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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Who owns faith?

Who owns faith? It is my understanding that Jesus wrenched ownership of faith away from the priests and handed it over to whoever has ears to hear. In other words, he restored it to its rightful owners. But it didn't take long for the 'organization' of Christianity to take root and again the priests hijacked back the faith that Jesus gave us. Sometimes I think theology is the art of wrenching faith from individual minds in order to claim ownership so as to organize and tidy up all that which is outside the domain of science and to institutionalize it, and in the process marginalizing those individuals that have active and questing minds, the former owners of faith. And for some who are fortunate enough to live in a time and place when and where the priests are weak, individuals can reclaim ownership of faith without fear of stakes and flames. Faith is not science, faith is not the provable, faith is what prevents us from becoming immobile, for some it is merely that which allows them to cross a street with confidence that some driver will not run them down. For others it is something never thought about, for them life is but a sequence of events which they merely move from one to the other in the most pleasant manner possible. But for me faith is the freedom to discern all thoughts, to seek the much better way, even when living in a changing world that promises nothing. So in the end the Bible is a book that one should be able to rip the pages from to start a campfire to cook the next meal, for only then does the Bible transform from a noun, a handful of paper and ink that one clings to, to a verb, to a life lived sacredly.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Light Bearer

Since those primeval nights we have sought to clothe evil in ever more elaborate finery, creating at times the garish and at others the sinister. So much so that we mistake the garb for the entity. In God's light all things stand naked, Truth is revealed and the nocturnal is exposed to the light of this Truth. Stripped naked evil quivers for what it is, the image of God denied. Free will is the agent.

Monday, December 25, 2006

O

O Wisdom
O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, Thou encirclest the world from one end to the other, Thou orderest all things with might and mercy: O come to us and reveal the way of wisdom and of understanding O Wisdom.

O Adonai
Adonai, the Lord and leader of the house of Israel, In the burning bush hast thou appeared unto Moses And given him the law upon the mountain: O come and deliver us with thy powerful arm O come and deliver us with thy powerful arm O come and deliver us with thy powerful arm Adonaï

O Scion of Isaiah's Line
O Scion of Isaiah's Line, predestined to be a sign for The nations, The rulers of the earth fall silent before thee, The Nations cry unto thee: O come and save us, bestir thyself, delay no longer

O David's Key
O David's key, sceptre of the house of Israel, That which thou openest, none can secure, That which thou securest, no power may open; O come and unlock the prison of darkness and the fetters of death

O Morning Star
O morning star, incandescence of pure light, Radiant sun of righteousness; O come and enlighten Those who sit there in darkness And in the shadow of death.

O King of All Nations
O king of all nations, their expectation and desire, Keystone, which holds all things together: O come and save mankind, whom thou hast formed from clay! O king of all nations, their expectation and desire, Keystone, which holds all things together: O come and save mankind, whom thou hast formed from clay! O come and save mankind, O come and save mankind, whom thou hast formed from clay!

O Emmanuel
O Emmanuel, our king and counselor, Thou hope and saviour of the nations: O come, make haste to help us, Thou our Lord and our God, our God

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Thoughts of God?

This morning at break fast Bro. Simon handed me some folded papers and said it was an essay well worth reading. And after reading it, I agree. I don't know the author, other than a Bro. Wesley, but I found his thoughts provoking, and well worth sharing.


I believe in God.

Have you ever considered the matter of the universe in all its forms? Have you ever thought about the fact that an atom of carbon here on earth behaves the same as one 10,000,000 light years away? Or that that same carbon atom is 99.9999% - nothing - void - empty space. Or that while physicists attempt to understand it by describing it mathematically and smashing it to bits to see what happens, they can only imperfectly model it?

I believe an atom is a self-contained, perpetually active thought. It is a thought that physicists nearly, but not completely, understand.

Just as the simple laws of geometry - which like the fundamental forms of matter are small self-evident thoughts - can be brought together to "prove" more complex theorems, the fundamental forms of matter of this universe - the thoughts of this universe - come together to "prove" more complex things. Through their interplay we see stars and planets, black holes and oceans, mountains and streams. We, in fact, see Life!

I can not consider matter, itself, in its fundamental forms, nor especially in the form of its resultant proofs without knowing that it did not come about by accident.

Matter in its simplest forms are the thoughts of God made tangible just as I am the thoughts of God made tangible. When I think about this I wonder if I am a part of God, coming full circle through the miracle of his creative power, to introspect - to rediscover himself through his own creation?

There was a time when this aspect of God was all I believed. He was a God that created and wound up what we know as the universe and all its matter - perhaps even becoming the matter of the universe himself - but did not interfere and did not care. He was a God that didn't do miracles beyond the miracle of his own majesty - beyond the miracle of his own creation. This mathematical and physical view of Him did not seem to hear my prayers and did not love me. I was for Him an interesting result of His creation just as He was for me a subject of philosophical consideration.

This is what I believed and as far as I knew, I was alone.

But then I began to read about a man who said he was God's representative and that God was, in fact, Love. God had gotten involved and made this man specifically for us. If a physicist has an understanding of God's mind, this man had an understanding of God's heart. I could believe in God through the incomprehensible majesty of his creation but I could not access his love - his heart - his purpose - except through the words of the man who said he was his son.

I was an outsider - watching and thinking - amazed but alone. I believed in God's mind but not in his heart. But now I believe in Both.

This I also believe - I believe in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The luxury to ponder

The days have been cool, or cold, and the nights have been freezing, freezing cold, and with our very primitive heating system, I can say that warmth is but an imagined state that seems to keep me moving so that my imagination doesn't dwell upon it. So I've been taking many hikes into the desert, meandering hikes, and being bundled up to retain the heat that my body is producing, I attempt to maintain a sort of comfort zone, where I can amble to whatever catches my eye, yet not huff and puff enough to break into a sweat. While walking hither and thither I ponder about those folks that survive in harsh climates and wonder if they can ever find a state of comfort where they can forget the immediate environment and let their minds 'out of doors' so to speak, to dwell upon the abstract, even to have the luxury to ponder about the meaning of life. Just over a month ago I could lay back in my hammock and ponder the meaning of life, for the temperature was pleasant and my belly was full and everything seemed to make each moment as carefree as possible. But when one is uncomfortable, especially by the climate, then the mind cannot have the luxury of deep thoughts, for the shallow thoughts are all consuming. Like this morning, my toes were freezing, and until I remedied that situation to avoid frostbite, my brain would not let go. So off with the sandals and on with the extra-thick wool socks and on with the hiking boots, and after a bit my toes let go of my brain. So here I sit, somewhat comfortable, yet in my head a voice seems to whimper, "It's going to be freezing tonight! Why don't you purchase a modern heater!"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reason

"For reason is a property of God's, since there is nothing which God, the creator of all things, has not foreseen, arranged and determined by reason; moreover, there is nothing He does not wish to be investigated and understood by reason."

"Reason without goodness is not reason, and goodness without reason is not goodness."

--Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullian (160-230 AD)

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Ultimate Chef

"If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe."
-- Carl Sagan

Comfort vs Experience?

"Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn't have to experience it."

--Max Frisch

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Waning Gibbous

At the dining table last evening Bro. Simon asked Bro. Clarence, "When will we be able to see the moon through that contraption of yours?" Well, Bro. Clarence has been working off and on with the construction of a telescope, or as he calls it, "An eight inch Dobsonian." He allowed me to paint the exterior of the long 8-inch tube with a bit of whimsy, actually a take off of the Mexican artist Jose Posada's "Corrido El Cometa de 82"(Ballad of the Comet of 82). Well, this new telescope certainly does not look like the ordinary white-tubed astronomer's telescope, it looks like what a device that searches God's universe should look like, a wonderful and festive piece of art, that happens to also gather light. So while working on his tofu dish, Bro. Clarence looked at Bro. Simon and said matter of factly, "The Dobsonian is not for moon gazing, in fact that waning gibbous out there is causing the delay ... must await the new moon for a proper star party." Which I finally translated to mean that he is still calibrating his new device and wants to unveil it on a very dark wintery night, a night when the Milky Way shows itself off, and a night that a work of art, an 8-inch Dobsonian, would take a peek at the ultimate work of art, the starry night sky.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The inner experience

I was up on the ladder today clearing out the rain gutters and while shoving a garden hose down the down spout, Bro. Juniper spotting me and shouted up, "You gotta read this!" My reply was, "Turn the faucet on ... yes, over there ... full blast!" And he did turn the faucet on full blast and after a bit of snaking the garden hose up and down, whatever was clogging the spout freed up and the water flowed down freely. "Turn it off!" When I look down Bro. Juniper was now seated on a wooden bench near his rock and cacti garden, seemingly lost in his book. "Turn the water off!" I didn't want to leave the hose in the spout and climb down the ladder and turn off the water and then climb back up the ladder to remove the hose, and I didn't want to pull the full-blast garden hose from the down spout and attempt to aim the blast away while climbing down the ladder, so I yelled, "Juniper! Turn off the water!" Finally he responded, looked up with a puzzled expression on his face, then looked at the water flowing from the down spout, then seemed to put it all together and hurried to the faucet and turned off the water. "Thank you!" and he replied, "You gotta read this!" So with hose on the ground and ladder stored away, I returned to find him still nose to page. And I have to admit, I was nose to page until he pulled the book away, and we agreed that I would read it when he has finished it. Oh yes, the title: Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master

And here is the excerpt that got Bro. Juniper's attention:

This discovery of the inner self plays a familiar part in Christian mysticism. But there is a significant difference, which is clearly brought out by St. Augustine. In Zen there seems to be no effort to get beyond the inner self. In Christianity the inner self is simply a stepping stone to an awareness of God. Man is the image of God, and his inner self is a kind of mirror in which God not only sees Himself, but reveals Himself to the "mirror" in which He is reflected. Thus, through the dark, transparent mystery of our own inner being we can, as it were, see God "through a glass". All this is of course pure metaphor. It is a way of saying that our being somehow communicates directly with the Being of God, Who is "in us." If we enter into ourselves, find our true self, and then pass "beyond" the inner "I", we sail forth into the immense darkness in which we confront the "I AM" of the Almighty.