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Category Archives: wealth

this was posted on Facebook  recently and it is indeed a sobering cluster of ideas

when I saw this for the first time it was posted by a person of “white” race in South Africa – a minority cultural group in the country who are now feeling the very real pressure of racist legislation and the resulting reality of legislated dis-empowerment and intimately perceived unfairness under the powerful hand of the present government which was democratically elected into power by the majority of South African citizens nearly 20 years ago

as a member of this same “white” cultural group I immediately resonate with the sentiments and ideals expressed in the posting

I also feel all manner of emotions bubbling up inside me as it is a very tangible reality we face every day

and yes, in the posting there a strong linear thread of ‘logic’ in these statements and the wisdom of what is stated is to my mind self evident

… however what is seemingly less evident is that without too much lateral thought and perspectival gymnastics the same set of principles can be seen at work in the present political legislation as those which entrenched and under girded the now disgraced and ousted Nationalist Party’s policy of Apartheid and “Separate Development” prior to the political shift in 1994

with these policies legislated during the days of Apartheid the White race in South Africa was entrenched as exclusively privileged recipients of preferential access to resources … material, economical, political, social, cultural and this spilled into all other sectors of society including job reservation, education, land ownership and many other arena’s …

what a man sows is what a man reaps… whether just or unjust

and yes, the circle will turn again, and again…

and it’s always amazing how the same thing can look so completely different seen from just another angle

… and perhaps now, with the shoe on the other foot so to speak, so many of us “whites” seem to all so easily think of many reasons and linear justifications not to share this sobering  aspect of the equation, publicly, privately, even within ourselves – in our own private thoughts

… don’t you think?

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giving is a one way motion

as is taking

 

a selfless action or intent

according to any expectation of return or reward

was never selfless in the first place

 

there will be an effect

there always is

and that effect could well be rewarding

but that reward would be selfless

never budgeted for

and this reward will come from another unexpected place

 

if we see it coming

if it was expected or anticipated

it was self-centered from the beginning

 

to give with the expectation of  reward or return

reveals the presence of a transactional process

whether conscious or not

 

it has always impressed me that in the ancient sacred texts

the blessings for obedience

as as well as the curses for disobedience

always overtake us

 

that which overtakes

comes from behind

it outpaces us

it overpowers us

overcomes us

even sweeps us away

to other places

other unexpected places

unintended unplanned for destinations

that will leave us wondering

 

in our market driven world

our self made markets

we go out and grab

we promote

ourselves

we promote others

that we might be promoted in return

 

we snatch and take

and we celebrate those who succeed in this

 

and the words of truth echo…

faintly it seems

and more faint every day

 

“the first shall be last…

and the last shall be first… ”  they say…

silence needs no promoter

… silence speaks for itself

democratic control | nakedpastor.

I wonder how many faithful church goers see a linkage or similarity between the conflict of free speech in a democratic political system vs. a totalitarian state of social governance and the freedom offered by Christ and the unilateral control of leadership exercised in the local church?

I tried Twitter, it’s clearly THE antisocial network … but Facebook is THE relationship illusion.

Here’s what I did: – for well over a week I tried to get some response, indeed ANY response from Twitters (what do we call ourselves on Twitter? Twits? Tweets? Twerps? Tweeters? Twankers?).. I asked questions, threw out inflammatory statements, insulted here and there …  and, …. no response – well, one or two responses at most, but statistically these were negligible.

My sad conclusion: Twitter is for the pseudo-relational who seem only interested in  wanting to post their own statements and links (and some never seem to say anything from personal opinion but only post links – perhaps to portray that they are well read and conversant with media issues – ?)  and simply seem not at all interested in any form of meaningful personal interaction other than loving the sound of their own fingers ticking away at the keyboard and the ensuing exhilarating, almost orgasmic sensation of hearing their own ‘tweet’ resounding in the canyons of their own mind as they repeat it back to themselves when they ‘proof-read’ their own brilliance.  You know what I mean, … sort of much like masturbation, really only totally self indulgent with no possibility of or any desire for fruitfulness.

On a positive note though, it is an interesting tool to gather info that otherwise would take hours of surfing and research – like the news feed tweets and a very few humerous Twits(?) who from time to time add a stimulating and even challenging angle on things.  My sincere thanks to those few – but you probably will never know who you are as the nature of the beast is what it is.

Also, if you’re a ‘fan’ type of person I do suppose you can feel perhaps profoundly and wonderfully stimulated by following the meandering escapades of some pop persona of your fantasy … but I have yet to hear a convincing argument against my view that this is equally no more than masturbation and desperate ‘soft-porn’ voyeurism of a tragically sad nature.  It may well be worth considering getting a life for yourself instead of living yours through that of some other person.  Perhaps it’s also wiser to go through one’s own underwear before rummaging through that of others.

Facebook however, is not really much better and seems determined to re-evolve (perhaps the better word would be de-evolve) into a purely telemarketing tool sans the telephone … ‘mongrelized’ (don’t look it up – I made the delightful word up myself) with an email spam and phishing scam sans the normal private/business email account.  This serves only to brutally confront any who might use the network sincerely wanting to interact relationally with other humans into being distracted under siege by flashing windows querying whether they would like to join an online dating or singles club, or making one think if the clothes they are wearing whilst typing in the privacy of their own little nest are fitting with the latest fashions and adequately insured for all risks in the unlikely event of them ever meeting one of their ‘friends’ face-to-face.
The only significant advantage in Facebook for me is that it perhaps seems to allow more interaction (albeit not necessarily that much more, but more nevertheless).  For me the interactions and exchanges on updates and notes, pictures and comments are arguably well worth it.   Not really personal contact, but interesting and engaging.

What both share in common is the caressing stroke they seem to play to the ego’s of most subscribers especially those who seem to be high on the “friends” tally.   However, at the bottom of this pile are those who can claim to be a friend of someone they deem significant even if they never will meet them (and if they did the ‘celebrity’ would clearly have no time nor concern for them anyway).  But for the hopefuls who do still wish to climb socially in life …  at the top of this same pile there is the ubber elite who can insert “full” after their page names having exceeded that mystical 5000 friends tally and then occupy themselves by spending the rest of their waking time redirecting the imaginary millions of other “friends” they are convinced will immanently want to flood in and sign up to be their intimate ‘companions’ to another “fan” page of theirs.   All I can say on behalf of the multitudes of defaced bookers is, “O’ Great Poo-Bah(s), we, the lowly, are unworthy, mere mortals … please forgive us for we know not what to do to gather like you.”
On Twitter it is not uncommon to see Twitters(?) ‘following’ ga-zillions of others only to be followed by few – my heart goes out to them. Sneakily,  as part of my ‘experiment’ I deliberately never returned the favour of ‘following’ some who decided to ‘follow’ me (seemingly one of those unspoken universal rules of Twitterville) and they soon stopped ‘following’ me then … Hmmmm??
Cynical old me!! … after all that is the spirit of marketing in our ever so evolved civilised capitalist social system, is it not? – “you scratch my back, I’ll stab yours.”

Neither Facebook nor Twitter are social networks for me.  They are base and insensitive marketing platforms taking advantage of the emptiness of relationships in our modern societies and majoring on the new age currencies of narcissism, political power and economic profit.
So, for me both are really “look-at-me” opportunistic tools … no more and no less … only perhaps Facebook has, along with it’s fractionally more interactive potential, the negative side of actively aiding and abetting distinctly more predators to prowl around, starting with Mr Zuckerberg et al and branching quickly (and exponentially) out to all the hungry 2nd, 3rd and 4th tier predatory advertisers – making Facebook, extremely wealthy ultimately at their own and eventually everyone else’s expense.


So there were these people from long ago who basically led seemingly very unexciting and mostly uneventful lives, or at least it appears that way.  Every now and then there was the occasional conflict, maybe a tribal feud, a battle over territorial rights, perhaps a minor war even, but mostly there were huge gaps of sometimes even decades between one recorded event and the next.  During these long gaps these people mostly were peaceful shepherds.  Nomads on a vast and seemingly endless horizon.  Yet even then not many strayed far from the place of their birth or where their family had dwelled for generations before.  They had flocks of goats, sheep, maybe even camels or some horses.  Really very primitive and pedestrian compared to our present day.  There was technology of sorts yes,  but nothing compared to what we know of now-a-days.  Attention to detail was probably exclusively centred around weather patterns and the well-being of their flocks, you know, ticks, fleas, hoof-rot and finding adequate grazing and water and also preparing for the dry periods or cold winter times when natural provisions from the land were usually far less plentiful.

They lived mostly in tents or possibly in natural shelters like caves.  Occasionally they established villages or cities but this was not often and usually only when circumstance really dictated the need.  They lived with no running water other than the occasional river or brook  and no mechanised ablution systems.  A stroll just outside of nose, eye and ear-shot with a bundle of dry leaves sufficed it seems.  Times were tough in some ways perhaps but it was all they knew and there’s no significant record of any consumer complaints for inadequate or untimely service delivery.

It seems as if their major value was life itself.  Prosperity was measured in terms of  new life and the health and abundance thereof.  Children were a blessing worthy of the highest joy and celebration as were the offspring of their livestock.  Wealth was measured in years lived and the simple yet profound fruits of the living body – whether that body was human or animal or the earth itself.  They were born, lived, gave birth and then they died.  There is seemingly very little evidence of 2, 5, or even 10 year plans, neither the need for annual vacations or retirement.  To hand the riches of experience and close-knit company to their offspring was more than enough, a celebration in and of itself.

As for me, I have traveled more in one day than most of these ancients did in their entire lifetime.  My personal environment is so advanced compared to theirs that from their point of view it would most probably seem like unfounded, fictitious fantasy of the highest order.  More has happened to me in a few short years than has happened in an entire lifetime with them.  I know more, I have access to almost everything I desire and amazingly most of it is attainable if I truly put my mind to it although the vast majority of the world are living way under the most very basic of subsistence levels.  To add to this my days are cluttered by all manner of things, plans, procedures and activities that mostly will not last longer than a few short years if I am lucky.  It seems I am on call 24/7 to and from people and things, most of which I have no real relationship with at all.

My life expectancy is higher, yes, this is true, but only due to the medical technology and artificial chemicals pumped into my body over generations and the way our modern age has developed machines to keep alive those who should have died and kill those who should be living.  What I can look forward to is leaving behind for my offspring a totally disposable world that has exponentially reducing sustainability and no real hope of a livable future … yet we celebrate our achievements and even regard ourselves as the most enlightened, educated, sophisticated and technologically advanced generation to have ever lived on earth.

Maybe I’m just an incurable romantic, disenchanted with the life we now lead and consequently doomed to wander restlessly in search of ever illusive meaning and peace, forever looking for those paths that lead elsewhere?  Maybe I am simply dwelling in a past I don’t or really cannot ever begin to fully understand and therefore wishing on futile, vain fantasy?  Perhaps I am totally deceived?  And perhaps there are some of those out there who lay claim to know who they are, where they are going, what they believe, and what this all is about?  I have no fight with these people, but I also have no envy of them.

I do have a nagging thought that won’t leave me though.

The thought that disturbs me personally is that these ancient, primitive, uneducated people I write about, …  their names are recorded in the ancient texts which have survived in some form to this very day.  They have a powerful legacy and their story, though primitive, possibly overly simplified and mostly culturally veiled and vague lives on, and will most probably live on for as long as mankind is around.

Their  names are written down in the sacred scriptures.

My name is not.

I am coming face to face with my inner self once again.  I don’t know about you, but in me there is a voice that speaks deep inside that is never harsh nor loud but decidedly persistent and even in the tempestuous noise of my everyday life the voice never ceases.  I sometimes allow my world to drown it out but it seems to quietly await another opportune time and simply repeats itself again and again until I begin to pay attention.

I once heard an expression, “the inarticulate speech of the heart” and for me, this is what it is.

It’s also very much like the voice of a strong, yet soft spoken, internal shepherd who stands significantly higher than my short little legs carry me and who can easily see what the far off terrain out there holds.  But for me all I can see is a very small parochial few feet in front of my nose (which is often frustratingly attached and very close to the rear end of the smelly, unwashed sheep just in front of me).

Circumstance in the form of people and related monies lost and now owed is presenting a somewhat vulgar scenario to me at present and the old fighter in me wants to leap over the ropes in one smooth action, bound over to the opposite corner and pound the living crap out of the blind, ignorant upstart who is daring to spit out threats and aggro statements way above his own intelligence level or ability to substantiate.  Yet even as the blood gushes through and pumps up the veins in my neck I seem to hear that voice again.  It is 4 a.m. and I am up and wide awake and this time it seems to be saying, “that’s you you can see in that person … can you see yourself?”

I am painted into a corner and instead of wet paint all around I see mirrors, many mirrors all reflecting so many unsightly and embarrassing angles on my life.  Angles quite frankly that I would rather not see.

The misty shepherds voice inside  tells me that in compassion extended I will find my own peace.  And amazingly, this time I am able to hear.

Often I do not.  In fact, it can take years.

Perhaps it’s because we live in a fast food type of immediate gratification, data overload world?  I don’t really know, but this for me is usually a somewhat unscientific process of conclusion but a deep seated one that speaks in a language still to be better understood inside of us.  Our modern mindset will not easily settle for any data other than that which is immediately seen, clearly measurable, even alpha-numerically coded and instantly logical and clear.  Our shelves are filled with easy answer, quick steps books that promise instant results immediately and the reasons for everything are laid out as logical, clear and easily accessible.

We may as well drink ant poison.

The ancient writings say “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls…. ”  What I have gradually come to realise for myself is that the roar of the waterfall is never initially very clear nor articulate, but it speaks nonetheless. It sort of wears away at the hard rock of our resistance and silently but surely cuts through its own path, slowly changing the sound and shape of the rock over time and patient observation.  For those who really desire enlightenment and are prepared to wait for it patiently and to retrace the ancient paths it will become more and more clear.  As unscientific as it really seems to be in appearance, over time and careful attention it too can build up data into a patterned form of empirical evidence able to be interpreted by those who will indeed take the time to allow the words to clarify themselves for our dull and clumsy conscious minds, settle into degrees of truth and eventually, the penny finally drops.  And usually it’s me who is the last one to know that a degree of enlightenment has come.  More often than not someone else will comment on the progress they see in me and I am flummoxed.  Maybe that’s what they mean by being “surprised by grace?”
” …. in compassion extended I will find my own peace” … it rolls so elegantly off the tongue, but now it must settle at the bottom of the waterfall in some hidden brook and bubble up into truth revealed.

______________________________________

He went about doing good and healing all who were under heavy pressure from negative, evil circumstance.   As he went along amazing things seemed to happen around him.  It was clear that a force much more powerful than himself, the words he spoke, or the deeds he did was tangibly present with him.   Lives were marvelously changed as he made contact with all manner of people and as a consequence they sought him out and followed him virtually wherever he went.   They thronged around and asked him questions and he graciously spoke back to them in response.   He taught them what the sacred texts had hidden in them, presented a revolutionary, fresh angle on ancient truth and opened the eyes of the blind.   He demonstrated by way of his own lifestyle, a way of life that had never been seen before.   As a result lame legs were restored, withered arms were straightened and for the first time enabled to reach out and touch, caress and even heal.

Other than the twelve he officially called to be his personal disciples, to leave their homes and families and to walk with him he never asked anyone else to join him or follow him as he walked.   He never developed unrealistic expectations in the hearts and minds of those who met him and instead seemed rather to make it more difficult for them to follow him than that which first was apparent.   He was unpredictable in almost everything he did and when expected to ‘zig’, he ‘zagged.’   He extracted no payment for his service of kindness but often met the needs of the poor instead.   His only charge was for all to honour God and do as he did – to follow his example of giving up his own life for those of his friends.  In fact, he more often than not forbade the recipients of his kindness their passionate request to follow him and even had the emancipated fortitude of wisdom, personal conviction and divine sense of purpose to amongst many other seemingly controversial acts,  inadvertently cause a very wealthy man with all his worldly resources, to turn away from following him by lovingly revealing the great poverty of the mans extreme wealth and success.

He had no personal empire of material or political wealth.   He never drew attention to himself nor promoted his service.  If anything, he underplayed the accolades of the crowd and preferred to call himself the ‘son of man’, a lowly, unpretentious description for someone who performed such incredible feats of miraculous kindness.   He never owned any form of personal transportation nor any building with attractive, socially trendy décor to accommodate the masses who pressed in.   Instead, he chose the dusty footpaths, market places, the homes of often socially inappropriate people, taverns and once a week, the small, traditional religious gathering spots to make contact with people.  He had no permanent roof over his head other than the stars, no place to call his own nor to hang his hat or raise his banner.   He tended more often than not to profoundly offend the established religious order and the prevalent leadership of the day and they too pursued him relentlessly, but for other reasons than respect, admiration and gratitude.

Eventually Jesus was murdered for this, as are any who follow his example and do as he did.

We love to call ourselves ‘pastors’, ‘apostles’, ‘evangelists’, ‘doctors’, ‘prophets’, ‘ministers’, ‘men (or women) of God’, ‘anointed’, ‘professors’, ‘spiritual fathers’, ‘mentors’, ‘reverends’, ‘leaders’, “counselors’, ‘shepherds’, ‘overseers’,  ‘presidents’, ‘deacons’, ‘elders’, ‘teachers’, etc… in fact, the only thing we love more than this is when other people call us by these titles.

Yet Jesus of Nazareth, believed to be Lord and Messiah, the hero of all time and the only worthy one to be emulated by countless Christians throughout the centuries, … .  .   . this Jesus, believed to be the only one who really has legitimate claim to entitlement, being the revealed ‘seed’ of God, even God in the flesh, wanted only to be known as the ‘son of man.’

Lions have huge claws, fangs, a fierce roar and immense strength. We do not.

Rhino’s have formidable size, horns and skin like steel armour. We have none of these.

Leopards have stealth and huge strength. We have neither.

Crocodiles have incomparable physical power and formidable teeth, jaws and tail. We do not.

Eagles have flight, fierce talons and penetrating vision. We have none of these.

Cheetah’s have incomparable speed. We do not.

We have no protective covering of skin or armour.  We have no natural hair to protect us from the extreme heat or cold.  In all ways we are mostly unprotected and completely vulnerable to the environment we call home.

Yet mankind has a Godlike quality.  Perhaps even a Godlike quantity.  We might not have physical stealth but we can hide behind shadows or walk in the light if we so choose.  We have an imagination that can transcend the natural world where the beasts are clearly at home.  We can not only create new realities but can actively live in them.

Chameleons and sea squid can blend into the background with relative ease but man can redesign themselves to fit almost any situation.  Snakes can inject deadly venom but humans need only speak a few words to cause nervous systems to collapse and for flesh, and mind to begin to decay from the inside out.  Many serpents, reptiles and even arachnids can shed their skin but humans virtually change their whole identities merely by desiring to do so.

On the other hand, humankind also have the amazing ability to choose to care and love where loveliness is not present.  We can speak healing with a word and cause flesh to heal and internal nervous systems to access restoration.  Humans can exercise righteousness and unwavering commitment to others, themselves and even the environment.  Humans also have the amazing ability to be the very presence of God in the natural world.