By: Woodrow Odom Lucas


As I survey popular culture these days, I see a tinge of the macabre that I find disturbing.  As if unhappiness and misery are the archetypes of present and future which are inspiring our current cadre of artists and writers.  And sometimes I wonder, if the folks who see us moving toward a grand apocalypse, or “last days” do not have some cogency to their arguments.  But then I consider those generations when one disease like Polio or the Flu wiped out potential millions, or I consider a time when those who had my DNA were locked in ships to suffocate on their own feces, or I think of a time not so long ago, when an entire religion of people was systematically exterminated by individuals claiming to believe in Jesus, and I remember that times are no worse now than they have ever been, they are just different, and different can be frightening.


Still, the problem of human ignorance and human destructiveness do confuse the more optimistic of spiritual people.  “How can Namaste be true when we treat each other so harshly?”  “Are all of us really trying the best that we can, because it sure doesn’t seem like it?”  “Why does it seem like Science and Religion two of the most powerful tools through which humanity can transcend are mired in confusion, extremism, perfectionism, and hubris?


Some might say that the answers to these questions are buried in the mystery which is inherent to our conditions, and in most cases I would agree with them.  But this particular problem, the problem of human malady and ignorance, I believe has an answer.  We as human beings are invariably infantile.  Human beings are infants compared to other creatures on the earth.  We are infants in the grand scheme of things as it concerns God and our ultimate destiny.  And we are infants in our own personal journeys toward what we are destined to become.  There is no one on this earth in my opinion no matter how powerful, no matter how evolved who is more than at most a young preemie in the grand scheme of things.


And so understanding ourselves as infants makes since of quite a bit.  It marries our infinite potential for love and our divine spark, Namaste, with our penchants toward cruelty and malevolence.  It also helps us understand how all of us from the worst of us to the best of us share the same destiny of reconciliation with God .  We are infants and ultimately all of us are doing the best that we can to make since of a reality that is so very new to us, when placed in perspective.  As much as I disagree with what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, he becomes palatable to me when I remember him as an infant, just trying to figure it out like the rest of us.  We all really do have the divine spark, Jesus really has reconciled us all, we all really are trying the best that we can, and when we reach maturity as the Sons and Daughters of God that we are destined to become, the Creation will know light and love that transform the very fabric and nature of reality.

The Amazing God

I know a Muslim Fundamentalist who had decided to strap a bomb to his chest and destroy a Jewish schoolhouse in Israel.

And he told me that the night before the event, he had a dream and saw the prophet Muhammad in a vision.  And the prophet Muhammad came to him and said, “My Son, stop hating yourself.  We love you.  All of us love you.  Allah is beneficent and merciful and his mercy is for you.  Do not do this thing you are planning, but rather embrace yourself, shadow and all.”  The man woke up and started to cry and he cried for 4 days.  And when he stopped crying he thanked Allah for the beauty of the Jewish people and the wisdom of Ecclesiastes.

I know a Hindu woman who was very promiscuous as a teenager and she walked with a deep shame and bitterness, so much so that she could not bear to go to temple.  And one day, a Christian Evangelist found her and said, “Young lady!  Jesus loves you! Jesus wants you as one of his very own!! All you have to do is confess his name.  Just confess his name and you will live forever.”  And the woman confessed the name of Jesus, and when she did, she felt energy like water from a faucet rising up in her belly and she began to speak in unknown tongues and dance feverishly screaming “Thank you Lord Christ!!!”  “Thank you Lord Christ!!!”  That woman spent the rest of her life counseling teenagers on self-love and their worth before God.

I know a Baptist man who spent most of his days afraid that he would go to hell forever as he felt that he was unworthy of the Lord.  But one day he met a psychic woman, and she called him by name and said, “There is no such thing as eternal hell, and even if there was, you are not going there.  You are beloved by God and God loves us all so much that he will not let any of us writhe in torment forever.”  And the man normally would have dismissed the psychic woman as a worker of satan’s iniquities except that she sang him the song that his mother would sing to him when he was a child before his mother died and the psychic told him how much his mother had been watching over him throughout the years and how he would one day be reunited with her.   And now the man reads Tarot cards as a hobby, always stressing that Jesus can make anything happen, even if it ain’t in the cards!

The God of Abraham, The God of Isaac, The God of Jacob, The God of Malcolm, The God of Martin, The God of Hindu Yogis teleporting themselves to other dimensions, The God of Sufi Mystics spinning round and round to the sound of the universe, The God of Cogic Pentacostals tarrying and sweating and clapping and dancing and praising on Friday nights, The God of Einstein beginning to remove the veil between the invisible and the visible, the concrete and the ethereal, the physical and the spiritual, The God of Jimi Hendrix mesmerizing his fans throughout the universe as he works miracles on his vintage guitar.  The Amazing God has so many faces which sometimes look so different from the outside, but if you look closer, beneath the scaffolding of dogma, you see a love as wondrous and multidimensional as the creation that he, she, it, they created, and then the bliss of awe overtakes you and you feel the soft and thunderous caress of God’s unconditional love.

The Post Election Blues

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

As a progressive democrat with bordering on Socialist allegiances I saw this year’s election as one of utmost importance.  Affordable access to healthcare, a likely Supreme Court seat, and the war in Afghanistan were just a few of the major policy issues that were at stake.  For the past 3 months I have been praying every day for Barack Obama to win the presidency and for democrats to take control in the Senate and the House of Representatives.  This was unusual for me, for normally I would have prayed a general prayer like, “Lord God, please bless the candidate who is best for our country to win this election,” but this election was so important to me that I deviated from proper prayer protocol and asked for a specific result.

As a person who has been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder politics is a very dangerous road.  Given the capricious nature of politics in general, having definite allegiances to candidates just increases the stress on one’s psyche.  So needless to say, I have been very stressed out in recent weeks over the developments of the election.  In addition to praying about the outcome, I would say mantras to myself over and over again.  I would chant, “No matter who wins this election, I and my family are going to be alright.  No matter who wins this election, the sun will still rise and the night will still come.  No matter who wins this election, Jesus is still on the throne.”  But deep down, I believe that I may have invested just a little too much of my soul in this year’s contest.  I believe that I may have invested a bit too much, because with the exception of the elation that I felt on Tuesday night when the election was called, I have been experiencing acute depression in the days which followed.

Depression is a very mysterious experience.  For those of us that suffer from severe and persistent mental illness, depression can come upon us without warning and can seem to have no apparent cause.  But in this instance, I believe that my depression may have stemmed from a fundamental confusion concerning my relationship with God.  As an African-American politics is very important to my welfare.  Most of the strides toward African-Americans having equal rights in our society have come about as a result of political activism.  From the voting rights acts of 1964-1965 to the desegregation of public schools and public places, to the end of slavery, to equal access to employment, African-Americans have utilized the tools of civic protest and political engagement to fight for our rights.  This legacy is in stark contrast to for instance the legacy of Native-Americans in this country for whom political activism has been less fruitful in securing national rights for Indians and Indian Nations.  But perhaps the lack of success of Native-Americans in the political spectrum might produce a better attitude among Natives when historic elections such as this past election arise.

It seems that during this election, despite my mantras to the contrary, I explicitly connected my welfare as a person directly to the outcome of this past political contest.  The truth is that for me, God is the center of my existence and my strength flows from my ability to rely upon God as a source of sustenance.  Unlike some other people, I cannot count on my moods to be stable or my mind to accurately assess reality at all times.  Rather, I rely on medications and fervent prayer and seeking god as a way to fulfill my duties as a father, husband, citizen, and servant of Christ.  And unfortunately, medication while useful in helping me avoid catastrophic happenings such as a psychotic break, rarely works to stabilize my mood or keep me from social paranoia and agoraphobia.  No instead of my meds, it is the 45 minute prayer regimens that I pray on a daily basis that keep me focused and productive.  For me, as a person that lives with severe and persistent mental illness, God is often literally and explicitly the difference between death and life, darkness and light, and depression and stability. I realize that philosophically, this is true for all people, but for me, my dependence on God manifests in my life as a much more visceral reality given my challenges.

So, in this election, I sacrificed my usual center of God, for the external reality of the election. I dovetailed all of my hopes and dreams into the election outcome.  Unfortunately, politics, while important for a variety of reasons rarely directly informs or dictates my spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and circumstantial welfare.  I readily admit and assert that my life would be different if I did not have Barack Obama’s healthcare stipulations on my side as I deal with chronic illnesses like Schizoaffective, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, but in terms of my level of hope, my level of functionality, and my level of mental stability, politics is for the most part not a pertinent variable.

So in this election cycle, I made the mistake of relinquishing my karma yoga attitude about life and putting all of my existential eggs into the election basket.  The problem with this approach is that it creates somewhat of a psychic catch 22, in which if one does not obtain one’s desired outcome one might be devastated and if one does receive one’s desired outcome one must then contend with the reality that such an outcome pales in comparison to the Universal Source of God as a cause for our well being.  Today, I really tried to regain my center by reminding myself that I am in the same species as I am sure discouraged Republicans and that I need to pray for their adjustment to the political reality that emerged.  Today, I attempted to regain my center by recommitting my allegiance to God more so than a political ideology.  I am not trying to suggest that voting is not part of our civic duty, that advocating for justice is not part of righteousness, or that we should all put our heads in the sand and wait for God to solve all of our problems without our active struggle and participation.  But I am suggesting that as we advocate and that as we fulfill our duty as citizens in a democracy to pursue the end that we have decided to be best for the country, that we need to realize that God is ultimately our source of strength and happiness more so than any circumstance that we experience or political reality that we desire.

So, as I pull myself out of the post-election blues, I am sober in my understanding that God is and must be my center and that I need to revisit my duty as a Christian to love other Christians and other citizens of this country who do not agree with my vision for a better America.  As I pull myself out of the post-election blues I am sober in my remembrance that this world is not my ultimate home and that I advocate for justice out of my devotion to God more so than a desperate and fearful allegiance to any political outcome.  So thank you God for in your infinite mercy allowing the election to unfold as it did, but more importantly thank you God for being the center of my life and the source of my ultimate joy.

5 Deceptions of the Thief

John 10:10 – The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

John 10:10 is one of the most well known verses of scripture.  Jesus, in this famous quote is setting up a dichotomy between his leadership and bad leadership by creating a metaphor involving the common Hebrew practice of raising livestock.   Jesus calls himself the true Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep in stark contrast to the thief who manipulates and coerces ‘the sheep’ for his own dark pleasure.

Despite the overwhelming clarity of Jesus’ contrast, the truth is that in the messiness of life, we often have difficulty separating the shepherd from the thief and fall prey to our ‘enemy’ disguising himself as an angel of light.  So in an effort to clarify the distinction between darkness and light, I posit 5 deceptions that the devil uses to confuse us in our walk with God.  This list is obviously not exhaustive but nonetheless relevant.   The deceptions are:

1)      He convinces us that he does not exist.

2)      He convinces us that he is in control

3)      He convinces us that there is no hope.

4)      He convinces us that his thievery is God’s wrath.

5)      He convinces us that death is our only chance for victory.


Technique number 1, he convinces us that he does not exist:

The great theologian Origen spoke about their being 3 lenses through which we can interpret scripture, we can look at the body which is the obvious story and truths being shared, we can look at the soul which contains more subtle interpretations of the text, and we can look at the spirit of scripture which reveals a coherent and yet deep truth of God and our Savior.  On the surface of John chapter 10, Jesus is talking about the Pharisees and Sadducees, but on a deeper level he is talking about the devil.

Paul states in his letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places.  As much as we would like to believe that there is not a mortal enemy to us as we journey through this human experience, the devil exists.  And if we learn from Ephesians 6:12 not only does the devil exist, but there is an entire governmental system of evil that is set up to ruin our lives and derail us from our highest destiny in Christ Jesus.  The truth is that this system is not at all as powerful as God, as Paul notices in Romans 5:20 which states, “moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”  God cannot lose to Satan in the long run, but the “system of evil” in our world and beneath the tapestry of our visible existence can surely frustrate the Grace of God in a painful and disconcerting way.  And what better way to torture someone than to act like you don’t exist while you distract them from this life’s good.  The deception that “dark spiritual forces” do not work against our good, often bears the fruit of unforgiveness and self-condemnation, wherein we blame the human beings who the devil used to hurt us, rather than the manipulator himself and we blame ourselves for every mistake, instead of realizing that we have a tempter who is continuously working toward our ill.

Realizing that the devil exists and that just as God has a plan for our life, satan has a plan for our death, frees us to fight him on his own ground, with the assurance that GOD ALWAYS BEATS SATAN in the end.  Being free to see that the devil exists empowers us to bind and loose rather than stay victimized by wickedness.  Being free to see that the devil exists prompts us to exercise our natural authority as human beings to have dominion on this earth and prompts us to exercise the authority that Jesus imputes to us.  Now, true, we want to guard against attributing everything to satan in a spirit of irresponsibility or hopelessness, and we always want to focus on God and goodness much more than the devil and evil.  But to know that much of the sorrow of our world is a direct result of a condemned criminal who we can crush as Jesus crushed him 2000 years ago, is incredibly helpful.

Technique number 2, he convinces us that he is in control:

Sometimes, the trials and tribulations of life can become so tumultuous that it can begin to seem like we are the devil’s whipping boy, and that we have no locus of control in ourselves as people and Sons of God to change our situation.  In my opinion, God does not control our reality with puppet strings, but I do believe that in the general sense God is in charge and is always willing to intervene on our behalf.  But the darkness of our culture can really make it seem like the devil and not the Creator is the God of this world.  This kind of thinking, in my opinion, is the source of the doctrine of eternal damnation.  Many excellent and loving Christians believe that the devil is so powerful  that he actually has the ability to deceive and torment a soul for all eternity.  But the truth is that the devil may have seasons where he is free to wreak havoc on human kind, but GOD IS IN CHARGE AND IN THE END NOT ONE PERSON WILL HAVE TO SUFFER THE DEVIL’S NONSENSE FOR ETERNITY.

Technique number 3, he convinces us that there is no hope:

Many times, situations in which we find ourselves embroiled can seem totally hopeless and beyond God’s redemptive touch.  Brain cancer, unlawful incarceration, rape victimization, and many other scenarios can make it seem like there is absolutely no chance of redemption.  The devil often intensifies this deception by causing us to dwell on the hopelessness of our trials and tribulations and then accusing us of being faithless and unbelieving.  God convicts yes, but never accuses.  So when you hear the sound of accusation whether it be from a preacher’s mouth or from a friend’s impatience, you can rest assured they it is not God who is speaking through them.  God will always find a way to get redemption out of suffering  and THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE, even when we don’t think that it is there, hope and brightness will find a way to grace us in even the most bleak of dilemmas.

Technique number 4, he convinces that his thievery is God’s wrath:

Right before Jesus heals the blind man in the Gospel of John, his disciples ask him, “Master who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind.” To which Jesus responded, “neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”  It is true that sometimes God allows us to go through things to learn lessons so that we can come out of a prior sinful behavior, but bottom line, GOD NEVER GETS PLEASURE OUT OF OUR CALAMITY.   Many of the trials that we experience in this life stem directly from the enemy trying to steal our joy and faith.  When we can see that a situation perhaps like a boss not liking us is not God’s wrath but a scheme of the enemy, then we feel empowered to deal with that situation through the unconditional love, power, and soundness of mind of God rather than seething in bitterness.

Technique number 5, he convinces us that death is our only chance for victory:

The negro slaves used to often sing, “Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home, swing low sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home.” This song, highlights the hope that many of the slaves had in the after-life, free from the oppression of slavery.  I believe that this song is a testament to the perseverance of a people to find hope even in the most dehumanizing of experiences.  But the truth is that sometimes things like alcohol addiction or drug addiction or mental illness can bring us to such a point of despair, that we conclude that we are just going to wait for death or worse take our own lives, because the only way out is to go to the other side.  Let me tell you, every situation that we find ourselves in has the potential to glorify God.  Even terminal cancer which for whatever reason the Lord does not miraculously heal has the capacity to glorify him by the compassion of the nurses and doctors for the patient or the patient’s hope and laughter in the face of adversity.  There is no situation for which there is not victory!! Victory is the essence of the Christian walk, and all people everywhere will eventually get the victory!!!!

One method of defeating the devil at his own game and to defeating him against all 5 of these techniques to derail our progress with God is to surrender, stand, succeed, and celebrate.  No matter what is going on in our lives, we need to surrender it and ourselves to the Lord and ask Jesus for incite and strength to deal with the trials that come.  Once we have surrendered, then we can stand in our authority as human beings and Sons and Daughters of God to vanquish the devil at his own schemes, often just by pointing them out.  Then once we have stood, we trust the Lord to succeed in whatever scenario we are facing.  And most times succeeding doesn’t have to be winning the big game or having a lot of money, but it could be as sublime and simple as praising the Lord on a Sunday morning or Saturday night in spite of a tough week. And then of course, whatever is going on, and whatever the outcome, celebrate.  Celebrate the love of Jesus in our lives and the love of our Creator.  Celebrate the reality that one day there will be no depression, no cancer, no death, and no disease, no racism, no classism, no devouring of innocents and that all people will bask in the sunshine of the Lord’s unconditional love and favor forever more.