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We Have A Choice To Make: Is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a Monster or Wounded Child?

We have a choice to make, and that choice will define each of us as a person, and who we are as a country. We experienced an act of terror last week that traumatized our nation and …

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Birth and Death, Marriage and Divorce, Life and Disease, Vitality and Old Age, Ebullie- sermon video

Community Christian Church of Springfield

The death by suicide of Pastor Rick Warren’s youngest son is not an indication of any spiritual failure. Cancer, depression, mental illness and natural disasters strike among people of faith at the same rate as everyone else. The mortality rate is 100%. We pray, as Kierkegaard said, not to change the One to whom we pray but to change the one who prays. Our spirituality gives us community, encouragement, strength and hope to face the challenges of living in a capricious universe.

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The Easter Way of Jesus: A Modern Day Via Dolorosa

If Jesus died for anything, he laid down his life like most social prophets and martyrs as a complete and utter refutation and relinquishment of any vestiges of earthly kingdoms. Whatever the subsequent followers of the donkey king would retrospectively make of him, he was regarded by the powers that be as nothing more than a nuisance. As more than one biblical scholar has pointed out, the real significance of Jesus’ crucifixion lay in the fact that anyone subsequently noticed and cared about the execution of a nobody. Yet it is the way of a nobody — not a somebody — that has so often altered the way of an otherwise weary world.

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Can I Teach My Children To Turn The Other Cheek?

Jesus tells us to not only resist retaliation but to turn the other cheek. While I attempt to humble myself to this calling by listening closer, measuring my words, and remembering that with with God’s help, I am strong enough to let go of my need to be right, I struggling with this concept when it comes to my children.

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HITCHHIKING TO ALASKA: THE WAY OF SOULFUL SERVICE by Jim Burklo

“In this powerful and provocative book, Jim Burklo brings to life the faces of those whom we so easily marginalize, and in the process redefines the spiritual life.” Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, author of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World

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The Two Alberts: Pioneers for Science and Spirit (One You Know, One You May Not)

Second, both Albert’s sought a grand theory. Einstein, a “theory of everything” or the “unified field theory” of physics; Schweitzer the common, most basic ethic for all cultures and humanity. He felt he had discovered it while pondering and traveling (at the key point of insight, on a river amid a herd of hippopotamuses at sunset. One is again reminded of Einstein’s insights sometimes coming amid his imaginary “thought experiments”). The by-then double-doctor (PhD, MD), Schweitzer, reports he had been pondering and writing notes, “….struggling to find the elementary and universal concept of the ethical that I had not discovered in any philosophy…” Then, quite suddenly, “… there flashed upon my mind, unforeseen and unsought, the phrase : “Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben” [“Reverence for Life”]. The iron door had yielded. The path in the thicket had become visible.”

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Electing the Pope and Crises of Faith

If the new “Papa Francisco” (has a nice ring, huh?) can inspire us all, Catholic or not, to greater dedication to the Gospel of Jesus he will have bolstered our faith (in God and/or humanity) and created a better world. (In this I think the non-religious can be included as well, if they are willing…. I’m not at all far from them myself.)

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Dust and Ashes

The Gift of Mortality

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)

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Can We Measure Growth by Stages? (Part 2)

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.

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Love and Death: When the Catfish Are Jumpin’

A Reflection for Saint Valentine’s Day

A popular football star falls in love with an online fantasy girl who doesn’t exist in real life. Unwittingly, he entrusts his heart to what is nothing more than a figment of his imagination, and the cruel hoax by those who would take advantage of his vulnerability and naiveté with an online sport known as “catfishing;” where bottom-feeding predators fabricate online identities, in order to trick people into emotional relationships, or worse. And it’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, because everybody loves somebody sometime. But when the love of his life that never existed dies, who could doubt his feelings of affection were real, despite the fact the object of those affections was not? However, for anyone who might consider love is less a feeling sometimes, and more a vested act of making someone or something else to be of more importance than one’s self, when it comes to Valentines Day, it may be helpful to remember how it all began. Read more.

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