What makes God cry?

The Blessed Elder Thaddeus was one of the foremost elders of twentieth century Serbia, filled with the Holy Spirit and blessed with many spiritual gifts including clairvoyance. He had a dream in 1987, when he was 73 years old, that he was in a large church, kissing the icons.

Christ Himself appeared before the icon of the Lord. He was weeping. Upon being asked why He was shedding tears, He answered that it was because, when confronted with evil, people fought back with evil.

Elder Thaddeus 1914-2003
Blessed Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica 1914-2003

The only thing we truly have control over — although it is surely a struggle to wrest control away from the many forces that would try — is our thoughts. Our thoughts are so powerful.

Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek, and kind, then that is what our life is like. If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility.

In our minds we conceive everything we do, say, and plan. Without this we cannot do or say anything. Everything first receives its shape and form in the mind; all of our energy is first made manifest in our thoughts. Thoughts are the power that conceives everything in the center of our being (the heart), and when we are united with the Source of life, everything is revealed to us and we are open to all kinds of knowledge.

When a person has the Grace of God, his thoughts are unbelievably powerful, because it is the power of God Himself that acts in us. If we have turned away from God in our thoughts and hearts, then our thoughts can be terrible, even death-dealing, to our fellow men. If we are united with the Lord with a heart full of faith, the power of Grace works in us. But if we have not yet cleansed ourselves from pride and still feel offended and angered when others say unkind words to us, then the power of God in us is diminishing.

From Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, St. Herman of Alaska Press, 2009, 2011.

Good Wolf, Bad Wolf, and American Politics, part 2

In response to my note correcting four factual errors (See Part 1), Tom’s friend, Jim, succinctly expressed feelings that many of our conservative brothers and sisters share:

I still think Obama is a Jerk. We all have to vote him out at the next election before his crazy schemes are in stone and we loose our Country and Freedoms as we know them. This guy is hell bent on changing us to some sort of Socialistic soceity with him as the head.

Do not be deluted (sic) with his talk and charm.  No truth comes out of his mouth.  Do not believe what he says but see what he does.

Jim

Here is my reply to Jim.

Dear Jim —

An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is fear, anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.”

The boy thought about that for a moment, and then asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “the one you feed.”

Jim,  thank you for sharing the fears that you and Tom and many others have expressed about Obama. And I hear you, and I see your fear.

My point is not about defending Obama. My point is about the lies upon which your fears seem to be based. Is fear justified if based upon a lie? Is there ever a basis for fear? What is fear? Where does fear come from? According to all of the great spiritual traditions, fear is evidence and symptom of separation from God. Fear comes when we turn our backs to the light, and choose to look into the darkness. That, in fact, is how we feed the bad wolf. Whether it is Obama or Ronald Reagan or the lady who lives next door we lie about — it doesn’t matter.

My point comes down to this:  Which wolf do you want to feed?

Our real enemy is not Obama or Bush or Pelosi or Boener. Our real enemy is not a political party, an ideology, a system of government, a country, a gang, a group, nor even a multi-national corporation. Our real enemy — and we definitely do have a real enemy — is not an idea. He is not even a human being. One of the greatest victories our real enemy scored was to get millions of people on a mass scale over the past century or so to believe he doesn’t even exist, to think he is a myth. What a strategy!  But he is very real, very powerful, and is evidenced by his methods. He has been around since the beginning, and is known by many names. Our real enemy is the father of all lies. He is the bad wolf, the tempter, the fallen angel. And in these days, he is howling with pleasure, reveling each time anyone takes up his weapons and uses his dark methods, tearing each other apart over petty things like thoughts and ideas, of property, money and power.

You see . . .God gave all of us the gift of free will, and he never takes back his gifts. With free will, each of us has choices to make, every day, in every moment.  The beautiful thing is,  we can choose to become genuine spiritual warriors, and join in the Battle of All Time. The Battle is not out there, in the world, fighting each other. The Battle that truly matters, is internal, inside each one of us–a Spiritual War. It is the Battle to stop feeding the bad wolf, and to feed instead the good wolf.

We become spiritual warriors when we choose to refuse to participate in the tactics of evil — for example, refusing to gossip, spread lies and mistrust and anger and hatred about any human being — even our “enemies.”  We join the Battle by becoming magnanimous, choosing to think only good thoughts –instead of fearful thoughts. We wage spiritual warfare by listening to each other with loving care and concern as if to young children, treating each other civilly and with kindness–instead of with anger. We feed the good wolf by expressing gratitude and forgiving each other and ourselves–instead of casting blame or judging others. We starve the bad wolf by striving for patience, self-control, biting our tongue, tolerating others, and understanding–instead of acting rashly and meanly. And most important of all, we feed the good wolf great big juicy steaks when we practice humility — putting others ahead our ourselves, giving, and sharing, out of love. The practice of genuine humility in effect shrinks our ego, which allows God’s grace to flow into our life, to heal and repair and work miracles. This is how we practice spiritual warfare, how we replace ALL and ANY fear with an unending peace that is beyond worldly comprehension.

Jim, I genuinely care about you and Tom and everyone on this distribution, as well as for all civil authorities. I pray that all of us are together at the end, in His hands, in the light of His peace. We are his prodigal children whom He loves, and He welcomes our choice to return home. That he wants mankind as His Sons and Daughters, and not as slaves, infuriates the fallen one. Make the choice to feed the good wolf, and you join the Battle of All Time.  And remember — the evil wolf — he is just a fallen angel, on par with the Archangel Michael. As much as he’d like us all to believe, he’s nowhere near as big and powerful as God Himself.  God who offers us his Radiant Cloak in His Son, whom we can put on.

May you consider your choices, and may you have many glorious and light-filled days of holy peace, where fear cannot enter in.

With gratitude for your sharing, and with gratitude for your patience with me, a lowly and sinful person, who begs your forgiveness for any intrusions or annoyances I have made this day,
and
with Love in Him,
–Laurel

Good Wolf, Bad Wolf and American Politics, part 1

One of my dear church brothers who is in his late 80s, enjoys sending provocative political emails to his long list of friends, including me. He is ultra conservative, and his emails are usually anonymously written forwards, containing strong negative opinion sprinkled with statements of fact, which frequently prove to be erroneous. When extreme, and if I have time, I feel compelled to respond with factual corrections.

Recently we had just such an exchange, in which the anonymous writer asserts that President Obama inserted into the new health care law provisions of Islamic Sharia law, that will in effect exempt Muslims from buying health insurance, while unfairly forcing Christians to buy the insurance or pay a fine. The writer goes on to conclude, very ominously, that the law is part of a conspiracy on the part of Muslims to take over the world.

“Obama Care allows the establishment of Dhimmitude and Sharia Muslim diktat in the United States . Folks, this is exclusively an Islamic concept under Sharia Law. So exclusive they had to make up an English word to define the concept. Why would our government start interjecting Sharia Law concepts into new broad and sweeping legislation like health care that would control the US population? ….Anyone? Muslims are specifically exempted from the government mandate to purchase insurance, and also from the penalty tax for being uninsured. Islam considers insurance to be “gambling”, “risk-taking”, and “usury” and is thus banned. Muslims are specifically granted exemption based on this.

How convenient. So a Christian would have crippling IRS liens placed against all of their assets, including real estate, cattle, and even accounts receivables, and will face hard prison time because they refuse to buy insurance or pay the penalty tax. Meanwhile, Louis Farrakhan and all other US Muslims will have no such penalty and will have 100% of their health needs paid for by the de facto government insurance. Non-Muslims paying a tax to subsidize Muslims. This is Sharia Law definition of… Dhimmitude. This is not a Western Civilization concept.

Dhimmit has two purposes : To enrich Muslims AND to drive conversions to Islam.

I recommend sending this post to your contacts. This is desperately important and people need to know about it — quickly!

This really is happening in your country. A fraction at a time.

Wake up America ! They’re coming in the back door.”

Here is my reply to my friend, Tom:

My dear friend, Tom, et. al:

First, please forgive me for copying you all who were included in this distribution. I know most of you, and a few I do not. Please know I hold all of you in the highest regard and respect. If this communication were to have been made publicly, at a podium, I would have felt just as compelled to walk up to the mic to correct what are clear factual errors. Errors which, if uncorrected, pose a danger to the loving community in which we are all united. So, out of duty I feel bound to grab the mic here. Please forgive me if I offend you by so doing.

This entry at Snopes, which the unidentified/anonymous author of the email uses to confirm the veracity of his claims, in fact contradicts his conclusion and many of the alleged facts.  http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/exemptions.asp.   Tom, did you actually read it through? It appears that the writer didn’t either, that he simply looked at the quoted copy of contested email, which is found at the top of the article, and without reading past it, construed it to mean that Snopes verified its accuracy.

At least three facts and one claim asserted by the anonymous writer are directly contradicted by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson, authors Snopes article:

1) that the Muslim legal term “dhimmitude” is written into the law. Not true.
2) that Muslims are specifically identified within the law as exempt from the insurance requirement, because Muslims see it as a form of gambling. Also not true, on both counts.
3) that Christians would unfairly singled out to be made to pay a fine or buy the insurance. Not true — the most likely group to be exempted is in fact a Christian sect.
4) the writer asserts that the law will promote the expansion of Islam. Given all of the above, this claim is not substantiated in any way.

The Snopes article says clearly (my emphasis added):

“The fact is the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ (PPACA) legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama does not include language which specifically exempts members of any particular religion from health insurance requirements (nor does it use the word ‘dhimmitude.’) The bill contains a general ‘religious conscience’ provision which establishes guidelines under which religious groups may have established conscientious objections to certain forms of insurance and may seek exemption from health insurance requirements”

and then the article quotes the applicable paragraph from the PPACA, which references for definition of religious sect that would seek exemption to section 1402(g)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, which addresses religious exemptions from paying any kind of tax, including social security.

Bottom line: longstanding IRS code, not PPACA, is what will define who is or is not exempt.

Included in this definition of who might be exempted from the insurance purchase requirement would be the Christian sect Anabaptists (ie Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites) because they are already exempt from paying into or receiving benefits from the Social Security system, because they choose to take care of their own.

Furthermore, the Mikkelsons speculate that Muslims will likely not be exempt under this IRS definition, because they have never  qualified for an exemption from paying in to Social Security. This is because, contrary to what the writer said,  the Muslim community in general views SSI as a worthy charitable action, of taking care of others who cannot take care of themselves, such as the elderly and disabled, and it involves no risk, no gamble.*

So, to summarize the truth, this provision in “Obamacare”
1) does not use Muslim legal terms from Sharia law,
2) will likely grant special exempt status to some Christian sects
3) will likely not apply to Muslims, and
4) will in fact do nothing to advance the “cause” of Islam, as the writer asserts.

As this portion of the law does not go into effect until 2014, it is not yet known who will apply for exemption, and who will be granted exemption.

Clearly the purpose of this email is to spread fear, misinformation, mistrust, and stir up hatred against our civilly elected president AND the entire class of people in this country who legally practice the faith of Islam.

Tom and friends — I believe Christ was right when he said “the truth shall set you free.” Lies are lies and truth is truth; we, as Christians, have a duty to truth. I would ask you, and by extension, your friends whom I have never met but for whom I hold in the highest regards, to please, please refrain from spreading lies. It does not keep us One Nation Under God.

As I have been studying the lives of the saints and the holy fathers, contemporary and ancient, it is my understanding the God’s grace cannot flow into the lives of people who sin. Sin drives God away; he simply cannot come where sin is, missing the mark of being in line with His will. Its sort of like tuning a dial a radio — if you want to tune in to grace, tune in to the frequency of truth, love, and humility, not sin.  Just as we teach our third and fourth graders, always speak truth and for truth; do not lie, for lying is another frequency altogether; what you’ll tune in, instead, is evil.

Again, forgive me if I have offended you in any way by what I have written. Thank you for your time.

With Love in Christ,
–Laurel

*p.s. My personal opinion, regarding Muslims or anyone for that matter, seeing the new health care law as a risk or a gamble:  The only gamble these days is to have Republicans in office who are bent on disassembling the safety net of our Social Security by privitizing it. That would most certainly turn it into a risk venture, if all our social security public trust funds were put into the stock market! Can you imagine the shortfall today, if the Bush administration had succeeded in privitizing Social Security, as they tried to do in the early 2000s?

In my experience, our current healthcare system as it has evolved today, a bloated, bureaucratic, profit-driven mess– already constitutes a huge gamble: that coverage will be denied by insurance companies redefining benefits,that employers will be able to afford to buy insurance for you as part of your compensation, that you will be able to get coverage at all.  Our current system grows riskier by the year; this healthcare legislation, written not by Obama but by a bi-partisan committee which included the healthcare industry — seeks to minimize the risk, through this provision of requiring everyone to buy into it. Just like automobile insurance is, as a way to lower the risk of having uninsured drivers, this provision has the same aim.

This is just my opinion. Thanks.

—  +  —

See Good Wolf, Bad Wolf, Part 2 for a follow up to this posting which I received from Tom’s friend, Jim.