can embrace each other in a common effort to alleviate human suffering and espouse peace."
-- President Jimmy Carter, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, 2002
"Except during my childhood, when I was probably influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel depiction of God with a flowing white beard, I have never tried to project the Creator in any kind of human likeness...I think of God as an omnipotent and omniscient presence, a spirit that permeates the universe, the essence of truth, nature, being, and life."
-- President Jimmy Carter
If I got in, I'd be pushing hard to add another Saint James to the canonized fold -- once this man finally lays down his hammer, punches out, and arrives at the Pearly Gates.
If I could pull it off, I'd immediately nominate President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter for Sainthood.
Although my candidate is still alive and still banging nails and hypocrites at age 93, in the world of bureaucratic politics ya need to start campaigning early, right?
Of course, I realize there are some hurdles here. The Catholic Church may have to do some real soul searching to canonize a non-Catholic, even if Jimmy Carter, like Jesus, spent some time being a carpenter. Yet, I think it's a good time to make a run at it. It seems to me that Pope Francis might just be the guy to get the ball rolling. He seems to be serious about trying to be a real Christian, not just the Godfather of an incredibly powerful and wealthy institutional bureaucracy.
The Christian Right, Isn't.
If Jesus hadn't opted for Resurrection a couple of thousand years ago, I think He would be rolling over in His grave in these times. It's seems to me that The Prince of Peace and Love would have a hard time listening to the prattle of the contemporary Viper's Brood that claims they are Christians while simultaneously espousing Intolerance, Warfare, and the Ruthless Mammon of Free Market Capitalism. As these folks continue to rant and rave about immigrants and same sex marriage, propose cutting public assistance to those in need, as they claim to be pro-Life and support gun rights capital punishment, an increasingly militarized police force, and endless warfare, I wonder if they ever really read that Bible they're thumping.
I think a good place to start might be Matthew 25:31 - 46.
Here the Divine Jewish Liberal from Nazareth tells it like it is, clearly proclaiming the sacred nature of compassionate action in the world. As He'd already stated earlier during the Sermon on the Mount, worshiping Him doesn't cut it. (Many will call me Lord, Lord).
What, then, is the Key to the Kingdom? It's simple. It's how you treat your fellow human beings!
In the imagery of a final Judgment Day, Jesus proclaims the moral imperative of unconditional generosity toward the stranger, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and the prisoner -- and outlines the karmic consequences of failing. Be loving and generous and you're on the A Team. Treat the unfortunate and downtrodden shabbily? There'll be hell to pay.
Even in the arcane language of the King James version of the New Testament, the Teaching is crystal clear: "Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
The Bottom Line?
As many mystics, prophets, sages, seers and hippies throughout the ages have affirmed, Jesus wasn't just being metaphorical when He claimed identity with the "least of" humanity. The great Hindu sage Mahatma Gandhi made the same point when he said, "If you don't find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further. " On the level of the Absolute: there ain't anybody (or anything or any energy) that ain't God!
Over the years many of us have seen the Light. It became clear that We are, each of us, interconnected rays of the One Love that pervades the Universe. We are called to love our neighbor as ourself because he or she is ourself. So is the sky and the earth and the birds and bees and everything else that is, has ever been -- or can possibly be. The separation between the One and the Many, this moment and eternity, is only relative and conditional. It's not absolute. The Absolute is what some folks call God. (Others may call this the Tao, Shunyata, The Great Spirit, etc.) If we commit to opening our hearts, clearing our minds, rolling up our sleeves, and putting our bodies on the line to relieve the suffering on this planet, we are doing what Jesus was talking about.
Jimmy Carter appears to have clearly gotten the Word. I'd imagine he might boil it down to God is Love. His life has been an expression of loving God and his fellow human beings. Whether he was banging nails building a house for Habitat for Humanity in Georgia, or flying around the world to take part in an international mediation decades after most guys would have retired to the golf course, Jimmy has continued to serve. Unlike the folks on the so-called Christian Right, he has dedicated his life to actually picking up his own cross and following what Jesus was teaching. Pat Robertson, the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition and their kind? IMHO, not so much.
So, how about it?
Time to go Ecumenical. Let's do it!
Jimmy Carter for Sainthood!
Do I hear an "Amen"?
Yours in the Spirit of Truth and Love,
P.S. A Caveat: Like Pope Francis, Bless his Heart, has said, "Who am I to judge?