Jane  Gilgun     I  don’t  get  it.

 For  thousands  of  years  human  beings  have  had  the  key  to  the  good  life   where  everyone  would  have  enough  and  we  would  care  for  each  other  and   ourselves.  Yet,  three  quarters  of  the  world’s  population  suffer  because  of  the  actions   and  inactions  of  other  human  beings.  The  key  to  the  good  life  is  the  Israel  Shema.       Hear,  O  Israel:  The  Lord  our  God,  the  Lord  is  one.    Love  the  Lord  your  God   with  all  your  heart  and  with  all  your  soul  and  with  all  your  strength.  These   commandments  that  I  give  you  today  are  to  be  on  your  hearts.    Impress  them   on  your  children.  Talk  about  them  when  you  sit  at  home  and  when  you  walk   along  the  road,  when  you  lie  down  and  when  you  get  up.  Tie  them  as  symbols   on  your  hands  and  bind  them  on  your  foreheads.  Write  them  on  the   doorframes  of  your  houses  and  on  your  gates  (Deuteronomy  6:  4-­‐9).   Related  to  the  Shema  is  this.     “‘Do  not  seek  revenge  or  bear  a  grudge  against  anyone  among  your  people,   but  love  your  neighbor  as  yourself.  I  am  the  Lord”  (Leviticus  19:18).   To  me,  this  is  the  original  Good  News.  This  is  what  people  could  have  lived,   breathed,  taught,  and  acted  upon.  Some  did.  Many  did  not.  So,  we  have  rapes,   murders,  child  sexual  abuse,  kids  shot  on  the  streets,  water  boarding,  countries   threatening  other  countries,  starvation,  and  holocausts.  We  have  budget  cuts  that   harm  the  most  vulnerable  and  bring  more  richness  to  the  super  rich.         Selfish,  devastating  me-­‐first  actions  throughout  the  world  are  committed  by   countless  hundreds  of  millions  of  people  over  thousands  of  years.         It  doesn’t  even  seem  to  matter  that  the  Christian  tradition  sought  to  fulfill  these  two   principles.    This  is  from  the  gospel  of  Mark.     One  of  the  teachers  of  the  law  came  and  heard  them  debating.  Noticing  that   Jesus  had  given  them  a  good  answer,  he  asked  him,  “Of  all  the   commandments,  which  is  the  most  important?”    “The  most  important  one,”  answered  Jesus,  “is  this:  ‘Hear,  O  Israel:  The  Lord   our  God,  the  Lord  is  one.  Love  the  Lord  your  God  with  all  your  heart  and  with   all  your  soul  and  with  all  your  mind  and  with  all  your  strength.’  The  second  is   this:  ‘Love  your  neighbor  as  yourself.’  There  is  no  commandment  greater  

We’ve  Always  Known:   Why  Don’t  We  Do  it?  

 Jesus  is  God.  “You  are  right  in  saying  that  God  is  one   and  there  is  no  other  but  him.  To  love  him  with  all  your  heart.  and  to  love  your  neighbor  as   yourself  is  more  important  than  all  burnt  offerings  and  sacrifices.  don’t  touch  the  host.  As  he  was  dying.  Original  sin.  Jesus  said.  teacher.”   “Well  said.   Jesus  lived  these  two  commandments.    We  founded  a  religion  based  on   Jesus’s  life  and  teaching.  I  don’t  hear  people  talking  to  each  other   about  what  it  means  to  love  God.   Some  of  those  in  power  did  not  like  it.    I  was  raised  Christian.  They  killed  him.  He  called  out  those  who  caused  suffering.  Where  was  this  talked  about?    I  did  not  hear  about  this   from  the  pulpit  and  in  religious  instruction.than  these.  the  immaculate  conception.  These   words  took  second  and  third  place  to  rules  and  dogma  that  I  heard  from  the  pulpit   and  in  religious  instruction.  he  said  to  him.  He  brought  forward  the  most   important  ideas  human  beings  will  ever  have.  with  all  your   understanding  and  with  all  your  strength.     I  wonder  what  makes  it  so  hard  to  live  these  words.”  And  from  then  on  no  one  dared  ask  him  any  more   questions  (Mark  12:  28-­‐34).  The  consequences  of   experiencing  the  love  of  God.”     Indeed.  Lord.”  the  man  replied.  Many  have  lived  these  words.  Many  still  don’t  know  what  we  are  doing.”   When  Jesus  saw  that  he  had  answered  wisely.   Mary  is  perfect  and  you  are  not.  we  naturally  love  our  neighbors  as  ourselves.  Many  people  besides  Jesus  have  been  killed  for  living   these  words.  We’ve  gotten  so  far  away  from  the  words  of   Scripture  that  many  people  have  no  idea  what  it  feels  like  to  love  God.     What  Happened?     I  wonder  what  it  will  take  for  people  who  say  they  are  Christian  to  live  the  words   that  Jesus  fulfilled.  We  don’t  put  ourselves   above  others  and  think  destruction  has  good  outcomes.     If  we  love  God.  We  work  on  letting  go  of  revenge   .  so  many  others  go  their  merry   ways.  Jesus  did  fulfill  the  Scriptures.  They  don’t  know  what  they  are  doing.   “Forgive  them.  destroying  other  people  while  telling  themselves  and  those  like  them  what   wonderful  people  they  are.     What  Happened  to  Experience?     The  experience  of  a  loving  God.  and  all  those   other  things.  The  experience  of  loving  God.  In  our  everyday  lives.  “You  are  not  far   from  the  kingdom  of  God.  we   think  about  the  consequences  of  our  actions.  confess  your  sins.  Yet.  We  apparently  see  his  life  and   teaching  through  a  glass  darkly.

    .  We  don’t  put  ourselves  down.  put  a  sign  in  our  homes.  I  heard  stories  of  a   mother  with  four  young  children  who  is  about  to  be  evicted  and  who  has  no  place  to   go.  They  have  an   inkling  of  what  it  means  to  be  spiritual.  These  difficult  emotions  arose  in  me   after  spending  five  hours  at  a  social  service  agency  that  serves  the  most  high-­‐risk   children  and  families  in  the  county  where  the  agency  is  located.  talk  to  each  other.  No  wonder.  and  might  and  love  your  neighbor  as  yourself.  Some  people  call  this  God.  We  don’t  let  others  push  us  around.  So   simple  and  yet  for  thousands  of  years  subordinate  and  mostly  ignored.  Many  people  are  turned   off  by  the  messages  and  beliefs  that  have  subordinated  the  central  message  of  all   religions.  We  set  simple  limits  and  let  others   know  when  they  have  crossed  the  line.     People  who  are  spiritual  and  not  religious  know  God  is  love  and  seek  the  spiritual  as   a  plant  seeks  light.     Spiritual  but  Not  Religious     More  people  than  ever  are  spiritual  and  not  religious.  including  the  father  in  the  sky.  the  being  who  grants   our  wishes  or  not.  They  know  through  experience  that  there  is   something  beyond  ourselves  that  gives  our  lives  meaning.    All  else  follows  from  this.   and  soul.     What  a  price  we  have  paid  for  ignoring  these  simple  principles.    They  may  not  say  they   love  God.  We  work  on  not  hating  others.  The  central  message  is  this.     Why  I  Wrote  This     I  wrote  this  after  four  days  of  anger  and  upset.  among  so  many  others.  They  may  call  what   they  long  for  a  spiritual  presence.  I  heard  of  a  teenage  girl  in  bed  with  her  boyfriend  with  the  bedroom  door  open   in  full  view  of  a  social  worker  who  was  talking  to  the  girl’s  mother.  Talk  to   our  children  about  the  love  of  God.       This  is  all  so  simple.  the  punishing  being.  We  don’t  put  others   down.  They  may  be  uncomfortable  with  the  word  God.  Why  wouldn’t  they  be?     The  word  has  so  many  meanings.       We  take  good  care  of  ourselves.    I  heard  of  a  boy   in  residential  treatment  for  volatile  behaviors  and  whose  only  support  in  this  world   is  about  to  die  an  early  death  because  of  lung  disease  caused  by  her  smoking.  We  work  on  letting  go   of  our  own  self-­‐hatreds.  Let’s  live  these  simple  words.  talk  when  we  go  to  bed  and   when  we  get  up.  We  care  about  the  well-­‐being  of  others.motives.     If  people  in  religious  institutions  put  the  Shema  front  and  center.  Love  the  Lord  your  God  with  all  your  heart.  They  recognize  that  they  long  for  something.  What  makes  it  so  hard?    Let’s  do  what  the  Shema  says.  churches  would  be   filled  with  people  who  now  are  spiritual  and  not  religious.  an  all-­‐powerful   being  who  choses  some  and  not  others.

    The  events  in  these  lives  are  preventable.  God  is  not  power  to  get  your  own  way.  God  is  not  money.  People  who  love  themselves  love  God  and   others.   The  second  shows  one  of  the  men  immediately  after  he  was  shot.  If  we   lived  the  words  of  the  Shema  and  talked  about  them  as  Scripture  recommends.  Such  horrors  don’t  have  to  happen.  God  is  not  I  am  better  than  you  and  mine  is  bigger  than  yours.  others.   these  events  would  not  happen.  God  is   not  social  status.  You   are  not  God.  and  the  self.  The  third  shows   the  man  who  was  still  alive  pulling  on  the  dead  man  as  if  to  awake  him.     God  is  love  of  others  and  of  the  self.  I  saw  a  series  of  three  photos  of  two  men  fighting  in  the   streets  of  an  Arab  country.  Whatever  material  goods  and  social  status  that  they  have  they  use  to  foster   love  of  God.   .In  the  newspaper  this  week.  The  first  photo  shows  the  two  of  them  about  to  shoot.  Our  own  lives  would  take  on  new  meanings.       God  is  Not  Money     There  is  one  God.  Everything  we  have  and  are  is  subordinate  to  the   love  of  the  one  God.