* The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:

14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24 “Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

26 “But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’[”]

On the one hand, I don’t believe Jesus ever said these words. (Link) On the other hand, I firmly believe in the principles expressed, and will have occasion to refer to this text many times.

* Prayer is work, too.

(Reblogged 12/02/13.)

Saint Benedict ran a monastery.  He ran into the problem that many monks wanted to spend all their time praying and studying, and not do any of the dirty manual labor — housekeeping, tending livestock, working in the fields — needed to keep the place going. So he adopted and enforced the motto, Laborare est orare — “Work is prayer.”

In excess, religious study can become a drain on society’s resources.  Many Haredi, or “ultra-orthodox,” men in Israel want to spend all their time in religious study instead of earning any money.  (Article.)  Meanwhile, a majority of them live on welfare, with eight to fifteen children.  This places a burden on the remainder of society that that economy can no longer bear.

What about me?
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* The power of presence

[Note, 08/15/13: Releasing this now as I will have another post on similar topics in the very near future.]

Wednesday afternoon 07/03/13 I stepped into the shower and said, “OK, what will I think about?” The answer came, “Think about nothing. Give yourself completely to this activity, this experience.”

And at once, for the first time in weeks, I felt the boost that comes from conserving one’s energies, when they are no longer being drained by attention to things distant from here and now and what I myself can do.

This is the power of presence.

[Notes to follow up on in the future:
– Scott Morrison
– Brother Lawrence: silence; feelings
– Forgive us our trespasses
– Take no thought
– The needle’s eye
– Just for today
– Serenity prayer
———
– Be here now
– Wherever you go, there you are
Conspiracy Theorists:  America’s Lost Sheep?
Was There a Jesus? If So, What Was He Like?]

(Reblogged 05/21/14.)

* Jacob’s ladder 08/14/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

 1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
 2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  Details here.
 3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  Details here.
 4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  Details here.
 5. Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Details here.
 6. Cut loose the losers. Continue reading

The Zimmerman Verdict: Get Over It

Zimmerman protesters raid Wal-Mart, stop freeway

The world will not turn itself upside down to please you.

Neither will the law.

Neither will the facts.

Neither will the fact that the law is what it is.

Nor the fact that, under American law, a jury verdict is prima facie (Go ahead, look it up!) correct.

Under the rules of due process, the lawful evidence was presented to a competent jury. This was not so with TV news or radio talk shows.

Moreover, in civil suits, the standard of proof is “a preponderance of the evidence,” but in criminal trials — all criminal trials — it is much higher, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This standard is so high I wonder that any criminal conviction is ever obtained. Thus in a very similar local case here in Baltimore, an off-duty police officer was recently acquitted in the strangling death of a black teen.
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* When you can’t get what you want

There is a song from The Sound of Music that relates; it concludes, “… I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Wednesday morning I stood outside McDonald’s having my last smoke before leaving.  I considered that as soon as I got to the library, I’d need to count my pennies and plan spending for the rest of the week.  I pondered whether or not to buy a soda on my way there.  I’d had some unusual spending earlier in the week, and faced some more unusual spending in connection with the 4th of July (The library’s closed.).  The wisdom of having bought or not bought a soda at this time would depend on the outcome of that planning.

I decided not to buy a soda at this time.  If I had enough cash left, according to the plan, I could enjoy a soda later in the week.

This isn’t sacrifice; that’s a topic I must discuss in later posts.  It’s a matter instead of delaying gratification; a decision to forego a pleasure now for the sake of possibly having the pleasure later.  This is an important strategy in learning stewardship (right management of one’s resources) and in improving one’s lot in life.

It still leaves me without a soda, when I want a soda.  What to do?
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