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______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

The Zimzum of Love December 7, 2015

zimzumThe Zimzum of Love:
A New Way of Understanding Marriage
– Rob and Kristen Bell

My wife and I have been through counseling.
We’ve also had training to “do” counseling.
We have, in fact, provided counseling.
And we have 36 years (more or less) of marriage.
Just saying, I know a little bit about marriage and counseling.
From that stance, I can highly recommend this book.

This is a pretty short, easy read.  Yet, there are some great truths and principles here.  There’s a lot in these pages that is relatively standard marriage counseling, as well as some new ideas.  All of it, of course, has that trademark “Bell-style” way of looking at life; a style I very much enjoy.


stickAnd, you get stick-figure drawings!
Who doesn’t like stick-figure drawings?!?!

We are given, of course, an explanation of zimzum (originally tzimtzum, a Hebrew word), and how that concept relates to marriage. Chapters 2 through 5 expound on how marriage is Responsive, Dynamic, Exclusive and Sacred.
“The Zimzum of Love” is highly anecdotal. There is a lot of back-and-forth between Rob and Kristen.
Every marriage is unique, but a book like this helps us see how universal many of our experiences are. Just about whatever you may be going through, rest assured you are not alone.

This book is written from a Christian perspective, and thus incorporates a lot of spiritual language and understanding.  The associated actions could be easily adapted by non-Christians, as well.  I can’t imagine anyone not receiving some benefit from reading this book.  I think this would be a good hand-out for premarital counseling, as well as for those already married.
I’ve only done a few wedding ceremonies, but for future ones I’m asked to officiate I will be offering this book to the couple.

Marriage has been at the forefront of recent national discussion.
Some see marriage as a meaningless social construct, and think we’d all be better off without the legal commitment and ceremonial form.  Many of us, including Rob and Kristen, believe marriage is much deeper than that.  We believe that there’s more going on than meets the eye.    More than biology.  More than just synaptic brain activity.   More, even, than what it means for the 2 people who are married.  That marriage means “more” for our entire society.

“The Zimzum of Love” takes an in-depth look at this “more.”

– dave

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

Some thoughts from other readers:

“The Bells wield their heartfelt words and honest voices to cheer on couples of all kinds. . . . This is a ‘feel good’ book, not because it skirts the issues, but precisely because it delves so deeply into them. . . . Married or not, read this book.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“After having stood on the cliff of divorce, I sure wish that our marriage counselor would have had a resource like this to share with us.” – Roger

“This is a book about how to people partner in life and create a special space between them–they zimzum. I’ve got a fantastic marriage, but I learned new things about my wife as we read this together.” – Mike

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

A few QUOTES:

– There are moments in marriage when you realize that some of the most profound truths of the universe are lying next to you in bed.

– Great marriages have an ease about them, a back-and-forth nonreactive, non-defensive, open, and ongoing flow in which you never stop talking and figuring it out together.

– Life never stops changing. It’s inevitable that these changes will affect the space between you.,br.

– Any thought – however trivial or fleeting it is – about who or what you aren’t takes directly away from who and what you are.

– Home is whenever I’m with you. [Recently stated by me to my wife during our recent move, before reading the book.]

– Out of 7 billion people on the planet, you decided to say yes to just one of them.

– Learn to see things from their perspective. When in doubt, assume that they are seeing something that you don’t.

– Few triggers are more explosive than the phrase “You always do that.”

– One of the primary ways you strengthen this bond is through shared experiences.

– Marriage -gay and straight – is a gift to the world because the world needs more – not less – love, fidelity, commitment, devotion and sacrifice.

– It’s easy to divide your experiences in marriage into the good ones and the bad ones. We are invited to transcend those binaries, becoming aware of the divine presence in all of life.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

 

SIN July 4, 2013

sin       [From “Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed,” by Jay Bakker with Andy Meisenheimer]


When people lose their jobs, aren’t promoted, are discriminated against, are treated differently, are described as “gay” as an insult, get kicked out of their churches, and are disowned by their families THAT is Sin!

The non-affirming of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in the church is destroying families – at times with surprising violence – all in the name of God and holiness.
That is Sin!

Jesus said we would be known by our love, but when it comes to the LGBTQ community, we are known by our uncomfortable silence, our fight against their civil right to marry, our moral outrage, our discrimination, and our stereotyping.  A “welcoming-but-not-affirming policy is both self-contradictory and cruel.

________________________________________

The very notion of a “right” is that it places limits on the arbitrary power of the majority.  Equal rights shouldn’t be based on a vote. (via William Stacy Johnson)

The church historically has lagged behind government when it comes to issues of civil liberties.

The church should be on the front lines of the fight for the civil liberties of the oppressed.
The lyrics of the U2 song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” ask, “How long must we sing this song?” How long are we going to cling to outdated notions of homosexuality and refuse to accept LGBTQ people into our midst?

_____________________________

Jay Bakker

Jay’s new book is, so far, fantastic! I’m just in 7 of 12 chapters (14, if you count the introduction and conclusion).
The above post is mostly about marriage equality, but that’s just this chapter. A lot of other issues are covered in these pages. This is my latest “Must Read” that I will be highly recommending to any and every reader, especially those who acknowledge faith in Christ.
[Of course, the “church” has often been the entity which has perpetrated the most vile and unholy sin, all in the name of God, and all while deceiving itself into believing it was the force attempting to eliminate sin.
To be fair, it has also been those of the Church (albeit the non-“fundamentalist” portion) who have fought for, and died for, the dignity, rights, and humanity of the oppressed. Who have, in fact, fought the sin of religious control and intolerance. – df]

For a different topic from the book, see: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vvcr11lancq3see/Paul.docx

Buy the book. Click HERE.

 

The Vega, The Ghost, and the Rambling Old Man January 19, 2013

Well, we’re a few weeks into 2013.
I can’t count the number of times the world was supposed to end by now.
(Of course, this could all be an illusion created to satisfy us while we’re just being used as batteries to keep the machines running.)


I thought I should write something before the first month of the new year is over. Since I don’t have a specific topic in mind I guess I’ll just ramble.
I don’t get how some people blog every single day! I do think I’ll shoot for a couple times a month.
Yeah. Good luck with that.

58
Oh, I just turned 58 this month.
I’ll talk about that.
Ya know, I keep saying that getting older sucks, and many aspects do, indeed, suck.
But there’s plenty to be thankful for, as well.

Man. 58 years on this planet.
Fifty-friggin’-eight years.
That seems like a long time. Simultaneously, it’s like a flash in the pan.
I feel like I’ve lived a number of different lives in that time. I should write a memoir.
I’d need help from a good ghost-writer. But I know some of the things I’d include.
I’ll give a very, very small sampling.

So many experiences.
Experiences I shouldn’t even still be alive to…
well, experience.

I’ve lost track of how many wrecks I’ve been in.
Crashed into a tree. Into a bridge.
Rolled a car in front of a moving semi.
Flipped a motorcycle.  Just to name a few.

Hey! Ya wanna ride?


When I was younger, growing up on a farm, we used to play “pitchfork toss.” We’d see
how close we could get without actually impaling each other.
We really knew how to have fun, didn’t we?
I don’t know how the hell I survived childhood, let alone live to 58!

I got beat up a lot. (Something to do with having a “smart mouth,” I think.)
Still, they never shut me up.
There! I showed them, huh?

I’ve been threatened at gunpoint. That’ll get the heart pumping.

I had a rather odd (and not much fun) trip to the Grand Canyon.
(And, if I recall, the Painted Desert, Petrified Forrest, Royal Gorge, and the Rockies.)
Four people, camping gear, and a couple weeks on the road…chevrolet-vega-1
all in a Vega.
Yeah. A Vega.

It wasn’t my friends fault that I had a bad time.  It was just a personal thing.

I used to go camping. (OK. Sometimes that was fun. A little.)
I went spelunking once.  The kind where you start by slithering through a
hole you wouldn’t make your dog go through.  I can’t say that I recommend spelunking.
Sure, it had some interesting aspects. Just not enough bang for the buck from my perspective.


Fun Experiences:
White-water rafting. Para-sailing. Flying in a helicopter. Flying in little 2-seater planes.
Trips to the ocean. Trips to lakes. Multiple times sailing and other boating trips. Lots of trips to amusement parks. Trips to Las Vegas.
And many enjoyable memories of concerts (from Alice Cooper to The Monkees, to Marvin Hamlisch) and live theater performances (Like “Les Mis ”, “Cats”, “The Lion King” and “Wicked”.)

I’ve written, produced and recorded two CDs with my wife.
I’ve written (and been paid for) some articles for a magazine.
I was so happy to play a small part in bringing the movie “Blue Like Jazz”  to the screen, and be listed in the ending credits.


Changes.
A less than stable first five years of life.
Then adopted.
Loved, but grossly miscast as a farm boy. Not a lot of friends.
Got in lots of trouble.
Lots of trouble.
Seriously, I was ADHD long before they knew what that was.

I had a number of teenage crushes, and at least one long-term teenage love.
High-school dropout.
Convicted, incarcerated felon.
Late-teen/early twenties evangelical. Pentecostal/Charismatic Jesus-freak.
Right-wing. “Mostly” Republican.
Got Married.
Became a stepfather.

I’ve worked in a lot of factories. I really need to get back to that kind of work.

More changes.
Marriage troubles (mostly my fault.)
Divorced.
“Post mid-life” crisis.
Coke-snorting, multiple drug-taking, party-boy.
Trying hard to find my place.
Trying to distinguish what I know about myself from what I’ve thought I should be.
Trying to distinguish God from what I’ve been taught about God.

Grace.
Lots and lots of grace.
Re-married (same woman).
Became a grandparent.  Twice.
Co-pastor. Elder. Sunday-school teacher. Worship leader. Counselor.
Ex-co-pastor. Ex-elder. Ex-Sunday-school teacher. etc.
(Still a pastor and a counselor in a more “real-world,” organic kind of way.)
Ex-member of institutional religion.
Left-wing. “Mostly” Democrat.

Speaking of leaving the IC:
I tried hard to maintain some of the relationships I had there. Sadly, no one was really interested. Religion can so entwine some people that, to them, leaving a man-made organization constitutes leaving the friendship.
There was one man at the institution I used to attend who, I have no doubt, would have remained a close friend to this day, had he not already transitioned to the next part of eternity.

So, I went a few years without much positive social interaction. Recently that changed when I associated myself with a group called “Lifetree Café.” It’s a conversation cafe, which I’ve hosted a number of times.
We’re currently on hiatus.
A few friendships evolved out of that, as well as a 4-man discussion group/book club.

58 years.
So many changes.

Philosophical.
  World-view.
    Religious.
      Spiritual.
        Social.
          Political.

All of those areas of my life have seen more change in the last 3 to 8 years than I would have imagined or thought possible.
good-newsI’ve been freed of much of the horrible theology I used to accept and promote.
I learned that the “Good News” really is good.
I was pretty young in life when I was “born-again/saved/converted/came to know Christ,” or whatever you wish to call that form of spiritual awakening. I used to think that during all of the “troubles” I’ve mentioned that I somehow lost that “salvation.” A couple of the more important revelations in my life were, first of all “salvation” is not primarily about what happens after this life, and secondly, I couldn’t disconnect from God if I wanted to.
Ignore God; live out of selfishness and greed; Yes. But be separated from God; never.

2012 saw me more politically engaged than I have ever been, financially and actively.
This engagement was, for me, simply an extension of my faith and of my love for God.
I won’t go into much detail here because I’ve explored many of those issues throughout this blog.


Sexual/Spiritual healing.
I’ve learned to accept myself the way I am wired as a sexual being.
(If you haven’t already done so, you can read more about that aspect in my “Tribbles” article.)
I’ve learned to reconcile my sexuality with my faith, and with my life as a happily married man, without having to deny, dislike, or fight that inner part of my soul.

My wife, Kathy, is truly the best part of my life. I don’t recommend divorce as an avenue for making your marriage better, but it seemed to help us. I’ve now spent much more of my life with her than without her. Neither of us, of course, are the people we originally said “I do” with. We’ve grown together, and evolved together in amazing and unbelievable ways.
Sidelight: I can’t imagine spending all those years together – the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and all the in between – while being told that our love wasn’t worthy of being called a marriage just because it was looked down upon by someone else.
Tragic.

Onward.
58 years, so far.
Sometimes I wish I knew how much time is left on my clock. Sometimes I’m glad I don’t know.
Some nights I call it a draw.”
One day at a time. Despite what we may try to believe, there’s really no other option. (That doesn’t seem to stop me from often borrowing tomorrow’s troubles.)

Kathy and I are discussing our retirement plans. We know we won’t be living high-on-the-hog, but we figure we should be modestly financially stable. We may still need part-time jobs, unless we retire in another country. That’s a real possibility.

I hope, in retirement, to spend more time volunteering for causes I support.
I have a deep desire to do at least one more CD.
I’d like more opportunities to put my multiple counseling studies to good use as I continue to “pastor.”
And maybe someday, I’ll connect with that ghost-writer.

– df
.                                                                             .  ghost-writer

 

Journeys of the Heart: Mary’s Story July 5, 2012


Journeys of the Heart: Mary’s Story
– Tom Gale

In this work of fact-based fiction, we explore the issue of sexual abuse.  We delve into repressed memories, relationships, and brokenness.
But, mainly, we examine the heart; how to connect with our “hidden” parts and truly love ourselves.  And, of course, to know more deeply the wonder that is the Love of God.


In addition to Mary, we meet many interesting characters along the way.  We see how dealing with our own issues can affect those around us.

The chapters “Where The Hell Is God,” and “Do I Have To Forgive The Jerk” were a couple of my favorites.
We also look briefly at what “church” is, and what it isn’t, and we see how literalizing some teachings, like those on divorce, can cause great harm and work against what God would really want for His children.

This isn’t just Mary’s story.  It is the story of thousands of women (and men).
This edition of the “Journeys of the Heart” series could be a significant step towards wholeness for someone who has suffered sexual abuse.
It is also a resource for those called to help by walking alongside those who have suffered in this way.


Here’s a little of what others are saying about it:

– Mary’s Story is engaging. It draws the reader into a very personal story in a way that is not offensive yet does not skirt reality and the hard truths. It tells a story that needs to be told. This book is a wake up call to a church that marginalizes the broken.
Sandie BrockCincinnati, OH

– My honest thoughts and feelings were that I really wanted to keep reading to see what happened next, to see how Papa was going to work.  The journey is really, really, about the heart. Everything else is just, well, just everything else.
Doug from Wisconsin

– This book takes a look at the depth of evil that exists in the world but then focuses more on the immense power of love that can heal even the worst wounds.
MaryAnne from Illinois

Buy The Book.  CLICK HERE.

– None of us have been left unscathed by the brokenness of our world and unique experiences.  I recommend this book to any and all who desire to hear or have already sensed the desperate cries of their own heart wanting recognition, love and acceptance.
Jan from Virginia

– The gentle, relational descriptions of the healing process even spoke to traumatized places in my own heart.
I thank God for revealing a remedy for our brokenness which is all at once; simplistic, effective and respectful.

Matthew Bradley, North Carolina

Buy The Book.  CLICK HERE.

 

Woman Of God June 29, 2012

Here’s my first attempt at turning one of our songs into a “Lyric Video.”
This is from our second Re-Union CD, “Inside Out.”

In case you are unaware of the back-story, my wife and I were separated, then divorced.
Two-and-a-half years later, we were re-married (or Re-“Unioned”).
It was, in great part I believe, the prayers of my wife that brought, shall we say, my “salvation” (not in the modern born-again sense. But more in the way of Jesus’ teachings).

That, in the tiniest of nutshells, is the basis of this song.

I hope you enjoy it.




Click this image for more about the CD:




AND to read an article about Kathy and I that was in our local newspaper, click HERE.

 

Sick May 15, 2012

Some people are “sick” of hearing about marriage equality.

I imagine it would have been easy to say “I’m sick of hearing about freeing the slaves.”
Unless, of course, you were a slave.

It would have been easy to say “I’m sick of hearing about women getting the vote.”
Unless you were a woman.

Agree to disagree?
Sure.  I do that all the time.
But I can’t accept inequality and injustice under the guise of “loving those who disagree.”
Can I love them?
Of course I can.  But I believe the clear choice is that I must stand with the oppressed.
Not with the oppressor.
I truly believe that is the way of Christ.
Things can, though, get very strange when both the oppressed and the oppressors are your brothers and sisters.

You may be sick of any minority taking a stand for rights that you take for granted.
Tough!
They’re sick of having to fight for the rights denied them.

If you need to be sick of something, there’s plenty to be sick of.

It’s time to be sick of centuries of religious oppression in the name of God.
It’s time to be sick of blaming your hate on Jesus, when there are plenty of
God-fearing Jesus lovers who don’t hold your views.
It’s time to be sick of hearing “It’s not me.  It’s the Bible” when there are almost
forty-thousand  Christian denominations who disagree with each other, while
all claiming the Bible as their authority.
It’s time to be sick of people being bullied, tortured, and even killed because of their orientation.

I recently read something to the effect of
“You are free to have a gun.
You are not free to use it against whomever you please.
You are free to have a religion.
You are not free to impose your religious views on the rest of the country.”
If you believe it’s a sin (as some do) to drink beer, then don’t drink beer!
But don’t for one minute presume to inflict that belief on those who wish to drink beer.
You don’t believe in same-sex marriage?  Don’t marry someone of the same sex!

To borrow from a popular ad:
“That was easy.”
Why is it so hard to see that following your convictions is about how YOU act, and
not about controlling others?!?!?! (Of course, control and manipulation are major characteristics of religion in the first place.)

So, your’re sick of hearing about marriage equality.
Well, I guess the first step to recovery is to admit you’re sick.
Please get well soon.

– df

[Also see: FOOTNOTE.]

 

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot July 12, 2011

Anyone offended by the book’s title should remember that Rush made his career out of insults. That is the great irony.
He once told his audience the the Clintons not only had a family cat, they also had a family dog. He then showed a picture of Chelsea.
So no, I have no problem with the title.
As with “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” and “The Truth (With Jokes),” this book is filled with biting sarcasm, laugh-out-loud humor, and lots of verifiable truth that Al’s targets wish you would just ignore.

There is SO VERY much worth reading here.  True stories, insights, and well researched facts delivered in a way that will make you laugh while your stomach turns at the hypocrisy, stupidity, and outright willful deception perpetuated by so many on the masses.

If you only read one Al Franken book, PLEASE read  “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”  That’s the one, thanks to my daughter-in-law, that I started with.  But, if you like that one, and want more “insider information” as to the workings of our political system, and some of our media stars,  Check out “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.”  Don’t let the name fool you.  Not all the truth in this book is that obvious.
— df

Buy the book.  CLICK HERE.

Amazon.com Review:
Rush Limbaugh claims his talent is on loan. With this book, Franken demonstrates that he owns his. The frankly Democratic author’s shtick reminds us how much of a free ride conservatives have gotten in the mainstream media. For instance, he really drives home the weirdness of the conservatives’ preachiness about “family values” in light of Newt Gingrich’s and Bob Dole’s first marriages, and Rush Limbaugh’s first, second and third marriages.
Buy the book.  CLICK HERE

Other Reviews:

I like this book because it is hysterically funny and quite entertaining. Al’s wit is dry and sometimes vicious. I laughed to tears when I read the chapter about Phil Gramm (“I own more guns than I need, but not as many as I want.”)

He lampoons the right wing, and I think he does it well. If you are a conservative with no sense of humor, you will not like this book.

Buy the book.  CLICK HERE

 

 
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