Holy Holy Holy

The Christ is and continues to be my chosen religious path. Through my life in the church community, I have grown in understanding and ability into a richer more whole life. I’d give my experience to everyone because it has been so amazing and deepening–difficult too, I might add. Yet I continue to honor all spiritual traditions. God does not merely work in the box where we choose to put him/her. There is more than one religion or religious ideology which helps people grow.

This holy week the coming of my neighbors was special–we drank and made merry.   They are Jewish–the most beautiful, generous people…Last night we attended a cantata in Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in West Huntington.  So much love there. The choir warmed my heart. The carols reminded my of my childhood long ago in England. I loved the gospel finale: We who Were Walking in Darkness (have seen a great light). It was magnificent–so many people in community bringing a message of hope.

Recently I got a wonderful musical Facebook message from a friend who always brightens and deepens my days. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyviyF-N23A

And there was this amazing photo posted from another friend, a psychic:

The fierce goddess, Kali, has been a signficant model of spirituality for me–the fierce feminine, the one not to be messed with, the way for women to internalize female deity.

At the cantata we sang Silent Night, the final carol, while the candles were lit from the Christ candle.  The words Mother and child in the hymn brought up a memory of my mother and I as a little girl. She and I waiting at a dark bus stop to go visit my very sick aunt in the hospital. I had flowers, but they weren’t for my aunt; I was bringing them for the lady in the bed next to my aunt’s because she had nothing and no one. Ah. Mother and Child everywhere are the rising of God’s holiness in the world.

Amaterisu, the Japanese sun goddess,  is from the Shinto tradition which honors much of nature.  I love her story.  Her brother, the storm god,  betrays her and so she hides in a cave, and the land gets colder and colder. No one can convince her to come out and shine her warmth back onto the land until she hears laughter. She peaks out of her cave, and someone holds up a mirror which mesmerizes her so that she can be drawn back out and her light once again warm the earth.  http://www.answers.com/topic/amaterasuAnd

Another tradition that is beautiful and empowering and sometimes parallel in its spiritual teachings to Christian ideology is Buddhism. I am reading about one particular branch, Pure Land Buddhism, for a book I am writing with my niece. Thich Nhat Hanh, in Finding Our True Home, writes: The original reality of Amitabha is our own Dharma body. It shines out brightly everywhere in the South, North, East and West. It is like the autumn moon that lies in the high, vast sky. In the silence of the night its brillance shines far over the ocean. I don’t understand the concept of Dharma but this imagery speaks to me of the power of loving Presence and Mystery beyond.

Amitabha is the Buddha of compassion.

So many moments–friends, images, music, readings–warm my day, enlighten my understanding.

May all you who read this be blessed and experience the grace of love in your lives.

Happy New Year!

What’s the App for Jesus?

Now if you’re like me and wasn’t born with a mouse in your hand, then you might not know what in the world an App actually is. It means application and is software, the stuff on the computer that underlies all the outward jargon, information, gamesmanship, photos, chat rooms, shopping channels, etc. It’s a special computer language beneath the user-friendly buttons. If you press Home, for instance, you’ll be directed to the opening page of a website. This happens not by magic, but by the underlying App’s computer language. There are quite a lot of program languages listed by Wikipedia: “BASIC,” for instance, “is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use – the name is an acronym from Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.” I wondered just how many computer languages there actually were and began to count all the ones listed alphabetically by Wiki. I began with the A’s, and then the B’s, but when I got to the C’s, I stopped counting after one hundred.

Perhaps, the volume of specialized programming languages is not surprising given the number of Apps, many of them free. There are, for instance, Apps for ipad, Apps for iphone, Apps for android, Apps for smartphone, Apps for face book, Apps for blackberry, Apps for droid, Apps for Google, Apps for mobile, and on it goes. In fact when I searched for Apps, Yahoo delivered five hundred and eighty four million general sites.

How many Apps-sites do you think there are for Jesus?

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ushakov_Nerukotvorniy.jpg

Are you ready? Four hundred and eighty four million.

How on earth do you find what you are looking for in such a mass of information? Where is the truth? What if your lives, in spite of an outer show of pleasure, seem empty? What if the frenzy of your daily life what with work, care of the children, care of elderly parents, fixing the car, mowing the lawn, shopping, relationship maintenance, and the constant stream of daily activities are a cover-up for inner anxiety? What if you are dealing with injustice, hurt and suffering?

Would you cry with Isaiah (64: 1-3): 

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,

that the mountains would tremble before you!

As when fire sets twigs ablaze

and causes water to boil,

come down to make your name known to your enemies

and cause the nations to quake before you!

For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,

you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.

You might if you knew where to look. But what if you simply felt empty and did not know or denied the existence of a greater power, God? The Bible might well seem inaccessible myth to you. Perhaps, you’d surf the web trying to find meaning.

When I searched for the Apps for Jesus websites, one that popped up in the top ten was called >AppsforChrist.com< It was a site where someone was using Jesus to sell i-phones; it also offered free Apps to memorize Scripture.

One I liked was called:

Heartcry: Compassion in Action
Jesus Centres: where every person is valued
Our Jesus Centres around the UK offer friendship and help to every kind of person, regardless of their beliefs or lack of them.
Find out more. With Facebook feed, photos, music, videos and details of each Jesus Centre.
Jesus Centres are set up and run by Jesus Army Charitable Trust, a UK registered charity (no. 1091912).

My attention leaped on to Bikers for Christ, and made me think of the–disreputable shack close by my house where Bikers of the World meet. They look like Hell’s Angels with long shaggy beards, and chunky molls clinging to their backs when they roar up to their clubhouse. They also run food drives and do charitable acts. I wondered if they ever solicit new members?

I moved on to Rapture-Watch. Ethereal music played, and a clock with a hand pointing to the time of the second coming of Christ appeared. I wonder how you’d point to Jesus with a digital clock. I did enjoy the photo of a great big raven with shiny black feathers. I suppose the bird was meant to illustrate a verse of Scripture from the Song of Solomon (5:11):  “His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.” The author of the site expounded on the meaning with rapturous language which left me, well, confused: Comparisons all fail to set forth the Lord Jesus, but the spouse uses the best within her reach. By the head of Jesus we may understand his deity, “for the head of Christ is God” and then the ingot of purest gold is the best conceivable metaphor, but all too poor to describe one so precious, so pure, so dear, so glorious. Jesus is not a grain of gold, but a vast globe of it, a priceless mass of treasure such as earth and heaven cannot excel. The creatures are mere iron and clay, they all shall perish like wood, hay, and stubble… The bushy locks depict his manly vigour. There is nothing effeminate in our Beloved. He is the manliest of men. Bold as a lion, laborious as an ox, swift as an eagle…

What? Momentarily, I understood Isaiah’s cry O that you would come down and rescue us (Is 64: 1-9).

I was relieved when I read what Queen Royalty who’d posted Jesus: Got An APP for that? said: With advances in technology surfacing every other millisecond, the world has grown accustomed to instant gratification. Instant gratification has now even got a microwave version called Quick Response. Translation—RIGHT NOW! As one of few earthlings who has yet to join the society of smartphone users, I surprisingly don’t feel at a lost. While the world goes around uploading videos, scanning company barcodes, and updating Twitter feeds, I reserve the right to live a simple life. And this vow is simply joyous! My life lacks the toil of trying to remain on top of the up-and-coming; however, I remain keenly aware of the space and time in which I reside. The lack of empty distractions has allowed me to locate my purpose and destiny. Thus, I have progressively been downloading what I’ll dub my Jesus App into my “smart” dome—head that is.

Queen Royalty made sense to me, but I wondered just what is a definitive App for Jesus?

On the internet around the twentieth millionth site, I came across a news article about the shooter who claimed to be a modern Jesus Christ. Not too much further down the list was one about the Salvation Army taking applications for Christmas assistance.

Should we be heartened or frightened by this frenzy of often contradictory messages? How does anyone make any sense of all this?

I liked Heartcry with its Jesus Centres in the UK, but I couldn’t help wonder why they didn’t call them churches? In Britain, though, church is not viewed as respectable. To be religious is to be a nutter–a crazy person. Tony Blair, former prime minister, was a practicing Christian, but he tried to keep it private.

Should Christians who go to church keep their lives in Christ private? Certainly, there is nothing more annoying than someone forcing their beliefs down our throats, but on the other hand, there are millions of people who are seeking meaning in their lives and they’ll find some Apps and websites that will help, but there are plenty of sites full of ill-considered opinions.

People might do well to enter a church to hear about God from a traditional stance, a tradition that’s been developing for 2000 years. And there’s another reason to come–to be in community with other people, to share ideas and disagree too (without storming out the door, or clicking onto the next App), and to have opportunities to reach out to help the surrounding community. So why not invite your neighbors and friends who don’t have churches to come with you to yours? You don’t need to use Christian language or try to convert them. A simple invitation to a place you love is enough.

So is there an App for Jesus?

If Jesus is the way the truth and the light, and if Jesus is the Word giving meaning, empowering lives, restoring us to our loving God, then perhaps Jesus is THE App for you and for many.

Edgar Cayce–renowned healer from Kentucky

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Edgar Cayce was born near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1877, and lived in Hopkinsville with his family for several years.

Throughout his life, Cayce was drawn to church as a member of the Disciples of Christ. He read the Bible once for every year of his life, taught at Sunday school, and recruited missionaries.

Cayce’s methods involved lying down and entering into what appeared to be a hypnotic trance or sleep state, usually at the request of a subject who was seeking help with health or other personal problems (subjects were not usually present). The subject’s questions would then be given to Cayce, and Cayce would proceed with a reading. At first these readings dealt primarily with the physical health of the individual (physical readings); later, readings on past lives, business advice, dream interpretation, and mental or spiritual health were also given.

When out of the trance he entered to perform a reading, Cayce said he generally did not remember what he had said during the reading. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Cayce

If you gave someone a Kindle, why not give them a book or two to enjoy…

Emily’s Shadow (www.bloodmoonpublishing.com): supernatural fantasy set in Cornwall, where Merlin made magic.

  Kindle edition:   $4.79

Unexpected Journey (www.roguephoenixpress.com): historical coming of age novel about a shaman, a rich girl and a street girl who end up in colonial Philadelphia.

Kindle edition: $5.99

Available in HTML, PDF, and Mobipocket directly from the publisher:

http://shop.roguephoenixpress.ieasysite.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=UNEXPECTEDJOURNEY

 Champion, the Dream Horse, about Mara Sue, who lives in Kentucky, is poor, but determined to own the horse of her dreams.

Kindle edition: $2.99 

FREE: Misty, the London Pony,  is based on a true story. An illustrated children’s story is available as a free PDF download.

 

Moon

A picture showing the legend of PAH taken from our Native American mythology archives. Illustration by Chas Saunders. Read the story below or search the index for more Native American Gods, Native American Goddesses, heroes, demons and monsters!

moon image: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/native_american-mythology.php?deity=PAH

In the creation story of the Pawnee people four major stars were said to represent gods. Pah was a Pawnee lunar deity and was male. His consort was Shakaru, a sun goddess. Together they produced a son, but the first human being in Pawnee mythology was a girl, the child borne of the Morning Star and the Evening Star.

This might sound like good news for women, but one sect of the Pawnee, the Skidi, practiced child sacrifice, specifically of captive girls, in the “Morning Star ritual”. They continued this practice regularly through the 1810s and possibly after 1838, the last reported sacrifice. They believed the longstanding rite ensured the fertility of the soil and success of the crops, as well as renewal of all life in spring. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pawnee_people

Archeologists and anthropologists have determined the Pawnee had a sophisticated understanding of the movement of stars. They noted the nonconforming movements of both Venus (Evening Star) and Mars (Morning Star). The Pawnee centered all aspects of daily life on this celestial observation, including the important cultivation cycle for sacred corn.

They built earthwork lodges to accommodate the sedentary nature of Pawnee culture; each lodge “was at the same time the universe and also the womb of a woman, and the household activities represented her reproductive powers.”[2] The lodge also represented the universe in a more practical way. The physical construction of the house required setting up four posts to represent the four cardinal directions, “aligned almost exactly with the north-south, east-west axis.[3]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pawnee_lodge.jpg

Give a book for Christmas, maybe one of mine?

Unexpected Journey (www.roguephoenixpress.com): historical coming of age novel about a shaman, a rich girl and a street girl who end up in colonial Philadelphia.

Kindle edition: $5.99

Available in HTML, PDF, and Mobipocket directly from the publisher:

http://shop.roguephoenixpress.ieasysite.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=UNEXPECTEDJOURNEY

  

Emily’s Shadow (www.bloodmoonpublishing.com): supernatural fantasy set in Cornwall, where Merlin made magic.

  Kindle edition:   $4.79

FREE: Misty, the London Pony,  is based on a true story. An illustrated children’s story is available as a free PDF download.

 

Champion, the Dream Horse, about Mara Sue, who lives in Kentucky, is poor, but determined to own the horse of her dreams.

Kindle edition: $2.99 

Was Jesus a Shaman?

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Jesus was not a white man, yet it has been common practice to portray him as such in the West. I’ve seen him portrayed as a black woman too.  Who was Jesus, really? My mother-in-law, who was a deeply spiritual woman, a life-long member of the Disciples of Christ Christian church, experienced the presence of Jesus in a remarkable way.  She was eighty-nine years old, dying of bone cancer.  Her daughter Terry was with her at the end when her eyes got big and she said someone was coming for her! Jesus was coming for her! When at last the veil parted enough for her to see him, with surprise in her voice, she exclaimed: “Why, Jesus is a Palestinian!”

So what really matters, appearance or substance? Magic or Spirit? 

“The shaman or spirit-medium plays a central role in the life of pastoral peoples, the urbanised poor, and social minorities the world over. She or he (shamans are mainly women) performs the function of interpreter of dreams, healer of the sick, exorciser of the possessed and wise teacher of the community for those who do not have the social influence or wealth to consult the intitutionalized religous prieshood.” 

Julie M. Hopkins. Towards a Feminist Christology. Distributed by Eerdman’s. p.42.

Dr. Hopkins goes on to say that Chapter One of the Gospel of Mark describes rituals and rites similar to that of early shamanism: Jesus is baptized in the Jordan by an older prophet, John the Baptist, who had predicted the coming of one mightier than he. There is a mystical happening when the Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove. A locution (a supernatural voice) happens when Jesus hears that God is pleased with him. The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert where he must fight the temptations of Satan and conquer evil spirits before he is fully empowered to begin his ministry.

Hopkins makes the case that the idea of atonement for sin taken on by Jesus through the crucifixion arises out of ancient Hebrew religious ideology. For women and marginilized people, they don’t need to atone for their sins, repeating liturguies about their sinful natures. They need a world where justice prevails, where equality is the order of the day,  and where they have hope.  Read my review: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802840744