Creating the New Earth Together

My Chorale PicAn intimate, romantic, and sexual relationship with another human being, far from distracting one from spiritual attainment, can open a fast-track path to spiritual transformation: the path of romantic love.

This path is cluttered with signposts bearing moral Christian doctrines that warn of a sinful destination for those who seek erotic pleasure in natural sex drives that were designed to bring couples into a state of ecstatic union, along with the function of propagating the human species — sex solely for gratification not withstanding. The church is solely responsible for the degradation of sex from sacrament to sin in human relations, using Jesus, the celibate divine redeemer, and Mary Magdalene, the human “sinful prostitute,” as models upon which to base its thwarted and therefore false premise.

I’m in my second reading of Cynthia Bourgeault’s profoundly insightful and thought-provoking, if not controversial, rendering of  “The Meaning of MARY MAGDALENE – DISCOVERING THE WOMAN AT THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY.”

This is unequivocally the most powerful book I have yet read on the story of Mary Magdalene and her role in the life and ministry of Jesus. The author, an Episcopal priest, literally plumbs the depth of my soul and awakens dreams of a “perfect world,” almost to the point of disturbing my default inner peace by arousing once again that painfully familiar longing for a seemingly unattainable state of “singleness” as a whole human being — ironically, a singleness that can only be obtained, according to her insight and perspective, in the state of holy matrimony. Cynthia’s Jesus came to “reclaim the path of romantic love” and to uplift marriage between a man and a woman to its original state of “one flesh” that no man can “put asunder”– and he walked his talk. He was not celibate by any connotation of that word. Nor did he recommend celibacy as the higher path to spiritual transformation. His was a life fully “enfleshed” as a whole human being, and that’s what made him such a powerful magnet and lightning rod. The people loved him for his authenticity. The governing religious leaders of that time hated him for the same reason.  Actually, in their gross darkness, they simply did not comprehend his light, and it frightened them and threatened their self-serving authority.

This book has a Voice. One that speaks from out of the ancient past, spanning time from the “beginning”– the Edenic origins of Man and Woman — up to and including the life, public ministry and death of Jesus the Nazarene, only not the Jesus introduced to us when we were children and foisted upon the Christian world since the fourth century Council of Nicea.  Cynthia’s Jesus is a whole human being who “emptied” himself fully of both his humanity and his divinity, leaving no part of his soul and body unused in service to his heavenly Father and to Humankind. And it was his intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene to which Cynthia attributes the fulfillment of his mission and purpose for incarnating on the planet when he did. I should say the fulfillment of their shared mission and purpose.

That said, I don’t think that I can do Cynthia’s book justice in a blog-long book review. So, with the thought in mind that my readers may be inspired to read Cynthia’s book to fully enjoy her viewpoint on these timely issues, I will simply share a few passages from her book that moved my soul to the point of shouting “YES! That rings so true!” I will share and comment on them as they come up in my second reading. Enjoy and be blessed.

I will start at the beginning of Chapter 7, “RECLAIMING THE PATH OF ROMANTIC LOVE,” just to give you a sense of the tone of Cynthia’s voice, along with the context in which she writes. Here she speaks to the issue of celibacy in a priesthood supposedly modeled after Jesus and his celibate apostles — or were they?

NEARLY TWENTY YEARS ago, long before The Da Vinci Code uproar broke, I was serving as parish priest in a small Episcopal congregation in Colorado. When the gospel appointed for one particular Sunday in August was Luke’s account of that anonymous “sinful” woman with her alabaster jar, I decided to take the risk of breaking open some of the insights that even back then were beginning to emerge from a growing spate of Mary Magdalene studies. My parishioners were a bright and intellectually curious bunch, so why not? During my sermon, I gently presented Margaret Starbird’s assertion (in her book The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, named after this very gospel passage) that the anointing of Jesus’s hands and feet described in the text was not simply a random act by a penitent woman, but an exquisitely symbolic ritual enacted between two lovers about to be separated.

The fire storm was predictable.

I had tried to pave the way as carefully as I could. My point in raising those issues, as I made clear both in the sermon itself and in the discussion that boiled over afterward, was not to argue the case one way or another, but rather to get at some of the attitudes underlying the way we Christians do theology — and more important the way we do love. “How do you feel about the possibility that Jesus had a human beloved?” I asked these parishioners. “Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Why?”

The responses were pretty much what I expected: “But if Jesus had sexual relations with a woman, he couldn’t be sinless.” “If he loved one in particular, he couldn’t love us all impartially.” “How could he be the son of God unless he gave himself completely to God?” The overwhelming consensus was that if Jesus had known erotic love, he could not possibly have also been the full embodiment of divine love. It would somehow disqualify him as the divine redeemer.

I could hardly blame the congregation for feeling that way.

After nearly two millennia of reinforcement, these assumptions have become so much of the landscape of Christianity that they appear to be part of the seamless structure of revealed truth. But in fact, assumptions are what they really are — not core tenets of the faith, not anything that Jesus himself taught, but superimpositions of a male, celibate, priestly theology which for nearly two thousand years has been the only game in town.

The complicated history of how this situation came to be could fill a book in itself (and in fact has several times over). 2 The short version is basically this: during those first four centuries of Christian life, as leadership moved from a charismatic eldership model to the threefold sacramental ministry we know today (bishops, priests, and deacons), part and parcel of this evolution was an increasing tendency to view both Christ and his apostles through the prototype of celibate priesthood. This is of course a flagrant anachronism in light of the unambiguous scriptural references to Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14) and the only slightly more ambiguous allusions in Luke to the other disciples’ “companions.?”

But counterbalancing the testimony of the gospels themselves was a growing discomfort with conjugal intimacy, a discomfort whose roots probably lie in the extreme Essene asceticism out of which Jesus himself most likely emerged (we will be exploring this topic in greater detail in the following chapter). Beginning as early as Paul, this unease was magnified in each succeeding generation by a chorus of Christianity’s most influential thinkers including Marcion, Tatian, Jerome, and Augustine. The consensus grew stronger and stronger that sex and the sacraments simply didn’t mix. By the fourth century edicts were in place forbidding married priests to have conjugal relations with their wives. Not long thereafter married priesthood itself dropped astern in Western Christendom, and celibacy became the entrance requirement for admission to the power structure of the church.

It gives one a bit of a start to realize that for the better part of two millennia, Christian theology has been written, shaped, formulated, and handed down almost exclusively by celibates talking to other celibates. In that respect, it is extraordinarily monolithic. And from this exclusively celibate template emerges the only image of Christ our tradition has allowed us to entertain: of a celibate renunciate whose “sinless” purity would necessarily entail sexual abstinence.

At the age of twenty-one, this very requirement barred my own entrance into the Roman Catholic priesthood after seven years of seminary life, during which I tried in vain to suppress my body’s natural erotic urges and my soul’s longing for a feminine soul mate.  Cynthia goes right to the heart of the highly emotionally charged premise that in addition to all the roles attributed to Mary Magdalene — apostle, visionary, healer — “there is still one remaining to her, which may just be the most important of them all: soul mate.”

Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene lovers? Were they secretly married? That, of course, is the claim laid out in  The Da Vinci Code and a number of other books and documentaries and which the church angrily refutes.

The question would never have a fair hearing in Christian circles, she goes on to say, where the “mote” has not yet been cast out of our own eyes while we dare to pass judgement on those who entertain a different view from our own.

It is one thing to argue the case for reclaiming Mary Magdalene as apostle and wisdom-bearer, purveyor of a sorely needed feminine presence in the church; it is quite another to tie this claim to the theologically taboo subject of a romantic involvement with Jesus. Two-thousand years of dogma and tradition have left the field so thoroughly land-mined with negative assumptions and stereotypes that it is virtually impossible to see anything other than red, like my congregation that morning. The question will inevitably be heard as an attach on Jesus and as an act of sabotage upon the Christian faith itself.

After two-thousand years of programming that celibacy is the highest Christian way when compared to the second-rate path of committed spousal love, “it is hardly surprising that our Western anthropology of human sexuality is abysmal.”

In the secular version relentlessly foisted upon us by contemporary culture, it’s all about pleasure, performance, gratification. In the bedroom of the faithful, it’s still all too often about duty and shame: a begrudging debt to future generations which, even when carefully managed, is still tainted with carnal sin. Mention “erotic love” and people will immediately hear “sex,” the immediately thereafter, “dirty.” The idea that there could be anything holy about this kind of love is too alien to even consider. That’s simply the way our ears have been trained to hear it; we are all children of a cultural stream whose vision of human love  has been shaped by the shadow side of celibate spirituality.

From the gutter, the view of the gossip and speculation around Mary Magdalene and Jesus in various studies is less than holy and rather “scandalmongering,” Cynthia writes.

We are really presented with only four options:

1. That Mary Magdalene was Jesus’s mistress;

2. That theirs was a politically arranged marriage, strictly for dynastic purposes;

3. That they were sexual consorts in some Gnostic Mystery religion, ritually reenacting the sacred hieros gamos, or union of the opposites;

4. That the whole story is purely archetypal, a great Sophianic myth depicting the integration of the masculine and feminine within the human soul.”

With that, I will leave you to ponder these options for yourself and return in two weeks to compare your choice of options to Cynthia’s in my next post as we continue to explore romantic human love as a path to spiritual transformation. I will present four “propositions” or “myths”– all “rooted in the soil of celibate spirituality — that together have subtly sabotaged our ability to see romantic love as an authentic path of spiritual transformation.” Until my next post, then . . .

be love ~ be loved.


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My Chorale PicThe current refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe unveils a crisis in human relations that has been smoldering in the heart of humanity yea these many, many centuries. The emotional and mental eruptions of fear, anger and a sense of threat to our heretofore protected way of life we’ve taken for granted offer viable opportunities for unprecedented change in the ways we view and treat one another.  We see some countries welcoming the refugees with open arms, even celebration. Other countries are treating them as invaders, even criminals, denying them their human rights to asylum as escapees from certain death in their war-torn homelands.  Such hostile attitudes have been part of the human psyche as far back as the Biblical days of tribal warfare, still going on. They are not going to be abandoned without deliberate action in thought, word and deed on the part of all the players in this crisis.

If you look closely at this crisis, the one attitude all the players exhibit is that of survival. The refugees are driven by survival, both in their own country and in a foreign land. Countries being “invaded” are concerned with survival of their culture and way of life. Let’s face it: we are all feeling put-upon and damn uncomfortable with this unprecedented migration of millions of Arabs out of the unsettled Middle East pouring into the well-settled and comparatively comfortable Western world. We worry about where it will all end up. Will we be forced to take in refugees into our homes, feed them and help them find work and a place in our society? Will we be faced, in other words, with the same question Cain faced after he slew Able: “Where is thy brother?” Are we being reminded in this refugee crisis that we are our brother’s keeper?

What are the solutions being considered?  One is to impose a quota on all countries so that the refugees will be given sanctuary. Another is to simply deport the “illegal immigrants” back to their homelands. That raises the problem of whether an immigrant is migrating for a better way of life or fleeing from war and death by starvation. Another solutions is to stem the violence in Syria that is driving the refugees out of their homes and lands–deal with the cause, in other words, so that the refugees can return home and resettle their lands. I like that solution. But how are we going to bring insane rulers to negotiate sane agreements and policies?

As I write this blog post I am envisioning this last scenario as a viable one: deal with the cause of the refugee crisis, which is President Assad and the Islamic State called “ISIS.”  Somehow I must work out this resolution in my consciousness, see it as possible, envision it as already happening. Pray it into manifestation, in other words.

I propose that this resolution to the refugee crisis through peaceful negotiations between President Assad in Syria and the League of Nations be adopted and allowed to manifest.  I invite you and all of your friends to join me in this prayer. A thousand people praying and meditating can shift this crisis toward peaceful resolution in Syria.  Join me in this prayer.

Anthony Palombo

My Chorale PicSecretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, negotiators for their nations, the US and Iran respectively, had become friends. Their relationship was interfering with their work. The story as told by Robin Wright in the July issue of THE NEW YORKER, is one every adult American needs to read in order to understand the larger picture: that of the people of Iran who, after living in a “pariah nation” for decades “crave normalcy,” re-entry into the world community, and a relationship with the outside world — but on their own terms. In my previous post, I conveyed their story, noting that in ten to fifteen years, when the Iranian Nuclear Deal will expire, there will be a new generation at the helm of government in Iran. The old hard-liners of today will have aged or passed away. In this post I wish to tell the rest of the story of how the members of the negotiating teams found their new-found relationships and friendships getting in the way of their negotiations. It’s a story well worth the read. It’s all about human relations. Enjoy the read.

The final deadline was supposed to be June 30th. The negotiating teams worked throughout June to get the talks back on track. Kerry and Zarif returned to Vienna for the final round on June 28th, two days before the deadline. They missed it. The major powers had to extend it three times. Ministers from other countries flew in and out of Vienna as the U.S. and Iranian teams debated their differences.

The diplomacy was supposed to be transactional. But at moments it was transformational, for two countries at odds about so much else. For twenty months, the Americans and the Iranians ate separately, often in small, adjacent dining areas. ”At a certain point, it just started to feel strange that they had never actually shared a meal together,” Kerry’s aide said. Zarif invited Kerry and his team to lunch on July 4th in the Iranians’ dining room, where he had ordered Persian food. “It was ten times better than the food we ate on our side of the house,” the aide told me. “It was a moment where it was clear–we knew it, sort of, without remarking on it–that these relationships had really developed over time.” Kerry and Zarif commiserated about pressures at home. Kerry mentioned members of Congress who were complaining that local political ads already opposed any deal with Iran. Zarif told Kerry about an Iranian newspaper warning that he shouldn’t come home if he compromised too much with the Americans.

The chasm was still deep. “Even when we can be, you know, just conversational with each other, there can come a moment in the middle of that–I would say them, more–when we revert back to form,” the State Department official said. “It can all of a sudden come out of the blue, when I think they can realize they’ve gotten too familiar.”

The next meltdown was on July 5th. The Iranians regularly griped about the indignity of international sanctions tarnishing a historic civilization and causing unnecessary suffering. During one long-winded tirade by Zarif, Kerry cut him off: “You know, you’re not the only nation with pride.”Tensions increased that afternoon. When Kerry and Zarif started shouting at each other, a Kerry staffer slipped in to say that they could be heard down the corridors of the Palais Coburg.

The next night, with another deadline imminent, Kerry offered Zarif a package deal, to get beyond the inteminable issue-by-issue squabbles. In a meeting with the major powers, Iran accused them of pulling back from agreed terms. At one point, Zarif shouted, “Never threaten an Iranian!” (When news of the flap spread, #neverthreatenaniranian quickly became a popular Twitter hashtag.)

“Or a Russian!” Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said, in an attempt to break the tension. Subsequent reporting implied that Russia sided with Iran, a long-standing ally. In fact, the Americans claimed, Lavrov regularly played a constructive role in calming the emotional Zarif.

The U.S. and Iran remained so far apart that Kerry told Zarif and the other foreign ministers that he was prepared to leave the next day. He would be available by phone if Zarif wanted to negotiate seriously. ”A lot of us felt, at that point, like we were in real trouble,” Kerry’s aide said. The next day, Zarif brought a point-by-point response to the proposal.

”It’s such a complex set of relationships,” the State Department official said. “We know each other. All of the mistrust that has been there for these decades remains. It’s not gone. It’s incredibly present all the time. But it fights against the fact that we’ve spent two years getting to know each other.”

Over the next week, negotiations sometimes drifted, as the parties nibbled away at differences. The terms to limit Iran’s nuclear program were wrapped up first. The most sensitive issues often had a link to Iran’s milltary, especially the powerful Revolutionary Guards. The final differences were sorted out in a meeting, shortly before midnight, on July 13th, with Kerry, Zarif, and Federica Mogherini, of the European Union. “They basically kicked everybody out who wasn’t a minister and figured out the end,” Kerry’s aide said.

The next morning, Iran and the six major powers met to formally confirm the terms. The final statement read, “With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.”

Afterward, each minister made remarks about the collaboration. Kerry, who spoke last, recalled going off to war as a young man, the traumatic experience of Vietnam, and his commitment, when he returned, to end that war. The diplomacy with Iran, he told his peers, was one time that he could prevent the horrors of war.

At the end of Kerry’s comments, his eyes welled up, his aide said. Others teared up, too, including the Iranians. Then everyone applauded.  Zarif went off to make a brief announcement with Mogherini, while Kerry watched, on an iPad, President Obama’s remarks from the White House about the potentially historic deal. When Zarif finished, he walked backstage and patted Kerry on the shoulder. They shook hands, the aide recounted. “And that’s how he said goodbye.”

Robin Wright ends her article — yes, the author is a woman, who alone could write an article such as this conveying the emotional climate that permeated these negotiations with so much insightful detail — with promising, though typically conservative patriarchal, comments from General Martin Dempsey.

“We will always have military options,” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during the final days of diplomacy. “And a massive ordnance penetrator is one of them.” A new bomb to take out a future Iranian bomb.

“Everyone who believes that overnight this relationship is going to change is naive as hell,” the senior State Department official told me. “It’s not. It’s just too deep–particularly among Iranian government officials, many of whom were part of the revolution. So there may be a generational shift that has to take place everywhere. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of time.”♦

Yes, “a generational shift” is underway already, both here in America and in Iran and the rest of the world. The new generation calls for an end to wars. Enough is enough!

I don’t know about you, but I get choked up reading this report. I suppose it’s because I know that, left to ourselves, we the people would find a way to live in peace and harmony with one another. I long for that, as I’m sure we all do. Seeing these human beings torn between their own natural inner compulsion to relate to one another as people just like themselves, even as friends, and their nations’ political agendas, that had ironically brought them together in this crucible, just pierces my heart and brings tears to my eyes. O God, let it be so for the peoples of all nations! Let us relate to one another as members of one species with one common purpose: the creation of the beautiful and harmonious world on this beautiful harmonious planet. Let it be so. ♥ (See the video link below for Colin Powell’s interview on Meet The Press.)

Anthony Palombo, DC

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“TEHRAN’S PROMISE  — The revolution’s midlife crisis and the nuclear deal.”

My Chorale PicTHE NEW YORKER this month features an excellent and well written article by Robin Wright on the Iranian Nuclear deal. I’m bringing it into my blog, and particularly into this series on human relations, because it’s about the personal relationship between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, a relationship that, in my opinion, was made in heaven for the specific purpose of bringing about this Nuclear deal with Iran—and more. It opened a window to the world through which the promise of a new relationship between the people of Iran and the rest of the world can be clearly seen, even through the distracting and manipulative cloud of propaganda Washington Conservatives have been putting before the American people via the media.

The relationship between these two men had its beginnings back in 2003 when Zarif was Iran’s United Nations Ambassador.  Kerry and Zarif “played pivotal roles in getting the process (of the Nuclear deal) started, through back channels: in 2003, as Iran’s U.N. Ambassador, Zarif orchestrated a secret overture, nicknamed ‘the grand bargain.’” This initiative is what set things in motion and led to an unannounced trip in 2011 by John Kerry, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “to explore an offer by the Sultan Oman to host covert diplomacy. That led to five secret rounds of lower-level U.S.-Iran talks, in Muscat, in 2013.”

Here’s what really piqued my interest in this relationship.

The most serious diplomacy since Washington severed relations with Tehran, in 1980, began shortly after Kerry and Zarif were appointed as their nations’ top diplomats. Their first meeting, in September, 2013, was supposed to be a handshake and an exchange of pleasantries in a United Nations hallway. The idea was to “get out without causing any incidents and build from there,” a Kerry aide recounted. But, at the last minute, Kerry decided to pull Zarif into an empty office, near the Security Council chamber, for a substantive conversation.

“Kerry’s whole approach to diplomacy . . . is premised on the belief that personal relationships matter, because they enable you to get things done, even in very difficult situations,” the aide said. “It was Kerry’s belief that this was going to be a relationship that would really matter.” Zarif was willing. The two men talked, alone, for almost thirty minutes.

The rest of the story is now copy for the history books. “The Iran deal, announced on July 14th, capped a dozen years of secret overtures, false starts, clandestine meetings, and unpublished correspondence between Washington and Tehran.


A huge transition is underway in Iran between the old revolutionary leadership and the new generation. The article’s parallel and probably more significant theme is about the people of Iran, the next generation of young people who represent more than sixty percent of Iran’s eighty-million people, “A baby-boom generation, born after the revolution, (that) doesn’t share all of its priority.” Iran’s youth are not so enamored by the hard-liners’ religious fanaticism over an ideal Islamic state.  They are more interested in pursuing and engaging the rising tide of modern technologies flooding Iran via the internet. Wright offers a canny insight into the climate being generated by Iran’s public that “clearly wants reentry” into the larger world of commerce and culture they have been insulated against for decades by their revolutionary elders, the majority of which are “over the hill” in age and soon to be on their way out literally.  The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, himself turns seventy-six this month.

“The original generation of revolutionaries will disappear in the next ten years,” Saeed Laylaz, an economist and a former adviser to President Khatami, said. Laylaz, who was imprisoned for a year after the 2009 election, added, “The new assembly [the Assembly of Experts, a group of eighty-six theologians] will reflect the new generation.”

All of Khomeini’s grandchildren—there are fifteen—back reformers. . . .  Half a dozen of the grandchildren were educated in the West. Some of the grandchildren have considered running for parliament of the assembly. . . .  A loose coalition of reformers, moderates, and centrists hopes to flood the field with candidates, so that even if they are disqualified in large numbers many of them can still compete.

As Robin Wright describes the rising tide of liberal youthful energy,

“It’ a tsunami,” Said Rahmani, the C.E.O. of Sarava, Iran’s first venture capital fund, told me. “This generation is worldly. They’re educated. They work. They have spending power. They’re not dependent on anyone. They have a different range of thinking.”

These days, the energy—and the locus or charting Iran’s future—is less in heady debates about the ideal Islamic state than in a practical scramble to exploit twenty-first-century technology to change society. More than a third of the population uses the Internet. Giant billboards for a new smart-phone model were plastered across Tehran this summer: “NEXT IS NOW.”

Iran has its in Digikala, which accounts for more than eighty percent of online retail, valued recently at a hundred-and-fifty million dollars, started up by a set of thirty-six year old twins. Online commerce is increasingly defining market prices in Iran.


“America, particularly, haunts Iran,” Robin writes. “. . . After decades of living is a pariah nation, Iranians seem to crave normalcy—but on their own terms. Figuring out their relationship with the outside world is a big part of the transition. They have tried repeatedly and failed.”

The chant “DEATH TO AMERICA!” we hear so much talk about in the arguments against the Iranian Nuclear Deal in the halls of Congress and in Western media propaganda is limited only to Friday night Islamic prayer meetings. It is not the cry of the people.

“’Death to America’? This is politics and not related to people’s thinking,” Elnaz Mobahat, the owner of Manhattan Grill, one of Tehran’s chic new restaurants, told me. The place is adorned with American kitsch. One wall features photographs of sports stars, including Tiger Woods. “There are fourteen million people in greater Tehran, and maybe one hundred thousand attend Friday prayers,” she said. “Most people say we should talk to the Americans and solve our differences. We can both benefit. There are many investments opportunities in the oil and food industries.” She pointed to the ketchup bottles on every table. “Look, we use Heinz!”


John Kerry and Mohammed Karif brought to the negotiating table the raging undercurrents of their nations’ turbulent warring histories and deeply scarred collective psyches conditioned by a track record of dishonesty, deception and consequent mistrust and paranoia. They were thrust by the gods of fate into a crucible together to process the relationship between their respective nations and between Iran and Israel and all the other nations in the world. And that crucible served its purpose by giving space for the many factors that make up human relations to be brought forth and released under pressure into the cauldron of heated debate and negotiation. The Iranian Nuclear Deal was not made in peaceful interchanges. It was forged in fire.  Robin Wright tells how it went down in all of its emotional and frustrating details.

It got much harder over time. The world’s five other major powers—Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia—were technically equal players. But the United States increasingly took the lead in one-on-one meetings with the Iranians. More than a year after that first encounter, the chasm on core issues was still deep, despite an interim Joint Plan of Action, a confidence-building step that curtailed Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for modest sanctions relief. It did not address long-term limits or rewards.

As the original deadline for a final deal loomed, last November, Kerry and Zarif met in Oman. The senior State Department official described the meeting as “extremely contentious.”

Kerry’s aide said, “Both sides left thinking that we had just spent a lot of hours and a lot of time under very tense conditions and in very tense conversations that made little progress.” A deal looked doubtful. A few days later, the six powers agreed to extend the deadline until June 30th.

In February and again in March, Kerry was on the verge of backing away from the conversations entirely, US officials told me. On February 21st, as Kerry was scheduled to fly from London to Geneva, Wendy Sherman, the Under-Secretary of State and chief nuclear negotiator, called him to say, “We are nowhere.” Iran was backtracking. “I really don’t think you can come under these circumstances,” she said. Kerry instructed her to tell the Iranians that he would skip Geneva and fly home. The next morning, Iran was more forthcoming, and Kerry subsequently flew to Switzerland.

On March 27th, in Lausanne, tempers flared three nights before the deadline of a so-called Framework to define what each side would accept in a final deal. At the last minute, negotiating with the Americans, Iran took an important matter off the table. The five other major powers were supposed to show up within a day, but there was so much left unresolved that Kerry decided he might have to abort. He arranged to go to Zarif’s suite. At 10 P.M., they met alone. Kerry’s style is to coax rather than threaten. But this time, two US. officials told me, Kerry was blunt. He told Zarif that unless there was progress the sessions were “basically done.”The next day, the issue was back on the table. Six days later, the major powers and Iran
announced the outlines of a potential agreement.

“There were moments when you just had to push through,” Kerry’s aide said. The most confrontational exchange took place on May 30th. The talks were “brutal, just brutal,” the State Department official recalled. According to Kerry’s aide, “It was a lot of the two sides banging their heads against each other.” At one point, Zarif got up, walked around the room, and announced, “I have to leave.” He then sat on a chair against a wall and put his head in his hands.

Kerry, known for being unflappable, lost it, too. Toward the end of six difficult hours, he slammed his hand down on the conference table so hard that his pen flew across the table and hit one of the Iranians. “It stunned everyone, because it was so out of character,” the State Department official said.

Both sides left Geneva feeling deeply pessimistic. The next day, Kerry vented his frustration by taking a vigorous ride from Geneva into France on his racing bike, which he often brings on trips.  As he was starting up the challenging Col de la Colombiere, he rode into a curb and flew off the bike. His right femur was badly broken, and he had to be medevaced to Boston for surgery. After the news broke, one of the first e-mails he received was from Zarif, wishing him well.

Love and mutual respect held these two men together through thick and thin. Few if any in our halls of Congress know what took place at these negotiations. Nor do they seem to care. Who among them takes into account that in ten years when this deal expires the old hard-line leaders in Iran will have been replaced by the younger generation of reformers who want more than anything to be in a peaceful and fruitful working relationship with the other nations of the world, particularly with America? And I don’t think they want to annihilate Israel, nor develop nuclear bombs. We simply need to trust that the process that brought these two men together will help us forge a new relationship with Iran. An irresistible force was set in motion based on mutual love and respect. And love never fails.  It’s at the heart of all meaningful relationships.

I will share more from this important article in a couple of weeks. I hope you have enjoyed reading about this historical and significant development in the Middle East as much as I did. Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved

Anthony Palombo, DC

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I think what we see here is more about cosmic energies, driven by love, seeking a balance in human relationships and affairs and equal partnership in co-creating a beautiful world.

My Chorale PicIn my last post, I offered my perspective and take on the seemingly phenomenal explosion of same-sex relationships. Much of the “explosion,” however, seems to be more about public awareness due to social media than actual increase in terms of numbers. Homosexuality has likely been around since the separation between man and woman in the Garden of Eden. Biblical references abound in both Old and New Testament scriptures. I think what we see here is more about cosmic energies, driven by love, seeking a balance in human relationships and affairs and equal partnership in co-creating a beautiful world.

As I understand their nature, cosmic energies are both positive and negative, or masculine and feminine, and that is by divine design in order to foster Creation itself. It is the Law of Love at work. Positive energy is by nature radiant, a masculine characteristic, and negative energy is by nature responsive, a more feminine characteristic. Creation involves equal partnering between masculine and feminine energies.  It is governed by the Law of Balance, which Walter and Lao Russell wrote so eloquently about in their books I’ve been reviewing and referencing in this blog series. If that partnering is prevented between men and women — as is surely the case in today’s male-female relationships where the man lords it over the woman yet in a social order that denies women equal privilege, pay and participation in decision making and governance — then these cosmic energies, which obey only divine order and the cosmic laws of Creation, will rise up to partner in same-sex relationships. Ideally, these co-creative energies seek to partner in a balanced way in each individual human being, where they are equally operative, and will do so as the individual pursues and completes a spiritual path that leads to true Self awareness and activation.

Mind you, these individuals are “same-sex” only in physical appearance and not in spiritual or vibrational essence and reality. These energies have no persona, no respect of person. Nor do they have ego, either male or female.  In other words, they are not the person. They are cosmic energies, pure and simple, and they belong together bringing forth Creation as equal partners in a balanced relationship.

The problem arises out of our insistence on identifying with them. Our correct identity is as a Human Being. I am a Human Being incarnate in a male form. My wife is a Human Being incarnate in a female form. We were drawn together by Love, as are most couples. It has been our conscious choice to find a balance in our relationship and to learn what it means to partner in life. This “Work” is an ongoing process.

This balance is obvious between Walter and  Lao Russell when you read their writings. They worked at it and succeeded in achieving man-woman equality. Jesus and Mary Magdalene established the pattern of spiritual intimacy and equality that manifested itself in their mental and physical relationship. They were full partners in their shared ministry — and it was a shared ministry, as I will write about when I review Cynthia Bourgeault’s timely and provocative book The Meaning of MARY MAGDALENE — Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity

But let’s read a little more from Lao’s chapter on Man-Woman Equality. At the end of this chapter, Lao takes an action step toward creating a movement in the USA that could change the status quo.

In her own words . . .

Portrait of Lao Russell

Portrait of Lao Russell

Our present unbalanced civilization is scientifically impossible to endure. It is fast disintegrating even now and its decay has accelerated very dangerously since 1900. It is so badly unbalanced in so many departments and institutions that any attempt to balance all of them simultaneously would not be effectual, besides which there is not time to do it that way. The most necessary and the most hopeful one of the unbalanced conditions is man-woman equalization.

This essential to world happiness could become a living flame which would illumine the whole world with a new light if every woman started immediately to “do something about it,” aided by every man who believed in it. Such a movement can succeed only if organized into strength of numbers. One alone can do but little but if everyone joined together in a multiple ONE UNIT of twenty millions or more before the next election, it might be quite possible to make the first great step in that direction by electing many women senators and congresswomen, and even the Vice President for the next Presidential term. Such a world innovation adopted in this country would arouse the whole world of women in other countries where such an innovation would be impossible at the present time. This country should lead the world in this respect as it has in so many respects.

The way to do this speedily and powerfully is for you and every woman everywhere, to call a few friends to gether and form themselves into a unit of the Man-Woman Equalization League. It must be started by
women but every man who is in sympathy with the movement should become an equal member of it. Every truly great man will immediately realize its import and become an enthusiastic working member of it. That UNITY is its very purpose

The League never got off the ground. However, one can go to the Foundation website and find there ways to participate in various programs and projects. I will end this excerpt with a few final words from Lao.

The appeal for this organization is so strong that its growth would become millions in one year if every woman would but realize that women have the power to save the world from another chaos by merely asserting themselves as equal inheritors of the earth and of the business of managing all earthly affairs equally with men. . . . 

When women once realize this saving power which is theirs, and the responsibility which is theirs, this movement will become the mighty crusade which it ought to be. . . .

It is hardly necessary to call your attention to the power which is vested in so many million votes.Unless something of this nature is initiated at once we shall go farther and farther into the chaos which a man-made world is so fast falling into. It is scientifically impossible for peace and happiness to come to such an unbalanced world as this is, where the physical values are so preponderant over spiritual values. We have either got to balance the FatherMother basis of Creation or perish over and over again until we dobalance it.

I therefore say to every woman who reads this book: Will you start today to dedicate yourself to this world service? And I also say to every man: Will you help woman to give birth to this man-woman equalization movement for world unification and peace, and become a member of the Man-Woman Equalization League?

I will leave you with this video interview of Lao Russell.

You can also view it at : Lao Russell Interview PM Magazine


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In GOD WILL WORK WITH YOU BUT NOT FOR YOU, Lao Russell writes to the inequality between man and woman in high places where women’s spiritual nature would offer a depth of perspective that would help bring about a balanced approach to decisions that impact both men and women, such as decisions about war and environmental issues. It is not enough simply for men to see women as physical objects for his comfort and pleasure and for the purpose of procreation, child rearing and homemaking.

(Clearly, society’s view of homosexuality and lesbianism has undergone radical transformation since Lao wrote and published these words in 1955. This was just prior to the sexual revolution of the 60’s. Bear this in mind as you read this first paragraph.)

Lao Russell

Lao Russell

No great achievement of world import ever comes from countries where women are openly denied any approach to equality with men and they stand still for centuries. Physical interchange with women, unaccompanied with mental interchange, holds a nation to a physical level, just as it does with an individual. Neither individuals nor nations ever progress through physical interchange alone. Miscegenation ruined Greece. Thallic worship ruined many cities and countries while homosexuality, which resulted from such unbalanced conditions, created many a Sodom and Gomorrah.

My take on this view of homosexuality is, first of all, that it is outdated, but nevertheless based on historical and Biblical rocord. In the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, man had devolved to a lower animal nature, having lost sight and experience of his spiritual nature. Over the eons of time, man has evolved from his purely physical identity to a more integrated sense of identity.  In other words, physical man has given birth to Spiritual Man during the current phase of our evolution and awakening in consciousness to the multi-dimensional nature of the Whole Man. What we as a race of Human Beings are experiencing is the integration of the masculine and feminine energies in both men and women — along with the imbalances that appear in the evolutionary process. Let me elaborate on what I mean by imbalances.

Spiritual Man is both male and female, made in the image and likeness of the Creator.  Form notwithstanding, whatever sexual energy is dominant in an entity will determine the individual’s sexual orientation. There will be confusion and incongruencies in form until Spiritual Man fully emerges as a Light Being. These human bodies are temporary, substitute forms and they are giving way to the emergence of our original forms for incarnation. These were spiritual forms made of pure light. Evolution is leading to the restoration of our true state of being as co-creators with God on this physical plane. In the transitional phase, which we are currently undergoing and have been for some time, imbalances are experienced. This necessitates a non-judgmental state in our hearts and minds. We cannot judge what is emerging.

This was the original condition we were given in Eden if we were to have access to the Tree of Life: that we not judge the Creative Process that brings forth good out of evil–or evol, if you will.  The Tree of the knowledge of good and evol is the Creative Process, and that tree belongs to the Creator. We were told not to eat of its fruit lest we should die. Of course we disobeyed the Creator and ate of the “forbidden fruit”—which is simply judgement. The rest is history — or his story; the story of the rise and fall of the man-made, mind-made world. As I said, this is my take on these matters of very current concern, considering the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.

Lao writes with a woman’s understanding heart about the primary and pivotal imbalance in this man-made world.

Within the last fifty years, countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran and Japan which gradually added to the status of woman by giving her greater dignity, progressed very rapidly from almost static levels. The countries which have risen to the highest levels in culture, invention, science, industry and engineering are the ones in which its women interchange mentally with men as well as physically. Middle Europe and the United States have given almost all of the world’s great
achievements to the world, while the Slavs, Mongols, Arabs, and other Asiatic and African nations have given practically none of it. Whatever scientific, engineering, industrial or inventive advancement has come to Slav countries has been subsidized from Anglo-Saxon countries.

The advancement of women to mental esteem has been encouraging but there has been too little of man-woman equality in high places, such as industry and government. In these important departments of life the world is still a man’s world, made by man for man, and in man’s image. It is not a peaceful world, or a united one in any of its many departments, and it never will be as long as it is a man’s man-made world. Until women become the acknowledged mental equal of man and share with him the executive management of industrial and national responsibilities, it will be impossible to have an enduring civilization of happy, peaceful, successful people.

An unbalanced civilization is as operatively impossible as it would be for a man to continually walk and work while even three degrees away from perpendicular. Wherever one sees world and national affairs being discussed and weighed for decisions which affect all peoples, both men and women, you see great rows of men occupying the seats of judgment as to how the world must act. Everyone is familiar with pictures of man-groups in such high places as Senate and Congressional gatherings, the great conferences of The United Nations, the international assemblies at world conferences, the English Parliament or the cabinet of the President of the United States. With but few exceptions here and there all these managers of world affairs are men, all engaged in making a man’s unbalanced world which is as divided against itself as Man and Woman are divided against each other in a home where man is “master in his own house.”

I am quite sure that present-day man has not given serious thought to this man-woman equality in high places—especially here in the United States where men revere their women so highly. I feel that those thinking ones who read this book and remembering the great import of their wives in their work will do all in their power to commence what could be the greatest movement the world has even known. This action would be the spiritual rebirth the world is seeking and which all thinking men have been desiring to come into being to save it.

Our present state of world affairs is not in harmony with God’s One Law. That means that the whole human race is endeavoring to build a civilization by working against God instead of working with Him. It is a defiance of God’s command which Nature will not tolerate. Man alone can never manifest His Creator. Every creation of God or man springs only from unity, not from separateness. Creation stems only from united Father-Mother-hood. Man can no more create an enduring civilization without woman than he can create a baby without woman.

All ideas of the Mind, as well as all created bodies which manifest Mind, must have a mother as well as a father. The great error of man in this respect lies not so much in selfishness and ego as it does to the hold-over of his pagan memory of woman’s value to him as being purely physical. Until man and woman can equalize their mental relations and work together for spiritual unity, a balanced civilization is impossible.

We have long heard the hackneyed phrase that woman’s place is in the home. To organize, beautify and manage a home requires a great deal of executive ability which women perform with great credit when they must do it alone, but gloriously so when mates work together. Women have been called upon in war emergency meassures and asked to fill places unfamiliar to them, places which none but men have ever filled. They not only did the work with equal skill and merit but very often with greater efficiency than men.

When women fought for equal suffrage, one of the most familiar criticisms used to ridicule the idea of women as voters was the claim that they would vote for the man who had nice curly hair rather than the one who had brains. Then there was the ridicule of woman as statesman or as industrial director. “What would a woman know about government? What would she do in a conference of trained diplomats?”

Looking upon the results of our all-men world conferences since the end of World War I is it not fair to ask if the present dreadful plight the world finds itself in could not have been avoided if the balancing influence of women’s spiritual nature had been present? Every man and woman must realize that it is not in woman’s nature to kill, for her purpose on earth is to give life, not take it.

That alone is crucial to the survival of the human race. Women would find a more civilized way of settling issues between nations than war. Indeed, there would likely be fewer issues to settle between world nations if the feminine nature of Mankind was given equal place at the table of governing bodies.  More on this in my next post.

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With the recent church shooting  in Charleston, South Carolina by a twenty-one-year-old man that abruptly ended nine lives, my thoughts turn to questioning the home life of this deeply troubled and misguided young man and the culture of racial prejudice into which he was born.

We’ve been considering The Law of Balance in this series on Human Relations. Here’s a case where that law has long been ignored in this young man’s family life, but more so in his social environment. Violence has its roots in the family unit and in our culture of hate and prejudice, particularly here in the South. Gun control is not where we need to go to fix this problem, and jailing or executing the shooter brings no healing to this wounded human being.  Only compassion and understanding will begin to heal him and eradicate prejudice and hate from our culture. He needs to be taken in by society and bathed in love, not shut out and disposed of by our penal system. That system needs a complete re-thinking and re-ordering. The church members were as quick to forgive this young man as they were open to welcome him into their congregation. That’s a huge step toward healing, both the traumatized congregation and the young man. That attitude needs to be reflected in society as a whole and somehow in our penal system.

*  *  *  *

In the previous post, I ended the excerpt from Lao Russell’s book, GOD WILL WORK WITH YOU BUT NOT FOR YOU, with this brief but poignant paragraph:

Man has always crucified love on the cross of his own self-glory by the killing of men; and women have always wept at the foot of the cross, as they wept when men crucified the Nazarene while all but one of His disciples who professed to love Him, deserted Him.

I then closed my post with thoughts that arose from reading what Lao had to say here concerning the crucified Nazarene, offering that there were actually three of His disciples who stood at the foot of the cross: Mary Magdalene, his wife and soul mate, his mother Mary, and John the Beloved with whom Jesus endowed His mantle of authority. I then suggested that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had fulfilled their mission and purpose on earth by restoring the union between Man and Woman, a union that had been fragmented since Adam blamed Eve for their disobedience. That failure on the part of Adam to accept responsibility for his action but rather place all the blame on Eve drove a wedge between them. It also separated them from the Creator, but only in consciousness and awareness.

With this severance of the unity between these two earthly partners in Creation and between Man and his Creator, the world as we knew it in the beginning began to change, as did our perception of the world. It became a hostile place to live where survival and the killing of animals and of one another became the way of existence on the planet. Man became the hunter and gatherer, as well as protector of his territory, and woman became the home maker. Love was lost in our fall from grace as fear darkened our hearts and clouded our vision. And that is how it has remained to this very day.

Lao continues to share her perspectives and understanding—which some of my readers may find antiquated. This was written, after all, in 1955.  Much has changed in our consciousness since then. I should hope so anyway.

All of this is quite natural. It could hardly be otherwise, for man in his unfolding (or evolving) remembered the fighter spirit of his primate days of taking, while not realizing that the woman spirit of giving was gradually awakening in him a keener desire for mental mating and the spiritual unity of the equal Father-Motherhood of balanced mating. The hardest lesson which man must learn during the long ages of his journey is that God made man and woman equal with one another in order that they should manifest divided love by equal interchange in their givings and regivings. God’s whole purpose for dividing His spiritual Self into pairs of fathers and mothers is to dramatize His Love nature by the romance of equal and opposite interchange of love. The romance of awakening love is far greater than either its mental or physical interchange. Every expression of mating is empty without the romance of love itself. Romance is love-awareness without which there can be no complete happiness in any mating.

The Cosmic drama of Creation is a romance which all mankind is perpetually transforming to comedy and tragedy as it eternally seeks romance without knowing the path which leads to it. Through the romance of balanced interchanging of love between fathers and mothers they find unity which alone gives to them the ecstasy of the divine nature of God.

Physical sex interchange has been first in the desires of mass-man. Mental sex interchange is rare, while romance starves in a world which would give all else for just one hour of it. That is the lesson of life which all must learn who search for the peace and happiness which will alone bring rest from world tensions. The world has never learned it because the senses of man have never let him know the real meaning of either love or romance.

The world of divided humans must some day know that God’s divided universe is an electrically sex-divided dramatization of CAUSE and EFFECT. The CAUSE is Mind-desire for expressing static idea through intechanging motion. The EFFECT is what happens because of that division and the necessity of interchanging. CAUSE is, therefore, oneand EFFECT is always two. The lesson of life is to learn how to so balance the interchanging between the two halves of every effect that all EFFECT is completely canceled out in complete sexlessness by their balanced unity.

God’s motive as Master-Playwright of His Cosmic drama is the love urge of the mating idea expressed physically by the uniting of bodies to void the physical tensions of the sex urge by balancing them, and thus reproduce other bodies. It is also for the purpose of expressing the love urge in its mental and spiritual expression by eliminating the mental tensions of separateness. This is accomplished by uniting spiritual mates for creating spiritual idea.

A mental sex relation is for the purpose of creating idea, while the physical sex relation is for the purpose of creating body forms of mentally conceived ideas.

That is why any woman and any man who have harmonious spiritual relations with each other, such as a mother and son, or good friends, or business partners, can multiply power in each other very much more. than any two men, or any two women could possibly do.

That is why any organization which consists solely of men, whether it be an industry, a club, or the cabinet of the President of the United States, or of other organizations composed of women only, necessarily creates unbalanced structures in which there can never be complete unity.

That is why this man-made world is so badly unbalanced and disunited. Its male qualities are so preponderant that it has made a civilization which operates like a flywheel whose shaft is badly offcenter. A woman-made world would be just as unbalanced. Its preponderance of female qualities would make it equally disunited.

If you look into the life history of any great man you will find a woman in it who had a tremendous influence upon the creative powers which accounted for his greatness. It may be more than one woman, such as his mother, and his wife, or sweetheart, or dearly loved friend. No matter who that woman, or those women were, the basis of their interchange with him must first be love mentally
expressed. A spiritual union between any man and woman is of ten-thousand times more value than love physically expressed without the spiritual.

The romance is in the awakening of love in one another, which is not a one-time event when our hormones are beginning to kick in. It’s has to be an ongoing event.  

Love is not objective, nor can it be possessed. The woman awakens love in the man, and the man awakens love in the woman. The romance of it is in the awakening, not in the consummation. It is the awakened ability to love which counts, and not the acquisition of the object which has awakened it, nor in any physical contact whatsoever. A woman may not even be aware that she is deeply loved, and the man who loves may never even exchange a word with her. Where love is spiritual it uplifts, exalts, enriches and ennobles.

Where sex is purely physical it debases and defiles. Millions have ruined themselves through physical sex expression which was not spiritually balanced. The roué [debauched person] is despised where the parent is honored. Whole civilizations have been utterly destroyed by the sex debauchery of incest and promiscuity. Wherever spiritual sex-mating is preponderant over the physical there is then the beauty and glory of the power which men and women can alone
know who have that unity which comes to those “whom God hath joined together.”

Any man and woman who are thus spiritually and physically balanced multiply their unified power by eight—not two. Two separate, disunited potentials are only two, but when two potentials act as one their power multi-plies in the ratio of the cube. In other words, when two completely united, balanced mates act as one they do not add their two powers together to equal two, they multiply
them in the ratio of gravitation mathematics, which are three dimensional.

There is no lesson so hard to learn, or of such great import, as the long lesson of learning how to interchange all spiritual and physical divisions of effect equally in order to unify them, and thus make two unbalanced conditions become one. A balanced life, home, business, community, nation or world of nations is possible only by learning that great lesson by the hard way of experience until it is put into practice.

An approximation of balance will not suffice for complete happiness. A man who still insists upon being “master in his own home,” cannot have a happy home, even though he provides for his family generously and is a model husband in every other respect. With such a condition contentment is possible but romance is utterly stifled. A residue of unbalance still remains which makes it impossible to cancel out all actions and reactions by balancing them as a businessman balances his books constantly. A business could not succeed if a daily deficit made it impossible to balance its books, nor can a family succeed in being all that a family should where a constant tension exists which cannot be utterly voided.

The wife would try to assure herself she was happy by seeing the good points in her husband. Something would constantly be happening which would not happen if the home was a balanced one. A daughter might marry against her better judgment because of the tension which could not be eliminated, or a son might leave home where he otherwise would not. Unity cannot exist where tensions hold two apart. They will always be two until residual tensions are balanced. The two will then be ONE.

In countries where their women are forced to accept infidelities as a matter of course there can never be the happy home life enjoyed by those nations where infidelities are the exception and not the rule. Under such conditions unity is utterly impossible, because romance is impossible.

I will leave it there and leave you to ponder, and perhaps comment on, what you have read. We will continue along this vein in the next couple of posts.

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