Readings for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time: GN 18:20-32; PS 138: 1-8; COL 2:12-14; LK 11:1-13
Today’s readings are about the role of prayer in changing consciousness. On this topic, they share with us the understandings of Abraham, the Psalmist (sometimes called David), Paul of Tarsus, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself.
As you’ll see immediately below, all of the readings address changing our ideas about God from the One who punishes and kills to a merciful Father who wants us to be happy. The readings are about God’s mercy towards enemies and kindness to strangers. They’re about persistence, generosity, abundance, about sharing bread, eggs, and fish – and about debt forgiveness. As always, in a Christian context, they explain the New World Order that Jesus called the Kingdom of God.
In this (over-long) election season, I can’t help but make the connection between those readings about prayer and its mind-changing power on the one hand, and the candidacy of Marianne Williamson on the other. That’s because Marianne is the most prayerful spiritual leader I’ve come across in my lifetime of engagement with theology and with people attempting to connect with the Reality that some still call “God.” As such, Marianne’s candidacy credibly promises to change world consciousness from one dominated by fear and necrophilia to one characterized by forgiveness and reverence for life. I’ll explain how in a minute.
However, before I get to that, here are my “translations” of today’s readings about the miraculous power of prayer even as exemplified by Ms. Williamson and the great biblical figures just mentioned. Please check here to see if they coincide with your own understandings:
GN 18: 20-32
Of bedouin violence,
Comes gradually to understand
That Yahweh listens
On behalf of innocents
As collateral damage
PS 138: 1-8
Is not vengeful
But kind and truthful,
Close to the lowly
And far from the proud
Protecting his petitioners
And saving them
From those who
Would do them harm.
Col 2: 12-14
Thank you, Jesus,
For freeing us from
The world’s lie
That we are condemned
By a necrophilic God
And morbid legal system
Instead of freed
And offers us
An entirely new
Way of Life."
LK 11: 1-13
To get there,
Jesus taught his friends
The prayer of his mentor,
John the Baptist:
“May God’s Kingdom
With its abundant daily bread
And the same mercy
(And debt forgiveness!)
Came to understand.”
In God’s New Order,
And despite human reluctance
(And the midnight hour)
Bread, eggs and fish
Will be shared
Even with inconvenient
And rudely persistent visitors
In God’s Holy Spirit
That enables it all.
The Marianne Connection
Those readings about prayer evoke reflections on the candidacy of Marianne Williamson. As I was saying, I’ve never come across a person who so naturally, easily, and comfortably prays. Unabashedly, she invokes miracles one after another – just what we need in these troubled times.
But please note this: for Marianne Williamson, “miracles” do not refer to woo-woo magic events “out there” contrary to the laws of nature. Instead, they are profound interior changes in consciousness just like the one experienced by Abraham in that reading from Genesis.
And change in consciousness is precisely what we need in these times of overriding threat from systems-induced climate chaos, from nuclear war, and from the underlying fears and insecurities fostered by “leaders” such as Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Manuel Duterte, Jair Bolsonaro and the other fascist heads of state.
With those monsters in mind, I’m driven to imagine how a Marianne Williamson presidency would change planetary (yes planetary!) thinking from processes governed by fear embodied in those men, by (mostly state) terrorism – a specifically fear-inducing tactic – to one governed by love and reverence for life.
The miraculous change intimately connected to today’s topic of prayer, would go something like this:
- On Marianne’s accession to the presidency (actually, long before), the entire world would scour her books for clues to her real identity – just as they did with President Obama’s Dreams from My Father and with Mr. Trump’s The Art of the Deal.
- Some would read Marianne’s spiritual guidebook, A Course in Miracles (ACIM) or (more likely) what Marianne describes as her ACIM CliffsNotes, A Return to Love.
- Others would even take up the daily discipline described in ACIM’s volume II, A Workbook for Students.
- In any case, the resulting analysis, commentary and direct experience would get people everywhere discussing ACIM’s basic ideas with the same fervor currently given to Mr. Trump’s “fake news” and “alternative fact.” Those ACIM ideas hold that:
- Our world of fear-induced violence is a completely human fabrication making Americans in particular (as Chris Hedges puts it) “the most illusioned people on earth.”
- No one is actually attacking us. Instead, according to Marianne’s analysis, most of the world’s violence is induced by an economic system that financially rewards human destruction fostered by the Military Industrial Complex, Big Pharma, and Big Oil. In other words, capitalism-as-we-know-it is our enemy including its ideological defenses.
- The way out of the resulting morass is forgiveness. That is, we must realize that the ones our culture habitually blames are actually innocent. Our problems are not caused by immigrants, non-whites, LGBTQQIAs, not by the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Syrians, Libyans, Somalis, Iraqis, Iranians, Yemenis . . . Forgiveness means accepting the fact that all of those just mentioned are not only our sisters and brothers. THEY ARE OURSELVES. Or as ACIM puts it, “There is really only one of us here.”
- Such forgiveness leads to atonement – to At-One-Ment, i.e. to specific policies reflecting the unity that exists between human beings and between humans and nature. Policies include reparations to the descendants of African slaves, to Native Americans, and to countries whose economies and cultures have been destroyed by imperialist wars encouraged by capitalism-as-we-know-it. Atonement with Mother Nature includes a Green New Deal.
When Marianne Williamson is asked about her inexperience as a politician, she invariably invokes Franklin Roosevelt who said that the primary role of the presidency is not governmental management, but moral leadership. In fact, once elected, presidents can turn over day-to-day policy management to carefully chosen experts in each relevant field.
Moreover, the policies in question will end up virtually the same under any of the Democratic candidates all of whom claim to be “progressive.” They’ll all hire similar technocrats to implement Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, $15.00 minimum wage, and forgiveness of college loans. Except for Marianne and Tulsi Gabbard, with their emphasis on peace-building and military disengagement, all the candidates promise to support the same tired U.S. foreign policy.
Besides such crucial peace-building emphasis, what really separates the twenty or so candidates are their character, credibility, and personal values that will enable them to change the national and international conversation.
In a perverse way, Donald Trump has actually demonstrated the importance of character traits in the oval office. Think about it. In Trump we have a nihilist of questionable intellectual competence, completely without moral principle and with virtually no understanding of policy, how Washington runs, or even of basic history or geography.
And yet, Trump has changed the tenor of the national and international conversation more profoundly than any formally educated nihilist philosopher possibly could. He has literally reshaped the world by giving courage to fascists, racists, homophobes and misogynists of all stripes everywhere in the world.
What our liturgical readings for the day suggest (at least to me) is that Marianne Williamson’s life-long commitment to prayerful change in consciousness equips her better than anyone else not simply to return the world to normality after the Trump disaster. She can do more than that. She can move the entire world to the unprecedentedly deeper level of consciousness that our times and impending disasters require.
Marianne’s mindset represents what’s really required to implement the values of love, forgiveness, generosity and at-one-ment that we’ve read about today. They are precisely the values required by our desperate times. Implementing those values world-wide is the profound miracle a Williamson presidency could bring about.