Archive for May, 2019

Peniel, Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker, June 2019,P.O. Box 642656 San Francisco, CA 94164

May 26, 2019

Journal of An Alien Street Priest

The Tender Hand’s of God’s Mercy

    How many of us reject God’s justice?  I dare say not one of us. We can not abide the thought that wrongdoers get away with their offenses. And boy do we all sit in justice: some of us judge people of color, LGBT?, others the homeless, and so on. We judge, we punish them, and we separate ourselves from those that do wrong or are different from us. We want our opponents to get what is coming to them. Mercy seems to threaten our yearning for a place that complies with the need for things to come out right.

    And herein lies the mystery: many of us are convinced this is a contest. Either we have a world that runs on justice or mercy. We can not have both. There is no room for both or is there?

    Henry Suso, Dominican mystic, describes the  interplay between justice and mercy. He talks of a mother who sees her wandering child  caught in a raging fire.  She once carried that child, will she now abandon him to his fate. Is this a time to blame, or to make a self sacrifice. She quickly reaches through the flames and rescues her child. Both are scared severely.

    The child made a mistake, he wandered away, but he does not deserve to be burned to death, and letting that happen is not faithful to justice.

    To see justice separated from love is a severe misunderstanding of it’s nature. Both child and mother do pay a price for this wrong doing, and both will keep the scars from this event. And we know that if she would make this choice a thousand times, each time the mother would put her hands into the fire.

    We are in a time when everyone is pointing fingers. In this Pride season there are those who point fingers at queer people and condemn, fingers are pointed at people who have made mistakes years ago, some really horrible. Queer people struggle with the Church, because of its’ condemnation, and for those whose denomination’s have become reconciling, the pain is deep, the wounds run deep, and bubble to the surface.

    And so in this glorious Pride season, and season of Pentecost and Ordinary time. we celebrate the wounded hands that went to hell and back for us. The marks Thomas observes restores justice  because they testify to love. These scars of Jesus do not obliterate divine justice. They transfigure it so that we might kiss, ever so softly, the perfection of justice and their only mercy’s tender handling can result. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Rethinking of Hot Meals

In the early morning of January 1, 2018, a foggy  night, I slipped and broke my rotary cuff. What followed  has been a year of recovery, which has been remarkably successful.  As with all injuries we have limitations,  the primary one is being unable to lift anything over thirty pounds (30 pounds) which leads us to discontinue our hot meal once or twice a week. The gift is that  we will completely center our time and energy on our pastoral ministry.

We will make sandwiches and give out fruit bars, so food will be provided. Many of you have participated in these meals, and we would like to give you our profound thanks, but also to offer you opportunities  to participate more fully in our ministry enabling our work to continue and to evolve in a variety of ways.

1. We are continually wrapping birthday gifts, last year we gave away  859 gifts;

2. Wrapping Christmas gifts–usually around 1200;

3.  Rolling socks together, which is around 25, 000 pairs a year.

4.  Making sandwiches;

5. Packaging condoms, clean needles and other harm reduction supplies;

6. Help in  digitizing  and organizing  our photos for the Catholic Worker Archives at Notre Dame University;

7.  Help in planning our Anniversary Celebration in October;

8. Making hospital calls on youth-we will train you; visit nursing homes where many are now living due to HIV related disabilities , and disabilities from being on the street for years;

9. Handle emergency calls when I am out of town.

Br. Luke Ditewig reminds us to “Look back. Draw on your memory. Jesus is victorious but not as the world expects and often not as we imagine or want.  Resurrection power comes surprising in the ordinary and informal, including our past” and so let us be surprised in what is to come, remembering the goodness of the past.

So there are many, many opportunities, and we look forward to seeing you in our work in these areas in the days ahead.



Due to our illness, the death of several donors, and the retiring of a number of people our offerings are down. We are giving out 1000 pair of socks a month, feeding people every day snacks, and hot meals twice a week, our primary focus of pastoral and sacramental care are a part of our daily life, so please consider us in your giving.

Donations are tax deductible, and may be given through the mail at the address above or through pay pal on our web site or simply through pay pal.

Snail Mail:

    P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

    pay pal. You can find on website as well:

I always write a thank you note for our  gifts. I often receive notes or emails saying, “Do not waste a stamp.”  Our thank you notes are not just acknowledgments but come from our heart.   I joke that I am a “southern boy” raised with the gene of writing thank you notes, and that is true, but in truth I am very appreciative. I do not feel that any gift is complete without a thank you note, and so know it is never a problem, or time consuming, but a joy to acknowledge your gift. RS+

Thank you!



“Home Coming”

October 5, 2019

St. Luke’s Episcopal  Church

6:30 p.m.



“No One is An Enemy or Stranger, I get along with All.”

Siri Guru Granth Sahib




Cut to the Chase !

May 26, 2019

Cut To the Chase!!

Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.’.. .

“A friend was visiting the chaplain of a hospice. In the course of the conversation, the chaplain said that, that weekend, eight of the hospice’s 30 patients had died.

The visitor asked about the effect of so many deaths on the staff. That was tough, the chaplain said, and shared one particular story from the weekend.

That Saturday, a woman who had been at the hospice for a couple of months had a visit from her teenage son. It was a great visit, filled with laughs and fun and hugs. At noon the boy told his mother that he was going to have lunch with friends but would be back later in the afternoon.

But shortly after the son left, the mother called the nurse on duty, a wonderful young woman who was the patient’s favorite nurse of all.

“I think this is it. I may be dying.”

The nurse checked her vital signs and replied honestly, “It’s possible you are.”

The patient then asked the nurse, “Will you hold me? I think if you hold me I can do this well.”

The young nurse did not hesitate – she got into the bed and cradled that emaciated body in her arms – and held her into eternity.

The visitor than asked the chaplain, “What about the nurse? What did it do to her?” The chaplain replied that the nurse had taken four days off to go to the mountains to think and feel and decide whether to come back to work again.

“Do you think she’ll be back?” the chaplain was asked.

“She’ll be back. You learn in a place like this that caring hurts – but when you really care you offer something special and become special yourself.”

Donald L. Anderson

We are addicted to money, we make money any way we can, at whatever cost that we can. There has been advertisements on  the internet for a course in “How to Learn to Be Compassionate in Ninety Days” for $150.00. Let’s simply cut to the chase!

Compassion is not a gift, it is not an item we can pay for, but as in the story above, it is one you learn by doing, by giving yourself away to the point that it hurts. Like the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, who became human as he let himself be torn to rags, that is how we evolve into the one who lives in the reign of God.  When we suffer with others, we become compassionate and we truly live.

Albert Schweitzer once said, “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes the ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”

We  were asked yesterday about our  political opinion: We have one political opinion and that is found in the words of Jesus of Nazareth: “Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” 

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Garden and the Dessert

May 23, 2019

The Garden and the Desert

John 15:9-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

    Yesterday was the anniversary of my mother’s death.  Her presence remains in that Great Cloud of Witnesses that surround us and she is always cheering me on. And as I look back she taught me several things.

First she taught me to be the wolf. For a wolf walks in a pack, but stands alone  when need be, he is not a part of the crowd. Along with that she taught me there is no valor in compromise.

    Secondly my mother taught me not to fear death. That our faith teaches us that we will continue, and to trust in Christ. Her favorite saying was: “The young do, and the old must,” we are to mourn  those who die, but we are to move on and live our lives fully.

    Finally my mother gave me a poem, which slowly I am learning to appreciate by W.H. Auden:

” For the garden is the only place there is,

but you will not find it.

Until you have looked for it every where

and found it nowhere that is not a desert.”

    In the midst of the desert of  high rents, gentrification, thousands of people suffering on the streets, apathy of people, I find the garden; For you see in the Bible we sometimes find God’s truth in the gutter, deep in the center of dark hardship where there is little margin and perhaps where God feels absent; And so in San Francisco I both the desert and the garden.

    The garden flourishes in the lives of the people we touch every day, food, socks, and the  time spent hanging out with them; the garden is found in the beauty of the City and it’s surroundings; and the garden is found in each one of us as we grow, and develop our inner selves. The garden and the desert are intertwined,  without one there is not the other.

    If there is a piece of advice to be given, it is that wherever we are, we find both the desert and the garden, for they are both within us. Moving from one physical location to another we still take both the garden and desert with us.  When we tend the garden within ourselves it blossoms, whether we are housed or live on the streets, sick or well, rich or poor, and the best tool to cultivate the garden with is love:

juJ”9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Finding God In the Margins

May 21, 2019

Reflections on Finding God In the Margins

by Carolyn Curtis James

    We awoke from a dream with warm feelings this morning. We were asleep, and in the room next door our friend Matt was playing loud music, my door opens and he walks  into the room and finds our  laundry money and as he takes some of the money,  reaches out  giving us a big hug,  and  looking into his deep blue eyes, we felt really safe, loved  and at home; Our  door  opens and our five other friends circle us laughing, hugging, and just caring. They are not blue-eyed, one set of parents comes from Columbia and Guatemala, the others are of Mexican descent. When we are driving around together we are well aware that there is no danger of being stopped with the blue-eyed one in the car; with the brown eyed one’s, there are chances we will be stopped. The blue eyed one’s mother has never been questioned if she has a job; one of the brown eyed  one’s mother was asked at a school meeting if she was on government aid, when in reality she works in a hospital on the surgical wing; and so the list goes on and on. We were  in a restaurant recently with two of our  friends, and a woman asked us  as we moved towards the restroom, “Are they illegal?” We responded, “Are you?” and moved on. Our  blue eyed friend would never have received  that response. We  never take our  brown-eyed friends to a town north of us after eleven at night, because the chances are one in three we will be stopped, with my blue-eyed friend, never happens.

    The truth is all of us are immigrants, our nation is made up of immigrants, and we immigrants are the ones who pushed the Native Americans off the grid. We are all “foreigners”.

    In Finding God in the Margins, we read:

    “For many refugees, if they have any dreams at all, their only dream is of returning to their homeland.  However deep those longings may be, thoughts of returning home inevitably are a cauldron of mixed feelings–a sense of relief at the prospect of home, of the familiar, of shedding the “foreigner” label, and of belonging, accompanied by uncertainty and dread at what “home” will look like, who will be missing, and how much of their former life will be destroyed.

    So far, the twenty first century has been a gut-wrenching education on what life is like for refugees. Terrorism, bombings, civil wars, and the accompanying threat of starvation as food supplies are cut off have driven millions of refugees away from home in a desperate, often fatal quest for sanctuary. Whole cities have been reduced to rubble. Communities have been dismantled. Civilian casualties are in the hundreds of thousands. Countless friends, relatives, and neighbors are gone forever. The Mediterranean Sea has become a watery graveyard of thousands of unmarked graves. . . p.26″.

    This book brings home the plight of our national and world crisis, but more importantly this book calls  us of all faiths to look deeper within ourselves, and rather than see national or political boundaries open ourselves to the boundaries  of God–all loving,  all caring, seeing no political boundaries.  This book calls us to view our own racism, our own fears, and place them in the hands of God, and let us become one people. And as one people to share of our wealth, so that all might be fed, clothed, have health care, and housing. This book calls us to see all borders as false, and move to openness.  This book calls us to move out of our comfortability and  care for those on the margins, so that we will have no margins. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Logs and Splinters

May 20, 2019

“Splinters and Logs”

John 14:21-26

    In our Gospel today we hear of Jesus talking about love and caring for our neighbor, and we see hear of Judas==”not the Iscariot”, for the “Iscariot” is the one who fell into the sin of betrayal. The truth is all of us sin in that we do not love our neighbor’s, and in  judging others.

    I attended a “Ramadan Interfaith  Event” last night. We came together as brothers and sisters who share the same God, as one’s who reach out in love; we had police security because of fear.

At my table there were two individuals who looked at me, seeing my collar, and would make snide remarks, about “ALL priests being sexual predators”, repeatedly, and than turn away. One of their  friend’s  told me, “they  can not  help it they are atheist’s  and people mistreat them.” It is time that we take responsibility for our actions.

    As I sat there, keeping my mouth shut-I was exhausted by the end of the night–I thought of Father Louie Vitalie, and Fr. John Dear whom I am going to hear tonight. Both are courageous men who have faced persecution, and threats on their lives because of their positions on peace, homelessness, and being ecumenical; I thought of a priest who ran a home for people with AIDS here in San Francisco,  many years ago, people who had no where to go; I think  of the thousands of priests across the world who live in poverty, put their lives’ on the on the line every day of their lives; and as one of the persons, in their seventies , followed me to my car, making veiled threats, I turned around and looked in their  eyes and said very firmly: ” I have taken your verbal abuse, and now I feel threatened, for three hours, and what I  have to say is this, I have spent all of my adult life as a priest, I have suffered, almost died, been slandered, my reputation always on the line, but I have tried to serve Jesus, and there are millions now, and before who do the same. And so my words to you are to look into your own eyes and take the log out before you try to take the splinters out of mine , and my brothers and sisters in ministry.” and I stepped  into the car and drove away.

    It is time that we begin to take the “logs” out of our own eyes, and remember the words of Clement of Alexander, “There is but one River of truth, but many streams pour into it, from this side and from that,” and see our differences as but a sign of God’s celebration of our lives; and to see that people in all professions, and all aspects of life commit the “sin” of not loving our neighbors in the worst of ways, and our responsibility is to route  out that sin in justice, but with mercy, and live our lives in service to the best of our responsibility.

“I am a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw., D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Where Heaven Is

May 18, 2019


Where Heaven Is!

John 14:7-14

    Fr. Larry Rosebaugh (1935-2009) was murdered on this date in Guatemala by masked gunmen. He lived a life of resistance participating in destroying draft files as one of the Milwaukee 14; He worked with young AIDS victims, and he lived on the streets, dumpster diving, giving us the message:

“The frustration of dire poverty doesn’t really impress until we become utterly impoverished. The pains of hunger become real to us only when they are ours. In the meantime, we can only try to put ourselves in the place of such victims and attempt to alleviate some frustration and pain.”

    Margery Kempe reminds us: “Wherever  God is found that is where heaven is,” and God is found in the midst of the poor, the hungry, the homeless.  We want to find heaven, all we have to do is look on our streets, and attempt to “alleviate some frustration and pain.”


“To hear the voice of Jesus is to hear the voice of love calling to the very depths of our hearts, for God is love. The voice of love speaks, not to our fears, but to our hopes, not to our anger, but to our dreams. Love is the voice of hope and of possibility. But as is its nature, love not only shouts from the mountain tops, it also hangs on the cross and whispers our names at dawn.”

-Br. James Koester

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Take the Anti-Imperialist Pledge!

by Cindy Sheehan & Jack Balkwill

The thing that tends to hold us back when it comes to making a better country and a better world is the elephant in the room corporate media never sees: The Empire.

It costs over one trillion dollars to maintain an empire, particularly when that empire goes against the interests of the majority of the people in the nation and most of the people on the planet. We spend ourselves into deep red ink on The Empire while supporters of The Empire implore us to cut what little is beneficial to the people of the nation and the world. For example, President Trump has asked that we cut things like Medicare and Social Security while simultaneously increasing “defense” spending and cutting taxes on the rich.

We invite all voters in the United States to join us in dumping The Empire in the 2020 election. If a candidate insists on supporting The Empire, we pledge to not give them our vote or any campaign donations.

Thanks to the obscene cost required by The Empire, the United States is the only industrialized country without a medical care system for its people, allowing thousands to die each year for lack of medical care. The United States drags its feet when it comes to environmental responsibilities because its wealth is not spent on wind turbines and solar panels—but on The Empire alone.

The purpose of The Empire is to intimidate the world into toeing the line to laissez faire capitalism which benefits the plutocrats at the expense of the 99 percent. If The Empire were gone, the majority of the Earth’s inhabitants would be far better off with considerably more freedom, democracy, prosperity, peace and environmental sustainability. Unbeknownst to many, the U.S. Military Industrial Complex can arguably be accused of being the biggest environmental danger on the planet.


To dismantle The Empire will mean to:

  1.  End all of the wars.
  1.  Shut down all of the overseas military bases.
  1.  Bring all of the troops home.


But this will not be easy.

For those who don’t see the problem, perhaps this will help: A recent survey of 21 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development nations revealed that 68% of the respondents want to tax the rich to help the poor. This is a universal desire that, decade after decade, goes unaddressed. What more could prove that we do not have democracies but plutocracies?

However, the rich have had their taxes decreased for 70 years—decade after decade.

Despite mainstream media screaming that our economy is booming, homelessness has increased for two years running.

The majority of people want peace, but we get war. The majority of people want universal health care, but we get the deaths of thousands from a lack of health care. The majority of people want no or low-cost access to quality education but, we get horrible public education and prohibitively expensive university. We do not have anything remotely resembling a democracy. For those who think we have a republic, in a real republic there are representatives of the people who address the problems of the people, and that is not happening here.

At March on the Pentagon, we encourage you to sign a pledge to dump The Empire in next year’s election. We invite you to withhold your vote until a candidate pledging to cut defense spending, end one or more wars, and close military bases abroad joins the playing field.

While, as a non-partisan organization, we do not endorse or support any particular candidate, we hope to educate and inform like minded Americans of their options when it comes to each candidate’s stance on wars and US imperialism.

We invite you to sign the pledge below and check back soon to see our shareable 2020 candidate scorecards!

Anti-Imperialist Pledge:

Fields marked with an * are required

I pledge to join March on the Pentagon in withholding my vote in the 2020 election unless a candidate or candidates that are clearly and vehemently anti-imperialist and anti-war. The only acceptable candidates will be those willing to challenge The Empire by cutting defense spending, ending war,providing money for housing Health and  Mental health care to the poor and homeless and food for those who hunger, and closing foreign military bases. I pledge to refrain from voting for any candidates who do not embrace these ideals.

First Name *
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May 17, 2019


Cale and AnthonyGenerosity

John 14:1-2: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. .

John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you. that you love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    In my imagination I see that the “rooms” that Jesus refers to are not a physical place but the largeness of God’s presence, a generosity of love available to everyone. A welcoming space where no one is excluded.

    Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker, who was considered “weird,”,  but his weirdness was in the message he preached and proclaimed with every fiber of his body: “What we give to the poor for Christ’s sake is what we carry with us when we die.”

As we open our hearts, minds, and souls we find our love and care for others, and in so doing the more we give, the more we suffer with others, the greater largeness we carry in our relationship with God, even unto death.

    Homelessness is on the increase every where, one in four people go with out food each day, mental illness is  not being treated, and the only solution is if we all open our hearts and our minds, and our pocket books in love, and give. The answer is not with our government–but with each one of us. 

     This is the message that Peter Maurin preached, and that has been nearly a hundred years ago, and it still rings true. We find our experience with God in the largeness of our hearts, and in the giving we give to others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


A Reflection and Renewal

May 16, 2019


John 15:9-17

iAs the Father has loved me, jso have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 kIf you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as lI have kept mmy Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, nthat my joy may be in you, and that oyour joy may be full.

12 p“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 qGreater love has no one than this, rthat someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are smy friends tif you do what I command you. 15 uNo longer do I call you servants,1 for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for xall that I have heard from my Father yI have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but zI chose you and appointed you that you should go and abear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that bwhatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, cso that you will love one another.

On this date in the mist’s of time it seems these days, I was confirmed in the United Methodist Church. I was twelve years old, it was one of the happiest day of my life, and three months later I felt my heart “strangely warmed” to use the words of John Wesley, and thus my calling to ministry, and as they say the rest is history.

    It was in the Church, and the ministry,  that I found the answer to the question raised by Emily Dickinson: “”I’m no body! Who are you? Are you nobody?” For in the Gospel as our Scripture tells we are loved, with a love that will not let us go, we are friends with Jesus, and we are called to love others in the same way. Ministry has never been a job, it is my calling. A calling that an old Black poem describes:

“Done made my vow to the Lord,

And I never will turn back,

I will go, I shall go

To see what the end will be.

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I”m down,

See what the end will be,

But still my soul is heav’nly bound,

See what the end will be.”

It is a calling which leads me to put myself second to others in service to others. Ministry is not a “job” you retire from, but one in which you grow and develop. At my ordination my District Superintendent fondly shared with me these words: “You are like a piece of wood, a new piece of wood, and you begin to carve, to shape it, to create, you make mistakes, and you carve over them and the wood becomes more beautifully, ministry is painful, but as you shape your piece of art you will shine more brightly.” And so it has been, I make a hell of a lot of mistakes, but I grow, and I see the face of Christ more brightly.

I have  found the Church to be a dangerous place and very frightening at times, probably the most dangerous place on earth, because the cover of the Divine can be used to administer violence, after all  it is a human institution. As Dorothy Day once said: “The Church is a whore, but she is also our Mother,” and so ultimately I look for our Mother in individuals who show the love of God imperfectly, but are the love of God.

One night last week I spent hours listening to a teen who had been rejected, judged, by his church–one of the most progressive churches in the country, but again we are dealing with humans who do not share their inner feelings–over his sexuality, and simply him  being a young adult, because he did not fit the stereotypes (and believe me I know how that feels). He feels unsafe, and where that leads, only the future will tell. I do not wear all black when I am in clergy dress, I always wear colored shirts or mix up the colors of my pants if I wear black, because the all black attire symbolizes to many sexual and judgmental abuse. Frankly I do not feel comfortable being around male  clergy (or even middle age males,)  in black, unless they are women, from my own personal experience. The truth is the effects of abuse never goes away–we simply work with that experience  pain in our life, a major defacing  in our piece of wood we are carving and in the process beauty will come out of that pain. It never goes away.

And so on this day I renew my vows of baptism, “To accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,” my vow at confirmation: “To be loyal to the Church,” and at ordination, “To Preach the Word, and Administer the Sacraments.”   And so I am still sloughing my way towards Galilee, as all of us do own our journey. I have much joy in my life, and the joy and thanksgiving for being in ministry knows no bounds. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.



Book Review

May 12, 2019


on the Ultimate Goal of Living


By Jack Call

Jack Call describes the psychedelic experience with LSD in his book, and presents it as a means of being open to all and is a way of religious experience that gives you a broader understanding of the faith and life. He believes that it helps believers come into touch with the heart of the Gospel: “Thou shalt love the Lord your God, with all of your  heart, your mind and your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

A number of years ago I had a sixteen year old friend who begged me to take him to Burning Man, his mom was giving us money, and I had a job as a Chaplain for a “Getting High for Jesus” Group, which paid the tickets. What never occurred to me was they would expect me to take LSD with them. I was nervous, but the my contract over ruled my fears.

My “trip” during our time together and the worship services that I conducted, was shall we say euphoric. What the author tells of feeling loving to everyone and experiencing the love was true. The Gospel of love taught by Jesus seemed real, and in those moments were a reality. It was a great experience, but only the one time. 

The experience fades, at and you return to your everyday feelings etc., and I believe a drug can not give you love of neighbor but only your experience in caring about your neighbor. 

This is a good book.


Book Review

May 11, 2019


Faith Lies  By Darrell Smith


Love, God by Deborah Simons Roslak

and Linda J. Orber

“After this many disciples turn3ed their backs and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve ‘Do you want to go away to?’ Simon Peter answered him, “Lord where shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.” John 6:66-68

    Reverend Smith in Faith Lies challenges the ideas of fundamentalism, where the Bible is looked upon as the “literal Word of God.” He points out that taking the literal approach to the Bible is one in which we are afraid to look outside the box, and how destructive that approach is to ourselves, and others. When we take the Bible or any  philosophy, theory, or political concepts  literally we limit ourselves and set ourselves up as judge and jury. 

    The Great Commandment: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all of your strength, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself.” is the heart of the Gospel, and in doing so we live out the way of Jesus. To truly live, to truly grow, we need to open our minds and spirits to others with out judgment, and show love.

    Love, God,   is a book of what we commonly call devotions which  for me has become and invitation to God’s loving presence. We deepen our relationship with God through a centering on Scripture and writings of saints both living and dead who offers us an approach of non-judgment, and challenges us to open up  to people, to open to God, as a God with many faces. This is a book that I will continually use because it is one that brings comfort and hope.

    Both these books remind me of my call to ministry. Many times both yesterday and today I doubt my ministry, I doubt myself, but ultimately I come back to “Where else can I go?” “Who has the words of eternal life to eternal life.”  For me only Jesus, the Jesus of many faces!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.


San Francisco, CA 94164