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Showing posts from July, 2020

Seeking beauty in hard times

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A friend, Ray Woo, took this photo from his apartment in the Honolulu building in which we both live. The view is of the Pacific at sunset the night before hurricane Douglas was forecast to strike Oahu. Thankfully, Douglas turned north and veered into open ocean. The beauty of the sunset, however, is striking.Had Douglas struck Oahu, the sunset’s beauty would in no way diminish or justify the harm the winds and rain would have caused. The Bible encourages people to seek the good that may come out of bad things. Yet the Bible never suggests or implies that the good in any way justifies the bad from which the good emerged.Similarly, suggesting that Covid-19 represents God's judgement on certain people, beliefs, or practices shows incredible hubris and terribly distorts who God is. God, in all of the world’s major religious traditions, is good and loving. God never wills bad things for creation nor increases the bad that exists. Metaphysical answers to the perennial question of “Why?…

Physical distancing

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Ujamaa tree of lifeThe “Tree of Life” or “Ujamma” a Makonde term, is carved directly from the ebony wood tree in Tanzania. The outer, original tree bark is sometimes left intact to highlight the work. In general, the tree displays how a typical African village survives by working with nature and by each man supporting one another. The figures: animals, men, women, children, huts, and trees are carved with great detail and vary from tree to tree. The work is exceptional despite the fact that ebony wood is exceedingly dense and very, very hard to carve. Certain trees exhibit a variance in color from light to dark wood which is very attractive. With the ebony tree the further you go from the center core the lighter the wood becomes. These sculptures vary in height from 1 foot to over 6 feet tall. (Photo compliments of Kathleen Norris; text accessed July 18, 2020 at http://www.tanzanianfineart.com/shop/african-carvings-tree-of-life-wide/)The Ujamaa tree of life vividly depicts our human i…

Tribalism and Jesus' parable of the sower

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Tribal conflicts characterize contemporary American life. People identify by gender or gender orientation, ethnicity or race, economic strata, by political preference or orientation, and so forth. They then reject or treat as second-rate people from other tribes.Tribal identification and conflict are not new. The Bible's oldest portions are full of tribal conflicts. For example:·Abraham’s two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, competed in a conflict that continues today in the enmity between some Jews and some Muslims[1]·Abraham’s grandsons and Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau, about whom we heard in this morning’s reading from Genesis, two tribes first identified with Israel and Edom,[2] later identified with the conflict between urban and rural, a conflict that continues today[3]·The conflict between the ten northern and two southern tribes of nation of Israel that began when Solomon died, a conflict that first manifested itself in wars between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, then morphed i…