Blessing and Other Words

I love studying languages and how the words change in pronunciation and meaning over time. Sometimes it can be instructive to back to an ancient source to get a better understanding of the modern term once we know where it came from.

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Imagine This

Imagine the following conversation between a physician and your family. The situation is that grandma is dying. She has stage 4 metastatic cancer spread over her vital organs. She has emphysema from decades of smoking. She is obese and diabetic. The cancer in her brain has produced dementia. Her breathing has slowed to the occasional big sigh followed by nothing. Every time the family thinks it is her last breath. The smell in the room is unmistakable.

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The Self-Made Man (or Woman)

One of the persistent myths in the American psyche is the idea that we are individual, autonomous beings, entirely independent and capable of making independent moral decisions. In some tropes, the myth is further extended to imply that we are self-made, some of us pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps. Those who subscribe to this myth believe they achieved everything on their own. They owe no debt or gratitude to other people. They do not stand on the shoulders of giants, they stand on their own two feet.

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Trees

In my twenties, while in graduate school, I took a six-week trip paddling canoes with five other colleagues to the Arctic Circle. I will never forget the first week or so where, in the pristine wilderness of central Canada, we heard nothing but chain saws during the long arctic daylight. The rivers had a buffer of several hundred yards where trees could not be felled, but beyond that zone, it was cut cut cut. One Sunday edition of the New York Times requires five acres of Canadian pine woods to print.

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Technology

If Jesus had appeared in Palestine a few centuries earlier, there would be no Christianity today. Why do I say that? Because the infrastructure the Romans built for trade including roads, shipping, schools, military, and governance, all enabled the rapid spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

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The Canary in the Coalmine

I don’t know if miners really used caged birds to warn of oxygen depletion in mines or whether the idea is apocryphal. Since politics has prevailed over sensible science lately by curtailing COVID-19 test increases, we need a canary. At the University of Arizona recently, the canary of COVID testing turned out to be sewage.

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Future Grace Part 1

I was once heavily recruited to be an Episcopal Church planter in Columbia, Missouri. The three-day process with the bishop, canon and other people included several sessions of interviews and testing with a psychologist. The diocese was applying some industrial testing methods to determine if their candidates had the right mix of entrepreneurial characteristics. Surprise, I maxed out that part. I was the only candidate to have started and run two companies that were sold to much larger, publicly traded companies.

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Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

Although this maxim had been in use more than a century, it was first explained in the early 400s. And, while it is not an official doctrine of the church, it is an observation and an understanding that is vital to a faithful life. In a nutshell, “Lex orandi …” means the “law” (lex) in which we pray shapes the law of what we believe. Or, “How we pray shapes what we believe.”

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Solving Interesting Problems

There is a new kind of computer being developed these days that is unlike any computer ever built. All modern computers are just bigger, faster and, smaller variations of the Von Neuman vacuum tube behemoths of the late 1940s. But the new kid on the block is a “Quantum Computer” that runs near absolute zero (-459 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature and whose small number of bits can each represent many possible states at the same time. A random number problem solved by IBM’s largest conventional supercomputer in sixty hours was solved by Google’s twelve-bit quantum computer in three minutes!

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It is Time to Talk Turkey

Yes, cooler weather is coming, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but today’s turkey talk is not about Thanksgiving. I want to share some thoughts with you about a conflict that I have carried as a priest for twenty-one years too long. It is a conflict between preaching the radical, disturbing, socially impolite, system-disrupting, polarizing, often misunderstood and too often misinterpreted message of Jesus versus not being perceived as “political.”

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