Friday, April 25, 2014

The Mirror


How many times have we heard that we can never change another person—that is God’s job.


But how many hours do we spend praying for God to change other people?


We pray for God to change our spouses, our children, our bosses and our friends.

When was the last time we prayed for God to change us? 

Could it be, that what God really wants us to do is to ask Him to change us? 

Why don’t we pray for God to give us the courage to look into the mirror He is holding—waiting for us to gaze into it—to see what He wants to change?

Life on this earth is our spiritual formation for eternity.

Some of us need to gaze into God’s mirror to see what we are doing wrong, and some of us need to look deeply into God’s mirror to see what we are doing right. But we all need to ask what needs changing—since there is no-one who is perfect (no matter what we may think!)

Again, only God can change us; but He will show what needs changing and then give us the strength to allow Him in to do the changing, and help us to be that change going forward.

There is a passage in the Epistle of James that reflects this notion:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continue in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do." (James 1:22-27)




Friday, April 18, 2014

A Good Friday Meditation




A Good Friday Meditation


As we walk towards the cross, and the commemoration of Jesus, the Son of God’s sacrifice for us on Golgotha; I had some thoughts on how we live this Christian life.

Somehow, through the long years of tradition, I feel that we have glossed over or edited away much of the teaching and challenges that Jesus gave to us all, when he came and told us to take up our crosses and follow him.

I look at this as a sort of a Facebook version of the Christian life.

Let me use myself as an example. 

On Facebook, you only see what I want you to see. I edit back what I post and don’t share everything going on in my life. You will really have to take a risk to find out more about my world. You will have to be intentional to get to know me. You will have to take time out to have coffee with me (or tea), or talk to me on the phone; to actually hear my voice for you to understand if I am under stress (which is most of the time right now,) or if I am relaxed, joyful or depressed.

I’ll warn you right now, that I am a difficult person to get to know; I don’t always have a very good editor between what I am thinking and what comes out of my mouth. There is a really good chance that I will hurt your feelings by telling you what is really on my mind.

But if you really want to be my friend, if you would really like to come along side me and grow with me; I guess that’s the risk you are going to have to take…and very few people in my world are willing to do that.

Let’s look again at Jesus’ life. He was risky; you never really knew what he was going to say. He also did not have ANY editor between his head and his mouth; at least from our point-of-view. 

But you could watch him and see how he treated those who were un-loved and un-cared for; so for some watching, they took a risk to talk to him. Yet not all those who hoped to learn something from Jesus got what they were looking for; for example, remember the so called “rich young ruler” or the Sadducees trying to trick him (the example of the Levirate marriage), or even the experts in the Law looking to be justified (the Good Samaritan): do any of you think it is fun to be made a fool of in public? Just try and defend a philosophy paper some time!

Yet to be a friend to the Son of God means taking risks. It means having your secure world turned up-side-down. It means waiting at the base of a bloody cross, watching the Pascal Lamb die…wondering when it is going to be your turn.


Are you willing to really get to know the Son of God?


See you Easter morning.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Excerpt from "Hypatia of Alexandria"


Excerpt from Hypatia of Alexandria, Maria Dzielska (translated by F. Lyra) (1995, Cambridge, Harvard University Press)

On the story of Hypatia of Alexandria: “The legend will continue to unfold along its own course, according to tastes and fashions, as we can observe…” (p 102) But according to the thorough and erudite scholarship of Maria Dzielska, who writes that “…there is no doubt that Hypatia’s circle included Theotecnus, Athanasius, Theodosis and Gaius…”(p 37) 

This is an excerpt from the conclusion of her book Hypatia of Alexandria:

“…Hypatia was born around A.D. 355, and not, as customarily held, around 370. When she died in 415 she was of an advanced age, around sixty years old. Thus there appears to be no legitimate support for the picture of Hypatia, at the hour of her horrid death, as a young girl, endowed with a body worthy of Aphrodite, provoking the murderers’ sadism and lust.

She was a resident of Alexandria, from a prominent family. Her father was a well-known scientist, a member of the Museion, a writer, a philosopher interested in Hermetic an Orphic texts. Theon’s scholarship (and that of his daughter) centered on eminent Alexandrian predecessors, mathematicians and astronomers. We learn from Hesychius of Miletus that as the father was writing commentaries on Euclid and Ptolemy, Hypatia was busy with the works of Apllonius of Perge, Diphantus, and Ptolemy. It has been always assumed that her studies of these authors have not survived. But Alan Cameron asserts that not all of Hypatia’s text are lost; editions of Ptolemy’s Almagest and Handy Tables, now available were probably arranged and prepared by Hypatia. It is also possible that she edited and annotated Diophantus’ extant books.

 Philosophy was Hypatia’s other interest. Thanks to the reminiscences of her disciple Synesius [who became the bishop of the town of Ptolemais] in his correspondence, we know far more about her philosophical teaching than about her mathematical and astronomical research. In her home in Alexandria she formed an intellectual circle composed of disciples who came to study privately, some of them for many years. They arrived from Alexandria, from elsewhere in Egypt, and from Syria, Cyrene, and Constantinople. They were from wealthy and influential families; in time they attained posts of state and ecclesiastical eminence.

[…]

Hypatia’s private classes and public lectures also included mathematics and astronomy, which primed the mind for speculation on higher epistemological levels. Her lectures took place either at her house (where they sometimes attracted crowds of admirers) or in the city’s lecture halls. Occasionally she participated in the activities of the polis, serving as an esteemed adviser on current issues to both municipal and visiting imperil officials. She possessed great moral authority; all our sources agree that she was a model of ethical courage, righteousness, veracity, civic devotion, and intellectual prowess. The virtue most honored by her contemporaries was her sophrosyne, which colored both her conduct and her inner qualities; it manifested itself in sexual abstinence (she remained a virgin to the end of her life), in modest dress (philosophical tribon), in moderate living, and in a dignified attitude toward her students as well as men in power.” (p 102-103)

According to Dzielska, in a political power-play by Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, trying to extend the powers of the local bishopric over civil authority managed by Orestes (also a Christian), Cyril encouraged his local employees to start a rumor of witch-craft against Hypatia which escalated with her assassination at the hands of a crowd of locals and Cyril’s paid supporters.

As some myth-creators would have us believe; this was not the death of Hellenic philosophy or Neoplatonism, nor the death of science or mathematics--but a tragic death of a famous and powerful teacher of philosophy.

Also understand that Hypatia considered herself elitists; she was not egalitarian, and would not teach women. But here is a woman who was taught and encouraged by her father; put in a unique position in an era unsympathetic to women, teaching a discipline that taught that the female intellect was inferior.
I recommend you read the entire book to understand the creation of the legend surrounding Hypatia, and how Dzielska teases out the truth from the various letters and stories. 
         


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Perseverence





*poor thing…she’ll never make it*

                        “What will you do if you can’t finish?”

                                            *you’ll never finish this*

                              “I know another Christian woman who was deliberately given a B, so she never made it to grad-school.”

*give-up, you are just too old to keep up with the kids*
                                   
   “Oh god, are you doing an undergraduate thesis?”


“Why are you doing this to yourself?”


                                    “You will never make it, you

will never finish this; adult students never finish in-seat college programs. You will

be left with nothing.






How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have 

sorrow in my heart all day long?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes

will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully

 with me. 

Psalm 13


Perseverance, (pur’sǝ-vêr’ǝns) n. …implies a continuing to do something in spite of difficulties, obstacles…SYN. tenacity…

To persevere is to continue doing something in spite of difficulty, opposition; to be steadfast in purpose; to persist. Webster’s New World Dictionary©1956


God has called and equipped me for this path.

God will give me just enough strength for this journey.

God has never forsaken me; regardless of how I feel.


I will finish the race set before me,

no matter how it looks,

no matter if I have no help,

and no matter how it ends.



Because it is a joy to be alive,

because
I am grateful for my salvation and

because I have a call on my life, a path set before me, even if I am not sure where I am going…


Because the air is fresh and the mountains are calling!

“Do you not know than in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
 
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking at Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1-2



“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be pus tout of joint, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12

“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.” 2 Corinthians 4:16


The Word of the Lord:


Thanks be to God!