Love. And Stand the HELL up.

IMG_5143“Love thy neighbor.” That is the foundation of Christianity. When Jesus asked a young man what is the most important teaching, the man replied “Love God, and love thy neighbor as thy self.” And Jesus told the young man that he was not far from heaven. This is Jesus’s primary teaching. “Love one another.” He also said over and over, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” “He who has no sin, throw the first stone.”

Now I know I am far from perfect. However, I am about to throw some reality. Let’s apply Jesus’ teachings as i just mentioned to what is happening currently. Do white supremacist love their neighbor? No. And it is pretty damn obvious considering they–themselves–proudly scream and wave their myriad of assault weapons in gatherings of hatred directed at everyone who is not included their tiny dense (as in ignorant and moronic) box who they as white supremacists have judged to deserve death, destruction or exile. Most of these hate-filled people identity directly with Nazis, who kill their neighbors, after torturing them and stealing everything they own. Do we need to hate and kill Nazis. No. Should they have the right to take over a neighborhood, a town, a state, a country in the name of hatred, racism and violence? Hell, no!

Everyone standing up for good and for human rights (which all people deserve) need to rip to shreds every tiny iota of the propagandized lie and any other excuses violent hate groups and white supremacist bigots use to condone their evil behavior. And white supremacists are in mutual agreement with one another acting together for evil, initiating evil, and the evil of deliberately causing death and harm as a consequence of evil mob mentally and violent actions. As a Christian we have the difficult task of loving thy neighbor anyway. Does it mean we allow Nazis and other violent hate groups like ISIS or whatever attack and kill others–especially on American soil? Hell no! Love requires some backbone folks. You are on the wrong side of LOVE if you think being passive and silent or making fun of protesters who deliberating put their bodies in harm’s way for the benefit of those who are being hated and terrorized to say “Hell, no! You will not terrorize us or anyone!!!”

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Let’s get specific. If “you” are the one initiating more hate through indifference or by way of thinking it’s perfectly okay that white supremacy exists and you are giving them normality in this country; if you think it is okay to be on the sidelines snarling about protestors and being offended by the removal of stupid inanimate statues, offended by these objects created specifically to glorify slavery and white supremacy being dismantled or even torn down, you are a deluded buttkissing rascist hypocrite–if you also identify with being Christian. If you aren’t a Christian, or a religious person who has a doctrine of peace or you are just a human being with no regard for anyone else–then I have nothing to say except shame on you for being part of the “hate” problem if that’s where you stand. People are not merely offended by the statues of Confederate Soldiers or Generals and the like. They rather are tired to the bones of all those who have been destroyed and oppressed by way of the ongoing old white supremacist indoctrination that watches from these intentional memorials of intimidation to remind others of that reign of oppression. That battle was already fought and won. It was not won by the confederates. Confederate statues are memorials put up to honor the ideology of white supremacy. That’s is a fact of why they are there. They were paid for from the pockets of those with a white supremacist agenda. There is plenty of documentation of who it was that made sure these banners kept flying. If it was about the civil war, the memorials would be Union officers and soldiers. You don’t honor losers of a war, unless you are trying to perpetuate that war. So yes, maybe most of us white southerners do not look at these statues and see the ulterior motives to why they are there. But we, white southerners, aren’t the ones being threatened are we? And if we do know why these statutes exists, it’s to say “Remember what happens to those who stand up to the power of racism. Do you want a cross burning in your front yard?”

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Bring it on. i grew up seeing that vile hatred. I know it when i see it. I choose to love the hard way. Hate groups need to be extinguished. We can do that by protesting, by standing up together, by running them out of the temple with a whip if we have too. Keep it non-violent and legal. Do it like Martin Luther King. But do not let anyone else die from this stupid persistent disease of greed for power and authority. It’s perfectly fine to be angry at this. This is righteous anger. But then we have to gather in our emotions, and transform anger into useful passions to turn our anger into positive action. Do we win by becoming hate ourselves? No. no one wins with hate. So stand up for others. Live and love fearlessly. And don’t put up with shit.

Love takes a mountain of courage. Hate is a coward that cherishes its own skin far too much to stand up alone. Hate is a selfish little pissant.

Get off the fence. You either love and stand up, or sit down and shut up. — Pamela Stansberry

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Sometimes Words Fail

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Sometimes words fail. But often all we have is words. I will say this: I not only hope–but pray, and pray fervently–that all people of America will now stop for a moment to consider how to find peaceful resolutions.

Consider how the larger ramifications of divisiveness, blame, antagonism and hatred causes only destruction, and the blessings of coming together in a harmonious way is always mutually beneficial. This is a place in history for this country that is pivotal, regardless of political affiliation.

It is merely this, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

There is no way to bring together anything in anger and hatred. Anger and hatred will never work to heal this nation. And one person’s views are not representative of the rich diversity of human beings found on this planet, and in particular our country. However, every wise, celebrated and affective leader within this world has advocated peace, justice, and positive solutions.

If we all want to continue to live in the United States in a manner that is positive, it will require everyone’s participation. And it begins by eliminating the need to over-simplify the complexity of our country, and most importantly the human beings and all life found in it.

If you are a religious person, I suggest you pray for peaceful resolutions. If you are not, I ask that you stop to reflect on the practical value of peaceful communities, harmonious life and the rarity and glorious nature of having basic human rights for all. This is a conflict and a schism in our country that will not be solved easily; and it will require true dedication on all sides, in every mind and heart to find solutions that bring together and heal our communal life. This is not a football game, or a scenario of “winning” verses “loosing.” People can and do live well together while having opposing views when they want to–if we all at least value and respect the expansive practicality of justice, truth, safety for ourselves, community, peaceful existence, and prosperity for all. If we lose, we lose together. If we win, we win together.

This is our life that we all have come to enjoy, along side our family, friends, neighbors, and community. If you want safety and peace, you will not find it in furthering division by way of concept, words and action–or inaction. There needs to be the unilateral decision among all Americans to create space for peace and justice to dwell within, and in order to make this nation whole we must make it whole within our own selves–rather than to look for someone else to do it for us. Think of all that you value in your life, and then wish that for your neighbor too.

If we sink into survival of the fittest out of fear of the unknown, we will be rending our own opportunities into pieces. And if we tear up that potential, we destroy our own possibilities for happiness, health, and prosperity. Keep this in mind as we move through difficult times. We can do this together. But we cannot do it alone or in separateness. This is what we can do as a people, as individuals, regardless of ideology, religion or political attachments. Be the light by becoming the light. May we all be blessed!

What Should We Do?

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In a world full of hate, what should we do? In times of violence, abuse and fear-mongering, what should we do?

When bad things happen to good people, and work is hard to find, when we see people living without basic needs, what do we do? When we are living in desperate situations, what do we do?

It is easy to become overwhelmed by what we see everyday and what we experience. But do not let what we see and experience make us bitter and hard. Do not let our current situations and frustrations keep us from what we are meant to experience in life. Regardless of how bad things get, there is always an opportunity in the experience of being human to use everything that comes to us to become who we are in the deepest truth of what that means. And that truth is glorious. And that truth is freedom itself.

When we are overwhelmed, what we do is to take a moment and sit still–pray, reflect and listen to our hearts. Find the mercy and compassion that dwell in the deepest part of who we are and pull that forward. Let it arise within us as a holy infinite spring that gives pure unending life to all. Give room for all the disturbing horror of the world to move through, be cleansed by that life spring and be released forever more. We wipe the dirt away from our soul–our mind and heart–that gathers like dust, settling on us in a dark cloud each day. Wash it off.

We do such things by developing a mental attitude that says, I am not afraid to feel what I feel. I am fearless. I am made of a fiery refining courage. I am the light in the darkness. My feelings are not permanent. My mind and heart are of the same essence as the divine–the pure omnipotent consciousness–and I will rest in that perfection.

And we do this. We sit within our own innate divine perfection and we refuel, we feed our soul and refresh our mind and heart.
Then we go on.

We go on to our normal daily life to do whatever is best to our own capacity.

We do good for the sake of goodness. And we do what good we can do to the level we are able to do it. We have faith rather than fear. And when we have fear, instead of faith–we forgive ourselves and we grow stronger in mercy. Because we all fail. We all break and are remade into something more sublime when we allow that transfiguration. And we must allow transfiguration to happen. We must be willing and give consent for miracles to seed, bloom, grow and have room to flourish. Mercy is made of failure.

Living well is a simple process. It requires a dedication to simple methods of preserving our own integrity, joy, love and enthusiasm by way of facing what we need to face each day with as much mercy as we can cultivate.

Silence our own harsh words within the mind that tell us that we are a worthless, unlovable, stupid and a failure. When the ugly critical inner voices no longer spew hatred in our minds, our mouths will speak kindness and wisdom. And our words will heal rather than cause harm. As we change our interior dialogue we can imagine washing clean those wounded echoes of past shame with the light of love and mercy. And this is enough.

So this is what we do.

We keep trying. We get up when we fall.

We love. We laugh. We keep doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. We sit and face our problems in our own personal intimate way. We encourage others. We encourage ourselves. We make an effort to help one another. We find our mercy and compassion within, and we become a light for the world to see by.

And we do this all within the mundane. It only takes everyday normal people to change the world for the better.

Be loving, compassionate and generous and everything we touch will begin to heal, even if we cannot see that miraclous restoration happening. When one person heals, so do we all.

Stay strong in the trust that we each have an important part to play. Learn how to feed innate joy, to inspire it within, so you may share it with others.

This is what we should do.

What seems overly complicated and oppressive can only be addressed effectively with simplicity.

Mercy is simple.

Love is simple.

Joy is simple.

This is what we can do.

Help Me Hope

imageHope is a word people use constantly, yet few understand exactly what it is. What is hope? I’ve sought that answer for a long time. And perhaps the best I can offer is to allude to what it means to me.

Hope.

I’ve heard we must have faith, hope and love. I understand very well why we must love. If we want love in this world we must learn to love and exude love and become love embodied. Only love begets love; and love is the perfect answer for everything.

Faith I understand too. Faith is the way we think. It is an openness to God, to goodness, to ultimate divine perfection that gives us freedom to move about unhindered in a world full of doubt, darkness and fear. It is a process of training our minds and hearts to move to the next level of positivity because it is practical and healthy. Faith does move mountains.

So hope. What is it?

Is it expectation? Because expectation in itself is flawed and rarely turns out to be a good thing. Expectations are merely rules we set within our minds that what we experience must be this or that. There is no this or that. There is only what is. An expectation is a concrete idea that one embraces of how one thinks things have to be; and when expectations are not met, there is great suffering and disappointment–bitter disillusionment. And bitter disillusionment leaves us hopeless.

Hope is not an expectation. And yet hope does seem like it is possibly something weirdly the same without the restrictive view that inevitably causes things to not end well.

I’ve heard it suggested that a person should be able to live in hopelessness and in that state one would be free from all clinging and attachment to this illusionary temporary world because everything we experience causes suffering otherwise. I find this idea ludicrous. Regardless of renunciation and spiritual prowess, hopelessness is an experience of meaningless life. It is being stuck in a mud hole covered in shit, without being able to see the sky above. And because we cannot see the sky, we believe the sky no longer exists. The sky is still there. The sky is our expansive God-mind; it is our infinite nature. And this is what I feel hope is: “Hope” is that glimmer of wisdom from beyond time and experience that tell us that the transient nature of this human existence is in fact good and will bring a higher good into being.

Hope, as it is to me, is something I can ascribe to what I feel now, regardless of what I see. As I see a grand scene of life playing out in front of me, as I have been and continue to watch our current problems and generalized negative social disposition in the world; I cannot help but see a swift end to humanity as it is. We have already used up most the earth’s resources irresponsibly and we show no sign of stopping. We squabble and war for no good reason, and lay waste to everything that keeps us from our egotistical agendas. We throw life away like useless garbage; and cannot seem to understand as a whole the importance of acknowledging sacredness in all because we do not appear to know that sacredness even exists, let alone what it is.

And hope–which is entirely necessary to me now–is a quality of grace, a divine gift, that helps me know that we, humanity, still have a chance to turn things around regardless. My hope is that we all can find the divine spark within us, cultivate that enlightened flame and make the essential shift within ourselves, within our families and communities, and within the world at large–before we miss the last opportunity to pull back the reins in time to prevent an inevitable plunge into a permanent cataclysmic abyss.

This is the end of days. It has always been the end of days, because we all die–so every life has its own eschaton. But this end of days I see now will be taking away our proverbial future and our children’s future with it. This is the big eschaton coming up hard and fast on our collective heels.

Hope is all I have for the change we need to continue.

Help me have hope.

Show me the sky.

Everyone Counts–A Critique on Hate

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People are talking. The world suddenly seems incredibly small, because it is. And Rational people are concerned with the rise of hatred in what words we see splattered like blood on a wall, what hatred we see smeared across the television screens and on our little cell phones that are inseparable from our person. We can’t stop looking at the train as it hits the concrete wall going a million miles per hour. As if in slow motion, we watch the destruction as it grinds into something unrecognizable, disintegrating into shrapnel that flies out in all directions decapitating any future anyone may ever have. Is this entertainment? Do we care enough to change our behavior? Or do we just watch as things go up in flames? Rational people are sickened and abhorrently shocked at the absurdity of hatred exploding in violent episodes through the country, throughout the world. None of it makes sense. And none of it is a solution for anything.

And it is all a personal responsibility. Do we choose hatred or do we chose to be compassionate? Everything we do is a choice. Human Beings are not predestined to live like mindless demons controlled by inner ignorance, ego and fear. Anyone can be a good person, but it actually takes effort. It takes no effort to hate and cause destruction, other than a complacent willingness to just fling our insanity at the world around us, blame everyone else and live like a brain-sick rabid wolverine. And just a note to be clear: a healthy wild wolverine has much better, more practical habits than a stubbornly stupid hate-filled person.

This continued violent hatred is a giant shit ball, ever increasing in size as it rolls straight down the hill of denigrating what’s left of humanity to land firmly in hell. Hatred is a death sentence for whoever holds it, whoever projects it and whoever inflicts it on others. Stop making hell for everyone else. If you must live in hell, please do it privately and inclusively on your own.

SPEAKING DIRECTLY TO THOSE WHO THINK HATRED IS A GOOD IDEA, OR THAT IT IS A INHERENT RIGHT TO PUKE OUT HATRED UNCHALLENGED ONTO THE REST OF CREATION:

Stop it. You’re really being stupid.

If you hate anyone or anything, then you need to reevaluate your habitual thinking patterns. Regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation, it is a known fact that psychologically hatred consumes the person who hates. Hatred even makes the person who hates physically sick. Hatred is never a solution and always a problem. Hatred directly causes harm to self and to others. And the human being who ignorantly thinks hatred is natural, and is just a part of being alive, let me just say–it isn’t. Hatred is a poison in the mind and heart. Hatred is a choice. Do we hold onto the poison, do we cast the poison out?

Dysfunction is unfortunately prevalent in the world. People do horrible things. Abusers destroy children and children if they survive it have to choose, “Do I continue to destroy by also being a hate-filled abuser, or do I become the cure for hatred on the planet by letting my own experience fill me with a higher compassionate purpose?” You can be a hate-filled abuser and accuser, or you can contribute to positive solutions–but you can’t do both.

There is always a choice.

And it is a personal choice. Hate stands against anything good–even if not especially, self-hatred. Hatred is a mental and emotional egotistical distortion that a person surrenders to, ignorantly thinks is the way things are or willingly embraces. It’s like falling in love with cancer, inviting it into your physical body and thinking “I’ll be just fine.” after the fact. “Yes, cancer I want you to eat my body, and disease my mind until it causes everything I am to rot and fester, then wither and die. Yes, I want that.”

So the hatred we see boiling over into a venomous momentous idea of having a “personal right” to destroy anyone and everything that steps into our field of psychosis–is not helpful. It is no one’s personal right to harm anyone else. It is no one’s personal right to abuse another person or living being. It is not a personal inalienable right to hate and destroy. It is however a personal responsibility to be a positive human being who causes no harm.

Everyone counts.

If we keep on blaming everyone else for our problems, then we are stupid and are doomed to destroy everything good that we know of life. And that is just the way it is. This world is too small for it to be anyway other than that.

It’s a choice. Choose wisely.

 

 

New Testament Love Translated for Modern Americans

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Love is the message of Jesus of Nazareth, the Biblical Jesus Christ. Love. That’s the point. And for some reason, love is a quality that humankind is reluctant to embrace. It has always been that way, and it seems in modern times that we haven’t changed a bit. We are still resistant to the idea of genuine love in all its varied forms. We dance all around through the scriptures, this way and that, making them fit into whatever scenario we feel works for us at the time. I truly believe that most Christians greatly revere, admire and are inspired by the teachings of Jesus Christ, but how often do we as individuals actually delve into cultivating true love within our own hearts as he demands we do–and live that love? It’s not impossible to do. And it seems like a reasonable request. Why do we, even now, not want to embrace the core of what Jesus’ teachings prescribe?

I say that and some of you may not want to believe that it is true. But look at the news. Look how people who say they are Christians are behaving. Listen to what they say. Is that love?

Do not make the mistake of reinterpreting love as some twisted, self-righteous excuse to inflict a hateful judgment, pointing and crying out “Us” and “Them” in the name of God. Being a judgmental ass is not righteousness, rather it is self-righteous, vain, pompous, hateful ignorance-and it has nothing to do with love. Just a reminder, the word “Satan” means the accuser. So be careful of the finger pointing.

We cannot base the depth of Christianity on the screaming voices of those who have labeled themselves as Christians, but preach violence, hatred, destruction and discrimination. We cannot base our understanding of any religion on such faulty views. It would be wonderful if everyone who said they were Christian actually acted like one–and better yet imitated Jesus in his non-violent, patient and loving manner. But as we can clearly see, that is not what is happening in the world.

Love is scary. Love makes us vulnerable. And so we are immensely frightened by the concept of sincerely opening our hearts in this cruel world, full of cruel people. However, it is paradoxical that if we do not open our hearts, we instead become one of those who are cruel. That is the power of fear. By not doing what we know we should we become what we do not want to be–we become what we fear the most. In the end when all is said and done, if it ain’t love–or our thoughts, speech and actions are not done with loving intent–then it’s vanity and a waste of time. Love is all we can keep in the end, yet love is never a possession.

For the last 30 years exactly, I have been working every day, struggling through my own issues, through the years of having suicidal depression, dysfunction, intense anger and self-hate in order to find my way to love. And I’d like to share what I have learned on the subject, and most of it has come by way of studying scriptures, sacred texts, learning to forgive myself and practicing what I preach. It has taken being open to what I need to learn. Truth requires an open mind and an open heart.

First, as a Christian who embraces God by every name and honors God in all to the best of my capacity, what I have found is in the New Testament the most important aspect is the teachings of Jesus, which focus on love and compassion. He keeps things simple. “Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Judge not lest ye be judged.” And importantly he says repeatedly, “Seek truth, the truth will set you free.”

The way is simple.

Love is indeed found in greater truth. When one looks for truth, we can find answers and solutions–and eventually we find wisdom. And while stumbling into wisdom via our search for truth, we discover higher clarity to why there is in fact inherent love and divinity within ourselves. In the realization of that inherent quality of indwelling divinity, a light shines on how we can better become vessels of love; and it becomes obvious why love and compassion are so intensely important.

But what is love? What is the definition of love in the New Testament?

To find love within ourselves is to understand the nature of mercy. Mercy is a wisdom spawn of imperfection, yet mercy is perfect in itself. Love is inseparable from mercy and wisdom, and all are divine perfections–not to be mistaken with the idea of human perfection which is a complete falsehood. We are not on the planet to pretend to be perfect people. We are all screwed up–every one of us is broken or at least has been broken at some point. If we can’t admit to that, then God help us all.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you must act like your are perfect because you are this or that religion. You aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. But that’s the whole crazy delusion. That’s not what divine perfection is about. Divine perfection is about love and mercy. There is no way to win approval in this world of human beings. If acceptance and approval is what one thinks of as perfection, then that person is in big trouble. We can go our entire lives thinking that we need to live up to the standards of others. At best that will lead to being permanently insecure and completely at the whim of what everyone else’s delusions dictate. Doesn’t sound appealing to me. Instead, we should focus on what we are at our core and transform into the highest joyful version of that merely for the sake of goodness and love itself. What can we do to improve or be happier about our own life and the lives of everyone we care for, if it does not begin and end with making an ongoing effort to exude common decency, respect for the sacredness of all life, love, tolerance and compassion?

“Beloved, Love one another as God has loved you.”

And this, “I want mercy, not sacrifice.” That statement is in the New Testament in many places for good reason. “I want mercy, not sacrifice.”

Think about it.

It is in recovering these divine perfections within that will simultaneously bring us into the unity with the pure God Mind and God Heart. That is who we really are. But that takes a great bit of lifelong effort, which also might be why so few attempt to be like Christ-like. It’s way easier to be a judgmental, angry, hateful, reactive ass. However, being a judgmental ass is not a fulfilled, joyful occupation; nor is it a comprehensively positive solution to life as we know it. It only makes life worse for everyone, including ourselves. To refine our human experience into one of love and mercy, we must look at ourselves and forgive our own idiosyncrasies and numerous faults. We do that with understanding. If we can do that for ourselves, we can do that for others. And that is mercy plain and simple. And the entire effort is one of true love. At some point, our own interior love knows we have no right to judge anyone.

The Old Testament establishes what I just said. Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

If God created humankind in his own image, then at the core of humanity there is the perfect God within–humanity is innately good. We are all inherently good. However, we have to work to rediscover that good. That is our choice to do. Being a good person is not an immediate entitled privilege reserved just for us because we say we are saved by Jesus. Being saved by Jesus requires us to make an effort to do our part. If we are not doing our part, then that’s also a choice. There is always cause and effect to everything we do. If we choose to call ourselves Christian, but not try in any shape or form to be Christ-like, that’s not a good statement to our own commitment to being saved. We have to work hard to make good choices that bring good into our own lives, our family’s lives and into the world around us. The world around us is a projection of how we think and what we focus on. We have to learn how to cope in a radically distorted vision of what we think we know of the world, through working through our own egotistical issues that shroud us in darkness, rather than light. “Let your eye be filled with light, so that your whole body will be filled with light as well.”

We have to choose to learn how to move through emotions with emotional literacy. That takes wisdom. And to find wisdom, we must develop discernment.

The number one thing I have learned about discernment is simply–if it isn’t compassionate, it isn’t from God.

Focus is everything. If we go around focused on evil, we will have lots of evil. If we focus on good, if we focus on God, then we will have light. It doesn’t mean the whole world will willingly transform to our higher vision of love and light. But it doesn’t mean it won’t either. Our participation in necessary.

If we think we are flawed at our core, from evil origins from the beginning of time, then what hope is there to become like Jesus Christ? Don’t take away the only chance you have at healing, at wholeness–at holiness–by thinking your way into impossibility. That would be hell on earth. We must find our own sacredness for ourselves.

Original sin does not mean we are evil at the core. It means we are ignorant and require truth in order to be free from our shroud of ignorance. Ignorance is something we are taught-something we erroneously embrace. We are subtly taught ignorance by living in the world, while thinking that the world around us is truth. The world cannot determine effective positive rules in which for us to successfully live by, no matter what we see or experience. The rules of the world are deceptive and primarily all together wrong because they are based on distorted perception, emotional reactivity and ignorance in its most primal form. There are deeper truths; an absolute truth.

We can see perfection in the world in beauty and love. So it’s not that we can’t learn or grow by what we witness or experience, but we must work at becoming more aware of what we are thinking, saying and doing. We must evaluate why we think, say and do what we do. What is our intent? Personal ego power or higher love?

Jesus says we, human beings, can become just like him and then some. “You too can do all that I can do and more; because I go now to the Father.”

Let’s contemplate this, a commonly read quote from 1St Corinthians about love. Most people have heard or read the scripture I’m mentioning at some point in his or her life as a Christian. And most would feel the power in it, because it provokes an obvious truth about love. And I will say up front, Paul, who was formerly Saul, formerly a zealot who brutally killed early Christians as heretics before converting himself to Christianity, had a lot to say on a lot of subjects. Honestly, he was not always in accordance with Jesus’ teachings himself in his writings. So teachers of Biblical Scripture recommend using critical thinking when studying the bible.

As from Wikipedia: Critical thinking, also called critical analysis, is clear, rational thinking involving critique. Its details vary amongst those who define it. According to Barry K. Beyer (1995), critical thinking means making clear, reasoned judgments. During the process of critical thinking, ideas should be reasoned, well thought out, and judged.[1] The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking[2] defines critical thinking as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.’[3]

All I can say is that Paul, the author of 1st Corinthians, was a man of his time. He didn’t care for the rights of women, because the society he lived in at the time did not care for women, and additionally they were a culture that also kept slaves. Paul squelched the voices of women in the church, and his writings on the subject are still used as a way to control women presently. He didn’t recommend being married, among other things, and he also made a statement that can be horribly misinterpreted about our bodies and sexuality being evil. But we are talking about love. At best, he often had hard views. And there were only so many ways to verbalize extremely deep ideas with the language of his time, which has been translated over and over again for thousands of years.

With that said, Paul worked tirelessly unto death to redeem his former violent actions and went on to become a beacon of Christianity. Regardless, even though I truly relate to and am inspired by much of what Paul my say, I do not confuse Paul for Jesus.

On some subjects he was divinely inspired to the utmost degree, as with the scripture below. I do respect greatly his words of truth when they are based in the wisdom of love. This is a scripture that inspires true love and it well sums up the meaning of love in the New Testament.

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1 Though I command languages both human and angelic — if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.

2 And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.

3 Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned — if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

4 Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited,

5 it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.

 

6 Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.

7 It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.

8 Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.

9 For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly;

10 but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with.

11 When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.

12 Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.

13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.

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This is love.

To find love, we must become love. And to become love, we must be willing to see our own negative ego habits, and we must forgive ourselves. We must listen and learn; and we do that with mercy. We listen to and monitor what comes out of our minds, hearts and mouths, and we make it our goal to weed out what isn’t compassionate. It is important to treat our own psyche with compassion. Our hatred and anger are habitual cycles that return only with stronger force if they are not handled with compassion and forgiveness.

This interior work is the work of love. This is the highest goal in life, to seek truth and embody love.

Love takes courage and commitment. Love is a force that requires mastery and determination, but even a child can do it and children do it so wonderfully. “Let the children come unto me, for it is only in becoming like a child that one will know the kingdom of God.”

Love often requires us to face down demons of fear, and conquer them with faith.

Love certainly requires us to face truth about ourselves, and in facing that truth we find even greater love because we will find freedom from the deceptions we have mistakenly embraced that chronically poison our lives, and give rise to self-hatred, destructive behavior and self-sabotage. By cultivating pure hearted love, our minds align with the mind of God. The world may still be a sad, horrific place, but it all can be overcome with love. For in love we find our joy. And love is all that remains in the end. Love begets love.

“Love conquers all.”

 

 

 

Nashville -Where is Your Affordable Housing Now?

house2

That’s it.

After struggling, tooth and nail, scratching and starving for years to buy an affordable home here in Nashville, it’s over. Blown. And I can see no way to make this right, but to share my story with the process. People, this is bad. This this smacks of a loop hole that is certainly illegal, and it’s significant for everyone who isn’t a millionaire–or particularly aren’t even a thousandaire. And what I’m about to say isn’t okay in any shape or form. I am being railroaded out of my own community because there are no options for normal working people in the lower income bracket in the Nashville area.

The tornatic storm heading our way right now is only a fitting representation of what I’m feeling now. Blow you damn storm. Screw this. Homes are being blown away and the real straight line wind hasn’t even gotten here yet.

But hey, people are making some money aren’t they.

This afternoon after fighting to make sure my credit is good enough and that I meet all the criteria to buy a home for an extremely modest price of $55-60,000 with a rehab 203k loan with down-payment and closing assistance program through the Housing Fund, I get a call that blows me out of the water. This afternoon, I am about to make an offer on a house in bad repair–what most would call an unlivable dump–that comes with an acre or so for my horse in Pegram, TN, just outside of the Nashville city limits. After getting off the phone with my realtor, I get a call from my lender saying they can no longer use the Housing Fund on a 203K.What?

This is the second lender that has told me this in a week and the second house that I’ve lost because of it. That may not be any big deal for people who make a reasonable wage, but for me and those like me on the bottom of the financial barrel it is a very big deal.

Just finding a home in my price range that isn’t immediately bought for cash by a developer is a miracle in itself. But this one has a lot of difficult problems to navigate, so it is still sitting there–for the moment anyway. I think I’ve done my homework. Maybe this will be the one. I have a rescued horse, two big rescued dogs and a rescued cat who are also dependent on finding a home, as the farm I rent is being sold out from under me. So my realtor had just worked out the details; and we are finally ready to put the offer together to see what will happen.

And then total bullshit happens instead. The storm coming has nothing on the anger I feel. And it is righteous anger. This should not be allowed to happen. This should not be legal, if it is in fact legal.

Of course all this happens right before coming to work. I work at a cancer support center here in the Nashville area. And when I’m there, I need to put my energy into being a positive supportive encouraging force for good. I do not need to be sucked dry by greedy development strategies and industrial banking practices that destroy the poor. I’ve been talking to this particular lender for over a year. And now, as of March, they don’t do down-payment assistance programs on rehabs.

And damn straight, I’m telling my story loud and clear. Bankers beware. I know the secret. I know what is being done to prevent “expensive loans.” And just to let everyone know, it is mandatory for all lenders to make sure they have a way to offer lower income individuals a way to buy a home. Well, that isn’t stopping the banks. I’m sure I’m not the only one in a hard predicament of facing homelessness. The banks get paid plenty. They suck interest off of the loan for years before the principle is even touched.

So the idea is that they have “tightened up” with restrictions to insure that there is no more “bank failures.” The bank bailouts where not because of low income people buying housing they could not afford. It was because lenders wanted to lend larger amounts to make more money on interest, so they allowed people–mostly mid to higher income people–to buy way above the comfort zone on the loan/debt ratio. That was irresponsible. And it still is irresponsible. But this is not about the irresponsibility of buyers. This is about responsible people who work hard to have the opportunity to own a home they can afford to live in. This is about deliberately not making smaller loans available for to lower income people so they can buy affordable housing, because the lenders don’t want to do the same amount of work for less money. That’s why the government made it mandatory that all banks have a way to offer lower income loan programs. So the lenders response seems to be to stop offering the loans entirely?

It’s next to impossible to find any lender who will offer mortgage loans to buy a manufactured home on a permanent foundation now, which is most likely what is available to purchase in that lower price category. So unless it’s a new trailer or manufactured home, no one can buy it if it’s up for resale–except of course for the developers who can plop down a little bit of cash when the foreclosure price bottoms out and it’s auctioned off. And if no one can buy these “affordable homes” after they’ve been bought the first time, then whoever bought it is sure to foreclose if they ever need to move. Because if you can’t sell the house you just bought, you will not be in a very good position when life throws a curve at you.It’s a racket. Mortgage companies just do not want to do “expensive loans.” Who cares if poor people become homeless and lose everything they have because this is the way of the newly revised Banks who all had to be bailed out to save their asses because they made ridiculous stupid loans for a quick profit. It’s never really been the poor people who fucked it up for anyone else. Poor people know how to live on a budget. The problem lies with the gullibility and naivety of those who bought far more than they could afford while the banks lenders prodding them on, singing the praises of, “Spend more! Spend more! You deserve it! Get the custom marble counter tops!”

And it’s now impossible for regular people with regular jobs to buy an older home in need of repairs to fix up with a 203k FHA loan. If you take away the ability to use down-payment and closing cost programs, then you take away the loan opportunities. Regular people pay all the same bills as the rest of the world. And they can’t save thousands and thousands of dollars for down-payments while being underemployed and overcharged on rent.

There was a time normal people could buy houses.

So this is the letter I just sent to as many Metro Government Officials as possible in the Nashville Mayor’s Office.

Feel free to pass it around. Feel free to make some noise before all the artists, musicians, underpaid workers, people trying to make an honest living working an honest job, creatives, writers, anyone interesting, teachers, childcare workers, social workers, medical techs, animal rescuers, secretaries, receptionists, retailers, restaurant servers, administrators, non-profits of all kinds, and anyone and everyone with a low paying jobs inevitably find themselves being pushed, shoved and kicked out of the Nashville community for being unfashionably poor.

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Dear Mayor Megan Barry & Metro Nashville Officials;

Thank you for supporting the Nashville area and community. I am reaching out to you now as one who has lived in Nashville for close to 30 years and have been an active part of the community the entire time, in arts, social justice, animal welfare, and cancer care. And as things are going I will be forced to live in very uncertain circumstances. And I have no doubt that this is something happening to many people who work normal jobs, who are living below the poverty line and who are valuable contributing members of this town.

There is a problem of which you need to be made aware. I’ve been avidly seeking to buy a home in the Nashville area for several years. I am on the bottom tier for the Housing Fund and have bought before using this program successfully. I moved from my last home because I work with horses and because I was in a very bad neighborhood. The Housing Fund is a great organization that makes home buying available to people like myself. And as we all know, it is a legal mandate that lenders have some sort of program to allow lower income people buy affordable housing.

However, now after finally having my credit score and income level and other important requirements put together after several years of intense struggling to do so, I found out that many lenders are now refusing to accept the Housing Fund for 203k FHA loans within the last few months. I’ve had 2 homes that I have tried to put in an offer within 2 weeks that I lost the opportunity to buy because lenders refuse to use the Housing Fund in support of the rehab loan for 203k, which is necessary if one is needing a livable home in my price range.

My price range is $55,000-60,000. I cannot buy anything more than that because not only is that all I can afford, I also want to be able to live there and do the work I do in my old age.

Miraculously, I have managed to actually find a few properties that where not immediately bought for cash by investors. I did that through hard work researching online, driving back roads and searching the country side, and through my realtor who has worked tirelessly to help me.

Homes of this price range are usually auctioned off to developers or are made “cash only” purchases for investors. In the last 2 weeks I’ve lost 2 opportunities for the same reason, which is that the lender no longer works with the Housing Fund. That is illegal. And if it’s no longer illegal it should be.

How many people like myself who work in non-profit are going to be able to find a livable home in the Nashville area with such inflated prices as we have presently? It is impossible. I am on my own. I am not married nor will I be. And I am a equine and animal rescuer. I have served on the board of the Volunteer Equine Advocates for several years until recently when I adopted the horse I trained. She was one of many that was on the news for animal cruelty. She was the one from a near by area that was starved and her foal was killed and hung in a tree. That man actually got off and was never charged even though he killed 3 horses in just over a year.  I’m having to keep my horse an hour and a half away until I can buy my own home.

Now that is ruined and things are about to get really bad for me if no one steps in. 

I live on a property in town that is under contract. I have a 30 day lease and will have to move when the home closes. And there is absolutely no way I can afford anything in the Nashville or surrounding areas for rent which is more than twice what I would pay if I had bought in my price range, especially with 2 large rescued dogs and a rescued horse.

I had researched this. I had found a way to buy and I was about to do it. Now I can’t and I feel someone better do something about this pronto. I refuse to go down into homelessness silently. And I refuse to allow my animals to be put back into a system of fostering and adoption because no one cares about lower income people in this area.

So I have to have land for a horse and a home. Now I find out lenders are not allowing the use of down-payment assistance programs on 203k FHA. What is a 203k FHA for if it isn’t for a lower income person or family to be able to buy a home for a reasonable price to rehab and occupy?

I know very well, and I have even been told by a lender that most lenders do not want to do home loans for that low of an amount because it is considered an “expensive loan.” I know you know what that means. It means discrimination. And yet, despite that being illegal, I’ve been told that by a mortgage broker before that I couldn’t get a loan for that reason. It is happening.

And now, for the government to allow lenders to refuse to work with the Housing Fund or down-payment assistance programs is unbelievably criminal and beyond disheartening for this and any community who has this happening. The Housing Fund has no problem turning around paperwork in order to meet the new TRID guidelines. This travesty has to be rectified now.

The developers cannot be the only ones allowed to thrive in this town.

And ironically I was the one who had to introduce the key note speaker Nicolas P. Retsinas, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, Harvard Business School and President of International Habitat for Humanity, for a Housing Fund event given for lenders, developers and mortgage companies in 2006. I was terrified, but I said then that it was imperative to make sure lower income people had ways to buy homes. And Nicolas Retsinas told all of Nashville’s lenders and buyers that our town would implode and fail as a community if there was no affordable housing for the people who actually work normal jobs and work keeping the non-profits running.

Affordable housing is not $100,000 homes and upwards. Affordable housing for a single income provider who works a regular job or in non-profit starts at $50000 and ends around $80000. Rent is absurd in this town and it is because the Metro Government has not stepped in to reel it into normalcy.

I had been pre-qualified for over a year with Movement Mortgage and when I went to put an offer for $42500 on a 203k FHA for a total of $60000, I was told the new guidelines starting in March of 2016 prohibits the use of the Housing Fund. And now I have absolutely no options for housing. None.

I’ve been turned down by many lenders for the same reasons. Sun West was the lender who also refused to use the housing fund.

I do not have family or friends who can put me and my animals up or help me move. I am responsible for my own cost and housing issues. So when my rented home sells, I will be homeless now.

I work at a non-profit cancer community support center. I would like to continue to work there. I am an artist in the community. I am a published author. I formerly sang as a vocalist for the Nashville Symphony Choir and would like to do it again if I could live some where I can afford in the area. I give free public talks on Practical Spirituality for Depression and I also do energetic healing sessions for people in the last stages of life–for free. I trained rescued horses for free. I was planning on continuing to do that as well. However, I can’t very well do that if I can’t buy a home.

This is a crisis for me and the animals I love. And this is a crisis for the arts, spirituality and healing community of Nashville. Kick us out and you won’t have a city anymore.

As I was unable to attain Megan Barry’s email, please forward this to her. She is a part of my community of whom I have supported and we have many mutual friends, who I will be reaching out to in a more public format on social media about this concern.

Thank you for your time and attention. I hope that you can sincerely turn this around, if not for me, for the others who will most certainly be experiencing the same thing. And this needs to be a high priority concern, because like myself, there is no where for us to go.

pamela stansberry
contemplate | create | illuminate 

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And again, that’s that.

Share the news. It might help someone besides me before there are no actual regular underpaid working people who do normal jobs left in Nashville.

And I should also add, only allowing lower income people and families to buy in the “projects” or in “designated areas” is an extremely unacceptable solution to affordable housing.

Thanks!