Sunday, March 20, 2011

This I believe II

My grandfather, Omer Smith, summarized my belief on the "after-life" quite well when he said: "I am not concerned about going to a better place when I die, but rather that I leave this place better for my having been here."

I do not believe that a future threat of punishment or promise of reward is what the "kingdom of God" is all about. I believe that the kingdom of God is here and now as we do the will of God. The will of God has to do with Mercy, Justice, and most of all Love. If we do not express love through our actions toward ALL, we are not living in the Kingdom. I believe that the "kingdom" is when we express our love for each other by sharing our "coats" if we have more while others have none, by sharing our food when we have more while others have none, by sharing our "freedom" when we have more while others have less, etc.

to be continued

Saturday, March 19, 2011

This I believe

With much discussion occurring about heresy, convergence, tradition, emergence, etc. and a strong sense that I don't seem to have much of a place in RSOF nor its "discussions/disagreements/advances/etc." anymore, I have been sorely tempted for some time now to withdraw into a "Quietist" period. However, some things/ideas/leadings seemed to "click" tonight and I am planning to try and just share some fairly simple straightforward statements as to what I believe that compels me to stay involved in the RSOF. Some will include analogies/metaphors which will try to give some clarity.

I) I believe that all people have an innate ability to relate to God and regardless of the terminology, culture, religion, etc. this may lead them to God. (It is as if we all had a compass which anywhere on the earth would point in a given direction. If we follow that direction we will arrive at God. There are many local deviations and false magnets which must be avoided, but these are secondary to the over all, what I call, field of love and light.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I wrote this for an online course in "Liberation Theology" and thought I would share it, even though some is not new. The "assignment" was to tell one's own story regarding oppression/liberation.

"I will start with two stories from "childhood" that speak to somewhat subtle oppression which was not seen as oppression by those doing the oppression.

As a child in Jamaica we had a cook that was treated as a member of the family. This was not unusual to me since my grandmother's sister, "Aunt Ruth", stayed with my grandparents and did much of the housework since my grandmother was diabetic and had severe arthritis that limited her physical abilities. We thought of "Vicki" in much the same way and her son was like a cousin. However, when another "missionary" family came, it was obvious they could not understand how we could treat people "like them" (They were quite "black" being descendants of the African slaves that were brought to Jamaica) as close friends, let alone relatives. The way in which this family treated someone who they supposedly "loved and came to help" was obviously demeaning and "oppressive." It clearly hurt Vicki and her son. My parents didn't say much to me, I was 8-9 yrs old, except that we needed to continue feeling the way we did about Vicki regardless what others said or did. The theology that I saw lived was that we fed the poor, clothed the naked, treated everyone as our friend, etc. No distinction was made due to color of skin, etc.

The second incident was in Kenya where my father was named interim "head" of Friends Africa Mission in Kaimosi. We moved in to the "big" house. It was soon evident that Africans didn't come to the front door. When asked why this was, the answer was that Africans who were known in the mission came in the side door, but that any African who was not known and especially those that worked in the household as cook, "yard worker," etc. were allowed to only come to the back door. It was very quickly made known that anyone was welcome to come through the front door of the house. I also knew missionaries who spoke of the Africans as basically less than human but worthy of help especially to "save their souls," but unless they accepted the practices of whites they were not to be accepted in any "social setting."

It was very difficult for me to understand why Christians didn't take the words of the Gospels as "instructions on how to deal with people. Was this was even true of those who seemed to be dedicating their lives to helping people understand "Christ."

I have had a number of other interactions that seem to make as little sense as those situations did since then, but have tended to be less obvious. One thing I learned from a graduate school friend who was a Black (his term in 1969-72 although he was relatively light skinned) from Atlanta, GA. We were students at OSU in Ohio and he insisted he would return to the South where it was clear where people stood with their attitude to Blacks. In the North people had the same attitudes but tried to hide their feelings or refused to deal with their feelings. I will try to mention some of those soon."