Paul endorsed the Roman status quo, politically. He made the real issue identification with a descended (divine) savior, spiritually raised and soon to return. The Jerusalem group shared the last point but emphatically not the first two of Jesus’ divinity nor acquiescence to Roman rule. Their expected Messiah (dramatically shifted after his death to a returning one) would establish peace with Jewish centrality and abolish the MILITARY dominance of other kingdoms but not the existence of other nations.read more
Avowed atheist Susan Jacoby recently created a dust up with a recent article in the New York Times Sunday Review entitled, “The Blessings of Atheism.” She wrote in response to all the god-talk that appeared in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown massacre; with all those unanswerable questions or inadequate answers to human suffering and death so often peddled in popular religious belief.
So too, not long ago author and “non-believer,” Christopher Hitchen’s posthumously published his little book Mortality; recounting his rambling thoughts on his own imminent demise; after a terminal diagnosis left him a sufficient number of days to find himself “deported from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.”
But what, or where to, after that? What if this really is all there is?
It seems there has always been the human hankering to imagine all kinds of fanciful notions, in our attempts to recapitulate our mortal existence into something more than it is. Many religious traditions, including centuries of “mainline” orthodox Christianity, employ great mythic stories to describe a life subsumed into something greater than we can either know, or grasp, except by “faith.” Heaven knows, some folks try to better themselves, merely in the hope of a remote possibility there something more, after our death, which is a certainty. But in the end, is it all dust and ashes? And is that OK?
This is the liturgical time of year when many in the Christian tradition undergo a seasonal pilgrimage in which the faithful are reminded at the onset we mortals are nothing more than dust. And so we will one day return to that from whence we came. Then the traditional forty days end with the perennial re-enactment of a passion play commemorating the mortal demise of the one whom Christians even these many centuries later would profess to follow.
Many do so in the hope of some kind of immortality for themselves in some indecipherable form or other; attributing to Jesus a “resurrection” that means the same thing to them as god-like immortality; while others of us may find such imaginings to be not only reasonably implausible, but of less importance than what we take to be of greater significance and meaning in this faith tradition.
Otherwise, the vainglorious hope of immortality can become so enshrouded in our mortal fears that we become – like Lazarus in his early grave – so wrapped up in death that we fail to truly acknowledge and appreciate the gift of our mortality for what it is; nothing more, nor less.
With the certain assurance then that we are but dust and ash, we can ask ourselves if the gift of our mortality is not only enough, but more than enough? And if so, as the psalmist says, how then shall we “number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom?” (Psalm 90:12)read more
Beatitude Five: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
Jesus was merciful, but didn’t receive mercy. He forgave the people who were about to kill him, but they killed him anyway. Yet we are still haunted by his assertion of the possibility of a world in which mercy works both ways.
Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday… a worship service from Soul Link Faith Community, a new church plant in Mansfield PA. The pastor’s story follows the order of worship.read more
Lent has not been going well for me. One of the downsides to home-churching is that every planned activity falls on my husband and my shoulders, and we didn’t even realize when Easter fell as we made …read more
Lo! Christ is with us, risen from the tomb;
Love for one another, conquers hopeless doom;
Let the church with gladness, hymns of joy now sing:
For with Christ arisen, death hath lost its sting.
JOHN MARK, the gospel novel written by Christopher Epting, came to life in Jerusalem. While on a sabbatical there at St. George’s College, he felt inspired to enter more deeply into the biblical story by focusing his mind and heart on the very first gospel ever to be written, the one attributed to St. Mark. But who was this Saint? And how did he come to create a literary masterpiece that would open the door for others, for Matthew, Luke and John, to follow?read more
This past week, I’ve engaged in a couple of intense conversations about manhood in America. A lovely, thoughtful young friend of our family, age 25, was lamenting that she could not find men her age who were …read more
(This poem, which I wrote during Lent in 1981, appears in my book, BIRDLIKE AND BARNLESS – it is based on Numbers 21: 4-9, John 3: 13-15) THE GIFT No one’s raised who did not fall No …read more
I believe there is great value in gaining some understanding of the leading developmental stage theories, and particularly how they relate to one another. This can be valuable for use for oneself as well as it is, often highly so, for working with other people who may have less insight into themselves and less knowledge of either social science findings or spiritual development than you or other “people helpers” do.read more
Sadly, some people do stop thinking in terms of their growth except as it relates to occupational skills or promotions perhaps. But I think most people are quite aware of their need for ongoing growth throughout life. Are there, then, some meaningful markers to see how we are doing? Can such markers be used by scholars or “people helpers” who want to size up anyone from individuals to entire societies in terms of development?read more
It is right and a good and joyful thing to give thanks to you always, Creator God, because you have made the world in all its complexity.read more