Saturday, December 24, 2011

Minus One and Counting...

A single solitary...

One day until the Christ-mass, a time that is so short, and yet seems to stretch to infinity.

It may seem it will never come, but it's near.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Minus Two and Counting...

Two remain...

Two days until the Christ-mass.

Two days - two parents, waiting for the birth announced.

We wait.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Minus Three and Counting...

Fewer are the days...

Three days stand between us and the Christ-mass.

Three days - the number of the Trinity.

Three days - the number of the Magi.

A trio is tuning for joyous song.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Minus Four and Counting...

The days are growing short.

Four days remain before the Christ-mass takes place.

Four days - four is the number of the Gospel accounts.

Four days - four is the number of the four living creatures around the Throne.

Four days - two by two are the cardinal directions.

The day is drawing nigh.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Minus Five and Counting...

We're still counting down the days.

Five days remain before Advent is fulfilled.

Five days are all that's left as Christ-mass approaches.

Five days of waiting and hoping.

Five days - what remains to be done?

Five days - the days speed on.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Minus Six and Counting...

The countdown continues.

We're six days away from the coming of Christ-mass, the Celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Six days - the same amount of time that it took to complete the creation of all that is about us.

Six days - the time decreed for the workdays in each seven-day week.

Six days - the preparation gets into high gear, the preparation for the Celebration.

Six days - time is short.

Six days...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Minus Eight and Counting...

The countdown has begun.

It's the eighth day before Christmas. We're counting down the days until our celebration of the birth of Jesus. Anticipation is rising.

What do you look forward to this Christmas? How is your life being shaped by the impending Celebration? Is this time of waiting a hectic mess, filled with too much to do and too little time to do it in? Or are there islands of peace and calm, pockets of time when you can sit and reflect on what we're actually coming to commemorate?

Wishes to all of blessing and comfort, joy and peace.

Eight days to go. And we wait.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day, 2011

And now it's time for some gratitude...

Since today is Thanksgiving Day, I thought it would be a good exercise to list some of the things I'm thankful for this year. Without further ado, then, here we go.

I'm thankful for our Congress. In all the years I've lived, I have never seen a more dysfunctional group of men and women. Wed irrevocably to philosophical positions and pledges that make them little more than automatons spouting pre-scripted strings of words, those on the left and those on the right posture while the rest of the country goes to hell. Anyone who has the absolute brass to want to meet somewhere in between the poles of political thought - anyone who actually wants to legislate, in other words - is shut out, minimalized, marginalized, and ignored by those clustered at the polar extremes. It's this exemplary group of useless elected representatives who make me realize the old Biblical truth, that you can not trust in the will of men (and women) to benefit you in the long term; that blessings only come from g-d.

For the same reason I'm grateful for our Congress, I'm thankful for the current crop of high finance wizards, those greedy masters of the universe on Wall Street and elsewhere who think nothing of bankrupting the nation while lining their own pockets. Once again, Biblical wisdom is validated and verified. Truly, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

I'm grateful for the Occupy Wall Street (and elsewhere) movement. As disorganized and unfocused as it is, the people staging these protests point out very clearly just how out of whack things are in today's world. The percentages may be a bit off, but it's undeniable that the 1% (+/-) have done pretty well at the expense of the 99% (+/-). Greed is good. Yeah, I think g-d through his Holy Scriptures has some thoughts on that.

I'm thankful for televangelists, TV preachers of all sorts, and for Health 'n Wealth pulpit pounders, those who preach the gospel of prosperity. They shine a harsh light on the message of the carpenter from Nazareth, who again and again, said that you must die to yourself to truly live. The outrageousness of their message throws into sharp contrast what Jesus actually said, versus what they would have their followers believe. The reason they're so popular, is because they speak to a very popular idea, that the best life is the life we live here, where we can actually see and hear and touch the good things that are promised to us. Salvation is great, but I want some of my reward NOW. When you actually read what Jesus said, you see these frauds for the liars they are.

I'm grateful for the United States of America, for the nation where I live. For all the faults of her politicians, financial whizbos, and so many others, she is the nation that has offered the best hope for mankind, of balancing the competing desires of men and women into something that may actually benefit them in the long and the short run. Our culture is messy, our politics is messy, hell, we're messy. But we keep slogging on, trying to create a more perfect union. We've got miles to go before we're there, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands. But because of some well-thought-out ideas from a group of extremely talented men and women two hundred and some years ago, we have a country that I believe continues to be the best place to live on this planet.

Finally, I'm grateful for the gift of life from my g-d, for the gift of family from my parents and predecessors, and for the gift of children for my legacy. Today is a day to acknowledge all the gifts we're given. So, snarky comments and all, I am blessed. I am so thankful for all this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tax Collector

He was a tax collector.

He was despised for what he did, by much of the Jewish population at the time. As a tax collector, he was considered an outsider. He was probably literate in Aramaic and Greek, and when it came time to write his life of Jesus, early church fathers tell that it was written in Hebrew.

Today is his feast day. What can we learn from Matthew?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Drama in Three Scenes

Scene I

The young couple walked hurriedly across the Temple court. Yosef and Miryam had come to Yerushalayim to fulfill the duties required of new parents by Torah. This they had done, and now they were anxious to return home. The sun was low in the sky, and the late afternoon was already cooler.

An old man came toward them unsteadily. He reached out a shaking hand and touched the head of Miryam's first-born son. Looking intently at her, he held out his hands toward her. For no reason she could fathom, she handed Yeshua to him. He cradled the baby in his arms, gently rocking him from side to side. He looked heavenward, and began to speak.

"Now, Adonai, you have blessed your servant and may let him go in peace. I have seen with my own eyes your deliverer, visible to all, who will give light to the goyim and glory to your people Isra'el."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Triumph of the Cross

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. What does this mean to you?

I'm not a member of the Roman Catholic church, but I do the Daily Office as they do, to the best of my ability. It's a discipline that takes time to fully engage with, but I've found that I have a more serene and more gentle day when I do it, than when I don't. Go figure - praying the Psalms at more or less regular times just does that.

In the process of doing the Hours, I encounter special selections of Psalms, Canticles, and Readings for the various feasts and solemnities. Today we were celebrating the Triumph of the Cross.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Osama, Part 3

And so now we come to the end...

I wanted to comment on why we may not have felt much when we heard that Osama bin Laden had been killed by American forces back in May. Why did I delay so long posting about this? Why the long break?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Osama, Part 2

Osama bin Laden's dead, and there was cheering and fist-pumping.

Why is that?

I want to look at a few reasons why there was a celebration of sorts when the news of bin Laden's death was announced early this month. Let's begin...

Sunday, May 22, 2011



What happened? Or, more to the point, what didn't happen?

Harold Camping has been predicting for some time that the world would be Raptured on May 21, 2011, at 6:00 PM local time. The event would be accompanied by massive earthquakes, opening of graves, and other signs of divine judgment.

It didn't happen. Harold Camping was wrong.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Osama, Part 1

Osama bin Laden is dead.

How does that make you feel?

Are you elated? Satisfied? Ambivalent? Proud to be an American? Conflicted? Devoid of emotion?

If so, you're in good company, based on what I've seen posted on forums and comment boards and op-ed pieces.

There seems to be a mood at once celebratory and sober. Even as we cheer the "bringing to justice" of a man who demonstrated just what evil looks like to our generation, we begin looking over our shoulders for a reprisal attack. Even as we feel pride in the precise actions of a SEAL team, we wonder what the right response is to the killing of another person.

There doesn't seem to be much unconditional satisfaction in this event.

I'd like to look at this moral ambiguity in more detail, from a Christian perspective, over the next few evenings. For now, I'll merely point out that it seems to exist.

We'll explore the cheering and chest-thumping in the next post.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Change of Plans...

This will be short...

I had planned on addressing what I saw as a crisis of confidence in this country, when I posted my last entry back in March. However, there have been several events in my life in the intervening weeks that have delayed any follow-up posts, and have forced me to concentrate on other matters, matters more personal.

Consequently, I can't be sure when I'll be able to address that national crisis that I sense. Instead, if I do post anything, it's likely to be a more personal Lenten or post-Lenten musing.

Lent is seen in the Christian tradition as a time of fasting, of focusing on things of importance, so that our place in God's kingdom is made clearer. Such it has been for me, even though I haven't really given up anything as I have done in past Lenten seasons. I didn't give up coffee, or meat, or anything else. Instead, I stopped spending so much time surfing the internet, and focused more on insuring that I got enough sleep each night. Oh, and dealing with those personal issues that I mentioned.

So, for the next few weeks, I will likely be posting only occasionally. The essays on a national crisis will have to wait. Perhaps for that, they'll be more to the point, and more worth reading.

The love of Christ be with us all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I think we have a crisis.

I've been thinking about our national malaise lately, and I've begun to come to some conclusions. I want to examine this over the next few days. This post is intended to set the stage for what follows in later posts. I may even be able to suggest some ways to deal with this crisis, but we'll see, we'll see.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Adult Supervision

You're unique...

You're unique, just like everybody else.

That's a tag line I've heard for years, a subtle put-down of a consumer culture that feeds off our desire to make a personal statement in the way we interact with the world.

We all want to make a personal statement. We all want to stand out from the crowd. Clothing makers, accessory makers, sellers of all sorts of consumer goods, all of them try to paint themselves as the agent of that statement of individuality.

What a shuck!

The Emperor and his Clothing Budget

How are we to spend our money?

Or, more accurately, how are we to spend our children's money? And our grand-children's money, for that matter?

I ask these largely rhetorical questions because I want to consider the recently introduced Federal budget for FY 2012.

What are we looking at? Some 3.7 trillion dollars, with a deficit of about 1.7 trillion. The budget is a model, though, because it begins to deal with the national debt. As it's been said, it begins to make the deficits "manageable."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm Still Here...

I haven't posted anything in a couple of months now. What have I been doing?

Let's see - most recently, I took part in the Missouri Special Olympics Polar Plunge 2011 at Longview Lake Swimming Beach outside Kansas City. The air temperature was a balmy 41 degrees, and the water was at about 29 degrees. I was, as the announcer so poetically put it, "the dude in the diaper." I costumed myself as the New Year's baby, complete with top hat and a necklace that said "Happy New Year." Got the Golden Plunger prize for best costume, too. There were over 1100 people who dunked themselves in the lake that afternoon, and we raised over $200,000 at last count. All in all, it was a good Saturday afternoon.

I've continued to do the Daily Office throughout this time. It's harder and harder sometimes to find uninterrupted time to do all seven hours, and my practice has become rather fractured as a result. But I soldier on, and hope that at some point my days will stabilize and I can return to a more rhythmic pattern.

I've taken up making prayer beads and rosaries. I prefer to use hand-bent chain segments for the beading, rather than stringing the beads on cord or wire. It's more work, but it settles into a rhythm that is meditative and totally engaging. There are sure to be more prayer beads in my future.

Christmas was good, and the new year is a mixed bag so far. We've been undergoing economic setbacks even as we enjoy the occasional presence of our grand-daughter. She'll be four in April, and every time I see her, I can see a little more growth and maturing. All in all, the lack of some material goods is not a hardship, but helps us focus on the more important, and long-lasting, things in life.

Winter has lingered on, covering us in the Midwest with more snow than I've seen in recent years, except for last year, another season with lots of snow and cold. Anyone who doubts the reality of climate change - what's known as "global warming" - needs to look at the extremes of weather that are settling in on a regular basis. Here's the basic idea - you pump more heat into a system, you not only increase its mean temperature, but you also widen the extremes to which it swings. In other words, you get more storms, bigger storms, with hotter and colder seasonal extremes. I don't think we're going to have many "bland" years for a long, long time.

There's a short list of what has been on my mind these last couple of months. I've tried to stay clear of political commentary, because frankly, I think the whole theater of political combat is bankrupt and worthy of spiraling down the drain. What a waste of good people! There are other, more profitable arenas where I may be able to add to the discussion by commenting - politics isn't one of them.

So - how was your Christmas, and how has your new year gone so far?