Showing posts from August, 2019

Our Mother, the Church

St. Augustine advocated reading all Scripture as allegory. In the last several centuries, that interpretive principle has largely fallen into disrepute. In general, allegory allows an interpreter too much latitude, resulting in texts being twisted and misinterpreted to serve the interpreter’s purpose. Thus, in four plus decades of preaching, I’ve never preached a sermon based upon an allegorical understanding of a text when the text was not an allegory. This morning, however, I want to approach today’s gospel reading as an allegory in spite of the incident’s almost certain historicity. When I first looked at the passage to prepare this sermon, my immediate thought was that the woman symbolizes the Church. [1] The Greek word ecclesia translated into English as church is a feminine noun. In the fourth chapter of his letter to the Galatians, Paul identifies Jerusalem as our heavenly mother, another metaphor for church. [2] Identifying the woman with the church is a reasonabl

Healing healthcare

In the gospel reading for next Sunday (Luke 13:10-17), Jesus heals a woman who has been crippled for eighteen years. In biblical numerology, the number eighteen symbolizes bondage. The number eighteen also connotes a long time. Pursuing the list of the world’s largest corporations by global revenue, I was surprised to discover that four of the ten largest U.S. corporations are healthcare focused: UnitedHealth Group, McKesson, CVS Health and AmerisourceBergen. Altogether, seven of the world’s one hundred largest corporations are in the U.S. healthcare industry (pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, health insurance, etc.). No healthcare focused corporation based in another nation made the list of the one hundred largest corporations. [1] The list puts the size and economic power of the U.S. healthcare industry into perspective. No wonder the U.S. has the world’s most expensive healthcare and only mediocre results as measured by patient outcomes. Persons who live in the U.S. a


The question of whether to support or oppose building the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the island of Hawai’i, has recently attracted the national media’s attention and preoccupied a significant portion of The Episcopal Church in Hawai’i (TECH). The controversy came to a head in July when TMT opponents physically prevented construction crews and their equipment from using the only access road to the site. Over three thousand protesters have spent time in the encampment that blocks access. In spite of final court approval and issuance of all relevant permits, construction of TMT atop Mauna Kea now appears unlikely. As an ethicist, a mediator and a Christian priest, I offer three observations. First, the discipline of ethics offers little help in resolving ethical dilemmas such as this one that have valid, rational arguments on each side. The two sides rely upon different, incompatible frameworks to justify their conflicting p

What is your attitude about money?

Recently, I read Ken Honda’s book, Happy Money: The Japanese Art of Making Peace with Your Money . I don’t recommend reading the book. I do recommend pondering his basic question, “What is your attitude about money?” Honda suggests that many, perhaps most, people live with attitudes of fear and anxiety about money. These people fear they will have insufficient money to fulfill their wants and needs; they are anxious that their money will not afford them adequate security against hunger, houselessness, etc. He contends that our individual attitudes of fear and anxiety originate in a broader societal attitude of scarcity. Never will there be enough money for all to be happy and for all to live abundantly. Honda believes that money symbolizes energy. A person may achieve happiness by becoming a “money magnet,” i.e., someone whose persona attracts the flow of money. Once a person becomes a money magnet, then s/he person needs to manage their money in a way that produces personal ha