Pathos and Responsibility

Both the Lord in Genesis and Jesus in Mark’s gospel are presented in today’s readings as apparently frustrated. In the very anthropomorphic presentation of God in Genesis, the Creator is presented as experiencing regret for having created free human beings. In Mark’s description of Jesus’ attempting to teach his disciples to avoid the hypocrisy and self-alienation of the Pharisees and Herod, we hear of the pain that the disciples’ obduracy evokes in him. It is striking to ponder the fact that Jesus and God might experience the pathos that is so painful an aspect of our own experience. It is[read more]

Why Are You Resentful and Crestfallen?

In his view our basic human task in life is to seek and then give form gradually and tentatively, in dialogue with our world and our times, to “the unique image of Christ [we] are called to realize.” Integrity, meaning, purpose, and consonance flow from our faithfulness to this life task.[read more]

Unfettered Speech

As a developing child, I was very slow to begin to speak. Although my parents told me about it, we never really spoke about what might have contributed to this, aside from my mother saying the pediatrician would always encourage her by saying that I would begin to speak when it was the right time for me. Now I can well imagine that a part of my hesitancy was the birth defect that would not be repaired until I was five or six. This made it difficult for me to make certain sounds, and it also, I think evoked anxiety[read more]

Shame and Prayer

In countless commentaries on the encounter in Mark’s gospel between Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman, much is made of her faith and her perseverance. And so should it be. Even as Jesus at first seems to rebuff her, her faith, hope, and love for and of her daughter lead her to continue to plead with Jesus until he relents and, because of her perseverance, heals her daughter. The very brief story, however, also gives us insight into what in the woman’s character allows for such persevering prayer and so can teach us a foundational disposition for our own practice of[read more]

Being and Doing

Some philosophers see anxiety as that affect that constitutes what is unique in human experience. We are anxious because, of all creatures, we are aware that we are going to die. And so, we develop our own understanding of life and world, our own particular fruit which comes from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We come to see the world in light of the good, whatever avoids death and evil, whatever raises awareness of or concern about our own death. We long to return to that time of life when the reality of death was hidden from[read more]

Generosity and Love

Today’s reading from 1 John tells us that we are to love one another in the way that God has loved us. The nature of this love of God for us is seen and known, we are told, in God’s giving of Jesus, the very life of God, to us, “so that we might live through him.” God does not love us because we have loved God, but rather in pouring out God’s self to us “as atonement for our sins.” Love, according to the author of this letter, is not a contract; it is not a response to another[read more]

Testing The Spirits

Beloved ones, do not have faith in every spirit, but test the spirits — whether they are from God — because many false prophets have gone out into the cosmos.  By this you know the Spirit of God:  every spirit that confesses that Jesus the Anointed has come in flesh is from God, and every[read more]