Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

My Photo
Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, September 29, 2011


What Does it Mean to Have Christ in You?

Many sermons end with the hope and plea that we discover the Christ within us. We expect that Christians have some experience of finding Jesus, being found by God, having a Christ conversion experience. Some religions hold that we cannot be Christian unless you we had an emotional experience of the living Christ. They demand that we accept Jesus as our personal savior.

Some of us come to follow Jesus as a result of our steady education in scripture, theology and the regular attendance at church, receiving the sacraments and participation in the community. That is pretty much my own personal situation. I am a committed follower of Jesus by background, tradition, education and participation in the church. But I cannot say I have been “converted” or had a mystical experience. Many people do testify that have had such a “warming” to use John Wesley’s term. Many have been moved by Billy Graham crusades and accepted Jesus and gone down the aisle to have hands laid on them with prayer.

My own commitment to follow Jesus came through my background in the church, education and exposure to prejudice against Jews, Blacks and homosexuals. It just became the natural and right thing to do to become an outspoken advocate to help end racial, religious and sexual prejudice. It was just the way it was for me and is now too.

I often press preachers to give examples of people who have Christ within them. The easy ones are Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Archbishop Tutu, Dorothy Day and St. Francis.

I believe Gandhi, Madame Curie, and Freud while not specifically Christian, had compassion and Christ like love to help people.

How about devout Roman Catholics today? Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner have widely divergent views of how to run the government and care for the poor and are willing to wage war. Are they Christ like-Christians?

First of all no one can judge the value or quality of another person’s commitment to Jesus the Christ, although each of us does that in our hearts and minds. We think, he’s a good one and she’s not. Madonna is a baptized Catholic and now is involved in a sect of Buddhism. Is she Christ-like? Who are we to judge? Some bishops and others are uneasy with Christian clergy and laypeople who profess to be Zen Buddhists. Why not enjoy both Buddhism and Christianity?

Well, I do make some judgments. I have some standards, but I will praise those who live up to my standards and ignore the rest. I Judge a person’s commitment to Jesus Christ very simply. How does her or his faith work to serve the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised and seek peace in the world? Does the person’s so-called spiritual life result in direct service to others?

I know many devout followers of Christ work to earn a living at jobs whose contributions to others well-being is indirect. Insurance, advertising, engineering, real estate, travel, government, retail, wholesale, food, media, finance and a whole host of others.

There are doctors and dentists who serve the sick and suffering directly and become wealthy in doing so. Who am I to judge if they have a Christ consciousness.

Nurses and medical technicians give direct care to the sick. Teachers, no matter what their religious beliefs may be, give direct care to the development of children’s minds and hearts.

Most people in all lines of work have little or no Christ commitment motivating them. Are the devout Christians any better at what they do than non-believers?

We in the church acknowledge that God’s Holy Spirit is at work in people and in the world at all times. My atheist cardiologist friend saved lives and prolonged the lives of many more. The Holy Spirit works through Larry whether he believes it or not.

We who are members of the church, the body of Christ, must mind our own business when it comes to other people’s faith and motivation.

I get tired of this era of pop-spirituality we are in with meditation, labyrinths, retreats, quiet days, prayer groups and daily offices and little action in the church and the world to help the poor, oppressed and the sick. While Jesus often prayed, he did not call us to develop our spiritual life. He called us to complete the creation by doing our part in bringing in the Kingdom of God.

If we take following Jesus seriously we need to focus on discovering for ourselves what the best way is to serve the poor, the sick and disenfranchised and to seek peace in the world. We proclaim the gospel and we do the work we are called to do, and do it.

The late senator Mark O. Hatfield, Republican from Oregon was an evangelical Christian and an activist for peace and justice. He put it this way:

Radical allegiance to Jesus Christ transforms one’s entire perspective on political reality. Priorities become totally changed; a whole new understanding of what is truly important bursts forth. There is an uncompromising identification with the needs of the poor and oppressed. One is placed in fundamental opposition to structures of injustice and forms of national idolatry. Further there is a commitment to the power of love as the only means to the end.

Hatfield saw that some issues affecting people could only be solved by changing the laws that oppress people. Changes in the law brought about ending legal oppression of Jews and African Americans. Today a capitalist medical care system fails many people in getting health insurance. Now the government must help the poor get proper medical care. Political action to bring about change is part of following Jesus.

From the Hebrew Bible we find a simple principle for living well and following Jesus:

Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Many are quiet followers of Jesus without any announcements made about their motivation:

-bringing sick people to church

-teaching school

-being a social worker

-working as a hospital administrator

to mention a very few, as the list would be endless.

I find it inspiring to see and hear about people who are acting out of the conviction they are imbued with a Christ-consciousness. Preachers using concrete illustrations of Christians following the teaching of Jesus help motivate others to act vigorously in the world.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Palestinians - Israelis

Hi Michael.

You are asking all the right questions. I can only give you my answer.

I am a long time critic of the Israeli's treatment of the Palestinians. 40,000 have been in camps for over 40 years. Israelis have built walls surrounding Palestinian areas, harass Palestinian's free flow of travel and treat them like second-class citizens.

The US will probably veto the Palestinian effort to become a separate state by mandate of the UN. Obama and any government official fear retaliation from wealth Jewish organizations that are unreservedly pro-Israel.

I have been called an anti-semite. I don't care, I know I am not.

It will work out over time. I choose to take a stand when I am requested. My Jewish friends know of my position and we just don't talk about it.

Thank you for writing.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ruth Brinker R.I.P.

Ruth Brinker Memorial

San Francisco City Hall, North Hall

September 12, 2011

Ruth Brinker


Founder of Project Open Hand

In 1981 Ruth Brinker was one of the first people I met after I had been elected Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Bush and Gough Street. She was the director of the

Meals on Wheels program which used the kitchens of the church to make meals. She was always perfectly dressed while slicing, chopping or stirring food next to a hot stove.

There were budget cuts then as there are now and her budget had been cut so low that she though it would better named Snacks on Sneakers. Ruth had recruited many volunteers and friends to assist in preparing and delivering food to the housebound elderly.

In 1984 some of her friends and volunteers were getting very sick and were also housebound. The AIDS epidemic had hit the city and gay males were hardest hit. They were infected, became very ill and often died with a month or two. The men could not work, often lived in poor tenderloin housing and could not prepare food for themselves.

Ruth Brinker began preparing meals for them from her home and delivering them herself to her friends. One day she came to me and asked, “May I use Trinity kitchens? I am cooking for ten men from home and there is more demand?”

I said, “Sure, keep me informed.”

In two weeks we spoke and she said the numbers had jumped from 10 to 40 in two weeks.

She called it Project Open Hand.

She needed more money and we were not able to help her. She got a gift of two thousand dollars from a Zen Buddhist group. Trinity paid PG&E, water, and garbage. The need, the money and the volunteers grew and publicity resulted and Project Open Hand was a reality.


As usual some people began to complain that there were too many people in and out of the church, parking was interrupted and someone reported the operation to the health Department.

The Health Inspector came to the ancient Trinity kitchen, looked around and said, “Yes, there are violations here,” He turned around and walked away never to be heard from again. The kitchen was built in 1898 when the church was built and had never been refinished. Well, maybe in 1900.

Then people were worried about the money. Where was the bank account, how was the money spent, who was the treasurer? Ruth replied briskly, “My purse is the bank account.”

I was never worried. She drove the same old rent a wreck she always had and lived in a small apartment in North beach.

Finally a board of directors was formed to help her and no one cold find any hint that Ruth was dishonest.

Project Open Hand moved from Trinity in 1993 to its own kitchen on 17th Street. The telephone bank stayed at the church for a few years longer.

Ruth told me that the Quakers influenced her earlier in her life. She became a communicant member of Trinity Church while I was rector.

She was a follower of Jesus who asked us to

Feed the hungry, heal the sick,

aid the oppressed.

That was what Ruth Brinker was all about.

A speech given by The Rev. Robert Warren Cromey, retire rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, San Francisco, CA

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Many Horrors of 9/11

The angels rejoiced over the deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea.

God, the creator if the Universes, was sitting in a corner weeping. The angels asked why God was weeping when the enemies of Israel were defeated? I am weeping said the maker of the universe for the dead Egyptians washed up on the shore - somebody’s sons somebody’s husband, somebody’s fathers.” From an Hasidic tale.

9/11/11 should be a day of mourning for the victims of the attacks, the inglorious invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, brutality of enemy prisoners of war, killing of United Nation’s soldiers, civilians and soldiers of the invaded countries, the horror of stealth bombers, denigration of the people of Islam and serious losses to our constitutional rights like Illegal wire and phone tapping by police and FBI and CIA, Illegal searches of American citizen’s person and property.

We can rejoice that our country maintained peace and prosperity at home but we cannot forget that we have caused mayhem in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Labor Day and 9/11 Anniversary

The Labor Union movement brought about child labor laws, the eight-hour workday, health and pension plans, work safety rules, and collective bargaining among other values.

On the tenth Anniversary of 9/11:
One group suggests flying an American flag of any size on 9/11 should mark the observance. Another suggests we fly the flag upside down. I disagree with a flurry of flags.

9/11/11 should be a day of mourning and lamentation for the victims of the attacks, the inglorious invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, our brutal torturing of enemy prisoners of war, killing of American soldiers, civilians and soldiers of the invaded countries, the horror of stealth bombers, denigration of the people of Islam and serious losses to our constitutional rights like Illegal wire and phone tapping by police and FBI and CIA and illegal searches of American citizen’s person and property.

We can rejoice that our country maintained peace and prosperity at home but we cannot forget that we have caused mayhem in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.