Daily Riches: National Exceptionalism and Divine Providence (Charles Marsh)

“I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” Adolf Hitler

“…the weight of German exceptionalism and the spiritual veneration of military valor were not easy inheritances to disown. In nineteenth-century Protestant Prussia, no less a philosopher-patriot than Hegel resolved that his beloved Machtstaat (the ‘power state’ that was the German imperium) had been chosen by God to rule the nations by example, fiat, or force. It was God’s nature to manifest his will in superior and powerful nations, which demonstrated their providential purpose by imposing their will on their neighbors, as the ancient Hebrews had done. By the end of the nineteenth century, the idea of Germany as such a ‘world-historical nation’ had become as hallowed as the historicity of the biblical narratives. …Seeberg believed he was fulfilling his spiritual vocation by helping the German people discern the powerful hand of God in the new forces gathering to propel Germany to greatness. Among the professoriate there were precious few willing dissenters from this conviction. German Protestant theology from Schleiermacher to Harnack and Seeberg presumed the providential blessings of the warrior God. …In Protestant faculties and congregations, churchmen of fixed and iron-hard purpose who called themselves the Deutsche Christen, the ‘German Christians,’ were pedaling their loyalty to the fatherland. They claimed that God had chosen a new Israel, the German Volk; that the Christian doctrine of revelation had brought about the disinheritance of the Jews and that Jesus Christ had abrogated Israel’s ancient covenant. They wanted a strong church of muscular virtues–a manly church, eine mannliche Kirche–unified by German ideals. They even convinced themselves that Jesus was not a Jew. They boasted of their mission in the most inspiring terms imaginable: as the completion of Martin Luther’s work.” Charles Marsh

“What are nations without justice but large bands of thieves?” Pope John XXIII


“give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,
and give to God what belongs to God.”
Jesus in Mark 12:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • National “exceptionalism”, God’s “new Israel”, “muscular values”– even “the providential blessings of the warrior God”–we’re hearing these kinds of themes again. What is your response?
  • Do you believe it’s “God’s nature to manifest his will in superior and powerful nations which [demonstrate] their providential purpose by imposing their will on their neighbors?” What’s the danger is such a view?
  • Hitler claimed to serve God, and most of the church supported him. What can we learn from this sad story?

Abba, help us discern your hand in power and in weakness. Ground us in reality, truth and courage.

For More: Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh 

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I hope you’ll follow my blog and share it with others.  I really appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Theological Bias and Hindrances to Hearing From God (Soong-Chan Rah)

“What is considered good, sound, orthodox theology is a Western theology that emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus with its natural and expected antecedent of an individual sanctification…. The critical issues and discussion in theology lean toward understanding issues relevant to individuals and Western sensibilities. …Theologies that speak of a corporate responsibility or call for a social responsibility are given special names like: liberation theology, black theology, minjung theology, feminist theology, etc. In other words, Western theology with its individual focus is considered normative theology, while non-Western theology is theology on the fringes and must be explained as being a theology applicable only in a particular context and to a particular people group. Orthodoxy is determined by the Western value of individualism and an individualized soteriology rather than a broader understanding of the corporate themes that emerge out of scripture. Because theology emerging from a Western, white context is considered normative, it places non-Western theology in an inferior position and elevates Western theology as the standard by which all other theological frameworks and points of view are measured. This bias stifles the theological dialogue between the various cultures. …We end up with a Western, white captivity of theology. Western theology becomes the form that is closest to God.” Soong-Chan Rah

Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied.
I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’”
Acts 10:13,14

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Christianity began in the East and was entirely Jewish. Much of today’s church is Western and Gentile. Imagine the difference in perspective. Has your theology ever been challenged like Peter’s was?
  • Many churches in the U.S. are mostly white, suburban, middle-class and led by men. Imagine how unreflected the concerns and problems of people of color, urban and/or poor people might be in such churches. Have you tried listening in your church with the ears of a poor person, a minority or a woman?
  • Considering “non-Western theology” as theology “on the fringes” only feeds our tendency as Westerners towards ego-centricity as individuals and a culture. Do you try to learn from those parts of the world, or from cultures, that are different from yours?

Abba, make me aware of my biases and prejudices, and help me transcend them. Help me know you better as my horizons expand and I think in new ways.

For More: The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Cutting Through Political and Religious Illusions (Vernon Howard, Thomas Merton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Every day that you attempt to see things as they are in truth is a supremely successful day.” Vernon Howard

“It seems to me that the most basic problem is not political, it is apolitical and human. One of the most important things to do is to keep cutting deliberately through political lines and barriers and emphasizing the fact that these are largely fabrications and that there is another dimension, a genuine reality, totally opposed to the fictions of politics…. My own peculiar task in my Church and in my world has been that of the solitary explorer who, instead of jumping on all the latest bandwagons at once, is bound to search the existential depths of faith in its silences, its ambiguities, and in those certainties which lie deeper than the bottom of anxiety. In those depths there are no easy answers, no pat solutions to anything. It is a kind of submarine life in which faith sometimes mysteriously takes on the aspect of doubt, when, in fact, one has to doubt and reject conventional and superstitious surrogates that have taken the place of faith. …It is not complicated to lead the spiritual life. But it is difficult. We are blind, and subject to a thousand illusions. We must expect to be making mistakes almost all the time. We must be content to fall repeatedly and to begin again to try to deny ourselves, for the love of God.” Thomas Merton

“The believer is neither a pessimist nor an optimist. To be either is illusory. The believer sees reality not in a certain light but as it is….” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus, in John 8:32

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Whether in understanding politics, your religion or the people in your life, do realize that you are “blind, and subject to a thousand illusions?” Do you attempt every day “to see things as they are in truth?”
  • With the passing of time, have you recognized “conventional and superstitious surrogates that have taken the place of faith?” Stop and really think about it.
  • Is there anyone (friend, author, opponent) that can help you in this regard?

Abba, break down my cocky certainty and keep me from succumbing to the many fabrications of my day.

For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Summer Vacation Break

Hi everyone. I will be on vacation this week, so I won’t be sending out any Daily Riches from richerbyfar.com. As always, I really appreciate your interest in and support of the blog. Thanks for reading and sharing, and for your prayers!

While I’m away, don’t forget there are about 450 daily posts from the last 18 months. I’m sure there is something there you haven’t seen and that may encourage you as you seek after God and God seeks after you. (see below)

Bill

Daily Riches: Killing Jesus (Hans Küng)

“What is it really that stands here between God and man? Paradoxically, it is man’s own morality and piety: his ingeniously devised moralism and his selective technique of piety. It is not – as people [in Jesus’ day] thought – the tax swindlers who find it most difficult to repent, not being able to remember all those whom they have cheated or how much they would have to restore. No: it is the devout who find it most difficult, being so sure of
themselves that they have no need of conversion. They became Jesus’ worst enemies. Most of the sayings on judgment in the Gospels apply to these, not to the great sinners. Those who finally sealed his fate were not murderers, cheats, swindlers and adulterers, but the highly moral people. They thought that in this way they were doing a service to God.” Hans Küng

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.
And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’
So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants
of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then,
and complete what your ancestors started!'”
Jesus in Matthew 23:29-32

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • In Jesus’ day the most religious and orthodox people thought they were “doing a service to God” by killing Jesus. And eventually, many in the crowd apparently accepted that interpretation. Imagine.
  • When you imagine great sinners who do you think of? …rulers who commit genocide? …heartless souls entrapping young girls in sexual slavery? …doctors who perform late-term abortions? …racist pigs? …homosexuals or homophobes? or the usual: murderers, thieves and adulterers? What if the greatest sinners in our day were self-assured religious leaders, speaking for God, thumping their Bibles – revered by many – but actually fighting God, just like in Jesus’ day. Could that happen?
  • Do you trust religious teachers uncritically? How do you recognize orthodoxy today? Could your “service to God” actually be fighting against God?

Abba, show me my blindness, my biases, my wrong assumptions and conclusions. I want to honor your son, not be disloyal to his cause or lead others to reject him.

For More: On Being a Christian by Hans Küng

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Pimping Religion, Confronting Empire – Part II (Dan Clendenin)

“The church has a checkered history in its relationship to the state. Some have followed Amaziah [see Amos 7] and traded religious legitimation for security, power and privilege – the German Christian movement that supported Nazi ideology, the Dutch Reformed church that supported apartheid in South Africa, and Russian Orthodox priests who collaborated with the Soviet KGB. But there are also many inspirational examples. The Archbishop and martyr of San Salvador, Óscar Romero (d. 1980), wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter that he could have sent to any number of our military or political leaders: ‘You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people.’ Romero is only one of many brave saints who chose Amos over Amaziah. Consider the Confessing Church in Germany that opposed Hitler, nationalism, and anti-Semitism; the black pentecostal pastor Frank Chikane who in 1985 gathered more than 150 clergy from 20 denominations to draft the Kairos Document that protested South African apartheid; father Gleb Yakunin who insisted that the Russian Orthodox Church publicly repent of its ties to the Soviet regime; the culturally marginal and politically powerless Quakers who helped to abolish the British slave trade in the 19th century; and Morgan Tsvangirai who sought ‘divine intervention’ to end Robert Mugabe’s three decades of thugocracy in Zimbabwe. There’s the Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan (b. 1921), who did time in prison for his civil disobedience against American policies on racism, nuclear proliferation, and Vietnam…. When asked by Nora Gallagher how many times he had been jailed for subverting caesar because of Jesus, Berrigan responded, “Not enough.” Dan Clendenin

“Righteousness and justice
are the foundation of your throne.”
Psalm 89:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • In the moment, it can be hard to know who is “on the right side of history.” God often uses outsiders – unexpected and despised voices – and we often embrace the biases and accept the rationalizations of our culture. Are you striving to know who speaks for God today?  …and who is being sinfully silent?
  • The Biblical pattern is for God to be against Empire since the absolute power of empires predictably leads to profound corruption. Do we need prophetic voices to speak against Empire today? If so, against what “Empire” and for what reasons?
  • Who is speaking out for God today? From where would you expect to find such voices – conservatives/liberals? …insiders/outsiders? …admired/despised? …obscure/prominent?

Abba, give us your eyes to see our world, and your loving heart to care for it.

For More: “Journey With Jesus” by Dan Clendenin

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I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill

Daily Riches: Pimping Religion, Confronting Empire – Part I (Dan Clendenin)

“Amos wrote 2,800 years ago, but his prophecy reads like today’s newspaper. He lived under king Jeroboam [whose] kingdom was characterized by territorial expansion, aggressive militarism, and unprecedented economic prosperity. Times were good. Or so people thought. The people of the day interpreted their good fortune as God’s favor. Amos says that the people were intensely and sincerely religious. But theirs was a privatized religion of personal benefit. They ignored the poor, the widow, the alien, and the orphan. …Making things worse, Israel’s religious leaders sanctioned the political and economic status quo. They pimped their religion for Jeroboam’s empire. Enter Amos. Amos preached from the pessimistic and unpatriotic fringe. He was blue collar … neither a prophet nor even the son of a prophet in the professional sense of the term. Amos was a shepherd, a farmer, and a tender of fig trees. He was a small town boy who grew up in Tekoa…. The cultured elites despised him as a redneck [and]… an unwelcome outsider. Born in the southern kingdom of Judah, God called him to thunder a prophetic word to the northern kingdom of Israel. And that’s what this rough hewn prophet did. He opposed the political powers of his day and the religious stooges who supported them. With graphic details that make you wince, Amos describes how the rich crushed the poor; the affluent with their expensive lotions, elaborate music, and vacation homes with beds of inlaid ivory; sexual debauchery in which a man and his son abused the same woman; a corrupt legal system that sold justice to the highest bidder; predatory lenders who exploited vulnerable families; and religious leaders who sanctioned it all. …To the priests who defended, legitimized, and justified Jeroboam’s corrupt kingdom, Amos delivered an uncompromising word of warning. After Amaziah the priest informed Jeroboam that Amos’s preaching was unpatriotic and seditious, he tried to run him out of town. …Then Amaziah said something that reveals how completely he had identified religious faith with political power and economic gain. It ought to send a chill up the spine of every religious leader who ever thought about sucking up to political power: ‘Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.’ (7:13). With those words, the religious justification of political empire is complete, and faith is reduced to patriotic cheer-leading. But Amos wouldn’t be bullied. He had a word of his own for every priest who pimped religion for empire:

Amos 7:17

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is your vision blurred by “good times?”
  • Do you hear a “religious justification of political empire” in your nation?
  • Is yours a “privatized religion of personal benefit?” Benefits upheld by injustice?

Abba, help us recognize those who speak for you in our day.


Daily Riches: Outside the Dominant Consciousness (Richard Rohr and Walter Brueggemann)

“Authentic God experience gives you another place to stand, another identity, a spacious and gracious place, which invites you to stand outside of the dominant consciousness that surrounds you and that everybody accepts as reality. Authentic God experience liberates you from the usual domination systems, liberates you from needing everything to be perfect or right, and liberates you to be who you really are – ordinary  and poor – just like everybody else. Until you can be at home in the alternative Kingdom of God, you will almost always be completely conformed to the superficial systems of this world, while calling it freedom and independence. Some do it by conforming to styles and fashions of their particular groupthink, while others do it by various conformities to the political correctness of either left or right. Some even do it by conforming to the rebellious group, but that is not freedom either. Gospel freedom allows you to act from deep within, where the Holy Spirit dwells, and not for or against any outside group whatsoever…. Jesus’ announcement of the reign of God was telling us that culture as we’ve created it is on a track toward self-destruction and emptiness. All we have to give up is the utterly false understanding that we have of ourselves from civil society. For some reason that liberation seems to be the most difficult thing in the world!” Richard Rohr

“The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us. …Such utterance staggers and offends among the listeners. But it also opens vistas of possibility where we had not thought to go and where in fact, we are most reluctant to go.”  Walter Brueggemann

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Romans 12:2

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your religion determine your politics or do your politics determine your religion?
  • Is the religious instruction you receive making you more of an individual, or more a conforming member of a group?
  • Acting from “deep within, where the Holy Spirit dwells” is difficult but keeps us from bondage to “what everybody accepts as reality.”  Are you learning to do that?

Abba, help me to hear your prophets today and not be offended by them or stagger at their voice. Lead me where I have not thought to go and been reluctant to go.

For More:  The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Christian as a Citizen of the World (Judith Valente, Robert McAfee Brown, Cornell West, and Marilynne Robinson)

“Sister Janelle plays ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ on the organ, but no one belts out the words. I do not think this is because the sisters are unpatriotic, nor do I think they don’t love and bless this country. But to be a monastic is to live as a citizen of the world. It requires love for every country on the planet.” Judith Valente

“The nation is the most pervasive of all the gods, in any time, in any culture. True patriotism is not worship of our nation but rather, in the light of our worship of the God of justice, to conform our nation’s ways to justice. …We can insist on a distinction between our country and our government. …Let it be clear: it is because we say Yes to what our country ought to represent (“liberty and justice for all”), that we must say No to what our government has come to represent (“truth… on the scaffold, wrong … on the throne”). When a government traduces the ideals of a country, it is an act of loyalty to oppose the government. Let us never concede that because people have been elected to public office they are exempt from challenge and critique; on the contrary they are more than ever subject to challenge, and critique, because they now speak and act not just for themselves but for all of us….”  Robert McAfee Brown (1986)

“My understanding of Jesus Christ went like this: Everything comes beneath the cross – nationalism, tribalism, patriotism, networks, even kinships. The cross is that critical juncture where catastrophe defines our condition and offers salvation, not in the name of a specific ideology or theology, but in the simple name of love. It is love that saves us from the tyranny of chauvinism and its many manifestations.” Cornell West

“I am the sort of Christian whose patriotism might be called into question by some on the grounds that I do not take the United States to be more beloved of God than France, let us say, or Russia, or Argentina, or Iran. I experience religious dread whenever I find myself thinking that I know the limits of God’s grace, since I am utterly certain it exceeds any imagination a human being might have of it. God does, after all, so love the world. …Making God a tribal deity, our local Baal, is embarrassing and disgraceful.” Marilynne Robinson

  “Render … to God the things that are God’s.”
Mark 12:17

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is your patriotism ever questioned?
  • Does your faith save you from “the tyranny of chauvinism and its many manifestations?”
  • Is your God a “tribal deity?”

Abba, guide our allegiances.

For More: Unexpected News by Robert McAfee Brown

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Thanks for following and sharing “Daily Riches!”  – Bill

 

 

 

Daily Riches: Religion and Established Privilege (Thomas Merton)

“Of course, it is true that religion on a superficial level, religion that is untrue to itself and to God, easily comes to serve as the ‘opium of the people.’ And this takes place whenever religion and prayer invoke the name of God for reasons and ends that have nothing to do with him. When religion becomes a mere artificial facade to justify a social or economic system – when religion hands over its rites and language completely to the political propagandists, and when prayer becomes the vehicle for a purely secular ideological program, then religion does tend to become an opiate. It deadens the spirit enough to permit the substitution of a superficial fiction and mythology for this truth of life. And this brings about the alienation of the believer, so that his religious zeal becomes political fanaticism. His faith in God, while preserving its traditional formulas, becomes in fact faith in his own nation, class or race. His ethic ceases to be the law of God and of love, and becomes the law that might-makes-right: established privilege justifies everything. God is the status quo.” Thomas Merton

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –
his good, pleasing and perfect will. “
Romans 12:1, 2

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your religious experience “deaden the spirit” rather than invigorating it? Does it squelch individuality and produce conformity? Does it discourage imagination and curiosity?
  • Does it tend to prop up some unjust “social [or] economic system? Does it support the “status quo” as a way that is out of step with the Bible’s insistence upon justice?
  • Has your faith in God become “in fact faith in your own nation, class or race?”
  • Has your religious ethic somehow become something other than the “law …of love?”
  • Are you comfortable with your answers to these questions? If not, what can change?

Abba, help me to speak to the status quo instead of being shaped by it. Strengthen me to question established, unjust privilege and work to undo it. Work in me your earth-changing “law of love.”

For More: Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Nonconformity to Idolatry (Robert McAfee Brown and Abraham Heschel)

“Religion begins as a breaking off, as a going away. It continues in acts of nonconformity to idolatry.” Abraham Heschel

“In the eyes of their contemporaries, the prophets were mad. Hosea, Elisha, and Jeremiah were all considered demented, individuals who …should be put ‘in the stocks and collars.’ (Heschel) “We call people ‘mad’ when they see things from a perspective different from our own. We have a vested interest in doing so, for it they are right, we are wrong. Since we do not gladly entertain the notion that we are wrong, we are more than ready to denounce such people as crazy, mad fools. To be sure, the prophets do engage in some very strange activities: they call kings to account for injustice, which is a very unhealthy things to do in a royal society; they excoriate religious leaders for being co-opted, which is equally unhealthy in a society that allows religious leaders to deal with their own deviants; they announce the fulfillment of God’s will through pagan leaders, which is considered unpatriotic by leaders of both church and state….” Robert McAfee Brown

“If the prophets Isaiah and Amos were to appear in our midst, would they accept the corruption in high places, the indifferent way in which the sick, the poor, and the old are treated? …Would they not be standing amidst those who protest against the war in Vietnam, the decay of our cities, the hypocrisy and falsehood that surround our present Administration, even at the highest levels?” Heschel (1979)

“O my people, your leaders mislead you;
they send you down the wrong road….”
Isaiah  3:12b

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • In what areas do political or religious leaders today need to be “called to account for injustice?”
  • Would voices of dissent more likely originate inside or outside traditional structures like your church? Do you think such critics would fare better in our day than prophets like Jeremiah did in his?
  • Are there prophets today? If so, have you dismissed them as outliers? as those who should be “in stocks and collars?”
  • How will you avoid reflexively rejecting criticism from those “with a perspective different than ours?” …who may be offering a divine perspective?

O Lord, we confess our sins, we are ashamed of the inadequacy of our anguish, of how faint and slight is our mercy. We are a generation that has lost the capacity for outrage. (Heschel)

For More: Saying Yes and Saying No by Robert McAfee Brown

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Your Enemy the Savage (Thomas Merton, Martin Niemöller and Richard Rohr)

“It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of His enemies.” Martin Niemöller

Today, if African American protests turn into riots, the offenders are often referred to as “animals.” In the early American West, native Americans were called “savages”, and wartime slurs dehumanized Jews, Germans, and Japanese. Richard Rohr reminds us that we all have a viewpoint, and that each viewpoint is “a view from a point.” Consequently, he says “…we need to critique our own perspective if we are to see and follow the full truth.” To love our enemies, as Jesus commands, and to escape our own unconscious biases, we will need such a critique.

“Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you were capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy. Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God’s love and God’s kindness and God’s patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of men. Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith.”  Thomas Merton

“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Jesus in Matthew 5:44

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you understand your enemy well enough to understand his motives? his fear of you? your common humanity with him?
  • Do you understand yourself and your fear of your enemy? How you or your nation, political party, religion or race may have helped make him your enemy?
  • Does faith as you practice it tend to disarm others or to make them suspicious and defensive? Do you approach those of other faiths or persuasions based on prejudices and stereotypes – perhaps the way they do with you?

Abba, may practiced love transform my enemy into my friend.

For More: Seeds by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Today’s Need For an Alternative History (Richard Rohr)

“The political terms right and left came from the Estates General in France. It’s interesting that now we use them as our basic political categories. On the left sat the ordinary people, and on the right sat the nobility and the clergy! (What were the clergy doing over there?!) I think you see the pattern. The right normally protects the community and the status quo. The left predictably looks for change and reform, and there is a certain need for both or we have chaos. In history you will invariably have these two movements in some form, because we didn’t have the phenomenon of the middle class until very recently. The vast majority of people in all of history have been poor, as in Jesus’ time, and would have read history as a need for change. The people who wrote the books and controlled the social institutions, however, have almost always been the comfortable people on the right. And much of history has been read and interpreted from the side of the ‘winners,’ or the right, except for the unique revelation called the Bible, which is an alternative history from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, leading up to the totally scapegoated Jesus himself. …He tries to put inside and outside together, but is killed by those entrapped and privileged on the inside.” Richard Rohr

“the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said,
‘After three days I will rise again.’
Matthew 27:61-63

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • According to your social and economic status today, would you typically be on the left or right? …with the privileged or powerless?
  • Accordingly, if you were to insert yourself into the Biblical story, would you be more likely with the religious and political authorities (preserving tradition and order), or with Jesus (dissenting and challenging authority)?
  • The Bible is clearly “an alternative history” from the perspective of the bottom. Have you read it that way? Does thinking about it that way change the way you see our world now?
  • Can you imagine the reception Jesus would receive if he came today as he did back then? …who would be for him and who against him? …what you would do?

Jesus, may I be found, like you, siding with the weak and poor.

For More: Yes, And... by Richard Rohr

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: A World of People Equidistance From the Heart of God (Daniel Clendenin)

Besides the Holocaust, our world has experienced many other genocides – “a million or more Armenians under the Turks … two million Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot; Kurds under Saddam Hussein; Muslims, Croats, and ethnic Albanians under the Serbs; thirty million Chinese under Mao; tens of millions under Soviet atheism; nearly a million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus by extremist Hutus in Rwanda; and in Darfur the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit peoples by Sudan’s government. The deadliest war of our generation has also been the most under-reported conflict – the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since the start of conflicts there in 1996, five million people have perished out of a population of fifty million – a staggering 10% of the population. Over half of those deaths occurred since the war ended in July 2003. …In his book Worse Than War; Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity (2009), Daniel Goldhagen describes how 127–175 million people have been ‘eliminated’ in the last century. These people came from all regions of the world, and from all social, economic and political groups. The vast majority of them were killed in their own countries, by their fellow citizens, by willing and non-coerced murderers, and almost never with any substantial dissent. By Goldhagen’s count, ‘mass murder has deeply scarred countries home to 4.4 billion people, two-thirds of the world’s population.’ Civilian deaths and injuries outnumber military ones by a factor of nine to one. …[In Acts 3] Peter says that God is the ‘author’ of all life. He concludes his sermon by proclaiming that in Jesus ‘all peoples on earth will be blessed’ by God. This echoes the global promise first made to Abraham four thousand years ago in Genesis 12:3. This story of Jesus, says Peter, anticipates the ‘restoration of all things.’ We can say with unqualified confidence that God knows and loves every name of every person in every nation. Christians are thus geographic, cultural, national and ethnic egalitarians; for us there’s no geo-political center of the world, only a constellation of peoples equidistant from the heart of God. Proclaiming that God lavishly loves all the world, each person, and every place, the gospel doesn’t privilege any nation as exceptional. No one should think they are forgotten, and no one can claim special favor. …from a specifically Christian point of view, America is no more ‘exceptional’ in God’s eyes than any other country. While allowing for a natural and wholesome love, even pride, in your own country (‘there’s no place like home’), this geo-political egalitarianism subverts the claim of absolute allegiance to any one nation. The claims of the gospel are absolute and unconditional; the claims of the nation and state are relative and conditional. This Christian global vision requires me to care as much about every country and its people as I do my own. Christians grieve the deaths of Iraqis and Congolese as much as Americans. That implies that our politics become reoriented, non-aligned, and unpredictable by normal canons.” Daniel Clendenin

“[God] said to Abraham,
‘Through your offspring
all peoples on earth
will be blessed.'”
Acts 3:25

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Do you think of your nation as being especially “favored” by God? If so, what would that imply? What wouldn’t that imply?
  • Has nationalism prevented you from seeing all other people as “equidistant from the heart of God?”
  • Has you faith caused your politics be “reoriented, non-aligned, and unpredictable by normal canons?”

Abba, lead us out of illusion and into reality.

For More: Worse Than War by Daniel Goldhagen

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Thanks for following and sharing “Daily Riches.” – Bill (Psalm 90:14

Daily Riches: A Theology of Love and Speaking Truth to Power (Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying ‘peace’ with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence, and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, long-suffering and to solve their problems, if at all, nonviolently. The theology of love must seek to deal drastically with evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them. …Theology does not exist merely to appease the already too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution. In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother to homicidal desperation.” Thomas Merton

“In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildups, chauvinistic passions, and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. … A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war. … And those who have gone to the church to seek the bread of economic justice have been left in the frustrating midnight of economic deprivation. In many instances the church has so aligned itself with the privileged classes and so defended the status quo that it has been unwilling to answer the knock at midnight.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him
speaks truth, not lies.”
Jesus in John 7:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your theology of love a “theology of resistance?”
  • Is your church “aligned with the privileged classes and the status quo?”
  • Where in our day, might the church be guilty of appeasing “the already too untroubled?”
  • Do you think these are valuable questions for Christians? for pastors? If not, why not?

Abba, keep us from conforming to this world, or allowing others to do so in peace.

For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”