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Showing posts from February, 2011

Our Liberation -- what the poor have to offer us

About twenty four hours from now, I’ll be landing, along with nine other St. James’ parishioners, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We’ll load up for a three- or four-hour drive to far western Honduras near the Guatemalan border, where we’ll spend a week working alongside Honduran villagers digging trench lines and laying PVC pipes which will eventually carry clean, drinkable water directly to their village. Next week, another group of nine St. James’ parishioners will undertake the same project, for a total of 18 St. James’ folk.

As many of you know, I love this project. Partly because I love adventure, and this mission trip always has an element of adventure and surprise to it. (And even danger: Last year, I managed to lean my backpack up against a bush that contained a hornet’s nest, and unleashed a fury of hornets, some of which got up under my shirt, and in the ensuing frenzy of pain, I almost fell off the edge of the cliff we were working alongside. Luckily, I caught my balance, and n…

Jesus Raises the Bar Impossibly High

The Gospel appointed for this Sunday is a continuation of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” as found in Matthew.

The section of the Sermon on the Mount that we’ll hear Sunday begins with a series of six statements from Jesus that contain what scholars call “antitheses,” “oppositions,” or “contrasts.”

Each of the teachings follows the same basic pattern:

“You have heard that it was said… But I say to you…”

In these contrasts, Jesus takes on some of the most controversial -- and relevant to everyday life -- issues of his day:

Murder and anger.

Adultery and lust.

Divorce.

Oaths and public integrity.

What to make of our revenge in responding to evil doers.

Who to love, and how to treat one’s enemies.

These issues, of course, still are controversial and relevant in and of themselves. But what makes them even more controversial and relevant to our everyday lives is what Jesus does with them.

In each case, he states what the Law -- biblical teaching, or religion -- requires. He then raises the bar in one of …

Because It's Good. For You.

Over the past couple weeks, several people recommended that I read an article by the writer David Brooks titled “Social Animal: How the New Sciences of Human Nature Can Help Make Sense of a Life.”

As is often the case with articles in The New Yorker, it’s a dense, complicated piece of writing, and as my dad used to say, “I’m not sure I understand everything I know about it,” but I do want to pull out several key quotes this and next week, and encourage you to think about them.

Brooks writes:

There’s a debate in our culture about what really makes us happy, which is summarized by, on the one hand, the book “On the Road” and, on the other, the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The former celebrates the life of freedom and adventure. The latter celebrates roots and connections.

Research over the past thirty years makes it clear that what the inner mind really wants is connection. “It’s a Wonderful Life” was right.

Joining a group that meets just once a month produces the same increase in happine…