Thursday, April 17, 2014

PEACE...

Modern life is anything but peaceful.  We are on edge and on the go constantly.  Our waking hours, and perhaps even in our sleep, are dominated by concerns about how to pay bills...care for, or be a part of, family...work (which we may not like nor have passion for or find fulfilling) or searching for work at a time when the economy is in limbo and a job, any job, is a keeper.  We are bombarded with cultural messages to spend and consume.  (which means acquiring the money to do so)  Do we have the latest phone, TV, car, dress, purse, Jimmy Choo shoes, skinny jeans or the latest styled jacket?  We are on edge over a love life, or the lack of one.  Adolescents are tweeting about fears of what they will be when they grow up and adults self-medicate because of how their lives have unfolded.  Add to all of this the sheer, real, ear-splitting, nerve-jangling noise which is a constant of modern life and the last thing that one can say is we know a lot of peace.  (is it any wonder anti-depressants are a multi-billion dollar industry and a new study says depression among adolescents is up over 60%)

     As we approach the celebration of Easter, we do so fragile and splintered yet the whole point of Easter is we have a chance to restore peace to our lives.  What the apostles, and others, discovered that Sunday morning is an insight...a hint...an epiphany about life and how to have a peaceful one where you do not have to be afraid.  See, this is the key to the good news.  Jesus' message was not about heaven, or afterlife, or kingdoms to come.  From His baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, to His appearance in the upper room, Jesus consistently told those around Him to be at peace and not to be afraid.  Why was he so sure?  Why was He seemingly fearless and peaceful?  What did He know that we didn't?

     Jesus knew how close He was to God...the more He trusted in God...the more He let go of things, the more peace flowed over Him.  He describes this closeness as like that between a mother or father and a child...intimate...Abba.

     Now comes the good part...Jesus proclaimed this same relationship with God is ours for the taking.  We too could be so close to God that peace will flow like a river.  We too can take all the noise, pressure, stress, which is day-to-day life and let it roll off of us like water off a duck's back.  We can trust in God so implicitly that not even death can stop us nor do we have to fear it.  Resurrection, which we celebrate on Easter, is ours too.  This is the good news.

     It sounds so easy.  Who wouldn't want to be at peace and not to be afraid anymore?  Yet, when we look around we don't see allot of peace...don't feel peaceful...we worry and fear...the world certainly isn't peaceful, so what happened?  Sin is what happened.  We have freely chosen to attach to things...to this world...to our basic desires for pleasure and satisfying our desires...for ego and pride...and the result is not intimacy but rather separation.  (since God created all "things", God by definition cannot be a "thing", God must be "no-thing"...nothing.  When we hold on to things...prioritize things...seek out things...we lose intimacy with God) There is no clearer reason why I am in prison and why I chose to hurt my family and myself than an obsession with things and a failure to trust in God.  (interestingly, this is the same message of Buddhism  which teaches the more you let go of things, the better you can handle the suffering which life throws at you)

     Jesus' message is constant.  Love your neighbor.  Love your enemies.  Turn the other cheek.  Forgive an infinite number of times.  Whatever you do for the least of your brothers and sisters you do for God.  Implied in all of this is a focus on others, developing a closeness with God which promises you two things...you will be at peace and don't have to be afraid any longer.

     Have you ever had a genuine moment of peace?  A moment of living without fear?  If not why not?  If so, how badly did you want to experience it again and again...seek it out...try to replicate it if you could?  In the upper room, on His first appearance after Easter, Jesus breathes on them (recalling God breathing on Adam and Eve in Genesis) and says, "...peace, my peace I give to you."  This is the central message of the gospel.  We can do what Jesus did.  We can be intimate with God.  We can experience peace because we trust in God.  Sin sews doubt and fear, but Easter is the celebration of a man who was at peace and wasn't afraid...even when faced with his own death...sin lost.

     This is my last Easter in captivity.  I will come out of this place, and this experience, less afraid and more at peace than at any time in my life.  All I needed to achieve this was to have my ego crushed, pride stripped, every "thing" taken away and the time to contemplate the state of my relationship with God.  I was forced to let go and to trust, which was so, so hard, in God.  I am still a work in progress, and I still love certain things, most especially my wife and children, and can be filled with fear, but the Easter message, ..."Alleluia, Alleluia, He is risen," fills me with joy and I wish all of you that same joy.


     Happy Easter, and please remember the world is alive with the grandeur of God.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, Bernie, thanks so much for this; it will help to fill the void (along with listening to Sandy Patti) that we feel every Easter morning when we cannot hear your voice. Peace, flowing like a river - I love, love, love that image!! It is, indeed, a profound experience, one which I have been blessed to experience. I am so happy to hear that you finally feel the same. God Bless, and Happy Easter!!

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  2. Forgive me from departing from the topic, but because as most of you know Bernie will be rejoining our ranks in the not too distant future.. And as many of us had come to know and appreciate Bernie through 'talk radio' I thought perhaps the following commentary ... may offer us all, some insight into where the 'business' of talk has traveled since Bernie's been away from the mike. Bernie will always stand out in my opinion as one whose career helped define this communication media for so many of us ..... up and down the west coast over the many years he was on the air.
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    The following is a guest editorial from Tom Donahue:

    http://news.radio-online.com/cgi-bin/rol.exe/headline_id=n29016

    The state of talk radio is thriving in spite of striving to define or redefine itself. So what is talk radio? Talk shows (hosts) that are broadcast on radio stations? Or, rather, a hybrid that includes all forms and platforms of broadcast and digital: radio stations, internet, streaming, mobile apps, podcasting and social media? Must a talk show involve an actual listening audience that includes callers?

    Talk radio today seems to involve almost everybody. It is like reality TV -- fame for the inane or the insane. Talk radio rallies some of the same ilk -- simply mouth-off about anything and stream it or podcast it and you are a self-proclaimed talk host. Reality radio: everyone has a rant; it seems like everyone is doing it. It has morphed into a ubiquitous platform for all comers. This role requires seemingly no resume of valued experience or performance evaluations; no standards, skills, talents or qualifications necessary -- simply a desire to just talk.

    Why do most "talkers," even posers, call themselves talk radio hosts? Many of them have never been hired to talk professionally, let alone ever visited a talk radio station. Some hosts in the new media seem to suffer delusional visions of their shows reach and impact, while others are more realistic. Some of these shows do produce quality content. What merits one to claim the title or position of talk radio host? Everyone is entitled to talk. Yet, is more unfiltered talk generated by the masses better for the broadcast medium? Should there be a distinction between the "hobbyist" and the professional? How about the brokered bonanza (pay to play) shows? What is real talk radio?

    Everyone talks thereby transmitting messages, thus, we are all media vessels conveying communications. Many talkers are mere repeaters mimicking one another. We do vary in our reach and our social circles or spheres of influence. To some degree nearly all of us are networking through social media. The act of socializing seems sufficient in this new paradigm of the new media.

    So is talk radio evolving or devolving? Is it on a sustainable path of evolvement or eventual and inevitable extinction? Time will tell.
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    Perhaps we have yet to understand and fully appreciate/dismiss all the communication options our new technologies are offering. I think we're still learning .. through our various cultures and traditions overlaid with such diverse and competing communication technologies, business plans, etc. And as Tom Donahue says, who knows where this will take us in the future.

    Wherever it goes, I do hope you'll join me in wishing that Bernie will become part of it again, upon his return in 2015.

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  3. Hi Bernie, et al: A couple of things. What are your plans once you are released? Have you ever heard of talk show host Norman Goldman? I think you and he would get along famously. Also, have you ever considered the validity of the Bible and atheism? I would recommend (if you can) taking a look at some books and YouTube videos of Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Matt Dillahunty, Aaron Ra, and Dusty Smith (Cult of Dusty), but perhaps especially Dan Barker. Barker was a preacher who became an atheist, and says why and how that happened. There are some pretty severe problems for individuals and societies that choose to participate in "blind faith." You're one of the smartest people I know, and I think if you were able to look beyond the accepted precepts of religion, you'd be able to free yourself from that which I consider to be a self-imposed "bubble" of non-reality.

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