Thursday, May 21, 2015

What Is Christian?

Generally, when someone says they are a Christian, they mean that they believe Jesus is God.  They might add that they try and follow Jesus' teachings.  But his teachings can be found in other spiritual paths.  With a lot of these "believers" I think something is missing.  They do not believe that Jesus did what the scriptures say he did.  Too many Christians are afraid of God, or see God as the judge who will send them to some fire for their imperfection.  They don't believe Jesus really did take away the sins of the world, or that they are really saved in spite of their faults that do not seem to go away.  They end up trying to make deals with God to get a good outcome after death.  Lots of devotions and pieties fill the bill here.  Or they look for mediators who might soften God up for us. Mary fills the bill here.  More on Mary tomorrow.  The scriptures and early teachers believed in a universal salvation.  All are saved.  God is Love.  God is Forgiveness.  Nothing is earned.  It is all gift.  We live good lives as a result of this and in Thanksgiving and praise.  Any committed fault was made up for long ago on the cross and resurrection.  Theresa of Avila said she believed in hell, but she did not think anyone was there.  She is a doctor of the church.  I am not making this stuff up.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cooking

Cooking separates humans from animals, sort of.  Animals cannot cook.  But all eating of flesh begins with violence and destruction.  The animal simply eats its prey once caught.  Humans ritualize the eating of flesh, in part to separate the violence from what we want to do, eat meat.  We set a nice table.  We may have elaborate recipes.  We can make and control fire.  All this helps to rationalize the killing, for our desired ends.  Slavery in the South, was rationalized so that the plantation owners could have the economy and lifestyle they wanted.  They were ridiculed by those who were against slavery.  Vegetarians probably see through the lifestyle of we meat eaters.  A war was fought to get rid of slavery as it existed in the south.  What would it take for me to give up meat?  Nothing yet.  But it does help me to avoid thinking I am "together" or "perfect."  I will support the beef industry tonight when I go out.  I will rationalize that God liked Abel's sheep but was not much interested in Cain's veggies.  I cannot enjoy my steak if I have guilt and shame.  Transformation?  Not today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Community

When I am in San Francisco I get the opportunity to spend time with my Paulist community.  We have a common background as seminarians and priests, with a common history.  I spent one day in a suburb, Mill Valley and Tiburon with one other  Paulist.  We sat and talked over coffee with pleasant weather and then toured and had lunch.  We had wonderful conversation.  One morning several of us Paulists had a long breakfast at home chatting about things in the Paulist community as well as the Church in the USA and Rome.  Some guys, not me, are well connected with what is going on.  With age, we seem to relax better and share more deeply with one another.  I think that it is all part of a spiritual growth that we don't notice until times such as I have mentioned above.  I am bonded with the Paulists in ways that I am not with diocesan priests in other places.  There is something about "community" in religious community that is hard to define, but felt in experience.

Monday, May 18, 2015

AOL

The younger generation of techies are showing compassion rather than judgment.  AOL is being bought by Verizon.  I am an AOL customer and an active one.  Some young people were interviewed by a radio station about their AOL accounts, which they had forgotten they even had.  I guess young techies have moved on.  But I was gratified when they said that we who still had and used and payed for AOL were simply "older" people.  This is a fact in my case, not a judgment.  The techie did not say we are "stupid" or "uneducated."  We are just old.  Now if you are young and using AOL, you might have a real problem.  Being old we can be frightened to change and this is OK.  See, youth and old technology don't go well together or so the techie seems to imply.  I try not to judge elderly people in their prayer style and habits.  It is the way they connect to the Divine, just like I connect with AOL.  Does God do email?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Enjoy

AsI was leaving the gym, I saw a notice on the door asking, "Did you enjoy your workout?"  I thought to myself, "Of course not."  If I enjoyed the workout it would not be a workout worth going to the gym.  Good workouts are about pain and suffering.  My workout was tough.  Then I got to thinking.  What if as you were leaving the house and a sign asked, "Did you enjoy your family, spouse, friend today?"  You might feel badly if you said they caused pain and suffering!  Success in much of our life is about enjoying the gifts given to us.  Is marriage pain and suffering on a daily basis?  Is my priesthood? Is school? So if I want some joy in other parts of my life to make me feel that I am living them well, why not my time in the gym?  My coach says to enjoy my running.  Maybe he is right?  I am gifted to be able to run at all.  Enjoy the time I have.  Enjoy the people in my life.  I look forward to my next visit to the gym.  Well, maybe a little suffering.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Disclosure

My invoice from my cell phone provider seems to go up a few cents each month.  So I decided to check out my bill online.  I saw the following:
1G for $30
2G for $40
I have 1G for $40
Say what?  The G stands for gigabit.  I went to the local store of my provider here in San Francisco.  The customer service person looked at my invoice on her pad and said yes, I have 1G for $40.  So I showed her the invoice as I have it on my cellphone.  Then she said, "Oh yes, we are having a promotion."  I asked myself why this was not mentioned.  I then asked her, " Can I get this 1G for $30 instead of paying $40?"  She said yes and changed my contract.  She said, "We just cannot get in touch with all our customers and tell them about this.  It is a promo for new customers."  But I could get on it none the less.  It is an example to me of how the service business is shrinking away from serving the customer/client and serving instead the corporate bottom line.  I am in the service business too.  I have to keep in mind that the person in front of me is my primary concern.  How can I truly help them with their problem or question.  Jesus did not hold back.  He would never had been much good as a CEO in my cellphone provider.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Not In Boulder Toto

I got on the train that takes me from the Oakland airport to San Francisco.  In the train car I was the only white person, and no English was being spoken.  Other languages and cultures were represented on this rather full car.  I realized how international and mixed is the culture of the Bay area.  In Denver, when I get on the airport bus to Boulder, it is mostly anglo people.  There may be one or two Asians going to the University.  The Church is a lot like the Bay area, with people of all different types.  It is a world wide church and every conceivable ethnic group is represented in the Bay area.  It is a good reminder for me.  Travel can do that.  God loves all God's creation.  God seems to like to make differences but underneath there is a sameness.  This coastal city helps me to keep this in mind.