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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Father's Day To Remember

On Father's Day this past Sunday I remembered something that Peg and I experienced on Father's Day back in 1976. My reflections on that day were subsequently published in a religious weekly publication in 1981. It took me a couple of days to find my yellowing copy. So I'm sharing it now.  

On a technical note, in order to make it readable I inserted a large photo copy that requires using the vertical and horizontal scrolling bars on a computer and/or the zoom functions on phones and tablets. Sorry for this inconvenience. I hope you are able to read and enjoy. 


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Believing

"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." ~ Thomas - John 20:26

"Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."  ~ Jesus - John 20:29

"A man [sic] hears what he [sic] wants to hear and disregards the rest." ~ Paul Simon - The Boxer

"I'll believe it when I experience it," said a deputy sheriff as we told him about the good experience friends had at the local small community hospital. "Don't go there unless you have to," one person after another told us. But our friends "had to." And what they discovered was a hospital under new management, a recently remodeled facility, a friendly, efficient staff and highly qualified physicians -some local and some resourced from other "big city" hospitals. The once inefficient, sketchy hospital has evidently taken a turn for the better.  It is changing.  But that doesn't change the past experiences of many people in the community who continue to believe their hospital is bad.

Which comes first - belief or experience?  In the Gospel of John, Jesus' disciple, Thomas, won't believe Jesus is alive until he sees and touches his wounds. Then Jesus blesses everyone who will believe without seeing and touching.

There are also those who say, "I can't believe this is happening." in spite of their experience and evidence all around them - hearing and seeing what they want to hear and see.

Believing can save us or it can lead us into destruction. What we believe, how we believe, and why we believe is a tricky thing.  I really believe this!



Wednesday, June 5, 2019

"words" Expressing Word

“Words make worlds” — because it’s true...language in poetry is magical language. It creates a world. It summons a world into being. The existential necessity of poetry — lyric poetry and song — emerges from the magical power of language to create worlds that dramatize both our experience of disorder and our need for order — vividly present, both.   

In the beginning is the Word. The Word becomes flesh and lives among us.  
~ John 1:1, 14, my paraphrase

Language constitutes our reality. It is the expression of the human experience of the essence of existence. The Word (Logos) is the embodiment, the becoming flesh, of experience. And words give shape and meaning to The Word. 

My Old Testament professor at Columbia Seminary, Walter Brueggemann, once said in a lecture, "Yahweh lives on the lips of Israel's praise." This is truly Incarnation! If this is also true in our time, that God lives on our lips, then God may very well be on life support today.

In the same interview quoted above, Gregory Orr shares the following lines from William Wordsworth:

“Let’s remake the world with words.
 Not frivolously, nor 
To hide from what we fear,
 But with a purpose. Let’s remove
 the dust of custom so things
 shine again, each object arrayed 
In its robe of original light. And then we’ll see the world
 As if for the first time.
As once we gazed at the beloved
 Who was gazing at us.”

In order for humanity to survive and thrive we must "remove the dust" of the current, rampant abuse of language, stop "tweeting," and sing in full measure of the great goodness of all people and all creation. 

Words matter. Language makes a difference. We must pay attention to what we say, write, and hear because in the end "The Word" is expressed through our "words."






Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"ins" and "outs"

According to an online dictionary the word "in" has at least eleven different meanings and functions, and "out" has at least six. Both can be prepositions, adverbs, adjectives, nouns, prefixes, suffixes, and more. The function determines the meaning.

For example, when I say I "believe in love" am I saying I believe something called "love" exists or am I believing while surrounded by love?  If something is considered "out" is it physically away from you or not under consideration?

What is in and what is out may very well be the primary decision process of most of human thought as we continually choose which objects and ideas receive and hold our attention. Attention then becomes thoughts, which become actions that become our life. Much of this process takes place subconsciously in the routines, habits, preferences, and prejudices of our lives. We choose one thing/person or another without realizing we are choosing. We also make conscious choices, but my guess is that even most of our conscious choices are somewhat predetermined by subconscious ones.

Another tendency of this process is that whatever is "in" probably provides comfort and love, and the "out" stuff generates suspicion and fear. This does not necessarily mean that one or the other is good or bad. We can embrace bad things and be fearful of good things.

My point in all of this is to heighten awareness of what/who is "in" and what/who is "out" in our lives, and to realize that we make choices every moment of everyday whether we realize it or not. Our "ins and outs," whether conscious or not, determine our lives