Music In My Head

[Image removed]I hear the deep thud of the bass drum coming through the walls. I have buried my head in a cotton pillow. I am trying to fall asleep, but I am restless. The music rhythmically beats bump, bump, bump.

Tent cities going up around the country, more and more unfamiliar homeless faces on the street—someone has started to sleep by the sidewalk on my block. I have never seen a homeless man sleep so close to my apartment before.

In the morning I meet with religious leaders in the East Bay. We have formed an Interfaith Immigration Coalition, with an acronym for a name and everything. A suited man who works for the Catholic diocese emails me a survey of 1000 Catholic adults. I am most appalled by the answer to a particular question: Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose U.S. government assistance and trade policies that would create jobs abroad in order to prevent immigrants from coming here illegally to seek employment? Only 37% gave support. 57% opposed such policies. Fifty-seven percent! I can hardly believe it. Do they not know why people migrate?

Bump, bump, bump—music from below, heard through the walls, getting into my head.

“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons…” Thus begins the book of Ruth, a story of migration: A father moves for economic reasons, looking for food, looking for work, looking for a new and bigger family, to continue. But these days it is worse, because I know there is no naturally caused famine in the two-thirds world. The great United States, inheriting its grand imperialism from Europe conquistadors, has exploited the land and labor in Latin America. “Free Trade” comes with the freedom to oppress. We cause the famine. We live in a land of plenty, because we steal from the masses.

Music, melody, harmony, discord, rhythm, bump, bump, bump, through the wall, over the fence, across the border, bump, bump, a beating heart, coming to me in the night


For those who doubt

The scene where Thomas asks, "Are you sure this is sanitary?"

The scene where Thomas asks, "Are you sure this is sanitary?"

For those of us who doubt, we have it hard. We want to believe, but we also enjoy being skeptical and explorative. We don’t want to answers to come quickly, because we like discovering the beauty of the cracks and crevices.

James says that the doubter is “double-minded and unstable in every way,” “like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”  Well, that describes me pretty well, so what do I do?

Enter the creative/literary beauty of John’s Gospel, a book that is boring if interpreted literally but wonderful if experienced as metaphor.

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

It’s necessary that we leave our privilege and safety to feel the wounds of those crucified by an unjust world. For me, I feel called to put my finger in the mark of the nails, because when Christ appears in the flesh, I am humbled and amazed. I see God anew.

In this Easter season, I hope that you ask to see the wounded body of Jesus, for if you do, whether it be in oppressed workers, or in immigrants threatened with deportation, or in marginalized glbtq folk, you will be struck by the presence of a living God who dwells in the struggling lives of the disinherited.

You will be given a resurrection in which to believe.

“Do not be among winebibbers”

Jesus recommended this on a regular basis. (Painting by Judi Bagnato)

Jesus recommended this on a regular basis. It's good for your heart. (Painting by Judi Bagnato)

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who linger late over wine,
those who keep trying mixed wines.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
At the last it bites like a serpent,
and stings like an adder.
Your eyes will see strange things,
and your mind utter perverse things.
You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
like one who lies on the top of a mast.
‘They struck me’, you will say, ‘but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.’

Proverbs 23:29-35

I gave up alcohol for Lent. I think it was all those John Wesley sermons I read…

Get out of the city

“For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

Hebrews 13

We must leave our exclusive cities to encounter the stranger.

What will our sacrifice be? We will bring the things we have to share into the sanctuary? Or will we take it out of the gates, to share with the one who suffers?

Some cool quotations that rock my socks/mind

Here are cool quotes that are awesomely intense. I love to be challenged by ancient wisdom and prophetic voices.

“Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you”  – James 5:1-6

“I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.” – Socrates, Apology

“Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.”

– Tao Te Ching, 9

Hello friends

From Ezekiel 37

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. The Lord led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. The Lord said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’