Friday, July 30, 2010

Silence

Silence

How do you respond to silence?  Do you think about getting the "silent treatment" when someone is angry with you?  Do you think about times of loneliness?  Do you remember glorious walks in the forest?  Do you remember times when you were left to relish in the calm after a house full of people go back to their homes?  Do you think of the silence in a church on a quiet Friday morning?

The prophet Habakkuk reminds us that God is, and that we can worship and connect with God through silence.  How hard is it for you to embrace silence?  Carving out time for silence can be hard in our busy, 24/7 world.  There seems to be background noise all around us.

Just last night, I was reading and the kids were in bed and I started to hear the most amazing sound emerging from the silence.  At first I thought it was a sound that went along with someone setting off fireworks - a high-pitched screech.  Or,  perhaps it was a pack of coyotes across the woods...

So, I went outside, and the noise stopped.  Later, I realized that the noise was bats flying nearby our outside light where a plethora of bugs were flying.  Bats feasting on bugs, emerging from the silence.  Amazing.

What gifts of silence are there for us?  Do we have ears to hear?  Do we shut up long enough to enjoy the silence of the Almighty?

The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him. Habakkuk 2:20

"I am learning to shut up more in the presence of God."   Archbishop Tutu

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29, 1974 - Celebrating the Philadelphia 11

Celebrating the Philadelphia 11!!



From the website of the Episcopal Church:

On July 29, 1974 eleven women broke the barrier so long in place against the ordination of women to the priesthood of the Anglican Church when they were "irregularly" ordained to the priesthood in Philadelphia.  These women are often referred to as the "Philadelphia 11"

Although there was no specific canon that specifically prohibited ordaining women to the priesthood, the canons required a recommendation from the standing committee.  Many were upset because these women did have such a recommendation.  While others were ready for change and ventured into new territory for the Episcopal Church.  

On August 15, 1974, the House of Bishops, called to an emergency meeting, denounced the ordinations and declared them invalid. Charges were filed against the bishops who ordained the women and attempts were made to prevent the women from serving their priestly ministries.

In September 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate.

Philadelphia 11:
Merrill Bittner    
Alison Cheek
Alla Bozarth (Campell)
Emily C Hewitt
Carter Heyward
Suzanne R. Hiatt (deceased 2002)
Marie Moorefield
Jeanette Piccard (deceased 1981)
Betty Bone Schiess
Katrina Welles Swanson (deceased 2006)
Nancy Hatch Witting 


Ordaining Bishops:
Daniel Corrigan
Robert L DeWitt
Edward R Welles
Assisting: Antonio Ramos




Hat timp to the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton via Facebook for the reminder...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Who's in?



Far too much time can be spent trying to decide "who's in, and who's out."  Who will start on the team?  Who will be invited to the party?  Who will make the final art show?  Who is really loved by God?

The reality is, we are not the ones who get to choose when it comes to God.  It is true that reams of theological papers have been used to try to decide who might really be the true church, who might really be counted among the holy, who might really receive the riches of eternal life.  However, it isn't really ours to decide, and it isn't really ours to even know God's thoughts on the matter.

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, "God bless the whole world, no exceptions," and it got me thinking.  Surely it is a reaction to bumper stickers which tend to claim that God will only bless me (and those who think, look, and act like me).  God's embrace is surely more mysterious and wider than my feeble imagination.

As a creature, as one who was created, I am dependent upon the creator, my whole existence is contingent upon another's actions.  My energy can quickly be wasted wondering about who will make the final team.  My energy, our energy, can be better spent being and acting in ways that help to transform this world, in which we are now living, to try to bring hope and joy and the good news of Christ to this hurting world.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

For Mission  (from the Book of Common Prayer)

God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Heavenly sunlight

Walking in sunlight all of our journey;
Over the mountains, through the deep vale;
Jesus has said, "I'll never forsake you,"
Promise divine that never can fail.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding our souls with glory ablaze:
Hallelujah, we are rejoicing,
Thankful for blessing, singing our praise.
Shadows around us, shadows above us,
Never conceal our Savior and Guide;
Christ is the Light, in Christ is no darkness;
Always we're walking close to Christ's side.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding our souls with glory ablaze:
Hallelujah, we are rejoicing,
Thankful for blessing, singing our praise.
In the bright sunlight, ever rejoicing,
Pressing our way to mansions above;
Singing Christ's praises gladly we're walking,
Walking in sunlight, sunlight of love.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding our souls with glory ablaze:
Hallelujah, we are rejoicing,
Thankful for blessing, singing our praise.

Words: Henry J. Zelley, William Kirkpatrick , Henry Gilmour (19thC) adapted
Music: George H. Cook (19thC)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Praying our lives


Dividing up our days into blocks can be a helpful practice - time with family - time for exercise - time for eating - time for sleeping - time for work - time with friends - time for commute - time for reading - time for relaxation - time for study.  Do you structure your day this way?  Many of us may do this kind of dividing up of the day.  We feel the need, perhaps, to compartmentalize so we can focus on what we're doing and be more productive - maximize our time, and all the rest.  And so, we also may create a block where we tend our spiritual life - where we practice our Faith.  Perhaps some time for individual prayer, and hopefully also time to join with others in corporate prayer on Sunday - we block off this time. 

But, is this what God really desires?  Of course, there is much good in setting aside time for prayer, time for worship, but doesn't God desire it all?  Doesn't God want us to live out our prayer?  Doesn't God want us to turn in worship at all points of the day?  Paul admonishes his readers to "pray without ceasing," ... and so whole monastic traditions developed dedicated to praying at all times - and monks would memorize the Psalms so that they could recite them throughout the day.  The Jesus Prayer developed, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner," and people recited the prayer throughout their entire day.

What if in our Outlook Calendar and our Google Calendar instead of only creating a block of time for prayer and worship we were able to shade the entire day with God's presence in all of our appointments?  What if we were to acknowledge the essence that we desire to be "wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you"? 

What if we were able to go beyond "punctuating" our days with prayer, but rather we were able to "pray our lives"?  The truth is, that we can, God is upholding us and lifting us with his loving embrace at all times, and in the midst of all our appointments...

We might start with the Prayer of Self-Dedication found in the Book of Common Prayer:

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


 A Prayer of Self-Dedication  

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sustain me



How do we understand the work that we do every day?  Are we working to accumulate money, worth, value, the ability to buy stuff?  Are we working in order to reach some goal, perhaps "the American Dream"?  Why do we work?  Towards what are we working? 

The work that we are doing can be in harmony with the work and will of God.  Even the words we speak, as we open our lips and speak words from the start of the day until its close; these words can be words of hope, of proclamation of good news, of encouraging the weak, of love for the lonely, of inspiration for the apathetic.  Our work and our words can be in sync with the Word of God, always active, always inspiring, always activating our lives.

Our work and our words that may begin early on a Monday morning take many forms, getting the family dressed and fed, getting ourselves off to work, setting out goals for the day, caring for loved ones, visiting those who are sick or in prison, going to meetings where tough decisions are made, interacting with difficult people, listening to the troubles of friends, getting some exercise.  Our work and our words have to take many forms, but if we reflect upon and practice the sense that our work and words are activated by God, and that our very lives are gift from God, we may get into harmony with the great transformative work that God is doing in the world.  "Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.  Create in my a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me."  Even, and especially, in our dealings that do not feel godly or deep or spiritual we might turn our hearts to God, and ask for the Lord to activate our lives.

"Sustain me with your bountiful spirit."

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

From Psalm 51
 
Open my lips, O Lord, *
          and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, *
          and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence *
          and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again *
          and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
          as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Søren Kierkegaard on the Bible

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in ...the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."

~Søren Kierkegaard

Hat tip to Bryan Owen (via Facebook) and also at Creedal Christian

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to pray

How do you pray?

I reflected on this question today in my sermon.

Here are N.T. Wright's thoughts on the question...

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


How do you set about praying? From our point of view, there is a fairly obvious order of priorities. We’re usually in some sort of mess, and we want God to get us out of it. Then we’ve usually got some fairly pressing needs, and we want God to supply them. It may strike us at that point that there’s a larger world out there. Again, we probably move from mess to wants: please sort out the Middle East, please feed the hungry, please house the homeless.

But then, once more, it may dawn on us that there’s not just a larger world out there; there’s a larger God out there. He’s not just a celestial cleaner-up and sorter-out of our messes and wants. He is God. He is the living God. And he is our Father. If we linger here, we may find our priorities quietly turned inside out. The contents may remain; the order will change. With that change, we move at last from paranoia to prayer; from fuss to faith.

The Lord’s Prayer is designed to help us make this change: a change of priority, not a change of content. This prayer doesn’t pretend that pain and hunger aren’t real. Some religions say that; Jesus didn’t. This prayer doesn’t use the greatness and majesty of God to belittle the human plight. Some religions do that; Jesus didn’t. This prayer starts by addressing God intimately and lovingly, as “Father”—and by bowing before his greatness and majesty. If you can hold those two together, you’re already on the way to understanding what Christianity is all about.


From The Lord and His Prayer by N. T. Wright (Eerdmans, 1996)

How to pray

How do you pray?

I reflected on this question today in my sermon.

Here are N.T. Wright's thoughts on the question...

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


How do you set about praying? From our point of view, there is a fairly obvious order of priorities. We’re usually in some sort of mess, and we want God to get us out of it. Then we’ve usually got some fairly pressing needs, and we want God to supply them. It may strike us at that point that there’s a larger world out there. Again, we probably move from mess to wants: please sort out the Middle East, please feed the hungry, please house the homeless.

But then, once more, it may dawn on us that there’s not just a larger world out there; there’s a larger God out there. He’s not just a celestial cleaner-up and sorter-out of our messes and wants. He is God. He is the living God. And he is our Father. If we linger here, we may find our priorities quietly turned inside out. The contents may remain; the order will change. With that change, we move at last from paranoia to prayer; from fuss to faith.

The Lord’s Prayer is designed to help us make this change: a change of priority, not a change of content. This prayer doesn’t pretend that pain and hunger aren’t real. Some religions say that; Jesus didn’t. This prayer doesn’t use the greatness and majesty of God to belittle the human plight. Some religions do that; Jesus didn’t. This prayer starts by addressing God intimately and lovingly, as “Father”—and by bowing before his greatness and majesty. If you can hold those two together, you’re already on the way to understanding what Christianity is all about.


From The Lord and His Prayer by N. T. Wright (Eerdmans, 1996)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hauerwas on "America's god"

Stanley Hauerwas on the death of America's god...

Lots to think about here!


America's god is dying
By Stanley Hauerwas

ABC Religion & Ethics

America is the first great experiment in Protestant social formation. Protestantism in Europe always assumed and depended on the cultural habits that had been created by Catholic Christianity. America is the first place Protestantism did not have to define itself over against a previous Catholic culture. So America is the exemplification of constructive Protestant social thought.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer thus got it right when he characterized American Protestantism as "Protestantism without Reformation."

That is why it has been possible for Americans to synthesize three seemingly antithetical traditions: evangelical Protestantism, republican political ideology and commonsense moral reasoning. For Americans, faith in God is indistinguishable from loyalty to their country.

American Protestants do not have to believe in God because they believe in belief. That is why we have never been able to produce an interesting atheist in America. The god most Americans say they believe in is just not interesting enough to deny. Thus the only kind of atheism that counts in America is to call into question the proposition that everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Ode to Joy

Joy in the midst of this present world.  Beethovan wrote his 9th Symphony and it has a remarkable way of lifting my soul out of the mire and into a deep reality of Joy and Glory.  Have your heard it recently?  Perhaps time to click on this Youtube clip and sing along in jibberish German (if, like me, you have no ability in German).

~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey


Friday, July 23, 2010


I am in the midst of some challenging pastoral situations, suffice to say that I am striving to pray more often and in more direct (childlike?) ways in terms of both asking for "help!" and also giving gratitude for all the blessings.  Even though, it makes for some challenging work - good and useful - but still quite challenging.  I found recently that I was nearly overcome with sadness and helplessness in the face of what appears to be tragedy.  This is, perhaps, a natural response, but it can be hard to find words of hope in the midst of it, and can be hard for me to even remain present in the midst of what feels overwhelming.

It is these deeply challenging and sad times that pushes a simplistic theology that skims the surface of our lives.  Of course "God is good, all the time," is an enthusiastic and robust form of proclamation for many of the days of our lives.  However, when we are faced with events that remind us of the ways that life can leave us hurting and in pain, without direction and grounding, this statement - for me at least - falls on deaf ears.  Somewhere deep down, I know that God is uplifting us and holding us in the palms of his hands, and this bedrock is where I attempt to go when praying for people who are truly in distress.  However, a deeper reflection on Faith and Hope and Love is needed when we encounter the tragic in life. 

And so, I pray that I might have comforting words, even when they do not come easily.  I pray for words of hope even in the midst of hopelessness.  I pray for a depth of Faith even in the midst of emptiness.  I pray for the gift of Gratitude even in the midst of anger and resentment for the "changes and chances of life."

I pray that we might receive the "peace which passes understanding" so that we might "keep our hearts and midst in the knowledge and love of God."

~The Rev. Peter Carey

Awake, awake



Awake, awake to love and work!
The lark is in the sky
the fields are wet with diamond dew
The worlds awake to cry
their praises to the Fount of Life
Christ Jesus passes by.

Come, let your voice be one with theirs
shout with the shout of praise
See how the giant sun soars up
God's gift for all your days!
So let the love of Jesus come
and set your soul ablaze.

To give and give, and give again,
as God's own grace is free
To spend yourself nor count the cost
To serve most gloriously
the God who gave all worlds that are
and all that are to be.


Music: Morning Song Kentucky Harmony (19thC)
Words: Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy (20thC)
Sequence: Cathouse Pandemonium, Ltd.

Be present



Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the  hours of this night, so that we, who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life, may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Love the "Barth Button"

I loved the "Barth Button" that Ben Myers posted over at Faith and Theology blog...awesome!! Click HERE to see the close-up of the button...

I think I should read more Barth!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shine on us



The following hymn was listed as the hymn for the morning on the "Daily Office" site online at missionst.clare.org, and I thought it worthy of a re-post.  Especially helpful for me today is the stanza:

What this day will bring to pass,
gladness or sorrow we cannot guess.
You, who give the light divine,
shine on us, Christ Jesus, shine. 

I pray that we all have a rich and blessed day, whatever may come our way.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Every morning we will raise
to our God our songs of praise.
Every morning we will raise
to our God our songs of praise. 

With God's kind protection blessed,
sweet and deep has been our rest.
In the morning we will pray
God's protection for this day. 

What this day will bring to pass,
gladness or sorrow we cannot guess.
You, who give the light divine,
shine on us, Christ Jesus, shine. 

Then, when comes the dark of night,
all with in us still shall be bright;
you will bring your peace and love,
radient gifts sent down from above. 

Music: John B. Dykes, (19thC)
Words: William H. Furness (19thC) adapted
Sequence: Cathouse Pandemonium, Ltd.



Instruments of God's peace



What is our role in God's mission in the world?. There is so much to do in the world, so much hatred, injury, discord, doubt, despair, darkness and sadness.  We pray, of course, that God will give peace through all these things, that God will lift us up even when we are brought low.  We pray that God will give us the strength to step into the troubles of life and be a source of hope and peace for those who are in the midst of it.  I know all too well how hard it is to step into these situations.  I also know how hard it is to stay there.  In pastoral ministry, we are urged to be a "ministry of presence," among those who are suffering - to try to stay there, to stick it out, with people in the midst of trouble.  I find that I pray continuously in these situations, I "pray without ceasing," as St. Paul admonishes us to do.  I pray that I might be a small cog in the healing apparatus of God, I pray that I might be some source of peace, even though I sometimes wonder just how effective "presence" is for people who suffer.

The hope is that we would be instruments of God's peace.  The hope is embedded in the Prayer attributed to St. Francis.  That God's mission is getting worked out in the world, and we have some role as instruments in the great symphony of healing and salvation.  I pray that I can be, I pray that the church - the people - can step into these places of suffering and pain, and be a source of healing, salvation, liberation, and reconciliation.  "For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."


~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

A Prayer attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

Amen.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The morning light returns


As the morning light returns,
As the sun with splendor burns,
Teach us still to turn to You,
Ever blessèd Trinity,
With our hands our hearts to raise,
In unfailing prayer and praise.

What is it that we do when we arise each morning?  Do we have a moment or two to give deep thanks for all that we have, all that we are, and all the blessings of this life?  Do we have a few moments to give hearty worship for the One who has made us and enlivens us and sustains us.  Taking but a few moments may set our hearts and minds on the things that endure, so that we can face the day anew.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey
 


Every morning mercies new
Fall as fresh as morning dew;
Every morning let us pay
Tribute with the early day:

For your mercies, God, are sure;
Your compassion does endure.
Still the greatness of your love
Daily does our sins remove;

Daily, far as east from west,
Lifts the burden from the breast;
Gives unbought to those who pray
Strength to stand in every day.

Let our prayers each day prevail,
That these gifts might never fail;
And, as we confess the sin
And temptation's pow'r within,

Every morning, for the strife,
Feed us with the Bread of Life.
As the morning light returns,
As the sun with splendor burns,

Teach us still to turn to You,
Ever blessèd Trinity,
With our hands our hearts to raise,
In unfailing prayer and praise.


Words: Greville Phillimore (19thC)
Music: Every Morning, Edward John Hopkins (19thC)

Every morning mercies new



Every morning mercies new
Fall as fresh as morning dew;
Every morning let us pay
Tribute with the early day:
For your mercies, God, are sure;
Your compassion does endure.

Still the greatness of your love
Daily does our sins remove;
Daily, far as east from west,
Lifts the burden from the breast;
Gives unbought to those who pray
Strength to stand in every day.

Let our prayers each day prevail,
That these gifts might never fail;
And, as we confess the sin
And temptation's pow'r within,
Every morning, for the strife,
Feed us with the Bread of Life.

As the morning light returns,
As the sun with splendor burns,
Teach us still to turn to You,
Ever blessèd Trinity,
With our hands our hearts to raise,
In unfailing prayer and praise.



Words: Greville Phillimore (19thC)
Music: Every Morning, Edward John Hopkins (19thC)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Draw our hearts

Almighty and eternal God, 
so draw our hearts to you, 
so guide our minds, 
so fill our imaginations, 
so control our wills, 
that we may be wholly yours...

We do not have to do it alone.  We can ask God to help us to dedicated ourselves to doing the work that we were meant to do, the work that we were created to do, the mission that was grafted into our hearts from our very beginnings.  We do not have to do it alone.  These are, perhaps, radical words in an era dominated by a focus on the individual.  We do not have to do it alone, and God is there, drawing our hearts, guiding our minds, filling our imaginations, and controlling our wills.  We are tied up with God and with the entire creation, and turning to God may be the first step in acknowledging that help is there for us, and that God yearns for us to become what we were meant to become.  Do you sense that you are living the life that you were meant to live?  Do you sense that you can go deeper and live a life richer and more abundant?  God is drawing us into this reality.  Perhaps our first step is to merely ask for help, and to acknowledge that we need it.  Draw yourself into God's embrace, where we all will be made new.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


A Prayer of Self-Dedication 
 
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wakefulness

In today's reading from the gospel of Matthew is the parable of the "ten bridesmaids," five of whom were foolish and took their lamps but no oil for them, and five who were wise and took their lamps and oil for them. Jesus ends the parable by admonishing his listeners to "keep awake!" This admonition of wakefulness and mindfulness recalls for me the ways that various religions have touch-points in which they are similar. I am not saying that all the religions are the same, and much has been written on this subject. However, there are some similar themes and even teachings that seem to resonate across traditions and between various peoples.

Being "awake" seems to be one of these similarities. The Buddha is known as the enlightened one, the one who "woke up." And in Sufism (a mystical branch of Islam), the poet Rumi has a wonderful poem in which the refrain is "don't go back to sleep."

The wakefulness here in Jesus' teaching is a wakefulness that is tied to preparedness, that we have something to answer for in this adventure of following Jesus. Just as in ancient times bridesmaids would make sure that they would have light if they needed it, we also need to do what we can do to make sure that we also are prepared. There are ways that we choose activities that move us into energy-depletion, and we forget that we also need to be ready, that we need to do what we can to stay fueled up for what may happen.

As a friend once said, "you don't fix the roof when it's raining." We need to cultivate spiritual practices that are life-affirming, and that are there to help us weather the ups and downs of life. Being grounded in spiritual practices, and being grounded in a religious community gives us ballast for those lows that happen, and also keep us grounded when the highs threaten to carry us away.

So, we must find a pattern of life that helps us to "keep awake," so we might live the abundant life and be ready for all that comes our way....

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey



Matt. 25: 1- 13 (NRSV)

1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' 12 But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

11 July 10 Sermon image

Courtesy of www.wordle.net

Thoughts

"Dad,why is there no air in space?" asked my 4 year-old at 6:30 this morning ... "I wonder where God or Jesus were when they made the earth? .... probably in outer space."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Psalm 21 - chesed ...





Psalm 21

1 In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, and in your help how greatly he exults!
 2 You have given him his heart's desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
 3 For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold on his head.
 4 He asked you for life; you gave it to him-- length of days forever and ever.
 5 His glory is great through your help; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
 6 You bestow on him blessings forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
 7 For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
 8 Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
 9 You will make them like a fiery furnace when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
 10 You will destroy their offspring from the earth, and their children from among humankind.
 11 If they plan evil against you, if they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
 12 For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
 13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

Your heart's desire



You have given him his heart's desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. Psalm 21:2

I sometimes hear from other Christians that all we need to do is to "do God's will," and "walk in his ways," ... of course, this seems self-evident.  Of course we know in our heart of hearts that what we should do is what God has made us for; that we should do God's will.  Of course, it seems quite obvious that this is what we are to do.  The question, of course, is having any earthly idea of what that is.  Aside from obeying the commandments, aside from striving to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, it can be quite hard at times to know what to do.  Do we tell a white lie when a friend just got a heinous haircut?  Do we show our frustration at a coworker for not following through on a project?  And, what about when the decision is between two "goods," how do we discern the greater good?

These are, of course, the tricky decisions of life - and whole fields of ethics have developed around how we should live.  However, here in Psalm 21, one of the psalms appointed for this morning, we read an interesting phrase, "you have given him his heart's desire."  This term, "heart's desire," is one that we use in common language, and I had forgotten that its roots were in the psalms.  It also shows up in Psalm 20.  God has given the just king his "heart's desire."  What is our "heart's desire"?  Something here to reflect upon, indeed.  What is your "heart's desire"?

Assuming that we are listening to the "better angels of our natures," it would be, perhaps quite important to listen to our "heart's desire," for there in the deep and abiding desire of our heart may also be the desire of God.  Deep in our own longing may be a piece of God's own longing for this broken world.  Deep in our own desire may be the essence of joy and abundant life that God desires for us.  What is the desire of your heart?  What is the desire of mine?

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


Psalm 20

1  The LORD answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion.
 3 May he remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices. Selah
 4 May he grant you your heart's desire, and fulfill all your plans.
 5 May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
 6 Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand.
 7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God.
 8 They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright.
 9 Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.





Psalm 21

1 In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, and in your help how greatly he exults!
 2 You have given him his heart's desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
 3 For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold on his head.
 4 He asked you for life; you gave it to him-- length of days forever and ever.
 5 His glory is great through your help; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
 6 You bestow on him blessings forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
 7 For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
 8 Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
 9 You will make them like a fiery furnace when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
 10 You will destroy their offspring from the earth, and their children from among humankind.
 11 If they plan evil against you, if they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
 12 For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
 13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

Your heart's desire



You have given him his heart's desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. Psalm 21:2
 
I sometimes hear from other Christians that all we need to do is to "do God's will," and "walk in his ways," ... of course, this seems self-evident.  Of course we know in our heart of hearts that what we should do is what God has made us for; that we should do God's will.  Of course, it seems quite obvious that this is what we are to do.  The question, of course, is having any earthly idea of what that is.  Aside from obeying the commandments, aside from striving to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, it can be quite hard at times to know what to do.  Do we tell a white lie when a friend just got a heinous haircut?  Do we show our frustration at a coworker for not following through on a project?  And, what about when the decision is between two "goods," how do we discern the greater good? 

These are, of course, the tricky decisions of life - and whole fields of ethics have developed around how we should live.  However, here in Psalm 21, one of the psalms appointed for this morning, we read an interesting phrase, "you have given him his heart's desire."  This term, "heart's desire," is one that we use in common language, and I had forgotten that its roots were in the psalms.  It also shows up in Psalm 20.  God has given the just king his "heart's desire."  What is our "heart's desire"?  Something here to reflect upon, indeed.  What is your "heart's desire"? 

Assuming that we are listening to the "better angels of our natures," it would be, perhaps quite important to listen to our "heart's desire," for there in the deep and abiding desire of our heart may also be the desire of God.  Deep in our own longing may be a piece of God's own longing for this broken world.  Deep in our own desire may be the essence of joy and abundant life that God desires for us.  What is the desire of your heart?  What is the desire of mine?

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


Psalm 20

1  The LORD answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion.
 3 May he remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices. Selah
 4 May he grant you your heart's desire, and fulfill all your plans.
 5 May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
 6 Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand.
 7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God.
 8 They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright.
 9 Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.





Psalm 21

1 In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, and in your help how greatly he exults!
 2 You have given him his heart's desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
 3 For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold on his head.
 4 He asked you for life; you gave it to him-- length of days forever and ever.
 5 His glory is great through your help; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
 6 You bestow on him blessings forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
 7 For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
 8 Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
 9 You will make them like a fiery furnace when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
 10 You will destroy their offspring from the earth, and their children from among humankind.
 11 If they plan evil against you, if they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
 12 For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
 13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Entering God's thoughts


The Second Song of Isaiah
Isaiah 55: 6-11

Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; *
call upon him when he draws near. Let the wicked forsake their ways *
and the evil ones their thoughts; And let them turn to the Lord,
and he will have compassion, * and to our God, for he will richly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as rain and snow fall from the heavens *
and return not again, but water the earth, Bringing forth life and giving growth, *
seed for sowing and bread for eating, So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; *
it will not return to me empty; But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, *
and prosper in that for which I sent it.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

I do a lot of thinking, and one of the things that I've had to get over is the idea (the thought!) that my thinking alone will bring healing, transformation, and salvation.  The Second Song of Isaiah from Isaiah 55 is a powerful and beautiful corrective to my own hubris about thinking that my thinking can bring me to Joy and Peace.  In Isaiah 55, the prophet reminds us:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So, instead of trying to get to a place where my thoughts are pure, where my ways will be acceptable, where my own efforts will be rewarded, I need to find a way to enter into a deep experience of God's thoughts.  The key, at least for me, may be to shut off my overly strident "thinking" and instead get into a place of "being" and of experiencing God's thinking, so that I can do the work that God has given me to do.  I wonder if this is something like what Jesus was doing when the lawyer at the beginning of the Good Samaritan story was asking about what he should do for eternal life (in next week's Sunday readings).  Perhaps Jesus was trying to urge the lawyer out of his thinking, and into being, into experiencing the "thoughts" of God, by showing mercy and by emulating the Samaritan's work to go above and beyond what anyone expected of him.  Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and God's ways are higher than our ways.  So our work is not to try to perfect our thoughts or our ways, but rather to go deeply into that presence and that experience of God's thoughts, so we might also participate in the Joy and Peace of God.


~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Awake, awake to love and work!

Awake, awake to love and work!
The lark is in the sky
the fields are wet with diamond dew
The worlds awake to cry
their praises to the Fount of Life
Christ Jesus passes by.

Come, let your voice be one with theirs
shout with the shout of praise
See how the giant sun soars up
God's gift for all your days!
So let the love of Jesus come
and set your soul ablaze.

To give and give, and give again,
as God's own grace is free
To spend yourself nor count the cost
To serve most gloriously
the God who gave all worlds that are
and all that are to be.


Music: Morning Song Kentucky Harmony (19thC)
Words: Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy (20thC)
Sequence: Cathouse Pandemonium, Ltd.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Our way . . .God's dwelling



Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.

~Psalm 43:3

In the Opening Sentence of Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, one finds this sentence, "Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling."  I have often opened prayer with this sentence, and in my time as a school chaplain, every day began with prayer with the school community.  These words were very often on my lips as the day began.  "Send out your light and your truth...."

And, I wonder about this "holy hill" and this "dwelling"...is the psalmist talking about the heavenly realm, the "dwelling" of God in the heavens?  Or, is the psalmist talking about the Temple in Jerusalem, the "dwelling" of God here on earth.  Or, is the psalmist affirming God's presence and God's "dwelling" wherever God chooses to lead us, by God's light and truth?  There is rich tradition affirming each of these understandings, and perhaps the sense of God's dwelling is not limited, perhaps God's dwelling includes all possibilities.

What is clear is that God does lead us, by light and truth, and that the way to God's "holy hill" and his "dwelling" is open to us ....

Blessings as we make our way to God's dwelling, and blessings as we make our way God's dwelling, today.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Jerusalem, Jerusalem...



Matthew 23: 37-39

37 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you, desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.' "

After casting judgment on the "scribes and pharisees," Jesus mentions his desire to gather up the "children of Jerusalem," but they were not willing.  These same scribes and Pharisees are among the "children of Jerusalem" for whom Jesus offers this lament, this desire.  He names the importance of the willingness of people to hear and see the good news that Jesus is proclaiming, and he is naming for us the willingness of us to hear and see the good news that was proclaimed in Jesus. 

Of course, for me, this passage is hard to hear without also thinking about the earthly Jerusalem here in 2010, which is surrounded by conflict, animosity, and long-held prejudice and violence.  Jerusalem also has people working for peace, and praying and hoping for peace in Jerusalem.  The conflicts of Jerusalem also remind us of the various conflicts, large and small, that are present all around our broken and hurting world.  The need for God's healing in the world was never more evident than today, and the need for followers of Jesus to live out God's healing and reconciliation and peace was never more evident than today. 

The good news is that this work is not for us to do alone.  The good news is that Jesus offers salvation and healing to us right now.  God's is working out healing and reconciliation and peace, and we can turn and offer our willing hands and hearts to this important work.  Jesus has gathered us up as a hen, and God has offered us healing, as well as the strength and courage to offer that healing and reconciliation to the world.

May we turn and be willing to hear and to work for healing, reconciliation and peace,

Peace and Blessings,

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Some blogging thoughts, and Psalm 5 reflection



I have been away on vacation for the last several weeks, and have been away from posting thoughts and reflections on Santos Woodcarving Popsicles for even longer than that.  I am in the midst of contemplating several research and writing projects and hope to post pieces of them here as well as pulling them together to share in classes and in groups of folks. 

Today's reading from the Psalms in the Daily Office of Morning Prayer is from Psalm 5, and there are several references to God's "house" and the "shelter" of God.  The use of the metaphor of the "house" or the "home" of God, and also the metaphor of "house" or "home" to describe God is one that I am keenly interested in pursuing, and have been, in fits and starts, for some time.  The other projects that I am contemplating include a look at the book of Ruth, and expanding that examination into a deeper examination of the concept of chesed in the Hebrew scriptures/Old Testament.

More on these projects, later...

Have a blessed day,

Here is Psalm 5 and some thoughts on it:



1 Give ear to my words, O LORD; *
consider my meditation.
2 Hearken to my cry for help, my King and my God, *
for I make my prayer to you.
3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; *
early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.
4 For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, *
and evil cannot dwell with you.
5 Braggarts cannot stand in your sight; *
you hate all those who work wickedness.
6 You destroy those who speak lies; *
the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O LORD, you abhor.
7 But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy I will go into your house; *
I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness,
because of those who lie in wait for me; *
make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouth; *
there is destruction in their heart;
10 Their throat is an open grave; *
they flatter with their tongue.
11 Declare them guilty, O God; *
let them fall, because of their schemes.
12 Because of their many transgressions cast them out, *
for they have rebelled against you.
13 But all who take refuge in you will be glad; *
they will sing out their joy for ever.
14 You will shelter them, *
so that those who love your Name may exult in you.
15 For you, O LORD, will bless the righteous; *
you will defend them with your favor as with a shield.

Psalm 5 is set in the context of the protagonist being under attack, or at least under threat by enemies, and the psalmist prays that God will "shelter" all those who take refuge in God, and they will sing with Joy for ever.  The psalmist hopes to go to God's house, and there will bow down in awe.  This is no mere dwelling place made by human hands, this is the house of the Almighty which inspires awe but also provides shelter.  This is the place of God that inspires worship and refuge, but also inspires us to sing with joy.

This house of God is a house that is there for us, and has been opened to us, whether or not we always sense the door is open, whether or not we sense that it is there, it is there for us.  This house of God is a house that inspires awe, but also provides shelter, and fills us with joy.  Our own houses may be filled with the busy-ness of life, with the craziness of family, as well as the good and deep love of family.  Our own houses may be places of shelter and mercy, but may also be places that are not always as joy-filled as we wish. But the house of God is always there for us, always provides shelter, always is open to us, through God's mercy, and fills us with Joy.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Put not your trust in rulers





Psalm 146 Lauda, anima mea

1 Hallelujah!
Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
7 The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
8 The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9 The LORD shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Hallelujah!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Put not your trust in rulers





Psalm 146 Lauda, anima mea

1 Hallelujah!
Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
7 The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
8 The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9 The LORD shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Hallelujah!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Put away the flags




Published on Friday, July 2, 2010 by The Progressive
Put Away the Flags
Remembering Howard Zinn on July 4th

by Howard Zinn
On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession."

When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day."

On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence." After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."

It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.

We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people.

As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness."

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.

How many times have we heard President Bush tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for "liberty," for "democracy"?

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004 that God speaks through him.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

This piece was distributed by the Progressive Media Project in 2006.

Howard Zinn died on January 7. Please read Matthew Rothschild's "Thank you, Howard Zinn," for more about his legacy.

© 2010 The Progressive
Howard Zinn (1922-2010) authored many books, including “A People’s History of the United States,” “Voices of a People’s History” (with Anthony Arnove), and “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress."


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Put away the flags




Published on Friday, July 2, 2010 by The Progressive
Put Away the Flags
Remembering Howard Zinn on July 4th

by Howard Zinn
On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession."

When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day."

On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence." After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."

It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.

We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people.

As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness."

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.

How many times have we heard President Bush tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for "liberty," for "democracy"?

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004 that God speaks through him.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

This piece was distributed by the Progressive Media Project in 2006.

Howard Zinn died on January 7. Please read Matthew Rothschild's "Thank you, Howard Zinn," for more about his legacy.

© 2010 The Progressive
Howard Zinn (1922-2010) authored many books, including “A People’s History of the United States,” “Voices of a People’s History” (with Anthony Arnove), and “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress."


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone