Growing Suspect of Religion, not Science

I am reposting this from “The Catholic Astronomer” web site.  Take some time to read through the notes and observe the conclusions.

On the Vatican Observatory Faith and Science pages there is a really cool entry that readers of The Catholic Astronomer should take a look at.  The entry consists of an excerpt from the Tahāfut al-falāsifa, or The Incoherence of the Philosophers, of Abu Hāmid Muhammad Ibn Muhammad al-Tūsi al-Ghazālī.  (The excerpt is fully downloadable in PDF format.)  Al-Ghazālī, who lived in the eleventh century, is one of medieval Islam’s best-known religious intellectuals. Al-Ghazālī says that disputing matters of science on the basis of religious texts or ideology is a waste of time.  Moreover, he says the atheists love it when people of faith do such things, because, he says, “then the atheist’s path for refuting religion becomes easy”.  He says that once something is scientifically well-established (for example, the mechanism by which eclipses occur), then whoever inspects them and is convinced by their evidence, deriving for himself information about the extent, times of occurrence, and duration of these two kinds … Continue reading →

Source: Growing Suspect of Religion, not Science

“The Jerusalem Weather Forecast”

Some thoughts for Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 (Year C)

It has long been said that if you did not like the weather in Missouri, you should just wait a hour or so and it would change.  It very well may be that the weather in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago was like that.

In the homes of the religious and political authorities, the day beckoned bright and early.  The trouble maker from Nazareth was dead and buried in a tomb with guards around the entrance to ensure no one bother the body.  One more threat to their power and position had been dealt with; order and the rule of law had been restored and all was right with their world.  It was going to be a bright and sunny day.

But in other parts of Jerusalem, in the homes and places where the followers of Jesus were hiding, it appeared that the day was going to be dark and dreary.  Their leader, their teacher, their friend was dead and buried in a tomb with guards around the entrance .  Denied a proper burial two days before, the authorities were ensuring that Jesus would never get a proper burial.  And they, the followers of Jesus, were almost certain to be arrested, tried for the same charges as Jesus, and just as easily crucified.  This day was most definitely going to be dark and dreary.

But within one hour of sunrise, the forecast for the day and perhaps the future changed.  Fostered by the hope that accompanied the ministry of Jesus, some of the women went to the tomb, hoping to complete the burial process.  And then they discovered the empty tomb, they discovered that Jesus was not dead but had arisen.  A day that might have been dark and dreary was going to be bright and sunny as the Son had risen.

Today, the weather forecast might be very similar.  For the traditionalists in the church, the rule of law has been restored.  No longer is the church in chaos but in order.  No longer are there threats to the traditions of the church.  But the laws that have been passed are laws that restrict and deny; they are laws that are contrary to the very nature of Christ’s mission.

But, just as two thousand years ago, the Son rose and illuminated the world, so too does His Resurrection illuminate the world today.  The voice of the oppressed and the rejected cannot be silenced just because a set of laws has been passed that say the oppressed and rejected must be silent.

The law said that Jesus was dead but Jesus was alive; the law that said the body must die has been rejected by Christ.

The women who came to that Tomb that morning two thousand years ago could not be silenced, even the laws of society told them to be silent.

Those who followed Jesus then were considered outlaws, subject to the laws that would lead to crucifixion.  Today, just as then, the outlaws are telling the traditionalists that Christ defeated their attempts to silence Him and they could not be silenced.  Even as the traditionalists claim victory, we know that it is the outlaws who triumph.

Today, the Son is rising and no matter what clouds might be in the air, it will be a bright and shiny day.  For in the brightness of the Son, we see a newer and clearer world, a world in which all are welcome, that the oppressed are set free, the rejected welcomed, the sick healed, the hungry feed, and the homeless find shelter and sanctuary.

The statement of the Resurrection is that one can no longer hold onto the traditional view of life and death, of sin and freedom.  We are reminded that laws designed to restrict and oppress never work.  The rules and laws of God’s Kingdom may be hard to understand but we have been given the freedom to seek that understanding and not rely on the whims and nature of others.

On this day, no matter what it may be, this day will be bright and sunny because the Son has risen.

“Where Does This Road Lead?

This will be on the “back page” of the bulletin at Fishkill UMC this coming Sunday, April 14, 2019, Palm Sunday. We have a good service planned starting at 10 am so spend Sunday morning with us.

On Palm Sunday in 1997, I, along with four friends, stood at the altar of the Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church.  We were part of a team that would provide pastoral support to Pleasant Grove and its sister church, Alexander Chapel.  While we had all chosen to begin this journey, I don’t believe that none of us knew where it would take us.

I don’t believe that many of those gathered along the road as Jesus rode by on that first Palm Sunday some two thousand years knew where that road was going to lead.  Many, I am sure, were hoping for a  Messiah to free them from the Roman occupation and oppression.  But the road to the Cross was not the road to political freedom that they so desired and when they saw the Cross on Good Friday, they saw the end of the road.

Even today, there are many who seek a political messiah, who will invoke the wrath of God on all their enemies.  These individuals have never been interested in the Cross or what lies beyond. They will find that the road they walk leads nowhere.

To bring God’s Kingdom to this world, to bring freedom from sin and death, means that we must walk to the Cross and then go beyond.

Today, we must ask, “where does the road you walk today lead?”

~~ Tony Mitchell

The Language Spoken by the Holy Spirit

This will be on the “Back Page” of the bulletin for Fishkill UMC this Sunday (April 7, 2019, 5th Sunday in Lent – Year C). This was written by one of our associate members, Pat Powers, who is returning to Louisiana after a business assignment her in Fishkill.

I’m from south Louisiana, and contrary to popular belief, we don’t have alligator crossing signs like New York has deer crossing signs.  In fact, I’ve never seen an alligator crossing sign although we do have plenty of alligators. What we do have in Louisiana are mostly flat and mostly straight roads. In New York there is no such thing as a flat, straight road.

Louisianians and New Yorkers have other differences as well.  A friend from Ohio told my wife that only she could turn his name into a three syllable word. New Yorkers, and especially the closer to New York City they live, can turn 3 one-syllable words into a single word.  New Yorkers continue on with life almost normal after several inches of snow.  In Louisiana, we shut the cities down if we hear the words “snow flurries are expected tomorrow.”

Yes, there a lot of differences between our states and our citizens, however, one thing we have in common are earthly lives.  Our lives are not like Louisiana roads – straight and flat. No, our earthly lives are like New York roads – full of curves and ups and downs.  We never know what’s around the next curve or over the next hill.  The road of life can be extremely hard to navigate and deal with, however, we have our GPS, seat beat, brakes and air bags all wrap up in the Holy Spirit.

At Christmas time, I like to say that “without Christmas, there would never have been an Easter.” And at Easter, I say that “without the death of Jesus, there would be no Holy Spirit” who is by our side 24/7.  The Holy Spirit is always there to comfort us, guide us, chastise us, and most importantly, always love and forgive us.  That Holy Spirit that speaks to me in a South Louisiana drawl is the same Holy Spirit that speaks to you in a Hudson Valley dialect.  And that same Holy Spirit, along with the Father and the Son, is what bonds all of us together in Christianity.  God Bless.

Pat Powers

“What I Am Not Giving Up for Lent” (4) – Scripture

This will be on the “Back Page” of the bulletin at Fishkill UMC this coming Sunday, March 31, 2019 (4th Sunday in Lent, Year C).

It has long been a mantra in science that something didn’t happen if it wasn’t written down.  The owner of a patent or a scientific discovery has been decided on the information written in someone’s research notebook.

The philosopher Joseph Campbell noted that there is an element of truth in every myth.  It is up to the reader to search out the truth behind the myth.

The Scriptures are a written record, not of history or science, but of  humankind’s relationship with God.  The book of Genesis may have come about as a means of explaining who we are and how we came to be.

It is our responsibility to understand that there is a story behind what has been written down and it is our responsibility to find out what that story is.  Why, for example, did Jesus tell us to turn the other cheek?  Only through study do we understand that this was not an act of passive submission but a major act of defiance.

The Scriptures tell us of our relationship with God and others.  We must use the ideas presented in the Scriptures in conjunction with our reason, tradition, and experience to have a lasting faith.

I will not give up the Scriptures nor will I give up my faith but I will use the Scriptures and what they tell me about my relationship with God to better help others find their relationship with God.       ~~Tony Mitchell

The WesleyNexus Newsletter

The new WesleyNexus newsletter is now available.

In this issue:

What Do We Mean We When Say, “Building the Beloved Community”? by Carl Gregg

The Open and Relational Theology Reading Group with Tripp Fuller and Tom Oord

John Wesley’s Eschatology as Informed by the Science of His Day by E. Maynard Moore

Insight, Beloved Community and Grace: Bringing Royce and Wesley Together by Rick Barr

Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says by Lee Billings

Beyond Conflict: Science, Faith and the Big Questions. 

2019 IRAS Summer Conference: June 22-29 on Star Island

The CRISPR Apple on the Tree of Knowledge

“What I Am Not Giving Up for Lent” (3) – Experience

This will be the “Back Page” for the bulletin at Fishkill UMC on March 24 , 2019 (3rd Sunday in Lent, Year C)

The nice thing about the Season of Lent is that we know where it leads us.  Because we know that, we can, should, and do reflect on our experience with God.

Was your first experience with God like that of Saul on the road to Damascus, a bright flash of thunder and light?  Or was it like that of John Newton (“Amazing Grace”) where the storms of life caused you to consider the direction of your life and change it?  Even our own John Wesley’s life began to change when he could not find God on a ship crossing the stormy Atlantic.  The episode at sea would lead Wesley to the Aldersgate Chapel where he would find his heart strangely warmed by the knowledge that Christ was a presence in his life.

Each of us has experienced God in our own unique way.  But, no matter how we came to know God through Christ, there was someone who, by their words, thoughts, deeds and actions, helped you to find Christ.

But today there are too many Christians whose words, thoughts, actions, and deeds give the message “we don’t like your kind here.”  Too many Christians today echo the words of the inn-keeper  when he told Mary and Joseph there was no room for them in the inn that night.

During this time of Lent, as I reflect on my own experience so many years ago, I know I cannot give up my faith or my church because, even though some would have closed the door, there were those who opened the door.  And I need to be there to open the doors for others.

In the remaining days of Lent, are you , through your words, thoughts, deeds, and actions helping people experience God?

~~ Tony Mitchell