Friday, February 24, 2012

From the tales of "Conan the Barista"

It is said, that between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And a there was a man by the name of Conan, who would be destined to be the king of baristas...

Mongol General: "What is best in life?"
Mongol: "The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair."
Mongol General: "Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?"
Conan: "To grind your beans, to see them packed and smoothed before you, and hear the gurgle of the expresso wand."
Mongol General: "That is good!"

(Thank you to Nathan the chronicler, for allowing me to use the quote that became part of this ha ha)

Have an excellent weekend my friends. And to those of you who will be part of the Province V (Episcopal Church) Campus Ministry / Young Adult Ministry Conference "Church in the City" this weekend, see you in Chicago :)



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Getting ready for "Evening Prayer"

Almighty God, we give you thanks for surrounding us, as 
daylight fades, with the brightness of the vesper light; and we 
implore you of your great mercy that, as you enfold us with 
the radiance of this light, so you would shine into our hearts 
the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

(from An Order of Worship for the Evening, Book of Common Prayer page 110)

Rick Santorum and Theology

In the history of the Roman Catholic there are many theologians; some are more famous than others. For example, you may have heard of St. Thomas Aquinas. He is one of the Doctores Ecclesiae or "Doctors in the Church". These writers have received this title on account of the great advantage the whole Church has derived from their doctrine. St. Augustine of Hippo is another theologian that has this title, along with  St. Ambrose of Milan and St. John Chrysostom to name a few.

So, what if I told you that President Obama and St. Thomas Aquinas have something in common? In a way they do. If we look at what former Sen. Rick Santorum said about President Obama recently, we would see that Obama and Aquinas have something in common. Whey do I say this? Allow me to explain.

Santorum said the following about Obama but, before I go on: it is true that Santorum spoke later about this issue to "clarify" his remarks. However, that does not take away from what I am trying to get to and I ask you my dear reader to hang on with me on this. Santorum said: It’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your job. It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology.

Let us take the last sentence of that paragraph: Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology. Now, I am a student of Theology. By this I mean, that I have taken courses in Theology; one of classes was an independent study class I took a few summers ago called "The Theology of St. Augustine". With the help of my professor, I read and studied many of Augustine's works including some that I was already familiar with like Confessions, and others like Free Choice Of The Will. I also read a lot of theologians. As I say all this let me be clear: I DO NOT consider myself a Theologian or an "expert" in Theology. Again, I am only a student of Theology. (Note: This is something that I enjoy and if you know me personally you may have seen me at a coffeeshop with books by Augustine, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Rahner, etc sometimes with a philosophy book by people like Nietzsche or Kierkegaard in the mix because let us face it: I am very much a theology/philosophy geek.)

If we take that sentence we will notice the following terms: theology and bible. Also, Santorum claims that Obama has a theology, but that this theology is not a theology based on the Bible. Since it would take a separate blog entry just on the word theology, the etymology of the word, what my professors said about this word, what it means, etc, I am not going to look at this here. My main focus is on Santorum's statement not a theology based on the Bible and my earlier statement: So, what if I told you that President Obama and St. Thomas Aquinas have something in common?
St. Thomas Aquinas

Let us take St. Thomas Aquinas; according to the Roman Catholic Church, the theology of Aquinas IS based on the bible; I personally know many fine priests and theologians that agree with this. I would also guess that since Santorum is a Roman Catholic that he would also agree with this. However, I also personally know many fine people that DO NOT think that the theology of Aquinas is biblical. In fact, some very famous in people in history said this. All you have to do is look at the writings and letters of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. Let us pick one: Martin Luther.

Martin Luther
Among the many problems that Luther had with Aquinas, was the use of Aristotle by Aquinas and others after him. In his Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church Luther Luther wrote that the Church had the true faith for more than twelve hundred years. But that when the Church started to embrace the pseudo-philosophy of Aristotle it came up with false doctrines that were in his opinion unbiblical like the doctrine of Transubstantiation, that to him was forsooth, a monstrous word for a monstrous idea! This is not to say that Luther was "right" and the Roman Catholic Church was "wrong" on issues like these one. There are plenty of arguments and counterarguments on this.
But again we can ask: 
Whose theology is "not based" on the Bible?
Luther, or Aquinas? 
The Churches of the Protestant Reformation, or the Roman Catholic Church?

Obama or Santorum?

To Santorum, Obama's thelogy is not based on the bible. But to Luther, the theology of Aquinas (and the Roman Catholic Church) is not based on the bible and/or corrupted by unbiblical sources like Aristotle. And since Santorum is a Roman Catholic, Luther could say to him that his theology is not based on the bible. So again: who is being "unbiblical" or has a theology not based on the Bible? 

The answers depend on you my dear reader. In the meantime I will continue reading, studying, thinking, talking to people, asking questions, coming up with questions to the questions, etc. I believe that this is more productive than telling people that their theology is unbiblical or that their theology is not based on the Bible. I have no problem having a conversation about this issue (it happens all the time) but usually I don't start the conversation by firing a cannon; I prefer the weapons of conversation and coffee lol.  Also, as a Christian, I simply remind myself that when it comes to matters of Scripture, of Theology, and other related matters I remember that the Son of Man was ready to say that there were things that even he did not know (Matthew 24:36). Who knows...maybe one day Obama and Santorum (away from cameras and microphones) could have a nice chat about this over a beer. Yes, I may be dreaming but hey...I am only a human being.  :)



Monday, February 20, 2012

Stereotypes, bolts of lightning, and cheese

Hello my dear reader. I hope you will have an excellent week. To help you start the day with a smile (and maybe a smile that leads to a conversation) I hope you like these cartoons. Please feel free to leave your comments regarding them.


Mario :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Am I reading the 'wrong' Bible?

My dear reader, have you ever wondered if you are reading the 'wrong' Bible? Am I? If you have a bible (or bibles) in your bookshelf and/or electronic device, what version is it? Is it the RSV? The NIV? The ESV? The KJV? The NKJV? In my case I usually read the NRSV. Now, have you thought about why you have a particular version of the Bible?

1) Because it was a gift?
2) Is it the same one that is used at your church?
3) Because you simply like it?
4) Someone recommended that version to you?
5) Because a pastor, priest, theologian, bible scholar, or professor that you like prefers X or Y version?
6) Not quite sure?

I would guess that you have good reasons for the particular version of the Bible that you have. Or perhaps you never gave it much thought. Maybe to you the version of the Bible does not really matter. Well, I was once again reminded that to some of my Christian brothers and sisters the version DOES matter. For example I will start with myself: I like the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version), because it is used as part of the RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) in the Episcopal Church. If I am meant to be an Episcopal priest, this is what I will be using every Sunday and my sermons/homilies will be based on the readings taken from the RCL; actually, I already do that. Also in my opinion the NRSV is a very solid version that is favored by many scholars.

Among my Christian friends from different denominations I have one friend that for example likes the ESV (English Standard Version). His name is Jake, and he is my colleague and fellow intern here at the Wesley Foundation. Among the reasons why he prefers to use the ESV is that in his opinion it provides a good balance between the word-to-word translation and the use of a solid modern English, a language that he himself speaks. He also told me how 'out of the blue' he received his current ESV bible in the mail from his grandmother. He was gladly surprised.

Another version that to this day is still very popular is the KJV (King James Version). This version is very, very close to many people. To many of my Christian brothers and sisters there is an emotional connection to this version; to many the beauty of this older English is a big part of this. The flowing language and prose rhythm in the KJV has had a profound influence on the literature of the English language for centuries. In fact, the year 2011 was the 400th anniversary of the KJV.

What I do find intriguing in relation to the KJV is how to some people to use any other version of the Bible is a big error, or even heresy. I was reminded of this while I was looking at a posting by a church who stated that they were looking for a Pastor who is BIBLICALLY QUALIFIED and KING JAMES ONLY!  While I disagree with a lot of the theology of this particular church, this in itself does not mean that these folks are wrong and I am right; as Christians we have disagreements with each other all the time. As I was thinking about this, at the end of the job description they declared:
We also believe the King James is the inspired word of God in English! We do not believe in going back to the Greek, Hebrew, Chaldean, Sand Script, Native American, Cave paintings, or Finger Paintings by children to “interpret” Gods word. God can speak English just fine and since he promised to preserve his word there is no need to go outside the English language to find it.

While I can appreciate the passion in saying that God can speak English just fine and since he promised to preserve his word there is no need to go outside the English language to find it one of the many problems with this is that elevates the KJV itself to something that is almost divine. I could say "Yes, God could speak English just fine but do we?" And even if we say that we do, can we say that we never, ever misunderstand each other? I have also spoken before about the impact and advances of biblical scholarship since the KJV, and of course the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But of course, there are some who have legitimate disagreements with me on this and I can respect that. My biggest problem is to elevate the KJV to such a level that anyone who is not reading it must be wrong. To do this in my opinion borders on idolatry.

I can fully admit that as a Christian I have my own theological preferences and my own biases; I would be in big trouble if I could not admit that about myself. And yet, I can see nothing positive in engaging in religious superiority and/or arrogance. This directly or indirectly leads to reinforcement of prejudice and to tribalism

No one wins...

So, what bible do you read? And, are you 'right' or 'wrong' for reading that version? Well my dear reader, it is not my place to tell you. However, we should take some time to explore these questions; I don't think there is anything wrong by doing so and in fact I think it is a good thing. And who knows, perhaps you owe it to yourself to read another version from time to time. You may like it or you may not like it. But still consider this: maybe you will understand the others a bit better and maybe someone else will understand you a little better too. 

Have an excellent weekend :)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Two things, and how to make church "brilliant"

Hello again my dear reader :)

My next blog entry will be: "Am I reading the 'wrong' Bible?". In the meantime, I just wanted to say two things:

1) I hope you are having an excellent morning.
2) A few of us from the Wesley Foundation will be leading a service at a local church this Sunday. I will be giving the sermon on the following readings taken from the RCL for February 19th: 
Hebrew Bible: 2 Kings 2:1-12
Psalm: Psalm 50:1-6
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Gospel: Mark 9:2-9

The working title of my sermon is "Listen to him". Wish me luck :)



P.S. If you want me to do tricks in the middle of my sermon, contact my agent.

Monday, February 13, 2012

So if it wasn't for Christ, it would still be 'okay' to kill Gays?

Sometimes in Facebook I get involved in theological/philosophical arguments. It comes with the territory and most of the times I wish that these discussions happened in person. I truly believe that speaking to each other while looking at the other person would (at the least) help minimize some of the misunderstandings that we have when we are speaking to someone that has different different views from ours. But alas, sometimes we are not that lucky.

The following is part of a Facebook conversation that I had last year; if you know me personally my dear reader you either remember this conversation because you were part of it or you remember me talking about this. Here is the background: I posted the following in a certain Facebook group:
Being gay is NOT "sexual deviancy", it is NOT a "lifestyle" and it is not a 'condition' that needs to be "corrected".  

I always thought that regardless of our theological view in this matter, it does not justify harassment and violence. One person asked me what the Bible said about this and that lead me to bring up a couple of the verses from St. Paul that are used by some Christians on this but that it was my theological opinion that to continue to use them did not make sense and that fellow human beings should not suffer violence over this. Then a fellow Christian (let us call him Brian) said that he was a Christian who believes in the 'truth', and that to stand for the truth is the duty of every Christian. When I asked him what truth he referring to, he quoted Leviticus from the Hebrew Bible. I asked him if he considered the implications of quoting a verse from the Hebrew Bible (before saying anything about the New Testament, like I said in an earlier post) that states they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them (Lev 20:13) along with Lev 18:22 since this could be interpreted as stating that the death penalty should be given to those accused of "homosexuality". He replied that the death penalty was logical before Christ came into the world; that in the context of "Old testament" laws BEFORE the death, burial and resurrection of ChristYes absolutely he affirmed.

Then he added that his only charge was to show that willful homosexual acts are considered sinful before the Lord and that if I had some evidence that some how God doesn't consider willful homosexual acts sinful, then by all means...share with me. My reply was: So from your exegesis you conclude that: before Christ, yes to both sin AND death penalty. But after Christ, yes to sin BUT NOT the death penalty. Is that correct? His reply was: Yes Mario, the death penalty under that context absolutely. Do we have the right to do the same now? No the reason being that Christ is our mediator, we are charged with sharing the gospel by Christ. He quickly added: But all of this is actually irrelevant, the question here is...are willful homosexual acts sinful? the answer is yes...via old testament, and ALSO new testament, there are plenty of scriptures about it that paul speaks on.

My reply was the following:
It is very relevant. You invoked a part of the Holiness Code to make your arguments. I was the first one to mention Paul. And you keep taking about Christ, and yet the Son of Man himself said nothing about this issue. But I guess that is a discussion for another day. Look AGAIN at my original post: --Being gay is NOT "sexual deviancy", it is NOT a "lifestyle" and it is not a 'condition' that needs to be "corrected".-- I was talking about our current understanding of sexuality. The 21st century Christian CANNOT ignore the findings on sexuality, and from psychology and psychiatry on this issue for the last 40 years. To do so is a tragedy.

Then the conversation went this way:

The question "Is homosexuality sexual deviancy" can not be answered by science. That is a moral question...and as a christian I feel it has been answered in the word of God. Is homosexuality a sin? Yes absolutely...according to Gods word. If your a Christian Mario you need to stand on the truth of the word of God. No matter what you say some one is not going to like you...but its your Job as a christian to share the gospel, stand on the word of God and defend the faith with gentleness and respect.

You say it is a moral question, yet as Christians we cannot deny that this moral question, that comes from 'morality', that comes from 'ethics' has been based on an OUTDATED understanding of our bodies. There used to be a time that certain people were thought of having a demon, when later science said it was epilepsy. We cannot ignore science on sexuality.

Mario just to be clear are you a professing christian that is denying the truth of the word of God? And btw for you to say that because these commandments where based on scripture and scripture is "outdated" (whatever that means)....and there for its claims about demonic possession or homosexuality are false...would be the genetic fallacy.

Indeed I am a Christian. It appears that we disagree in our UNDERSTANDING of the 'truth of the word of God'.

Mario I dont really see why you are having such a problem with this....The word of God is clear...why are you denying it? Im really not trying to be confrontational but I am concerned. Telling some one the truth is not intolerance....neither is it attacking some one.

Again, we disagree in our 'understanding' of the truth. There are countries where your understanding of the truth, justifies harassing, abusing, persecuting, imprisoning, and executing human beings. And that concerns me.

My dear reader, if you are a Christian like myself and yet you disagree on this issue on theological grounds I understand. However, I do really hope that your theological position does not make you believe that 'standing for the truth' justifies bullying, or violence. You and I may have a different understanding of the 'truth', but you and I should agree that violence against our fellow human beings over a theological issue is NEVER acceptable and it is NEVER part of the 'truth'. In fact I believe that as a Christians is our duty to listen to what science is telling us about sexuality and about our bodies as part of the search for the 'truth'. If you my dear reader are a Christian like myself and you and I believe that God gave us the gift of reason, and we accept that this gift has been used many times in many areas like physics, chemistry, and medicine, why not in sexuality? There is so much that we thought we KNEW about all of this and yet, we found out later that we were wrong. This is not an attack on faith, quite the contrary: our faith should drive us to search, to ask questions, to come up with new questions. And if we find out that we are wrong about something, then we must fully admit it; to do so is not a sign of weakness, but instead it is a sign of strength and of wisdom.

And if you my dear reader are a Christian who believes that telling someone the truth is not intolerance or is not an attack because you have the truth consider this: the person that you are telling this 'truth' to today, may be bullied AGAIN today by someone at school. Or, he may have been kicked out of the house. Or she is thinking about suicide. Ask yourself: what good is the 'truth' is someone kills himself? What good is sharing the 'Gospel of Christ', if it drives someone to kill a fellow human being?

Is there only ONE UNDERSTANDING of the truth?
Is there only ONE WAY to share the Gospel of Christ?

As a Christian, as a straight man, as a person who is trying to find a better understanding of the truth every day, as a person who does not have all the answers and as a human being, I will continue to stand up for my brothers and sisters in the LGTBQ community. Too many have died over a certain understanding of the 'truth'. Too many have died because of the belief that that homosexuality is a 'lifestyle', that is 'sexual deviancy', and that it is a 'medical condition' that can be "corrected". These beliefs are not only driving acts of hatred that are resulting in lethal violence, but also lead to scenarios like this one: all it takes is to be accused of being gay; you don't have to be gay at all to suffer violence. And if you are straight and stand up for members of the LGTBQ community, in some places around the world that can cost you your life as well.

During my ministry, the stories are endless; so many have come to me in tears because of what someone did to them. So many have come to me in pain because their families have rejected them. So many have come to me because they lost friends. So many have come to me because they know someone that is suffering right now. So many have asked me "Mario, if God loves me, then why do so many hate me?"

Brian said that it is the duty of every Christian to stand for the truth. I agree, as long we remember that our UNDERSTANDING of the truth may not be as correct as we think. What I said to him I say again and those who know me have heard me say this before:
The 21st century Christian CANNOT ignore the findings on sexuality, and from psychology and psychiatry on this issue for the last 40 years. To do so is a tragedy. 

A tragedy...

And I will say this: if someone is going to find out that I am a Chrstian, I prefer that he/she finds out not because my theology is 'perfect', or because 'I know the word of GOD', or because 'I know the truth', but because hopefully my love is clear in both my words and my actions (Gospel according to John 13:34-35).

With Bishop Christopher at Brent House, Episcopal Campus Ministry-University of Chicago
In the end I always remember what Bishop Christopher told me and and many others as part of his ministry defending the LGTBQ community in Uganda and around the world: that hate along with prejudice itself has no flag, no country, no religion, no government, no society, etc; hate and prejudice will use US in the name of flag, country, religion, government and society to do their work. All of us regardless of where we come from can be either victims of prejudice or can be enforcers of prejudice one day, and the next day the roles can be reversed.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another...
For more information on many of these issues I recommend the following:

The work of Bishop Christopher with the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation and the St. Paul's Reconciliation and Equality Centre in Uganda. The American Psychiatric Association has some great resources on LGTBQ issues, specially dealing with a lot of the myths and misunderstandings about sexuality and sexual identity. The American Psychological Association is a also a great place for information on these issues.

My dear reader I hope you will have a wonderful week. Take good care of yourself.


Technical wonderful...

Well my my dear reader, during the creation of my latest blog entry "So if it wasn't for Christ, it would still be 'okay' to kill Gays?" I experienced some 'technical difficulties.' It appears that hitting the 'Save' button multiple times AND being told that my information was 'saved', is as fruitful as asking a Klingon to be a hostage negotiator...
"So, you say that you will kill one hostage every hour if we don't accept your demands? Well my friend, it appears that today is a good day to die...FOR YOU!"

Anyway, it appears that I will have to write this entry...again. In the meantime, I hope you are having an excellent Monday.  :)



Monday, February 6, 2012

While we reject others, someone else says "You Are Accepted"...

Yesterday I gave my first "official" sermon as an intern at the Wesley Foundation at Purdue. I am happy to report that the feedback I got later has so far been very positive...and since no mob chased me away with pitchforks and torches it would appear that my Methodist friends still like me. ;)  But seriously, it was a privilege to do this and I am very much looking forward to the next time I get to do this at Wesley this semester.

Since I never write down my sermons, I was hoping my dear reader that you would allow me to share with you a few thoughts and ideas that were part of my sermon yesterday. **Disclaimer** (Before I started I said that the title of my sermon You Are Accepted, was taken from the title of another sermon by one of my favorite theologians by the name of Paul Tillich. The title of that sermon and a couple of lines from there were used by me. However, while his sermon was about the connection between sin and grace, I spoke about something else. So hopefully the Paul Tillich Society or his family will not hunt me down. In fact, I hope that if he was still alive, that he would give me his gracious approval of my own sermon.)

I was inspired by the idea of how Jesus took the time to go somewhere, to find solitude and pray: In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. (Gospel according to Mark 1:35) More on this later.

In life we deal with being accepted and being rejected. For example, to those of us in college (a few years ago or now ha ha) we were 'accepted' by our respective universities. But some of us were rejected by those same universities and accepted by different universities. In fact, to open that certain letter in the mail that would inform us of another chapter in our future or our 'doom' is something many of us do not forget. As human beings we accept and reject other human beings for many reasons: a manager looking to fill a position may only accept those candidates with college degrees regardless of work experience. The Air Force (like other branches of the military) uses the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (the 'ASVAB' test) during the recruitment process and depending on your score you are allowed to continue with the process. However, if your score is too low the Air Force will reject you but, the Army may accept you.

Yet this acceptance (that we usually seek) and rejection (that we usually try to avoid) can also be found in other parts of our lives; these are not only to be found in the academic and professional arenas, but they are also found in the world of human relationships and in society. As human beings (including Christians) we are very 'good' at accepting AND rejecting depending on: the 'right' education, the 'right' doctrine, the 'right' color of the skin, the 'right' gender, the 'right' economic status, the 'right' sexual orientation, the 'right' family background, the 'right' political party or ideology, the 'right' church or lack off, etc, etc.

As I thought of all this I remembered the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector as found in the Gospel according to Luke chapter 18. Does not the Pharisee say something pretty close to: "God, I AM AWESOME!!! Look at what I do and I am thankful that I AM NOT like 'those' other know who I mean, those adulterers, those robbers, those politicians (**that one is not part of the original but I think you know what I mean**) and specially...specially NOT like that TAX COLLECTOR!!!" Now, let us be honest: how many times have we thought the same regarding those people we do not accept, those 'other people', those we reject? How many times have we JUSTIFIED our rejection and we are unwilling and/or unable to look beyond our own "perfect" reasons to do so? Of course 'we' could NEVER be wrong...

When the 'evil' tax collector speaks he could have replied to the Pharisee, either by telling him to take a hike or by pointing out some of the shortcomings (don't we all have them) of the Pharisee. But he did not. In this parable, Jesus tells us that the tax collector said: God, be merciful to me, a sinner. That Scripture reading (along with others) is part of the inspiration of the Jesus Prayer found in the Eastern Orthodox Church: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." While many of us debate what 'sin' IS, 'who' is the 'sinner', how do we treat 'sinners', along with the merits and shortcomings of the expression 'hate the sin--love the sinner' (that is a discussion for another time), many of us are still left to struggle with pain, with suffering, with despair, with rejection...many times in isolation.

I have found myself in the place of the rejected many times in my life; I will guess that you my dear reader has felt this way at some point in your life. It is at those times, sometimes when we are by ourselves and/or sometimes when we are praying that we may feel that HAVE to do something. This is itself is not wrong, quite the contrary! If there is a problem in our lives we should try to do what we can to fix and/or alleviate it, including asking for help from friends, family members, doctors, psychologists, social workers, etc. The double edge sword of the spirit of individualism sometimes makes us thing that WE do not need anyone or, that to ask for help is a sign of "weakness". But I believe, somewhere in our hearts and minds we know this is not true. For Christians like myself this should always, always be clear and we understand this. And yet, it is also in those moments of isolation or solitude (there is a difference) that sometimes we find ourselves trying to pray. And if we do pray, what do we say? Do we use the Lord's Prayer? Do we use the Jesus Prayer? If you are an Episcopalian like myself you may use the "Book of Common Prayer", or perhaps there is a verse from Scripture that you like using; some people are very fond of Psalm 23. Maybe there is a line from a poem or a song that you like to use. From my Roman Catholic roots, I have a very special place in my heart for the "Prayer of St. Francis" and from my studies, I find "The Merton Prayer" by Thomas Merton to be very special to me.

But what if we already decided that we want to pray; maybe we already found a special place where we can do this and then...we really don't know what to say or how to say it? Are we supposed to 'ask' for something ? I suggest that there may be times when we don't have to 'say' or 'ask' anything. Sometimes we can't. Not just in trying to pray, but in trying to explain ourselves to others. So I suggest that perhaps to be in silent is the way to go. While it is true that words are very important in our lives, words are in the end just symbols and these symbols have a meaning and/or a feeling behind them; maybe to NOT say anything is the key so that we can be more connected to the feelings, emotions, ideas and thoughts that defy the words we could use. To be in solitude makes this easier for us...he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.

So there comes the moment while we reject others, someone else says "You Are Accepted", and it is here that I use the words of Paul Tillich: You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!

In life we deal with acceptance and rejection. May we be in touch with that reality, with that state of being in ourselves that will allow us not only to deal with the effects of acceptance or rejection, but so that we may also better look at the reasons WHY we accept and reject others. Let us not be afraid of solitude. Perhaps a few moments of solitude, to slow down, to think, to pray, to not do anything, to be in silence...maybe...maybe....

I hope you are well my dear reader. La paz del SeƱor...the peace of the Lord be with you...with all of us, always. Have a wonderful week :)



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hide the women, children, and kittens: I'm giving a sermon this Sunday

I have given sermons before. I have also led bible study groups, prayers, and one of my favorite things right now is leading the F.F.F. group...oh by the way, F.F.F. stands for the "(F)aith, Sci-(F)i, and (F)antasy", where we get together to discuss the religious, philosophical, and ethical ideas in movies, books, and TV series like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.

But this Sunday, I shall give my first official sermon as an intern at the Wesley Foundation at Purdue. I was given the freedom to choose the readings from Scripture. So, I decided ('good' Episcopalian that I am ha ha) to take the readings from the RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) for February 5, 2012 - Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-12, 21c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39.

Yes, my dear reader. Yours truly will be giving a sermon, so hide the women, children, and kittens!!!! No, no, just hide the kittens; they are adorable but they will distract me with their cuteness. :)