Saturday, April 30, 2011

Becoming Naked

“Naked Spirituality”, A Life with God in 12 Simple Words by Brian Mclaren. A book review.

He begins the book with the story of St. Francis, who after being accused of selling his fathers goods to raise money for a church renovation project, stripped himself of his clothes and everything he had to repay his father. Standing in front of his father, neighbors and peers said, “I shall go naked to meet my naked Lord.”
From here the author offers up 12 words that will help us to become naked before God. 12 words that help us develop practices that will lead us into a way of life with God. What the author means by these practices is,”…doable habits or rhythms that transform us, rewiring our brains, restoring our inner ecology, renovating our inner architecture, expanding our capacities. We mean actions within our power that help us become capable of things currently beyond our power.”

Like any book that deals with list of things some are better than others. Let me give you what I thought were a few of the better ones.

1. Thanksgiving. Being appreciative of what we have no matter how much or how little we have. He brings out the point that the more we have the more we should show gratitude or else our ingratitude will lead to unhappiness. Happiness is not to be found in the things that we have but in how thankful we are for the things that we do have.

2. He uses the word “O” to signify our need to worship. He gives 7 ways in which we can incorporate worship into our daily lives:

1) Give God the first greeting every morning
2) Give God the first thanks at every meal
3) Give God the first response to every pleasure
4) Give God the first consideration in your weekly schedule
5) Make God the first supervisor or customer for all work
6) Give God the first part of every paycheck
7) Give God the joy of your creativity

3. He uses the word “No” to express our times of discouragement and suffering. ‘No’ is our practice of rage and refusal to give up and to give in. It is the ability to question God and wonder where God is at during our dark times. The writer uses Psalm 77 and the story of Job to bring home his point.

The author concludes, in an appendix, ‘twelve simple prayers’ that relate with each of his 12 words. I liked these prayers. They are not prayers just to be recited but fill-in-the-blank types of prayers. Seemingly very practical and helpful.

This book was a good and easy read, the author avoids any big theological or technical terms thus making it accessible to all. He had some very good and original thoughts associated with many of his ‘words’. The only problem I had with the book is that I felt it was a little too wordy. Everything said could have been said in 50 less pages.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter, Taxes, War

Here is a powerful message about Easter, taxes and war. Give it a read and share your thoughts.
Shane Claiborne is a modern-day prophet you can read more about his work etc. at  You can also hear him speak on you tube. Very Good and inspiring

by Shane Claiborne

As a Christian, Easter marks the most stunning act of grace and enemy-love in human history – Jesus’ death and resurrection. As Jesus was being tortured and executed, he cried out for mercy, even for those terrorists who hurt him. As his buddy Peter picked up a sword and cut the ear off one of the persecutors, Jesus scolded Peter and picked up the ear and healed the wounded persecutor. The early Christians understood the message – it was a message of Amazing Grace. It was a message about how there is something worth dying for, but nothing in the world worth killing for – not even freedom or democracy. One of the early Christians said, “When Jesus disarmed Peter he disarmed every Christian.” After all, we don’t see Christians picking up swords again for hundreds of years.

I am one of those Christians who believe we should still have the right NOT to kill, even in an empire that has a military bigger than Rome’s. Perhaps that’s why it has been hard for me to navigate what to do as tax season approaches, with so much of our federal tax money going towards militarism. It was a crisis familiar to the early Christians who were accused of insurrection and tax evasion because they had an allegiance that subverted, or super-ceded, their national allegiance.

So I respectfully filed my taxes this year, and I sent the IRS the little letter below. My intention is to respect my country and contribute to the common good… but also to uncompromisingly follow the way of the nonviolent Jesus this Easter — in a world that continues to pick up the sword… and die by the sword.

Dear Internal Revenue Service,

I am filing my 1040 here. As you will see, I made $9600 this past year, and found that according to the 1040 form, I owe $324.44 of that to federal taxes. While I am glad to contribute money to the common good and towards things that promote life and dignity, especially for the poor and most vulnerable people among us, I am deeply concerned that 30 percent of the federal budget goes towards military spending, with 117 billion going to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Further, when we include the 18% that goes towards past military costs, such as the 380 billion in debt payments, 80% of which are military related debts, that number goes up to a total military budget of 1,372 billion dollars — nearly half of the federal budget). My Christian faith and my human conscience require me to respectfully reserve the right not to kill, and to refrain from contributing money towards weapons and the military.

For this reason, I am enclosing a check for $227.11, which is, according to the form, 70% of what I owe. The remaining $97.33 represents 30% of my tax payment, the amount that would go towards military spending. I will donate this remaining 30% to a recognized US nonprofit organization working to bring peace and reconciliation. My faith also compels me to submit to the governing authorities, which is why I am writing you respectfully and transparently here. I am glad to discuss this further if you have any questions. I can be reached by phone at 215 423-3598 or by mail at 1838 E. Allegheny Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19134.

May we continue to build the world we dream of.

–Shane Claiborne