I’m Right and You’re Wrong –DAMN IT!

We are in the midst of a battle. Anger and violence are played out in the media daily. It’s deafening and there are activists on both sides of the conflict. Both have dug in their heels and refuse to budge. How many times have we seen in-your-face confrontations?

wrestling

So, the question then becomes: How many of those times have we seen adversaries turn into allies who decided to work together with the determination to change things for the greater good of our country? How many?

What we’re seeing is a win-lose struggle and when there is a winner that necessarily means there is a loser.  So, what’s the answer? How do we get beyond this impasse that is adding so much suffering to an already disintegrating situation?  Well, how about this novel idea? How about if we just go home and work on our own issues first (and if you don’t think you have any…well…that’s an issue)?  Crazy huh?

No matter what I believe,

no matter how passionate I am about changing the world;

I am really the only person I have the power to change.

I would like to share with you my course correction after years of being a selfish, stubborn, know-it-all believer in the power of God to send all heathens to hell if they don’t straighten up! I was certain that was my assigned duty here on earth and I was really good at it! My buddy Paul and I both got knocked on our butts – in a loving way of course. God knew I was used to getting knocked on my butt and would then come out fighting!  So, after He got my attention, He gently went after my heart instead. Sneaky.

I want to touch on three areas in the past fourteen years that have had a profound impact on my life. What’s amazing is that I have no bruises to prove it, but, that’s because hatred, not Love, bruises.

The changes I am referring to are: My faith, politics, and my self-centeredness vs. other-centeredness:

MY FAITH: – back in the day, I could quote lots of scripture verses that would prove that anyone I disagreed with was destined for hell. Have a nice trip! I could justify my superior attitude and what was clearly my god-given responsibility to save lost souls. That is until I got to graduate school in 2006.

It did not take me long to see the error of my ways and the folly of my “beliefs”. But, and here’s the point I want to make in all of this: The Professors I was so blessed to know in that three years were powerful influences in my life. And yet, not one of them shook an angry fist at me to announce that I was an idiot, which they could have. I saw something in them that helped me to see, really see, the error of my thinking. They were loving, compassionate, grace-filled teachers of God’s unconditional love for all of His creation. They taught me, not just through studies like reading the works of Thomas Aquinas (geeeezzzz that was painful!), but more importantly, through their own example; their own lives. It wasn’t because of a need to be right, or to make demands, but because they simply loved. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to grow in a faith like theirs that imitated Christ. They helped change my attitude about so many things. But, at the end of the day, all they had the power to do was encourage my willingness to change from the inside-out. It was really up to me.

MY POLITICS: I will simply say that what I learned about myself at Aquinas carried over to a more nuanced understanding of the part I play just in the act of voting. Prior to this, I was a one-party voter. Admittedly, it was so much easier back then: Walk into the polling place, pull the lever for my party of choice, get my “I Voted” sticker, and go home. Never mind that I usually didn’t know who or what I was pulling that lever for. It didn’t matter though. I was confident in the knowledge that I did my duty. I think today many people who were like me, now know how critical it is to be informed and to choose for everyone in this country, especially those who have been kicked to the curb and feel they have no voice. And, again, my movement away from “don’t really care” did not come about by brute-force. What woke me up to my responsibility and privilege to do my part for the sake of others came from an enlarged heart-space, not from someone yelling in my face.

SELF-CENTEREDNESS THAT MORPHES INTO OTHER-CENTEREDNESS: Giving instead of taking. Seeing, really seeing, the worth, dignity, and humanity of those the world rejects. And not only seeing them, but loving what we see because if you look closely enough you will see Christ. And I just can’t get enough of that.

I would challenge you to just sit for a moment and think of recent stories you have seen on TV or the Internet that either enraged you or spoke into the depth of your heart so powerfully that you cried.  Then, ask yourself, which of those scenarios comes from God and which is motivated by an ego-driven, self-serving purpose?

I was recently involved in a conversation with someone who is very passionate about their beliefs concerning what we are experiencing. This person wanted to do battle until the other person involved caved and cried uncle.  But, hey both stood their ground. In the aftermath of that train wreck, I made the comment that everyone who does not agree with you is not your adversary. When you view every discussion with someone who feels differently as an opportunity to bully them into your way of thinking, the conversation shuts down and you both lose.  Then I get the equivalent of a Bible-lashing on Matthew 21:12-13 to remind me that Jesus got angry and threw s*#t.

Okay, first of all, there are many “stories” in Scripture that are meant to offer a teaching. Does that Scripture verse mean that Jesus was actually this angry-bird who couldn’t control His temper? We could take this to a discussion of “righteous” anger, but that’s not really the point. Do you think that table tossing anger changed ANYONE? We don’t know of course, but, I’m guessing not.

Now, how many of Jesus’ acts and teachings call us to love? How many people followed Him in spite of the danger, especially women, because He offered what their hearts longed for. It is what He came and eventually died for, and so many others after Him were martyred for. So it must be a big deal!

What was one of the last things Jesus said to His disciples? Come on, you know: “Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy! I’m outta here now, so it’s up to you to carry on. Go on out there and beat into compliance everyone who refuses to follow Me. Got it?”

Hmmm.  Yep, sign me up!

We know, of course, that Jesus was very passionate. However, He showed us that passion is not the end of the story. It’s when that passion is turned into service to others that everyone wins and God does His happy dance!

Why you Care Matters – BUT – How you Care Matters More

Recently, I read this reflection, “Please show me is one of the most powerful prayers you can speak. You can avoid painful trials and errors by inviting Spirit to guide you at the outset of your decision making process. He will direct your efforts telling you exactly what to do.” Alan Cohen

I bulked at that, or more accurately, painful memories and an ego ever on high-alert, bulked, “It’s not that simple. Life is not that simple.” That partly comes from a place long ago when I learned not to trust anyone but myself (well…that’s a scary thought!). As a child, I needed to trust my mother so I could learn to trust the world around me, but she often lied and proved to be untrustworthy, which, in turn, meant the world was untrustworthy too. The World loves those who don’t know who to trust and empowers the ego to walk itself right off every unmarked cliff until we begin to doubt ourselves.

To this day, my ego-driven mind wants every aspect of my life to be certain and laid-out clearly and at the same time believes that the Spirit that I deal with doesn’t seem to be so concise about its guidance in my life, “You’re on your own kid. Good luck!” Old memories combine with my return again and again to my default setting dredges up my monumental failures to prove I’m right – hoping that Spirit-guy will finally see that I have good reason to question what I read.

The two major events that always come to mind are: (1) writing a book, and (2) attending Graduate School – the biggest, most profound, scariest, decisions of my life that did not turn out the way I planned. It seemed so obvious to me that the outcome of these events was confirmation that Spirit-guy could not be trusted either. And just to remind him we had a little review:

1) One day, out of nowhere you clearly told me to, “Write a book”. That was you – right? Admittedly, after laughing hysterically, I finally did believe you and wrote the damn thing. That led to me imagining myself becoming a famous and sought-after author. But, that’s not what happened is it? No.

2) Then, how about this? When offered the unbelievable opportunity to attend Graduate School, after much consternation, I did, even though I fully believed I would be discovered as a fraud and be tossed out on the street. When I finally realized I might actually accomplish such a crazy endeavor (which took nearly the entire three years I was there), I began to imagine myself becoming a beloved Pastoral Associate destined for sainthood, fulfilling my need to be somebody special. But, that’s right, that’s not what happened either.

saint linda (2)

Are you still with me Spirit-guy?

All of these “failures” were confirmation to me that what I read, “You can avoid painful errors and trials by letting the Spirit guide you”, did not apply to me. In a rare moment I sat quietly and prayed. The response came quickly. I suppose because it has been the same obsessive struggle I have had for years now and you were probably peeved weren’t you?

Spirit (eye roll here), “Sit down and take a deep breath, Linda. Ready? Here we go for the bizzilionth time.”

1)  Yes, I did tell you to write a book. And, no, it did not catapult you into fame and fortune. BUT, it did develop into your blog postings and both have touched lives. How many? It really doesn’t matter because that’s not the point. Maybe a review of Luke 15:4-6 is in order here. It went something like this, “Jesus dropped everything and went after ONE lost sheep. ONE! And then he danced and sang all the way back to camp like he hit the lottery!!”

Purpose can never be driven by the world’s definition of success. But your ego is often too needy of praise to allow you to use this gift you have been given for others beyond yourself. So, stop putting expectations on the outcome and just write already!”

2) Sorry to be the one to inform you that you will not win the ‘Catholic Woman of the Year’ award. It’s actually funny that we’re still having this conversation since you seem to have pushed away from some aspects of your Catholic faith. But, that’s a conversation for another time.

So, admit it Linda, it took these experiences and growing pains to strip away enough of your own brokenness (not all, but enough for now) to open you to the love of God that resides deep in your heart. And, yes, I’m still going to be there, as always, to offer you guidance even if you pretend not to notice me: the elephant in the room!

Anyway, let’s think of the things that you have done just since graduation that you would probably never have considered being capable of before Aquinas wrested your shallow ‘faith’ from you and replaced it with a love for others.

Can you not see how much your faith grew and flourished when you cared for the dying as a Hospice volunteer? Working with the homeless you showed them love when they only knew rejection. We will soon be venturing into a new ministry together: some, maybe even just ONE (remember, numbers don’t matter), of the countless and nameless sex trafficked youth will also encounter the love of God through little ole you, Linda. This is what you have been preparing for; this is your calling. And no award, book contract, or flurry of accolades will come close to invoking those tears of love and compassion you reveal every time you think about those kids.  

Now, come on, enough with the pitty-party already. We have lots of work to do and you aren’t getting any younger you know. Just sayin’.

Can you relate? Have you experienced your own come-to-Jesus moment but you’re not sure what that means for you?

Understand that when Jesus said, “Follow Me” it was a radical call not an invitation to tea. It wasn’t the Jesus version of Simon says, “Touch your toes. Wiggle your nose. Bend your knees”. Pat on the head. Here’s your prize.

You realize don’t you that Jesus never said, “Go to church”. Never. Church is where we so often hear the word of God, rejoice for a millisecond at its splendor, and then go home to cut the grass. Following Christ means living the Word; it means being Christ to others. He told us, “I have suffered the hatred of those in power to serve those at the bottom: the forgotten and rejected. If you follow me you will do even more and, yes, you will suffer for your efforts as well.” Our response to that call must be a resounding, “Yes”! But, it’s often, “I’ll get back to you.”

Remember that all the disciples ran for cover when Jesus was taken away. When they saw the empty tomb, in unison they proclaimed, “Bummer, this is not how we imagined it turning out.” When Jesus showed up unannounced at their pitty-party he was surely in the same place Spirit-guy has been with me so often, “Okay guys let’s try this again. First of all, let’s get this out of the way – none of you will be sitting on any throne. You’ll be sitting in the muck and mire with the least among you and, get this, you’re going to love it there because that’s what you were created for: selfless love and compassionate care for the lost and hurting.”

Over the past few months we have been inundated by images and news concerning Covid-19, our broken economy, hunger and homelessness, and the BLM protests that have shed an uncomfortable light on the inequities in this country. Every day, people are suffering and dying because they have been victims of Covid or hatred or both. How are you affected by these realities? What do you think of when you witness what is surely a most profound moment in our history? Do you turn off the TV, retreat to your safe place, and pray, or send a check to a food bank? I’m not discounting those things. Both are needed for sure. But, do you also feel guilty for not having to suffer what your brothers and sisters are suffering and don’t know what to do? Is there a tugging on your heart to not just “be” a kind, compassionate person, but to act on that reality?

I think this is a time of reckoning for all of us who consider ourselves decent human beings. Never mind any label you may attach to that: Christian, Jew, Atheist, none of the above, whatever – just decent human beings who know deep down we are now called to lift our “caring” to a whole new level.

I love the expression: “Bidden or not bidden, God is still present”. God still lives and moves and has his being in the very depth of your heart, whether you believe in him or not. And even if you don’t he just hangs out there hoping you will one day acknowledge who he is, and in turn, who and Whose you are.  He’s like the heart whisperer, “I love you, you are mine, and your life has a purpose.”

If I ever sound like I have totally got my act together don’t think for a moment that’s true. We are all a work in progress. We have all sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23). I’m just thankful that God’s love and grace know no bounds. My weaknesses don’t anger him and my fears won’t push him away. He is merciful, forgiving, empowering and likely has a wicked sense of humor! Oh yeah, and he has never lied to me. Not once.

So, let’s do this. Yes, it’s important to sit quietly to discern how and where you are called to serve. But then, just like Jeremiah, get off your butt and get over your self-doubt because God will give you all you need to do what he calls you to do. That’s a promise we can all trust.

And know this: God is a constant, unfailing certainty beyond every struggle, every perceived failure, and every disappointment.

I will end with this wisdom from Anthony DeMello, SJ:

Once upon a time a disciple asked the elder, “Holy One, is there anything I can do to make myself Enlightened?”

“As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.”

“Then of what use” the disciple asked, “are all the spiritual exercises?”

“To make sure,” the elder said, “that you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.”

 

Santa, Won’t You Buy me a Mercedes Benz

I offer this post right before what may be the most popular day of the year – Black Friday. It is my lame effort to curtail the insanity. You’re welcome!

dear santa

Have you ever read about Janis Joplin’s life? I watched a documentary about her called, Janis: Little Girl Blue. I found it to be such a sad account of a desperate and broken life. Her song Mercades Benz was recorded on October 1, 1970, three days before she died, alone in her motel room, of a heroin overdose. The song was actually a slam against consumerism. As Performing Songwriter Magazine stated, “She was outspoken about the illusory happiness promised (but rarely delivered) by the pursuit of worldly goods, a hippie-era rejection of the consumerist ideals.”  But then, in contrast to that, she was often seen wearing a mink coat given to her by Southern Comfort because she offered free advertizing for them. It seems to have been her drink of choice. Needless to say, she was complicated.

Joplin grew up in a town that was right in the heart of what her sister called redneck country. It had an active chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. And weren’t they thrilled when she spoke out against racial segregation, which also made her a target for ridicule by the other kids in her school. According to her sister, they were relentless in their attacks on her.

Her fragile ego wasn’t spared when she went away to college either. In 1963, Joplin was cruelly voted “The Ugliest Man on Campus” at the University of Texas. “She was left with little more than the yawning chasm of a tortured loneliness,” her publicist and biographer, Myra Friedman, wrote after Joplin’s death.  Her book was titled, “Buried Alive”. On the Dick Cavett Show, she once said, “They laughed me out of class, out of town, out of the state.”

Even after she managed to get away from Texas she could never seem to escape the loneliness and rejection she experienced there.  She just wanted to be happy, to be loved, but those longings always eluded her. The sex, the drugs, the fatalistic sense of being lost and alone tormented her to her death.

In 1968 she wrote to her family, “From all indications I’m going to become rich & famous. Incredible! All sorts of magazines are asking to do articles & pictures featuring me. I’m going to do every one. Wow, I’m so lucky – I just fumbled around being a mixed-up kid (& young adult) & then I fell into this. And finally, it looks like something is going to work for me. Incredible. Well, pin the review up so everyone can see – I’m so proud.”

On September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died of a heroin overdose. When she heard of his death she told friends, “he beat me to it.” Two weeks later, on October 4th, she was found dead. In her will she left her friends and family $2,500 to throw a wake party which was held on Oct. 26. One partier remembered, “Everyone got drunk and messed around and nobody mentioned Janis at all.”

Ronald Rolheiser summed up her struggles this way, “She simply lost the things that glue a person together and broke apart under too much pressure. Janis Joplin could not will the one thing.” That “one thing” of course is our innate connection to God, not things of this world we aimlessly strive for to take His place.

If the current rates of depression and suicide are any indication, people of all ages continue today to struggle to fill a void left by our rejection of God and the great American obsession with self.

According to the CDC, in 2017, suicide was a Leading Cause of Death in the United States:

  • Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 47,000 people.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.

And what about those who have not become a suicide statistic? According to the American Psychological Association:

  • 7% of the U.S. population over age 12 took antidepressant medication in the past month.
  • There has been a 64% increase in the percentage of people using antidepressants between 1999 and 2014. In 1999, 7.7 percent of the population took the medication.

Tim Kasser, Professor and Chair of Psychology at Knox College, has studied people’s values and goals for over twenty years. He says:

 The materialistic or “extrinsic” goals are the goals for money, image and status that are so encouraged by consumer capitalism. We contrast these with the “intrinsic” goals for…affiliation (e.g., having close relationships with family and friends) and community feeling (e.g., helping the broader world be a better place).

The take away of those studies?

We find that when people prioritize materialistic, extrinsic goals at a relatively high level compared to intrinsic goals the lower their personal well-being, lower happiness and life satisfaction, more depression and anxiety, and a variety of other personal ills….Materialistic goals are associated with being less empathic and cooperative, and more manipulative and competitive….They care about ecological sustainability and their lifestyles tend to have a damaging effect on the planet.

….People who strongly value helping the world and improving the lives of others are happier and better adjusted than individuals who care about other, more materialistic values. Individuals oriented towards community feeling and helpfulness report greater self-actualization and vitality, less depression and anxiety, fewer behavior disorders, and less narcissistic tendencies.

And the bottom line? Our hunger for love is insatiable outside of God, but there’s a catch. Marianne Williamson tells us that, A love that hovers above the earth, however well intentioned, is not enough…. It is a willing heart and love embodied that carry with them miraculous authority to turn darkness into light.”  

In my last post, I touched on our desire to keep God at a distance. How often we pray for God to do something for those who suffer, but fail to hear His reply in the depths of our hearts, “I did do something, I created you.” Matthew West expressed this beautifully in his song titled, “Do Something”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_RjndG0IX8

Why do we seem to fail to remember that God sent Jesus here to live among us, to show us what that love looks like? And then…ready?…and then He called us to carry on that embodied love by giving fully of ourselves. By using the gifts He has given us for His glory. Just like God counted on Jesus, He now counts on us. Jesus says to each of us who continue to follow Him, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these”.  John 14:12-14

I could give you pages and pages of examples of people who live that truth and many are kids who are having a huge impact in the ways they strive to make a difference in their communities.

Look at what Jon Bon Jovi and his wife are doing. This brought me to tears: https://jbjsoulkitchen.org  “The way to feel good is to do good.” Jon Von Jovi. There you go. He just said in one sentence what it took me three pages!

I hope this sheds a whole new LIGHT on Black Friday for all of us. Maybe we should call it “ILLUMINATED Friday”. Yeah…I like it!

I pray that we may all stop in the midst of the usual holiday chaos and contemplate the true wonder and magic of Christmas and then share that magic with some part of this broken world.

May God richly bless you and yours this Christmas season,

Linda

And the Winner is…..

“Christians are happier than atheists” That was the consensus of a CNN article in 2013.

Duh you say. Well…hold onto your halos folks. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride to heaven.

Here’s the article if you’re so inclined to read it.

The article continues with a rebuke of the study:

After reading an article about the study on Pacific Standard magazine’s website, Richard Wade, an advice columnist for the blog Friendly Atheist, called it “useless and misleading” and based on “sloppy research.” He wrote, “The take away for most lay people is ‘Atheists are unhappy people.’ … How do you quantify ‘happiness’? How do you quantify ‘analytical thinking’?

Even in their acknowledgments about the possible biases in their study, the authors still use absurd and meaningless terms like ‘militant atheist,’” he added. “This study suffers from the same negative stereotypes about atheists that most of society has, and it has simply reinforced that prejudice with more muddled thinking.

Even though the study presumes Christians are happier on twitter, I wish we acted more like it in real life.

As I was reading the above article, another one caught my eye, so I pulled it up too. The caption was Gay detective’s mother booted from church.

I wonder how the researchers of the first article would have interpreted over 3300 comments on the second one. You can read them too, but here are just a few from so-called “Christians” My BS meter was going off a lot, but there were some honorable mentions:

  • From Dale, If God ever does light this planet on fire, I pray that those churches of hate and prejudice should be the first to burn.” (Wow…can you feel the love oozing from our friend Dale here?!)
  • From Starr: May God treat them the way they have treated this women.” (Yeah, go get em’ Starr. That’s a for sure invite to your church!)

The following comment, I believe, tells it all:

  • From Katy: “Religion preaches hatred…glad I comprehended that at a young age and left Catholicism. Now I am a happy Secular!” (Hum)

Richard Rohr has something to say about where so many “Christians” reside:

So how do we love God? Most of us seem to have concluded we love God by attending church services. For some reason, we thought that made God happy. I’m not sure why. That idea probably has more to do with clergy job security! Jesus never talked about attending services, although church can be a good container to start with, and we do tend to become like the folks we hang out with. The prophets often portray God’s disdain for self-serving church services. “The sanctuary, the sanctuary, the sanctuary” is all we care about, Jeremiah shouts (7:4).

The prophetic message is absolutely clear, yet we went right back to loving church services instead of Reality. I believe our inability to recognize and love God in what is right in front of us has made us separate religion from our actual lives. There is Sunday morning, and then there is real life.

God certainly gave us minds to use. But, when the mind is given dominance over heart, again Rohr says:

The mind starts steering, judging, analyzing, fixing, controlling, and trying to dominate body and soul….your endless mental commentary on everything. It really doesn’t matter what you think about things, believe it or not. This is a revolutionary and humiliating breakthrough for most people. What matters is WHAT IS.

Our egos are forever getting in our way and “Christian” egos are scrumptious, lip-smacking fodder for unbelievers.

I believe that when the mind controls our every thought, word, and action it is because we do not have the courage to be imperfect ourselves and we make our life’s mission to fix, manage, or adjust everyone around us because we know for a fact that they are imperfect slobs in need of a Savior.

news flash

Sorry to inform you…you are not the Savior of thw world. That position is already taken. The sooner we realize that the sooner we will stop sending people like Katy running away from God. He’s not pleased with us when we do that you know. As a matter of fact, the hairs on the back of His neck stand stiff when he sees us acting or speaking like we’ve forgotten who and Who’s we are. I manage to forget that far too often as some snarky thought or remark manages to slip past my not-so-vigilant-act-like-you-have-the-tiniest-bit-of-Christian-love monitor…

When you are tempted to “set someone straight” remember that in every circumstance God calls us to manifest his love in that moment, to that person. Now, look back at the article and comments above and tell me who was Christ for all the people involved? Was it the church that kicked the mother out? The “Christians” who posted mean, insensative comments?

Do we see God in the actions of the likes of Westboro Baptist Church that is always in the news because of their hatred toward others? Do we see him in you or me when we judge and speak hatefully to or about others and refuse to accept them?

And let me say this about quoting Scripture: That’s fine. But, if you find yourself frantically searching with the only purpose of finding that one nugget to smack someone sideways…knock it off! You can cut and paste your beliefs and certainties to prove yourself all day long, but what will you have gained for God’s kingdom? Besides, that someone will just cut and paste their own “proof” that they’re right and you’re a moron. And then what?

Words of wisdom from Shane Claiborne:

There’s something powerful that happens when we can connect our faith with the pain of our world…. We’re not throwing out the things we believe, but we’re also focusing on practices that work out those beliefs. In the past few decades Christianity has primarily been about what we believe. But in Jesus we see an invitation to join our actions with a movement rather than ideas and doctrine.

 I’m hopeful because people have grown tired of a Christianity that can say what it believes on paper but doesn’t have anything to show with our lives. Ideologies and doctrines aren’t easy things to love. 

Pray that God would give us the eyes to see the pain….

“You can show your love to others by not wishing that they should be better Christians.” –Francis of Assisi

And, finally – what your mother always told you is still valid today, “If you can’t say something nice, keep your mouth shut!”

The Gospel According to Monsanto

Matthew 13:3-8 “Then he (Jesus) told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

We have lived in our current home for four years now. I’m sure I annoy more than a few of my neighbors because I refuse to use chemicals on my lawn. Here’s why:

Dr. (Anthony) Samsel is a research scientist who is passionate about farming, gardening, and agriculture, making him particularly suitable for investigating glyphosate. “I was with the ‘think tank,’ Arthur D. Little (ADL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts for many years working as a research scientist on many types of projects, from product development to environmental sciences to later switching to health sciences,” he says.

He’s also done contract work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and as a hazardous materials expert, he’s worked for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the United States Navy (USN), and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

What he has learned:

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the world. An estimated one billion pounds a year is sprayed on our food crops, resulting in the average American eating several hundred pounds of glyphosate-contaminated food every year.

Monsanto Has Known for Nearly 35 Years That GMOs Promote Cancer

Monsanto’s own research also supports the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determination that glyphosate is a Class 2 A “probable human carcinogen.”–a determination Monsanto is now trying to get retracted….

Monsanto Never Published These Negative Findings

So how did Monsanto and Biodynamics—the company doing the research—hide these inconvenient facts? According to Dr. Samsel, they cancelled out the controls and the damning findings by using historical control data from unrelated studies. It’s also worth noting that these negative findings were never published in the peer-reviewed literature or submitted to the EPA or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cancer was clearly shown in their 26-month long feeding study….Monsanto knew in 1981 that glyphosate caused tumorigenic growth and carcinomas in multiple organs and tissues…

“At the rate we’re going, we’re going to kill billions of people,” Dr. Samsel says. 

https://www.myhealthwire.com/news/breakthroughs/1100

So, back to my yard. We have weeds. I do my best to keep the grass cut short so it isn’t too obvious. I also have a small raised-bed organic garden. Well, it’s as organic as it can be considering we are surrounded by neighbors who spray their lawns with chemicals. That’s why I’m moving to Auroville, India:

auroville

Seriously! It was the vision of Sri Aurobindo that came to fruition in the 1960s.

Welcome to Utopia!

I imagined life in Auroville to be as close to perfect as anything this side of heaven. There’s probably no self-serving politicians, rabid neighbors, or drunken uncles. No cancer or heart disease or PMS, gluten intolerance, or out-of-control chocolate cravings, and they have no idea who the Kardashians are!

Kumbaya…

Well, not quite.

After all, if God had intended to use Auroville to test market a perfect world I doubt he would have used humans, especially greedy, self-absorbed, money-hungry humans who run multinational corporations like Monsanto to come in and mess it all up.

My bubble burst when I read about Monsanto’s disastrous corporate greed that has literally scorched the earth and destroyed thousands of lives in it’s wake in India (all over the world actually). You can read the article here.

Basically, Monsanto came in and made unattainable promises to hungry farmers and their families, who unwittingly signed on the dotted line. As a result, thousands of farmers and laborers have committed suicide because they lost everything as Monsanto became richer and richer.

The number of suicides by farmers and farm labourers increased five per cent at 12,360 in 2014.  Bankruptcy and indebtedness accounted for the major cause of suicides. More here.

No doubt Monsanto hopes the destruction they leave in the wake of their self-interest goes unnoticed by the rest of the world. It must be working because we happily spray their poisonous chemicals all over the earth.

I know what you’re thinking! “SO?  What does that have to do with me?” Stay with me.

Who would have thought Monsanto, the purveyor of everything deadly and toxic, would become a metaphor for a Scripture meditation? But, here we are. They not only destroy our soil, they are now irrefutably linked to diseases that are killing us. How many people are aware of that right now? Before their recent exposure in the media, were any of us fearful of the chemical content of these products? Obviously not, as they are a multi-billion dollar corporation set for a buy-out from Bayer.

bayer and monsanto

Look at these two kids, just all giddy about their successes.

india suicide farmers

I doubt the people of India will be joining them in their celebration…

Can you see where I am going with this analogy? No? Okay. Follow my A.D.D. brain on this journey to the point I want to make about Matthews gospel.

We are the seed and the soil would be where we are planted, right?

I have some seeds that I start in small pots of organic soil. When they begin to grow into seedlings I repot them or move them into my garden which is also filled with rich organic soil. (Don’t be too impressed – I actually suck at gardening. Most of my plants start out beautifully but fail to thrive for one reason or another.

Anyway…Matthew’s parable…

Because we were created in God’s image we start out perfect.  But, sometimes things go terribly wrong. We can be “repotted”, if you will, into dysfunctional families where we fail to thrive, as was my case. Fortunately, God reclaimed me and did his best to “repot” me into the soil of his divine love and mercy. I began to thrive again, striving for perfection, reaching toward the Light.

But often I allowed the world around me to convince me that what I had wasn’t enough; that I wasn’t enough. I needed more: worldly pursuits, obsessions, longings for things other than God, selfishness. Like unsuspecting plants sprayed with Roundup, my soul was dying little by little.

We have been called to be watchful of the often subtle and insidious destruction the world can inflict on us. Like corporations that skillfully market their products, the world markets an exciting and fulfilling life, “You deserve this new car, this great job, this man of your dreams.” Never mind the cost: the car you can’t afford, the job that will take you away from your family, the man who happens to be married –oops. And, to the extreme, in the case in India: death and destruction.

What is our foundation? Is it God in which we live and breathe and have our being? Or is it worldly pursuits and obsessions in which we give away all that we are; all that we were created to be?

John 10:10 tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” And you can be sure that thief is cunning and resourceful. He knows our weaknesses and vulnerabilities so we must always be on guard.

And, my friends, this is where we get real, as Christians, we have also been given the responsibility of helping to protect those seeds that God has created and planted among us. Are we helping or hindering God’s work among the most vulnerable? We are surrounded by such tremendous need and suffering. What are we doing to help relieve that suffering?

Think about this: Because of the unbearable suffering and death of the people of India, one man stands out as their David against the Goliath, Monsanto. His name is M. Prabhakara Rao. This is what he gave up to battle a Corporate Giant:

Tens of millions of dollars were within reach for M. Prabhakara Rao as he prepared in April 2015 to take his Indian cotton seed company public. The Indian businessman already had $54 million in initial funding from an American private equity investor. Rao had also locked in a long-term licensing agreement with Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, for the technology used in genetically modified cotton seeds that made up the majority of his annual sales.

 

david and goliath

Could you or I have walked away from such wealth to stand before a giant like Monsanto?

It’s something to ponder and pray about don’t you think?

Okay, we’re done here. I have to get busy finding a recipe for dandelion wine! I’m hoping if I give a bottle of it to all the neighbors for Christmas, they’ll forgive me!