Jul
22
2013
0

The Funny Thing About Fundamentalists… (The Christian&theAtheist)

Ronelle Adams said:

“If your fundamentalists are faith healers, snake handlers, child abusers, sexist, racist, and anti-gay bigots, then there’s something wrong with your fundamentals.”

Nice job, Ronelle. I can understand entirely where you’re coming from. That is a bit creepy, the way fundamentalists portray themselves so often as ragingly dangerous, closed-minded, single-sighted/sided figures in the world. And I really think we should change the name we give those who exist on the extremes of the far right of the Christian religion; because one thing Ronelle said was a little off. The funny thing about fundamentalists is they are about as far from teaching/living the fundamentals of Christ as you can possibly be, while still standing in the shelter of the umbrella term, “Christian.” Bigotry, sexism, racism, and child abuse–not even in the slightest sense or contortion—reflect the foundational teachings Jesus shared while alive in the world. Jesus, in fact, taught the exact opposite to those who walked with him all of those years ago, and stood strong with the same passion for social justice as Christianity’s harshest modern critics.

Throughout the gospels (just open a page to any of the four) and Jesus’ teachings are about lifting up inclusivity, embracing the outcast, prizing the importance and sanctity of the lives of children (begging us all to be so beautifully and simply situated in the world), and working endlessly–to death, in fact—for cross cultural/cross-ethnic/cross-gender social respect and equality. Jesus was the ultimate critic of religion, himself, and would have readily taken sides with Ronelle Adams in his statement, along with Bill Maher, George Carlin, Trent Reznor, and all of those other voices we hear so loudly criticize the habits and ways of religion. Again, just open any of the gospels, and Jesus yells just as fervently about these very same things.

So why is it that Christianity, the religion against religion, gets all of the flack?

How do we rightly live up to the fundamentals of Christ, while people wrongly labeled as “fundamentalists” run rampant through the world, spreading hate, greed, corruption, and exclusion throughout a population of people yearning to break away from the barriers of the past and breathe free?

To me, the world is searching—yearning—for what Christianity used to be, while running—fleeing—from what Christianity has become.

As individual Christians and as spiritual seekers together, what do we do about this? Something to examine and think about as we move along each day in the world.

 

 

 

 

Jan
03
2012
0

Did You See the Sunrise Tuesday Morning?

Tuesday morning I woke up to darkness without the aid of my alarm.  I don’t know why. Guess I just felt refreshed enough from the sleep I already had, and was ready to pick up where I left off with yesterday’s work.  As I moved through my morning routine, I noticed a slight pink slowly overtaking the rocks behind the house. I paid little attention, and continued rinsing and stacking dishes.

The dishwasher loaded, I moved to the family room to fold the blankets on the couch, and saw this pink had lightly soaked the creases of my sheers. Still, I continued folding.

It wasn’t until I moved around the corner to open the door and let the sun in for the day, that I saw it.   Beyond the glass separating me from the outside, wide expanses of smooth cloud billowed up from over the tops of the mountains like cotton sheets from a clothes line, while the slight touch of the early sun set fire to their breadth, brightly spreading the light of yellow flame from end to end. The pink I’d seen from the sink and over my couch, soaked through each curve and dip of the clean-sheet clouds, just as it did my sheers, until all waved gently into a brilliant blue, waiting in the west.

It was nice.

In fact, the sight was so gorgeous, I had to share it immediately with the first set of sensing eyes I could find outside my own; so I grabbed my cat, and lifted him to the window to see.  I wasn’t sure if he could appreciate life from an aesthetic perspective, or if that was more of just a human thing; but I at least wanted to give him the chance.  As I suspected, he didn’t look once at the sky, but instead batted downward at the screen, in search of tiny bugs.

It got me thinking about what we let ourselves see in life. About what distracts us. About what opportunities we give ourselves to more fully experience the world.  I didn’t notice the sunrise either,  in those early minutes of waking; and I would have missed it entirely had it not been a typical part of my morning routine to open the front door for extra light during the day.   My opening the door had nothing to do with expectation toward anything beyond, at that moment. I opened it merely for the sake of the light coming later.

During this season of Epiphany, let’s remember the breathtaking light of  God which enters our minds and our souls, and gives us direction through each day we wake up in this crazy life; and lets think of the ways we open ourselves to receiving it, all the while thanking God for this beautiful gift of being alive, and having eyes to see what God has done.

 

 

 

 

 

Nov
30
2011
0

Letting Our Eyes See the Light

So, my husband Ky took vacation the first week of November, and decided at that time to go nuts decorating all of the borders of the walls with garland and lights while he had the time and passion. He took down all of our typical knick-knacks and replaced them with Christmas themed objects of religious and secular varieties; and covered all of the large paintings and pictures in our home with wrapping paper and bows.

 

All the while, of course, I had to stand in the corner covering my eyes.  I come from a family of highly neurotic people (my older brother being the worst—shhh. Please don’t tell him I said that in a reading which is actually being printed on paper and posted online!); and in a psycho-light version of what would have been my brother’s total nervous breakdown, all I could think about the entire time Ky was decorating, was that I would have to try my best not to look at the lights or walls for the next three weeks!  For me, hanging Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving is like a groom sneaking into a bride’s closet the night before the wedding to have a look at the dress. It just shouldn’t be done!

 

The days passed, and just as I feared, it was impossible not to see the decorations over the last three weeks, no matter how hard I tried to keep my eyes toward the floor; and I eventually grew numb to them. I resigned myself to having a senseless Christmas, until the day Ky returned home with our Christmas tree (several days after Thanksgiving), and we spent the night decorating its branches, and listening to Christmas carols with Chevy Chase on mute in the background.

 

As Ralphie said, “All was right with the world.”

 

I could finally look at the Christmas lights my husband hung early, and allow my mind to not only accept their place in our home, but to embrace it, and stare long and deep into their warm colors bouncing from glass, and splashing over walls.

 

As I wove the Christmas lights through the branches of the tree, I realized my situation with the Christmas decorations in many ways reflects our experience of our spiritual beliefs throughout the year. We’re surrounded always by our Christian beliefs, and our love and passion toward the life of Christ; but over the course of the year, our minds sometimes grow numb to these things. We take these feelings for granted—as a given. We’re used to seeing them—to being around them.  The season of Advent—Christmas time—is a set of days and weeks in the year when we can allow ourselves to finally let ourselves take a look around at the beauty of the love and life of Christ and let our eyes bathe in the light, and our hearts warm at the thought.  It’s a time we can let our minds delve deep into why and how we came to feels so connected to this person, and the things he said, and meditate on our thankfulness for receiving such a wonderful gift from God.

 

Throughout Advent, each service at Deer Park UMC will be a meditation on what we received when we were given the gift of Christ’s company in the world, as we let our eyes settle on the beauty of his life, and finally open our minds to the celebration and joy at the sight of it.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful, and soul-warming Christmas season shared with friends and the people you love.

 

Take care, and God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct
13
2011
0

Stepping Outside of Our Open Doors: A Meditation on our Vital Congregations

While my feet trudged through the thousands of frail wafers of yellow and white dropped by the aspen trees surrounding my home,  a fellow seeker of God walked beside and behind me, filling the quiet with news and info about the current state of things for the people who come to sit in the chairs together each Sunday.

Our conversation was supposed to take place inside of a big room under florescent lights, with multiple folders and papers; but we decided to ditch the rug and metal and head up the side of the mountain across from the church.  The conversation was, at first, business. As planned, we went over the news we’d received from the bishop, who’d provided guidelines for each congregation, each year, regarding our growth and calculating all of those nice statistical digits congregants and clergy hope will fill their eyes each week, but prefer not to see on paper.

The two of us quickly tossed between each other the numbers and projections; but  as our legs moved over the dirt, lifting us higher through the trees, our conversation changed.

The cold crunch of the  fall air had finally reached down to the bottoms of our lungs, deepening our talk with the color of the leaves under our shoes; and our minds pushed past the conference room jargon to consider where we’re supposed to go, as people who hope and yearn to find a closeness with this beautiful force of Life we call God.

We talked about a lot of things.  The history of the church, the old ways of missionaries, and all of the ways people, over the years, had come to resent the church for its role amongst people; and how this history — which stands as flawed as each one of us— had worked, over time, to actually isolate people from their natural movement toward God.

What a horrible and wonderful thing to let ourselves consider.

Acknowledging this truth is horrible, because it leaves us with a sense of fear and anxiety toward what has already been done; but it is simultaneously beautiful and wonderful for us to let this truth enter, because it allows us more clearly, and with more bravery, and strength, to walk ahead from where we are.

People still search. People still yearn to be closer with the Higher Force of Life we’ve all felt invisibly present inside and around us since the beginning of our human experience on the dirt.  Sit down at any table with any group of intoxicated college kids (funny, I just turned thirty, and now find it natural to call these adults, “kids.” Oof.), and you’ll find this deep yearning and searching in each of the words expelled from their souls, as long as you don’t ruin the conversation early, by safely and simply regurgitating dogmas and creeds.

People want God.  People search for the God they sense in the deepest parts of who they are; but they haven’t yet found a place to go, where they feel they will find what they seek.

The church is not the church if it is not this place.

While I walked with this other seeker through the trees on the mountain, I couldn’t help but feel a connection with those yellow-white wafers dropped from the aspens to the ground, blowing without attachment to the source of their natural life.

In that cold fall air, I also couldn’t help but remember that life moves in cycles, each beautiful, and necessary, and unique as they are; and that though this seeker and I moved through leaves which right now lied scattered and dry all around us, a time is coming soon, when our eyes will again fill with the green connected strong to each branch of the tree which grows and spreads life through each extended wafer.

As a church, as a branch reaching out from the life of God, we are vital.

And all of us seeking the sight of growth and change, will find it, as long as we’re willing to take a step outside of the conference room, and surround ourselves with the life outside of our open doors.

Sep
08
2011
0

Deer Park United Methodist Church & CenturyLink

We are a small village church in Bailey Colorado, but we have a motto at Deer Park UMC that sums up who we are — Everyone is welcome!  No Exceptions!  Our little green church is just off of 285 between Pine and Bailey at Rim Rock Road.  Our Methodist church has a love for music and fellowship. We want to share vision with individuals and families in the 285 corridor from Bailey, Pine, Conifer and the surrounding area.  We want people to  know who we are and to feel welcome to worship with us and be a part of our community.  We have a new pastor, Laura Hehner who will be writing our regular blog posts.

We started this Social Media program with Century Link and they have helped us set up our wordpress blog site, facebook page and twitter page and tie them together so you can follow us with your favorite social media tool.  CenturyLink is helping our church with social media in exchange for my honest views on CenturyLink’s services.   We are still working with Century-Link representatives to guide us along our social media path to most effectively reach our audience and so far the experience has been beneficial to us.  To find out more check out CenturyLink.



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