FYI, here’s my second episode of the podcast I’m starting on A Course in Miracles for social justice activists. I’m still struggling with the technology of it all. But the podcast site looks like this: https://acimforactivists.com/ Please check it out and maybe become a follower there. It’s going to get better, I promise.
Scroll down on the site and you’ll see the first episode too. I’m currently working on installment 3.
Readingsfor the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Jeremiah 20: 7-9; Psalm 63: 2-9; Romans 12: 1-2; Matthew 16:21-27
This Sunday’s readings are about truth, the world’s rejection of the same, and about the truth-teller’s willingness to take the consequences – even if they entail loss of one’s life.
The readings are extremely relevant to our moment in history. There, the current occupant of the White House has from day one (and before) challenged conventional ideas about truth itself. His administration popularized the phrases “fake news” and “alternative facts.” The Washington Postalleges that in less than one year, the chief executive told more than 2000 lies.
In the meantime, sources like QAnon have spread right-wing conspiracy theories that have many scratching their heads about what to believe. For instance, are Q’s assertions true that:
Antifa is a sworn enemy of Black Lives Matter (BLM)?
BLM itself is funded and controlled by George Soros and left-wing think tanks?
President Obama is really a Muslim?
Kamala Harris is ineligible to be POTUS?
Sandy Hook was a false flag event staged to justify disarming U.S. citizens?
Prominent Democrats have run a child-trafficking ring out of a D.C. pizzeria (“Pizzagate”)?
The entire world is run by a Satan-worshipping child sex-trafficking organization?
In the context of COVID-19, beliefs are widespread that:
COVID-19 is a fake “pLandemic” orchestrated by a “deep state” to eliminate democracy and reset the economy even more in favor of the rich.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is a key player in starting the pLandemic – to make billions for himself.
But the ultimate goal is to set up a New World Order under a single government.
Face masks and social distancing are means to deprive unsuspecting citizens of their civil liberties.
Debate Among OpEd Editors
With all of that in mind, a lively debate has erupted for the past couple of weeks among OpEdNews senior editors. It was sparked by an editorial penned by the website’s editor-in-chief (EIC), Rob Kall. Rob has taken a courageously firm editorial stance against articles that reflect the right-wing talking points of view just listed. According to Rob, they’re all “bad guy” theories. Moreover, the uncritical use of right-wing talking points and language (e.g. “deep state,” “pLandemic,” and “New World Order”) only serve to boost and promote right wing messaging. The EIC wrote, “When you use the language of the enemy, you help the enemy . . . So, stop using their language.”
For me, Rob’s stance makes a lot of sense. But I can also see how others (excluding the senior editors) might label it just another example of “cancel culture?” Are we to cancel well-written and well-documented articles because of their conspiratorial language?
More importantly (at least in the context of this Sunday homily) can we get away with classifying those we disagree with as “bad guys” or as “the enemy?”
[Believe me, I ask that question with some trepidation. I’m uncomfortable with the theories listed above. Many of them (not all – see below) seem outrageous. Most often, I think of Donald Trump and his cohorts as “the enemy” – as “bad guys.”]
However, such reflections bring me back to this Sunday’s readings and their faith underpinnings. All of the readings underwrite truth alternatives severely in conflict with unquestioned cultural convictions. They point to the embrace of those who hold “unacceptable” opinions.
And it’s not just the Judeo-Christian tradition I’m talking about. Instead, I’m referencing all the non-dual spiritualities that find home in all the world’s Great Religions. In their mystical forms, they all agree that there’s no distinction between us and those we’re tempted to “other” as bad guys and enemies. Despite our understandable antipathies, none of them is cancelable any more than we would like to be.
Even more familiarly, Jesus the Christ recommended loving “your neighbor as yourself” (i.e. because she or he is yourself). That’s because (as Marianne Williamson puts it) “There is really only one of us here.” Ken Wilber comes close to saying the same thing when he observes (uncomfortably for me!) that given their level of consciousness, everyone is right — at least partially. And then there’s Deepak Chopra who says everyone’s doing the best they can.
Again, with all of that in mind imagine, for instance, how Donald Trump or QAnon partisans would relate to today’s readings. Please check out the originals for yourself here to see what I mean. My “translations” run as follows:
Jeremiah 20: 7-9: Life is deceptive. When I explain how, everyone laughs and makes fun of me. Yet, despite my resolutions to stop talking, I cannot remain silent about the violence and outrages that no one else seems to see. My compulsion to tell the truth is like an out-of-control fire burning inside me.
Psalm 63: 2-9: In fact, truth-seeking is synonymous with my thirst for Life Itself. It’s like rain falling on parched soil. It involves an encounter with the Force that some call “God.” That meeting is what life itself is about. Hence despite rejection by the world, speaking truth is more satisfying than a rich banquet. It’s like water for my scorched soul.
Romans 12: 1-2: So, sisters and brothers, be willing to endure rejection for your stubborn non-conformity – for your commitment to the true, the good, and the beautiful – for your enlightenment. No other way of life is worth living.
Matthew 16:21-27: Commitment to truth always brings some type of martyrdom. Jesus saw that clearly. However, he refused to be dissuaded from following his prophetic script – even by his closest friend. “STFU,” he told Peter in no uncertain terms. “You too,” he said, “and anyone wishing to follow me must be willing to endure even capital punishment. Yes, opposing the lies of church and state is more important than life itself.”
The Unresolved OpEd Debate
So, if life is so mysterious and even deceptive, if our faith demands nonconformity and taking the heat for unpopular opposition to church and state, if transcendent truth really lies 180 degrees opposite of routinely accepted cultural bromides, what are we to do about “bad guys,” “enemies,” and their apparently wild conspiracy theories?
First of all, we must recognize that bad guys indeed exist. There are criminals in the world and the worst of them reside not behind bars, but behind desks in D.C., in state capitals, and on Wall Street. It may even be that CIA or NSA operatives are behind the more outlandish conspiracy theories in question. Clearly, many of these perps belong in jail. And most of us look forward to the day of their incarceration.
Secondly, however, we must recognize that the bad guys are emphatically not the people writing for OpEdNews. In Ken Wilber’s terms, those persuaded by the earlier-referenced theories might simply be coming from mindsets Wilber calls “egocentric” or “ethnocentric.” These are not negative terms; all of us, even if we’ve transitioned to “world-centric” or even “cosmic-centric” levels, have passed through those stages (no one can avoid them). In other words, following the thread I’m trying to develop here, and given their stage of evolutionary development, these people are right and are doing the best they can.
Thirdly (and most uncomfortably for me), it may be that the so-called “conspiracy theorists” are objectively correct or at least partially so. Here I’m thinking specifically about a video interview of Sasha Stone I posted on OEN a few weeks ago. There Stone (who sometimes appears angry and even unhinged) does endorse that claim that the world is run by a cabal of pedophiles and Satan worshippers. More importantly however, he’s endorsed in that position by Robert David Steele, an ex-CIA officer, who seems perfectly sane, objective, and entirely rational. Steele claims that 22,000 children are kidnapped and “disappear” every year into an underworld of pedophilia and Satan worship. That conclusion is supported by an entire panel of sober scholars and jurists belonging to Stone’s International Tribunal for Natural Justice.
What is one to think about all that – especially given what’s been revealed in the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell saga? Is that merely the tip of an iceberg?
Given the thrust of today’s readings (and even discounting them if you prefer) it could very well be possible that the conspiracy theorists now under threat of cancellation from OEN pages might be right – or at least partially so. With the readings’ recommendations of nonconformity and prophetic resistance ringing in my ears, here’s where I see that they might well be on the right path:
By his outrageous lies, Donald Trump has clearly pulled the curtain back from our culture’s ethnocentric prevarications. As the very incarnation of egocentrism, he has rendered untenable all claims to American exceptionalism. In that sense, he himself is a great (though completely unconscious) prophet.
Secretary of State and former CIA director, Mike Pompeo, has been even more explicit in his admissions about our government’s systemic lies. Pompeo’s predecessor under President Reagan, William Casey was more honest still. He said, “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” (Think about that! How can we trust anything our government says?)
Trump, Pompeo, Casey and the revision of American history stimulated by their policies have shown that all of us have been duped about our country’s foundations and “noble traditions.” Most of it is fake.
Consequently, everyone should presume without contrary smoking gun evidence that our politicians (and mass media, church leaders, scientists and educators) are lying, though often unconsciously.
NOTHING is immune from such well-founded skepticism – including COVID-19, mask wearing, and social distancing.
Moreover, the Epstein/Maxwell saga coupled with the worldwide pedophilia scandal within the Roman Catholic Church and the massive profits gained from child pornography have all revealed the centrality of child sexual abuse that few previously suspected. (As Robert David Steele puts it: the five pillars of U.S. policy are guns, gold, cash, drugs, and child trafficking.)
Those same revelations have demonstrated that our country’s ruling class (and the world’s!) are corrupt to the bone. NOTHING – no crime, no degeneracy – is beyond them. The swamp is deep and fetid.
Joe Biden and the Democrats will be no better than Mr. Trump in draining that swamp. They have no interest in doing so.
Of course, I could go on with my list. However, the point is that there is more overlap than one might think between the convictions of those on the right and progressive readers and contributors to OEN. As uncomfortable as it might be, leftists must not cancel, but rather dialog with “the enemy” and seriously investigate their claims.
Readings for Third Sunday of Easter: ACTS 2:14, 22-32; PSALMS 16:1-11; 1PETER 1:17-21; LUKE 24:13-35
Today’s Gospel story is about dashed hopes redeemed by acceptance of Jesus’ Spirit of love encapsulated in the simple act of breaking bread with strangers. It’s about the replacement of discouragement and fear with hope and the prospect of entirely unforeseen, even miraculous possibilities.
Given our present context of pandemic, quarantine and presidential campaigns, I can’t read it without thinking of the dashed hopes of progressives. I can’t help thinking about the defeat of the self-styled revolutionary, Bernie Sanders and the presumed nomination of the de facto restorationist, Joe Biden.
For progressives, it all seems disastrous and beyond redemption. Where’s the hope? However, the example of former candidate, Marianne Williamson who synthesizes her Jewish tradition with that of Christians, offers reason for hope. It’s just too bad that we didn’t listen to her sooner.
Before I get to that though, think first about our context.
Our Lost Campaign
Begin by considering the irony of the present moment. Here we are stuck with, Joe Biden, the weakest entry in the original candidate field. Meanwhile, the strongest candidate – the one absolutely demanded by our extraordinary times – has slipped into political oblivion. I’m talking about Marianne Williamson.
Recall that at the beginning, more than 20 candidates announced themselves as contestants for the Democratic nomination. As far as the mainstream media (MSM) was concerned, Joe Biden was the odds-on favorite. Marianne Williamson, a spiritual teacher by vocation, was dismissed out of hand.
The irony is that now that the smoke has cleared, Joe Biden has indeed prevailed. And Marianne Williamson is looking better all the time.
Biden prevailed despite his pedestrian debate performances. All of them were entirely unnoteworthy except for his appearing generally confused, inarticulate, and (as ever) prone to embarrassing gaffes.
More specifically, doddering Uncle Joe showed himself to be a staunch upholder of a moribund status quo that the Coronavirus crisis has revealed to be crumbling all around. Clearly in cognitive decline, and even as the United States registers more COVID-19 deaths than any country in the world, the man can’t even acknowledge what’s apparent to most people everywhere. The U.S. healthcare system is a complete and utter disgrace. It must be replaced by a single payer arrangement like that afforded the citizens of all other industrialized nations. For more than 50 years, none of them has had trouble figuring out how to pay for public healthcare. Old Mr. Biden can’t seem to wrap his mind around that simple fact. Poor man.
Then there was Marianne Williamson. At the beginning, she was an object of media ridicule. She was portrayed as a fluffy woo-woo new ager. Her inspiration drawn from A Course in Miracles (ACIM) was laughed at by the pundits. “Miracles?” They didn’t understand that in ACIM vocabulary, the term refers to any change of perception from fear to love. And such change is exactly what’s demanded by our times – particularly, as it turns out, during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Yes, Marianne was dismissed out of hand. However, those of us who have been following her for years and who had read her Healing the Soul of America, knew better. For us, she was a much deeper Bernie Sanders. In fact, when candidates like Mayor Pete, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Corey Booker, Beto O’Rourke, and Tulsi Gabbard rushed to stop Sanders and endorse Biden, virtually alone among former candidates, Marianne stuck with Bernie.
She advocated all of his programs, but her rationale for doing so was much deeper. It was grounded in what she called a “politics of love.” It recognized clearly that our country’s fundamental malady is spiritual rather than economic. Hers was the very message Americans need to hear at this watershed moment. Fear is the world’s way; love is the Spirit of Life. A politics based on love is not only possible, we must realize, but required.
And over the years, Marianne has proven herself more eloquent in delivering that message than any of her candidate peers. She is far more articulate and inspiring than any of them – any of them! If she were in Silent Joe’s place, she’d be on TV every day encouraging all of us in this season of distress and explaining how to deal with it internally and externally. And she’d crush Lyin’ Donald Trump’s tedious pressers by contrast.
But even more valuable at this time of COVID-19, Ms. Williamson would lay out her inspiring policy rationale. It is first of all, that we can’t believe any of our politicians who mouth the neoliberal “Washington Consensus” with its trickle-down rationale and its idea of American exceptionalism. Even more generally, she’d insist that the wisdom of the world is 180 degrees opposite that of the underlying wisdom of Life Itself, whether we refer to it like that or call it Mother Earth, Nature with a capital ‘N,’ the Ground of Being, or for that matter, “God.”
Yes, she says, America has been great. And that greatness must be restored. However, it is found not in some top-down arrangement, where leadership comes from billionaires, bankers, hedge funders, giant corporations, or politicians. Instead, the greatness of the United States is found in its founding fathers and mothers, in abolitionists, women suffragists, labor unions, the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Green New Deal. Such understanding means that we must look for bottom-up leadership and policies rather than the stale top-down proposals emanating from D.C. and the likes of Biden and Trump.
In the current crisis, she’d say, American greatness is found in the immigrants (many of them undocumented) whom we’ve come to depend on to harvest our food, serve us in grocery stores, deliver our packages, and sweep floors and clean toilets in our hospitals. Ironically, the very ones vilified by President Trump are our economy’s real essential workers – more so than any of our politicians. Those workers are heroes and we all owe them a huge debt. They should be bailed out first. In fact, if bailouts are in question, the order of rescue should be (1) ordinary people, (2) mom and pop businesses, and (3) banks and corporations – not the reverse.
To get all of this in faith perspective, please read today’s liturgical selections for yourself here. See if you can discern the connection with what I’ve been saying. My own “translations” runs as follows:
ACTS 2:14, 22-32: The Earliest Christian FaithAddressed by Jews to Jews: Jesus was a wonderworker who fulfilled the “prophetic script” of being rejected and assassinated by his own people. But as with past prophets (as described by David) his soul has proven to be immortal. He lives! His Spirit cannot die.
PSALMS 16:1-11: Jesus’ Spirit Shows Us the Path to Life: We take refuge in that Spirit which his followers have inherited. When we’re disturbed it tells us what to do. It makes us happy, joyful, and confident even in the face of death.
1PETER 1:17-21: Follow That Path: Yes, they spilled Jesus’ blood like a lamb led to slaughter. But that wasn’t the end of him. His Holy Spirit remains (as it always has) to save us from a meaningless life devoted to the mere accumulation of gold and silver.
LUKE 24:13-35: The Miraculous Walk: That firstEaster morning two of Jesus’ disciples were walking to a town seven miles from Jerusalem. Sadly, they could talk of nothing other than the tragic events of the previous weekend. Jesus joined them unrecognized. With a jester’s smile, he asked about himself and his story. The two earnestly recounted the tale of their dashed hopes concerning a wonder worker from Nazareth assassinated by the religious establishment – and the women’s crazy account of a miraculously empty tomb, angels and new life. “There’s nothing odd about that,” Jesus explained still smiling. It’s the “prophetic script.” It’s what has always happened among our people. Still not recognizing Jesus, the two begged him to have supper and stay the night with them. During the meal, Jesus broke bread as he had at his Last Supper. And in that action, the two disciples recognized Jesus. Suddenly, he disappeared. The disciples practically ran back to Jerusalem to report what they saw as the result of breaking bread with a stranger who turned out to be the (risen) Christ. The world has never been the same since.
Yes, instead of Marianne Williamson, we’re stuck with sleepy Joe Biden. And, if you’re like me, you’re discouraged by this awful turn of events. Together we’re like those two disciples that first Easter Sunday walking down the road to Emmaus. And so far, this homily has been like the conversation of those two before Jesus joined them to put everything in perspective. It’s been about what might have been. All seems lost.
But the Christ-consciousness championed by Marianne (and Jesus himself) asks us to bring our darkness into the light of resurrection belief (however we understand it). That consciousness makes it clear that miracles are possible. In ACIM’s sense of fundamental changes in perception from fear to love, they happen all the time.
And at the moment, with the entire world shut down (who would have thought that possible?) we stand before what Arundhati Roy calls a “portal.” The doorway leads from our old world to a new one of the type described for us not only by Marianne Williamson, but by Jesus himself and all the great avatars of human history.
While Joe Biden calls us to turn back, Marianne Williamson joins Jesus in urging us forward into an awaiting new world. There the first are last and the last are first. It’s a planet with room for everyone.
We now know Marianne Williamson won’t be the one to lead us through the beckoning portal. It’s up to us all to rise to the occasion and resurrect everything to a new way of life. Yes, it’s up to us.
Readings for 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: WIS 11:22-12:2; PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14; 2 THES 1:11-2:2; JN 3:16; LK 1:1-10
Today’s readings for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary
Time bring up questions of restorative justice and reparations for the harm we
may have caused others as individuals and as Americans.
The day’s main focus is the familiar story of the tax
collector Zacchaeus. This very wealthy
man was inspired by Jesus to give half of his possessions to the poor and to
restore to those he had defrauded four times as much as he had embezzled.
Zacchaeus’ example makes me think of Marianne Williamson’s campaign for president which has made reparations a central plank in her platform.
Of course, Marianne’s reparations focus is the African American community. But her rationale for it suggests something far beyond race relations within the United States. It intimates as well reparations to victims of U.S. foreign policy and to Mother Nature herself.
Let me explain and then show how the explanation is related
to this day’s readings.
To begin with, yes, I’m still supporting Marianne Williamson for president. She is the only candidate who confronts us with the undeniable truth that Americans need a fundamental change in consciousness if we are to address the unprecedented problems currently facing humankind.
That’s what Marianne means by “miracles” — changes in fundamental perceptions. That was also central to Jesus’ proclamation about the Kingdom of God. We must think differently about the world and act accordingly.
So, it’s not a question of merely tweaking the reigning economic system or of reviving Roosevelt’s New Deal. What we need is an entirely new world vision that operates from the premise that everything we see is completely upside down. Reality stands 180 degrees away from what our culture tells us. All of it. If our culture says “black,” we should think “white.” If it says “good,” we should think “bad.” If it says “peace,” we should know they’re getting us ready for another war.
Instead, we are all one – women, men, children, immigrants, refugees, animals, plants, and the very air we breathe. That’s the basis of Marianne Williamson’s candidacy. There are no foreigners, no sacrosanct borders – no America First. In fact, the United States must take 100% responsibility for the world’s ills.
My decision to continue my support of Marianne Williamson was reinforced by listening to a campaign speech she gave at Yale University last week.
There she made the following points that she has always centralized in her approach to politics and to simply living as an evolved human being in our troubled world. Notice how they echo today’s Gospel themes, reparations and restorative justice:
We all know that until we identify and address the root of our problems in our personal, family, and community relationships, we’ll never truly solve those problems.
However, what is true in our personal lives also applies to our nation, because nations are simply groups of individuals.
As Americans, we have been unwilling to face up to the harm caused by slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation on the one hand and to the resulting wealth accumulation in the white community on the other.
The same holds true for U.S. foreign policy which has been based on colonialism and neocolonialism which are simply euphemisms for forcefully transferring wealth from the Global South to the Global North.
Such transfer-by-force has been destructive not only to people but to the natural environment destroyed by industrialized agriculture, rainforest destruction, overfishing, and massive waste disposal in what’s been called the Third World.
We thus owe reparations to African Americans, to the Global South, and to Mother Nature.
Marianne’s presidency would have us directly confront those problems as the sine qua non for solving our national dilemmas, world poverty, and impending climate catastrophe.
Now, those are truly radical positions (in the etymological sense of that term). No other candidate – not even Bernie or Elizabeth Warren – addresses them at the level of consciousness emphasized by Marianne Williamson.
So, think about that and Marianne’s position on reparations and restorative justice as you read the selections included in this Sunday’s liturgy of the word. You’ll find them here. They all invite us to radically transformed ideas of God, ourselves and of those we live with – particularly on the other side of the street, on the other side of the tracks and on the other side of the world. (Note that the first reading is from the Book of Wisdom which imagines God’s Spirit as female.) What follows are my reading’s “translations.” Please check for yourself to see if I’ve got them right:
The Real Master Of the Universe Is immense And intense In her presence In everything And everyone. To her Our “sins” and addictions Are trivial. They mean nothing In her vast Scheme of things Where all people Are loved and cherished Just as they are – As God created them. “Repentance” Means rejecting False guilt And “wickedness” While repairing The hurts We’ve inevitably inflicted On others.
PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
Where God is recognized As Love Her name Is constantly extolled. She is lovely herself And merciful Never angry But kind and compassionate Always. So, set aside “Fear of the Lord” And embrace your Queen Who keeps her word, Does nothing harmful And favors her Heavily burdened And (necessarily) fallen Children.
2 THES 1:11-2:2
Rabbi Paul’s Constant prayer for us Is that we might be Like his teacher, Jesus Who recognized Everyone and everything As lovable And full of grace. In fact, Jesus is among us Each day Whenever we gather Together And not merely in some Far distant future As false teachers say.
Yes, our wise Queen Has given us Jesus Who showed us Life In its fullest form That we might live Happily ever after
Zacchaeus, The rich exploiter Of his own people, Was a tiny man In more ways than one, But as an example Of repentance and reparation. He rose above the crowd To see Jesus differently. Imagine his surprise (And the anger Of his victims) When Jesus Saw him differently And invited himself for dinner. The result? Zacchaeus grew Into a giant On the spot Giving half his possessions To the poor And paying Four times His extortions! Four times!! How’s that For reparations?
I hope you can see the connection between those readings and Marianne Williamson’s emphasis on reparations for slavery and restorative justice for resources stolen in a system of unequal trades identified in the Global South as neocolonialism. The readings (and especially the example of Zacchaeus) show that such policies based on a clear moral sense of justice should represent the twin pillars of domestic and foreign policy.
No other candidate has identified those pillars with the clarity and conviction of Marianne Williamson. In the end, no other candidate — and very few spiritual leaders of any stripe — challenge us to rethink our entire understanding of life.
According to Williamson and Jesus, life, truth, and our health as a nation are to be found in exactly the opposite direction from that indicated by the reigning ideology.
So, let me get this straight. Marianne Williamson should be
disqualified as a viable presidential candidate because she has too much faith
in the power of prayer, of mind, of love, and of God.
The disqualification was sparked by a tweet she made as
Hurricane Dorian was bearing down upon the southern coast of the United
States. It read: “The
Bahamas, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas…may all be in our prayers now.
Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea; it is a
creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization,
meditation for those in the way of the storm,”
It was a call to faith addressed to a nation where the majority considers itself followers of the one who said, “If you have faith, even as a mustard seed, and say to this mountain ‘move from here to there,’ it will obey you” (MT 17:20).
[Yes, faith and its power to “move mountains” is an idea that appears multiple times in the Jesus tradition, indicating that the phrase probably originated with the Master himself. But, of course, Jesus’ words presume that his listeners, like most of us, had no such minimal faith. Hence, he implied, our belief remains powerless.]
aside though, consider the content of Ms. Williamson’s tweet. It simply asked
To face the power of our human minds and spirits as much greater and connected with natural forces than we generally believe.
In view of that fact, to activate their collective force to avert disaster.
And to do so by stilling that mind through meditation, by praying for those in the hurricanes path, and by visualizing their prayers answered.
Read it again: that’s exactly what the tweet says! Nothing more; nothing less.
In other words, it was all quite harmless and potentially powerful. There was nothing in it of fear, hatred, climate-change denial or blame of victims – all the responses we’ve come to expect from the outrageous tweets of more conventional politicians. Instead, there was only expression of solidarity, compassion, faith, stillness, and acceptance of what traditional spirituality tells us of the untapped power of the human spirit that consciously aligns itself with the divine.
As I’ve already indicated, the tweet also implied a connection between human consciousness and Mother Nature herself – something underlined in the mystical traditions belonging to all the world’s great faiths and to mainstream science as well. (As Francis of Assisi would remind us, all of us are in some sense a part of “Brother Hurricane” Dorian.)
But, horror of horrors (!) such expression of traditional faith and scientific insight was enough to disqualify Williamson from presidential candidacy. Whoopi Goldberg and panel members on “The View” ridiculed her. Others characterized her as no better than that of religious fundamentalists.
To my mind,
however, it proves just the opposite.
Williamson’s tweet demonstrates how truly different she is from her fellow candidates as well as from the fundamentalists who have hijacked the faith of Jesus. And how refreshing! Her viewpoint is what our times require, where expressions of faith are limited to “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings — or to divisive imposition of narrow beliefs about abortion and rejection of LGBTQQIAAPs.
In fact, Marianne Williamson is so different from what we expect from politicians and secular leftists that when she simply expresses solidarity with those in the Bahamas, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas (whose prayers no doubt echoed Marianne’s tweet) she reveals herself as absolutely mystifying, incomprehensible, and unacceptable.
Let’s face that too: Williamson’s tweet expressed extraordinary solidarity with those in Dorian’s path. Without doubt, many of them were praying that the hurricane’s force might be mitigated or diverted. In fact, if we found ourselves in their circumstances, the religious among us (and “foxhole Christians” as well) would be offering similar prayers: “Please, Lord, save me and my family from this hurricane. Change its path. Keep us safe.”
And what would be wrong with that? It’s an absolutely human response to impending disaster.
No, the hubbub over Ms. Williamson’s tweet is but another demonstration of why her candidacy is indispensable. We need her to profoundly change our political conversation, to move that conversation from fear and denial to compassion, and to unveil the true nature of faith engaged with an overly-secularized world.
Readings for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: WIS 9:13-18B; PS 90: 3-6, 12-14, 17; PHMN 9-10, 12-17; PS 119: 135; LK 14: 25-33
Marianne Williamson’s campaign is not dead. True, she will
not be appearing on the stage of the third Democratic debate. Although she has
the required number of donors, Williamson has not yet attained the necessary 2%
in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Nonetheless,
her campaign continues its concentration on Iowa, where she’s been working for
the last several months. Her people confidently anticipate her participation in
Debate # 4.
Recently, the New York Times (NYT) ran a long very positive column on Marianne. It was called “The Gospel according to Marianne Williamson.” It reminded readers of Ms. Williamson’s identity, her growing and highly enthusiastic audiences, and the persuasive power of her remarkable eloquence.
The article assured readers that Williamson is far more than some New Age guru or the spiritual advisor of Oprah Winfrey. Jokes and criticisms aside, she has nothing to do with crystals or burning sage. Instead, she is a widely-hailed, best-selling author, spiritual teacher, counsellor, and generally wise person. For more than 40 years, she has been a student and teacher of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), a book published in 1974) which Williamson describes as “basic Christian mysticism.”
It’s that latter qualification – Williamson’s connection
with Christian mysticism – that makes her continued campaign extremely relevant
to this Sunday’s liturgy of the word. That’s because the theme of today’s
readings contrasts the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the world just as does
ACIM. Serious consideration of that contrast illustrates the unique importance
of Marianne Williamson’s candidacy at this particular juncture in the history
of our nation and world.
For ACIM, the world’s wisdom is based on fear; God’s wisdom
is based on love. In fact, according to A Course in Miracles, love and
fear are the only two motivational forces in the entire world. That’s true in
our personal relationships, but also in politics. Either we see others as
enemies poised to attack us at every opportunity, and act accordingly. Or we
recognize our very selves in those the world would teach us to fear, mistrust,
More specifically, the politics of fear sees Muslims, Russia, China, the Taliban, ISIS, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQQIAAPs, and poor people in general as our enemies. Meanwhile, a politics based on love recognizes that none of those the world teaches us to fear is basically hostile. Rather, when we take 100% responsibility for the problems designated enemies ostensibly represent, a path opens up to achieving peace with all concerned.
Does such conviction seem woo-woo or unrealistic to you? If
it does, please be reminded first of all, that such belief is basic not only to
Christian faith, but (as Williamson constantly reminds us) to all the world’s great
religious traditions, including Islam. It is basic also to many secular
traditions that consider themselves atheistic or agnostic.
Secondly, remember that according to Christian faith, “God”
is synonymous with “love,” so that Williamson’s “Politics of Love” means the
politics of God. That means (thirdly) that rejection of political love as
woo-woo trivializes Christian faith and Jesus himself.
With all of that in mind, please read for yourselves this Sunday’s liturgical readings. (You’ll find them here.) To repeat, they contrast the wisdom of the world with the Wisdom of God. In any case, and for what it’s worth, here are my “translations” of their content. Their thoughtful review will help you see what I’m getting at in saying that Marianne Williamson’s “Gospel” is far deeper than revealed in the NYT article just referenced.
The wisdom of God Unlike the world’s Is sure and decisive. For human thought processes Focused on the body And its shifting reality Are necessarily confused. Hence, we cannot judge wisely Without assistance From the Holy Spirit Who consistently reveals God’s Reality As filled with love.
PS 90: 3-6, 12-14, 17
This is because Time has no meaning For God. Everything but Love Passes in an instant. Consequently Our prayer must be: “Teach us Your changeless vision Filled with kindness Joy and gladness.” Only such Synonyms for love Give meaning To our lives.
PHMN 9-10, 12-17
For example, An elderly and imprisoned Paul Long ago Rejected the world’s wisdom About slavery. Seeing with the eyes of Christ He says Miraculously transformed Onesimus From slave and chattel Into a man A partner A son and brother. “Follow my example,” The shackled one implores.
PS 119: 135
We agree: Show us your face, O, Lord, In slaves And in those behind bars. Yes, teach us your ways.
LK 14: 25-33
But the Master warns: “If, like me, you live According to God’s Wisdom, The World Will surely crucify you As the subversive You must be To qualify As my disciple. But be sure to Subvert non-violently For otherwise, The militarized Powers of the world Will surely crush you. Sabotage instead By insistent example That refuses To value anything The world treasures.”
Those are radical thoughts. They are 180 degrees opposed to
the “wisdom of the world.” Yes, the very wisdom of God teaches that we have no
enemies other than those our thoughts and resulting actions have created. It’s
reconciliation with our designated enemies (recognizing them as embodiments of
our very selves) that holds the promise of our very salvation.
No Democratic candidate other than Marianne Williamson dares
call us to such radicality. It’s that change in attitude that ACIM defines as
“miraculous.” Only that sort of basic transformation in consciousness can save
us from the unprecedented catastrophes facing our world today.
As Ms. Williamson puts it: “It’s unreasonable to expect those who drove us into the ditch we’re in now to be the ones qualified to get us out.”
No: our present context necessitates an entirely new leadership and consciousness – a new wisdom based on love rather than fear. That’s the vision Marianne Williamson offers us this election season. And it’s not New Age woo-woo. In reality, the wisdom in question is not new at all. It’s reflected in the teachings of Jesus. It’s the wisdom of Paul. It’s the theme of today’s liturgical readings.
Readings for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time: ECC 1:2; 2:21-23; PS 90: 3-6; 12-14; 17; COL 3: 1-5; 9-11; MT 5:3; LK 12: 13-21
Marianne Williamson shone brightly again during
the first night of the second Democratic debate. This time, with only nine
minutes of exposure, she had the whole country talking.
As with her first appearance, her name was the most Google-searched among her nine debate rivals. And afterwards, the Washington Post, for instance, noted her contributions with headlines like “Marianne Williamson Had A Big Night in the Democratic Debate,” “Marianne Williamson Made the Most of Her Limited Time . . .,” “Marianne Williamson Makes the Case for Reparations in her Breakout Debate Moment,” and “I’ve Worked for Marianne Williamson. She’s No Kook.”
Additionally, “Democracy Now,” the following day gave more time than ever to Marianne’s remarks about the Flint water crisis, and about reparations, though, in the process, Intercept columnist, Mehdi Hasan felt compelled to dismiss her (without explanation) as “a little bit kooky, let’s be honest.”
Meanwhile Cody Fenwick writing for AlterNet favorably included Marianne’s comments about reparations among his “Nine Best Moments” of the primary debate. However (significantly for our focus here) his article, “Here Are 9 of the Best Moments and 7 of the Worst from the 2020 Democratic Primary Debate,” created a special category for what her campaign considers her most significant remark. Fenwick classified the following as a “Moment that Defied Category.” He wrote, “In the course of a rousing speech about the shameful government-triggered water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the author’s speech took a bizarre turn: ‘If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.’” Without further comment, that statement concluded his article.
Thinking it somehow “bizarre,”
Fenwick was evidently confused by the reference to a “dark psychic force,” even
though Williamson immediately explained its meaning. She was referring to “the
collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country.” His
confusion resulted, I think, from Williamson’s entry into unexplored debate
terrain as she attempted to drive the conversation deeper than the clichés and
normalized insanity that characterized many of Tuesday’s exchanges (like Steve
Bullock’s disagreement with Elizabeth Warren about first use of nuclear
What “dark psychic forces” did Williamson have in mind? Judging from her books Healing the Soul of America, and The Politics of Love, they are habits of mind and spirit inculcated by a culture that tolerates, if not celebrates:
hatred she specifically referenced
The mind-set that
actually considers first (or any!) use of nuclear weapons as acceptable
White supremacy and
Child abuse at our
Regime change wars
gun culture reflected not only in law, but in our films, novels, newspapers,
and magazines – and especially in military policy
That’s just the short
list of the dark forces in question. But for Williamson, all of them can be
synopsized in the single term “fear.” Systemically, they can be summarized in
the term “capitalism” and the terror-filled interlocking systems of individualism,
competition, and greed that system inspires.
And that brings us to the theme of the liturgy of the word for today’s 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. On my reading, all of them present a light-hearted critique and rejection of the underlying spirit of capitalism. But see if they speak to you in that way. Take a look at them here.
In any case, what follows are my “translations”:
ECC 1:2; 2:21-23 (A Book of Hebrew Wisdom)
Accumulating property And money Working hard to get it Worrying about it Losing sleep over it . . . Is all foolishness. And in the end, You can’t take it with you. How silly to fret About possessions!
PS 90: 3-6; 12-14; 17
So, soften your heart. Life is short It passes Like the seasons Like grass. You might even die In your sleep tonight. Instead, enjoy life NOW. Be happy and kind And careful In whatever you do. That’s true prosperity.
COL 3: 1-5; 9-11
As St. Paul says, Use your Christ consciousness To look beyond The material To discover True wealth – Your invisible life Within. After all, Happiness Has nothing to do With idolizing money Or pleasure, or deceit. It’s all about Living with The consciousness of Jesus That all humans (wherever they come from) Are sisters and brothers.
MT 5:3 (Blessed are the poor in spirit)
In fact, Christ’s values Are the exact opposite Of the world’s.
LK 12: 13-21 (Parable of the wealth-obsessed rich man who dies in his sleep)
So, don’t be foolish Worrying about Inheritance and money You didn’t even work for. After all, Life’s not about How much you have. Instead, Laugh with Jesus At fools who spend Entire lives Focused on mammon Only to die Before they’ve had time To enjoy the rich Life God has given To everyone Equally.
Notice how the readings lament and make fun of lives based on greed and focus on material accumulation. Such goals produce anxiety, sleeplessness, jealousy, and frustration. They end with a completely wasted life and early death.
As opposed to the Prosperity Gospel, this is what Jewish Wisdom Literature, the prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, and leaders like Marianne Williamson have to say about excessive material wealth. It's not the point of life. Instead, love, justice, and the inner peace and community they produce is what fullness of life is about.
Readings like today's remind us of the gloomy and literally unspeakable (i.e. off-limits for discussion) forces that drive our culture. They are encapsulated in our economic system that emphasizes individualism, competition, violence and fear. The system is capitalism-as-we-know-it.
By bringing that up and in terms of "dark psychic forces," Williamson places herself beyond normal political discourse. To mainstream commentators, that makes her puzzling, bizarre, weird, and "kooky," even kookier than those advocating the omnicide of nuclear war.
However, to those of us seeking escape from business as usual, it made her the best candidate on last Tuesday's stage.
The favorable reaction to Williamson's statements there shows that increasing numbers are recognizing her truth.
After the first Democratic Presidential Debate, Marianne Williamson generated a lot of interest.
On the one hand, her name ended up being the most searched on the internet. With language and demeanor vastly different from the other candidates, people wanted to know who she might be.
On the other hand, Williamson generated a good deal of ridicule. Seth Meyers joked that she clearly won’t be around this fall. Ha ha; who would be so foolish as to think otherwise! Kate McKinnon (pictured above) offered a woo-woo Williamson impression that had Marianne eliminating global problems by burning all the sage on the planet. TYT’s Brooke Thomas dismissed Marianne as a “vanity candidate” intent merely on selling her books.
All of that was itself laughable for those who
know Marianne Williamson. We know she’s not a woo-woo lightweight; she doesn’t
need to sell more books; and if people understand just who she is and grasp her
fundamental message, she’ll definitely be around this fall.
And that’s because her absolutely radical approach
to politics supplies the simple key we’ve all been looking for to solve the
endless problems on our national list, be it climate change, the threat of
nuclear war, terrorism, or immigration.
Let me repeat: her approach offers a key far more
radical and easily understood than anything Bernie or Elizabeth even imagines
or dares to say.
The key I’m referencing is basic to the teaching of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), which has been the guidebook for Marianne’s life and teaching for more than 40 years. Williamson herself describes the course as basic Christian mysticism. It’s not a religion; it’s not for everyone; it doesn’t even demand belief in God. However, it does respond to the universal human quest for ethical principle and spiritual meaning, whether the quest is understood as generated by God, Yahweh, Allah, Krishna, the Buddha, Ultimate Reality, the Ground of Being, Life Itself, or Nature with a capital “N.”
But what about that key I mentioned?
It’s simply this: take 100% responsibility for your
problems and deal with them accordingly.
That’s it. And, though difficult to actually
implement, that assumption of complete responsibility will go a long way
towards eliminating not only personal and inter-personal problems, but all our political
conundrums as well.
How radical is that?
It’s the opposite, of course, from the approach of
Mr. Trump – and even of Marianne’s colleagues on the debate stage. In contrast
to Marianne, every one of them adopts the standard cliched and stereotyped
approach so familiar to all of us in our personal lives: I’m not the problem;
she is; he is; they are.
In political terms it’s refugees, immigrants,
people of color, welfare cheats, unprovoked “terrorists,” the Russians,
Chinese, Iranians, Somalis, Libyans, Syrians, MS-13 gang members, and drug
dealers. The list goes on and on and on. All of those included must be
punished, subjected to sanctions, bombed, droned, or killed.
But we never find fault in ourselves. Never!
Pertinently and most recently, such unwillingness to accept responsibility was expressed by President Trump in his racist harangue against Congressional Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Talib, Ayanna Presley, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC). According to Mr. Trump all four representatives outrageously blame the United States the problems of terrorism, Palestinian oppression, public misinformation, and immigration problems. Here’s what Trump and his audience ridiculed as patently ludicrous:
Ilhan Omar “attacked our country” saying that
terrorism is a reaction to our involvement in other people’s affairs. She even
blamed the United States for the crisis in Venezuela!
Rashida Talib said that members of congress who
support Israel have forgotten what country they represent.
Ayana Presley alleged that “ignorance is
pervasive in many parts of this country.”
AOC compared U.S. border agents to Nazis running
concentration camps and claimed that inmates in the camps were forced to drink
water from toilets.
To such accusations, Trump’s followers bellowed loud dissent.
How could anyone possible accuse Americans of ignorance, of terrorism, of
supporting Global South coups, or of maintaining concentration camps or at our
border, or of facilitating them in Gaza? After all, (in Mr. Trump’s words) we
are the “greatest force for peace and justice in the world.”
But, Williamson and ACIM implicitly ask, what if every one of those accusations is true? What if terrorism is largely blowback? What if the United States has indeed routinely undermined governments in the former colonies, including Venezuela? What if members of Congress generally appear more loyal to Israel than to their constituents? What if many Americans are indeed ignorant, and if those cages on our border – those baby prisons and child detention facilities – are actually concentration camps?
If we seriously entertained those possibilities, dealing
with the problems in question would involve change – not principally on the
part of our designated enemies – but on our own part. (Imagine that!) It would
compel us to terminate uninvited involvement in the affairs of other nations.
It would have us cease and desist, for instance, from regime change strategies,
from support of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and from abusing children
by separating infants from their mothers.
In theological terms as understood in ACIM, accepting 100%
responsibility for the world’s problems would involve:
Prioritizing the world as God created it, belonging
to everyone and perfect before humans appeared – without borders, which (though
useful for commerce and travel) are not part of the Love’s unchallengeable
Admitting that we are not an exceptional nation
– or as ACIM puts it: No one is special, while everyone is special
Forgiving those we habitually blame – meaning treating
them exactly as we would like to be treated
Realizing that no one is attacking us without
Yet being willing to treat genuine criminality (e.g.
as represented by those cages on the border or by the 9/11 attacks) with
humanely retributive imprisonment (and/or impeachment)
Put more practically (according to the points distinguishing
Williamson’s platform from that of others who also advocate the Green New Deal,
etc.), admitting our responsibility for the world’s problems entails:
Paying reparations especially to African
Americans, but also to indigenous tribes and to the countries our unprovoked
regime-change wars have destroyed.
Creating a cabinet-level Department of Children
and Youth intent on making our schools “palaces of learning” and our libraries
“temples of literature and art”
Funding a Department of Peace at the same level
as the so-called Defense Department
Imagine a world in which we took 100% responsibility for climate change, nuclear disarmament, immigration, and all the other problems represented by those we habitually blame. Imagine a president using her bully pulpit to set a constructive national tone (vs. the destructive tone set by Mr. Trump) and helping us all to accept 100% responsibility not only for the world’s problems but for our personal conflicts as well. What would happen to our marriages, to our families, to our local communities?
Answers to those musings constitute the reasons why Marianne Williamson, far from deserving ridicule, is the very candidate our country needs.
P.S. Watch how Marianne knocked it out of the park on Colbert last Monday night:
Readings for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: IS 66:10-14C; PS 66: 1-7, 16, 20; GAL 6: 14-18; LK 10: 1-12, 17-20.
The theme of today’s liturgy of the word is exile and deliverance
from captivity. In its light, I can’t help thinking of all those refugees at
our southern border and of Marianne Williamson’s wise and unique response in
last week’s second Democratic Debate.
According to our readings, the immigrants and refugees our politicians want us to hate are exiles like the ancient Hebrews in Babylon. They are the victims of the rich and powerful as were the Jews in Jesus’ day, when Rome occupied his homeland aided and abetted by the Temple clergy. That is, today’s biblical selections say that the poorest and most vulnerable among us are God’s own people.
Yet incredibly, the richest and most invulnerable at the top of our contemporary social order – the very ones who crashed our economy, looted our common treasury, and escaped unscathed with the handouts we ourselves provided – somehow want us to believe that the poor exiles from their beloved homes in Central America are the cause of all our problems.
But remember: the home lands of these exiles from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are the very countries whose economies our government purposely and permanently crashed in the 1980s. Then, the Reagan and Bush I administrations used drug money to finance illegal wars that ended up killing hundreds of thousands and replacing governments and social movements whose primary beneficiaries would have been the parents of those at our borders today. The latter are victims of the drug lords we established and supported during the ‘80s and who today are doing the same things they did 40 years ago – marketing drugs while terrorizing and murdering the innocent. I’m talking about the generals and other military officers who are now the drug kingpins.
That’s the point Marianne Williamson tried to make at the first Democratic debate. But no one picked it up. None of the other candidates elaborated on Ms. Williamson’s observation that today’s immigration “crisis” amounts to our government’s reaping what it sowed. The other candidates still haven’t seconded Marianne’s point. Instead, they and their interlocutors remain stuck in the same old, same old. They mouth the standard political platitudes while ignoring the shameful history that explains today’s headlines.
It’s been that way from biblical times and before – rich foreigners oppressing poor locals. Listen to today’s readings. Or, rather, read them for yourself. Here are my “translations.”
These are the words Of Isaiah’s prophecy To all in captivity By Powers Foreign and domestic: “Your time of desperation Is nearly over. You will soon Return home Like starving infants To Mother-Jerusalem. With hunger satisfied And prosperity Incredible Along with joy And comfort, comfort, comfort At last!”
PS 66: 1-7, 16, 20
Our liberator From exile So kind and powerful Is the answer To the prayers Of captive people And a source of joy For the whole Human race And all of creation. No obstacle Can impede God’s destiny Of liberation Joy and freedom From oppression.
GAL 6: 14-18
Yes, our destiny Is an entirely New World! Where the world’s distinctions Are meaningless. Acting accordingly Now Will bring Everyone Compassion and peace. However, The World Crucifies us For this belief. Nonetheless, We’re called to Bear its torture And scars Gladly As Jesus did.
LK 10: 1-12, 17-20
Paul’s words Agree with Jesus Who sent Thirty-six pairs Of “advance men” And women To announce (Like Isaiah) Liberation From oppression By powers imperial. Like lambs among wolves Like monks With begging bowls, They healed and proclaimed God’s Great Cleanup Of a world Infested by demonic Imperial oppressors. And it worked! Every one of those 72 Cast out evil spirits Just like Jesus. (Despite powerful opposition And crucifixion.)
Some have ridiculed Marianne's debate performance. However, that only shows how our country thought-leaders have become tone-deaf to biblical values. They consider them ludicrous.
For me, that only signals the necessity of doubling-down on support for the only one in the crowded Democratic field who courageously insists on the values embedded in today's readings which identify the keys for solving the problems caused by "experienced" politicians. As Marianne says, those keys are love and forgiveness precisely for and of those the rich and powerful vilify.
Just for fun, here’s an interview with Marianne Williamson whose candidacy for POTUS I’ve been trying to promote. I’m doing that because I think Marianne offers the national presidential debate a refreshing, deeply spiritual dimension that it sorely needs. She makes that contribution in a way helpful to believers, non-believers, and those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” In any case, give this little interview a look and listen and see what you think.