stream from the mountain of God!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Christian Masquerade

For thousands of years greed and militarism have paraded along the long line of history as Christianity. Lying in the wake of this masquerade is the blood of millions. You know the drill; first send in the missionaries and soften them up with talk about how Jesus loves them, then send in the conquistadores and claim the land as belonging to some queen or king, cough on them a few times and the rest is history. Exploit the land, exploit the people, and count the spoils.
We now face a particularly grotesque incarnation of this masquerade. It comes in the guise of common sense. It mocks those who disagree and dedicates itself to falsehood and distortion.
It protects the rich, the super rich and the multi-national corporation while the working people, and the middle class continues to be squeezed by the concentration of wealth in the hands of the nation's 1%.
We the 99% continue to watch our jobs vanish and our homes taken from us. All the while, these folks and their minions steadfastly protect the interests of the rich.
Every single candidate for the other political party brandishes the cross of Christ and carries its Bibles underarm and oppresses the poor in the name of Jesus. This is a masquerade and a particularly grotesque one.
How can anyone actually read the holy writings of any faith and not see the bias of God for the poor and the vulnerable.
We are desperate for jobs, health care and a restoration of hope for the working people, and the middle class. Meanwhile, it attacks education for children, Social Security for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor, and science for the intelligent.
Meanwhile the masquerade wraps itself in the flag and in faith of Christ, and turns its back on the vulnerable.
The faith I know and love states with utter simplicity that we are to Love God and love one another.
The scripture says "If anyone says I love God and yet hates his neighbor, that person is a liar". (1 John 4:20). This mouthpiece of arrogance has introduced himself as a savior to the right wing of American Politics. He is embraced by the masquerade with delight.
The Arrogant One has dedicated himself to the denial of jobs and health insurance to the American people. He and his minions want to take Social Security Medicare from the elderly, Medicaid and programs to help children and the poor. We have stood silent and anemic before his taunts. If you call this Christianity, then I renounce it! It is a masquerade! There is no Jesus, there is no God in this masquerade.
The reason folks have taken to the streets is pure and simple. We want jobs. We want health care. We want everyone to take a fair share of the tax burden. Those of you who make millions really should pay as much in taxation as I do just like Warren Buffet said. You probably should pay even a little bit more.
In summary, we want to love one another. We were told to live this way by the Author and Finisher of the Christian Faith.
There is among us an amazing embrace of love of the friendship of many faithful people as well as those who are onto the masquerade who want nothing to do with it. I honor all these folks.
In the heart of it all is the love of humanity whether driven by faith or driven by common human decency. This I call God, because very simply, the kingdom of heaven is within.
To be clothed in Christ is to be clothed with love and compassion for our neighbors. All other clothing is a masquerade!
Do not give up; God will not be mocked!
Fr. Paul

Saturday, October 22, 2011

So Why Did Jesus Refuse to Condemn Gay Folks?

So Why Did Jesus Refuse to Condemn Gay Folks?

If you look at the long list of televangelists who have made it big and if you listen to their teaching, there is one thing we know for sure. Gay folks are bad news. At the very least, they are an abomination to the Lord. Everybody knows this who has any knowledge of Leviticus or of Paul. At the most, you really should stone them to death just like the Bible says. Mind you there are all kinds of people you should stone to death if you read Leviticus closely as you can see from the previous link. 
Besides this, it is not just the Right Wing televangelists who condemn gay folks; pretty much the entire world of faith from Christianity, to Judaism, to Islam has a similar dim view of gay folks. The LGBTQ community is one of the last great outcasts for humanity.
So then why did Jesus refuse to condemn gay folks? The Biblical Literalists of his day wanted to know what the greatest law was. Jesus rightly quoted the “Shema”, the foundational commandment for all Judaism; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the universal commandment that really applies to all believers.
But for Jesus there was more; much more. Jesus insisted the we “Love one another” too. He didn’t just make that up because that was his opinion. No indeed! He selected one half of one verse from an obscure place in the book of Leviticus of all books to make his summary proclamation. “You shall love your neighbor as you do yourself. (Leviticus 19:18b)
With all the laws in Leviticus, why would Jesus pick this one. He could have chosen a whole host of other laws to condemn a whole host of people. Not Jesus! Instead he chose that one tiny law that has made all the difference then and continues to do so now.
Jesus was confronted by tiresome biblical literalists then as many of us still are. Somehow there were always Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Doctors of the Law all conspiring to find a pretext to have Jesus done away with. They always seem to want to catch him in his words. I can sympathize with Jesus here.
The same literalists keep showing up. And there always seems to be a note of judgmentalism among this crowd. They always want to find a good reason to condemn people.
When the Episcopal church decided to ordain women as bishops and priests, we had to listen to those who said we’d had done something that we didn’t have the power to do. The male of the species can be priests. Period. So the traditionalists reasoned. We reasoned differently decades ago. We are glad to see that the Church of England has finally seen fit to follow suit.
When we decided to ordain gay folks as priests and bishops and to bless their relationships, you would have thought we had committed an abomination against God and the church. We felt we had finally removed one last great stain of exclusion from the church.
They wanted to exclude the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion. They wanted to come up with some kind of reason to condemn gay folks and keep them outside the embrace of Jesus.
But not Jesus! He loved people very much. In fact he went out of his way to seek out folks who were at the margins; sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, eunuchs, lepers and so forth. You name it, Jesus loved them. This is what makes Jesus such a powerful figure in sacred history. He seems to have a special bias in his heart for people, all people! No exceptions!
The Right Wing was a mean bunch then, just as so many of them seem to be still. One day, bright and early, when they found someone worth stoning, they hauled her right up to Jesus and insisted on stoning her to death just like the Bible said we should. You can read that story here. Jesus was aware of their malice. He was also aware of who set this whole thing up. We are told in the story from scripture that Jesus wrote something in the sand. He looked at them intently as he often did. “You who are without sin, cast the first stone”. Notice who walked away first. Interesting isn’t it, that beginning with the elders they walked away one by one. It makes you wonder who had their way with this woman. If you ask me, clergy misconduct is nothing new!
Jesus is a marvel. He knew that the most difficult thing is also the most simple. Love God, Love your neighbor. Love yourself.All three of these great loves are a marvel of challenge to a spirit that is fully alive to God. 
So now I put this to you. Are you ready to love God? If you think you are, you may also have to love your neighbor, and that will include folks you may find difficult to love. Who said following Jesus was going to be easy. His first followers had to give their very lives for folks who were difficult to love. 
Ultimately you will also need to love yourself. You will need to abound in forgiveness for yourself and everyone else. If you think you’re up to it, then you may follow Jesus. 
If you don’t feel you are up to it, you may still follow Jesus. When you find yourself unable to love, Jesus will remain constant, immovable, and always standing on the cross, extending his loving arms, so that everyone may come within his saving embrace. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy the Churches!!!

Here's another idea. What about the churches? What if we occupy them and take them back to the Love of God? The Episcopalians are having a battle royal over gay folks. It wasn't long ago that we ordained women and that raised all kinds of fuss. Isn't it about time that all the churches stand up for ALL people whatever orientation, gender, class, race or nationality? I'm glad at least this one has the guts to do so. Thank you Episcopalians near and far away!
Isn't it about time we stand with Jesus? Anybody remember how he gathered all the outcasts? Tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, common fisherfolk? You can translate that into anything you want. I'll settle for the LGBTQ crowd, women who insist on free choice with respect to their bodies, those suffering from AIDS. If you think Jesus took on the Right Wing in his day, don't you think he'd want to take on the same crowd in our own time? If we have the courage of our convictions, we'll take on that crowd with all kinds of backbone.
Don't let them take something as precious as the Love of God and co-opt it into a hateful exclusive club where religion is made safe for arrogance and privilege.
NO! Occupy the churches! Take back what belongs to us. Take back our churches so that the Compassion and Love of Christ might once again be known as being at the heart of God! Don't threaten to leave the church. THREATEN TO OCCUPY THE CHURCHES EVERY SUNDAY MORNING!!!
And a blessing on you all,
Fr. Paul

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended : The Choir of the Abbey School, Tewk...

Anybody can sing this one; alone, with just a handful, or as artfully and as skillfully as here at the Abbey. One cannot help but think of the blessings of life as we listen to such a tune and more especially still at the concluding descant.
God bless you!
Fr. Paul

Guess Who's Coming to Wall Street!!!

Friends of mine of Facebook liked this a whole lot. I thought you'd like it too. After all, it all ended up at the Temple, the place where all the outcasts were kept away. Jesus brought all his friends there and then stared down the evil of greed in the Holiest Place in Israel's faith.
The problem won't go away. Neither will Jesus. Neither will we. We're here to stay from Wall Street to Main Street, here in The USA and across the planet. When the 1% gouge out the 99% percent and greed us out of justice, we will be the hands, the feet, the heart of Jesus until all Justice flows like a mighty stream.
In the meantime, give us jobs!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bank of America...take that!!!

How very cool is this! Church and community leaders in San Jose divest from Bank of America. Many more are closing their accounts. If enough of us keep up the pressure, we will be heard. You go Padre. We are so proud of you. Read more here.
Peace and Justice to you all,
Fr. Paul

Friday, October 14, 2011

C'mon admit it; You support the President!

Now that we've found our voice, let's use it. If we really do want jobs, tax the super rich, cut welfare to the multi-nationals and all that, let's come right out and say it. For heaven sake, he's the best President out there and there is NOBODY on the horizon who can even touch him for acceptability.
He's part of the reason we're out on Wall Street and elsewhere across the country. He needs our support to deliver jobs.
JOBS! JOBS JOBS! We're not going home until we get JOBS!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jesus said to Peter; "Feed my sheep"

"Feed My Sheep"

John 21:15-19

Jesus and Peter

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

Pretty straight forward. Hey "Rocky, Feed my sheep!" (In Aramaic, Spanish, French, Greek etc Peter=Rocky) I love my iMacPro and iPhone as much as any priestly geek out there. And the death of Steve Jobs was a profound loss for someone who appreciates such brilliance. But the starvation of millions! Has anybody noticed? And nearer to home, the unemployed millions! Has anybody noticed? We are beginning to waken from slumber. Our occupation of Wall Street/Boston and Main Street is an attempt to put America on notice. We can do better than this.

We are the wealthiest nation on earth. Can we not "Feed God's Sheep"? Can we not put Americans to work? Or is it only Wall Street, Banks and GM that we want to save? Are we really a government of the 1%, for the 1% and by the 1%?

You and I can so something. We can give to Oxfam, or in the case of my own church we can give to Episcopal Relief and Development. Some have noticed, but only some and far too few. Millions are starving and the message is as old as Jesus' words to Rocky; "Feed my Sheep"!

AND we can take to the streets!

Fr. Paul

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

God & the People vs Wall Street

One day, Jesus found himself up against a bunch of Pharisees, that's the Evangelical Right wing of the New Testament. They also tried to mess up Moses long before this by making a Golden Calf, but more about that another time. These Pharisees gave Jesus a coin and, to set him up, said: "Is it lawful to pay your taxes or not?" They thought they had him dead to rights on this one. After all, if Jesus said it was lawful to pay taxes, he would be putting his followers in a pickle because they were seeking to build a kingdom, not of this world. But, if he said it was not lawful to pay taxes, he would get himself arrested and that would effectively put him out of the way, which was the Fox Network wanted anyway. After all, Jesus had this thing for poor people, outcasts, prisoners, foreigners, eunuchs, etc. In other words Jesus put people first in all his teachings, particularly those people the Right Wing didn't particularly like.
So Jesus, true to form, took the coin they gave him and asked them whose image was on that coin. The answer: Caesar! Well then, quoth Jesus; "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the things that are God's."
So what belong's to Caesar? Obviously, all that money and all those coins. The Empire had assembled quite a sphere of influence for itself and its symbol was the coin of the realm.
Now look what happened! What with inflation and the like, the coin of the realm looks like this now (see left). We call it the Almighty Dollar. It has become our God! It is a symbol of the Greed that has put the Global markets into a tailspin. Through a very sophisticated series of undercapitalized investment instruments, we found ourselves exposed to a downturn in the real estate markets from which we have yet to recover.
To try and save the economy, both the Bush and Obama administrations poured billions upon billions into financial institutions, banks and corporations. It was the hope and trust of the government (that's us by the way), that these folks would take our tax money and invest it in business so that the money would "prime" a recovery. Millions of us would be hired and put to work. What happened instead was that these very institutions kept that money, tightened up on it and the recession continues to this day. Worse still Bank of America laid off 30,000 MORE people and gouged its debit card holders by assessing a $5/month service fee. And, they paid their executives at rate that can be called nothing less than CONSPICUOUS OUTRAGE!
So Jesus teaches us to give to Caesar those thing that belong to the Caesar (aka Government), and give to God the things that are God's.
What belongs to God? Let me venture provide a good guess at an answer; People belong to God. In the very first chapter of Genesis, the biblical tradition teaches that we are all created in God's image whether male or female.
That does not mean that God looks like us, by the way. It means that we have the potential to act like God by loving one another, which is what Leviticus and Jesus both taught. We have the potential to organize our common life around human suffering and injustice. We can make things right if we want to. We can care for one another.
Instead, we've got it dead wrong. We created a graven image to Greed and called it our God. We've amassed wealth and greed in so few hands that the suffering and injustice we the people face is growing day by day. In the 70's and 80's, 80% of us had almost 20% of the wealth. Now we have less than 8%. Meanwhile those at the top of this pyramid scheme, have so much wealth that they threaten to collapse the entire system.
So addicted are they to this wealth that they will sooner see the destruction of our entire national experience than to share that wealth with us even in a more reasonable 80/20 split with which we were willing to live with in former decades.
That's why we have taken to the streets Mr & Mrs America. And we are going to STAY THERE until you fix this problem.
We want jobs for every American now. You saved the financial institutions with billions upon billions because they were too big to fail. You did that over a weekend! Now you MUST save us, because we are too many to fail. This is just as urgent a matter as the salvation of a bank. The salvation of the people is what we stand for in solidarity with Jesus!
Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, but to God the things that are God. Use the Almighty Dollar to serve the will of THE ALMIGHTY!
Then we can save the economy from the bottom up. Because once you give us some work to do, and a decent pay check, we can pay our bills, get caught up on our mortgages, and buy some durable goods and trinkets for the kids.
For God's sake America, wake up before its too late.
And a blessing on us all,
Fr. Paul

Monday, October 10, 2011

Two Mormons and a Priest on the way to the Moon

The moon was a brilliant presence in the sky so I took my rather modest Nikon P90 down to the Beach at the end of the street. I tried all kinds of things but it just looks fuzzy when I took some shots. Then I sat down to steady my arms, extended the zoom as far as I could and lo and behold, I got a number of shots like this.
As I was so involved, two handsome young men stopped by and asked me if I had been able to get any good shots of the moon. I showed them the viewfinder and they were as amazed as I was at the result of my endeavors.
The pleasantries aside, they then asked me if I knew were I was going when I die. I told them that didn't matter as much to me as where I go while I'm alive. You know, build a homeless shelter, feed the poor, cloth the naked and put coats on the cold; that sort of thing.
They told me they were Mormons, members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. I told them I was an Episcopalian. Just a fat dumpy priest dressed in a short sleeve shirt and shorts with a camera dangling over my neck.
I told them that I was so disappointed when I was in Salt Lake City, because they wouldn't let me in to see the Temple. The younger fellow was surprised by this...he must have been in training. The older fellow suggested that if I became a member, I could see the place. He said that the Mormon folks considered their place so holy that only members could see it.
I then told him that I had been to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, The Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, I had visited fabulous Cathedrals in Britain, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Something told me these places were holy too and yet everyone was welcome inside to see it.
I even told them that I visited the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall. Those places are very holy too according to lots of people.
I said that it just surprised me that I was not welcome to see their holy place.
They offered me their card and invited me to look at their website. I gave them my card and invited them to see my blog, my website, and my church website. I'd love to see the look on their faces when they read about the emerging Rainbow Church, Rainbow Marriage and all the other things I go nattering on about.
But there you are, its grand to be in a free country when we can go out and chat about the faith on the way to the moon. The Mormon fellows headed back to the Stake. I went back home to post some pics on Facebook.
Blessings on you all,
Fr. Paul

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Blessed are those who Occupy Wall Street

According to the Gospel passage for today, a King gave a great banquet for his son's wedding, but the invited guests refused to come. So the King compelled his servants to go out into the streets and compel the poor, the halt, and the lame to come and fill his banquet hall.

Come to the banquet, all you poor, unemployed, homeless, you persecuted lesbigay folk, Come to the banquet! Come in out of the cold and feast at God's Banquet table!

All you who Occupy Wall Street and Main street, your time has come. The poor will be filled and the rich will be sent away empty. Just the way Mary said in her great song.

The Gospel economics cry out for justice, from Jeremiah to Jesus, you are the Blessed ones of God.

Read this again and remember who Jesus really is. By the way, you may not hear these words from the right wing but they are what the Biblical scholars call; "The Christian Manifesto". Pour yourselves into the streets and take heart; you are invited to the Banquet of God!

Matthew 5

The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.