Twice late last month – once on Christmas eve – I had “conversations” about religion on Facebook. It’s often unsatisfying, because I am a believer in spite of uncertainty, and these folks are usually convinced of their rightness.
Oddly, both ended up involving the Biblical phrase “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, render unto God what is God’s.” Without getting into the whole back-and-forth, one guy insisted that the verses, appearing in all three of the synoptic Gospels (all, except John), meant that we are directed to obey earthly authority, pay taxes, and the like.
I like to look for less familiar text for Martin Luther King’s birthday. Unfortunately, soundbites from his I Have a Dream speech, for instance, have been so torn from its context as to make it unrecognizable.
A Knock at Midnight (found here [PDF]) was delivered on 14 September 1958. It has some Cold War references that I removed, not because there aren’t modern day equivalents, but for clarity, and an attempt at brevity. The text was based on Luke 11:5-6, RSV: “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”? It’s all MLK until the end.
Although this parable is concerned with the power of persistent prayer, it may also serve as a basis for our thought concerning many contemporary problems and the role of the church in grappling with them. It is midnight in the parable; it is also midnight in our world, and the darkness is so deep that we can hardly see which way to turn…
The day after Thanksgiving, I found myself at the flagship Macy’s store in Manhattan with The Wife, The Daughter, my eldest niece, her husband, and a couple of their friends. I also saw a guy I knew from Albany walk by.
Obviously I didn’t post anything, and frankly it got lost in my e-mails. Then Arthur wrote about it, and I was going to let it go as a topic. Moreover, while I appreciate the sentiment of NALT, I never like things identified by what they are NOT. Quirky, I know.
Growing up in the 1960s in the United States, I started to wonder about the validity of saying the Pledge of Allegiance. That “liberty and justice for all” part seemed a bit, let’s just say, farfetched, with discrimination based on race, gender, economic condition, and so on. It was explained to me, though, that it was not a pledge to what is, but rather what the ideal nation could be. Hmm. Well, OK.
You may not know the name Reza Aslan, but you might have heard about the controversy about an interview that FOX News religion report Lauren Green did with him about his book Zealot, about the life of Jesus. She questioned how a Muslim could write about Jesus, and he kept repeating his extensive credentials as a religious scholar. The storm over her amateurish piece helped the sales of his book reach #1 on the New York Times best seller list.
There’s this website Curious as a Cat, and it asks one to three questions each week. Here are some from 2006 and 2007 I deigned to answer.
1. What is the one experience in your life that has caused the most pain?
Physical pain. Tie between a broken rib and oral surgery. Emotional, surely an affair of the heart.
2. If you had to pick one thing, what would you say is the single thing that can destroy a soul?
Telling so many lies that you start thinking it’s the truth.
3. What one thing always speaks deeply to you, to your spirit, no matter your mood or what else is going on in your life?
Music, always. I hear it all the time. Sometimes it’s something I’ve heard recently, but more often it’s a tune suitable for the moment.