A poem from 3 years ago…seems appropriate in light of the marches!
Source: Miriam’s Song
A poem from 3 years ago…seems appropriate in light of the marches!
Source: Miriam’s Song
the short period
during which all
the years of groaning,
from that first fatal blow dealt
by selfish egocentricity to the
entirety of creation…
which turned off the Divine Light,
are compacted into one designated
not “long”, but “longish”
and full of longing.
Waiting for the most part is experienced as obdurate dull hunkering down and drinking from the cracked teacups of platitudes…ingesting such sops as “everything happens for a reason” and “this too shall pass”…yeah no…those things will not cut it, to get us thru this night, this absence of Divine Light that lays over all things, this utter darkness of the ego dictatorship.
Waiting…true waiting is become for us an empowered marking of events as they flow, infused by a knowing confidence that we wait for something certain and substantial…we wait for something coming and yet already here…we wait for the joy that veritably strains at the gates of birth to come forth!
We wait for someone…Someone…and every year that Someone comes fresh and new…and full of the very Presence that fits the absence of our existence like a Hand in a glove, like a key in a lock.
The Ultimate Mystery of Existence is the Incarnation: that joining of Creator and Creation into one full and harmonious miracle of Being…a joining that was planned and executed before even the foundations of the earth were laid, long ago sometime in eternity past when God in communion with God manifested the Eternal Sacred Heart in Passion Absolute and took up residence forever at the crux and core of all things, all rays, all paths and promises…that begotten presence which chose to be called Son climbed that tree and hung…hung…hangs…and hangs…
behind, beneath, above, within.
In every single cry of horror the cross is at the center.
In every single laugh of promise the cross is at the center.
In every single expression of wonder, every single nightmare of despair
at the center
And in the most central and deepest Intention is that Union, at the center of which the cross veritably pulsates!!
It is the Mystery of the Incarnation…which is spoken of most plainly in the lowly caterpillar…or is it spoken of most darkly in the mystery of the Chrysalis? Wait…it is spoken of most clearly in the emergence of the butterfly.
We are that caterpillar, our lives a Holy Chrysalis of Dark Promise, and our becoming the butterfly whose wings we feel pulsating within our breast, that activity of Wonder which flutters in heaving convulsing implications that there must be Something!!
And so this morning, I wanna talk about that…the activity.
During Advent, we can look at the various “actors” in the Christmas Story to take our cues and understand our path forward, onward, higher/deeper, inward/outward…
Out in the cold, living in fields…Looking after animals, in the dark of night…
Lonely, stiff and cold, hungry, sleepless and miserable, surrounded by slumbering insensate beasts who couldn’t even begin to give a crap about anything except their own comfort and care…full bellies and security from wild beasts even if it meant being captive to their comfort and thus forever doomed to the dust-life…and never a dawning of even the beginnings of wondering what is Wonder…
…it is there we meet the shepherds…who are aware…ALL too aware of these things.
I mean, c’mon!
The story tells us they were living out in the fields!
They had no homes.
They had no place to lay their head.
Except in the fields…with the beasts they cared for…and their own sense of wonder…wondering why the rich sat at ease in their cedar lined homes…wondering why their bellies were so empty when the refuse cans of the rich were so full of excess and waste…wondering why the stinking Romans had authority to take and break and dictate…
wondering why God was silent, absent, insensate, indifferent…
and into that dark and lonely discomfiting despair came a Divine breaking in and breaking thru!!
In the midst of the darkest, most silent, most still, most absent of hope, most slumbering unaware time…came Heaven’s declaration that a Child had been born! A Child had been Given!!
And His name was Wonderful!
His name was Counselor!
His name was Prince of Peace!
He was The Everlasting Father (yet an infant, meek and lowly)!
He was the Dayspring, the Bright and Morning Star!
Ahh…Morning Star…that Star that presages that night is drawing to a close, is ending.
And then the shepherds were given His core name, His Heart-Name…
God with us. God with us.
God is with us.
Go to the lowliest place, for that is where God chooses to appear! Do you not realize that everything you wish God to be God IS in the revelation of Advent? He chose the lowliest, the weakest, the most foolish…and in that place was born…in a feeding trough…a manger.
You do get that, don’t you? The Bread from Heaven was laid in a manger (another name for trough from which cattle eat)? And broken there for us…to “eat”…to “ingest” and have Him become one in essence with us?
The shepherds were told to go and see the baby, and then to go, and tell it on the mountains, tell it in the valleys, tell it everywhere there were hungry ears…that EMMANUEL HAD COME!
And they did.
Thus we see the second activity of Advent: you are called, as a shepherd, as one who is aware (regardless of whether you are full of hope or full of despair…either one is the sign that you are an “aware one” and thus are chosen and blessed)…to go.
Tell it on the mountain.
Tell it in the valley.
And keep your eyes open to spot the Child! You shall find Him in your neighbor…that “asshole” down the street that drives by you everyday, eyes fixed forward and exuding anger and frustration…that “airhead” in the cubicle next to you who is seemingly obsessed with her makeup and her dating life and fashion…
You will find Him in that hopeless one next to you on the subway whose beautiful incredible skin is the wrong hue in this culture and whose shining incredible heart is so wounded and bound by the hatred of others…
You will find Him in the transwoman on the street just trying to live in her skin…in the homeless youth whose vision is more obscured by their hair than it is by their heart…
This is the activity of Advent for the shepherds: find the Christ Child…in all His mangers…and proclaim that Child’s Name:
Emmanuel: God is with us.
In a foreign land, early.
Not early in the day…or even early in the year…
…but early in the Kairos of Significant Appointed Time!
And with Open Eyes…there waited Wise Men…who watched the skies, looking always upward for the arrival of…SOMETHING…they knew it not, what they sought, but they knew it had to be…because of the ache inside and the absence of something that caused the ache.
And then…there it was! A star appeared in the sky, and in that quadrant that allus presaged SIGNIFICANCE!
And as they watched intently, behold! It began to shift! And as it shifted, so too within them something shifted, something began to be drawn…something…SomeONE…was tugging at them, pulling them.
And they left their homes, their places of comfort and familiarity…and began the road trip of all road trips, one that some scholars theorize lasted a couple years!
Do you see this?
The incredible events of Advent that happened within the scope of 9 months for the principle actors and happened in one night for the shepherds…
…began as much as two years earlier for the Wise Men!
Talk about Active Waiting! Their waiting involved a journey as well!
They passed thru many lands, and as they were men of means and wealth and influence, their entry into the various kingdoms and lands thru which they passed created a stir, even consternation! But only because it was…odd…strange…unusual.
Until they got close…to the land for which such things held great import…that land governed by an evil and malevolent pile of egocentricity. In “The Fox”, it was as if all of the original assertion of ego which extinguished The Beginning Light was concentrated and distilled…and this small, infected and diseased pus-ridden pimple of a human being who was so full of hate and fear that he even killed children in his attempt to maintain his power was jolted by the arrival of these men and the implications of the Star, and the shockwaves that were about to break.
He was cunning, unctuous, viscous and smooth of speech like a cobra hypnotizing its prey…but the Wise Men were, well, wise to him…and they held him at bay with deference and deflection…and journeyed on after giving him the impression that they would indeed abide by his word when in his land…
and then they at last came to the place over which the Star pulsed and danced…
a baby…in a humble hovel stinking of beasts and despair…and their open eyes beheld Him.
They gave Him Gold…because they saw He was High and Royal, above all beings.
They gave Him Frankincense…because they also saw He was a Priest above all Priests.
They gave Him Myrrh…because they saw something hidden, from all others…until it was manifest…
…they saw that this Baby was simultaneously there, in that manger, and also at the crux of all, and hanging in agony, in Passion, and that His blood was the Spring that watered the very roots of the Universe…
and the Myrrh was burial spice…for by His death our life is.
They knelt…and worshipped…and were changed…by Emmanuel…the Incarnate One.
After awhile, they chose to depart…but did they obey “The Fox”? Did they come under the rule of government?
No…they had been changed forever, and they now were serving the Agenda of heaven and they resisted the intention of the earthly…and they departed in “civil disobedience” in order to preserve the life of God With Us.
And that is the activity of Advent declared to you in the story of the Wise Men.
Part Conclusion: https://charissagrace.com/2016/12/19/advent-reflections-the-activity-of-advent-conclusion/
You must find the way that the Child calls you to live a life distinguished, transformed…changed after your encounter with the Incarnate One…
Encountering Emmanuel first within yourself, and bringing Him forth in the manger of your life…
Encountering Emmanuel next within others…and telling those who still languish in darkness that Emmanuel has come…
Encountering Emmanuel then in the World…and living in a way distinguished and different, resulting in the establishment of His Kingdom, the government on His shoulders, and His never-ending rule of Justice and Mercy Kissing…
This is the lesson and activity of Advent for us…may it be Living Bread for us.
Enough of the certified baby so boring,
our “gentle Lord Jesus so timid, meek and mild”,
enough of the muffled mage soft-spoken and sage
who wouldn’t say shit even if He’d a mouthful!…
Last year a wolverine broke loose, came slashing and gashing, ran up and down
canyons and cliffs and crittering quick up tree-trunks with such fierce red claws…
Snarling and yowling the haunting roar raged, moaned and cursed with such
hunger, such fury, that flurry of wood-thirsty teeth insatiable, free from hiatus and
running heart birthed straight from Their Great Altar There which purifies
all things with Holy Fire so freeing, so cleansing…wafting austere like pure Incense
arising, in billows and plumes and ash, ASH, everywhere and in perpetual
Wednesday, marking the Cross on all things there…within.
the fire had time to make up…
One Hundred and Fifty years to turn…and it was said to be
A Great Mosaic Burn.
At last to feed its need to cleanse a forest fat with care, beneath the watchful eye of
Moses there, beneath his rod extended, as if the sun stood still again, and trees grew
up and great in grit and girth like Children of the sun, see how fat they had
become…See them, their indifferent eyes unblinking, safe, satisfied and
self-centered and all together, such a stand of forest land, secure, untouched…
so sleepy, nodding off with rusty Time’s tock-ticking Heartbeat softly crooning
to ossified great forest stands so very grand that didn’t know they needed
Severe Mercies to come with fire and hot kisses from the Phoenix.
It had not chosen cleansing
It did not know it’s need
for resurrection, for refining
For fire comes to cleanse and make new everything it can consume and challenge all
it cannot touch to understand that TRANSFORMATION’s the destiny
of every-thing with the courage to crawl out from underneath the letter and run
from the rod and leave behind the tyranny of the typical to the flames…
and walk away from Moses, into freedom in liquid-gold fireworks,
free from the cares of the world that cling so fierce and so easily entangle us,
choke our lives in hoary growth and lullabies lulling us fast to sleep,
a Sleeping Beauty Bride on her bower of soft and easy privilege.
She like an eye unblinking
safe in her cloister so fair
deaf to Her loud Divine Dare.
And (just like that forest or Sleeping Bride), there amidst that red hot bloody conflagration set another eye, a forest eye, unblinking sightless eye and
woke up wide awake in terror tribulation, hushed in dread anticipation and fear and with helpless petitions arising, not like incense but like signals…smoke signals…
to Moses? To God? To the Universe Fire come down to feed? Protected by roads
cut with care and foresight, that Eye Unblinking sat there in fright…
and Holden its breath and leaning against a wolverine dread come at last to
consume the dead, to rip that forest wide open and slash the woods to crimson rags
dripping bloody with flame and red flurries…
wrapped in silver sheets reflective, shiny
(or were they merely space age burial shrouds?)
It never blinked, that Eye, and all was shrouded safe, cocooned within
and underneath the rod and the Letter, striding secure thru the Red Sea Fire
escaping the sharp teeth of wolverine the Eye remained preserved amidst
a work that renovates the face and gives a skin-deep makeover, but leaves
the sleepy years untouched and undisturbed on laurels long gone brown
with age and loss of life though all appearances would say that Holden is
alive and well and safe from that destructive hell of fire and fear…yet
none could name that something still so desperately needed a root canal of flame!
for all the Who’s in Holden sigh
for yesteryear, forgetting that it’s
the thief that steals tomorrow.
And this year, one year later in the same Unblinking Eye I rolled in on the waves
and wind (Charissa, meaning “Grace” but named “Char”-issa, “Ashy-one”) seeking
to drink of the life that flows through a village untouched by anything that fell
outside the Mosaic burn and no longer shrouded outside but just maybe mummy
rags still wrapped so tightly around a heart perhaps long grown so slack, so sleek
and oh so fat just like that forest was last year before God gave a wolverine to rage and feed, and cleanse, renew…I saw History on display and windfall fruit rife
on the ground and satisfaction ruled the day, and familiarity won the race
and wore her shiny tangy plumy purple tinsel crown…
Golden Apples, everywhere and casual and everyone was on the in,
societal, and fire roads cut secure and ohh soo straight.
So I said Hi and reached with blinking eyes that squint into the light,
oft times in fright of storms and lightning flashing forth…and found
my blinking words rebuffed by cool and hooded eyes that had seen it all,
eyes satisfied and cynical cus been there done that, ho-hum…done much worse
I ran aground on fire roads and that Moses curse of long ago still Holden Court
over long hearts that found consuming fire fearful, dreadful and to be avoided
at all costs by any means…and thus She stands this very day…Holden Village
on cusp of…petrification?…or on that hot edge of the Phoenix Way!
Holden, Eye Unblinking, ensconsed
in the forest, last year just as this one,
in a forest cleansed to living bone, and Holden?
I heard the Spirit resounding The Word that Fire must fall upon a village that mirrors the forest that kneels all around…She said that She has a fiery crown and Holden is that forest fat and ready for the Refiner’s Fire, the Cleansing Burn that
resurrects those vital dry bones waiting…but She must choose that fate and blink…
Yes, we must welcome Fire Fate from God and let the dead wood burn,
and blaze, and feed Mosaic Ways to the flame and trust the Good God of the Fire
to keep her safe underneath Their Name and resurrected, cleansed, renewed
and ever delivered from stain and shame!
Let the rod be cast into the fire hot and be consumed!
For Moses died on Southside, short of Zion is his tomb!
And find us Lovely on the Northside, once again the Spirit’s womb!
Letter cannot take us there, nor blaze of past great glory fair
We must eradicate those roads of preservation that we wear!
They trap and capture us and cut us off from Grace unhindered
so we, like the forest, turn dull and dry, reduced to deadwood’s kindred!
I see Holden cleansed by Fire, and crying Holy tears when Holy
Spirit has free reign again to fall in fires that restore
and interrupt Sleeping Beauty’s snore and dead trees gone,
that speck removed and blinking eyes await the Dawn!
And animals can come again now welcomed
and bathe released in Grace and Precious Holden,
His Eye now blinking free and shining fair in Jesus’ Face.
Oh Holy Lightning Strike like Griffin Swift
upon this yearning heart in desperate need
of Your Mercy Severe, Your Holy Gift
Give us Grace to Find the Phoenix-Way!
To rise in faith from Ashes and from death
to self and self reliance, come what may!
On resurrection wings and Spirit’s breath
alive again and all is well this night
that breaks and shatters with the rising dawn…
and not a single fire road in sight,
and what will be well it shall simply be
and what will not be well it will be gone!
Come Holy Fire, we answer Your Call!
and All Reborn, and Love is All in All,
“Someday…someday the snow will fall!”
“In monastic tradition, there is great value placed on both conversion and stability. I think of conversion as always being willing to be surprised by God. Conversion calls us to remember that we are always on a journey, that we are always growing, that we have never fully arrived. It calls us to great humility, and the more we grow in wisdom, the more we realize how little we actually know.”
— Christine Valters Paintner, PhD The Self-Study Online Retreat ~ Practicing Resurrection through Creativity and Archetypes
In the 57 years I have spent on this planet, I have taken communion tens of thousands of times.
The most recent of those times was at Pride in Portland Oregon on June 19th, 2016…served to me by Pat Christiansen while a gypsy troupe danced to insistent almost militant drumming behind us…
I closed my eyes as I took the elements, just as I always do, and looked to Them to see Them, to taste and SEE that the Lord is good…and I saw the Sacred Flaming Heart Icon…pulsing…beating…THROBBING…in time to the militant drums, and I was certain that this is the heart of the Risen Lord who wears the Two Edged Sword and Eyes like Fire…
The Heart was pulsing…pulsing…PULSING…
There was a frame around the Heart, and it was getting bigger…and it was pushing against the frame.
The frame began to splinter…and then at last, the Heart gave a MIGHTY PULSE and burst the frame, shattered it and splintered it, and then grew bigger and bigger until it utterly enveloped me and I knew it was off to the far reaches of everywhere.
The nightclub’s name is Pulse. The city is Orlando…which means “Famous Land, Land of Renown” and lesser meanings of Times of Importance.
I find the entire experience prophetic and insistent…and I wonder…
…are you going to stay inside the frame? The Heart has left, departed…gone outside the city gates.
Are you going to sit and imagine Jesus coming to earth to kick ass on all the people you do not like…yunno, sort of like the Pharisees did and when Messiah showed up and punched them square in the conscience they got so mad they killed Him?
Or are you going to understand that God is stirred in Mercy and Compassion to the point that those things become the consuming fire of Light and Love and each thing they touch responds according to its matrix of being…if it is true it becomes pure and if it is not it simply is consumed.
Stand with The Sacred Pulsing Heart. The time is now.
If you wanna be in the “next move of God”, it isn’t with the so-called prophets and evangelists who seek after gold dust and commit adultery on a mass scale while the crowd has what amounts to a spiritual cluster-fuck.
No…it is in the highways and byways, where Mama compels to come in, and the Heart races to rush out.
“Christianity is often thought of as a set of principles that people struggle to follow, working their way into God’s favor by offering tokens of self-denial and obedience. Even Christians who profess a far bigger story sometimes live as if this is the reality. But such a story looks at God as we might look at a gumball machine or a bank. If the prize we seek is God, we cannot earn our way to the thing we have our eye on—no matter how many tokens we might come up with. For the shiny quarters we proudly offer, belong, in fact, to God.”
Trusting is just such a powerful challenge
to lay down my life without knowing for sure
it will ever get picked up again…by…anyone.
a potent surrender to God (and to others)
that commends my only possession (that’s me)…
to the Hands and the Head and the Heart of all things.
A turning away from the will to possess,
from power and reflex to cling and to clutch
with brazen heart, hard face and bravado whistling…
afraid in the night of the Breaking Day Coming…
the willing embrace of a breaking that gives birth
to wholeness and health…well…trusting is just such
a lonesome word
a wanderer, thru cold
crowded tangy deserts
drifting, homeless thru
fudgy thick neighborhoods
traveler in time and yet never
home in any singular moment.
the darkened sky
could swallow me up
in seconds, under silent stars,
I feel the same way “Nomad” sounds
I am a wanderer,
a refugee in this
of google connection,
a stranger in a homeland,
a foreign and yet familiar land.
I have a suspicion
we are living but
as aliens estranged, from
our thin past, from
our strained culture, from
our oh so tragic country, from
our neighbors (as ourselves), from
our friends and family, from
our deepest self
and from God.
walking in the silence
of an anguished lonely prayer,
lost in the distraction that
constricts and consumes years,
hopes and dreams annulled
by all that alienation welling up
within us…and yet…
*there is always an “and yet”*
and yet we wait
estranged and encouraged
in hope that all is not yet
as it will be, we wait in hope
Hoping in that blue Promise
that promises are real and full
and yet we wait
and know that Nomad
can only mean there is a home
we wander from and
wonder back home to.
The forest has swallowed my name, my face
Just like so many things before me
I entered the woods with my heart full of grace
but the forest just gulped and *poof* without a trace
I was lost, deep inside a birch tree.
I like to think it’s the same, just the same
as with so many things, just perhaps…
It mimics when God came to us, Incarnate
and They chained Themself to us both early and late
in the wood of our grim dark collapse.
And so now we wait, here in the wood deep and dark
We share all things in this broken wheel
Them and us and the tree
and what was and will be
Bound together forever we kneel.
Sometimes I come out of the forest, I do.
I walk in the world full and free.
But the wood and the God go with me as I walk
And they soar as I wander like some divine hawk
Cus the forest, the God, swallowed me.
UPDATE: I have edited this a little…because I always had to force it to make the other one a part of it…truthfully, he ghosted, present by proxy but I never ever saw him walking in the crucible…he was an outside lurker, a skulker, and too shamed and hangdog to enter in…and skert too. Skert that he was so bad that there would be nuffin’ left of him once the cleansing fires got their way…and maybe even more skert that there WOULD be sumfin left…
I think of you…nearly every moment of the day while I am fully functioning, doing other things…I can smell the burning singing smell that is so acrid to the natural nose, and is the sweet incense of devotion unto the One who walks the Heavens and searches the earth.
“Precious in the Eyes of the Lord is the Death of Their Saints” said the prophet of old…he knew his shit, that dude…
But you are there…deep inside me, in those lonely caverns that I have wandered, those places of the soul that the force and floods of horror, of rage, of desolation, and of utter defeat have worn so smooth over such a long time.
You are there…and it may seem so utterly dislocated and strange to you that you sometimes are bewildered, sometimes bemused, and always befuddled that the failure of humanity and the fucked-upness of specific humans can simultaneously be so powerless and so crushing.
I have not seen anyone else in these places. I say this to you to encourage you…and also to disabuse you of the notion that there is any exit except death…there isn’t. And that is such a good thing. I am dead-living proof!! No, you do NOT want to have come this far only to have some small parts of yourself left alive to be like “trichinosis of the heart”, just parasitically causing you to vomit up the food that God gives, the bread from heaven.
There is a company that forms in each generation…it is the company of the dead-living and it is the opposite of the living-dead. There are not a lot of beings in it at any one time? And yet there are whole halls of heaven that are full of nuffin but these royal noble cavaliers! Hebrews 11 is the way they are described in the bible, but I prefer to see them for what they are: anti-zombies.
You have figured out why zombies are such an attractive modern myth, have you not? I mean, think about it: dead people, who ambulate, and are compelled to bite other people and infect them with the exact death they shamble in…or, given whatever mythos you subscribe to, they may even eat the brains, or consume the flesh, whatever…the point is, they take other healthy people and reproduce their death in those people and enslave them to the same doom.
Well “anti-zombies” do just the opposite.
But how is it that the dead-living can accomplish this work?
You know…now. You know.
We must die…die the death of the One who has gone before, and be resurrected in that One now dead to ourselves and alive in the Living One’s life…and there is nothing that can come thru that except thru the gate of death…thru the Eye of the Needle…nothing else but you can get thru.
Thus the layers…thus the experience of getting burned, thinking okay this is the last level…then a new level of sorrow, thinking okay that was it…and a new level…and so on and so one.
My love…do not lose hope or feel sorry for yourself. Behold what manner of Love the Father has given unto you! Turn! Look around, see who is remaining, and look into their eyes, deep! LOOK!!!
*Charissa stops typing, waits*
Who else do you really want? You have been thru the fires! You have seen the worst, and the best thing about that is it is so ridiculously benign and dorky…it is now ready to become lovable and precious and your absolute best asset. We are promised that Their Perfect Strength is perfected in our weakness, and thus it is that we begin to literally and honestly boast in weakness so that Their strength may be made perfect!
Anyway, as I was saying, I am aware that myriads of our company has been formed in a manner like unto the same one as I have endured…but I have never seen anyone else wandering the particular halls that have been mine to both haunt and inhabit in grace…and there you are.
I think perhaps it is because Mama has given me to be the “Virgil” to your “Dante”? Weak Metaphor, but the notion of one who has been in the crucible, died a few times in the crucible, and been raised/risen after these deaths and now ready, willing, and able to encourage, exhort and edify you as you make your way along the path of losing all to gain Hearts Like Theirs.
I wish I could do more…I wish I could give you sumfin, grant sumfin, wave my wand and holler out some magic word that would “get er dun” and release you into the freedom found only under the mercy…but that would leave the work incomplete, and your faith and trust would be in me rather than in the only One who can grant that very thing but in the form which lasts eternally and transforms wholly other into that New Creation of which Immanuel is the first fruits and older brother.
What I can do is leave you lil packs of food…leave you canteens…make my slash marks on the barren tree-trunks and scratch my hieroglyphics on the walls of limestone so smooth, so implacable…they look a bit like bones, don’t they? Cool to the touch, smooth, lacking flesh or any hint that there was ever any life in them…and yet…
…and yet, place your fingertips upon their surface…see how they shimmer when you do!! See how they pulse with promise and throb with anticipation of the coming flames that are the Phoenix-Flames.This morning, I was remembering a particularly difficult stretch, waaaay back in the 80s…it was so strange back then, to be so young and feel so old and weary…and there were the oddest collection of souls that came my way in various places and times and ways and means. One of the best was the New Wave groups that became somewhat popular during these days…Talking Heads, The Clash (yes, I call them New Wave and Not Punk), Joy Division, Public Image LTD (the implosion of the Sex Pistols birthed that group)…and one of my very faves Echo and the Bunnymen. Their music got me thru so much.
Take a listen to these tunes…and you can turn the music up and SCREAM THE LYRICS AT THE TOP OF YOUR FRIKKIN LUNGS!!! Giggles…it is soooo freaking freeing. And as you listen, think about young Charissa, wandering the halls even back then, and now a topsider who walks among zombies uninfected tho not unbitten.
When your head pop out of the ground, it will be to spring, for you will see no shadows.
In the meantime, know that you are never alone…not for a moment, because I am thinking of you, carrying you like a beloved book-bag, holding you like a precious journal that must be written in everyday, and scrawling my prayers onto the Face of God like I desperately scratched my thoughts onto the livres of that long ago tome.
I have just re-read this…there are whole outlines inside each sentence…if you want them, they fall vertically from the words, and are hyperlinked to your shut eyes and open inner vision as you think, as you listen, as you weep…and know that the tears shall be sweet and cleansing, and you will be glad in the Lord for every single ounce of suffering.
I am not blowing smoke…I am not giving you platitudes. This shit is real, and you are gonna lose all things…except for the things that are you and are the flesh and blood gifts of the Goodness of God. But all the things that need to go because they keep you allergic to zombie-venom and thus vulnerable to becoming one of them? They are gonna go…up in flames, thru your fingers, gone.
And you will find yourself still here. And pretty soon, it will be time for the gathering of stones (now is the time for casting them away). And it will be time to light the grill, and cook some fish, some turkey, whatever…and beyond that? I don’t see anything.
Wanna know why? Because there is no beyond that!! That is the whole point! It is then that the what-you-do’s and the things-you-say’s are so ordinary to you, and so extra-ordinary to those who need medicine in the soul!
In the meantime…here are a couple of songs from one of the cadre that kept me alive in the 80s, and the knowledge that other feet have trod the paths of the dead…and emerged laffing our fool heads off!
I love you…and JD…what can I say to you that we did not already say before we knew we knew one another?
My Baby loves God like a boss!
She ain’t no red-light winker
or Fleet Street wanker
when it comes to
loving Them, HELL NO…
She’s a street walking swinger
as long as that street glows golden
and is called The Way, or just plain
Beautiful, or if that street is a market
and she will buy Their wares…
pearls here, pears there,
peas and poultry right next
to peace and praise…
My Baby loves God..loves God like a boss!!
Sometimes frost grips limbs
once lean and limber in the wind
now long grown stiff and creaky
and I hear them crack and groan
in those sticky clutching fingers
cold and frosty, fingers
cold and frosty.
Sometimes ennui (cold)
grips my soul (grown old)
and in its grip I groan
(groan old) and my soul
(my waiting soul) runs
around my heart and
around my heartas the clock’s tail
ticks and twitches, chases
its tail like a cat relentless,
(useless) and that (waiting)
that frosty cold difficulty of waiting
remains there clinging tightly
in the fading day.
Advent comes again
and gives her gift.In the cold and dead of winter,
trauma seems to sting much deeper,
and healing for the broken parts
of my life…and the people that I love?
Seems so much harder to obtain…
When it comes to these things
things so staggering and important,
healing, peace and goodness
on the earth, freedom from suffering,
well…waiting is hard, so hard and painful.
But in these moments I’m remembering
I’m troubled in soul and looking
for something transcendent, greater
than the hurt and pain and suffering,
something, someOne warm enough
persistent, faithful, warm enough
to breathe on us
to break the ice
and give us life
Long familiar sweet hymns play
wherever I go, I remember
I am poor, imperfect, waiting for
the God Who comes down,
Comes Down, God With Us
In the Highest Holy Fire!
and I feel again
the gentle nudge
of a knock deep
at the door
of my small
and icy lonely
Advent is the time of waiting
waiting for the One (the One)
Who embraced body, embraced sorrow
Came to show us all the fullness
of just being home, present, and real.
And we are long reminded in
our cold dolorous longing
what we’re longing for actually
a Who, Who, Who we long for,
God…always coming nearer to us.
I have found a place
inside (in Advent, inside you)
that place where once
you die, you…
you come Alive…
A place where pain
and pleasure weigh out
just the same
and all that’s left
is only Love,
And every sorrow touched
by the wild gold Promise
that in this very place
Jesus has been born
and will be born
again and again,
that icy grip
our longing hearts,
our sin and deaths
so we can
…but now? Even in the face of huge loss, no…especially in the face of these losses, this is never me anymore.
Thank God for HRT. Thank God for Their Word, affirming me in my existence and Their Love for me…
Thank God for my true friend and sister and safe place to fall (you know who you are…always)
No, this is not me anymore, thank God!
Mostly, people don’t realize
time is a living thing, a tree
whose roots stretch back
to the beginning (and before?)
whose branches reach high,
broad and all around into
and we the fruit hanging there
swaying in the breezes
of the breath of Jesus
and Mama at His side
and all creation spinning out
inside this circle dance…
see, the past flows up, into the future
the future slides down, slides deep
sinks into the roots and makes its
transformations silver, shining
or is reclaimed and overcome, choked off
and laid, still born into the red dirt slick and packed.and fruit? tossed and kissed in space and growing
in the currents from beneath and from above?
fed by rivers subterranean, drinking from
the rain that falls down from the clouds
of all that lies ahead…
we fruit are sweet, or bitter, or savory
in the grip of God and how the past is eaten
does predict the future…
but what the future holds
can quickly change the past
in just an eyelash twinkle
and we all are changed!!Ahh…I hold to the past
and cling tight to my future
and throw my arms wide to the sides
and hug all “what-may-comes”
into my heart so soft, so strong
and thus shall my heart ever sing
the song of great becoming
and the song of all forgetting
Constance, I am pasting this article in it’s entirety…on Faith. Faith is such a misunderstood thing in our world, primarily because it has been polluted by the deeds of those who profess it most vociferously.
I like how this author speaks of “faith” as the actions of one’s life based on a particular kind of knowing. Paul the Apostle speaks openly of faith being “in vain” if it is misplaced or simply unreasonable. This has heavy implications for those whose actions are hateful and destructive and who then refer to them as “faith”.
Give it a whirl, and mull it over a bit.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
I’ve been trying to avoid using the word ‘faith’ recently. It just doesn’t get the message across. ‘Faith’ is a word that’s now misused and twisted. ‘Faith’ today is what you try to use when the reasons are stacking up against what you think you ought to believe.
Greg Koukl sums up the popular view of faith, “It’s religious wishful thinking, in which one squeezes out spiritual hope by intense acts of sheer will. People of ‘faith’ believe the impossible. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to fact. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to evidence. People of ‘faith’ ignore reality.”
It shouldn’t therefore come as a great surprise to us, that people raise their eyebrows when ‘faith’ in Christ is mentioned. Is it strange that they seem to prefer what seems like reason over insanity?
It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t overemphasize the individual elements of the whole picture of faith, like we so often do. But what does the Bible say about faith? Is it what Simon Peter demonstrates when he climbs out of the boat and walks over the water towards Jesus? Or is it what Thomas has after he has put his hand in Jesus’s side? Interestingly, biblical faith isn’t believing against the evidence.
Instead, faith is a kind of knowing that results in action.
The clearest definition comes from Hebrews 11:1. This verse says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In fact, when the New Testament talks about faith positively it only uses words derived from the Greek root [pistis], which means ‘to be persuaded.’ In those verses from Hebrews, we find the words, “hope,” “assurance,” “conviction” that is, confidence. Now, what gives us this confidence?
Christian faith is not belief in the absence of evidence. It is the proper response to the evidence. Koukl explains that, “Christian faith cares about the evidence…the facts matter. You can’t have assurance for something you don’t know you’re going to get. You can only hope for it. This is why the resurrection of Jesus is so important. It gives assurance to the hope.
Because of a Christian view of faith, Paul is able to say in 1 Corinthians 15 that when it comes to the resurrection, if we have only hope, but no assurance—if Jesus didn’t indeed rise from the dead in time/space history—then we are of most men to be pitied. This confidence Paul is talking about is not a confidence in a mere ‘faith’ resurrection, a mythical resurrection, a story-telling resurrection. Instead, it’s a belief in a real resurrection. If the real resurrection didn’t happen, then we’re in trouble.
The Bible knows nothing of a bold leap-in-the-dark faith, a hope-against-hope faith, a faith with no evidence. Rather, if the evidence doesn’t correspond to the hope, then the faith is in vain, as even Paul has said.”
So in conclusion, faith is not a kind of religious hoping that you do in spite of the facts. In fact, faith is a kind of knowing that results in doing, a knowing that is so passionately and intelligently faithful to Jesus Christ that it will not submit to fideism, scientism, nor any other secularist attempt to divert and cauterize the human soul by hijacking knowledge.
Tom Price is an academic tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Oxford, England.
I am sharing this sermon because we are at a similar tipping point with the original sin of racism as we are in less crucial but just as acute ways about gender issues.
I really and truly believe that dealing with this national, historic sin is the task of our generation.
I also think that even as it took the death of One who was innocent of all crime, so too it will take our “death”, being “innocent” of the crime of slavery, but guilty guilty guilty of benefitting from it and from the blood and breath of so many who perished in pain and sorrow, murdered at the hands of our ancestors and yes our neighbors and thus at our own hands too…
…our hands are bloody, and that blood cries out to God.
It is incumbent on us to give up our power and position on behalf of these, our neighbors and sisters and brothers who are so dearly beloved of God.
One year later,
in this year of grace
I sit in stillness
ringside once again
but only with dead ashes,
I know it has to happen, yes
this death of me, this death
of who I was, no…
what I was, or rather
what you thought I was
and what I wasn’t too.
You thought me as a god,
and just a little lower than a god.
Your “glorious glorious father”
shining strong and tall,
quick and certain, no one knew
that was but wooly curtains drawn
over a stage making the ready
for a play to become real-life…
But…what’s a child to do when god betrays?
When god is thus unfaithful and capricious…
that god must become monster,
and vicious harsh taskmaster,
when god must be revealed as sick pretender
(your words, love, not mine, those are your words)
as just the “other”, empty, just a mask?
Well, Nietzsche showed the way, now dint he?
He sussed the death of God and birth of crisis…
He understood the very underpinnings
of everything are quivering like liquid,
all foundations kicked asunder
and this hollow edifice
left floating in the shell-pink air.
Nietzsche called for total transformation,
he demanded blood, the death of God,
and also everything He stood for.
I get it…I do…the death of god
No really, I know it’s me, not you…
Problematic in my breathing
and offensive in my joy, well
this aggression will not stand, man!
And so it is that I must die…well,
he must die and be defamed
for every single gripe,
complaint or wound or sling
he must be destroyed
because he wasn’t He
and now it’s clear
that he would never be…
but I will be…me.
Go ahead, beloveds,
it’s true that I must die
so you can be set free
and God at last can finally BE
that God of Wonder
far beyond the Galaxy,
high above and right beside us
bringing life again to you and me.
Use what silver knives you have
(I placed them in your hands so long ago,
carefully planned, bequeathed to you your
weapons of words, of music and of comprehension).
Use the ropes you find inside your packs,
laid lovingly from Lorien in wonder
and in sober long anticipation yes,
that someday your blood be required
of me and on my head as well
(but it’s in my heart forever).No crucifix for me, how gauche,
how gothic and old fashioned!
No…a shiny scaffold glittery
erected stainless steel there, gleaming
austere, so implacable
and one thin razor wire noose
with my neck’s name writ there
(except it’s not so plain as all that)
no…the old name that speaks of
I have confidence in you
(this is not stupid or myopic,
this is love, Lovelies).
I see this execution
is but you living out
what I have taught you
that there is no god but God
(not even glorious father)
and all things that you love
descend from His Great Goodness
and Mama’s bag of riches
I wish you all good always
and hope that someday your mouth won’t be cursed
with this burnt aftertaste of death,
and me just acrid curse to you…
if my death expiate your soul
and bring release and freedom to you all
then quick, oh Hangman, let the black bell toll
and pull your lever that I may hard fall
and on you live, free
building brave new worlds
but I will still be like those flickering fires
that linger in my mind while I sit here
beside this ring of ashes never warm
and those seats empty in this quiet storm
“The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. ‘Whither is God,’ he cried; ‘I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I! All of us are his murderers…Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder?…Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.'”
There is a point of view that afflicts so many christians: They think that they are the righteous responsible parties in the midst of depraved evil, and they imagine that the salvation of the world depends on them…and that if they fail, then God will blame them and condemn them.
Thus, they will not unbend and draw near to anyone in charity and kind gentleness…they stick to themselves and other christians (and secretly distrust other christians cus ya never know)…
What this point of view REALLY is? A judgement passed on God…that God is severe, serious, glowering and intolerant of anything, reluctant to ever give out compliments and quick to give out criticism, and secretly a little pissed off at Jesus because He came and made a way for whosoever will believe to get into heaven.
They have recast God in the image of their own evil hearts…
And that is the seething rotten core of why so many christians walk around holier than thou…pure fear and self-centered focus on AVOIDING HELL.
The christian life is NOT one of avoiding…it is one of embracing.
Hint: if you embrace the true God of Love and Kindness, you will never ever get within sniffing distance of hell, even when you are standing in the midst of it as you love other people wherever they are.
And Reader? Get off your high horse…become a Constance!
What a FABULOUS article regarding legalism!
You can see the new Pharisees in the comment sections of liberal blogs as they essentially want to maim, dismember, and bathe in the blood of the hated “others”…people like the Duggars, or Mike Huckabee, or really anyone with whom they violently disagree!
For the record, I think the Duggars are sadly mistaken (and contrary to the assertions of those who twist the past, I would always have thought so)…I have never liked Mike Huckabee, as he seems like a demagogue and often uses fear and hate dressed up as love in the name of the Ones I love…
But I never think it is okay to become the face of the things you decry as you decry them. It’s a bit like becoming twice as fit for hell as the ones you consign there.
You can’t kill death…because death supports ALL the troops.
I didn’t even know there was this genre of music, and shortly after Mama did some miraculous things in my life, I heard about this concert of these dudes called “Lamb”…and I was like “what the heck, let’s go”.
Well, I started to cry about 2 minutes in and wept the entire time, just so moved by their down to earth love of God and love of humans.
If you put this on and let it play, I think you will be glad you did…
…I want to invite you to look back thru the months to dip into prior posts. There is a plethora of plenty there! Poetry, posts about a wide range of the issues faced in life that are poignantly illustrated by gender orientation, theological musings and spiritual experiences recounted.
You can discover who “Constance” is…and you are invited to join her if you wish.
You can definitely see growth and development in me, as I live and breathe in transition from a not-out but self-aware very dysphoric transgender woman who is perceived as a white male of power, position, and privilege to a more congruent and out transgender woman who is now regularly othered, policed, and yes occasionally even perceived as who I actually am and received in joy.
You will see the journey of nearly every transgender person who endures the loss of so many things, so many people, in the desperate quest to gain themselves. You will witness how this quest is defined by the defenders of the paradigm as selfish and self-centered…when it is far more about finding a fort of safety from suicidal ideation and death.
But above all…hopefully…you will find a person who is making the transition that every single human being must find a way to make: that transition from death to life…from works to grace…from self-centered ego-oriented pursuits to other-oriented sacrificial service.
And maybe, just maybe? That life motto of mine can at the end of it all be found true:
Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.
PS: The best way to investigate the archives of Grace Notes is to use the calendar at the bottom of the blog page…or utilize the search function in the right hand margin.
I want to make beautiful ripples.
Me too, John, faithful friend and brother in our Precious Lord…me too. Constance, be sure to stop over at John’s house and read…and would you also just tell him Hi, and give him a pat on the back, a hug…and tell him this:
Charissa says hi and loves him very much.
Here on this side? See our scars.
Our wounds (both bloody and bloodless),
slashes (from sword-edge and word),
stand here stark, and they testify
in agonized aching hushed voices
of terrified troubling stories…
we hear them tell extreme tales
of widespread violence, of rape
of torture, and we the lost subjects
imprisoned in darkness and sadness
bear these wounds in our bodies, how long?
Permanent markings of violence?
These black tattoos left by oppression,
calligrified by sorrow’s stylus
that’s gripped in grief’s bony cold hand
to engrave deep its ravenous history
on our lonely hearts, carved here for…how long?
we’re identified by these curt scars.
Standing so quiet and still,
solitary smack dab
in the middle
of all that was, is,
and will be
the broken body of Jesus
the gushing stink of His spilled blood
but present with us now (like scars)
in the bread and the wine understood
to be broken and shed for our Good.
Jesus bore wounds of violent oppression
in His very own body forever!
Even after that morning so wrenching
that tilted this world on its axis
Heaven’s ringing eternal endorsement!
There, on that side? New Creation
began with Resurrected Jesus
and included those scars that He suffered
by nail and by spear and by word
and the wounds of the Glad Risen Lord,
the reminders of the crucifixion
take on new light and meaning and joy.
They shout of the Power and Glory
Of God dirty with History’s story
and triumphing now and forever
over evil and death, over sorrow
and a work of redemption that’s reigning
now begun in us, marked by our scars
here with us now in our wounded world.
So the present time is streaked with mercy
acts of justice, creation of beauty,
celebration of truth kissing grace on the lips
deeds of love and forgiveness and kindness
and such generous Grace over all!
Resurrection gives us such relevance
and a future where meaning is possible!
meaning made possible in resurrection
of a torn body still marked by the scars
like diadems, medals
adorning the Sacred Heart
Faithful forever and ever…
That’s the reality of resurrection
as displayed by the scars that He bears
as our Hope, as our Joy and our Glory
that shines in our darkest lost places
giving us reason to live.
We work and we toil, perhaps
even pour out our blood, sweat, and tears
to tend woundings of others,
and our labor is far from in vain
for Christ has gone on ahead
I think I will go ahead and press this. Constance, I haven’t read these links yet…but Ima take that small risk and put them up here for your perusal.
Let me know how it goes?
To put it another way, I don’t think we’re called to imitate Jesus, but I do think we’re called to follow Jesus. There’s a subtle difference. Following Jesus implies an ongoing relationship, not merely imitating a really good guy who lived and died 2,000 years ago. Following Jesus implies that we might end up somewhere new doing things that are new—things that aren’t reflected in scripture because we inhabit a very different world than Jesus did. Even if we believe that Jesus was fully God, that doesn’t mean that Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection tell us all there is to know about God. God is still working, God exists beyond the limits of history (even Jesus’s history as a man), and God promises to do a new thing within us.
Following Jesus implies forward movement, striving for a destination, which we might call “the kingdom,” as Jesus did. And as you know if you’ve ever taken a leisurely Sunday road trip or cross-country adventure or European rail journey, there is far more than one way to travel to get to the same destination.
A crucial facet of biblical revelation is its complexity and nuance AND its unfolding nature. As human beings differentiated from their culture around them, influenced by the salt of the Word of God over centuries, changes occurred.
Christians have historically walked in fear and sought to make God in their own image. Human beings in general do not like change, and want a static and unchanging picture.
But God is infinite, and so much greater than our momentary glimpses…the faith journey involves trusting Them as They unfold the next glimpse…and to center in on those things that endure and abide and never change, among which are faith, hope, and love.
The graphic below illustrates how this has taken place, on just one topic: marriage. If you try to make each one of those biblical references theologically binding, you end up in prison…sadly, that prison of theology most christians lock themselves into and call a palace.
I assure you that other graphics that would look similar could be fashioned and would have the same message: God is greater than the revelation of God, and God can be trusted to bring us to that place that shows faith, hope, and love along with the character traits of this God who Sacrificed all for us…this God in whom Justice and Mercy kiss.
We start this life filled with bright expectation,
each sunrise morn of discovery and eventide of hope,
our lifetime passes and time flows like tides constant in waves
that wash in over us, the same and ceaseless and yet we,
in ever-new anticipation of a new day different, something
yet to be discovered in the next bright shell-pink dawn,
we lift our hearts up cheery with bright song.But there are ashes from the desperate fires
that we assemble in the long sloe nights
so cold upon those yawning yearning shores,
when stars hide behind black clouds of unknowing
and oceans hide in mists of dank despair,
and we are forced to burn all our Hosannas,
those palms fronds of our hopes so optimistic
waved innocent and arrogant and prideful
because we hadn’t seen the moon’s dark side.We built frail fires from those brittle branches
and clutched at weak warmth, bathed in dim wan light
and marked ourselves with those imposéd ashes
and mourned those days we sang truimphantly
unknowing of the coming loss of all our innocence
in suffering and sorrowing and death and…
we all fall down…
and we are mindful
of our common crown,
our destiny of dust
wreathed round our foreheads,
that destiny of dust around our hearts,
that destiny of dust
from which we came
and thus departed,
that destiny of dust
and our return…to
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
dust returned…And it is only at this place, in ashes
after our hopes and dreams have burned to ash
and we have lost our hope and optimism
that we can finally see that stoney path
and squinting, see the bloody foot-print outlines
left by the One who goes before our hearts,
the One who walks the Via Dolorosa
the One who, living, there lays down His Life,
the One who shows the way of self-denial
the way of sacrifice, relinquishment
entirely unnatural, the opposite
of every longing of our liquid hearts
that want to feast upon self-preservation
and turn from bitter cups of self-denial…And we must choose the place that we will walk:
the ceaseless shores of our naked ambition
and never finding ending place or home?
Or…walk the path of ashes with this Shepherd
and lose our lives completely to His care
and thus spring from the ashes like a phoenix
leaps from the golden flames to live anew!
Ashes are the opposite of owning
the mirror image of self-preservation,
the sign-post of the way of life He offers,
the insignia of the lifestyle that He models,
the mark He makes forever on His own
writ large in His own blood mixed with the ashes
of hopes consumed and dreams become dry dust!
This is the downward journey to the highest place victorious,
the deeps of Sabbath Rest and Victory Won.Regardless of the gods you say you follow,
we all share in a common destiny:
“From dust you’ve come, to dust you shall return”.
Like Him, we too shall die, Life’s pressing question
thus becomes, how shall we live? How shall our lives
this day respond to death’s reality,
and answer to Life’s strident invitation
to leave all of our privilege and status,
and turn from lives marked for success and promise,
and turn from some potential undefined,
and turn from false things that we think are true,
and let go of wealth and power and consumption,
and deny that false god of accomplishment
and dare to love our enemies with candor
and dare embrace the heady risk of peace
without one stray thought of self-preservation,
and take courage to live for the sake of others
and for the sake of Him who shows this way,
the way thru death, the way of blood and ashes,
will we walk in valiant hope in dust and ashes?
Good Morning Constance! 🙂 I hope all is well in your life today. If you are facing obstacles, may our wonderful God provide you with the Grace needed to transform obstacle into opportunity, resulting in the joy of having overcome.
I am linking to this article today, because I think there are many people who read here who are allies, but still learning how to demonstrate that alliance in fruitful and effective ways. It is simple and direct without being buffoonish and reductionist.
Please take these things seriously…they matter to us. I will never forget how small I felt when I was told by someone who claimed to love me that they refused to compromise their faith and they were compelled by their conviction towards God to tell everyone they interacted with about me and that they considered me disobedient to God and in sin and deception because I had decided to transition.
To this day, I can feel that sharp sting, followed by that numbing zing like powerless electricity thru my bones…not good for anything but hurting…
I think the thing that really strikes me is how many things are done in God’s Name that are really a mere reflection of an individual’s own attempts to prove to themselves or to others that they are really and truly a Christian. In my case, it was as if this person was worried that someone would think ill of them if they did not make sure and let everyone know first of all that I was transitioning and second of all that they “knew” that I was “sinning”, but most importantly that they themself had sought to warn me and were thus the heroic rescuer who had valiantly attempted to save me…and their efforts were “unsuccessful” but only because of my deceived, rebellious and unsubmitted state.
That interaction left its marks. It showed me, sadly, that love is too often only word deep, and is forced into the template of self and put under the pressure of self-serving agendas, and what is extruded from that certainly is not love. And it is interesting that I have not heard from that person since…I think primarily because they were “shaking the dust off of their shoes” after warning me of what was going to happen to me: I was going to be outed at their own discretion, and then each person that I was outed to was going to be fed a version of me that came from another person…not from me.
But God is faithful…God is good. They have added people into my lives of such amazing quality and genuine heart! I have acquaintances now who I see a lot, present in my life and feeding in encouragement, truth, goodness, and love.
So it is not really so much about me, whatever “ruination” is come my way reputation-wise…but rather, it is about the words said about someone to someone else and then repeated again and repeated again take on a “telephone game” quality. Eventually they will come to someone who has gender issues themself or knows someone who does…and the full implication will communicate to them that they are not okay and loved, valued in and of themselves for who they are…and bam.
Another Leelah Alcorn.
Another life tragically lost…
…and in the name of “love”.
So: head on over, read…get educated…and resolve in your heart that God is God and you are not, and that loving someone with kindness in word and deed is never going to sully Them or yourself. This would be the “walk humbly part.”
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.
Okay, so this post is startling in its implications. The author relates a Q she was asked by a friend, who was fearful for her. Her friend asked the author “What if you’re wrong affirming LGTBQ people as loved of God and worthy of being received as part of Christ’s Body”…
She turns that Q on its head in her post, and asks “What if you are wrong in fearing and rejecting LGTBQ human beings?” And then she goes on to list 7 potential consequences of that wrongness.
Her plea? Just love. Since you really aren’t the Holy Spirit, you are off the hook in correcting anyone and you are free to just love and trust that God is big enough to get the message across.
I mean…hey, They got it across to you, didn’t They? If They are powerful enough to get it across to you, well then They can get it across to anyone! Right?
Good Morning Constance! 🙂 Once again I want to thank you for being here, on Charissa’s Grace Notes with me, and journeying in your own ways from works and death to Grace and Life…your presence here, your comments, your shared humanity brings me hope and adds ammunition for those lonely times in the night when all are sleeping, all is still, and I watch…awake on the walls. ❤ Thank you ❤
So the link above is from an interesting blog that is worth perusing. It lists several suggestions for Christian people to love and serve in ways consistent with the gospel, and likely far more congruent with the heart of Jesus Himself, the Great Friend of Sinners.
We have all heard the old saw “love the sinner and hate the sin”…heck, prolly a whole lot of people who read here have even said that. I have before…much to my great regret…I have indeed. When I did, I didn’t really realize what that said and implied about the person I was speaking to…and even worse what it said and implied about my own heart and self evaluation.
Alas…what I and others were usually saying is we think the loving thing to do is make sure the person knows they are a sinner. And quite simply, this is just not the way that Jesus did things…oh wait! There were times that He outright called people out on their sins! I forgot about those!
Yeah…it was to the Pharisees! Ya know those folks of that day who were the ones who loved to point out how everyone else was a sinner! He ripped them a new one over and over and over again because who they were in their own eyes was more important than who their neighbor is in God’s eyes…and that is fatal.
Of course I am not advocating “loving sin” by opposing the use of that phrase! Don’t be ridiculous! What I am saying is you ought to major in people, and minor in sin management. After all, your skills at sin management must suck, or Jesus would not have felt the need to descend from His state in Heaven, take on human flesh, and then suffer and die for you (ya know, a sinner). Right? If you were capable of managing sin, well then He would have just encouraged and taught you until you got it right!
Jesus never said “love the sinner but hate the sin”, and no one believes that meant that Jesus was compromising, prevaricating, or condoning anything evil. No…Jesus understands one crucial thing:
Saying Yes to Love is far more effective and powerful than saying No to sin.
The true YES renders the no moot.
And that brings me to why I link to this article, because if we are going to discard futile harmful platitudes, then how to we pick up effective and edifying alternatives?
They list a dozen, and they are “process oriented” and not items that you can check off on your daily righteousness list.
They demand that you see the people in your life as your moral equals.
They demand that you give the people in your life the same standing as worthy of God’s love as you have.
They demand that you understand that your perspective is extremely limited and insufficient by definition, as you are a very finite, very imperfect, and very limited being.
As you go, take with you my lil motto that I have pulled from Micah 6. It is a superb guide for keeping it simple and loving. And it has an order of listing for a reason.
Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.
Jane and I had the absolute wonderful honor to get together with John and Jennifer Pavlovitz and some people they knew via their blog and Facebook. They were out here from the East Coast for the Gay Christian Network Conference. John had posted on Facebook that they were holding an informal 2 hour meeting in Portland, and as we are only an hour or so away, we just knew we had to go.
The event was set up by a lovely woman named Diane, and we met Bridgit, Jessica, Terri, Steve, Gordon, and Ken. We had never met any of these people before, and yet somehow we all felt as if we knew each other for years.
It was a foreshadowing of eternity.
It might also be a foreshadowing of another sort, a blogger convocation that I have my lil pea brain churning away over, but that is months if not years away yet.
I cannot tell you how edifying it was to us. We are in a season where people are falling out of our lives faster than the speed of terminal velocity…being transgender is worse than being a leper, I guess. Constance, not to worry…it isn’t contagious…though the hatred that swirls around it sure seems to be. In its own way, the season of abandonment is a good one, because I have always had this deep question that has haunted me: am I loved because of what I do, the gifts I have and the things I contribute? Or am I loved just because I am me and I am alive, regardless of what I do or say or write or think?
I know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt that the people who are friends now, few as they may be, are here because they really love us, and not just what we do.
Well, the other part about this meeting that was amazing is that it foreshadows the time coming, when Mama begins to add people back into our lives, and I know She will because They are good. And these people will be people who see us.
Last night was such a time…we saw…and we were seen…and love waxed thick and comfortingly delicious! Words fail me, because it wasn’t some grandiose profound thing! It was just a bunch of ordinary dorky human beings who love an extraordinary and Lovely God, and in that meeting with us all and Them, we were beautified and overshadowed with grace, glory and gladness.
I wrote a poem for my new friend Terri…you can see it a couple of posts back right here. All the imagery and conversation has direct integration into the evening together.
Constance, do yourself a huge favor and head over to John’s blog and prowl around. He is all heart with a mind awake and a ready laugh so freely infusing the tears of the world.
I guess the best thing I could say about him is that he is safe and I trust him.
To John, Jennifer, Diane, Terri, Ken, Gordon, Steve, Jessica, and Bridgit: if you find your way here, Hiiiiiii! BIIIIGGG Charissa smiles and huggz!! I love you all and we just met! If I see you before, it won’t be soon enough, and if I don’t see you again here in this vale, well then I will see you on That Glad and Glorious Day Eternal Bright and Fair!
Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.
PS: we ate at a place called Killer Burger. Jane and I split a hamburger with peanut butter, bacon, pickles! YUMMMMMM
Nights are not good.
Almost every night of my life since I was around 4 I wake up in the night, and I am petrified. Skert stiff, and I mean that literally. I don’t know why. And inner voices that say horrible things that crush…flat, inflectionless, as if I am so worthless that those voices will not even waste their powers on one as meritless as I. No need to tell you what they say.
In 1966 I was exposed to a horror movie that really hooked into my dysphoria and an extremely traumatic event that had taken place a few months earlier, and since then, I have bad dreams, too.
That’s a lot of years.
That’s a lot of fears.
That’s a lot of tears.
As I grew, I discovered that talking with God helped…some. And after I had grown some more, I learned to recognize Their voice back to me…each one distinct and each one full of Love.
Well, if you have been reading here lately you know that I have been in a rough patch. A bit challenging in fact. And those voices? The ones that say crushing and horrible things? They have utilized the raw materials in my life of trial, betrayal, abandonment, loss, and sorrow, and added that weight and depth and breadth to their curses…and I could not escape their toxin. I had to just listen…and endure.
Until last night…after waking, freezing, cramping, clenching, crying…and ripping apart again…
I heard my Mama’s voice quiet and sure, certain underneath the Mordor doom-drums and orc snarls…and we talked. A long time.
At the end, She exhorted me to write some of what She told me…here on Grace Notes…as a faith step and an exercise…an attempt to call myself into fullness and being, because I have languished for so many years encased in roles, expectations and binary bondages. I have even torn myself in two in my desperate attempt to perform and thus be worthy of love and acceptance…and so all those voices whispering all those years are like a gravitational pull to be overcome.
So here is a bit of what Mama told me…translated from spirit/soul/heart talk to written words:
I am Charissa Grace, and I am not the person everyone thought me to be (including myself).
I am made sensitive and tender…so I feel the pains and sorrows and hurts and worries of everything and everyone around me…in the same way that a tuning fork hit with vibrations will itself vibrate in frequency, or a crystal goblet will sound when it is circled with a finger.
It is not a function of something wrong in me when I feel all of that…it is a function of how my Mama created me, and so I am to stop calling myself names and blaming myself for things that are not my fault…they are simply the things that I feel because of how I am made by Her.
I am made to drink cups and drain dregs…many of them bitter and some sweet.
I am made to transform things…to catalyze their becoming into who and what they are destined to be, but I myself am not made a part of that…rather I remain apart…alone, and in my Mama’s Hands.
I am precious to Her, and She watches over me in such Joyous Jealousy, having purposed to allow me to experience pain in order for Her good riches to be birthed into this world.
I am Mama’s womb of Life…having no womb of my own and born so barren and lonely. She intentionally formed me intricate, delicate and robust, so easily woken but desperately determined to hang on…hang on…hang on.
I am Her Instrument and She delights in my unique and utterly singular voice, and so She tunes me…constantly…to be sure I am in tune to Her song, Her heart…She tightens me, She loosens me.
Above all…I am not evil. I am not “wrong” or “null” or “nothing” or a “monster” or a “freak”. What I endure is a function of Her goodness and intention and not a function of my flawed-ness and failures, and there are many of those by the way…flaws and failures. But to Her they are akin to the chiseled away wood or stone…they are like the clay She pushes away as She makes me into Her Own.
I am the daughter of Holy Spirit, Great Lady Grace…my Big Mama…and I am good. She has said it and my Precious Merciful Jesus has made it true in His own Love dripped completely over me and washing totally thru me cleansing me and making me Their Righteousness.
I will live, and still pine and long…grieve and mourn…but I will also see the Dawn morning by morning and I will keen under Her loving caresses to my hair and cheeks as She wipes away travail and gives…
…gives me Beauty for ashes…and the Oil of Joy for mourning…and She clothes me in Songs of Praise glorious and radiant and She disappears the spirits of heaviness…as She plants me in Her Own Orchards of Righteousness and calls me Her Very Own…and I will indeed day by day glorify Her Name and call Her good and only good as She brings me to the Father of Lights from Whom every good and perfect gift comes.
I am a prophetic declaration to a world that is spiritually cross-borned, just as I am physically thus. Yes, each and everyone of us is “transgender”…walking around with this knowing inside us that we were not destined for death and dissolution and destruction, knowing that we are victims of time, knowing that who we are in our hearts is somehow choked down and held down and thrown down by something that ought not be…
These things I say in faith…believe me, they are not said in boast, or even really anything that I think about myself. But I do know that I have heard from my Mama…and these sorts of things, the things I have written here? They aren’t even remotely like anything the voices have ever cursed at me, and like nothing I tell myself…wait, correction: told myself…so I know that they must be Her.
Mama said She was so thrilled when I picked out the name double-grace…She promises She will make good on it.
Constance, I know one of my biggest struggles in life is feeling like I should not be. Just…not be. And this has a whole list of corollaries that flow down from it, and one of the most serious is that I think I am tremendously ugly. Physically, I was told that I looked okay for a biological male, sometimes even being told I was good looking. But I never ever thought so…because that is not how I look to myself inside of me.
Inside of me? I am small, light boned, neat and petite. Not on the outside.
And now…as I transition, my looks are changing, getting better…but there is something else happening. There is something inside me that comes out when I am most completely unaware of myself and when it does it feels wonderful. And I am told that it is radiant and beautiful.
I still struggle with being. A lot. Especially during times of isolation and abandonment, because my quick relentless mind immediately fills that absence of people with reasons…”they are not here because you are ****, or ****”…fill in the blank, yeah? Stupid, or ugly, or unlovely, or a pain in the ass, or a bother…it doesn’t really matter because they are all accusations and they are toxic as arsenic.
This morning I saw this quote, written in French, and it expresses a thought that represents hope to me. If true beauty comes from within, and is based on a beautiful soul, then I have a shot at beauty, yes? Because Mama and Jesus and Father are the Architects of my soul and it is the desire of my heart to look like Them.
Now to learn to live in the long absences as one full who deserves to be…instead of as a homeless person who is a blight.
“Chacune de nous a besoin de se faire dire qu’elle est formidable ! La beauté d’une femme n’est pas dans ses vêtements, ni le joli minois qu’elle affiche ou la façon dont elle se coiffe. La beauté d’une femme doit être vue dans ses yeux parce qu’ils sont les portes de son coeur, là où l’amour réside. La beauté d’une femme n’est pas dans un grain de beauté bien placé sur le haut d’une lèvre. La vraie beauté d’une femme est réfléchie par son âme. L’amour qu’elle donne, la passion qu’elle démontre, les années qui passent l’embellissent.”
Constance, the whole thing…here is an excerpt…and this is why I delineate between the building where American religious christians go for meetings, and the living organism. They both have the name “church”, but only one is a church. The other is sticks and stones, in divers ways.
Before the Church was ever an institution, before it was a massive entertainment compound, before it was a weekend mountaintop destination, it was a community; one whose lifeblood was true relationships. The idea in those early days, was to live together, to bear one another’s burdens, and to work out together, how the words and ministry of Jesus translated into the lives of those who sought to follow after him.
They came together daily to share stories, to break bread, and to encourage one another. “Church” was the bi-product of Christians living together and knowing each other.
Constance, I have pressed several articles by Brynn…here is another scintillating one, very informative and helpful in educating those who wish to learn.
As to those who don’t wish to learn, don’t waste your breath there, that is what I am learning!
The main reason that I am pressing this: it gives me opportunity to talk about regret.
Regrets…oh how they haunt me.
I regret that some how some way I am distanced from the ones I love most (except for my baby and Them, thank GOD!).
I regret that I have a different understanding and experience of what love and relationship is than they do.
I regret that I then blame myself for this.
I regret that I no longer have any idea what it means to be a friend…the things that I think it means are so vastly different than the things that other people think it means…at least, in the language of deeds…
I regret that there are people who have turned on a dime and cut me out of their lives because they found out I am transgender…and even more who have simply faded away, carrying on as if I have died.
I regret that my pace and that of the rest of the world are so out of sync, so different. In some ways I wander lands so free and boundless that they seem to never come to an end…and in other ways I am so chained and static and marooned behind prison walls that bar me from my true north place.
I regret that I feel like anathema to some, and a trophy to others…these two groups are mirror images of each other…neither of them likes me, knows me, but each of them loves to have my pelt mounted to their heart’s wall.
I regret that I am not a better person.
But transition? Come out? Be honest with myself and the world?
Well, I will never ever regret that, and only wish I had found my moment sooner.
God knows the timing of that moment, and just as when the Child came to us “when the moment was perfect”, so too did my moment come.
Listen to me Constance: if you know someone who is transgender, and they have chosen transition, you can either be a cause of gratefulness, or a cause of sorrow…but your reaction and choices either way will not make them “un-transgender”. So wouldn’t you rather have it on your eternal resume that you brought joy and gladness, kindness and comfort to the lowly and hurting
…than have it written of you “this person kicked them when they were down, and helped them to kill themself”?
This Advent…be a bearer of tidings…
…comfort and joy, Constance.
Comfort and Joy.
I am thankful for Mama…Lady Grace…The Great Holy Spirit and creator of the Universe. Her comfort, Her protection and Her Wisdom have altered me, transformed me forever.
I am thankful for Jesus…my older Brother and Great High Priest…the very First God in Human Flesh and the maker of the way for me to also be “God in the flesh”, in that His life has lifted me in the power of His Love…He has chosen to take up residence in me by the Spirit of Christ, and oh the indescribable wonder of this.
I am thankful for Father…tender and tall and the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift. All I will say about Him is this: if you want to know what He is like, get to know Jesus, cus they are just alike…
Try this out: Consider…what if the Bible is a “self-correcting” book? Or what if there is a motive in the unfolding revelation, from the beginning of the book commenting on humanity at a certain point of progress, a certain revelation of truth and understanding of the essential core of love and spirituality? A species, benighted and backwards, suspicious and superstitious? What if communication was forced to take place in degrees, in baby steps, modulating in a direction, always the same one to the same place, the same Person, until finally, when the time was right, the Face of God was manifest in a manger…from a cross pronouncing forgiveness, and then at the core of all things making intercession ever for us, saving us, preparing us, and then ushering us into Eternity?
Now for other humans (Jesus being the First One I mentioned):
I am thankful for all the really quality people I have met who read here and also who I read. You are all so ordinary! And that is the most extraordinary thing of all. Such ordinary people, bearing burdens, swimming in triumphs, surfing trials, and daily just plodding along waiting for the next amazing sunset miracle and sunrise promise after the dark night has passed. To all of you…I am truly grateful. You inspire me, with your style, your perspective…but most of all with your love…it staggers me, the love that Kat has for Kris, that Lori has for CJ, that Hunter’s mom has for him, that John has for his flock, that Karen has for becoming and overcoming, that lil mama has for life and living (big blanket there cus big heart and big power)…these are the ones coming to mind now, but not the only ones…emblematic of the larger whole, you each and every one have become a star in the night of my life and I lay out on Mama’s grassy hillside and stare at you all there…shining in my night.
I am thankful for my children, and on that I will say no more…words fail to express who they have been to me, who they are to me and who I hope they will be to “you”.
I am thankful for my bff, and she knows the depth of this. Heart…how? Why? Such joy, such challenge and wonder, such passion and purpose and intention…and such silly poofery and laughing. Have you ever reflected on how much we laugh? Someday those coffees and cocoas and shopping, and reading novels out loud chapter by chapter and sitting in some sunlight nook in the mountains or by the sea, you rattling away on your keyboard and I the same as our heart unfolds into words and the words spool out on the page and we dream that pages would become people as they read and take in our words…I love you very much. May Mama grant you fullness…in spirit, heart, and…there.
<Many other things and people insert here>
Last, because most: I am thankful for God’s Gracious Glance…God’s Gracious Gift…my baby. My heart of hearts, my very blood coursing thru all my hopes and all my fears and all my tears and traumas…you have held me in the night as I lay in towering agonizing fear, you have wrapped around me and held on as death assaulted me and sought to devour me…you have laffed with me…and do you know how much WE laff? Me and ddh laugh like loons but you and me laff like all ducks in all times and all places flying north and south and landing and taking off and scolding and clucking for always now and forever…in shimmery feathers and pure brown and violent green. We laff.
Darling, I cannot ever find the right words and I cannot ever stop myself trying, throwing myself heedless on your cliffs beautiful and daunting, your beaches gentle and inviting…I am compelled and drawn and desire you in your all YOU-ness, and so I will the tide run at you to you thru you always.
I am so thankful for you that my tears now run onto my lappie…I love you.
Constance…today…even if it is just one small thing. Find that nugget, and be thankful at least for that, okay?
Thankfulness is like a hologram: one small piece contains the entire picture.
Today, thankfulness can be summed up in this:
Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.
Much love, and deep grateful thankfulness,
Constance…I am in tears right now (I know, I know, I can hear you sigh and hear your eyes roll and say “What’s new, Charissa!!” giggle…always in tears)…
but it is true, I am. Because this devotion by Margaret Manning is about grace. And as you know, I picked that for my real name. Charissa…grace. Grace…grace.
Grace for me has always been about the power to do what God requires. It is the power given freely to us, and it is given to us regardless of what we “deserve”. And this power has two vital expressions: the power to overcome the challenges we face in our lives, and the power to be forgiven for the ways we fall short morally and spiritually, for the times we hide and cower in fear instead of walking with our heads high and our eyes clear, for the times we are petty and cruel, or mean and insensitive, or dull and totally unaware of our blundering tromping of toes and hurting of hearts…
Grace. A golden coin with a Heads and a Tails, spent as needed, and replaced as soon as it is spent.
Wanna hear something amazing about Grace? A writer long ago was inspired by Mama to tell us this: everywhere sin is and triumphs, Grace is as well, and is there in quantities and amounts that increase in availability exponentially relative to the presence of sin in those moments and places! If there are 10 “sin units”, then there are 10 x 10 Grace units! If there are a hundred sin, there is a hundred times hundred grace…and so on! The more sin there is, the more grace there is too…but not just coin by coin, but gold mine of grace for farthing of sin and diamond mine of grace for shilling of sin!!!
It’s just like light: the greater the darkness, the more power even one tiny light has!
But Margaret brought out something that was soo salient to me right now, right here…in the midst of extreme anxiety and distress and inner turmoil that really pushes hard against me to give up and leave forever…she spoke of Grace as a way of life! OH! How my spirit BURNS with those words!!!!
Grace…as a way of life. The way of Grace.
And that is why I am crying. In the midst of all the absolute falling apart of everything (except for me and my darling, ddh, and a few friends who know who they are cus I told them), I found myself looking at the betrayal, the accusation, the defamation, abandonment, judgement and malicious savage written and verbal attacks…looking at all that I “once had” disappear and in its place piles of pain and heaps of hatred…I had fixed my eyes on that.
But Constance…am I not gifted with opportunity most miraculous and glorious? Seriously: for one who has prayed for decades to be a person of grace and mercy, how can this come to pass without opportunity? And thus the onslaught…yes?
Grace as a way of life…the way of Grace. Because of her article, my eyes are lifted up again and onto the source of Grace, the one who’s Name is Grace.
Here is the takeaway for me, to whet your appetite:
If the grace-full life of Christ is the intended goal for those who claim to follow him, each day presents the opportunity to practice—to grow in the very grace Christ embodies. Instead of fear, there is empathy and hope. Instead of pride, there is humility and hospitality. Instead of bitterness and resentment, there is forgiveness and laying down one’s life. There is always a choice. And thankfully, there is always one who extends flawlessly the very grace we need ourselves.
I am in the oven.
Baking in the heat.
But I am also becoming a loaf of the bread of Grace.
May Grace ever abound in me and thru me and add to the superabounding of grace wherever wrong is present.
Constance, you all know I am a bit partial to the devotional writings of Jill Carattini. She is bright, thoughtful, technically very good, and she has a heart that is living and courageous. She inspires me, because she is not afraid to let questions about God be unanswerable…and she also approaches a side of God that I am familiar with, the side of drawing near cus God is love…first, last, and always, and that all things here in this earth have a different meaning and application which we will one day be let into from That perspective…
…and we shall Laugh on That Day.
So this morning, Jill confronts the multiplicity of gods, of questions, of troubling insanities and absurdities abounding…and rather than seeking to tie them up neatly into a lil box with a cute bow, she just lets them hang there.
If you can…read thru her post, and let it soak your heart. Really try not to let your knee get hit by any hammers and kick out with its own mind before you even realize it has…really try to just be still and surrounded by clouds…
…because sometimes we can only get our bearings when we get still when everything else is moving.
In Much Love, and thankfulness for Jill Carattini,
Too Many Gods
“I am a former Christian minister who is now an agnostic—not an atheist, not a theist, not a sceptic, and certainly not indifferent.(1) So begins the story of Charles Templeton, one time rousing evangelist, friend and counterpart of Billy Graham, turned renounced believer, professed agnostic. He is quick to clarify the meaning of such a title. “The agnostic does not say, as is commonly believed, ‘I do not know whether or not there is a God.’ He says, ‘I cannot know… He asserts that a combination of historic circumstances has made Christianity the dominant religion of the Western world but that it is not unique, there being a host of other religions and a variety of other deities worshipped or revered by millions of men and women in various parts of the world.”(2)
In his final book, Farewell to God, Templeton describes the unraveling of more than twenty years of ministry and a faith that was steadily besieged by doubt. His objections range from scathing frustrations with biblical stories to pained confusions with the ways of the world and the God who supposedly cares for it. One question in particular remained with me throughout the book: “If God is a loving Father, why does he so seldom answer his needy children’s prayers?” he asks.
The question isn’t new to me, and like Templeton, I can rattle off an explanation based on a scriptures I know by heart. But the picture that comes to life within this question is far more personal than any routine answer would satisfy. Many wrestle through this question similar to the way we had to wrestle with the presence and absence of our own parents.
Elsewhere, Templeton critiques the world and what he sees as its “abundance of gods,” though he treats each one with the curious requirement of unquestioning obedience as if it was the only god that mattered. He describes it a point of contention—even a point of absurdity—that in the vast sea of divine beings on this planet, Christianity proposes the idea that there is only one God. Across history, there are more gods than any of us can keep track of, and they seem to come with as many descriptions as the people who created them. On top of this, he argues, a great number of these gods come with qualities that leave much to be desired in the first place; they are jealous, hierarchical, vengeful, and demanding—and very much a product of our predecessors.
Many of these observations are troublingly undeniable. I was listening recently to a collection of interviews on the subject of spirituality. They asked hundreds of people the same question: simply, “Who is God?” But the answers were as diverse as the patches on a quilt, and the finished product was not at all a comforting blanket of great divinity, but little more than a mat of troubled chaos, gapping holes, and contradiction. Coming to the end of that message, I sighed deeply—how can anyone muddle through such a mess? We seem to make gods in our own images as fast as we can get them off the assembly line.
Templeton and the many who echo him are absolutely right to point out as troubling the sheer number and seeming characters of these divinities, who “hate every people but their own…[who] are jealous, vengeful…utter egotists and insist on frequent praise and flattery.”(3) In fact, the prophet Jeremiah made a similar point. He called it a “discipline of delusion” to chase after these gods and their demands, but particularly as if it were all a matter of preference and not a matter pertaining to what is real. “They are altogether stupid and foolish,” he wrote of these individuals. “In their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood” (Jeremiah 10:8).
The world of gods is indeed a chaotic place. And yet, isn’t it somewhat hasty to reject every divinity in the room simply because there is more than one? In doing so, it would seem we use our own complaint against Christianity (it is arrogant to say there is only one God) as the reason to reject it (it is ridiculous that there is more than one god).
But the description of angry gods in abundance brings me back to the question raised at the beginning. “If God is a loving Father, why does he so seldom answer his needy children’s prayers?” The reason this question demands more than a pat answer is because it deals with disappointment, neglect, silence, and heartache. The question pulls on the very shirtsleeve of a vital relationship.
Perhaps it is subtle, but the question itself seems to point to something inherently different about this God—something that sets this Father significantly apart from the sea of divine and impersonal chaos. The gods Templeton and many others describe do not at all seem like gods we would miss if they were far away. They are not the kind of gods we would be saddened by if they were silent, or dare to be angry with if they disappointed us.
Like all children with parents that we do not always understand, sometimes we ask questions that aren’t entirely fair (or even sensible). And sometimes we ask questions that give away the relational presence of the one we wrestle with under the surface.
I believe it is more than helpful to recognize the human capacity to create gods and chase after delusion. But so I think it is vital to recognize that not all gods are created equal, and there is reason to believe there might be one who isn’t created at all.
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) Charles Templeton, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996), 18.
(3) Ibid., 22-23.
Constance, I am posting here a speech given by Debi Jackson…it speaks for itself very well. Debi is a woman who loves God, loves people, and has a transgender daughter whom she is championing in a way that I am totally certain makes Mama proud.
Please check it out and let your heart be encouraged that hate can never ever conquer.
Debi…from me my deepest thank you’s and admirations for making a way for your child.
If only…if only…
A cautionary tale…
like the moment just before
a leaf decides to let go
but the tree doesn’t yet know it,
so it waits, the leaf, it waits
to leave and never return.
It’s this moment, still,
between determined faith and action,
between sharp heart felt questions
(like whether God loves me or tolerates me, or cares or hears my prayers or is even near?)
and dark deep-felt screaming
despair unquestioning running
ragged and burning in flames
undulating from faith to action
shoving hard against paralysis.
This drifty floaty
that drifty floaty
and it drops, it drifts,
it breaks and crashes, it dashes
into a thousand brilliant colors
and a million diamond drops
each and everyone shouting forever
I was, in my birth,
and I am!
I am in my courage
and I will be!
I will be
in the sea
and its salty desire, in the dirt
and its brown gritty tang,
in tree roots drawn up liquid again
from the ground to the limbs thru the leaves there to breathe
and to fly up and shine
in the glowing deep night
in the twinkle and tingling cold there to
glitter and shimmer like silver elixir
for seraphim thirsty in splendour…
slaking the thirst of angels…
stoking desire in God…
hanging in this moment
midst the fragrances of hope
and stormy lightening-strike ozone
stark and fresh and scintillating
in the stillness of the moment,
of the drifty-floaty moment
this drifty-floaty timeless moment
Back in late April I posted here about a book I wanted to recommend…
This book is by a woman named Stasi Eldridge and it was so challenging to me, so ministering to me, so full of life and hope. It took me 5 months to read the whole thing, as I had to stop often to digest and even more? I had to figure out how what she was writing translated to a transgender woman like me. Many things she wrote about assumed riches and legacies that are part of the given riches that accompany a biologically female body, and may of the trials and resulting insights arose from dealing with the particular conditions that being biologically female present too.
I want to say right up front how I admire Stasi’s vulnerability and humility. From years and years in leadership in various churches, and from some travelling ministry as well, I am all too familiar with the tendency of humanity to set people up on pedestals and elevate them improperly into lil demi-gods. I continually resisted that effort, using self-deprecation and humble vulnerable openness about my own failings and issues as the ways to avoid being elevated into something I am not. Stasi does this too, and does it well.
I read most of the book as “a colleague”, understanding a lot of subtext in technique and approach…but I received the book as a gigantic deposit of wealth into my bank account of womanhood…and then I got to thinking…about the other women like me, who could benefit so greatly from these kinds of ideas…which got me to thinking one step further:
What kinds of books is the church writing to christian trans-women, trans-men? Stasi’s husband writes books to men (I have read them and taught from them, btw…they are very good too). Are transgender women openly invited and welcome to christian women’s spaces and events? If not why not? Do transgender women have hearts that need touching from Jesus, from their Father, and from Mama…and sisters too…sisters who know how to do make-up, who know how to skillfully handle when men act like, well, men…would transgender women benefit from the fellowship of sisters who would receive them into corporate worship together as half of God’s Divine Image in humanity and thus help them to be more fruitful?
What about…what about…well, if you read here you know Charissa’s lil pea brain when it gets churning.
So I had the bright idea to write to Stasi, and short email telling her thanks for the book, a bit about myself, and my thoughts regarding trans-humans and the church. Oh, I was so excited! I checked in with Mama, and got a nod and a kiss on the forehead and She shooed me away on the task, and I was so bubbly and excited as I sought to locate a means to communicate with Stasi.
A pretty thorough search was fruitless in obtaining an email address to write to. Oh, I found plenty of Contact Us forms that are administered by others, but as the topic is delicate for most Christians because they assume a priori that being transgender is evidence of sexual sin somewhere, I was reluctant to use those forms. I eventually did give it a shot, but was quite general in what I wrote in the desire for discretion and giving no occasion for someone to take offense.
It is important to know that I did do this, as you will see later…a dementor “knows” that I didn’t and “knows” that I ended up writing where I did for nefarious reasons that she lists…it is illustrative of the way of functioning that I alluded to in part one, and the deleterious effect of such way of being. More on that later though.
I eventually found a blog that Stasi writes for and thought “Bingo!” I can leave a comment and then she will contact me if she is interested, or merely not post the comment if she is not. I did what Heather tells me is a great quality and a weakness: I looked for and expected the best in people, and then foolishly expected they would act or speak in similar good faith. See…that happens here at Grace Notes all the time. People get in touch, want to correspond, and so I take it off the blog with them and we do our best to connect and build relationship or discuss concepts. Right?
Obvi that is what would happen.
So…with Stasi alone in mind, not even thinking about anyone else who reads, I went ahead and wrote the message that leads the next post…and then in chronology I will copy the entire comment flow.
I will tell you why…I want to expose to a different audience the way of functioning that goes on in christendom…the insidious and hateful way that othering and policing operates and all in the name of love, or speaking the truth. It is neither loving or truth telling…and often the perspective that the dementor type comes from is not even true in the first place, except to them in that it is their truth.
I wanted you here to see for yourselves the use of ad hominem attack, straw man arguments, and about as many other formal fallicies in argument and rhetoric as their are. Sadly, the biblical truths that all souls are equal at the foot of the cross and that all biblical truth belongs to everyone and not just privileged clergy sets many people up for these errors. They do not invest the time and study into the topic, or if they do, they do so in the effort to prove an already assumed point of view, which does not make one an expert on a topic but an expert on their own view of that topic.
Generally, when resisted or disagreed with the reaction is to other the disagreeing point of view with judgment…either of heart, of motive, or or status as “in the light” or “in deception”…and that othering is not based on any biblical teaching regarding ways of discerning truth and dealing with controversies but in the person’s own emotional investment in the topic.
And lastly, I share it here because it also is exemplary of the kind of comment that comes to my blog a lot and that I simply have kept to myself as part of the price to be paid in being transgender in a cisgender world that is being dragged into a paradigm shift kicking and screaming…Some trans people have a different style: they post every hateful comment and nuke it with their own emotion and experience. I have a different sense of what is effective and what I am called to. But know that I deal with the bullying and trolling and threats mostly by just trying to be above it.
OK…read on for the comment flow…
All of this was previously written over the last couple of weeks and posted at http://www.ransomedheart.com/blogs/stasi/beauty-secrets-free-be-me
It is possible to click on hyperlinks and see things about the commenters.
I ask you to look for the following:
Identify the ways that love is shown
Identify the truth that is supposedly spoken in love
Analyse the claims made
Search for the specific, authoritative biblical teachings on gender orientation, gender location in a human being, God’s involvement in an intricately and wonderfully made person who suffers in this world where evil is permitted to occur, from evil deeds to variants defined as illegal or not legitimate.
Note the verses used, what they say, and pay particular attention to ones that have whole lists which include many other things that are given a different weight and place in the sanctification process than ones related to sexuality
And also note ways that they apply to me and those like me who dealing with gender issues in ways completely apart from issues of sexuality and immorality.
Pay attention to mentions of obedience, walking in obedience, and ask from the context of the writer what exactly is it that constitutes disobedience…and then find the biblical teaching on obedience, what it is, how one is obedient, and who it is who knows when one is obedient and disobedient…and then the silly but obvious glaring question of how based on the short post I wrote anyone could know anything about my level of obedience or even if I am obedient. If I am not, what ways specifically am I not obedient? (Yes, of course it is evident that in the writer’s mind I am disobedient because I did not do exactly as she has done, and that she believes her own life and experience the template for all issues of gender orientation and sexuality in relation to being a follower of Jesus).
Find the ways that the story one commentor presents of her life apply to my own situation and thus assume authority in my life as prescriptive commands or even wise exhortations/loving reproofs.
Look for ways that the commentors seek to police me, and ways that they other me. Know that this sort of thing goes on in christendom on such a tragically frequent basis as to explain why the apostle Paul said that christians were biting and devourning one another.
Identify anything that I said that was similarly cruel, illogical or unreasonable, or lashing out…if it is there, please let me know, as I endeavored to keep my comments free of such pollution and agenda.
Find ways that I attacked and vilified “the church” (as opposed to christendom, the collective aggregate of christian culture and cultural expression in history that is often wildly divergent from the actual biblical teaching regarding the spiritual organism known as “the church”).
Identify my agenda for posting here at this place…and then identify any way there would be to accurately discern that agenda to be anything other than what I said it was…and then consider the proclamation by these dementors of what they have decided my true agenda is.
Watch for things that would be illustrative that I dwell in a victim mentality…particularly in this thread, but then, if concerned, in my entire blog here at Grace Notes.
Thanks Constance, and by the way, the things written are hurtful…hurtful words and indicate a hurtful state of being in each one. Of course I wonder if one of the commenters protests too much and is still in dysphoria hell: the statistics concerning the efficacy of reparative therapy in conjunction to transgender issues are not good.
Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us - 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
Stories about parenting a gender non-conforming child
Jesus said, "Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace." Matthew 11:29 (The Message Bible) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Space for Renewal Program Information and Pastor Robyn Hartwig's Sabbatical Reflections
Transitioning from works to Grace and death to Life
Blogging about being transsexual at the crossroads of Calvary and Rome
Dropping Keys for the Beautiful Rowdy Prisoners
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