Monday, May 23, 2011

The "Rapture": a long time ago, in a theology far, far...away??? Part 1

Remember the controversy over the book by Rob Bell? It seems like it was not that "long ago" that many Christians, including Christian leaders, academics, theologians, theology students (including myself) and many others were writing, reading, and re-reading the book "Love Wins" and writing, reading, re-reading and "commenting" about the book.  (Note: Of course when I say commenting that includes both the positive and the negative comments, along with the charges of heresyfalse prophet, etc) Now all you have to do is turn on the television or go to your favorite news website to see that when it comes to "Christianity" these days, the number one topic is the "Rapture".

A couple of days ago, according to Harold Camping and supporters of his "Family Radio", the Rapture was going to happen. It did not. As I reflect on this and the theological arguments behind the Rapture, I find myself feeling sorry for all the people that truly believe (at that time) that the Rapture was coming. Before we continue the jokes let us remember: people's lives have been destroyed over this after some of them sold their houses, left their jobs, families, spouses and lovers over this, drained their bank accounts on expensive trips since 'the end was coming', etc. 

So before we say "it's their fault for believing this nonsense" remember: these are real people in real pain over this, and that includes (as one of many examples) all the young people that will not be going to college because the money is gone and this was not their choice!

And I ask why? Why did so many people believe that the Rapture was coming and now find themselves not only in the middle of a faith crisis with long-lasting financial and emotional effects but also in the middle of a terrible existential dilemma? Before I can even try to answer that I find myself looking at the "Rapture" itself and the theology behind it.

First things first: I know a few people that believe in the "Rapture" and they were simply shaking their heads at all this. They all told me a similar version of this: we cannot know when the Rapture will occur. The other day I saw on the television an interesting talk between two Evangelical pastors and they both agreed: we cannot know when the day of the Rapture will happen.

In the second part of this posting, I will be looking at the ideas behind the Rapture. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Taking a break from Facebook, at least for a while...

"For a Christian, his existence is ultimately the totality of his existence. This totality opens up the dark abysses of the wilderness which we call God. When one undertakes something like this, he stands before the great thinkers, the saints, and finally Jesus Christ. The abyss of existence opens up in front of him."
(Karl Rahner)


So I have decided to take a break from Facebook. There are many reasons why I am doing this and they all come down to the main point: to focus and concentrate on more important parts and aspects of my life, of my existence.

My mind will involve itself more in what Hegel called Anstrengung des Begriffs: "the strenuous effort of the concept" or better yet for my purposes "the effort involved in thinking". As my mind does that my heart will be there too, hopefully cracking a joke every so often and trying to reach those realms and places that defy the cold devices of mind and reason.

I admit it: I waste a lot of time on Facebook. And when I do go back to this peculiar and essential tool (fascinating how I just used the word "essential") I will very likely waste some time there again, but hopefully not that much. For now, my "existence" will demand more time than usual from me; perhaps you have 'felt' this demand from your own existence before.

During this time, I will continue to write here. I invite you to follow this humble blog and feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and comments.

Pax, paz, peace,


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where is God? Closer than we think...

Where is God? Where? Many times I asked this question. Perhaps you have asked the same question.

As of right now you may know (directly and indirectly) many people who are experiencing one or more of the following:

1) Death of a family member.
2) Unable to find a job.
3) A divorce.
4) Someone in the hospital.
5) A friend in crushing emotional pain.
7) Waiting on a phone call from a doctor that could be good news or not so good news.
8) A loved one in day-to-day physical pain.
9) A person trying to find the strength to ask for forgiveness of someone else.
10) A co-worker that just got his house foreclosed.
11) A teenage boy being bullied every day at school because he is gay.
12) A college student that was raped last night.
13) A family hoping that their father will make it back safely from his tour of duty.
14) So many more...

In everything (and so many other situations) that I have described we don't see God. We see: pain, loss, hate, much suffering. So again we cry out: Where is God????

I have personally been a part of some of the situations I listed, and I can remember so many times asking "Why God?" "Are you not supposed to be a loving Father"? "Why do you allow this to happen?" "Where are you?"

And as I look back to the list I can think of the people that were there for me when I needed them. And as I was meditating on one of my favorite scripture moments from the Gospel according to Matthew, I realize that the answer to the question "Where is God?" is the following: he is in two places at the same time. And no, I am not speaking right now of a debate on how God can or cannot be outside space and time.

‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 

To me this passage is not only about the Son of Man telling us Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ It also tells me that he is in two places at the same time: in you and me, the one in need and the one that provides.

When "Robert" is in prision, and he is visited by "Jane", God is in both of them. 
When "Jack" is in the hospital in terrible pain, and the nurse "Nancy" is holding his hand, God is in both of them.
When "Deborah" is in the ER after being raped in her own dorm room, and her father is holding her, God is in both of them.
When "Carlos" has to leave his apartment because he is about to be evicted, and he is staying with his friend "John", God is in both of them.
When "Laura" is desperate because her daughter is crying out of hunger, and she receives food at the food pantry from "Charles", God is in both of them.

Truly God is in all of us and he is in two places at the same time. He really is. 

The image of the suffering Christ on the cross comes to mind. I believe the Son of Man cries with us, with every human being that cries in suffering like he did on the cross, and he is in every human being that gives his heart and love to you and me. And when that moment comes, we can laugh again and he will laugh and smile with us. 

God is in every one of us that needs love and he is in everyone that gives love. I believe God invite us to give that love; the same love that comes from God and the same love that we give to others and sometimes the least of these is one of us, and sometimes the least of these is embraced by one of us. Once we realize this, then we understand that God is in two places at the same time, because he truly is in you and me.

Because truly, God is closer than we think...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Heretic? Orthodox? The "Right" view? The "Wrong" view?

I just listened to a podcast by Dr. Rowan Williams (the Archbishop of Canterbury) as he gave his views on what it means to be a "Heretic". However, before I give you my own reflections on this matter I would really like to hear from you. So I will ask you a few questions and I want you to feel free to respond to any of them as you choose:

1) What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "Heretic"?
2) What is the meaning of "Heresy"?
3) What is "Orthodoxy"
4) Have you ever called someone a "Heretic"? Why?
5) Has someone ever called you a "Heretic" or have you been accused of having "heretical views"? If yes, were you given a reason?
6) Do you consider yourself on the side of "Orthodoxy" or "Heresy"? Why?

I look forward to hearing from you.