Would You Go? An Easter Meditation

A Meditation for 27 March 2016, Easter Sunday (Year C).

For me, the Easter story begins just before Sunday on Good Friday. It is the beginning of the Sabbath and Jesus has died. Jewish custom dictates that the dead need to be buried before sundown. Normally, it takes a few days to die, but even so, the Roman authorities preferred to keep the bodies of those who were crucified on the crosses for several days as a subtle reminder to the population of what happens when you provoke the authorities. Tradition says that Joseph of Arimethea asked for and received permission to take Jesus’ body down so that, in accordance with Jewish burial customs, He could be buried.

What would you have done if Joseph of Arimethea had asked you to go with him to take Jesus’ body off the cross and place Him in the the tomb? Would you have gone with him? Would you have climbed up a ladder and help take the bloodied and broken body of your friend, your master, your teacher off the cross?

Keep in mind that if you did this you would have become ritually unclean and not allowed in the Temple until you were declared “clean” by the religious authorities, the same authorities who conspired with the Roman political authorities to condemn and execute Jesus. Would you have been willing to go with Joseph if you knew that it meant you would become an outcast in your own society?

And what if the one of the women had come to you that Sunday morning and asked for your help in completing the task of burial? In the rush to meet the rules that stated Jesus had to be buried by sundown on Friday, the body was not properly prepared. So the women’s role in burial was not completed and could not be completed until Sunday morning, after the Sabbath was over.

That is why the women went to the tomb that Sunday morning, to complete the burial tasks that should have been done two days before. Would you have gone with the women that Sunday morning to help in the task, perhaps to roll away the stone that closed the tomb, lift the body or other myriad little tasks?

And just as the men would have been ritually unclean because of what they had done, so too would the women have been ritually unclean. Would you have been willing to undertake tasks that would have made you “unclean” and would have kept you out of society until authorities allowed you to come back in?

Would you have been willing to help your friends do the “normal” things when someone died, especially when the one you were burying had been labeled, for all purposes, a radical, a reactionary, and a criminal? Would you not have worried that your actions would mark you in the same way. Would you have gone even if it meant you might be arrested and executed as well?

What would you have gained by helping your friends, for doing the right thing?

When I was in the Boy Scouts back in 1964, our Scoutmaster, Major Smith, was trying to find ways to increase Boy Scout related activities. The idea that he came up with was the “Scout of the Year” competition. It was a competition based on the accumulation of points for doing a variety of things (hiking, camping, riding one’s bike, community service, that sort of thing) that Boy Scouts typically did.

Now, some of the points one earned came from the normal schedule of the troop – regular attendance at troop meetings, camping trips, and so forth. But other activities were to be done outside the framework of the regular schedule.

But you could not simply go for a five-mile hike or a ten-mile bike ride on your own; you had to have someone go with you to verify that the task had been completed. Steve, a member of the troop who lived near me, decided that he wanted to win that award. So he enlisted my help. So, every time he wanted to ride his bicycle out to the missile sites outside Denver, he would ask me to come along. As it happened, I didn’t particularly care for such competition and probably wouldn’t have done much more than what I would normally do. But Steve was a friend and he needed my help, so I helped him out.

Now, while this is going on, I and two others were studying for the God & Country award at my church (which happened to sponsor the troop I was in). Part of our class responsibility was to serve as acolytes Sunday mornings.

So when the “Scout of the Year” competition began and we began reporting our activities, I and the other member of the class who was in the same troop (the third individual belonged to a different troop) reported that we had been an acolyte and got our points.

In effect, I was getting points without even trying (if one can consider doing two services on a Sunday morning not trying). This worked pretty well for me until other guys in the troop realized what I was doing and they began to ask about being an acolyte as well. As a result, my own point total started to drop as others began actively serving as acolytes. But, when that first God & Country class ended, a new class began with those who had been serving as acolytes being the members.

When the year was over, my friend Steve received the “Scout of the Year” award. Interestingly enough, I finished something like 5th which I thought was pretty good since I really didn’t try to win. Yes, I know that if I had put a little more effort into the process, I might have finished higher. I had received most of my points for doing things that I normally did.

Consider this – When the competition began, I had already begun my own journey with Christ and it was that journey that I was more interested in completing. The points I received in the troop competition were secondary. But those who saw the work that I was doing and what I received wanted to share in that reward as well. And in serving as acolytes, they all in one way or another began the decision about what journey they wanted to take. And when the competition was over, they continued on the journey with Christ.

Yes, I would much rather have kept the points I had earned for doing two services a Sunday two out of every three weeks. But it was also easy sharing the duties.

Now, when the summer of 1965 came, my family moved from Colorado to Missouri and a new path on my own personal journey opened up. I do not know what happened to those who I journeyed with during 1964 and 1965 or those whose journey began after mine. But I know that because of what I was doing, others began their own journey with Christ.

What does this all have to do with Easter Sunday? We know that the tomb is empty, that Christ has risen. In one sense, we were there with Joseph of Arimethea and the others when Jesus’ body was taken off the cross and laid in the tomb. In one sense, we were there with the women on that First Easter Sunday morning when we discovered that the tomb was empty. We made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, even knowing that it could make us an outcast in society.

We know that He is very much alive in our hearts, our minds, and our lives. And what we know is that our lives are very much different because of this. Our lives have changed in a way that others will see.

And now, on Easter, we are asked to continue the journey, to go from this place into the world, to show by what we say and do that Christ is alive. Some may think that we must make that special effort, that extra step to do this. But all we are asked to do is lead this new life in Christ.

Some think that we must push our friends to accept Christ, that we must castigate them and tell them of all the bad and terrible things that will happen to them if they don’t accept Christ as their Savior. But that wasn’t what Jesus did when He walked the back roads of the Galilee.

Jesus never asked those He healed or gave comfort to who they were or if they were somehow qualified to accept His blessings and touch. He never said that they had to follow Him once they were healed, though many would do so. His was a life that restored hope and promise to the people. His was a life that lifted people out of despair and turmoil.

Does your life reflect that same opportunity? Do you, because Christ is in your life today, help to lift people out of despair and turmoil? In the end, all we are asked to do is live our lives in such a way that it is evident that Christ is a part of our life. That is all Christ ever wants us to do when we walk with Him and to love others as He has loved us.

On this day, when we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, we are asked if we are prepared to continue the journey that began when He asked the Twelve to follow Him. Are we prepared to go beyond the cross and the tomb, out into the world, to lead a life that shows that Christ is alive and that there is victory over sin and death, that there is hope in a world that doesn’t offer hope?

And so the question comes from a friend, from a teacher, from Christ, “Would you go with me?”

The Answer Is Not What You Think

We awoke here in America this morning, March 22, 2016, to the report of another terrorist attack in Europe; this time in Brussels, Belgium. And I will grieve with so many others because of the injuries and loss of life, I also could not help but think about what it is that we, as a society and inhabitants of this planet, must do to limit such seemingly senseless acts of violence.

I realize that these acts may seem senseless to each one of us but in the minds of those who carry out the acts, there is a reason for them. Even the simply act of killing those whom you do not like is a rationale for killing. But we have to begin asking why or we will never have a day of peace.

Now, for some, the only response to violence and terrorism is to respond in kind. But to do so only invites more violence. Violence begets violence and the only way anyone wins in that scenario is to be the last one standing. And what have you won then?

Now, I am not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination. But I do believe that there are non-violent solutions to the problems of terrorism in this world today.

Perhaps the response needs to be more biblical or spiritual. My response will be a Christian response. I suspect that there are many Muslims who can and will offer a similar Islamic response.

Note – do not tell me that what occur today was any where related to Islam. Those who perpetrate such actions and justify their actions as an extension of Islam are no better those who perpetrate violence in the name of Christ and proclaim it is an extension of Christianity. I do not believe that God, in all His wisdom and with all His power, would ever say that one group of individuals truly represent Him and have the power to attack others in His Name. And if you response is that your god is better than my god (deliberate use of lower case), then you do not understand your god or my god.

Many are quick to quote the passage from Exodus (Exodus 21: 23 – 25) as the basis for revenge but it was never intended to be used in that manner. In truth, the writers of the Old Testament saw this a limit to punishment rather than revenge. And then Jesus came along and said,

You’ve also heard the saying, ‘Take an eye for an eye, take a tooth for a tooth.’ But I’m telling you, never respond with evil. Instead, if someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer him the other one too. And if anybody wants to drag you into court and take away your shirt, let him have your undershirt. If somebody make you go a mile for him, go two miles. Give to him who asks of you, and don’t turn your back on anyone who wants a loan.

Another thing you’ve always heard is, ‘Love your own group and hate the hostile outsider.’ But I’m telling you, love the outsiders and pray for those who try to do you in, so that you might be sons of your spiritual Father. For he lets his sun rise on both sinners and saints, and he sends rain on both good people and bad. Listen here, if you love only those who love you, what’s your advantage? Don’t even scalawags do that much? And if you speak to no one but your friends, how are you any different? Don’t the non-Christians do as much? Now you, you all must be mature, as your spiritual Father is mature. – Matthew 5: 38 – 48 as written in The Cotton Patch Gospel by Clarence Jordan

There is a message to these words from Christ, words that are not offered up. You need to know that what Jesus was suggesting was neither violent resistance or passive acceptance of oppression. Rather, He was advocating a third alternative, an assertive but non-violent form of protest.

And the key to understanding this is to pay attention to the social customs of Israel at that time and what how those who heard those words would have understood them. Notice that Jesus specified that the person had been struck on the right cheek. How does one strike another on the right cheek? You can only be struck on the right cheek if the other person uses their left hand or with a backhand blow from the right hand.

But one did not use the left hand to strike people (for a number of reasons) so it meant that you had to be backhanded with the right hand as a superior would treat an inferior. Striking someone with one’s fist was only done among equals. But when you turn the other cheek, you force your oppressor to either you to treat you as an equal.

Each of the other ‘commandments’ reinforce this same idea. Roman law at that time allowed Roman soldiers to force citizens to carry their weapons for one mile but no more than a mile. By carrying the load the extra mile, the soldier who commanded you could get in trouble or he would have to wrestle his gear from the subject.

In a world where all many people had was their coat and an inner garment (a cloak), the coat was their blanket at night. The law allowed the seizure of the coat for non-payment of debt but when Jesus said give them your cloak as well, it was a statement saying, ‘see what the system is doing to you.’ And in being naked, you shamed the person who was watching. (Adapted from the “True Meaning of Turn The Other Cheek” by Marcus Borg)

So Jesus response to oppression was not passivity or oppression; it was to put the oppressor on the defensive. And how do we do that today? Certainly, it is not by building walls or increasing security to the point where freedom becomes a distant memory.

It begins by taking away the source or cause of repression. It begins by asking why there are those who seek peace outside their own homelands and asking why we are not making a more concerted effort to establish peace in those lands.

It begins by making sure that every person has a true and equal opportunity in this world. The monies that we spend on armaments and war could be better spent building homes and schools and finding ways to insure that the hungry are fed, the sick are cured.

And maybe if we begin to see each other as equals, the same in God’s eyes, even when we do not believe the same, then things will change.

Our first inclination today was most certainly to strike back, to seek revenge. But that is and never has been the answer. The answer is to do not what you think you should do but rather what you are supposed to do, love each other as you have been loved.

God and Creation: Irenaeus of Lyons and the Opulence of God.

In the weeks to come, I will be presenting two sets of ongoing reflections.  One set will explore “Priests and Religious of Science,” examining the lives of clergy and religious whose ministry and work are a living witness to the inclusive relationship between faith and science that is embraced by the Church. The other set will explore “God and Creation,” examining theological perspectives from the Catholic tradition on the relationship between God and the created world.  Today’s post will be on “God and Creation,” exploring the thought of St. Irenaeus of Lyons in regard to the opulence of God. Irenaeus of Lyons is one of the most significant early Church Fathers.  Scholarly opinion places his birth at about 120 AD (give or take five years) and was one of the strongest theological voices to address the problem of Gnosticism in the early Church (I have touched on Gnosticism in my earlier posts).  Another part of his significance is that he was a disciple … Continue reading →

Source: God and Creation: Irenaeus of Lyons and the Opulence of God.

What Did You Learn In School Today?

This has been edited since it was first posted.  My thanks to Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education for his comments.

I will start off by noting that if Tom Paxton were to write his song, “What Did You Learn In School Today?” (sung by Pete Seeger), today, he would have to add, if not change, some of the lyrics.

It isn’t so much that much of our educational curriculum is being rewritten (which some are trying to do) but that it is being done in such a way as to totally remove all that has been written or discovered in terms of an extremist agenda designed to limit the ability of individuals to independently think, analyze, and create.

It was reported on the http://www.houstonpress.com/ web site that the Texas State Board of Education might soon again be considering ways to water down the treatment of evolution and misrepresent it as scientifically controversial  – “The State Board of Education Is Looking At Science Curriculum, Again.”

Now, you will say to me that you don’t particularly care what transpires in Texas and you would prefer that Texas somehow float off into the Gulf of Mexico. But know this, the two large textbook markets in this country are Texas and California and publishers tend to listen to the decisions made in those states more closely than the thoughts of other state boards of education (see “Almost Spring” for additional links). While the process for textbook selection in Texas and California differ, the end result is that the textbooks that they select will be the textbooks used in the other 48 states.


It should be noted that I am a Christian and that I truly believe that God created the heaven and the universe. I stand, as did the Psalmist, in awe and wonder of God’s handiwork. But, I am also a chemist, trained in the liberal arts to think, analyze, and then use my skills and abilities to understand the world around me and the heavens above me.

And what my observations tell me is that the process of creation is longer than six days. And as a Christian, I am not alone in this thought.

Origen, the 3rd century philosopher and theologian, opposed the idea that the opening verses of Genesis were a historical and literal account of how God created this world and universe. Later scholars, such as Thomas Aquinas, and religious figures, such as John Wesley, made similar arguments. Wesley would say that the Scriptures were not written to satisfy our curiosity but to lead us to God (adapted from “How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?”)

When John the Baptizer was in jail, awaiting execution, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you see and hear.” (Matthew 11: 2 – 4)

I do not wish to be accused of proof-texting but did not Jesus say, in effect, determine the answer to your question by yourselves? Look around and tell me what you see?

My problem with the views of some individuals is that I am to accept, without question, their thoughts about the nature of the world and the universe. If I am created in God’s image and I am commanded by Jesus to report what I see and hear, must I not trust the evidence that is before me and not just accept someone’s word that this is the way it is and it cannot be any other way?


I used to live in Texas but that was the Texas that elected Ann Richards as Governor, so it was a little more enlightened time. Don’t ask me to explain what has transpired in that state since that time or in other states where a desire for a literal reading of the Bible and what we are to learn from it threatens to move us back into a new and, conceivably, darker “Dark Age”.


I do have problems with the teaching of evolution in the high school classroom but they are problems with the teaching of it, not with the concept, idea, or theory.

First, the theory of evolution as first expressed by Charles Darwin is not a fact. Theories are not facts; theories are the best explanation of what has been observed and the best predictor for what might occur. That evolution has and is occurring is a fact but that is a different statement.

The problem is that many teachers teach evolution as a fact, more because they do not understand the processes of science and because of time constraints that require a given amount of information needs to be presented to students in a given amount of time (in some circles, this is called the “fixed volume” problem). As a result, it is much easier to just stand in front of the classroom and say that evolution is a fact and go from there.

Such an approach totally voids the idea of science as an exploratory and experiential process. Science begins with observations. You must use your senses to see what is taking place in the world around you. What you observe, what you gather are the facts upon which you build your hypothesis, your thoughts about what is taking place.

A student I worked with a number of years ago observed that no grasses grew around certain weeds in her backyard. She made the hypothesis that the weed contained some sort of compound that killed the grasses. Of course, this rather simple hypothesis required very extensive laboratory work that involved the elucidation of the compounds that were present in the weed and a determination of which compound was the active compound. For her efforts (which took, I believe, all four years of high school), she received a full scholarship at a major university and the opportunity to work with a professor who had been working on the same problem.


The solution here is not all that simple and some will not like it. But we need to go back to the time in society when we placed a premium on science and mathematics, when doing science was more important than learning about science. This will require a rather extensive outlay of funds because doing science means being in the laboratory as much or more than one is in the lecture room.

The roots of today’s science curriculum are found in the efforts of the late 1950s and early 1960s when this country responded to the Soviet Union’s launch of the first Sputnik (“Liberal Arts and Science Education In The 21st Century”). But, over the years, this effort has fallen by the wayside, primarily because of the associated costs for lab equipment and supplies. Learning has become textbook dependent simply because it is cheaper and more cost-effective to have a textbook rather than a fully equipped and functional laboratory.

And because those teaching science today have come up through this system, they are not likely to understand how science operates. So, in the end, science teachers who do not understand how science operates and have spent very little time doing laboratory work are tasked with teaching a very abstract concept such as a theory.

And before one complains that there is no money for education in today’s budget, we should compare what is spent on education with what is spent on military expenditures. And considering the technology that much of those military expenditures require, wouldn’t it help if the personnel working on those systems knew what they were doing?

Also, as the launching of Sputnik was considered a threat to national security and the essential reasoning for the expenditures in science and mathematics education then was that our national security would be compromised, what threats are there to our society today, military, economic, or otherwise, if we do not have an educated populace?

It will also require that citizens of the other 48 states begin telling their respective state boards of education to pay attention to what is taking place in Texas and tell publishers that they will no longer accept the decision of a few people in Texas as their decision.

How Do We Do Palm Sunday?

A Meditation for 20 March 2016, Palm Sunday (Year C).

Here are my thoughts concerning Palm Sunday this year. I most certainly would like to hear your thoughts about what I have written.

For me, Palm Sunday is an enigma, if that is the right word to use. The theology and scriptures for this Sunday are well known and quite clear; it is how you “do” this Sunday that is sometimes confusing.

Let me begin by saying that I have done traditional Palm Sunday services. Time and place dictated that was what I would be doing. And I know that others, with time and experience on their side, might have a better understanding of what needs to be done.

In one aspect, one’s plans for Palm Sunday depend somewhat on the nature of the church where the service is being held. If you are only doing a Palm Sunday service and an Easter service with nothing during the week, then Palm Sunday actually becomes Passion Sunday and you have to cram an entire week’s worthy of noteworthy activity into one Sunday (something I tried to do with my monologue “Do You Understand?”).

But if you have scheduled services for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, then you only have to concern yourself with what happened on Sunday and perhaps Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. And with the exception of what I thought happened on Tuesday (when Jesus threw the money-changers out of the Temple, at least in terms of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; the Gospel of John has it happening at the beginning of the ministry rather than at the end), nothing much happens.

And through it all, there is Saturday, which I have come to call “The Missing Day”. I originally wrote this as a monologue but I have since worked on it to make it a short play with 4 characters to be performed on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday; if you are interested, drop me a note and I will share what I have prepared.

The problem is that, other that what is written in the Gospels, we really don’t know much about what happened that week. Of course, when this was all happening, no one bother to take any notes and, as the age-old proverb goes, if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist. So we are left with the memories of one or two people forty or fifty years after it all happened upon we can build our ideas and thoughts.

And that is what I think we need to do, especially on Palm Sunday. We need to put ourselves into the places of the disciples and their friends, of the people who stood on the streets laying down the palms and cheering, of some of the visitors who have come to Jerusalem for the first time in their lives.

Perhaps we need to put ourselves in the role of the political and religious establishment. There seems to be a sentiment in the writing that this was not the first time someone had entered Jerusalem during Passover proclaiming himself to be the new messiah. Some documentaries note that the Roman authorities always seemed to be on edge when it was Passover because that was a time of possible turmoil and unrest. I recall someone saying that while Jesus was entering Jerusalem on the donkey on one side of town, Pontius Pilate was entering Jerusalem on a fine white stallion in another part of Jerusalem. If this is correct, then the tensions throughout the whole city would have been high and the authorities and their personnel would have been on high alert.

Or perhaps we should do a more modern version of Palm Sunday, having Jesus come into our city or town. How would He be dressed? What sort of entourage would accompany Him? Would there be others, proclaiming themselves as the true messiah? Would others be calling for revolution and the overthrow of the government? And were would each one of us be in all of this? Given all that takes place in our city today, with the whole idea of Christianity under attack, by those who don’t believe and those whose belief is most certainly flawed, would we even care about what was to happen.

In the end, whatever we do for Palm Sunday, we have to understand that Palm Sunday is the first of eight days during which the world changes. Only one person understood that on that first Palm Sunday and many of those who were there that day would never understand.

Our challenge is not to simply “do” Palm Sunday; it is to understand that Palm Sunday begins a transition from simply watching the parade pass us by to becoming participants in the parade and then to become leaders of the new parade. How we do that will determine what Palm Sunday means to us.

Where Is Your Focus?

A Meditation for 13 March 2016, the 5th Sunday in Lent (Year C). The meditation is based on Isaiah 43: 16 – 21, Philippians 3: 4 – 14, and John 12: 1 – 8

What did Jesus mean when He told His disciples that the poor would be with us always? Did He mean that poverty was a permanent condition that could never be fixed and that we should just accept the idea that some people will never have enough to survive, let alone live in a reasonable manner?

Or was He pointing out that the political and economic system might be corrupt and that there were those whose wealth and status came at the expense of others. Remember, in the Gospel reading Judas Iscariot wants Mary to sell the oil and give the money to the poor. We also know that John, the writer of this Gospel has a burr under his saddle when it comes to Judas so he proclaims Judas wanted to steal the money from the group’s common treasury, of which he (Judas) was the appointed treasurer.

Not withstanding Judas’ motives, that he saw the need to have money available to give to the poor suggests, at least to me, that the social support system of that time was not working. If it was, there would have been no concern about how an expensive oil might be used.

The prophet Isaiah tells the people that their God, the God who brought them out of slavery and exile, has provided for them. In a desert land where water is at a premium, Isaiah points out that God provided them with water so that they could live. And because their basic needs have been met, they, the people of Israel need not worry about that and can be more attuned to what is to come.

We live in a time that probably would have driven Paul crazy. If, as he warned the Philippians, there were religious busybodies running about then, more interested in their own appearances than they were concerned about others, how would he react today. I don’t think Paul would have cared very much for those who say that they are evangelical Christians today.

Those who proclaim themselves evangelical Christians today seem more interested in their own fortune and well-being than they do the fortune and well-being of others. Those who have taken the name of Christ have, in my opinion, taken it in vain.

You cannot say you are for Christ and then say in the same breath that you hate people or that you are willing to go to war and you feel that feeding the hungry or healing the sick or taking care of the homeless is a waste of time. But then again, many of those who say this say it is because the poor will be with us always so why do anything about it.

About six weeks ago, I wrote a piece entitled “I Am A Southern Evangelical Christian! What Are You?” in which I defined evangelism as

declaring the good news about what God is doing in the world today. Evangelism should challenge individuals to yield to Jesus, to let Jesus into their lives, and to allow the power of the Holy Spirit transform them into new creations. But it is more than that.

It involves proclaiming what God is doing in society right now to bring justice, liberation, and economic well-being for the oppressed. It means to call people to participate (nasty word there, don’t you think) in the revolutionary transformation of the world. Evangelism is what Jesus said it was: broadcasting the good news that the Kingdom of God is breaking loose in human history, that a new social order is being created, and that we are all invited to share in what is happening. God is changing the world into the world that should be and we are invited to live this good news by breaking down the barriers of racism, sexism, and social class.

Evangelism requires that we declare the Gospel not just by word but also by deed and we show God’s presence in this world by working to eliminate poverty, prevent unjust discrimination and stand against political tyranny. Evangelism calls us to create a community through which God’s will is done, here on earth, as it is in Heaven. (borrowed and adapted from Tony Campolo’s foreword to Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch Gospel: Luke and Acts; for more see “Who Are You Following?” or “What Do We Do Now?” where I consider how to apply the thoughts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well as those of Clarence Jordan and edited).

It is not easy to be an evangelical Christian when it requires that you work, perhaps without the glory that you think should come for doing just a smidgen of the work. It is not easy to be an evangelical Christians when such efforts run counter to the expressed nature of society where self comes before community. It is not easy to be an evangelical Christian at a time when society doesn’t seem to care about people.

What was it that Sir Thomas Moore said to Richard Rich (in “A Man For All Seasons”

Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You’d be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.

Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?

Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.

It isn’t a matter of what society thinks; it never was. It is a matter of knowing in your heart that you have accepted Christ, that you cast away all that you were before, and that you walked with Christ. And you have walked with Christ to the Cross and you kept walking afterwards, carrying the message of hope and promise throughout the land.

It is not easy; even Paul knew that. But he also knew that keeping his focus on Christ was what he had to do.

Where is your focus?


Meteorite reveals rare unstable element | EarthSky.org

This is interesting because curium is a post-uranium element, which implies that it was man-made.  This article shows that it has a stellar origin as a decay product of uranium (which would have formed through the process of supernovas).  This will, I believe, also require an editing of current introductory chemistry textbooks.


A pink meteorite inclusion nicknamed Curious Marie shows that a highly unstable element, curium, was present in the early solar system.

Source: Meteorite reveals rare unstable element | EarthSky.org

Rage Against The System

A Meditation for 6 March 2016, the 4th in Lent (Year C). The meditation is based on Joshua 5: 9 – 12, 2 Corinthians 5: 16 – 21, and Luke 15: 1 – 3, 11 – 32

I know how some people will read the Old Testament reading for today. Throughout the Exodus, God provided the people with the basic nutrition in the form of manna that they would need to survive. And now, having arrived in the Promised Land, the manna has stopped and the people must live on the food that was produced in Canaan. I am sure that some people will see this as a sign that government has no business helping people and that the people themselves must provide the food.

Okay, I will buy that argument but only if you remember that it is all the people who are involved in the production of the food and all of the people share in the bounty. And remember the statements elsewhere in the Old Testament that widows, the elderly, and orphans are to be cared for by society as a whole. Jesus will refer to that policy later on. And yes, Paul and Luke (in Acts) both pointed out that those who refuse to participate may be left out.

So, let’s break this down. Those who refuse to work (key word being refuse, not unable) will not get anything. If there are no jobs, then society has a problem. And society has a problem if it refuses to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

We cannot arbitrarily decide who is in our community, especially when we all share the same resources of air, water, and food. Paul continues this thought about the nature of society by noting that it isn’t what we see when we look at someone that counts, it is what is inside the person.

Somehow I think we are missing this point. There was a time when we were moving towards a society where everyone was equal, where as Martin Luther King said, one is judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. And yet it seems today that not only do we judge people by the color of the skin, we judge them by their sexuality, their economic status, and perhaps even the basis for their faith.

And the worst part is that you cannot look at someone and know what their sexuality is, what their economic status might be, or even what they may believe.

It comes down to this, at least in my own mind. It is one thing to have a good life that you have achieved on your own and without any help from anyone; that is the best possible outcome in today’s world. But there is something wrong with a system that allows a few to gather all they can at the expense of all the others and then work to keep for themselves and never let others even have a chance.

It seems to me that today many people are angry with the system in which we live. And their anger is directed towards those who, they feel, are the cause of the problems. But who benefits from all of this?

We are told that businesses cannot sustain a living wage, yet in places where there are living wages, businesses thrive. Why do the rich want to keep workers at the minimum wage? Why do businesses send jobs overseas? Could it be that they don’t want to pay the workers and would rather keep the money for themselves?

And these same people push their followers to rail against the welfare system. Let’s face it, nobody should be on welfare, at least as it is today. In terms of what one receives while on welfare today, you cannot survive. And if you are trying to support a family, it is even worse. And if you can find evidence that those on welfare have it better than you, please provide the evidence because, as far as I know, it doesn’t exist except in the clouded, deluded minds of opponents.

And while you are railing against the expense and fraud of the welfare system and calling it a waste of taxpayer money, where is your anger against the military-industrial complex that drives the budget of the Pentagon and Homeland Security Agency? If there is fraud on a massive scale in the various social agencies, then there must be extremely massive fraud in the Pentagon and Homeland Security. But no one says anything about those expenditures.

Casey Stengel once said that the secret of good managing was to keep the players who haven’t decided if you were a good manager away from those who were sure you were a bad manager. It strikes me that those in positions of power would very much want those who do the work to fight amongst each other in order to keep the pressure off them.

If those without have to fight amongst themselves for the few crumbs that fall from the master’s table, we will never have a free and equal society.

In a speech to the Cleveland City Club on April 5, 1968 (the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated), Robert Kennedy said,

When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies – to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

Senator Kennedy also noted that the lives of all those who live and share this planet are too short for the type of spirit which lead to the assassination of Dr. King to continue.

If our rage against the system is a rage against others, we will never change the system. If our anger is directed towards our brothers and sisters, how can we ever expect to change the system?

Did the older son in today’s Gospel reading rejoice when his younger brother came home? Or was he angry that his younger brother, having wasted his share of the family fortune, was now coming home to take his share as well?

Did not Jacob fear the reunion with his brother Esau? But did not Esau, for all the troubles that Jacob had caused, rejoice in the reunion of the family?

How did Joseph react when his brothers came to Egypt? Joseph could have easily had them all thrown into jail for what they had done to him (and I am sure that the laws of that time would have allowed such an action).

Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them.

Personally, I think that we need to rage against the system, the system that says it is alright to hate someone because of the color of their skin or their sexuality or their economic status. We should rage against a system that turns brother against brother and country against country, solely for the dominance of the world.

We should be working for a system where everyone shares, where everyone shares in the produce of the world and no one has to suffer. We have been shown a way to achieve this and we have the ability and the skills to achieve it today.

We have a choice. We can continue on the path that we are walking, allowing the system in which we live to consume and destroy us. Or we can repent of our ways and our past and walk a new path, one in which we work to ensure that all who live on this planet share of God’s resources.