Sunday, April 01, 2007


“Let us serve instead of rule, knock instead of push at the door of human hearts, and allow to each and every one the same rights and privileges that we claim for ourselves.” – Mary Baker Eddy

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds" - Albert Einstein

As we enter Easter and Passover season, let's think about some new ideas. I heard a radical new theory the other day on Thom Hartmann’s Air America broadcast. He said, “Why are we so hell bent on ‘economic growth?’ Why not ‘economic stability?” If economic growth means even one more cancer death, then I am for stabilizing the economy, not growing it. As home prices drop to human levels, wouldn't it be great if the average American could actually afford to buy a home without killing himself — without holding down two jobs, or having his spouse bring in the second income while the children stay in day care until 7 p.m. after a harrowing drive in rush hour?

This got me to thinking about Ted Knight’s favorite expression: “less is more.” He used to advise us not to mug for the cameras — and that there was more power in underplaying a scene. These were his acting tips in the beginning of Too Close For Comfort. I was too scared to look into his eyes, so I'd look at his forehead instead. He kept standing on his toes to get into my line of vision. Ted thought I was doing this on purpose, and the National Enquirer sent spies down to check out the tension on the set. They didn't call me a dumb blonde for nothing. (Actually I was just shaking in my boots with fear.)

'Less is more' could also pertain to this statement from the New Testament: “A soft answer turns away wrath.”

I believe that less truly is more when it comes to quality of life. In fact, lately I’ve been longing for a "pastoral life" (but without the sheep.) Growing our own herbs and vegetables, building furniture, downsizing, shedding excess... I've actually been making my own hand lotion and face cream (olive oil & glycerin) because I'm sick of the chemicals the big brands put in there. Who knows what we're putting into our bodies with 'Aluminum Silicate, Dimethicone, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, DMDM Hydantoin... (partial list of ingredients in a major label hand lotion.)

Did anyone catch that 60 Minutes report a few months ago on the trend towards American "McMansions?" The new crop of millionaires in Texas and other red states are obsessed with acquiring larger and larger houses. There is nothing wrong with buying a beautiful house if you can afford it, but the couple they profiled lived alone without any children, in an 12-bedroom home with heated toilet seats, gold fixtures and underground parking. It reminded me of Aaron Spelling's 50,000 square foot hotel, er, I mean "home" in Holmby Hills, near Hef's mansion. This kind of conspicuous consumption reeks of "noveau riche" and used to be somewhat embarrassing, Rhode Island aside. It is certainly not something to brag about. What kind of values are we teaching our children? I personally would never again drive a showy or flashy car — and I’d be mortified to live in a huge, ostentatious mansion. It lacks class. Sorry but it's unseemly and selfish in this day and age.

It is also true that abiding by PRINCIPLE really pays off: if you treat your employees well, they will strive for you; they will be more loyal and more dependable. Costco, Best Buy, Starbucks, Trader Joes and Google all pay great benefits and overtime; they have proven that companies who really do the right thing, are rewarded by the laws of the universe. To me this proves there is “goodness in the universe” – and that the Golden Rule works! Honestly, when I walk into Trader Joes or Costco, the employees seem to be dancing with joy! It's contagious. On the other hand Circuit City keeps wages low, somehwere around $8 dollars an hour, just above minimum wage. they fire employees in order to hire new ones at lower wages. Guess what? Circuit city is failing. WalMart uses similar tactics; though they brag they donate more money to charity than any other company, they are not fooling smart people. Charitable donations are tax write-offs; why don't they put all that money into employee health care instead?

I love Stephen Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” which basically proves that in business, if you abide by certain fundamental principles of justice, honesty and kindness — and seek to understand rather than to be understood (in other words, if you do the right thing) everyone is happy, wealth is created and harmony prevails.

To me this principle is most clearly and mysteriously propelled by “giving to the poor” or tithing.

But in a country such as ours, where corporations are given huge tax breaks and executives get million dollar bonuses, hoarding wealth at the top levels does not "trickle down." The government must step in and help the middle class and the poor. We can’t leave it up to the churches and synagogues to take care of the "least among us," as Christ admonished.

The day I started seeing the world through other people’s eyes and feeling other’s pain, is the day I can honestly say I became more progressive, inclusive, democratic, less fearful of the "other." In other words, I was a Republican and then I got sober. I put a toe into the water of compassion and unselfishness because I wasn’t quite ready to be "too good" yet. Narcissism had taken me through the prehistoric era, the heady days of TV stardom, which coincided with the Reagan era while I was drinking heavily — and it was a hard habit to break. But at least I began to suspect other people existed in the universe, and not just to serve me. I began to suspect that there were other humans on earth with feelings, wants and needs. To those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, count your blessings.

Anyway, all sorts of wonderful things opened up when I started caring about others, tithing, giving things away. I even offered to drive my sister to the airport — an unheard of gesture in L.A. in the 90’s. Every time I would give, I would receive. Soon, an abundance of riches flowed into my life. Wayne Dyer, in his bestselling book “You’ll See it When You Believe It,” says that the magic of tithing actually is a law in the universe and works like clockwork. Every single time he sent out 10% to charity of any income that came in, his income rose exponentially.

And now, the deeper my faith in God grows, the more I become a liberal — oops I mean "progressive" (the old word was 'liberal" but that word has been sadly demonized.

By the way, LIBERAL IS NOT A DIRTY WORD; it's a beautiful word! It means "generous, bounteous, freedom loving, protecting of civil liberties."

Courtesy of Carl at SimplyLeftBehind "Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things...every one! So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor." -- Matt Santos, The West Wing

Despite thirty years of 'liberal-bashing as blood sport' on AM Talk Radio via Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, etc — I believe GOOD CONSERVATIVES ARE LIBERALS AT HEART. Obviously, anyone who's paying any attention knows FOX News should have its license revoked for being a propaganda news network. I don't mean Fox Primetime or Fox Entertainment Network, but Fox News Division. Billionaire owner Rupert Murdoch admitted he tried to use his news channel to sway public opinion for a rush to war. Why isn't it a crime to pretend to be are a "fair and balanced" news broadcast, whose sole purpose is to deceive and manipulate viewers? My radio co-host Doug Basham said something very wise: "If Fox News thinks the media has a liberal bias, why aren't they showing us all the good news out of Iraq and the Bush administration? Why aren't they showing any other pictures, taken by their own "news" team?" BECAUSE THE TRUTH HAS A LIBERAL BIAS, that's why. It's hard to camoflage the truth, but they sure are trying.

The very idea of “conservatism” is antithetical to the Christ idea of loving ones neighbor as oneself, not judging others, blessing ones enemies, turning the other cheek, giving to the poor, giving one’s cloak, washing the feet of the lepers... in other words, 'love conqering fear.'

Conservative means "cautious, restrained, opposed to change." Sounds fear-based to me. And Christ said, "Love casts out fear." If the definition of God is Love, doesn't this mean that if you have faith in God you have nothing to fear? So tell me again, why are we at war with terror if we have faith in God? (The fundamentalist Christian right-wing agenda according to George Bush, Tony Perkins, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James D. Kennedy, Ann Coulter, Dick Cheney, James Dobson, Ted Haggart and the most dangerous pastor in America - John Hagee - who is advocating war with Iran! (Please read my expose on Hagee in last week's archives.)

I’ll probably get into a lot of trouble for speaking out against the Pharisees, but I have prayed deeply about this and been given a “revelation” of my own. When Jesus said, “I am the way, the path… no one comes to the father but by me,” he meant LOVE is the way and the path. He meant that he who hates his neighbor, can’t forgive his brother, declares war against his enemies, retaliates in the “an eye for an eye” Old Testament way — or who judges others while ignoring his own pride and the plank in his own eye – is not ready yet for the kingdom.

For all the people who use the LaHaye-Jenkins Left Behind books as their bible — the only people who are going to be “left behind” are the ones who think others will be left behind! I don’t say that to be cruel, but here’s how it works: since God is love, the people whom militant “Christians” ostracize and judge so harshly — in other words, the peacemakers, the anti-war activists, the “meek,” the outcasts (even gays and God-forbid, liberals!) and anyone who loves his enemy — will be in heaven before the exclusionists will be. But what I mean is this: since God is Love, and the kingdom of heaven is within, then it’s obvious, isn’t it, that those who don’t have love in their hearts will not be “entering heaven?” To attain heaven means filling our hearts with so much love, love is all we see. Love is God and the Kingdom is within us, as Christ clearly states.

In fact, those who abide in love have already reached the kingdom, because it is within them -- regardless of whether or not they have accepted Jesus "in name" as their savior. He couldn't have cared less if you were Hindu, Muslim or Jewish - or vowed faith in his Jesusness, his personality or name. In fact, he didn't want us to worship him.

There are 70 million Evangelical Christians in America right now, and many sadly believe in the Left Behind revenge fantasy books, which hope to hurry up the end of the world in a blood bath of catastrophic proportions. These books promote the theory that good Christians will be raptured or “caught up” with Christ in heaven, leaving their eyeglasses and everyone else behind — everyone who didn't technically declare Jesus Christ as their savior. I guess that includes the unborn! This theory, believe it or not, might actually be determining America's current foreign policy in the Middle East. The Evangelical market is so big now corporate America doesn't dare ignore it. But I believe this brand of evangelism is not only severley misguided, but dangerous and sophomoric.

The word "Rapture" is not found in the Bible. There is also no single word used by the biblical authors to describe the prophetic factors which comprise the doctrine. A mere human being invented the ‘Rapture’ theory in the 1800s. It is an extremely divisive man-made theory. It was theologian John Darby who popularized the Rapture with the scriptural arguments which seem so convincing to some. But it was a woman named Margaret Macdonald who, in 1830, while ill — had visions of a two-phase Second Coming of Christ. This is where the rapture theory began. Its formulation has come about by means of induction. Certain biblical passages concerning the second coming (and the role that Christians will play in that event) have been inductively blended together to establish the teaching. The modern expression "Rapture" was then invented to explain the overall teaching. It may come as a surprise to many Christians, but the doctrine of the Rapture is not mentioned in any Christian writings, of which we have knowledge, until after the year 1830 A.D. Whether the early writers were Greek or Latin, Armenian or Coptic, Syrian or Ethiopian, English or German, orthodox or heretic, no one mentioned a syllable about it. (More on this in my upcoming essay.)

Jim Wallis of Sojourners says, "What’s so astounding is that conservative religious groups see no reason to help the poor in America, if it competes with their abortion issue."

It's not a question of the poor not being important or that meeting their needs is not important," said Paul Hetrick, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, Dobson's influential, Colorado-based Christian organization. "But whether or not a baby is killed in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, that is less important than help for the poor? We would respectfully disagree with that."

Jim Wallis is not buying it. Such conservative religious leaders "have agreed to support cutting food stamps for poor people if Republicans support them on judicial nominees," he said. "They are trading the lives of poor people for their agenda. They're being, and this is the worst insult, UNBLIBLICAL."

A couple of years ago, I hosted a Bible study at my house for a group of couples from my church. I was the only Progressive in the bunch. I asked the men why they were Republicans. They mentioned the abortion issue as being the most important issue when picking a president. I was astounded. One said that Republicans believe churches should help the poor, but government should stay out of it. They said this helps people take responsibility for their own lives. To an extent I agree, but a system that outsources its labor force, and gives huge tax breaks to wealthy corporations — virtually shutting out the lower and middle classes — so they cannot survive, cannot afford medical insurance or rent without two incomes, seems un-American! The government is slanted toward corporations, who own the media. The rich are not creating wealth according to Reagan’s trickle-down theory. But aside from all this, helping the poor is Christ’s most vital commandment. He is unequivocal about this.

Here’s how it works: the more you help the poor, you increase the goodwill of your citizens. It's a moral and spiritual principle. It does not make for a stable economy to have such a large gap between the rich and poor. Helping the poor would actually make our country wealthier, because everyone would prosper. There is enough to go around.

And on a Christian level, the more you are doing the will of God, according to Christ’s law to “take care of the least among you” the more you are rewarded, according to the Bible. Tithing is a law of the universe that pays for itself triple-fold. If we are going to mix church and state, at least let it help people, not take away from them and give tax breaks only to the rich!

I wrote this right after Katrina: "The news footage of looting in New Orleans gave certain right-wingers, "the haters," fuel for their bigotry. Can't they see that the economic system that creates such a wide chasm between “the haves and the have-nots” actually creates Les Miserables! A culture that constantly advertises salvation through Nintendo, i-Pods and Plasma TVs creates an insatiable craving for stuff. Yes looting is bad, but looting pension funds is worse. And looting votes through Gerrymandering is worse. And to think the minimum wage is still only $5.75 an hour, while Congress votes lifetime pensions for themselves into the six figures! Again, Reaganomics and the trickle down theory didn't work because of the greed of the corporate executives, who take such a large slice of the pie they have to eliminate the actual workers! Ford and GM outsourced thousands of jobs to make their corporate owners more wealthy. Churches are not tithing enough to support the needy. A society must take care of the "least among us." Then we will see amazing things begin to happen. And I'm not talking about a welfare state, by the way."

Ray Dubuque of Liberals Like says: "When Hitler came to power and started to do his worst, his aides asked how he'd keep the German churches from protesting. ( Keep in mind that if, instead of siding with Hitler, the Christians of Germany - who represented some 96% of the population - had joined with the Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, handicaps, homosexuals and the "Liberals", there would have been no war and no holocaust !) But Hitler responded: "I have the churches in my back pocket." He then proceeded to arrange for the Nazi government to pay for the support of the clergy, their churches and their schools, so long as they didn't get in his way. That is just one of the many reasons why so few of the Christian clergy dared to speak out against Hitler, no matter how heinous his policies became!

When asked how to fulfill the second of his two great commandments, Christ replied that his followers should model their lives on non-believing "Good Samaritans" who show pity on the downtrodden, rather than follow the lead of ministers and church people who don't: { Luke 10 : 25-37 }

In this time of unimagined prosperity in countries like America, in contrast to unimaginable misery in many other parts of the world, how many "Christians" are being taught what Jesus actually taught, as opposed to the pablum passed off as his teaching? Instead of being concerned about taking and passing the test of salvation which Jesus gave to the "Rich Young Man” millions of "Christian Conservatives" much prefer Paul's incredibly easier test of “salvation by faith alone.” (Compare and contrast the teaching of Jesus to that of Paul -- in their own words -- on this most important subject at http://www.LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/ForSalvation.) How many churches in America take Jesus' teaching seriously when it comes to telling their members -- who are rich, by the Bible's standard -- that "It is almost impossible for those who are much more prosperous than others to be saved," unless they are willing to share their extra shirts and food (and everything else) with those deprived of even the most basic of necessities of life..

How to get rich? Give to the poor! In other words, there is nothing wrong with wealth, as long as you share it. This is an abundant universe!

The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.
– Eric Hoffer

Easter is the time of all things new. Let's strive to see the best in each other. If it can work with my family, it can work with anyone!

This is the first in a series of articles on how to apply the ancient metaphysical truths of 'THE SECRET' to everyday life. These are basically Christ's laws. And by the way, "getting sober" means turning your life over to a power greater than yourself, shedding the petty ego... and it starts with taking a leap of faith and deciding there is a benevolent force of goodness in the universe. To simplify: PRAY. But pray by focusing so overwhelmingly on the good in life, that the "bad" is extinguished — forced our of your thoughts by neglect. In other words, what you focus on GROWS. Prayer does not mean begging some anthropomorphic deity outside of yourself. It's realizing the beauty within us all, and within our fellow man.