Wisdom from the 12 Steps: “All is going to be well”

twenty four hours a dayNote: Here’s another attempt I made at translating my grandfather’s little A.A. book into a message for people who have too much privilege. I have found it fairly straight forward to apply the wisdom of the 12 steps to folks in need of sobriety/recovery from social privileges. See my previous posts for more examples

August 7–A.A. Thoughts for the Day

We in [recovery] are offering an intangible thing, a psychological and spiritual program. It’s a wonderful program. When we learn to turn to a Higher Power, with faith that that Power can give us the strength we need, we find peace of mind. When we reeducate our minds by learning to think differently, we find new interests that make life worthwhile. We who have achieved [total acceptance] through faith in God and mental reeducation are modern miracles. It is the function of our [Privilege Recovery Anonymous] program to produce modern miracles. Do I consider the change in my life a modern miracle?

Meditation for the Day

You should never doubt that God’s spirit is always with you, wherever you are, to keep you on the right path. God’s keeping power is never at fault, only your realization of it. You must try to believe in God’s nearness and the availability of His grace. It is not a question of whether God can provide a shelter from the storm, but of whether or not you seek the security of that shelter. Every fear, worry or doubt is disloyalty to God. You must endeavor to trust God wholly. Practice saying, “All is going to be well.” Say it to yourself until you feel it deeply.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may feel deeply that all is well. I pray that nothing will be able to move me from that deep conviction.

 

 

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Lighthouses in Chapmantown

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“Go and catch a fish”

A dramatic retelling by Greg Shafer

Then Yeshua and the disciples were in Capernaum. Peter was outside alone when a group of tax collectors came. “Peter,” they said, “Does that Rabbi of yours pay the temple tax like everybody else?”

Peter was afraid of the tax collectors, and couldn’t imagine the Christ doing anything wrong, so he spoke without knowledge.

“Yes, yes of course he does…” he answered.

He went inside the house, hoping that they would just go away.

But when he came inside, Yeshua spoke with him, “Answer me something, Peter. Do the Kings of the earth tax their own sons? Or just the other people?”

Peter was alarmed because he knew Christ knew about the tax collectors outside, but he didn’t know where Christ was going with this.

“From others only,” Peter replied.

“That’s right. Their sons are exempt,” said Yeshua. “Look Peter, we don’t have to do this. We don’t have to play this silly game of theirs. They demand from us dirt when God gives us gold. But so we don’t hurt their feelings, let’s play along. Go and catch a fish, inside will be a coin. That coin will pay your taxes and mine. Go head, it’ll be great.”

Matthew 17:24-27

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Check out these up-and-coming actors…

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Wisdom from the 12 Steps: “Privilege is our weakness”

twenty four hours a day

June 24–A.A. Thought for the Day

Privilege is our weakness. We suffer from mental conflicts from which we look for escape by drowning our problems in social ladders. We try through feelings of superiority to push away from the realities of life. But privilege does not feed, privilege does not build, it only borrows from the future and it ultimately destroys. We try to drown our feelings in order to escape life’s realities, little realizing or caring that in continued attention-seeking we are only multiplying our problems. Have I got control over my unstable emotions?

This “Thought for the Day” from my grandfather’s little A.A. book was originally written about the weakness of alcohol. I took some liberties to change a few words in order to help me focus on privilege, social ladders, etc. But I hope the original content shines through in spite of my editing, as it has proven to be spiritual gold for folks all over the place. The next day’s entry (June 25th) goes on to say, “One of the most encouraging facts of life is that your weakness can become your greatest asset.” So true! If only we had this program and its resources for those of us who feel licked by an addiction to social advantages. Maybe it’s time to start one…

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“free counseling”: a new step forward

I have hesitated to write specifically about my “free counseling” ministry. It’s not that I’ve wanted to keep anything under wraps, but it hasn’t seemed “big enough” to say much until just a few weeks ago. Of course, I also want to be sensitive to the privacy and confidence of those I help.

That said, I’ve created a page (here) and my dad put together a website (here) to provide more detail about my proposal and give access to referral forms. I’m looking forward to seeing how all this will unfold. My hope is that this project inspires others as well. That each one of us may use the gifts God has planted inside and experience real freedom in giving without pay.

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Wisdom From the 12 Steps: “things I do not miss”

twenty four hours a dayJune 1–A.A. Thought for the Day

Some things I do not miss since becoming dry: that overall awful feeling physically, including the shakes, a splitting headache, pains in my arms and legs, bleary eyes, fluttering stomach, droopy shoulders, weak knees, a three-day beard, and a flushed complexion. Also, facing my loved one at breakfast. Also, composing the alibi and sticking to it. Also, trying to shave or put on make-up with a shaky hand. Also, opening up my wallet to find it empty. I don’t miss these things, do I?

My grandpa Walsh gave me this little AA book back in 1998 when I had my own problem with drugs and alcohol. Recently, I realized that the things a recovering alcoholic (or drug addict) does not miss about getting high can easily be translated into the things I do not miss about seeking privilege. In an effort to draw out these connections and strengthen my resolve to abandon privilege, I constructed my own list of things I do not miss:

  • I do not miss measuring myself with neighbors, friends, co-workers–all in secret–about who has the best possessions, job, social standing, etc.
  • I do not miss moving at the speed of machines and feeling dizzy with my anxiety, always trying to keep up.
  • I do not miss working harder and harder to plan for benefits, respect, and money.
  • I do not miss living in denial about all this and justifying myself with soft lies.
  • I do not miss churches and sermons that could only apply to people like me with way too much privilege.
  • I do not miss feeling disgusted with my options (yet responsible for my choices) and powerless to make a change.
  • I do not miss taking advantage of people in poverty for their willingness to go above and beyond.
  • Also, I do not miss grabbing more than my fair share.
  • Also, I do not miss trying to document “the lives of the poor.”

No, I do not miss these things!

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Pilgrimage with Jay

My oldest friend, Jay, took me up on an adventure to walk from Chico to Red Bluff (about 40 miles) right before New Years 2017. We decided to take the railroad track for most of the journey. It became a way for us to “clear the cobwebs,” talk with each other, and hear God’s will. It was so meaningful; truly, a pilgrimage that I will never forget. I’m grateful in more ways than I can say for all the yearnings that we expressed and all the lovingkindness given.

Thank you, Jay, and all our traveling angels (especially Joana and Joann!).

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Good Friday Meditation

The killing of Desmond Phillips exactly one month ago has been on my mind in a special way today. His brutal death reveals a community tension around black lives, law enforcement, and mental health disability in Chico. Even while the District Attorney officially announced that the officers were “justified” in shooting Desmond, I find no comfort in their verdict. Desmond had no trial, yet he was sentenced to death in less than 30 minutes. On this Good Friday, theologian James Cone would have us remember that these “crucified bodies in our midst” are “the real scandal of the cross.”

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Signs of Hope in Lent: The Power of Telling Our Story, Part 3

I’ll conclude with these reflections from an interview with Wendell Berry after Donald Trump was elected. Berry said,

“Happiness is a great mental faculty. It happens. One of the best things I know about happiness is that some days I’m happy. I’m happy! I didn’t try to be happy. I don’t have anything in particular to be happy about or happier than I was yesterday. But I’m happy…Well, what a great thing that is! How it undermines—suppose you’re just freely happy for five minutes—that just destroys everybody who’s tried to sell you something to make you happy. How subversive! It’s possible. Let me tell you young people, it’s possible sometimes to go for a whole day and be happy and not buy a thing! We have all these people telling us that what we’ve got is not any good: our house, our wife, our husband, our car; whatever it is, is not as good as a person of our stature and standing ought to have. And we ought to be very unhappy because we don’t have it…” (approx. 44-47 min.)

Then he goes on to describe his experience of civil disobedience at the governor’s office:

“I want you to understand. The score between the conservationists and the coal industry is 100 to nothing. We’ve been totally defeated. We haven’t got a chance. But that was one of the best weekends I ever spent in my life. We had the happiest time. And people sent us food and bedding and some people even came in and gave us a massage. So I think that’s the way you get on. You’re up against it, you’re hard up against it, you do what you can. And you have a good time. You love your allies, the people you’re doing it with. There was a great love in that governor’s office.” (approx. 52-54 min.)

In closing, please follow along with the handout called “A Litany of Resistance.” May this “work of the people” remind us of our hope-filled story. Especially in this season of Lent and the current presidency, I pray that God will fling us out into the harvest as laborers because the fields are ripe!

A Litany of Resistance 

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
Have mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
Free us from the bondage of sin and death
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.

For the victims of war
Have mercy
Women, men and children
Have mercy
The maimed and the crippled
Have mercy
The abandoned and the homeless
Have mercy
the imprisoned and the tortured
Have mercy
The widowed and the orphaned
Have mercy
The bleeding and the dying
Have mercy
The weary and the desperate
Have mercy
The lost and the forsaken
Have mercy

O God — Have mercy on us sinners
Forgive us for we know not what we do
For our scorched and blackened earth
Forgive us
For the scandal of billions wasted in war
Forgive us
For our arms makers and arms dealers
Forgive us
One: For our Caesars and Herods
Forgive us
For the violence that is rooted in our hearts
Forgive us
For the times we turn others into enemies
Forgive us

Deliver us, O God
Guide our feet into the way of peace
Hear our prayer.
Grant us peace.

From the arrogance of power
Deliver us
From the myth of redemptive violence
Deliver us
From the tyranny of greed
Deliver us
From the ugliness of racism
Deliver us
From the cancer of hatred
Deliver us
From the seduction of wealth
Deliver us
From the addiction of control
Deliver us
From the idolatry of nationalism
Deliver us
From the paralysis of cynicism
Deliver us
From the violence of apathy
Deliver us
From the ghettos of poverty
Deliver us
From the ghettos of wealth
Deliver us
From a lack of imagination
Deliver us

Deliver us, O God
Guide our feet into the way of peace
We will not conform to the patterns of this world
Let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds
With the help of God’s grace
Let us resist evil wherever we find it

With the waging of war
We will not comply
With the legalization of murder
We will not comply
With the slaughter of innocents
We will not comply
With laws that betray human life
We will not comply
With the destruction of community
We will not comply
With the pointing finger and malicious talk
We will not comply
With the idea that happiness must be purchased
We will not comply
With the ravaging of the earth
We will not comply
With principalities and powers that oppress
We will not comply
With the destruction of peoples
We will not comply
With the raping of women
We will not comply
With governments that kill
We will not comply
With the theology of empire
We will not comply
With the business of militarism
We will not comply
With the hoarding of riches
We will not comply
With the dissemination of fear
We will not comply

Today we pledge our ultimate allegiance… to the Kingdom of God
We pledge allegiance
To a peace that is not like Rome’s
We pledge allegiance
To the Gospel of enemy love
We pledge allegiance
To the Kingdom of the poor and broken
We pledge allegiance
To a King that loves his enemies so much he died for them
We pledge allegiance
To the least of these, with whom Christ dwells
We pledge allegiance
To the transnational Church that transcends the artificial borders of nations
We pledge allegiance
To the refugee of Nazareth
We pledge allegiance
To the homeless rabbi who had no place to lay his head
We pledge allegiance
To the cross rather than the sword
We pledge allegiance
To the banner of love above any flag
We pledge allegiance
To the one who rules with a towel rather than an iron fist
We pledge allegiance
To the one who rides a donkey rather than a war-horse
We pledge allegiance
To the revolution that sets both oppressed and oppressors free
We pledge allegiance
To the Way that leads to life
We pledge allegiance
To the Slaughtered Lamb
We pledge allegiance

And together we proclaim his praises, from the margins of the empire to the centres of wealth and power
Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb
Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb
Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb

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