Thursday, July 30, 2009

Who needs whom

Nigeria, 1989, I traveled with a Christian evangelism team to the eastern part of Nigeria that was at one time the Republic of Biafra (1967-1970) . Prior to our arrival in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, we had spent a week in the jungles of Gabon just the week before. In Gabon, there were some very tiny insects that one could barely see with the naked eye, but when they bit, they injected an anti-coagulate that caused a purple ring of hemorrhaging about a quarter of an inch in diameter on the skin. The bites were mostly harmless, unless you are allergic to the anti-coagulant. I had an allergic reaction. I ran a fever, headache, body ache, much like the flu.

The land trip from Port Harcourt to Enugu was grueling. The territory was still tightly controlled by the Nigerian government. Military checkpoints covered the major roads, each check point within sight of each other. After being searched, harassed and intimidated many, many times through the trip, we finally arrived at our destination.

I don't recall the name of the village where we stayed. It was near the Biafran capital of Enugu. The hosting pastor gave us a tour of the area around the village. It was the site of a major bloody battle between the secessionist Biafran troops and the Nigerian Federal troops. Standing on the red clay soil made me acutely aware of the bloodshed that took place under my feet. My spirit heard the cries of the dying wounded, the mothers for their men and their sons. A gross injustice, the ugliness of humanity screamed all around me. One of the students assigned to my team related to me his personal story. On that very piece of land where we stood, his mother and father died. He was spared, but his body yet bore the deforming scars of malnutrition, and he suffered severe learning disabilities. None the less, he saw himself as a servant of the Most High God, and he wanted to be a pastor of his own church, someday.

Through the next days, my fever and body aches persisted. I finally announced to our hosts that I was sick and needed to rest. The hosting pastor let me use his daughter's bed. As I lay there, five of the students came in to the room.

"Mr. Tigerpaw, we will pray for you to get well."

I thanked them and listened as they prayed. They were like little children, praying in total expectation that God would hear them and that God would heal. They prayed with such intensity and fervor. As I lay there listening, I felt ashamed. I can't recall a time that I prayed actually expecting God to listen, much less answer. For the first time in my life, I saw what real prayer was all about.

The men huddled about me and laid their hands on me, praying with ever more intensity; then, silence. They let go. "Ok, sleep now, and when you wake, you will feel better."

I closed my eyes and slept for fifteen minutes, then woke. The fever was gone. The headache was gone. The body aches were gone. I felt great.

I thought, "How ironic that I would travel nearly seven-thousand miles to teach these young men how to present the Gospel, and they demonstrate to me something far more valuable." I thought to myself, "These Africans don't need us. We need them!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

There is no way....

How do I know that my “faith” is the right path to God?
Let me be clear on this. I DON'T KNOW!

I started my journey as a child. My first conscious understanding of God came from my parents. They tried to live a “godly life” and teach us to live such a life. Mother spoke of God and Jesus off and on, in a generally positive way. By the time I was in second grade, I somehow ended up in a Baptist church, heard some stories about Jesus and immediately took to this gentle teacher. From that point on, my focus was on emulating Jesus. But I had very little to do with churches until I converted to Roman Catholicism when I was seventeen years old. It is then, also, that I learned the hard way about the divisions in Christianity. My mother and father were very disappointed in my conversion. My aunt also sent me tons of anti-Catholic literature from the famous Bob Jones University.

That did not stop me. Catholicism taught me much about a formalized spiritual life. Out of high school I entered my first year in a Roman Catholic seminary. I was on my way to being a priest. Ironically, it is in the seminary that I met with my first serious “faith” challenge. It changed my life drastically.

There is a classic Biblical work by the Episcopalian scholar, Bernhard W. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament. Dr. Anderson's approach was a truly scientific and literary analysis of the Old Testament texts. He taught that the Old Testament literature was that of a simple desert people who interpreted everything in the light of their relationship with God. The histories were exaggerated renditions of the events designed to highlight God and Israel. The stories were usually not true, per se, but were meant to teach us life lessons. The miracles were not miracles but natural events interpreted as miracles. The so-called prophesies were contemporary politicized rantings of mystics that spoke of God's judgment of regimes that had polluted the traditions of the nation of Israel. These “prophesies” were in fact, interpretations of past events and their final outcome from the perspective of this deity that had adopted Israel as His people.

By the end of the year, I had concluded that if the Old Testament is not the true word of God, then the foundations from which Jesus conducted his ministry were equally false, and Jesus could not possibly be who everyone had taught me he was. I left the seminary, and after a few years, left Christianity altogether.

Eventually, after a major encounter with God I described in an earlier post (May 27, 2009), I would wonder back in to Christianity in the form of fundamental Bible-believing evangelical churches. Of course, I personally had to renounce Dr. Anderson's work as errant. After nearly twenty years of study as an evangelical Christian, I found it very hollow and actually a distraction from true relationship with God. I set out in a major review and reform of my spiritual life. Today, I view Dr. Anderson's work as a truly accurate and scholarly work. I have a very high regard for it.

I want to be clear about my views of Christianity. I harbor no ill feelings toward Christianity. It is after all, a major part of my understanding of God. It is not my intent to be critical of any religion. However, I admit, in order to come to the place I am now, I had to be very critical of the doctrines espoused by the majority of Christianity. Let that be part of my path. I do not expect anyone else to take that path.

Dennis DeYoung, a devout Roman Catholic and the lead scream of the rock band Styx, wrote a song, allegedly for his son Matthew, called “Show Me the Way.” It is a profound piece outlining the struggle with faith. I love the traditional Judeo-Christian metaphors he employs in the work. I share that with you here:

SHOW ME THE WAY (by Dennis DeYoung)

Every night I say a prayer in the hope that there's a heaven
And every day I'm more confused as the saints turn into sinners
All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay
And I feel this empty place inside so afraid that I've lost my faith

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way

And as I slowly drift to sleep, for a moment dreams are sacred
I close my eyes and know theres peace in a world so filled with hatred
That I wake up each morning and turn on the news to find we've so far to go
And I keep on hoping for a sign, so afraid that I just won't know

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the mountain
And take my confusion away

And if I see a light, should I believe
Tell me how will I know

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way, show me the way
Give me the strength and the courage
To believe that Ill get there someday
Show me the way

Every night I say a prayer
In the hope that theres a heaven..
(CopyRight by Dennis DeYoung/Styx 1990)

I have studied the major religions of this world and have found they all have some very common experience on the mystical levels. It is in those common experiences I, too, find common ground. And it is in that common ground of experiencing God, that I have concluded what I now understand as truth in part. ( I cannot know total truth at this point). God is not concerned about the path we follow to connect to Him. Each of us come from entirely different places, entirely different understanding. But what we hold in common is that we seek Him in earnest, we thirst to be in Him and with Him, and He honors that and sends his messengers (angels) to encourage us and to guide us. He rejoices when we arrive, and He rejoices at every turn in the path that brings us closer. He even walks with us! Even when we don't think He is there, He is. And he brings us home to Him with fanfare and rejoicing.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is no way to peace. Peace IS the way.” Let me hijack this famous statement and change it to suit my purpose:

There is no way to God. God IS the way.

Missing the mark

The tiger has been having a lot of trouble with sleepless nights lately. This is another in the series. I don't mean to imply that I get NO sleep. I usually make it through one dream cycle, and that is about it. Tonight was a nightmare on many levels. On one level I found myself in a position that compromised my principles. If that wasn't enough to disturb me, the Dream Weaver added a deadly threat to the mix; a man that would turn to half man, half wolf at the slightest provocation. Of course, the provocation was the my failure to live as I thought I should be living. The man walked by me, stopped at a closet, stared at me in disgust, then walked out, leaving me with an ominous sense that he would be back to lay me to destruction.

I was frightened, but realized that fear was a detriment to self-defense. Fear is like a fire alarm. It only warns you about the danger. You can't use the alarm to extinguish the fire. You can't use fear to mitigate a threat. I had to shift my thinking to taking defensive action. I was waiting calmly for the man to return, and I was prepared to kill him anyway I could if I had to. I didn't have to; I woke up.

I know where the dream came from. Two things have been on my mind lately that mashed together in the dream. One you already heard about—love; loving one self. The other was failure to do what is right. In the religious vernacular it is called, “sin.”

This is going to be hard to explain correctly. It is an understanding about “sin” that may or may not be common. I could be the only one in the world with this understanding, but I don't think so. When I think of sin, included in that thought would be God and punishment. In my mind the act of doing wrong or, failing to do right, the relationship with God, and punishment are wrapped up in the word “sin.” If I “sin,” I can expect punishment from God in the form of condemnation and hell.

Also, fundamental Christianity says the “believer” that is “living in sin” will not be condemned, but is separated from God. So, sin includes the the excommunication from God. At the same time, we read in the Bible that “God will not forsake you,” and that if you confess your sins, that God will restore the communication with you. In other words, God responds to my failures with disgust, anger , and with retribution.

WRONG! How could I have gotten this so WRONG?

I have heard preachers tell me that God's love is unconditional, that He will never forsake me. I have heard one preacher postulate, “If you are feeling distant from God, guess who moved.” Both of these thoughts are, in fact, correct. So, how did I get this so wrong?

Have I not said in previous posts how the human mind can have the facts and still draw the wrong conclusion? The root of the problem is my self hatred. This hatred defies and overrides all logic. God loves me unconditionally. When I fail to do what is right, He stands by me and encourages me to correct it. He does not condemn and abandon me. He works with me, and will continue to work with me until someday, I get it right. That's the fact. Even so, the hatred I have for myself tells me that God can't possibly love me. I condemn myself. Surely God would condemn me, too.

If you, like me, are trapped by self hatred, if you believe in the unconditional love of God, then you must just let that be. Find a way to come into agreement with God on that issue, and a whole new world will open up. You see, God is not withholding anything from you. You are closing yourself off and refusing to let His love work in you. I see it this way: I am alive. God created me. If He created me, He loves me. Then I need to love myself, too. As the Apostle Paul would say, if God is for me, who could be against me?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Justify your existence.

In twelve days, Golda Stein and I will celebrate fourteen years of marriage. We picked an easy date to remember, August 1. Even so, over the years, we haven't always been in a position that we even wanted to remember that day. Sadly, that's how relationships go, sometimes.

Hopefully, this date will be one to remember anew. I have to say that my understanding of love has been seriously deficient. The last couple of years, that has come under serious scrutiny thanks to my spirit guides.

In this blog, you have read many of my thoughts concerning the definition of love. While the thoughts are high and seem to be meaningful, the transformation of the mind has been very slow. As I have pointed out many times, the largest obstacle to love is the lack of love for self. I am yet working on that, and until I can say that I love myself, I will find it very difficult to love anyone else.

Even so, there is a saving grace, in spite of my failures, thanks be to God. Let me explain by describing an incident prior to our marriage. Golda had announced to her children of our plans to marry. Her youngest daughter, who at the time was a student at Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana, called me on the phone.

“Hi, DeHomely. I'm Susan. So, you and mom are going to get married?”


“Well, I want to learn more about you. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”

“Fire away,” I said.

“Describe who you are. Tell me how you fit in to this world. Justify your existence.”

Curiously, that was not really a challenge to me at the time. In fact, for several weeks prior to that phone call, I had been examining that very issue with myself. I had already worked through the justification for my existence.

At the time, I was an fundamental evangelical Christian. My answer came quickly. “Actually, Susan, I can't justify my existence. That is entirely up to my Savior, Jesus Christ. It is only in Him that I have life. It is only in Him that there is any reason for me to be alive.”

Susan, too, was, and still is, a devout Christian. The answer satisfied her and she blessed our marriage.

As you have already surmised, while I do not take issue with the gentle man of peace, I am no longer a Christian. So, how do I justify my existence, now?

It is simple. I do not exist outside of my Creator. I cannot justify my existence in anyway except to point to Him and say, He is the one that justifies me. If He does not, then I no longer exist. Since His love is true love, He will never forsake me, and He will continue to be my justification. He will continue to be the lover of my soul, teaching me to love myself, and empowering me to give true love to others.

The saving grace of His unwavering love, is the same grace that will hold together the marriage of DeHomely Tigerpaw and Golda Stein. Already, I feel the changes taking place in me, and I have no doubt that my loving Creator will bring me to be love, as He is love, and our marriage will reach a higher plane.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Primal Warfare: Before there were swords there were stones; before there were stones, there were...bananas.

Every family or group of friends has their “private jokes,” or “private stories.” Today, I make one of my stories public.

I was perhaps three-years old, barely out of diapers, and able to talk. My brother, Jon, was three years my senior, and our neighbor, George, as about three years older than my brother.

I had just come out of the house with a ready snack, a Chiquita® Banana, in my hand. I have no recollection of the background of the event I would come to witness, but that is beside the point. My brother and George were suddenly in an all out fisticuff. In no time, the nine-year-old George sat on my brother's chest, throwing his fists into my brother's face. I didn't understand much at three years old, but I did understand that my brother was not in a good position, and I was angered and afraid for him. One may say the situation elicited a primal call to action.

The only weapon I could think of was already in my hand. I screamed the primal scream, "Leave my brudder alone!" Without hesitation, I swung that deadly banana into George's skull. Much to my utter surprise, the fight stopped immediately. George fell off of my brother, fully involved along with my brother in hysterical laughter. Still laughing, they shook hands and became friends as quickly as they had become enemies.

If you should hear some veiled reference to my choice of weapons and a banana, you now know what it is all about.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Young love

The old man sat back in his chair and looked intently at the young man. “Marry my daughter, huh?”

“Yessir.” The young man's eyes moved to the floor.

“Why do you love her, son?”

A smile spread across the young man's face. “Why, she's lovely. She inspires me. She is bright, witty, and humorous. She challenges me. I just want to spend the rest of my life with her.”

The old man's face did not change. “Well, son, then I'm very concerned. What if tomorrow she has an accident and her brain is turned to mush. She becomes quadraplegic, and can only grunt like a pig when she needs a diaper change, or something to eat? Will you still love her?”

The young man could not believe what he had heard. He smiled in confusion and embarrassment; he could not answer.

“You see, son, what you see is temporary. There are no guarantees that she will always be that way. Maybe you need more time to think about this “marriage” thing. Even so, I'm not stopping you. I'm not sure I understood love when I was your age, either.”

“Well, sir, I wasn't sure I could tell you what I really think. It is very hard to explain. There is a connection... we are connected somehow beyond what we see, or touch, or feel. Your daughter is that connection. That connection won't go away, even if our bodies fail us. If she is alone in some kind of hell, I will be there to keep her company. Does that make sense?”

With a tear in his eye, the old man took the young man's hand into his hands and pressed as he spoke, “That's what I want for my daughter.”

No comments necessary.
Be Peace, Be Love.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


While walking the dogs tonight, a memory from thirty-five years ago reran in my mind. It was one of those scary situations that I have laughed about off and on. Not only that, but it demonstrates so clearly how pride has been ever present, and ever so faithful to lead me head long into folly.

My then wife and I had separated. I had arrived early on a Saturday morning to pick up my son for the weekend. As I parked my car I noticed a new Kawasaki dirt bike in the driveway. I believe it had a small 75CC engine.

I had always wanted a motorcycle. I was immediately lividly jealous that my wife, who refused to agree to let me buy a motorcycle while we were together, had taken up riding motorcycles with her boyfriend. “Is that your bike out there?” I asked.

“No, its John's. He's keeping it here so we can ride together,” she said without any hesitation. Of course, at that moment, a torrent of emotion hit me like a flash-flood of high turbid water in an small arroyo. At the top of the list of intense emotion was jealousy, a very close companion of pride.

“You can try it out if you want. John won't mind.” My ex-wife was not a mean spirited person. She meant it sincerely, knowing that I wanted a motorcycle of my own.

“Really? Cool.” She handed me the keys. I didn't hesitate.

I sat on the seat of the small bike, turned the key, kicked the crank. It started on the first kick. Unbelievable exhilaration flowed through me. I didn't even have to face the embarrassment of not being able to start it. I pulled the clutch, kicked the gear shift for first gear, rolled the throttle, and popped the clutch. The bike popped up on its rear wheel and rocketed down the driveway with me hanging on for dear life, sprawled horizontally with my belly on the seat, my legs somewhere behind me in the air, and my vision blocked by the bike's headlight.

In a split second I was into the street and heading for the opposite curb, completely out of control, totally panicked. Upon realizing that my hand was still pulling the throttle, I released it and jerked the hand brake. Yes, the handbrake stops the front wheel, and yes, bikes do flip when you apply the front brake incorrectly.

As I pulled myself up off of the grass, I looked back at our house, hoping the wife had not seen what must have been a very comedic display of utter stupidity. I picked the bike up and examined it. I was relieved to see it had not been damaged. I remounted, re-started, and this time, slowly released the clutch as I gently rolled the throttle. It was a good ride around the block and back to the house again.

“Well, what do you think?” the wife asked. If she had seen the clown show I put on, she did not let on. She was then, and still is, a very sensitive and caring person.

“It was fun. I'll have to get me one. Except maybe a 400CC bike or something. Then, as I learn, I'll work into a bigger bike.”

A couple of years ago, I read Wispers of the Spirit by Ann Albers. I was impressed with the wisdom I found in the book. I felt then that I had learned a great deal. I loaned it to my step-daughter, hoping that she could harvest some of the wisdom, as well. At the same time, I had developed a strange opinion of Ms. Albers. The entire book centered on her experience, the very parts of life that brought her to spiritual realizations and a complete change in her life. On one level I admired her courage. On another level, I was jealous that she could abandon a promising life style, for a more spiritually oriented life style and fewer materialistic guarantees. On yet another level, Ms. Albers seemed to be a self-centered giddy convert to a new religion, promoting her “testimony” of how she arrived at such great spiritual heights.

Last Wednesday, I had need to find a particular passage in Whispers of the Spirit that I wanted to share with a friend. As I skimmed the text for the passage, I began to notice something. “Man, this book is packed with wisdom!” I thought. I am reading the book again, and this time I see something entirely different. The words haven't changed. Obviously, I have. When I first read the book, I was in a prideful, “Let's see if she can teach me anything attitude.” I was a stupid old man trying to be cool on an out of control motorcycle. Today, I am a seeker. Pride does not let go easily, but it is losing its grip. I have a thirst to learn. Ann Albers has much to say, and I'm listening.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another Faith Challenge

The last blog may have raised a question for some of you. So, in 1989, the tiger was an evangelist? He was part of a team under the direction of Dr. Tom Stebbins, the Evangelism Explosion Ambassador? And now, DeHomely does not claim to be a Christian, and what's more he claims to be a seeker.

My understanding and attitudes toward Christianity have been varied over the last 50 years. I have gone the gambit from negative, to positive, to negative to appreciative.

Christianity has influenced the majority of my life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the basic tenants of Christianity as taught by that humble and loving leader, Jesus of Nazareth. The Apostle Paul, if you read him as a Jew would read him, you would probably see that Jesus was a mystic, perhaps a prophet, and the Apostle Paul was solidly convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah (Christ). I am convinced that both Jesus and Paul are both mystics and both very solid Jewish mystics.

Listen, can you name many individuals that have been so influential in the everyday lives of people for 2000 years, as has this simple carpenter from Nazareth? His teachings have been twisted and abused more than any other notable teacher in history. It was not Jesus' fault that men have so corrupted his teachings and brought on so much tragedy and unhappiness in the world in his name. Yes, I can easily subscribe to the teachings of the gentle man of peace, and his staunch follower, Paul, every bit as much as I can appreciate the wisdom and kindness of that simple teacher from India, Mahatma Gandhi. I don't subscribe to all of the dogma and doctrine that has been imposed on those Jewish and Christian texts. I read them at face value, as any other piece of literature, accounting for custom and culture of the time. And yes, there is much wisdom to eschew.

I see Christianity as a temporary path for some of us.

Not for all of us.

It served a purpose in my life. And the abuses and corruptions in Christianity also lead me to seek a simpler truth, something less tainted by the agenda of ambitious and greedy men, or men that want God all neatly packaged and confined to a finite mental container that satisfies a very limited need.

Of course, some (atheists) would say that religion not only has messed up the history of man, but it also offers false hope for the afterlife. I think, so, if one dies with hope, and there is no afterlife, then there is no disappointment for the dead, is there?. On the other hand, if there is an afterlife, hope is an important part of dying. I have to laugh when I have been challenged by some militant atheists that are determined to rescue me from “false hope.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How soon I forget

Remember my July 5 blog?
How I talked about loving myself?

I have another story, a true story about one of many times that God has shown His love for me.

I think it was June of 1989. I and a team of evangelists were in JFK airport, New York, waiting to board a Nigeria Airways jet to Lagos, Nigeria. For many months prior, my team and I prepared for this trip, making sure that we had everything we needed for the trip. Including our passports and visas. By the time we had arrived at JFK, we were still not in receipt of our passports from the Nigerian Embassy. Our boarding time was to be at midnight. It was 4:30PM when Tom Stebbins called our agent and asked again about the status of the passports. “Go to the TWA terminal. They have them ready for you there,” they told Tom. Tom turned to Lyle Irvin, Bill Waters, and me, requesting that we take a journey over to the TWA terminal and get the passports.

The three of us caught the bus to the TWA terminal and arrived in a matter of minutes. The lady at the check-in counter was polite, but insisted that she had no package for Tom Stebbins, and had no record of such a package. In disbelief we returned to the Nigeria Airways terminal and reported the same to Tom.

Again, around 7:30 PM, Tom called the agent, and the agent again insisted that TWA had the passports. We took the trip once again, and returned empty handed, once again. We made the trip again at 9:30 PM and again at 11:30PM, as the plane was boarding, thirty minutes before the plane was to depart.

Again, the ticket agent told us she had nothing. We asked for a supervisor. He verified, they had nothing. As we turned to go back to Nigeria Airways, the ticket agent said, “Wait! I just thought of something. Maybe you are looking for TWA Express. They may have it.” We looked at each other. Lyle asked how to get there. The agent pointed us through a set of doors that took us to what appeared to be an alley with a dead-end. We looked at each other in disbelief. Why would the agent be so cruel as to send us out into a dead-end alley. We turned back toward the double doors to go back to the ticket agent. A voice came from behind, “You boys look lost.” It was a short gray-haired elderly lady dressed in a light brown tweed dress outfit. Her face was peaceful and her manner very friendly.

“We have to get to TWA Express. They may have a package for us.”

“Follow me. It is hard to find from here,” she said. She took us beyond what appeared to be the dead-end and then pointed further down the alley. “Keep walking that way until you come to another alley. Turn left and TWA Express is at the end of that alley.”

We turned to see where she was pointing, then turned to thank her. She was gone, nowhere to be seen and we had a clear view of the passageway for at least a half of a city block. We looked at each other in astonishment, then ran the remaining way to TWA Express. It was 11:56 PM. The plane was scheduled to depart in four minutes.

A young lady greeted us at the counter. “May I help you?”

“We are looking for a package from Washington D.C. to Tom Stebbins.”

The lady typed something into the computer. “No, we don't have anything under that name. Is there any other name?”

The disbelief in our eyes must have clued the woman into thinking that we had full expectation that the package was there. “One moment,” she said. She went to a large bin behind her, lifted the lid, and maneuvered around to get a better view of the contents. “Aha!” she exclaimed. She lifted herself down into the bin and disappeared momentarily, then resurfaced with a package in her hands. “Tom Stebbins,” she said as she climbed out of the bin. “We missed it.” She handed the package to Lyle. We turned, thanking the lady and ran back to the TWA terminal and out to catch the bus back to Nigeria Airways.

We arrived back to the departure gate, greeted by Tom Stebbins and the rest of the team. “We have it.”

“Great timing!” Tom said, “They just ordered our baggage off the plane.” He left immediately to find the gate manager. The gate manager delayed the flight and boarded us.

Later, as we discussed the event, we all agreed that the lady in the tweed suit was nothing short of an angel. We were absolutely sure that we were supposed to be on our way to Africa considering the miracle we had just experienced.

As I was walking the dogs today, that incident came to mind. I laughed, “Well, that miracle happened for the rest of the team, not for me. I was just a coincidental beneficiary of a gift that was meant for the rest of the team.”

Do you see the problem? Do you see how I so easily dismissed God's love for me?

I continued to think about how I had just now denied God's love for me. You see, God is not the problem in all of this. I am! And that is exactly what I need to work on—this notion that I have that I am not worthy of God's love.

Well, the fact is, I'm not worthy, but God's love is true love. He loves me because He is Love. He accepts me unconditionally. And I ask myself once again, “If God loves me, who am I to question God's judgment?" I need to love myself—without conditions.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Liability of Ethics in Privacy

In these modern times, we have been introduced more and more to a concept of “right to privacy.” The concept has become very institutionalized in our laws and in business practices. Financial institutions are required by law to publicize their privacy policies. Websites that do e-commerce, especially with credit cards, are required to publicly state their privacy policy. Any organization that collects personal information is required to publish a privacy statement explaining how the information they collect is used. The goal of the privacy laws and policies is obviously to protect individuals from being exploited, or to prevent discrimination against individuals.

Privacy laws and ethics enters into all aspects of our lives. Employers are particularly sensitive to privacy issues, partly because some employers have suffered very expensive lawsuits when they have been lax in protecting the privacy of ex-employees.

Now, here's the thing. Privacy can be a two-edged sword. While it is designed to protect some individuals, the enforcement of privacy can become a true liability to the party that is committed to protect the privacy of another.

Before I continue with an example, I want you to know that what follows is a fictional creation and I personally do not know any sales people with the name of Barry. The situation is a fictionalized representation of a scenario that can happen in any organization.

Let's say a hypothetical company had a salesman, named Barry, that worked very hard, and developed a network of contacts with many organizations. This was all a plus for this sales organization. But Barry had a dark side. Barry often used information he gained in his networking activity selectively to make himself appear to be more important than he was. Not that he had out right lied, but he ordered partial truths in such a way that it led the clients and associates to erroneous conclusions. In this manner, he had, on several occasions, misrepresented himself to other organizations using facts that were only partially true. Other sales staff started complaining that Barry had interrupted conversations with clients and made statements that contradicted what the client had just been told, adding confusion to the conversation, undermining the client confidence in the sales person, and finally handicapping the ability of the salesman to close the sale. Other good sales staff began to leave the company to get away from this interfering salesman. Some just refused to attempt to help a customer if Barry was in the area.

Complaints started coming in from the customers, as well. Some customers were confused about Barry's position and authority in the company. Some customers learned that Barry was manipulating them with partial truths and stopped doing business with the company altogether. On one occasion, the sales manager directed Barry to work with a client and told him specifically how to handle the client. Barry disobeyed the sales manager and not only lost the sale, but caused the customer go away with hard feelings.

The sales manager talked to Barry many times to no avail, hearing excuses like, “they misunderstood me”, and “I only want the best for the company.” Finally, the sales manager had to fire Barry. There was no one incident that in itself (other than the incident where insubordination was involved) actually warranted Barry's dismissal. But, the cumulative affect of the incidents became a burden to the company. The liability had come to outweigh any good Barry was capable of doing.

Now, Barry goes about spreading rumors about his ex-employer and ex-associates. He says he was fired because he “knew too much,” and tells other stories with half truths cleverly designed to bring suspicion on the company. He tells others that many employees are leaving the company, casting doubt in the way of old clients and potential clients. Meanwhile, the employer can only say, “Barry was released from the position for cause. Because of our commitment to privacy we won't discuss the details of the dismissal.” Some employers today don't even say that much. They will say something like, “Barry worked here, and now he doesn't.” No matter what, the company continues to shoulder the burden of Barry's rants, while steadfastly keeping and honoring the principles of Barry's right to privacy.

In an effort to show itself as being a company of integrity and principle, it has to shoulder the liability of Barry's continued deceptive rants. However, in the eye of the public there is a huge question concerning the integrity of a company that would fire an individual with such talent for which Barry is recognized.

At the same time, the general public can't see through Barry's veiled agenda to destroy his ex-employer. They cannot see that Barry has little regard for his own integrity, much less that of the company that once employed him. In fact, Barry's ultimate goal is to destroy his ex-employer.

Does this seem fair?

It isn't fair.

Life is not fair.

When you hear voices assaulting an ex-employer, or an ex-friend, for that matter, know that there are two sides to any story, and the one that “doth protest too much” may be the one that is not bound by ethics and may also be the one that lacks integrity. In any case, before one takes any action or position based on what is said by any departed associate, it is wise to investigate the situation thoroughly, and also know that the ex-employer may be suffering the liability of protecting the privacy of the very person that attacks it.

Be Peace.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reality Revisited

In my last post, I talked about learning to love myself.

I don't make sense, do I?

Not even to myself!

Look at my posts. How many times have I told you that God has demonstrated His love to me over and over again.

I honestly and absolutely believe it!

Then logically, how can I dare to say that God is wrong about His love for me.

Well, isn't that strange? If God is the All-knowing, then He can't be wrong, and I don't believe I am lovable, then I must be wrong about God's love for me. Right?

No! That is totally illogical if we understand that God is love. If God is love, then He accepts me as I am, unconditionally. He loves me.

So, logically, I must love myself, or be against God.

It doesn't work that way, does it?

We humans are capable of such great inconsistency. We are totally comfortable with saying what is logical, but accepting that which is not. We do, to a large degree, create our own reality.

This is where we run into trouble.

Is it safe to say, as say the Buddhists and Kaballists, that the only reality is God and spirit? All else is an illusion. When we bring our illusion into agreement with reality, this is when we can live without contradiction and be totally comfortable with what and who we are.

That, dear friend, is so hard to do after 63 years of believing the illusion.

It is said that we shall live any number of lives necessary to bring us to that point when our perception of reality is in agreement with Divine reality. Then we no longer have to re-incarnate. Our learning is over. We have arrived.

A few years ago, I read two very important books by Ms. Ann Albers. Ms. Albers had her B.S. in electrical engineering and went to work for a company subcontracted under Honeywell to develop the software for the cockpit of the Boeing 777 aircraft. She was almost immediately made a supervisor and put in charge of the group responsible for getting the software completed, tested and integrated with all the systems of the entire aircraft.

Even though Ms. Albers was not a religious person, she seemed none-the-less open to spiritual leading. Through the years on that project the Spirit began to work with her.

By the time the project was completed, and new and more lucrative and prestigious positions were offered to her, she left them all to follow the call of her Spirit.
She too, had to learn to love herself. She had to work past all of those internal voices that tell us we can't love ourselves. Her story and her books are inspirational to me.

A conversation with a friend last night brought me back to her books. As I scanned the pages for some very specific information, I realized how much more her experience is relevant to my current situation. I am going to read them again to revisit the wisdom that escaped me on the first reading.

Here is some of that wisdom from Whispers of the Spirit:

I knew more clearly than ever before that my work at Honeywell was nearing completion. My work with Ariel was changing too, as I started to really understand what she had been saying about being a “higher” part of the “One.” I saw her now as an angelic being who, unlike me, had never forgotten the power of living with in the sacred circle of life. In one sense, I felt a loss as I realized her wisdom was in some way not new, but something that had always buried deep within me. The feeling of loss was soon replaced by a sense of homecoming as I realized I had regained conscious access to the wisdom of my soul. I had discovered, at long last, the whispers from within. Ann Albers, Whispers of the Spirit P174

I think two things, now. I have had that type of epiphany many times in life, and have been so grateful for them. Secondly, this passage makes so much more sense to me now than it did a year or two ago because I had not learned what I needed to know that would allow complete understanding of the passage. I'm sure that I will learn much more from the second reading of this book, and her book, Love Is the River.

What about the book by the Dalai Lama I have been reading? Well, how “coincidental” that I should be reading how to expand love around me, as I am also learning how I must learn to love myself, as well. Again, God affirms His love for me in the way He has brought me to this point. I am humbled, but at the same time, feel so privileged to be in the immediate care and guidance of the most high God.

By the way, I heard a man on the radio the other night say, “Coincidence is God working anonymously.”

How true.

Oh, how true.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The No Diet Diet Update

On my June 8, 2009 blog I talked about taking on a new weight loss effort following the prescription of Jon Gabriel in his book, The Gabriel Method: The Revolutionary DIET-FREE Way to Totally Transform Your Body

It is reality check time, now. How am I doing? Well, try this on for size. (No pun intended.) I have gained nine pounds, the largest single one-month weight gain I have experienced in over three years! In fact, it is the ONLY weight gain I have experienced in over three years.

So, what is going on?

Did Jon Gabriel fail me?

Is the Gabriel Method another cruel hoax?

A resounding “No!” to both questions. Eating disorders are nasty disorders, much like battling an addiction to heroine or alcohol. They are complex and they are deeply rooted.

“Hi, I'm DeHomely. I have a food addiction.”

And the crowd responds in a dry, but familiar sing-song Friends of Bill chant: “Hi, DeHomely.”

One thing I know about my psyche: you can't give me an out. You dare not give me any wiggle room in the rules of engagement. If you do, I will push the envelope to my own destruction – just like any other addicted person.

If Jon says, “Diet free,” I take that to the extreme. I no longer have to watch what I eat, in my own mind, and guess what. I ate with total abandon.

OK. Now that I know that Jon requires a rational approach to eating, then, I guess I better examine myself again to see if I can accept responsibility for my own lack of reason.

Am I discouraged? No. But I am sick about it. And I am determined to try once again, this time using something that resembles “reason.”

Are you laughing yet? If not, you should be.

If I do have a complaint about Jon Gabriel's book is that it is for a very specific audience. Jon clearly warns the reader in a very brief statement that eating disorders can have some very deep psychological and chemical roots , and that those issues need to be addressed with professional guides. Beyond, perhaps, a simple paragraph, that is all he says about that. Jon's assumption is that you are an average person that has a healthy body, and a healthy love for yourself.

Let's go back, then. Didn't I confess that I have a food addiction?

I did.

And I do.

I am retired, on a limited income, and I don't have insurance. I can't pay for professional guidance. What can I do?

I personally believe, after nearly 63 years of self-examination, that I have a solid absence of love for self. This is not saying I am not selfish. Believe me, most people that lack love for self, will be selfish inversely proportional to the degree to which they lack love for self. Selfishness, and self-love are on two opposite ends of the continuum. A person that has the proper amount of love for self, will also have other things in balance. A person that loves himself or herself will most likely not be arrogant. Those that have the healthy amount of love for self, will also have a very healthy love for others. Such a person will most likely be well liked, as well—kind of like Jon Gabriel.

For me, I must continue on with my exercises in learning to love. Part of those exercises include learning to love myself. The bottom line is this: I am face to face with the demon behind all addictions—-self-hatred. I need a complete overhaul of my mind. I must learn to love myself.

Not only does this involve a renewing of the mind, but first, a re-knowing of the mind. Had I examined myself honestly in the beginning, and admitted that I am dealing with self-hatred and addiction, my approach may have been more realistic in the first place. But I didn't. I was too blinded by the hope that maybe I had found the holy grail. This is common amongst those of us who battle with self-hatred. Somehow it is as if we want to continue to hate ourselves at all costs. Damned crazy, if you ask me. But, what do I know?

OK, one more thing must be clear to you by now. It is the vicious cycle found in all addictions: the more you succumb to the temptations of your addictions, the more you hate yourself. The more you hate yourself, the more you will succumb to your addictions. The cycle must be broken, and believe me, if you try to attack the addictions, you will lose the battle, and eventually the war.

You must assert an attitude of forgiveness toward yourself and find away to love yourself, and others. Then and only then, will the power of self-hatred and its partnered addictions be finally overcome. That is my goal, and believe me, it is far easier said than done.

Do you suppose there is anything to the fact that I am talking about shedding the tyranny of my self-hatred on July 4 (Independence Day)?

Be Peace. Be Love