The War on Christmas? (Part 1)

War on Christmas

Today (during the 3rd week of the liturgical season of Advent), I’m going to start a multi-part article on the so-called “War on Christmas” that some people believe is being waged in our culture. Needless to say, I am most decidedly not one of those people. It is almost as if our culture needs another excuse to find fault, lay blame, avoid responsibility, increase hatred and division, and, generally, offer service to the satanized god of death. I believe that I am among a small minority of people who actually understand the feast of Christmas and I have an opportunity to prepare 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 →

I’m in with the In-Crowd

It’s said that the first thing we do when we enter a strange social environment is to try to figure out where we fit in. We attempt to join with our fellows based on shared characteristics. We try to establish commonalities of status, class, backgrounds, experiences and goals. Starting from a feeling (really a conviction) of being an outsider, we want to bridge the distance that we experience between ourselves and others in any way we can. We desire to be included. We want to be accepted among those singing: I’m in with the in crowd I go where the in Continue Reading →

Bang! Bang! You’re Dead!

Down the Barrel of a Gun

What do you think? Should a believer own a gun? I guess that ultimately depends on what kind of god that person believes in, doesn’t it. “By their fruits you shall know them.”1 For what purpose do people own guns? “For sport,” some would say. Ok. Would that be target practice? Learning to hit a target with precision? Training one’s eye-hand coordination and gaining effective muscle memory? Sure; why not? However, doesn’t that actually beg the question? People don’t practice the piano to train their minds and muscles; they do so to play music. Why, then, do people spend time, Continue Reading →

“God’ll Get You For That!”

God'll Get You for That!

You’d better watch out You’d better not cry You’d better not pout I’m telling you why Santa Claus is coming to town He’s making a list Checking it twice Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice Santa Claus is coming to town He sees you when you’re sleeping He knows when you’re awake He knows if you’ve been bad or good So be good for goodness sake You’d better watch out You’d better not cry You’d better not pout I’m telling you why Santa Claus is coming to town1 Santa has a little list to weed out the naughty from 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 →

A Voice Criying In the Desert Make Straight the Way

As I write this, I’ve been living in the desert now for over 8 months. Yes, we have pretty houses and gardens and swimming pools and everything; but it’s still the desert. After these 8 months (I’ve been through a summer and I now consider myself a “desert rat”) I can honestly say that “I get it.” Right now, I’ve been away from it for a few days and I long to be back to what is now “home.” I miss the parched, dusty earth that you can let pour through your fingers like water. I miss the scraggly creosote 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 →

Prayer: Bicycling Uphill

A personal note to my readers — please forgive my absence of several weeks. My explanation / excuse / rationalization follows. Life happens. It’s unavoidable. Trying to stop the relentless progress of events from hour to hour or day to day is futile, as is any attempts we might make to try to stop the emotions that accompany the torrent of experiences washing over us. There is no real choice in all of this. It is, as they say, what it is. Our part in this drama is but to choose how we shall respond to these experiences and the feelings that 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 →