Monthly Archives: October 2008

Wooden Puppet Eyes

Plump and round, waddling out of the house

Rosy cheeks and a big black belt with a big fat buckle

Bald as a bat and smiley as a salamander

Furry animal companion jolly as can be

Skin white as snow with wooden puppet eyes


Wooden puppet eyes and a wooden puppet soul

Waddling out of the house of the black neighbors

Why is Santa man wearing a gun?

Why does he have five clones? and that’s not a reindeer!

And it’s not Christmas Eve!           


Five white men waddle out of the black neighbor’s house

Searching for a reason to pull the trigger

Searching for a reason to perpetuate the disparity between

Black and white in a “free society” with “opportunity” and an “American dream”


Excuse your interruption, wooden puppet eyes

I know my neighbors and my neighbors know me

But I don’t know you and your hot lead weapon is not welcome here

Excuse your interruption wooden puppet eyes

While we were busy crossing cultural lines and getting comfortable

With each other’s skin

You brought your warrant and your hot itchy gun.

Thanks for the unwarranted reminder

Of white man’s oppression and the scars of our fathers

Of power and control and who’s in control

Of why it’s not okay to trust a white man

Even with plump rosy cheeks and a jolly grin and fury companion

We could have talked about it over dinner

But you brought it to our doorstep along with your hot lead weapon


So back to work you go and back to work I go

But listen closely Santa man while I tell a prophecy

Hope will see the end of the hot lead weapon

We’ll burry it deep in the earth and it will join the granite of old

Faith will bring forgiveness and reconciliation

And heal the deep scars of our fathers

Love will see us through our differences

So that we can hold each other’s hands and each other’s hearts

These three, and only these three will remain. And that is our work.


*This poem was inspired this morning as I looked outside my window to see five deputies searching my neighbor’s home.


Newell on Grace

Christ is often referred to in the Celtic Tradition as the truly natural one. He comes not to make us more than natural or somehow other than natural but to make us truly natural. He comes to restore us to the original root of our being. As the twentieth century French-mystic-scientist Teilhard de Chardin says much later in the Celtic world, grace is “the seed of resurrection” sown in our nature. It is given not to make us something other than ourselves but to make us radically ourselves. Grace is given not to implant in us a foreign wisdom but to make us alive to the wisdom that was born with us in our mother’s womb. Grace is given not to lead us into another identity but to reconnect us to the beauty of our deepest identity. And grace is given not that we might find some exterior source of strength but that we might be established again in the deep inner security of our being and in learning to lose ourselves in love for one another to truly find ourselves.

J. Philip Newell, Christ of the Celts (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass) 10.

Newell on the Gospel

I do not believe the gospel, which literally means “good news,” is given to tell us that we have failed or been false. That is not news, and it is not good. We already know that much about ourselves. We know we have been false, even to those whom we most love in our lives and would most want to be true to… Rather, the Gospel is given to tell us what we do not know or what we have forgotten, and that is who we are, sons and daughters of the One from whom all things come. It is when we begin to remember who we are, and who all people truly are, that we will begin to remember also what we should be doing and how we should be relating to one another as individuals and as nations and as an entire earth community.

J. Philip Newell, Christ of the Celts (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass) 8.

Sinful or Divine?

In my latest read, Christ of the Celts, J. Philip Newell challenges the church’s doctrine of original sin, saying that “it teaches that what is deepest in us is opposed to God rather than of God… it is a doctrine that disempowers us”. Rather than seeing man as inherently sinful or fallen, Newell presumes the inherently divine, viewing the created man as an extension of God. He further invokes the 4th Century Celt, Pelagius from Whales who opposed the doctrine of original sin because it would “distance Christ from what is at the core of our being (p 19)”.

Newell argues that “Christ comes to restore us to our depths” and remind us of our true identity as divine creation– not condemn us for being sinful.  I appreciate his point of view and also think that the implications for his view of self vs. sin cultivate space for a much more intimate and authentic relationship with God. In many ways, many of us Evangelicals have a very shame based faith as a result of our understanding of sin. This is what drives people to an immense amount of guilt, pain, and countless recommitments to Christ at the latest Billy Graham Crusade.  

Newell goes on to say that the “doctrine of original sin was a convenient truth for the builders of [the Roman] empire. They could continue to conquer the world and subdue peoples. And now they could do it with a divine calling… It was to be a religion of dependency.” (p 20)

The Song of Amergin

I am the wind on the sea. 
I am the ocean wave. 
I am the sound of the billows. 
I am the seven-horned stag. 
I am the hawk on the cliff. 
I am the dewdrop in sunlight. 
I am the fairest of flowers. 
I am the raging boar. 
I am the salmon in the deep pool. 
I am the lake on the plain. 
I am the meaning of the poem. 
I am the point of the spear. 
I am the god that makes fire in the head. 
Who levels the mountain? 
Who speaks the age of the moon? 
Who has been where the sun sleeps? 
Who, if not I?

Amergin mac Miled, 1530 BCE

More Recommendable Spiritual Blogs!

I’m still searching high and low for blogs that emphasize Christian Spirituality. If you’ve come across any recently, please let me know. In the meantime, check these out:

Abbey of the Arts

Mustard Seed Associates

Jesus for President



Happy Blogging!

An Evangelical Way Ahead of His Time

As I look back on most Christian musicians that I listened to growing up, I am sorely disappointed. Generally speaking, they lacked authentic artistic expression, the music was cheesy, and it conveyed a very narrow, black and white view of God. However, there is one musician who stands out among the rest: the late Rich Mullins. Rich, who died in a car accident in 1997, was a compassionate leader among Evangelicals. He lived on a Navajo reservation, was seldom seen without his trademark blue jeans and white t-shirt, and wrote songs that reached our hearts as few poets could. Rich was living the life of a radical Christian while most of us were still trying to get as many people as we could to “pray the prayer”. Here’s one of his quotes from one of his last concerts:

Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken. 

Below are the lyrics to my favorite Rich Mullins song, “Hold Me Jesus”:

Well, sometimes my life 
Just don’t make sense at all 
When the mountains look so big 
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf 
You have been King of my glory 
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark 
It’s so hot inside my soul 
I swear there must be blisters on my heart


Surrender don’t come natural to me 
I’d rather fight You for something 
I don’t really want 
Than to take what You give that I need 
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls 
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band 
Is playing this hymn 
And Your grace rings out so deep 
It makes my resistance seem so thin


You have been King of my glory 
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

Which musicians from your past influenced you in a positive way?