Resistance, Victory, and Hope: Finding Strength after Week One of Trump’s America.

As we approach the end of week one of the Trump presidency, yesterday was the most unsettling yet. The silencing or “gag order” of several agencies from communicating with the public, the executive orders to progress with the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, and then the day ended with a tweet from Mr. Trump, “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!” 

This tweet coming at the end of such a heartbreaking day was no doubt just an egotistical punch in our already sick stomachs, and one more knife in our hearts. The battle is not lost, however. The Body rose up yet again in Truth and Justice.

Silencing the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) spurred a rogue former employee of Badlands National Park to frantically start tweeting climate science facts. Soon they were deleted due to the gag order. Bless his/her heart! What troubling times if tweeting science is an act of rebellion. This sparked a little revolution of sorts in the world of climate science. A new Twitter account emerged called @AltUSNatParkService, with the tag line “The unofficial ‘Resistance’ team of U.S. National Park Service. Not taxpayer subsidized. Come for rugged scenery, fossil beds, 89 million acres of landscape.” In their feed, climate science facts are shared among their nearing 250k followers in less than a day of its creation. Other similar resistance pages have also begun.

This is beautiful. This is Hope. The God I believe in is rising up through us. Everything is being exposed right now. Most importantly, the light. In the pit of my despair yesterday, I was drawn to read Matthew 10. It is a list of instructions that Jesus gives his disciples. Immediately after reading, the peace came. He tells them to speak to the lost. He tells them to not be afraid. He tells them to travel from city to city proclaiming “good news” from the rooftops that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Tells them to cure disease, heal the sick. He tells them to keep standing, even if it means walking away from those who don’t hear their message. Tells them that they will be hated. He tells them most importantly to believe in protection, and to take up their cross, do what is right. 

The God I believe in is hearing our cries about the destruction of our planet and creation. He/She hears the cries of the refugees that are banned from entering the US as of today. This God is with Standing Rock, and with us all as we watch the erection of this wall. We know someday it will come down and what a celebration that will be for a future generation. I hope my children witness that great event and display of love and unity. This God is fighting with us, not out of fear, but from Mighty power. Just look at the global women’s march on Saturday! What a ROAR from the Spirit. 
As we continue this rising, remember we are not fighting for victory, we are fighting FROM victory. Love wins in the end. Restoration wins. Healing wins. Compassion wins. God/Life/Spirit/Creation wins. 

In Malcom Gladwell’s acclaimed best selling book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,  he seeks to explain and describe social trends and great social movements. He states ” The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” 

Friends, we are on the other side of the tipping point, which all evidence points to the election that struck the match. The Body and its’ Message will continue to spread like wildfire. Let us be grateful and proclaim the good news. 

In The Hunger Games (Book 1), by Suzanne Collins, a profound quote about Hope is given from the evil President Snow…

Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.” 

Let your Spirit continue to ROAR WITH HOPE. 

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Cleansing the Temple: Our work post the inauguration of Trump.

As I awoke from my depressed slumber from the late eve of election night, I immediately checked my phone for the results. There it was. Donald Trump had won the presidential election of The United States of America. Tears started to well, and body temperature began to raise as I could feel my cheeks getting hot. A great feeling of sadness waved over me and all I wanted to do was pull my blanket over my head and stay all day in the dark. I couldn’t, however, it was time to play mom. Time to shuffle the kids off to public school where they are the minority in a heavily populated Hispanic school district…my purposeful choice.

As I pulled up to the drop off loop, I just sat there in line, observing. I observed the village hard at work to provide a quality education to all of these kids. I noticed the Hispanic women volunteers helping the parents get their children out of the car, help them put their backpacks on, and usher them inside the school. A school where every sign on the wall and every piece of paper going home to parents has an equivalent Spanish version of it. I watched the children walking through the door, children of every race, creed, and religion, and teared up realizing that they were unaware of the mourning of that day. Unaware that millions of their fellow Americans voted to put a racist, xenophobic, chauvinist in the highest seat of their land, who showed by his words and actions had no respect for anyone or the planet. The Hispanic children were unaware that some members of their family might be deported.

As I drove out, alone and on my way to yoga, I could finally deal with my emotions. I began to scream. And cry. And scream. And cuss. I can honestly say that in all of my 35 years of life, never have I felt that type of anger. It was pure madness deep down at a core of my soul in a place I didn’t even know existed. The Holy Spirit within me felt like a deranged monster, but there was a softness and deep sadness there too. All through yoga that morning, I cried. I couldn’t stop. The energy in the entire studio was collectively low and filled with  a silent, deafening grief.

It wasn’t because Hillary lost. It was the soul crushing disappointment of my fellow Americans. I didn’t know what we truly are before that day. My spirit was completely broke and knowing my entire family supported Trump made the day that much more enlightening and disheartening. My disappointment with the hypocrisy of evangelical Christianity pierced my soul as well. Who was Jesus to this institution?

It was the final nail in the coffin to my Christianity. The next three months thereafter I struggled with depression, an existential crisis, a family I didn’t really know or understand, and what to do with my passionate rage. I checked out for a while, then I’d argue on Facebook, then I’d check out again. There was no place to escape, the frightening reality was now my reality, and tweet after tweet, and cabinet pick after cabinet pick, further took me down.

In two days He will be inaugurated. He’ll place his hand on a sacred text and take an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States. After all of his contracting words and plans to this oath, America will watch him swear on a Bible he’s never read. I don’t know why good folks are blinded right now, but they are.

But the one’s that see, I’m speaking to you. I have found you, we have found each other, and for that I’m thankful. I see countless regular Americans pushing their sleeves up and working. Speaking out, standing up for what’s right, through blogs, art, podcasts, books, and music. I see many black sheep of their Christian families rising up to say “No More.” I see them leaving the Church and joining a body of people fighting for humanity and the planet. It’s beautiful, and may not be happening if we weren’t facing such catastrophic times. This gave us power. This election has fueled our rage.

Our anger is justified. I imagine Jesus felt this same passionate rage when he saw the merchants and money changers doing the business of greed in the temple. That deep spiritual anger caused him to flip over their tables, and make whips out of cords to drive them out. This story has been included in all four gospels and has been named “Cleansing of the Temple.” Read more about this story here.

Our work is just that, cleansing of the temple. God’s temple is everywhere. Let us keep going. We won’t be stopped. Our purpose is clear, and let’s try our best to keep our rage burning with love. Love will win, and deep down at our core, we know that is true. And that surge in Spirit you’re feeling, it’s real. Let your day job be your side hustle for your real work.

Ecclesiastes 3 1-8 begins “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…and ends with “a time for war, and a time for peace.”

We are in the middle. No time to waste. Use your gifts, this time is the reason we have them.

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Debating Jesus, Part I.

From the moment I was born, I was immersed in Fundamental Christianity, pointed toward Jesus. I had no choice in the matter, nor did I have any other reality to perceive. Jesus loves me, he died for me, and I have to earnestly ask him to come into my heart, and if I don’t, I will go to hell after I die. Hell was explained in very literal terms where it was an actual physical place where fire would burn me FOREVER and “not even one drop of water” will be given to me to relieve me from my eternal agony.

As a little girl this scared the shit out of me. This belief that I must be saved to escape eternal hell fire was reinforced over and over through 3 weekly sermons from my Grandfather, Sunday school class, church community, parents, and little religious pamphlets called “tracts” that I would read waiting for my parents to get done talking, or in true fundie language, “having fellowship” after church.

Obviously, there wasn’t a choice to make. I had to ask Jesus into my heart. I remember the first time I said the magic words on a Sunday afternoon. I was 6 years old, and made a decision to follow a “God” I didn’t know or understand. I made the decision to love this God, even though the only reason I did was so that He wouldn’t destroy me. I was so afraid to die. I was so afraid of God.

And so, my life from there on out sent me on a journey to study “the Word”, “get to know Christ”, and get other people to say the magic words too, so that they wouldn’t be tormented with burning in fire forever.

The words of Jesus were to be studied, followed, and regarded as ultimate truth with no debate.

Naturally, during my abusive marriage, I was brought to my knees in surrender. The only answer I had was to follow God’s word. Pray more, study more, and go to church more. Surely, if I was sincere enough and fervent enough, God would transform my husband. It was a sin to get divorced. It was adultery to be divorced and move on to a different man. I had no other resource for truth other than follow a religion that tells me time and time again that all of life’s problems can be solved using the Bible.

So I began to study. Specifically, the words in red, Jesus’ words. I was transformed by them… Teachings of love, forgiveness, grace, non violence, healing and repentance. I became very liberal politically and began to get extremely angry at the hypocrisy of Christianity and the GOP. They and their policies were in complete contradiction to the words of Jesus, which they so adamantly claim to follow and believe in.

It wasn’t until I stumbled across a doctrine of Jesus that I disagreed with before I understood how and why Christianity seems to be on such a different path than what He taught, specifically, the Sermon on the Mount.

They disagree too, but too arrogant in their ego and pride to admit it, and too scared to debate Him. There are so many beautiful, engaging truths that Jesus said I agree with. But there is one thing he said that I cannot and will not agree with.

I disagree with his doctrine of divorce.

Read more about the doctrine of divorce in Debating Christ, Part 2.

If he were here sitting at my table today, I would tell him that I disagree. And I am fairly certain that he would say “Me, too” after he heard my reasoning and plea. After all, I may not have known why I was inviting him into my heart at six years old, or what that even meant other than a ticket out of hell, but now, as an adult, I know what that meant, and what it means to me now.

I invited him into my life. The same way we invite friends or teachers in. I invited him to commune with me, in conversation and in friendship, a two-way street where an authentic exchange of ideas exist.

Read Part 2 of Debating Christ

Debating Christ, Part 2.

I imagine that if Jesus was physically here today he’d knock at my door after being invited over to lunch, and I would open the door and see a brown skinned middle Eastern man, dressed in something he purchased at a thrift store, and he’d be carrying a nice home brewed bottle of red. Standing next to him would be an interpreter of language because we couldn’t understand each other without one. He doesn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Aramaic.

He would walk in and comment on various pieces of furniture I had and whether they were structurally sound, and maybe he’d even admire some of the design that has evolved into the world of carpentry in the last 2000 years.

I’d invite him to sit down at my table to eat the lunch I prepared which would consist of organic bread, assorted charcuterie, olives, and aged white cheddar.

We would make some small talk about the drive over or the weather before we delved into a philosophical conversation which we both thrive on.

I would tell him that while I agree with so many of his teachings, there is one in particular that I disagree with.

“I disagree, Jesus, with your doctrine of divorce.

You say, during your beautiful Sermon on the Mount:

‘It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’

Right before you said this, you gave your doctrine of committing adultery:

‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.’

Obviously, adultery is a grave sin to you. And I, a divorced woman had felt the spiritual shame stemming from what you say here. My mother, a divorced woman, has felt the spiritual shame. I see other women and men willing to endure emotional, spiritual, or physical abuse from their husbands or wives because of this doctrine. Specifically, women or men involved in the domestic violence cycle as I was. You know I had to get out. You saw the dangerous chaos we were all in. But I believed God could change it, if only I prayed more, studied more, believed more. I stayed much longer than I should’ve, and my children and I could’ve gotten seriously hurt or died because I was following your words.

I don’t believe I have sinned by getting divorced. I don’t believe I am committing adultery if I move on in a new, healthy, loving, and safe relationship. I don’t believe that that new partnership would be illegitimate. I feel no guilt whatsoever about being divorced and it makes me angry to the core that other women or men in similar positions might be weaker and unable to disagree with you. They feel like they can’t. They feel it’s blasphemy to go against your Word and their lives are being wasted, unhappy, and trapped in an unhealthy and/or dangerous situation.

Please explain…”

I believe he would begin by explaining that he said these words 2000 years ago, a time when things were culturally very different. At that time, adultery was punishable by death. Anyone caught in adultery was to be killed. There was no grace, no forgiveness, only judgement and punishment. He would explain that it made him sick and angry, especially because He knew that no one is perfect in this. He knew that men look at women with lust in their thoughts. He knew that women also do the same. Which is why He said that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery. Thinking is the same as doing, therefore no one is clean from this sin.

However, until the lawmakers and/or religious leaders could understand that and recognize their own hypocrisy in the matter, married men and women would still die at their hands. His doctrine was intended to protect them, as well as try and probe the religious psyche with the spiritual truth that everyone is guilty.

He would say to me:

“My words are spoken in love, not judgement.

Thank you for disagreeing, and asking questions. There is so much more to my words than a misinterpreted literal translation. If you continue to dig deeper and continue having a conversation with me, you will continue to find my intended meaning.

My words are always rooted in love for humanity. Always.”

My pressing question then to humanity, specifically American Christians and/or the GOP is:

Are your beliefs rooted in love? Love for yourself and others? Or are they rooted in judgement, religion, and theology?

Dig a little deeper folks. Test every doctrine.

Read Part 1 of debating Christ.

God is…

God is…

God is the sunset,
with her hues of purple, red,
and hints of gold.

He’s the snow that falls in the night, only so she can sparkle like diamonds at dawn.

He’s a labyrinth of adventure.
She’s a wing of safety,
freedom, and Love.

She’s the Life in your Spirit,
and he’s your blood on fire.

We are God,

together.

A piece of God,

alone.

God is everything.
God is…Everyone.

He isn’t outside.

She lives within.

Waiting to be noticed.
Waiting to live.
Begging to Heal.