Tirawa, Saves!

Pawnee_father_and_son_1912

In the beginning Tirawa created the heavens and the earth.  Tirawa supplied for the needs of all of creation.  The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from Tirawa swept over the face of the waters.  With this wind the Path of the Departing Spirits, known to the White Man as the Milky Way was created.  East of the Path of the Departing Spirits is our father, Morning Star, and to the west is our mother, Evening Star.

 

The earth was filled with many creatures at the hands of Tirawa.  There were Creatures that filled the streams and populated the waters.  There were Creatures that occupied the air and perched upon the trees of Tirawa’s creation.  Tirawa filled the sky with his Creation.  The night and day belonged to Tirawa.

 

All that is or that shall be, is ordained by Tirawa, and the stars are his servants.  From the east Morning Star began to pursue Evening Star in order to make love to her, but she continued to elude him.  She put obstacles in his path, but continued to encourage him.  When they found each other they lay with each other and gave birth to the Pawnee.

 

The number ten has always had significance for human beings, and this is because Evening Star placed ten obstacles in the way of her suitor.  One of the obstacles was in the chaos beneath them.  There was an endless sheet of water presided over by the Great Serpent.  Morning Star threw a ball of fire at the serpent, which caused the serpent to flee beneath the waves.  As the fire hit the water, enough of the water dried up to reveal earth and rocks. From these materials, Morning Star threw a pebble into the sea of chaos and it became the earth.

 

When the earth was in its proper place, Tirawa appointed four lesser gods to administer it.  They were East, West, North, and South.  They joined hands at the edge of the great sea on earth and a land mass emerged.

 

Eventually, Morning Star caught up with Evening Star and lay with her.  Soon Evening Star conceived a daughter.  When she gave birth to the girl, she placed the child on a cloud and sent her to earth.  High above the earth, Evening Star asked Morning Star to water her celestial garden and, as a love gift, he made the first rain.

 

In the Celestin gardens of Evening Star, there grew a great many plants, including Mother Maize, the greatest of food plants.  Evening Star gave maize to her daughter as a gift to plant on the newly emerged earth.  Soon the Sun and the Moon produced a son, who married the daughter of Evening Star and Morning Star.  Daughter-of-Evening-and-Morning-Star and Son-of-Sun-and-Moon are the parents of all living human beings, as well as the first beings to cultivate maize.

This is the Pawnee story of Creation.  There are countless stories of how this world was fashioned.  Along with these stories of creation we find stories of great floods, how law was found, and what happens upon death.  Story is an important part of the human experience.

Joseph Campbell offers that story is essential to understand the human condition.  Campbell tells us that story is how tradition, belief, and ritual is passed on and how civilization, religion, and humanity is fashioned.  Where would any religion or faith be without the archetypes of hero, mentor, threshold guardian, herald, shapeshifter, shadow, and trickster?

Is not the purpose of the Bible to awaken in us a sense of awe before the mystery of being.  Is this quest of being not the impetus of the wonderment behind the heralded question of why?  The story of Creation is central to understanding the purpose and intent of the very life that I, you, and we spend here in this existence.  What value does life maintain if absent purpose?  What is purpose sans a rooted idea of where we came from?

The story of creation roots us in a way that we may entertain understanding of what, why, and how the universe is shaped and catapults us towards validation of the social order we find ourselves subject to or participating in.  This social order includes religious framework.

The religious frame work to which I have been formed is largely Christian.  To be more precise it is a folky, conservative, evangelical, charismatic Christian faith that I have experienced my awakening within.  The tension of faith, reality, and what lie beyond are real for me.  This folky Christian faith was always delivered with a side of Native wisdom and lore.  I struggled to maintain a foot in two competing worlds, the Pawnee and the Christian.  I was not able to be Indian and… so I hid the Indian within and took it out of the box from time to time.

Story has guided me in life.  It has led me through trials and into the various stages of me being.  Story has taught me songs of love and the dirges of mourning.  Story feeds my soul as it seeks to restore balance within my fettered heart.

In the last few months I have awakened to my Indianness in more profound ways.  I have intentionally explored my tribal history, lore, myths, and rituals.  I have awakened to the historical trauma that seems to bind Native cultures in one homogenous thread of hurt and anguish.  I discovered the soul wound left by this trauma and map out the hurt that connects my name to my grandfather White Plume and countless grandmothers whose names have been lost to history.  The whispers of songs unsung for decades and the fading memories of dances long forgotten disturb the sanctuary of my soul, beckoning me to awake and follow.

I am unable to embrace the faith that fashioned me; the Christian faith that brought me comfort and carried me to the peace of my mother’s people.  I do not hate Jesus, the creeds, the Table, or the baptism(s) that washed my sin.  I am not sure that I can be my whole self within this faith.  The faith that was delivered to my father’s people at the expense of culture, ritual, and lore.  To my father’s people Christianity is a colonial faith that taught them that they are not human.  The fearfully and wonderfully made creation does not include Tirawa’s children.  The blessed children began as a wondering tribe from Judah.  Tirawa is false and so are his children.

This is my beef with Christianity, is that the normative to which the faithful seeks to adhere to does not include Tirawa and his children.  The cultural Christ saves in context but he still covers the “gods” encountered with his blood and the salvific act of redemption always moves us from where we are to another place of where we ought to be.  That place (in the US) is abundantly white and privileged.  It leads me to wonder, is the Bible capable of holding the ethos, ethics, and determination of all cultures?

At one point in my life I would have said yes. The Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is contextual and therefore meets all where they are at.  The problem with, for me, this is that Jesus always disturbs who he finds and leaves them unsettled.  Jesus comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comforted.  What does this mean for Tirawa and his children?

If I embrace Jesus and this gospel of his, am I also to reject Tirawa and the ways of my father’s people?  What then do I do with the abusive gospel that torments and hurts Native America?  Can the Jesus that “civilized my people also be the one that saves me?  I receive Jesus and I embrace the wonder working blood along with the spilled blood of Wounded Knee, the Long Walk, and the Trail of Tears.

Don’t forget, Tirawa made the heavens and earth as well.

The Outsiders?!?

“You can’t win. You know that, don’t you? It doesn’t matter if you whip us, you’ll still be where you were before, at the bottom. And we’ll still be the lucky ones at the top with all the breaks. It doesn’t matter. Greasers will still be Greasers and Socs will still be Socs. It doesn’t matter.” These words uttered in the film “The Outsiders” capture my feelings at the moment. I wonder if this is the festering attitude in the church these days.
We fight each other for orthodox supremacy. We assert that our opinions mirror the call for Christ. We separates ourselves into self identified “us” and “them”. We line up as if to wield our bodies at each other in an ecclesial game of Red Rover.
WTFWJD? I ponder this often these days. I look at the horizon of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) and wonder, WTFWJD? I feel very strongly that the exclusion of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) members of the church in all areas of service in the PCUSA is a tragic injustice. I have little compassion for the “opposition” and view them in dehumanizing ways.
I am angered that it is an issue at all. I see this issue tied up in money, power, and property. I am sad that I look at this issue with competitive eyes. We must win! Then I hear, “You can’t win. You know that, don’t you?”
Deep down, I fear that I do think this. The real issue is not one of win, lose, or draw. It is a matter of “us” and “them”. The PCUSA is sharply divided in many areas over this issue, with each side digging in their heels to fight the other.
What happens if one side definitively wins? What happens to the other folks? Do they quietly retreat to the opposite corner and receive a reassuring you’ll do better next time? Do they victoriously wrap themselves with a flag and stand on the top turn buckle? The worst part of all of this mess is that we are missing the call of Christ in loving each other.
We fight and as we do we paint the face of the “opposition” as demonic and unchristian. We seek to attack and remove them as far as we can from the divine mandate and holy canon. It is easier to believe someone wrong if you cannot love them or see them as Christ sees them.
The PCUSA has sought with great care and deep compassion to endeavor together towards the gospel message of transformation and radical reaction to the pervading systems of this world. We seek to honor and up hold all voices present and heed the warning of human pride.
Where have we failed? This is not as important as how do we show grace. No matter the solution to this current roe in the church, mercy must be a part of it. Not a mercy bucket, but a mercy tanker. Mercy must flow from all available sources into the assembly.
We must pray with and for each other. We must answer the radical call to love. We must release our preconceived notions of who “us” and “them” symbolize. Mercy must be a part of this dialogue!
Today’s daily lectionary gives us this from the Gospel according to Matthew, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today (chapter 6:25-34).”
“Do not worry about your life…” Mercy must be present in this absence of worry. “It doesn’t matter if you whip us, you’ll still be where you were before, at the bottom. And we’ll still be the lucky ones at the top with all the breaks. It doesn’t matter. Greasers will still be Greasers and Socs will still be Socs. It doesn’t matter.” It doesn’t matter who wins. We are still sinners in a sinful place looking for salvation.
No one but Jesus has the market on salvation. You, me, no one gets to make up the rules on how that salvation is accessed. There is no right or wrong, no Jew or Greek, no free or slave, no greaser or soc, no us or them. We separate ourselves from the presence of God as we fight each other upholding justice and commanding restoration of our rightful place.
I feel very strongly that justice is being with held from our GLBT brothers and sisters. I also feel that we need to walk in mercy and grace as we seek resolution to this injustice. We need to return to the humanity of the people that this issue entails.
Us, they, and them are real people with breath, divine love, and stories. Mercy includes effort and investment. God’s mercy involves the death of Gods Son, Jesus Christ. We are all Greasers pointing fingers at the Socs. We all claim to be the lucky ones (the elect) with all the breaks. In the end only God determines the Socs and the Greasers. Where does your trust lie? In what does your trust lie? Only mercy, grace, and forgiveness will whip you and bring you from the outside.

The Pope and Bush walk into a bar…

The other day I was in the gym doing my routine and noticed the TV’s had the Present-dent Bush welcoming the Holy Father to (a)Merika. I sat there gliding on my elliptical journey across the world.

As I was gliding across Europe towards Asia I heard Bush describe this nation as a nation of prayer. He also specified the gender of God as he excluded a feminine relation of the divine in his usage of masculine pronouns.

A nation of prayer I pondered as I approached Eastern Europe. Is Bush referring to the Muslims that pray to Allah, the Hindus performing puja, or the Wiccans performing rites? Is there room in Bush’s America for worship of “nature’s God” that he refers to in his address?

Bush claims a compassionate America where “the measure of a free society is how we treat the weakest and most vulnerable among us.” I take a right at the Caucasus

mountains and enter Turkey. I continue into Iraq as look for the denizens that America is protecting from tyranny and despair. There are no hungry, sick, and discomforted people here.

I imagined this area to be covered with danger and glimmering with hope provided by the majestic humble majesty of George Bush and his “awesome God.” Where is the compassion of the death and destruction laying claim to Iraq and her children? Where is the measure we believe in of this free society in our dealing with the weakest and most vulnerable?

In Bush’s Gospel Jesus claims only US. The compassion of turning the other check, the love in giving your tunic also and the call to love your neighbor seems lost on all of US.

I glide across Iraq and cross the beautiful deserts of Arabia and then into the Sahara. The red sands give way to the green canopies of Sudan and then the north of Uganda. I am soon faced with the banks of the mighty river Nile.

I sit at its banks a while and soak in the smells and sounds of this life giving ancient river. On it waters it carries many nations and hopes along with it. The lush pineapples and bananas on its banks, with children playing in the waters.

Is God the God of love here, Mr. President? Does America also seek to protect the weak and vulnerable here? What does profit have to do with love? Can we comfort the sick and care for the infirm here?

I dive into the waters. They caress and comfort me. They sooth my soul. The Lord has lay me inside these cool and still waters to restore my soul. I continue my journey around the world, gliding in my imagination to bear witness to the compassion of the world. Please pray for us that we do hold compassion for all. Let us not hold that we are the ideal and divine bearer of truth or justice. Let us walk together to call into existence the Kingdom of God. This is my prayer…

Mr. Bush you will be gone soon. You speak of embracing love (God’s love) as the surest way to save [creation] from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism. Terror and fanaticism are rooted in the certain assurance that ones opinion is the only way to truth. Mr. Bush, I ask you to treat human life with the same regard and respect as you idyllically paraded on the world stage around the Holy Father. It is time to live up to the call on your life as a man of God.

If each of us is willed, loved, and necessary to bring forth the Kingdom of God, is it about time that we as a nation lived this way. Real freedom in found in the bondage in service to others. Truth lies in the mysterious capacity of being, existence, and reality to which all I participate and none to which I own. May God blessings be upon you and may love (the love of God) be our guide.  Love is no joke…

Intolerant God lays smack down…

“They only say that because they have not bothered to crack the Bible and read what the words actually say.  In fact God is the about most intolerant. I mean you talk about the head discriminator.  You talk about the guy who is.  Lays down the most boundaries and standards.  You see this is his creation.”

Shirley Phelps

 

I came across this clip on CNN.  The clip was a report on a demonstration outside of the Kansas church.  The demonstrators are calling for an end to the hateful speech that is preached from the pulpit in Westboro Baptist Church (WBC).  They decided to bring awareness to the public that Phelps hateful tongue does not speak for all Christians.

 
I find it strange that Phelps considers himself to be a Calvinist.  What would Calvin say about, “God is the about most intolerant”?  Would any intolerant God offer grace at all?

 
There is a twisted understanding of the Gospel message present here.  I am saddened by the lack of love in this message carried by WBC.  Where is the outcry against this flawed religion.  If God is intolerant and the head discriminator than I want nothing to do with it all.

 
It is funny how God becomes what we hide in the dark recesses of our hearts and minds.  I bet we all will be surprised to discover what God is.  WBC is so wrapped up in what they hate they are becoming ineffective for the transformative message of Jesus.  They are what is fundamental wrong with a Gospel rendering rooted in division, hate, and exclusiveness.  They are playing God.

 
I do not see the sovereignty of God in the hateful actions of WBC.  If they truly believe that God rules all then how is this demonstrated in their actions?  They seek to be agents of salvation.  This salvation arrives not in Jesus but the adherence to the message preached by Phelps.

 
WTF Fred?  Would Jesus be cool with you damming folks because they do not believe what you define Jesus’ message?  You can string along verse after verse in your sermons.  It does not change that fact you as abusing the scriptures to support your interpretation.  Mind you it is an interpretation founded in modern alarmism and self delusion.

 
I say, “Have any of you bothered to crack the Bible and read what it says?”  Sir I believe that Jesus will be pissed when he returns and you might receive a can of whoop ass.  Nope that is what you would expect.  You are recipient of love, grace, and forgiveness.  Just like all the GLBT loving folks you viciously condemn.