Monthly Archives: December 2015
Back in the early 1960s, before one could check such quotes on the web, a story circulated concerning Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (1934-1968). As I recall, someone asked the cosmonaut if he had seen God in the heavens during his spaceflight; to which Gagarin, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, was to have replied, “I looked and looked and looked but I didn’t see God.”
The story is highly disputed. According to some sources, the quote originated from Nikita Khrushchev’s speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU about the state’s anti-religion campaign.
I remember people responding to that quote, “Give it some time. You’ll see him.” Continue reading
As the voice of experience, I’ve often wondered if God does not choose certain people to be in the pastorate because they need to be. It’s for their own good. What I mean is, they would not be as involved in the lives of others or spending as much time in the Bible unless they had to.
I thought of this when I read Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians, Continue reading
No matter what the endeavor, you can always do better. In school, you move on from your high school diploma to your Bachelors, Masters, and maybe PhD. Most people begin a job at an “entry level” but then move on to manager and maybe even CEO. And in the world of sports there are rookies who later become professionals. Reading about the various degrees in Isshinryu Karate illustrates this nicely. Under white belt it reads “Everyone starts here.” Under 10th Degree Black Belt it says, “Has furthered the teachings of Isshinryu Karate to a level of unquestionable accomplishments and recognition.” A world of difference.
But irrespective of the endeavor — academics, employment, or sports — each one of us desperately needs God to do a work in our life. God’s “endgame” is for the believer “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). No small feat. Continue reading
For some people, the only good thing about shopping is that you get to watch people. In the spirit of Sherlock Holmes, you can try to deduce what kind of person someone is by watching them walking the aisles. It’s often easy to identify the affluent and the one living paycheck to paycheck. The newlyweds look different from the family of six. And of course the vegan is easy to see when standing next to the carnivore.
Then there is the “bird’s eye view” perspective. This is when you go up on the second or third floor of a mall and look down on the people below. From here you see the hand holders and the stroller pushers; the happy and the angry. And you get to see them all at once. Perhaps we could call it a “God’s eye view.” Continue reading
Because of my vocation and interests, I spend quite a bit of time in conversations and classroom discussions about the Bible and the works of C. S. Lewis; and there has hardly been one of them I did not find interesting. As one might expect, there’s a lot of agreement, disagreement, and learning from one another. I’ve certainly learned from others and can only hope they have benefited from any contributions I made.
A remark that inevitably comes up in such conversations is something along the lines of “He certainly did not mean that!” At this point the conversation always goes a little sideways, at least for me, because we are no longer discussing what was said. We are now discussing the reader’s opinion. Continue reading
My attention was drawn recently to a blog post entitled “When You Unchain The Earth From The Sun.”1 What I thought was going to be a galactic dystopian novel turned out to be an article about a Canadian man who has decided that he is not simply a woman trapped in a man’s body but he is actually a six year old girl trapped in a man’s body. I confess it was news to me.
Surprisingly, the author did not spend much time discussing the specific case. His interest lay elsewhere and were philosophical. He observed that when one decides that categories of identity are merely psychological and that reality is constituted by language, there is nothing left. He writes, Continue reading
It’s ironic how little you hear the word incarnate during the Christmas season. After all, it is the heart and soul of the Christmas season.
By way of a brief introduction, incarnate is defined as “invested with bodily and especially human nature and form; made manifest or comprehensible: embodied.”
The history of the English word is traced as coming from the Middle English incarnat, from Late Latin incarnatus, past participle of incarnare to incarnate, from Latin in – + carn-, caro flesh. First known use is in the 14th century. Continue reading
A dictionary entry explains “Hubris is another word for pride. Hubris, or pride, is one of the most common tragic flaws for a hero or heroine. Many literary heroes have caused or nearly caused their own destruction because of their excessive pride.”
Examples abound. One thinks of Milton’s Paradise Lost when Satan loses his glorious position through giving in to his excessive pride. Although he failed miserably in taking over Heaven, his pride lasts: “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.”
Then there was Victor, the protagonist of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein who exhibits hubris in his endeavor to become an unmatched scientist. He creates the “monster” which ultimately becomes the cause of his distruction.
Two classic examples of hubris. Both leading to the individual’s demise.
Then there is Jesus. Continue reading
It’s probably a good thing that Easter and Christmas are spaced out by a few months. Imagine if they were celebrated on the same weekend. On Saturday we would celebrate a virgin giving birth to God in the flesh, followed by celebrating this same person being resurrected after three days buried in a tomb. I can hear it being referred to as the “Religious Wacky Weekend” or the “Mythical 48 Hours.” But I imagine the kids would love it.
The life of Jesus Christ begins and ends with the incredible. This is the thing about the guy, you pull on any thread of his life that you respect—his teaching, healings, compassion, or love—and if you tug on it a little you are suddenly entangled in things you don’t understand and may even find hard to believe.
In his essay, “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ,” C. S. Lewis refers to the resurrection in ways he could refer to the incarnation. He writes, Continue reading
So this is the problem. You witnessed something that you know no one will believe. To your knowledge, it has never happen before, and you can’t imagine it happening again. But it did happen. You were right there. You saw it. Smelled it. Heard it. Reached out and touched it. It happened. But you know no one will believe you. What do you do?
You do the only thing you can do. You tell people something like, “I know you’re not going to believe this, but this is what happened.” And so you tell them. That’s all you can do, is tell them. Believing it is up to them. Continue reading