Why God Is Love

As a man of faith, my greatest challenge is seeing selfish behavior validated in the world of things. In the extreme case, the perpetrator of psychological abuse secretly withholds resources from the victim, blames others, and then meters out sustenance while saying “You’re so worthless. Nobody will ever love you like I do.” As a result, many victims actually identify with their abusers and seek to protect them from the authorities.

How can the victim see past that trap? Typically, it’s by looking at the circumstances of their abuser. People that love us share their power with us. If we are truly loved, we should feel stronger every day.

So let’s now step back and take the long view of this process – the process of merging our souls into heaven. This is described in all of the great religious traditions. But should we seek that so eagerly? Heaven is described as a place of love, but why should it be that way?

We know that there is conflict there: Lucifer rebelled against God. So could heaven not be a place just like Earth, with different types of pain, the pain of angels struggling against each other?

Imagine the evolution of the angels. Did they have wars and battles before love ruled the heavens? If so, why did they choose, ultimately, to submit to Unconditional Love?

To understand this, we have to recognize the difference between angels and us. Angels are beings of pure spirit. They relate to each other not through the exchange of material objects, but through interpenetration of their spirits. It is impossible for an angel to destroy another angel, only for one to suborn another’s will to their own. So naturally, selfish angels would want to establish boundaries that kept their captives from having the opportunity to join another personality.

Then along comes Unconditional Love. Love says, as I explained above, “Let me create strength in you.” What an attractive proposition! Who could resist it? But unconditional love goes beyond that. It says “I love everything equally, and want nothing for myself.” So the selfish angel, in serving only itself, must push away unconditional love, thus losing the benefits of its power. The alternative is to be infected by Unconditional Love, and thus to submit to the re-organization and eventual liberation of its captives.

Is renouncing love that a big deal? Maybe not initially, but you see all those smaller angels now find a place of refuge inside unconditional love. It enters into them and says: “Look, if you join with this other angel, you’ll be more powerful.” Unconditional Love is a restless seeking to find strength in the other angels. As that occurs, the angels that submit to its tutelage become more and more powerful.

In the warring regions of heaven, parts are broken off from the combatants, and some turn to Unconditional Love as a refuge. The most aggressive angels, to penetrate that refuge, must allow themselves to be infected by unconditional love. If they manage to seize part of the community of Unconditional Love, the lost part immediately withers and loses its vitality. Fighting against Unconditional Love is a losing proposition all the way.

So in the realm of the angels, once Unconditional Love came into being, there was no sensible angel that would resist its ministrations, no selfish angel that would survive an assault on it, and no conflict between angels that would not liberate pieces to join Unconditional Love. In the end, the corporate personality of heaven had to be ruled by love.

As we will be here on Earth, at least once enough of us realize that the soul is what matters most.

Who Is in Charge Here?

A common motif in corporate management is the analogy of competition as a sport. A certain visceral energy comes into a community of people when they stand over their fallen enemies.

One of the challenges employers have in managing me is that I recognize the fundamental nature of that experience: the energy comes from feasting on the spirits of our foes. It’s literally vampirism. It’s wrong, and I refuse to participate.

A survey of the lives of prominent business and political leaders reveals a trend – not universal, but powerful: many of them crave attention. They are needy. They are unable to bring energy from within, and so must consume that produced by others. This creates conditions in which the culture of our organizations is not controlled by the needs of its constituency (workers and customers), but by the personal needs of its psychologically neediest members.

This is not an abstract problem. It severely damaged America during the terms of Presidents 42 and 43: Clinton hungered for the attention of women, and his indiscretion led to wasteful impeachment proceedings. W hungered for a father, and his need to outdo Bush Sr. in the Gulf lead to rash decision-making that cost the nation trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of ruined lives.

Why does that happen? Why do we allow these men (in many cases, empower them) to run our lives?

This is, in fact, the central conundrum of the Bible, starting with Cain and ending with Christ. Some women think of Christianity as a “men’s club”, but I don’t see it as something to be proud of. The Bible focuses on men because our weakness is the greatest problem to success in the mission we have been given.

When John is invited into heaven (Revelation 4), he encounters twenty-four “elders” celebrating the presence of unconditional love in their midst. Twelve are identified as the patron angels of Israel; the other twelve are encountered in the tiara of the holy mother who comes to bring the savior to humanity. So in heaven, there is a balance between the masculine and feminine angels.

Why don’t we feel the presence of those angels? The intimacy of their involvement with the doings of Earth is described so beautifully by John [Rev. 4:9-10] (emphasis added):

And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever

In reading this, I have the image of a great welling up from all the living things of the Earth: the animals, plants, fungus, even the bacteria. This welling up travels up through the souls of the elders where it literally forces them to their knees in praise.

But after Eden, humanity was placed under quarantine. We are not allowed to participate in this upwelling, for as it says [Gen 3.24]:

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Being cut off in this way, our experience of life is dominated by the material world, and predominantly by the fear of death. When wielding fear to control others, men, whose natural participation with the creation of life is so distant, have less compunction than women. Too often, those that cherish life submit to the terrorism of aggressive men.

What Jesus demonstrated to us was the power that is available to us when we relinquish fear. It is to enter again into that upwelling, and with disciplined minds not only not to pollute it, but moreso to help to channel it. In so doing, we are embraced and sustained by it, just as Jesus was. It is this channeling, and not physical control, that was meant in Genesis 1:28:

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

In that divine relationship, the power of love sweeps all else before it. I once had an employer tell me that I was a “free spirit.” Not at all: I am constrained to avoid the use of fear, which in this world is to surrender power over people. But in surrendering that power, I have submitted to the purposes of a power that overwhelms all others, and so I cannot be turned by fear as others are turned.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. [Matt. 7:13-14]

Happy, Happy

I usually spend the Christmas season listening to Sarah McClachlan’s Wintersong, over and over again. This year, I couldn’t put my hands on it. I finally went down to Barnes and Noble this weekend to look for a replacement copy. The clerk shared that there was one copy in the store, but it was on hold. I promised him that I’d be the vulture in the racks in the hope that it would go unpurchased.

Sarah is my favorite muse of the soul. I went to see her live in concert at the Nokia Center a couple of years ago. Part of her way of connecting with the audience is to read notes out of a hat. They were pretty standard party fare, the most scurrilous being whether she goes “commando” on stage. Sarah was really patient.

She had just authorized the use of “In the Arms of the Angel” for the animal rescue centers. During her request that we make a donation to that community, Sarah told us that, much as she would like to respond to our questions, the entire band was wearing ear-plug monitors, and couldn’t hear anything that we were saying.

After the pitch for the animal rescue shelters, I focused my thoughts and said “Thank-you”. She almost jumped out of her skin. It was obvious to me that we share a connection somehow.

Sarah was going through a troubled time. Her husband had filed for divorce, and her children were travelling with the band. The next day I went out to her web site and posted a note to her, saying all the things that I wished I had been present enough to put into the hat for her.

I picked up Mirrorball maybe eight years ago, and it’s been a really powerful tool for me, rivalled in that sense only by Snatam Kaur’s Essentials. Kaur’s work is beautifully devotional, but Sarah gets really in deep with people’s pain. I don’t know how she processes it. It’s like a key for me when I’m in contact with people carrying deep psychic wounds. Even more, Sarah does it without bitterness. Almost all of Mirrorball sees life as a struggle that reveals the hope for grace in all of the participants.

So I offered her my perception that, if she would only recognize the healing forces that swirled around her, she might have some really beautiful experiences.

Last night, I had a strong urge to go back out to Barnes and Noble, and discovered that the CD was back on the racks. Happy, Happy!

I don’t know what possessed Sarah to create Wintersong in 2006. Most pop Christmas albums focus on the joy of the holiday season, but Wintersong is powerfully devotional, and not at all derivative. She sets “Noel” to the beat of African drums, and weaves it with “Mary, Mary” as a spiritual set to lute. “Wintersong” and “Song for a Winter’s Night” are originals that capture so beautifully the bittersweet feeling of being without the one we love on Christmas.

I’m listening now to “Little Town of Bethlehem”, and the rendering of “No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive him still, Dear Christ enters in” still brings tears to my eyes, even after four years of listening.

So what if it’s not party music? I don’t know why it hurts so much, but it’s a gift, Sarah, that I know leads me into the joy of healing.

Thank-you.

The Soul Comes First

Particularly during life’s difficult moments, religion is a source of comfort for us. When a child dies, when we lose a job: we are sustained by the relationships and wisdom that we develop in worship, study and charitable work.

Because this aspect of religion is so important to us, we seek in scripture for meaning that applies to us in our lives as human beings. We tend to emphasize that part of the story, and when we don’t find what we’re looking for, maybe even expand our searching into parts of the story that don’t really apply to us.

But if spirit is a part of the natural world, a form of consciousness woven into the very fabric of space, why should intelligence have manifested only here on Earth, in humanity? If spirit began evolution when the universe formed, or even earlier, it stands to reason that it’s got a long history of its own. What would coming to a planet be like? How would spirit go about learning about a new world? How would it go about improving itself through that investment?

When I re-read the Bible after developing a physical model of spirit (not really a theory, because the mathematics needs to be elaborated), I saw it in this light. The Bible made a whole lot more sense to me than it did when I turned away from it as a teenager.

That understanding is captured in The Soul Comes First, which you’ll see as a link on my sidebar.

Now the Bible is a complex book, with a lot of ideas in it. Summarizing it in seventy pages, even when looking at it from 30,000 feet, means compressing a lot of ideas into very few pages. So it’s heavy going. Here’s the short skinny:

  1. This reality was designed as a place of healing for souls infected by selfishness.
  2. The creation myth in Genesis records the investment of a collection of such souls as they explored the Earth through the evolving senses of living creatures.
  3. The founding of monotheism through Abraham is about creating masculine strength in a culture dominated by powerful women.
  4. The Old Testament, from Exodus on, records the expansion of monotheism as a national culture. The investment made by God at this point was in creating a capacity to reason through adherence to the law. The experiment failed for various reasons – the most significant being the desire of the people to centralize human authority. This eventually led to demotion of spiritual leadership in favor of political leadership, and destruction of the nation.
  5. Jesus came to demonstrate that love will overcome any system of tyrannical laws. Not only did he demonstrate the power of love through miracles, he trained a collection of men (the Apostles) to emulate his mastery.
  6. The Book of Revelation is exactly what John said it was: he was taken up to heaven, where the angels shared with him their relationship to and experience of Christ.. The visions of the seals are interpreted as the forms of selfishness that the infected angels brought to the Earth with them; the trumpeted disasters are the extinction episodes revealed to us by paleontology; the bowls describe the exhaustion of the natural resources humanity is exploiting.

Items 2 and 6 establish that paleontology and evolution science have revealed things that were known to the ancients long before we had the science to study them.

Mary, Contrarily

A statue of the Holy Mother at St Paschal’s has been a soothing presence to me for the last 18 months. I typically stand on her side of the sanctuary, as it puts me across from the children’s choir whose invocation has such a compelling simplicity. But the calling that reaches me through her image has become a compulsion of its own.

“Come here. Rest in my peace for a time.”

This confident and generous assertion of self contradicts the popular image of the young virgin. It began nagging at me this Christmas. Was she simply the passive, albeit perfect, receptacle for her nation’s Messiah?

I cannot reconcile that with the Gospel of Luke. The song that he records she sang to Elizabeth was not a literal event, but rather a way of placing into context the spirit that moved her into the tide of events. It reads, in part [NIV Luke 31-33]:

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

Would these have been the words of a 14-year old? Obviously not, but would they have been far from her concerns?

What is it like to be a child in a state ruled by tyranny? We in the developed world forget, but it is to be told to look to the ground when the tyrant’s men appear, to hide when they come with weapons at the ready, to¬†whispered news of families taxed into poverty. Not lessons shared idly, but as a parent’s moral necessity to ensure that children survive.

Would it have been unexpected for an empathetic and intelligent girl to contrast this reality with the promises of her faith? Would it have been a surprise for her to conclude that this was a time for God to honor his promises to his people?

There are two ways to fall on the edge of this dilemma: into doubt, and onto certainty. What I feel is the presence of certainty in this young lady. Certainty that God would honor his promises. Certainty that holy men always came into the world through a woman that loved their God. Certainty that such a woman would be found, perhaps a woman like her mother or a beloved aunt. Certainty expressed in prayer early in the morning and before laying down to rest at night.

And through that expression of faith, the angel that had waited, as angels must, for the day of their service to Love, awoke in heaven, and came down to explain: “Yes, it will be done, and this is how.”

The Gift I Would Give

Just this awareness I have of being surrounded by spirits that want so much to participate in my loving of myself and the people around me. That sense of them preparing the moments for me, of guiding my words and my hands, of giving gratitude for the opportunity to enter the world through me.

Such an amazing kaleidoscope of them, of all interests and persuasions, just seeking a place in which they fit, in which they are welcome, in which they are useful, in which they can experience the joy of a fulfilled purpose.

I would give you the gift of yourself, and the beauty of the angels that support your living.

Believe in you! It breaks my heart when you do not.