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Showing posts from July, 2019

How big is your worldview?

How big is your worldview?
I write looking out over an urban area, beach park, and expansive views of the Pacific Ocean framed by Oahu’s mountains, all of which are eroded remnants of long dormant volcano craters. I generally read the New York Times, Washington Post and the Guardian (a British newspaper) every day. Although the reporting covers the world unequally, articles cover the permanently inhabited continents. My world’s boundaries extend far beyond the small Pacific island on which I live.
Before I write, I generally circumambulate the beach park that I can see from my window, a walk of about four miles. At ground level, my view toward the ocean is largely limited to grass, sand, palm trees, beachgoers, a lagoon formed by a coral reef and the ocean for a few miles beyond the reef.
While walking one day this week, I mused about globalization. In the eighteenth century, communication moved at the speed of a person, perhaps aided by a horse or sail powered vessel. Relatively few…

Martha or Mary?

While he was Dean of Duke Divinity School, L. Gregory Jones and his eleven-year-old son “were driving home from soccer practice. [He] was talking with his son...about his team and the drills they had done that evening. [The Dean] did not anticipate the turn [their] conversation was about to take.
“‘What does Divinity School do anyway?’ [the son] asked....
“[Jones] told [his son] that a Divinity school is a place where people go to learn how to become ministers. [He] mentioned the name of some ministers [his son] knew, then added ‘They came to divinity school so that they could study the Bible, learn how to preach and lead worship, and develop the skills necessary to be ministers of a congregation.’
“‘Oh, ’he replied. [The Dean] thought this had settled the matter. But then [his son] spoke again. ‘Dad,’ he asked, ‘Don’t you think a divinity school ought to spend more time learning about God?’”[1]
That story has the same message as this morning’s gospel lesson.[2] Like Martha and Dean …

Who is my neighbor?

A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, which we just heard in today's gospel reading.[1] She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would catch the drama. Then, she asked the class, "If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded, and bleeding, what would you do?" A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, "I think I'd throw up."[2]
From Jericho to Jerusalem is about twenty miles. The southwesterly pre-Roman road descended thirty-six hundred feet in elevation. Long parts of it traversed wilderness infested by notorious robbers.
Jesus implicitly criticizes two figures in his parable who had important religious roles. Levites cared for the temple; priests offered sacrifices. Hopefully, Jesus is not commenting about all religious leaders. If so, Ha’aheo, I, the altar guild, lectors, eucharistic ministers, and so forth are all in trouble. Hopefully, Jesus was painting a contrast between, on …

Three strange sayings

The second part of this morning’s gospel reading contains three strange, widely misinterpreted, sayings.[1]
In response to someone promising to follow Jesus wherever he goes, Jesus replies, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." This saying is not a glorification of being houseless nor, contrary to John Wesley, an argument for clergy to move frequently.
A twelve-year-old boy’s father assigned him some yard work. The boy hired his six-year-old brother to do the work for him. He told the six-year-old that his father had paid him a dollar to do the work, and if the six-year-old would do the job, he would let him hold the dollar until suppertime. The little kid worked hard all afternoon and got the job done. The big brother, true to the bargain, gave him the dollar, saying "You can hold this until suppertime; then you have to give it back."
The father, a wealthy banker who worked seven days a week, came home la…

Independence Day and Veterans

A friend, another military veteran, told me that often he felt angry when people thanked him for his military service. I have since noticed that I sometimes react with uncertainty, discomfort, or even anger. After reflection, I identified several different sources for these reactions.
First, the comment “Thank you for your service” often seems gratuitously glib. I’m proud of my military service. I enjoyed performing a job that was personally rewarding and that allowed me to make a difference in people’s lives while supporting a cause greater than self-interest. Many times, the thanks come from people in such an oft-handed manner that I wonder if the person has ever really thought about the sacrifices that people in uniform make almost daily, e.g., the long hours with no overtime pay, frequent and extended separations from loved ones, and going into harm’s way. I wonder how many of the people thanking me begrudge paying their taxes, would never consider volunteering for the military, an…