Forgiveness: The Final Frontier

I was nearing the climax of another “Deeply Disappointing Drama” when I decided to simply surrender, just let go. I had examined every scene and every actor from every conceivable angle, and I couldn’t make any sense of it. None!

Like all No-Drama Queens, I take full responsibility for scripting every life drama I experience. We queens don’t shrivel into victimhood where we’re certain to attract more bullies.

In this particular drama, I had cast some business people onto my stage, and they had performed a series of inexplicably disrespectful and financially painful acts. I was risking irreversible brain cramp trying to figure out why I wrote this script, and how it served my Highest Good.

“What is the lesson?” I cried. “Where is the blessing?” I knew it was in there, somewhere. Here? No. There? No.

I became still and asked God to join my search. Almost immediately, I was led to the bookcase that holds my treasured spirituality library. Days earlier, while in a full-blown Virgo snit, I had lovingly alphabetized the entire collection. I was a proud mama, looking at my babies neatly organized on the shelves.

I saw my arm reaching into the “R” section. It pulled out a book that I had rushed to order months earlier: The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard. It had been recommended to me by a scholarly young minister at my church.

Once the book arrived, it traveled from my office desk to my bedside table. Then it inched farther away to the bedroom loveseat. Finally, it found a resting place in the coveted “R” section of the spirituality bookcase. The title hardly sounded as if my answer would be within its pages; but hey, it was practically the only place I hadn’t looked, so I turned back the cover.

Eight hours later, more than a quarter of the way through the 400-page book, I detected that I was edging closer to my answer, beginning to see light in the distance.

There were a lot of “uh huh” moments as I recognized some of the same spiritual principles and insights I’d been given while writing EARTH Is the MOTHER of All Drama Queens. Dramas in my book were called Dreams in Renard’s. While I had unmasked a whole new world to my readers, he was unveiling an entire new universe.

It was mind-stretching stuff based on A Course in Miracles, another book I had rushed to buy years ago, but didn’t get too far because I didn’t really understand it. Jesus was trying to tell me something vitally important; but when he expressed it in iambic pentameter, this English major’s eyes quickly glazed over.

Renard’s book is a great primer for that meticulous piece of work. But, like the Course, his book is not for everyone, particularly if your view of God is a bit limited. In other words, if in your favorite book, God acts angry, vengeful, and sadistic, and His eternal punishment grossly exceeds any finite human crime, Renard’s book will literally rock your world. It even made mine shimmy a bit; and I think God’s conflict resolution skills, if needed, are infinitely more divine than have been holy recorded.

Not everyone is open to the possibility that the invisible, unchanging spirit of God is real, and that the entire visible, constantly changing physical universe is not. Few can allow themselves to imagine that this physical universe and the dysfunction within it were created by the ego, who tricked us into believing that we’re separate from, rather than united with the Loving Allness that is God. Renard and the Course say we are currently living in an illusion, a dream. Our physical bodies are here, but we are Home with God. Always were, always will be.

If you found it difficult to swallow that morsel, try washing it down with this: What if the ego–the idea of separation from God–keeps us imprisoned in the limited physical world by making us hurt, judge and condemn each other? That way, our belief in separation looks and feels real, and it is constantly reinforced.

Welcome to Hell, dear friends. Now we know why it feels that way.

As Renard explained, in the unchanging world–the real world–everything is absolute. Not so, here in the illusion, the world of drama. Over here, we have things such as “right” or “wrong”. Make no mistake: These are not absolutes; they’re judgments. Judgments are totally subjective.

Pop quiz: Is homicide right or wrong? “Wrong!” you say. Really? Ever heard the term “justifiable homicide”? That just made it right. The truth is, under certain circumstances, we have always justified, supported, and even voted to intentionally kill other human beings–in other words, commit homicide.

So let’s eliminate judgment as a criterion if we’re seeking absolute answers. Instead, visualize someone in an absolutely non-judgmental environment. Almost every minute of the day, she has a choice to make. At this moment, her choice is whether to be honorable or untrustworthy. If she believes that each of us is an individual, she could easily think that betraying someone else’s trust has no real impact on her. After all, in a world of absolutes, there’s no right or wrong; no one is going to judge or condemn her.

If, on the other hand, she believes that she and others are a collective One—part of the Loving Allness that is God—she’s now aware that it’s impossible to hurt someone else without hurting herself. So she bases her chosen actions on whether she wants to hurt herself.

According to Renard and A Course in Miracles, it’s the ego’s illusion of individuality that causes us to make decisions that are not in our true best interest. We unwittingly and repeatedly make decisions that cause pain and chaos–our own.

I frequently nodded my head as I read. Drama Queen Workshops also teach that we are not our bodies, and that whatever you do comes back to you. But I realized that I hadn’t connected that truth to the We-Are-One dot. In the “real” world, whatever we do is literally being done to us in “real time”. Duh.

My heart raced as I tried to figure out what to do with this revelation: If I believe that nothing is outside of God, that everything IS the omnipresent God, I must connect the dots that lead to the inevitable conclusion that we are ONE. There is no “us” and “them”. There is no “other”. The people who anger us, disrespect us, betray us, lead us to war, bankrupt our pension systems, pollute our environment, and play starring roles in our deeply disappointing dramas are US! Yikes!

“Is this my answer ?” I screamed. “The ego has duped, hoodwinked, and bamboozled me into pointing the finger away from myself. I’ve been judging and condemning others for one thing or another, only to find out now that they are ME?” What was I supposed to do with that?

Set yourself free. Let it go. Stop judging. It’s just an illusion. None of it happened in the real world, anyway. So forgive. Forgive yourself.

Forgive. The word leaped off page after page of Renard’s utterly profound book.

I didn’t resist. Hey, I’m a huge fan of forgiveness. It’s one of the four DQWorkshop principles. There are Forgiveness Coupons available for download on the workshop website. But I had thought that we were forgiving individuals: ourselves first, then the “other” person. Renard was insisting that there’s only one of us.

Jiminy Christmas! I tried to squeeze myself into this one-size-fits-all garment. I closed my eyes and “called” in the last two actors who threw all the props on my stage into disarray. As a card carrying No-Drama Queen, I had already forgiven them. But now I was being called to take my forgiveness to a celestial level. I not only had to see God in them and see no wrong in them, I had to BE them.

I resisted the urge to hold my nose. (These actors really did stink up the place). I tried to fully focus on the truth that forgiveness is the miracle that paves my path back Home.

“You’re choosing to stay asleep in the illusion or awaken to reality. Choose the ego or God,” I coached myself, citing the only two choices Renard and the Course offered.

Next step: dress rehearsal. I must practice miraculous forgiveness with every actor and every act in the illusion that gets on my nerves. I’m sure I’m going to script plenty of opportunities to get this required practice, until I evolve from conscious forgiveness incompetence to unconscious competence.

It’s like the first time behind the wheel of that bright red Comet Caliente with the three-speed gear shift on the column, my Dad’s present to me during my senior year in high school.

Now my Father has given me another gift. This time, I’m taking it on the road to Forgiveness: The Final Frontier.

Honey, I’ve Shrunk Our God!

My dear friend, the Reverend Dr. Vici Derrick of Joy Cathedral in Seattle, often says, “God made man in His image; then man returned the favor.” It’s not a new phenomenon. About 2,500 years ago, Greek philosopher Xenophanes said pretty much the same thing: “If horses were to create gods, they’d look like horses.”

Speaking of horses (or parts thereof), New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin now admits that remarks he made during his Martin Luther King address were “totally inappropriate.” I think he meant “totally inane.”

On Monday, Nagin told the mostly black audience gathered to commemorate the Nobel Peace Prize-winning King that God was “mad at America” and its misbehaving black people, so He sent Katrina to the Gulf Coast to destroy everything in her path.

What Nagin is saying is that God has uncontrollable fits of violent, destructive, murderous rage. Why is God so full of wrath? Well, C. Ray says it’s because black folks in New Orleans have uncontrollable fits of violent, destructive, murderous rage.

Ooh! Ooh! I think I see a pattern forming here.

Nagin also said that God has designated New Orleans as a “chocolate” city. In other words, it has been divinely decreed that most of the residents in a city built dangerously below sea level and inadequately protected from the surrounding waters should be Black. If a white man had said that, I’m sure Nagin would be the first to call him a racist. Instead, he calls him God.

So if we follow Nagin’s admittedly inappropriate logic, God sent Katrina to do what, exactly, chase the white folks out of New Orleans and re-establish it as a “chocolate” empire? Most of the homes destroyed belonged to black folks or white folks? Just checking.

Even if God were human (or inhumane, as Nagin and others believe) I can’t imagine that altering the racial composition in New Orleans would be on the to-do list, since so many of the King’s Kids are starving in Africa, dying of AIDS everywhere, and being bombed wholesale on the streets of Iraq and Afganistan.

I think 18th century poet and satirist Alexander Pope was onto something when he wrote, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” He makes a clear distinction between human acts and divine ones. The Divine forgives the inane rather than destroys, punishes or kills them. The Divine is Light Years above vile thought and violent behavior.

Unfortunately, the minister who inspired Nagin’s “totally inappropriate” remarks wasn’t aware. That minister, Nagin, Pat Robertson and their brothers and sisters who believe that God behaves like humans haven’t fully opened themselves to the Awesome Allness. They have shrunk God into something small enough to wrap their human brains around.

There are lots of those folks out there. Remember last week’s blog about Pat Robertson’s cheerleader, Scott Ross, who dug up an Old Testament scripture in which God threatened the destruction of any nation that attacked Israel? I received an e-mail disputing Ross’s prediction that the worst was yet to come.

Ross’ prediction was inaccurate, this writer said, because “God is no longer a Zionist after he sent His Son Jesus the Christ…. Read John1.” You heard it here first: God has changed religions. Help me out here: Jesus was Jewish throughout his human life, right? Just checking.

The writer went on to say that God would strike Ross and send him to hell for characterizing God as a Zionist. (But apparently, the writer can call God a sadist with impunity.)

When I responded that I was sorry he felt that God was so inhumane, he said God might strike me for insulting someone who worshipped the Almighty. Yeow! No doubt, he’ll say it again when he sees that I’m as impudent this week.

I was quite disturbed by this non-Christlike behavior, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. This was the same person who told me that God flooded the Earth because He was trying to rid it of sin. In other words, infallible God failed. And in this failed attempt, God heartlessly killed many a newborn, handicapped person, senior citizen, and playful toddler, not to mention all of the non-sinning fauna and plant life.

This dear soul can now bond with Brother Nagin and a host of others throughout the ages who have mindlessly shrunk the image of the Almighty, All-Knowing, and Everywhere Present Spirit of Unconditional Love that we know as God into that of a human who is bereft of any divine qualities.

Don’t let my sarcasm cloud my gratitude for these folks. They perform a great service. It’s not until someone publicly gives voice to a judgmental, punitive, angry, vindictive bully and calls him God that we get this wonderful opportunity to re-think our own image of the Almighty.

So thanks, Pat Robertson, Scott Ross, and Mayor Nagin. You’re doing more to help us embrace a Divine God than any old loudmouth in the balcony could. Woo hoo!

World’s Oldest Action Figure

If you engage enemy nations in a vicious bloody battle, kill every man, woman, child, and destroy every edifice on your path, you’re:

  1. A guerilla
  2. A terrorist
  3. Neither of the above

If you selected “neither of the above”, congratulations! You’re right: You wouldn’t be a guerilla or a terrorist. But do you know what one world-renowned authority says that you would be?

God. Who knew? I accidentally stumbled upon that factoid a moment ago.

OK, I know they say that there are no accidents in the Universe. But I also know that I did not consciously intend to click on a link in the blog post below, either. Wow! It jettisoned me into another world: Pat Robertson’s 700 Club website. That’s where I found The Divine unapologetically cast as The Diabolical.

With my brave Toto by my side, I decided to do a little exploring. I wanted to see if there was any followup to Robertson’s claim that God had vindictively stricken Ariel Sharon with a massive stroke because he’d ordered Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. There was a link on the home page to Comments on Pat Robertson and Israel, by a Christian Broadcasting Network blogger, Scott Ross. His post was mercifully brief and quizzically punctuated:

To a few folk who got upset about recent comments by Pat Robertson in regard to “the dividing of the land,” in Israel. Just hang on and watch this drama continue to unfold and even more so when it comes to Jerusalem it will get even heavier. As the old adage goes, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

One line from God in Zechariah 12:9: “I will destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.”

Young Ross is apparently a 21st Century prophet who looks at the world (and God) through 500 BCE lenses. He predicts more “drama”–his word, not mine.

The God in Ross’s drama has no love for His enemies. Ross portends that his God will vindictively inflict additional pain and suffering not simply on individuals, but on nations.

Alas, Ross apparently is no mathematician, either. A few folk got upset over Robertson’s characterization of God as Holy Terror? Who was counting–the National Park Service?

Ross’s basic reading skills are equally remarkable:

The scripture he quoted actually says, “I will seek to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.”

What does “seek to” mean, boys and girls? Dictionaries concur with this definition: to try to reach or obtain; to attempt. Does Zechariah want us to believe that the Omnipotent God said, “I’m going to try to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem?”

Back in the day, when most folks were illiterate, clerics were able to slip that one over on them. Ross obviously knew that literate people wouldn’t buy it, which explains why he omitted “seek to”. That doesn’t explain, however, why he characterized it as a direct quote from the Divine.

You have to admire someone brave enough to pluck words out of the mouth of a God that he perceives to be violent and vindictive. Braver still, Ross clearly refutes 1John 4:8 and 4:16, “…God is love”. Or is he saying that love is vindictive, violent, destructive and inhumane? He confuseth me.

Let’s put that scripture in historical context, shall we? Zechariah lived about 500 years before Jesus. His Old Testament book is the 11th of the 12 minor prophets. Among other things, Zechariah is known for inspiring the Jews returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the Temple their captors destroyed.

What could he have done or said to accomplish this monumental feat? After all, many feared that it would be futile to build a new Temple. It could be destroyed by other conqueror.

Is it possible that Zechariah might have overcome that objection by saying, “It’s not gonna happen. God said He will destroy any nation that attacks us. Re-build!” So they did.

I’m fascinated that Ross, presumed to be a Christian since he’s on this website, didn’t validate Robertson with a scriptural quote from Jesus, who clearly taught us the Divine way to deal with enemies. There’s Matthew 5:44, for example: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless anyone who curses you, do good to anyone who hates you, and pray for those who carry you away by force and persecute you.” Luke 6:27 echoes it. And Luke says it again in the 35th verse of that chapter. Where’s the mention of vengeance or destruction of persons or nations?

I contend that our beliefs about God script our daily dramas and dictate how we treat others. I’m always wary of people who call themselves Christian, yet believe in a vengeful, unforgiving, un-Christlike God. It’s been my experience that many of these Loved Ones believe it gives them an excuse, if not carte blanche, to behave as vengeful, unforgiving, judgmental bullies.

In a world where “whatever you do comes back to you”, this is just one more reason that Ross’s genre of drama should be LEFT BEHIND.

Excuse Me, but Wrath is not Divine

Be still my heart. Pat Robertson reportedly has diagnosed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as suffering from Divine Punishment. Yep, what caused the severe stroke that threatens Sharon’s extended visit on the planet was his decision for Israel to withdraw from Gaza. Kid you not. Read the news report yourself.

Granted, this story originated from the Associated Press (AP), the same group of meticulous journalists who brought us 12 surviving miners the other day, so I searched Robertson’s 700 Club website to verify it myself. I saw no mention of this potentially slanderous accusation. But considering the source (Robertson, not the AP) and the existence somewhere of today’s 700 Club show tape, I think it’s safe to start ranting vigorously. Plus, I doubt that the AP would risk its last strand of credibility by libeling Robertson, of all people, so soon after that last debacle. So I think it’s safe to say that this time they got it right.

According to the AP, Robertson had kind words to say about Sharon, calling him “a very tender-hearted man and a good friend”. Funny, he doesn’t think as highly of God. In Robertson’s view, the Almighty God settles disputes like…the “devil”: with wrath-filled intent to cause serious bodily harm.

Robertson cites the Old Testament for his diagnosis of Sharon’s real medical problem. He said that the Prophet Joel (second in the group of 12 minor prophets in Hebrew scriptures) “makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who ‘divide my land’.”

To echo the famous cry of Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan, “WHY? WHY?”

Why, indeed, Reverend Robertson? Name one spot of the world’s 92.5 million square miles of land that is NOT God’s? And why would a 25-mile long, six-mile wide strip of it cause God to attempt premeditated murder?

Instead of sourcing the Old Testament, where God is consistently portrayed as violent, inhumane, and vengeful, let’s put on our New Testament “God is Love” lenses, shall we, Pat?

If God was so upset that Sharon was going to divide Israel, why didn’t He just inflict him with heart palpitations when he announced the plan in December of 2003? That might have been enough to distract Sharon, or even change his mind. But no, Robertson wants us to believe that it was so critical for that land to stay undivided that God waited more than four months AFTER it was split to critically maim Sharon. Come on; if God’s going to intervene, why not do it BEFORE Sharon executed his plan to bring peace to Gaza?

In the spirit of the Jesus you claim to serve, Pat, we give you loving allowance to believe all sorts of heinous things about God. But for goodness sake, could you keep that craziness in your own prayer closet?