Religion Round Table, Hill Country News 2015-04-22

by Chuck Robison

Chuck RobisonDiscussion Question: What, if any, obligation does the church have to offer guidance on issues where morality & faith meet public health with potentially hazardous consequences, such as religious-based exemption from immunization, religious-based exemption from medical care for contagious diseases, the closing of clinics providing abortions resulting in the loss of healthcare to the poor in many communities?  

Tough question. Perhaps viewing this as a question of leadership makes it easier to answer. However, that demands an insight into who is leading and who is following.

Things are not what they used to be nor are they, today, what they appear to be. In the olden days, we acted like a Democracy, and prided ourselves on evidence that our views were represented in the decision making of our National, State and local governments.

In this century we have been slowly manipulated into not recognizing and not acting upon what is happening to our nation. We no longer have a Democracy. We now live in an Oligarchy where a few billionaires and a few huge corporations call all the shots. Our Supreme Court prefers to think of them as persons, you know, just folks. It is more accurate to refer to these two groups as The Owners. It is a rigged system and neither we nor our churches have much to say in what goes on.

The Owners’ puppet politicians gently nudge the majority of Churches along paths set for them to support whatever The Owners want. This gets worse; there are consequences. The Churches have lost their once powerful and independent leadership role.

Sixty years ago, the Churches, exercising their moral authority, were in the front ranks of movements to improve our lives. Preachers, Rabbis and Priests and common folks like you and me marched arm in arm to insure civil rights, to stop an insane war, to improve the lives of those in poverty and to provide education for those whose futures depended on it. Today, we hardly talk about moral authority.

Today, we have become jaded, fearful and selfish. The greed at the top has finally trickled all the way down to us. We didn’t just close abortion clinics and stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act here in Texas; we stopped poor people from getting medical help. We didn’t improve education; we just made it impossibly expensive. We’re not even going to have a say in the likelihood that oil fracking is creating irreversible damage to our environment. In fact, our Texas State Legislature just passed a law, written by Big Oil, which prohibits any county or local Texas government from enacting laws that are intended to prohibit fracking in their jurisdictions. Today the Churches fight these and many other injustices with a deafening silence.

The Churches have lost their once powerful voice and you can see it clearly in just one simple observation. Ask your church leadership how many weddings take place in the church today compared with 1990. Weddings, once high sacred religious moments held in our sanctuaries, are now conducted at parties in vacation destinations by mail order officiants.

For me, the answer to this roundtable question is this: Until our Churches boldly use their moral authority and spiritual power to confront The Owners and stand up for the poor, the downtrodden, the politically disenfranchised and our environment, we will be forced to acknowledge that we really do not care to follow the teachings of our Lord, The Christ. And so it will be.

Can You Hear Them? – Hill Country News on 2-26-15

by Chuck Robison

Chuck RobisonI grew up in the coal mining area of West Virginia. The miners took canaries into the mines to alert them to dangers their own senses could not detect. The presence of methane and other gases would kill the canary before It would threaten the miners lives, thus giving the miners time to escape. When you are 1,200 feet deep in a coal black mine, the death of that canary you brought along means one thing: There is a gas leak and an explosion is coming. STOP, TURN AROUND AND GET OUT!

Of course, we are so modern and brilliant! We know the animals are not sentient, and do not have a soul and we are the top species. Our churches have taught us that God Himself gave us Dominion over the beasts great and small, and we can do to them as we wish.

What we have not learned is that we are connected to and are one with all of creation. We are neither exceptional nor are we, as a species, unique. We are one with God and His entire unique creation. And all of creation is singing a praise hymn to God for all to hear.

In that hymn are messages the animals, like the canaries, are sending us as a very special alert. I can hear them and so can you, when you decide to listen.

Here is what I hear. The cries of sharks with their fins cut off for shark fin soup are unable to swim or feed themselves as they fall to the ocean floor. As they die, at the current rate of 12,000 an hour, globally, they are screaming at us, not for their own already lost lives, but to tell us we are making terrible choices.

The whales are beaching themselves because our military sonar bombardment of the seas has driven them crazy.

The whole Pacific Ocean is in a life and death battle with the run-a-way radiation caused by the melt down at Fukushima.

And the poor bees, the very beginning of the food chain, see their colonies collapsing, because we pour millions of barrels of pesticides into the environment, which their bodies cannot survive.

Our cattle cry out with the warning that loading them up with antibiotics and making them spend the last 30 days of their lives standing and stuck in their own excrement, insures more and more diseases in our own bodies that will resist all antibiotics.

Surely, the cry of the elephants as we hunt them to extinction for their tusks, thunders around the globe of our consciousness.

And on and on.

For just a second, stop what you are doing, close your eyes and try to hear them. Their voices cry out in pain, not for their own lives, but for ours and for how we have so terribly misused the power and Dominion given us.

Surely you know this cannot go on much longer, and pity those who try to excuse us with the idea that soon God is going to end this anyway, so this does not make any difference. All eight billion of us, along with all of creation, are in this catastrophe together.

We, being the ones with Dominion, are the ones, the only ones who can bring this looming doom to an end.

Thankfully, I am not in a position to tell you how to handle your part in the solution. But the birds and the bees, the beasts on land and the fish in the sea are all calling out to all of us to stop this craziness before it is too late.

As we listen to them, they will help each of us find that part of the solution which is uniquely our own.

Can you hear them?

So, you think you are enlightened? 2015-01-07

By Chuck Robison 20120220-_MG_6032

This article appeared in the January 7, Hill Country News.

My Daddy always told me: “You are allowed to choose your friends, but God gives you your family.” That makes pretty good sense. It also may be true that we choose our parents and siblings from a list of candidates presented to us by God. In either case, our family of origin is not a haphazard affair. Looking back, you may be able to see that your family provided your soul some of the most powerful lessons it needed to learn this lifetime.

Soul lessons are the reason we are here. This is the big classroom where we are free to create as we wish and also experience the consequences of our creations. Generally, we see that soul lessons are not exactly easy, but are always profound.

Looking back on the past six weeks, you may easily see why Guru Ram Dass said: “If you consider yourself enlightened, spend your holidays with your family.” I know, I laughed too! Our families are the very people who know exactly and precisely how to push our buttons and act like nothing of the sort just happened. But they know their history with us and they have no more revised their history of us than we have revised our history of them.

Often a trip home, for any purpose, is a refresher course in living through old and oft times pain-full memories. One thing is for sure, our families almost always fail to see the person we believe we have become. Too much history and too many old habits get in the way. That may explain why many of us do not look forward to family events.

But there they sit at the dining room table ready for the Great Meal and the “conversation” that feels like we memorized it back in high school. Looking back over the past six weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas, you may have wondered why Ozzie and Harriet and the Brady Bunch and all the families we grew up with in the media of our day seemed so ‘normal’ and so happy. Just remember, Normal is basically a setting on a clothes dryer, not a measure of social or spiritual progress.

The Lord Jesus, Ram Das and the myriad of history’s spiritual teachers have all said that we are here to learn who we are and to lay up treasures in heaven, not worldly success and other peoples’ judgment of us and our progress.

So now that we have once again passed through the family lens of Thanksgiving and Christmas, it makes sense to ask yourself: “What Have I Really Learned?” and “Where should I look for the next lessons I most need to learn?” You may even have gotten a glimpse of the reality that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and not the other way around.

An old friend of mine, reminded me back in the 70’s of this simple rule: “The Great Way is easy for those with no expectations.” Releasing expectations, positive or negative, frees us up to experience reality without knowing in advance, what any situation, person or event has to teach us.

Early on, The Course in Miracles Workbook has this lesson: “I have given everything I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) all the meaning that it has for me.” Once you are ready to release your expectations and let God show you the real lesson you are about to learn, you are ready to accept what your soul, and not your ego, needs to experience to aide you on the path to your enlightenment.

In a later lesson in The Course, we learn that in any given instant, we can release our hold on reality and say simply, to God: “This Holy Instant would I give to You. Be You in charge. For I would follow You, Certain that your direction gives me peace.” This is the path to forgiveness and to enlightenment. Perhaps you might like to look up The Course in Miracles. I assure you it will create a change for the better in your life.

Hill Country News 2014-11-26 Roundtable Article

Scott Coleman, Editor of the Hill Country News here in the Austin area, asked the regular columnists to discuss the Issue of Free Speech and Hate Speech and the Bill of Rights.

Here is how I dealt with this assignment:

20120220-_MG_6032By Chuck Robison

Germany was one of the most cultivated countries in Europe. It was one of the leading players in the Enlightenment, and yet we discovered at the end of WWII, that a concentration camp can exist within the same vicinity as a university. Similar discoveries are happening in America today. We are discovering that our cherished freedoms and our hallowed Constitution have been placed in concentration camps for the mind.

Being in graduate school on the east coast in 1965, I was thrilled by Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement at Sproul Hall in Berkley. I fervently believe in Free Speech….even with all its dangers. But in all the fear-based decisions America has made since 9-11, we have repeatedly and willfully given up the freedoms we tell our soldiers they are fighting for, that we teach our children to believe in, and we talk about as if they are sitting right next to us. However, these freedoms are long gone.

Behind the concept of free speech is the concept of critical thinking. A nation of people who are able to think critically can act responsibly in matters of freedom. For all of this century America has chosen not to think critically and we have taught our children, by example, not to think critically. In fact, right here in Texas, the 2012 Republican Platform forbade the teaching of critical thinking to Texas students because it would challenge and undermine parental authority.

Citizens who can think critically would never be tricked by crowds gathering to lynch gays, or black people, nor would we allow police to shoot unarmed people or our armies to invade any country whose actions offend us. For people who can think critically, freedom of speech is a basic requirement. If we are not free to speak the truth, we will never know the truth.

In our giving up the right to free speech, and the right not to be victimized by unlawful searches and seizures, and the right to peaceful assembly, keeping only the right to bear 20th century guns and bullets, we have convinced ourselves that living in a totally surveiled society has made us safe.

To test that out, watch the: Politically-Challenged: Texas Tech Edition on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRZZpk_9k8E) and you will be appalled at the voluntary and willful ignorance of the students at this highly regarded Texas university. This short video gives rich new meaning to the concept of dumbing our citizens down, right here in Texas.

As Christians we can look back on our history and see how we have been on both sides of free speech. Christians, even Texas Christians, have doled out a serious share of hate speech as recently as this past election. But forbidding free speech, making laws about ‘political correctness’, and trying to control this behavior will not work.

Outlawing things we do not like is not the way to change anything. It just puts that behavior underground where it can fester and mutate and come back to bite us when we least expect it. The only way to create change and to turn the volume down on hate speech is to present ourselves with behaviours, examples and models that inspire feelings of positivity, openness, acceptance and peace.

Behind all of this is the truly difficult lesson we most need to learn: ALL EIGHT BILLION OF US ARE ONE, WE ARE ALL CONNECTED and when we know the truth of that, we will set ourselves free to speak and do anything because we will know what we do to any one of us, we do also to ourselves.

Barbarians at the Gate – Hill Country News, July 16, 2014

20120220-_MG_Small6032By Chuck Robison

You may have heard the stories of what happened to the “Okies” who left for the coast during the great dust storms and drought of the 1930’s. When they reached the state line of California, armed American citizens and guards, who forbade their entry into California on the basis that the Okies would destroy the state and its economy, met them.

Hatred ensued. Then, in time, California absorbed all of these unwanted immigrants and life went on.

Or, imagine what it would have felt like, when as a starving Irish parent, the only hope you had left for your children was to put them on a boat, alone, to travel to America and the outstretched hands of the Statute of Liberty, who wears these words: “Give me your tired, your poor,
 your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
 the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
 send these; the homeless,
 tempest-tossed to me. 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Contained within this quote is the secret history of the last 150 years of American History.

And now listen to Texas politicians and other assorted defenders of our liberty, speaking about the illegal hoards bursting over our border with Mexico. Chris Davis, a 37-year-old truck driver listed as commander for a militia group gearing up to repel the invasion, told the San Antonio Express-News he believes law enforcement agencies welcome the help.

The group will secure the border in a “legal and lawful manner” Davis said. However, in a 21-minute YouTube video of Davis, which was first reported by the McAllen Monitor on July 4, (which he has now removed) suggests otherwise.

“How?” Davis asked on the video. “You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.'” Davis said the “influx of illegal immigrants is bringing bad elements” to the country such as “sickness”.

Governor Rick Perry suggested that President Barack Obama could be leading a conspiracy to bring immigrants into the country. The Congress of the United States has refused to do anything at all about the Immigration Issues in hopes of being able to blame all of this on a duly elected President just before the fall election season.

Now imagine what would happen if our drought continues and we experience loss of water and major fires. Imagine gangs of thugs and billionaires who form groups to control what water is left, and these people enforce their power with guns, and many people are being killed, including children.

So the logical solution would be to attempt to emigrate to Arkansas and the water and springs there. All of a sudden, your lonely and painful trip to Arkansas and safety is met at the Texas border by angry Arkansas mobs feeling Texans and their overblown egos will finally ruin their state and lifestyle.

Now, as we all know, that could never happen in Texas. We fought them off at the Alamo and we will repel this invasion as well. And proudly we hail as a Republican Tea Party state, primarily of white people, who are all Christians.

So let’s ask the obvious question of our Christian selves in this situation: What would Jesus do? Do you really think he would tell the little children to go home to be killed? Or would he say: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

While we’re deciding who we really are in this situation, you might consider the end of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath when the Okie, Ma Joad, speaking for all immigrants who have met hatred when they arrive in America, says: “I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain’t no good and they die out, but we keep a-coming. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, cos we’re the people.”

Thanks for reading this far and thanks, too, for your support and contribution!





“Yelling at God” Chuck’s latest Faith Column for the Hill Country News June 25, 2014

YELLING at GOD! [Read more…]

Notes From the Masters Class 2014-05-29

Chuck has created his latest Notes From the Masters Class which you can view above. In this edition, Chuck discusses a very small part of what he has learned from Huston Smith, Aldous Huxley and Gopi Krishna.

These short homilies seem to be reaching people on the deep level we intended them to be received.

Notes From the Masters Class 2014-05-16

Notes From the Masters Class 2014-05-11

Edited Text.

This is Chuck Robison. Last summer Karen and my sister Alice Weatherby motored out to Burnet, Texas to meet Pastor Willie Monnet and his wife Claudette who is also a minister in his and their church, which is titled Smoking for Jesus Ministry. That interview appears elsewhere on our webpage, I’ll leave a note right underneath here that tells you that, but here’s what we learned with Pastor Monet.

In 2005 he had a dream in January and the dream was that he was going to have to pack up his church and leave New Orleans. The next day he told his parishioners that he had this dream and he was completely dumbfounded by what could possibly mean. In September 2005, when the great storm hit and the Saturday night before it hit on Sunday. Pastor Monet, who had a large church in New Orleans (it was better than a block long and it had a lot of members) was able to get 200 of them into 40 cars to leave New Orleans.

Among those 200 people was a couple with a brand-new five day old set of twins and older people and many of the entire community that were in his church. They expected to be back in four or five days at the most because they had left New Orleans before windstorms came but when they left New Orleans this time they didn’t realize it would be the last time that any of them would ever live there.

They had to go across Louisiana and then they went into Texas all the way up to Dallas and then they looped back and they spent some time here in Austin and then they began in earnest to figure out what it was that they were supposed to do and it took a long, long time.

In the interview which I know you’re going to enjoy seeing, Pastor Monet said at every point along the way, when there is was a decision to be made, as the leader, he simply stopped and prayed and waited. He didn’t give any commands or take any action until such time as he was sure his prayer had been answered with clear direction as to what to do next.

Now to me this was an incredible lesson in patience. Here was a man who was in his late 50s, he had 200 people following him in cars and they were going all over Texas trying to find a place to live. They were able to find a series of apartments in Marble Falls that was very good for them, and other places, but they were looking for a permanent place. They had to let go of the idea that there would be returning to New Orleans.

So finally thru a very unusual set of circumstances they were entitled to ownership of a 56 acre property in the middle of the Hill Country in Texas close to one of the big lakes. It had a chapel, it had dormitories, it had houses, it had an administration building. It was absolutely perfect and these people in this congregation, who came to Texas because of this hurricane, have improved that land and improved that community, so that when you walk into their church it is totally vibrant and it’s all about trusting in God.

This man and his wife and his followers demonstrated incredible patience in the face of daily frustrations about where they were from, where they were going and why they were here. Yet because they kept their belief that the universe was unfolding exactly as it should, they knew that when the time come from for them to find a permanent place it would be better than at their beginnings.

This is true for you and me as well. If you’re going through a period in your life right now, and I am, where you’re trying to be patient and wait for the right things to come at the right time, there are plenty of examples of people out there who said yeah we’ve got a lot to wait for and I guess all we can do is be patient.

So here’s something for you to think about and this is from a Master in Burnet Texas. When you’re faced with a decision of what to do next, it is wise to say a prayer and say “I know you will show me exactly what to do when the time is right”. Even if you have problems believing that God is going to talk to you, and you shouldn’t because he is, but even if you have problems with that, just stopping long enough to gather patience for yourself and to put yourself in a position where you can hear and listen to what’s coming, you might experience what I’ve experienced a number of times in my life and that is: regardless of what you want, you need to ask for it.

Once you’ve done that you need to add one more sentence at the end of what it is you’ve asked for in that sentence. “This or something better.” Because if you do not get what you’re wishing for then God will see to it that the reason for that is something better is coming along. It might not be something better in terms of what your community sees, it might be something better for your soul and your soul came here to learn some very powerful lessons. As you release all your concerns and your fear, you begin to realize that this is fundamentally the experience of your soul in this third dimensional environment and that you came here to learn.

In your case, in my case and most everybody else’s case, some very powerful difficult lessons are resolved and you can relax and say. “ Okay I came here for that. I know that. Bring it on.” And you will never find that you are given a lesson greater than what you can deal with regardless of the size, regardless of who you are, regardless, your lessons are tailor-made for you, just as mine are tailor-made for me. As you look back over your life you may see one day that there’s a pattern here. It appears as though most of my lessons were developed in dealing with patience or power or love or abandonment, whatever the issues were, those issues have been in your life to help your soul. They were custom-made in your life to help your soul learn the lessons you came here to learn.

And the powerful lesson for me is demonstrated all around us and you’ll see that when you watch Pastor Monet. The lessons that you came here to learn are being brought to you right on time.

This is Chuck this is the Masters Class and I thank you for being with us. We’ll see you next week.

Brad Love and The Symphony Awakening

Brad discusses the heart-opening experience that many had after attending this event. Brad has spent countless hours and enough money to keep this production alive and now he is hoping to present this production at the SxSW Eco Conference in Austin in October.

Brad says, “We have submitted a proposal for SXSW ECO to sponsor production of our Symphony Awakening Rock Opera – Tribe Humanity… yes, about 500 of your neighbors have seen it {at One World Theater in 2012), but 900,000 plus in Austin have not… the overwhelming review gave it a big thumbs up… an inspiring and worthy message for our times…”

Brad now asks you to “please help us get chosen to perform at the SXSW ECO EVENT. October, 2014. To vote for us click the above VOTE sign of go to SXSW PanelPicker… http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/29322, type Symphony in the search box and vote for us (thumbs up top left corner). You may have to create a free login (to prevent double voting cheating). If you use the above link and try to vote(thumbs up top left corner) it will ask you to login, do so and then use the link again… it will take you straight to our Symphony page while leaving you still logged in to vote… or… type Symphony in the search box and vote for us. To have peace on earth, throw a better party. This is a start. PLEASE FORWARD.”