If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature, even a caterpiller, I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature. Meister Eckhart

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Regarded as a heretic by the Western Church. But there were two Popes named Pelagius in the sixth century. And Pelagius II was born with that name. Curiouser and curiouser. Looking forward to getting the book on Cassian, the theologian who tried to make Pelagius' teachings more palatable for the orthodox. So much I don't know.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Something sis said this weekend keeps coming back in that irritating, itchy way that some thoughts have. Apparently the fastest growing church back home is Baptist style church popular with the young people. Services start on time and end on time. There's all sorts of youth groups, adult groups, singles groups etc. and up the wazoo.

It seems that the younger folks like it because it provides them "with what they want." I hate to admit it but my knowledge of the gospels is more than a little rusty. However, I 've always been under the impression that a certain itinerant preacher got in trouble with the imperial and temple authorities because he went around telling people what God wanted, not the other way around.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I was reminded of a line from this while watching a travel program about nothern Ireland. I hadn't listened to the LP piece in years. Reading this is much more brutal than I rmembered.

Richard Harris (1930-2002)
This great poem by the late actor and singer Richard Harris was given a superb dramatic reading by the author on his 1973 LP record entitled His Greatest Performances. It’s available on his CD entitled The Anthology 1968-1974: Man of Words. The various place names, the “orange” and the “green,” and the fact that Harris was Irish, made it obvious his specific subject was the conflict between Protestant and Catholic in Northern Ireland. Like all great poetry though, it rings true in a much broader context.

There Are Too Many Saviors on My Cross

There are too many saviors on my cross, lending their blood to flood out my ballot box with needs of their own. Who put you there? Who told you that that was your place?

You carry me secretly naked in your heart and clothe me publicly in armor crying “God is on our side,” yet I openly cry Who is on mine? Who? Tell me, who? You who bury your sons and cripple your fathers whilst you bury my father in crippling his son.

The antiquated Saxon sword, rusty in its scabbard of time now rises— you gave it cause in my name, bringing shame to the thorned head that once bled for your salvation.

I hear your daily cries in the far-off byways in your mouth pointing north and south and my Calvary looms again, desperate in rebirth. Your earth is partitioned, but in contrition it is the partition in your hearts that you must abolish.

You nightly watchers of Gethsemene who sat through my nightly trial delivering me from evil— now deserted, I watch you share your silver. Your purse, rich in hate, bleeds my veins of love, shattering my bone in the dust of the bogside and the Shankhill road.

There is no issue stronger than the tissue of love, no need as holy as the palm outstretched in the run of generosity, no monstrosity greater than the acre you inflict. Who gave you the right to increase your fold and decrease the pastures of my flock? Who gave you the right? Who gave it to you? Who? And in whose name do you fight?

I am not in heaven, I am here, hear me. I am in you, feel me. I am of you, be me. I am with you, see me. I am for you, need me. I am all mankind; only through kindness will you reach me.

What masked and bannered men can rock the ark and navigate a course to their annointed kingdom come? Who sailed their captain to waters that they troubled in my font, sinking in the ignorant seas of prejudice?

There is no virgin willing to conceive in the heat of any bloody Sunday. You crippled children lying in cries on Derry’s streets, pushing your innocence to the full flush face of Christian guns, battling the blame on each other, do not grow tongues in your dying dumb wounds speaking my name. I am not your prize in your death. You have exorcized me in your game of politics.

Go home to your knees and worship me in any cloth, for I was never tailor-made. Who told you I was? Who gave you the right to think it? Take your beads in your crippled hands, can you count my decades? Take my love in your crippled hearts, can you count the loss?

I am not orange. I am not green. I am a half-ripe fruit needing both colors to grow into ripeness, and shame on you to have withered my orchard. I in my poverty, alone without trust, cry shame on you and shame on you again and again for converting me into a bullet and shooting me into men’s hearts.

The ageless legend of my trial grows old in the youth of your pulse staggering shamelessly from barricade to grave, filing in the book of history my needless death one April. Let me, in my betrayal, lie low in my grave, and you, in your bitterness, lie low in yours, for our measurements grow strangely dissimilar.

Our Father, who art in heaven, sullied be thy name.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Rewrite the story of the Fall in Genesis without the spiritual element and the story is as old as humanity. It’s repeated every time some guy tries to get a girl into his bedroom. It’s repeated every time a joint, a line of coke, even a cigarette is offered with the tired refrain of “everybody’s doing it,” “what’s the matter, you scared,” and the classic “nobody will every know.” There’s at least one problem with trying to keep a secret. No matter how deep you bury that secret at least one person will always know what happened. You can hide things from everyone but yourself. Buried deep inside it festers and creates a wall between you and everyone around you.

And if you believe that in some way the God of scripture set the forces of creation in motion that resulted in humanity and every other creature in the universe, including a certain tempter; there’s always “don’t tell Dad.” And there’s another old standby. Take out the King James sixteenth century language and you might find that the story takes on a five year olds’ playground singsong; “I know something you don’t know.”

Perhaps the death blamed on man’s fall in the garden wasn’t the physical death that the far right evangelicals claim. After all there’s no claim in scripture that our physical bodies were meant to be immortal. Even stars and planets are born, age and die. Something the writers who preserved scripture wouldn’t have, couldn’t have known.

Perhaps the meaning story isn’t death of the body but injury to the soul. When truth is ignored, trust is impossible and without trust there can never be love or hope. And without love or hope life is meaningless.

Monday, January 11, 2010


With a bit of adaptation this would work for almost anyone. It’s still a beautiful piece.

Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the children of the earth.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

The air is precious, for we share the same breath.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

This we know, the earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

This we know, all things are connected;
Like the blood that unites on family.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

Our God is the same God,
Whose compassion is equal for all.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

We do not weave the web of life;
We are merely a strand in it.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

Whatever we do to web, we do to ourselves.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

From the Rhythm of Life by David Adam

David Adams was vicar of the parish on the island of Lindesfarne for many years. Although he is now retired he still lives on the island. Also known as Holy Island, it’s all of two square miles in area. The island has had some kind of religious foundation since 635 AD. It’s a place where you can be immersed in the sounds of the sea, the birds, the wind and the old church bells.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Lord make me an instrument of they peace:
Where there is hatred let me sow love,
Where there is injury let me sow pardon,
Where there is doubt let me sow faith,
Where there is despair let me sow hope,
Where there is darkness let me sow light,
Where there is sadness let me give joy.

O divine master, grant that I may
Not try to be comforted, but to comfort,
Not try to be understood, but to understand,
Not try to be loved, but to love,

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in forgiving that we are forgiven.

From the Glenstal Book of Prayer