Jesus, You Here?

 

Jesus, You Here?

          It was a beautiful day yesterday, a fall day at the end of October in 2017.  Leaves are changing and I am at St. Ignatius House in Atlanta, GA, for a class in Spiritual Direction.  I arose very early this morning intending, I thought, to do my daily reflections with Scripture and do some review of material for the class, but I didn’t.

It came to me to go first into the Adoration Chapel to just sit with the Host and Jesus (Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist).  I did some centering prayer, trying not to think of anything, just breathing in, “Yah” and out “weh” or “Yahweh.”  I did that a while and since I was very close to the Monstrance,[i] I got up just to be sure the Host was actually in there.

Now I believe that God is in all things and all things are in God.  The Apostle Paul noted a Greek poet, “In Him you live and move and have being.”[ii]  I believe that, but some theologians don’t believe Paul really believed what he quoted.  I recently talked to one of them who does not believe that.  But I do.

I was reminded while I sat in meditation of the last complete sentence my Uncle, Bill McCulley, said to me as I, my wife, Wink, my sister Janelle Deblois, and I heard as we put him to bed toward the end of his life and Bill looked up in a fleeting glimpse of his old self and asked, “John, you here?”  Bill soon died of Alzheimer’s, an insidious disease.  Bill didn’t know anything much, even most of the time what his name was.  Of course I “know” a lot more how to talk, how to add and subtract, how to read and write, etc.  Bill did not know anything.  It was like he was in a vast cloud of unknowing[iii]  But as I looked down on him and heard the words, “John, you here,” it was so precious to me.  I hope to remember those words all my life.  Maybe he is looking down on me now as a part of the vast cloud of witnesses or the Communion of Saints.[iv]  Maybe he will welcome me again when we meet again and I arrive wherever he is, in God, in heaven, wherever, and Bill greets me in a loving voice, with the words, “John, you here.”

Now I was not supposed to be thinking of anything in my centering prayer, attempting to enter the vast cloud of unknowing, the Divine union with the Mystery, the One God, but my prayer turned into meditation and I went up to the Monstrance and looked closely, knowing not to touch it, and looked to be sure the Host was present there, it was, and I asked, “Jesus, You here?”

I sat back down and wept silently since other people here are in a silent retreat, although I was all alone in the Adoration Chapel, excepting with Jesus, of course.  Jesus was there too.  If you don’t believe that, believe Jesus was is in me and He is in you, at least the image of the Divine and Mysterious One is in us all.  I thought that as little as I know, and all the religions and religious institutions of the world know, including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Islamic, if all poured together in a bucket, would know nothing, being just be a drop in the ocean compared to what God knows.  God knows how to talk in all languages including Angelic ones, He knows how to read and write in all languages too, and how to order and create the whole universe, how to create life and how to take life, just at the right time, like he took my uncle Bill’s life and received him unto Himself.

I know God heard me when I asked, “Jesus, You here?”  I know He was looking down when I asked Him that, thinking I am precious in His sight, that I am a beloved sinner and He knows all of my sins since He lives in me, and I live in Him.   I love you Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Divine One, and you too, Bill McCulley, and you too, the reader whom God loves, and is in, at least by His image inside of you.

Please ask yourself, if you do not believe, or if you do believe, “Jesus, You here?”

 

John Cooper

 

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monstrance

[ii] Acts 17:28

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cloud_of_Unknowing

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communion_of_saints

Brother’s Blood

Brother’s Blood

In this terrible world of the past month and a half, let us not let Evil creep up on us and invite us to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…

Accepting what is evilly inspired…

Let us hear the cry of our brother’s blood rising up from the earth,

Let us be aware that a major culprit of the violence and killing of the past few weeks is religion…

Let us walk in the Garden with God, as did Adam, and Eve, before religion…

Let us believe in God, as did Abraham, before religion…

Religion is a temporary phenomenon in this world’s history…

Religion is created by man in his own image as a bridge to reach the One God whose Kingdom already lives in us, and we in Him…

Relationships with God, and each other, and the supernatural ability to hear our brother’s blood cry from the ground are primal gifts we should strive to possess….

Not to strive against each other,

I think we are our brother’s keeper, all of our brothers…

Listen to your brother’s blood, and the survivors of our brothers’ blood who have bled under the altar of Evil, and have gone before us…..

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

Bookworm

Bookworm

I recall that my brother, David Cooper, used to call me a “Bookworm” when we were growing up… I liked books, and read a lot, one reason I suppose, was that we grew up poor without a TV in the home until after I left for college. Books were my entertainment. I cannot recall studying that much, but I would check books out of the Marshall, IL Jr. High Library, reading Isaac Asimov science fiction books, about all the horse books, like Black Stallion, and nearly everything I could get my hands upon…

 
I really valued books… Recently, I think I may have valued them too highly, at least for monetary value, for the type of books I have. I have suffered some reversals the past few years, some of which are causing me to evaluate declaring Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. In Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, one has to put a value on things one wants to keep, and pay it back to the Bankruptcy Court in 5 years. In the paperwork I filled out, I used the value of $250 for “Books, mostly old, relating to woodworking, religious books given to me by the church I was a pastor in, etc.” I have hundreds of books, as Ben Talmage, to whom I gave some of my duplicates will tell you. I think I valued them much too highly… It is hard for me to even give away the duplicates I received when another pastor of the denomination I used to serve died and his family gave them to me, knowing I liked books.

 
Oh, that reminds me of another “book time.” This goes back to the time I was having a religious transformation experience while I was in college at Samford University. (Oh, I used to work in the Rare Book Library there.) I came to Alabama to attend Samford University, where my uncle, Dr. Everett Lemeron, taught accounting and other business related subjects. I lived with him, and my aunt (by blood) Gladys Lemeron in their home in Cahaba Heights, a city close to Birmingham and Samford University. This made it easier on me to pay my way through school in those days, where it never occurred to me to get a loan, if one could have back then… Anyway, after a year at Samford, I got this “buggy” idea (to my aunt) (a devout Nazarene who grew up in the Free Methodist tradition) to observe the 10 commandments. Now that entailed my ceasing to help out around the house on family work day, Saturday, which happens to be the Sabbath… Also, to exacerbate the conflict, I was beginning to understand some of Jesus’ ethics, such as to “Love your enemies, do good to those who despitefully use you,” etc. on the path I had been taking since my late teens of becoming a conscientious objector, which I am to this day, although I am no longer a Sabbitarian after practicing that law for about 25 years before coming to an understanding of the New Covenant.

 

This Spiritual transformation got me kicked out of the house in early 1969, I believe, by my aunt and I had to load up all my possessions in my 1959 VW. This is the VW that I used to drive around Samford University with a plastic sign on the front bumper, “Make Love, not War.” I had no one interested in the Love part at that school, and I had the sign stolen from me apparently by an irate Samford student concerned about the War part of it. :):) This is the VW I used to haul away my earthly possessions. It took only two trips to haul my possession away to a guest pool house I rented up on Alford Avenue on top of Shades Mountain. I acquired a new push button phone, a red one. The phone number was 205-822-8922. Don’t dial that! I mostly hauled away books….. I had lost of them back then too…

 
But I gave away most of the books at a another transition point in my life. I later moved into a home owned by the family of a Worldwide Church of God friend, Kay Kimbrough, at 305 Woodward Road, in Midfield, AL not with Kay, but several of us young Worldwide Church of God boys, including Larry Carter, and Donnie Parker. This was the Birmingham bachelor house for the young men in the church, including nearly all who passed though from all over the country. Everyone was welcome, and I shared everything I had with everyone who needed it, including fish for breakfast (just like Jesus???) because that is all I had on that day. The fish was steamed in my Wearever cookware I sold to single working girls back then, but that is a whole another story..?:):) Some of our guests did not like fish for breakfast, so they went to the local Shoney’s….

 

Back to the books…. Donnie Parker, apparently surmising how much I valued my books, kept bugging me to give up my books because they were secular, and not religious books… He wagered with me that I should throw away all my books because they were vanity… I wagered back that if I could do 100 pushups he would give me all his Bibles (he had quite a collection and all kinds of translations) I would throw away my books and his Bibles would be mine. I won, having grown up on the farm, working hard. I was strong back then.. Donnie was a couch potato and could barely do one push up back then. I disposed of my books, throwing them in the trash, all except three or four thick ones which were propping up the end of a used bed I had that had a broken leg.

 

I have never really planned on making another transition in life and giving up everything again, including my books, especially not at 65 years old, which I turned on January 15th, 2014. I have listed some things I would like to keep, like half the home Wink and I have completely paid for, and some personal hand tools, and a chest of drawers my Great Great Grandfather Alexander Hinkle, who was a cabinet maker too, and a farmer, and also a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and six chairs he made. The books, $250…I valued them too highly again, apparently… I already sold all my big woodworking equipment, and gave the money to a bank I owed to nearly pay off my line of credit, which they responded to by closing my line of credit, making my problems worse that before… Oh well… The idea I have in life is now to ask, Does it rust? If it rusts, don’t value it so highly… Don’t cling to it… I think Jesus had some things to say about that, even saying it about Silver and Gold, which according to Jesus, rusts… Scientists are apparently unaware of that idea, that Silver and Gold Rusts, but some scientists who do not know this may not know Jesus and may not know that everything has a radioactive half life and when viewed in the lenses of eternity, are not really worth keeping… Also, thieves can break in and steal them. It is loving one another that needs to be valued, even one’s enemies, according to this Jesus person… That is what will last… I have even been arguing with prestigious religious people who may not really understand such matters lately… It is hard on one to understand such things…. One has to give up ones prized possessions, and be willing to carry crosses around, and to die, and to bleed all under the altar at the foot of various punishing instruments, like the U.S. economy, greed, capitalism, rampant consumerism, and various military industrial complexes, and such things as crosses we agree to bear as we are transformed by Spiritual substances (homoousios) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/270595/homoousios which will never rust.

 
Back to the books… I am going to pick up about 20 books that I was unable to give away tomorrow, Sunday, one of the days I now worship God on, along with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday too, the 7th day of the week.. I plan to offer them to Greg Rogers, another pastor friend of mine, and see if would like to have them.

 
I am thinking too about another book, the Book of Life, mentioned toward the back of another book I value, the New Testament. I think my name is written in it, and yours too… I think toward the end of this book, the Everlasting Grace and Love of God is also mentioned, where the City is mentioned, that has gates that are always open, and great big loudspeakers sounding out, Come… Come, even to the worst of our enemies, even to those not yet in the book of life, even perhaps to the fallen angels who may be able to be transformed… It is a city that values such things as Gold, which is used to pave streets until it rusts again and has to be reknewed….

 

Bookworms, as my brother David said of me… I hope to always be one… and listed in one, especially one…:):)

 

Love and Peace, Forever…

 

John Cooper
http://www.jcooperforpeace.org/

Another Face of Joy

Another Face of Joy

I recently read Pope Francis’ “Evangelii Gaudium,” his first Apostolic Letter. The letter may be viewed at http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm.

As a former Roman Catholic and Nondenominational Evangelical Christian I am overjoyed at Pope Francis’ ethics and in particular, this recent letter.  My hope is that Pope Francis will reknew (I know, deliberately wrong spelling) the Catholic Church. I even feel called to come back to the Catholic Church, at least part time, to see how all of this is unfolding among individual Catholic communities. It is all because of Pope Francis that I feel called to do this.

My view of the Gospel is that the Gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ which results in Peace and Salvation for all who believe. Pope Francis in some cases refers to the Gospel in relationship to the Crucified and Risen Christ. I agree to this definition also. I quote a section of his letter below:

“The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. That is what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people (Lk 2:10). The Book of Revelation speaks of “an eternal Gospel to pro¬claim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tongue and tribe and people (Rev 14:6).”i

I too, hear the Universal call of the Gospel as Pope Francis states, as a Gospel of joy for all, and none is excluded, but all are included in the message of the Gospel. I am excited that the leader of the world’s largest Christian system, of over a billion individuals would speak in these inclusive terms and physically and mentally demonstrate his compassion for all mankind, even those who are not of his particular fold, and also those of other religious systems and non religious people.

I will write a type of review of Pope Francis’ Exhortation following, along with my own free form comments.

Humans everywhere, of all beliefs are always looking for Joy. For Christians, Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which is believed to be an internal gift, not something we merit of your own goodness. To put another face of joy into humanity is always good. The face Pope Francis is highlighting is the face of joy we can experience, as a result of following God’s will for us, that of going into the world, and sharing the Gospel, or Good News.
Pope Francis seems to put early emphasis on works of mercy that result from our joyfully sharing the Gospel. To me, these works are very good when they arise from the inner motivation of the gift of Grace freely given to us by the Holy Spirit and proceeding from the Father and the Son, who live in us all and we in him, One God.
I read Pope Francis as deploring violence in the cities of God, and later in his letter actually speaking of the Gospel of Peace.

“The Church proclaims “the Gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) and she wishes to cooperate with all national and international authorities in safeguarding this immense universal good. By preaching Jesus Christ, who is himself peace (cf. Eph 2:14), the new evangelization calls on every baptized person to be a peacemaker and a credible witness to a reconciled life.”ii

It is very Good News to me to hear a leader of Christianity speaking out for the Gospel of Peace. I have long felt a calling to proclaim this Gospel of Peace, and regularly do so, but I have been rebuffed by Evangelical Christianity at nearly every point. I keep sharing, however, and also write about the Gospel of Peace on my blog site, http://www.jcooperforpeace.org. As a Body of Believers who deplores violence to the unborn, the Catholic Church, it is music to my ears to hear of the Gospel of Peace from the Christian leader of that system.
To me, it is a perfect time, today, for Pope Francis to set a vision of the Gospel of Peace, the Gospel of Salvation, and the Gospel of the Kingdom, one Gospel, as a Gospel that is to bring Peace to the world, as much as possible now, and certainly when Jesus returns, and always when Jesus comes to us now in this life. I cite in this regard:

Luke 2:8-15

8 That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11 The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God:

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”
NLT

Above we see the Good News of Joy for all mankind concerning the Peace God wishes for all whom he favors, which to me would be inclusive of all mankind, since Jesus came to suffer and die for all mankind’s sins. Whether all mankind will hear and understand this Good News and believe is another matter for discussion, but personally, I hope so, once they see the crucified and risen Christ, and it is a Joy to me to assist in sharing this Gospel.

In the setting of this vision of Peace and proclaiming the inclusiveness of the Gospel, I hope Pope Francis will provide even more confessions of Guilt of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the terrible sins of the Church, (It is not just the Catholic Church,) regarding the post Constantinian destruction of Sanctified human adult life in the Inquisition, the killings of Moslems, and Christians, and the lack of nonviolent actions concerning the killings of Jews and others in World War II, in Nazi Germany. The Church’s support of the Just War Theory, (although it is not a Doctrine of the Church,) needs to be disregarded in relationship to the Gospel, and other confessions as may be needed. Hopefully, Pope Francis will lead the Roman Catholic Church back to Early Roots Christianity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_early_Christianity It is a Joy that the Gospel proclaims the forgiveness of all sins, both our own individual sins, and those of corporate religious and national and political bodies. Some believe even the fallen Powers may be redeemed if they accept the Gospel. The author, Walter Wink, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Wink has written books concerning the possible redemption of the Powers which lie behind human systems.

As a Church that values human life, and life of every kind, I feel this is a perfect opportunity for the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of Pope Francis, to divest itself of all conjoining relationships with political Powers and return to its Early Roots. Likewise, all Christian churches should divest themselves of political alliances and concentrate on preaching the Gospel. Te Politics of the Kingdom of God is what the Church, (and all religious systems,) need to focus upon. In joyfully sharing the Gospel, no Catholic should ever want to take a human life in warfare. In response to the Gospel, the time to stop killing for all who believe and share the Gospel, is now. The visible and tangible expressions of Pope Francis and every Christian Believer’s love for one another, and our enemies, Catholic and non-Catholics is the way the seeds of the Gospel are joyously shared… It is these Joyful expressions of love by which others know the Gospel has been preached.

Speaking of Joy, I concur with Pope Francis’ vision of the Image of God being in all mankind, not just in Catholics, and not just in Christians or adherents to one’s own individual religious system. The Quakers, whom I am particularly fond of, believed that there is a spark of God in every man and that the proof of this is that if there is anything a person does, that he feels sorry for, it is proof of the indwelling spark of the Spirit. I quote Pope Francis:

“If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person. Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one per¬son to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfilment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names!”iii

Challenging Catholics to take joy in Evangelicalism by Love and the Gospel of Peace, in place of the sword, is a very good challenge for all, in these days where the Myth of Redemptive Violence is still being believed even after millennia of proof that this method of “making peace” has never and will never ultimately work.

I also appreciate Pope Francis’ many references to the Grace of God. One instance is cited below:
“Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live “justified by the grace of God”,199 and thus be “associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ”.200 But due to the sacsacramental dimension of sanctifying grace, God’s working in them tends to produce signs and rites, sacred expressions which in turn bring others to a communitarian experience of journeying to¬wards God.201″iv

To me, Pope Francis comes very close to the Biblical text at the heart of Protestant Evangelicals’ beliefs,

Eph 2:6-10
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
NIV

I understand that our works are a response to Grace, not the cause of our Salvation, and I believe Pope Francis is quite Universally minded in his understanding of Grace, although he gives adequate expressions to the necessity of accompanying works. Perhaps St. Francis is thinking of the early Church Father, Origen, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen. At any rate, Pope Francis seems to me very progressive in his thinking processes compared to recent Popes. He states:

“We know that “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man’s concrete life, both personal and social”.146 This is the principle of universality intrinsic to the Gospel, for the Father desires the salvation of every man and woman, and his saving plan consists in “gathering up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10).”v

I agree here that Salvation is for every man. I cannot say that every man will be saved, and I do not say that Pope Francis is saying that here. I would like to believe that every man will be saved, and I hope once Jesus draws all men to himself, that the beauty and love of the Crucified and Risen Christ, as Pope Francis also explains the Gospel will result in many hearts turning to God. To me, the Joy of Evangelization rests in the saving Grace of God, and efforts of Evangelization are never over until Jesus has executed his “time” to draw all men to himself…

One of the concerns Pope Francis expresses in his Apostolic Letter is the relationship of the economy to Joyfully Evangelizing the world. To me, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God which is beyond political systems, should change political systems so that our economies look more and more like Jesus would have them look. To this end Pope Francis states:

“We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.
205.
I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply the appearances – of the evils in our world!”vi

I am reminded of the Mennonite teacher, John Howard Yoder, and his book, “The Politics of Jesus.” In a nutshell, according to my recollection from reading the book, the ethics of Jesus and the Kingdom of God in Early Roots Christianity radically changed the political systems of the world, including the Roman Empire. The radical changes so endangered the Empire, with all these Christians loving one another, which in itself is sharing the Gospel, and refusing to join the Powers’ ethics of Redemptive Violence, that the Powers offered the Church the sword, and the Church accepted, and began to use the sword to supposedly advance the Gospel, in many cases disregarding unconditional, self sacrificial love for all men. Apparently the Church of that time, the Roman Catholic Church, neglected to consider that Jesus had already refused the same ploy from Satan, when Satan offered Jesus rulership over the earth. Jesus refused. The Church accepted. Then, the Church began to use the sword to advance the Gospel, since it had been given the sword, and began to make up its own rules of “just” war, etc…

Therefore, when Pope Francis speaks of no longer trusting the unseen and invisible hand of the market, I can imagine that the Powers are really disturbed… Talk like that is Jesus talk like when Jesus began to proclaim the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, the release of prisoners, and the year of Jubilee… The Powers kill humans for speaking like that… They killed God, Jesus too, but Jesus rose again and has overcome these Powers. Pope Francis has already rattled the heads of both invisible Powers and human economic powers. They have squealed like stuck pigs… I pray for the protection of Pope Francis and that the Highest of all Powers, Allah, God, will protect him until his mission is done, which may be the radical changing of the Roman Catholic Church, including the economic wrongs involved with the Vatican economy.

Although my comments regarding Evangelii Gaudium have thus far been overwhelmingly positive, even though I was raised Catholic, I view Pope Francis’ ending of his letter and the inclusion of the Mother Mary as a “tack on” thought to Catholicize his letter…He states:
“With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and thus made possible the missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost. She is the Mother of the Church which evangelizes, and without her we could never truly understand the spirit of the new evangelization.”vii
I cannot personally agree with this statement. To believe it would certainly stretch my envelope and my understanding of Theology all out of shape. That’s OK though, I am imagine my beliefs in Peace and Nonviolence also stretch Pope Francis’ envelope too, and certainly stretch the envelope of the historic Roman Catholic Church as a whole, with exceptions such as Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and other Catholic Pacifists excluded.

On the other hand, Pope Francis is stretching a lot of peoples’ envelopes all out of shape… Young people seem to love him, Moslems seem to love him, Atheists even seem to love him… I love him too and felt an immediate conjoining of Spirits as soon as I realized who he was and is. I pray for the continued advancement of the Gospel, and the reformation of the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis.

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper
http://www.jcooperforpeace.org/

i “Evangelii Gaudium,” Pope Francis, 2013 – Sect. 23
ii Ibid., 239
iii Ibid., 274
iv Ibid., 254
v Ibid., 181
vi Ibid., 204

vii Ibid., 284

Do not Think of Yourselves as Better

Do not think of Yourselves as better

I was thinking about this Sunday, in a Bible Study of the Christian New Testament book of Romans….  It came to mind that one needs to listen to the poem by Thomas Merton, a Catholic Monk, who was a  fellow member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation as I am now, and a believer in the Gospel of Peace and non-violence…

The phrases that I was thinking of were “obeyed perfectly” and “do not think of ourselves better because we burn up friends and enemies with long range missiles…”
This seems significant in today’s society, where we can launch drones from long ranges away, and missiles, and nuclear weapons, and never look into the eyes of those we condemn to destruction.  We were taught all these practices on TV, from little children on… Overcome Evil with violence, not Good… Overcoming Evil with violence has not “worked” in thousands of years, since Cain killed Abel…

I confess my own conceit and plan to write a confession of my conceit as soon as possible… I think as Christians, we should all confess our conceit, if we think of ourselves “more highly,” or better, or as “Americans.” If we think of ourselves “more highly,” or “better,” let us confess…..  All we have been given in Christ as Christians are gifts.. We are not better….  We are not more intelligent…. We are so vain… so stupid, compared to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, “God.”

Listen to the link below, and hear the prophet speak…

http://archive.org/details/ThomasMertonChantToBeUsedInProcessionsAroundASiteWithFurnaces

Let us look into the eyes of those we refuse to love as Jesus loved, not launching long range missiles of suffering and damnation upon them… Would it be better to quickly destroy them as in Annihilationism… :):)

It is better to listen to the poem…

It is possible this will be of significance in the next few days…

Oh,  just thinking some more… I am sure this classic proof text for those who believe in war and killing will be covered but possibly completely out of context with the whole book of Romans which concerns submission and obedience to God first, then those in authority secondly:

Romans 13

13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. ”

NIV

I deliberately did not quote this verse in context, but let us be sure we obey perfectly, God, that is, not men, and let us certainly not think of ourselves as better….
Grace & Peace

 

John

Taking Sides

Taking Sides

For those who believe in overcoming evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love, of any religion, system, or creed, I wrote the following to one of my friends…  Do we need to “take sides,” or take the side of overcoming evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love, as Peace Pilgrim proclaimed?

“All I am saying is it is just a terrible mess when anyone attempts to overcome evil with more evil, violence with more violence, falsehood with more falsehood, hatred with more hatred… On either side of this, and on all sides of everything, resorting to the Myth of Redemptive Violence is the way of the world since Cain killed Able, and has never “worked,” although mankind keeps trying it over and over and over again and again in place of the clear Godly Gospel message which includes overcoming Evil with Good, as Jesus did on the cross… This message of the cross is the central focus point to solve the world’s problems.

As Christians, we can “DO this” as is indicated in the observance of the remembrance and the reality of Jesus’ death on the cross which we as Christians need to DO often, since we seem to not be able to remember for long Jesus’ core message to “Love one another as I have loved you,” and to overcome Evil with Good, not more Evil. If we as Christians cannot remember it, DO it, BE it, and shine this as a light on the hilltop, not hiding it under bushel baskets, afraid to preach this message of the Gospel of Peace, how can we expect Goodness to arrive magically from any non Christian political system? In Egypt, anywhere, including the NON Christian political system in the United States…

Make sense?

What do you think?”

John Cooper
Tuscaloosa, AL

The Gospel of Peace

The Gospel of Peace as an Ethic from

Judaeo-Christian Roots of Non-Violent Conflict Resolution</p>

 

We can view the amazing contributions of human intelligence to our society.  We can drive our automobiles, fly to other nations 24,000 miles away, and connect instantly with virtually anyone on earth who has internet service, or a phone, and on, and on.  However, since the days mankind tamed the horse, invented the wheel and used the wheel to carry back spoils won in warfare from our perceived enemy, we cannot yet seem to understand how to win the peace. We cannot understand how to implement, not weapons of war, but to implement instruments of peace, such as the simple but complex principle of how we can love our enemy.  We can win the Nobel Peace prize, yet in our acceptance speeches speak of the ethics of preemptive warfare and claim allegiance to them.  Why not explore and discuss preemptive theories of conflict resolution, not preemptive war?  Are we merely slaves to principalities and powers who rule over us in a spiritual realm? Do we serve these powers as a result of our failure to believe in and practice ethics based upon the roots of Judeo-Christian historical evidence?

For Jews, and Christians, it is important to view the Gospel of Peace from the origins of history recorded in Genesis.  At certain other times God apparently made allowances for mankind to attempt to solve problems through the Myth of Redemptive Violence, and parts of Hebrew Scripture appear to even approve of such methods and support them.  God in other cases appears to approve of polygamy, of dashing little babies against rocks, of divorce, and warfare, but for Christians, we must view the Gospel of Peace through the lens of the New Testament firstly, and also recall the origins of mankind recorded in the book of Genesis.  Jesus himself made similar statements when he said:

Matt 19:8-9

 

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 

NIV

In the same vein, although this presents a logical challenge to Biblical inerrancy, just as Jesus challenges divorce as being normative for humanity, I believe that from the beginning mankind (all mankind, not just Christians or Jews, since there were no Christians or Jews from the beginning) was created good, by God, in the image of God, to live peacefully with one another, nonviolently.  To understand the exegetical difficulties of just a few strange and alien Scriptures, and to hold them in tension, we need to view them through the eyes of Jesus.

               Can we imagine that when we eat dinner as a human family in our homes that we should set a place setting for our worst enemy, if we have one?  Can we imagine that we should pray for and love our enemy, that our own egos should die so the ethics of Jesus, a Jewish prophet, could actually live spiritually in us?  It was that prophet, Jesus, who said “blessed are you if you do this…”

 

               We intend to provide fresh insight into generally overlooked, and generally rejected, Judaeo-Christian roots of the Gospel of Peace as a method of conflict resolution firstly between God and man and secondly between man and man, looking to the Old Covenant for those roots and examining the predominant roots of the New Covenant Gospel of Peace revealed by and in Jesus whom Christians believe to be “the image of the invisible God”, (Col. 1:15) and the “exact and complete revelation” of God.

               In our discussion we will be examining the following principles which we will argue will preemptively, if understood, transform human lives into a non-denominational, apolitical, ethic of a peaceful, non-violent proactive lifestyle, which creates the type of human soil in which conflict of nations and conflict of individuals cannot grow.

We will be examining principles revealed millennia ago which, to our knowledge have not been applied by nations, governments, or seldom even religions of this world, or generally speaking by humans living on earth to the problems of conflict and war.

We will firstly list these peaceful and harmonious beliefs before discussing them individually in more detail.

We Believe we are dressers and keepers and that we humans are created to be the most valuable asset in our world for the purpose of taking care of this world and all life, plant, animal, and human, within it.

We Believe and act on the premise that we are our brother’s keepers.

We Believe and act as if we humans are created in the image of God.

We Believe the root principle of the Old Covenant, that we are to love God, and to love man, is applicable to preemptive conflict resolution.

We Believe the root principle of the New Covenant, the new command Jesus gave to transcend the nationalism to the old, “to love one another as I have loved you” will resolve conflict.

We Believe that “love your enemies” will complete our transformation as beings created in God’s image and make us into real, actual, everlasting children of God who have no bones of conflict in our being.

We Believe the old and new roots of resolving to let God Himself be our king, fight our battles, resolve our conflicts (e.g. – Old Testament records of Samuel and establishments of an earthly king and juxtapose with the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6) and our dependence upon God, to deliver us from evil) not ourselves.)

Faith is required just as Faith has always been required.  God Believed Mankind into being and called upon mankind to believe what he commanded for harmonious relationships with himself, and with all those who he created into existence in his image.

In all our discussions we must also recognize that from the origins of mankind in Genesis to the final resolution of conflict in the book of Revelation, which conflict is consummated and dissolved by Jesus riding a white horse dipped in blood (Rev. 19) (which is Jesus own blood,) that from Genesis to Revelation we are urged to war and conflict by fallen powers which must be defeated and transformed before the peaceable kingdom of God is fulfilled and fully established.  Mankind was not created to be warriors.  Being a warrior must be learned from fallen powers proclaiming myths of redemptive violence.  Who taught us to be violent warriors?  It is our understanding that it is God who desires us to be Peacemakers and wants us to call us his children.  Our understanding of the Gospel of Peace will be magnified as we examine ancient Judaeo-Christian principles.

 

This is the end of first section to post on jcooperforpeace.org.  Other installments will follow.

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper