Dreams and Dying, Part 1

Dreams and Dying, Part 1 I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28 I do not regularly journal about my dreams, although I believe it can be a helpful practice. Much has … Continue reading Dreams and Dying, Part 1

Grief, Part 5

Grief, Part 5 If a patient has had enough time and has been given some help in working through the previously described stages, he will reach a stage during which he is neither depressed nor angry about his “fate”…He will have mourned the impending loss of so many meaningful people and places and he will … Continue reading Grief, Part 5

George Floyd and Jesus

George Floyd and Jesus  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a … Continue reading George Floyd and Jesus

Grief, Part 4

Grief, Part 4  When the terminally ill patient can no longer deny his illness, when he is forced to undergo more surgery or hospitalization, when he begins to have more symptoms or becomes weaker and thinner, he cannot smile it off anymore. His numbness or stoicism, his anger and rage will soon be replaced with … Continue reading Grief, Part 4

Grief, Part 3

Grief, Part 3  “When the first stage of denial cannot be maintained any longer, it is replaced by feelings of anger, rage, envy, and resentment.” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD[1] According to Swiss-American psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the initial stage of dying is denial and isolation, which I reflected upon in last week’s Life Note. The next stage, … Continue reading Grief, Part 3

Grief, Part 2

Grief, Part 2  “Those who have the strength and the love to sit with a dying patient in the silence that goes beyond words will know that this moment is neither frightening nor painful, but a peaceful cessation of the functioning of the body. Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of … Continue reading Grief, Part 2

Dying Before We Die, Part 3

Dying Before We Die, Part 3  No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins. Mark 2:22 As I close this trail of thoughts about dying-before-we-die, I wish to focus on … Continue reading Dying Before We Die, Part 3

Dying Before We Die, Part 2

Dying Before We Die, Part 2  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life…nor things present, nor things to come…will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8::38-39 Admittedly, the concept of dying-before-we-die is not easily grasped. It might better be titled consciously-letting-go-before-we-must. Done right, … Continue reading Dying Before We Die, Part 2

Dying Before We Die

Dying Before We Die  Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12::24 The concept of dying before we die has nothing to do with unreasonably hastening our physical death. Rather, it … Continue reading Dying Before We Die

Cultural Fear of Death, Part 4

Cultural Fear of Death, Part 4  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 I write this in the midst of Holy Week – the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. In the Christian story, Jesus enters Jerusalem as a hero, only to be mocked, beaten, … Continue reading Cultural Fear of Death, Part 4

Cultural Fear of Death, Part 3

Cultural Fear of Death, Part 3  …it is appointed for mortals to die once... Hebrews 9:27 Last week I reflected on the financial and emotional costs of dying. My conclusions were that (1) dying is expensive, (2) dying is emotionally trying, and (3) dying is even more expensive when death is prolonged for reasons other … Continue reading Cultural Fear of Death, Part 3

Cultural Fear of Death, Part 2

Cultural Fear of Death, Part 2  For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Philippians 1:21 Last week I referred in passing to the high cost of dying. The costs can be financial, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual. Those costs go up when death is needlessly delayed in ways that are based more on … Continue reading Cultural Fear of Death, Part 2

Cultural Fear of Death

Cultural Fear of Death  I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.” Psalm 82:6-7 We live in a culture that is, in my opinion, unreasonably fearful of death. We even avoid the word, saying someone passed away or crossed … Continue reading Cultural Fear of Death

Reconciling NDEs and Religious Tradition

Reconciling NDEs and Religious Tradition  I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36 Can we reconcile the reports of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) with scripture … Continue reading Reconciling NDEs and Religious Tradition

After Near-Death Experiences

After Near-Death Experiences And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:11 I want to share one more Near-Death Experience (NDE), a particularly powerful account because it comes from a neurosurgeon, … Continue reading After Near-Death Experiences

Near Death Experiences, Part 4

Near Death Experiences, Part 4  After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1 Last week, I began reviewing some of … Continue reading Near Death Experiences, Part 4

Near Death Experiences, Part 3

Near Death Experiences, Part 3  But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 2 Peter 3:8 Reports of near-death experiences (NDEs) are the narratives told by those who have experienced clinical death, witnessed an afterlife, and … Continue reading Near Death Experiences, Part 3

Near-Death Experiences, Part 2

Near Death Experiences, Part 2  The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.” Isaiah 38:1b Last week I shared three stories of my experiences with loved ones who were near to death. My … Continue reading Near-Death Experiences, Part 2

Near Death Experiences

Near Death Experiences  The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.” Isaiah 38:1b When discussing near death experiences, many people think of the stories of those who went through an episode of clinical … Continue reading Near Death Experiences

Heavenly Allegories

Heavenly Allegories  And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. Genesis 2:8a While the Bible has many references to heaven, both as an afterlife and as a present state of being, two of its most well-known stories can also be read as allegorical stories of heaven. The first is found in … Continue reading Heavenly Allegories

The Heaven of Jesus

The Heaven of Jesus  To you it has been given to know the secrets (mysteries) of the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 13:11 According to the Gospels, Jesus said a lot about heaven. Consistent with his method of teaching, he did not give concrete descriptions of or direct answers about heaven. Rather, he provided thought-provoking images … Continue reading The Heaven of Jesus

Free Will and Hell

Free Will and Hell  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:32 No series of reflections on hell would be complete without mentioning free will. Among the amazing … Continue reading Free Will and Hell

The Pit and Purgatory

The Pit and Purgatory  Can a blind person lead a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? Luke 6:19 One of the most common biblical reference to contemporary images of Hell today is the Pit. When we do not count the pit references that seem to mean a regular hole in the ground … Continue reading The Pit and Purgatory

Sheol and Hades

Sheol and Hades  For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of perdition assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me, the snares of death confronted me. 2 Samuel 22:5-6 The term Sheol is commonly used in the Old Testament as a synonym for what many consider as Hell today. Hades appears a handful … Continue reading Sheol and Hades

Images of Hell

Images of Hell   Then he will say to those at his left hand, “you that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…And these will go away into eternal punishment. Matthew 25:41,46 I grew up with the image of hell as a hot place where bad people … Continue reading Images of Hell

Biblical Resurrection

Biblical Resurrection  Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise, O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! Isaiah 26:19 To wrap up this series of reflections on resurrection, I will consider a few of the biblical references to it. As I mentioned in an earlier Life Note, I do not find the … Continue reading Biblical Resurrection

Resurrection, Part 4

Resurrection, Part 4  For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. Romans 12:4-5 Last week, I reflected on the possibility that those who have passed before us … Continue reading Resurrection, Part 4

Resurrection, Part 3

Resurrection, Part 3  Indeed, they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. Luke 20:36 The reoccurring life pattern of birth, growth, decline, death, and rebirth is found all around us, from trees and shrubs to animals to mountains to the changing seasons to our … Continue reading Resurrection, Part 3

Resurrection, Part 2

Resurrection, Part 2  While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Luke 24:36-37 It is ironic, though not intentional, that this reflection will first be published on Halloween. It may not … Continue reading Resurrection, Part 2

Resurrection, Part 1

Resurrection, Part 1  After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again. Luke 18:33 For Christians, the reference point for resurrection is found in the story of Jesus, as recorded in the Bible. Throughout the Gospels, he predicts that he will be killed and, on the third … Continue reading Resurrection, Part 1

Praying With One Eye Open (Reprise)

Praying With One Eye Open (Reprise)  Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with Thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well… Colossians 4:2-3a Throughout this series of Life Notes I have presented the metaphor of praying with one eye open in a negative light. I have used it as an illustration … Continue reading Praying With One Eye Open (Reprise)

Praying With Both Eyes Closed

Praying With Both Eyes Closed But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. Psalm 69:13 In January of this year, I began this series of Life Notes with a reflection about praying with one eye open. I … Continue reading Praying With Both Eyes Closed

Divine Violence, Part 3

Divine Violence, Part 3  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the words of him who sent me while it … Continue reading Divine Violence, Part 3

Divine Violence, Part 2

Divine Violence, Part 2  For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come… Mark 7:21a Last week I reflected on how we can read the violent sections of the Bible in a metaphorical way that helps us reconcile a loving God with a sometimes violent text. This method of biblical interpretation … Continue reading Divine Violence, Part 2

Divine Violence, Part 1

Divine Violence, Part 1  Let burning coals fall on them! Let them be flung into pits, no more to rise! Psalm 140:10 There are a number of methods to interpret what we read in the Bible and other sacred texts. One common method, although it is relatively recent in Christian history, is the literal interpretation. … Continue reading Divine Violence, Part 1

A Beautiful Soul, Part 3

A Beautiful Soul, Part 3 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. John 15:15 The last two weeks I have shared my … Continue reading A Beautiful Soul, Part 3

A Beautiful Soul, Part 2

A Beautiful Soul, Part 2  Then Jesus said, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 Last week, I began a series of reflections about the pure essence within each of us – our beautiful soul. I quoted lyrics from Don McLean’s song, Vincent, that reflect how there is … Continue reading A Beautiful Soul, Part 2

Anxiety and Death, Part 2

Anxiety and Death, Part 2 Therefore, do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we wear?” …indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:31-32 While I do not wish to pile more guilt or shame onto the already overburdened shoulders of my anxious brothers and sisters, I … Continue reading Anxiety and Death, Part 2

Dreams and Dying, Part 3

Dreams and Dying, Part 3 Everything that’s good, everything that’s abiding, everything that’s worthy, everything that’s generative about a human being arises on the other side of our fear of death. Cynthia Bourgeault [1] Throughout this discussion I have presented dreams as if they can be interpreted literally, or that they can always be understood … Continue reading Dreams and Dying, Part 3