Friday, April 27, 2012

Regarding "So You Want to Date My Daughter?"

Hello my dear reader.

First I must apologize to you. I promised to finish a couple of blog entries by the end this week but alas, life got on the way. I will try to get to those as soon as I can. In the meantime, I found this on Facebook today and I wanted to share this with you. 

A pastor wrote "So You Want to date My Daughter" giving his views of what he expects of the guys that want to date his daughter; the post did not give details like how old she is, etc. In any case after I read it, I thought about this and I asked myself: should fathers take his advice? Two things came to mind:

1)  I can sympathize with not wanting to see our daughters hurt because they could be dating morons and idiots (**I say 'morons and idiots' with love**) since most fathers do not want to see their daughters (or their sons) in either physical and/or emotional pain. And yes, we all know the jokes of fathers with shotguns and other weapons...yet, there is a fine line between a father who wants to protect his daughter and one that will not let her live.

2) It is important to remain realistic and pragmatic and in the end trust our daughters to make the right choices.

I cannot recommend or support the steps/views given by this pastor on this. Since I do not know him I can only speculate that this could be one of those situations of 'You have your opinion and I have mine' but again: I cannot recommend this for a lot of reasons and if you would like to hear a few of them I would be happy to share them with you.

So here is the posting, and I would love to hear your feedback, comments, and ideas about this; if you are a father or a daughter I would specially love to hear from you but of course if you are a mother or a son I would also love to hear from you as well!

Mario :)

So You Want to Date My Daughter?

1. You must love Jesus. I don't care if you're a "good Christian boy." I was one of those too. So I know the tricks. I'm going to ask you specific, heart-testing questions about your spiritual affections, your daily devotional life, your idols, your disciplines, and the like. I'll cut you a little bit of slack because you're young and hormonal and your pre-frontal lobe isn't fully developed yet, but I'll be watching you like a hawk. I know you. I was you. You will think you can fool me, and you likely have fooled many other dads who didn't pay much attention to their daughters' suitors, but I will be on you like Bourne on that guy whose neck he broke. Which guy was that? Every guy. So love Jesus more than my daughter or go home.
2. You will install X3Watch or Covenant Eyes on your computer and mobile devices and have your regular reports sent to me.
3. I will talk to your dad and tell him I will hold him responsible if you don't treat my daughter like a lady. If he thinks I'm a crazy person, you fail the test and won't get to date her. If he understands what I'm saying, that bodes well for you.
4. You will pay for everything. Oh, sure, every now and then my daughter can buy you a Coke or something and a gift on your birthday and at Christmas. But you pay for meals, movies, outings, whatever else. Don't have a job? I'm sorry, why am I talking to you again?
5. You will accept my Facebook friend request.
6. If it looks like you need a belt to hold your pants up, I will assume you don't have a job. See #4.
7. Young people dating are putting their best face forward, so if you appear impatient, ill-tempered, or ill-mannered, I know you will gradually become more so over time. I will have no jerks dating my daughters.
8. If I am not your pastor, I will talk to the man who is. If your pastor is a woman, why am I talking to you, again?
9. You don't love my daughter. You have no idea what love is. You like her and you might love her someday. That's an okay start with me, so put the seatbelt on the mushy gushy stuff. Don't profess your undying love, quote stupid love song lyrics to her, tell her you'd die for her, or feed her any other boneheaded lines that are way out of your depth as a horny little idiot. A lady's heart is a fragile thing. If you play with hers, I will show you yours.
10. If you ever find yourself alone with my daughter, don't panic. Just correct the situation immediately. If I ever catch you trying to get alone with my daughter, that would be the time to panic.
11. It may sound like I'm joking in threatening you harm, and while I might not physically hurt you if you offend my daughter or violate her honor, when I am addressing the issue with you, you will not be laughing.
12. You may think all this sounds very legalistic. That's fine. You can be one of the many antinomians not dating my daughter.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top 10 reasons why men should not be pastors/priests :)

I saw this a few years ago and now I saw it again. A great satire of male/female "traditional" roles in relation to the Church, being a pastor, and how gender has been used to say "He/she should do this." I have also included some pictures of pastors, including a few fictional pastors...hint: two are fictional.



10. A man’s place is in the army.

9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.

8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.

7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.

5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.

4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, change the oil in the church vans, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.

1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who is "worthy" to be "loved"?

Hello my dear reader.

The following is from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton. While this was published  back in 1968, it is amazing to me how much of it is still relevant.
I hope you are having a good day.


A basic temptation: the flatly unchristian refusal to love those whom we consider, for some reason or other, unworthy of love. And, on top of that, to consider others unworthy of love for even very trivial reasons. Not that we hate them of course: but we just refuse to accept them in our hearts, to treat them without inner reservations. In a word, we reject those who do not please us. We are of course "charitable toward them". An interesting use of the word "charity" to cover and to justify a certain coldness, suspicion, and even disdain. But this is punished by another inexorable refusal: we are bound by the logic of this defensive rejection to reject any form of happiness that even implies acceptance of those we have have decided to reject. This certainly complicates life, and if one is sufficiently intolerant, it ends by making all happiness impossible.

This means that we have to get along without constantly applying the yardstick of "worthiness" (who is worthy to be loved, and who is not). And it almost means, by implication, that we cease to ask even indirect questions about who is "justified," who is worthy of acceptance, who can be tolerated by the believer! What a preposterous idea that would be! And yet the world is full of "believers" who find themselves entirely surrounded by people they can hard,y be expected to "tolerate," such as Jews, Negroes, unbelievers, heretics, Communists, pagans, fanatics, and so on.

God is asking of me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of all my brothers, and dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God's likeness. And to laugh, after all, at all preposterous ideas of "worthiness".

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Transforming the Conversation" and the Purdue LGTBQ community

Hello my dear reader.

Back in April 5th, I asked myself How will I respond to this letter by a Christian about Purdue's LGTBQ community?  The now infamous letter by Harlan VanderMeer created a lot of controversy and I probably wrote 20 to 30 drafts of my response to that letter but every time I felt like something was missing; I felt that perhaps it was not the right time to respond.

As I was meditating on this I came to the following conclusion: I will respond next week. 'Why next week' you may be asking. Because tomorrow I will be attending the Transforming The Conversation at Purdue Day 1 event at Purdue University.

Transforming the Conversation is a new pilot program for college campuses, developed with the support of Christians and LGBTs to create better dialogue between the two sides of the homosexuality debate—without asking people to violate their most deeply-held values.

This will take place at 6:30 pm, Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 in Room EE 117 (Electrical Engineering Building).

It is very possible that the controversy caused by the letter will be discussed and I would like to be part of the conversation on this. I also believe that other issues will be discussed during the event. Then, I will take a few hours here and there to think of what I heard during the event and I believe I will be better prepared at that time to write a response.

It may be not the a great response, but hey who may be alright. If you are in the Purdue area tomorrow evening I hope you can come. If you do say hello to me. :)



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Enter the Word...or Logos?

Hello my dear reader.  :)

An icon of St John the Evangelist
As some of you already know, I lead a bible study group at the Wesley Foundation called "Holy Heretics". We look not only at "heresies" and people that have been called "heretics" in the history of the Church, but we also look at some of the documents/books that some of these thinkers/movements used to either transmit their ideas or to support them. For our next meeting, my research is focusing in coming up with a comparison between the canonical Gospel according to St. John and the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas. I started to reread both gospels to find similarities and differences. As I picked up the first gospel, I once again read the first verse that I have read so many times I have lost count. Some of you probably know this verse as well:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
(John 1:1 NRSV)

While this is a familiar translation of this verse, I found out years ago (and to some of you this is old news) that "Word" is not quite the exact English translation for the particular Greek term that is translated as such; the same goes for the Spanish translation to "Palabra".

Here is the same verse with the original Greek term:

In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.

When I was younger, I would hear "Logos" and think of the funny drawing on my shoes or the half bitten apple of a certain computer company, and there is a heavy metal band that uses this name. But the word "Logos" refers to something else in both Christianity and Philosophy and depending on who (and the 'when') you talk to, it means something different. And this is another occasion when the theology/philosophy geek in me gets excited.

What is the Logos?
What does it mean?
Where does it come from?
Is this an original Christian concept or was it taken from somewhere else?
Why did the writers of the Gospel according to St. John use this Greek term?

With the help a few friends, along with what  I have learned so far during classes, reading, more reading, asking questions, and hours of thinking and staring at nothing in particular (or the coffee-shop wall) I will be sharing with you some of my views and thoughts on the Logos.

Stay tuned...



Saturday, April 7, 2012

My first Easter sermon...

Hello my dear reader. Tomorrow I will give my first Easter sermon. I admit I am bit nervous. However, I think I will be fine. Per the Revised Common Lectionary, I will be using the Gospel according to St. Luke chapter 24 and starting with verse 13:
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’



Friday, April 6, 2012

The crucifixion, "INRI", being alone, and reaching out

The just will be whipped, stripped of their skin, tied and blinded with fire. When they have suffered all these pains, they will be nailed to a cross.
(from The Republic by Plato, 2-5-361-E)

Hello my dear reader.

Today I have been meditating and reflecting on the Latin INRI or IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM. In my mental hard drive I recall images of my childhood back in Catholic school where it was not hard to find a crucifix with the INRI at the top of the cross. What is INRI, and where does it come from?

INRI is usually translated to: "Jesus the Nazarene, (the) King of the Jews" or "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". In the Gospel according to St. John, after Jesus had been nailed to the cross, we find the following verses:
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” John 19:19-22 (NRSV)

I cannot imagine the physical and emotional pain of a crucifixion. It was usually done to slaves and rebels, and considering who Jesus was and what he did... Cicero called this "a most barbarous and terrible punishment." First, the person was whipped and flogged without mercy. Then the person would be forced to carry the crossbar (of the cross) on his shoulders all the way to the place of the crucifixion. The torture continued with the person being stripped; try to imagine that additional element of humiliation and of course the fear based on the knowledge of what was coming next: to be nailed to a crosspiece and raised up as you were. Unfortunately, the nightmare would not end here. The person would remain there, nailed to this thing 6 to 9 feet above the ground....for hours or days until the moment of death. The end would come via exhaustion, hemorrhage, asphyxiation, etc.

As I was thinking and meditating about this horror (it is quite disturbing that human beings have an amazing talent to find ways to inflict pain and suffering in such elaborate ways) I thought of the complete loss of hope...once you got to this point you knew you were done. There would be no last minute phone call from the governor that could save was the end.

The Gospels have different ways of how this horror ended for Jesus. In the Gospel according to St. John it states that Jesus said: ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. But the Gospel according to St. Matthew says that after Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ he later cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. To this day those verses and that version of his last words still disturbs my soul. Then I started to think about this: if it was me on the cross, after all the torture, the suffering, and the pain...what would my last words be? I simply cannot imagine. I also cannot imagine the terrible combination of despair, of loss of all hope, and of being alone.

Then I thought about that last world: alone.
To feel alone
To be alone.

Have you my dear reader ever felt alone? Have you ever felt the terrible despair that comes with extreme loneliness? I have. And yet as of right now, I know that I am not alone.

This is not only a matter of my state of being and my existence in the love of the Son of Man that walks with me. This is also a matter of knowing that I know that I have people that love me, that I have people that care for me, and that I have people that would miss me if I was gone. And as I thought about this, I remembered that right now there are people who are alone.

Who have no one to call on the phone.
Who have no one to help them if they end up in the hospital.
Who have no one to bail them out of jail.
Who have no one they can talk to about what happened to them at work.
Who have no one that would listen to them about their broken hearts.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Ask yourself my dear reader, is there someone you have not spoken to in a long time? Is he/she doing alright? Maybe you could call him tonight. Maybe you could write her a letter.
Maybe you on your way to class, or to work, while you take out the trash, or while you are at the store you see someone you have not seen in a long time...maybe you both say hello to each other and something tells you "I wonder if she is okay". If you get that feeling my dear reader, reach out! That person may be just fine.

But maybe, he is not...

If you are religious and/or spiritual say a prayer for those who are alone tonight. Take a moment of solitude and center both your mind and your heart and think about those who are alone. Those who tonight feel like they are either carrying a cross of pain, or are have already being nailed to a cross of suffering. And after you pray, reach out!

If you are not religious, then most of this advice can also apply to you my dear reader. You may not see a point to saying a prayer, but you can still take a moment of solitude and center both your mind and your heart and think about those who are alone. And then you can do something as simple as sending a text message to someone with a "hello! how are you?" For all you know you may get a reply like this: "Well, I have been better..."

Reach out!

To my Christians friends: remember that today was the day of the Son of Man being nailed to the cross. And yet, per the Gospel according to St. Luke when one of the men being executed with him asked to be remembered by him, the Son of Man found enough strength to say Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43) Even at that last moment of life, the Son of Man reached out.



Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it. --Thomas Merton

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How will I respond to this letter by a Christian about Purdue's LGTBQ community?

The Exponent is the student newspaper at Purdue University. Yesterday as part of the Letters to the Editor, they posted a letter by a West Lafayette resident with the title Resident provides suggestion for LGBT youth. Now since I am a straight man one could argue that technically this letter does not apply to me. However I disagree.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Editor,
Many of us are getting a bit tired of hearing about the demands of Purdue’s so-called gay and lesbian community. I suspect that many of those most vocal are probably out-of-state students. I have to ask why did they apply to Purdue in the first place, if all they are going to do is complain about it? These petulant children have ‘gay friendly’ schools in their home states, and the Hoosier troublemakers (if any) should have applied to Bloomington. As a Christian, I hate the sin, but love the sinner. I see no reason to destroy these people, but they should not be working to destroy our Boilermaker values either. So the best solution for all concerned is for Purdue to set up some kind of Director of Gay and Lesbian Issues on campus, someone well versed in transferring academic credits and the application process, so these young people can be directed to better pursue their values and ‘interests’ unhindered in more accepting institutions, and traditional Boilermakers who love Purdue and are happy with it as it is can better pursue our own values and interests as well.
Boiler Up!
Harlan VanderMeer, West Lafayette resident


How will I respond to this letter by a Christian that decided to write this letter stating his views and opinions about Purdue's LGTBQ community? Stay tuned. In the meantime, I would like to hear your opinion and comments about this letter.



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Wise counsel is precious. Companionship is priceless."

The cartoons and paintings from the "nakedpastor" David Hayward always make me think not only about myself, my possible future in the Church, and my path in life, but also about the lives of others and the world around me. Under the title of the necessity of companionship he opens up about his emotional, mental and spiritual struggles and how two people were able to help him.


   the necessity of companionship
(by David Hayward/"nakedpastor")

Even though we must walk our own path, there are indeed times when we need help. At points in our lives we require someone who will challenge us or give us guidance.

When I left the church two years ago, I had no idea the impact it would have on me. I thought I was doing fine, when in fact I had descended into some kind of numbing spiritual death. At the time I felt fine, but the problem with death is that you get used to it and it becomes the norm. My wife Lisa constantly challenged me to get help. But I was so used to her voice that I never really heard her. Finally, after considerable effort, I finally did heed her advice and contacted a counselor. But I really didn’t believe I was that bad. So, with my considerable deflection skills, I derailed the conversations in my counseling sessions from myself to my website.

Then, about 3 months ago, it became painfully obvious that I was in desperate need of help. It became obvious because I was ready to walk away from everything, including Lisa and my children… my entire family… all my friends… everything!… just walk away into a numbing oblivion to live and die probably very much alone. The thing is, I was already “separated” from all these people emotionally but just didn’t know it. The physical separation would have been the natural development of my unhealthiness.

It was then when I came clean to my counselor. Then the real work began. It has been invaluable and necessary and so, so healing. I am forever thankful for my counselor.

I want to encourage you to find someone to talk to if you are going through such a transition. You might just need someone like I did and still do… someone who will call you on your BS and affirm you and give you wisdom to make the next step.

Wise counsel is precious. Companionship is priceless. I know! It has saved my life more than once. But especially this time.