During the same conversation over coffee, my mother passed me a section of the Houston paper folding it so that an article by Rev. Matt Tittle, a Unitarian minister in Houston, regarding the Sermon on the Mount. He corrects the often misunderstood idea that Jesus told us to be pussies. Not so. It's all about justice and non-violent resistance. Rev. Matt writes:
So we see that Turning the Other Cheek or Walking the Extra Mile does not make one a pantie waist pussy. It's a big, fat Fuck You to the Romans. Anyone who listened to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Four Way Street heard Steven Stills saying that American needs to remember that Jesus was the first non-violent revolutionary. No matter what your religion - and I include Atheist as a Religion since no god is still a theology - few people think Jesus himself was full of shit. Most everyone agrees the Christians are the problem. Poor old Jesus gets hauled in to all sorts of ridiculous shit.
Today we see and hear these passages through a particular lens, but they are also acts of radical non-violent resistance . . . Jesus was advocating justice, not violence. Today we seemed to have blurred the distinction between the two.
By turning the other cheek when we have been assaulted, we offer the offender the opportunity to offend again, thus increasing the risk that they will be judged and brought to justice . . . By going the second mile, one was putting Roman soldiers at risk. They were allowed to enlist citizens to carry their packs a certain distance, but no further. If you go the second mile, then they are at risk for requiring what they cannot.
And even if all of these acts are simply acts of goodwill and humility, they achieve the same purpose. They take away power from those who would wield it over you and remind them that all people have worth and dignity. All are welcome.
(Keep the Faith, Houston Chronicle, Dec 27)
Just the other day, I was talking about the vein of insanity that runs up the Texas/Louisiana border with my sister-in-law. We can't determine just how wide this vein of insanity is. Could stretch as far west as Dallas. And there are certainly other veins of insanity in the world. We just know about this one along the Texas/Louisiana border because our families originated there. She told a story about some Crazy-assed Christian family who was on the way to the Rapture. Twelve or so were crammed into a sedan the size of a Ford Taurus - all butt naked driving through the Texas countryside when they were stopped by local law enforcement for having too damn many people in the car. Imagine the constable's surprise to find twelve naked Christians on the way to the second coming. Apparently they had to divest themselves of all their worldly goods but figured out a way to keep the car until the exact moment of the rapture. They blamed the whole thing on Jesus.
Which brings me to Paul Tillich and Grace. I finally read Tillich's sermon, "You are Accepted," and was surprised to discover I've been living in a state of grace for some weeks. Dissed, a reader from Georgia, pointed it out to me when I was feeling very sad and isolated (Internal Characters and Hurricanes, Stonerdate Dec 6, 2008). I wouldn't believe it, though. That's how it is with Isolation and Acceptance, which is pretty much how Tillich defines sin and grace.
It's a lot to ponder - this idea of being separated from your Self (which can be G*d if you want. Personally, my religion is one of those pagan based Spark of Divinity in everyone and everything religions kind of like Disney Princess Pocahontas') So Self being separated from Life vs Acceptance and Connection.
In any case, I'm still down here in Texas up to my ass in fucked up Christians who think that finding a good parking place at the mall proves Jesus loves them more than everyone else. To them, I'll quote a bumper sticker my mother has hanging in the game room bar.
It is a little known fact that you can sing Amazing Grace in its entirety to the tune of Gilligan's Island. Try it right now - you'll never hear either song the same way again. I first experienced that Grace before dinner at the Hippie Dippie Quaker Camp in Vermont that Velvet attended for years. If that's not Grace, I don't know what is.