Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Monday, December 3, 2012

Obama Wins!

Just in case you come here for timely news.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Resurrection: A Summary

The Christian year begins with a birth of a baby. The angels sing, the kings of the east come, and the shepherds shout for joy, but we are left with a baby that is tired and hungry and fully God and fully man. The fabric of the universe is torn. The calculations of the wise are altered. God has come.

Four months later in that same calendar we come to the apex of the year. That baby is now a man who is crucified, died, and buried. Dead in the ground, death had won. For three days Satan had his victory. God undone. Hell victorious. On that Sunday morning Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome head to the tomb in pain and grief. The teacher is dead. The Messiah they thought they had known was no more. Their leader dead and so was their hopes and dreams for the future. He had brought so much to their lives and it was now over.

They reach the tomb and a man in white tells them, "He is risen! He is not here." They do not know what to do or what to think. What does it mean that he is risen? The implications were unclear. Jesus is alive, that is enough for now. So they ran back and told the remaining disciples. Peter and John go to see for themselves. It is true Jesus is no longer dead.

Jesus who is God was dead and now he lives.

Over the next few months Jesus appears to many of his followers. He says that the Kingdom has come. But Rome still rules. He says, see with new eyes, but their sight is still darken. Then Jesus ascends into heaven. He is seated at the right now of His Father. The disciples are bewildered. What now? What does this all mean? The Messiah lives! The Kingdom has come! But it is not what we expected. And so they follow his command and head to Jerusalem to wait.

Jesus is the Messiah. This they know. He was dead and now he lives. God has changed the world. Still, they do not fully see it. The world is different, but how, remains to be seen. They must wait in Jerusalem, for God isn't finished yet.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Darkness

Jesus is dead today. His body lays in the tomb. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. He made the blind see, the cripple walk. What was broken was made whole. We went to Jerusalem expecting a coronation. Instead, all we have is this darkness. I gave my life to this prophet. For three years I wandered and learned. I was mocked by my family. My brother talked to me about responsibility, about loving your mother and father. I told him, listen to the teacher, he is going to make the world right. He fed thousands out of a boy's lunch. I couldn't believe, I still can't believe. We don't know what to do. Many have already left, slinking away to the darkness. He is dead. And I am wrong. The messiah is not here.

Words on Good Friday

The murdered Physician, by his very death, has compounded a medicine out of his own blood to heal the sick.

St Augustine

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Doing the Right Thing

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet declares to people, "Do this and good things will happen" or, more often, "Don't do this, and not bad things will happen." Time and time again the people won't listen, the king will throw him in a cistern, and the officials will threaten to kill him, and then bad things will happen to the Kingdom of Judah. As a reader the cause of pain seems so obvious, "Just do what the Jeremiah says!" and all shall be well. Of course the people do not do all that Jeremiah exhorts. The king will listen, but he cannot follow through. Too often the choice is between more pain or less pain, and less pain means throwing the gates wide open for their enemies. That type of trust in Jeremiah's words is hard, even if you believe him to be a prophet.

This is a reminder to me that doing the right thing is often not based on knowledge, but moral and social courage. Generally we know what is right, and even in our post-post modern world where many truths are up for grabs, day to day rights and wrongs are clear as day. Kindness does not require epistemological certainty. Doing the right thing is difficult because we know what is right, yet we are not willing to suffer the consequences. If God asked me why I did (or did not do) such and such thing, rarely could I say, "I didn't know what to do." Rather, I'd say, "I am weak and broken." I still remember with shame my experience in middle school. I was a kid who socially skated by, generally liked by all sorts of groups. Not popular, but not disliked. Perhaps my greatest social talent was to avoid ridicule. That led to a failure of moral courage. When kids would be laughed at and made fun of, I would say nothing. My parents raised me right and I knew it was wrong to make fun of people. I knew it was wrong because I didn't want to get made fun of myself. I knew what was right, but I didn't act. I failed.

Friday, March 30, 2012

History as Mourning

In the midst of a busy life I'm slowly rereading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Once again I'm slowly marching my way to Mount Doom with Frodo and Sam, hoping in darkness that a way may be found. I nearly know the books by heart, but it is always a joy to come back to them.

There are many reasons for LOTR success, but one of them is the incredible richness of the world. Tolkien has thought out how the world works, where it is located, what matters, and the whole damn history of the place. When a character references some random event, that event is fully formed in Tolkien's mind. He knows how it all fits together. Out of this richness comes this them of mourning. The world as known by the Elves is irreversibly changing. The way it was, it no longer can be. If the one ring is destroyed, then the power of the elvish rings will diminish, and the elves will fade away, only found in the deep woods. There is sadness attached to this fate. Yes, the ring must be destroyed, but much will be lost. The elves, as immortal creatures uniquely feel this loss, because isn't ancient history, but still a living memory.

It is history as mourning. Not so much because the past was better (in fact it was often worst) but because what was can never be again. Tolkien was speaking at the edge of history. His childhood world was no more and could not be recaptured or re-imagined. He grew up without cars or airplanes or modern communication. These technologies have brought many benefits to humanity, but as Tolkien recognizes they wrought much change. In the modern world communities and communal practices fade away. Relationships that defined a person, become inconveniences that are only dealt with at holidays. In the modern world languages fade into silence, cultures are overcome, and distinctions are blended.

The past wasn't perfect. It was full of pain and hurt, much like the present. But for good and for ill, what it represented is no more.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Words to Remember...

When you read the Bible.

Archbishop Rowan Williams:
Remember you’re not the first people to read the Bible. There’s 20 centuries of people praying and thinking through scripture and passing on their wisdom. That’s what we mean by tradition. It would be wonderful if we could recover a really lively and positive sense of what tradition meant. Not this great weight pressing down on you: “this is how we’ve always done it”, but there’s this great reservoir of experience and wisdom which we’re free to draw on and grow with.
HT: Catholicity and Covenant

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fear and the Resurrection

Jesus is dead. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome head to the tomb to anoint the body of their so-called Messiah. They had been with Jesus for years now, taking care of him, praying with him, learning from him. He was dead, and so they came to perform their last act of mercy. When they arrived the tomb was open and in the grave a man in white sat, waiting to tell them that Jesus has been raised. The Gospel of Mark then says:
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
They were afraid. Jesus wasn't supposed to be crucified, but he was. Jesus was supposed to be dead, but he wasn't. Fear struck them. Terror held them. What is this that the dead may walk? They had seen the blind given sight. They knew about the feeding of the thousands. Miracles were performed, even Lazarus stood up.

But this was a different animal. Jesus was dead. They had seen him, his body limp and his spirit broken. They watched while the cross was rudely torn down and the nails pounded out. They followed the procession as Joseph of Arimathea wrapped his body and laid their Lord in a tomb. They saw the stone rolled tight. Jesus was dead.

And now a man in white says he is raised. The possibilities are only now beginning to dawn. Be afraid, Jesus is risen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What you Have

In our contemporary culture we drive to focus on what we don't have. We don't have the money, the job, the right body, and the 'stuff' to make us happy. Our deprivation, no matter how small, becomes our focus. In the season of Lent we are challenged to acknowledge what we truly hold. What we lack is of dust. But what we really hold is eternal. In Lent we say what we have is not mine, but a gift. I think these thoughts as a see this video below. Patrick and his father understand what they have been given, and the possibilities in that gift.