Reclaiming Jesus is a manifesto and movement led by a diverse group of Christian clergy including Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder of Sojourners who articulates the biblical call to social justice as the way to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world.
A lone voice in the wilderness is an English idiom for someone who expresses an idea or opinion that is not popular and thus ignored.
By Eileen Fleming
American Christians are reclaiming Jesus’ social gospel at the core of his teachings at the website Reclaiming Jesus, which states:
We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake…
WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26)… THEREFORE, WE REJECT the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We, as followers of Jesus, must clearly reject the use of racial bigotry for political gain that we have seen. In the face of such bigotry, silence is complicity. In particular, we reject white supremacy and commit ourselves to help dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate white preference and advantage. Further, any doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language must be named as public sin—one that goes back to the foundation of our nation and lingers on. Racial bigotry must be antithetical for those belonging to the body of Christ, because it denies the truth of the gospel we profess….
WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself… THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the “strangers” among us a test of faith.
WE REJECT “America first” as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal…
WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED for the soul of our nation, but also for our churches and the integrity of our faith…
The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good… –RECLAIMING JESUS: A Confession of Faith in Time of Crisis
Inspired by these committed Christians I emailed Sojourners under the subject “Reclaiming Jesus Media Contact”, introduced myself as a writer for USA’s TADN HERE, and explained that in 2005 [three weeks after my first of 8 ‘mission’ trips to both sides of The Wall in the Holy Land] I attended TIKKUN’s first annual conference on spiritual activism and Rev. Jim Wallis was one of the speakers who I quoted in my first book -a fact filled historical fiction.
My Media Inquiry remained the same question which follows and was asked through Jack in KEEP HOPE ALIVE :
“One reason the religious right is the only voice the mainstream media presents is that they have been the most vocal. The other problem is that the liberal and progressive media have only heard religion according to the right, so no wonder they tune religion out. I wonder how to get around it; how does a new voice rise out of the wilderness?”
No reply has yet been received from Sojourners, and so I seize this opportunity to reclaim Jesus with a few more excerpts from KEEP HOPE ALIVE, which was also written as a direct challenge to the anti-Christ like theology popularized in the fictional “Left Behind” series of books popular with fundamentalist evangelical Christians.
Chapter 12: THE REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN…
“The Revolution starts now, when you rise above your fear and tear the walls round you down.”-Steve Earle
On Wednesday, July 20, 2005, in Berkeley, California, Jack intuitively sensed opportunity blowing in the wind as he rounded the corner from Durant and Telegraph on his way to UC Berkeley’s MLK student union building for TIKKUN’s first annual conference on spiritual activism. As he crossed Bancroft Way, a young, beatifically-smiling latte-skinned youth handed him an electric green slip of paper announcing:
“Compassionate Caregivers: Medical Cannabis. Two locations, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.”
Jack mused, “Now that my third anti-inflammatory has been pulled, I can’t do narcotics in moderation, and I am not ready for joint replacement; I wonder if maybe this is an invitation from YOU to move out here?”
Jack soon forgot all about the aches in his joints–in particular, his knees, which had been crushed in an auto accident when he was twenty-three and then again at twenty-six. The MLK student union building was jammed with people from all faiths, and those who were spiritual, but not religious, who were imagining a new bottom line for America and her true place in the global village. Jack glided up the stairs to the second floor and deeply inhaled the energy emanating from over thirteen hundred American citizens who had gathered in the Pauley Ballroom in support of a new bottom line based on love, compassion, caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and behavior; and motivated by generosity, kindness, cooperation, nonviolence, and peace.
Jack imagined a society that honored all human beings as embodiments of the sacred, a society that enhanced one’s capacities to respond to the earth and the universe with awe, wonder, and radical amazement. He imagined the Kingdom of God, where men would turn their swords into plowshares and not make war anymore.
The invocation was offered by Father Louis Vitale, a Franciscan who reminded Jack of one of the least of the seven dwarves, until he spoke and revealed himself to be a man of profound wisdom, enrobed in well-worn burlap:
“The Holy One has called on us. In all of earth’s sixty-five-million-year history, we are living in the most dangerous of times. The fact that a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and two hundred thousand lives were vaporized within twenty minutes has not prevented man from dreaming up more ways to fill space with weapons of mass destruction. We were not created for militarism, but to turn our swords into plowshares. We have arrived here today by no accident. We have been summoned by the universe to claim the highest common ground. As the Dali Lama said, the radicalism of our age is to be compassionate human beings. We have been called to bring love and compassion back into the equation and assist others to connect with the deepest parts of themselves. Now is the time to realize, as never before, that when any of us suffer, we all suffer. All life is interconnected, interdependent, and greatly loved by the creator, the sustainer of the universe. We are called by love, for love, and to love.”
… During Pentecost week in 2005, Father Mathew Fox traveled to Wittenburg and nailed a new ninety-five theses to the church door, where Martin Luther had nailed his five hundred years before.
Father Fox wrote Jack’s heart about an interfaith collaboration and community that intuits God as mother-father God of divine wisdom, and understands that the earth itself is to be tended; its health is just as much a moral imperative for us all as our human relationships. Jack had long ago rejected the concept of a punitive father God and understood that nature is God’s primary temple, and war the greatest abomination…
Jack’s mind wandered to the leper kisser, Francis of Assisi, and Jack thought, Frankie, you sang of sister moon and brother sun, and stood up to the dry rot and rigid religious sclerosis of the church in the twelfth century. I feel your presence here today in my bones, as much as in my soul. Jack went deeper into the silence and in his mind, saw himself at nine with Father Tony, the diminutive ancient Spanish priest, who had held his hand all during his mother’s funeral and chanted softly without ceasing, “Jesus called God Abba, and that means both daddy and mommy. So, God is both mommy and daddy, and now your mommy is a part of God. God is mommy and daddy: daddy and mommy divine.”
… That evening, Bishop John Shelby Spong began by asking, “What has happened to Christianity? I have been a student of the Bible my entire life. I am a committed Christian and open to anyone’s opinion, but not to their own facts. The Bible has been used to justify slavery, segregation, to deny woman equality, and to promote war. A lot of evil happens when the Bible is misunderstood and misused. In the name of God, men have become murderers. We live in a world where people in power get to define those without power. The prophets spoke the word of God in concrete circumstances and throughout history. Hosea spoke of God as love. Amos understood that worship and justice go together. Micah confronted Israel with their behavior, and God again told the people what is required: ‘Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your Lord.’”
Jack reflected everyday on what God wanted from him, and spent most of the time in the dark…
It was apparent to Jack when he returned to Newman Hall that the fire department’s maximum allowed crowd size was being ignored. In the center of the sanctuary of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Father Fox proclaimed:
“Forget original sin; remember original blessing. There are two Christianities in our midst. One worships a punitive father and seeks obedience at all costs. It is patriarchal, demonizes woman, the earth, science, gays, lesbians, and deep thought. It builds on fear and it supports empire-builders. Its theology includes a punitive father in the sky and teaches original sin.
“The other Christianity recognizes the original blessing that all beings derive from. We recognize awe, not sin, not guilt, as the starting point of true religion. We recognize a divinity who is source of all things and is as much mother as father, as much female as male. We honor creation and diversity. When God created everything, He pronounced it all good. We are here to make love to life. Yes, we are here to make love to life.
“Delight in creation and take your dreams into our politics and institutions. We live in the midst of a suicidal economy, motivated by love of money. We have reached a dead end. What we need to turn it around are hearts in love with life. How do we do it?
“We first must move from domination to partnership, and we begin by educating our young in awe and wonder, not how to take tests. Awe leads to reverence, which leads to gratitude, which will reinvent our species. This is the task of our generation: to regain awe. The three R’s need to be balanced by the ten C’s: contemplation, creativity, chaos, compassion, courage, critical consciousness, community, celebration, ceremony, and character.
“In community, people remain united, despite everything that divides them. In capitalist society, people are isolated, separated, despite everything that should hold them together. We are in the midst of an epic struggle between community and capitalistic society. We need a new narrative. It is the economy of materialism; it is the virus of affluenza that has weakened family life.”
From the Chapter Cats and Compassion:
After breakfast Terese brushed her teeth, grabbed her backpack, and set off into the woods, pondering, “I have been wrestling with this idea for a book for too long. Will this try end up in the fire, too? As always, I do not know; I never know anything before I begin, and as long as I stay open to learn as I go, it will be okay, okay. Christ have mercy on me and help me, please! How do I explain concrete walls to little children, and why men choose violence? How do you explain irrational adult behavior to little ones? Why do men choose hatred, injury, discord, error, and darkness to love, pardon, unity, truth, and light? Why is that? Christ have mercy on us all….
From the Chapter All I’ve Got:
Terese tells Jake, “Look for years Episcopalian wife and mother and did all the little things I saw to do and kept my mouth shut about all the injustice and hypocrisy around. But I wrote it all down in my Official Mead Composition Notebook for all these years and because a proper Episcopalian wife and mother does not say, much less think such things I wrote down, I had to burn them; they were too inflammatory! But ever since I switched to TOP FLIGHT Composition books out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, something has come over me. I must now give voice to the words that spill out of me, I must break silence.”
Jake groaned, “But do you see the road ahead of you, have you considered the cost? You have always been impulsive, but you went about it in a quiet unobtrusive and little way, you never caused a stir. Somethings changed and I think I want you to have a brain scan, you know, make sure you don’t have a lesion that is making you wackier than you have ever been before? If you check out Okay, then there has got to be another reason why an old woman who has the easiest life around wants to agitate the status quo. I wonder what are you getting out of it Terese, what motivates you old woman?”
Terese sighed then looked directly into Jakes cerulean eyes and softly spoke, “Let me play you another poem for I think it will answer your concerns.”
She picked up her red guitar then strummed the chords to “All Along the Watchtower” and began to sing just a breath above a whisper:
All I’ve got is a red guitar, Three chords and The Truth.
All I’ve got is my bleedin’ heart, and a voice cryin’ out of the wilderness to you, I see there is a way out of here, a way to get some relief.
Listen to me for I AM very small, I AM so very very small, so small as to indwell the heart of every atom, and yet I AM beyond your comprehension.
Listen to me, I hear Wisdom calling from the highest point of the city:
Wisdom has built her house and She calls to all; “Come, eat my food and drink my wine and you will live abundant life and walk in the ways of understanding.” [Proverbs 9: 4-6]
Wisdom calls; “I have built it; will you come? Do you have eyes to see and ears to hear?
Holy Wisdom, the Feminine Divinity: Hokema, who was with The Word from the very beginning, She is One with Him and He with Her: Pure Being; One God, One Creator, One Lover of All the Human Family.
Brother, I see you lookin’ at me like you think I’ve skated off the edge and maybe I have, so what’s it to you?
But let me tell a little story to illuminate you if you haven’t heard the one about the Rabbi Hillel, who lived 100 years before The Christ walked the earth. That wise Rabbi knew that the Hebrew understanding of Hokema; Holy Wisdom; The Feminine Divinity was the same as the Greek understanding of The Logos: The Word.
It was the first Paul and John who understood The Word was good! The Word was The Logos and The Word is The Christ.
It was John on Rubber Soul who intuitively knew: “The Word is just The Way and The Word is Love”
Listen to me and use your imagination and you will see that before Christ walked the earth a man, He was already a She: Hokema, Holy Wisdom; the Feminine Divinity; and isn’t that good news!
The God Head is One Pure Being; as much male as female, as much mommy as daddy, and we are all children of Her Universe:
“He is the oldest personality because He is the origin of everything; and everything is born of Him. He is the supreme controller of the universe, the maintainer and instructor of humanity. He is smaller than the smallest. [Bhagavad-Gita]
He indwells the heart of every atom and She is beyond the Universe. Wisdom is calling, She is rattling your windows and shaking your walls with some more good news of the three witnesses, and three always beats one—and not just that, I’ve got a fourth!
Get out your Good Book sisters and brothers and chew on this:
Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-29, and Luke 12:10 are simpatico with Gnostic Thomas saying 44:
‘Jesus said: “Whoever blasphemes against the father will be forgiven, whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven.”
God is within every sister, brother and all Creation!
Wake up to your own divinity and get a clue Christian:
His ways are not your ways and Her thoughts are not your thoughts
Dominion never meant to rape and plunder; but to nurture, care and love,
And if you have not love, you have nothing at all.
On that final day we all will stand naked before The Creator and we have been warned that there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who were so sure they were in, because they are the ones left out.
WAKE UP Christian!Hear the wind begin to howl.”-Keep Hope Alive
Eileen Fleming, senior non-Arab correspondent writes for TADN
Contact Eileen Fleming
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