Author: Roberta Grimes

Happy Birthday to Liberty!

Oh beautiful, for heroes proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
‘Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine.
Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) from “America the Beautiful” (1895)

The purpose of human life is spiritual growth, and achieving it requires that our minds be free. Today we celebrate the fact that 244 years ago a few aristocrats conceived the notion of building their government around  a fundamental need to protect the liberties of all the people being governed. Thanks to their vision, there is at least one place in this sadly un-free world where individual liberty has been tried and proven, and where it now can take its stand.

We cannot imagine how radical the American experiment was in 1787. The Constitution of the United States provides for a government that guarantees expanded rights and liberties; and our Declaration of Independence includes the greatest statement of human equality and worth ever written. This is the only nation on earth whose continuous democratic form of government is more than 200 years old, and its stability is due in considerable part to the fact that it is not a straight democracy. This country is instead a republic, so it protects its weaker citizens from the whims of the majority. As a result of its expanded rights and liberties and its unprecedented governmental stability, the United States of America has been in every year since 1871 the most prosperous nation on earth. We have work to do to correct the mess that America’s race relations have been; but even despite their past limitations, African Americans today are among the freest and richest people on earth.

In researching My Thomas, I came to love the architects of this experiment in liberty. For the first time in history, powerful leaders voluntarily gave up their power and willingly submitted themselves to government by the masses! Here are our first five presidents and a beloved elder statesman as they where thinking through the great American experiment.

George Washington (1732-1799)

Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!
– Letter to James Warren, March 31, 1779

A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.
– Letter to Benjamin Harrison, October 10, 1784

I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong. – Letter to Francis Van der Kamp, May 28, 1788

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. – Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, August 18, 1790

It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
  – Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

* John Adams (1735-1826)

Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood. – A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765

Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it. Thoughts on Government, 1776

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
Letter to Abigail Adams, 1780

* Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. – Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1774

My god! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!
– Letter to James Monroe, June 17, 1785

I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere. – Letter to Abigail Adams, February 22, 1787

What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms. – Letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787

The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind. – Letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. – Letter to Archibald Stewart, Dec 23, 1791

[A] wise and frugal government… shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him?
– First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party divisions and make them one people. – Letter to John Dickinson, July 23, 1801

The freedom and happiness of man…[are] the sole objects of all legitimate government. – Letter to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810

I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. – Letter to William Ludlow, September 6, 1824

Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man. – Letter to John Cartwright, 1824

* James Madison (1751-1836)

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
– Speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787

Democracy is the most vile form of government. … democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property: and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.  – The Federalist, No. 10, November 23, 1787

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.
  – The Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788

(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation… (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
– The Federalist, No. 46, January 29, 1788

An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.
 – The Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. – Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788

It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect.
– To an unidentified correspondent, 1833

* James Monroe (1758-1831)

Our country may be likened to a new house. We lack many things, but we possess the most precious of all – liberty! – To his daughter, Eliza, and her Head of School in Paris, 1794

If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy. – First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817

* Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was the godfather of this experiment in liberty. And at the last, his great popularity in France brought that nation to intervene on America’s side just as our Revolution was about to be lost.

Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.
Letter to French scientist Jean-Baptiste Le Roy on November 13, 1789

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
– Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin, 1818

A republic, madam, if you can keep it.
 – Answering a woman who asked him as he left the Constitutional Convention what sort of government the Founders had framed.

This great experiment in personal liberty is a quarter of a millennium old. We have abused it over the years, but thanks to the wisdom of that generation of giants its structure and protections remain in place. We have only to polish it and tune it up, and its proven economic and spiritual promise can at last become this nation’s gift to all the people of the world.

Oh beautiful, for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
 – Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) from “America the Beautiful” (1895)

Declaration of Independence photo credit: The U.S. National Archives <a href=”″>Engrossed Declaration of Independence</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Patriotic child photo credit: acase1968 <a href=”″>Ashland’s 4th of July Parade</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Ship’s rigging photo credit: Thomas James Caldwell <a href=”″>Snap</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

“I Have a Dream…”

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.
When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words
of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,
they were signing a promissory note to which every American
was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men –
ck men as well as white men –
would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) from “I Have a Dream…” (1963)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the greatest American of the twentieth century. The more time passes since Dr. King’s death, the higher his stature has come to rise; and watching that happen within the memory of people who recall him as a living crusader feels the way it must have felt when the United States began to revere as its Founding Fathers all those contentious Revolution-era politicians. I was in college when Dr. King was assassinated. I had come to love the man, so waking up to find that he had been killed was the biggest devastation of my young life. But when later that morning I used the word “assassinated” in reference to Dr. King, I was confronted by an outraged Southern classmate. She shouted that he had been just a criminal and not a public figure at all so he didn’t deserve that honored term. I learned on the morning after Dr. King’s death the extent of the evil under which he had lived.

And now the descendants of slavery among us confront another potential evil that may be almost as harmful to them as has been the frank racism I glimpsed that day. While clueless rioters rush to destroy even the revered statues of genuine heroes, they mostly ignore – and they even betray – the very people they claim to most want to help. Well-meaning people in academia, too, tell us now that we all must grovel and atone for the mess that America’s race relations have been, while apparently hardly giving a thought to the fact that all these problems have human causes and therefore they can be healed. For the first time in history, now we know for certain that there is one human race, which means that every apparent difference between people with varying shades of skin is the result of America’s prior mistakes. So in fact, all these renewed efforts to find and punish racism in our culture without attempting to altogether eliminate it can only be based on the false assumption that those with darker skin are in some ways deficient. To try to make Americans atone for racism rather than destroying the remnants of it is the tragic modern equivalent of my college classmate’s racist rage.

The progress toward full equality that Dr. King’s movement began in the Sixties had largely stalled before this century began. There are important reasons why this happened, and emphatically those reasons can be addressed! Indeed, for all of us to work together to make of this nation a truly colorblind society is what most modern descendants of slavery want. It is the least that they deserve, and it surely is what mercy demands! An entirely race-free future will be our ultimate triumph over all the horrors of slavery and racism that have so tragically soiled our past. It will give us at last our shining gateway to the free and equal nation that the wisdom of our Founders envisioned, and that Dr. King’s courage and strength began.

Last week we described six reasons for the racial inequality that still burdens the descendants of slavery in the United States. There may be other causes too, but to effectively address these six alone would make such a difference that it might well take us most of the way to that longed-for free and equal nation. This effort to establish in the United States a new era of racial equality can be advanced by using three initiatives. For various reasons they will need to be led not by governments, but rather by private foundations. And surely there can be no greater charitable goal than this effort to help the United States to fulfill at last its founding promises!


We never can have real racial equality until we have fully emancipated the minds of a whole generation of slavery’s descendants. This should have happened a hundred and fifty years ago, but it is not too late. It can happen now. Every U.S. citizen born between, say, 2020 and 2040 with an ancestor who once was held here in slavery will be eligible to receive an extraordinary education from birth through graduate school. It will be important that we work closely with the parents and offer individual enrichment and empowerment during those crucial first five years of life. And our model for elementary and secondary schools might be the Success Academies which began in 2006 in Harlem and have grown to 45 charter schools with 17,000 students in the New York City area. There have been efforts by some to limit the use of charter schools by the economically disadvantaged, but the methods pioneered by the Success Academies have resulted in such extraordinary educational achievements for children who might otherwise have failed in public schools that for this project nothing less will do. Our goal will be to give to this first emancipated generation the same quality of educational and personal empowerment that they could have had if they had been born into America’s most successful families.

Fully emancipating one generation of slavery’s modern descendants can all by itself entirely re-set race relations in the United States. These children will be our much-loved new beginning, with each of them nurtured and adored by every American of good will. If we do for them what we should have done for their freshly freed ancestors, we can now and for all future time eradicate the ill effects of our having so badly bungled the first century and a half after slavery was abolished, including the Black Codes, Jim Crow, and the War on Poverty’s destruction of the black family. We can in one stroke effectively address five of the six errors that we listed last week!  And importantly, in doing this we will be creating a powerful new image for all black Americans. Today, if you walk down a street and see a group of young black men ahead, your first reaction is likely to be to assume they are a gang of toughs. Perhaps you even might cross the street. But twenty years from now, you will be walking down that same street and see a group of young black men ahead, and you will assume they must be college students. Very soon in the United States the appearance of having African ancestry will become a certain marker for elevated status and greater success.


While we are beginning our better long-term future by at last emancipating a full generation of slavery’s youngest descendants, there is a lot that we can do to improve the lives of these children’s family members. This second initiative will ideally be led by those who best understand the communities being served, and Americans who want to be part of the solution are going to find a lot to do! Three-quarters of black children today are born to single mothers, many of whom can benefit from assistance and mentoring; and older children may well need some tutoring and tuition help. With a third of black men now cycling into and out of prison, we can seek and find ways to help people wronged by that system to build some success and satisfaction into their later lives. And in everything we do we must never forget, not even for a moment, that every modern descendant of slavery is precisely who we are ourselves. There will be no limit to what they can do, once we give them the gift of a better beginning.


No matter whatever else we might do, the only way for us to entirely heal America’s racial wounds will be with a complete reform of our horrendous criminal justice system. Next week we will commemorate the 244th birthday of the United States, so we will pause then for a celebration of what could have been and still might be. Then the following week we will devote some time to talking about how we can and why we must reinvent criminal justice in America if we are ever to make racial justice possible.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” We are seeing now how right he was! And the best way to honor this brilliant and selfless man who lived and died for righteousness will be for all of us to come together, every American of every shade, and build at last the better nation that its original Founding Fathers imagined and its twentieth-century Founding Father has given us the vision to at last achieve. It is time for those of us who have inherited the world’s oldest constitutional republic to help it live up to its founding promises so it can at last become a beacon of freedom and hope for all the world.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content
of their character.
I have a dream… I have a dream that one day
in Alabama, with its vicious racists,
with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification,
one day right in Alabama little black boys and black girls
will he abl
e to join hands with little white boys and white girls
as sisters and brothers.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) from “I Have a Dream…” (1963)

MLK statue photo credit: Brook-Ward <a href=”″>MLK</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

The Long Tail of Slavery

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,
Nobody knows but Jesus.
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,
Glory hallelujah!
– From a pre-1865 Negro spiritual, author unknown

Every human being of every shade is a member of a single race. Modern Europeans are in fact east Africans. This scientific certainty has been achieved only very recently, and from the standpoint of history it changes so much! The anatomically modern ancestors of Europeans began to enter Europe in large numbers following the most recent ice age, which ended less than fifteen thousand years ago. And these African immigrants to Europe didn’t fully lose the melanin in their skin until well into the historical period. Scientists have lately begun to sequence the DNA in ancient skeletons. Thanks to them, we now can meet three Europeans who lived in about 8000 BCE, 5000 BCE, and 3700 BCE respectively. All of them had blue eyes and dark skin, and the reason for their blue eyes is amusing. Blue eyes came from a single genetic mutation in about 8000 BCE, and apparently the trait was such a sexually attractive novelty that it rapidly overspread the continent.

The primary genes that allowed most Europeans to lose the melanin in their skin so they could better produce Vitamin D arrived in Europe with Neolithic farmers, and in much of Europe light skin did not predominate until after about 3000 BCE. These dates might change a bit as more information is developed. But the point is that there simply has not been time enough for Europeans to have genetically diverged in any meaningful way from their east African brothers and sisters.

So now we know that every apparent difference between black and white Americans has to be the product of our recent history. Once we understand and address the causes of these artificial differences, there is no reason why we cannot all live in harmony, as one big family.

Slavery is not just an ancient evil. It is estimated that there are more slaves on earth today than there ever have been before. And slavery is not a matter of skin shade, since people with light skin have been enslaved. Slavery has taken many forms, but it always has been common. It has been estimated that when the Declaration of Independence was signed, most of the people living on earth were being held in some form of servitude.

The history of slavery in the United States is riddled with myths and misinformation that need not concern us here. It should be noted, though, that the Founders inherited slavery just as we have inherited the mess that followed slavery. And they hated it. Thomas Jefferson inherited scores of slaves, and he saw this situation as such a shame and a burden that in his youth he was determined to rid himself of it by ending slavery altogether. His first draft of the Declaration of Independence contained what John Adams wryly referred to as “Jefferson’s Philippic against the slave trade.” Slavery was the most contentious issue that America’s Founders had to resolve as they worked to create their union, and they were forced to make what they hoped were short-term compromises with slavery or they could not have united the colonies.

After the Civil War, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were meant to end slavery. But they did no such thing! There was in fact a sensible and loving reason why people of good will worried about emancipation, and it was a problem that especially concerned the Founders. Most slaves were very different from whites in appearance and in behavior, so many people assumed there had to be innate differences between the races that would make it impossible for them ever to live together amicably. If the Founders had known that we are all one race, identical in every way, they would have done things differently! But as it was, even those eager to end slavery were worried that emancipation might precipitate endless race wars. They worried, too, about freeing the slaves into a white community that treated freedmen horribly. As Jefferson said, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

After the Civil War, this fear remained that there were real racial differences, so what began in 1865 was a long tail of subjugation of the descendants of slavery that continues to this day. The merciful among us now have the chance to altogether solve our racial problems! Knowing that there is just one race, we can discover and address the causes of all the difficulties that still plague slavery’s modern descendants. I urge others to study this history as well. But here are the causes of our racial mess as I see them:

  • The United States never emancipated its slaves. Making chattel slavery illegal was less than half the task. And in the bitter chaos of Reconstruction, we made no attempt to help the former slaves, but instead we simply abandoned them into a stronger white culture that feared and despised them. Without the protections, education, and personal empowerment that a real emancipation would have provided, the legally freed slaves and most of their descendants have been stuck at the bottom of American society ever since.
  • The Black Codes that began during Reconstruction promptly re-enslaved many black men. The Thirteenth Amendment contained a loophole through which the former slaveholders could drive a truck! Among other things, since there were few jobs available to former slaves, many men were convicted of vagrancy and enslaved on chain gangs with sentences which included fines that they had no way to pay. They were therefore often bound for life.
  • For a century after the Civil War, Jim Crow laws enforced segregation and severely limited opportunities. Blacks in the South were denied the right to vote or be well educated. Any who seemed “uppity” could be imprisoned or even lynched at someone’s whim.
  • The War on Poverty destroyed the black family. While the Civil Rights legislation of the mid-Sixties was bringing a better end to slavery a century after it had been legally abolished, the War on Poverty was launching the dissolution of the black family and thereby beginning today’s third version of slavery’s awful subjugations. From 1870 through 1960, roughly the same percentage of blacks as whites were married; but by 1980, most of those black marriages had broken up. The stalwart and courageous men who had brought their families through Jim Crow were still so stuck in slavery’s mindset that apparently they believed they were being ordered to surrender their loved ones to the care of governments that could better provide for them.
  • Few have understood the power of the first five years of life. For those few years, children’s minds are in download mode as they uncritically learn a lot of core facts, including learning their status in life by very closely observing their parents. This information then becomes hard-wired in us. And since the United States never actually emancipated its slaves, a version of the slavery mindset has been passed down in some American families for generations.
  • Our criminal justice system is an abomination. We talked about this problem briefly last week. Unless we make some radical changes there, nothing else that we do is going to be of much help.

We can address the effects of all these mistakes and cut at last this long tail of slavery. The problems listed above may not be all the ways in which we have hampered slavery’s descendants, but to remove just these most obvious chains would be a way to launch a new beginning! Reparations might seem to be indicated, but we have spent more than half of our national debt in trying to help the descendants of slavery and only made things worse. It is time to begin a dialogue about how we can create one peaceful country where brothers and sisters of every shade can prosper in mutual love and trust. Next week we will begin that dialogue by looking with creative mercy at how we might address each of these longstanding problems.

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down, Oh, yes, Lord.
Sometimes I’m almost to the ground, Oh, yes, Lord.
Although you see me going ‘long so, Oh, yes, Lord.
I have my trials here below, Oh, yes, Lord.
If you get there before I do, Oh, yes, Lord.
Tell all-a my friends I’m coming too!
Oh, yes, Lord.
           – From a pre-1865 Negro spiritual, author unknown


Mount Vernon slave cabin photo credit: jcbwalsh <a href=”″>Mount Vernon Slave Cabin</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Slave cabin – South Carolina photo credit: denisbin <a href=”″>Slave cabin at Magnolia slave plantation South Carolina. It used West African slaves with knowledge of rice cultivation in Sierra Leone to cultivate rice on the plantation.</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Oak Alley slave cabin photo credit: denisbin <a href=”″>Slave cabin Reconstructed at Oak Alley</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Old cabin photo credit: MIKOFOX ⌘ Reject Fear, Go Outdoors, Live Healthy <a href=”″>Hand Hewn Logs & Dovetail Corners!</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Alfred’s cabin photo credit: (aka Brent) <a href=”″>Alfred’s cabin – The Hermitage</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Cabin photo credit: MIKOFOX ⌘ Reject Fear, Go Outdoors, Live Healthy <a href=”″>Leaning Back For The Final Rest</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

The Quality of Mercy

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
       – William Shakespeare (1564-1616) from The Merchant of Venice (1605)

As a teenager I memorized the entire “quality of mercy” speech from The Merchant of Venice. Portia’s plea to a bitter man for mercy is one of the most significant pieces of literature ever written, and I quote about half of it here because it explains the value of mercy better than I ever could. Please read this week’s header and footer together. Then let’s look at how showing mercy is urged upon us in the Gospel teachings of Jesus, and let’s also look at some of the ways in which mercy is central to making easier and more joyous the course of our lives on earth.

Jesus makes mercy one of the bases for His central teachings on love and forgiveness. Indeed, mercy is so much a primary grounding of our ability to grow spiritually that it is not an exaggeration to say that unless we learn to practice mercy, we will find it much harder to grow spiritually. Here are the primary areas of the Lord’s Gospel teachings on mercy:

  • Mercy is a gift to the receiver that redounds to the giver. Portia says, “It is twice blessed. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (MT 5:7).
  • Mercy is an important grounding that enables us to live in harmony with others. Portia’s way of putting this is to say of mercy, “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.” Jesus illustrates His wish that we be merciful with His parable of the Good Samaritan. He ends it by saying, Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”His listener says, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus says, “Go and do the same” (LK 10:36-38). Jesus makes a lack of mercy shown by religious leaders reason enough for Him to condemn them. He says, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (MT 23:23).
  • Mercy is a core characteristic of the Godhead. As Portia says, “It is an attribute to God himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice.” And Jesus tells a man from whom He has cast out demons, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you” (MK 5:19).
  • Mercy lies at the heart of justice. Portia says, “’T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.” And Jesus tells a parable about a slave whose master forgives his debt because the slave begs for mercy. The forgiven slave then demands that his fellow slave repay a debt to him. The outraged master says, ‘”You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave?” The master punishes the miscreant, and Jesus adds, My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart” (MT 18:32-35).

So, what does the word “mercy” mean, anyway? The best definition for our purposes seems to becompassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” Until recently, showing mercy to others seemed to me to be a nicety, a classier way to deal with people, an aid to greasing the wheels of life. I thought it had to be used selectively. If you keep letting people do bad things to you without any consequence to them, don’t you risk becoming a doormat? It astonishes me now to realize how long I held the view that our mercy must be limited! I never until recently thought about the fact that mercy is the first cousin to forgiveness. Indeed, it may be reasonable to say that unless you make a habit of being merciful, you cannot ever really learn to forgive.

But it also is essential to bear in mind the fact that even though they come from similar mindsets and are similar in effect, mercy and forgiveness are not the same! Jesus urges us to practice mercy in our daily lives, as is noted in the Gospel quotations above. He wants us to be merciful, but He commands that we forgiveHe tells us that forgiveness is essential to our obeying God’s primary command, which is that we love universally and without reservation.

We cannot state God’s Law of Love often enough! When someone asks Jesus what is the greatest commandment, He doesn’t name any of the Ten Commandments. Instead He says, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (MT 22:37-40). And the Lord makes it abundantly clear that in order to love our fellow man, we must forgive completely every time and no matter what is done to us. We must not even resist pure evil! Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (MT 5:38-40). And when Peter asks Him whether we really have to keep forgiving the same awful things done by the same awful people as many as seven times in a row, Jesus says, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (MT 18:21-23).

This is radical stuff! And Jesus insists on it. His teachings suggest that unless we learn to forgive to this extreme extent, we cannot learn to love in the transformative way that God’s Law insists we must love.

Forgiveness is a primary command from God, while mercy is meant to soften our hearts. Perhaps it is Spiritual Growth 101. Establishing a habit of mercy seems to prime our minds and make easier our development of such a radical forgiveness practice that learning prevenient forgiveness is easier. Even though it is not commanded of us, we find that mercy, like gratitude and empathy, can assist us in re-setting our minds for more rapid spiritual growth to come.

Mercy is easier to theorize about than it can be to put into use. Unlike practicing prevenient forgiveness, which soon becomes automatic, being merciful requires that before we act in any situation, we must first pause and think in a complex way about the people involved and the likeliest outcomes of whatever we might decide to do. Here are three quick examples:

  • Building mercy into our daily lives. I have a wealthy friend living in a rural area who was often making small emergency loans that some of the borrowers could not repay. This could lead to awkward estrangements from some who were embarrassed about their outstanding loans, so she has instituted a new policy. Now she refuses to lend, but if someone needs money she often makes an outright gift. She then adds, “If you find someone who needs your help, please offer your help.” Try to pay it forward. She keeps no records and she never asks, but now people often tell her about this or that gift of time or talent they have made with her in mind. Now she no longer risks losing friends over what to her are minor sums, and many more people are being helped!
  • Showing mercy in deeply negative situations. Two weeks ago, one of the most beloved bookstores in the United States burned down. Not far away, a landmark business that employed fifty people also burned. Target, CVS, Walgreen’s, and Wal-Mart stores burned, as did most local grocery stores. Reportedly, the proprietors of most of those businesses have no plans to rebuild. If the rioters had given some thought to the people who lived in the neighborhoods they were burning, surely they would have shown some mercy toward the businesses at the core of their community life!
  • Working for general public mercy. The United States holds less than 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population. The incarceration rate for American blacks is seven times the rate for whites, even though most of those imprisoned are not a danger to society. One in 87 working-age white men is in prison, vs. one in twelve African-American men. Among 20- to 34-year-old black men who have not completed high school, more are in prison than are employed (37% in prison vs. 26% employed). More than 97% of these prisoners did not have a trial before they were sentenced to prison. Nearly all will lose their civil rights for life. As a result of this situation, many black children grow up fatherless; and thanks to what is called “the school-to-prison pipeline,” a lot of those children will follow their fathers into prison. This complex problem can be solved if enough of us will work together and have mercy on a long-suffering community whose members need our help if they are ever to prosper.

Exercising creative daily mercy in situations large and small is a simple way for us to begin to lighten ourselves spiritually. And for us to show mercy tends to make all of those around us more merciful, too. So not only does showing mercy become a habit that helps us work toward learning prevenient forgiveness, but also in countless ways it lightens the burden of negativity on us all.

Next week let’s look at how we might extend some creative community mercy and start to solve America’s most intractable problem….

‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
           – William Shakespeare (1564-1616) from The Merchant of Venice (1605)


Cut-leaf maple photo credit: Bruce Irschick <a href=”″>Cut-leaf Maple (2010)</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Red fall garden photo credit: Patrick Vierthaler <a href=”″>Toji-in 等持院</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Red tree with water photo credit: Vicki’s Nature <a href=”″>Monet’s bridge @ Gibbs Gardens – 2 days ago</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Red and green photo credit: docoverachiever <a href=”″>Garden Reds</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Tranquility Scene photo credit: Jitabebe <a href=”″>Tranquillity</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Stone angel photo credit: Stanley Zimny (Thank You for 49 Million views) <a href=”″>Art in Fall</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
           – Clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), from Amazing Grace (1772)

You were supremely brave to plan and actually enter yet another earth-lifetime. Give yourself a lot of credit for that! The vast astral plane where we spend nearly all of our blissful, golden eternity includes what we call the afterlife, which operates as a kind of foyer from which we launch into our earth-lives and to which we return when these bodies die. But the astral plane is far more than just that afterlife foyer! Evidence suggests that it is fifteen to twenty times the size of this material universe, and it is chock-full of earth-like amusements and also very much greater pleasures that never have been imagined on earth. It is brightly lit by a perfect love so palpable and so intense that even near-death experiencers, who of course never go near the afterlife but instead spend time in the astral plane, are often altogether transformed by that love. In comparison with the astral plane, even the most beautiful places on earth are dark, depressing, and grittily hopeless.

We have talked about why our coming to earth is necessary in order for us to grow spiritually. But we have not until now much considered the sacrifices that our coming to earth entails! We leave behind beauty, fun, a host of friends, and the joyous love and safety of the Godhead; and in our urge to elevate ourselves spiritually, we plunge into a welter of fear and despair where we have access to such a limited part of our vast, eternal minds that not even a memory of why we are here remains to us. No wonder babies cry!

But why must we submit to such complete amnesia when we enter these material bodies? In order to be born on earth, we must temporarily give up every memory of our pre-birth lives, and we even agree to submit to waking amnesia of the active lives that we lead every night while our bodies sleep. Many people have asked me why, if what I am teaching them is true, they have no memory of any of it! And the easy answer to that question is the fact that amnesia is part of what we agree to accept when we are granted approval to enter another life on earth. There are far more beings who want an earth-lifetime than there are available bodies being born! So we are in no position to negotiate the terms of this deal. The real question is, “Why is our amnesia important?” And the answer to that is pretty much the same kind of answer you will get if you ask why working out causes sore muscles. In order to grow spiritually, you must put yourself in a position to be emotionally and spiritually stressed by awful negativity.

Without that amnesia, you would spend your life here pining for the wonders of your astral home. You would know that you are here to grow spiritually, and you might put forth some effort to grow, but in truth you likely wouldn’t stress yourself much. You wouldn’t even try to preserve your body! Without amnesia, you would know that you could just hang out on earth for a lifetime without doing very much at all, let the body go as soon as it falters, and then gladly boogie on back home.

In order for you to grow spiritually while you are here, your life on earth must be designed to make you take this illusion seriously. Let’s consider just how stringent the restrictions on our earth-lives must be in order for this material reality to be maintained as a useful spiritual school:

  • We can have no memory of the astral plane. Still, though, the glow of it remains as a kind of folk-memory that is the most likely reason for humankind’s universal urge toward seeking and worshiping gods.
  • We can have no memory of our having planned the awful events of our lives. When we lose a job or a child dies, when our spouse walks out or cancer befalls us, we must see these events as genuine and terrible stress-filled tragedies.
  • We must be convinced that this universe is real and important. The fact that the universe is just whirling energy and there exists a much bigger astral plane that is a lot more solid and real must be so well hidden that we remain fooled.
  • The fact that human minds cannot die must be kept from us so we retain our fear. Fear of death is the base fear, from which springs all the negativity that is needed to make our spiritual growth here work at all. And at the root of our fear of death is the terror that our minds might ever cease to be.
  • There can be nothing accessible to our senses beyond this limited material reality. What a grand illusion this universe was created to be! Even though nothing about it is real or solid, it must appear to be so real and so complete that it even satisfies scientists, when in fact matter is less than five percent of what even scientists know exists and the room around you which seems empty actually teems with life and activity at many non-material levels. This universe must seem to encompass staggering distances and eons of time, when in reality it is all freshly created in each instant.

So now let’s sum up the horrors of our present situation. In coming to earth, we have chosen to spend our earth-lives trapped in a negativity-based reality full of dangers to our existence and horrible sources of fear and pain that we have no choice but to fight to escape because the death of our bodies will be the death of our minds; and even with all that, we cannot see any purpose to our lives on earth, nor any goal beyond the alleviation of some of this suffering for one more day. We have willingly made this awful deal for numberless earth-lifetimes, and always in full awareness of the horrors that would plague each of those lives. We have submitted repeatedly to this charade because we so deeply crave spiritual growth. If you didn’t feel heroic when you first began reading, I hope you will give yourself some credit now!

Given how clueless we must remain if we are to make the most of our lives on earth, how is it that anyone has actually managed to grow spiritually? This system does work. But why does it work? The key to its success is the amazing depth and range of God’s grace.

According to Messrs. Merriam and Webster, “Grace is unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” And God’s grace turns out to be all that we need! Each of us has a lifetime spirit guide who will call in other guides for specialized assistance when needed, and these divine teams are our connection to the Godhead. Even if we never are consciously aware of them, our guides meet with us on many nights, teaching us and strategizing with us and helping us to achieve the spiritual growth that is the purpose of this earthly adventure. Sometimes, when people in their ignorance go very deep into negativity, their guides must wait for the perfect time to help them make leaps of wisdom and growth; but they are patient. They know that their charges’ negative wanderings are building a base for spiritual growth to come.

The hymn that is quoted in part to begin and end this post is among the most popular songs ever sung. It has been estimated that it is sung ten million times each year, and it has been recorded tens of thousands of times. Its author’s epic personal tale is a lovely example of the ways in which God’s grace operates in our lives through the work of our guides.

John Newton was an adventurous young man who went to sea and soon was caught up in the Atlantic slave trade. His guides had to bide their time. Then while he was doing some of the most evil work ever undertaken by humankind, a violent storm overtook his ship off Ireland’s County Donegal. His guides managed to get his attention, and they inspired him to call to God for mercy. At once the storm began to abate. It was several years more before he quit the slave trade, but he later came to see that day when God calmed the wind and waves at his request as the moment of his spiritual conversion. He went on to become a minister.

Only read the words of this amazing hymn! Each of us carries God’s grace with us as part of the package that we take to earth. With the help of our spirit guides, that grace is sufficient to lead us through the horrors of each earth-lifetime to another leap in love and wisdom, and then to take us safely home.

Given how well this system has worked, and how important to the Godhead this planet is as a crackerjack spiritual school, afterlife researchers are astonished to find that those five points given above are now in part beginning to break down. Many of us began to notice around the turn of this century that searching out more of the evidence for the afterlife and the greater reality, and figuring out how it all fits together, suddenly had become amazingly easy! Then soon our guides were telling us that the consciousness vibrations of humankind had sunk so deep into fear and negativity that we could no longer raise them on our own, so there was a concerted effort being made at the highest levels of reality to raise the consciousness vibrations of all of humankind just enough to save us from the ultimate destruction that they said was just two hundred years away. And now we actually begin to see the results of these first divine efforts! My dear Thomas tells me that the changes being made won’t turn life on earth into a walk in the park, but they will make it possible for sufficient people to discover and internalize enough of the truth that we will be able to re-establish a healthier balance on earth between love and fear. Thomas now believes that soon we actually will be able to begin the process that Jesus gave us to bring the kingdom of God on earth.

God’s grace is the greatest of all gifts. It is the Godhead working directly in each of our lives through God’s servants, our spirit guides. And grace ties us to God so intimately and with such perfect eternal love that there is nothing that any of us can do to separate ourselves from the love of God. The God of the Christians is a judgmental tyrant, quick to anger and ready to condemn you to hell if you don’t pick the right denomination from among the forty thousand versions on offer. But the God that Jesus reveals to us is infinitely powerful and perfectly loving Spirit. And you, dear courageous human being, are the one true Godhead’s best-beloved child.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far,
And grace will lead us home.
         – Clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), from Amazing Grace (1772)



Found my sheep photo credit: Lawrence OP <a href=”″>The Holy Family engaged in Work</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Jesus in the temple photo credit: Lawrence OP <a href=”″>Mary finds Jesus in the Temple</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Jesus the carpenter photo credit: Lawrence OP <a href=”″>The Holy Family engaged in Work</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Jesus heals leper photo credit: Lawrence OP <a href=”″>Be Thou Made Clean</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Fishers of men photo credit: Lawrence OP <a href=”″>Become Fishers of Men</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Parable of the sower photo credit: Lawrence OP <a href=”″>Parable of the Sower</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Judas’s kiss photo credit: Lawrence OP <a href=”″>Betrayed with a kiss</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>


The road is long, with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where, who knows when.
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him.
He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.
– Bobby Scott (1937-1990) & Bob Russell (1914-1970), from “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (1969)

If people were nothing more than different aspects of one group consciousness, then for a significant number of us to work at raising our consciousness vibrations would be pretty much all it would take for us to start to bring the kingdom of God on earth. But in fact, each of us is a complex individual who is living as a limited aspect of a much greater eternal Mind, and we are strongly influenced by the restrictions of these material bodies. While we are on earth, we have a lot going on! That being the case, there are concepts beyond the overarching goals of gratitude, forgiveness, and love that we will need to better understand if we hope to make optimum spiritual progress in this lifetime, and if we ever hope to much improve the world. This is the first of four reflections on topics that are likely at first to seem less than crucial. Please bear with me on this. We have a world to save!

We all think we know what love is. We love our life-partners. Our children. Our friends. Our pets. We imagine that just spreading those happy feelings to others beyond our personal circle must be what Jesus means when He tells us we must love our neighbors as ourselves (MT 19:19). We assume that once we have sufficiently raised our personal consciousness vibrations, we will just naturally love everyone! Sadly, though, it is not that simple.

What we refer to as love is actually many different warm emotions. In English, and also in the Aramaic that Jesus spoke, there is just one word for love; but ancient Greek is the language into which the words of Jesus were first translated, and there we find six handy words for love:

  • Philautia means love for oneself.
  • Pragma means longstanding love.
  • Eros means sexual or romantic love.
  • Philia means deep and close friendship.
  • Ludus means light and playful affinity.
  • Agape means genuine universal love.

The kind of love that Jesus wants us to cultivate is, of course, agape; and this sort of love for everyone really doesn’t just come naturally. How can we love everyone on earth when there are more than seven billion of us and we will meet no more than maybe a few thousand people in our entire lives? To love everyone, we will need to find ways to come to see all the billions of people that we will never lay eyes on as very much like the ones that we love, and also much like ourselves. If we think we can just spontaneously feel real love for strangers who look and act peculiar to us and speak an unfamiliar language, then we are kidding ourselves.

What we are being called to discover in everyone on earth is our innate shared humanity. So loving our neighbors requires that we cultivate empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Empathy is different from compassion. We all can feel compassion for someone who is suffering, but we can feel real empathy only for those that we perceive to be pretty much like ourselves. Among other things, empathy requires that we realize and accept the fact that other people might reasonably see things differently than we do.

My husband of forty-seven years has Asperger Syndrome (we’ll refer to it here as “AS”). AS is on the autism spectrum, but many who have it are very high-functioning and even brilliant people. If you met my love, you would just find him to be a bit on the shy side. But most AS people share one confounding trait: they are unable to empathize with others. I learned this early in my marriage, when I might be crying and raging at him while he looked at me with bewildered concern. It was a turning point when I realized that if something was not important to him he was unable to imagine why it bothered me. Having AS is not the only reason why someone might find it hard to empathize, but it is a useful reminder of the fact that there are good reasons why we cannot expect people whose minds are influenced by being in material bodies to nevertheless rise above the limitations of those bodies and conceive a universal love for humankind. Another high-functioning AS person was apparently Thomas Jefferson. The trait is shed when we leave our bodies, so Thomas is not an AS person now; and in fact, he can read people’s motivations a great deal better than I can. But I think it was Jefferson’s inability to imagine living with a slave’s limitations that made him unable despite much effort to come up with a workable emancipation plan.

I have spent the past decade trying to raise my personal consciousness vibration away from fear and toward more perfect love using the Gospel teachings of Jesus. Within a few months I made three discoveries:

  • Completely forgiving is easiest if you teach yourself never to be bothered in the first place. I came to call it prevenient forgiveness. Suffering a wrong, becoming upset about it, then wrestling down our irritation and forcing ourselves to completely forgive it is much too difficult.
  • The process of learning prevenient forgiveness turns out to be surprisingly mechanical. Once you have taught your lazy mind never to see anything as a threat, you will no longer suffer any genuine anger, not even over awful life-changing events.
  • As your mind becomes more peaceful, your warmth toward others begins to rise. Within three months of my first beginning an active prevenient forgiveness practice, I realized I was developing an incipient tenderness toward strangers on the street that was easy to begin to build into a dawning universal love. Learning to love seven billion people is a whole lot easier once we have cleared our minds of the tendency to cultivate all the petty angers that we ourselves have taught our minds to breed!

 It turns out that for most of us there is a warm fellow-feeling already there, beneath all our ego-based and self-programmed annoyance triggers. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, He is urging us to uncover and resume what is in fact a strong natural affinity for other people. And our need to pursue the rediscovery of that affinity is one reason why Jesus requires us to forgive the wrongs that we suffer even seventy times seven times (MT 18:22), no matter what others might do to us. As we work at closely following the teachings of Jesus, we come more and more to see the practical sense of those teachings, and how powerful they are! But we still must reckon with the eccentricities of these material bodies. And a man who can perplexedly watch the woman he loves weep with rage because what bothers her wouldn’t bother him is not someone who can naturally empathize. A man who hated the system of slavery and loved the slaves who were his family members, but who nevertheless was unable to see that the dullness and submissiveness of slaves did not reflect who they actually were had no way to imagine a path to emancipation that would not end in racial strife.

So, are we at an impasse here? If cultivating a strong sense of empathy is essential to our learning to love our neighbors as ourselves, and if for some people a lack of empathy is as disabling a trait as a missing limb, do we now need to sadly report to Jesus that His ambitions for us exceed humanity’s grasp? And even some people not born with traits on the autism spectrum might have trouble feeling an appropriate level of empathy. They might have suffered childhood abuse, or else they might be sociopathic. What now?

Our first task, of course, is to accept the fact that when it comes to our universal need to grow spiritually on an individual level, some people are going to find it harder than others. Yet this is a contest that all of us are going to have to win together, or humankind as a species will fatally fail! Of course, the fact that all our minds are part of one Mind much improves our odds because it means that even a small minority who are very good at skills like empathy can carry the rest of us a lot of the way. And apparently we can come to better understand how to be empathetic. Some are even sure that empathy is a skill that can be taught.

A few more of these complications are probably awaiting us as we work together to master and use the keys to rapid spiritual growth, which means three things:

  • We must redouble our own efforts to grow spiritually so we can help to raise humanity’s consciousness vibrations for those who find their individual growth more difficult to achieve;
  • We must keep looking for obstacles that might spiritually trip up some of us; and
  • We must never forget that there is no one who is unworthy of our love.

People with spiritual impairments that are related to their material bodies still are capable of spiritual growth. We just might need to help them a bit. And we can do that! Humanity is all one Mind, so we can carry those who need our help over their own particular rough spots. Jesus assures us that we can bring the kingdom of God on earth. He believes in us. So we can do this! And then for every one of us there will be only love, forevermore.    

It’s a long, long road, from which there is no return.
While we’re on the way to there, why not share?
And the load doesn’t weigh me down at all!
He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.
– Bobby Scott (1937-1990) & Bob Russell (1914-1970), from “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (1969)

Elevating Our One Mind

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword.
His truth is marching on!
  – Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” (1862)

Twelve days ago, terrorists attacked an Afghan hospital and killed sixteen people, including two babies. That picture in The Wall Street Journal of a newborn in a bloodied blanket has been on my mind ever since. All I can think is that I failed those mothers. I should long since have been fighting for them!

We have talked here at length about the fact that one Mind continuously manifests reality. All our minds are part of that one infinitely creative Mind which is all that exists; and Jesus has made it clear that once sufficient people are following His Gospel teachings, we can bring the kingdom of God on earth.

For the first time in human history, researchers have figured out how to remake this world into one in which no mother need fear the murder of her newborn child. This is by far the greatest possible news! Thanks to our better understanding of the primary role of consciousness, together with the teachings of Jesus that perfectly act on the universal Consciousness that we now much better understand, this should be a time of celebration. At last we know how to fix the world! But instead, there is that baby in a bloodied blanket. The world still is full of awful barbarisms, from concentration camps and terrorist attacks to brutalities by governments against their own people to even the fact that ubiquitous human slavery still pollutes the world.

Our problem is that this greatest of all possible news is inconvenient for the institutions that we most trust, and therefore they both ignore it. More than a century after the pioneering quantum physicist Max Planck first realized that consciousness must exist prior to matter, working scientists still are searching for a source of consciousness in the human brain. Their doing that is the frank equivalent of your dismantling your television to find your favorite newscaster, or taking apart your iPhone in search of the source of all those YouTubes and videogames.

And Christianity is even more clueless! Christians should by now be sharing the greatest teachings ever given, miraculously preserved from the time two thousand years ago when God walked the earth in human form. But still, to this day the 2.3 billion Christians on earth ignore nearly all of the Lord’s Gospel words. For example, I often hear from two admirably ardent Christian leaders, one Catholic and one Protestant. These men profess to follow Jesus, but neither of them listens to Him! No names or details. It doesn’t matter who they are, since each is in the mainstream of his own denomination. And the italics in their statements are mine.

I much admire a Franciscan monk for his earnest efforts to create a less fear-based version of Catholicism. But this dear man actually said, “To love God by loving God’s world is epitomized for us by climate change, which is the central crisis of the twenty-first century. Too many of us are using too much energy and taking up too much space. We are changing the planet’s climate in ways that will make it uninhabitable.” Putting aside the fact that after studying global warming for years I still don’t understand what all the fuss is about, I would point out that this man has devoted his life to Jesus! Yet he considers climate change to be our “central crisis”? What about those babies dying in their mothers’ arms? For heaven’s sake, let others fight our environmental battles. It is time now for all of us who profess to follow Jesus to devote our lives to fighting for the Lord’s promised advent of the kingdom of God on earth!

The earnest Protestant clergyman I read is certain that every word of the Bible is God’s Inerrant Word… once it is filtered through the lens of his religious beliefs. Recently he said, “Jesus had one mission. It wasn’t to be a great teacher, although He was a great teacher. It wasn’t to be a great prophet, although He was a great prophet. It wasn’t to be a great miracle worker, although He did work miracles. No, Jesus came to this world to perform only one job. To die. The reason why Jesus had to be immaculately conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin was so He was not born with sin. He could then die as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of this world. That is why whosoever believes in Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life!” This man’s understanding of God has not advanced by one day or by one ounce of wisdom beyond the moment when Jesus spoke to Saul on the road to Damascus. The ancient Jews were required to offer unblemished animals as sacrifices, and until the Lord’s words were first written down some sixty years after His death it was pardonable for a clergyman to distort and dismiss the Lord’s Gospel words as this fellow does. But we know a lot more two thousand years later! And it is time for my preacher friend to live his professed devotion to Jesus by ditching all the Christian dogmas that conflict with the Gospels so he can join in the fight for the Lord’s promised advent of the kingdom of God on earth!

The only way for either of these clergymen to achieve any of what they want is for them first to actually follow Jesus. The Lord Himself has made that plain. He said, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (MT 6:33). If only every clergyman on earth who professes to love Jesus would follow Him! Just think of the army of Christian soldiers there would be to advance the kingdom of God on earth, and how easily that kingdom could begin! But because apparently I still don’t care enough about babies dying in their mothers’ arms to suffer the embarrassment of climbing onto a soapbox and shouting these truths to the world, it still won’t happen for a while.

The primary problem with all religions is that they cannot actually change people. Their rules don’t work because we cannot demand that any living creature act in a way that is contrary to its nature. Try training baby tigers to want to be vegan, or baby fish to always keep right in rivers, or human toddlers not to take another piece of candy when they think no one is looking. And try to order people filled with hatred to resist killing mothers and their babies! Right now, the consciousness of all humanity has sunk to such a fear- and hatred-based level that those who are vibrating at the most debased levels are having an outsize negative influence upon us all. It is impossible for so may people who are actively driven by fear and rage not to pollute the One Human Mind of which each of our minds is an integral part!

There is just one way to end forever the reign of terror and pain that has dominated all of human history and is arguably more debased than it ever has been. And that is for us to raise the consciousness vibrations of everyone on the face of the earth! We can do that, but only if as many of us as possible will concentrate on raising our personal consciousness vibrations enough to counteract all that negativity. And then raise them still more.

Here we ought to emphasize the fact that raising the consciousness vibrations of everyone on earth will be amazingly simple. The Gospel teachings of Jesus, when properly applied, can within just a few months’ time begin for you a profound internal shift; and if you stick with it, within a year you will have become altogether transformed at the level of your essential nature. Your personal consciousness vibration will be so much elevated that instead of bringing human consciousness down, you will now be countering the negativity of the nasties and haters and the baby-murderers. And as others also raise their own vibrations, you will be part of beginning a fundamental transformation of all of humanity at the level of each person’s essential nature.

Here is where my own culpability comes in. I have known for years that all of this is true! But rather than devoting every minute of my remaining time on earth to spreading these truths as broadly as I can, I have been resisting Thomas’s call that now is the time for us to fight. He has been emphatic about it for the past two years, and all the while I have been devoting my cozy retirement to producing Seek Reality podcasts and to privately teaching, including writing these weekly blog posts. I love this happy preaching to the choir, and I have used as my defense to Thomas the fact that I am old, for heaven’s sake. (He just shrugs and says, “I’m older than you are.” Never say our guides don’t have a sense of humor!)

So I never will know whether my having sooner begun to fight to bring God’s kingdom on earth could have saved those mothers and their babies. But my fight begins right now! And I hope you will join me. On the first Earth Day fifty years ago our slogan was “If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the pollution.” Now today perhaps it becomes “If you’re not part of the love you’re part of the fear.” And starting today, we all together vow to broadly share what we know! Our fight to help the Lord to bring the kingdom of God on earth begins now.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free!
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.
– Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” (1862)


 Madonna photo credit:  Slices of Light  <a href=”″>Face of the Virgin</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Madonna and Child photo credit: Free Public Domain Illustrations by rawpixel <a href=”″>Madonna of Humility (1440) by Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietro, 1395)</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Madonna w/Saint Anne photo credit:  Slices of Light  <a href=”″>Virgin and Child with Saint Anne</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Circular Madonna & Child photo credit: byb64 <a href=”″>”Vierge à l’enfant avec St Jean et St Jérôme”, 1519, Domenico Beccafumi (1486-1551), Musée Thyssen-Bornemisza, paseo del Prado, Madrid, Castille, Espagne</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Madonna, child, Saint John photo credit: dalianera <a href=”″>2019-01-01_05-07-43</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Christ child photo credit: █ Slices of Light █▀ ▀ ▀ <a href=”″>Infant Jesus</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>


Oh Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

                   – Carl Boberg (1859-1940), From “How Great Thou Art” (1885)

The Gospel teachings of Jesus are the simplest and most effective way to grow spiritually to the point where you might even make this your last needed earth-lifetime. But simply reading and trying to follow the teachings of Jesus on forgiveness and love isn’t enough to make your spiritual growth a truly simple matter. No, to make it work well there is one more thing you will need to do first of all.

I have had few earthly teachers in the past fifty years. Nearly all of what I have learned about death, the afterlife, and spiritual matters has come from doing a lot of research under Thomas’s guidance, and from his insights shared during our nightly meetings. But Dr. R. Craig Hogan has been my helpful Seek Reality guest thirty times in the past seven years; and another of my living teachers has been Hillis Pugh. Hillis is the Guru of Gratitude. I first met him six years ago when he was an earnest young man absolutely obsessed with the spiritual importance of gratitude, and at first I was mystified. Our definitive spiritual teacher is Jesus, and He mentions the concept of gratitude only a dozen times through all four Gospels. Eight of those times He is thanking God for food! He also thanks God as He raises Lazarus. He is disappointed that only one of the ten lepers he had cleansed has bothered to come back and thank Him, and His two other references to gratitude are incidental mentions in His stories. Compare that to more than thirty mentions of forgiveness in the Gospels, and more than sixty mentions of love. So if gratitude wasn’t important to Jesus, how could it be spiritually important at all?

We now know that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is essential preparation for our efforts to grow spiritually. To understand why this is true, please remember two points:

  • Your mind is a powerful part of one vast, eternal Mind. And at this moment, your mind is helping to create the fear- and negativity-filled reality that you think you see around you.
  • Christianity has taught you to be afraid, and to believe that you are evil and fallen. And until you elevate your mind above all that negativity, you cannot raise your consciousness vibrations much at all.

It turns out that gratitude is the crucial third aspect of the Gospel teachings of Jesus. Unless we begin with gratitude, we more than double the difficulties we face in making spiritual progress in this lifetime! As I have learned from Thomas – and from Hillis Pugh – cultivating an attitude of gratitude is like plowing the field before you fertilize it with forgiveness, so then finally you can plant seeds of love. And Jesus did talk about preparing the soil if we want to grow spiritually. “(He) spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear’” (MT 13:3-9). It may be that Jesus said a great deal more about our need to prepare by cultivating gratitude before we attempt to grow spiritually; and either what He said was less remarked by His listeners, or else it was removed by the first-millennium councils in favor of the showier virtues of forgiveness and love.

It is time for us to get rid of the rocks and clear those pesky thorns away! And the best way to do it all is with a gratitude practice. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Gratitude is independent of whatever you see as the current facts of your life. It is an attitude of mind, and because it is that you can be grateful no matter what is going on.
  • Living in gratitude will help to ensure that you spot all the good things in your life. Watching studiously for reasons to be grateful tends to crowd out negative thoughts.
  • Gratitude begins the process of raising your spiritual vibrations. When your focus shifts toward being grateful, you pay less attention to things that trouble you and a lot more attention to what is good and useful.
  • Gratitude is a way for you to begin to create your own best life. Your mind strongly influences the reality that you think you see around you, so concentrating on reasons for being grateful is a powerful way for you to lighten and lift what your mind is helping to create.

You will decide on your own best gratitude practices. But here are four key components that have been shown to work for many people:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Write down at least one new thing every day that you are grateful for; then also write down why you are grateful for it. You’ll start with your loved ones, then move on to personal successes, your work, and your hobbies; and then eventually to things like the weather and elements of nature. You will find that sometime in the second month you are down to looking for reasons to be grateful for mosquitoes and the neighbor’s dog barking. Do this for at least three months if you can, without duplicating anything. Gratitude-journaling this way helps you go deeper into what gratitude even means.
  • Broadly share your attitude of gratitude. Never again agree with any negative thing that is said in your presence! Instead, whenever someone complains, don’t disagree but instead say at once what you are grateful for. Someone hates the president? Say, “I’m grateful that he seems to be keeping us out of wars.” Someone complains about a cranky old neighbor? “I’m grateful that he keeps his lawn mowed.” It’s been raining for a month? “I’m so grateful that the reservoirs are filling up.” Coronavirus has everyone feeling down? “My family gets to eat together every night now. I’m so grateful for that!” Not only will your always speaking from an attitude of gratitude reinforce your personal gratitude practice, but it also will help those with whom you share these thoughts to begin to cultivate gratitude in themselves.
  • Use gratitude to squash your irritations. Resentments will continue to rise in you until you have perfected your forgiveness practice, but your work on gratitude will help you to better deal with whatever is bothering you. Whenever you suffer a cranky thought about anyone or anything, immediately replace it with something that you are grateful for, even if you have to stretch a bit. When your old car really is dying so you face having to buy another car, just be grateful for the way it served you so long and so well. When your drunken uncle nearly ruins a family party, just be grateful for how special he made you feel when you were a child. Once you have mastered forgiveness, you will never suffer another resentment in your life; but until then, just use your gratitude habit to help you smother your irritations.
  • Pray only in gratitude affirmations. When you say, “Dear God, please fix this,” you affirm its brokenness, which just makes it even harder to fix. When instead your prayer affirms the gift of healing, that better outcome can begin right away with the positive power of your own mind! Instead of claiming the lack, claim the gift. And when you say “Thank you” for whatever gift or cure your affirmation prayer is claiming, you further turbo-charge your request. This glorious twilight of my life when I live in the perfect joy of service began when I started to pray, “Thank You for giving me work to do. Thank You for showing me how to do it,” and thereby gave my life to God. It was that simple! I still pray that mantra every day, and the pleasures that flow from my impulsive gift are beyond my ability to express them.

My suggestion is that you apply all four of these gratitude practices, and thereby begin to prepare your mind for the more rapid spiritual growth to come. You might choose not to continue to journal beyond the first few months, which is fine; but for you to continue the remaining three gratitude practices for the rest of your life will help you to forever maintain your grounding in ever greater spiritual health. Most people take to gratitude easily, especially since if you are firm about it you should find your mood lightening within only weeks. In making gratitude central to your life, you are preparing the soil of your heart to yield a bountiful harvest of forgiveness and love. Beginning with gratitude makes real spiritual growth so much easier!

Another of the wonderful friends I have made in the course of doing this work is Mary Holden, who is a gentle and graceful woman with a beautiful heart. She was one of the first people with whom I shared the forgiveness mantra that I still recite each day as I renew the gift of my life to God; and she has just shown me what she has done with it. She has turned it into a whole gratitude prayer!

Thank You for giving me work to do.
Thank You for showing me how to do it.

Thank You for giving me life to live.
Thank You for showing me how to live it.

Thank You for giving me people to love.
Thank You for showing me how to love them.

I am astounded. Mary’s prayer is such a perfect way to make your gratitude practice central to your life! And in praying it daily, you also will supercharge your mind. Perhaps when your own mind is at its elevated best, your learning to ever more perfectly forgive and love will be so effortless that this really can become your last necessary earth-lifetime. Dear beloved Mary, thank you so much!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee,
How great thou art, how great thou art!
                       – Carl Boberg (1859-1940), From “How Great Thou Art” (1885)


Jesus alive photo credit: babasteve <a href=”″>HE IS ALIVE !</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

“I Am the Way”

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.
William B. Bradbury (1816-1868), from “Jesus Loves Me” (1862)

The biggest handicap all of us face in seeking to know the genuine God is the fact that the historical Jesus is so closely identified with Christianity. The Gospel teachings of Jesus are the literal words of God on earth! But Christianity largely ignores those teachings. Instead of being based on the Lord’s divine words, all the primary Christian degmas are man-made and geared toward fear-based control. Yet the forty thousand versions of Christianity all claim the Person of Jesus while they continue to deny the primacy of His teachings. Christianity’s presumptuousness in claiming Jesus while ignoring what He said amazes me! Consider these facts:

  • Christians say that the entire Christian Bible is The Inspired Word of God. And they generally continue to insist on this despite the fact that they ignore parts of the Bible as outmoded – for example, the commands about stoning people to death – and they see other parts of The Inspired Word of God as hard to achieve so therefore just aspirational.
  • Christians consider Christianity’s dogmas to be more important than the Lord’s Gospel teachings. I get emails all the time from Christians who want to know where in the Gospels Jesus talks about such appalling human ideas as original sin, a fiery hell, God’s judgment leading to eternal damnation, and the need for Jesus to die for our sins. Just to name four human-made Christian ideas. I tell them Jesus talks about none of these dogmas in the Gospels, and in fact He flat-out negates them all by telling us that God doesn’t judge us (JN 5:22) and neither does Jesus judge us (JN 12:47). Most people are dumbfounded.
  • Christians insist on using the Old and New Testaments to modify the Gospel words of Jesus. For most Christians, the Lord’s Gospel words must bow to whatever they find in the Old Testament or in the letters of Paul. Which means that the Lord’s teachings lose their brilliance in what becomes a human-made mush.
  • Christians are trying now to redesign what they want the word “Gospel” to mean. After having largely ignored the teachings of Jesus for more than fifteen hundred years, Christians in general no longer even associate the word “Gospel” with those teachings. Rather, they assume their man-made Christian dogmas are the “Gospel,” so they are arguing now about which dogmas to include. It is time for Jesus to reclaim His Gospel! The word “Gospel” is an Old English translation of a Greek term loosely meaning “good news,” and it also is the title given to the only four books of the Christian Bible that carry the words of Jesus. For Christians to try to make that word mean anything but the Gospel teachings of Jesus is disrespectful to the genuine God.

Well, but what if we put all these problems aside? Would Jesus at least approve of the human-made religion that now bears His name? Hardly! The Christian religion does two things that Jesus tells us in the Gospels that He abhors. It clings to human-made religious traditions, and it utterly disregards the Lord’s Gospel teachings.

Jesus says of His teachings: “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (JN 7:16). “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (LK 6:46). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter” (MT 7:21). “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32). And He says of religions that put their traditions above the Word of God: “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men… You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (MK 7:8-9). And “Why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?… You hypocrites! Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’” (MT 15:3-9). Does Jesus sound as if He would be happy with a religion that uses His name to teach human-made ideas while it ignores nearly everything He actually said?

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the only books of the Christian Bible where God clearly speaks to us. Other parts of the Bible seem to some extent to be divinely inspired, but the Bible beyond those four Gospels is so heavily influenced by human ideas that it cannot be placed in the same category as the four canonical Gospels! If you really want to know the God revealed to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, simply take a pair of scissors and cut from your Bible the entire Old Testament, as well as the New Testament beyond the Gospel of John. The early Christian councils added some fear-based nonsense to what Jesus actually said, so you can also cut from each of the Gospels everything about church management, judgment, and End Times. And there you will have it. Without the corruption of those human-tainted words that appear in other parts of the Bible, you will have on just a few precious pages what remains of the words that God spoke to us when He came two thousand years ago in the Person of Jesus to teach us how to live so the kingdom of God can begin to overspread the earth.

With all of this in mind we are better equipped to tackle what is the most outrageous corruption of the Lord’s Gospel message in all of Christianity. There is one idea often flung at us as a kind of evangelical trump card. Some Christians say that it doesn’t even matter if you follow the Lord’s Gospel teachings because Jesus Himself tells us that only if we claim Him as our personal Savior can we join God in heaven and not go to hell. “Because, look! Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (JN 14:6).

But is the Lord really telling us here that only good Christians can get into heaven? Let’s read that sentence in context. What Jesus actually says is this: “‘Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.’  Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.’

Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments’” (JN 14:1-15).

This is among the most important and powerful passages in the whole Christian Bible. But there is nothing in it about your needing to claim that Jesus died for your sins. In the first paragraph He talks about preparing an afterlife place for His disciples and coming for them when their turn arrives to go home, which is something that we all do for our loved ones. In the second paragraph He affirms that He is from the Godhead, God on earth, and that God is working through Him, and He tells those who love Him to follow His teachings. But yet to this day, Christians ignore every word that Jesus speaks to us here… except for that one sentence taken out of context that clearly doesn’t mean what Christians want it to mean!

The teachings that Jesus spent more than three years risking His life to share were so important to Him that He might well have identified those teachings with Himself. Or else perhaps He said, My teachings are the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through My teachings (JN 14:6). Then during those sixty-odd years of what amounted to playing the telephone game, “My teachings” was shortened to “I” and “Me” before His words were written down. But either way, it is impossible to find in that passage the notion that our claiming that Jesus died for our sins is the only way for us to get into heaven!

It is interesting to note that the earliest Christians called the teachings of Jesus “the Way.” They might as well have called those sacred teachings “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” since all three words apply to teachings far better than they do to the magical notion that claiming that Jesus died to redeem you from God’s judgment has made it all better so now you can get into heaven. What a preposterous notion that is! It insults our perfectly loving God while it humiliates humanity’s greatest teacher. And there is nothing in the Gospel words of Jesus that supports it.

For most of my life I have loved Christianity. It was the core of who I was, and at the center of it was the Person of Jesus. Then at the start of my fifties I finally had to accept the fact that Christianity has never followed Jesus, but instead it has fed us fear-based lies. Realizing that felt like learning that my beloved mother was an axe-murderer. But soon I found the courage to take Paul’s advice (1Cor 13:8-13), and I put away the childish thing that the Christian religion always has been. When I began to trust the Lord alone, at last I found the genuine God! And I found a love more glorious than any other love that I have ever known.   

Jesus loves me! This I know,
As He loved so long ago,
Taking children on His knee,
Saying, “Let them come to Me.”

Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.
William B. Bradbury (1816-1868), from “Jesus Loves Me” (1862)


Jesus at 12 photo credit: IronRodArt – Royce Bair (“Star Shooter”) <a href=”″>Portrait of the Christ Child at age 12</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>


The Joy of Living in Spirit

I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses…
– C. Austin Miles (1868–1946), from “In the Garden” (1913)

The more we learn about reality, the more we realize it is one seamless whole. There is no separation between the physical reality that we think we see around us now, and the spiritual reality that is all around us and within us, through us, and so deeply central to every moment of our lives that it may very well be all that is real. This physical reality is an illusion, and shown to be that by the fact that it is composed of atoms which are nothing but energy. If the White House were the nucleus of an atom, placed where it is and the size that it is, then its closest orbiting electron could be as far away as Denver. And there would be nothing between them! We look closer, and we realize that even that atomic nucleus and its orbiting electron are nothing but vortices of energy. Physicists still call them particles for nostalgia’s sake, but they are not solid particles. The only reason why you cannot put your hand right through your desk is that the vortices of energy in your hand conflict with the vortices of energy in your desk.

The more deeply you come to understand the truth about reality, the more often you find yourself experiencing unexpected bursts of joy. I still recall the thrill of reviewing all the accumulated evidence one morning and being dumbstruck by the realization that it was impossible for the afterlife not to be real. And then I recall all the separate thrills as I was discovering additional facts, each of them something like an odd-shaped piece of one amazingly complex puzzle, until eventually now we have the whole picture. Just a few small gaps remain to be filled. Even after all these decades, the wonder of just how beautiful the greater reality is and how devotedly each of us is loved still makes me grin to think of it.

I have told you a lot about what I have learned in my half-century of doing this work. But what I realize now is that I never have adequately managed to convey to you some sense of the chest-swelling joy that will be your mindset for the rest of your earthly life once you manage to get your mind around the truth of what actually is going on!

I receive many emails from people that I never will meet in life. Ever since The Fun of Dying came out in 2010, I have been answering afterlife questions from people who are desperate to believe that a love-filled afterlife is possible. And some of those who email me are angry! They are so steeped in religious fears or in rank scientific negativity that the bit of light I have brought into the unrelenting grimness of their beliefs feels to them at first to be an act of torment. “If what you are saying is true, prove it!” Of late, however, more of my emails are filled with the joyous wonder of people who are only now realizing that their whole lives have been suffused by the love of Spirit. They have learned enough about how reality works that at last they can see the spiritual overlay of every minute of their whole earth-lives. The daily workings of Spirit have always been so reverently done, so unobtrusive and respectful, that until they began to grasp the greater reality and their place in it, they hardly even noticed events that you would have thought would have rocked their lives!

Until recently, I had never much noticed the workings of Spirit, either. The love and care of Spirit has for most of my life been for me what it probably is for you: it’s just the water in which we swim. We carefully plan these brief forays on earth with the help of eternal friends who then undertake to guide us so we can use these lives to better grow spiritually. Most of the big decisions that we think we are actively making now actually are part of the life-plan that we and our guides established before we were born. I had never much considered all of this, but as I look back now, of course I can see the constant work of Spirit in my own life, too.

Everyone’s life is full of spiritual miracles! My life is an open book to you so I am going to use it as an illustration, but please be aware that what has happened to me is not at all unusual. Most of the daily action of Spirit happens seamlessly beneath our radar, but sometimes we resist the advice of our guides that comes mostly in meetings while our bodies sleep. So then they have to act in our lives more overtly! (Thomas wants me to point out here that I am especially stubborn, so if you have had fewer of these moments, just be glad that you are working with your own guides more smoothly than I work with him.) I will give you here just four examples of times when Spirit in the person of my treasured friend Thomas has had to jump visibly into my life:

  • My first experience of light. When I was eight I had an amazing experience. I was Moses with his burning bush! I now know that Thomas was the one who spoke to me from out of a flash of light, and he has let me know that he did it at my insistence. Apparently I was worried that I wouldn’t have the conviction to carry out my life-plan without the reassuring memory of having experienced that extraordinary event.
  • Choosing a college major. My life-plan required that I enter adulthood as a zealous Christian familiar with the Bible, so when I was twelve Thomas inspired me to begin a forty-year habit of reading the Bible repeatedly, cover to cover, just a couple of pages every night. He also prompted my college major. I vividly recall standing in my adviser’s office as I waited to declare my major in Christian history. Then I thought, Wait a minute! This is stupid! I should major in something practical! And at once there settled on me the leaden certainty that if I didn’t major in Christian history I would be blighting the rest of my life, together with an odd sense of confidence that the decision was right and perfect.
  • Meeting my future husband. After college I took a job in Manhattan, and I knew right away that I was in the wrong place. Within two months I had moved to Boston, and two days after I arrived there my new roommates invited me to a mixer. So I walked into a room full of people where the primary light source was an uneasy-looking man sitting across the room who was glowing. He was giving off so much light that he had a halo around his entire body. How was it possible that no one else saw it? I crossed the room and introduced myself. We have been married now for almost forty-eight years.
  • Writing Liberating Jesus. Thomas once lived a famous lifetime that he had hoped to keep hidden from me until eventually he will welcome me home. But in the nineteen-eighties he volunteered me as a channel for a revised interpretation of the Gospels, and he tells me that a team then spent almost twenty years preparing me; but when in 2014 he told me it was time, I refused. Who was I to be revising the way we interpret the Gospels? So he chose a medium, and in February of 2015 he revealed to me through her that he had once been Thomas Jefferson. He was rolling his eyes as he said it. Late in the eighties he had guided me in researching and channeling My Thomas so he could demonstrate that I could do the Lord’s book. He knew I was going to be annoyingly star-struck. He told me then why my channeling Liberating Jesus was essential, so I gave in and agreed to do it. I did it as much for Thomas Jefferson as I did it for Jesus.

Again I’ve got to emphasize the fact that everyone’s life is as carefully planned and as tenderly guided as mine has been! Each of us looks at a material world that seems to be solid but in fact is not, and we are here for a brief part of our eternal lives with a specific set of spiritual goals, marks to be hit, and people we have planned to be important in our lives. If we had more space, I could give you off the top of my head at least a dozen additional ways in which my primary guide has tugged and prodded me throughout my life! And if you will examine your own life from a position of knowing that Spirit has been guiding it, you will see your own set of such moments lifelong, going all the way back to childhood. And you will be suffused with joy.

The hymn that begins and ends this post is reportedly based on JN 20:14, where Mary Magdalene confronts an empty tomb and two angels. She asks them where Jesus is, and “When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.” I am sharing this hymn with you now as a source of a little added wonder. If there ever was a reason for us to feel overwhelmed with joy in the love of Spirit, that reason is this greatest of all events!   

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”’ Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her. So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (JN 20:15-20).

This passage has always tantalized me. Such odd but very important details! Even the Lord’s closest friends didn’t recognize Him when they first saw Him in His risen body? And when Mary rushed to hug Him, He considered His risen body to be perhaps too fragile to be hugged? Jesus did die on that cross. He did reanimate His dead body, and He used it for just long enough to demonstrate to His disciples that His crucified body had returned to life. But even God on earth could not make a reanimated dead body stable again for long, which is another telling point in the NDE debate. He couldn’t make His damaged and formerly-dead body easily recognizable as Himself, either. Just two small but important details that were passed down orally for two generations before they even were written down. And they give us another little piece to add to the gigantic puzzle that is our glorious and entirely Spirit-based reality! I think about these two gritty details, what they tell us about the Lord’s great gift to us and the further measure of certainty they give us in the constant care of Spirit, and again unexpectedly my heart fills with joy. It is impossible for any of us to entirely grasp the tender perfection with which each one of us is infinitely loved.

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
– C. Austin Miles (1868–1946), from “In the Garden” (1913)


Rose with dew photo credit: verchmarco <a href=”″>Yellow rose with drops of dew (Flip 2019)</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Pink rose garden photo credit: Derwisz <a href=”″>Rose</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Pink hydrangeas photo credit: Joanbrebo <a href=”″>Vacances_1000</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Pink roses photo credit: rverc <a href=”″>Public Gardens NICE, France (1)</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Lotus with frog photo credit: Dis da fi we <a href=”″>frog and lotus flower – Entopia Butterfly Farm – Teluk Bahang, Penang Island, Malaysia – Feb 2020</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>
Poppies at dawn photo credit: Schneidersphotography <a href=”″>Poetry of Red</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>