R.I.P.–A Post Mortem on Death

Nobody–I mean, no body–is leaving this planet alive. By contrast, every soul will be very much alive and kicking when it pulls out of here.

A part of us grasps this Truth: We know indisputably that no one has ever come to Planet Earth and stayed. We know that this is not home. We know that we have bodies and souls–and we know that the two are not synonymous. We know that one is finite; the other is infinite. And we know which is which.

On occasion, we even verbalize our understanding of this difference: When souls leave human bodies, we often say that they “passed” or they “passed on.” We use an active verb that indicates that these souls went somewhere. We know that lifeless bodies aren’t going anywhere that they aren’t physically carried.

More frequently, however, we act as if the physical body and the immortal soul are the same thing. “Michael died,” we say. Did Michael’s body die, or his soul? Which was the real Michael, the mortal body or the immortal soul?

We do something else that’s quite confusing: We say or write, “Rest in peace” (R.I.P.). Are we talking to the soul? The body certainly doesn’t need a directive to rest or rot; it will do both naturally. It seems to me that if an immortal soul had the option of departing a lifeless body or resting peacefully within it, that soul would get out of Dodge-immediately. Of course, I could be wrong.

How did we get so confused? If we believe that every soul has a purpose for being here, do we know when that purpose was established? Was it done prior to its arrival-or years later, after reading A Purpose-Driven Life? Who has the greater vision to establish the purpose of a lifetime on Earth: the infinite soul or the ego that is inextricably attached to the finite physical body?

If the soul is on a mission, do we believe that it will subordinate its plan to the ego? In other words, can a body or ego’s desires trump a soul’s mission? If not, could that explain why bodies don’t always get what they ask in prayer: the job, the house, the car, the mate, the baby?

Did millions and millions of Michael Jackson fans worldwide want the undisputed King of Pop to entertain us forever? Absolutely. Did our collective desire trump his soul’s divine plan? Absolutely not. That’s difficult for us to grasp because our egos want what they want, when they want it–and they’re egotistical enough to think that they can run roughshod over the soul’s desires.

Our egos’ battles with our all-knowing souls is what makes us “double-minded.” We cling to two diametrically opposed belief systems. “Double-minded” is a phrase we learned from James, in his book that became part of the best-selling anthology we know as the Bible. In the 18th verse of his first chapter, James noted that you can predict that a man who is double-minded in one area of his life is unstable in others. The inconsistency becomes a common thread woven through his thoughts and actions.
James’ theory has held up for nearly 20 centuries: Humans believe that God is angry and vindictive. Worship is mandatory and free will is granted; but if we exercise that freedom in ways that God does not desire, He will torture us throughout eternity.

Conversely, we also believe that God is Love–and we don’t believe that Love is angry, vindictive or that it mandates worship and obedience from loved ones or it will exact a painful long-lasting punishment. That’s double-mindedness in action.

But that’s the tip of the iceberg. We also believe that we should drop bombs on our enemies; but don’t believe our enemies should drop bombs on us, their enemies. We believe that we can be unfaithful to our spouses, kill a gang member’s child, infect millions of computers with a disabling virus, and steal quarters from a jar or billions in a Ponzi scheme; but it’s an indignity if others do these things to us. We believe there should be harsh penalties–even capital punishment–for some crimes; but we want mercy if we or a loved one committed the illegal act. We also believe that our loved ones are dead when only their bodies and egos have died. Yes, we are double-minded; but we don’t have to stay that way, unless we choose.
Several high profile souls left the planet this past week: TV’s most famous talk show sidekick, Ed McMahon; model, actress and pop icon Farrah Fawcett; Oxi Clean’s screaming hawkman, Billy Mays; and the Thriller of them all, musical genius Michael Jackson. There were also countless mothers, fathers, children, relatives and friends whose souls completed their missions here. We can also look at these transitions as our egos’ loss or their souls’ victory: Consider the possibility that their souls had a schedule for this visit (remember, this is not home)–and they left according to that schedule.

In one of my favorite books, a simple little allegory about life and death, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Author Richard Bach offers a gull proverb: “The gull sees farthest who flies highest.” When we’re able to see beyond the physical props and the costumes to that invisible realm called reality, the realm of spirit, soul and God, it’s amazing what is revealed to us. Bach writes:

“As the days went past, Jonathan found himself thinking time and again of the Earth from which he had come. If he had known there just a tenth, just a hundredth, of what he knew here, how much more life would have meant! He stood on the sand and fell to wondering if there was a gull back there who might be struggling to break out of his limits, to see the meaning of flight beyond a way to get a breadcrumb from a rowboat.”

That was the birth of a new mission for the soul known as Jonathan, prior to his return to Earth. When we understand the meaning and the multiple dimensions of Life, we understand that “loss” is a thought, not a reality.
When our loved ones pass, they are not lost. Because of our limitations, not theirs, we simply cannot see them. In reality, they are more accessible to us, in spirit, than they were in body. Yes, we miss their physical presence. Let’s not deny that. But it doesn’t mean that they are dead. It means that their bodies are no longer animated by the infinite life of their invisible, invincible souls.

Maybe it’s time for the rest of us to R.I.P.: Rethink the Idea of Passing.

R.I.P.–A Post Mortem on Death

Nobody—I mean, no body—is leaving this planet alive. By contrast, every soul will be very much alive and kicking when it pulls out of here.

A part of us grasps this Truth: We know indisputably that no one has ever come to Planet Earth and stayed. We know that this is not home. We know that we have bodies and souls—and we know that the two are not synonymous. We know that one is finite; the other is infinite. And we know which is which.

On occasion, we even verbalize our understanding of this difference: When souls leave human bodies, we often say that they “passed” or they “passed on.” We use an active verb that indicates that these souls went somewhere. We know that lifeless bodies aren’t going anywhere that they aren’t physically carried. 

More frequently, however, we act as if the physical body and the immortal soul are the same thing. “Michael died,” we say. Did Michael’s body die, or his soul? Which was the real Michael, the mortal body or the immortal soul?

We do something else that’s quite confusing: We say or write, “Rest in peace” (R.I.P.). Are we talking to the soul? The body certainly doesn’t need a directive to rest or rot; it will do both naturally. It seems to me that if an immortal soul had the option of departing a lifeless body or resting peacefully within it, that soul would get out of Dodge—immediately. Of course, I could be wrong.

How did we get so confused? If we believe that every soul has a purpose for being here, do we know when that purpose was established? Was it done prior to its arrival—or years later, after reading A Purpose-Driven Life? Who has the greater vision to establish the purpose of a lifetime on Earth: the infinite soul or the ego that is inextricably attached to the finite physical body?

If the soul is on a mission, do we believe that it will subordinate its plan to the ego? In other words, can a body or ego’s desires trump a soul’s mission? If not, could that explain why bodies don’t always get what they ask in prayer: the job, the house, the car, the mate, the baby?

Did millions and millions of Michael Jackson fans worldwide want the undisputed King of Pop to entertain us forever? Absolutely. Did our collective desire trump his soul’s divine plan? Absolutely not. That’s difficult for us to grasp because our egos want what they want, when they want it—and they’re egotistical enough to think that they can run roughshod over the soul’s desires.

Our egos’ battles with our all-knowing souls is what makes us “double-minded.” We cling to two diametrically opposed belief systems. “Double-minded” is a phrase we learned from James, in his book that became part of the best-selling anthology we know as the Bible. In the 18th verse of his first chapter, James noted that you can predict that a man who is double-minded in one area of his life is unstable in others. The inconsistency becomes a common thread woven through his thoughts and actions.

James’ theory has held up for nearly 20 centuries: Humans believe that God is angry and vindictive. Worship is mandatory and free will is granted; but if we exercise that freedom in ways that God does not desire, He will torture us throughout eternity.

Conversely, we also believe that God is Love—and we don’t believe that Love is angry, vindictive or that it mandates worship and obedience from loved ones or it will exact a painful long-lasting punishment. That’s double-mindedness in action.

But that’s the tip of the iceberg. We also believe that we should drop bombs on our enemies; but don’t believe our enemies should drop bombs on us, their enemies. We believe that we can be unfaithful to our spouses, kill a gang member’s child, infect millions of computers with a disabling virus, and steal quarters from a jar or billions in a Ponzi scheme; but it’s an indignity if others do these things to us. We believe there should be harsh penalties—even capital punishment—for some crimes; but we want mercy if we or a loved one committed the illegal act. We also believe that our loved ones are dead when only their bodies and egos have died. Yes, we are double-minded; but we don’t have to stay that way, unless we choose.

Several high profile souls left the planet this past week: TV’s most famous talk show sidekick, Ed McMahon; model, actress and pop icon Farrah Fawcett; Oxi Clean’s screaming hawkman, Billy Mays; and the Thriller of them all, musical genius Michael Jackson. There were also countless mothers, fathers, children, relatives and friends whose souls completed their missions here. We can also look at these transitions as our egos’ loss or their souls’ victory: Consider the possibility that their souls had a schedule for this visit (remember, this is not home)—and they left according to that schedule.

In one of my favorite books, a simple little allegory about life and death, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Author Richard Bach offers a gull proverb: “The gull sees farthest who flies highest.” When we’re able to see beyond the physical props and the costumes to that invisible realm called reality, the realm of spirit, soul and God, it’s amazing what is revealed to us. Bach writes:

“As the days went past, Jonathan found himself thinking time and again of the Earth from which he had come. If he had known there just a tenth, just a hundredth, of what he knew here, how much more life would have meant! He stood on the sand and fell to wondering if there was a gull back there who might be struggling to break out of his limits, to see the meaning of flight beyond a way to get a breadcrumb from a rowboat.”

That was the birth of a new mission for the soul known as Jonathan, prior to his return to Earth. When we understand the meaning and the multiple dimensions of Life, we understand that “loss” is a thought, not a reality.

When our loved ones pass, they are not lost. Because of our limitations, not theirs, we simply cannot see them. In reality, they are more accessible to us, in spirit, than they were in body. Yes, we miss their physical presence. Let’s not deny that. But it doesn’t mean that they are dead. It means that their bodies are no longer animated by the infinite life of their invisible, invincible souls.

Maybe it’s time for the rest of us to R.I.P.: Rethink the Idea of Passing.

Is God Your Father or Your Daddy?

I visited a friend in the hospital yesterday. As I approached the reception area, I noticed a beautiful little boy accompanied by a couple that might have been his grandparents. This cherub couldn’t have been more than four years old. Round-faced with pinchable cheeks, big brown eyes and a fresh haircut, boyfriend couldn’t stand still, as the receptionist prepared the badges permitting them in the patient rooms. He was busy, busy, busy.
Suddenly he looked up and screamed, “Daddy!” Seconds later, he leaped into the open arms of his spittin’ image: a gorgeous brother that this child obviously adored. The little boy grasped his Dad’s cheeks and kissed him squarely in the mouth. His little fingers surveyed his Dad’s face, then rubbed his head and hugged his neck. The child was so breathless, so delighted to be with his Dad; I wondered if his parents were separated or divorced, and he hadn’t seen his father in a while.
“Are you ready to meet your little sister?” his father asked.
Ahhh, now the picture was in focus: Dad had been at the hospital with Mom through labor and childbirth, and Little Bit had stayed with his grandparents. But while their separation was a brief one, it had been much too long for this child.
It reminded me of Sasha and Malia at the Democratic Convention, when they saw their Dad on the huge monitor on stage. Remember that? You could almost feel their urge to go up to the screen and hug him. They had missed him so much.
Daddy love. More than that, it’s Daddy like—a much greater compliment to a father, in my humble opinion. Fathers can be anyone whose sperm fertilized an egg. Only fathers who treat their children well—and do it consistently, consciously and unconditionally—earn the name “Daddy.”
I’m not saying that abusive, caustic, negligent, absent and unsupportive fathers can’t be loved; they can. But rarely are they liked: Their children don’t feel an overwhelming urge to kiss their faces, rub their heads or hug their necks. These children don’t squeal with delight when they see their fathers—or jump up and down while squealing and clapping, as my daughter, Maiysha, used to do. Lordie, Lordie, that child would make so much noise when her Dad came home from work.
Most children have a deep affinity for their fathers. When they grow older, many notice that they resemble their earthly fathers, or maybe they were frequently told, “You look just like your Daddy!”
On the other hand, no one has told them that they looked like their heavenly father, God. When they look in their mirrors, they can’t see a resemblance, either. Why is that? What are we looking for? That fascinates me, so I often ask Drama Queen Workshop participants, “What does God look like?” Their responses are always insightful.
Once, with great pride, a woman said, “When I look in the mirror, I see God. God looks like me.” Others nodded in agreement, though I noticed that none of them was a man. Perhaps it was the idea of God looking like a woman that they couldn’t accept—or maybe they had a more expansive view of what God is. Men can be great thinkers. Mean it.
In another workshop, for example, a man asked me, “Do you think God looks like something or nothing?”
My response: “I think God looks like everything. If it’s true that God is omnipresent, then there is nothing in which the spirit of God is not present.” He had no comeback. He just smiled, although I could tell that he initially intended to bait me into saying something stupid or shallow.
I’d only be in danger of that if someone had offered evidence that God has a physical body that resembles ours. Humans assumed that if we were made in God’s image, God looked like us. I can understand how ancient illiterate people concluded that. I’m not sure what our excuse is.
We believe that God resides outside of Earth’s atmosphere, yet we know indisputably that human bodies really can’t function outside of this atmosphere without special equipment such as space suits. So the likelihood that God is wearing a human body beyond Earth’s atmosphere is probably slim to none.
The ancient scribes didn’t know that, so they wrote stories claiming that the profound Jewish rabbi named Yeshua, ascended into the heavens in a body that had been brutally tortured and rendered lifeless after Roman soldiers crucified him. What, pray tell, was he going to do with that carcass, if he went where they said he went?
There’s also no evidence, aside from the conflicting texts of these scribes, that God—portrayed as both omnipresent and physically light years away, as in all ancient myths—would be so satanic as to orchestrate such an inhumane death. But many mythical gods were diabolical, so there’s a logical explanation for why they told the story this way. There’s no logic at all to why we still believe it.
You have to read books about ancient history and mythology before the light turns on and you realize what formed our beliefs—and how innocently those beliefs were formed. Everyone knew these ancient myths, so the scribes probably assumed that the rank and file would not regard their updated versions as news reporting. They were wrong. Once the religious giants at the Council of Nicea declared these books as the “Word of God,” myth mushroomed into fact. Allowing only a chosen few to read or interpret these words for more than 1,200 years cemented them into the human belief system.
Eighteen centuries after the confab at Nicea, we still believe these tales are true—and we vigorously defend the words, even though they desecrate God’s image as an unconditionally loving Father.
While discussing my first book, one woman argued, “God is sovereign! He can do anything he wants.”
I concurred. My question to her was, “But would God want to do anything inhumane or satanic?” She admitted that she hadn’t thought about that.
Perhaps, on this Father’s Day, we should think about that. Perhaps we should look at why we hold human males to a higher standard of conduct than we hold our Divine Father:
  • If an earthly father raped his virgin daughter, he would be labeled a degenerate sex offender and could spend years in prison for incest.
  • If an earthly father solved problems by committing acts of violence against his children, we’d label him an abusive parent and throw him in jail.
  • If an earthly father plotted with others to brutally kill his only child by allowing others to nail him to a cross and subject him to three days of excruciating pain, we’d call him hateful and satanic, and our outcry for justice would be deafening.
  • If an earthly father had a multitude of children who repeatedly committed crimes and hurt others, and he decided to stop them by killing his only good child, we’d label him criminally insane and send him away forever.
  • If an earthly father kicked his naughty kids out of the only home they’d ever known, and banished them to the wilderness without any survival skills or visible means of support, we’d think he was demented, demonic—or both—and we’d press to convict him for child abuse (after we garnished his wages for lack of child support).
  • If an earthly father told his kids to forgive others’ sins 70 times seven, but threatened to punish his kids’ sins with unending torture, we’d call him a hypocrite.
  • If that same father told his kids not to kill others, but he was guilty of genocide, we’d lock up the hypocrite and throw away the key.
  • If an earthly father,who had a huge mansion and lots of children, gave a known demon total control of those children’s thoughts and behavior, we’d move heaven and earth to free those kids from the gip of the demon and deprogram them so that they could function normally and harmlessly in society.
  • If that same father declared that only the kids who outsmarted the demonic caretaker’s tricks could return to the mansion, we’d imprison both of the conspirators for child endangerment, sadism and more.

Oddly enough, when someone tells us that God—our Father—has done all of these things and more, our reactions are totally different. We respond with praise and worship. We look to the heavens and sing love songs. Yet we demonize earthly fathers who have done far less. It’s amazing how the human mind works.

A couple of years ago, a devout young man asked me a question I’ll never forget. He was planning a praise and worship festival, and needed public relations counsel. Sensing my discomfort with some of his dogma, he pointed toward the door and said, “If God walked in here right now, wouldn’t you drop to your knees and start praising Him?”

I took a deep breath. “That presumes that I believe that God isn’t here already—and that if He came from someplace else, He would scare or harm me. Is that what Love would do?” The young man hadn’t thought about that. All of his life, he only believed what others told him to believe.

I never saw him again. Hallelujah! I keep telling you: God is good.

On this Father’s Day, let us give our Heavenly Father a well-deserved break from centuries of bad publicity. Let’s give God the benefit of the doubt by challenging every allegation of inhumane behavior with the question, “Would Love do that?”

On Father’s Day 2009, let’s declare that while the word of God is inerrant, the word of some of the ancient scribes is verifiably inaccurate. Let’s dare to believe that God does nothing demonic, and does not solve problems by hurting people.

As a Father’s Day gift to God, let’s read more than one book—or vow to read the one we have more carefully. All the evidence that it’s time to stop blindly accepting other people’s answers and start asking our own questions is right there.

On this day, instead of simply declaring that we love God, let’s begin to like God as a Father who treats all of us well—and does it consistently, consciously and unconditionally. Today, let’s allow God to become our Daddy. Who knows: When we feel that Divine presence washing over us, we might begin to squeal with delight, rather than tremble with fear.

Is God Your Father or Your Daddy?

I visited a friend in the hospital yesterday. As I approached the reception area, I noticed a beautiful little boy accompanied by a couple that might have been his grandparents. This cherub couldn’t have been more than four years old. Round-faced with pinchable cheeks, big brown eyes and a fresh haircut, boyfriend couldn’t stand still, as the receptionist prepared the badges permitting them in the patient rooms. He was busy, busy, busy.

Suddenly he looked up and screamed, “Daddy!”  Seconds later, he leaped into the open arms of his spittin’ image: a gorgeous brother that this child obviously adored. The little boy grasped his Dad’s cheeks and kissed him squarely in the mouth. His little fingers surveyed his Dad’s face, then rubbed his head and hugged his neck. The child was so breathless, so delighted to be with his Dad; I wondered if his parents were separated or divorced, and he hadn’t seen his father in a while.

“Are you ready to meet your little sister?” his father asked.

Ahhh, now the picture was in focus: Dad had been at the hospital with Mom through labor and childbirth, and Little Bit had stayed with his grandparents. But while their separation was a brief one, it had been much too long for this child.

It reminded me of Sasha and Malia at the Democratic Convention, when they saw their Dad on the huge monitor on stage. Remember that? You could almost feel their urge to go up to the screen and hug him. They had missed him so much.

Daddy love. More than that, it’s Daddy like—a much greater compliment to a father, in my humble opinion. Fathers can be anyone whose sperm fertilized an egg. Only fathers who treat their children well—and do it consistently, consciously and unconditionally—earn the name “Daddy.”  

I’m not saying that abusive, caustic, negligent, absent and unsupportive fathers can’t be loved; they can. But rarely are they liked: Their children don’t feel an overwhelming urge to kiss their faces, rub their heads or hug their necks. These children don’t squeal with delight when they see their fathers—or jump up and down while squealing and clapping, as my daughter, Maiysha, used to do. Lordie, Lordie, that child would make so much noise when her Dad came home from work.

Most children have a deep affinity for their fathers. When they grow older, many notice that they resemble their earthly fathers, or maybe they were frequently told, “You look just like your Daddy!”

On the other hand, no one has told them that they looked like their heavenly father, God. When they look in their mirrors, they can’t see a resemblance, either. Why is that? What are we looking for?

That fascinates me, so I often ask Drama Queen Workshop participants, “What does God look like?” Their responses are always insightful. 

Once, with great pride, a woman said, “When I look in the mirror, I see God. God looks like me.” Others nodded in agreement, though I noticed that none of them was a man. Perhaps it was the idea of God looking like a woman that they couldn’t accept—or maybe they had a more expansive view of what God is. Men can be great thinkers. Mean it.

In another workshop, for example, a man asked me, “Do you think God looks like something or nothing?”

My response: “I think God looks like everything. If it’s true that God is omnipresent, then there is nothing in which the spirit of God is not present.” He had no comeback. He just smiled, although I could tell that he initially intended to bait me into saying something stupid or shallow.

I’d only be in danger of that if someone had offered evidence that God has a physical body that resembles ours. Humans assumed that if we were made in God’s image, God looked like us. I can understand how ancient illiterate people concluded that. I’m not sure what our excuse is.

We believe that God resides outside of Earth’s atmosphere, yet we know indisputably that human bodies really can’t function outside of this atmosphere without special equipment such as space suits. So the likelihood that God is wearing a human body beyond Earth’s atmosphere is probably slim to none.

The ancient scribes didn’t know that, so they wrote stories claiming that the profound Jewish rabbi named Yeshua, ascended into the heavens in a body that had been brutally tortured and rendered lifeless after Roman soldiers crucified him. What, pray tell, was he going to do with that carcass, if he went where they said he went?

There’s also no evidence, aside from the conflicting texts of these scribes, that God—portrayed as both omnipresent and physically light years away, as in all ancient myths—would be so satanic as to orchestrate such an inhumane death. But many mythical gods were diabolical, so there’s a logical explanation for why they told the story this way. There’s no logic at all to why we still believe it.

You have to read books about ancient history and mythology before the light turns on and you realize what formed our beliefs—and how innocently those beliefs were formed. Everyone knew these ancient myths, so the scribes probably assumed that the rank and file would not regard their updated versions as news reporting. They were wrong. Once the religious giants at the Council of Nicea declared these books as the “Word of God,” myth mushroomed into fact. Allowing only a chosen few to read or interpret these words for more than 1,200 years cemented them into the human belief system.

Eighteen centuries after the confab at Nicea, we still believe these tales are true—and we vigorously defend the words, even though they desecrate God’s image as an unconditionally loving Father.

While discussing my first book, one woman argued, “God is sovereign! He can do anything he wants.”

I concurred. My question to her was, “But would God want to do anything inhumane or satanic?” She admitted that she hadn’t thought about that.

Perhaps, on this Father’s Day, we should think about that. Perhaps we should look at why we hold human males to a higher standard of conduct than we hold our Divine Father:

  • If an earthly father raped his virgin daughter, he would be labeled a degenerate sex offender and could spend years in prison for incest.
  • If an earthly father solved problems by committing acts of violence against his children, we’d label him an abusive parent and throw him in jail.
  • If an earthly father plotted with others to brutally kill his only child by allowing others to nail him to a cross and subject him to three days of excruciating pain, we’d call him hateful and satanic, and our outcry for justice would be deafening.
  • If an earthly father had a multitude of children who repeatedly committed crimes and hurt others, and he decided to stop them by killing his only good child, we’d label him criminally insane and send him away forever. 
  • If an earthly father kicked his naughty kids out of the only home they’d ever known, and banished them to the wilderness without any survival skills or visible means of support, we’d think he was demented, demonic—or both—and we’d press to convict him for child abuse (after we garnished his wages for lack of child support).
  • If an earthly father told his kids to forgive others’ sins 70 times seven, but threatened to punish his kids’ sins with unending torture, we’d call him a hypocrite.
  • If that same father told his kids not to kill others, but he was guilty of genocide, we’d lock up the hypocrite and throw away the key.
  • If an earthly father,who had a huge mansion and lots of children, gave a known demon total control of those children’s thoughts and behavior, we’d move heaven and earth to free those kids from the gip of the demon and deprogram them so that they could function normally and harmlessly in society.
  • If that same father declared that only the kids who outsmarted the demonic caretaker’s tricks could return to the mansion, we’d imprison both of the conspirators for child endangerment, sadism and more.

Oddly enough, when someone tells us that God—our Father—has done all of these things and more, our reactions are totally different. We respond with praise and worship. We look to the heavens and sing love songs. Yet we demonize earthly fathers who have done far less. It’s amazing how the human mind works.

A couple of years ago, a devout young man asked me a question I’ll never forget. He was planning a praise and worship festival, and needed public relations counsel. Sensing my discomfort with some of his dogma, he pointed toward the door and said, “If God walked in here right now, wouldn’t you drop to your knees and start praising Him?”

I took a deep breath. “That presumes that I believe that God isn’t here already—and that if He came from someplace else, He would scare or harm me. Is that what Love would do?” The young man hadn’t thought about that. All of his life, he only believed what others told him to believe.

I never saw him again. Hallelujah! I keep telling you: God is good.

On this Father’s Day, let us give our Heavenly Father a well-deserved break from centuries of bad publicity. Let’s give God the benefit of the doubt by challenging every allegation of inhumane behavior with the question, “Would Love do that?”

On Father’s Day 2009, let’s declare that while the word of God is inerrant, the word of some of the ancient scribes is verifiably inaccurate. Let’s dare to believe that God does nothing demonic, and does not solve problems by hurting people.

As a Father’s Day gift to God, let’s read more than one book—or vow to read the one we have more carefully. All the evidence that it’s time to stop blindly accepting other people’s answers and start asking our own questions is right there.

On this day, instead of simply declaring that we love God, let’s begin to like God as a Father who treats all of us well—and does it consistently, consciously and unconditionally. Today, let’s allow God to become our Daddy. Who knows: When we feel that Divine presence washing over us, we might begin to squeal with delight, rather than tremble with fear.

What a difference an “R” makes


I received an email the other day with the most intriguing subject line: “Are you revolving or evolving?” It occurred to me that many of us don’t know the huge difference that an “r” can make:

The concept of evolving is a bit “woo-woo” to most of us. It’s that spirituality thing. We tend to shy away from it because it is distinctly different from religion: the rules, regulations, rituals, readings, and restrictions that grow from a peoples’ belief of what God is and what God does. Many religions discourage thoughtful consideration or questions about the mandated beliefs and issue deadly and diabolical threats to those who don’t share those beliefs.

By contrast, spirituality invites questions. It makes us think much bigger thoughts about a much bigger God. Its very nature is evolutionary; it’s about growing in awareness of the ever-present nature of God, rather than trying to establish a relationship with a judgmental, angry, hard-to-please God who is far away. Spirituality teaches us how to be consciously aware of God’s immediate presence so that we can leverage it to guide our steps, and it teaches us to trust God’s presence so that we are not shaken by economic downturns, relationship upheaval or even the death of physical bodies. Spirituality gives us a greater understanding of ourselves as human and spiritual beings and provides context for everything that happens in our experience.

Are we evolving or revolving? The question reminds me of the time I went to Northern California with my “wasband.” (It rhymes with husband; I borrowed that term from the Rev. Vici Derrick. Don’t you love it?)

My ex is a car fanatic–one of the reasons we had four fine automobiles. As a kid, I had a fascination with cars, too. Detroit didn’t produce a vehicle that I couldn’t identify by make and model year; but that’s about as much as I wanted or needed to know. By contrast, when my spouse was a kid, he read encyclopedia volumes, cover-to-cover. (Yeah, I thought that was weird, too.) Even as an adult, this guy loved books. If we were in a mall and somehow got separated, my daughter, Maiysha, and I knew to look in the nearest bookstore. He was always there, reading some car magazine.

One fine day my car fanatic wasband decided that we should experience the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, up close and personal. Whoo hoo–until he said that he also wanted to attend a drag race in a nearby town. Strolling through the lovely shops in Carmel and gawking at the array of fine vintage automobiles amid the heart-stopping beauty of Pebble Beach golf course was right up my alley. Watching some guys going nowhere at death-defying speeds, making more noise than my earplugs could silence–not so much.

Finally, the moment I’d dreaded for weeks was almost upon us. That morning’s brunch felt like the Last Supper. After I’d played with my meal as long as I could, I had to face the inevitable.
As we walked out of the restaurant, I asked that annoying girl-question: “Do you know where we’re going?” Tsk, tsk was the essence of his annoying-boy response. After all, EVERYONE in town must be going to the race. We’ll just follow someone.

And so we did. The guy in the 700-series BMW, who was exiting the restaurant parking lot ahead of us became our designated leader. Of course, this guy was totally qualified to show us where to go: He had a luxury car, which meant he was smart and successful like my wasband; his car also had California license plates (but so did our rental car), which meant he knew how to get there quickly.

So, off we went, away from Monterey’s traffic lights and street scenes, heading directly into the Northern California countryside. And I mean countryside. Every 15 minutes, my wasband declared that we must be close because it was almost race time. Pretty soon I noticed that nobody was behind us. Where were all the other race car fanatics? I wondered. Mr. BMW must have been wondering what was going on, too. There was a car tailing him–with two black people in it. No matter what he did, he couldn’t shake us.

Nearly two hours passed, and we were halfway up a mountain, nowhere near our desired course. I was too relieved to be disgusted. When our lead car turned onto a very long winding trail and sped toward a farmhouse, the guffaw that I’d been squelching for hours finally burst free.

Mr. BMW probably darted down that path to get away from us, and I wouldn’t blame him. But now what? How would we get ourselves off of this mountain? I wondered. We passed a gas station, but my wasband refused to stop. When we passed it again, he was finally ready to ask for directions. Too late. It had closed.

Finally, we ambled down the mountain toward civilization, heads bowed, tailpipe tucked between our legs–and we actually made it to the track. But the traffic was going the opposite direction. The race had just ended. God is good!

It occurs to me now that we had been presented a wonderful lesson about evolving and revolving. Everyone’s lessons aren’t so in-your-face definitive; consequently, we must be more attentive and inquisitive, no matter how smart we are.

That could be a problem. Most of us have an aversion to asking the right questions to the right people get the right directions. We choose the folks we’ll listen to, even accept their answers and beliefs, even if they are inconsistent, implausible and illogical. We make judgments about what others can do for us, based on their superficial trappings.

Is it any wonder that we keep revolving around the track, making the same mistakes, repeating the same lessons, and meeting, dating, even working with the same type of people? Every situation, every person has value, but we don’t look for it. We complain, but we don’t ask why we attracted them into our lives or what they came to teach us.

When we live like this, we revolve unconsciously. By contrast, it’s absolutely impossible to evolve unconsciously. We are always fully aware when we’re growing and living with spiritual guidance. We know that we are evolving–heading to a higher plane on purpose (and not playing follow the smart guy in the BMW)–when we begin to take responsibility for the people that we attract into our lives and for the situations that we create or encore ad nauseum. We know that we are evolving when we actively seek directions from within.

Taking responsibility for our lives and our outcomes is as simple as asking: “Why did I create this? Why did I attract this person? What is the lesson my soul wants me to learn from this situation, this person, this bank account balance, this job loss, this mortgage foreclosure? What growth opportunities lie within this?” Evolving is like traversing a spiral staircase: No matter what the speed, we are constantly ascending and never encountering the same challenge twice.

This economic climate is gifting us with some awesome opportunities to evolve or revolve. Are we ready to ask the questions that can lift us to the next level? Or will we be satisfied with someone else’s answers, even if they don’t take us where we want to go?

Your path is not the same as mine or your parents, siblings, friends, neighbors or coworkers. There are no cookie cutter answers, affirmations, denials or treatments for your life challenges. Your path is unique and so is your mission and your lessons. Those who claim that they can tell you how to live a better life in five, eight or ten easy steps might mean well, but they are not equipped to guide you the way that your Higher Self can. They don’t hold your answers. Only the God within you knows why you are here and what path you need to take and what decisions you need to make.

You have free will, and every decision has its natural consequence. Will yours be evolutionary?
Shout back at the Loud Mouth.

Puttin’ a hurtin’ on ourselves

Perhaps you noticed the fear-peddling headlines about the growing number of ‘lone wolf’ terrorists who have assigned themselves the duty of killing those whose behavior, looks or ideologies don’t align with theirs. I was in the news business for more than 20 years, and I confidently declare that this is not news.

The reports are focused on the past three weeks, but who are they kidding? Lone wolf terrorists have been on the prowl for centuries. Just today, thousands of these terrorists committed dehumanizing acts in homes, workplaces, churches, schools, college campuses, online–in fact, any location where at least two are gathered is susceptible to terrorist attack.

Terrorists don’t always commit murder; the overwhelming majority take pleasure in annihilating humans’ freedom of thought and movement, basic rights, or our most cherished possession: self worth. If we don’t do what they want us to do, when and how they want us to do it, they attack: verbally, physically–or my favorite, in prose.

Somewhere these folks learned that assault is an appropriate, mature, effective and transformative response to a problem; some even consider it professional. Now that’s deep.

In every case, the attackers are laser-focused on their victims, determined to force victims to conform to or comply with their wishes–or face the consequences of their wrath. This is a technique with an ancient precedent. (See my earlier post: “Solving problems by killing people: A Divine idea?”) Because they’re not looking inward, they not only lose their connection with the perfect solution, they become their own victims. In other words, the hunter gets captured by the game.

Can you remember the last time you were angry? Do you remember what it felt like: heart pounding so hard you could hear it; your armpits were dripping, and your chest felt as tight as a clenched fist. Your veins were bulging at your temples and your breathing was shallow–even the steam coming from your nostrils was in short bursts. Remember that? You kept telling yourself (and telling anyone who would listen) how furious you were, and you thought a lot about retribution–getting even, showing them what a bad idea it was to mess with you.

Science tells us that these angry feelings changed your body chemistry; you actually created harmful poisons inside you. Metaphysics suggests that your negative emotions might have even left an imprint on your soul that will come back to haunt your body in the form of disease. Anger, they say, eats up your ethereal body and creates diseases that do the same to your physical body.

Who was the real victim? And who orchestrated it all? Your ego. Heck, it was the ego who told somebody to tell you that some dude named Satan was The Enemy, and that God was in some far off place.

The ego will always tell you that whatever happened is someone else’s fault, and that you should attack. It will never mention that God is waiting peacefully within you, waiting for you to ask for a more enlightened way to solve your problems.

“The ego is  master illusionist. From your birth, it diverts your attention by giving you–and this calls for a drumroll, please–problems.”

The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary R. Renard

Anger, resentment confrontation, retribution, violence are the ego’s tricks, and we fall for them every time. Our egos make us think that we’re showing others how powerful we are by verbally or physically beating up on them: “I’m mad! And I’m going to make you suffer!” In reality, we’re only beating up on ourselves. All of the negative energy we create harms our physical bodies and makes us weaker, sicker and slower to heal.

The ego also convinces us that we were right, and it gives us justification for whatever we did. Like parrots, we repeat it as if it’s true. The man who murdered the abortion doctor justified his actions, as did the young man in Alabama who fired shots at the military recruiting office and the white supremacist who killed the guard at the Holocaust Museum. In their minds, they were right–and, scary as it may seem, each believed that they honored God by killing their victims. That’s because they read somewhere that God solves problems by brutally killing people.

Our egos can only take us where we agree to go. Our egos don’t want us to remember one vitally important fact: At the end of the day, we will not be accountable for what others did to us—only for what we did to them, no matter what they did to us. And so we agree to forget.

We will only be held accountable for our actionsEvery time we fixate on and react negatively or punitively to what someone else did, we jump into the ego’s trick bag, yank the drawstring and tie a knot around our necks. We deliberately inflict these wounds on ourselves and we cannot blame anyone else.

Life is a teacher, and it gives us numerous opportunities to become stronger than our egos. It sends negative, ego-driven people into our space to taunt and to teach. It gives us plenty of opportunities to practice neutralizing their negative energy so that it doesn’t hurt us.

The most potent neutralizer is forgiveness. Think of what a bucket of water did to the Wicked Witch of the West–an evil, power-hungry woman who stopped at nothing to get what she wanted (like some of the people we know). Forgiveness is your bucket of water. It restores the power your own ‘lone wolf terrorist’–your ego–has stripped from you.

Your ego has convinced you that forgiveness is something you give to someone else. Furthermore, it insists, you should withhold forgiveness to punish them. It’s a power trip, a survival technique. But it’s not ours; it’s the ego’s. If we forgive, our egos die, melt into nothingness like the witch.

Expect your ego to fight for survival if you start forgiving others. It will send a battalion of petty, nasty people to make you lose your cool and relinquish your power to them. Some of us actually become stronger from these challenging exercises. Others succumb and become part of the embittered battalion. We always have a choice in determining our outcome.

I have a friend who was being verbally accosted by a client, of all people. The attacks were vicious, condescending, profane and abusive. Because they were so extreme, she felt that she had to stand up for herself—even though he was a client and could impact her livelihood.

She considered giving him an earful of what he had given her. Instead, she gave me a call. If she was looking for affirmation that a good cussin’ out would neutralize this clown, she dialed the wrong number.

My response: Don’t let him blow out your Christ Light. Hold onto the Christ within you and don’t let It go. Don’t empower this man to make you act anything but Christlike. Don’t let him force you to be less than who you are.

We’re tested with scenarios such as this all the time. While walking home earlier this evening, past the Blues Fest, I saw a man jump out of his car at the intersection of Lake Shore Drive and Monroe, and accost the man in the car behind him. First, the attack was verbal; then he began to punch the driver through his open window. A second man jumped out of the car in front and joined the attack as about a dozen of us watched, speechless.

My eyes darted about, surveying the surrounding area for shelter, just in case one of the fools had a gun. In all these years, I had never noticed that the boathouse was so dangerously far away from the curb.

It was one of those “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do (to themselves)” moments. Most times, we allow the darkness to overpower us because we’ve lost sight of our Light. We forgot that light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The only way to remember is to practice, practice, practice until it becomes an instinct to see and to be the Light within. Once we’ve grasped that, instead of falling into someone’s dark vortex, we will instinctively forgive them, no matter what they do.

Forgiveness is not for the weak. Like everything that benefits us, like exercise and healthy eating, it requires a strong resolve–and lots and lots of practice. But you can do it, if you really want a more joyful life.

I was speaking with a colleague the other day, and she surprised me by mentioning that she seeks inspiration on my www.dramaqueenworkshops.com website when she encounters negativity. On that particular day, she had also downloaded a Forgiveness Coupon from the site, and she said that it instantly empowered her.

I invite you to do the same. Forgiveness Coupons will fully support your practice. They are totally free and absolutely priceless. As indicated on each coupon, they are also fully transferable and duplication is highly encouraged (or simply download more). And, did I mention: They never expire.

Evolving, revolving: What a difference an “R” makes

I received an email the other day with the most intriguing subject line: “Are you revolving or evolving?” It occurred to me that many of us don’t know the huge difference that an “r” can make:

The concept of evolving is a bit “woo-woo” to most of us. It’s that spirituality thing. We tend to shy away from it because it is distinctly different from religion: the rules, regulations, rituals, readings, and restrictions that grow from a peoples’ belief of what God is and what God does. Many religions discourage thoughtful consideration or questions about the mandated beliefs and issue deadly and diabolical threats to those who don’t share those beliefs.

By contrast, spirituality invites questions. It makes us think much bigger thoughts about a much bigger God. Its very nature is evolutionary; it’s about growing in awareness of the everpresent nature of God, rather than trying to establish a relationship with a judgmental, angry, hard-to-please God who is far away. Spirituality teaches us how to be consciously aware of God’s immediate presence so that we can leverage it to guide our steps, and it teaches us to trust God’s presence so that we are not shaken by economic downturns, relationship upheaval or even the death of physical bodies. Spirituality gives us a greater understanding of ourselves as human and spiritual beings and provides context for everything that happens in our experience.

Are we evolving or revolving? The question reminds me of the time I went to Northern California with my “wasband.” (It rhymes with husband; I borrowed that term from Rev. Vici Derrick. Don’t you love it?)

My ex is a car fanatic–one of the reasons we had four fine automobiles. As a kid, I had a fascination with cars, too. Detroit didn’t produce a vehicle that I couldn’t identify by make and model year; but that’s about as much as I wanted or needed to know. By contrast, when my spouse was a kid, he read encyclopedia volumes, cover-to-cover. (Yeah, I thought that was weird, too.)  Even as an adult, this guy loved books. If we were in a mall and somehow got separated, Maiysha and I knew to look in the nearest bookstore. He was always there, reading some car magazine.

One fine day my car fanatic wasband decided that we should experience the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, up close and personal. Whoo hoo–until he said that he also wanted to attend a drag race in a nearby town. Strolling through the lovely shops in Carmel and gawking at the array of fine vintage automobiles amid the heart-stopping beauty of Pebble Beach golf course was right up my alley. Watching some guys going nowhere at death-defying speeds, making more noise than my earplugs could silence–not so much.

Finally, the moment I’d dreaded for weeks was almost upon us. That morning’s brunch felt like the Last Supper. After I’d played with my meal as long as I could, I had to face the inevitable.

As we walked out of the restaurant, I asked that annoying girl-question: “Do you know where we’re going?” Tsk, tsk was the essence of his response. After all, EVERYONE in town must be going to the race. We’ll just follow someone.

And so we did. The guy in the 700-series BMW, who was exiting the restaurant parking lot ahead of us became our designated leader. Of course, this guy was totally qualified to show us where to go: He had a luxury car, which meant he was smart and successful like my wasband; his car also had California license plates (but so did our rental car), which meant he knew how to get there quickly.

So, off we went, away from Monterey’s traffic lights and street scenes, heading directly into the Northern California countryside. And I mean countryside. Every 15 minutes, my wasband declared that we must be close because it was almost race time. Pretty soon I noticed that nobody was behind us. Where were all the other race car fanatics? I wondered. Mr. BMW must have been wondering what was going on, too. There was a car tailing him–with two black people in it. No matter what he did, he couldn’t shake us.

Nearly two hours passed, and we were halfway up a mountain, nowhere near our desired course. I was too relieved to be disgusted. When our lead car turned onto a very long winding trail and sped toward a farmhouse, the guffaw that I’d been squelching for hours finally burst free.

Mr. BMW probably darted down that path to get away from us, and I wouldn’t blame him. But now what? How would we get ourselves off of this mountain? I wondered. We passed a gas station, but my wasband refused to stop. When we passed it again, he was finally ready to ask for directions. Too late. It had closed.

Finally, we ambled down the mountain toward civilization, heads bowed, tailpipe tucked between our legs–and we actually made it to the track. But the traffic was going the opposite direction. The race had just ended. God is good!

It occurs to me now that we had been presented a wonderful lesson about evolving and revolving. Everyone’s lessons aren’t so in-your-face definitive; consequently, we must be more attentive and inquisitive, no matter how smart we are.

That could be a problem. Most of us have an aversion to asking the right questions to the right people get the right directions. We choose the folks we’ll listen to, even accept their answers and beliefs, even if they are inconsistent, implausible and illogical. We make judgments about what others can do for us, based on their superficial trappings.

Is it any wonder that we keep revolving around the track, making the same mistakes, repeating the same lessons, and meeting, dating, even working with the same type of people? Every situation, every person has value, but we don’t look for it. We complain, but we don’t ask why we attracted them into our lives or what they came to teach us.

When we live like this, we revolve unconsciously. By contrast, it’s absolutely impossible to evolve unconsciously. We are always fully aware when we’re growing and living with spiritual guidance. We know that we are evolving–heading to a higher plane on purpose (and not playing follow the smart guy in the BMW)–when we begin to take responsibility for the people that we attract into our lives and for the situations that we create or encore ad nauseum. We know that we are evolving when we actively seek directions from within.

Taking responsibility for our lives and our outcomes is as simple as asking: “Why did I create this? Why did I attract this person? What is the lesson my soul wants me to learn from this situation, this person, this bank account balance, this job loss, this mortgage foreclosure? What growth opportunities lie within this?” Evolving is like traversing a spiral staircase: No matter what the speed, we are constantly ascending and never encountering the same challenge twice.

This economic climate is gifting  us with some awesome opportunities to evolve or revolve. Are we ready to ask the questions that can lift us to the next level? Or will we be satisfied with someone else’s answers, even if they don’t take us where we want to go?

Your path is not the same as mine or your parents, siblings, friends, neighbors or coworkers. There are no cookie cutter answers, affirmations, denials or treatments for your life challenges. Your path is unique and so is your mission and your lessons. Those who claim that they can tell you how to live a better life in five, eight or ten easy steps might mean well, but they are not equipped to guide you the way that your Higher Self can. They don’t hold your answers. Only the God within you knows why you are here and what path you need to take and what decisions you need to make.

You have free will, and every decision has its natural consequence. Will yours be evolutionary?