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 →

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 →

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 →

Evil, Mean and Wicked, Bad and Nasty

Good and Evil

The problem of evil in the world continues to raise its ugly head wherever and whenever we raise the subject of Faith. It’s important that we put this one to rest early, so here goes. Popular “wisdom” has it that there’s a fierce battle going on out there between good and evil. From that perspective, we wonder what the results will be and who (or what) will win out in the end. It also causes people to question a god who could create such evil and allow it to exist. As is so often the case, if you ask the Continue Reading →

What the Meaning of ‘Is’ Is

Existence

“It all depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is,”1 said President Bill Clinton during testimony for his impeachment hearing. It was a statement that echoed around the world and caused much scorn to be heaped upon him. The statement may be typical of legal hair-splitting, but, in the world of Understanding, that statement is absolutely critical. It does all depend on “what the meaning of ‘is’ is!” The verb ‘to be’ (‘is’) is at the same time both the simplest and most complex concept. It is a verb and so it refers to an action — the action of Continue Reading →

Shockingly Wrong?

Condemnation

If you were from another planet and were exposed to Christianity for the first time from all the available media, chances are excellent that you’d think Christianity was an ethical system that focused on good and evil, right and wrong. You’d be in some very good company, too, without a doubt. From the time that Christianity started to spread over the Greco-Roman world, apologists have been trying to use Christian “principles” to influence human behavior. This is not to say that even the Christian Scriptures aren’t replete with moral guidance: they are. Yet, sadly, when Christianity is distilled down to Continue Reading →

What’s in a Name?

God

“I don’t believe in God.” I’ve heard this so often in 12-Step meetings, that it no longer surprises me. I just wait for the inevitable, “but I do believe that there’s Something out there that’s bigger than me.” Somehow, the name “God” has gotten to be confused with some childhood image of the Big Man Upstairs with a long, white beard, sitting on some throne surrounded by angels, cherub-babies, etc., while He points His fingers randomly at folks and says, “You go to hell!” Am I right? If we want to grow in understanding, we’ve got some relearning to do. Continue Reading →