Skip navigation

Category Archives: God

Aspen Grove Santa Fe New Mexico, originally uploaded by carlmc.

I’ve been a big fan of Ken Burns since the beginning, we are soul brothers of sorts. We are both intrigued with the Civil War and Baseball, and now nature. I’ve been patiently waiting and now his new series “The National Parks” begins this Sunday on most PBS stations.

I was reading local coverage in the Austin American Statesman today and was floored at the title of the first episode “The Scripture of Nature”. Brad Buchholz states in his article,

“…Burns sees the national parks in a spiritual realm….He explains the distinctly American notion, espoused by Emerson and Thoreau, of seeking and discovering God in nature.”

I doubt this to be a uniquely American experience, but I don’t argue the validity of the statement for myself and my brother Ken. I also like the following quote from a park ranger in the film,

What could be more cathedral in feel than the Grand Canyon or Yosemite Valley? When I think of Sequoia National Park, I think of a cathedral or a mosque, or a church, a place where you’re not necessarily worshiping the name of something, but the presence of something else. When you’re in a grove of giant sequoia, there’s no need for someone to remind you that there is something in this world that is larger than you are, because you can see it.

It is in these moments that I too find myself connecting with something larger than my ability to comprehend, but not too large for my soul to embrace. No words need be spoken, no thoughts entertained…
just to be in the moment. My brother Ken explains it better than I can,

The underlying theme of all (my) films is love. It’s an impossible word to actually enjoy in any intellectual discussion. But at the end of the day, what these people are — whether it’s Abraham Lincoln and his ultimate sacrifice; whether it’s Jackie Robinson and the load he carried; whether it was Louis Armstrong and the message he delivered; whether it’s John Muir and the ecstasy he described — at the heart of this is love. And every single person we interviewed — and many of the people we quote — always talk about the larger kinship. They say: You’re part of it all. You’re connected to everything and everything else. And that love is the ingredient of the universe. It’s so hard to talk about it, because love is (so often narrowly defined) as romantic love…or parental love…or sex. But love is all these other things. Love is the heart of religion. The Scripture of Nature: Is it not but the highest love there is?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Advertisements

Today’s photo is mainly for the grandparents and family, but we could all enjoy the poem that follows…

ally lollipop

The Lollipop Castle gleamed in the sun.
The morning just started and so had the fun.
Strawberry cloudbursts covered the sky
As chocolate rabbits saluted,
waving, with bunnie ears high.
Then the swans on the lake
began their sweet glide
their smooth graceful beauty,
they just couldn’t hide.


And awakening the lakes
in their midnight blue dress
they were the keepers of peace and no less.
So, happy this hour of dawn and delight.
Merry the music of guardians bright.
Loving the moment of fantasy true,
watching the cloudbursts way up in the blue.


The Lollipop Castle and
its sleeping children
rose from their slumber,
opened eyes, then –
ran freely into wonderland’s street,
and into the Garden of Wishing on feet
that ran all the faster for all dreams came true
that felt all the freer for beauty came too!


God watched His children
and tinted the ground,
in sunbeams and magic
and the beauty they found.
And He and His angels were busy all day
Watching His children, their garden, their way.


As the carousel stood turning,
whirling round and around.
It’s music box twirling,
it’s pure magic sound,
Filling it’s listeners with it’s great joy,
their laughter, till truly it be
the perfect found poem of believers who see –
That goodness and dreaming can certainly do
A lot for our kingdoms
and these children who knew,
the loveliest thoughts can come from within
And they be the ponies of hope there within.


So, prancing ponies strut up and down
keeping your heads high, know not a frown.
For you hold the cup of kindness and good
You hold our children you horses, of wood,
And they be tomorrow of now, any land
They be the promise of love in all lands.

April 10, 1970
By Linda A. Copp ©

mixedseedsAlright all you church planters in Austin, I know you’re out there because you can’t pick up the Austin American Statesman without reading a story about a new church plant. What is your response to the genius that is Jon Birch? If you don’t subscribe to his blog, you need to because his no nonsense approach to questioning our perceptions about ourselves and the church is sorely needed in today’s world of churchianity.

Today our tribe celebrates its 5th anniversary as a faith family committed to each other and to the city of Austin. We are a group of misfits, of real people fighting addictions, trying to welcome the stranger, seeking to believe when we sometimes do not, and working to find ourselves within the context of the larger narrative. We are not like most of the churches in America, but we are a foretaste of the church that is to come…

journey flyer 1

journey flyer 2

We are not afraid to challenge each other, challenge the powers that be…to ask God some really hard questions. We are not cynical, we only seek to grow daily for the sake of ourselves, our families, our city, and the world at large.

“…redemptive skepticism is  religious commitment to avoid being swept up by bad ideas, especially ones that wear a godly guise and demand absolute, unquestioning allegiance. Sometimes you have to lose your religion to find it.”
David Dark from The Sacredness of Questioning Everything

If you’re feeling adventurous, come see us today or any Sunday @ 10:45ish. Our friend Sarah Hickman is playing for us to help celebrate.

peace

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

sunset_thru_trees, originally uploaded by carlmc.

Sunlight falls where it may
Shadows fall at will
Green springs forth and
Pathways lead us between
————————————————–

i thank you God for most this amazing…

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

–e.e. cummings

Colbert at the National Portrait Gallery

Image by kalyan3 via Flickr

Again, Colbert Report hits it out of the park…

“He’s praying in private!…Folks I’m angry and confused. By closing the door on his prayers, Obama is letting us down almost as much as Jesus did when he said in the gospel of Matthew, ‘Whenever you pray go into your room, and close the door’. I just don’t get that guy sometimes, where you have to die to live?”

Watch this clip!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

This picture is taken from a site established by the State Department who commissioned one of their photographers to find these stories and document. I want to capture these stories, but I also want to use celebrities and business leaders to help bring awareness to the general public, to the victims, and to the corporations and governments that we the people will not stand for this, will not buy their products, will not support their leadership unless they do the right thing.  Please help me with this idea by voting for my project at http://www.nameyourdreamassignment.com/the-ideas/carlmc/27-million-slaves/

image_4

A 9-year-old girl toils under the hot sun, making bricks from morning to night, seven days a week. She was trafficked with her entire family from Bihar, one of the poorest and most underdeveloped states in India, and sold to the owner of a brick-making factory. With no means of escape, and unable to speak the local language, the family is isolated and lives in terrible conditions.

Photo and text courtesy of Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department. http://www.gtipphotos.state.gov/

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

img_0705As my faith has grown, as my understanding of God’s love has deepened I am learning to listen to God’s voice that speaks in tones, rhymes I often do not understand. It is my deepest desire that I could let this voice burst from my soul into the everyday, into my earnest engagement with my family, my friends, my community. But, I struggle with the words, with the actions necessary to share this burgeoning love for all God’s creation and need constant reminders from all of you. Today, I am grateful for a President who is willing to share in this burden, to be humble enough to know that it is God who is in charge. Below is his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, with my emphases in bold…

Remarks of President Barack Obama
National Prayer Breakfast
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
Washington, DC

Good morning. I want to thank the Co-Chairs of this breakfast, Representatives Heath Shuler and Vernon Ehlers. I’d also like to thank Tony Blair for coming today, as well as our Vice President, Joe Biden, members of my Cabinet, members of Congress, clergy, friends, and dignitaries from across the world.

Michelle and I are honored to join you in prayer this morning. I know this breakfast has a long history in Washington, and faith has always been a guiding force in our family’s life, so we feel very much at home and look forward to keeping this tradition alive during our time here.

It’s a tradition that I’m told actually began many years ago in the city of Seattle. It was the height of the Great Depression, and most people found themselves out of work. Many fell into poverty. Some lost everything.

The leaders of the community did all that they could for those who were suffering in their midst. And then they decided to do something more: they prayed. It didn’t matter what party or religious affiliation to which they belonged. They simply gathered one morning as brothers and sisters to share a meal and talk with God.

These breakfasts soon sprouted up throughout Seattle, and quickly spread to cities and towns across America, eventually making their way to Washington. A short time after President Eisenhower asked a group of Senators if he could join their prayer breakfast, it became a national event. And today, as I see presidents and dignitaries here from every corner of the globe, it strikes me that this is one of the rare occasions that still brings much of the world together in a moment of peace and goodwill.

I raise this history because far too often, we have seen faith wielded as a tool to divide us from one another – as an excuse for prejudice and intolerance. Wars have been waged. Innocents have been slaughtered. For centuries, entire religions have been persecuted, all in the name of perceived righteousness.

There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.

But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.

We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” The Torah commands, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” In Islam, there is a hadith that reads “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

It is an ancient rule; a simple rule; but also one of the most challenging. For it asks each of us to take some measure of responsibility for the well-being of people we may not know or worship with or agree with on every issue. Sometimes, it asks us to reconcile with bitter enemies or resolve ancient hatreds. And that requires a living, breathing, active faith. It requires us not only to believe, but to do – to give something of ourselves for the benefit of others and the betterment of our world.

In this way, the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.

The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state. This work is important, because whether it’s a secular group advising families facing foreclosure or faith-based groups providing job-training to those who need work, few are closer to what’s happening on our streets and in our neighborhoods than these organizations. People trust them. Communities rely on them. And we will help them.

We will also reach out to leaders and scholars around the world to foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith. I don’t expect divisions to disappear overnight, nor do I believe that long-held views and conflicts will suddenly vanish. But I do believe that if we can talk to one another openly and honestly, then perhaps old rifts will start to mend and new partnerships will begin to emerge. In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding.

This is my hope. This is my prayer.

I believe this good is possible because my faith teaches me that all is possible, but I also believe because of what I have seen and what I have lived.

I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.

In different ways and different forms, it is that spirit and sense of purpose that drew friends and neighbors to that first prayer breakfast in Seattle all those years ago, during another trying time for our nation. It is what led friends and neighbors from so many faiths and nations here today. We come to break bread and give thanks and seek guidance, but also to rededicate ourselves to the mission of love and service that lies at the heart of all humanity. As St. Augustine once said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

So let us pray together on this February morning, but let us also work together in all the days and months ahead. For it is only through common struggle and common effort, as brothers and sisters, that we fulfill our highest purpose as beloved children of God. I ask you to join me in that effort, and I also ask that you pray for me, for my family, and for the continued perfection of our union. Thank you.

See below for info on an upcoming event at our church that should be fascinating.

Peter Rollins in Austin, Tx
Join us for a day with Pete discussing the future of Christianity.

Time and PlaceDate:
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Time:
10:00am – 3:00pm
Location:
Journey Imperfect Faith Community www.journeyifc.com
Street:
3009 Industrial Blvd.
City/Town:
Austin, TX

Contact InfoPhone:
5127503247
Email:
zimmerman@apple.com or me at simplegestures@gmail.com
Description
Journey Imperfect Faith Community will be hosting Peter Rollins, Irish philosopher of religion and a leading thinker in emergent christian theology. Pete is one of the most important voices speaking about where Christianity is heading in the 21st century. All interested parties are invited to come and hear Peter speak and to interact with him as he discusses ‘Lessons in Evandalism.’ A suggested donation of $20 is requested from attendees to assist in supporting the event. All proceeds from donations will go to Peter to assist in supporting his work with IKON.

Here is Pete’s summary of the Lessons of Evandalism tour:

The current religious landscape is cluttered with various expressions of faith that claim to rethink Christianity at the dawn of a new cultural epoch. However such groups often accomplish little more than the repackaging and redistribution of faith as we currently understand it. A repackaging that involves flashing lights, video projectors and ‘culturally sensitive’ leaders who can talk about the latest mediocre pop sensation.

Throughout his Spring 09 tour Peter will be arguing that, in the midst of this arid landscape, there exist small but fertile sites of resistance. Groups who offer a way of thinking that not only challenges the way we express faith but fundamentally ruptures the way we understand it. He will argue that these pockets of resistance represent a growing, organic movement that are proclaiming the death of God, church and religion as we know them in preparation for their resurrection in a radically different form.

Through a mix of parables, philosophy and discussion Peter will be exploring the theoretical kernel of this emerging movement and addressing its dangerous, revolutionary and transformative potential.

For more info about Peter Rollins go to http://www.peterrollins.net/

My friend Dean Smith started Urban Connection Austin which is focused on enabling communities to rebuild themselves, not to rely on charity, not to rely on government, but instead to learn how to empower the members of that community. Education is key to making people stronger, learning how to use government services, opening communication channels with businesses, working alongside faith communities, schools, and neighborhood associations to build a sense of ‘we’.

Here is an article in Community Impact Newspaper about Urban Connection Austin that mentions what I think is a key to success for these types of ministries. That is the ability for faith communities to be humble enough to say to themselves, to their people, “We are not the solution to the problems of this neighborhood.” We do not need to own the solution, we simply need to agree that love is needed in this area. When we decide to love, we will decide to ask of each other, to those in the community, and to God, “How can we help?”. And, then we will be quiet and listen…