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Incarceration or Redemption?

Today, over 2,000,000 Americans are in jail or in prison. We’ve got 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners. More black men are under the control of the criminal justice system in America today than were enslaved before the Civil War began. Our prison-industrial complex has become the latest of a long series of forms of systematic oppression against people of color. Lawyer and activist Michelle Alexander rightly calls it “The New Jim Crow” in her recent book.

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Intimate Silence: the Spirituality of Desert Preservation

We come to the desert at least as much for what is not here as much as for what is. Monastics of every religion are drawn to it. Moses encountered God in a bush on a desert mountain. The first theologians of Christianity were known as the Desert Fathers. In wilderness they prayed, meditated, contemplated – uncluttering their hearts and minds in an uncluttered space. Mohammed went to a desert cave and there he waited until the Angel Gabriel dictated the Koran to him. Around the same time, Buddhist monks retreated to the mountainous deserts of Central Asia to meditate.

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Jesus Died With His Hands Up, Too

Michael Brown should not have been shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri. His hands were up. He was unarmed. It doesn’t make any difference whether or not he had stolen earlier something that day. If he had committed such a crime, he should have been given appropriate justice, not a volley of bullets. At the time he was shot, there was simply no excuse for what happened to him. Somebody else had his life stolen from him, too: a man named Jesus, killed for no good reason. Jesus also died with his hands up. He had been ethnically profiled by the Roman occupying army in Jerusalem, and was brutally murdered on a cross.

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Weather Report, Mojave Desert, 8-2-14

Thunder lags behind lightning beyond an outcrop of stone slabs framed by clusters of Joshua trees with spikes shivering in the wind. A dark gauzy curtain descends from a boiling mass of cloud. Scattered spits of rain puff dust out of tiny craters they form on impact in the fine dirt. The cooling air fills with the overwhelming scent of wet creosote.

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How to End Poverty? A Spiritual Question

“Bread for me is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one,” wrote Nikolai Berdyaev, a 19th-20th c. Russian philosopher and theologian. Is there a more important spiritual question than this one? Today may be a particularly good time to ask it in America.

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The Lens

Embraced by all the natural wonders of the Creator’s infinite realm
The transition to adulthood seemed smooth for an outdoors kid like me

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The Sixth Sense

The “sixth sense” in popular culture is a reference to paranormal powers of perception. But I sense it’s something deeper than clairvoyance. It’s not some kind of superpower. It is our ability and propensity to have a relationship with the underlying essence of all reality. There’s a subtle way in which we can know what we cannot know, touch what we cannot touch.

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Take Time for Your Soul

A “meditation card” by artist Jim Garrison

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The Duero at Soria (For Roberta)

By the caves of San Satorio
We hold hands and gaze at the quiet rush of the Duero
As once did Leonor Machado and her husband Antonio,
The poet of the two Spains – upstream and down in time -
Through this same place where hermit monks of old
Contemplated the flow that ever is here and now
And drew close to the subtle power moving the silent river
Imperceptibly carving the hill of Soria, steep and stark.

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Would We Recognize Jesus If He Came Today?

The idea of a second coming of Christ is a mystery, if not explicitly controversial. Jesus’ followers apparently believed he would return during their lifetime after he was crucified. When that didn’t happen, later followers gradually changed the belief into an indefinite “someday.” After two thousand years of waiting, most Christians no longer look for it to happen in their lifetimes and acknowledge that Jesus may have been speaking metaphorically about his return. It is just as likely that those words were put into Jesus’ mouth by the gospel writers themselves. Wishful thinking?

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Awe Fills Us

Watch mountain shadows run
Allelujia! Amen!
Clouds gilded by the sun
Allelujia! Amen!
Hear tumbling water sing
Birds calling on the wing

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Topics: Arts and Music, Devotional, and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 7: Integrity of the Earth. Seasons & Special Events: Ordinary Time. Ages: Adult, Pre-Teen, Teen, and Young Adult. Resource Types: Hymns, Meditations, Music, and Poetry.
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