From: a touch of william
Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2014
To: 'atow/CBTC Mailing List'
Subject: Merry Christmas and some thoughts


Greetings to each of you,

About the only TV show I watch anymore is called Once Upon A Time. It is more complicated but, the general theme is what if the fairytales were real.  I decided I would like to start this email with an incredible fairytale . . .  

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, in a land far from here, the very first people lived in a beautiful paradise. Everything was perfect and good. And they even got to spend personal time with their Creator. But an evil presence came into this wonderful place and tricked the people. Then a curse was cast across the land, and life became difficult and painful. A prediction was made even then however, of a rescuer who would show up someday to fix things. Many centuries passed. Others foretold of this “knight in shining armor” coming to the rescue. But, someday seem to be turning into a very long time. People’s lives were busy and challenging. Then, about 2000 years ago, a baby was born. Many unusual things took place around his birth, leading some to believe he might be the rescuer. He grew up like all of us do. As a grown-up, around age 30, he indeed triumphed over evil many times, and did other miraculous things. Yet, to many, he did not seem much like a “knight in shining armor,” or any kind of warrior capable of rescuing them from the bondage of that day. Some even found his presence threatening. Thinking he was not there to save them, but to take away much of what they had, and even make matters worse. So, they arrested him on trumped up charges.  And, in a mockery of a trial, they convicted him.  Then they tortured and executed him in a most gruesome manner. In the most preposterous, unbelievable turn of events, this act of treachery was the very thing which allowed the rescuer to complete his task. He even arose from being dead to tell them so. Many believed they were saved when they saw him alive again. Some believed even though they never saw him. Many thought the whole thing was absurd. The argument continues to this very day all around the world.  

I believe this fairytale to be the truth. Others do not. It does not change things. It is either True, or it is not. Our belief does not influence it one way or the other. But all of us will discover someday if the one whose birth some of us celebrate on Christmas was the rescuer we needed, or not. And each of us will have to deal with whatever circumstances are created by our choice.  

There is a good chance the date we celebrate Christmas on was not the real birthdate of this rescuer. Although there is scant evidence to definitively say one way or the other, it is generally accepted by many who study these things, that “rescuer believers” usurped the festivals of “non-believers” to make it more likely they might embrace the story of the rescuer. “Non-believers” is, by the way, a term coined by “rescuer believers” to designate those who do not believe as they do, even though everybody has beliefs, whether weak or strong, silly or serious. Therefore, all people could be referred to as believers (of something), which is beside the point. Yet, if all the details are not absolutely correct, why believe any of it?   

Well, it does not change whatever is the Truth. Who cares when he was born? Pick a different day. Celebrate every day (my suggested choice). It does not matter. The real question is was this baby the rescuer? Is he still? Is that most preposterous of fairytales actually true? All of us will discover someday if the one whose birth some of us celebrate on Christmas was the rescuer we needed, or not. And each of us will have to deal with whatever circumstances are created by our choice.   

It can be difficult to believe this thing which sounds like a fairytale. Especially when those who say they already believe it are not so nice. Or are outright mean. If they try to force people to believe their way. Or when they demean those who cannot, or choose not to. Many bad things have been done in the name of this so-called rescuer. From individual cruelty to great atrocities, those who claim to be “followers” of the rescuer have often done more harm than good. Whole nations have perished as a result of these “believers” bad choices or, at times, even evil intentions.  

This does not change whatever is the Truth either. Anyone can choose to do evil things. They could declare they are doing it in my name, or even your name. That does not make it so. It is not a rescue, if my condition is worse after the rescue than it was before. It is not a rescue if I remain in slavery, but just switch masters. The tale of the rescuer is either true, or it is not. We will indeed someday find out, each and every one of us.  

I have always loved the quote of a Native American elder who responded to a question with, ”I cannot tell you if it all happened exactly as I told it, but I know the story is true.” I cannot tell you with absolute certainty that the fairytale parable I used to relate the story of a Jewish man born over 2000 years ago named Yeshua (The English spelling of Yeshua is “Joshua.” However, when translated from Hebrew into the Greek language, the name Yeshua becomes Iēsous. The English spelling for Iēsous is “Jesus.”), is the Truth . . . The whole truth and nothing but the truth, as they swear in court. I can only tell you I believe it with all my heart. I believe Jesus is the Rescuer, the Anointed One (which is the meaning of the words Christ, and Messiah). Those who believe this have grown so accustomed to the narrative they tend to forget what a bizarre fairytale sounding story it can be.  And I did not even add the part about a virgin giving birth, or the baby being God/man.  So, to those who believe as I do, please remember rescuers offer help, not condemnation or hurt. Let us celebrate the birth of Him who rescued us, with absolute love and compassion for others. Whether they believe they need a rescuer, or not. What each of us believes does not change the Truth . . . But your kindness and love might change someone’s life immensely . . . perhaps even forever.   



Merry Christmas to each of you.  Whatever holiday you might be celebrating at this time of year, may love and peace be at the center of it.   

God’s peace,

Acts 5:29

P.S.  For those of you who might want to do a little deeper pondering about the incarnation, and what it might mean for us, see the Richard Rohr excerpt at the bottom of this email (below general notes). 

Above Photo note:  Earlier this month I took several hundred pictures of the Holiday Traditions Tour (formerly called the Home Tour) for the Grand Ledge Area Historical Society which sponsors the event.  The LOVE ornament hung on a tree in one of those homes.  I had no tripod or way to brace the camera, and was shooting at a very slow shutter speed because of the darkness of the area where the ornament was hanging.  Even though it is a little out of focus, I decided not to delete it because I immediately thought it might be a good shot to use with this Christmas e-card.


General Notes: 

My computer is usually kept turned off from sundown on Friday (beginning of the Sabbath) until very late on Sunday (end of the Lord's Day).  Therefore, I typically do not see, nor have the opportunity to act on, reply to, or send, emails except on weekdays.  Plus, I normally only check emails once each weekday morning, so later emails are not seen until the next day (or Monday if sent on a Friday).  Please keep this in mind when deciding whether to email or phone. 

I am not on Facebook, Twitter, or any other online social media site.  So, in addition to creating and maintaining the website (have you visited it lately?), I currently maintain two emailing lists for sending information, updates, and greetings: 

atow/CBTC email list (formerly the poet’s circle) keeps you apprised of basic information from a touch of william and Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center, as well as updates, changes, and new additions to my (.org and .net) website.  This is my own separate list from the T&SC corporate list (the poet’s circle).  Simply reply to my email address to request addition to or removal from my atow/CBTC list.

My personal Family & Friends email list is used primarily for holiday greetings or other more home life related communications and information, although very occasionally I might use it along with the atow/CBTC list to announce something important which is related to my work.  Simply reply to my email address to request addition to or removal from my Family & Friends list.  Those on my F&F list normally receive a birthday greeting by email.  If you are receiving other F&F emails but not a birthday e-card, I probably do not have your birthdate in my files.  Please provide me with the date.  I would very much like to acknowledge your birthday. 

If, for any reason, you feel the need to be removed from either or both of my lists, this is fine, just let me know.  All I ask is that you please not designate my emails as 'spam.'  They are not that.  Doing so could sidetrack them for others who wish to receive my emails.  I have never sent spam and never will.  If you are on my list(s), it is because you requested it, or our prior contact or relationship seemed to deem it appropriate (such as merging our Christmas card list into the F&F list). 

Helping to identify and stop spam:  All emails from me clearly state the topic in the subject line.  If there are any links, the complete URL is shown and the reason for the link described in the body of the letter.  If I am including any attachments, they will be identified and mentioned in the body of the letter as well.  When mailing to either of the above mentioned lists, I always use the blind carbon copy (Bcc) line so your email address does not appear in the email.  My address books are kept only in my computer and not online anywhere.  I do not forward petitions, lists, or similar items that show addresses, as these can be bogus attempts by spammers to collect them. 

If you add me to a list of yours, or whenever you are sending me multiple recipient emails, I would appreciate it if you would please use my email address.  It is my most public address. 

If you are replacing a working computer system or laptop with a newer one, live locally enough to drop your old one off at the Center (or have it picked up), and would like to donate it to my a touch of william outreach rather than try to find where to recycle or dispose of the old one, I freely place functioning used systems (Windows XP or later operating systems) with my slide shows into nature centers, museums, and other places where they are desired.  Call me (627-7366) if you have a system or laptop to donate.  



Greetings again to each of you who have continued reading,

The CAC website describes Fr. Richard Rohr as “a globally recognized ecumenical teacher. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fr. Richard's teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy — practices of contemplation and lived kenosis (self-emptying), expressing itself in radical compassion, particularly for the socially marginalized.”  I became aware of him when an interim pastor suggested the book Falling Upward to me this past spring.  I was impressed enough to put myself on his daily meditations email list, and his writings have helped me put perspective on a very stressful and challenging year.  As someone who, at the beginning of my own spiritual journey 30 years ago, thought it was indeed about rejecting the physical to become more spiritual, I found his December 18th email titled Incarnation very interesting.  I have pasted it here to share with you. 

“Jesus said, ‘You must lose yourself to find yourself’ (Matthew 16:25). For some sad reason most people have presumed that the self that had to die, the self we had to lose, was the physical self, when actually Jesus meant the ego self, the separate self, the self-created by our own mind and adventures. This is what passes away. 

There seems to be some deep bias against embodiment, materiality, and physicality. That is where we harbor our inferiority feelings. You’d think if there would be any religion in the world that would not think that way, it would be Christianity, because Christianity is the only religion that believes that God became a body, became a human being: Jesus. That’s why we get so excited about Christmas! We call it the Feast of the Incarnation or ‘enfleshment.’ But I find most mainline Christians to be quite ‘excarnational’ and moving opposite to the path of Jesus and trying to be ‘spiritual,’ whatever that means. 

The eternal Christ Mystery began with the Big Bang where God decided to materialize as the universe. Henceforth, the material and the spiritual have always co-existed, just as Genesis 1:1-2 seems to be saying. Although this Christ existed long before Jesus, and is coterminous with creation itself, Christians seem to think Christ is Jesus’ last name. What Jesus allows us to imagine — because we see it in him — is that the divine and the human are forever one. God did not just take on one human nature, although that is where we could first risk imagining it in the body of Jesus. God took on all human nature and said “yes” to it forever! In varying degrees and with infinite qualities, God took on everything physical, material, and natural as himself. That is the full meaning of the Incarnation. To allow such a momentous truth, to fully believe it, to enjoy it in practical ways, to suffer it with and for others — this is what it means to be a Christian! Nothing less will do now. Nothing less will save the world. 

For most Christians, though, Jesus is totally divine, but not totally human. We deny his humanity and overly assert his divinity — instead of the very synthesis that he came to exemplify, announce, and share! We’ve paid a big price for such dualistic thinking because when we can’t put it together in him, we can’t put it together in ourselves either. And that’s the whole point! You and I are simultaneously children of heaven and children of earth, divine and human coexisting in a well hidden disguise. We are a living paradox, just as Jesus was. We also are a seeming contradiction that is not a contradiction at all. Most Christians were simply never told the real good news that flesh and spirit, divine and human, coexist. That was not made clear in Jesus and surely not in ourselves. The consequences have been disastrous at all levels. Matter always reveals Spirit, and Spirit lies hidden in all that is physical, material, earthly, human, flawed, and failing. Everything is a sacrament! Nothing else could be called utter and final good news except this message. It is indeed a benevolent universe.”  


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