Monday, May 16, 2011

Jesus is Coming

With all the hype of Jesus' apparent return this Saturday, this cartoon was helpful in illuminating the lunacy of predicting the return of Jesus.

HT: Naked Pastor

Friday, May 13, 2011

All Truth is God’s Truth: Finding Wisdom in Places You Never Thought to Look

I think I grew up assuming that when Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” this meant that the only place that we can find truth is in his actual words, the Bible. While I have not strayed from believing that the Bible is an incredibly wise, helpful, truth-filled text, I have come to see that truth and beauty and wisdom can be found in a myriad of other places as well. And when we arrive at this truth, we can know that God is involved...because all truth is God’s truth. With this in mind, we can honor these other places of truth, rather than fear or avoid them. Regardless of where this truth arrives from, if it allows us to better live into the way of Jesus, it can be freely embraced without fear or xenophobia (fear of the other).

These thoughts arise out of the class that I am current taking called ‘Our Religious Impulse’ (basically a world religions class). I was reading about Buddhism this morning and came across some beautiful thoughts from Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Zen Buddhist thinker and writer. When I have approached world religions in the past, it has typically been a quest to know a plethora of data so that I can disprove that faith tradition, thus validating Christianity. I have come to see these actions as quite fruitless, however, so it is exciting to study these other forms of spirituality with the intent of learning from my brothers and sisters around the world. If my primary posture as a Christian is to love my neighbor, then this sort of interest in, and curiosity about, my neighbor seems like a healthy undertaking. While I still see Christianity as the best possible way of living, and Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life, I want to maintain a posture of openness and invitation, a freedom to absorb the truth of God wherever I may find it. With that in mind, I hope you enjoy these words of wisdom from a Buddhist brother.   
There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, "Where are you going?" and the first man replies, "I don't know! Ask the horse!" This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don't know where we are going, and we can't stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We are always running, and it has become a habit. We struggle, all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within our selves, and we can easily start a war with others.

We have to learn the art of stopping--stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us. When an emotion rushes through us like a storm, we have no peace. We turn on the TV and then we turn it off. We pick up a book, and then we put it down. How can we stop this state of agitation? How can we stop our fear, despair, anger, and craving? We can stop by practicing mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful smiling, and deep looking in order to understand. When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, the fruits are always understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Tragic End to a Great Sunday

Yesterday was a great day that was capped off in a sickening way. I had heard about Osama bin Laden's death while we were at our small group, but was greatly troubled to come home, flip on the tv, and see the celebration and revelry taking place around our country and world. OVER SOMEONE'S DEATH!

Now I realize that posting these thoughts will make me seem unpatriotic, which is really is not the case. I love my country (most of the time) and am grateful to live in a nation that holds freedom, liberty, and opportunity as its priorities. Killing bin Laden may have been the right thing to do in this situation. I'm not sure. What I am most troubled with in this whole issue is the joyous celebration we are seeing over the loss of life and the perpetuation of the cycle of violence. Sing and dancing in the street?? Really??

This situation reminds me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's dilemma over whether to kill Hitler in the midst of his reign of terror. Bonhoeffer willingly participated in a secret plan to assassinate Hitler, but never felt justified in his actions. He wrote of seeing murdering Hitler as a sin, but was willing to stand before God in judgment in order to do what he felt needed to be done. I wish we would have seen the attitude of Bonhoeffer shine force yesterday in the midst of this tragedy. I wish Obama would have said something like, "We regret that killing Osama bin Laden was the decision that had to be made today. While taking another person's life is never ideal, we felt that this was the lesser of two evils, the only way we could find to keep him from doing more harm to innocent people around the world." I could respect a statement like that. At least it would own the tragedy of the loss of life, rather than celebrate it.

I pray that we will begin to see the lunacy of thinking that one more act of violence will finally end the cycle of violence. I pray that we will become people who choose non-violent resistance as an alternative to violence. I pray that we will have the courage and creativity to find subversive ways of non-violently turning the other cheek, rather than blindly gouging out another's eye. In the strong words of Jesus to a room of cowering, hurt, vengeful disciples, "Peace be with you."