Friday, January 7, 2022

Indispensable Jewish Roots

For most of my adult life I was blessed to be under the teaching of Pastor Bill VandenBosch.  He was well known for delivering sermons which emphasized the importance of Jesus' Jewish roots.  In fact to this day Pastor Bill and his Beloved Lyn still lead trips to the Holy Land to immerse followers of Jesus in this reality.  My beloved and I actually hope to accompany them on such a journey this March.

Having been away from Pastor Bill’s teaching for a while (he retired several years ago to focus on pilgrimages) I had almost forgotten how important the Jewishness of Jesus really is.  It took a hit TV series about Jesus to bring this back to front and center for me.  The series is called The Chosen and exhibits among other fine qualities painstaking attention to the details of what it may have been like to think, believe, suffer and live as a first century Jew in Roman occupied Palestine.

The show is genius and authentic on many levels, but perhaps what I love the most is how it often flashes back to key moments in Israel’s history to set the context for the particular moment of Jesus’ life story being related in an episode.  The writers really do their homework and get so many things right and that is partly due to their insistence to call on expert teachers and theologians for help.  One of them is a Messianic Jewish Rabbi and it seems like his insights are often implemented.  Oh yeah, and since the show is crowd funded, it means that it is free to anyone who wants to watch it.  Just download the app (Google or Apple) watch it on your phone or tablet or throw it up on your TV screen.  Don't worry, if all that is just mumbo jumbo to you, you can still just buy the DVD's or Blu Ray discs.

All that being said, it wasn’t until quite recently that I really started digging into the Jewishness of my faith.  In a way it was incidental because it was as I was studying for a course in Theology of the Body that I'll be attending later this month online when I was completely immersed in a clear and Biblical study on ancient Judaism.  We were encouraged to read a book called “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary” by Dr. Brant Pitre.  It was so excellent that I immediately bought one of his other studies called “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of The Eucharist”.

Upon completing my first listen of both books on Audible, I am now convinced that a knowledge of ancient Judaism is almost indispensable to a proper understanding of Jesus' life and words.  Without that backdrop, I can easily misunderstand key elements in Jesus' teaching and completely miss points which would have been obvious to any 1st century Jew.

Suffice it to say, I’ve found both of these works to be extremely valuable.  So much so that I'm open to suggestions for my next Dr. Pitre book to ponder and digest.  Please drop me a line if you are particularly fond of any of his other works.   



Friday, December 31, 2021

Crazy For My Mommas

Yes I am.  I am a Momma’s boy and I wear that title proudly.

I’m not just saying that as a warm sentiment.  My Momma Laura died with that terrible forgetting disease, dementia.  Loving someone through that dark valley is no small thing and it took our whole family to do it well. 

We called her GG (Great Grandma) towards the end because granddaughter number one lived with us at the time and she especially loved her.  In fact when that same granddaughter comes to visit Papa we sometimes walk the few blocks up the street to visit GG’s grave together and we sing to her and blow her kisses and if the weather is right, leave her some snow angels.

Momma Laura adopted me as an infant and raised me as her own.  She was like that, taking in people in need like my biological mom and myself and helping them.  

Speaking of my biological Momma, last December 14th I was finally able to visit her grave.  It meant a lot to me to stand there in the brisk Idaho afternoon air and sing to her and blow her kisses.  My sweet sister Rondi came out and put her coat over my shoulders when she saw I was going to be a while.  Closure is good, and I am thankful my sister helped me find it.

Though I never met my Momma Jeanie, I love her in some crazy way and very much look forward to meeting her some day.  I swear I sense her looking down on me when I’m at Church sometimes.  I'm told that she loved Jesus too.  I was even given a picture of her at her confirmation because as a Sicilian Catholic girl that is just what one did I suppose.  Maybe she had to learn the Rosary in Latin too, just like I'm learning it now in a song that Pastor Jim has led us in at the end of daily Mass this whole season of Advent. 

Anyway, I like to think she smiles to see me worshipping with my mostly Mexican Catholic brothers and sisters at Our Lady of Sorrows, just around the corner from my house.  It comforts my soul to think someone loves me and prays for me up there.

Our Lady of Sorrows is just up the street from the Our Lady of Guadeloupe Parish.  Every December 12 we march from one Mexican Parish to another on a chilly evening with a police escort and lots of loud drumming, singing and praying.  Neighbors poke their heads out and wish us well, I mean almost everyone loves a parade, don’t they!?!

Why do we do this?  

Because we are crazy for our Momma.

Most folks go through life dimly aware that Mexicans love the Mother of God to some strange extremes.  Just go to a Mexican store or flea market, and you’ll find all kinds of candles, trinkets and apparel with Her image on it.  You’ll see the image of Our Lady of Guadeloupe plastered on trucks, tattooed on men’s bodies, flying on flags, and most people just shrug it off as some kind of crazy idol worship.  Well, any devout Catholic would clear that notion up right away, but nobody usually asks one of those.

Since I’ve chosen to worship with my Mexican brothers and sisters these past couple years, I decided to try to understand why they are so crazy for their Momma and this image of her in particular.  It turns out there is a very good reason.

In 1531, the popular religion of the indigenous people near Mexico City was certainly not Roman Catholic. No, it was a death cult that sacrificed humans by tearing their hearts out of their chests to appease their cruel god.  By the year 1551,  nine million of those people had converted to the Christian Way and it all had to do with this miraculous image that appeared on a peasant’s overcoat.  I’m not making this up.

My professor, Dr. Christopher West, explains how this happened in a short video which was shot this month when he took some of his students on pilgrimage to visit the place where it happened and view the original miraculous image.

I couldn’t go on that pilgrimage, but I am blessed to be leaving in two days to attend a class taught by Dr. West in person at a retreat center near Philadelphia.  The name of the class is “Theology of the Body and the Marian Mystery” and in it we will take a week long deep dive into the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus, the God-man, born of this woman whom I believe is the most powerful woman in the universe.

Why do I believe she is so powerful?

Because her Son is crazy about His Momma and loves her so much he’d do just about anything she asks.  And since he is God Almighty, I mean… just sayin’…

As Christians (literally “little Christs”) we are adopted into that supernatural family circle.  Jesus is my brother and that makes His Momma my Momma too.

And I am just as crazy about THIS adopted Momma whom I’ve not yet met as I am about my other two Mommas.

I have to admit it took years to come to this point because I had a lot of anti-Mary baggage to work through.  My upbringing as a Baptist boy was instrumental there, but I don’t begrudge them.

If this writing reveals anything, it is that so often I don’t even know WHAT I don’t know.  I stumble through life ignorant and only vaguely aware of the most profound things.  I judge others without even knowing the reasons why they are the way they are.  At least I judged Catholic and Orthodox Christians for their seemingly insane obsession with Mary the Mother of God.

Well, people can change.  I did.

I’m crazy for all three of my Mommas today.  Fifteen years ago I couldn’t say that.

I love my Momma Mary so much I made this gift for her.  It is a famous Byzantine Hymn to Our Lady.  I put it over a slide show of some favorite images I have of her.

In a way, this is for all the Mommas I love, including the Mother of my children and the Mommas of my grand children.  They remind me of Momma Mary's goodness almost every single day.  For that I am truly grateful.

Totus Tuus.


Here are the lyrics in English:

"O Pure Virgin"


O pure and virgin Lady,

O spotless Theotokos: 

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Virgin Queen and Mother

O dewy fleece most sacred:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


O height transcending heaven above

O beam of light most radiant:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O joy of chaste and virgin maids

surpassing all the angels:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


O brilliant light of heaven above

most clear and most radiant:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Commanding chief of heaven above

O holiest of holies

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


O ever-virgin Mary

O Mistress of creation:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Bride all-pure and spotless

O Lady all-holy:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


O holy Mary, Bride and Queen

O cause of our rejoicing

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Maiden Queen most hon'rable

O Mother most holy

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


More precious than the cherubim

more glorious than the seraphim:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Surpassing principalities

dominions, thrones and powers:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

 

Rejoice, song of the cherubim

Rejoice, hymn of the angels:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, ode of the seraphim

and joy of the archangels:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


Rejoice, o peace; Rejoice, o joy

and haven of salvation: 

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O bridal chamber of the Word

unfading, fragrant blossom:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


Rejoice, delight of paradise

Rejoice, life everlasting: 

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, o holy tree of life

and fount of immortality:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


I supplicate thee, Lady,

I humbly call upon thee:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O queen of all, I beg thee

To grant me Thy favor:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


O spotless and most honored Maid,

O Lady all holy:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

I call upon thee fervently, 

Thou temple most holy:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!


O thou my help, deliver me

From harm and all adversity:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

And by thy prayers show me to be

An heir of immortality:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!




Friday, December 3, 2021

Attending Daily Apocalypse

I have such fond memories of the tiny Baptist Church of my youth.  The people were so warm and loving. They made sure a God-hungry kid like me was fed plenty of spiritual meals, going out of their way to ensure I was at Sunday School, Bible Camp and every special Church function.

One such function was our recurring invitation of what I called Chart Evangelists to our little Church on Jebavy Drive.  It was a big event when one would show up for a week, preaching loud and dramatically every night with his wall-to-wall colored charts detailing out the end times.  I confess I was enthralled with the maps of end-time events more than the preaching.

They always used the same charts, created by a draftsman who became a Baptist dispensational preacher in the late 1800s.  Clarence Larkin was his name and his attention to detail in laying out apocalyptic chronologies was and is unparalleled.  It takes a brilliant mind to collect all those seemingly untamable images and lay them out in some sort of intelligible order, no matter whether the underlying theology was spot on or not.

That explains why I showed up every night on those weeks in the late 70's when those flamboyant preachers came to town.  For a kid who loved working puzzles, building model rockets and soldering electronic kits I found the end-time charts irresistible, for they claimed to be the key to understanding future events from a Biblical perspective before they unfolded.  They helped me work the puzzle of mankind's future in my mind and set me at ease that God was indeed in control and had a plan, albeit somewhat bizarre, for humanity's future.  For me it was almost as good as I imagined it would be if I had my own Light Saber, X-wing Fighter, Elven Ring of Power (like Gandalf) or better yet, a Palantir (i.e. a Middle Earth Seeing Stone)!

Now, forty years later I am drawn back to those memories with an added layer of meaning.  

Over the years I learned that Apocalypse is the English transliteration of a Greek word and means "unveiling" or "revealed" thus the alternate title of the last book of the New Testament "The Revelation of Jesus Christ".  My early formation in the faith taught me that this "Revelation" of Jesus was to happen at the end of the ages... that the whole world would see Him revealed as King of the universe.


Now however, I have found there is another way to understand this revealing of Jesus spoken of in the last book of the Bible.  In fact, because of this new and deeper way, my entire view of the cosmos has changed from what I held as a kid in the late 70's.  I mean, I used to wish so intensely that the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings stories were really true.  Now I believe with the entire fiber of my being that something even more mind blowing is true on our planet on a daily basis.  I thought I was hungry for my favorite sci-fi and fantasy stories to come to life, but that was just scratching the surface of my longings.

From the time I was a kid, my hunger for God never grew less as I grew older.  It increased.  I couldn't figure out how to feed that deepening hunger for God within the venues where I was seeking Him, so I turned to other less nourishing things to abate my hunger.  Yet like Gollum, the more I partook of those things, the more famished my soul became.  Misdirected hunger could have actually killed me as it has so many others, but God's mercy prevailed until I was ready to hear and embrace the truth.

This came about in 2008 when I heard and finally comprehended that there was a form of the Christian Faith that believed God literally offered Himself to us as food and drinkEvery day.

Literally.  Spiritually.  Mystically.  Physically. 
[I no longer see these terms as contradictory.]

I.  Had.  To.  Have. THAT!

I found THAT in The Lamb's Supper.  In the eastern hemisphere it is usually called "The Divine Liturgy".  Here in the west it is called simply "The Mass".  It is here that Jesus, hidden in the form of bread and wine is unveiled to the faithful in a tiny way each day.  

Believe me when I tell you, that was a lot to unpack for a guy who grew up Baptist and married into the Reformed tradition.   I was not taught to look kindly on the Catholic Church nor anything that smacked of High Church Tradition.

Yet my cosmology shifted nonetheless, for  something greater than Star Wars is here.  Every day Jesus is revealed at divinely appointed celestial portals (Yes, Star Gate is another of my favorite stories) and makes an inconceivably humbling appearance as food and drink to be consumed by the faithful.  [Isn't it interesting that Sci-fi and fantasy genres so often point to something beyond our comprehension.]

Well, for me this is the only reality worth pondering over and over.  This is why I go to Mass every day I am able.  Jesus is there and pours Himself out literally as food and drink and I gobble Him up.  God becomes (in a mind blowing quantum physics sort of way) an actual part of me and every believer who partakes in this time bending "once for all" meal.

Now my conversion to this way of thinking may be interesting (probably to me only) but I cannot help revisiting the stories of others who have come to see things in this cosmology shifting fashion.  That is why nearly every year I reread or at least re-listen to Dr. Scott Hahn's story.

He was a protestant pastor researching how to teach his congregation about prophecy, especially the book of Revelation, when he stumbled into Mass one day on a hunch that it might "reveal" some of the mysteries of the material.  His hunch turned out to be spot on, for the ancient Christian liturgies are chock full of quotes and scenes straight from the Apocalypse.

His story can be found in a book (audible, kindle, softcover) called "The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth".  It is relatively short, only a four hour listen.  Every time I revisit it, I am comforted to know that Jesus appears to us daily, if we have eyes to see Him and indeed mouths to consume Him.  

I'm now taught that there are at least three 'comings' of Christ.  The first appearance hidden in Palestine 2000 years ago.  A final coming in the future when He returns as King openly to the whole world.  But also (between that first and final appearance), billions of hidden middle comings in the bread and wine every day, all over the world.

It is a decidedly covert operation, at least for now.

Apocalypse is now.  Today is the day of salvation.


Friday, January 8, 2021

Quintessential Heirloom of the Heart

I woke up this morning and listened to this entire short (8 song) album.  It became my morning prayer.  It is the quintessential heirloom of my heart and I give it to you thinking it may become one of yours.

As a musician, I have over twenty thousand songs on my iPhone.  These eight breath the grandeur, mystery, beauty and wonder of God in ultra-condensed fashion, distilled into the finest liquor.  Here EVERYTHING is sacrament and “The world is charged with the grandeur of God!"

And the MUSIC!!  O the music!  You are in good hands… I swear God himself plays through all the musicians on this recording, but especially Bruce whose guitar work finds few comparisons.

I hope you get inebriated just like I did.  Again and again.


All Lyrics printed below.

Blessings!


Creation Dream

Centered on silence
Counting on nothing
I saw you standing on the sea
And everything was
Dark except for
Sparks the wind struck from your hair
Sparks that turned to
Wings around you
Angel voices mixed with seabird cries
Fields of motion
Surging outward
Questions that contain their own replies

You were dancing
I saw you dancing
Throwing your arms toward the sky
Fingers opening
Like flares
Stars were shooting everywhere
Lines of power
Bursting outward
Along the channels of your song
Mercury waves flashed
Under your feet
Shots of silver in the shell-pink dawn

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
Creation Dream lyrics © Carlin America Inc




Hills of Morning

Underneath the mask of the sulphur sky
A bunch of us were busy waiting,
Watching the people looking ill-at-ease,
Watching the fraying rope get closer to breaking

Women and men moved back and forth
In between effect and cause
And just beyond the range of normal sight
This glittering joker was dancing in the dragon's jaws

Let me be a little of your breath
Moving over the face of the deep --
I want to be a particle of your light
Flowing over the hills of morning

The only sign you gave of who you were
When you first came walking down the road,
Was the way the dust motes danced around
Your feet in a cloud of gold

But everything you see's not the way it seems --
Tears can sing and joy shed tears.
You can take the wisdom of this world
And give it to the ones who think it all ends here

Let me be a little of your breath
Moving over the face of the deep --
I want to be a particle of your light
Flowing over the hills of morning

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
Hills of Morning lyrics © Rotten Kiddies Music Llc, Bro N Sis Music Inc., Bro N Sis Music, Inc.



Badlands Flashback

Mon corps se pence
Ma main s'entends
Prends du gravier
Un morcean blanc de coquille

Pour un instant
Un mugissement
L'antique mer
Rempli cet espace qui a ete le mien

Lozanges mobiles
Des herbes flottantes
Un cri soudain
D'oiseau flamboie au firmament

Une troupe d'antilopes
Traverse l'horizon
Sabots scintillants comme du verre

Un rire sonne comme le cristal
Dans le ciel vide
Quelqu'un danse comme une flamme

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
Badlands Flashback lyrics © Carlin America Inc

(English Translation)

The body stoops
The hand goes out
Picks up from the gravel
A fragment of white seashell

For a moment
A roaring
The ancient sea
Fills the space that just now was mine

Moving diamond-shapes
Grasses flowing
The sudden cry of a bird
Blazes all along the sky

A herd of antelope
Crosses the horizon
Hooves scintillating like glass

A laugh rings like crystal
In the empty sky --
Someone is dancing like a flame!



Northern Lights

Sunday night and it's half past nine
Sunday night and it's half past nine
Sunday night and it's half past nine
I'm leaving one more town behind

Mirrors are showing the day's last glow
Mirrors are showing the day's last glow
Mirrors are showing the day's last glow
As we're spit out into the jigsaw flow

Ahead where there should be the thickness of night
Stars are pinned on a shimmering curtain of light
Sky full of rippling cliffs and chasms
That shine like signs on the road to heaven…

I've been cut by the beauty of jagged mountains
And cut by the love that flows like a fountain from God.
So I carry these scars, precious and rare,
And tonight I feel like I'm made of air…

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
Northern Lights lyrics © Rotten Kiddies Music Llc, Bro N Sis Music Inc., Bro N Sis Music, Inc.




After the Rain

After the rain in the streets, light flows like blood
I can just taste salt on the humid wind

Here comes that gasoline
Spreading hungry rainbow over shiny black tar

I'm blown like smoke and blind as wind
Except for when your love breaks in

Maybe to those who love is given sight
To pierce the wall of seeming night
And know it pure beyond all imagining

Engine throb, street cruise light, bullet car flash
Hollow beauty, night gleam, oily river, tension glass

Ultraflame, glittering dust falling in slow motion
Clouds tumbling one over another into apparent emptiness

It's like a big fist breaking down my door
I never felt such a love before

Maybe to those who love it's given to hear
Music too high for the human ear
And clear as hydrogen to go singing

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
After the Rain lyrics © Round Hill Music Big Loud Songs, Carlin America Inc



Wondering Where the Lions Are

Sun's up, uuh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And i'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.

I had another dream about lions at the door
They weren't half as frightening as they were before
But i'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.

Walls windows trees, waves coming through
You be in me and i'll be in you
Together in eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me

Up among the firs where it smells so sweet
Or down in the valley where the river used to be
I got my mind on eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me

And i'm wondering where the lions are...
I'm wondering where the lions are…

Huge orange flying boat rises off a lake,
Thousand-year-old petroglyphs doing a double take,
Pointing a finger at eternity
I'm sitting in the middle of this ecstasy

Young men marching, helmets shining in the sun,
Polished as precise like the brain behind the gun
(Should be!) they got me thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me

And i'm wondering where the lions are...
I'm wondering where the lions are…

Freighters on the nod on the surface of the bay
One of these days we're going to sail away,
Going to sail into eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me

And i'm wondering where the lions are...
I'm wondering where the lions are…

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
Wondering Where the Lions Are lyrics © Rotten Kiddies Music Llc, Bro N Sis Music Inc., Bro N Sis Music, Inc.




Incandescent Blue

I sneaked across the border, it was threatening rain
So I could stand in this tunnel, waiting for the roaring train
And watch those black kids working out kung fu moves
If you don't want to be the horses' hoof prints you got to be the hooves

Hear that lonesome violin play
See the notes float up into the overcast
And change to white birds as they sail on through
And soar away free into incandescent blue

People getting ready behind all those rectangles of light
"Put on your grin mask, babe, you know we're steppin' out tonight"
You hear that sound, like hammers only small?
It's what the people's heads say when they beat them against the wall

Hear that lonesome violin play
See the notes float up into the overcast
And change to white birds as they sail on through
And soar away free into incandescent blue

Concrete vortex sucks down the wind
It's howling like a blinded violin.
Oh, tongues of fire, come and kiss my brow
If I ever needed you, well I need you now

Hear that lonesome violin play
See the notes float up into the overcast
And change to white birds as they sail on through
And soar away free into incandescent blue

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
Incandescent Blue lyrics © Carlin America Inc




No Footprints

Mist hangs above hills
Above mist hangs stone face of mountain
Above mountain face hangs a net of sky --
Crack! there are wings and they rip the net!

And the dance flows on
Everything flows toward the rim of that
Shining cup

Crossed sticks lie on earth
Between crossed sticks -- pile of ash
Something rises on the wisp of smoke
Dog's feet move by fast

And the dance flows on
Everything flows toward the rim of that
Shining cup

Through these channels/words
I want to touch you
Touch you deep down
Where you live
Not for power but
Because I love you
So
Love the Lord
And in Him love me too
And in Him go your way
And I'll be right there with you
Leaving
No footprints when we go
No footprints when we go
Only where we've been, a faint and fading glow…

Songwriters: Bruce Cockburn
No Footprints lyrics © Rotten Kiddies Music Llc, Bro N Sis Music Inc., Bro N Sis Music, Inc.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Light Quotes

Below are the quotes from the top banner animation in order.

1 - Darkness is just a speck in the light
King’s X - 1990

2 - Light unshared is darkness.
George MacDonald - 1892

3 - The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.
St. John the Apostle - circa 100 AD

4 - Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
William L. Watkinson - 1907

5 - Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Martin Luther King Jr. - 1957

6 - So shines a good deed in a weary world.
William Shakespeare - 1600

7 - His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
St. Matthew the Apostle - circa 70 AD

8 - The same sun which melts wax hardens clay.
Charles Spurgeon - 1881

9 - Light of the world shine on me, love is the answer.
Todd Rundgren - 1977

10 - I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.
Jesus of Nazareth - circa 30 AD

11 - Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.
Desiderius Erasmus - circa 1500

12 - To love beauty is to see light.
Victor Hugo - Circa 1860

13 - This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Harry Dixon Loes - circa 1920

14 - Luminous beings are we.
Yoda - Long, long ago

15 - Light is to darkness what love is to fear; in the presence of one the other disappears.
Marianne Williamson - 2008

16 - The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
King David - circa 1000 BC

17 - Darn floor - big bite, You are love, fire and light!
Daniel Amos - 1987

18 - God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
St. John the Apostle - circa 90 AD

19 - Never fear shadows. They simply mean there's a light shining somewhere nearby.
Author Unknown (attributed to Ruth E. Renkel for whom information is quite elusive)

20 - In this place no candle burns for the Lamb shall be our light.
Terry Scott Taylor - Circa 1990 

21 - See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see. 
Wayne Dyer - 2005

22 - Aziz!  Light!  Much better.  Thank you, Aziz.
Professor Pacoli - 1914

23 - What is to give light must endure burning. 
Viktor Frankl - 1946

24 - Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
St. Paul the Apostle - Circa 58 AD

25 - We are all broken, that's how the light gets in.
Ernest Hemingway / Leonard Cohen - 1929 / 1992

26 - Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. 
Maori Proverb

27 - Light is good from whatever lamp it shines. 
Author Unknown

28 - The light in me honors the light in you.
Farmer's favorite take on Sanskrit: Namaste

29 - A child afraid of the dark?  Expected.  An adult afraid of the light?  Troubling.
Home grown from web seeds.

30 - In Thy light shall we see light.
King David - Circa 1000 BC


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Hope and Light

This website is here as a witness to hope and light so it seemed fitting to speak of both in one entry.

Studies at the Theology of the Body Institute have led me to explore the life of the man who delivered that understanding to the Church in the last part of the 20th century. I just finished listening to an abridged version of a biography by George Weigel about him and my review of it follows.

My premonition is that 200 years from today, looking back, most of the world will agree that Karol Wojtyla was the greatest anthropologist and philosopher that ever walked the earth. It will take that long perhaps because the current prejudices against the other facts of his life, for example that he was also a brilliant theologian, a compassionate and pastoral Pope of the Catholic Church and declared a Saint, will take that long to fizzle out and give way to objectivity.

His brilliant work on human anthropology and sexual expression known now as the “Theology of the Body” is enough by itself for such a bold claim. His life accomplishments in other areas only augment the assertion. 

Time will tell.

In the mean time I am grateful for this excellent abridged Audible edition of George Weigel's work, giving the world a chance to become better acquainted with the much celebrated Saint John Paul II in less than ten hours of listening. I doubt that I'd have made it through the over 1000 pages of unabridged hard copy, so I for one am happily in debt to both Mr. Weigel and the editors who made this "quick" edition available. As a student at the Theology of the Body Institute, it has greatly enriched my perspectives on this great friend and servant of God, whose work I shall continue to study and propagate as long as I'm able.

St. John Paul II was and is a beautiful witness to hope in a world that needs it so desperately.

To complete the dynamic duo implied in the title, my friend Beth posted a brilliant piece this past Friday about light that I'll repost here with her permission.  Thank you Beth!



It is dark as I leave home for 7:15am Mass. The sun will be setting as I leave work to go back home this evening.  Without the aid of my headlights it is hard for me to really see what is right in front of me let alone farther down the road. The darkness envelops everything. I need light to navigate my way on the physical road as well as in my emotional and spiritual life journey.

The readings today highlight this need of illumination. The First Reading tells us that God teaches us what is for (our) good. The Psalm tells us, “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.” Jesus tells us in the Gospel that, we called to you but you didn’t come. “We played the flute for you, but you didn’t dance… [we] came eating and drinking” and you called us names and scoffed at us.

“Every time we sin, we become less human,” said Fr. Dan Crosby, OFM Cap in a recent homily. When we elevate ourselves, make fun or take advantage of others, we are placing a veil or, when there are many veils, a curtain between us and God. That sin blocks and takes us away from the Light of Life.

#1691 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.” When you stay in the light you will be able to see the kingdom and find peace or Shalom.

I pray you will experience a deep peace of the Kingdom of God during this Advent season while you wait and prepare for our Lord’s coming.

A Celtic Blessing:

Deep peace of the running wave to you

Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you

Deep peace of Christ to you.

Amen.




Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with.

Feature Image Credit: Dave Hoefler



Saturday, October 10, 2020

I Could Be Wrong

T Bone Burnett, a person
that helps me un-deceive
myself over and over
That title represents what for me is a first step towards shattering self-deception.  I've found that when spoken from the heart without resentment or sarcasm, those words can open doors into new worlds.  

But even if I cannot attain that state of mind, sometimes well crafted art can disarm my defense mechanisms and bring the ways I lie to myself into the light so I can surrender them as the nonsense that they are.

I can honestly say that no single recording artist has done that for me down through the decades more than James Henry (aka T Bone) Burnett.  I have listened intently to hundreds of artists so that is no small claim.  You probably know his work as a producer which is prolific, his fingerprints are all over American music for the past 30 years (click here to see what I mean).

I was about twenty-two years old in 1986 when I found myself putting the new vinyl LP of 'Truth Decay' on my buddy's record player.  I had bought the album that week because of a review I'd read and something in the lyrics more than the style had worked their way into my soul in that short time; I was hoping others in the room would hear it and affirm that  'Indescribable Wow' I felt in my gut.

The power of love can make a blind man see
Can bring a man to his knees
The power of love can make a sultan grieve
Can make a skeptic believe
The power of love is south of south
And scorches out all the doubt
The power of love is the name of names
And burns away all the pain
The power of love can make a gangster cry
Can make a loser try
The power of love can make a strong man weak
Can make a bigot meek

The next year 'The Talking Animals' was released and my world was changed again.  The mule kick of 'The Wild Truth' hit me squarely in the chest.  I started writing T Bone lyrics on everything, my lunch box, scraps of paper, box lids, anywhere people might see them and maybe affirm that they too saw this man's gift of eloquence in conveying raw truth.  

Are we supposed to take all this 
greed and fear and hatred seriously? 
It's like watching dust settle 
It never changes
It's too consistent

Mercy is not consistent it's like the wind
It goes where it will. 
Mercy is comic, and it's the only
Thing worth taking seriously

I need the wild truth

I don't know how to make any choices anymore I mean
Who do I vote for? I get the feeling that as soon as
Something appears in the paper it ceases to be true

The 1992 release 'The Criminal Under My Own Hat' was no different.  It was brimming over with amazing vignettes that pierced the soul and stripped away pretensions.

Which leads me to this latest work of art by Mr. Burnett which he released rather unconventionally through Audible.com as one of their 'included' titles that is free to download for anyone with an active Audible subscription.  'The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation' alternates pieces of an essay written and read by T Bone with twelve of his songs he hand picked to say some of the same things from the right brain.  This alternating of poetic prose and songs about self-deception and delusion had a powerful effect on me.

A transcription of the entire work can be found online by clicking here.  It is definitely worth reflecting upon for those that don't have access to Audible, or for those that do, it may help to read along as they listen.  Just clicking on the embedded links in the document vastly increased my literacy in our nation's history, lessons I never received as a kid in school.

I'm hoping to discuss this work with some of my friends and family.  It may just be a way to detox from some of the insanity that is going on in our world right now and move forward with love and hope.  It may even facilitate authentic civil discourse for some who can say these four words and really mean them:

          I

                           Could

                                                       Be

                                                                                Wrong