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.

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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.

Have just read an article called “#MeToo and the Atheist Community”

Have just read an article called “#MeToo and the Atheist Community”
 
Some thoughts on it.
 
“The sheer scope of this movement, touching so many corners of society at once, is astounding. Then again, we probably shouldn’t be surprised. As I’ve said before, the sad truth is that an allegation of sexual harassment or assault against a powerful man isn’t an extraordinary claim; it’s an ordinary one.”
 
Ordinary. That’s tragic.
 
“What seems different this time is that women who speak out are being believed and taken seriously, while men are actually admitting their misdeeds and suffering consequences. “
 
Finally.
 
“However, as I said, we in the secular community can’t afford to sit easy. We’re no exception to this trend. As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational and superior, our own gender politics are far from enlightened. We, too, have skeletons in our closets that need to be dragged out into the light of day.”
 
Yeah. It’s not just the fundagelicals who grope us women. It’s all men in every walk of life.
 
“It’s disappointing and enraging to see how many men, including many allegedly feminist men, now stand revealed as creeps and hypocrites. But as painful as it is, it’s a necessary reckoning. Men have been getting away with loathsome behavior for too long, and it’s unsurprising that some of the predators would try to camouflage themselves by mouthing the right words about gender equality. It hurts to find out that they were never the allies they said they were. But that knowledge is essential if we’re going to put a stop to their misbehavior and build a robust, consistent social-justice movement that lives up to its own principles.”
 
I’ve said it so many times before… We see someone who is different from us for whatever reason, whatever we identify as “different” and we go on the attack. For some reason, we choose of our own free will to see someone who is “different from” and treat that person as “less than.”
 
It seems to be the most fundamental human dynamic. It seems to me to be the most basic thing that Jesus smashed to smithereens. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus tells us every single day. “Love your neighbor as God first love you,” Jesus tells us every single day.
 
When are we simply going to concentrate on learning what that means? When are we simply going to accept that no one is “less than” another? When are we simply going to accept that no one is “less than” me?
 
Jesus tells us over and over how we can learn this and change our lives and be better people. So have others: the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, the writers of the Christian Scriptures, the Greek and Latin Doctors of the Church, Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Sienna, Theresa of Avila, Evelyn Underhill, C. S. Lewis, I could go on and on and on and on and on and one.
 
Our teachers are out there. All we have to do is admit we need to learn from them.
 
Here’s a link to the article that provoked this piece.
 
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2017/11/metoo-atheist-community/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=Best+of+Patheos&utm_content=57

One place where readers can find these teachers in my facebook group, Celebrate What Christians Have in Common, which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/

A place to find out what to do in concrete and specific acts to improve this world is in another Facebook group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

About “Christians” in the News

One of the saddest things I can say in response to the kinds of things KKKhristians in the news say is something I’ve been saying repeatedly on my Facebook group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff (https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/) where many people are repulsed by what they see of the news-making Christians. I say it to anyone who feels despair .

If we base our faith on the actions of others, then we are not basing our faith in the eternal Godhead. If we judge Christianity by the actions of those in the news, we are not using our critical thinking skills to learn about historic Christianity.

Without making any bones about it and speaking the truth as baldly as possible, those types of Christians who are in the news, and the types of Christians who embrace the teaching of those in the news, are heretics and many of them are apostate because they have turned their backs on Jesus’ actual teachings to embrace the lies of the prosperity Gospel or the lie that the Bible is to be read literally. Neither of these have been taught by the Church historically and neither were they taught by the Reformers. Those are doctrines taught by greedy and self-serving people who want to hold onto their wealth and ignore the hard sayings of Jesus.

It is a tremendous shame that so many people allow their definition of the Christian faith to be defined by certain teachings which appeared around 1850, with no basis in the Gospels or the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures.

If there are those who would like exposure to the teachings of the historic Church in its many flavors and varieties, then they are welcome to Celebrate What Christians Have in Common, also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/

Our faith needs to be based on the Gospel, the words, and actions of the Living Word of God, Jesus. Every single day there are billions of Christians all over the world quietly living into their vocations, never making it into the news but working with the angles to see to it that the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the sick cared for and needs met for those who don’t have resources.

Every single day there are billions of Christians all over the world acting out of compassion, empathy, generosity, gentleness, kindness, and sympathy in a kneejerk reaction to the abuse, brutality, bullying, greed, and selfishness with which are all surrounded.

Christians are out there, working on the side of the angels. But because they are poor in spirit, pay attention to the Beatitudes, we don’t hear about them. It is that kind of people who draw people to investigate Jesus.

Take heart, all who despair. The Gospel of Jesus prevails now as it always has despite apostates and heretics.

It’s Been One Year Since Evil Was Elected

One of the things I have noticed this past year is the unabashed glee on the part of all who have embraced authoritarianism, bigotry, denial of climate change, destroying families, destruction of the planet and God’s creation, discrimination, fascism, global warming, gynophobia, hatred of the poor, homophobia, intolerance of a different of opinion, intolerance of people that are different, Islamaphobia, kleptocracy, misogyny, nonpartisanship, police brutality, prejudice, racism, in favour of rape, in favour of sexual assault, in favour of sexual harassment, in favour of sexual molestation, treason, transgenderphobia, white supremacy, and xenophobia.

It has been hard to overlook the increase in domestic violence by white men. It has to overlook the increased violence against women.

It has been hard to overlook the increased attempts to control women and take our agency away from us. People want to take away our birth control and our right to determine what do with our very own bodies.

But what is wonderful is the number of people who are resisting the evil that is the GOP. People who have never cared about politics are waking up and asking “What can I do to rid us of all these wrongs?” Since January, since I began mentioning that I have such a group, my Facebook group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff has increased its membership by 620 new members.

One can’t help but notice what happened in yesterday’s elections. People got out and voted and the RepubliKKKans did not have it all their own way. One can’t help but notice the increased bigotry, prejudice, and racism in many of the GOP candidates and it has been rejected in prominent states such as VA and NJ.

Some of us on Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff (on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/) have been developing a theory. Sometime ago in the late 1970s, some of us remember reading from more than one reputable news source, that at the rate the Hispanic demographic was growing, Hispanics would within fifty years be the largest demographic in the USA since Hispanics, according to the article, are less likely to use birth control and seek abortions.

Isn’t interesting to note that around the same time, all of a sudden evangelicals reversed their position on abortion, the ERA was defeated in Congress, and the homeschooling trend became so popular among evangelicals.

Now, in addition to trying to end abortion, the GOP is trying to eliminate women’s access to birth control. What would be the logical result of all these restrictions? An increase in the birth of white babies, an increase in the white population, and white people remaining the largest demographic in the USA.

Yeah, it does sound farfetched, but then so do many of the policies of the GOP which make no sense at all.

From my POV, the choice is simple. USians can choose evil or they can choose goodness. The RepubliKKKans and their supporters have embraced evil.

The RepuliKKKans have rejected the gospel and when they do claim a faith, it is in the heresies of the prosperity gospel and Biblical literalism. Both of those heresies were introduced in the mid-1800s and have never been taught by the Church, not even the Reformers taught such stuff. To embrace the prosperity gospel is to reject Jesus.

And that’s the bottom line.

Living in the Cupped Hands of God

I used to get panic attacks quite frequently and thank God for better living through chemistry because there some that were so severe that the only way to deal with them was through medication.
 
I am disabled due to Major Depressive Disorder with Anxiety. The onset was when I was nine and being sexually molested for two years when I was twelve only increased the depression as did being raped by my husband when I was thirty. By forty-five, I was disabled and spent decades trying to get a grip on my symptoms.
 
One thing I have to mention.. pastoral care from the clergy surely can suck. I have encountered very few priests with any gifts in that area. I can’t begin to count the number of times I was tempted to give up my faith because of the way Christians treated me.
 
Then I realized to base my faith on the way other Christians behaved was a serious error. My faith needed to be based on Jesus and the Gospels.
 
Many years ago a friend told me something I have never forgotten. “Gloriamarie, we can’t expect Christians to act like Christians. We can only be thankful when they do.” These words have gotten me through some hairy moments and the awful treatment of abusive Christians.
 
We are all sinners. We are all imperfect. We all have a lot of crap to deal with in this life. Life sucks a lot of the time. My response to that is this: Jesus is.
 
When I was thirty-two, I had a Moment that I think has been the defining moment of my life that told me then and still tells me now who I really am. I think this is true for all of us.
 
When I was in my very early twenties and in the grip of the Insidious Dark, I used to cry myself to sleep, begging Jesus to hold my hand. It would be so easy for Him to do, but it never happened.
 
One Saturday morning in late March 1982 after being on anti-depressant meds for the about six weeks or so, the first time I ever took them, I was sitting in bed sipping coffee and praying the service of Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. I don’t remember which if the prayers or Psalms provoked me into screaming my anger at God that Jesus never held my hand when I begged so hard for it.
 
God said to me “My child, how could I hold your hand when I hold you in Mine always?” And I had a vision of me in the cupped hands of God standing on the fleshy pads at the base of God’s fingers, holding onto the tips of those fingers in a “Kilroy was here” manner, looking out at the world.
 
I believe with all my heart that all of us live there. All of us are held in the cupped hands of God and no matter what happens to us, whether we are raped, mugged, robbed, sick, beaten, abused, bullied, that we still live out lives in God’s cupped hands and nothing this world can do can ever dislodge us from that place.
 
God never promises to protect us from the various slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and all the varieties of hideousness that living in this world exposes us to, God never promises to interfere with the free will of others, but God does promise to hold us in those cupped hands and we can rely on that.
 
Some horrible shit has happened to me since that vision. I expect some horrible shit to happen to me as a result of living in this country at this moment with this administration. I am disabled, handicapped, impoverished, and the RepuliKKKans want me to die, but whatever the future may hold I live in the cupped hands of God and if I die, I do so in the upped hands of God. Nothing can ever remove me from that place.
 
Except for the exercise fo my own free will and my own choice to step out of God’s cupped hands. It’s a choice we all have: to live our lives in God’s cupped hands or not.