The Week That Collapses Time

Today is Palm Sunday in Liturgical Christian circles. It begins the week known by many as “Holy Week” and it focuses on the Last Supper, arrest, trial, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. Many devout Christians — let alone those for whom Christianity is only a set of moral principles– have not had the opportunity to go deeper into the meaning of this week and the liturgical celebrations that the Christian Community participates in. The meaning of these rites goes far beyond what is seen on the surface, and, in many cases, even beyond the words and gestures used in Continue Reading →

What’s the Good Word, God?

Gospel of John

As I write this, the feast of Christmas begins at sundown tomorrow. It brings me to think about the awesome masterwork of faith and understanding that is the Gospel of John, and probably the key concept that forms the foundation of John’s understanding of who Jesus was and is: his very nature or essence. His understanding goes far beyond just an appreciation for Jesus and his role in the history of humanity; it goes to the heart of Jesus’ role as essential bridge between the divine and, not only the human, but even the entire universe. Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Continue Reading →

The Mantle of the Prophet

Prophet

The first book of Kings describes the word of the Lord coming to Elijah at Horeb. The LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.1 So Elijah went and did what he was told. So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of Continue Reading →

My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

Death

How perverse we humans are! In our “sophisticated” age of science and technology we gladly allow ourselves to be made fools of by the ancients who, in so very many ways, understood much more than we do. After all, they lacked all the layers of “sophistication” that we so easily and glibly use to mask and obscure the clarity of what they saw with their “unsophisticated” hearts. We seemingly deliberately “scientize” their writings in a valiant — and effective — effort to obscure their meaning, fulfilling the words of Isaiah: He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, Continue Reading →

Conversion

This morning (June 11: the feast of St. Barnabas), I was thinking about the story of  Barnabas of Antioch, the Christian apostle and companion of Paul of Tarsus, and how the two of them went around preaching and converting people to Christianity just a handful of years after the events of the crucifixion of Jesus. I thought about the concept of “conversion” and the sorts of proselytizing that continues to go on all around us, a couple of millenia  since then. I’m reminded of the line from the movie, Princess Bride, where Inigo Montoya says, “I do not think that means what you Continue Reading →

My People

Covenant

Sometimes, I find it difficult to write, not because I don’t know what I want to say, but because there’s too much to say. So, let’s talk about relationships. As a species, we’re not especially known for our capacity or willingness to get along. All of us have a survival instinct that no longer serves us very well. We’re skeptical, distrustful, prone to jump to conclusions, easily angered, and aggressive. Do you doubt it? Then just look at how “special” we view people like Gandhi or Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa of Calcutta or the Dalai Lama. We are Continue Reading →

Prophetic Voices

Prophets

Ever heard of “literary forms”? Sure you have. You probably know at least two different forms: poetry and prose. Of course, these are not the only literary forms in existence. There are plays, fiction and non-fiction, songs (a subset of poetry, perhaps?), history, fables, myths, etc. There are even blogs. There are literary forms that we use today and forms that went out of style centuries ago. When we look at the writings accepted by the Judeo-Christian communities we can see many different literary forms. Don’t forget: we’re considering a library of writings, not just one big one. Different writings Continue Reading →

The Word of the Lord

Torah

Ok, faithful readers . . . now we may be getting into it. Ready? Here’s what I’ve gone over with you so far: God, the Unknowable, the Transcendent is unreachable directly by the human mind. Even our language is practically useless talking about God. We use analogies because we cannot experience anything from a God’s-eye view: eternal, changeless, infinite. If God were to want us to know anything about what being God is all about, the communication would have to be in terms that we understand (like a mathematician trying to teach calculus to a chimp). God’s self-revelation has been Continue Reading →

God Is With Us

God with us

If you haven’t had a close call (or two) in your life, then you haven’t lived long enough. Sooner or later, everybody at some time walks away from a situation saying, “Whew! That was a close one!” Of course, sooner or later, we all face a situation that we don’t walk away from . . . but that’s a subject for another post. It’s when we have one of these close encounters with our own mortality that a lot of the superficial stuff that encrusts our lives gets (sometimes painfully) stripped away and we find ourselves staring into the face Continue Reading →

. . . and God said . . .

and God said

So far in our wanderings around the subject of faith, we have come to appreciate that God — the Transcendent — is also the Unknowable. If we think back to our example of the chimp learning calculus, we can recognize that the poor chimp would have no idea where to begin. The chimp would be utterly lost. But what if a very patient and kind person were to start teaching the chimp the fundamentals. Of course, under present circumstances, the chimp could never be taught higher mathematics. But, that’s because the animal’s instructor couldn’t get inside the chimp’s head. What Continue Reading →