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Hey everyone. This is Brett, head blogger and founder of WOJ. I have decided to take my work to the next level and actively pursue a career in freelance writing. I will continue to develop weoccupyjesus.org, however my personal reflections and more self-promotional posts require a separate site. I am now officially launching…

iamprobablywrong.com.

If you have enjoyed by previous work, please follow the new blog. I have written an introductory post that I’d be honored to share with you. Please read, like, share, and comment! I would love your feedback. The site is optimized for all mobile devices, so have at it.

Thanks for all the support. #heregoesnothing

 

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The Nature of War

jordanmb08 —  March 1, 2014 — Leave a comment
flickr: Sylvia Westenbroek

flickr: Sylvia Westenbroek

“Twenty-two years of mental tears
Cries a suicidal Vietnam vet
Who fought a losing war on a foreign shore
To find his country didn’t want him back

Their bullets took his best friend in Saigon
Our lawyers took his wife and kids, no regrets
In a time I don’t remember, in a war he can’t forget
He cried, ‘Forgive me for what I’ve done there
Cause I never meant the things I did.’”

“Something to Believe In” by Poison

I was listening to this song a few days ago and the part about what the veteran said towards the end of the second verse I shared here has caught my attention and stuck with me. “Forgive me for what I’ve done there/ ‘Cause I never meant the things I did..”

The Reality of War.

My father was a Vietnam veteran in the United States Marine Corps. He fought for his country in that war and he even felt that it was a war that we should have never been in. He told me first hand experiences about fighting in that war, what he and his fellow Marines had to do. He also told me about his welcome home–about being spit on, threatened, and treated terribly just for trying to survive a war that we as a country should have never been in.

Our history lessons cover what was done over there by our troops, but never what they went through. Dad used to tell me that there were children that would come up to him or his fellow Marines and they would be crying, begging for help–with bombs strapped to them. Or the children and women that were used as human shields. It is endless the atrocities that were witnessed by many of our military members in Vietnam and in other areas that have been war torn.

Passing Judgment.

During the time of the Vietnam war, the returning military members were called baby killers and spat on for their “crimes” that they did over there. Yes, there was one army unit that did literally rape and pillage a village in Vietnam and they were all brought to justice afterwards. While there was some that did do horrible things for the pleasure of it, many did what they had to do just to survive. It is so easy to sit and pass judgment on the ones that go into these areas while those passing judgment are never in those places and most likely never will have to be.

But, here is a question for you, my readers:

Should the military be blamed–or the powers that be?

The Spiritual Aspect.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12

If you have discussed anything spiritual with me, then you know I often reference this darkness that is in the world as an entity but I refuse to give it a name for personal beliefs. For this writing, the personal beliefs are not relevant.

This darkness has to feed off of something, though, and I think one of the main things is war–especially war that is based upon hatred of someone else. I also do not believe that those who are actually in the wars are evil–but I believe the ones over them, the rulers, the authorities, use these people as pawns and human chess pieces.

I say that because, oftentimes, the people of the warring countries are fed propaganda about the evils of the other side. This is used to create an “us versus them” mentality and a feeling of solidarity among the people and within the military. Like what was done with our most current wars, for instance. The Twin Towers fell because of a terrorist attack, and we, somehow, as a country, end up going to war, first with Afghanistan and then Iraq. Propaganda has been spread against Muslims, screaming of the evil that is Islam and how Islam is the greatest threat to the peace of the world; and the ironic thing is, the same thing is being spread to these countries where the fringe Islamists (the extreme ones) are in power–only it is being said about Americans and Christians.

This is not a battle of Christian against Muslim or American against Middle Easterner–this is just another tactic to divide the world’s people and to cause strife, and to spread hate and fear so that a few may remain in power. And many of us are playing into it because of our under evolved part of our brain.

The Biological Aspect.

Within the human brain, there are two parts. One is the upper part, the mammal part of our brain and it is highly evolved. It is the one where we are able to reason out problems, critically analyze, learn, socialize, and function in day to day society. But there is another part underneath that that is pure animal instinct and it is where our instinct to survive, procreate, eat, and so forth reside. It is also the one where flight or fight comes in.

With many military members, they are trained to let this part of their brain to take over so that they are better able to survive in conditions that they can be placed in. They are also trained to use their highly evolved brain with it to reason out the best solution of how to survive, and to analyze the situation. In Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, when they were put in situations where they had no choice but to survive somehow, someway.

It is done with full knowledge by those that train military and those over them.

And it is also done to the citizenry by having us to shut down our highly evolved brains and to instead just react to something that we perceive as a threat–which is often what the media tells us are threats.

The Nature of War.

The nature of war is not holy. There is no holy crusade or anything else. It is a tool used by corrupt men so that they may stay in power and that they may try and create their own personal empires in the world. And we allow them to whenever we respond to hate with hate, anger with anger, and when we refuse to understand. That is why we need to reach out in love and in peace.

Don’t Should On Me!

Brett Gallaher —  January 20, 2014 — 5 Comments

Port-O-Potty-e1381947235468

So I went to see an R-rated movie the other day. Well, first I sat through the forty-five minutes of commercials about buying the giant discount popcorn bucket, and then I watched an R-rated movie. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself again. After the popcorn propaganda came the previews (including the preview for that upcoming Coca Cola bears movie, aka the upcoming 90 minute commercial about Coca Cola). Since I had paid to see an R-rated film, the previews were for many R-rated films as well. One time I read the description of the rating itself, being told that minors must be accompanied by an adult. For some reason, it made me laugh. I mean, the content of the film doesn’t change simply because your parent is sitting next to you. Obviously the message is “We don’t care if your kid should see decapitations and raunchy sex scenes at age nine. We just want to make sure you don’t mind if your kid sees it. And don’t sue us by the way.”

Can't beat the real thing!

Can’t beat the real thing!

~

I had to catch myself, because my inner monologue had begun should’ing all over the place. You see, I think one of the un-evolved elements of humanity is our propensity to tell other human beings what they should and should not do, think, believe, or feel. We do it all day long. It saturates every conversation from religion to politics to education to… who should see an R-rated movie. I mean, I was sitting there in the theater thoroughly enjoying the adult humor and language used in the film. Honestly, a few years ago I would not have felt comfortable with such content, but I have changed. Depending on your own beliefs you may think I made a change for the worse, letting my morals slowly decay and allowing my mind to be infected with unholy influences. Maybe not. Maybe you think R-rated movies are more in-line with the real world, unfiltered and consistent with our modern society.

What really struck me was the fact I couldn’t simply enjoy the show without first dealing with these kind of thoughts; I was somehow compelled to entertain fabricated debates in my head regarding the nature of morality. That’s annoying. I mean, I paid $10 (plus the nearly $15 for the giant discount popcorn bucket) so I could yell internally at my third grade Sunday School teacher (who was a lovely woman by the way). Why was I letting people “should” on me from the past? From decades ago?

"Brett! Stop reading Song of Solomon out loud!"

“Brett! Stop reading Song of Solomon out loud!”

~

I observed the actions of the characters on screen. The uncensored tone of the dialogue was refreshing, but it reminded me of how any truth or lesson lying behind the film would be totally lost on certain individuals. The unmarried couple laying in bed after sex, having a real human conversation filled with laughter and joy and hope… none of that would come across to those only preoccupied with condemning the “sin” of premarital sex. The woman abused by her husband of fifteen years shares a dance and a kiss with a younger man in a bar… but she’s an adulteress whore and a drunkard to some. You see, characters in films may not be real, but they represent very real ideas, people, situations, etc. Movies are truly art imitating life.

So, who is to say how we should live? What should we do? What shouldn’t we do? It’s easier for us to get those answers from other people. For some that is as easy as picking a religion. Right and wrong are able to be defined, creating a framework for living. In such a scenario, one must simple do all they can to avoid what is wrong and pursue what is right. This creates a tendency to dismiss “gray areas” as confused or twisted logic, created by dark forces conspiring to trip you up at every turn. Reality is only black and white to many people, therefore anything gray is to be met with suspicion at the very least.

That reminds me of another R-rated movie coming out soon...

That reminds me of another R-rated movie coming out soon…

~

While I won’t fall into the verbal trap of attempting the phrase “You shouldn’t tell people what they shouldn’t do” …I’ll propose what I see as an obvious downside of should’ing on people. To define life (and particularly your life) as existing within any pre-defined framework is to reject the experience of life. If you tell someone else how they should feel, who they should love, what they should do, etc., you are telling them that their own experience, their own journey, their own path is pointless. Their unique existence? Meaningless. And worse, you are tell them that your unique existence isn’t unique either. You’re kindly (or often unkindly) breaking it to them that life isn’t about doing the work of discovering your own place in the universe; you’re saying life is already decided to be [fill in the blank]. Get use to it.

And much worse, you can rob people of some of the most beautiful moments. You have the power to take something miraculous, or freeing, or life-giving, and write it off as selfish, sinful, or even demonic. Any particular brand of happiness not grounded in your particular worldview can be met with ridicule, dismissal, or scorn. And again, the real tragedy is that you reject the truth behind the packaging. You miss out on life, trading it for a concept you’ve elevated to the place of God.

Obviously we can have our convictions. We can believe strongly in principles that guide our lives. We can fight for what matters to us. But it must be the fruit of our own labor, to work out who we should be as individuals. It will involve trial and error. You will mess up. You will get discouraged. But if you pull through, if you discover what is good and pure, what is dark and empty, what gives you meaning and what poisons your soul… if you experience pain and rebirth, if you conquer yourself and find who you really are…

…No one should ever be able to define life for you ever again.

——–

brettBrett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place they wrote that train song about. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.

The night of day…

Brett Gallaher —  January 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

Image

There is a darkness we all recognize in our own way. We need not seek it out, for it always finds us. It lurks not under the bed, nor in the closet. It needs not the blanket of night. The day does not scatter its minions. Of course, I speak of what we commonly call evil. It is a name, but also much more than that. It is a state of being, or lack of being to be precise. Its existence is tied up with ours, yet it also seeks to destroy us. It is a parasite of the worst degree.

In haste to smoke out this beast from its lair, some create a scapegoat, a singular figure which to blame, to fight, to engage in battle on the fields of spiritual warfare. They muster their weapons that amount to incantations, spells that cloud the senses and distract them from the gathering storm. They call this darkness by name. They call it Satan. And they are foolish to speak its name, for he surely does appear. Reflections in their own mirrors, reflections mistaken for a foreign enemy, an intruder.

Some deny the existence of evil. They say it is merely a condition brought about by ignorance, corruption, class warfare, or other societal factors. Others claim a spiritual being is the manifestation of this darkness, commanding an army that is waging an unending war on this earth. One wonders, if we were to set up a colony on an alien planet, would this dark prince follow us there? Is he omnipresent, equal with the divine light of the Almighty? Or is such a demon merely another pawn in a greater force of evil, spinning a terrible web that entangles us all? So many questions. How are we to stand up against such an onslaught?

Surely, we can recognize what is basic, what is evident to all. Call it what you wish, there is a sickness that infects us. All is not well. Evil is here, calling our names each day. It is subtle. It cares not what we call it. It laughs at such debates. We must cast down the idols of our self-declared immunizations. We must look inward, to those spaces we’ve locked away. It is there we shall find it. Are we its origin, or merely catalysts? The distinction is irrelevant. 

What is the nature of evil? It is both present and absent. It is everywhere and nowhere, much like darkness itself. Darkness consumes the cosmos itself, yet it is still the absence of light. It is the same with evil. Love is the substance that fills the spaces in our hearts. To be fully human is to know this love perfectly. Any crevice, any corner of the soul not drowned in this light of love is but a nest for ravens, cawing and pecking at our being. Look at your neighbor. Do you feel the indifference rising up in you? Do you feel a disconnect, a natural isolation from all and any who do not share your petty interests? The language of evil is indeed found in our very bones. 

Oh, justice. Do you hear her? She calls you to join her. You both have so much work to do, rounding up the enemy. Look, they are everywhere! Are we the only righteous ones left? Of course not. Do not let the false sirens lure you in so close. Your zeal to fight this darkness is a tool it wields against you. To change the world, we must first love those who stand in our way. 

It is then, and only then, that we can face down the shadow of our own soul. 

Why do we cling desperately to our pain like a loved one? Why are there razor blades in our hands as we clasp them in prayer? Why do we invite the demons of our past to sleep in our beds at night? We are angry. We know no other way.

Who did this to us? Did we ask for this? Maybe not, but we grew accustomed to the stinging. The bandages now feel soothing to the touch. We are victims. We like it that way. We spit out our medicine; it tastes inconvenient. We prefer the fever.

Our campaign is clear. We blame them. We will make them suffer by the spectacle of our agony. We deny them the privilege of peace since we shall have none ourselves.

This is our condition. We are angry and we like it.

There is another way. The memory stings the eyes, not the skin. We’d need new sight to see it. The darkness must scatter, but it will fight to remain. We do remember the time, oh so long ago, that the voice woke us gently from slumber. Some call it phony, a ploy to control us. We can’t be quite sure unless we ask ourselves honestly.

During a time of great and horrific personal pain, a good friend once told me “Don’t take this personal.” He was getting at the fact that personal attacks we encounter by other parties are really rooted in a much bigger conflict that transcends us entirely. Basically, if someone is attacking you, they are really dealing with their own inner conflict which is not directly targeted at us personally, but at general ideas that consume them, that torment them. After much soul searching, I agree with this premise. It provides a way to find forgiveness when I would otherwise cling to the poison of a vendetta. However, it makes me wonder, what is this part of us that is so broken? What is the root cause of this disconnect, this idolatry of the “self” that spurs this burning of the world? I feel this is where the metaphor (metaphor, people…) of “the fall” can be quite useful. Thoughts?

Reconciliation…

Brett Gallaher —  August 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

While there are many layers to our movement, reconciliation is the underlying principle. Terrible things have been done in the name of Jesus. Institutions tear down the souls of the faithful and faithless alike. Hatred hides behind the mask of religion often. Politics wield the name of Jesus to accomplish its designs.

From a slightly less extreme angle, religion can cause rifts between friends and families. Bitterness and cynicism consumes us. Sometimes we never fully recover.

Online, I think we all know what happens when someone mentions religion on a blog post, a comments section, or a status update. Immediately everyone is an expert on history and theology. Immediately many become prideful or closed to reflection. Positions are hardened. Some try to express tolerance or civility, but they soon retreat from the confrontation out of hurt or weariness. 

When I scroll through the web, I see basically two types of positions. I see the extremists on both ends who spout misguided hatred and/or selfish indifference, and then I see those in the middle (both theists and atheists) who are like “Dude, stop judging us. We’re not all assholes.” I believe most of us fall into this second category. 

We Occupy Jesus is made up mostly of agnostic atheists and agnostic theists, all sharing the conviction that the message of Jesus is still viable, regardless of religious belief. While some think this narrative is unnecessary, tainted by organized religion and fundamentalism, or a symbol of something they simply cannot support, we understand.

However, the aim of this movement is to transform that symbol into something that transcends those categories entirely. We choose this narrative because it is the only starting point to reunite those within the dominant ideology with those emerging groups outside of it. Creating another religion is obviously not an option. Rejecting all theists is obviously not an option. Simply “being a nice person” is too vague and lacks inspiration. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we make no apologies for trying to start a new conversation, a new way, a peace offering.

Reconciliation is coming. We hope you would join us.

http://occupyjesus.tumblr.com.

Sin…

Brett Gallaher —  July 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sin is not merely an idea reserved for the religious, the dogmas, or the spiritual. The concept of sin speaks to a reality that permeates all of existence. It speaks of a truth we know all too well.

All is not right.

There has been a rift torn between the way things are and they way they are meant to be. The cruel live in high towers built by their victims. As a world we simply cannot agree on who sits above, and who toils below. Sin tells us what we do not wish to admit.

We are both the cruel ones and the victims.

Again…

Brett Gallaher —  April 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

You fight for humanity with your sharp words,

yet you forget what life is when you curse.

You speak of peace while you sharpen your knife,

you hypocrite, lie back down. Turn off the light.

Again you dream of ending the reign of tyranny.

But you are the tyrant. Before you wake, sleep.

Peace beckons you closer. Remember her name?

You once gave her up when you set her aflame.

Your hate has consumed you. You are to blame.

Seek grace before darkness sings your name again.

Awaken to melodies you once knew, back then.

Sing a new song, again. Yes, again.

Your neighbor…

Brett Gallaher —  March 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

To begin to love our neighbors is at times the most difficult of undertakings, especially when we must begin to deal with those dark places inside of ourselves we’d rather forget or cover up with more dirt. To love our neighbor is to look beyond not only what we dislike about their character, but also our own vulnerabilities, fears, and scars. When we say to one another “I hate you!” we are actually saying “I hate what I cannot control.” To hate our neighbor is to expose our lack of wholeness. As long as we struggle with our hatred, we wound ourselves as with self-inflicted cuts, bleeding ourselves dry.

To love our neighbor is to finally accept that we lack control of our own destiny. It is at that very moment that we may take our first step forward, not over our neighbor, but beside them, where they belong. We are all on the same journey.

#occupyjesus