The First Step on our Journey

Much of my time lately has been focused on figuring out what religion looks like now. Not that I feel like I’ve been chosen or blessed with some special mission or insight to do so, but everything in desires a return to some spiritual homeland that never really existed.

The problem is that my earliest spiritual formation occurred within several improbable confluences of circumstances that can never be willed back into existence.

Faith took root in me through the influence of my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. Many of my earliest memories are the long discussions of various passages of the Bible with my great grandmother, and sitting beside her little electric organ singing hymns. We spent many a summer day talking about Jesus and God.

In my early teens, I discovered the Secret of the Rosary, and began my slow conversion from being a Baptist to Catholicism. Then came my departure from Rome to the faith I have today.

That intermediary period is where most of the magic happened. I volunteered at and visited many Catholic and Buddhist monasteries, shrines, and convents. So much of my free time was spent discussing life with priest, monks, nuns, and mystics from around the world.

The truth is, running around and collecting wisdom from these people is not the same as actually practicing the wisdom collected. My real problem is that I live in a setting isolated from others who are doing the same spiritual work.

Abbey as a metaphor

As a result of this isolation in concert with my love for the desert fathers and mothers, I have referred to my spiritual practice and life as work in the abbey. Allowing myself to adopt this metaphor gave me a framework for my faith and practice. I can see myself as an anchorite who practices spiritual exercises away from the community that exists online.

I don’t know that this is entirely true. I want to believe that there is an online community that practices compassion and creation spirituality, but if there is, it is hidden…

Granted, the Charter for Compassion as been doing a lot to develop a community, but the CS community is completely MIA.

Don’t get me wrong, the point of this examine isn’t just to complain about the work of others but to confess my own sins in not doing my part to bring such a thing about.

The issue is that we lionize and idolize founders and instigators of religious institutions. We mythologize them into people of such divine beings, it is impossible for people like me who suffers from imposter syndrome and who isn’t inherently narcissistic to see myself as someone capable of initializing a spiritual community.

I am not a chosen one, so how could I have anything valid to add to the discussion?

Vision Holder

I took a class recently from the Charter on starting a Sacred Space. I learned a lot, and that is a topic for another day. The most important thing I learned was when Teresa Cowan Jones used the term Vision Holder…

Wait, I can do that. I can hold the vision and present it to others in a way they can understand. That simple phrase changed my understanding of the role I could play in this nascent community. It isn’t invested with all the hagiography that any of the other terms are.

I am Charlie, and I am a Vision Holder.

Vision Holding

So, now that I have figured out my place in this whole thing, I am ready to move forward and start my work in earnest. What vision am I holding?

The world was created in Original Blessing, but through the delusion of independent selves the world has become broken because of the hardness of our hearts. Compassion is the practice and method for restoring the world to its original state (Tikkun Olam).

Happy New Moon. Let’s start restoring the world.

The Problem with Prophets


It is hard to tune into "Christian" media these days without encountering a self proclaimed prophet.  They all claim to hear the voice of God, yet they all have different messages many contradict each other.  There is one consistent point in all their proclamations, if you give them money, you will get rich.

These "prophets" then turn to their own lives as an example of how this divine pyramid scheme works.  How amazing! If you tell people to send you money so they will get rich, you will get rich; then somehow you get rich off the backs of the poor who send you their hard earned money.  That is not a miracle. It is little more than vile theft from the poor to line your own pockets.

So what happens if you get caught and imprisoned for embezzling money from your so called religious institution?  What do you do when you have been exposed as a fraud who is only interested in lining your own pockets?  You scare people into giving you money. Manufacturing fake crises and lying about future mayhem so you can sell disaster preparedness kits.  How do you justify your lies in the name of God to enrich yourself?

September 2015 was supposed to be the end, with violence and collapse in the Great convergence (see here, here, here, and here). The world did not end. The earthquake didn't come. The stock market did not crash. You scared people in the Name of God to buy buckets of freeze dried food.  You invited your followers to party as the world is falling apart.  

You did this to line your own pockets with ill gotten gains stolen through fear from your followers.

Oh, if only you were the only one who worshiped Money over the Lord of Life!

The God and Father of Jesus Christ is not the God of Fear and Division!

True Fear of the Lord or Yirah is trembling awe in the face of God's Power and Nature, it is not scaring the money out of people's pockets to line your own.  We believers have no reason to fear.

If you don't believe me, listen to Christ:

Therefore, I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will put on. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they? Which of you, by being anxious, can add one cubit to the measure of his life? Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith? Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient.
— Jesus, Matthew 6:25-34

And since some prefer the words of Paul over those of Christ:

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
— Paul, Philippians 4:6-7

It couldn't be clearer.  Fear paralyzes, but faith drives action. If you knew the God and Father of Jesus Christ, you would know that we serve a God who is Love, Compassion, however you want to translate the Greek.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love. By this was God’s love revealed in us, that God has sent his only born Son into the world that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us so, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever will confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We know and have believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this love has been made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.
— John, 1 John 4:7-18

The God you proclaim is not the Father of Jesus Christ.  There is no love in your words, there is only fear.  Fear flees from the prayerful life of a disciple of Christ who meditates day and night on the Nature of God and lives through the power of the Divine Energies flowing through them.  You proclaim nothing but Pride, Fear, and Envy, and the punch line is always the same.  Give us your money, only we can save you.  In your actions, your god is revealed.

You Preachers of Fear worship God Money

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.
— Jesus, Matthew 6:24

Woe to you who fleece your followers in service of the Mighty Dollar while proclaiming the Name of Jesus.  I beg of you, cast this darkness from your heart. Only the vilest beast stokes the fears of others to take their money from them. I know you will not hear these words, and if you do, you will simply mock them.

I ask the community of the faithful to rise up against you, and show their friends and family why you do not deserve their money.  You are liars and frauds.  You bring nothing but harm into this world, but the Power of God lives through the faithful and through our love, we will cast out your fear. 

First thoughts on Pope Francis

In my heart, I will always be Catholic.  It is thanks to the Roman church that I found the rosary and the path to Jesus through Mary.  I will not take this as an opportunity to speak ill of the Pope emeritus, but I will say that I was not sad to hear of his retirement.

I prayed for mother church, that the College of Cardinals would, this time, choose a Pope that is not schismatic, a Pope who would follow the mandates of Vatican II.  I do not know if my prayers, and the prayers of many like me, have been answered.  I do know that my first impression of the new pope was a good one.

I began weeping when his name was announced.  When I heard the Cardinals say Francesco, my heart leapt and I began to cry that the new holy father had named himself after our Seraphic Father, who is the Angel of the Lord sent out to mark the faithful, as St. Bonaventure says in the Legenda Major.  The words of our Lord to St. Francis of Assisi rang through my ears, "my son, rebuild my church."  If this man will truly act in the spirit, charism, and with the guidance of our Seraphic Father, then he will truly be the Pope the world needs.

Change will not be easy for the church.

He has conservative views on abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality.  He does accept the Orthodox teaching of the church that homosexual men and women must be accepted with respect and compassion, but he has opposed gay marriage, and even gay adoption.

He does support the use of contraception to prevent the spread of disease, which is very important for Catholics in Africa and the rest of the world.

He has been an outspoken advocate for human rights and the rights of the poor, calling for social justice in the world.

More telling, perhaps, is a comment that he made on the Aparecida Document, where he said that the church should have coherence in his opinion that Holy Communion cannot be received by people who act or speak against the commandments, "in particular, when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated."

If he means to think the Roman priesthood should try to withhold God's grace from those whom in their own eyes they should believe need it most, then I'm not sure he will be the change the church requires.

Only time will tell.  I will pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and with the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and Seraphic Father Francis that he will be a wise and just leader, and that he will restore the Roman church.