Sex is Violent

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Last night, while surfing cable television for some entertainment, I happened upon the show “Spartacus – Vengeance” on Starz, one of the premium cable channels.  The episode that I saw was a visual smorgasbord of gratuitous nudity, close to pornographic sex, and indulgent violence with a bit of plot mixed in to provide the illusion of coherence.  The episode made me think of a Jane’s addiction song coined, “Ted Just Admit It,” which the group released as part of their 1987 album Nothing’s Shocking.   Here is a brief excerpt from the song’s lyrics:

“Camera got them images, Camera got them all, Nothing’s shocking Showed me everybody Naked and disfigured Nothing’s shocking And then he came Now sister’s Not a virgin anymore Her sex is violent
The T.V.’s got them images T.V.’s got them all It’s not shocking Every half an hour Someone’s captured and The cop moves them along It’s just like the show before The news is Just another show With sex and violence
Sex is violent Sex is violent Sex is violent Sex is violent Sex is violent Sex is violent Sex is violent
I am the killer of people You look like a meatball I’ll throw away your toothpick And ask for your giveness
Because of this thing Because of this thing Because of this thing
That’s in me Is it not in you? Is it not your problem? A baby to a mother
You talk too much To your scapegoat That’s what I say He tells you everyone is stupid That’s what he thinks
Snapshots Make a girl look cheap Like a tongue extended A baby’s to a mother
Sex is violent Sex is violent Sex is violent Sex is violent.”

In my opinion this alternative rock song captures the cultural obsession with sex and violence better than any fundamentalist preacher who rails against pornography in media.  The song by stating, “I am the killer of people…Because of this thing, Because of this thing, Because of this thing, that’s in me, Is it not in you?  Is it not your problem?” cuts to the heart of this issue by attributing violence and profligate sex to a “thing” within us that stems from a darker nature.

I make the claim that “profligate” sex stems from a darker nature to distinguish it from the kind of beauty that occurs when two devoted adults engage in the process of “making love.”  Many evangelical fundamentalists advocate for morality by publicly condemning homosexuality and attempting to encroach upon a women’s choice of how to use her body.  In my opinion, a homosexual has just as much chance of being holy as a heterosexual to the extent that they stay within certain prescribed guidelines such as devoting themselves to a life partner.  To be honest, distinguishing “holiness” from “debauchery” makes me feel uncomfortable as though I am some kind of judgmental Moses proclaiming parameters for living from a morally superior mountain top, but the bottom line is that some kind of “parameters” in reference to sexuality are necessary to separate us from the “state of nature” to which Perry Farrell and the rest of Jane’s Addiction so eloquently refer.

But what are the parameters that separate us from other more violent mammals as it concerns violence and sex?  In the state of nature, the strongest and most apt in reference to violence become the “alpha males” of that society and consequently end up “studding” all of the available females.  To some, this might be natural selection’s way of keeping each species strong and healthy, but to me this represents perhaps the heart of the matter concerning sex and violence.  In the state of nature “power” is the essence of authority.  The “strongest” lions rule the pride.  The first epistle of John describes the state of nature as “the world.” 1 John 2:15-17 states, “15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

Some may make the claim that the “world” according to God is society writ large and that believing in God demands a kind of separation from society writ large, but I assert that ‘the world’ is a darkness that exists in all of us, the darkness that “wills to power” out of fear of annihilation.  The state of nature is characterized by a constant struggle for supremacy which stems from the fear of death.  So in the state of nature, sex is part of violence.  In a sense, in the state of nature, sex is a reward for violence.  All one needs to explore to see that sex is a reward for violence in our “baser” instincts is the mass rape of women that has often occurred throughout history after warring factions fought a battle.  In fact the tendency to rape women as a “reward” for victory in war has only subsided in relatively recent history.

When one considers the “chauvinism” which characterizes our “baser instincts” the impotence of fundamentalist attempts to curb sinful dispositions like fornication and adultery is not surprising.  Fundamentalists attempt to curb a “will to power” with a “will to power.”  Fundamentalists seek to judge and shame the offender into stopping the offense.  Fundamentalists may make the claim that it is the modern “rebellion” of women that is to blame for our society’s erosion of morality.  But this perspective erroneously privileges some distant past wherein we as human beings were moral.  Just when was this past?  Has it ever really existed?  The truth is that any rhetoric which attempts to privilege males over females, white over brown, or straight over gay is intricately connected to “the survival of the fittest” way in which the “state of nature” functions.  Fundamentalists in a sense, attempt to impose their concept of order on others as a way to curb disorder.  But forcefully imposing “order” on people is an act of violence in and of itself.  Violence cannot curb violence in the long run and sexual chauvinism cannot curb sexual malfeasance in the long run either.  For the will to subjugate is inherently connected to the way in which the “alpha male” sexually subjugates in the darker recesses of our imagination.

So if “judgment” and “shame” do not work as ways to curb our baser instincts toward violence and debauchery, what does work?  In my limited experience, it has not been fear that has ultimately helped me in times of “temptation.”  Rather, devotion is the only force which I have found to be effective in my attempts to forgo “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.” Webster’s dictionary defines devotion as love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause and Hinduism describes devotion to a deity as a legitimate path toward bliss.   Devotion is not a force centered construct, but is rather a love centered construct.  Only love can conquer lust.  In times of fierce temptation it has been my sense of devotion or loving loyalty toward God or my wife or my kids that has given me the ability to reject the world as a corrosive delusion rather than an apt reality.

Some may say that only reflective thought separates us from living like wolves or dogs.  But I claim that reflective love also separates us from our baser instincts.  The ability to reflect on the questions of “what is love?” and “what does love look like?” are in my opinion the foundational building blocks of every advancement that human kind has made to date.  So if sex in the most chauvinistic view of the word is violent then love is non-violent and love and debauchery cannot occupy the same space.  So I suppose that my response to last night’s exploration of “Spartacus-Vengeance” is to continue to pray for my own love and the love of others to grow and expand and ultimately rule over every part of us, not through subjugation but rather the inspired revelation of what it is to be loving.

The Elusive Power of Peace

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Growing up as an Episcopalian, instead of greeting each other during fellowship time with a hello or God bless you, we would rather say, “The peace of the Lord be always with you…and also with you.” In truth, as a youngster I had very little comprehension of the act of wishing peace or even literally “sharing peace” with other believers.  As a youngster I looked upon this tradition as just another way of being polite.  But after entering into adult life with all of its stressors and obstacles, I think that the notion of “passing peace” has revolutionary possibilities.

As a citizen of the United States of America, I find it hard to focus on peace.  America is a society that glorifies violence, contest, and victory.  We live in a culture that deifies struggles for supremacy among people.  We watch sports which truly hinge on “battle” even if it is friendly and entertaining, and we watch reality TV shows which create a warlike atmosphere of survival of the fittest where the unfit are voted off the show.  Our democracy has become a spectacle of “saying and doing anything to win,” and our economic system of distribution hinges on people acting as though they are in a competitive war of all against all.

According to several reputable sources such as “The CIA’s World Factbook,” “The Bureau of Labor Statistics,” “The 2010 Democracy Index,” “Unicef,” and “The King’s College London’s World Prison Brief” the United States ranked in the lowest strata among “economically advanced” countries in income inequality, unemployment, food security, life expectancy, rates of incarceration, and student math performance. In a country with the highest GDP, we experience a “quality of life” which is much less vital and dynamic as the quality of life in most other so-called advanced polities.

So although we live in arguably the most prosperous country in the world, there is a conspicuous lack of ‘peace’ in our midst.  As a Christian, in my search for peace, I am compelled to ask whether or not the bible affirms a notion of peace. Jesus in Matthew 10:34-37 states, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.37 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

After reading Matthew 10:34-37 one might conclude that even our Lord Jesus embraces the notion of war and that he too asks us to choose him over others.  It is my belief that Jesus in stating that he comes not to bring peace but a sword, is simply describing the effect that his ministry had on his people.  A savior who started out saying, “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God,” has witnessed the uproar and confusion of his impactful and controversial ministry and is stating perhaps in regretful angst and frustration that while he wished to bring peace, that war is what ended up ensuing.  I also ponder whether or not the “war” that Jesus brought was a necessary uprooting of dead traditions and stagnant lifestyles such that “true peace” could come in that confusion’s wake.  But even if Matthew 10:34-37 not only justifies war, but advocates for it, I wonder?  Did Jesus mean for us to take this text from Matthew and use it as an excuse to operate in emulation, jealousy, competitiveness, and selfishness toward one another.

Equally prominent in scripture are excerpts from The Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus tells us to love our enemies, do good to them that hate us, and pray for those that despitefully use us.  Is Jesus telling us to do these things as a way to maintain a kind of “peace” in the social order? Is Jesus telling us to do these things so as to somehow keep ourselves pure and holy and “unspotted” from the world? Or is Jesus recommending something to us in advising us to love our enemies that accomplishes both a social end on the macro level and personal growth on the individual level?

Unfortunately, as with most tensions in Christian scripture, we do not have Jesus in physical form to clarify seemingly stark contradictions in the Christian text.  Yes, we can pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit for guidance and hope to get revelation, but until we are “face to face” with God in the hereafter or after the Second Coming, we “see as through a glass darkly” and “we only perceive in part.”  So left with the reality that Jesus at least indirectly seems to condone war in one of the Gospels, but also praises peacemakers and stresses love for enemies in that very same Gospel, we are left to make a choice.  One of the problems with attempting to use the bible as a text of “absolute” authority to the very letter of every verse, is that it frustrates the free will that God has given us.  God wants us to learn and grow, and the only way to do that is to make decisions, make mistakes, and learn from every experience.

So in the face of scriptural ambiguity on “peace” and “peace making” I make the conscious decision to stand with peace and to believe that Jesus wants me to stand with peace much more so than to engage in war.  In my experience, people who have truly felt the peace of God flowing through them are usually bending over backward to feel such peace again.  And what would the world look like, if we all had inner peace?  What would life be like if we all had so much peace that we were content with what we have and we felt no need to “strive for more?”  What would families be like if husbands and wives had the inner peace to accept each other as they are and to be tolerant in the face of fault and disagreement?  What would workplaces be like if employees had the peace such that they need not distract themselves with the internet or gossip, but the serenity and calm which peace begets help them to attend to the tasks at had?  And what would our world look like if our political leaders had the peace to walk with pure motivations rather than attempting to heap power and prestige unto themselves.

In this brief reflection on peace, I must admit that I don’t possess anywhere near the peace that I want to enjoy.  But I am truly waking up to the idea that “peace” whether it is biblically supported or not, is one of God’s greatest gifts to us and am moved to pray, “Lord God, we thank you for your love and we thank you for your joy.  But Lord God, there is something that is missing from our souls and from our culture as a whole, and that is your peace.  Lord God please shower every soul in the United States of America and every soul in the world with your peace.  Lord God, please bless the holy spirit within each of us to turn peace on at the center of our souls like a faucet.  Lord God please create suns of peace which radiate peace’s soothing presence to us all. Lord God please inundate every aspect of our beings with peace.  And Lord God, please bring peace to all of our relationships and enable us to seek peace out with our friends, acquaintances, and enemies.  Lord God, I know that love is the answer but peace is most definitely a close second and our lives have become so fraught with unhealthy levels of technological and social stimulus and over booked schedules full of frenzy and stress.  So Mother-Father God, please bless every single one of us with the sublime fragrance of peace so that we can appreciate the changing of the seasons and we can approach every life circumstance with the serenity of gratitude. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.”

The Edge

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

The woman steps out on the balcony of her high rise apartment and among the buildings and streets and stoplights witnesses a fulcrum, an edge.

An edge, the edge, the intersection of beginnings and endings,

The moment when crops are ripe for harvest.

The edge calls to us and invites us to forsake what is known,

The edge calls us to test the limits of our understanding,

And step into an abyss of possibility,

Sinking down into relaxed awareness of beauty,

The edge awaits us.

The edge, where race no longer matters and neither does popularity,

The edge, where souls delight in the magic of music,

The edge, where souls revel in the power of seasons to change and of death to beget life,

The edge is the precious moment where we are neither disappointed at what we have not done or anxious that we will not continue in doing,

The edge is where we can see a life, a leaf, a soul for what it is without a biased back story of prejudiced contrivance,

The edge is where babies go when they are awakened in the womb,

The edge is the horizon where sunrises and twilight take our breath to the height of admiration,

For only God can make this atmosphere to shine just right as the sun and moon dance their dance of gratitude,

The edge is what I wish for now and always,

The woman steps out of her house in the mountains and among the stars hidden in sunshine and premature butterflies hidden in billowy leaves on trees she witnesses an edge, a fulcrum.

Where divinity and gratitude explode in the praise of creativity and the worship of life anew.

Edges, edges where comfortable platitudes have no voice and ignorant assumptions are ostracized,

Come quickly edges, come quickly and embrace me.

Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting?

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Born into tragic reckoning,

We understand that all the bliss we have is but a moment in Creation,

Elation and tragedy come to nothing beneath the last breath our body takes,

And death opens wide to swallow us into that great mystery.

Born into tragic reckoning,

We try and create a memory that lives beyond our present breath,

But that memory is hollow compared to the touch of loved ones,

We grow and live knowing that someday we will lose our parents and friends to that dark dominion,

And yet does death still sting as before?

Born into tragic reckoning,

A man lived in sorrow, hoping and reaching for a better tomorrow,

Born into poverty and oppression,

A man refused to accept the limitations of his age and grew to become like no manner of man that has ever existed.

Born into tragic reckoning, a man grabbed the hand of God and demanded life,

And when it was his time to die he embraced the abyss,

Three days later he rose from death’s clutches and said, “I am that I am.”

The great dream of tomorrow beyond the sting of loss is real and it is rather the sensation that things end which is mistaken.

For there was and is a man, who will ensure that tragedies are transformed into triumphant reconciliation.

For there was and is a man, who guarantees that even in the height of despair there really is no end and all mysteries give way to beginnings of blessing.

Oh Death, because of a man who was, who is, and who will be where is your sting?

Or sorrow where is your victory?

For death can rule no soul.

So into the great beyond, go with courage dear sister, go with courage.

Autumn Sunshine

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Sometimes in the fall, the sun becomes red like a royal crimson fireball,
One Friday night in 1997 I asked a woman to marry me and we made love,
9 months later, I stared into my wife’s eyes and saw a mixture of relief and ecstasy,
As the midwife showed her the fruits of excruciating pain and endless love,
On March 3rd of the year 1998 I met God and he gave me a gift for the ages,
But as he placed her into my arms he sternly advised,
“This gift is someone you can never own, but if you protect and serve her, you will see my face.”
Ever since then, from time to time, God shows up and says hello,
Sometimes he is dressed in punk rock regalia and other times in beautiful Sunday dresses,
And one time I even saw him in my parent’s back yard trying to bounce a tennis ball with an over sized racket,
Sometimes God will try and hog the car radio and force techno down my throat,
But always he says the same thing, “My son, this is your daughter Autumn and in her I am well pleased.”
One Friday night in 2011 I went to Marshall Middle School and heard a young teenager sing a song by Katy Perry,
When she finished, I knew that there was no stopping her and I felt a gratitude to my creator against which no bad memory could stand,
I felt gratitude for a gift that I do not own, but through whom God has said, “I love you” in a thousand phrases and smiles,
Sometimes when I have had a bad day I think of a precocious two year old trying to bounce a tennis ball with an over size racket and I reflect on the woman she is becoming,
Sometimes in the fall, the sun becomes red like a royal crimson fireball,
My daughter is named after the fall, her name is Autumn and she is my sunshine.

Eternal Damnation – A Doctrine Whose Time Has Come

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

There are few doctrines that are as integral to the “world view” of most modern evangelical Christians than the doctrine of eternal damnation.  According to many modern evangelicals eternal damnation is the fate that all people who do not confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior before they die will experience for an eternity.  As an African-American who lives in the south, I can also state with a fair amount of certainty that although they may not have the same political leanings as most modern evangelical Christians, most African-American preachers and teachers also hold to the notion of eternal damnation as an integral dimension of a robust faith in Jesus Christ and the coming ‘Kingdom of God.’  Some Christian Universalists that I know make the claim that Eternal Damnation is not a biblically supported principal and that the bible unequivocally supports Universal Reconciliation of all to God as the scripturally sound belief system.

As an African-American I believe that I can state with some authority that the Bible is very important to African-American Christians.  The reason for our emphasis on the bible is that during slavery our masters would often use the bible as a way to justify their actions toward us, but would also forbid us from reading the bible for ourselves for fear that we might become unruly if we had access to the biblical stories of liberation and the biblical themes of justice, mercy, faith, and equality.  So for African-Americans the bible has been a profound source of freedom and has become a book which many of us turn to for solace and as a philosophical basis for our lives.  It is out of reverence for the tradition of “the word” among African-Americans that I must disagree with my Christian Universalist brothers and sisters and assert that eternal damnation is most definitely a biblical concept which is supported throughout the New Testament.  Jude 1:7, James 3:6, and 2 Peter 2:4 all either directly or indirectly support the notion of Eternal Punishment.  Similarly, in the gospels that speak of Jesus, Jesus supports the notion of eternal damnation throughout those gospels.  More specifically Matthew 5:22, Matthew 5:29, Matthew 5:30, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 18:9, Matthew 23:15, Matthew 23:33, Matthew 25:41, Matthew 25:46, Mark 1:47, Mark 7:45, Mark 9:3, Luke 12:5, and Luke 16:19-31 all either suggest or explicitly mention the notion of hell and eternal damnation as the penalties for the rejection Jesus’ love.

And yet, I as an African-American, assert to you that this biblically supported idea of eternal damnation is perhaps the most demonic facet of modern day Christianity and is truly an idea whose rightful rejection by all has come.  From a biblical perspective, although the bible does support eternal damnation, the hope and love that the bible helps to engender in us as believers cry loudly against it.  Hebrews 11:1 speaks of faith being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.  So yes, the Bible as a book may support eternal damnation, but the bible also calls us to a hope that goes beyond what is readily understandable or visible to our natural eyes and consciousness.  Similarly, Jesus speaks of hell and eternal damnation more than any other biblical figure.  But Jesus also claims in John 14:12 that the works that he did we shall also do and greater than those, and Jesus states in Matthew 13:52 that every teacher of the law will bring in old and new treasures from scripture.  So while the readily visible and ascertainable dimensions of scripture fully support eternal damnation, the ethics of love, hope, and belief to which scripture calls us to aspire rail against the idea as the demonic deception that it is.

It is my sincere belief that the Jesus who went to the cross for me and who rose from the dead would encourage me to question any notion that perverted the character of God, even if it was a notion that he himself suggested.  For did not Jesus attempt to send the Syrophoenician woman away when she asked him to heal is daughter under the precept that she wasn’t Jewish and was therefore a dog.  But, then, did not Jesus say that she had great faith when she said that “even the dogs eat the children’s crumbs.”  Herein this scenario the Syrophoenician woman is challenging Jesus’ worldview with a world view that requires more faith, faith being in this sense, imagination for what is possible.  Jesus in this instance does not punish the woman, but rather rewards her by healing her daughter. I query, is it courageous and faithful to hold to what somebody believed in the past in a way that causes one to judge one’s human brothers and sisters as worthy of eternal torment or is it courageous and faithful to grab onto the reigns of hope that Paul in 1 Timothy 2:3-4 gives us when he says, “This is good and pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth?”  I query, does it glorify Jesus to think the worst about God and our human brothers and sisters by holding to an idea that Jesus and the early disciples held to in the midst of abject oppression and degradation or to scrutinize and examine the letter of truth that we have received with the spirit of unconditional love and hope who God has given us to help us interpret that scripture.  Jesus never said, “And I will give you a bible which will comfort you and lead you into all truth.” Instead Jesus said, “I send you a living, breathing spirit who will lead you into all truth and comfort you through any adversity.”  So when we read in 1 Peter 4:6 Peter avowing, “for this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit,” we are duty bound out of our allegiance to the Holy Spirit of love to say to ourselves, “Oh my goodness, this suggests that people have longer than their earthly lifetimes to believe in and receive Jesus.”

Just as Jesus was the chief cornerstone on which the mindsets of the Pharisees and the Sadducees were destined to be destroyed, so too is the Holy Spirit the chief cornerstone of this age who calls us to a higher hope and a more profound vision than the explicit exposition of scripture suggests.  I query, when Paul states in 1 Timothy 4:9-10, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially those who believe,” are we called as God’s emissaries of hope to pessimistically interpret this scripture to mean that some of the men of whom Jesus is Lord and Savior will suffer in eternal torment or that Jesus as the Savior of all will find a way for all to successfully devote themselves to God?  I query, would Jesus, the man who reviled pride and vanity in all of its manifestations smile more upon us believing that we are somehow so much more special than other human beings that God would predestine us for salvation and predestine others for torment or on us realizing that every soul is of equal value to God and so God will find a way for every soul to make it?  Kalen Fristad, whose pivotal sermon is on this website, aptly states that eternal damnation either makes God into a “tyrant” who would predestine some for happiness and some for torment or a “stupid weakling” who cannot find a way to realize the essence of his will for all people to intimately know him.

It is my contention that many of the horrors and cruelties in which the Christian and Catholic Churches of our history have been complicit owe their origins to the notion of eternal damnation.  Consider, was it really cruel for Catholic inquisitors to torture unbelievers until they “confessed” appropriately if those same unbelievers would end up in “eternal torment” if they did not confess?  Was it really wrong for John Calvin to burn a dissenter at the stake if the truth that she or he was spreading would result in the eternal punishment of many?  Was it really wrong for Catholic missionaries to impose belief in Jesus and Capitalism on native inhabitants of the lands that their European kings and queens were colonizing if such imposition saved those natives from eternal suffering?  Consider, any amount of limited suffering in this earthly life is virtually nothing compared to eternal torment.  So is causing people to suffer in their earthly lifetimes so that they will prosper in eternity really so wrong?

Eternal damnation is a doctrine of fear which reinforces fear.  So do you believe that the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete that Jesus gave us to comfort and convict us really wants us to hold onto a fearful notion when John states that “he that fears is not made perfect in love” and Paul attests that “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and soundness of mind.”  The idea of eternal damnation versus Universal Salvation is truly a choice that we have before us, to hold to an “old letter” which creates a “schizophrenic” understanding of God, where God is simultaneously love and the author of other people’s torment or to aspire to a “new Spirit” the Holy Spirit of love and life who calls us to heal the broken hearted and set at liberty them that are bruised.  The Holy Spirit lead the original apostles to truths that they could comprehend given the apparent darkness and evil of the times in which they existed.  Our times are different.  People are no longer being punished by being nailed to a wooden cross and women are no longer being raped at random.  As a result, the truth that the Holy Spirit would lead us into is far brighter and more beautiful than what the original disciples received.  I truly believe that it is impossible to follow the Holy Spirit through and toward all of the truth and states of being that he wants us to experience and still hold to eternal damnation throughout our lives.  Eternal damnation stagnates and stunts the growth of the Christian and is something which many Christian leaders hold to out of a fear of losing their places of honor and respect among other leaders and believers.  Did not Jesus say that if we are to truly please him that honor and respect need to be things that we are willing to sacrifice in our journeys toward wholeness in him?

Eternal damnation as a doctrine calls us to judge oppressive leaders as going to hell forever rather than speaking the truth in love to them about their injustice.  Eternal damnation as a doctrine leads us to believe that God loves us more than others and so too leads us down the deceptive corridor of pride and vanity.  Eternal damnation as a doctrine inspires us to constantly strive against others to succeed and prosper so that we have evidence of our election by God in perverse comparison to their horrific destiny.  Eternal damnation as a doctrine causes us to show others love often as a part of a manipulative scheme for them to believe as we do rather than in the transparency and purity of motive to which God calls us.  Eternal damnation as a doctrine reinforces the kind of absolute distrust in other religions which were the foundation for the violence of the crusades and other forms of religious violence throughout history.  Eternal damnation as a doctrine by its very nature must diminish our sense of showing compassion to the stranger by creating the possibility that we will never have to see them or deal with them in the after-life.

It is time for us as Christians to stop bringing our gifts to the altar before attending to our brothers and sisters who we have wronged.  It is time for us as Christians to let go of vain and prideful notions of our “preferred status” with God.  It is time for us as Christians to stop hypocritically aspiring to get rich all the while believing that large segments of the poor are destined for eternal torment.  It is time for us as Christians to stop imaging our fractured personalities on a schizophrenic God who inconsistently destines some for hell and others for heaven and to start operating in the joy inducing coherence to realize that God loves all equally and as a result will eventually call all to be reconciled to himself.  Bottom line, it is time for us as Christians to embrace the Holy Spirit as he speaks to us and urges us to let go of this demonic doctrine for its time of judgment has surely come.

The Fence

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

I see my brother walking, running towards dust,

It couldn’t be?

Oh wait! I think I see?

A bit far off, he jumps against and falls so short to disappear.

But no one Saw?

God bless the men who jump the fence to wave at me imprisoned.

And as the watchman fixes sights, a hazy, shady outline of a barb as thick as any soul who tries to silence, sister’s strength,

As locked in one, we journey towards and up, surmount this wire hold.

I just begin to glimpse it.

What fear it must have been to blind a border wall so menacing,

Incarcerates us all against sublime the state of reason.

And as the watchmen fixes sites, acute to slightest stirring.

I grab a hold of passers by and scream, implore to see about this bulwark that imprisons us.

“We must attempt to jump this fence, my friends and brothers strong let’s go.”

And as such passers by I saw, “lets free to climb and see beyond.”

“Just dust, you fool there’s nothing there!

Just dust”, response, “it’s just mirage, just ask the one who sits atop to guard against a foreign fear.”

“But wait I see it clear as day.  My friends, I ask, I beg to run and soar against this barbed thing, perverting as I only hope to what might lay beyond its hedge.”

“Just dust, you fool there’s nothing there!

Just dust”, response, “it’s just mirage, just ask the one who sits atop to guard against a foreign fear.”

“But wait! My brothers, I implore, let’s soar to see what lay beyond, to see what’s past this bulwark fence.

Let’s clasp our feet and march as one.

Like thunder we shall strike it down so that the brothers after us might see beyond its evil stare!”

“Just dust! You fool there’s nothing there,”

Response, “it’s just mirage we say!”

And as the watchman fixes sights, the children sit eyes sweet and pure and wave my hand I do goodbye and run to touch and break it down,

I jump to grab and shake it down, and as I do a shot it rings, and such a peace enraptures me,

I rise to see what lay beyond.

“My friends I love and say goodbye, just see my brothers not the dust, just see my brothers dear to soar.

And as the fence grows out of sight, I FEAR NO MORE!”

GOD BLESS THOSE SOULS WHO DARE TO SEE AND FIGHT THE FENCE OF IGNORANCE SO THAT MY CHILDREN OPEN EYED MAY SEE BEYOND AND FEEL SUCH MIGHT.

GOD BLESS THOSE SOULS WHO DARE TO FIGHT

GOD BLESS YOU FOOLS AND PASSERS BY WHO BRING THE LIGHT OF TRUTH MY FRIENDS.

GOD BLESS YOU FOOLS MY SISTER’S LOVE,

GOD BLESS THE FOOLS SUCH LIGHT ABOVE COME CRASHING THROUGH TO SEE NO FENCE.

ONE DAY SUCH LIGHT SHALL CONQUER.

Dear Lucifer

Dear Lucifer,

There was a time when I hated you. There was a time when rage afflicted me as you confused me and my brethren into judging and maligning each other.

Dear Lucifer,

There was a time when I focused all of my malice against you.  For every time I thought of an entire race of people enslaving another entire race of people and calling it your will I saw you in the shadows laughing and mocking.

Dear Lucifer,

There was a time when I wanted to be the one that vanquished you in this generation, for when I thought about a nation stealing the land of other nations and calling it manifest destiny, I saw the imprint of your wicked hands.

But now dear brother, I must admit that I more pity than hate you.  You have exhausted me.  You have been such a little nuisance that now I just don’t have any feeling left for you.  And Lucifer, Beezelbub, Whore of Babylon, Lilleth and whoever else has been attempting to torment me and mine, I forgive you.  I do not think that I have the authority to forgive you on behalf of other people.  But for my part, I truly cancel the debt that you owe to me for all of your misery making.

The truth is Lucifer that I am now truly beginning to realize just how badly Jesus beat you 2000 years ago.  I mean you want to talk about a “Warrior King,” Jesus battled you as you attacked him from the outside through the rejection of the people he came to save and Jesus battled you as you attacked him from within through the nature of the corruption that he received from Mary’s flesh.  Jesus battled you his entire life and then he battled you again to make it to the cross, and then he battled you again on the cross.  And then he descended and battled you again in hellish places of conscious and natural torment.

And now dear brother, I am becoming aware of just how final his victory over you has become.  You see Lucifer, every human soul is destined to become either a Son or Daughter of God.  And while I do not understand it fully, somehow Jesus assured those destinies through his life, sacrifice, death, and resurrection.  And those destinies are locked into the annals of God’s foreknowledge brother.   Yes, for a time, we as human beings play roles of tyrant and victim, betrayer and betrayed, but soon these ideas and identities will fade away beneath the glory of Jesus’ second coming both in the flesh and through all human identity being wrapped up in the mysterious epiphany of love’s all-encompassing power.

Lucifer, Satan, whatever and whoever you are.  However many there are of you.  I am writing you this day to say that I forgive you.  Perhaps not out of love, but more a sort of indifferent pity,  for you will lose as you have already lost.   Perhaps your final destiny is redemption, perhaps it is destruction, but either way dear brother, I do not want you occupying any space in mind more than what is absolutely necessary.  Oh, every now and again, I can see myself listening to the Holy Spirit concerning some wicked scheme that you have plotted against me, or every now and again casting you out of something or binding some principality, or helping someone who you have targeted with malevolent intent, but for the most part brother, I view you as a nuisance and I just don’t want to think about you anymore.

So I forgive you and I forgive all human beings who still in their ignorance serve you both unwittingly and voluntarily.  In truth devil, I have lost interest in you.  A time ago you were an interesting object for my mind and heart, even if it was hatred that I felt for you.  But now, you are so predictably pathetic that I just want to let go of our relationship and so I forgive you.  Again I say that I forgive you and am moved to pray, “Lord God, thank you for the teacher that satan, Lucifer, and the rest of them have been for me.  Thank you for every bit of suffering they have caused me, for in the long run it will only make me stronger.  Now I ask that you saturate my consciousness with yourself.  Lord God I ask that you reveal yourself to me in every dimension and cranny of the human experience.  Lord God, please bless me, like the Navaho Warriors Pray with “beauty before me, with beauty behind me, with beauty above me, with beauty all around me, I will walk in long life, I will walk according to beauty.  It is completed in beauty.  It is completed in beauty. It is completed in beauty. It is completed in beauty.”

Lucifer, I and all of my human brothers and sisters are completed in beauty.  And your madness in believing anything different will soon end either in your redemption or destruction.  I am not partial to either.  Go with God dear brother.  Go with God.

Come Glory This All Hallow’s Eve

By:  Woodrow Odom Lucas

As I drive by the end of days I see a pumpkin and a happy witch on the doorstep of my joy,

As I pass by my four year old’s awe toward friendly ghosts down the street of nostalgia,

I am reminded of Saints gone home and good souls on their penitent journey,

Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Paul Robeson and the poets of my past,

Hendrix, Morrison, Michael, Louis Armstong and the Sounds of my testimony,

Prince and Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis, Amadeus, Earth, Wind, and Fire,

Saints living, saints dead, souls vibrant, souls sad in the darkness of regret,

We are a glorious symphony on this, this all Hallows Eve,

The eve of that day when I celebrate the muses of my sacrifice and the foundations of my epiphanies,

“Halloween is here” my youngest daughter exclaims and I am reminded of many a night spent scavenging for sweet things and expectant laughter,

Tragic kings like Edgar Allen and Charlie Parker, souls with so much pregnant genius that the world was too much for them,

It is our celebration dear friends that will move the mountains of discontent,

And so in this season of harvest, carpe diem calls me to absorb as much love as I can as the sun sets on purple leaves and gorgeous corn stalks,

And in mother Africa, the ancestors dance like their Celtic sisters who fused the worship of our Lord and the glory of mother Gaia,

And in mother Africa the land recovers from the grief stricken sting of rape,

And in mother Africa my sisters and brothers celebrate the saints gone forward into that great mystery,

Tecumseh and Black Elk I celebrate the brilliance of your aptitude,

And I cry with you in triumph for the resurrection of a people forsaken but not defeated,

Come Glory,

On this All Hallows Eve, I celebrate the beauty of a journey full of confusion and catharsis,

For the reality is that we truly cannot fail,

As our cloud of witnesses sing to me of the victory that awaits,

Tonight, adorned with the fashion of merriment,

And the subtle chill of October wind reds our lips,

Come Glory and Glory be to the faithful departed,

Happy Halloween!

Who Can Find A Virtuous Woman?

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Who can find a virtuous woman?

She is worth far more than rubies.

She is not a possession but a partner.

She is a fantastic conversation starter.

My wife found out that her brother drowned and that she was pregnant with our first child on the same day.

My wife had a husband lose his mind and her father shoot himself in the same 3 months.

Who can find a virtuous woman?

My wife rarely complains, walks clothed in love, and has a sexy smile like Sophia Lauren.

My wife giggles and laughs at stupid jokes out of sheer hilarious kindness.

Who can find a virtuous woman?

Women turn to my wife for advice and direction.

Men turn to my wife for encouragement and affirmation.

She is not a possession but a partner.

She is a fantastic conversation starter.

With her I will grow old.

With her I will travel back to the innocence of my childhood.

Loving her has not been easy as obstacles have come against us from day one,

But when I think to faint or run I dream of her soul and find strength.

Who can find a virtuous woman?

Her children arise and call her blessed;

Her husband also, and he praises her.

My wife’s love for our children manifests in busy days and restful nights,

And through her love my children never doubt the presence and reality of God’s affection.

My wife sees the best in me when others can only see frivolity and failure.

My wife beats back adversity with a conscientious smile and perspicacious laughter.

My wife knows God but does not flaunt her holiness as if it is on display for the world,

And my wife’s motivations are purer than the running water of mountain tops.

I seek not to exalt her to a place of codependence where all of her humanity is crushed beneath the pain of my subjective worship.

No, my wife is no God and she is constantly forgetting to lock her car,

But when I think of King Lemuel and his question for the ages,

When I think of King Lemuel and his somewhat chauvinist question,

Who can find a virtuous woman?

My response is always the same, I can!