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I just read an interesting article: “NASA Chief Wants to Send Humans to the Moon – to Stay.”  Well, now. I can think of a few people I’d like to give the old heave-ho into the heavens right about now.

I’m out of patience, for instance, with the pope. Forgive my bluntness, but how long should we expect to wait until he makes real reforms in the wake of multiple sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church? I hear him saying a lot of words, but nothing is changing. Could it be he’s not sure what steps to take? Let me help, if I may.

  • Defrock all priests proven to have abused children
  • Give them no retirement plan or benefits, just cast them out
  • Same goes for the bishops who covered up the abuse
  • Removal of statute of limitations re: long-ago abuse
  • Class action to remunerate all victims
  • Criminal action to put offenders in jail
  • Global database documenting all confirmed abuse cases
  • Total transparency and public access to the data
  • Sweeping reforms to protect children in the church

So. All of the above. Or, option B: Pope Francis resigns.

This may sound harsh, but I’d also like religious leader Joyce Meyer to retire. In a sermon last week, she recounted the sexual abuse by her father she endured for years. She said, flat out… wait for this one… “I’m glad it happened.” She said it had made her a better person.  

Well. Okay. She’s canceled!

Where to begin? What a disservice this is to victims of sexual abuse. Some child is going through this right now. And her abuser, who probably thinks he’s a good Christian in all other ways, hears his preacher say it’s actually not such a bad thing after all.

I know I’m probably just in a mood from the recent doings on capitol hill,  but someday, we’ll look back in shame on this era of the innocent being hurt by those in power. Maybe the next generation will come up with a way to make sure it never happens again. If it means sending offenders to a colony on the moon, well, I’m okay with that, too.

One of my favorite preachers is Joyce Meyer.  I was watching her program, “Enjoying Everyday Life,” the other day, and she said, “When you say an unkind word to anyone you’re judging them.  As if you think you’re better than them.”

Amen!  I said to the screen.

She said, “Oh, you’re not gonna like to hear this, you people.  So I’ll say it again.”

Preach, girl!  I said.

“When you say anything unkind about anyone.  Anywhere.  It’s from your ego.”

Should she be wearing that big, bunchy necklace with such a busy print shirt?  I said to myself.

“Because when you do that, you’re saying you’re better…”

Whoa!  Caught myself there.  I was just sitting here agreeing with what Joyce Meyer was saying.  Then I turned around and judged her!

Well.  I won’t make that mistake twice.

“See, it says here in the Bible that when you say an unkind word…”

She really is so grumpy compared to Joel Osteen.  And hits us over the head all the time with the Scriptures that make us squirm.  Why is her lipstick that color?

Whoosh!  A waterfall of judgment.  All over the place, I’m thinking judgmental thoughts.  And all the while, claiming to be edified by this preaching.

I was really not getting the message.  For the entire half hour, I found myself going back to things that were petty and pointless.  How cold the sanctuary seemed.  Not temperature-wise; it just wasn’t warm and welcoming, as I thought a church should be.  How the people in the congregation were dressed like they were going to work on casual Friday.

There was no stopping the stream of missing-the-point non sequiturs until I realized:

  • Some scriptures are supposed to make us squirm,  and
  • Some sermons are surgical scalpels.

They cut right to the heart of what’s holding you back.

I did finally get the message, but it might just be for today.  Maybe I’ll get some credits in faith college and eventually matriculate into maturity. I know it’s time to get on the right track and pay attention to the core of my being:  my soul. This is where the learning curve begins. If I’m judging others, I’m not right with God.  I won’t even ask what my GPA (God Point Average) is yet; I’m just glad He even allowed me to enroll.

I’m one of those annoying people who say that I’m “spiritual but not religious,” and that means that I get to mix and match what I believe, like shopping at some metaphysical flea market.  My own beliefs encompass Judeo-Christian traditions – summed up neatly by the Golden Rule – along with various other ideologies, such as the Zen Buddhist notion that we are really connected to everything.

Since I don’t have a house of worship in which to attend services, I’ve had to adopt religious leaders of various stripes, and for the most part, my need for a fellowship is met virtually.  And at other times, it’s virtually met.  As in, it’s not quite what I want out of my faith experience.

I love the vibe and energy of various Christian pastors.  Joyce Meyer is full of fun and common-sense advice.  I love the fact that her television program isn’t called, “Follow this Dogma” but “Enjoying Everyday Life.”  I’d never heard a religious leader break it down like that, and I was impressed.  Sometimes it isn’t the tenets of faith or rules of a religion we need to hear from our pastor, it’s how to actually create a life worth living while still holding true to our beliefs.

When you want a shot of faith into your soul, TD Jakes is the man for the job.  An incredible orator, and an impassioned “inspirer,” to coin a term, when he tells a story from the Bible, he grabs your attention, and you know down in your bones he’s preaching true.  When it comes to charisma and creativity, Pastor Jakes really delivers.

I enjoy many different religious leaders, but my own “personal” Pastor – if you could call it that, since I’ve never met him or set foot in his church in Texas – has been Joel Osteen.  Everything about this religious leader jibes with what I believe.  His infectious smile, his spirit of encouragement, the fact that he opens every sermon with a joke… all of it conveys positivity.

But Osteen let me down a few weeks ago when he denounced gays as sinners. Now, I know most Christians will say he was just citing Scripture, but one of the things I liked most about this pastor is that he didn’t do sermons as much as pep-talks.  It always seemed that his church was welcoming to all, and that there was no condemnation.  If you came to be encouraged, this was the place to be.

For a week or two, I distanced myself from Joel Osteen (not that he noticed,) but as time went on, I decided to accept the fact that, in my estimation, he had erred in speaking about excluding any of God’s children from His love.  Many espouse the “love the sinner, hate the sin” theology, so I thought it over.  The sinner?  My pastor, perfect hair and shiny teeth in tow.  The sin?  Passing judgment and deciding on God’s behalf who is worthy of His Grace.   As earthly shepherd to a flock of believers, what I would tell my virtual pastor, were I ever to meet him, is this:  God has an open door policy.  Everyone is welcome to walk through.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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