Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a ife of Spiritual Disciplines

Maybe a memoir, maybe a book review of Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner

Honoring my body, it is safe to say, is something at which I have failed. Gratitude for this conglomeration of blood, bones, organs, skin, tissues that God bestowed upon me has not been high on my priorities. Indeed, it would be also safe to say that I was taught to use it but not pay too much attention to it. Mom taught me to call certain body parts by made-up words. No doubt she was continuing a tradition her mother taught her and who knows who taught grandmom? Thing is, I thought those words were the correct ones which led to an embarrassing incident in fifth grade when we girls were locked in the auditorium with black paper over the glass so the boys couldn’t see in. We were to watch The Movie, you see, and I was astounded to find the narrator using other words for Down There.

Up until fifth grade, I don’t recall actually thinking about my body too much though. I have one memory as I sat on the toilet to defecate, I leaned over to peer in between the rim of the toilet and the seat to watch my poop descend. Maybe I was six. But as I said, I never paid too much attention to it as long as my body did what I wanted it to do: run; walk; play; master the bicycle (what a challenge that was); leap over the hopscotch chalk; hide during hide and seek; seek during hide and seek; chase balls; chase the dog; chase the cat; attempt to climb the maple tree in the backyard until the All-Seeing Mom stopped me.

All this carelessness changed in fifth grade. My younger brother and I were transferred from the Roman Catholic private school to public school. In public school, we had gym class. We girls had to change our clothes in the auditorium with black paper over the glass so the boys couldn’t see in. Where the boys changed, I no longer recall. From thence we were lead to the playground upon which lay a bunch of sticks, mostly straight but with a foot on them. The other girls ran to grab a stick and the teacher had to tell me what to do. We are going to play field hockey, you see, which I had never played. Those girls knew how to play, knew the rules, and I just stood there. For the first time, my body didn’t know what to do.

I was a complete failure in gym class until freshman year in high school when we learned to play basketball. None of the other girls knew how to do that either and for the first time in gym class, I was equal to them. In fact, I excelled at basketball and despite being the second shortest kid in the school, I played center forward because I was really good at basketball and had an extremely reliable layup shot. The teacher, who was once our gym teacher for fifth and sixth grades until she was promoted to the high school wanted me on the school’s basketball team but by that time, I despised all sports. I had been miserable at them all until basketball and by then the habit of being failed by my body and me failing to respect my body was entrenched.

So it went for a number of decades. Oh, there were exceptions when I enjoyed having a body and enjoyed the body of another, but on the whole, the purpose of my body was to contain my brain and that I valued.

However, this habit of failing to honor my body has caught up with me and the end result of is a lymphedema issue which requires, among other treatments, that I take a diuretic. I am sure we all know what the natural result of that is and to tell you the truth, I resent having to interrupt my intellectual pursuits to honor my body and deal with the logical consequences of taking a diuretic.

One morning, though, I thought to do something different. Since I had to sit there, why not read? I have no idea what Ms. Lauren F. Winner would think, but I have been reading her book, Mudhouse Sabbath, during these moments. Ms. Winner is a convert from Orthodox Judaism to The Episcopal Church. Well, I betray my Episcopalian chauvinism. She is a convert to Christianity, of course, who chooses to be one within TEC.

In this book, she talks about various rituals and observances of Judaism, compares them to the teachings of Jesus and the early church, as she reflects upon their meaning on her life today. It is riveting. It grabs my attention, fascinating me while at the same time increasing my admiration and understanding of certain rituals and practices of Christianity, particularly within The Episcopal Church.

It happens to be Lent as I experience both the effects of failing to honor my body and as I read this book. Reading this book, perhaps more especially because of when I am reading it and what my body is doing as I read it, tells me I have been wrong to live ignoring my body. Christianity is, after all, an in-the-body religion. It is all about God being in a human body. God honored the human body enough to be born into one so who am I to simply inhabit and use mine? Christianity is such an in-and-of-the-body religion that we in spiritual form eat God’s body and drink God’s blood. Hard to beat that for honoring and respecting the body.

In every chapter, Ms. Winner discusses how in-the-body is Judaism and Christianity. The body is a part of every Jewish spiritual practice. The body becomes something much freer than the sum of those individual parts of blood, bones, organs, skin, tissues that God bestowed upon each of us. We use it not only when we eat but when we worship, mourn, are hospitable, pray, fast, age, celebrate weddings, and pass through doorways. Body, mind, soul, and spirit are a unified whole and I have been very wrong to think of mine only as a vehicle for hauling my brain from point A to B.

Thank you, Ms. Winner, for writing so deftly, in a manner that not only challenges me but unashamedly shares your own challenges. I’ve had a Salami Sandwich moment of my own.

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To White Evangelicals and the Religious Right

Just read a piece by one of my favorite bloggers, John Pavolvitz,

White Evangelicals, This is Why People Are Through With You< which you may read at https://johnpavlovitz.com/2018/01/24/white-evangelicals-people/

 

His words prompted me to write the following.

While I agree that white evangelicals need to hear this, I would go further and address it to the white people of the religious right in the USA, the Roman Catholics on the right, the members of mainline denominations who are part of the religious right. It is is not just white evangelicals, although I admit they have the loudest, most shrill voices.

I believe this essay omits something very important. It neglects the damage that white evangelicals and the religious right are doing to the credibility of the Gospel message.

To put it baldly, people listen to what white evangelicals and members of the religious right do and watch what they do and they say “If this is what Christians are like, I want nothing to do with Christianity, God, and the Jesus they claim to know.”

So many people have said they have lost their faith because of what is said and done by white evangelicals and the religious right. While I might agree that faith should not be based on the behavior of other human beings, there is no getting around that this is what people say and they are convinced their perception is so accurate, that conversation with them to the contrary falls on deaf ears.

White evangelicals and the religious right have become stumbling blocks to their fellow believers. They have become stumbling blocks for non-Christians, who see no reason whatsoever to consider embracing faith.

White evangelicals and the religious right are going to have a very great deal to answer for, come Judgment Day, to use white evangelical language. They will be responsible for an uncountable number of souls lost to Christ. Not to mention their refusal to make sure the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the sick cared for, and needs of the poor are met.

If you are interested to see the reactions of non-believers and believers you have driven away from the church, I invite you to join my Facebook group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

where we frequently discuss the hypocrisy and moral failings of the white evangelicals and the religious right.

As for the people of color who have embraced the GOP on the basis of a white evangelical and religious right version of Christianity, I can only suggest that you research the meaning of the phrase “Uncle Tom” and open your eyes to how you are not only failing to act in your own best interests but how you also betray all other people of color in the USA.

Evangelikkkal Kkkhristianity

Anyone who claims to be a Christian and remains silent and doesn’t speak out against all the evils embraced by this administration and the GOP, in general, is not really a follower of Jesus because this administration and the GOP, in general, have rejected half the Gospel.

The witness of the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures makes it clear that the nations of Israel and Judah, the people and kings of the nations of Judah and Israel had a duty and a responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive.

Or else, and we all know that the people and kings of Israel and Judah ignored the prophets God sent to them, continued in their selfishness with devastating results. Their countries were destroyed.

Jesus says the exact same thing to the people and politicians of the world and the people and politicians of the USA are also supposed to pay attention to Jesus when they claim to follow Him.

Jesus tells the Christians of the world and the USA that they have a duty and a responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive. Or else.

Jesus also tells us in Matthew 25 what that “or else” is. “I never knew you,” he tells those who ignored their duty and responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive.

Elsewhere in the Christian Scriptures, we are told what the results are when we ignore the words of Jesus, specifically Mark 3:28-29. “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

While I would never say that the Democrats are as pure as the driven snow, indeed they are far far from it, at least they do recognize that we Americans have a duty and responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive. Or else.

Sadly, the Americanized version of evangelical Christianity has watered down the Gospel so that it is only an issue of personal, individual salvation which Jesus never spoke about. The thing we readers of English overlook is that English is a language which (irresponsibly in my opinion) fails to distinguish between the singular and the plural use of “you.” Thus we read the Scriptures and choose to ignore that, just as the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures did, Jesus to talks about a community, salvation as a community, the community’s duty and responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive.

White Christian friends whose silence we hear, you might as well start spelling it as “evangelikkkal KKKhristinity” because you are guilty of never being known by Jesus and of the apostasy, He mentions in Mark 3:28-29.

Please allow the light of the Holy Spirit to pierce the darkness and allow the truth to set you free.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was one of my heroes and I wept when he was murdered. He has remained one of my heroes all my life, exemplifying that we need to do the right thing no matter how much it costs us personally.

As a white person, it doesn’t cost me as much as it does a person of color. As a white person, I can always hide behind being white and close my eyes, heart, and mind to the ugliness that is happening in the USA.

Thing is, as a Christian, no matter how white I am, I don’t have that option because my Lord did not hide behind His Jewishness and close his eyes, heart, and mind to the ugliness that was happening in Israel in His day.

Sadly though, sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century some selfish people perverted the Gospel and turned into a gig of only personal salvation, making it a matter of the individual and Jesus. That was never the Gospel message. Not even the Reformers taught that the Gospel was a matter of individual salvation. It is something that happens within community.

Jesus is pretty clear what that community looks like. It is a community where ALL are fed, ALL are clothed, ALL receive medical care, ALL have their needs met. Jesus is pretty clear that ALL means everyone, not the chosen few, not the select, but all.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr made us aware that ALL meant all human beings, not just white ones. If you claim to love Jesus, then you cannot be a Trump supporter or a Republican because they have rejected the Gospel message of the community being ALL of us. They only want the community to be rich white people. Their message appeals to white people who also want to be rich and don’t want people of color and the poor to share in the wealth.

I very much fear that anyone in the GOP who has claimed Jesus as Lord has failed to understand the community aspects of the Gospel to such an extent that they have turned their backs on it. I very much fear that anyone on the GOP or anyone who voted for them has committed blasphemy, embraced apostasy and are guilty o the sin of the Holy Spirit. As it says in Matthew 25, Jesus will say “I never knew you.” Sounds cold and harsh, I know, but the truth will set you free even though coming out of denial hurts and causes suffering. In the end, it will be worth it. Please allow the light of the Holy Spirit to pierce the darkness and allow the truth to set you free.

A Testament of Devotion, first section

First reaction:  Why oh why, oh why did I wait so long to read this wonderful little book which I have just started this Advent 1, 2017.

Would you like to read this tiny little book with me, A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, which is one of the The Great Christian Classics? Won’t cost you a dime.
Below you will find an URL to a pdf of this wonderful little book. In copy, the biographical stuff is a preface numbered in roman numerals and the actual text begins with A Light Within on page 3.

HOWEVER, please note that in the pdf, Chapter One, A Light Within starts on PAGE TWENTY-NINE. The Study Guide is written for the paperback version, so when the SG refers to page 4 of the text, the corresponding page in the PDF is 30. Please make adjustments accordingly. Thank you.

https://pgadey.com/quaker/Kelly–TestamentOfDevotion.pdf

Thomas R. Kelly explores the notion of living in Light. He writes, “You who read these words already know this inner Life and Light. For by this very Light within you, is your recognition given” (p. 4). What has been your experience of “knowing” this inner Light? How has it illuminated your “recognition” of God’s move- ments in your life?

(hyperaesthesia defined “excessive physical sensitivity, especially of the skin.”)

My very first experience of knowing was playing with Someone Else in the backyard as a toddler.  This Person had no name and no actual physical form but was quite real to me.  Vividly so.  I called him my “Someone Else” and goodness knows what my parents thought when I chattered on non-stop about him.  It wasn’t until first grade when Sr. Padua had us studying the Baltimore Catechism Revised Number Two that I realized my Someone Else is Jesus. A naive child that I was, I simply assumed every child played with Jesus in the backyard.  Truth to tell that by the time I was in first grade, my experiences of doing this were fewer and desire for that kind of certain daily experience of the Presence has been the driving motivation of my life, sometimes weaker, sometimes stronger.

I have been on the weaker side of that continuum lately and mayhap reading this little book, and I mean little, a scant ninety-seven pageturner, might awaken my Inner Light.

Someone’s hypocrisy shattered my faith.

Just read this on Facebook, “I have walked away from the “Christian” crowd because of their embrace of Trump, whose every word and deed his entire life is antithesis to the words of Jesus. The hypocrisy has shattered my faith.”

While it is undoubtedly true that Trump’s entire life appears, as best as we can tell from his words and actions, to be the antithesis to the words of Jesus, I have to wonder whose hypocrisy it was that shattered this person’s faith.

I have to wonder if a person’s faith is rooted in the words of Jesus, how can another person displace that faith? Even someone as contrary to the Gospel as Trump and everyone in the Republican Party.

Read earlier today that someone else had their faith destroyed when Rush Limbaugh preached from a pulpit.  Again, how did Rush get that sort of power?

No one and nothing on this earth has more power than the Holy Spirit. If you “lost your faith” over someone’s nasty political crap, then you didn’t have faith to begin with.  If your faith was shattered because of Trump et al, then you were looking for an excuse to have it shattered.

Yes, that feels harsh.  Here is something harsher:  grow up.  Take responsibility for yourself, your life, and your own faith. If you claim to have faith in Jesus, there is nothing at all that can separate you from it except your very own free will, your very own choice.

If you desire the gift of faith, ask for it.  If you desire faith in Jesus, nurture it.  Read the Bible and some excellent Christianian writers. Pray every day.  Go to a mainstream church, not one of those Johnny-Come-Lately non-denominational churches with no accountability to any structure above the local church.

Faith must be fed.  Faith must be nurtured.  Faith must be cherished.  Be willing to grow in faith, be willing to allow your faith to challenge you to become a better person. Jesus didn’t come to make us Christians.  Jesus came to make us better people.

be what Jesus wants you to be.

Every single day, I nurture my own faith and attempt to help others feed their faith in my Facebook group, Celebrate What Christians Have in Common, please join.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/

Don’t be surprised when a woman accuses a man of sexual harassment.

Just stop being surprised.  It happens all the time.  It’s a daily occurrence.  It is one of the most ordinary experiences of the daily life of women. Even gay men are guilty of gender stereotyping women.

Here’s the thing few men are willing to accept, believe, or even hear from us women.

We expect men to assault us, harass us, molest us. We grow up being taught that you men will mistreat us. We receive all sorts of messages about how we might minimize our chances of abuse, but the fact remains that we are pretty much unable to prevent it because it is the choice of men to do it. We women can’t control the choices a man makes.

Something that seems to be deeply ingrained in the mentality of even the best of men is that we women are at men’s disposal to use however a man would. We are objects, playthings, possessions, things. That is how most men perceive us.

In order to function among men, we women act as if this isn’t true. We women hope for the best.

It’s much worse, of course, in any culture, religion, or society in which patriarchy is considered a positive. I can’t begin to account for the number of discussions about the “Biblical view of womanhood” which says women are second-class citizens. I grew up Roman Catholic and women are second-class citizens there too.

While the Hebrew Scriptures are full of stories about patriarchy, there are any number of hints, and one has to search for them, that Judaism is an egalitarian religion. One of the main hints is Proverbs 31.

Then there is St. Paul whose teaching about men and women is based on the fact that Jesus destroyed all the perceived differences between men and women. In fact, Jesus destroyed all the perceived differences between all human beings. Galatians 3:28 says “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. ”

So, no, we should not be surprised that men are accused of abusing women. However, we women are no longer going to allow you men to get away with it. And if you men claim to know Jesus, we expect you to get remedial treatment so you start thinking of us human beings, not merely receptacles for your sexual desires.