14 December 2013

morning becomes electra

The photo captures the view from our back porch, thanks to the winter storm named Electra.  We don’t receive nearly the amount of snow in Corning that we had in Jamestown. 

Still, it’s a nice birthday present!

07 December 2013

walking into the future

The late 80s and early 90s were a great time to be alive.  1989 saw the collapse of Communist dictatorships throughout Eastern Europe.  In December 1991, the Soviet Union itself was disbanded.  With the end of the Cold War, some people (perhaps naïvely) spoke of a “peace dividend.”  We could use money and resources devoted to weapons for better purposes.

But it’s the scene on February 11, 1990, that sticks in my mind.  I remember that it was a Sunday morning, and as we were preparing to go to church, the television in the kitchen was on.  A quite remarkable thing was happening.  Nelson Mandela was walking through the gates of the prison where he had been held.  In church that morning, I gave as a reason to praise the Lord that Mandela was free.  It was a pretty conservative church, so I’m not sure everyone that morning agreed with me. 

In any event, four years later, he became the president of South Africa.  When so many in the country were screaming for vengeance, Mandela said “no.”  He provided true leadership for all South Africans.  He is one of the very few heads of state who deserved to be called a world leader.

01 November 2013

feeling like a saint

On the Ekklesia Project website, Mark Ryan has posted some thoughts on what it means “To Feel as Christians.”  He’s basing his comments primarily on Psalm 119:139, which says, “I am consumed by anger, because my enemies forget your words.”

Of course, that verse is hardly the only place in scripture where we are confronted by emotions of anger, hate, and betrayal—even directed toward God.

Ryan notes how anger and hate have infused the body politic in America, and how Christians get sucked right in.  He says that “both our leaders and many of our fellow citizens exist for us as abstractions, as types rather than persons.  Our political climate is generated and sustained by a system able to create identities rooted primarily in ideological packages:  abstract groupings that mesh political, religious and cultural meanings or viewpoints.  The political climate in which we live, in other words, already tutors our emotions.  Those of us who find ourselves opposed to one leader or another must ask ourselves, ‘Are we being shaped by a politics that trains us to see fellow citizens not as particular human beings but as abstract symbols of the opposition?’”

Something deeper and more pernicious happens than the loss of civility, as precious as that is.  We betray our primary identity, as children of God.  “Because our worship of…God must constitute our deepest identity, we cannot be who we are without cultivating those emotions in and through which all persons are seen primarily as concrete individuals who image God uniquely, and only secondarily as partisans of this cause or that group.”

Lord, give me the grace to recognize my sisters and brothers, even when they’re spouting utter nonsense!  (Of course, I always avoid letting nonsense leave my lips!) 

That seems like an appropriate reflection on this All Saints’ Day.

24 October 2013

Sheltie birthday boy

Today is Aidan’s second birthday.  Judging by the photos which were taken this morning, he doesn’t seem to be aware of that fact.  But then, I still haven’t mastered the art of canine communication.

(He recently whacked his nose on something.)

A couple of weeks ago, he was less than excited at being introduced to shampoo and bath water.

04 October 2013

Franciscan cred

Today is the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi.  The Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, in his daily meditation has something quite appropriate.  In his day, Francis had all of the trappings of success.  He came from the right family; he had all of the connections.  But that wasn’t enough—or perhaps, it was too much!

Father Rohr says, “In a certain sense we are on the utterly wrong track.  We are climbing while Jesus is descending, and in that we reflect the pride and the arrogance of Western civilization, usually trying to accomplish, perform, and achieve.  This is our real operative religion.  Success is holy!  We transferred much of that to our version of Christianity and made the Gospel into spiritual consumerism.  The ego is still in charge.  There is not much room left for God when the false self takes itself and its private self-development that seriously.” 

In a LinkedIn-cv-credential mad world, it is refreshing to stop, remember to breathe, and be mindful of what really matters.