* Light Inside: A Hallowe’en Message

(Below appears a tract I passed out with the Hallowe’en candy in 2007. “Chaos overwhelms the poor” describes that neighborhood.)

Light Inside

Hallowe’en is the night before a Christian holiday.  The name of the holiday is “All Saints’ Day.”  Years ago, they called it “All Hallows’ Day,” and the night before, “All Hallows’ Evening.”

Trick or treat, jack o’ lanterns and all the stuff with ghosts, come instead from a pagan holiday called Samhein.  These customs became attached to Hallowe’en, but are not really part of it.  Hallowe’en comes on October 31 every year.  Samhein comes on the first full moon after September 21, which can be any day between September 22 and October 19.

A jack o’ lantern is a pumpkin with the insides carved out, and a candle or other light inside.  What about the light inside of you?
Continue reading

* Jesus’ outrageous parables

(Transcribed from an e-mail I sent my mother 24 August 2010.)

Jesus said any number of things in large part, at least, for shock value.

Their outrageousness is easily lost on 21st Century students, for two reasons. First, we have heard or read these things so many times that any shock value they might have at first had for us — when we first heard them, say, perhaps at age 4 or age 5 — has long since worn off. We’re not likely to remember it, and also not likely to give the opinions of our 4- or 5-year-old selves, the credit they, in this case, deserve.

Second, by virtue of “respect for authority,” for centuries students of Chrstianity have trained themselves to ignore, deny or suppress any outrage they might feel at anything The Teacher says. Instead, one expects oneself and all one’s fellow students, approvingly, to “tip my hat … take a bow … smile and grin …”[*]

[*]The Who, “We Won’t Get Fooled Again.”


“BLESSÈD ARE YOU POOR.”
Continue reading

* 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.

* The New Age is a lot of hooey

(Reblogged 12/09/13.)

I keep telling them not to let guys sit on the bench in the shower buck naked.

They don’t listen.

So again, Friday night 08/30/13, when I went to put my stuff on the bench, here was this heavy brown smudge.  I carefully avoided it, but I told the peacekeeper, Philip, since he has access to gloves, rags and bleach, and I don’t.  He was texting.

When I came out of the shower to dry off and dress, the smudge was still there.  Philip was still texting.

This is a perfect example of why I think the New Age is just so much hooey.
Continue reading

Marketing strategies, part 2: Streams in the desert

I may be taking this too seriously.

Sometime between 1982 and 1985, Isaiah 35 was given to me as an icon of my vocation.  My understandings have changed so much since then, that it might be good to reconsider now whether this text still reflects my heart’s desire.
Continue reading

* Rainbows

Baltimore is more likely than other places, to have weather when you can see rainbows. We are coming now into a period when this is especially so. We will probably have another such time again in September.

The key to seeing rainbows is, three things have to happen at the same time:
(1) The sun is shining
(2) while it rains, and
(3) there is blue sky somewhere.

If you happen to see the sun shining while it rains, then turn your back to the sun and look for blue sky straight ahead of you. That is where the rainbow may appear. The lower the sun is in the sky, the bigger the rainbow will be. The brighter the sun is, or the harder it’s raining, the brighter the rainbow will be. You may even see two or three rainbows, one inside the other.

Lessons from the rainbow

At the time of Noah, God decided to wipe out all life on earth and start over. God made it rain for forty days and forty nights, until the whole surface of the earth was under deep water. When dry land appeared again and Noah and his people left the ark, God promised them that God would never use a flood like this, to do this, again.

God had a bow and arrows, like hunters use. As a sign of God’s promise to Noah, God said, “I have put my bow in the clouds,” so that when it (the rainbow) appears God will remember this promise.

Another important part of this story:  In our world of social turmoil — back-stabbing, injustice and crime — it can be easy to lose hope, and wonder if there is anything in the world that can make sense. God’s promise to Noah includes an important reminder of the fundamental order God has built into creation. God said:

As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night
shall not cease.

There are things you can count on.

(Reblogged 2014-08-27.)