In praise of outsider (vs. power throne insider) Pastor Eddie Pali born 1943, alter ego of the forsaken (along with dearest wife/soulmate Gail Pali born 1952): Maria Alyokhina — For me, this trial only has the status of a “so-called” trial. And I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of lies and fiction, of the thinly disguised fraud in the sentence of this so-called court. Because you can only take away my so-called freedom. And that is the exact kind that exists now in Russia. But nobody can take away my inner freedom.

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Nadezhda “Nadia”  Tolokonnikova
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Pussy Riot) at the Moscow Tagansky District Court (crop).jpghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadezhda_Tolokonnikova

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News Photo: Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina arrives to the… http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/pussy-riot-member-maria-alyokhina-arrives-to-the-cinema-for-news-photo/468309611

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Alyokhina

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_Riot

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They drew a circle that shut me out —

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle and took them In!

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlgregg/2014/03/a-journey-with-four-spiritual-guides-krishna/

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-guyton/why-my-heart-is-turn-betw_b_4828605.html

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One of the most important foundations of my Christianity was my experience being bullied in late elementary and middle school.

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I have always self-identified as an outsider.

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I am attracted to the outsiders, and I have the audacity to say that Christianity is supposed to be religion of outsiders,

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even though Christianity has spent most of its two millennia developing a triumphalist tradition post-Constantine in which it has catered to czars and emperors and had its theology shaped almost exclusively by social insiders, whose infallibility is acclaimed by the insiders of today.

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When I see Jesus say “Take up your cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34) to a group of people who could only understand a cross as the most brutal, dehumanizing object in the Roman Empire, he’s not talking about spiritual discipline; he’s talking about utterly your renouncing social status by becoming a despised one (c.f. 1 Corinthians 1:28), homo sacer , a proletarian.

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So when the women of Pussy Riot stand up for the people who don’t fit into their “Father Putin knows best” paternalistic society,

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they’re expressing a side of Jesus that has been lost to the Russian church.

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As much as I grimace at the thought of disrespecting the beautiful sanctified space of a cathedral (in a protest song which sent them to prison for two years),

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it was right for them to call out Russian Orthodox officials for their fawning praise of Putin’s dictatorship.

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They are not rebels without a cause.

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They have a very precise understanding of what they are doing, as expressed in Pussy Riot member Nadia Tolokonnikova’s letters from prison to radical theorist Slavoj Zizek:

We are a part of this force that has no final answers or absolute truths, for our mission is to question. There are architects of apollonian statics and there are (punk) singers of dynamics and transformation. One is not better than the other. But it is only together that we can ensure the world functions in the way Heraclitus defined it: “This world has been and will eternally be living on the rhythm of fire, inflaming according to the measure, and dying away according to the measure. This is the functioning of the eternal world breath.”

 
 

Heraclitus? WHAT?!! (She’s not typing this on her wifi laptop in an academic library, but hand-writing quotes of ancient philosophers from memory in a cold Siberian prison).

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And is this not the same vision that Christian naturalist Alexander Schmemann has?  I hear Jesus talking about the same “eternal world breath” when he says, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

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How does the liberated wind that Jesus speaks of look anything like a church that considers change itself to be a sin?

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A church that hates people whose crime is their complication of anthropological categories?

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Most people in Russia hate Nadia and Pussy Riot. They are extremely unpopular in opinion polls. They represent the infiltration of our disgusting Western culture that I hate no less than Russians do. (Some actually accuse them of being CIA agents!) I honestly think that what most Russians hate about feminism, homosexuality, and even basic concepts of democracy like freedom of speech is that it all looks like Miley Cyrus’s wrecking ball to them. But Nadia is no trashy Western hedonist. This is what she tells Zizek about her prison experience which wasn’t quite like the old GULAG, but was still physically brutal:

You should not worry that you are exposing theoretical fabrications while I am supposed to suffer the “real hardship.” I value the strict limits, and the challenge. I am genuinely curious: how will I cope with this? And how can I turn this into a productive experience for me and my comrades? I find sources of inspiration; it contributes to my own development.

 
 

In other words, she interprets the hardships of prison ascetically, like a Russian Orthodox monk would. It may be outrageous of me to say this, but I think Nadia Tolokonnikova and Pussy Riot are one of God’s most important gifts to the Russian Orthodox Church right now.

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Even if the scowls at First Things will sneer at me for my inconsistency, I will persist in my unsubmissive Protestant priesthood of the believer, holding in one side of my heart the liberated eternal world breath of the balaclavaed anarchists from Pussy Riot, while in the other side, I feast on the beautiful eucharistic vision of Alexander Schmemann.

 

And if you ask me how I can do this, my answer will probably be incomprehensible to you: it’s because I fear the God whose ancient truths are also always new since the church has ever conquered them. Jesus said, “Do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). I dare not submit to any Father less than He.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/western-religion-breeding-ground-neurosis

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When it comes to the question of the usefulness of guilt in shaping and inspiring a thriving human identity, I would say Western religion is, at once, beautiful, nutty and (potentially) pathological. Healthy religion knows these dangers. And psychologically healthy pilgrims embrace what is beautiful while keeping a keen watch on what is nutty or pathological.

Guilt is beautiful, holy, vital and important when it is healthy guilt. And healthy guilt is nothing more or less than the name of the grief we feel when we abandon our own values. The grief of estrangement and alienation. Healthy guilt, however miserable it feels, contains within itself a holy longing for reconciliation. (One prayer during the rosary, for example, is asking God to “give me a contrite heart.” Meaning, “Please give me the courage to let my heart break over the ways I have hurt others, etc.”) Catholicism — its rites, rituals and symbols — bears much beauty into the world to facilitate the blessings of healthy guilt, healthy shame.

The nutty or potentially pathological side of guilt happens when people, families or institutions (especially the church) peddle guilt to us with darker, perhaps unconscious motives. If you, for example, are threatened by another’s genius, gifts and “light” (envy!), then one way to dodge the threat is to instill in that person a grave, crippling self-doubt. An anxious, paralyzing self-consciousness forcing a default posture of apology to the world for daring to be him/herself.

Or, people/institutions instill guilt because they are projecting sadism. That is, they are reveling in the humiliation of sinners. Yes, some of our accusers are having a grand time!

Control, humiliation, hierarchy, authority, power — when discussions of guilt bear these darker motives, run away quick!

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-backman/how-human-was-jesus_b_4834086.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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“Do you also wish to go away?” — John 6:67

The Christians of my teen years were big on optimism at all costs, and they used verses from the Bible to support their claim. A girlfriend once interrupted my confession of weakness with “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Others asserted that “whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). In our Pentecostal church, we boldly sang –complete with hand gestures — that “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

None of these proclamations cited the Jesus of the gospels — especially not the Jesus who asks the haunting question above.

I have read this question many times and, in each reading, have seen it as a simple setup for the punch line: Peter’s robust declaration “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” It is a ringing affirmation of what most Christians believe about the triumphant Christ.

Dwell on the question by itself, however, and something else emerges. Jesus had just finished the most controversial discourse of his ministry to date, calling his followers to eat his body and drink his blood (a precursor of the Christian Eucharist). He had already upset the religious authorities, but this was different: many of his own disciples now “turned back and no longer went about with him.”

If the tone of his question is any indication, he was rattled.

Other gospel passages echo this vulnerability. Here and there in the gospel of Mark — what I call the “cranky Jesus passages” — the Lord of life appears exhausted, insecure and even hungry. He travels to a foreign city possibly to recharge his batteries (7:24); while there he calls a Canaanite woman a dog (7:24-30). He sighs with what appears to be frustration and exhaustion (8:11-13). When famished in the morning, he looks for breakfast on a fig tree and, finding no figs, curses it (11:12-14): if it were me, I’d call this a classic case of low blood sugar. And from the midst of it all arises his poignant question (8:27): “Who do people say that I am?” As editor Cullen Murphy wrote in the Atlantic:

This is one of the most resonant questions in the whole of the New Testament. It is the question, it seems, of a man who wishes to disturb but who is also himself disturbed; of a man who has somehow found himself in deeper waters than anticipated; of a man at once baffled and intrigued by a destiny that he may have begun to glimpse but of which he is not fully aware…. It is an affecting and very human moment.

Other explanations for these passages are more commonplace in various Christian circles. Jesus curses the fig tree to make a point about faith. He expresses anger with his followers, but their lack of understanding is at fault. In calling the woman a dog, he was testing her belief in his ability to heal. Indeed, testing is a common explanation for many of his obscure questions.

These interpretations may well be correct. But I cannot read them anymore without wondering whether they gloss over something at once simpler and more profound — a Jesus who was more human than we have ever imagined.

And oh, is this good news. If Jesus can be this human, so can we. By living into all the facets of the human spirit, including the less attractive ones, Jesus invites us to do the same.

This may not be a new idea to the parts of today’s Church that de-emphasize guilt and judgment. But it is still radical to those who, because of their experience with generations of Christian legalism and struggle mightily with their “sins.” It is radical for the millions of us who do not experience the required optimism of the church of my youth — who do not enjoy sound mind, who endure weakness rather than wield power and who feel ashamed of their agonizing doubt. When God incarnate lives with feelings and mindsets like these, they become not failings or sins, but elements of being human. The more we live into them, the more human we become.

Yes, a treasure of the Christian faith is the hope it gives. Christians are called to that hope, as the optimists might remind us. But Jesus also issued an invitation to “all you who are weary and heavy laden.” Just as compelling, he lived into that weariness and, by example, shows us how to do the same.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement

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Pastor Eddie Pali evokes that the past, present, & future are all in God’s eternal time, as opposed to humanity’s earth-based temporal time.    That, as John Calvin says, God knows the past, present, & future of humanity & all creatures/forms, not that we don’t have a choice to go up or down (good/evil) — we do have a choice — but also that the blood on the cross resolves the conflict between good and evil.

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Faith is the substance of things hoped for,

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the evidence of things not seen.    Hebrews 11:1

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Faith is the Word, and the Word is God/Jesus.    The Word includes both the literal words (Logos) and the feeling (Rhema) guided by the Holy Spirit within us all.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_gospel

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Churches in which the prosperity gospel is taught are often non-denominational and usually directed by a sole pastor or leader, although some have developed multi-church networks that bear similarities to denominations.

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Such churches typically set aside extended time to teach about giving and request donations from the congregation, encouraging positive speech and faith.

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Prosperity churches often teach about financial responsibility, though some journalists and academics have criticized their advice in this area as misleading.

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Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, as well as other Christian denominations. These leaders maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture.

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Some critics have proposed that prosperity theology cultivates authoritarian organizations, with the leaders controlling the lives of the adherents. The doctrine has also become popular in South Korea; academics have attributed some of its success to its parallels with the traditional shamanistic culture.

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Hawaii’s Greatest Revivalist  Titus Coan was mentored by America’s greatest revivalist Charles Finney.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Finney

Charles Grandison Finey
Charles g finney.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titus_Coan

Titus Coan
Titus Coan.jpg**Great Waikoloa Bible scholar Pali Livermore born 1941 is descended from Charles Finney.

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Like Coan & Finney, Pastor Eddie Pali emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus from newly styled (yet genesis/original) ‘non-denominational’ churches and ‘community faith centers.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Great_Awakening#New_religious_movements

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Pastor Eddie Pali heralds a charismatic awakening via the Pentecostal movement that places emphasis on experiencing gifts of the spirit, including speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy — not to mention strengthening spiritual conviction through these gifts and through signs taken to be from the Holy Spirit.

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Pastor Pali accordingly advocates via Scripture a reduced emphasis on institutional structures and an increased emphasis on lay spirituality — that Jesus saw no separating wall between clergy and laity.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_war#Battleground_issues_in_the_.22culture_wars.22

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-dannemiller/christians-should-stop-saying_b_4868963.html

When I say that my material fortune is the result of God’s blessing, it reduces The Almighty to some sort of sky-bound, wish-granting fairy who spends his days randomly bestowing cars and cash upon his followers.

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Second, and more importantly, nowhere in scripture are we promised worldly ease in return for our pledge of faith. In fact, the most devout saints from the Bible usually died penniless, receiving a one-way ticket to prison or death by torture.

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If we’re looking for the definition of blessing, Jesus spells it out clearly (Matthew 5: 1-12).

1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him,

2 And He began to teach them, saying:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 
 

I have a sneaking suspicion verses 12a 12b and 12c were omitted from the text. That’s where the disciples responded by saying:

12a Waitest thou for one second, Lord. What about “blessed art thou comfortable,” or 12b “blessed art thou which havest good jobs, a modest house in the suburbs, and a yearly vacation to the Florida Gulf Coast?”

12c And Jesus said unto them, “Apologies, my brothers, but those did not maketh the cut.”

So there it is. Written in red. Plain as day. Even still, we ignore it all when we hijack the word “blessed” to make it fit neatly into our modern American ideals, creating a cosmic lottery where every sincere prayer buys us another scratch-off ticket. In the process, we stand the risk of alienating those we are hoping to bring to the faith.

And we have to stop playing that game.

The truth is, I have no idea why I was born where I was or why I have the opportunity I have. It’s beyond comprehension. But I certainly don’t believe God has chosen me above others because of the veracity of my prayers or the depth of my faith. Still, if I take advantage of the opportunities set before me, a comfortable life may come my way. It’s not guaranteed. But if it does happen, I don’t believe Jesus will call me blessed.

He will call me “burdened.”

He will ask,

“What will you do with it?”

“Will you use it for yourself?”

“Will you use it to help?”

“Will you hold it close for comfort?”

“Will you share it?”

So many hard choices. So few easy answers.

So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house. Or my job. Or my standard of living.

No.

My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us.

And for this blessing, may our response always be,

“Use me.”

Since I had this conversation, my new response is simply, “I’m grateful.”

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One Response to In praise of outsider (vs. power throne insider) Pastor Eddie Pali born 1943, alter ego of the forsaken (along with dearest wife/soulmate Gail Pali born 1952): Maria Alyokhina — For me, this trial only has the status of a “so-called” trial. And I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of lies and fiction, of the thinly disguised fraud in the sentence of this so-called court. Because you can only take away my so-called freedom. And that is the exact kind that exists now in Russia. But nobody can take away my inner freedom.

  1. Bruno says:

    “If Jesus can be this human, so can we.” – I’m totally on this wavelength. Even if there wasn’t a (single) man called Jesus, the gospel stories can be interpreted as the life of a man discovering his humanity. If only we are willing to find this humanity, we are on a path similar to his, yet headed for discoveries similar or dissimilar to his depending on the environment we find ourselves in. We will discover what humanity is to us and we have the opportunity to answer to that insight with the means we have at our disposal, to be honest to ourselves first, to have an open mind, doubt what we are sure of for it closes our mind to better alternatives.

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