Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Prayer: "The Fruit of the Spirit."

We have reached the end of another year, and are collectively asking what this New Year will bring.

Personally, I have reached the end of an amazing, challenging, life-changing struggle to finally finish my undergraduate degree, and with God’s help I even was awarded magna cum laude in philosophy from the University of Colorado Boulder.

This is beyond anything I could have hoped or prayed for, and I am grateful.

The parties are over and the celebrations are ended, I have put my souvenirs and 'trophies' away, but I keep my metal pinned to my bulletin board by my desk. I still have filing to do and year-end clearing out of my closet, the studio has been tidied, the floor swept and mopped, even my sock drawer is organized…but it is time to move on.

For the coming year, I would like to share a prayer that is a bit of a meditation on the "Fruit of the Spirit."

 Dear Lord, you have given me the fruit of your Spirit to not only manifest your grace in my life, but to work through me to minister to the marvelous beings around me; both human and animals.

I pray that you will use me to share your Love to all your creatures,
And to spread the Joy of life each day,
To bring your Peace by listening to those who are ignored,
And to show your Patience to the stressed and pressured that I meet every day.
That I would always share your Kindness to those who are unkind,
To remember that your Goodness is not just a gift to me, but meant to be shared;
The Faithfulness that you have shown me, is meant for promises keeping,
And that the Gentleness in your dealing with me, is meant to keep both friend and neighbor. 

But Self-control is the golden setting that holds all  your marvelous “fruit” together; for your virtues are not virtuous when separated from the whole. 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:-22-25

Happy New Year.
Lisa Guinther
Insights From the Furnace

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Quote from Simone Weil: Thoughts on Beauty

Simone Weil, Awaiting God: A new Translation of Attente de Dieu and Lettre à un Religieux. Translated by Bradley Jersak (2012, Abbotsford, Fresh Wind Press)

"The beauty of the world cannot be attributed to matter itself. It is a relationship of the world to our senses—those senses that come from the structure of our bodies and our souls. The ‘Micromegas’ of Voltaire—a thinking infusorian organism [an alien], could never access that beauty with which we feed ourselves in the universe. In a case where such beings did exist, we would need to have faith that the world would also be beautiful for them, but it would be a different beauty. Anyway, one must have faith that the universe is beautiful on every scale; and more generally, that there is a plenitude of beauty relative to the physical and psychic structure of every thinking being that exists—and in fact, of all possible thinking beings. It is this same concordance (agreement) of an infinity of perfect beauties that give the beauty of the world a transcendent character. Nevertheless, what we experience of this beauty was destined for our human senses.The beauty of the world is the cooperation of divine wisdom and creation. ‘Zeus made all things,’ said the Delphic oracle, ‘and Baccus perfected them.’ This perfecting is the creation of beauty. God created the universe and his Son, our First-born brother, created beauty for us. The beauty of the world is the tender smile of Christ to us through matter. He is really present in universal beauty. Love of this beauty proceeds from God and descends into our souls and goes out to God present in the universe. It too is something like a sacrament.Such is the only universal beauty. Aside from God, only the whole universe in its entirety can properly be called beautiful. All that is in the universe and less than the universe can be called beautiful only by extending this word beyond its strict significance to those things that are indirectly part of beauty, that are imitations."(p 67)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

"Mercenary Piety" from "A Diary of Readings"

A quote from Père Jean Nicolas Grou The School of Jesus Christ (ca. 1795) English translation 1932 quoted in John Baillie A Diary of Readings ( (1955, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons)

"If we look into our hearts, we shall be filled with confusion when we see there the mean, mercenary ideas that form the bond of our intercourse with God.
Are we not of the number of those who, like the Jews [ read biblical Pharisees] have no object in their prayers but temporal benefits, those who pray earnestly for the fatness of the earth but never ask for the dew of heaven? Are not our churches full [ca. 1795] whenever public calamities overtake us, and quite deserted in times of prosperity? When our domestic affairs are disturbed, or we are involved in a vexatious lawsuit, or are in danger of some serious loss we become very devout, we resort to prayer, and ask our priest and pious friends to help us. When our life, or the life of our husband or a beloved child is in danger, we have Masses said, we begin Novenas and invoke the Saints. Events and circumstances awaken our religion, as though there were no need to pray to God except in illness and sorrow. As soon as affairs take a turn for the better and the danger is past, our devotion vanishes; the most we think of doing is to thank God for the successful end of our troubles; after a short act of gratitude we forget Him, and think of nothing but our pleasures. Speaking generally, it is true to say that the necessities and accidents of life form the main subject and the actuating motive of the prayers of the ordinary Christian."

Do you blame us, they may ask, for thus appealing to God in times of temporal need? I am very far from doing so, since it is God’s own intention to call us back to Himself by such needs, and we can do nothing better than appeal to Him on these occasions. What I blame is that He is never invoked except for these needs, as though there were no other blessing and no other evils than those of the present life. What I blame is that God is forgotten as soon as these needs are supplied, as soon as these evils are averted and these blessings secured. Truly it is altogether too material, too carnal, to make piety a matter of such aims and events as these." 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Some clips from the movie "Forks over Knives"

I apologize to my readers for being "off-line" for this many weeks; my classes were a bit overwhelming.

I want to continue for a bit on the idea of a vegan diet.

I have posted some clips from the documentary Forks over Knives,  which looks at the link between cardiovascular and systemic health and animal products, including milk in our diets.

Watch the videos below.  

And here

And Dr. Neal Barnard on Diabetes and a Vegan diet

This is information both medical researchers and personal experience. Never self-diagnose, always follow the advice of the doctor who knows you. 

I recommend that you watch the whole movie; you can purchase a copy here or getting more information:

I am not a nutrition expert, yet I do understand that when we are told we need animal protein in our diet; that protein in meat, eggs and dairy are surrounded in so much additional fat, that you lose the benefits and reap the cost in damage to your arteries in the form of atherosclerosis and other diseases linked to diet.

And my experience so far: I've lost weight and I feel like I have more energy. Is that from the diet or just from losing weight? I don't know; causally it could be from either. But before I removed all animal products from my diet, I was feeling exhausted and worn down. I am still tired at the end of the week, but I feel just tired, not exhausted. All I am doing is eating a plant-based diet; no meat, meat products, or dairy.

More to come.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Vegetariansim and Christianity: Part II Background and Opinion

From the blog "Nature and Life Notes

Where I grew up in the Eastern US, I was surrounded by farms; as a matter of fact, my family bought meat from a farmer that we knew; collecting the half a steer and one whole hog, from our local butcher once a year or so. We also raised our own vegetables and I recall many hot, sweaty hours helping in the kitchens when it was time to get the yearly surplus canned (put into jars,) or bagged for the giant chest freezer in our basement.

I was a member of 4-H, I had friend in the FFA (Future Farmers of America), and nearly everyone in my small home town attended the county fairs, complete with all the animal barns, food-tents, and tractor displays.

I could ride my bike down the road to the farm with the glass-front milking parlor; I watched while the cows would line up from the pasture to be milked (twice a day), patiently waiting their turn.  Our family bought milk from the dairy in big glass half-gallon jugs that I watched being filled from the huge stainless steel vat.

Growing up I learned not only the care of horses (as I was a horse "nut",) but also I learned from other friends how cows, pigs and chickens were cared for. I knew what good animal husbandry looked like. Everyone knew…

If you wanted good meat, or eggs, or milk you had to take good care of the animals.

But today it is not the same.

In the need for more and cheaper animal products, fewer farms are locally owned or family run: this is now an industry.

An industry set up to produce animals and animal products as quickly and efficiently as possible.

It is about numbers.

It is about production.

It is about cost-benefit analysis and efficiency.
And it is not about either proper animal husbandry or humane treatment.

It is about getting meat, milk and eggs to market, in order to turn animal products into cash.

And it is certainly not about quality. If you don’t believe me, ask around to your acquaintances who talk of back-yard chickens. Ask to try one of the eggs that their hens produce.

By consuming the meat, milk and eggs from your local supermarket, you are supporting an industry that raises trapped, mistreated animals, in horrific conditions, in order to give to consumers the lowest cost, largest amounts of the lowest quality protein.  

Do you really want to eat meat that’s only $.99/lb ?

And because of our disconnection from the source; when you purchase meat, eggs and milk you are supporting this industry. 

Do you understand that all the meat you eat has to be treated (brined or otherwise “minimally processed”) in order for it to be palatable. If you do not treat the meat produced by chickens and pigs standing in their own feces, the meat tastes like sh**. 

Now, do you really think that meat from animals raised in factory farming conditions is healthy for you to eat?
Christians have a pretty good track-record of standing against the mistreatment of people, helping to end slavery, standing against segregation, lobbying to help children, helping the poor and rallying against human trafficking.

Why would you want to support an industry that makes our food from suffering? Why would you want to eat animal products from animals mistreated and abused?

Christians may be able to eat anything, there are no biblical food laws we have to adhere to; but with the knowledge of factory farming, the question should be “Why would you want to?”

In the coming weeks, I will be hosting two guest writers to give all of us more information about factory farming and why one should consider veganism.

Many people that I know take the time to find out where and how their clothing is made, who builds their electronics, assembles their car; perhaps it is time to find out how the food we eat is produced.

Next time:
 "But don't we need animal products to be healthy?"

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Vegetarianism and Christianity: Should Christians Eat Meat? (part I)

I am going to start a series on this blog to look at the question of whether or not a Christian should or ought to be a vegetarian: from a practical, religious, health and ethical point of view. Is there warrant for a believer today to restrict animal flesh and/or animal products from their diets, or could this be about stewardship of the earth, or even if this is about caring for animals as included in “the least of these?” Is this nonsense, common sense or is this about social justice and morality, and is this to be included in the Kingdom of God? 

This series is meant as an educational forum and I will be asking some friends of mine to create post. I personally am receiving some benefits from a vegetarian diet (although perhaps not necessarily causally linked, I will freely admit.) But as I believe that there are environmental benefits to ending the “factory farm” method of animal production; my underlying assumption is that it is better for a human body to not eat meat and to restrict animal products from our diet, both due to health reasons and for moral and ethical reasons. I have now come to believe that factory farming is detrimental to the animals, to the health of the human who consume the animal flesh raised in this way, and to the environment dealing with the waste produced by these “farms.”

My open question is whether vegetarianism or veganism should remain (merely) my personal view or is this view one that should (or ought to) become a part of any Christian’s life. In the Kingdom of God, should the treatment of animals be as serious an issue as slavery was (and is,) abortion, human trafficking, or even the equality of the sexes?

There are many of you who access this blog through Facebook, but for this project I would like to see if we all could keep this conversation to the blog; because of security, not all who follow my blog are my Facebook friends, but if we want to turn this (for a short time) into a closed Facebook “chat-room” send me a message; we could do that if it would work better for all involved.

My primary goal is to get my Christian friends to really think hard about what they eat, and what I believe is an ethical and moral responsibility to themselves and the environment. This is not the forum for “Dominionism[1],” but let us start a conversation to hear reasons why eating meat and animal products may not be the right thing for a Christian to do. Let us explore the ethical and moral reason to not eat meat or animal products. 

We, as Christians, know that a quick reading of the Gospels show that there is warrant for having no restrictions on what foods we eat, as Jesus in the synoptic Gospels declared all foods “clean.” But remember what he was teaching his followers: this was an overturn of very strict Torah (Kosher) interpretations of dietary laws that were an external and ethnic sign of membership in the great Abrahamic Covenant and membership in the Diaspora of Israel.  Kosher laws and laws of the Sabbath were seen as markers of those who wanted to please God and keep separate from the rest of the Gentile world.

We have seen various epochs of the growth and dissemination of Judeo-Christian ideals; perhaps now is a good time to take a close look at our food, how it is produced and how we should think of the stewardship of our bodies and the world around us. It may be time to think not only about a theology of our human bodies, but of the stewardship of our world.  I believe that both of these things are a vital part of the Kingdom of God.

If we know that, as Christians, our bodies are “Temples of the Holy Spirit”, that as regenerate or “saved” human beings, God’s Holy Spirit now dwells in us, that we are to be a holy nation, that we are now, in Christ to be a royal priest hood, and that Jesus is the mediator of the new Covenant in  his Blood; We no longer gain covering for sin through animal sacrifice, but through the once-for-all-time sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross. It is significant that we now memorialize that sacrifice through the sacrament of Holy Communion which is through the elements of bread and wine, and not at a table eating the sacrificial animal, who’s blood covered our sin.

I would like this to be a thoughtful conversation; therefore, I would like to set ground-rules for myself and to any who would like to participate. 

1. All communication will be done with charity. We (myself included) will assume the best of the communication and will ask for clarification if a statement is misunderstood or not clear.

2. As I am a student of philosophy, I am holding myself and any who make comments accountable to philosophical rules of argument; but since not all people understand those rules, charity will be sought and given, and there will be no offence taken for correction of a misstatement. Some rhetoric will be allowed, but try to back it up with research and statistics. Ad hoc statements and/or rants will be challenged (but again, with charity.)

3. Ideally, this will be an open, and ecumenical conversation: i.e. this is an all-comers forum. See rules #1 & 2 for guidance. If you are using a doctrinal statement as a part of your argument, clarify the statement so those who either are not from your denomination or are not Christian will understand where you are coming from.

4. As the main writer and moderator of this project: I promise to mediate all comments within a 24 hour period, and contact anyone who’s comment has not been posted for a reason why, and will allow a “second chance” (as it were) to edit and re-post. We all are busy, so let us see what we can learn from each other.

Thank you in advance for participating.

[1] My understanding of Dominionism is a theological position that God gave men (not women) sole rule over the earth; to do whatever was in God’s will (as they perceived it to be) to control and use animals and land. A form of this is within Lock’s economic theory, i.e. unused land (not farmed ect.) is wasted land. This is where the concept of “manifest destiny” had some of its origin.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Facebook: "Friend" or foe?

I remember when I was learning to use Facebook: I would see what friends were doing, where they were going, and what they were thinking. I understood nearly from the first, the time-wasting qualities of scrolling for interesting articles that people who were my friends had posted. As I used Facebook, I also learned of privacy and security issues. You really do need to be careful of what information you post, and there really are such things as Facebook “stalkers.”

It took me some time, but I did learn that this was not my living room or even a coffee shop; these people that I “friend” are not all close-enough friends to air in public my up-sets, rants or personal problem for all to see; this is tempting for a person who lives alone.

I want to keep up with real friends, and I have very little in the way of free time right now. Facebook seems like a virtual living room or coffee shop, and I see enough of other “friends” lives for me (or anyone) to feel as if this virtual relationship is a real friendship, with real support from people you begin to think of like a surrogate family; which is a danger of this virtual world. Most of the people you “friend” are not real friends. (Yes, some are real friends, but don’t miss the point here.)

A friend is a person you see in person, can hear the sound of their voice, and have shared things with you (and you with them) often enough that you really do know and trust them.

Then there are Facebook friends: some whom I have never have met in person, but I begin to feel like they are real friends. This is where the problems begin.

We all select friends in real life, based on certain criteria; and one criteria is that you actually have something in common with them. Those common things can be a job, faith, hobbies, home life, or collecting bottle caps, or belly-button lint. Whatever!

And if we really care about our friends, we want or hope that they would tell us if we are doing something wrong or dangerous, and we would do the same for them.  We hope our friends would tell us if there is something important we should know about, or even something as mundane as “Excuse me but you have a piece of spinach in your teeth.”

But what is Facebook? 

Facebook is a social-media/marketing tool.  Facebook earns money by being a direct marketing tool, customized by algorithms designed to record your likes, to post advertisements, and various media articles to interest you and your group of “friends.” It is used to collect data from all segments of society, world-wide. It was originally designed to reach groups of college students and record their likes, and follow the trends on what and where they spent money. Taping into this huge market is of prime concern to certain segments of the economy.  Facebook has grown to be a corporate entity, now traded on the stock market, and is a marketing tool used to reach all across society and see what people like, don’t like, and generally to take the “pulse” of all cultures around the world.

But what do we seem to be using Facebook for?

We treat it like a coffee shop of world ideas. We treat our Facebook friends as if they were real friends, and when our “friends” do things which are contrary to what we believe is important, or follow ideas that are counter to the ideas that we hold dear; we feel that we should behave like a good friend and point out to them when we think they are doing something wrong. After all, that is what a good friend is supposed to do.

Yet when these “friends” don’t listen, we try better words, new rhetoric, even “meme’s” and photo cards to reach and teach them. We get righteously angry with them; after all, if they are our “friend” shouldn’t they “get with the program?”

Whatever our political party, we try and educate those who don’t “listen” to us, and convince them to see things our way.

But Facebook is an international marketing tool.

If we are “for” gun control, we will try and correct those misinformed “friends” to see things the “right” way.

But Facebook is used to sell products and attract customers.

If we are some particular segment of theistic believers, we will ask leading, significant questions to tease out our particular brand of orthodoxy, and be certain to correct, (very firmly,) those who just don’t seem to “get it right.”

 But Facebook is used to collect marketing data.

If we are Atheists, we will work on our arguments (ad-hoc or reasoned,) in order to smoke out those weak minded, non-scientific “religious” folks. They certainly have it dead wrong, and need to be educated.

But according to Facebook is a “…popular free social networking website…” but the first important bullet point tell us that Facebook is a “Market place- [it] allows member to post, read and post to classified ads.”

Yes, we can chat. Yes, we can post and see what our friends are doing. Yes, we can post headlines from around the world and keep up with some current events. But Facebook is not private. It is not a closed group. Your “friends” may not be a like-minded group of internet geeks who post private comments within their closed chat-space: that is, unless you use Facebook that way. Honestly, if you really desire a closed group; then create one.

If you want to convince people of your views, take the time to meet these “Facebook” friends and become their real friend. But in the mean-time; maybe those of us with real debate skills can create closed groups to “duke it out” and really get good at rhetoric in print. There is nothing wrong with doing that.

But you are not going to convince ANYONE of ANYTHING on Facebook.
(Yes, I do see the irony of posting a link to this blog post on Facebook.)

But instead:

You may get really good at thrashing someone with words on a screen.

You may get really good at being an Internet “Troll.”

You may get really good at surrounding yourself with only those people who will “like” your posts…for you can un-friend anyone who disagrees with you.

You may get really good at “one-liner” aphorisms that can be turned into “memes.”

But remember, you will only convince those who already agree with your view i.e. preaching to the Choir. 

You will alienate those who do not agree with you, and possibly contribute to creating an even deeper polarization of society.

You cannot get good at debate by typing on a screen.  You need to do that in a group, “for real.”  Spending time perfecting your answers on Facebook is not a debate.

Bringing back the “Town Hall” style debate is another topic for another day.

Rather than give up on Facebook, why don’t we keep social-media social. Enjoy your wide-variety of friends, “like” their photos of kids, pets and vacations; but keep your rhetoric to the closed group or the real-public square, or the real lecture hall, or the real friends over for coffee in your living room.

By the way; let me know what time you will be over.
Bring some snacks, and I’ll provide the coffee or tea.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

An excerpt from C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce"

 I highly recommend this little book; it is a thoughtful analogy which presents the ideas of Heaven and Hell, for those who are not “religious”or maybe as good advice for those that are.

You can find the book here on Amazon or other on-line or local booksellers.

We will enter the story with the conversation between the ghostly narrator of the story and one of the Solid People, who calls himself George MacDonald; formerly an author admired by the narrator.

“‘but if they come here they can really stay?’ 

 ‘Aye. Ye’ll have heard that the emperor Trajan did.’
‘But I don’t understand. Is judgment not final? Is there really a way out of Hell into Heaven?’

‘It depends on the way ye’re using the words. If they leave that grey town behind it will not have been Hell. To any that leaves it, it is Purgatory. And perhaps ye had better not call this country Heaven. Not Deep Heaven, ye understand.’ (Here he smiled at me.) ‘Ye can call it the Valley of the Shadow of Life. And yet to those who stay here it will have been Heaven from the first. And ye can call those sad streets in the town yonder the Valley of the Shadow of Death: but to those who remain there they will have been Hell even from the Beginning.’

I suppose he saw that I looked puzzled, for presently he spoke again.

‘Son,’ he said, ‘ye cannot in your present state understand eternity: when Anodos looked through the door of the Timeless he brought no message back. But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective. Not only this valley but all their earthly past will have been Heaven to those who are saved. Not only the twilight in that town, but all their life on Earth too, will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell. That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that this forgiven sins and remembered sorrow take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,” and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.’

‘Is that not very hard, Sir?’

‘I mean, that is the real sense of what they will say. In the actual language of the Lost, the words will be different, no doubt. One will say he has always served his country right or wrong; and another that he has sacrificed everything to his Art; and some that they’ve never been taken in, and some that, thank God, they’ve always looked after Number One, and nearly all, that, at least they’ve been true to themselves.’

‘And the Saved?’

‘Ah, the Saved…what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back, to have been a well; and where present experience saw only salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water.’

‘Then those people are right who say that Heaven and Hell are only states of mind?’

‘Hush,’ he said sternly. ‘Do not blaspheme. Hell is a state of mind—ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind—is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.’
‘Milton was right,’ said my Teacher. ‘The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words “Better to reign in Hell that serve in Heaven.” There is always something they insist on keeping even at the price of misery. There is always something they prefer to joy—that is, to reality. Ye see it easily enough in a spoiled child that would sooner miss its play and its supper that say it was sorry and be friends. Ye call it the Sulks. But in adult life it has a hundred fine names—Achilles’ wrath and Coriolanus’ grandeur, Revenge and Injured Merit and Self-Respect and Tragic Greatness and Proper Pride.’

‘Then is no one lost through the undignified vices, Sir? Through mere sensuality?’

‘Some are, no doubt. The sensualist, I’ll allow ye, begins by pursuing a real pleasure, though a small one. His sin is the less. But the time comes on when, though the pleasure becomes less and less and the craving fiercer and fiercer, and though he knows that joy can never come that way, yet he prefers to joy the mere fondling of unappeasable lust and would not have it taken from him. He’d fight to the death to keep it. He’d like well to be able to scratch; but even when he can scratch no more he’d rather itch than not…Ye’ll understand, there are innumerable forms of this choice. Sometimes forms that one hardly thought of at all on Earth.’
‘There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God Himself…as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organizer of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all the snares.'

Moved by a desire to change the subject, I asked why the Solid People, since they were full of love, did not go down into Hell to rescue the Ghosts…One would have expected a more militant charity.

‘Ye will understand that better, perhaps before ye go,’ said he. ‘In the meantime, I must tell ye they have come further for the sake of the Ghosts than ye can understand…The sane would do no good if they made themselves mad to help madmen.’

‘But what of the poor Ghosts who never get into the omnibus at all?’

“Everyone who wishes it does. Never fear. There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.’”

C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce ( copyright 1946, C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd) excerpt from The Coplete C.S.Lewis Signature Classics (2002, New York, Harper Collins) pp 338-340

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Wonder...? some wandering lines of thought.

I wonder what would happen to the Kingdom of God,

…right here and now;

 If we would think of God in Trinity as intelligent?

What would happen if we could see God’s Son as a


What if we stared reading the words Jesus spoke

 as tied together, meaningful,

 and not un-connected


Would you believe those words?

Would you act on those words?

Or would you rather have some pastor,



 or teacher,

 shake their head in confusion

And say “Well, I’m not sure What this means?”

And laugh with them, from the middle of the pews.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Does Jesus = intelligence? A quote from Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard writes: 

"If you play a game of word association today, in almost any setting, you will collect some familiar names around words such as smart, knowledgeable, intelligent, and so forth. Einstein, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and the obligatory rocket scientists, will stand out. But one person who pretty certainly will not come up in this connection is Jesus.

Would you be able to trust your life to such a person? If this is how he seems to you, are you going to be inclined to become his student? Of course not. We all know that action must be based on knowledge, and we grant the right to lead and teach only to those we believe to know what is real and what is best.

The world has succeeded in opposing intelligence to goodness. A Russian saying speaks of those who are “stupid to the point of sanctity.” In other words, you have to be really dumb in order to qualify for saintliness.

Centuries ago, even, when Dante assigned the title “master of those who know,” he mistakenly gave it to Aristotle, not Jesus, for Jesus is holy.

Tertullian, a famous Christian leader of the second and third centuries, asked rhetorically, “What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy, the Christian with the heretic?” The correct answer, he supposed, was “Nothing whatsoever.”[1]

Here is a profoundly significant fact: In our culture, among Christians and non-Christians alike, Jesus Christ is automatically disassociated from brilliance or intellectual capacity. Not one in a thousand will spontaneously think of him in conjunction with words such as well-informed, brilliant, or smart.

Far too often he is regarded as hardly conscious. He is looked on as a mere icon, a wraithlike semblance of a man, fit for the role of sacrificial lamb or alienated social critic, perhaps, but little more.

A well-known “scholarly” picture has him wandering the hills of Palestine, deeply confused about who he was and even about crucial points in his basic topic, the kingdom of the heavens. From time to time he perhaps utters disconnected though profound and vaguely radical irrelevancies, now obscurely preserved in our Gospels.

Devotion to God is independent of human knowledge. Of course, the modern secular outlook rigorously opposes sanctity to intelligence. And today any attempt to combine spirituality or moral purity with great intelligence cause widespread pangs of “cognitive dissonance.” Mother Teresa, no more than Jesus, is thought of as smart—nice, of course, but not really smart. “Smart” means good at managing how life “really” is.

 For all the vast influence he has exercised on human history, we have to say that Jesus is usually seen as a frankly pathetic individual who lived and still lives on the margins of “real life.” What lies at the heart of the astonishing disregard of Jesus found in the moment –to-moment existence of multitudes of professing Christians is a simple lack of respect for him. He is not seriously considered or presented as a person of great ability. What, then, can devotion or worship mean, if simple respect is not included in it? Not much.

The picture the ordinary person today has of Jesus’ surroundings in his earthly lifetime seems largely determined by what this homeland, Palestine, looked like to famous nineteenth-century tourists such as Mark Twain. Their impressions of Jesus’ social setting remains today in the minds of most people. We imagine a desolate land of ruins, perhaps with a few peasants and ignorant villagers, Jesus among them. But here is no truth in this. In fact, his own society should be thought of as the equivalent in its world to Israel’s place in the world today.

In Jesus’ day Jerusalem was a glorious city, routinely flooded by hundreds of thousands of visitors, including multitudes of brilliant people from all over the ”known” world. It was a cosmopolitan environment, interacting with the entire Roman world and more. What was known and discussed anywhere was known and discussed there. It was in such surroundings that, already as a lad of twelve, he held spellbound for several days some of the best minds in the land."  (pp 134-136)

From: Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (1997, New York, Harper One)

[1] Tertullian, “The Prescriptions Against the Heretics,” subsection 7 in Early Latin Theology, The Library of Christian classics p 36. This endnote from Dallas Willard; you can find this on line in a digital copy of Nicene and anti-Nicene Fathers if you need it.