In June we celebrate LGBT Pride. It is a special time for the “promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as a social group.” This is a time also recognized by Unity. “We recognize and honor the Divine within as the one common denominator that we share on our human journey”, reads Unity’s Statement of Diversity. This is beautifully expressed. As Unity people, we all subscribe to an innate Divinity and goodness by nature. This is not altered by whom we love or are attracted to. Just as we reject the denigration of people based on skin color, we likewise reject the same with regards to sexual orientation.
It is very interesting to consider the evolutionary march of human history. In August of 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. and spoke of the coming together of “all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics”. In doing so he identified three distinct points of unity; racial, ethnic and religious. The one he obviously left out was “Gay and Straight”. This is not to disparage The Dreamer; Gay Rights at this time was not a part of the Civil Rights Movement. It would have been an even harder sell to white, Christian America than the equality of the races. It would likely also not have gone over well in King’s own organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Interestingly, one of Dr. King’s chief strategists was Bayard Rustin, a gay man. He operated behind the scenes so as to not open the Movement to further criticism due to his sexual orientation. He nobly kept himself hidden knowing the time for people like himself had not yet come. The watershed event for gay rights is generally considered what has come to be known as the Stonewall Uprising. This took place in Greenwich Village in New York City, June 28, 1969. Its name was derived from the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia owned bar in the Village. Weary of constant police harassment, the patrons began to fight back and protest over the next several nights. After Stonewall, there was a concerted movement to organize gay activist groups which became the Gay Rights Movement that continues to this day. In honor of Pride Month, I will be devoting my articles to gay people who have made an impact on our world. We are thankful for their gifts, energy and love.
Happy Pride Month!
This Sunday I will be sharing the 6th Power; Imagination. Our affirmation will be as follows:
I claim Imagination Now!
I visualize the best person I can be
I imagine the best person and the best Christ I can be
My thoughts become my Reality!
As we approach Memorial Day weekend, I was pondering the place of memories in a happy, balanced life. Memorial Day is of course, a day commemorating those that fell in our nation’s wars.
It began after the Civil War, which claimed more American lives than any other conflict in American history. Sobering to consider that more Americans were killed BY fellow-Americans than were killed by foreign adversaries. The remembrance of this day is very sad to most of us. I remember visiting the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. IN 1993. The sight of those 58,320 names carved on that black granite is a an incredible sight.
The power of our memories to shape our current lives is enormous! Memories have the power to keep us bound in the past, or provide learnings for the future depending on how we utilize them. PTSD, which is a well-known affliction of combat veterans, among others, is unique in that it keeps the worst of memories alive in the consciousness of those that suffer from it. It is not just that something bad happened, but that bad thing keeps on happening in the mind of the person. I have personally observed the terrible effects of this on people I have known and loved. That is the most extreme example of the power of memory to afflict.
To a lesser degree, we all have experienced memories that keep haunting us, tormenting and trying to convince us that mistakes of our past are never going to let us go. So many people have a bad relationship with the past and the future; regret of the past and dread of the future! This chokes off the fullness of life God wants us to live. How about, learn from the past and anticipate the future?
Time travel is still a fictional concept, though there are those that contend it is theoretically possible. Whether it may one day come to reality, it is not yet available. If it was, who among us would not want to go back and correct that thoughtless word, that selfish or ill-advised act? But we cannot. What we can do, is what Paul subscribed to in Phil. 3:13-14; “I count not myself to have apprehended: but this ONE thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…”. The Greek word for forgetting is very interesting here. It does not mean a loss of memory, but rather a neglect of memory. In other words, the memory is there, but we choose to neglect it thereby robbing it of power over us. It is similar to a plant that we neglect to water; it withers and dies. So do bad memories that we need to release. The positive element that comes to us is a wealth of experience of things to not do again. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” spoke Spanish philosopher George Santayana.
This Memorial Day, we remember the lives of precious men and women cut short in service to our country. We cherish their memories, while we hopefully learn to avoid the dreadful practice of war in the future. May all your memories be used to bless, teach and propel you to greater Christ-consciousness!
“You can believe that if you want to, but don’t be putting that on other people”. This was the admonition I received from some of my evangelical friends when they discovered I was embracing Unity. The warning behind it was clear, “Your judgement from God will be even worse if you lead others astray with your false new beliefs”. It struck me that so much of current religious thinking revolves around calamity and disaster. An entire industry in religion is fed by encouraging “end-time” calamity. It has spawned numerous books and movies which have generated literally billions of dollars for their producers.
Does anyone remember the “Y2K” scare? This was the widely heralded belief that the millennial change from 1999 to 2000 would result in a computer meltdown worldwide. Remember what actually occurred? Literally nothing. Interestingly, none of those authors issued any apologies for their “leading people astray” with fear and dread or refunded anyone the cost of their erroneous books. This is a pattern we have seen since 1970 when author Hal Lindsey issued The Late Great Planet Earth, assuring us all that Jesus would return to judge the earth in five years. Five years later Lindsey wrote a new book to show he was not mistaken in the previous one, and made a fresh prediction of the Apocalypse about every five years. Amazingly enough, this has not only kept a lucrative income stream flowing to Lindsey but has made him the “world’s greatest authority on biblical prophecy”! As my dad used to say, “What a country”! A recent example of a quasi-religious apocalyptic scenario was seen in the “Q Anon” conspiracy that predicted a blood-bath of executions of a satanic, child-molesting cabal. Again, literally nothing occurred, other than the extreme disappointment of its adherents.
I personally am not looking for a worsening of things to usher in the Kingdom of God. I believe, as Jesus taught, that the Kingdom is “at hand” and can be accessed now. I believe, as historical data indicate, that the world has made enormous progress in every measurable way; war, hunger, disease, poverty have all improved as enlightened consciousness prevails over darkness and ignorance. There are certainly problems yet to solve, but we have truly come a long way baby!
One can see the danger in extreme eschatological views when it comes to environmental issues. The attitude I have heard is, “no need to protect the planet, because Jesus is coming to destroy and recreate it”. There is a strange impulse in many people to believe that we cannot really work together to improve our world, but instead we need a divine being to destroy it and start all over.
We “mislead” Unity people proclaim a positive view of human progress. Charles Fillmore believed then, as we believe now, that the elevation to Divine consciousness will improve our lives, both individually and as the human race. I think I will continue to “put that on other people” every chance I get!
Tremendous and encouraging news from top health authorities this week concerning the COVID pandemic! Increased vaccinations, combined with safety protocols are working. Cases are down, deaths are down, hope is on the rise in America.
While we rejoice in our success in beating back the plague, we have also heard that our brothers and sisters in India are dying at a terrible rate. Let us pray that our country will be able to help them achieve the same success. I am reminded of President John F. Kennedy’s words at his Inauguration; "With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own." What a tremendous exhortation to be the Christ in our world!
We Unity people know that we are Individual Expressions of God. We also know that when we as Individual Expressions, come together as Collective Expressions, wonderful things happen. You may recall the allegorical story of the Tower of Babel in Gen. 11:1-9. The people of the world had determined to build a tower that would “reach to heaven” and solidify their position of being one people with one language in one location on earth. This shows the tribal instinct of unenlightened human consciousness. This displeased God, as he wanted humanity to spread throughout the created world. God’s assessment of this Tower project is very enlightening; “they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” To end the project, God confused their languages and scattered the people all over the earth.
What is striking to me is that God knew that this Tower, representing tribal stagnation of humanity, would happen if he did not intervene! This shows the Divine essence of a collective humanity. We have the Divine ability to do great things together, but if people band together for projects of darkness and ignorance, terrible things can occur. Nazi Germany will forever stand as a dreadful example of a segment of humanity united for the destruction of other persons, ultimately leading to their own destruction. On the positive end of the spectrum, we have seen the marvelous result of uniting together in a common cause as we see the pandemic being defeated. We identified the challenge, did what we could to slow the virus’ spread, and set about developing vaccines that would stop it! A glorious achievement that will be admired throughout history.
This is encouraging to us as Unity people, as we are reminded of our collective power to impact our world with our “Positive Path of Spiritual Living.” As we join forces, the Unity message will go forth with greater and greater impact. Unlike the misdirected energy of the tower builders, we will POSITIVELY fulfill the words God spoke, “They have begun to do this, and nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them”. Amen!!!
Tuesday was Star Wars Day: “May the 4th be with you”. I grow nostalgic when I think of Star Wars. I saw the original premier episode in 1977 when I was 16 at our local theatre. I loved it then, and still do to this day. One of the most intriguing aspects of the series (nine episodes in the saga to date) is the real star of the series never seen by anyone; the mysterious “Force”. We are never really given any detailed explanation of the Force. It appears to be best understood by an elite group of warriors known as the Jedi. Even they offer no explanation as to exactly what the Force is, but they have intense discipline in their lives to flow with the Force in battling evil forces at work in their galaxy. It is significant that while the Force primarily works for the good of the galaxy, it has what is called “the Dark Side”, where the Force may be turned toward evil ends. This Dark Side is initially manifested in the characters of Darth Vader and his master, Emperor Palpatine.
Shortly after Star Wars premiered, I began to seek after spiritual things in my young life. Still a Star Wars fan, I thought the Force seemed a lot like the Spirit of God. I had trouble however, working the Dark Side into my theology. I was taught by my Evangelical church that ”God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). I finally gave up on “Christianizing” Star Wars, and relegated it to a fun fictional series. Since joining with Unity, I see my beloved series in a new spiritual light. We know the first Unity principle is “One Presence/One Power, God the Good Omnipotent”. We understand that the only true Force in the Universe is what we call God. There is no “force of evil” at work, for evil is not a force, but simply the absence of good.
Just as darkness is the absence of light and cold is the absence of heat so is the nature of what we call evil; it only exists where good is absent. We know there is no literal personage called “the Devil” to contend with, but there is the lower consciousness in humanity that must be elevated in each of us. I see that the “Dark Side” is defeated as Christ-Consciousness rises, and that we can all become “Jedi” through discipline in utilizing Unity principles and prayer. It is so wonderful to know that there is indeed a Force at work, and that we have the privilege of flowing therein and turning back the darkness as we proclaim the Unity message. So I can once again unashamedly proclaim:
May The Force be with you!!!
I was struck by the words of Eckhart Tolle this week; “What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.” This is a principle I am beginning to get hold of in my own life perhaps as never before. This also coincides with Eric Butterworth’s well-known saying, “I am not what I think, I am thinking what I think.” The ability to separate what we think about a situation or circumstance from the Truth relating to it is an extraordinary gift of God. It works in situations we are facing and perhaps more importantly, it works in combating the “ugly twins” of fear and worry.
An ancient man was asked the secret of his longevity, he replied, “I avoid worry; most things folks worry about never happen anyhow.” Worry is more than an annoyance, worry can assist in a premature death. The great skill to develop that Tolle spoke of is what I like to call the “Spectator Perspective” when it comes to our individual lives. When you have a thought of fear about something or worry about what could happen that is negative, take the role of someone observing yourself. Say to yourself something like, “This is not what I am experiencing, it is a thought of something that COULD happen, but may never happen. It is not happening, so I set it aside as unproductive thinking.” This can be a dynamite tool for clearing your thought life of worry.
What if you are experiencing something negative right now? The same principle applies. “This is a negative circumstance, but I refuse to let fear thoughts dominate me. I look for the Wisdom of God that is within me to guide me through this, and I set aside the unproductive thinking.” Sounds simple I know, but it can be extremely helpful at whipping “stinking thinking”. As Tolle said, the real me, is the one who observes my consciousness and determines what thoughts have a right to be there. Remember Paul’s words, we have the ability to “cast down imaginations… and take every thought captive to the obedience of the Christ.” (II Cor. 10:5) You got this!!!