Y’All Means ALL or Universal Salvation

hrc12937bu_2The HRC came out with a new T-shirt design that I love:  “Y’all means All.”

This T-shirt is meant to underscore the equal rights that are inherently owed to ALL human beings, and perhaps point out that ironically, states that are more prone to using the “Y’all” are most in need of remembering that God loves ALL of his children.  So, for all those reasons I love this T-shirt.  But I also love it because it reminds me of Universal Salvation.

I’ve been contemplating Universal Salvation a lot lately (so much so that I want to get the words “Universal Salvation” as my next tattoo).  Universal Salvation means that God has already “saved” everyone – that all souls will in the end return to God and as Rob Bell so daringly proclaimed (and I wrote about in a previous post) – Love Wins!

1024px-Francesco_Botticini_-_The_Assumption_of_the_VirginMorwenna Ludlow, in her book, describes Gregory of Nyssa’s two arguments for universal salvation as: “a fundamental belief in the impermanence of evil in the face of God’s love and a conviction that God’s plan for humanity is intended to be fulfilled in every single human being.”  In other words – Y’all means ALL.

Of course God loves all her children and would never leave any soul languishing in torment and separation.  Of course God will “save” us all and bring us all into Her Eternal Love.  Of course happiness is inevitable for all living things.  Of course all beings in all the worlds will be happy and at peace.  (I’m thinking I’ll get the Lokaha Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu as part of the tattoo as well – they mean the same thing).

And this is God’s victory alone – it has nothing to do with how great we are or how moral we are or how righteous we are – and it does not depend upon us converting the rest of the world to our particular religion (whichever one that is).  Universal Salvation is accomplished completely through God’s Grace.

graceI’ve been listening to Richard Rohr, my favorite God-crush, on my straight and narrow drives through the Florida flatlands to see my sisters and he has been talking about the completely unmerited quality of God’s Grace and of Universal Salvation.  Grace is just a gift from God that we receive constantly through no merit of our own, but simply from God’s love.  Yet, so often in religions and spiritual circles the notion of Grace becomes bizarrely confused with morality, karma or deservability.

I have been taught a lot about “invoking Grace,” and “pulling down Grace” and making ourselves “irresistible to God” so God would bless us with more Grace.  Nevermind the thought that someone could actually be “resistible” to God, that whole way of speaking somehow implies that Grace is something that is earned.  I’ve also been told that my Grace had run out, I didn’t deserve any more Grace due to my bad karma or lack of surrender, but again, that is being spoken from the premise that Grace is given only to the deserving.  7EF5243744C143FE98D711C3351CF5C7.ashxBut the very definition of Grace is that is it given to all with no restrictions as to merit or effort or worth.  Grace means that we all have an indestructible, inherent deservability – God loves us all unconditionally and gives us all unconditional Grace out of that love. Y’all means ALL.

In reality, all our spiritual practices or prayers or meditations are aimed not at making us more worthy of Grace or more worthy of Salvation, but of opening us to receive the Grace and the Universal Salvation that has already been given, or rather opening us to perceive the Grace of Universal Salvation that is always HERE.

10352890_1057779390900703_999636798334927694_nAs Richard Rohr puts it in his book What the Mystics Know: “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God.  What’s absent is awareness.”  That is a truer way to teach about the Grace and Presence of God – what is missing is not our effort or morality or worthiness – the only missing ingredient in our experience of the Grace of Salvation is our awareness. 

I already wrote about this experience, but it is a moment I think about often:  Years ago I had this experience of looking up at the night sky and seeing, right along with the stars and the moon and the whole universe, Grace showering down upon the entire earth.  At the time I perceived it as “showering down upon” because that is what I had been taught – that we pull Grace down by our effort and prayers.  But now I realize that maybe what I was seeing in that moment was just the Grace that exists everywhere at all times as the Presence of God that holds every single human, animal, plant and mineral, the state of immutable perfection that is God as the created cosmos.

So, all we have to “do” is stop doing – stop doing anger or guilt, stop doing judgment or self-judgment, stop doing hatred or self-hatred, stop doing fear and hell-fire.  Once we stop doing, we naturally reside in Grace.  Once we let go of our egoic sense of unworthiness and effort, we naturally fall into God’s unconditional love.

Once we become aware of our oneness with the human and the divine and remember that Y’all means ALL, we can be fully present in awareness and realize our Universal Salvation.


Please explore Richard Rohr’s Many Wonderful Books and Audios or other authors explored in this post:

The Radical Oneness of Equality

onenessI wrote a post about the Radical Equality of Oneness – about how if we want to Awaken and live in Oneness, we cannot judge others and we cannot refer to the greater parts of humanity as “the unawakened masses.”  If we are to truly Awaken into Oneness, we must have the ability and the humility to see ourselves in all of humanity, to see ourselves as part of a greater whole and to love that wholeness as our Self.

Now with the Supreme Court ruling on Gay Marriage in June and all the talk of equal rights for all, I realize that there is also a Radical Oneness in Equality. Sometimes, as a card carrying member and facebook follower of the Human Rights Campaign, from time to time I see t-shirts, tote bags and facebook emblems where you can choose between “Lesbian for Equal Rights” or “Straight Ally for Equal Rights” or Transgender for Equal Rights” etc. and while I can see the value of showing that ALL kinds of people support Equal Rights for LGBTQ people, I sometimes wish there was a “Who Cares What I Am, I’m a Human Being for Equal Rights.” And that is because saying that I’m a Straight Ally makes it seem that I’m fighting for equal rights for someone other than myself, but I feel that equal rights for ALL people is MY issue.

Equal rights for gays and lesbians, for transgender, bi-sexual and queer human beings affect ME, even though God happened to make me heterosexual.  It affects all of us.  We ARE one, whether we live in the realization of that truth or not, we ARE – and other people living under oppression and prejudice, other people living with harassment and even violence affects ME.  My quality of life is affected by the LGBTQ community not being treated as equal human beings.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28:  Supporters of marriage equality gather outside the Supreme Court of the United States to demonstrate support for LGBT couples on April 28, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for HRC)

(Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for HRC)

I can’t pin point a specific moment in my day when I am refused services, denied benefits or sneered upon.  I am free to marry and adopt and share my life with whoever I may fall in love with in any state I may go to.  I don’t have any experience in my life of being bullied or beaten with baseball bats.  But all I can say is that my life is unquestionably effected.  My whole being is effected.  I feel the pain of all the gay and lesbian beings in the world living in oppression, prejudice and derision.  The fact that 40% of transgender human beings attempt suicide because of the pain they feel  in a society that refuses to accept them for who they are hurts my heart, even though I was born with both female identity and female parts.  The fact that so many Americans still do not have the right to marry who they love eats away at me – the injustice, the wrongness weighs on my conscience as a member of this human race.  The fact that a gay or lesbian citizen of Brunei could actually be stoned to death for who they are makes me want to weep.  It is the same with the deaths of so many black men at the hands of police brutality, the same with the pain of the disenfranchised in Baltimore and Ferguson and in so many places on earth – it has an undeniable, actual impact on my life and my being.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  That is not just a theoretical idea or a poetic way of saying injustice anywhere is wrong.  Because, it is not just a theoretical Oneness – we live in an ACTUAL Oneness.  And the pain and injustice suffered by the LGBTQ community or any other persecuted or oppressed people creates a very real and actual pain in my being.  It’s not theoretical – it’s visceral.  I can feel it in the cells of my body, I can feel it in my human heart, I can feel it in my soul in a way that is tangible.  I know we are taught that the outer world is real and our inner world is not real – but that is not true.  The inner world exists within every aspect our outer reality and it is in some ways more real – and in this very real way injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  The pain of injustice in any human heart is a pain in every human heart, even those of the persecutors.

jesus-faithThis is why I am so passionate about equality.  This is why I feel so strongly that God loves ALL her children and that to legalize discrimination of gays and lesbians in the name of God is an atrocity!  Jesus would have wept at this hatefulness committed in His name.  I know in my heart of hearts that whatever quotes from whatever scriptures anyone spouts – God loves ALL her children (lobsters and all).  God is Love, and if we are made in God’s image, we must also learn love and we must stop promulgating hate in the name of God.

Once again, God conspired with Father Ted to bring me the perfectly relevant sermon for my internal process – showing how even in the bible there is the argument for inclusion (of course).

Father Ted’s sermon was about the reading from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles we had just heard, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. The Ethiopian was reading Jewish scripture, even though as a eunuch, a castrated male, Jewish purity laws would have prevented him from being accepted into the Jewish community.  Yet Philip, who had preached the Good News of Jesus the Christ to Samaritans and other gentiles, accepted the Ethiopian eunuch and baptized him, despite his different nationality, the different color of his skin and his different sexuality.

As Father Ted put it:

“It is a story about the inclusion of someone, who by many of the standards of the day, should have been excluded.  This story of the Ethiopian eunuch is relevant for today’s Church… This story of the Ethiopian eunuch is also a story relevant to public events this past week.  The Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the validity of same-sex marriages, and Bruce Jenner, who won the gold medal in the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics as a male, announced that he is transgender.

I believe the most important question before us is not about sexuality. It is about witness. It is about the question “What witness will we make?”  Our witness is the public affirmation of our faith. It is how we let the world see that we practice what we preach.  This is our opportunity to be what we say we are…

Our witness is to the unconditional love of God.  There are no gate-keepers at the doors of this church.  As we proclaim in our Baptismal Covenant “we respect the dignity of every human being,” and are never ashamed of who sits next to us in worship. We are all the children of God.

The story of the Ethiopian eunuch is about including someone who would otherwise be excluded.  The Church and our society are struggling with that same issue today.  We, in this particular community of faith, proclaim God’s unconditional love, and God’s unconditional love includes everyone and excludes no one.”

10423916_956135247753224_6797323417058110768_nThen I read a blog post from my favorite Bishop (yes, I have a favorite Bishop.  Don’t you?), Bishop John Shelby Spong.  He wrote a wonderful article about how there can be no compromise on the moral issue of ending homophobia in all its forms. He compared it to the moral issue of slavery in the 1800’s.  Before the Civil War, the US government had tried very diligently to compromise on the issue of slavery, trying to find ways to allow the Southern states to maintain the brutal institution while the Northern states recognized the dignity of every human being.  But there is no way to compromise on such issues where our very humanity is on the line.  And even though people used the bible to justify slavery and even though a diminishing minority clung to their false righteousness, there came a time where the injustice of slavery could no longer be accepted in our collective consciousness.

It is the same with homophobia, it is the same with all civil rights.  As we evolve in human consciousness, as our collective consciousness grows in love, we can no longer accept the hatefulness of the past.  I cannot accept it!  Hate anywhere is a threat to Love everywhere.  Pain and persecution anywhere, is pain and persecution not just in some theoretical “everywhere” – but HERE, in ME.  I am a straight ally and I am a human being, and Equality is MY issue.  I am working to heal the pain in my own heart, to end the suffering in my own life.  I am working from the Radical Oneness of Equality.


WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28:  Supporters of marriage equality gather outside of the Supreme Court of the United States to demonstrate their support for LGBT couples on April 28, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for HRC)

(Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for HRC)

There were so many sections of Bishop Spong’s article that I wanted to include that I could have just posted his post and said “exactly!”, so I decided to put them all at the bottom of my post.  Below are my favorite parts, or you can read the full article.

In the slavery debate, those who shared the new consciousness were quite clear. Human beings cannot be held in bondage. This new consciousness challenged those definitions, which suggested that some people did not qualify as human beings; that some people were primitive, childlike, created to be subservient, and were, therefore, fit for nothing other than manual labor. Within that definition, slavery was deemed to be morally acceptable.

I thought about this period of history as I read of my own church, the Anglican Communion, seeking a way, “for the sake of unity,” to accommodate divergent opinions on the issue of homosexuality. The Church’s leadership is acting as if negotiation is possible in this conflict, yet the obvious fact is that homosexuality, like slavery, is a moral issue and thus not amenable to compromise.

The old definition asserts that homosexuality is a choice that evil, perverted or subhuman people make. It cannot, therefore, be tolerated… The emerging new consciousness, on the other hand, rejects every part of that definition. It asserts that homosexual people are neither morally depraved nor mentally sick, since one’s sexual orientation is not a choice; but something to which one awakens. It is like the dawning realization that one is male or female, part of a particular race or nation or even right or left-handed. A just and moral society cannot be erected on a premise that some human beings are subhuman or perverted, not on the basis of their doing but on the basis of their being. It matters not what any source of ancient wisdom has previously declared. The Bible, for example, was once quoted to support slavery, to oppose science and to prevent women from achieving equality. On every one of those issues the Bible was quite simply wrong. To quote it now to uphold the evil of homophobia is no less wrong.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy simply takes the old definition and labors first to defang it and then to perfume it. They call homosexuality “unnatural,” or “a deviation,” urging that it be suppressed wherever possible and controlled where not possible. Homosexuality, however, has now been incontrovertibly identified as present in the world of higher mammals. It also appears to be a stable and unchanging percentage of the human race at all times and in all places. These data suggest that homosexuality is not unnatural at all but is a minority aspect of the created order that appears quite normally in all higher forms of life.

The leaders of the mainline churches pretend that some compromise is possible. They seek to protect unity by attempting to civilize the debate until a new consensus arrives. They count “the unity of the church” as a worthy goal even as that forced unity violates that Institution’s integrity. Can you imagine that part of the Church that said no to slavery being asked to apologize for upsetting the consciences of the slaveholders? Can you imagine Church leaders saying to slaveholders, “we will not challenge the morality of your decisions about slaves because we would rather keep our faith community united?” Can you imagine coddling slaveholders so that they will not separate themselves in schism from the Church? Can anyone imagine any slave-holding church claiming to be the body of Christ?

Yet if you substitute the word homosexuality for the word slavery, that is what is present today in the main line churches. If homosexuality is a given not a chosen way of life, the continued violation of gay and lesbian people, in order to preserve unity with the Church’s homophobic constituency, is simply immoral.  Not to bear corporate witness to those who still languish in the dying definitions of the past is to turn one’s back on the very meaning of the Christ.

If the essence of our Christ is summed up in words that John’s Gospel attributes to him, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly,” then the choice is clear. Homophobia diminishes life; it does not make it more abundant. It must be ended; it cannot be tolerated even by making it kinder and gentler.

To the leaders of the Churches today I say: “Stop playing ecclesiastical games. Compromising truth never serves the cause of unity…. There is no room for waffling on this moral imperative. The idea that you will allow politicians to advocate placing discrimination against homosexual persons into the Constitution of this country, while your voices are either in agreement or remain deafeningly silent, is an embarrassment. If it takes a split in the body of Christ to make this generation understand that homosexuality, like slavery, is a non-debatable, moral issue, then for God’s sake, for Christ’s sake, you must be willing to pay that price.”


 

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Are Lobsters Going to Hell?

lobsterOk, I haven’t done a silly post in a long time.  Given that I haven’t been posting every day I have not felt in danger of taking myself too seriously, but I should stay committed to my policy of regular silly posting none-the-less.  I guess the real danger of taking yourself too seriously is when you think you are not in danger!

So, my silly post this week is about my idea to stage a protest outside of Red Lobster!  We could make signs, form a picket line, stamp back and forth yelling slogans.  It could even be a nationwide Red Lobster boycott that could make for silly nationwide news coverage!

Why am I picking on Red Lobster?  What have they done?  Violated workers rights or paid their employees paltry wages like McDonalds?  Served french fries with 19 ingredients like McDonalds?  Why am I not calling for a boycott of McDonalds instead??

Well, it’s biblical.

The bible says that shellfish are an abomination!  In fact, it says so 7 times, so it must be like a really bad abomination!  So, that is why I’m asking the question (despite the fact that I don’t believe hell exists, that happiness is inevitable for all living things, including lobsters, and that in the end Love always wins):  Are lobsters going to hell?

Leviticus 11:10 says “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.” 

RedLobster_ext2_cropped_959_487_90_c1I’m not really clear if this means that those who eat lobsters are going to hell or that the lobsters themselves are going to hell, but someone sure is going to hell and it definitely means we should stage protests outside of Red Lobster!  Right?

I always think of this when I see people protesting Equal Rights for LGBTQ persons on the basis of the bible.  I want to join them with signs saying “Lobsters are Going to Hell!” and “Poly-Cotton Blends are Sinful!” and “Stop Women from Braiding Their Hair NOW!”  (Yes, Leviticus also bans wearing cloth “of two kinds of material mixed together” and women braiding their hair or wearing gold, pearls or costly garments.)

churchsignIn looking up Leviticus verses for this post I actually came across a website called God Hates Shrimp.  I was relieved to find out that the site was in fact a parody, pointing out just the sort of thing that my Red Lobster boycott aims to – that to pick and choose which bible verses to plaster on neon green poster board is hypocritical at best, bigoted and hateful at worst.

The blog 11 points put together a list of 11 things that are banned in the bible that we do anyway, and no one thinks a thing about it.  And there are much more than 11 things – and not all of them are silly.  Along with the rules stating how many camels should be given in dowry to the husband’s family, how many chickens should be given to the rabbi after each woman’s menstrual cycle before she may enter the temple again and how a man may not harm the edges of his beard, the bible also calls for stonings and all kinds of barbaric punishments for relatively minor offenses and endorses slavery, as long as the slaves are foreigners.

Personally, I believe more in tuning in to the Living Word of God that resides in our hearts and tells us what is right, what is loving and what brings us closer to Christ or Krishna, but for an alternate use of bible verses – here is a list of 15 bible verses that support LGBTQ Equality!

So, in a typical self-contradiction, and in a typical silly post turning social justice, I have changed my mind and instead of boycotting Red Lobster, I call for Lobster Rights!  Lobsters and Shrimp Unite!  Take a stand for your worthiness in the eyes of the Lord!  In my heart of hearts I know, God Loves Lobsters, too!

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HRC_Red-LogoIn the absence of a Lobster Rights Campaign, please consider helping Human Rights Campaign in their fight for equality!