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What follows are thirty blog posts Ive written recently, which I collected together here for my

social media friends. I appreciate your encouragement, and all the many ways you contribute to
my life. Thanks for being my friend and sharing this journey with me.
(1)
Paganism
The nature of the monotheistic religions is to encode us with the idea that individualism is of
utmost importance. Think of the Christian religion, and its focus on individual salvation.
Meanwhile, these religions categorically condemn and dismiss any form of paganism
ideologies that integrally relate us to the earth.!
Paganism is yet another term that religion demonizes and scares people away from. You might
be surprised to find that some of the central values of paganism include:
1. Love for and Kinship with Nature. Reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of
life and death.
2. A positive morality, in which the individual is responsible for the discovery and development
of their true nature in harmony with the outer world and community. This is often expressed as
Do what you will, as long as it harms none.
3. Recognition of the Divine, which transcends gender, acknowledging both the female and male
aspect of Deity.
If you do some more digging around you will also find that paganism teaches:
1. Responsibility of Beliefs
The most basic tenant of paganism is that it is your own responsibility, not the responsibility of
any government, institution, church or other people, to choose what you believe in regards to
spirituality, values, ethics, the nature of Divinity, etc.
2. Personal Responsibility for Your Actions and Personal Development
The development of your personal beliefs, morals and ethics is your own responsibility. The
belief that we are products of our own environment does not stand within the pagan structure, as
paganism teaches that it is the responsibility of each individual to learn to recognize what is right
from wrong, regardless of our early environment.
3. Everything is Sacred
Most pagan religions believe that everything in the universe is sacred, but the definition and level
of sacredness applied to an object will generally vary from one pagan to another. For some
pagans, all parts of our universe are considered divine and as such, sacred and worthy of our
deepest respect.
There is nothing in the above values and principles of paganism that are inconsistent with the
message and teachings of Jesus.
So, do you see what I mean? Many people learned through religious indoctrination that
paganism is akin to worshipping Satan. Thats what happens when we dont question what
weve been told, think for ourselves, or take responsibility to educate ourselves.
(2)
Reincarnation
Reincarnation is the notion that the soul or spirit, after biological death, begins a new life in a
new body. Though the belief is a central tenet of the Indian religions such as Hinduism and
Buddhism, traditional Christian theology does not make room for the concept of reincarnation.
Some of the early church fathers held a belief in reincarnation such as Origen, but ecclesiastical
powers outlawed the belief and persecuted those who held it. The idea was a threat to the power
of the religious hierarchy if we have unlimited opportunities to evolve spiritually, the church
authorities could not threaten people with hellfire if they did not fulfill their demands in this
single life.
As a result, most Christians believe that we are created at conception and when we die we
become eternal. However, eternity cannot be eternal on one end and finite on the other. If
something has a beginning, it must have an end. If we believe that we will live forever, it must
follow that we have always existed, as Origen taught.
From a purely intuitive point of view, if many of our greatest life lessons are learned later in life,
what sense does it make to learn them and acquire great wisdom, and then have very little or no
life left to live and apply it? I think theres a way that doesnt really make a lot of sense if you
think about it.
In my view, our original Self is one with God. Always has been, always is, and always will be.
That Self assumed a human body, mind and personhood for the purpose of discovering and
giving expression to its divine Self in the human dimension and reality. Its quite a trick to get all
that sorted out being fully divine and fully human. This is one reason why Jesus is significant
to us. He said, I am the truth. In other words, Jesus was saying, Heres the truth. The options
are not divine OR human. What I am and what you are is divine AND human.
I dont see how the idea that one would assume more than one human life to evolve into the
fullest expression of this truth is particularly a problem. It seems a bit unrealistic to think that a
person could complete their full spiritual evolution in a single lifetime?
However, whatever one believes about reincarnation, it seems that we can only live one lifetime
at a time. And so it might not be worth getting too obsessed with the notion of reincarnation if it
distracts you from being mindful and fully engaged in the life you are living now. Having said
that, I should mention that there are some who believe that it can be useful to know something of
their past lives. Past life regression therapy is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what
practitioners believe are memories of past lives or incarnations for the purpose of exploring the
experiences that may have formed the roots of their current fears or phobias.
An Atheist may have a belief in reincarnation from a bit of a different perspective. From a
scientific point of view, in terms of the Conservation of Energy and the First Law of
Thermodynamics, energy cannot be created or destroyed, but rather transformed. In other words,
energy can be stored, energy can move, energy can be transformed from one type of energy to
another type of energy but during all this moving and transforming the total amount of energy
never changes. Energy changes form and moves from place to place but the total amount doesnt
change. So once the human body ceases to function and deteriorates, the energy field that held it
all together transforms itself into a different form of energy.
(3)
Gnosticism
The word gnostic has been twisted around by religious people to have the connotation of
something dangerous, sinister, evil or demonic. The accusation of being gnostic is meant to
induce you with fear to dissuade you from the path you are on. This is the most common tactic of
people who want to control you fear.
First off, the word gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge or wisdom. Most commonly
the word is used to refer to spiritual knowledge.
Those who want to scare you off your path will speak of Gnosticism as some sort of diabolical
hidden knowledge that violates the truth of Jesus. Because we all know that anything that
could be described as a hidden or secret knowledge must be akin to some dangerous spell
concocted in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
There are at least four main reasons why the idea of a hidden inner knowledge threatens some
religious people:
1. People outsource, externalize or defer their spiritual authority to a religious system.
2. People have been made to mistrust what is inside themselves.
3. People idolize the powers of the mind.
4. People misunderstand how spiritual truth is known.
Here are a few things to ponder
There is a way that all spiritual knowledge is hidden. Think of Jesus illustration of the wide and
narrow road. The truth is simple, but its difficult because of our own preferences. Most people
dont want to know the truth, they want to be comfortable. It is often the case that the path of
truth is very discomforting to the things we think we already know, and therefore it is a road less
traveled.
Remember that old Burger King motto have it your way? It is often the unspoken motto of
our spiritual journey and pursuit of truth. We want to know the truth on our terms. We have
conditions like:
a. It has to nicely fit in, complement, and support our current beliefs and understandings.
b. It must provide a sense of certainty and security.
c. It must not disturb our lives too much so as to make us uncomfortable, or push us too far out
of our comfort zone.
I wrote an entire section in Notes from (over) the Edge about how the truth is known. Not what it
is, but how to find it.
Think also of Jesus primary message and teaching: Repent for the Kingdom of God has come.
The word repent does NOT mean to be sorry for past wrongs. The Greek word for repent is
metanoia, which means to transform the way you typically understand or process reality. It
means to get out of the machinations of your mind, and allow yourself to see things in a way you
have never allowed yourself to see before. In other words, Jesus said that Gods kingdom of
peace, wholeness, freedom, and well-being is present in every moment, but you wont find it in
the ways you are accustomed to finding things.
I wrote in Notes from (Over) the Edge:
Your original Self operates with a different mode of knowing than your body and mind. Your
original Self has a direct and immediate awareness of the way things really are. We experience
this awareness as an intuitive knowing, tacit understanding, or an implicit awareness.
This kind of intuitive knowing goes like this:
I know it
I dont know why I know it
I know it as more certain than anything I am certain of
It is inexpressible
This way of knowing is how God, Truth, your original Self, and the Nature of all things are
known. Its an entirely different way than the mental processes of the brain. You dont attain this
knowledge. This way of knowing is knit into the essence of your original Self, and your original
Self sees the world through this awareness in every moment.
Truth or the nature of reality is perceptible through intuitive knowing, and tacit understanding or
tacit knowledge. This is the gnosis we all need.
(4)
Higher Consciousness
Along the way its likely that you have run into terms and concepts like higher consciousness,
universal consciousness, or collective consciousness.
In general, the idea of a universal higher consciousness is that there is a nonlocal and
atemporal source of being source of awareness source of perception through and in which
we have:
an unmediated and direct experience of the way things really are;
an unmediated and direct experience of ultimate truth;
an unmediated and direct experience of the oneness of all things;
an unmediated and direct experience of all things being whole, complete, harmonious and well;
an unmediated and direct experience of no separation.
Inside the reality of universal higher consciousness there is the dissolution of all spiritual
ignorance, and there is only the light of what is real and true. Some refer to this universal higher
consciousness as God. Others see the references of Jesus to the kingdom of God as this
universal higher consciousness.
In my writings I often refer to our true Self. In the above terms, that Self dwells in and is an
expression of that universal higher consciousness. When Jesus said, I am the truth, you
might understanding Jesus to be saying that universal higher consciousness was united with
the elements of human personhood in order to have a human experience, and that the point is to
create our human experience out of that consciousness. In other words, we were born out of the
image of God as creators, and we are here to create our world from that universal higher
consciousness (on earth as it is in heaven).
You could deconstruct terms and concepts such as higher consciousness, universal
consciousness, or collective consciousness, and explore their original meanings/usages by
studying people like Anaxagoras, Hegel, or Durkheim, but these terms have now evolved and
taken on new meanings in the spiritual context. Quantum Physics has also added a scientific
dimension, foundation, and validation to these concepts.
For many people coming out of religion, this may be unmapped territory, and perhaps you were
even scared away from such terms because you were told they were New Age, demonic, and
who knows what else. Religion tends to be very effective at controlling and limiting peoples
spiritual freedom and evolution through fear tactics. All the above terms and words are not
new. For example, pre-Socratic philosopher Anaxagoras delved into these concepts, as well as
philosophers like Hegel and Durkheim (and many others).
(5)
Law of Attraction
Its often the case that religion creates a pathology in people by telling them that their feelings
and desires are unreliable, dangerous, selfish, and sinful, and should be mistrusted and denied.
This is why people coming out of religion are often compelled by what they discover in New
Age teachings. Of course by now, New Age is not much different a term than Christianity
in that the definition depends on who youre talking to. And predictably, some corners of
Christianity demonize anything that could be classified as New Age. Nonetheless, one reason
why people are drawn to New Age themes and teachings is because they view our feelings and
desires as a good, central, reliable, and powerful aspect of our spiritual and life journey. This is
but one of many aspects of the New Age Movement that I appreciate.
There is great wisdom in what is often referred to as the law of attraction. You could also refer
to it as the law of sowing and reaping. What I like about this is the way it encourages personal
responsibility for ones experience of life. Rather than approaching life passively or through a
victim mentality, New Age teachings invite people to shift their understanding of themselves in
relationship to life, namely to see themselves as the creators of their life.
I believe it is true that how we approach life determines our experience of life. In any given
moment for all of us, life is simply just whats happening. How you see it, take it, understand it,
interpret it, and respond to it determines your experience of life. Two people could be faced with
an identical set of circumstances, but their experience of it will be different. Thinking of the law
of attraction or the law of sowing and reaping, I think it is self-evident that if you have a fear-
based mentality, this will negatively affect the quality and dynamics of your life. Or if you are a
compassionate person, this will positively affect your experience of life. A hate-filled person will
experience life differently than a love-filled person.
I watched the film, The Secret, and felt there were many insightful understandings to be taken
from it. What concerned me about it was the way it seemed to apply the concept of the law of
attraction in materialistic terms. My concern was twofold: (1) It seemed to imply that if anyone
desires something bad enough they can and will have it. This sounds a bit like the whole
religious thing if you had enough faith. So, if you desire something and youre not getting
it than you must be the problem youre just not wanting it bad enough. There is a way that the
formulaic and magical thinking aspects of religion seem very similar here as well. (2) It concerns
me also that the film seemed to imply that true happiness is measured by or based upon material
things or personal circumstances having the nice car, the big house, financial and professional
success, etc.
It is important to keep in mind that at the most fundamental level, you are in every moment
whole, complete, free, at peace, undisturbed, one with God, and in harmony with all things. This
is the true source of your well-being, which is not something you have to achieve, earn, attain, or
make happen. However one attempts to do it, whether through religion, philosophy, New Age
teachings, or whatever, true happiness and well-being is not a matter of controlling your
circumstances. Even If your desires were powerful enough to draw to you everything you desired
in the material and human world, it would not last because all things in the human experience are
characterized by impermanence. That doesnt make the world wrong, and our well-being is not
jeopardized because of it. In my view, our feelings and desires are a central part of what it means
to be human and to fulfill the meaning of our lives here on earth. But as true as that is, it is still
the case that our happiness and well-being doesnt require the control of or any particular set of
circumstances.
Having said all that, I think one profound lesson one should take from The Secret is the
understanding that putting actions to ones intentions is a powerful tool for a person to create the
life they want to live, and be the person they want to be. Most people are not aware of the power
they posses, and I am grateful to the New Age movement for awakening many people to their
personal power, and the possibilities available to a person as a result of this discovery.
(6)
15 Ways to Start a Revolution
1. Take ownership of yourself see your life as something you have the opportunity and
responsibility to create.
2. Become an independent and freethinker question and deconstruct the prevailing views,
mentalities, and ideologies that shape and govern our lives
3. Address the root cause of your own personal suffering, captivity, disharmony, and
dissatisfaction this allows you to truly be the change you wish to see in the world.
4. Stop dividing the world up into us and them or any label see only one human family and
every person as your sister or brother, mother or father, or son or daughter.
5. Approach humankind with compassion, realizing that every person is a manifestation of their
conditioning until they become conscious of it.
6. Dont settle for being against something be an expression of what you are for.
7. Educate yourself understand the history and developments behind the way things are now,
and realize that this will require investigating deeper than pop literature.
8. Start with what you are passionate about identify issues, problems, needs, opportunities,
injustices, etc. that touch your life on a daily level that you deeply care about.
9. Network with people who share your passion, and desire to be freethinking change agents as
well.
10. Be willing to take risks.
11. Convert your good intentions into tangible actions.
12. Dont get embroiled in the drama of defending yourself or arguing your ideas against those
who disapprove or take issue with the path you are on.
13. Express yourself and your revolutionary ideas make videos and art, speak, sing, and write
blogs, books, comments, social media posters, rhymes, stories, and articles about what emerges
from all of the above.
14. Expect resistance and dont back down exposing and confronting the systems of our world
that perpetuate domination, injustice oppression, and disharmony in our world wont be thrilled
with you.
15. Realize that the above things require a commitment of time, energy, and action involve
your children and consider this a priceless part of their education.
(7)
Power is Good
The English work power comes from the Latin word posse, which became poeir in french,
and then power in English. The word means to be able. Its the ability, whether physical,
mental, moral or spiritual, to act. The word power gets a bad rap The first thing that comes to
mind for most people is Lord Actons quote, Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Thats not even what he said. A very important word got left out. The proper quote
is, Power TENDS to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The corruption of power
is not in power, but in ourselves.
Power is the very essence, the dynamo of life. It is the power of the heart pumping blood and
sustaining life in the body. Power is the organizing energy of human beings, pulsing upward,
providing a unified strength for a common purpose and vision. Power is an essential life force
always in operation, either changing the world or opposing change.
The power of the human mind can create humankinds most glorious achievements, and develop
perspectives and insights into the nature of life opening horizons previously beyond the
imagination. The power of the human mind can also devise philosophies and ways of life that
threaten and destroy the future of humankind. Either way, power is the dynamo of life.
There has been a long and unwavering campaign, separating people from their power. There is a
false narrative about power that it is bad and evil. The word power evokes images of cruelty,
dishonesty, selfishness, arrogance, injustice and dictatorship. The word power is associated with
conflict; it is unacceptable in our Madison Avenue synthetic culture where controversy is
blasphemous and the value is being liked and not offending others. Power, in our minds, has
become almost synonymous with corruption and immorality.
Religion often scares people away from the idea of power. For starters, we are told we are
fundamentally bad, which means it is inevitable that we will abuse power. We are also told that
we do not have the power to direct our lives and change the world, which is the rationale for
appealing to God who is seen as all-powerful. Religion perpetuates a false and sabotaging
dualism: God is good, we are bad; God is powerful, we are helpless; God is perfect, we are
inadequate and lacking. The idea of a person lifting themselves up by their own bootstraps is
viewed as carnal because we are told we are supposed to be relying and depending on God and
not ourselves.
We are going to have to reopen and rethink the whole concept of power. We must establish a
new relationship to this most basic and essential nucleus of our lives. We are going to have to
rediscover, reclaim, and begin to operate in the full reality and potential of our power. This was a
central teaching of Jesus. Jesus said, If youve seen me, youve seen God. In other words,
because God and humankind are not separated but one, what is true of God is present and alive
in Jesus and in each of us. What made Jesus different was the fact that he knew, claimed, and
operated within this reality.
We know very little about the growth and development of Jesus before he appears on the scene
as an adult. But the picture we have of him at this point is a human being who is full possession
of both his humanity and his divinity. This is now our journey to take being human and divine.
With respect to power, the divine aspect is accepting power as the truth of who we are. The
human part is harnessing, using, and expressing that power to change and create our world.
(8)
Alternatives to Arguing Theology
5 things you can do if you are weary or bored with incessant theological discussion or more or
less re-hashing the same God stuff over and over and over again:
1. Educate yourself
Why not explore a new area of interest or curiosity? Coursera (coursera.org) is one of many
education platforms that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer
courses online for anyone to take, for free. Classes are offered in about every subject imaginable
in the sciences, humanities, arts, technology, health, computer science, etc.
2. Express yourself
Throw caution to the wind and explore a new form of creative or artistic expression. Sketching,
painting, Haiku poetry, photography, collage, writing, cooking, woodworking, film/video, music,
theater, dance, digital art, gardening, landscaping, craft design, sculpture, etc. choose some
form of artistic or creative expression that interests you, and start dabbling, exploring and
experimenting. Have fun with it!
3. Challenge yourself
Every day men and women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s are challenging themselves to
be more fit and healthy, or achieve a goal like running a marathon, completing a triathlon, hiking
a mountain, or cycling across their state or country. Doesnt watching the World Cup inspire you
to want to do some sport that is competitive and fun? Joining an adult sports league, finding a
tennis or golf partner, or attending yoga, dance or taekwondo classes are all possibilities. Set a
personal fitness goal. Start walking, strength training, swimming or whatever resonates with or
inspires you.
4. Volunteer yourself
Do some research and find out what needs currently exist in your community or city that you
would be inspired and skilled to meet. It could be a need nearby that you could directly respond
toa single mom down the street who could use a break, a senior who would enjoy some
conversation, or being the welcome wagon for the new Indian family who moved in downstairs.
Maybe its just reaching out to a neighbor in need or performing random acts of kindness.
Perhaps there is an organized community effort of interest such as a food bank, homeless shelter,
English tutoring effort, child mentoring program, or community beautification project. Volunteer
at the local animal shelter, rescue group, or humane society. Help build a home with Habitat for
Humanity. Contact your local United Way, Red Cross, or Salvation Army for discovering new
service opportunities in your area. Where in life are you inspired to be a tangible expression of
love, help, kindness, and compassion?
5. Enjoy yourself
Many people learned through their religious involvement that enjoying oneself is selfish, even
sinful. Time to cast off the guilt, and allow yourself to do things for no reason other than pure
enjoyment, delight, pleasure, and satisfaction. What is that for you? Perhaps you dont even
know. Well, its time to get busy figuring it out! What makes you come alive? What satisfies you
most deeply? What fills you up? What brings you joy? What centers you? What is a source of
delight and pleasure for you? What makes you feel connected to yourself? What would your
sense of adventure tell you to do? What makes you happy? What restores you? What do you
enjoy doing? What feels good? Yeah, do that! Maybe it times to get re-connected with the earth.
Get your hands dirty. Walk that trail. Swim that lake. Enjoy a sunset. Light those candles and
listen to your music. Read that series of novels. Grab your honey and go do something different
and fun together. Enjoy yourself!
(9)
Being Sick is Not Unspiritual
Our original, fundamental, eternal Self is a manifestation of the image, likeness and being of
God. That Self is complete, whole, and permanent. That Self cannot be improved or diminished.
That Self is in no need or improvement, transformation, or enlightenment. That Self took on a
human mind and body in order to have a human experience, and to give human expression to that
eternal Self. Unlike that Self, our human mind and body are not permanent. Our human body and
mind changes, is shaped and impacted by our environment, circumstances, conditions and a
variety of influences. The human mind and body deteriorates, is susceptible to illness and
disease, and eventually stops functioning. Ultimately, we all die. This is part of the deal with
respect to being human.
There are several things to recognize about this:
1. The impermanence of the mind and body is not wrong.
A characteristic of the human mind and body is its impermanence. Is the sky wrong for being
blue? Is a fish wrong because it cannot live outside of water? Is a turtle wrong because it is slow?
Of course not, those are simply their particular characteristics. The human mind and body are
capable of extraordinary feats, but a characteristic of both is that they are impermanent. The
limitations of the human mind and body is not a spiritual problem. The deterioration of the
human mind and body is not a spiritual problem. Illness and disease is not a spiritual problem.
When your human mind and body stops functioning, thats not a spiritual problem. We should
not make these realities of the human mind and body wrong.
2. It is wise to approach life by responding to situations and realities as they require.
You have a mind and body, and you are responsible for it. Having a human mind and body is a
situation that requires one to do those things that aid their health and vitality. If one is negligent
with this, they may jeopardize their mental and physical health and well-being. Its very likely
that you can prevent disease and extend the length of your human life by applying this wisdom.
3. Modern medicine and homeopathy (alternative forms of medicine) make a significant
contribution.
The evolution of humankind has included the discoveries of modern medicine and homeopathy
to prevent, treat, and manage disease of the body and mind, and contribute to the health and well-
being of the body and mind. Each person is responsible to make their own choices on how to
integrate modern medicine and homeopathy in this regard. Over time humankind has acquired
much useful knowledge in dealing with the human mind and body. We should celebrate this, and
take advantage of it as we are inclined to do so.
4. There is extensive evidence for various healing practices.
In areas such as science, quantum physics, psychology, and spirituality there is an understanding
of life as energy. This knowledge is the basis of many healing practices/methods and energy
therapies that promote healing, balance and wellbeing in the mind and body. Reiki and EFT are a
couple examples, but there are many others too numerous to mention here. Many people attest
to the value of all kinds of different healing methods and practices.
5. Jesus related to people as whole beings.
I dont think that physical healing was central to the life and message of Jesus. We know very
little about the context and circumstances in which Jesus was involved in restoring the health of
another. On one such occasion, Jesus attributed the persons healing to their own internal change.
Even those that Jesus did impact in this way, it was only temporary. Every person who
experienced healing eventually grew sick or ill, succumbed to disease, and eventually died like
the rest of humankind. Jesus had compassion for human beings, including their human ailments
for Jesus himself had a human mind and body too. He was not uncaring or insensitive to this.
And yet Jesus also understood the impermanence of the human mind and body. Jesus could not
change or override this. He wasnt supposed to. It wasnt necessary. Because Jesus understood
this, I dont think physical human healing was central to his mission and teaching.
6. People should not be shamed for physical or mental illness.
In many faith healing scenarios or divine formulas if a person remains ill or a loved one is ill
or dies, they are told that they did not have enough faith or it was the result of their sin of
unbelief or some other spiritual problem. This has to rank right up there in the top 5 most
absurd and damaging religious notions. The idea that physical or mental disorders are the result
of some spiritual problem is not reasonable. If you are not doing those things that are
necessary to promote and manage your own mental and physical health, then it only stands to
reason that you will reap the consequences. But the idea that you messed up a divine healing for
yourself, your child or someone you love because of your lack of faith or some spiritual problem
is misguided thinking. Sickness, chronic illness, depression, infertility, and many of the
conditions, disorders and diseases that afflict human beings every day are not the result of any
spiritual problem.
7. We should be caring for people who suffer from mental and physical disorder or disease, not
judging them or making them wrong.
We can express love, compassion, care, and support to individuals and families where there is
illness, disease, and other forms of mental or physical malady. We can also become advocates
and activists in eliminating or treating human disease through science and research, and
supporting initiatives toward this end. Where there is opportunity, we can seek to be a healing
presence in other peoples lives, whatever and however that looks for each of us, or is
appropriate in each situation.
(10)
What Marilyn Manson Said
11 Quotes that made me think, from the man that people love to hate Marilyn Manson:
In the end were all Springer guests, really, we just havent been on the show.
I never said to be like me, I say be yourself and make a difference.
People tend to associate anyone who looks and behaves differently with illegal or
immoral activity.
Part of me is afraid to get close to people because Im afraid that theyre going to leave.
Take your hatred out on me, and make your victim my neck.
You have to be saved to get into heaven.you only have to be you to get into hell.
Im not against God. Im against the misuse of God.
But whats real? You cant find the truth, you just pick the lie you like the best.
Everybodys stepped on me my whole life.
People dont want to know me. They fear finding themselves.
Most of the worlds problems could be avoided if people just said what they f***ing
meant.
(11)
What I Learned From Twilight
Here are five reasons why I believe the Twilight saga series succeeded:
1. We still want to believe in love
The Twilight saga was not a series of shallow, cutsie chick flicks. The series connected with
people because it depicted a kind of fierce love people want to believe is still possible a love
you fight for, risk for, walk through fire and rain for die for if necessary. The kind of love that
lasts, endures, protects, transcends and transforms our very being, what our life is about, and who
we are in the world. The love wins theme is central to the Twilight series.
2. We long to transcend ourselves
People feel trapped inside themselves. We go through life taking on others definitions of who
we are or should be. We become so contorted by the expectations of others peers, family,
culture, religion that we lose ourselves and dont know who we are apart from the roles and
scripts that have been imposed upon us. Youll never understand Twilight until you see Bella,
Edward and Jake as people achieving in their own way what Abraham Maslow identified as the
highest need and longing of humankind self-actualization. If you paid attention, she didnt
become a vampire just to get Edward. She often spoke of having a sense that this was who she
really was and longed to be. People go through life behind a mask, and we long to come out from
behind it to reveal and express our true selves! We want to be free even if it requires some of our
own blood to get there.
3. We know its complicated
Life cant be shrink-wrapped with theology or nicely packaged up in all our philosophical,
spiritual and positive-thinking systems and formulas. Life defies explanation. We cant be
protected from life you can run into all the theology and philosophy you want, but you cant
hide. Heres the deal sometimes life is a gamble against all odds, sometimes its danger,
suffering, random, unpredictable, paradox, and almost always mystery. Sometimes you bleed.
Your heart is broken because life doesnt work out the way youd hoped, but then it offers you
something better than what you could have imagined. Thats how life goes sometimes you fall
in love with a vampire, sometimes you hurt people you didnt intend to, sometimes you have to
leave something valuable behind in order to have what you really want. Stories dont end how or
when you thought they would. You dont know whats going to kill you first the beauty of it all
or the sorrow of it. People know they cant find real happiness by pretending or denying that the
above isnt true.
4. We want to belong
Would you become a vampire to truly and finally belong to be accepted and wanted for who
and what you are? Would you want to be part of a family that protects you at any cost, looks out
for, fights for and sacrifice for your best interests? Wouldnt it be nice to know that we could
trust and count on people to be true, to never leave or abandon us, be there, and show up in our
time of need? Please! Sign me up! Bite my neck, suck my blood, whatever it takes I want this,
I need this!
5. We wrestle with being human and divine
Edward knew there was some part of him missing by being a vampire. Bella knew there was
some part of her missing by being human. In the end, they gave birth to a daughter who was
some mysterious mixture of both. We are human beings created in the image of God but where
does the human part end and the God part begin? In a way, Jesus just complicated matters further
by somehow being both all at once. It is the fundamental question of our existence who am I
what am I? What are we capable of? There is a natural and supernatural world happening around
us in every moment. Which is which, and when? Is there a veil separating two worlds, and
whats out there that Im not seeing with human eyes?
For at least the above 5 reasons, the Twilight saga series touched a nerve. Its amusing when I
come across Christian people who criticize and condemn the films, a la Harry Potter-haters. If I
was a seminary professor I would require every student to see all five films. The church world is
normally obsessed with being relevant. Maybe they could learn something from Twilight in
seeing that love, transcendence, honesty about the human condition, belonging, and the mystery
of being divine and human connects deeply with people.
(12)
Why We Need a Zombie Apocalypse
There are 4 things I learned from the film, Warm Bodies:
1. Sometimes Im the Zombie
There are days when it seems Im staggering and grunting my way through life, and my
humanity goes underground. In those moments I fall dead to life, unable to move, feel or respond
with any sense of connectedness to myself or the world around me. In those times, only the 40-
year habit of living keeps me going but for all intents and purposes I have vacated the premises
of my heart. Im the undead someone who is deceased but behaving like Im alive.
During other periods of life, being a Zombie had its advantages. I survived a traumatic and
abusive childhood and youth by becoming a Zombie. Shutting down and being dead on the
inside was my way of coping, self-protection and surviving. But once that switch gets turned off,
its not so easy finding it and turning it back on again. And even when you do, you know where
to find it to turn it off again. Its so predictable with me during those times come:
Jim gets hurt -> Jim goes Zombie
Jim gets scared -> Jim goes Zombie
Jim feels like a failure -> Jim goes Zombie
Jim doesnt like himself -> Jim goes Zombie
Though the plug gets pulled and Jim drains out, I can still put on a fairly convincing act of being
alive, at times even fooling myself. A time or two (or three) Ive traveled quite a stretch of road
before realizing that I had left myself at a rest area several miles states back!
2. Our humanity saves us
All human beings desire and seek the same thing acceptance, love, belonging, worth, freedom,
connection, meaning, fulfillment and peace. And we all fear the absence of them. Though we
imagine being separated from these and strive to obtain them, the truth is that we actually ARE
all those things, and we can be expressions of them to each other.
The central character of the film, Warm Bodies, was a Zombie named R he could only
remember the first letter of his former name. Rediscovering his heart and his humanity, R was
revived and reconnected to life.
Religion insists that we need to be saved FROM our humanity. But Warm Bodies depicts a
scenario of being saved BY our humanity. It is often taught that the kind of holiness and
godliness acceptable to God is something more and better than what we can be on our own as
humans, forgetting that Gods being is the source of our being. In the Book of Genesis after God
created humankind, God declared that it was good. And before Jesus ever did anything that was
recorded in the gospels, God said, This is my son in whom I am well pleased. Before human
beings lift a finger (including Jesus) we are pronounced as good and members of Gods family
not because of what we do but because of who we are. If theres one message that comes shining
through in the life and teaching of Jesus it is that Jesus wanted us to understand our own identity
in him and as him.
The distinguishing characteristic of the kind of transformation that God approves is not
becoming more holy but becoming more human the transformation of a heart of stone into a
heart of flesh. In the film, the Zombies rediscovered their hearts and were the ones who raised
the bar on what it meant to be human for those who had technically been living all along. This
strikes me as something God would orchestrate using Zombies to show others what it meant to
be truly alive.
3. Impossible is nothing in the presence of love
I wonder how many Zombies I cross paths with every day people going through the motions of
life but who are dead and numb inside. However we might see or experience others on the
outside, and regardless of how Zombie-ish people sometimes seem, the divine spark is inside
every human being. Sometimes that divine spark is a faint flicker, lost somewhere deep inside a
person. Is it any wonder? People suffer deep hardship, hurt, and heartache in life and go Zombie
just like I did. But its clear in Warm Bodies that the presence and expression of love is what
awakens people to the truth of who they are and the treasure they carry inside them, and which
IS them. At every turn it was the presence and expression of love that was waking people up,
bringing people back to life, healing them, tearing down the walls that once divided people,
making all things new, and creating whole new possibilities that people had never imagined
possible.
Religion seems to always be finding something wrong with people, insisting we are bad, sinners,
filthy rags and incurably repulsive to God. Is there really any mystery as to why people live
destructively when they are emphatically told this is who they are??? On the other hand, people
who associated with Jesus discovered and expressed their goodness, love, power, and beauty. It
was the presence and expression of love in and through Jesus that allowed others to discover and
be this as well. This is who we are and meant to be for each other. This is what transforms the
world, and awakens the living dead.
4. Forget the apocalypse; be the Zombie revolution
So much of the energy of religion seems to be about doomsday and the apocalyptic ending of the
world. Every day there is some other religious expert spotting another sign that the end is near.
But in the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel there is a vision of new life being breathed into dead
bodies, and them coming alive as never before. Jesus himself is a witness to the truth that the
spark of divine life is never snuffed out. Despite all the talk of doomsday, death and destruction,
Im rolling the dice on LIFE. That doesnt mean Im going to sit back and hope it happens. It
means I am going to divest my energies from the system of doomsday, death and destruction,
and wake up each day, choose life and make love present in every moment in every
encounter in every interaction in every choice in every thought in every response. Im
going to take on life and love as a way of being in the world. If R can do it, I can! We have that
same beating heart. And Im betting all the other Zombies out there do too.
(13)
Parenting Teens
So, Ive been around quite a few Christian pre-teen and teens lately, and have noticed that they
are living double lives. Theres the Christian facade they put on at home, church, and Christian
school but its an entirely different story when they feel safe enough to truly be and express
themselves. Too often institutional Christianity is a breeding ground for inauthenticity and a split
self. Here are a few things to consider of you want to point your kids in the direction of freedom:
1. Let your kids know that what is often passed off as Christian, may not be anything close to
the true meaning and significance of Jesus.
2. Let your kids know that its okay to question what they hear. Encourage and help them
become critical, independent, and free thinkers.
3. Let your kids know that being spiritually mature is not necessarily keeping the rules, but
could just as easily be breaking them.
4. Let your kids know that they can have confidence in what they most deeply feel and know is
true inside. Many kids hear a theology in church that violates the spirit of truth inside them.
5. Create a safe space for your kids to be authentic and real. Stop judging them based on what
they should be thinking, feeling, and experiencing, and get interested in what they actually are
thinking, feeling, and experiencing.
6. Let them know that being good doesnt automatically mean being obliging, docile, meek,
inhibited, compliant, restrained, etc. but can also mean being passionate, original, subversive,
nonconformist, and contrary.
7. Instill in your kids the non-negotiables such as love, compassion, and the inherent and equal
divine worth of every human being. Talk to them about the religious falsehoods they will often
hear along the way such as separation from God.
8. Let your kids know that all of life is spiritual, and that life and God are inseparable. Show
them that they dont need to go chasing God but to only open their eyes to see God in, through,
and as all things that happen along the everyday paths of their life.
9. Help your kids understand the root cause of suffering, and the true source of peace, freedom,
and well-being.
10. Dont think you know everything. Be willing to see and understand the world through their
eyes and experiences. They have much to teach you.
11. Stop judging what they are doing as wrong. Steve Jobs was a legend and hero for being
immersed in technology, and yet we tell our kids that they are ruining their lives by being on
their phone or computer too much.
12. The world is no longer what it was when you were growing up; its time to truly understand
their world.
13. Tell your kids everyday that you love them unconditionally. Find them doing things that are
right and good. Tell them they are beautiful inside and out and be specific about what you see
that is good and beautiful about them. Let them see the passion and rebel in you. Maybe break a
few rules with them :)


(14)
The Selfie Generation
I took Jessica and her friend to the YouTube O2L Digitour in Atlanta. The Digitour is a
collection of the most talented and popular teen YouTube stars who pack our venues around the
U.S., putting on performances. Some of the performers are known for their musical talent, but
mostly for their comedic talent, which is evidenced for their YouTube videos that go viral. The
main O2L guys are: Connor, Ricky, Sam, JC, Trevor, and Kian.
We rolled into Atlanta about noon, staked our place near the front of the line, and hung out there
for the next 6 hours until it stated at 6:30pm. The venue was The Tabernacle in downtown
Atlanta. These Digitours especially appeal to teenage girls. There were teen guys there for sure
but Id so it was weighted 70/30 in favor of the girls.
What follows are a few reflections from my experience.
1. Teens are done with fake and want real.
I was scratching my head a bit during the actual performance. There was no band, no epic stage
production, and no flash or theatrics. Basically, it was a group of teenagers in jeans and t-shirts
who looked like they are just gotten out of bed and walked out on stage. Other than some general
organization, the rest of the performances were rather spontaneous and unrehearsed. There was
no attempt to perform or live up to some great persona, some of them even seemed a bit
awkward on stage not really the live performer type.
But the crowd could not get enough of it! My ears are still buzzing from the screaming and
roaring fans. I became a fan myself last night. I loved it. Once I let go of what I expected to be in
terms of some high-production polished performance, I totally enjoyed what it was. It was
actually refreshing to watch these teenage YouTube stars come out on stage, and just be the
fully-expressed and authentic kids that they are. It wasnt hype, it was real. It wasnt perfection,
it was real. It wasnt polished, it was real. It wasnt fake, it was real. As they put it, I dont give
a what!
2. Its about the people, stupid.
The YouTube O2L Digitour is not about the performance itself; thats just icing on the cake.
What its really about is people, connection, and interaction. The Digitour intentionally chooses
mid-size venues (3,000-5,000 people) so that the experience can be more intimate and relational.
Before the show, the YouTube teen personalities are out in the parking lot and line hanging out
with the crowd, and doing an endless number of selfie shots with fans. During the performance,
they will bring lots of fans onto the stage to be part of the show, and take phones handed to them
from the crowd on the floor to take selfie shots from the stage, and hand the phone back. After
the show they make a quick exit, and the security personnel tell people to vacate the premises.
This usually cuts the crowd down considerably. Most parents are ready to go anyway, and being
told its time to leave pretty much does it. The fans who know better dont leave because they
know they will come back once the crowd dwindles down. Sure enough, one of the YouTube
personalities will Tweet that they are coming back to hang out with whoever was patient enough
to wait.
3. The selfie is a monument to the moment.
Contrary to popular opinion, the teenage selfie is not some insanely self-absorbed and vain
phenomenon. If thats all you think it is, youre missing it. The selfie is a marker or monument to
the present moment. Teens are not word-driven but image-driven, which is why teens prefer
Instagram, Vine, Kik, and Snapchat over Facebook. A selfie is basically saying: this is me, this is
us, this is here, this is now. The selfie captures the spontaneity of the moment. Its a visual
personal journal. Its raw. Its real. Its life as it is and as it happens. In a way its social media
scrapbooking.
4. Teens are extraordinary.
Though I lost about five pounds in sweat, and my back is a little tight this morning, I had a great
time yesterday and last night. Standing in line for six hours with a sea of teenagers was both
entertaining and enlightening. I expected the attitude might be who is this weird old guy
hanging around. But once these teens realized that I wasnt either an axe-murderer or a cop, we
all became friends and in some strange way I became one of them well, as much as that was
possible. I felt accepted. You get to know people standing in a line for six hours. You sort of ban
together. You hold spots in line for each other when you need to use the restroom, get something
to eat or drink, or chase down a YouTube star. You endure the heat and drama of it all together.
Jessica and her friend traded social media info with a lot of folks they met and got to know while
waiting in line. I met some amazing, brilliant, extraordinary, intelligent, kind, considerate and
alive teens beautiful human beings.
(15)
Things Not to Feel Guilty About
Here are five things that may happen on your spiritual journey that you dont need to feel guilty
about:
1. You may discontinue your active involvement in a church or religious organization. This
doesnt necessarily have to be some sort of judgment orcondemnation against the church or
organization you were part of, but a choice you make because your involvement no longer relates
to or supports where you are on the journey, or may be an obstacle and hindrance to it.
2. You may grow weary of incessant God talk. Its possible there will be times when you grow
sick of the constant theological discussion and debate, and the never-ending wheel of new and
improved concepts, beliefs, understandings, teachings, etc. At some point it all might sound like,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah You might fall dead to the need to be constantly figuring out
things with your mind or in your head. One day you might wake up and say, Okay, Im done!
Dont feel bad about this. It actually may be a very important milestone in your spiritual journey.
In my view, theology is not even the best way by which God and spiritual truth is known. It may
be that subject of God as a whole feels a bit overdone and boring, but this is only because you
were taught to equate God with all that blah blah blah stuff.
3. You may find that the very people your religion judged and condemned are the people you
find the most interesting and enjoyable. Once you come out from under the judgmental labels,
views and stereotypes you learned through religion, you start realizing how much you truly like
and enjoy the people you were taught to hate. This is a good and liberating aspect of shedding
religion. For too long you were shut yourself off from a lot of beautiful and extraordinary people
in this world to enjoy and learn from.
4. You may find and express a rebellious or defiant part of you that has been dormant. Dont feel
bad about this. Too often religion turns people into nice, complaint, repressed, timid, inhibited,
mannerly, obedient, fearful, amiable, submissive people. By the way, I would not use any of
these words to describe Jesus. Heres the deal, you can be a loving, compassionate, respectful
and kind person AND be a rebellious, defiant, passionate, disobedient, subversive,
nonconformist, mischievous, self-willed, fully expressed, freethinker, heretic, and free spirit
human being.
5. You may find less fulfillment in religious things, and more satisfaction in human things. Its
okay and good to be human, and to enjoy each moment of your human journey. Religion caused
many people to create a false division between sacred things and secular things. There is no
such line. All of life is sacred, spiritual, and divine. Theres no need to defend, theologize, or
spiritualize your human experience. Just live it! That is enough. Life is made complete by you
living each moment. Theres no need to maintain a running commentary about how God is part
of it. God IS part of it. Life and God are inseparable. End of story. Its okay to enjoy life,
experience delight and pleasure, do the things you enjoy doing, and that breathe life into you,
whatever those things may be.
(16)
How Religious Leaders Try to Scare You
Here are 3 things you may hear from religious leaders to scare and control you:
1. Self-realization is idolatry; youre supposed to be worshiping God and not yourself.
The truth is that self-realization is why you are here, and every step in your personal evolution
brings glory to God. The image, likeness, and being of God is the fundamental, underlying, and
unchanging nature and essence of who you are. The point of your human existence is to discover
this and bring full expression to it through your humanity or human personhood. This is what
Jesus did and was, which is why he said, I am the truth. Self-actualization is the most spiritual
and sacred endeavor of our human experience. The religious notion that your relationship with
yourself and self-actualization is somehow a selfish pursuit and diversion from true godliness is a
false notion that is not supported by Jesus or founded in the Bible.
2. You are deceived. You are following false ideas that sound hopeful and beautiful but theyre
darkness masquerading as light.
You have to get straight in your head and heart that God and fear do not go together ever. If
you hear any religious teaching or idea and induces fear, dismiss it swiftly and entirely. God
never stirs feelings of shame or fear to motivate people on the path of truth and freedom. The
above condemnation is projection you are actually exploring and embracing the truth.
Meanwhile, the religious views that induce fear and shame are the teachings that are darkness
masquerading as light. Come on; youre smarter than that. Of course religious leaders who are
intent on perpetuating the system arent going to take too kindly to people who challenge it.
Freedom is a threat to people who would level the above condemnation. Just expect it. It might
even get nasty.
3. The Bible clearly states that youre beliefs are wrong, and you are in danger of Gods
judgment.
Geesh! This one drives me crazy. Basically this erroneous view goes like this, My interpretation
of the Bible is the correct one because I say so so there! Theres a saying that goes, Just
because its on the Internet, doesnt mean its true. Well guess what? Just because some
religious leader tells you that the Bible means something, doesnt mean thats what it means. Just
a cursory study of the history of Christianity shows a diversity of views on the most fundamental
matters of the Christian faith. The notion that there is one orthodox view of Christianity that
has persisted through time (and is therefore correct) is simply not true. Stop externalizing
authority and repair your relationship with yourself. You already know the truth inside, and you
dont need anyone to tell you.
(17)
Self-Actualization
Within every human being is a self-actualizing tendency. At the root of our human personhood,
we long to grow, evolve, deepen, and expand into the fullness of who we are. Too often religion
denies and thwarts this self-actualizing tendency at every turn by demanding that we remain in a
very small, tight, limited, and restrictive space. We are made to fear ourselves and our fullness,
and fear keeps us from exploring any further than the confined place religion puts us in. You will
find as you are shedding religion that this self-actualizing tendency will revive, strengthen,
accelerate, and will reach its zenith. Some characteristics of this self-actualization include:
1. Dissatisfaction with ones staus quo
2. Intolerance of inauthenticity
3. Casting off of rules, regulations, and restrictions
4. Resurgence of individuality
5. Openness to new possibilities
6. Desire to grow, learn, and expand
7. Freedom of self-expression
8. Establishment of personal boundaries
9. Reshaping of your relational world
10. Greater acceptance and love for others
(18)
If everything is okay, why is everything screwed up?
Jim, your message seems to be that there is nothing wrong with us or anyone. If this is true then
why are so many people screwed up, and the world such a mess? A simple scan of the news
headlines is just a reminder of how twisted and evil people can be.
*
At the most fundamental level each of us is whole and complete. The underlying and unchanging
nature and essence of humankind and all thingsis God. The basis of your true Self is God. That
Self cannot be improved or diminished. That Self knows truth and is truth. That Self is in no
need of enlightenment, salvation, or transformation. That Self is undisturbed, at peace, never
lacking, and well in every moment,,, always.
But heres the deal. That Self took on human personhood a human mind, body, personality, etc.
Why? Because we are all here to be a human expression of our true Self, and create a world out
of that reality. You might ask: What is it supposed to look like??? 2000 years ago it looked like
Jesus, and the life he lived. Jesus brought an epic paradigm shift to humankind by obliterating
the falsehood of separation from God but humankind has to catch up in embracing and
unpacking this profound reality.
So, for each of us our real Self is born into a human mind and body. Unlike the permanence of
that Self, our human personhood is malleable, and we are shaped into our human personhood
through our unique set of conditions, circumstances, environment, relationships, and choices.
The bummer of this is that many people are not aware of their true Self or the true nature of all
things, and run out into the world to attain love, worth, value, security, identity, acceptance,
peace, and well-being anyway they can get it. This spiritual ignorance and the thoughts and
actions that stem from it is why there is hatred, violence, disharmony, and despair in this world,
which the news headlines attest to.
It can get a bit complicated. We didnt get into this mess overnight, and its going to really
require something of us all to get out of it. The spiritual ignorance that is at the root of our
problem is so pervasive that most people dont even see it. Jesus confronted it squarely, and then
we turned Jesus into a religion to keep the falsehood going. We are an inventive lot!
What to do?
You may not like my answer because it sounds a bit well ho hum. The answer is that you
must address the root cause of suffering for yourself, embrace the truth fully yourself, and be
free. It may be a little difficult to compute, but the reality is that as you do your personal work,
you are doing it for all humankind. Everyone benefits. Your personal transformation is a score
for all humankind, and the way of changing those news headlines.
This wont be easy because part of the disease is how people have been convinced that things
cant change. Religion has told too many people that the world is hopeless and doomed, and we
should bide our time and hold out until God swoops down and air-lifts us out of it. The Christian
religion got people focused on the rapture; meanwhile, Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God
has already come and is here. Facepalm!
So, do your part! The world is not too far gone to be transformed but it has to start and happen in
and through you! Stop reading the news headlines and start looking in the mirror. Im speaking
to myself here :)
(19)
There Are No Non-Christians
Dear Jim,
Ive got this problem. How do you balance and live in the tension of relationships with fellow
Christians, and yet being focused on non-Christians?
Sincerely, Tired Tony

***
Dear Tired Tony,
Im thinking you might have become a victim fo the "us" and "them" mentality, in this case,
Christian and non-Christian. You might be surprised to learn that such labels were rarely if
ever used in the Bible. Even the label Christian was originally born out of a derogatory
reference people used to identify Christ followers, making fun of how they imitated Jesus.
Tony, who really is a Christian? Is it someone who has all the proper Christian theological
answers? And who's to say what those are exactly? I'm sure you've noticed that there are many
different interpretations of the scriptures, each person claiming their view is correct. But even if
someone could claim having correct Christian theology, what if that person's life didn't resemble
anything like the life Jesus lived? Would that person be a "Christian?" And what about a person
with an intellectual or learning disability? Can they be a Christian? Is a Christian someone
who prayed the "Jesus prayer"? And what if their motivation for doing so was to make their
girlfriend happy?
And Tony, who is the non-Christian? As far as i know, every human being deep down desires
the abundant life Jesus spoke of a life of love, peace, freedom, and contentment. Also, every
human being (consciously or unconsciously) is seeking that life one way or another. Tony, have
you arrived yet in living that life? How far do you or anyone have to go before you jump out of
one label into the other? Does it change moment by moment you live in alignment with the
spiritual teachings of Jesus and you are a Christian, you live out of sync with Jesus spiritual
teachings and you are a non-Christian?
Tony, try this. See every human being as a living, breathing image, reflection, or expression of
God. Keep in mind that every person you know or meet desires what you desire, and, like you, is
seeking them the best way they know how. People also fear the same things you do, Tony. You'd
be surprised by how much alike we all really are at the deepest level. Assume that every person
has learned something valuable on their journey that you could benefit from. Whoever it is, focus
your energies on affirming and encouraging the truth you see in other people. Forget about trying
to find the right label to pin on them. Instead, desire love, peace, well-being, and freedom for
every person. Have compassion on every person you meet, and be a tangible expression of God's
love as you go. By doing this, you are living in the way Jesus lived.
What Tony, are you going to relate differently to people based on whatever label you suppose is
right for them? Did Jesus do this? Did he treat the people labeled as sinners as less than other
people? Tony, while youre at it you might as well drop all your other human labels by which
you judge people. Instead, just go with this: every person is 100% human; every person is 100%
and equally created as an expression of the image, likeness, and being of God; every person is
100% loved and accepted by God; and every person is equally 100% invited to embrace the
spiritual abundance that Jesus lived and offered. We are all here to help each other shed the
obstacles that are hindering us, and to live the truth together.
Hope this helps.
Jim
(20)
Defining Spiritual for Yourself
What makes you come alive?
What satisfies you most deeply?
What fills you up?
What brings you joy?
What centers you?
What is a source of delight and pleasure for you?
What areas, fields, or subjects are you interested in exploring?
What makes you feel connected to yourself?
What forms of self-expression are the most gratifying?
What would your sense of adventure tell you to do?
What way of being in the world resonates most deeply with your heart?
Where does your sense of curiosity take you?
How are you most compelled to aid the liberation of others?
Where in life are you inspired to be a tangible expression of love, acceptance, and compassion?
What nurtures a greater love for yourself and others?
The answers to these questions is a good place to start in determining what spirituality means
for you.


(21)
On Being Screwed Up
Jim, I seem to know the truth. But why am I still screwed up?

*

I want to make a distinction here. No person has a spiritual problem. Every person is screwed
up.

First, no person truly has a spiritual problem. Your true Self is one with God. That Self is an
extension, expression or manifestation of all that we mean by using the word God. Your true
Self is whole and complete. Your true Self has never, is never, and will never be separated from
God. Your true Self cannot be improved or diminished. This is the fundamental fact that is never
threatened. There is nothing for you to improve, change, attain, earn, achieve, or acquire
spiritually. You have NO spiritual problem. What trips you up in your human journey is falsely
thinking you have a spiritual problem. All human suffering, in one way or another, is rooted in
the ignorance or denial of who we are.
Secondly, we are all screwed up. Right now the person who is reading this post (you) is a mash-
up of a lifetime of circumstances, situations, people, relationships, experiences, choices, and
numerous elements we had no control over. Our humanity is affected and shaped by all these
factors. One person deals with depression, another has Bipolar Disorder, another has
codependency, some have an addiction, others have ways of thinking about themselves that are
self-defeating, etc We are all screwed up in some way. None of us are left unscathed on
lifes journey. Join the club.
You dont have a spiritual problem but it requires courage and determination to wed the truth
to your particular human situation. Each of us has personal work to do in order to address our
particular human screwed-upness. Knowing your true Self and the truth of all things is not a
substitute for doing your personal work, and skillfully responding to your human situation as it
requires.
If your car breaks down, no amount of spiritual enlightenment is going to fix it. Knowing your
true Self and the truth of all things will likely influence the degree to which the car situation
rattles your equilibrium, but its still not going to fix the car. Fixing the car is a mechanical issue,
and responding to the situation as it requires would require taking the car to a mechanic.
Likewise, if you have depression, codependency, self-hatred, addiction, a mental disorder, etc.,
though spiritual enlightenment will transform your relationship to the issue itself, you still must
respond as the situation requires whatever that means or entails. In other words, spiritual
enlightenment can transform your relationship to your alcoholism, but you still have to determine
the proper personal work (i.e. 12 Step Program) to properly address the dynamics of Alcoholism.
Know and embrace the truth of your Self and all things, AND do your personal work as the
situation requires.
Remember that you are never alone in two ways. First, you are a permanent card-carrying
member of the No Spiritual Problem Club. Secondly, you AND every human being has their
personal work to do in addressing their human screwed-upness.
(22)
On Not Praying Anymore
Jim, what does intercessory prayer look like for you? Where does it fit in or does it?

*

I no longer subscribe to many of the premises that are associated with the idea of intercessory
prayer, at least as I learned it. In a nutshell, I learned intercessory prayer as a request for divine
intervention on behalf of another person. Its asking God to intervene in a persons
circumstances, and to provide whatever is necessary to resolve their difficulty or dilemma.
Intercessory prayer is often a request for God to intervene in another persons life in the form of
providing healing, guidance, strength, courage, wisdom, change of circumstances, protection,
financial blessing, etc.
Intercessory prayer seems to operate on a model that involves three separate parties: the
intercessor; God; and the person being prayed for. The idea is that the intercessor appeals to God,
and God in turn intervenes accordingly, and the life of the person being prayed for is affected by
Gods action.
In my view, dividing it out this way is reinforcing the falsehood of separation. A visual
representation of this intercessory prayer idea might be something like this: the intercessor is
sitting at home, God is up in the sky like a divine satellite dish, and the person in need is
wherever they happen to be. The intercessors prayer goes up and pings the divine satellite. In
response, the divine satellite turns toward the person in need and their particular situation, and
miraculously supplies what was requested.
This model of intercessory prayer imagines a kind of separation that isnt real. The intercessor,
God, and the person being prayed for are not separate in the way this model implies. Further, the
model assumes that the person who is being prayed for is separated from what they need or
desire, namely peace, freedom, well-being, love, courage, guidance, strength, wisdom, etc. The
model also implies that the answer or resolution to their circumstances or difficulty lies outside
of their own ability to act or the possibilities present in the situation itself.
In some instances intercessory prayer can be magical thinking or encourage a lack of personal
responsibility, if the situation involves a person who is not taking responsibility for their lives or
not responding to situations as they require, and instead hoping or expecting God to miraculously
swoop in and bail them out.
My way of approaching intercessory prayer involves the following. I accept the
interrelatedness and interconnectedness of all things including God, of which I am a part. My
desire for the liberation of all beings and humankind has been growing and intensifying over the
years. As I walk and live along the everyday paths of life, I am mindful of wanting to think, do
or be what aids the liberation of all beings. I accept that my own way of seeing and being in the
world affects the whole, and impacts all humankind. So in this case, intercessory prayer for me
is accepting that I am not separate from God or separate from peace, love, freedom, well-being,
courage, wisdom, etc. I also accept that one of the most spiritual acts that I contribute to the
whole is to take responsibility for my own life, address the root cause of my suffering, and
learning to live skillfully by responding to the situations of my life as they require.
Intercessory prayer for me is also a willingness to involve myself in tangible ways to encourage,
support, assist, and help those around me that I see in need, whether the person is my neighbor or
someone on the other side of the world. Rather than tell someone Ill pray for you, I consider
what it might mean for me to be part of the answer through my own love, compassion, support,
assistance, and generosity. For me, sometimes intercessory prayer is holding a deep and
persistent desire for the liberation of another person, and the end of their suffering.
I think there are many different ways that people connect with God or the divine on behalf of the
well-being of others. All that Ive shared is simply how it has been evolving for me. I dont think
this is the prescribed way; this is just how things are working themselves out for me at this point
with respect to intercessory prayer.
(23)
Self-Ownership
When I talk about self-ownership, even I sometimes have that moment of hesitation because it
was drilled into me for many years that I dont belong to myself, and that spiritual maturity
involves abandoning myself to serve God and do Gods will and submit to the lordship of
Christ, all of which meant whatever the religious authorities/experts told me it was. (I later
became one of those authorities/experts telling others.) In that arrangement, the idea of self-
ownership well self-anything for that matter was seen as selfish and sinful.
Self-ownership is fully possessing your own life. Think of them as commitments you make to
yourself, including:
the commitment to be authentic and true to your unique self
the commitment to be a fully-expressed human being
the commitment to follow your own inner guidance and intuition
the commitment to think for yourself and form your own beliefs and views
the commitment to take responsibility for creating your life
the commitment to take responsibility for your happiness
the commitment to care for yourself and your well-being
the commitment to determine and direct the path and steps of your life
the commitment to invest time and energy in your interests and passions
the commitment to do what brings you joy and happiness
the commitment to establish loving and mutually-satisfying relationships
the commitment to say no and set boundaries for your well-being
the commitment to act of your own free-will and not fear, shame or coercion
the commitment to terminate destructive, toxic, or oppressive relationships
the commitment to be mindful and responsible in managing your own needs and desires
Did you know you own a person? Its you. This has always been Gods intention. Spiritual
maturity and transformation is NOT an abandonment of self. Spiritual maturity and
transformation is NOT POSSIBLE without the foundation of self-ownership.
When you own something, you have the right to determine who has access to it. We get this idea
when it comes to our car. Right? You own your car. Someone cant just come along and decide
they want it to use. This also applies to your mind, body, personality, and human personhood.
You own that! While this may seem like a simple concept, it makes a big difference in how we
live our lives.
If we did not own our own bodies, we could be easily abused. Without self-ownership, others
could try to use our bodies, our talents or abilities, or the things we produce for their own gain
without our permission. Since we own our own bodies and human personhood, however, people
need our permission before they can have access to us or our talents or production or any other
part of ourselves and our lives.
(24)
15 Things Jesus Didnt Say
What follows are fifteen things Jesus Didnt Say:
For God was so disgusted with the world and you that he gave his one and only Son.
I have come to bring you a new religion.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have correct theology.
If anyone would come after me, let him disparage all other religions and their followers.
If you love me, you will regularly attend a church of your choice within reason.
Blessed are the tithers for they shall be called the children of God.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in Heaven after the earth goes up in flames and is
destroyed.
You have heard it said, Love your neighbor, which means the people with whom you attend
church and relate to in your Christian sub-culture.
In my Fathers house there are a limited number of rooms. But no worries, there is plenty of
room in Hell.
The kingdom of God has come! Well, not exactly. I mean, not completely. Lets face it, the
really-real kingdom comes after we die. Hang in there. It wont be long.
And you will know the truth and the truth will make you superior to all the other simpletons
who never learned Greek or Hebrew.
You are the light of the world well in a sinful-filthy-scum kind of way.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you a checklist of things to do
and not do in order to remain in Gods favor.
For God so loved the world you know like theoretically as in, God loves the big W-
world. But when it come to you specifically, there are quite a few things that would need to
change for God to actually and specifically love or even like YOU.
He appeared to his disciples over a period of 40 days and spoke about how to incorporate his
life and teaching as a 501(c)3, and go into all the earth to build mega-churches in his name.
(25)
15 Teachings of Jesus that You Wont Hear in Church
Theres only one litmus test to authenticate if someone gets what Im about love.
The kingdom of God is here and now, which means its not somewhere else and later.
If youve reached perfection on your journey, feel free to judge others. Otherwise, be quiet.
My peace is not as this world gives. Your strategy to control circumstances in order to be happy
wont work ever.
You religious people have your nose buried in the Bible, feeling all smug about your spiritual
maturity. But you wouldnt know my truth if it knocked you in the head.
There is no mountain, sacred place or church building where God expects to be worshiped. True
worship is a way of seeing its spotting and honoring the divine in all things.
You think you are doing well because you have not been hauled off to prison for murder, but
your harsh and critical spirit is no different.
Embracing my truth will make you a heretic in most peoples minds and you will be persecuted.
No worries; youre on the right track in my kingdom.
God and I are one, you are included.
I have to die. Otherwise, youre going to create a religion around my human personhood and
personality, rather than embrace and give expression to my spirit and truth.
Dont say you love God and then hate people. Those two things cant be true at the same time.
You and God are not separated and never have been. You are connected to God like a branch to
a vine the essence and nature of God is the sap running through your veins.
You cant reduce my way to a book. The same spirit that filled and led me fills and leads you.
Follow that spirit.
You think your humanity is an affront to God. If this were true how could I be one with God?
You look into the sky to find some God that sits on a throne. You want to see God? Youre
looking at him. Now, see that same God as yourself.
(26)
A Plan to Change Everything
The future of our world does not yet exist as facts. The word has always been an expression of
the dominant consciousness. The way things are now is simply a reflection of the views,
mentalities, narratives, and ideologies that drive and govern our daily lives. If we can change
that, we can transform our world.
With that in mind, consider this simple plan:
1. Start with yourself
The lack of peace, freedom, harmony, and well-being in the world is a reflection of the lack of
these within yourself. Address the root cause of your own disharmony, and you will be able to
aid the liberation of all beings.
2. Raise your critical consciousness
Stop and question the views that are determining your life. Deconstruct what youve been told,
and hear every day. Stop externalizing authority, and stop outsourcing the core components of
your life. Reclaim possession of yourself. Start trusting and listening to yourself, and apply
critical and free thinking as a regular course of life.
3. See the interrelated nature of reality
There is no us and them. See every human being as your mother or father, sister or brother,
or son or daughter. Recognize that all living things are inseparably interconnected, and what any
one of us does affects the whole.
4. Have compassion
Realize that what any human is doing in any moment is the result of a lifetime of conditioning.
Taking personal responsibility for ones life is fundamental but each of us can appreciate that its
not always so easy to shed those dynamics that have shaped us into the people we have become.
Start with the person in the mirror, and have compassion on others as you go.
5. Do your part
Dont accept the premise that things will never change or cant change. Do not hide your light
under a basket or pine away in passivity. Consistently and tangibly give expression to what you
are most passionate about in creating a new world that works for everyone.
6. Dont let our individual differences divide us
Every person can fully embrace and follow their religious tradition, spiritual interests, cultural
values, or philosophical views without creating division, hostility, violence or hatred. Whatever
our individual differences may be, each of us can find a rationale and motivation for being an
instrument of goodness, peace, love, and compassion in the world, and affirm the inherent, equal,
and unconditional worth of every human being.

7. Encourage self-actualization in one another
Every person can participate in a process of personal growth, self-actualization, and fulfillment
of ones highest beliefs and aspirations, and encourage the same for others. All of us have
something valuable to learn from each other. The future of our world rests in our willingness to
work, play, live, grow, and be together.
(27)
Things to Stop Doing
Here are ten things to stop doing:
1. Stop separating people into us and them.
2. Stop believing you humanity is an obstacle to overcome.
3. Stop treating the afterlife as more important than the herelife.
4. Stop making God about correct theology.
5. Stop dividing up the world up into sacred and secular.
6. Stop mistrusting the voice inside you.
7. Stop limiting your experience of the divine to the people, places and programs of organized
religion.
8. Stop questioning your competence in charting your own spiritual path.
9. Stop apologizing for who you are and your journey.
10. Stop pouring concrete over each new discovery.
(28)
Being Human is Not a Disease
I dont understand why you so insistently and relentlessly defend the human condition so much.
It would seem that you know as well I do it is touched, affected, damaged, decayed, etc. We
pollute, murder, rape, torture, traffic children to exploit, starve for political and ideological
gain.
*
Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing wrong with the human condition per se. The Genesis
story beings by telling us that the underlying, unchanging, and fundamental essence of
humankind is the image, likeness and being of God. Can God be damaged, corrupted or
decayed? Of course not. Which means that our fundamental essence has been untouched and
unchanged. Jesus unmasked the false notion that our humanity separates us from God by
demonstrating that the two can be one. Neither does the human condition separate us from the
Kingdom of God, which Jesus said is here now.
So, why do we pollute, murder, rape, torture, traffic children to exploit, and starve for political
and ideological gain? Spiritual ignorance. We go into the world and scrap and claw to find
meaning, identity, peace, happiness and fulfillment, and there is no end to what one will do to get
it, including hurting others. Why do we do this? Because we falsely believe we are separated
from God, separated from each other, separated from peace, separated from wholeness, separated
from freedom, separated from well-being, separated from meaning, separated from.
The world is as it first appeared in the Garden. Nothing has changed. All the other stuff we have
added through our spiritual ignorance taking things to be a way they really arent. There will
always be pain in this world. This is natural. You hit your finger with a hammer and it produces
physical pain. A loved one dies and you feel emotional pain. But the kind of suffering you
described in your question is something we unnecessarily create and impose on life out of our
spiritual ignorance. This is why Jesus said, If the eyes are good, the whole body is good. In
other words, to see things as they truly are is to be free. This is what creation is groaning for
that you and I will see the truth, which sets all living things free.
People like the following options in terms of an answer to the suffering of the world:
A. Its the human condition and nothing can be done about it
B. God will rapture us out of it
C. Heaven is waiting and we will escape this mess entirely
D. Satan is to blame
E. The world is inherently evil and must go up in flames
The option we dont like, which is the truth is:
We are responsible for the mess of the world. There is nothing or no one to blame except
ourselves and our spiritual ignorance. We dont have to be doing this. We are free to choose
differently.
(29)
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Do you ever feel like life is a slow and painful process of being torn apart, limb by limb? But
then arent there also those times when something amazing and beautiful happens in life that you
never expected?
Just when life delivers a blow that feels like it will be the end of you, turns out it actually helped
unravel a little bit more of who you really are.
One moment a tidal wave of change turns you life upside down into something you hardly
recognize, but then strangely provides a clearing for you to create the life you really wanted in
the first place.
Sometimes life is a path of self-destruction, a course of sabotaging your relationship with
yourself and others that is, until you finally crack, break, and hit rock-bottom from where your
journey of true healing begins.
And just when everything you were so certain of in life, everything you placed your trust, faith
and security in comes crashing to the ground, but then one day sifting through the rubble of your
life you find a couple pieces to put together in a different way, add a few new pieces and youre
on your way to building something new, filled with possibilities.
And yes, there are those gut-wrenching moments when life strikes you down with a heartache so
deep that feels you can never recover from, but then theres that song, breeze, sunset, hug, or
something you catch out of the corner of your eye that mysteriously lets you know youre going
to be okay and you laugh even as the tears of heartache fall.
Do you see what Im getting at here? There is a time for everything thats the bad news
thats the good news.
Life!

Sometimes you mourn, sometimes you dance.
Sometimes it feels like its all getting away from you, sometimes it comes together in ways you
never imagined were possible.
Sometimes you give your heart, sometimes you withhold it.
Sometimes you search, sometimes you give up.
You hold one, you let go.
Sometimes youre the one delivering the blow, sometimes youre the one applying the balm.
Sometimes you break the silence, sometimes you step back and say nothing.
Do you see?
Stretch out a continuum between love and hate, between peace and war, and realize that you will
not be spared. Life you can run but you cant hide. Sometimes youre the one instigating it,
sometimes it is callously and randomly thrust upon you without your choosing.
But Im asking you to keep the faith. Youve heard it said, Everything will be okay in the end.
If its not okay, its not the end. But what Im telling you is that everything is okay right now!
Everything is truly okay in this moment, and in the next moment, and in the next. Youre saying,
Not sure what definition of okay youre using here!!
All I can tell you is that in every moment of your life everything is okay in a way that only you
can discover and know for yourself. Im just asking you to have a little faith that okay is always
there for you to find. In the living and dying, loving and hating, laughing and crying, dancing
and mourning, tearing and mending, brokenness and building it will be there. Sometimes
youll have to fight for it or be still enough to hear it or feel it but it will be there. Like a light
breeze across your face, something will mysteriously whisper that you are loved, and tell you the
story of how goodness and beauty prevail.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Religion-Free Bible (Jim Palmer)
(30)
Post-Christianity and the Bible
Every human being is an expression or manifestation of the image, likeness, and being of God.
At the most fundamental level we are one with God. Our true and underlying Self is whole,
complete, free, at peace, enlightened, and well. That Self is never threatened, and cannot be
improved or diminished. There is nothing for that Self to gain or attain. That Self knows the
truth. That Self is the truth. That Self was clothed with human personhood for the purpose of
realizing and expressing the reality of God and humankind as one. Admittedly, this purpose can
be a little tricky and isnt for the faint of heart. We are never separated from the truth, and
therefore there is the possibility in any moment for each of us to realize, know, and be the truth.
The only thing that ever interrupts our experience of the truth is our lack of awareness.
If this is true, then what is the point of the Bible? In my view, the Bible tells the story of
humankinds relationship to and with God. The Bible opens with a picture of God and
humankind as one, and then the story takes a turn with the coming of spiritual ignorance into the
world. The story continues with humankind trying to hash things out through religion. At times
that story is beautiful, and at other times its ugly. We discover in the story that humans can be
inspired by their beliefs in God to love each other, and at other times to rationalize about
anything, including killing people in the name of Gods will. Thats all part of the story. We
still do this today. Jesus shows up in the context of his people, his day, his times, and his
religious tradition. His central claim was, I am the truth, which was meant to abolish the false
notion of separation from God, and to unveil the long forgotten reality that God and humankind
are one. Jesus taught that this truth was the secret to unfurling the kingdom of God on earth.
Jesus taught it was necessary for him to leave the earth in body so that his followers would not
create a personality cult around him, but instead learn to listen and follow the same spirit within
them. But as the story goes and as human nature goes, some of the earliest Christ followers
organized themselves according to the same mentalities of their previous religious orientation.
The bulk of the New Testament is essentially a set of letters written by a few of the most
prominent early Christians, addressing various issues that came up as different Christian groups
tried to work out their devotion to Jesus in the context of their times. Some times this was done
beautifully, and at other times it was a train wreck. But its all part of the story.
Its my own view that the Bible has tremendous value for any persons spiritual journey,
depending on how you take it.
*
Jim Palmer is the author of:
Divine Nobodies
Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you)

Wide Open Spaces
Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity

Being Jesus in Nashville
Finding the Courage to Live Your Life (whoever and wherever you are)

Notes from (Over) the Edge
Unmasking the Truth to End your Suffering