Book Review: “Living Revision – A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice

Review by Bob Pajer

For anyone who has entered the writer’s world for publication of their works or not, this is a fascinating and expertly written book.  Elizabeth Jarret Andrew has a written a book that is truly a gift to us all.  Whatever you consider the word “spiritual”, in her chosen sub-title, to mean you will get a lot out of Andrew’s way of explaining what it exactly is to be a writer, in my opinion one of the noblest of activates.  I think her word “spiritual” is quite appropriate.  At least as I think of the word’s meaning, a place we go in our minds that focuses our attention on who we are, from where and why we are here.  None of which is clear to most of us, so we think of a higher power that can teach us.  For many, this higher power is within us, unclaimed territory for helping us to better understand our potential and the capabilities of realizing it. 

Andrew explains to us that in revision, that moment when the material we have written seems like it needs change in the direction of closer to what we are thinking and wanting to tell.  I have always found this phase of writing to frustrating, disconcerting and disappointing as an author.  However, I’m drawn to it nonetheless and I love it.  I am a pianist and all of the preparation for a concert performance is exciting to me, from the moment I introduce my self to a piece of new music.  Right up to the moment before performance I am tinkering and testing, listening and revising, aiming for perfection, while knowing the only thing I can do perfect here is practicing my skill and deeper understanding of the music.  All so that when the time comes and I’m ready to give this piece away I can do it with the fullest understanding of what it’s about.  Knowing the fathom achieved so far is a touch of something out there that is, well just there, for me to view in a very with limited perspective from a mind that places it’s own limits on it self for some rather strange reason.  My mind is always afraid of knowing not its limitations, but the grandeur of coming from its Higher Source, some call God. 

Complete with descriptions of what writing is, what revision is and then providing excellent what Andrew’s refers to as “Toolbox”  One such helpful tool box (p. 120) describes use of tools in “Looking for Clues.”  She quotes Patricia Hampl in this Tool Box:  “Now that I have the fragment down on paper, I can read this little piece as a mystery which drops clues to the riddle of my feelings, like a culprit who wishes to be apprehended.  My narrative self (the culprit who invented) wishes to be discovered by my reflective self, the self who wants to understand and make sense of half remembered moment about a nun sneezing in the sun.” 

Later Andrew says, “These are clues to your piece’s inner life.  Reflect on them in our journal, dialogue with them, stretch these moments in your draft with more details  — in other words, listen to what these clues say.”

That can be a profound spiritual moment, a time when you are able to step out of the box of never ending thought and mind wandering to a deeper place in your spirit, which by the way I believe is having a human experience here in this world.  You know, the place we chose to come to better understand ourselves, as though we could do such a thing in a world that is made (by us) to do just the opposite.  But we do remember the questions we have.  You know, the ones that impose on the comfort not knowing seems to bring at times.  The inevitable questions our Creator left with us when we decided to set up on our own account in a universe we make up to “validate” in the impossible.   Those She asks us, “Where are you?” when we need attention, like He asked Adam in the garden, “Where are you Adam.”  Of course They know. 

This is an excellent book, written by a person who thinks beyond the regular age old repetition the mind normally wants to impose on us.  A book that will be on my desk as long as I believe writing is a very special uncovering of what spirit means, I am desperately trying to communicate with you about things we are still hiding from ourselves, until we’ve gathered enough holy perception to take the final stages of a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed, Jesus says in “A Course in Miracles.”

I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book

review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are

my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part


Book Review: Seven Stories – How to Study and Teach the Nonviolent Bible by Anthony W. Bartlett

Review by Bob Pajer

This excellent book, study guide, draws on the work of Girardian Anthropology, which stems from thinkers like Durkheim, Freud and Live-Strauss — the human sciences.  Anthony W. Bartlett, our author, both agrees with the concepts brought forth by these writers and thinkers and develops his own philosophy and theology.  The point of meaning for Rene Girard, at least, comes in the form of mimesis — “If human beings are intensely memetic and this very quickly becomes conflict, their species would seem doomed to  immediate self-destruction.  At the level of early hominids, where the brain function of mimesis had overtaken inherited and instinctual  dominance-and-submission patterns, a self-destructive war of all-against-all could be the only outcome. However, a solution presented itself, enabled by the same imitative capacity.  In a crisis of desire everyone imitates everyone else’s violence, all against all, but then very quickly, as one appears weaker and/or more hateful, it becomes all against one.  If one homing falls and is being horribly beaten everyone will join in, attracted by the triumphant violence . The single victim becomes the evil source guilty of the whole crisis; but his/her killing brings transcendent peace, so heshe also becomes the god who brings sacred order.”

My comment on this is its true.  We are a nasty lot.  However, Jesus saw this and continues to see this in another way.  A forgiven world.  However, this truth is out of our minds.  We cannot see it because we’re in it, but out of our minds.  According to Jesus, as I read what he has said and is still telling us, not to worry.  We have not done anything that effects our Source and as our Source is in tact so are we.  We do make up some pretty awful stuff, however AND make it real.  That’s entirely possible because we are still in the the only power that is the eternal universe, created by God and never to be touched by human hands.  This to me is Jesus message, only message, which overrides whatever we think we see or mime toward desire as Girard seems to say.  Jesus is not saying be credulous but he is saying separation (our only problem here) never happened.  We will yet see it unravel, as though it happened and then never look back.  We are not bodies, we are free. 

Yet Bartlett describes three stages coming out of Girard’s thinking, and the third state is where Biblical interpretation enters in terms of the victim and sacrifice.  Ultimately, bringing us to forgiveness.  Very important to this study, according to our author, is Girard’s work, Things hidden, sin the Foundation of the World, in which Girard claimed the Bible reveals in the scapegoat/victim.  “Girard argues that the Bible reveals the innocence of the victim and perpetuates sacrifice.” Bartlett quotes. 

The mob that brought Jesus to the cross and his resurrection was mass mimesis, I believe Girard and Bartlett would agree.   

Through these discoveries mimesis, scapegoating and victim hood, Bartlett interprets for us a new “good news”, or certainly one that was there all the time in the Gospel.  Perhaps what the Gnostics and the early followers of Jesus saw and, through a surge of the destructive force between the earliest founders of the universal Christianity, sought to hide, the Empire’s church took its course as retributive and penal distorted Jesus’ message of love and compassion.  All are called, while few hear at first, all will be saved by you and I.  We do not have to get good, just see good in each other.  Jesus demonstrates this throughout his time here. 

There are many interesting and loving ideas ideas in Bartlett’s book.  It is especially helpful to all of us as a study guide introducing these new ideas in the following way: he say,  “The Bible, and in particular the gospel, continues to disclose the falsehood of the scapegoat process, as the same as proposing forgiveness and love as the new way forward for human beings.  This then becomes our new understanding of atonement.”

This is an excellent book with fascinating ideas.  However, its appeal to this reviewer is its overall acceptance of forgiveness over violence. Both are defenses in this world, forgiveness is the only defense, however, that isn’t in any way a two edged sword.  Jesus is certainly the one herald of a concept of forgiveness both difficult to conceive for us and, very clearly, impossible without God’s help in the form of His Voice speaking to us through the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did not die on the cross.  He continued his life there in the form of an extreme example.  He was not a victim, not did he sacrifice himself.  He certainly was not a martyr.  I am thinking, perhaps I am wrong, this book heads for a result of Jesus’ teaching, without an understanding that nothing in this world, no thought, idea, or action, unless it is in line with this truth will ever work.  Jesus says in A Course in Miracles, “Forgiveness is the only way to God here.  There is no other way.”  Jesus’ life here, in all respects, taught this.  And he is still teaching it.  Forgiveness means we have fully given up the idea that anything can happen to us, because we are not bodies that come here for a blip in a time frame that has no connection to God’s thought, except He suffers our use of this illusion because we made it.  As he overlooked the appearance of torture and death, he overcame the grand illusion we all suffer, separation.  Yes for us. But only to show us we can and will  do the same.  Not that he is asking us to go through the same extreme example he did, but to do the same in our everyday living here. Mimeograhing ourselves has I believe nothing to do with this. 

The Holy Spirit, the One who knows God and us, uses whatever we make to our own salvation, eventually.  Does it matter we mimic one another?  I think, probably not.  Egos do exactly that in keeping us from the frightful thought we will see God again.  In our ego trance we mimic ourselves and then define our gods (including our concept of God) just that way.  As Truth enters our minds, and it will, we will then find there is no world, no evil, no violence, no ego; but only our own illusion for what we think the world is for.  Would God let us define what a mad world is for?

Notwithstanding my comments about this book it is excellent and can lead us in the the direction to teach us Jesus’ true message, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  We have to understand exactly what this means before we become willing to let the Holy Spirit teach us how to learn all the blocks to love we have set up between that truth and our dreams of making the world a “better” place.  This is a work book and a great place to start on that work. 

I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are  my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

Book Review: Mind Your Life, by Meg Salter

Review by Bob Pajer

“It’s not just about following your breath” says Me Salter, who writes an excellent book on meditation practices from her own point of view as well as from the point of view of many who have worked with her on development an individualized program of meditation for themselves.  The practice of meditation described in Salter’s book has many facets.  We get to choose what’s best for us.  And then go on adjusting based on our own experience. 

“Regarding which mindfulness method choose, the most important guideline is that it doesn’t matter.  All the methods in the this book develop the core skills of concentration, sensory clarity and equanimity.  So pick whatever appeals to you.  The more you enjoy, the more you will practise (sit), the sooner you will develop mindfulness skills and taste the positive rewards.”

However, and this is my qualifier, based your reviewer’s experience with meditation.  Few really serious meditators are that lenient with the practice they have studied and teach.  That may be a good practice or one that’s not so helpful.  My own teacher is dedicated to what he has practiced for over sixty years.  He is a Roshi in the Empty Cloud Lineage and I can pretty much assure you, he is staying with what he has practices and does not drift at all from his long education on the subject.  Its just a matter of greater and greater development of the method you are in, and, those who feel they are really doing well with what they have don’t try a little of this and a little of that.  It is the method. 

After my studies with him for many years now, I can see the importance of perseverance and dedication.  It has taken a long to feel I know anything about it, which is little, why it works and what the future of my life with it will unfold. I just keep doing what I have been doing.  As the years go on I do see how much I feel differently, see differently and can see anything “out there” differently (all experiences that may have something to do with again).  My mind has changed about my mind, however, and I prefer how I see it today.  This new view, which I believe, in a large part comes from my meditation practice, is getting stronger and I’m less likely to take myself too seriously.  I’m simply OK leaving here with a passing grade.  There is within me now a general inner peace to which I can go to anytime and anywhere. 

All I do is sit and focus on the koan, which is at the moment for me,  mu (no-thing.)  I have found it can take much of a lifetime to delve deeper and deeper into just that and just to realize I’m not there and it doesn’t matter. I have no intention of ever trying to permanently stop my mind wandering, the “bad” mind that is so noisy at times I grow weary of it.   It is just there.  And it’s not going anywhere. I seem to have little power over its.  It’s a nuisance for sure.  But minds do this here. The world is made upon it.

I can, however, listen to it, or not.  That is the practice.  And the ego is extremely unwilling to let its “cover” go.  So I don’t try.  The ego, however, does hate to be watched, more or less, and will stop its incessant noise if it sees I’m watching.  It’s very life depends on it.  In addition to whatever it can use to get me to believe I’ve separated from my Source and join with the force it makes up for a better world, or a worse world, whichever is my on my menu for the day. 

Notwithstanding these remarks, which come from perhaps thousands upon thousands of hours sitting in mediation for over thirty five years, this is a good book for anyone wishing to improve their meditation practice or learn anew.  If I were starting over again, I would just continue to sit based on certain natural ways of pursuing a better life through mediation.  Worry not about the results, nor how frustrating it can be at times, because our minds have been trained to make up a body that is in fact an illusion.  The turning point for me occurred when I asked myself why I can’t make better headway on the control my noisy mind, why I go off on a side road so frequently, seeming to have no control over it at all.  The answer came quickly:  Stop cavetdhing about the times you left the field and congratulate yourself for every time you returned.  You are always a step ahead of your own disappointment over your progress.” 

I recommend this book for the novice considering mediation as a practice and anyone interested in the subject.   

Review by Bob Pajer

I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

Wisdom Walking – Pilgrimage as a Way of Life, by Gil Stafford

Book Review by Bob Pajer


Wisdom Walking is one person’s experience in soul transformation.  A beautifully written diary of Gil Stafford’s journey into the woods with expectations and coming home with a larger life experience that he reports transforms his spiritual life.  That is the theme of the first part of the book.  His transforming experiences in the last half of the book are about his journey living, with family and others.  He is deeply affected by those close to him and he describes a compassionate and warm understanding of those who are affected and suffering.  If I were going though a painful time, I would want him around. 

That is Stafford’s real contribution to the world of searching, all of us, who have  experience here.  It is a great breath of fresh air to hear it as a genuine experience.  Stafford reminds me there is no universal theology.  There is only a universal experience.  Truth comes with the second.  Perhaps all truth can be seen in a universal experience, if we search there for it.  Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon are just that.  And it is why they can embrace all religions and philosophies in the the success they have for helping people recover from the deadly decease, which alcoholism is, where past programs have always fallen in failure to do so.  Of course not everyone recovers in these programs, they are perfect in the practice of principles leading to sustainable recovery for most.  When someone like Gil Stafford shares his heartfelt experience in a world being restored to sanity, I want to listen,  

Alchemy is often referred to in this book.  That comes best where minds join and bodies are put aside for awhile, waiting for the power of the messages minds can give when there is a “we” program involved.  Stafford talks about solitude and quietness that comes from a walking pilgrimage, the way of life toward greater and greater looking into oneself and becoming comfortable with what we really are, in truth just  as God created us.  We are not bodies.  We are free —  freedom we get from being OK with oneself, walking through  the woods, or in relation to another person on the same journey, which everyone one is.  Our own equanimity.  Relationship is key to our own healing and recovery from separation.  And it is this aspect of spiritual growth that brings us to God, and in many ways Stafford tells us through his own experience.  

Quietness is essential to spiritual growth I believe, yet it is in compassion for others and loving, not special love, but loving one another as we are:  perfect, holy children of One Creator and Source, that we get to see that is what we are.  We find our identity in one another.  That in itself is the master key to the Kingdom of God, for that is what we are.   When I see you as God’s child, of a loving Father we both share equally in union with this Father, the world changes.  I am deeply impressed with Gil Stafford’s ability it seems to do this.  His description of his family relationships are poignant and inspiring.  A beautiful example of “I see you as God’s child and my brother or sister.”

For all who want to see the passage of healing that God brings to everyone, eventually, whether they seem to want it or not, this book is a great read.  This is truly an exciting journey.  If your soul is having a dark night, it will be helpful for you to see some light ahead in the tunnel, I think more so by our author’s beautiful love stories describing his experience with “love one another, as I have loved you.” 

Following Jesus’ practice of love is not so easy in a world that denies him and God — along with his being the Christ in all of us.   But it is simple I believe: Jesus tells us to follow my example and teaching of unconditional love together, and you will see God standing there right before your poor unseeing eyes, in the other person’s oneness with you.  And don’t ever deviate from this one thing.  For it is the crucible of our experience that the the Holy Spirit, the only alchemist, teaching us the only alchemy there can be how to regain sight of our own identity. 

Reviewed by Bob Pajer

I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book

review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are

my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part


“Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom.” — an interpretation.

Jesus spares us nothing in his teaching.  As always, he does not equivocate.  Heaven is, or its not.  God’s Kingdom, which is God’s children, God’s off-spring, completion.  God is incomplete without us.  That is why God is so continuously nudging us to come home — the home we have never left, actually.  Although we think we are somewhere or elsewhere, we are nowhere out side the thought of God.  We are God’s thought.  We have no will, life or mind separate from that One glorious place to be.  The only place we can be.  

We are in the habit of making up a world that in God’s mind simply isn’t.  Nothing can happen in God’s mind that is not perfectly love.  So if we think there is such a place and condition, there isn’t.  We, in the mind of the only Power that exists, can think we are some other place.  But we dream only.  And we dream on.  God either is, or God isn’t.  And God is.  We dream the isn’t.  

The poor are fortunate to be the Kingdom.  Isn’t it like Jesus to use what we might consider the “least among us” to identify as the fortunate poor.  He does that because those of us who are not poor are much more likely to be clueless about what God’s world is, since we are doing so well on our own.  We believe.   Why would we think about God’s world when we are busy, far too busy, “managing” our lives:  bigger houses, better cars, better colleges, better, better, better.  Not to mention bigger wars, armament that kills greater numbers  — a signal there is something better than what we already have.  This is  the kingdom of the ego, not such a pretty place.  But we seem to endure.  We do have a little trouble ruling this kingdom of course.  But someday we think we’ll get it right. 

Ah, but the ego (we) are so “powerful”  we even think that avoiding such “riches” is virtuous.   A number of us think that resisting what we think completes us is a virtue.  Many who do that spend lifetimes here in arduous work, trying to make real the extras we collect, then not knowing how to get rid of, or resist them.  Jesus said, “Resist not evil.”  I think because resisting makes real what is not.  We are masters at making the unreal real.  It is one of the ego’s favorite cards to play out.  I think Jesus always wants us to ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of what I am thinking or doing in this world.”  Perhaps its condition will spell out its poverty for us to see.

But it isn’t enough to be poor to realize the Kingdom of God.  We have to admit, fully believe, we are poor.  Otherwise we just don’t get it.  

One of the gospels, Matthew, adds the phrase “poor of spirit.”  That is a step in the direction of understanding that Jesus isn’t referring to material things in his words about God’s Kingdom.  I think, rather than adding the reference to “sprit” as Matthew does, just “poor” was exactly what Jesus wanted us to hear.  Poor being in the place where we actually think there’s not enough of God’s gift to go around, or to satisfy us.  We need something more.  We surrender to the thought, “our way just is not working.  There must be a better way.”  

On the other hand, those who are in the state of poverty this way, believing in scarcity, (as I am for sure most of the time), God’s plan for salvation probably sees this as a good thing.  A word about “we”: (please forgive me for the we statements here.  I hate being alone in what I think.  If you think otherwise about yourself as I write this, go on thinking that way and ignore my “we” statements. And I do believe there is on “I” to experience with “us” who we really are.”  

When we think we are poor we believe there’s something missing.  If we believe in God, who has all power, there cannot be anything missing.  God does not create parts of, to be developed later into what is whole.   God says, “Let there be….” and there is.  Our dream here is a constant belief we need something, lack something, God creates scarcity, parts of something greater, our wholeness in union with God.  There is no wholeness of mind in a dream.  We have half a mind perhaps, we believe.  Or, we’ve lost our minds.  Fortunately, no matter what we believe about this subject, God doesn’t.  Either God is insane or we are.  I prefer the latter.  Dreams aren’t real.  No matter how much we think we can make them real in the dream.  As the dream takes place for us, Jesus tells us God is real, God is All Who gives all to All.  It is the fulfillment of God, however, that we dream on and on, without much thought about God’s participation, except our mouthing prayers that are prayers, but we cannot hear the answer from God, or refuse to listen to it. Adam changed God for us into a smaller non-being who punishes us for generations to come.  As a result we believe the unbelievable, impossible thought, insane thought:  God is small, Who Creation is incomplete, faulty and poses questions like “How could God let this happen?”, referring to the suffering in the world we make.  That is a question only the ego could ask.  For it is asked within its own made up world.  God has nothing to do with it.  We have nothing to do with it.  We are dreaming.  

Speaking again of Adam, remember he is put to sleep by God in the Bible.  Nowhere else in the Bible is he awakened.  

For me, I’m grateful for this one belief.  My restoration to sanity.  I believe I am being restored to sanity here in this world and that grace that this implies is to be carried out with my accepting the Atonement for myself.  That’s not “atonement” in the sense that I must atone for my sins, but in the sense that I don’t have to atone for anything but my belief in separation from God.  Which cannot be.  “At-one-ment” is the true meaning of this word.  I am as God created me.  I just have mistakenly forgotten who I am.  And that is insane.  Of course I have many other believes that compete with my belief about restoration to sanity: worry, fear, lack, I’m going to lose what I have, or not get what I want….. are just some. 

A belief in restoration to sanity by a Power greater than oneself is in the Twelve Steps, as Step Two, which Bill Wilson wrote in the program of recovery that he laid out for suffering alcoholics in the 1030’s:  (“We”) “Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”  This Step occurs at a key place for the alcoholic:  admitting powerlessness over alcohol and admitting powerlessness over a life of unmanageability.  Alcoholics, some extremely rich, many very poor, most just of some means, reaching insanity in the fight to conquer “incomprehensible demoralization” over their terrible dilemma:  their inability to stop drinking, yet seeing death as a strong possibility, or jail, or institutionalization in the near future, (from the book Alcoholics Anonymous) are clearly poor.  It does not mater how much they have, materially or otherwise.  They are among the poorest lot to see in this world.  I grew up in New York City in the ’30s, not too far from the Bowery, where all wants, beliefs, pain and suffering are evened out amongst the least of us perhaps right within one of the richest nations in the world.  However, don’t believe one has to wind up any place like the Bowery or Skid Row to suffer.  There’s plenty of suffering to go around wherever we wind up in Jesus’ definition of poor.  

Bill Wilson being one of these who had millions and then millions over again, only to be finally entirely lost, knew what it was to be poor.  Although his geography was slightly different, by just ten or so New York City blocks, he knew what it was to be poor.  And he knew he himself would not begin to recover as a sober person for the rest of his life, without being poor.  And of course the miracle of being a founder of the only program that successfully affects the lives of millions of sick alcoholics, now, and most likely as long as the world goes on.  

Alcoholics, and I’m sure many other groups of the suffering, who come to know the poverty of the soul (although an impossibility in itself) know what poor means.    Accepting Reality, our very poorness opens up, as this Beatitude states the Kingdom of God is at hand.  It is the only Beatitude that states its promise as right here and now.  All the others are about things that will happen in time.  Beatitude One is a condition of the mind, now; the moment where we must be to hear God’s direction very clearly.  The only place God is, in the moment, now, where we join with God, as God’s thought.    

Jesus decided to tell us in the Sermon on the Mount one of his greatest truths, we are complete no matter what we think, completely in and of God. Nothing else matters in a world made to dispute this.  We are as God created us.  Not what we think we need, or think God needs from us, to reach God.   I often think how much Jesus must have loved the Twenty Third Psalm:  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”  I think he read it as “I cannot want, for all has been given to me, I need just pass this on through “for-giving”, to see this in everyone, as we reach out in compassionate understanding of those who still perhaps believe they need.  Everyone has all with God, because God has given all to All.   For those who believe otherwise, it is our purpose for being in this world, to give, no matter how much they believe they have, or have not.  Our job is to see their’s is the Kingdom.  Our devotion to that is the measure we recall as our own poverty and through that knowing, our own identity. 

Bob Pajer


Book Review: A Bigger Table, by John Pavlovitz


What is it like to live and speak out courageously in a pastor’s world that has shifted under his feet by his own realization Christianity has missed it’s mark, indeed, to some extent has gone over to the dark side. Perhaps to the strange experience we’re loosing it, we aren’t going to make it.
“Being an optimist is hazardous duty these days.” John Pavlovitz says in “A bigger Table. Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Communities.”
Pavlovitz is a courageous Christian, holding on to what Crhitanity was meant to be: a life in Christ as demonstrated by Jesus. One does wonder where all that good intention went. It is hard to believe what we have seen in the past 2000 years where exactly Jesus’ teachings come into the picture. What does he think of America the conquerers of a native land, pushing the rightful dwellers of a whole hemisphere out of the picture. Off the face of the earth. What does he think seeing slaves tortured, their families broken apart, hanged and harassed to this day. What does he think seeing Christians killing Jews by the millions in the name of the Nazism? Yes Christians. While our author focuses mostly on Christian Church in America, we must see the backdrop and stage for all that the underlying foundation of the anti-Christ. And ask our own question, why is a surprise that Christianity now supports racism and exclusion from a country that has seen a sprinkling of democracy in its experiment to treat all equally and has beaten down the forces of hypocrisy affecting Christianity in the 20th century? How could this happen here?
We have enough of our own mistakes to amend, without looking on the world around us with the beady eyes of transferring our guilt on others. I was in school yard of my grammar school in Brooklyn, NY and having fun, laughing and I guess “raising hell” as young boys might do when Sister Mary DeSales came running in and screamed: “What is this, a Jewish picnic.” Us Christian boys were not supposed, I guess. to have fun at recess. That was said while Christians were killing Jews by the millions on the other side of the world we have made. Why is surprising that the table to which he ministers is so small that we can’t stand the other person different than we are? We reap what we sow. Our current government in the United States is an example of hateful discourse, the wicked tongue of racism in the cause of greed. Christians by the millions participated in its rise to power. And now continue to foster its longevity.
Where I grew up, Brooklyn, NY, our table was so small, Irish and Italian and German white Catholics, never having the experience of leaning what it was like to be one of God’s children who were black, Jewish, Protestant, let alone gay or lesbian. Our parents most feared event was the black folks, (called a word I, as a white person, can’t utter to this day, even though I lived in a black family,

married to a black women for fifteen years, never thinking I had to right to say that word as my in-laws did at times in the spirit they used it it was OK fro me to do so) were moving up from downtown to take our homes from us. They never did actually, but Haitian people, darker than they, accomplished that, sending Irish, German and Italians fleeing to Long Island. While, we did the work for God at St. Jerome Church and School, keeping I guess, the sinners who were about to be upon us, at bay. In carefully engineered Ignorance of Jesus’ teaching, that went along with the admonishment: don’t read the Bible. We’ll tell you what it says.
Catholicity under Pope Pius we as far as I know, gone. We kept “them”, the inevitable “other” born of guilt, in their place. Hatred always needs a specific.
I would like to think that Pavlovitz’s larger table from which we can learn Jesus’ way, is hopeful. I don’t think so, because God’s table is set differently. God does not recognize the insanity of a table that excludes anyone. Even Donald Trump. Or, Hitler. The worst of the worst is always welcome.
Paul, who is responsible for what Christianity thinks today perhaps more than anyone else, including Jesus himself, witnessed the stoning of Stephen for saying he saw God and Jesus, God’s son together, and Jesus being the Messiah. He was killed for that one thing.
There is hope however. Paul was present at that affair, after which to his great surprise, had a visit form Christ, which transformed him. He stopped killing the dangerous “other”, Christians.
There’s hope for everyone. Everyone is already at the table. Pavlovitz is surely is surely right. But I think we have to believe Jesus’ message; believe that Jesus message for us was just one: forgiveness of ourselves. We can only forgive ourselves. Although we get to know that once we forgive each other. And we have to do this with the recognition that that is our problem and no other. Jesus demonstrated with his participation in an extreme example, one that he would never ask us to repeat. We don’t have to change anything in this world, because we can’t. If we believe fully that we all must practice forgiveness of ourselves and others in turn, the table will be grown by God. That’s what he did in his three years with us. I don’t think he was interested in anything else, just forgiveness. He was interested in seeing that this message became the core teaching as a Jew.
While I applaud John Pavlovitz for his heart being in a very beautiful place, our job is forgiveness, here for that is the only way to building a larger table. it is in fact our only purpose for being in this world. And each of us has to accept it.

Otherwise the table may become larger for a while, but it will shrink again under the weight of un-forgivness. Jesus’ entire message was forgiveness and that every form of human suffering will continue to stem from every unforgiving thought we have and have not recognized and given up to God, Who will do the rest. And that is what we miss in our best of intentions. Forgiving ourselves as we forgive others. This is how Jesus taught us how to return to our Father, within us. When we are intact with the kingdom within, no harm will ever prevail. That intactness, however, always involves seeing this in everyone, as Jesus did. Jesus does not ask that we be credulous of another’s actions. Only that we see truth, one truth. Brother/sister, because I will to know myself, I see you as God’s child and my brother/sister. If this is true, and it always is, what we bring to the table is this truth, which sets us all free.
Not very much is made of the story about Jesus approaching the insane man at the cave entrance. His followers tell himont to go near him. He does of course and the man is cured. Just by Jesus telling him that he knows who he is. The table for this interaction can be very small, a table for two. And once we do this, see in the other person the glory God puts there, we hare home free. We don’t need to change the world for this to happen, it will change because we will have triggered a readiness for change God can work with.

Reviewed by Bob Pajer

“The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb, by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel. Book Review by Bob Pajer

Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel, authors of “The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb,” pose one question only to recognize there are many more questions in any discussion of Christianity and Christian Churches and what Christianity means in our modern day world. Goggin and Strobel show a great love for Jesus in their writing set on the back drop of a world ethos quite different than what the world is today: a massive ego trip we all share by breathing together in this world. An ego that teaches us how to survive in a blood bath, which is the world we live in.

The one question Goggin and Strobel want to ask their pilgrimage, their initial question, “What does Christian power look like,?” (p. XIX) begs for them a whole set of other questions they state as: “What happens if the church reflects the power of Christ? What happens when Christians embody a worldly approach to power and try to use that to advance Christ’s kingdom? What happens when believers live their lives according to a power that is antagonistic to Christ?”

They seek discussion and answers to these questions from Christian theologians, philosophers and teachers: Mara Dawn, J. I. Packer, James Houston, John Perkins, Jean Vanier, Eugine Peterson and Dallas Willard.

The journey is informative, interesting and poignant. The common thread in the array of interviews of these people is that there is a problem in Christianity: it has been hijacked by the voices from under.


From my point of view this adds up to the fact that Jesus’ way and his stories are always with us, made known to us even with the distortion. But we miss the message, and of course we killed the messenger. Listening to Jesus, we will find ourselves in an entirely different world. While we don’t does not affect my faith.

I believe, as the authors do, Jesus’ message is very clear and simple. Our problem is that the message is unequivocal. The ego world that lives in our heads is set up to hear something like his message and then change it to what our message is and we can’t let go of it without Jesus’ help.

But we will let go. And for the very reason we can’t stand his message, there is no other message. Only our dreams that their could be some other power besides God’s.

Each of the theologians our authors speak with, and their own conclusions, seem to leave out what I believe is the heart of Jesus’ message, forgiveness. But forgiveness of a kind we are yet to get in a world we make up to bury all of his ideas. He told us everything, much got lost because of the building of the Roman empire’s church. Yet, Truth as he knew it, still stares right at us — the way that he lived his life short life here. Our authors are concerned with the growing impotence of the Christian Church.

I believe there is more to the world’s problems than that. There is one problem in our world: perceived separation from God and the ensuring guilt that stems from that one perception. Jesus knew this of course. It is how Jesus was able to go through what he did without sacrifice. Jesus did not die. He came to teach us there is no such thing as death and he came to tell us what life really is. Nothing has happened to oppose God’s will, for it cannot be opposed. We must stop thinking there is some kind of power from “down under.” That false power is in us. And nothing ever will happen that is opposite of God, because there is no opposite to God. His children have not left him. He certainly has not left us. Jesus knew full well crucifixion could not do anything to him that would oppose the will of God, Our Father, who only knows truth and wills His holy son, life. God’s Son is still exactly as He created His Son. He does not create anew what He has already created.

However, genuine love comes out of the pages of this book and it does identify the problem, not just for the churches the authors lead but the problem of power is the authority problem everyone has, we try to oppose our Father and are blind to it. Do we really think God is concerned about lack of power among his children who have all the power He has given them, everything? There is but one power we do not have: we cannot be God. If Christian churches would start delivering this message the world would begin to change.


I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are
my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.


Book Review: Out of the Depths — Sermons and Essays, by Kenneth E. Kovacs. Review by Bob PajerOur

This is an excellent book. Kenneth E. Kovacs writes beautifully, telling his story of Jesus and Jesus’ way of inviting us to probe the depths of our own consciousness to join him as disciples of his way. Luke 5:4 is about this: Fishermen of men and women. The metaphor of fishing tells us Jesus invites us to salvation within first of all. We may share our salvation to be sure, but it is at first a foundation we share, built on our own probing and spiritual work.

The sermons and essays are full of wonderful Bible interpretations making practical what Jesus tells us about living in this world. P. 112, for example deals with worry. “And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” “Therefore, I tell you not to worry…” As usual Jesus is not only practical but knows our personality and what it does to us: “Be on guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). We are worried that we will not get what we want; we are worried that what we have we will lose.

Worry stems from lack. We live in a world of abundance. We are children of God who has all Who gives all to his sons and daughters. He holds nothing back for Himself. His desire and will is to give all to all. We are the recipients. We inherit what God gives, yet worry its not enough. Such is the illusion of separation from our Father, Who separates from non one. There is no scarcity but what we make up. Yet we can make up what appears real. I cannot have reality because it isn’t true.

Kovacs writes: “According to Jesus, the antidote to worry is the kingdom. The kingdom is the core message of Jesus’ preaching. Now, its natural to be anxious and to worry. But Jesus wants us to direct our attention away from what we think we don’t have (scarcity) to what we already do have, which is God’s kingdom that is and is still coming … we are the apple of God’s eye.”

I think this is certainly excellent advice, that doesn’t go far enough. I would say that God’s kingdom is His children. We are His kingdom. Our primary function here is completion of just that. Not that it is not already complete, but that our awakening to what already is is Jesus’ message. God does not make up as He goes along. It is done. We awaken to what already is, which is everything. Everything we think we have left looking for something better. Mistakenly of course, yet we persevere. That is the cause of worry. Worrying that what we thought we did in separation we actually did. Our humans is no excuse for maintaining what inn’t true.


I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.


Empire Baptized – How the Church Embraced What Jesus Rejected by Wes Howard-Brook, Review by Bob Pajer

Here is a quote from Wes Howard-Brook’s book that partially summarizes his important message: 

“The final establishment of a single polity was something to which Origen looked forward as a possibility for the divine saving work which heals all fragmentation.  It was only a short step for his disciple Eusebius of Caesarea, to see the Constantinian monarch as a part of God’s plan for consummating the unification.” 

Our author draws from a work by Robert Markus in this quote to provide a foundation for his story about how the Roman Catholic Church moved away from Jesus’ way, to become the largest religion in the world.  Constantine had the experience and the empire to make the Catholic church into what it is to this day.  The price of course was Jesus’ actually teaching, according to Brook, a point of view this reviewer regards has perfectly true.  First Jesus is rejected by his own religion and then rejected by the very people who call themselves Christians.  This a broad statement of course and there are many exceptions to it, today and in the time it was put forth. 

This book is a scholarly study of how the Catholic church became what it is today and how it suppressed the ideas and practices of the early church in order to do so.  Instead of unorganized groups of believers of Jesus, congregating to express Jesus message, the message became an imperial church.  Constantine was just the one to make that happen.  A converted Christian himself, he filled the vacuum of leadership at a central level for the church.  He took with it the common practices that perhaps would have open doors to what Jesus thought and still does I’m sure. 

This is a well written book.  While a carefully researched text book, it affords the reader a chance to see what happened to the Catholic/Christian church in all this, what it became and what it is today.  Sadly the direction it took after Jesus left, has filled many of us with hell fire and brimstone teaching, and that has spread into Protestantism, which tried to escape from it but still retains much of what Constantine brought to religion.  I wish as a devout Catholic growing up in the ‘40s I knew source of the teaching at St. Jerome School in Brooklyn NY.  I was a willing learner, who became in later life a Unitarian just to get away from the brutal education that came from the early changes in Jesus’ teaching.  I know now why they told us not to read the Bible as it would those who taught us who would read it for us and tell us what it is about.  Much of Jesus’ teachings are preserved int he Bible fortunately and are being brought to us in beautiful ways by such teachers as Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr and Pope Francis.  And, 0f course Jesus has not given up on us, as he is always here with us with his miracles and his second coming, A Course in Miracles, his book channeled to two college professors at Columbia University in the 1970s.  Jesus is now telling us what his real message is and clarifying what we were taught in error. 

Empire Baptized is a wonderful read.  I recommend it to every Christian interested in another look at the literal approaches we have developed to reading the Bible, an approach that surely was a product of the empire which hijacked Christianity.   

I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part255.