Memorial Day is a day set aside for
reflection. It is a day meant for us to honor our fallen dead.
The meaning of Memorial Day has changed a
great deal since it was founded. At its inception, it was meant to honor African
American soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, both our soldiers who were born-free, as well as those
who were former slaves; men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who
gave everything they had to keep the union whole.
Memorial Day was created to honor those who died
for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United
States, for a vision of it that the prayed for, but was not yet real; they got
something different, they got this reality, an America that is still in a state
of becoming, one that is more or less just, depending on where you are born,
what color your skin is, what class you belong to.
Those men and women died for us, for good or
ill, they died for us. They died for promises that went un-realized.
We have yet to repay them, we have yet to
fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of
liberty, America the true, and good, America the arbiter of justice.
Now, we honor our dead on this day; our
soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them.
We honor all of our citizens who spent their
lives, who gave their days to public service; we honor our doctors and nurses
and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and
neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and those yet to
This year we must even children, who stood in
the way of gunfire to protect their classmates and paid for it with their
We must honor them, and their sacrifice, they
died upholding our most cherished values, in recognition of the fact that we
are one people, that we are descended from many nations, and that we each come
into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness, and that all other rights are subordinate to these.
On this day of all days, do not make the
mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free.
It has been at least sixty years since America
faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.
We are not kept free through armed conflict.
We do not face such an existential threat from
beyond our borders and shores right now; not from Iran, not from North Korea,
not from Russia, not from anywhere.
The real threat we face is from ourselves,
from our ignorance and from our fear.
It is we, and we alone who can protect us from
Our own apathy, our prejudice and hatred,
these are the most dangerous forces aligned against us, that threaten our
freedom. They are more deadly than any other worldly power.
To honor our fallen dead, you must do your
part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.
Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances
Our collective failure as citizens of the
Unites States has allowed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue to hold power in
the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be
treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices
have told ordinary American’s that their right to free speech does not include
the right to be heard, and that our right to vote does not include the
guarantee that our votes will be counted.
This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our
freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more
dangerous than immigrants looking for a better life on our side of the border
we share, they are only seeking the same thing as my own forebears did when
they came here a little over a hundred years ago.
Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and
flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them
by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate
greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, to corruption in our public
officials in our highest offices, and to the notion that the right to keep and
bear arms does not include our responsibility to regulate them.
Honor them by participating in public
discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.
Stand up, and be counted!
We must rebuild America, reform our
institutions, we must do this for the sake of all Americans and our future
generations. We must take responsibility for our own freedom.
We will have nothing to protect if we let our
freedom be stolen from us while we are busy watching TV, posting pictures on
social media of the last meal we ate, and arguing with one another about who is
the most liberal, most progressive, most concerned about the common good.
Honor the fallen, in this way.
Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital
Corps, 1990 – 1994
The care of a loving family is
like the wet clinging mesh of a spider’s web. Humans are trapped in it,
suspended, enwrapped in it. The majority of people who have ever lived, never
lived a day apart from these sticky-bonds.
Familial obligations are invisible. We are bound by them through our
emotions; by fear and love, hate and pride, anger, hope, and jealousy, the
feelings that bind us to our parents and our siblings, to our clans like the
ligaments that join bones to muscles.
We are conditioned by rituals; by the stories we tell, the drums we play,
by music, and language, by the seasons we live and the hours of the day. They
are the food that nourishes our
identity. We are raised in the patterns that play themselves out, in both the small
cycles and the great.
Everything we are comes from the family, everything we do redounds to the
family name, the name of our clan, our tribe, our village, our state.
Our identities are completely enmeshed with the identity of the group we
are raised in. Only the most profound betrayal can break the patterns we are conditioned
to live by, and even then, those who break free from their familial identity,
or through no choice of their own are exiled and then cast-out, they leave the
family only to recreate the same structures in new places with new people.
The individual can be raised up, lifted high, made strong by their family
They can also be shunted, marginalized, and cast aside.
Families have a tendency to cannibalize their strength. In times of great
need they will go so far as to eat their own, or set up the strongest and most
beautiful as holy victims for the gods they worship, to barter their best and
brightest away in the hope of some kind of boon.
As families become clans the bonds of loyalty are fixed in the body,
constructed by chemicals and enzymes, by proteins and amino acids, by the songs
and rhythms unique to each group, and through which they reinforce the
knowledge of their history, their ancestral memories, passing them on from one
generation to the next.
These are bonds that we do not see, bonds we never question.
Rituals are developed to lift up and memorialize the common ancestors
whose great deeds, or terrible failures were such that the clans wrote songs
about them, and passed them on to their children, and their children’s children,
as the saga of their kin.
Every person reared within the group learned to see themselves as a
continuation of the clan’s broader narrative. They saw their own deeds as a
reflection of the deeds of their ancestors.
They imagined their departed dead as living beside them, all around them,
and they were not wrong.
The departed spoke to them through ancestral memory, not just the patterns
of their consciousness remaining with the clans and tribes, but their actual
consciousness remaining with individual families, bound to them and the planet
in the electromagnetic field called the nous-sphere.
The ritual remembering, the songs they sang, the drums they beat, these
reinforced the connection and secured
it, keeping it vital through that period when the groupings of human beings
were still small enough that every person could trace their connection to the
other through their blood lines.
They were migrating and wandering, they were navigating by the stars.
They marked their narratives by the movement of the constellations, and
projected their own stories into the heavens.
They were together and they were one.
Every individual saw themselves as a part of the tribe, and saw the
fullness of the tribe as manifested in them. The clan was the clearest
representation of the structure of human unity and belonging. It had a sufficient critical mass to draw the individual
outside of themselves, and yet it was not large enough for the individual to
feel lost within it. The clan was the family writ large, it was small enough to be intimate and large enough to
provide for the safety of the group through the structures they form.
Hierarchies emerge in village
life, just as they do everywhere in the animal world.
Human beings are animals after all, and in their need to establish social
structures they are no different from the wolf, or the lion, or the ram.
In the animal world it could be dangerous, even deadly. The competition
for leadership was intense, it was largely physical, and the strongest usually
Among humans the intensity was no less, but it was often more deadly, and
physical strength was not the most significant indicator of primacy.
Social hierarchies formed in villages; around the well, at the markets,
in the places of worship and religious life, and most importantly in the seat
The center is everything, with social rank flowing from it in concentric
A person was either in or out of the village, either in or out of the
center, with movement and access regulated between the spheres.
The beginning of cohesion around village life was the beginning of the
disintegration of families, clans, and tribes.
The social order was undergoing change, metamorphosis, redefining
These developments were not uniform, it did not happen in all places at
once. It happened in key places; at the confluence of rivers, along the shores
of the great inland lakes, in the desert oasis, at any place where the
movements of migratory tribes would bring them together.
The villages were rising.
There was safety in the tribe,
and the ability to test one’s self through competition with peers.
There was jealousy, yes, and envy. There were customs and taboos that
were well established, intending to prevent such things from having a harmful
impact on the life of the group and its cohesion
There were shared customs and stories, rituals, things that shaped both
the structure of the tribe and its future. The narratives they spun taught all
of its members the means by which they could advance, redress wrongs, recover
from injury, hold fast to their position.
The tribal life was essentially democratic, members of the tribe could
come and go as they pleased. There were no laws to bind them. There was only
duty, obligation, and the expectation of those who were dependent.
It was only when the migrations ended and the tribes became fixed in
villages and hamlets that the notion that people could be treated like property
advanced and class systems became entrenched.
During the time of migrations men and women were essentially equal,
neither was the property of the other, the concept of ownership was alien and
everyone had a say in the destiny of the group.
The tribe might be governed by a chief, there could be a de facto leader,
especially in times of conflict. That person was more often than not merely the
voice of the people, the arbiter, the mediator, the negotiator, and judge.
In place of the single leader, more often than not, a council of elders
held sway over the life of the tribe. The tribe did what it could to give every
person a voice, to be inclusive. Everyone was a part of the whole.
Then there were the others.
Encampments became villages, and villages became towns. The human
communities were growing, coming into greater contact with one another,
realigning themselves both through necessity and by choice.
Towns grew into cities while people migrated into urban centers for trade
and work. Individuals pulled away from their families, from their clans and
tribes, pulling themselves into new relationships with merchants and farmers, with
herders of new and different breeds of animals.
They clung together in ever greater numbers, both for protection, and
opportunity. Learning from each other new ways of life, alien rituals and
practices that each group had developed around their totem animals, their
symbiotes, these began to be synthesized, re-contextualized for the purposive
of enlarging the group.
In the beginning we learned to honor the other, the stranger, and we held
in esteem the strengths they brought
to new society.
They farmed, they built granaries and the foundations of the city flowed from there, from
wellsprings to ziggurats.
The granaries became temples, where the people prayed for and received
their daily allotment of food, grain and seed to themselves and their families.
Temples became fortresses where they stored the fruit of their labor up against
times of conflict, drought, disease and famine.
The temples became towers, ziggurats, great platforms that touched the
sky, and from which the sages plotted the movement of stars across the heavens.
These became the seat of priestly-royalty, and the place from which the laws
flowed which bound human beings to their caste, class and station.
Families dispersed, becoming ever less important.
The division of labor ensued.
What became paramount were the relationship the individual had to
neighbors and teachers, to systems of patronage and clientage. The individual
had the potential to become both everything and nothing, a god-like figure or a
slave, to be named in the annals, recalled and remembered, to be sung about or
to be utterly forgotten. To achieve immortality through the songs and sagas of
the people, or to become dust, nothing at all.
Most, the vast majority, nearly all went unremembered, but they did not
The cities gathered towns and villages to themselves, expanding and
absorbing them, pulling their people away from their homes, relocating them in
the urban centers. Cities did this just as clans and tribes had done with
families and kin in past ages.
The bonds that formed were weaker than family bonds. Individually they
were weak and flimsy, but like the spokes of wheel, together they supported a
structure of great strength, capable of extraordinary movement, both radiating
from the center and supporting the outer frame.
In the urban core social power concentrated itself in the hands of the
few, the elite and the strong, the wealthy...the cunning.
The poor and the newly arrived, if they were free citizens, they needed
The majority of those living in the urban centers were enslaved, either
owned as private property, or they were the property of the state, its institutions and its
temples, they belonged to the war machine that kept the state alive.
The free people needed sponsorship, the poor enjoined relationships with
the rich, they became clients to their patrons, and these new bonds became
formalized into extra-familial systems of societal structure.
This was a new version of a family, famiglia
only loosely related to blood ties. Inter marriage and progeny strengthened
these bonds, but they were not required.
These were the ancient bonds of vassalage.
They were bonds of the imagination, and bonds of determination. They were
bonds of circumstance, and will, not happenstance or hereditary accident. They
were forged by choices.
The cities became states, and in the cauldrons of statehood the
relationships between all things and beings were redefined and refined.
Common language, common custom, rituals and religion all conspired to tie
people together, just as connective tissues sew the limbs of the body together
in the joints. Shared experiences are the sinews of human culture.
There are extrinsic and intrinsic movements with the ritual framework.
Well executed rituals engage all of the senses.
The best rituals go beyond the physical structure of the world, and join
the participants to one another through the inner sanctum of their memory,
recalling the ancestral rhythms that move them.
When a ritual is serving its purpose it points the individual to a place
beyond themselves, and creates in that person the sense that they are being
pulled, drawn, or called in that direction.
Proper ritual juxtaposes the past and the future, it holds the ancestral
memory in tension with future expectations.
When the rites are well executed it creates a space in which the whole
community is moved by contact with the cynergenic field. They enter the nous
sphere, and they transcend
themselves and become one.
These are the essential building blocks of group identity and with their
perfection came the ability to pull all the disparate parts of human culture
Nations were formed out of
states, building on the foundations of security and prosperity for the people.
The old allegiances of family, tribe and clan were shifting ever-outward,
away from people, into the world of ideas.
The fundamental buildings blocks of human identity were changing. Their
National identity transcended their sense of themselves as a member of a family,
and even as individuals.
It is a gift. It is the fulfillment of God’s
intention for you and the whole of creation.
Salvation is not linked to our rites and
rituals, to the way we mark ourselves as belonging to a group or not, to whether
we are in the Church or out.
Our ultimate salvation has nothing to do with
the things we eat, with our good deeds or our bad ones.
Our Salvation comes from God. We are saved
together, and until we have arrived at its fullness and completion, we are not
saved at all.
The psalmist is right to ask God to bless all
peoples and all nations; to have pity and to be merciful.
The psalmist is right to ask for the
fulfillment of God’s promise.
God is not confined to one place, neither is
God confined to one time, nor does God belong to one people.
God, who created the universe, God is the God
of everyone, whether they know of God or not. God is still God.
Praise the fairness of God. Ask for God’s
blessing; not just four yourself, but ask for it on behalf of everyone.
When we visualize the fulfilment of God’s
promise, when we reflect on the heavenly worlds and the paradise to come, bear
this in mind:
Let all the talk of precious metals, and
precious stones fall away; forget the talk of gold, and gems.
Ignore the jingoism, the fetish with Israel
and with Jerusalem, with the apostles of Jesus, they are not relevant to these
reflections. Every reference we find in scripture to these material things, is in
a real way a distraction from the central message of the gospels and the good
news they are meant to convey.
Where God is there is God, God who created the
universe and sustains all things in it. God who is the parent of every being;
where God is there is no temple, there is no altar, there is no edifice or
anything we would recognize as the structure of a church; there is no cathedral,
there is no basilica…where God is there is light, and love and peace.
The light has no limit, the light shines
forever and there is no darkness in it; in God’s embrace all people are welcome,
and no one will come to it who has not been prepared for it.
God prepares us all.
Where God dwells there are no gates. People
will come having passed through every plane, they will come from all directions.
The promise of the revelation is this:
Every person will receive what they deserve…as
the children of God they will receive God’s love, they will be forgiven just as
Jesus prayed when he was dying on the cross. We will all receive mercy.
We will be cleansed and made well, healed and
We will be whole.
The hungry will be fed, and the thirsty will
drink, the gift is free, and that is the promise of God.
God, the creator of the universe, God is
present in all of God’s children, and where God is present God is present
There is no division in the divine. The divine
is inclusive of all reality, of every living being that is it.
No-one is excluded.
Every person who ever was, who is, who will
ever be, everyone is present in the divine, as such they are present within
each of us, for each of us carries the divine within ourselves.
Jesus was the son of God, as each of us is a
child of God; a son or daughter.
Love one another, as God loves you. This is
the great commandment.
Do not be afraid, life on Earth is merely a
passage to another world, it is the unfolding a mystery.
Listen to your sister, to your brother, they
have something important to say. Each one of us has the potential to speak for
God, to be God’s prophet, to be the advocate of Christ,
Everything, and everyone, returns to the
creator, in so doing we come to the understanding that we never apart.
God, the creator of the universe, God will
abandon no-one. God will leave no orphans, no-one will be left stranded in the
throws of sin.
Not one of us shall be lost.
are passages in scripture, and there are many of them, in which the Gospels
provide the reader, or the listener, with only a tangled and confused set of
words and concepts that do little to shed light on anything good or meaningful.
Gospel for today is one of those passages.
is nearly impossible to get an accurate bead on its meaning.
aside for a moment that John’s Gospel, has the least concern for historical
accuracy of the four. The Gospel was written more than one hundred years after
his death. It is likely that the event portrayed here never happened, that
Jesus never spoke these words in this way.
may have said something like it, but that is neither here nor there.
this meandering passage represents is the thoughts and feelings of John’s
community at the end of the first century CE. It fully represents the mystical
and mysterious way in which Christians had come to see the life of Jesus, and
Jesus’s relationship to God, the creator of the Universe. It does this in terms
that have a connection to some of the prevailing philosophical beliefs
regarding the metaphysical structure of reality, but does nothing to explicate
the system of beliefs it is specifically engaging.
is poor theology.
type of thinking has been a burden on the faith over the centuries and
millennia, and should be struck from the cannon. It is impossible for us to
know what the Gospel writers meant, what the limits of their thinking was,
never mind the fact that the philosophies of the ancient world, their
metaphysical systems, were false, they were wrong, they were errant, there is
little in those thought systems that can help us understand ourselves, the
world we live in, or our relationship to the divine.
truth we can glean from today’s passage is this:
prayed to God on behalf of his followers, he prayed that they would understand
both his mission and the mission that he was passing on to them.
prayed for their unity.
prayed that they love one another, and that the message they carried forward in
his name was one of love.
Gospel passage has the appearance of being directed specifically to Christians,
and that is unfortunate because the mission of Jesus crosses all boundaries;
sectarian, national, ethnic and gender.
Gospel passage is overly concerned with the message regarding the identity of
Jesus, it is dogmatic, it pushes the message of who John’s community believed
Jesus was, over the mission to preach the love of God. That was not what Jesus
himself taught. In this way the Gospel deviates from the faith.
Jesus was in the world, and what we believe about that is not germane. Such
beliefs have no bearing on the way
that is meant to be the Christian life.
followers of the way, rather than
concerning ourselves with who we believe Jesus was, we need to concern
ourselves with how Jesus was in the world, with how we are able to live a
loving life according to the standard Jesus set.
It Has Been Decided by
the Spirit and by Ourselves Not to Burden You with Any Burden Beyond these Essentials
men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves
circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to
disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these
men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go
up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.
the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with
Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known
as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this
letter to take with them:
apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan
birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have
disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted
without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect
delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of
mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy
Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these
essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from
the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will
do what is right. Farewell.’
He Showed Me the Holy City
Coming Down Out of Heaven
the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and
showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had
all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of
crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve
gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were
written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three
gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west
three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of
which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the
Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon
for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a
lighted torch for it.
John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again,
bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I
am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have
the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the
Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the
churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the
Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then
let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and
have it free.
one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be
with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.
Gospel Acclamation – John
said: ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,