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

A Beautiful Soul, Part 1

A Beautiful Soul, Part 1  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, that I know very well. Psalm 139:14 In 1970, singer/songwriter Don McLean wrote what would become the mega-hit song, Vincent. Millions of people, myself included, were obsessed with this poetic story set to music about the … Continue reading A Beautiful Soul, Part 1

Bits and Bytes

Bits and Bytes  Desire without knowledge is not good, and one who moves too hurriedly misses the way. Proverbs 19:2 I took a computer programming class in college in the 1970’s,. The lone computer at the university was the size of a small house with a fraction of the computing power of our mobile phones … Continue reading Bits and Bytes

A Den of Thieves

A Den of Thieves  Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer; but … Continue reading A Den of Thieves

Dealing With Dharma

Dealing With Dharma  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them. Ecclesiastes 7:14 The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word, dharma (dar’-mah), is “the law.” It … Continue reading Dealing With Dharma

The Second Arrow

The Second Arrow  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. Proverbs 15:1-2 All human beings possess a secret wisdom-power. It is not secret because it is hidden but because it is so seldom used. … Continue reading The Second Arrow

Praying the Details

Praying the Details  Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not lose heart. Luke 18:1 I tend to think of God as a big-picture being. By this I mean to say that God is unfathomably expansive, inclusive, and larger-than-life. Such a God would not get bogged down in the … Continue reading Praying the Details

Walking Prayer

Walking Prayer  Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisble though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. Romans 1:20 I have heard and believe that the original Bible is creation itself. In other words, for those desiring a knowledge of God in … Continue reading Walking Prayer

Praying Together

Praying Together  Pray then in this way… Matthew 6:9a Earlier this year I spent several days with a group of Benedictine monks south of Boston. I was allowed to join them during parts of their daily schedule, including the five daily worship services. One part of most worship services was what they consider praying together, … Continue reading Praying Together

Silent Prayer

Silent Prayer  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26 Most of us learned to pray with words, by which I mean we spoke our prayers. Because language is how we … Continue reading Silent Prayer

Difficult Decisions

Difficult Decisions  I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16 I learned the most useful life lessons from a professor in graduate … Continue reading Difficult Decisions

Finding Spirit in Our Surroundings

Finding Spirit in Our Surroundings  Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. Psalm 139:7-8 A primary reason, I believe, we live in such a lonely, isolated, and narcissistic society … Continue reading Finding Spirit in Our Surroundings

A Contemplative Life

A Contemplative Life  For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.  Isaiah 30:15 What exactly is a contemplative life? How is it different from a regular life? Most of our lives are too busy to … Continue reading A Contemplative Life