If I write a beautiful sentence in a poem and then use it in a novel, or if I publish an article on my blog and re-publish it on social media, it is a ridiculous idea that I could be committing the crime of “self plagiarism.”
“Self-plagiarism,” explained Robert Cruetz, “is also known as ‘reuse,’ ‘recycling fraud,’ or ‘duplicate publication,’ and consists of a person re-purposing their own written material without providing proper attribution by citing the original content.”
The legal concept of “self-plagiarism” is contrary to the order of the universe, unnatural, and therefore inherently flawed. Think of genetic code as a type of writing. A rule prohibiting “self plagiarism”” would have derailed evolution from its earliest beginnings and planet Earth would still be a hot dead rock without an atmosphere or arable soil.
All life has borrowed “writing” from the prior generation in order to both survive and to thrive in the process of adding to it, improving upon it.
Here it seems to me that the spirit of the law against plagiarism has been lost. The spirit of plagiarism laws was to protect the livelihood of the original author.The ability of the author to support their life their family. Think about that.
Self-plagiarism is ridiculous and foolish legalistic concept.
I hereby confess this is a repost, self-plagiarism, from my original writing on LinkedIn.
MILWAUKEE–This week I had the privilege to attend a lecture at Marquette University by one of the most preeminent authors, scholars, and theologians of our generation: His Eminence, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, MA, D.Phil, titular metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Great Britain.
With his bishop’s hat, flowing robes, scraggly white beard, and distinctive British accent, this esteemed professor emeritus at Oxford could surely be mistaken for a Defense-Against-the-Dark-Arts instructor at Hogwarts. (To see what I mean, check out this interview with Metropolitan Kallistos on the Philokalia.)
A prolific theologian, many would count him a worthy candidate for eventual sainthood, possibly even of the kind called Equal-to-the-Apostles.
Like every Orthodox bishop I have ever met, his warmth, grace, and above all, humility was most noticeable. He’s very down to earth. What brought him to Milwaukee? Word has it His Eminence was drawn to view the collection housed at Marquette of the original manuscripts and writings of his esteemed Oxford predecessor, J.R.R. Tolkien. Thanks to Marquette for that! The Metropolitan gave us much to think about and mediate upon, particularly as we are about to embark upon our inner journey through Lent.
Given the state of the world “out there” today, our collective prayerful journey through the Lenten desert “in here” in 2016 may well be one of the most crucial, or perhaps most meaningful, of our lives. May our prayers bear much fruit.
Lenten Meditation: In the Image and Likeness of God
In Orthodoxy, we learn to hold our hand in a very specific way to make the sign of the Cross. Join together index, middle finger and thumb, to represent the holy Trinity. Fourth finger and pinkie, folded down into the palm, represents the dual nature of Christ as both fully God and fully human.
This theological symbol we make using our own hand could summarize Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s lecture.
Like Christ’s paradox of being both fully human and fully God, Kallistos pointed out how we human beings, too, are full of paradoxical duality. Humankind embodies both hope and disappointment, frailty and strength, beauty and ugliness, “Godlike apprehension and the quintessence of dust,” he said. We are both earthly and heavenly, temporal and immortal, spirit and flesh. In theological terms, we know from Genesis that we are made “in the image and likeness of God,” while formed out of dust. Grounded in the earth, “our personhood reaches out into infinity and into eternity.” This paradoxical duality causes us human beings to be a mystery–to our very selves.
Even though we may know we are “‘made in the image and likeness of God,’ we understand only a very small part of our personhood,” said Kallistos. “We don’t understand ultimate fulfillment. We don’t yet know what we will be. And so we ask ‘Who am I? What am I?’” Perennially, in every generation.
Human beings are born with a sense of needing something. We are driven to find it. It is like we’re born as a puzzle with a missing piece. There is always a sense of something missing, which drives us to go out and seek for something: a yearning for fulfillment.
Kallistos’ comment parallels a core teaching in A Course in Miracles, how there is really only one problem in life –separation from God–we often go looking in the wrong places to find the solution. It might be relationships. It might be material wealth. It might be adventure, a good time, a sense of wonder. It might be creating a life of comfort around us, in which we feel physically safe—which we do by accumulating wealth or power. Or it might be investing our lives in something more than ourselves—raising our children, or contributing to a cause.
Yet none of these truly, deeply satisfy. When we chase things and power—we always seem to need more. When we seek fulfillment in others, they all seem to leave us, eventually: if they don’t let us down, they grow up and move way, or they die. When we seek wealth and power, we find it never lasts: the more we have, the less safe and more vulnerable we feel, and we never can take it with us. And though we may devote our lives to a “cause,” often that cause is never truly fixed, but continues on past our time here.
The only way to find that missing piece of the puzzle—to fully know ourselves—is through getting to know God.
“We have within us a God-shaped hole,” Kallistos said. “Only when it is filled can we become fully human.
‘You see, the two questions, ‘what is God?’ and ‘what is man?’ are intimately connected. It is only when we look into the depths of our hearts: it is there that we find God, reflected back to us. Self-knowledge and God-knowledge are utterly co-dependent. If you know yourself, you will know God. And if you know God, you will know yourself.”
In the image of God is the image of the Trinity, and the image of Christ, Kallistos explained. Quoting Charles Williams, he said: “It is not good for God to be alone.” God is three persons in relationship, loving one another, in an interpersonal way: “not just a unit, but a union,” he said. God is communion. God is a relational being. God is social and dialogic. God is self-giving: sharing, reciprocal, responsive, and in solidarity.
We are formed in this same image and likeness. We, too, are social, relational beings, sharing, reciprocal, responsive, and in solidarity. Dialogic means two persons in communication with one another. “It means ‘I need you in order to be myself.’”
“I need you in order to be myself.”
I understand this idea very well. I was born into a wonderful, loving, kind, generous–yet flawed–family. Like so many families, mine suffered some kind of breakdown in structure long before I was born, leaving it bereft of stable emotional support structures. Emoting was just not safe. Love was conditional: fail to behave properly, and love was withheld.
For many years I suffered the consequences of conditional love: self-loathing, low esteem, self-harm, depression, suicidal thoughts. Thank God, my one attempt at suicide was very lame and I failed.
Psychologist Frank Dance described growth in human communication from birth on to traverse a spiral shape like a helix. At birth we are the center of our universe: there is only us and our needs. We cry, and God in the form of our mother meets our needs. We think we cause everything. As we start to move higher and see farther, we realize we share this world and live in the context of others: family, parents, siblings, cousins, extended family, neighborhood, city, state, planet. We circle back around, reflecting upon our past experiences while moving forward, higher up in an ever-enlarging circle. We learn that are NOT the center, we are not alone, who we are affects others, they affect us, and so forth.
With each passing experience, our circle of experience grows bigger and we rise higher. Only by interacting with others do we see ourselves: our gifts, our talents, our abilities, within a context of a social structure. As we come around to higher levels we develop the ability to empathize: to imagine ourselves in someone elses’ shoes, feel what they feel. We develop perspective, empathy, and compassion.
But for some of us who grow up with conditional love, movement forward along the growth track can feel like an electric shock. Perhaps because of abuse, neglect, or addiction, we stop moving forward. We recoil. We put on thick gloves and shields. We build a wall. We, in essence, get stuck at a developmental stage of feeling like we are at the center of the universe. The world “out there” is going to harm us, and we have to defend ourselves, put up walls.
That was the kind of family I grew up in, emotionally. Lots of walls.
Then I had the transformative experience Metropolitan Kallistos described: “I need you in order to become myself.”
I distinctly recall the moment. I was in my mid-20s, newly married, deeply in love with my new husband. We spent a lot of time gazing into each other’s eyes, sharing our stories. And then it happened. I saw myself as he saw me: I saw what he loved in me, in myself. Unconditional agape love: so strong and pure, no matter what I did, how I behaved, what mistakes I made, it forgives and endures forever. I will never forget the uplifting sensation of the opening of my heart, when I was first experienced seeing my own value, my own worth, reflected in the eyes of another. To clarify: it was not that I was validated by him. My husband did not validate me. My husband was simply the mirror–not the source. What I saw was who I REALLY am–love itself. I saw the I AM that is love, that is God–reflected in his eyes. I AM, HE IS, WE ALL ARE, that LOVE. There is only One.
That sensation of opening, of seeing that love, felt uplifting, as a revolution completed in the helical journey. I was up at the next level, looking back, and a whole new vista appeared. I experienced level of compassion for my own broken family that I had never been able to perceive or conceive of before. They simply were stuck back there, and did not know about this kind of love! How sad! (I won’t get into the years spent trying to share it with them. That’s a whole ‘nother discussion!)
Our society today is stuck, like I was, in a conditional love. Society needs to move along the path of growth. We have all suffered so much hurt, so much abuse, so much pain, many of us frozen in fear, are afraid to love, afraid to move on, afraid to trust, afraid to fall, afraid to let go.
A wonderful anthem for this generation: Let It Go! Good Lord: help us let it go! (Queue up Disney.)
Here is the point: as tightly as we cling to our fears, that does not stop the unconditional love from being there, right here, right now, right before our eyes. Love is eternal. It has and always will exists. Remember: death was overcome! John 8:51. Why hold on to fear? What is needed is to open our eyes, to simply be able to perceive God which is love. In order to perceive it, we must seek mirrors — those who reflect that love back to us. We must become mirrors ourselves: we must look deeply and with love into the eyes of anyone and everyone with whom we interact, and reflect that love to them, and act upon our love.
An inner work
People make mistakes all the time, every day of the week. Whether surrounded by unloving people, terrorists, or conditional love, many in this broken world go through life alone, with conditional love. We withdraw our love for them, put them in prison, and leave them to suffer alone.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem.
“One human being in solitude is no human being,” Kallistos said.
We are not being fully human when we are like abused children, hiding alone in the closet. We all need to come out of the closet.
The answer, of course, is that we are never actually alone in the closet at all. So long as one child hides in a closet, we need to rescue them, get them out, look into their eyes, reassure them of the truth: What is real is Christ God within us, complete man and complete God, a relational being–that’s Who is real. He is right here, inside our hearts, ready for us to find him. He promised and he keeps his promises. A heart that seeks Him, finds Him.
This message is arguably the most profound truth in all of human history. This message represented a re-setting of our reality as human beings: an entirely new paradigm. It was so profound, back in the day, that it reset our consensus calendar to begin retroactively with Christ’s birth. Look at the calendar we all share. We are in the Year of Our Lord, 2016.
“Christ’s birth,” Metropolitan Kallistos said, “was the birthday of the whole human race. Not until then were the full dimensions of human personhood revealed.”
“Theology is actually a branch of Christology,” Kallistos said, not the other way around. Above all else, “we are to be faithful imitators of Jesus Christ.”
Kallistos issued a challenge to all Christians: we must go beyond simply imitating Christ. “We will greatly err unless we take it further.”
“Let us not forget Hamlet, who reminded us: ‘I have bad dreams,’” he said. “Human beings reside midway between majesty and lowliness. While we are flawed icons, always remember: Christ is our constant companion until the end of days.”
Freedom, Self-Knowledge, Creativity, Growth and Cosmic Dominion or Priesthood
Metropolitan Kallistos encouraged us to consider five points: freedom, self-knowledge, creativity, growth, and cosmic dominion or priesthood.
With regards to freedom, he challenged us to recognize that God’s freedom is absolute and unlimited, while human freedom is limited. It is within our limitations that our freedom is to be found. Don’t worry about shackles and injustice and prison bars. They mean nothing.”You must change your mind about the purpose of the world, if you would find escape,”as A Course In Miracles so eloquently states.
Knowledge of self arises out of knowledge of God. What is He always telling us? “God says: become your true self,” Kallistos said. That’s it. Everyone can become their true self. Everyone. “Recognize that nobody is dispensable, unnecessary, or useless. It is tragic that anyone ever feel that no one would notice if they died.”
It is in our own creativity that we “bless the Lord….for in wisdom hast thou made them all.” (Psalm 103-104) All of us are made in His wisdom.
Recognize that we humans are sub-creators, as Tolkien said. “God creates out of nothing, we create out of what God has given us.” It is in offering what we make of the world, and giving it back to God, that we become truly ourselves. We transfigure, revealing in glory, what was hidden.
For example, God gives us wheat which we transform into bread and give back to him. Likewise, He gives us the gift of the vine, we transform it into wine, and give it back to him. He receives our offering, transforms both, and gives them back to us in the Eucharist. He told us to do this to re-call him back to us. Western Christianity translates it “do this in memory of me,” but the correct translation from the Greek is “do this to call me back.” It is in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, prayerfully made by our own hands, in a circle of giving, that He comes back into us: his sacrifice was not just on the Cross. His sacrifice continues every week Divine Liturgy–a Eucharistic mystical supper of his body and blood transformed mystically–to keep us alive, spiritually.
Of course, Kallistos pointed out, human beings are not the only creatures to whom God loves and gives his fruits and seeds.
“Squirrels collect nuts,” Kallistos said, “but they don’t transform them into liqueur!” Only human beings can transform, transfigure, and transmute what God gives us into something else.
“To be human,” Kallistos said concerning growth, “is to be a pilgrim, a journey from the image to the likeness.” The image is essentially our equipment, whereas the likeness is holiness. The journey is “the act of reaching forward,” or as I describe, moving along that path of growth, in an ever widening spiral, higher up, seeing more.
And through all of eternity, Kallistos assured us, “God will always remain a God of surprises.”
Cosmic Dominion and Priesthood
Regarding cosmic dominion and priesthood, “dominion does not meant domination,” Kallistos said. It is always to good to “remember the gentle service of Christ washing the feet of his disciples.
“Christ said ‘I am the One who serves.’ We in modern times have forgotten this.”
“Reflect on the contemporary ecological disaster. To say ‘environmental crisis’ is not strictly accurate. The crisis is not ‘out there,’ but in the human heart. The ecological disaster is a spiritual problem. We have lost sight of our true relationship to the world God has given us. Our human image is grievously distorted. What we need is an ecological change of mind.”
It is important, he said, to bear in mind the distinction between the king, the steward, and the priest. The concept of a king is not popular and is widely misunderstood today.
Many Christian ecologists, Kallistos said, call upon us to be “stewards,” for the world belongs to God, not us. But there is a disadvantage in that view. By taking on a managerial or utilitarian point of view, our egos inflate and we succumb to the temptation to elevate ourselves above creation. How do we prevent this?
“See nature not as an ‘it’ but as a ‘thou,’” he said. “Act as priests of the Creation. We are ordained, through the laying on of hands, to a natural, intrinsic priesthood, that is both eucharistic and doxological. How we become our true selves is to be who we are: Man the Offerer.”
“We must turn the world itself into a eucharistic offering—requiring, on the one hand, sacrifice, and on the other, love,” said Kallistos. “Love is at the heart of the Trinity.”
A commandment of God not written down, Kallistos said, is: “Love the trees.”
Many criticize organized religion for how it causes us to have to worship God, and to believe blindly. But God does not need us to worship Him. Nor does He need us to believe in Him. He exists whether we worship or believe in Him or not.
The fact is, it is us human beings who need to worship. That is our nature. Whether we worship money and stuff, logic and science, sports figures or movie stars, political heroes or villains–the truth of the matter is, we are eschatological beings: we have a need to worship. Why? Because we are designed with that missing puzzle piece that is God; we are designed to come into union with Him. That is what worship is. Worship is about opening ourselves to Him.
The truth of the matter is, “the human person is a mystery,” Kallistos said, “an inexhaustible mystery.”
“A day without prayer is a wasted day.”—Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
“Today is all that we have. Pray every day,” he said. “A day without prayer is a wasted day. Today, make a fresh start in all these things. Show compassion. Show practical help to the people around you. Then you will be a true person.”
I am so grateful I got to hear him speak, particularly now, at the beginning of Lent.
And particularly this year, this Lent, in the year of our Lord, 2016, let us all meditate upon our hand and who we really are: you and I are both made in the image and likeness of God. Fully man and fully God; relational, dialogical beings. In our hearts we find God who is love. We find ourselves, we who are love, and we become true selves: mirrors, divine sub-creators.
May your prayer bear much fruit this Lent, and may the Good Lord have mercy on us.
I could hear “a giant sucking sound,” as H. Ross Perot used to say, as I read about the life-saving drug for cystic fibrosis in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (A Charity’s Investment a prescription for profits for drug maker.) With its insanely outrageous cost borne by taxpayers, clearly this was not about saving lives, but about enriching a very few individuals beyond comprehension.
$841 a day (for two little pills)
$25,230 a month
$307,000 a year for the rest of of their lives (and paid for by all of us, either through Medicare, or through jacked up premiums which all of us will bear.)
In 1992, Perot was referring to the sound of good-paying American jobs being flushed down the drain with the passage of NAFTA.
This time the sucking sound is billions of dollars, being drained out of our weakened and faltering American economy, into a private loo, where it will pool and stagnate.
Next time you hear someone say there’s not enough to pay for health benefits, not enough for food stamps, not enough for schools, not enough, not enough, not enough, remember where this money has gone.
Last month, [Vertex Pharmaceuticals] stock shot up more than 60% again, from $52.87 to $85.60, after positive early data from a clinical trial of Kalydeco and another drug it is developing with funding from the foundation. On April 19, the day after the news was released, the company’s market value jumped by more than $6 billion.
That same day, two company executives sold huge chunks of stock options. Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Ian Smith alone sold 745,685 shares worth more than $60 million. Most shares were sold at $81.50, with options purchased from $29 to $39.
Enough money to run a small country, drained from taxpayer and donor coffers, now hoarded by a few, is where the money has gone.
The broken promise of NAFTA was that it would be good for America by lowering prices — planting the seeds for more jobs and opportunities. Does anybody disagree, that that this two-decades-long experiment has failed to deliver? What NAFTA planted instead was the seeds of Greed, and today, we reap the harvest: a weak, nearly ruined economy, immigration and drug wars, and concentrations of power unprecedented in American history.
This latest corruption of our charitable system — a non-profit foundation financed the development of this drug and will reap “profits” from it, which they will funnel back into creating more drugs — violates the public trust of taxpayer and donor alike. This latest corruption is yet another shoot off the Choking Vine of Greed.
Our founding fathers are no doubt clucking their tongues, shaking their heads. It is a disgrace.
There should be a huge public outcry over this story. There should be united resolve by officials at all levels to take swift and immediate action to fix the system, for the gross violation of constitutional principles. There should be a bipartisan amendment to the Constitution passing quickly throughout the land, to correct the error of Citizens United which led to this, and to the IRS non-profit debacle. There should be clear resolve to not make the same mistake again, and reject the pending Pacific Rim free trade agreement. There should be resolve to heed the historic warnings of the Founders against consolidation of power, recognizing how it as an invitation to the Vampire of Corruption–which will suck the life out of us.
If public outcry and action by our leaders does not occur, it means one thing: America is lost. It means our pledge of allegiance to the ideal of “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all” is broken. It means we have abdicated our authority as the owners of this country, and sold our Republic to the highest bidder. It means we bought an oligarchy, a Fascist state led by giant corporations, no less bureaucratic and bloated than our old government, but instead beholden to no civil authority, but only profit. It means we have bowed down not to God, but to the almighty dollar.
If this is so, then Lord, help us, and our children.
Is it too late? No, not yet. The corporations have not yet taken away our right to petition the government–although they’re trying. They have not yet stolen our voices–although they’re trying that now, too, at the highest levels, and at the state level. We still have our brains, our hearts, and our minds. But time is short. The time is here to stand up, declare who we are and to whom we pledge allegiance. The time is now, for each of us to make a choice.
Do we blindly succumb to the life-sucking Vampire of Corruption? Do we allow our country to fall to the Choking Vine of Greed? Or do we open our eyes, reach out, clasp hands, cut the vine and renew our commitment to the common good, and resolve to share with one another, and stop the insane drive to hoard it all? Do we continue to congratulate those who excessively accumulate wealth, envy them, strive to be like them? Or do we choose instead to follow the founding father’s historic “prime directive,” the guiding principle of the United States of America which unites by way of cooperation, fairness, sharing, and not by hoarding? Do we at last, as I wrote about previously, Occupy Ourselves, see our own failings, and join a 12-Step Program to recover from our own addictions?
What we need is to pass a constitutional amendment correcting Citizens United: we need to say clearly that a corporation is NOT a human being. We need to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement: just as NAFTA did in Central American, it will only wreak costly havoc for many innocent people and concentrate more wealth into the hands of a few. We need to restore, renew and rebuild integrity in our government: reject leaders who point fingers instead of fix systems, and who call for consolidating more power. We need to instead elevate those who stand up for individual sovereignty at the local level. We need to support those who value our government for what it is, a gift from our ancestors which gave you and I the power to make this country what “we the people” want it to be–“of the people, by the people and for the people”–not of, by and for drug lords and corporations. We must, as H. Ross Perot said years ago, stand up and take ownership of the country — not abdicate ownership to those who worship the almighty dollar.
Our system of government — as broken and messed up as it is — is better than any other system on the planet! Don’t destroy the best system on earth– protect it! Restore it, repair it, and keep it safe for our children, as our veterans did for us, for generations.
It’s up to us. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The People…are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
I AM TRULY BLESSED to have many dear and beloved friends, many of whom favor expansion of gun-carrying rights. These friends suggest that the massacre in Colorado proves the need for right-to-carry laws, that if only there had been someone in that theater packing a gun, they could have taken down this crazy man and saved lives.
The underlying premise is that we need to be vigilant to dangers like this, “out there” in the world, and that we need to protect ourselves. And guided by this premise, this belief, we keep erecting insane systems of protection…airport “security” with random strip searches, campus “security” with metal detectors, and now, expansion of gun laws, vigilante laws, and “concealed carry” — all designed for our “security.”
Yet — do we feel safer? Are we actually any safer? And what is the consequence, the logical extension of this thinking? Will we now have to endure metal detectors and be frisked when we go into a movie theater?
The traditional American ideal of justice, “innocent until proven guilty,” has been replaced. More and more the world assumes the guilt of all, and the results are bars. Bars to our freedom, to move, to speak, to associate.
Good Lord, and dear friends, is this legacy of a prison we are creating for our children, for our world, what You want for us, what we truly want? And how is this happening, that we keep trading our freedom for insanity? How can we find true security, in a world which grows less secure by the minute?
As a person who strives to find truth, the bottom line in all things, I suggest examining this need for protection. I am reminded of a powerful lesson from A Course in Miracles. Well, they are all powerful, but this one speaks so clearly to this issue. It is called “In defenselessness my safety lies.” Below I have copied the lesson in full for you to ponder.
Please note that this is lesson 153, about five months into a year-long Course. For more information, find a complete copy of ACIM at http://acim-search.miraclevision.com/std-second-edition-and-supps/index.html. I found its search engine not working so well but you can scroll down the hyper-linked Table of Contents on the left to find your way through. Click Workbook Part I for the numbered daily lessons. I’ve found the Workbook Lessons easier to grasp than the headier Text, which is recommended for group discussion. Visit also the Foundation for Inner Peace, the non-profit which holds the copyright to A Course in Miracles: http://acim.org
Anyway, here it is. [Note the the emphasis on certain thoughts shown below is my own.]
Lesson 153 (beginning day 153)
In my defenselessness my safety lies.
You who feel threatened by this changing world, its twists of fortune and its bitter jests, its brief relationships and all the “gifts” it merely lends to take away again; attend this lesson well. The world provides no safety. It is rooted in attack, and all its “gifts” of seeming safety are illusory deceptions. It attacks, and then attacks again. No peace of mind is possible where danger threatens thus.
The world gives rise but to defensiveness. For threat brings anger, anger makes attack seem reasonable, honestly provoked, and righteous in the name of self-defense. Yet is defensiveness a double threat. For it attests to weakness, and sets up a system of defense that cannot work. Now are the weak still further undermined, for there is treachery without and still a greater treachery within. The mind is now confused, and knows not where to turn to find escape from its imaginings.
It is as if a circle held it fast, wherein another circle bound it and another one in that, until escape no longer can be hoped for nor obtained. Attack, defense; defense, attack, become the circles of the hours and the days that bind the mind in heavy bands of steel with iron overlaid, returning but to start again. There seems to be no break nor ending in the ever-tightening grip of the imprisonment upon the mind.
Defenses are the costliest of all the prices which the ego would exact. In them lies madness in a form so grim that hope of sanity seems but to be an idle dream, beyond the possible. The sense of threat the world encourages is so much deeper, and so far beyond the frenzy and intensity of which you can conceive, that you have no idea of all the devastation it has wrought.
You are its slave. You know not what you do, in fear of it. You do not understand how much you have been made to sacrifice, who feel its iron grip upon your heart. You do not realize what you have done to sabotage the holy peace of God by your defensiveness. For you behold the Son of God as but a victim to attack by fantasies, by dreams, and by illusions he has made; yet helpless in their presence, needful only of defense by still more fantasies, and dreams by which illusions of his safety comfort him.
Defenselessness is strength. It testifies to recognition of the Christ in you. Perhaps you will recall, the text maintains that choice is always made between Christ’s strength and your own weakness, seen apart from Him.
Defenselessness can never be attacked, because it recognizes strength so great attack is folly, or a silly game a tired child might play, when he becomes too sleepy to remember what he wants.
Defensiveness is weakness. It proclaims you have denied the Christ and come to fear His Father’s anger. What can save you now from your delusion of an angry god, whose fearful image you believe you see at work in all the evils of the world? What but illusions could defend you now, when it is but illusions that you fight?
We will not play such childish games today. For our true purpose is to save the world, and we would not exchange for foolishness the endless joy our function offers us. We would not let our happiness slip by because a fragment of a senseless dream happened to cross our minds, and we mistook the figures in it for the Son of God; its tiny instant for eternity.
We look past dreams today, and recognize that we need no defense because we are created unassailable, without all thought or wish or dream in which attack has any meaning. Now we cannot fear, for we have left all fearful thoughts behind. And in defenselessness we stand secure, serenely certain of our safety now, sure of salvation; sure we will fulfill our chosen purpose, as our ministry extends its holy blessing through the world.
Be still a moment, and in silence think how holy is your purpose, how secure you rest, untouchable within its light. God’s ministers have chosen that the truth be with them. Who is holier than they? Who could be surer that his happiness is fully guaranteed? And who could be more mightily protected? What defense could possibly be needed by the ones who are among the chosen ones of God, by His election and their own as well?
It is the function of God’s ministers to help their brothers choose as they have done. God has elected all, but few have come to realize His Will is but their own. And while you fail to teach what you have learned, salvation waits and darkness holds the world in grim imprisonment. Nor will you learn that light has come to you, and your escape has been accomplished. For you will not see the light, until you offer it to all your brothers. As they take it from your hands, so will you recognize it as your own.
Salvation can be thought of as a game that happy children play. It was designed by One Who loves His children, and Who would replace their fearful toys with joyous games, which teach them that the game of fear is gone. His game instructs in happiness because there is no loser. Everyone who plays must win, and in his winning is the gain to everyone ensured. The game of fear is gladly laid aside, when children come to see the benefits salvation brings.
You who have played that you are lost to hope, abandoned by your Father, left alone in terror in a fearful world made mad by sin and guilt; be happy now. That game is over. Now a quiet time has come, in which we put away the toys of guilt, and lock our quaint and childish thoughts of sin forever from the pure and holy minds of Heaven’s children and the Son of God.
We pause but for a moment more, to play our final, happy game upon this earth. And then we go to take our rightful place where truth abides and games are meaningless. So is the story ended. Let this day bring the last chapter closer to the world, that everyone may learn the tale he reads of terrifying destiny, defeat of all his hopes, his pitiful defense against a vengeance he can not escape, is but his own deluded fantasy. God’s ministers have come to waken him from the dark dreams this story has evoked in his confused, bewildered memory of this distorted tale. God’s Son can smile at last, on learning that it is not true.
Today we practice in a form we will maintain for quite a while. We will begin each day by giving our attention to the daily thought as long as possible. Five minutes now becomes the least we give to preparation for a day in which salvation is the only goal we have. Ten would be better; fifteen better still. And as distraction ceases to arise to turn us from our purpose, we will find that half an hour is too short a time to spend with God. Nor will we willingly give less at night, in gratitude and joy.
Each hour adds to our increasing peace, as we remember to be faithful to the Will we share with God. At times, perhaps, a minute, even less, will be the most that we can offer as the hour strikes. Sometimes we will forget. At other times the business of the world will close on us, and we will be unable to withdraw a little while, and turn our thoughts to God.
Yet when we can, we will observe our trust as ministers of God, in hourly remembrance of our mission and His Love. And we will quietly sit by and wait on Him and listen to His Voice, and learn what He would have us do the hour that is yet to come; while thanking Him for all the gifts He gave us in the one gone by.
In time, with practice, you will never cease to think of Him, and hear His loving Voice guiding your footsteps into quiet ways, where you will walk in true defenselessness. For you will know that Heaven goes with you. Nor would you keep your mind away from Him a moment, even though your time is spent in offering salvation to the world. Think you He will not make this possible, for you who chose to carry out His plan for the salvation of the world and yours?
Today our theme is our defenselessness. We clothe ourselves in it, as we prepare to meet the day. We rise up strong in Christ, and let our weakness disappear, as we remember that His strength abides in us. We will remind ourselves that He remains beside us through the day, and never leaves our weakness unsupported by His strength. We call upon His strength each time we feel the threat of our defenses undermine our certainty of purpose. We will pause a moment, as He tells us, “I am here.”
Your practicing will now begin to take the earnestness of love, to help you keep your mind from wandering from its intent. Be not afraid nor timid. There can be no doubt that you will reach your final goal. The ministers of God can never fail, because the love and strength and peace that shine from them to all their brothers come from Him. These are His gifts to you. Defenselessness is all you need to give Him in return. You lay aside but what was never real, to look on Christ and see His sinlessness.