Showing posts from December, 2017

Marian musings

The wonderful Christmas story, which continues to touch, and often to inspire, generations represents the confluence of two significant streams of thought. Jewish scriptures, theology, and beliefs comprise one of these streams. The authors of Matthew and Luke both quote the Jewish Scriptures to prove that Jesus was a descendant of King David, destined to reign forever. However, some of their quotes are so strained as to be almost incomprehensible, e.g., Matthew’s use of the Jewish scriptures to argue that the Messiah would be born in Nazareth. The second stream came from the secular cultures surrounding Jewish communities. These secular cultures generally believed that great men – generals, rulers, and prophets – were born of a woman impregnated by a god. Out of the confluence of those two streams, Mary’s identity and role within Christianity underwent dramatic changes during Christianity’s two-thousand-year history. Originally, as scholars learned from close study of the old

Let it be with me according to your word

Mary Ann O’Roark was decorating for Christmas, rummaging through packing materials, unable to find the baby Jesus that belonged to the Nativity set from [Israel] given to her by her parents. She was having a hard time getting into the Christmas mood and had hoped that decorating would lift her spirits. Now she couldn’t find Jesus. Finally, she gave up in despair and decided to sit out Christmas – she wasn’t in the mood and, after all, Jesus was missing. The next morning, walking to work, Mary Ann again noticed the homeless woman with a grimy green hat who had become a regular on her New York City block. This woman often slumped in a doorway or sprawled on the steps of the stone church across the street. Homeless people usually didn’t bother Mary Ann, but the woman in the grimy green hat “was hard to take, cursing passersby and shouting at cars. That day she lurched in front of [Mary Ann], thrusting out a swollen hand, ‘Got any money?’ she rasped.” With a quick and definitive

Making peace not war with North Korea

Fear, hate, and conflict too often operate as a closed, self-reinforcing, repeating cycle. Fear feeds hate; hate feeds conflict; and conflict feeds fear. Optimally, peacemakers disrupt that destructive cycle before conflict escalates into war. Fear (perfect love casts out fear), hate (love your neighbor), and violent conflict (turn the other cheek and the prioritization of life over property) are all antithetical to Jesus’ teachings. North Korea and the United States are currently locked in an escalating cycle of fear, hate, and conflict. Briefly recapitulating North Korean and U.S. moves underscores the growing danger this cycle poses if it continues uninterrupted: ·        President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Il have repeatedly responded to one another with increasingly bellicose rhetoric. Moreover, the U.S. has heightened its defensive posture, the U.S. Department of Defense is considering ordering family members of military personnel stationed in South Korea to return t

Advent calls us to work for social justice

My reading the past few months has emphasized U.S. political history. Among the books I have read are: Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance Jean Edward Smith, Eisenhower in War and Peace Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II Jon Meacham, Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalism Robert A. Caro, The Years of LBJ: The Path to Power Barrack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance Chris Whipple, The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency Jay Parini, Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America Michael Eric Dyson, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America Robert A. Caro, Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson II Robert A. Caro, Master

Rethinking TEC's budget

The Most Rev. Michael Curry has been Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church for less than two years. Yet, while attending the Diocese of Hawai’i’s annual convention in October, I was impressed by Bishop Curry’s pervasive influence on the proceedings. His influence was especially noteworthy because Bishop Curry was not present and will not officially visit this Diocese until 2019. Evidence of his influence included: A speaker early in the proceedings repeatedly emphasized that one of his favorite quotations was from Bishop Curry ( Forgive like Jesus; love like Jesus; serve like Jesus ) A video report from the Diocesan youth attendees at the Episcopal Youth Event prominently featured Bishop Curry and his dynamic preaching Several individuals referenced Bishop Curry’s call for Episcopalians to become Jesus people. More broadly, Bishop Curry’s influence is evident across our denominational structures, organization, and programs. Illustratively, his influence is a

When history and faith intersect

When a Navy ship passes the ARIZONA Memorial, that ship renders honors as if passing another ship. The bosun of the watch pipes attention to port or starboard, as the case may be, and then everyone on deck on that side of the ship comes to attention and, at the designated moment, renders a hand salute to the ARIZONA. At first, rendering honors to a sunken ship seemed strange. Over time, I realized that the practice honored not only the one thousand one hundred and seventy-seven sailors and Marines killed in the sinking of the ARIZONA but also all who died in the attack on the seventh of December 1941. The reading from Ecclesiasticus (44:1-15) reminds us to honor not only the famous but also the unknown yet numerous ordinary, godly Israelites whose names are lost to history. This cross, constructed from metal taken from the ARIZONA’s hull, calls us to pause for a moment to honor by remembering with a brief prayer both for those who died on December 7, 1941 and the people who f

Not like me

Photos of Donald Trump in group settings greatly disturb me. The people around him all look a lot like he does: older, Caucasian, and male. I don’t have anything older Caucasian males; I myself am one. However, photos of Trump with groups comprised exclusively, or overwhelmingly disproportionately, of older Caucasian males harken back decades to when such photos were the norm because older Caucasian males dominated most spheres of life (politics, business, etc.) in the United States. Such photos do not depict who I am as a social being nor do they depict who we are as a people or should strive to be. Diversity enriches politics, business, friendships, and all other spheres of our personal and communal lives. Where are the women in these photos? Where are the people of color? Regardless of Trump’s rhetoric, the US under his leadership has moved away from being a government of, by, and for the people. Sadly, his anti-immigrant policies, along with other moves such as the


A friend, who is also a Christian, a scientist, and an ardent environmentalist, sent me the following: Americans throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to Christmas than the rest of the year. Advent, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, is the time we prepare for the joy of God entering the world as a baby. It is a beautiful reminder to us that God loved the world enough to be part of the created world with us! It can also be a reminder of how we treat the earth that God loves. If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. What if we tied a bow around our relationships and experiences to show thanks to God rather than to ribbon? If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. Nearly half the world’s toys are in America, despite making up just over 3% of the global population of children. Let’s show our love of God and our neighbor with less stuff and more lov