The Social Contract

Good afternoon everyone. I hope that this new year finds you healthy and hopeful. I would like to spend a few minutes talking about the social contract under which we live and the relationship of organized religion with that contract.

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What a Wonderful World

In the wake of this week’s reprehensible political violence, I needed a side trip off the planet. No, I haven’t gone to the pearly gates, but I recently became aware of Mexican theoretical physicist, Miguel Alcubierre Moya[1], who has solved a specific case for Einstein’s field equations in general relativity to develop a serious proposal for matter traveling Faster Than Light (FTL).

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An Epiphany

The word “epiphany” literally means the “out shining” of light. In English, it has come to mean an experience of God which is often mystical and powerful. It can also mean a sudden perception of the meaning of something or an intuitive grasp, an insight.  In church usage, the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany today (January 6) commemorates the visit of the three kings or magi to present their gifts to the Christ child. It marks the first appearance of Jesus to the Gentile world. It is the manifestation (out shining) of God to the world.

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God’s Preferential Option for the Poor

In a recent interview, actor George Clooney was asked what he hoped he would give to his children as a legacy. He said that he hoped they would stand up to and challenge those in power and help those who had no power. This desire strongly reflects God’s preferential option for the poor.

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“What hath God wrought?”

This quotation from the book of Numbers was suggested by the daughter of the Patent Office Commissioner in 1844 as the first message sent by Morse code from a demonstration before the US Congress to a railroad station in Baltimore. The quote is my question in revisiting the tired old debate about climate change. Is the observable warming of the planet “anthropogenic” (human-caused) or “natural”?

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The Christmas Funk

First responders, soldiers, and ER docs train for this. In high-stress, emergency, life threatening situations (it doesn’t matter whose life is threatened), they shut down their emotional response to the situation at hand and become coldly analytical. This is a learned skill although some people are unable to do it. You want the ER doctor to get that way when your blood pressure is crashing, and your eyes start to roll up like a slot machine. Soldiers must do this on the battlefield to stay alive. Emotional detachment can be a good thing in some situations.

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St. John of the Cross

I thought it was odd today in Morning Prayer to read about the betrayal of Jesus when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then I read the “Commemoration” which is a day on the church calendar when we remember the lives and witnesses of various people ancient and modern. Today, we remember Juan de Ypres y Alvarez who was born in Spain in 1542 during a period when the Protestant Reformation was ramping up in northern Europe and England.

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Make straight in the desert a highway …

We hear these words of Isaiah in the Messiah and other church hymns this time of year. We are to clear a path in our souls for God’s return to us in judgement. But did you know we are discovering highways in space?

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Two Kinds of Callings

I grew up in that “Leave it to Beaver” era of the late 1950s. It seems so long ago now, but kids are kids, and they will do things in the summer to have fun, beat the heat and expand their resourcefulness. Since we lived on a corner, one thing I tried for a few summers was the corner lemonade stand. My friends a few blocks away tried to convince me of making lemonade from this powdery stuff. If you added it to cold water, not everything would dissolve, and you would end up with this cool, weak, gritty concoction that tasted like you opened your mouth in a sandstorm. I ended up using frozen concentrate in a blender.

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New Church Plant on an Old Church

 

Today we commemorate the life of Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuits in the early 1500s. He was also an extraordinary missionary who by some estimates, converted and baptized hundreds of thousands of people. When I review his biography, I feel inspired and awed. He traveled to India, Ceylon, and Japan. He learned the language in each country, translated scripture and taught classes to convert people to Christianity. He turned Christian doctrines into jaunty jingles in the local languages that everybody loved and memorized like we know popular songs today.