Solving problems by killing people: A Divine idea?


Weren’t we just talking about abortion—and judgment and condemnation—last week? How ironic is it that today a judgmental, condemning human pranced himself into a church and executed a physician who performed abortions. Where’d this guy get the idea to solve problems by killing people? And why did he choose the church to stage this drama?

What’s the appropriate way to respond to behavior that’s disagreeable to us? Anybody know what the Bible says we should do in these instances?

1. Kids giving you mouth?

a. Give them good counsel
b. Forgive them
c. Kill them

Hint: Ex. 21:17, Deut. 21:18-21

2. Cold-blooded. Murderers on the loose?

a. Arrest them
b. Forgive them
c. Kill them

Hint: Ex. 21:12, 21:15

3. Cheating spouse?

a. Divorce them
b. Forgive them
c. Kill them

Hint: Lev. 19:20, 20:10

4. Kidnappers, body snatchers?

a. Make them sleep with wolves
b. Forgive them
c. Kill them

Hint: Ex 21:16

5. Bad-mouth blasphemers?

a. Publicly humiliate them
b. Forgive them
c. Stone them to death

Hint: Lev. 24:16

6. ”Me and Mrs. Jones?” Men who have sex with their father’s or son’s wife:

a. Castrate them
b. Forgive them
c. Kill them

Hint: Lev. 20:11, 20:12

7. Sexy Mama? Men who have sex with their mothers-in-law:

a. Castrate them
b. Forgive them
c. Burn them to death

Hint: Lev. 20:14

8. What to do with ungodly atheists and agnostics?

a. Cripple them
b. Forgive them
c. Kill them

Hint: Josh. 1:18, 2 Chr. 15:13

9. No “Welcome to Walmart?” Those who work on Saturdays (includes cooking, looking for food, leaving home and making a fire):

a. Arrest them
b. Forgive them
c. Stone them to death

Hint: Ex 31:15, 16:25, 16:26, 16:29, 35:3, 31:14, 35:2, Num 15:32-36

10. Lost forever: Virginity

a. Slap on a chastity belt immediately
b. Forgive her
c. Stone her to death

Hint: Deut 22:21-24

I gave you the chapter and verse for every answer, so if you answered anything but “C” for every question, I’m utterly speechless. Now you know why killing people has been such a popular way to solve problems for lo these many centuries—even after man-made law ruled these solutions inhumane and illegal.

Who’s right? Is killing people is a divine or satanic method for solving problems?

Solving problems by killing people: Divine?

Murders shock and revile us. But they never seem to stop. Where did these people get the idea that we should solve problems by killing people?

Scripture tells us the appropriate way to respond to behavior that’s disagreeable to us. See if you know the correct answers:

1.  How should you respond if your kids are disrespectful?

a.  Give them good counsel
b.  Forgive them
c.  Kill them

Hint: Ex. 21:17, Deut. 21:18-21

2.  How should we handle murderers?

a.  Arrest them
b.  Forgive them
c.  Kill them

Hint: Ex. 21:12, 21:15

3.  What should we do to cheating spouses?

a.  Divorce them
b.  Forgive them
c.  Kill them

Hint: Lev. 19:20, 20:10

4.  How about kidnappers?

a.  Make them sleep with wolves
b.  Forgive them
c.  Kill them

Hint: Ex 21:16

5.  How should we deal with blasphemers?

a.  Publicly humiliate them
b.  Forgive them
c.  Stone them to death

Hint: Lev. 24:16

6.  What about men who have sex with their father’s or son’s wife:

a.  Castrate them
b.  Forgive them
c.  Kill them

Hint: Lev. 20:11, 20:12

7.  Sexy Mama? What do you do Men who have sex with their mothers-in-law:

a.  Castrate them
b.  Forgive them
c.  Burn them to death

Hint: Lev. 20:14  

8.  What should we do to atheists and agnostics?

a.  Cripple them
b.  Forgive them
c.  Kill them

Hint: Josh. 1:18, 2 Chr. 15:13  

9.  That senior citizen who says, “Welcome to Walmart” and others who work on Saturdays, cook, look for food, leave home and make fires?

a.  Arrest them
b.  Forgive them
c.  Stone them to death

Hint: Ex 31:15, 16:25, 16:26, 16:29, 35:3, 31:14, 35:2, Num 15:32-36

10.  Response to lost virginity?

a.  Slap on a chastity belt immediately
b.  Forgive her
c.  Stone her to death

Hint: Deut 22:21-24

Gun-shaped Holy BibleI provided the chapter and verse for every answer: In all instances, scripture claims that God demands that we kill each other. Now you know why killing people has been such a popular way to solve problems for lo these many centuries. What it means is that we can’t be law-abiding citizens and God-abiding citizens. So whose law should we follow?

If God is Love, would Love do that?

Perhaps a more intelligent and humane way to read holy scripture is to also read books about scripture that calls itself the inerrant word of God. If we did everything it claims that God mandates us to do, there would be a run on orange jumpsuits, and cities would have more prisons than high-rise apartment buildings.

As they say, it’s easier to believe than to think. I think it’s even easier to read scripture and say, “Would Love do that?” Do you?

 

In Memoriam: Life as we once knew it


I watched in wonder as the debate over Notre Dame’s invitation for the President of these United States to speak at this year’s commencement hit a fever pitch of judgmental rhetoric—led by those who call themselves Christians. Fascinating stuff.

Maybe I’ve been watching the drama on Earth from too far away. I’ve obviously lost the ability to zoom in on the important stuff. I certainly missed the moment that “judge not and you will not be judged, condemn not and you will not be condemned” ceased to be central to the teachings of the radically non-religious Jewish rabbi named Yeshua. People on both sides of the issue claim to be his followers; but they clearly don’t walk his walk.

The Loud Mouth is brash enough to call out non-Christlike Christians; but the President, who consistently confronts hot topics directly, without being confrontational, delivered a speech that appealed for both sides to disagree if they must; but do it with Christ-like civility:

“I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it—indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory—the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

“Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.”

As the resident bull in the china shop, let me take this debate to a place where our President couldn’t: To “The Beginning.” At the heart of the abortion issue is this: When does Life begin—and does a woman have a right to choose to give birth to an infant body?

Much of the debate rages around whether Life begins at conception or at some stage in the development of an embryo or fetus. The presumption here is that Life is physical—and that a human can give It, take It, save It, or even make It miserable. Perhaps we have forgotten what Life is—Life with a capital “L,” that is.

Have you ever seen Life with your physical eyes? Where was It? What was It doing? What did It look like? What was it wearing? Can you draw a picture of Life? Have you ever photographed It? How old was It?

What does Life look like at birth? At death? Can you describe it? Have you ever thought about it? Have you considered the possibility that we have made the words “life” and “body” synonymous?

When Life leaves a body, the body dies. Does that mean that Life is dead, too? Unless you send me evidence to the contrary, Life—like Spirit, like Soul and like God—is invisible to those in the physical world. And, unlike those in the physical world, Spirit, Soul, God, and Life have no beginning and have no end.

We have forgotten. That’s why this Memorial Day weekend, I honor the Divinity that we once knew as Life: The powerful, invincible, God-like essence that we temporarily abandoned to slip into costumes called human bodies and solve problems by disrespecting, maligning, berating, battling and killing those who disagree with us, or belong to a different army, tribe, gang, race, gender, sexual orientation, political party or religion.

I mourn the loss of our memories. We have forgotten that at “the end of the day,” our souls will not be held accountable for how others treated us—only how we treated them. If we remembered that—even if we forgot what Life really is—Memorial Day would be just another day on the tiny planet called Earth.

In Memoriam: Life as we once knew it

I watched in wonder as the debate over Notre Dame’s invitation for the President of these United States to speak at this year’s commencement hit a fever pitch of judgmental rhetoric—led by those who call themselves Christians. Fascinating stuff.

Maybe I’ve been watching the drama on Earth from too far away. I’ve obviously lost the ability to zoom in on the important stuff. I certainly missed the moment that “judge not and you will not be judged, condemn not and you will not be condemned” ceased to be central to the teachings of the radically non-religious Jewish rabbi named Yeshua. People on both sides of the issue claim to be his followers; but they clearly don’t walk his walk.

The Loud Mouth is brash enough to call out non-Christlike Christians; but the President, who consistently confronts hot topics directly, without being confrontational, delivered a speech that appealed for both sides to disagree if they must; but do it with Christ-like civility:

“I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it—indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory—the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

“Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.”

As the resident bull in a china shop, let me take this debate to a place where our President couldn’t: To “The Beginning.” At the heart of the abortion issue is this: When does Life begin—and does a woman have a right to choose to give birth to an infant body?

Much of the debate rages around whether Life begins at conception or at some stage in the development of an embryo or fetus. The presumption here is that Life is physical—and that a human can give It, take It, save It, or even make It miserable. Perhaps we have forgotten what Life is—Life with a capital “L,” that is.

Have you ever seen Life with your physical eyes? Where was It? What was It doing? What did It look like? What was it wearing? Can you draw a picture of Life? Have you ever photographed It? How old was It?

What does Life look like at birth? At death? Can you describe it? Have you ever thought about it? Have you considered the possibility that we have made the words “life” and “body” synonymous?

When Life leaves a body, the body dies. Does that mean that Life is dead, too? Unless you send me evidence to the contrary, Life—like Spirit, like Soul and like God—is invisible to those in the physical world. And, unlike those in the physical world, Spirit, Soul, God, and Life have no beginning and have no end.

We have forgotten. That’s why this Memorial Day weekend, I honor the Divinity that we once knew as Life: The powerful, invincible, God-like essence that we temporarily abandoned to slip into costumes called human bodies and solve problems by disrespecting, maligning, berating, battling and killing those who disagree with us, or belong to a different army, tribe, gang, race, gender, sexual orientation, political party or religion.

I mourn the loss of our memories. We have forgotten that at “the end of the day,” our souls will not be held accountable for how others treated us—only how we treated them. If we remembered that—even if we forgot what Life really is—Memorial Day would be just another day on the tiny planet called Earth.

“We have met the enemy, and he is us”


Many of you think that the Loud Mouth sits in the balcony alone. Actually, I have plenty of company. Your souls are here, watching all your dramas with me. In fact, some of them are putting on quite a show themselves: They are screaming frantically, arms flailing, trying to grab your attention and warn you to make better choices. But they’re invisible, so you can’t see them. Their voices—even at top volume—are barely above a whisper, so you can’t hear. And you rarely leave the stage to hang out with them a bit and simply enjoy their presence. Poor dears.

We don’t have a clue how frustrating it is for our Higher Selves to watch our egos amass years of karmic debts that they will have to repay in full—an eye for an eye, as they say. Myopically, we buzz around the stage, focusing on stockpiling earthly profits, no matter what the ultimate cost: We treat others in ways that we would not want to be treated; engage in disrespectful, dehumanizing behavior and crabs-in-a-barrel antics; bear false witness against others and covet others’ position or property. On occasion, we outright abscond with it. Ouch!

This win-the-battle, lose-the-war drama is not very entertaining, inspiring or evolutionary to those who share your stage or watch from the audience. I’m sure that Pogo and the other philosophical animals in the fabled Okefenokee Swamp would probably say, “You’re stinking up the place, Dude.”

Those old enough to remember the Pogo cartoon strip might recall the lead character’s most famous line: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Thousands of years earlier, the Jew who later became known as Jesus, said something similar: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you also do to me.”

What were they talking about? There is only one Life in the Universe and we are it. We can’t help others without helping ourselves. We can’t hurt others without hurting ourselves. We are One.

I know it’s difficult to remember that, especially when we’re pointing fingers at someone else. Add all the tempting gotta-have-it-now props, the material stuff littering our stages that distracts us from achieving our soul’s higher mission and you have a formula for missed growth opportunities.

Preventing ourselves from sinking to the lower levels of consciousness requires the fortitude of Job. According to the ancient scribes, God diabolically made a bet with Satan, inhumanely killed Job’s children, servants and animals; heinously tortured Job; refused to explain why He was so cruel; then gave Job new children and more money.

While those of us who believe that God is Love can’t quite wrap our heads around this story as illustrative of divine behavior or literal truth, the premise is unequivocally inspiring: No matter what happened to him on the physical plane, Job maintained his belief and trust in almighty God.

Over the centuries, we seem to have lost sight of the meaning of almighty. Somewhere along the way, it was diluted from All-mighty to “Some-mighty,” meaning that God has some of the power and Satan has some. Basic math dictates that if God has ALL the power, that leaves zip, nada, zilch for Satan or anyone else. But I’m open to the possibility that I might have made an error in that complex calculation.

I also could be wrong about my take-away from Job’s story. For me, it’s not about suffering. It’s about trusting—trusting that everything is in Divine Order always, no matter what it looks like on the surface.

Throughout the ages there have been many souls who have maintained Job-like belief and trust in an Almighty God, and they have been willing to teach us so that we can speed along our evolutionary path without succumbing to our egos, which like to detour frequently and wrestle with the Darkness.

Thanks to social networking in the Beliefnet community, I was blessed to meet one of these teachers. I’ve mentioned him before: Melvin Forrester is an American who has lived in Germany since World War II. Melvin had an out-of-body experience while serving in the war that not only gave him a balcony view of Life on Planet Earth; it fortified his trust in God. He knows what it feels like to be consciously aware that we are eternal spirit, not bodies.

On May 9, Melvin and his wife, Gabrielle, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. There was no champagne or hoopla. It was a quiet celebration with a glass of mineral water. The reason: Last year, Melvin was diagnosed with a debilitating illness that is slowly rendering him motionless.

Melvin has a very strong relationship with God. Under normal circumstances, he might be expected to pray or petition for total healing or a different diagnosis. He didn’t. Instead, he trusted that God knows what God is doing, and furthermore, could do it without Melvin’s guidance.

Since God is not cruel, no matter where it is written, if this illness had appeared, Melvin concluded that it must be there to benefit him (and consequently, others) in some way. If his mortal body was going to slowly shut down, he decided that he was going to teach others how to fearlessly let go of things that are not eternal.

Periodically Melvin emails an update, which always provides insight on how real faith works. True to his evolutionary soul mission, he is allowing me to share his story so that it might bless you, too. Here is an excerpt from his latest update:

“I sometimes think that this philosophical stuff is getting too much for me. I want to give up sometimes and end this experiment. Also I recently have severe problems with swallowing and side effects from the medicine, therefore I have begun reducing the doses of medicine, especially when I cannot breath and have pain.

“I always thought that I could master a two-minute struggle for air, but recently it went on for hours. But that’s the “Exit Plan” of my spirit. I will bow to his better judgment. When it seems too much to bear, I go into a mental state that I learned through meditation, which allows me to see and communicate with my spirit. I ask him if he really wants to have this experience, and ask him how I am doing with my part in this little drama.

“You know that about 40 years ago I had a special experience, and I know what awaits me on the other side. I am going joyfully and without regrets and fear.”

What would you do if this happened to you or a loved one? Could you be so focused on the divine, so undistracted by the physical circumstances that you could unwaveringly trust and unflinchingly embrace God’s will? Are you willing to lose to win?

We have met the enemy, and he is us

Many of you think that the Loud Mouth sits in the balcony alone. Actually, I have plenty of company. Your souls are here, watching all your dramas with me. In fact, some of them are putting on quite a show themselves: They are screaming frantically, arms flailing, trying to grab your attention and warn you to make better choices. But they’re invisible, so you can’t see them. Their voices—even at top volume—are barely above a whisper, so you can’t hear. And you rarely leave the stage to hang out with them a bit and simply enjoy their presence. Poor dears.

We don’t have a clue how frustrating it is for our Higher Selves to watch our egos amass years of karmic debts that they will have to repay in full—an eye for an eye, as they say. Myopically, we buzz around the stage, focusing on stockpiling earthly profits, no matter what the ultimate cost: We treat others in ways that we would not want to be treated; engage in disrespectful, dehumanizing behavior and crabs-in-a-barrel antics; bear false witness against others and covet others’ position or property. On occasion, we outright abscond with it. Ouch!

This win-the-battle, lose-the-war drama is not very entertaining, inspiring or evolutionary to those who share your stage or watch from the audience. I’m sure that Pogo and the other philosophical animals in the fabled Okefenokee Swamp would probably say, “You’re stinking up the place, Dude.”

Those old enough to remember the Pogo cartoon strip might recall the lead character’s most famous line: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Thousands of years earlier, the Jew who later became known as Jesus, said something similar: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you also do to me.” Do you know what they meant? There is only one Life in the Universe and we are it. We can’t help others without helping ourselves. We can’t hurt others without hurting ourselves. We are One. 

I know it’s difficult to remember that, especially when we’re pointing fingers at someone else. Add all the tempting gotta-have-it-now props, the material stuff littering our stages that distracts us from achieving our soul’s higher mission and you have a formula for missed growth opportunities.

Preventing ourselves from sinking to the lower levels of consciousness requires the fortitude of Job. According to the ancient scribes, God diabolically made a bet with Satan, inhumanely killed Job’s children, servants and animals; heinously tortured Job; refused to explain why He was so cruel; then gave Job new children and more money.

While those of us who believe that God is Love can’t quite wrap our heads around this story as illustrative of divine behavior or literal truth, the premise is unequivocally inspiring: No matter what happened to him on the physical plane, Job maintained his belief and trust in almighty God.

Over the centuries, we seem to have lost sight of the meaning of almighty. Somewhere along the way, it was diluted from All-mighty to “Some-mighty,” meaning that God has some of the power and Satan has some. Basic math dictates that if God has ALL the power, that leaves zip, nada, zilch for Satan or anyone else. But I’m open to the possibility that I might have made an error in that complex calculation.

I also could be wrong about my take-away from Job’s story. For me, it’s not about suffering. It’s about trusting—trusting that everything is in Divine Order always, no matter what it looks like on the surface.

Throughout the ages there have been many souls who have maintained Job-like belief and trust in an Almighty God, and they have been willing to teach us so that we can speed along our evolutionary path without succumbing to our egos, which like to detour frequently and wrestle with the Darkness.

Thanks to social networking in the Beliefnet community, I was blessed to meet one of these teachers. I’ve mentioned him before: Melvin Forrester is an American who has lived in Germany since World War II. Melvin had an out-of-body experience while serving in the war that not only gave him a balcony view of Life on Planet Earth; it fortified his trust in God. He knows what it feels like to be consciously aware that we are eternal spirit, not bodies.

On May 9, Melvin and his wife, Gabrielle, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. There was no champagne or hoopla. It was a quiet celebration with a glass of mineral water. The reason: Last year, Melvin was diagnosed with a debilitating illness that is slowly rendering him motionless.   

Melvin has a very strong relationship with God. Consequently, he might be expected to pray or petition for total healing or a different diagnosis. He didn’t. Instead, he trusted that God knows what God is doing–and furthermore, could do it without Melvin’s guidance.

Since God is not cruel, no matter where it is written, if this illness had appeared, Melvin concluded that it must be there to benefit him (and consequently, others) in some way. If his mortal body was going to slowly shut down, he decided that he was going to teach others how to fearlessly let go of things that are not eternal.            

Periodically Melvin emails an update, which always provides insight on how real faith works. True to his evolutionary soul mission, he is allowing me to share his story so that it might bless you, too. Here is an excerpt from his latest update:                       

“I sometimes think that this philosophical stuff is getting too much for me. I want to give up sometimes and end this experiment.  Also I recently have severe problems with swallowing and side effects from the medicine, therefore I have begun reducing the doses of medicine, especially when I cannot breath and have pain.

“I always thought that I could master a two-minute struggle for air, but recently it went on for hours. But that’s the “Exit Plan” of my spirit. I will bow to his better judgment. When it seems too much to bear, I go into a mental state that I learned through meditation, which allows me to see and communicate with my spirit. I ask him if he really wants to have this experience, and ask him how I am doing with my part in this little drama.

“You know that about 40 years ago I had a special experience, and I know what awaits me on the other side. I am going joyfully and without regrets and fear.”  

What would you do if this happened to you or a loved one? Could you be so focused on the divine, so undistracted by the physical circumstances that you could unwaveringly trust and unflinchingly embrace God’s will? Are you willing to lose to win?

Remembering how you got here–and why you came


Does this ever happen to you: You’re confidently traveling down some path–maybe one you’ve envisioned or planned for days or years–and you suddenly discover that the destination is not what you expected? I get that wake-up call almost every Sunday. All I know, for sure, is that I’m going to write a blog post; but I rarely know the topic when I sit at the computer. Most times, I write hundreds of words before Spirit directs me to go in a completely different direction. It’s as if the movement of my fingers on the keyboard stimulate my muses.

Today was going to be different. I’ve known my topic since mid-week, when I received a powerful message from my friend Melvin in Germany. I could hardly wait to share it. Then yesterday, everything changed: I read a story in N’Digo, Chicago’s “magapaper for the urbane,” by award-winning author, journalist, attorney and University of Illinois Associate Professor Christopher Benson. It began:

Just about two years ago, my mother died.

Just about two weeks ago, she called to let me know that she was going jogging.

Huh? How’d she do that?

Benson quickly explained in his story that his mother had a back-from-death experience two years ago, after a serious fall. He reflected on how precious each additional moment is now, and how much his mother impacted his many successful professional careers. Benson traced those successes back to his mother’s response to what he, at age nine, considered to be an impossible class assignment. He had to write an essay on why his dad should be named “Father of the Year.”

“I didn’t have a father. He wasn’t there,” Benson wrote. “I had never known him.” What was he going to do?

His mother’s response reshaped Benson’s self-image and his view of life. She challenged him to write about his mother–the greatest father any child could ever have:

“She also wanted me to know deep down inside that, yes, I was different. But my difference was not something to be ashamed of. My difference was not something to be shunned. Indeed, my difference was something to be proud of, to celebrate in ways that would cause others to celebrate with me.

“In my difference, there was value. There was something I could use to help other people come to understand things they never really had considered before. I was different. Yes. But I was just as good, just as talented, just as worthy as anybody else.”

In the process of meeting his mother’s challenge, Benson and his teachers made a life-altering discovery: This child had a gift; he was a talented writer. From that point on, he decided, the circumstances of his birth would not define or limit him.

Conventional wisdom says that we do not choose our families, just our friends. Spiritual wisdom, which is not rooted in or bound by the limitations of earthly thought, espouses something different and more evolutionary:

  • Spiritually, we existed before the mortal body was created and will continue to exist after it decomposes.
  • We chose to be here at this time and in this place.
  • We had a purpose for coming–a purpose that is revealed to us when we ask, Spirit to Spirit; a purpose that will be supported, Spirit to Spirit.
  • Each actor on our stage, even those we choose (and who agree) to be our parents, are perfect for our purpose-filled script of this physical experience. If someone is missing from the script, it’s because we intentionally didn’t include him or her. A father or a mother, siblings, spouses, children would have been perfect for another story, but not for this one.
  • Even murder mysteries and horror stories have some entertainment value.

Everyone’s experience with their mothers doesn’t end up in a glowing tribute on the pages of a newspaper, like Benson’s. Every character who gives birth is not a nurturer. Some provide horrific stories of abandonment, neglect, abuse, torture, unloving and unsupportive behavior. And, while every stepmother isn’t a wicked witch, some are.

The childhood of recently retired Chicago broadcasting legend Merri Dee comes to mind. Merri was a toddler when her mother left this life. Her father then married a woman who was a storybook-cruel stepmother. Within a few years, he became ill and was unable to reign in this woman who was terrorizing his baby girl. Soon, he also left his body behind, leaving Merri in her care.

Merri recalls the stepmother severely punishing her for minor infractions. She stripped Merri of the family name, forbade contact with her siblings and other relatives, and forced her to fend for herself at the age of 14. Merri was not the least bit intimidated. No matter how much the woman beat her, Merri said that she refused to cry.

Her stepmother’s fury over her fearlessness, stubbornness and strength translated into even more cruelty. One day, the woman hung Merri out of their apartment window, head-first, until a neighbor spotted her and threatened to call police.

Years later, the plot for Merri’s life story revealed that her childhood was a dress rehearsal for the most critical act of her life: After working, continuing her education, marrying, giving birth to a daughter, and divorcing, Merri landed a job in sales for a multinational corporation. At the urging of a friend, she enrolled in broadcasting school, and became one of the great voices on Chicago radio. Because she had good looks to go with that voice, she soon became a local television talk show host.

One night, Merri and her talk show guest were kidnapped after the show, blindfolded, taken into the woods, shot in the head and abandoned. Her guest died; Merri didn’t. Mustering every ounce of strength in her body, just as she had as a child, she crawled through the thicket to a highway and summoned help.

Merri’s broadcasting career continued for three more decades, until she decided to pursue other interests last fall. Throughout that career, she raised more than $31 million for children’s causes through a variety of organizations, including the McCormick Tribune Foundation and the United Negro College Fund. She has raised even more spirits with her wise and gentle counseling and role modeling. Though she’s not nearly old enough to be my mother, she often watches over me and so many others, as if she was our Mom. (Thanks for sharing her, Toya.)

Once, while watching her bravely overcome yet another hurdle, and knowing that she didn’t have the benefit of a nurturing childhood as so many of us did, I asked her, “Where does all that strength and all that wisdom come from, given the upbringing you had?”

“From within,” she said, flashing that trademark Merri Dee smile.

Her lesson: Our source of self-worth or truth, financial supply or encouragement is not outside of us; the Invisible Spirit that is God is within. Everything we need is within.

If we could only remember that when stuff is hitting the fan and we have to respond quickly and instinctively. That’s the challenge, especially when we’re distracted–no, mesmerized–by all the drama on the world’s stage. If we look at our childhoods and adulthoods from that vantage point, the props and the actors seem real. We are more apt to react and judge people and their behavior as “good” or “bad.” When we judge them as “bad,” we close our eyes to the benefits that we asked them to deliver to us. That certainly includes our mothers and those who have played the mother role in our lives.

Is it implausible that we are Invisible Spirit, and we asked a soul wearing a specific body if she would be the vessel through which we, too, could experience physical life on planet Earth?

Is it implausible that the circumstances and challenges that surrounded our birth, adolescence and adulthood followed the script we wrote to help us practice, practice, practice bringing Light into the darkness, and respond in a more Christlike way to those who hide their Light under a bushel, a barrel or a big head?

Are you open to the possibility that there’s a greater plan for your life than your brain is aware of? Can you even imagine that you helped to create that plan–or does it make more sense that you are not here by choice, but by biology?

In the balcony of the Home-Church, there are no right or wrong answers. This is safe space. No one’s telling you what to think, what to say or what to believe. Here, we share our thoughts and exchange ideas. I certainly hope you’ll share yours.

Remembering how we got here–and why we came

Does this ever happen to you: You’re confidently traveling down some path–maybe one you’ve envisioned or planned for days or years–and you suddenly discover that the destination is not what you expected? I get that wake-up call almost every Sunday. All I know, for sure, is that I’m going to write a blog post; but I rarely know the topic when I sit at the computer. Most times, I write hundreds of words before Spirit directs me to go in a completely different direction. It’s as if the movement of my fingers on the keyboard stimulate my muses.

Today was going to be different. I’ve known my topic since mid-week, when I received a powerful message from my friend Melvin in Germany. I could hardly wait to share it. Then yesterday, everything changed: I read a story in N’Digo, Chicago’s “magapaper for the urbane,” by award-winning author, journalist, attorney and University of Illinois Associate Professor Christopher Benson. It began:

Just about two years ago, my mother died.

Just about two weeks ago, she called to let me know that she was going jogging.

Huh? How’d she do that? 

Benson quickly explained in his story that his mother had a back-from-death experience two years ago, after a serious fall. He reflected on how precious each additional moment is now, and how much his mother impacted his many successful professional careers. Benson traced those successes back to his mother’s response to what he, at age nine, considered to be an impossible class assignment. He had to write an essay on why his dad should be named “Father of the Year.”

“I didn’t have a father. He wasn’t there,” Benson wrote. “I had never known him.” What was he going to do?

His mother’s response reshaped Benson’s self-image and his view of life. She challenged him to write about his mother–the greatest father any child could ever have:

“She also wanted me to know deep down inside that, yes, I was different. But my difference was not something to be ashamed of. My difference was not something to be shunned. Indeed, my difference was something to be proud of, to celebrate in ways that would cause others to celebrate with me.

“In my difference, there was value. There was something I could use to help other people come to understand things they never really had considered before. I was different. Yes. But I was just as good, just as talented, just as worthy as anybody else.”

In the process of meeting his mother’s challenge, Benson and his teachers made a life-altering discovery: This child had a gift; he was a talented writer. From that point on, he decided, the circumstances of his birth would not define or limit him.

Conventional wisdom says that we do not choose our families, just our friends. Spiritual wisdom, which is not rooted in or bound by the limitations of earthly thought, espouses something different and more evolutionary:

  • Spiritually, we existed before the mortal body was created and will continue to exist after it decomposes.
  • We chose to be here at this time and in this place.
  • We had a purpose for coming–a purpose that is revealed to us when we ask, Spirit to Spirit; a purpose that will be supported, Spirit to Spirit.
  • Each actor on our stage, even those we choose (and who agree) to be our parents, are perfect for our purpose-filled script of this physical experience. If someone is missing from the script, it’s because we intentionally didn’t include him or her. A father or a mother, siblings, spouses, children would have been perfect for another story, but not for this one.
  • Even murder mysteries and horror stories have some entertainment value.

Everyone’s experience with their mothers doesn’t end up in a glowing tribute on the pages of a newspaper, like Benson’s. Every character who gives birth is not a nurturer. Some provide horrific stories of abandonment, neglect, abuse, torture, unloving and unsupportive behavior. And, while every stepmother isn’t a wicked witch, some are.

The childhood of recently retired Chicago broadcasting legend Merri Dee comes to mind. Merri was a toddler when her mother left this life. Her father then married a woman who was a storybook-cruel stepmother. Within a few years, he became ill and was unable to reign in this woman who was terrorizing his baby girl. Soon, he also left his body behind, leaving Merri in her care.

Merri recalls the stepmother severely punishing her for minor infractions. She stripped Merri of the family name, forbade contact with her siblings and other relatives, and forced her to fend for herself at the age of 14. Merri was not the least bit intimidated. No matter how much the woman beat her, Merri said that she refused to cry.

Her stepmother’s fury over her fearlessness, stubbornness and strength translated into even more cruelty. One day, the woman hung Merri out of their apartment window, head-first, until a neighbor spotted her and threatened to call police.

Years later, the plot for Merri’s life story revealed that her childhood was a dress rehearsal for the most critical act of her life: After working, continuing her education, marrying, giving birth to a daughter, and divorcing, Merri landed a job in sales for a multinational corporation. At the urging of a friend, she enrolled in broadcasting school, and became one of the great voices on Chicago radio. Because she had good looks to go with that voice, she soon became a local television talk show host.

One night, Merri and her talk show guest were kidnapped after the show, blindfolded, taken into the woods, shot in the head and abandoned. Her guest died; Merri didn’t. Mustering every ounce of strength in her body, just as she had as a child, she crawled through the thicket to a highway and summoned help.

Merri’s broadcasting career continued for three more decades, until she decided to pursue other interests last fall. Throughout that career, she raised more than $31 million for children’s causes through a variety of organizations, including the McCormick Tribune Foundation and the United Negro College Fund. She has raised even more spirits with her wise and gentle counseling and role modeling. Though she’s not nearly old enough to be my mother, she often watches over me and so many others, as if she was our Mom. (Thanks for sharing her, Toya.)

Once, while watching her bravely overcome yet another hurdle, and knowing that she didn’t have the benefit of a nurturing childhood as so many of us did, I asked her, “Where does all that strength and all that wisdom come from, given the upbringing you had?”

“From within,” she said, flashing that trademark Merri Dee smile.

Her lesson: Our source of self-worth or truth, financial supply or encouragement is not outside of us; the Invisible Spirit that is God is within. Everything we need is within.

If we could only remember that when stuff is hitting the fan and we have to respond quickly and instinctively. That’s the challenge, especially when we’re distracted–no, mesmerized–by all the drama on the world’s stage. If we look at our childhoods and adulthoods from that vantage point, the props and the actors seem real. We are more apt to react and judge people and their behavior as “good” or “bad.” When we judge them as “bad,” we close our eyes to the benefits that we asked them to deliver to us. That certainly includes our mothers and those who have played the mother role in our lives.

Is it implausible that we are Invisible Spirit, and we asked a soul wearing a specific body if she would be the vessel through which we, too, could experience physical life on planet Earth?

Is it implausible that the circumstances and challenges that surrounded our birth, adolescence and adulthood followed the script we wrote to help us practice, practice, practice bringing Light into the darkness, and respond in a more Christlike way to those who hide their Light under a bushel, a barrel or a big head?

Are you open to the possibility that there’s a greater plan for your life than your brain is aware of? Can you even imagine that you helped to create that plan–or does it make more sense that you are not here by choice, but by biology?

In the Home-Church, there are no right or wrong answers. This is safe space. No one’s telling you what to think, what to say or what to believe. Here, we share our thoughts and exchange ideas. I certainly hope you’ll share yours.

Your entire life in only six words


Prolific thinker and author Ernest Hemingway once said that his six-word story was one of the best pieces of writing he had ever penned: Ever read it? For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. Brilliant: Opening act. Climax. Denouement. Curtain. In six words. And nobody left the theater wondering what happened.

Many have issues challenges to write a story in only six words–fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, romance, even autobiographies. The cutest one I’ve seen was the life story of an elderly dog: “Lost then found. Worked out great!”

As humans, we tend to complicate our lives, then we say that life is complicated. But we’re the ones unnecessarily creating challenges, and often making an even bigger mess when we try to resolve those challenges. Consider this: Life is not difficult; only a sadistic God would have made it so. Most things in life can be handled as simply as a six-word story, if we follow a few simple guidelines:

• Love yourself. Once you know who you are, you can’t help but love every bit of you. And when you understand that you are part of the One Presence in the Universe, everything changes.

• There is no spot where God is not. Consider the possibility that God is bigger and greater than a mythical male being who lives millions of miles away. If a spark of God is in every soul, everyone encountered is a Holy One. Is that how we treat them?

• We reap what we sow. If we reflected on everything we did or said to someone during this past week alone, would we be eager for our harvest–or regretful?

• Judge nothing, condemn no one, forgive everyone. It is reported that a loving Jew, who centuries later came to be known as Jesus, said: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37) At the end of the day, we will not have to account for what others did to us–only for what we did to them.

We frequently excuse or justify our unChrist-like retaliatory behavior by pointing fingers at the other person, and repeating what he or she did–as if it’s our job to determine harvest time. All we’re really saying is that we don’t trust God to do God’s job. We use it as an excuse for not doing ours: Our job is to be the Light of the World. Our job is to remember that Light and Darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Our job is to see Invisible Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient Spirit that is God in everyone.

Let’s also remember that God must balance each situation on Earth through a physical channel. That channel might be you; but the only way you’ll know is if you ask for guidance, and remain open for direction, so that you can take the proper action.

There will be times when Spirit says, “Sit down, I got this.” Sit, trusting that the matter will be resolved in a most divine way, for the Highest Good of all concerned.

Other times, Spirit might say, “Listen, this is what I need you to do…” Do you know Spirit’s voice when you hear it? Don’t fool yourself or try to fool anyone else by saying that Spirit directed you to do something mean-spirited or self-righteous. If the solution is not simple or loving, it’s not God. You’re listening to your ego. You’re serving a false god. Be careful: It will compel you to make a withdrawal from your soul’s karmic bank account, and you might not have enough deposits to cover it.

Trust that everyone will get exactly what’s they deserve, in the manner and intensity that their behavior warrants. That’s the immutable law of the Universe. Unfortunately, our egos are so shortsighted that they want justice to show up a certain way, at a certain time. They don’t have enough insight to distinguish the mortal body from the immortal soul.

Egos have no idea that everything we do becomes part of our soul’s record. Some of the consequences meet us right way. Others don’t revisit until after our bodies fall away, throwing us off-guard, making us think that we’re victims.

If egos were eternal, they’d care more about that; but personalities die with bodies, and we’re left cleaning up the mess at some other juncture in our eternal lives. How do we get the upper hand?
Personally, I try to be very mindful of the consequences of every action. I ask frequently ask myself, “How would I want someone to treat me, if the situation was reversed?” I also pay close attention to the kinds of situations in which I find myself, always asking: “Why did I attract this situation or person? What lesson do I, as a soul, want to learn that this scenario or person came to teach me?”

I’ve discovered that certain dramas encore at a mind-numbing rate. The reason: I didn’t learn the lesson the previous times. I didn’t respond with love, rather than anger or revenge. I wasn’t patient with myself and others. I didn’t forgive. I didn’t let the Light lead. I didn’t choose peace. I didn’t trust God. If, as a soul, I have made a commitment to learn these lessons, I will voluntarily repeat these classes and call in tougher teachers until I pay attention and capitalize on these opportunities to practice responding to all situations in a more Christlike manner.

Life is not complicated when you seek higher consciousness. Actually, it’s so simple that you can write your memoir or epitaph in six words: “Asleep, then enlightened. Life became fun!” And nobody will leave your theater wondering what happened.

Your entire life in six words

Prolific thinker and author Ernest Hemingway once said that his six-word story was one of the best pieces of writing he had ever penned: Ever read it? For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. Brilliant: Opening act. Climax. Denouement. Curtain. In six words. And nobody left the theater wondering what happened.

Many have issues challenges to write a story in only six words–fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, romance, even autobiographies. The cutest one I’ve seen was the life story of an elderly dog: “Lost then found. Worked out great!”

As humans, we tend to complicate our lives, then we say that life is complicated. But we’re the ones unnecessarily creating challenges, and often making an even bigger mess when we try to resolve those challenges. Consider this: Life is not difficult; only a sadistic God would have made it so. Most things in life can be handled as simply as a six-word story, if we follow a few simple guidelines:

  • Love yourself. Once you know who you are, you can’t help but love every bit of you. And when you understand that you are part of the One Presence in the Universe, everything changes.
  • There is no spot where God is not. Consider the possibility that God is bigger and greater than a mythical male being who lives millions of miles away. If a spark of God is in every soul, everyone encountered is a Holy One. Is that how we treat them?
  • We reap what we sow. If we reflected on everything we did or said to someone during this past week alone, would we be eager for our harvest–or regretful?
  • Judge nothing, condemn no one, forgive everyone. It is reported that a loving Jew, who centuries later came to be known as Jesus, said: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37) At the end of the day, we will not have to account for what others did to us–only for what we did to them. 

 

We frequently excuse or justify our unChrist-like retaliatory behavior by pointing fingers at the other person, and repeating what he or she did–as if it’s our job to determine harvest time. All we’re really saying is that we don’t trust God to do God’s job. We use it as an excuse for not doing ours: Our job is to be the Light of the World. Our job is to remember that Light and Darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Our job is to see Invisible Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient Spirit that is God in everyone.

Let’s also remember that God must balance each situation on Earth through a physical channel. That channel might be you; but the only way you’ll know is if you ask for guidance, and remain open for direction, so that you can take the proper action.

There will be times when Spirit says, “Sit down, I got this.” Sit, trusting that the matter will be resolved in a most divine way, for the Highest Good of all concerned.

Other times, Spirit might say, “Listen, this is what I need you to do…” Do you know Spirit’s voice when you hear it? Don’t fool yourself or try to fool anyone else by saying that Spirit directed you to do something mean-spirited or self-righteous. If the solution is not simple or loving, it’s not God. You’re listening to your ego. You’re serving a false god. Be careful: It will compel you to make a withdrawal from your soul’s karmic bank account, and you might not have enough deposits to cover it.

Trust that everyone will get exactly what’s they deserve, in the manner and intensity that their behavior warrants. That’s the immutable law of the Universe. Unfortunately, our egos are so short-sighted that they want justice to show up a certain way, at a certain time. They don’t have enough insight to distinguish the mortal body from the immortal soul.

Egos have no idea that everything we do becomes part of our soul’s record. Some of the consequences meet us right way. Others don’t revisit until after our bodies fall away, throwing us off-guard, making us think that we’re victims.

If egos were eternal, they’d care more about that; but personalities die with bodies, and we’re left cleaning up the mess at some other juncture in our eternal lives. How do we get the upper hand?

Personally, I try to be very mindful of the consequences of every action. I ask frequently ask myself, “How would I want someone to treat me, if the situation was reversed?”  I also pay close attention to the kinds of situations in which I find myself, always asking: “Why did I attract this situation or person? What lesson do I, as a soul, want to learn that this scenario or person came to teach me?”

I’ve discovered that certain dramas encore at a mind-numbing rate. The reason: I didn’t learn the lesson the previous times. I didn’t respond with love, rather than anger or revenge. I wasn’t patient with myself and others. I didn’t forgive. I didn’t let the Light lead. I didn’t choose peace. I didn’t trust God. If, as a soul, I have made a commitment to learn these lessons, I will voluntarily repeat these classes and call in tougher teachers until I pay attention and capitalize on these opportunities to practice responding to all situations in a more Christlike manner.

Life is not complicated when you seek higher consciousness. Actually, it’s so simple that you can write your memoir or epitaph in six words: “Asleep, then enlightened. Life became fun!” And nobody will leave your theater wondering what happened.