Showing posts from September, 2010

Thomas Gospel Dervishes, sung by Catherine Braslavsky

Catherine Braslavsky group in concert at the Satellit' Café, broadcast on French TV 3/08. Music by Joseph Rowe, words of Yeshua from the Gospel of Thomas:

"Split the wood, I am there; turn over a stone, and you will find me."

The Curse of the Shiny Things!

Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is deep within you, what you draw up will free you. If you do not recognize that within you, what you do not have within you destroy you."  Gospel of Thomas 70

There is an old tale I heard that to distract a fairy from cursing you, offer it something shiny.  It is the way of so many of us to chase after the latest shiny thing, to totally involve ourselves with it and then when another shiny comes our way, we chase after it.  Thus we dig all these shallow wells, instead of digging deep within, and from that place honor the thing that distract us.  Instead we uproot ourselves, shed our previous distraction only to play that game again and again.  When I left my fundamentalist past, I spent years on years doing this.  I would explore a religion like a shiny thing.  I would follow that religions structures, prayers, rituals, read their books etc.  I would appear like an enthusiastic convert so to speak....only it would last for a short while..…

Ecclesial Thomasine Approaches and Monakos Thomasine Approaches

Looking at my previous post I was trying to explain the different approaches that people come to with the Gospel of Thomas.  Granted, the Gospel of Thomas (GoT) has something for everyone.  Gnostics love it, Christian Contemplatives/Mystics love it, and many others as well. But in my experience there are two type of approaches to the Gospel of Thomas.   The Ecclesial Thomasines would fit in with the mainstream church.  They may hold several if not all the same traditional beliefs of orthodox Christianity, but have a mystic bent which is why they follow the GoT.  The GoT does not mention the virgin birth, crucifixion, baptism, eucharist etc. one way or another.  So Ecclesial Thomasines can affirm the creed in good faith and still read the GoT as applicable to their life as a Christian.  They may not be entirely orthodox but they can fit in the church well enough to be active in it. 

The other type of Thomasine is what I am calling Monakos Thomasines.  Monakos means single or one.  They…

The Powerless Presence of God

I was reading a fantastic book called The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins where I come across this quote which is very powerful.  The author is not by any means a Thomasine Christian but he nailed the Thomasine view of God right on the head.  Listen to this quote:

"However the message of Jesus introduces us to a different way of approaching God - not as a violent power imposed from above, but rather as a powerless presence entering our world from below.  This powerless God still instigates a revolution against the powers of this world.  However, this revolution is not won through brute strength but through weakness."

God in the Gospel of Thomas does not seem active like in other books of the Bible.  The Gospel of Thomas does not claim God as healing, damning, or making demands.  And yet God's presence is within all people and things.  This loving, living presence of God does not need to make laws demanding obedience but rather changes through loving, not through brute fo…

Persecuting Yourself

Jesus said, "How blessed are those who have been persecuted within their hearts: those who have experienced this are the ones who have truly come to know the Father. Blessed are those who go hungry, so the stomach of the one in want may be filled."
Gospel of Thomas 69

Another amazing saying!  Here Jesus is not speaking of persecution coming from without, but rather about persecution from within.  This is the mark of true spiritual maturity.  So many claim to be spiritual but really have no internal discipline.  They like to profess to be spiritual, when in fact they have no regular spiritual practice.  I know for me, in trying to sit in contemplative prayer, my mind and body will try to find a million excuses why I am too tired, too antsy, too anything and thus should not, sit.  It will rationalize why this sitting will not be useful.  Like a child throwing a tantrum, it does not want to calm.  It may only be in the final moments of my sitting that I am simply at rest with Go…

Who the #$%^& is Jesus?

People sometimes forget that there are many views of Jesus...interpretations of his life, teachings and death.  I know in my Baptist past, we did not really emphasize Jesus life but rather his death.  It was viewed as an appeasement to an angry God who demanded full payment for our sins.  It was viewed in legal terms. 
There are those who view it as a ransom from Satan. 

How does the Gospel of Thomas view the life and death of Jesus?  I would point out first that the Gospel of Thomas is not a narrative and contains no narrative on his death.  It focuses primarily on his sayings. 

I am slowly being persuaded that the Gospel of Thomas while very possibly the earliest gospel (parts at least) was not meant to be thought of in a vacuum.  I am finding myself slowly (oh so very slowly) agreeing with the scholars who suggest that the Thomasines may have been a Christian community of contemplatives...whether as some form of ascetics (a religious order before its time?) or a religious community…

Hooray for you! Now Get Out!

Jesus said, "Accolades to you when you are despised and persecuted; and no place will be found, wherever you have been persecuted."  Gospel of Thomas 68

Those who follow the way of Jesus...and I mean those who truly live it-love the outcast.  They love those rejected by society, the downtrodden, those who smell, or who may not know social etiquette.  They speak truth to power for justice and that light within all humanity.  Martin Luther King did it.  So did Oscar Romero, Malcolm X, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Marcus Garvey and so many others throughout history.  And yet they knew what it was to be rejected, to be despised at times.  They had fans who would turn on them at the drop of a hat....just like Jesus.  May we have the grace to stand for that of good in all people, and for the sake of the truth of all people, even if we stand alone.  Even if it hurts.

Freaking Know It All!

Jesus said, "Those who know all, but are lacking in themselves, are utterly lacking."
Gospel of Thomas 67

When I was younger, I considered folks who claimed to be Christian but could not quote chapter and verse in the Bible as spiritually immature.  I am ashamed to admit this but it is true.  I did.  My legalism was so ingrained that I was completely blind to my spiritual immaturity.  A person may not be able to quote the Bible but have a deeper spiritual life that I may ever have.  How utterly stupid of me to equate this knowledge to maturity.  How blind I was to my own spiritual immaturity.  I was utterly lacking.  I walked in darkness and ignorance while thinking I was in the light.

Hated and Wanted!

Jesus said, "Show me the stone that the builders did not want: that is the keystone."
Gospel of Thomas 66

The message of Jesus is countercultural.  Sadly much of Christianity has tamed his words.  Jesus does not put a lot of stock in tradition, traditional family values, consumerism, or religiosity with all that it entails.  He goes for the broken, the outcasts, and the ones that do not fit in with a good and normal society.  He rejects materialistic consumerism, and a worldview that reduces humanity to cattle.  He sees in us the very light and life of God. In all of us, from the best to the worst.  It is in this flesh, in our frailty that the Lord dwells.  And to truly let that light shine means that like Jesus we may be rejected, ridiculed and such.  To see with different eyes than the larger society is not always easy...but to see the light in the indiviuals is.  Take it one day at a time and with each person honor that of God within them

Naughty Farmers!

Jesus said, "A person had a vineyard and allowed some farmers to rent from him, so they could work the land and the owner could receive a portion of its crop from them. He sent his servant so the farmers would give him the vineyard's crop. The farmers seized him, beat him, and almost killing him, and the servant returned and told his master. His master said, 'Perhaps he didn't know them.' He sent another servant, and the farmers beat that one as well. Then the master sent his son and said, 'Perhaps they'll show my son some respect.' Because the farmers knew that he was the heir to the vineyard, they grabbed him and killed him. Anyone here with two ears had better listen!"  Gospel of Thomas 65

I had to sit with this passage since my last post over a week or two ago. Who is the vineyard keeper?  Who is the son?  The servants?  The naughty farmers?  Perhaps they are all us.  The vineyard keeper is the Holy Spirit within us.  She is the light inside us…

What Do You Need? A Personalized Invitation?

Jesus said, "A man was having a dinner party. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests. The servant went to the first and said her, 'My master invites you.' She said, 'Some business owners owe me some money; I meet with them tonight. I have to go and handle things. Please excuse me from dinner.' The servant went to another and said him, 'My master has invited you.' The man said to the servant, 'I just purchased a house, and I have also been called away for the day. I do not have time.' The servant went to another and said to that one, 'My master invites you.' That one said to the servant, 'My friend is getting married, and I have to arrange the banquet. I won't be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner.' The servant went to another and said to that one, 'My master invites you.' He said to the servant, 'I have bought an estate, and I am on my way to collect rent. I will not be able…

CAIR '9/11 Happened to Us All' PSA, Firefighter (60-Second)

CAIR '9/11 Happened to Us All' PSA, Medical Responder (30-Second)