Do you ever feel persecuted by your circumstances? Like trouble finds you, when all you are trying to do is be good and do good? Marriage trouble, money trouble, tax trouble, mortgage trouble, family trouble. Trouble with your car or the fridge or a neighbor? Have you have wondered why?
It’s what I imagine David asked himself at the beginning of 2nd Samuel 10. I’m sure it’s what Joab, the commander of Israel’s forces, asked himself once he was trapped by two armies far greater in number then his own. And I’m sure its what Eve asked herself the day she was walking in the garden and heard a strange serpentine voice. Continue reading
Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jesus’ love is selfless and sacrificial
Now you may be wondering why I use both selfless and sacrificial. We often use these words interchangeably as if they mean the same thing, or nearly the same thing. But selfless acts are not necessarily sacrificial and sacrificial acts are not necessarily selfless. To be selfless is to have no concern for self. Now, focusing on others is great, but it can easily be done out of manipulation. For example, a lot of times I do things that are selfless so that the selfish thing I am about to do goes over a little easier. It’s a “look your shoes untied” strategy that can be very effective. People distracted by your kindness are less likely to notice the extreme selfishness you display.
Now, technically, doing something nice or beneficial for others is selfless. But if it doesn’t cost you anything than it’s not the kind of selflessness that Jesus displayed. Another problem with selflessness is a weird kind of “martyrdom” that people needlessly submit themselves to. This is the person who can’t say no and lets you walk all over them. Others can’t so no until they they blow up or they never stop talking about how selfless they are. Its manipulation. Again, not the kind of selflessness Jesus demonstrated. Continue reading
The Scutum Fidei, a diagram frequently used by Christian apologists to explain the Trinity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Trinity is the circle we draw around all human knowledge, experience and creation. The Trinity gives the particulars and the universal meaning.
The Trinity teaches us that our identity only exists in community. The universal gives meaning to the particulars and vice versa.
The Covenant is how particulars and the universal have a relationship.
The Covenant is a relationship of love in which each party commits himself to sacrifice and self-denial for the blessing of the others.
Creation is a symbol (a living metaphor) of the Trinity’s relationship. Creation is a gift of the Father, through the Spirit, to the Son, which the Son perfects through the Spirit and gives back to the Father.
The Father is the speaker, the Son is the word and the Spirit is the breath.
Creation is a gift of the father to the son through the Spirit, which the Son prefects through the Spirit and gives back to the Father.
We were created to participate in this story.
Jesus leads us into the happy land of Trinity where the diversity and unity of creation find completion and fulfillment in the eternal community of love.
History began in the Trinity and is fulfilled in the Trinity
Matthew 22:37 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
This is where the Christian Faith begins. This is the paradigm of your relationship with God. It requires that you do not have closed off spiritual, emotional and private relationships but relationships that begin in your heart and end at the four corners of the world. It begins privately and intimately but extends through your hands to your neighbor, town, county, state, country and world.
This is God’s program to perfect creation. It’s the overpowering force. It’s you responding in the only appropriate way imaginable to His instigating love; with total abandon, complete surrender, utter adoration and all engrossing subordination.
Heart, soul and mind don’t consist of compartmentalized aspects of life, but here signify the total self; the whole man.
This command becomes the engine, the roadmap, the structure on which your life’s work is built. It becomes the modas operandi. The beginning, the end and the content of life. This is the sum total of who you are and what you do.
This command, applied to your life, becomes the antithesis, cultural mandate and great commission in action. This is the chief command from which all obedience is derived. It’s the fountain head of culture, ethics, science, theology, art, family, community and meaning that pleases God.
This requires proximity and consists of productivity and praise.
Zampieri – Adam et Ève (détail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Adam stood outside the Garden, with God, in the valley of death; ashamed and defeated. God cursed the ground on Adam’s behalf, increased the pain of labor for Eve and spilled the blood of a substitute to make a covering for His wayward and fallen children. In the midst of the first evil, God promised a son to restore the lost and broken relationship that God had enjoyed with man.
In the pain of that moment, betrayed, accused and hated by His own children whom He had given the world, God knew something profound. That all the sons of Adam and Eve would be unable to bear the burden, were too weak and broken to fight back against the dragon. God knew that the Son that was promised would be ravaged and that the battle would cost that Son his life. And God knew, God promised in that moment, at the very beginning, with the tears of betrayal fresh on His cheeks, that the Son whose blood would be spilled for mankind, would be His own Son; His only Son. Continue reading
Constitution of the United States of America (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)
The Constitution of the United States is our civil covenant and it describes both the manner and extent of our federal government. Truly, the Constitution implies that the details of the Judiciary’s function were “to be worked out in practice” (O’Brien, 24), more than the other branches. The Branches of our government have certainly grown and morphed beyond their original outline because it has served the needs of the people to do so. But, the Constitution does not give the parameters for its own interpretation. The Constitution is not a document penned by a single person, but is a work of collective ingenuity. One person’s opinion of its intention in 1789 is no more binding than the notion that it is unbound from concrete principles. It means what it says. Though the Constitution is alterable and thus boundless in its limits, its words are not living organisms that morph with each new generation like subjective mutants. There are principles of governance that are stated clearly in it and are self evident when the words of the Constitution are taken at face value. The founders knew, however, that it could not serve all people in all times and built into the Constitution alterability by Amendment. Continue reading
Flag of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Image created by uploader based on the previous bitmap image and other imgages found on the web. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are wonderfully unexpected sounds coming from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Byzantine Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The songs of the saints there are not in Latin or Spanish or English, but Arabic.
Due to the increasing persecution of Middle East Christians, 2000 year old communions in the Middle East are emptying of their members who are seeking a better life in the West. One positive consequence of this tragedy is that a revival of Maronite and other Orthodox branches of Arab Christianity in the United States is beginning. The Arab Christians are going into exile from their homeland and beginning to regroup in, of all places, Albuquerque. Continue reading
Many opponents of the current economic system of the United Sates are under the impression that it is laissez-faire capitalism; this is far from the truth. It is not truly capitalism and has not been for many decades. In fact, even in its purest form to date, the markets never reached true freedom in the United States. Over-regulation by bureaucrats who do not know anything about sustaining a profitable business has created a system that rewards failure and punishes success; the exact opposite of capitalism. The government is propping up failing companies and creating an economic atmosphere of higher taxes and inflation. The central planning of the Federal Reserve, Congress and the Treasury Department keep the market from being truly free in any reasonable sense that Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations and founder of Capitalism, meant it to be. We are witnessing the folly of the world attempting to pass itself off as benevolent wisdom.
Competition is the key to Capitalism. Once you destroy the competitive aspects of the markets, they are no longer free. This competition is often described as greed, but the Capitalist system is not based on swindling; if customers are not treated well or products are shoddy, consumers will no longer trust the swindling company. Free markets foster incentives for people to behave honestly, thereby enjoying big profits from satisfied customers. If a company isn’t conducting good business it will fail. When the Government decides that certain companies are too big to fail or should win regardless of their failures, the competition dies and so do excellence and striving for success. Continue reading
Justifying war is almost always difficult. It is not easy to weigh the intentions and facts in the sordid situations of international politics. Throughout history many philosophers have attempted to outline the just causes and proper means of fighting international disputes. In Western thought the development of these doctrines are marked out by Augustine and Aquinas, who were Christian philosophers and later the modern theory was developed by a Remonstrant Dutchman; Hugo Grotius (der Groot). Grotius was a scholastic and developed the modern view of the just war theory in the 16th -17th centuries through his book; De jure belli ac pacis libri tres (On the Law of War and Peace: Three books). He outlined the parameters in determining the legality and behavior of just war.
There are two important philosophical principles used when discussing just war. Jus ad bellum means Justice of war and jus in bello means justice in war. Essentially, these terms refer to the two distinct but interconnected measures of the justness in war. The questions he sought to answer were whether going to war is ever justifiable (justice of war), and once engaged in war how should war be conducted in a humane way (justice in war).” Continue reading
English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If angels were men then we wouldn’t need governments. Governments are not a necessary evil. They are a blessing from God in direct response to the reality of mans depravity and inability to govern himself as he should in light of the laws of God. We should be thankful for the provision of government. Political leaders exercise justice, execute the law and defend the citizens from enemies foreign and domestic. The modern view of government as a necessarily group of mongrels, is inaccurate and an overreaction to the mismanagement of state affairs by generations of politicians. Governments are not evil in themselves, but are only as evil as the men who wield them.
And yet, over the two hundred and eleven years of Constitutional democracy in the United States, quite a few things have changed. It is easy to compare current events to just a few years ago and see that they are different, that we are drifting. However those ‘by-gone” years were themselves drifts. Continue reading