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    Long time, no blog...

    Monday, June 29, 2009, 6:49 AM [General]

    It's been a long time since I've blogged. I have been busy in the yard and garden. I spend most days outside digging in the dirt and loving it! I am growing tons of veggies this year plus my flowers, especially my lilies. So the blogging is taking a back seat to the gardening. I'll do more blogging again in the fall. Have a great day, a great Fourth of July and a great summer!

    Rev. Claudia

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    God and Science

    Friday, May 15, 2009, 7:40 AM [General]

    I have been regularly reading the Science and the Sacred blogs here on beliefnet and they go along with something I have felt about the biblical literalists for quite a while.

    The fact that there are distant galaxies and planet, the fact that the earth is much older than many have believed doesn't make God any less present in the workings of the universe. Indeed, it makes God even more awesome and amazing. You don't have to give up God to believe in science. All science is doing is making God even greater and more incredible. If you close your eyes to science and its findings, you are closing your eyes to God. God is everywhere present, in the smallest particle and the largest sun. And science, instead of showing us that God does not exist, shows us how much more God exists than we have ever believed before. Let's not make God smaller and less amazing with our little ideas of Him. God is amazingly great and awesomely creative. Look at the universe and you will see God.

    As Dr. Francis S. Collins says in his blog, "If you believe that God is the creator, how could the truths about nature we discover through science be a threat to God? For many scientists who believe in God including me it's just the opposite. Everything we learn about the natural world only increases our awe of the God the creator."

    But I believe that some people are afraid of this science-proved awesome deity. God is just too immense and incredible for us simple humans. So we pull God down to our image. We make God smaller rather than make ourselves larger to fit God to what we believe. It's easier to believe in a God like Jesus, human and frail, rather than believe in a God who created the vast universe with all it's variety. We want God to be simple like us, so we are afraid of science and what it can teach us about God and creation.

    So we insist that the Genesis story is a literal story of the creation and attack anyone who disagrees. We lock ourselves into a limited interpretation of God and the whole of creation. We make God little and limited so we don't have to struggle to understand God's greatness. We make God in our image because it's safer and easier to relate to God that way. We make Jesus God's son and finally God because it's easier to relate to the simple, human Jesus that to the omnipotent, powerful, mind-blowing God we learn about in science class.

    St Augustine once wrote, ""In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it."

    And that is now happening in many literalist churches. They are failing with their limited, unwavering, little interpretation of scripture...and of God. And being locked into this limited interpretation, they cannot face or acknowledge the advances in science. So they reject science and stay in their own little cave, never seeing the stars, the vast universe that God has created. They refuse to open their eyes and their minds to the vastness and incredible beauty of this God created universe with all its variety.

    Walking with their eyes closed, they become the blind that Jesus speaks about. The blind leading the blind and both, eventually, falling into a pit. It's time for us to open our eyes and enjoy the vast beauty of the universe. To accept science's advances all the while realizing that science, too is a creation of our awesome God.

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    What are we really looking for?

    Monday, April 27, 2009, 8:55 AM [General]

    A study says Americans are leaving organized religion in record numbers. Church denominations are losing people from the Southern Baptists to the Catholic church and everything inbetween. But why? Is it because people don't want to spend (or in some people's minds "waste") the time each week? Are they all inherently evil people? Did the devil make them do it? Or is it that something is missing from these religious services?

    I think perhaps most religious groups are so focused on promoting their religious message, dogma, and rules that they forgot to ask their congregations what they want, what they are looking for. Churches don't listen, they just talk. Oh, they make their talk loud, or musical, or passionate, or worldly, but it's all just talk. No listening required by the church, only by the congregation. You go to church, listen to the talk, listen to (sometimes weakly sing) the songs, listen to the readings, listen to the sermons. ... Then you go home and get on with your "real" life.

    Oh, occasionally you'll find a church that talks about listening, but do they really listen? Does your talking have an effect on the running of the church ... on the services offered? Can you ask questions and discuss scripture like thinking adults or do your comments fall on deaf ears?

    I think those of us who are church leaders need to sit down and rethink what we're doing and how we're doing it. Then we need to sit down and ask our congregations what they want from this church — and LISTEN, really listen — to what they say. Then, no matter what "denomination" we are, we need to start incorporating what our congregations want into our services. It can be done, but it's a lot of work. And it may shake up the leaders of your denomination a bit. But what's more important to you, having a vibrant, growing congregation or pleasing your leaders? Jesus always chose the needs of his "people" over the rules and regulations of the church "leaders." I think it's time we did too.

    So what are people looking for in their spiritual or religious life? What do they want? What are they missing?

    Do you regularly attend a church? If not, what are you looking for?

    Rev. Claudia

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    Growing Into God

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 6:48 AM [General]

    A lot has been written over the years about Christianity and how to "be" a Christian. Indeed, pastors live by these books and methods; it gives them something to talk about each week. And most pastors, I think, worry that if their Christian brothers think too much, they will leave the church and the pastor will be a failure, e.g., out of a job. So the biblical analyzers write book after book, directions for Christians and directions for pastors. They analyze and ponder, and sometimes, they just make up stuff. Anything to keep the people in the pews.

    But a recent study shows that more and more people are leaving organized religion. So now the analyzers have to write more about why they're leaving. I think the main reason is because people are tired of being told how to find God and what to do to "please" God. They are tired of rules that made sense 2,000 years ago but make no sense now. They are tired of a religion that won't allow them to grow or think — or to question all the "rules." They are looking for a religion that is relevant to them and their experiences.

    As I recently read in a blog (I can't remember which one, unfortunately), "Independent thought, questions, and suggestions aren't good for maintaining the system. Things work a lot better if people stay in line and do what they are told. ... I'm pretty sure lots of us have had a similar conflict between the connection to God we feel and what we are told that connection should be.

    "No wonder Constantine decided to omit the Gospel of Thomas when he was choosing which gospels to include in the nationalizing of Christianity. Unlike the other gospels which talk about the life of Jesus, the Gospel of Thomas primarily talks about his teachings. Many Christians believe this gospel is heresy because it isn't part of the traditional view of Jesus. That "traditional view" however was decided about 300 years after Jesus was around, by a Roman ruler whose primary interest was to centralize power of the state.

    "When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."

    It's time for the followers of Christianity to realize that, although there are many things in the bible that are relevant and helpful, there are many others that just don't make sense in light of the things we have learned in the past 2,000 years. It's time to let God, and Christianity, grow up and go on to greater things in this new millenium.

    Reverend Claudia "Red Feather" Barber

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    Dog-gone crazy

    Monday, April 13, 2009, 9:22 AM [General]

    I just read a Journal post about dog yoga. I know there are some people out there who think all us dog-gone people are crazy and maybe they're right. But I'd rather be dog crazy than full of hate and animosity toward God's creation as some people are. I admit, I LOVE DOGS!! For me, they are the best representative of God's love for His children. They don't care what I smell or look like after a day of gardening or working in the house. They don't care how I feel although they seem to understand at a much deeper level than humans when I'm having a bad day or feeling down. They don't even care if, when my blood sugar is too low, I start yelling at them for no reason. They still love me; just like God still loves me. And that is what makes me dog-gone crazy about dogs.

    Actually, I would much rather hear about people taking their dogs to yoga or church or whatever than hear about people fighting, torturing and killing their dogs, although that's what usually makes the news. As Saint Francis of Assisi and several other wise men have said, “If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man.”

    Amen to that. Even science is showing us that anyone who would deal cruelly with an animal will also deal cruelly with humans, usually children or powerless people. So is it too much to take your beloved dog to yoga or church or, in my case, nearly everywhere I go? I don't think so. And even if the dog doesn't understand everything we do with and for them, they enjoy the interaction as much as we do. It's better to love something than hate everything.

    Reverend Claudia “Red Feather Barber and her critters...Tootsie, Bentley, Dinky, Muffin, Ruby, Dusty Beaker, the Budgies, and One Fish

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