God’s Mysterious Presence

I began reading the rather scholarly article, which is not unusual.  One of the things that you get when you earn a doctoral degree is the assumption on the part of people that you are a scholar.  I could probably offer a decent dictionary definition of what being a scholar means.  But let’s keep it simple.  Clearly, a scholar is linked to school.  And surely school connotes education.  So my preference is to link being a scholar with education.  In my case, I hope that is life-long education.  To me that is not a throwaway phrase used in higher education, as well as, business circles.

I find scholarly articles still helpful in my life for two reasons.  In the first place, they challenge me to think and reflect at a higher level.  Reading this kind of piece requires that I engage it and ponder things as I go.  It is an active form of reading.  In the second place, these scholarly pieces provide new and/or challenging content.  I have enjoyed reading widely.  I know most of my religion…

The Importance of Vision

It is pretty common to find some kind of vision statement in a business or even non-profit.  It is even typical for these organizations to revisit occasionally the vision statement to see if it still matches what the organization sees as a reason for its being.  I think this is quite healthy.  This should be the case for spiritual communities, too.

It is not unusual for people to know the phrase, “where there is no vision, the people perish.”  What many folks probably do not know is that phrase comes from the Old Testament.  It can be found in Proverbs 29:18.  If we were going to do the passage justice, we would have to look at it in its context.  That should help us know what it likely meant at the time it was written.  But for our purpose here, the focus is on vision.  And the argument I would make is the people will, indeed, perish without vision.  I think this is the typical organizational perspective, too.

The first question might be the basic question, namely, what is a vision? …

Spirit Words

When I was taking Latin in high school, my heart was not really into it.  I was doing it because someone told me I should do it.  I don’t actually remember the reason why I should do it, but I did it.  As with many things in life, in retrospect I wished I had put more into it.  I did not do anything with Latin while I was in college.  But then to my surprise, I went on to graduate studies.  A theological degree led to a doctoral degree.  It turns out, I had to do more Latin. 

My doctoral studies focused on the early Christian centuries.  I became fascinated with the early church.  How did a little known Palestinian Jew, Jesus, gather a motley band of disciples, get killed and in the process became the most famous person in world history?  And how did that motley little crew somehow manage to survive the death of their leader and sow the kernel seeds of what would become a worldwide movement that today numbers more than two billion people?  That story still fascinates me.

Those early …

Don’t Forget Auschwitz

I was saddened when I recently read this headline: “What’s Auschwitz?  2/3 of millennials don’t know it was a Nazi death camp, survey reports.”  Immediately, the well-known line from historian, George Santayana.  He said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  The lesson is don’t forget!  I suppose most people my age should remember Auschwitz.  It was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps.  Located in occupied Poland, Auschwitz was the scene of the death of over one million Jews and others.  It is a primary symbol of the brutality of the Nazi regime.  I will never forget Auschwitz.

Apparently younger folks either don’t learn about it or forget Auschwitz.  While at one level, I am not surprised, I am sad and hopeful something can be done about youth education.  Perhaps more troubling would be the young person who may have heard of Auschwitz, but didn’t know it was a “killing camp.”  Millennials are those roughly speaking, 18-34.  This is not an unfortuna…

In Praise of Spring

I am glad I live in a part of the world that has seasons. Sometimes in the middle of winter, I think about going somewhere that is always warm.  Many of my friends head to warmer climates when the weather starts to get more challenging.  I am sure part of what I like about the seasons is the association that seasons have to the glorious world I see as part of God’s creation.  In fact, I am good with the classical image of the world as the body of God.  The world is God’s self-expression. 

This is certainly part of why I think the environmental issues are worth our attention.  I do think we humans have not done a very good job as stewards of our earth.  The sad part is I am old enough, I will get away with it.  I will likely die and be gone before we have to pay a price for the way we have treated things.  I am worried about my grandkids and their kids.  Maybe the sins of my generation will be paid by them.  Of course, that’s not fair.

So this is a good reason to welcome and reflect on …

Journey of Small Holiness

Many people are now commenting on Pope Francis’ recent papal paper, Gaudete et Exsultate (“Rejoice and Be Glad”).  Even though clearly it comes from a Catholic, I personally find that much, if not most, of what the Pope puts forth is good for all Christians.  And maybe some of the material is good for any person of any religious tradition.  I like to read the various commentator’s opinion.  They often see things differently than I do.  And they have different kinds of backgrounds and education, so they can bring forth things I could never do.  They enrich my look at the papal document.

One commentator, Brian Flanigan, has written one I really like.  He entitles it, “In ‘Gaudete et Exsultate,’ Francis calls on us a journey of ‘small holiness.’”  Flanigan teaches theology at Marymount University in Arlington, VA.  This personally intrigues me because that means he works about two miles from where my daughter lives!  Now that I like what kind of work he does, I will have to visit.

It is cl…

When You Get What You Want

The phrase, which became the title of this inspirational piece, came to me during a recent conversation.  The person with whom I was conversing periodically was talking about wishing for this or for that.  As I listened to her, I realized that wishing for certain things was a way she expressed hope.  For example, I am sure at one point she must have said something like, “I wish I can have some kids.”  Translated that would have meant that she planned to have kids…and did have them.

In many ways I can relate to that.  I suspect I am not unusual in saying that I have spent a lifetime wanting certain things.  When I was a kid, I wanted to play sports and, of course, wanted to be good.  I did get to play sports, but I was average at best.  I would have to confess I wanted to date certain girls and sometimes got what I wanted.  Other times I got a flat “No!”  That was disappointing, but it didn’t kill me.  I suppose most of us realize we don’t get everything we want.  “That’s life,” goes t…