Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Tag

An unintentional parable   Leave a comment

This is a personal reflection written By Jim Taylor:

IMG_1896_2I was driving north, up the main highway. As I came down the hill into town, traffic slowed to a standstill. The truck ahead of me turned on its four-way flashers.

Something was happening, but I couldn’t see what. I peered through the gap between the vehicles ahead of me. And I saw a woman, walking backwards across the four lanes of traffic, beckoning to something or someone with her hands, encouraging them to come on.

Then I saw what she was encouraging. A pair of geese. Canada geese. Big birds. When they spread their wings and hiss, they can be terrifying. But these two waddled along following the woman. And right behind them came a pair of goslings, balls of fluff on toothpick legs. And finally, behind them all, came a man pushing a bicycle, making sure no one got left behind.

Or run over.

The whole cortege reached the far sidewalk. The geese vanished into the park. The man and woman gave each other high-fives, and went their separate ways. Traffic rolled again.

As I too drove on, it occurred to me that I had just seen a parable enacted, a parable of the way the world could be, and should be.

Jesus didn’t have Canada Geese or four-lane highways to talk about in his parables. But I think he would have described that scene as a sample of the kingdom of God.

The goslings trusted their parents enough to follow them into a totally foreign environment. The geese trusted the woman enough to follow her across the highway. The woman trusted the drivers enough to believe that no impatient driver would run her down.

 And it worked.

For that couple of minutes, no one roared over the sidewalk to save a few seconds. No one honked angrily. No one brandished middle-finger salutes. Everyone got where they were going, at most a couple of minutes late.

It’s a parable of the “kingdom” because all our relationships depend on trust. Every day, we commit hundreds of little acts of trust. So many, in fact, that we don’t even think of them as acts of trust — we take them for granted.

I trust that my breakfast cereal is safe to eat. That an oncoming driver will not suddenly swerve into my lane. That the radio news is not fabricated fiction. That the cash register at the grocery store will add my bill accurately. That the tree will stay upright, the bridge will hold, the sky will not fall.

At least, not today.

If I couldn’t trust these incidents, I’d be paralyzed. Afraid of everything. A nervous wreck, a human Chicken Little.

Trust keeps our society, our civilization, even our world, running smoothly.

We exist in a vast, universal, web of relationships. We are, in a sense, the sum of our relationships. When we can no longer trust those relationships, we lose a huge part of what we are. We are reduced to being an individual playing solitaire.

 That’s why breaches of trust are so serious. And that’s why little incidents that remind us how much trust matters, matter. Even if they bring traffic to a standstill.

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Copyright © 2017 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

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Religion AND Science   Leave a comment

“You’re a scientist AND a you want to be a minister in a church????”

That is a question that a friend was asked prior to his ordination.

In the UC Observer there are testimonies from four scientists / ministers who have also been asked that question of how they square the circle of being a scientist and a Christian leader.

https://ucobserver.org/faith/2018/04/4-science-trained-faith-leaders-share-what-still-gives-them-goos/

A grouping of young stars, called the Trapezium Cluster (centre), shines from the heart of the Orion Nebula in this photo by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA

 

Come and witness First Light   Leave a comment

Easter, 2018 is about to arrive.

What does that mean to us in the 21st century? A thought-provoking video from KAIROS Canada provides one possible response.

See you at sunrise on April 1, 2018.

Make Babylon Great Again   Leave a comment

I first encountered the Rev. Dr. William Barber on TV when he was making a political speech. His Christian faith shone brightly through his words.

Now, Barber’s words have reached me through a short article that he wrote for Sojourner’s magazine, “Make Babylon Great Again”. It interprets the actions and words of the current President of the United States of America through the lens of the Book of Daniel in the Bible. It is interesting to read how Rev. Barber draws parallels between Nebuchadnezzar and the President.

https://sojo.net/magazine/march-2018/we-will-not-bow-down

 

Living Spiritually?   Leave a comment

 

In 2017 Anne Bokma attempted to “live spiritually” for twelve months. The UC Observer says that; “Having long explored the “spiritual but not religious” demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.”

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Bokma summarizes her journey in this column, published in The UC Observer: http://ucobserver.org/myls/ 

At the bottom of her column there is an opportunity to access each of the 12 monthly columns that she wrote on this topic.

It is an interesting journey to observe, especially if one believes that all of life is infused with Spirit.

 

 

Charlottesville, Empathy and Love   Leave a comment

Philosopher Charles Taylor has labelled our time as, “A Secular Age”, while Jeremy Rifkin has described our time as moving towards, “The Empathic Civilization”.

How does what happened in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017 fit with these descriptions, and with the deep-in-the-heart human desire to love each other?

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Sunrise at Cape Spear – a new day begins in North America!

Vancouver journalist  Emilee Gilpin spoke with local anti-racist artists and activists Carol Martin, Harsha Walia, Kim Villagante, Jaye Simpson and Adrian Long about Charlottesville, and a planned counter-racist rally at Vancouver City Hall, which could see over 3,000 attendees. Gilpin asked them how they access empathy and love amidst violence, chaos and rage.

The uplifting responses of these west-coast activists can be found on the website of The Tyee at: https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/08/18/Five-Activists-Artists-Fighting-Racism-Outrage-Empathy/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180817

 

Hope in an unexpected place   Leave a comment

The following story – from the U.C. Observer –

( http://www.ucobserver.org/columns/2017/03/spirit_story/ ) –

is one that encourages all of us to remember those basic human characteristics of empathy and hope. Although the writer, and the story, are from the U.S.A., similar stories are happening in Canada too.

iStock.com/fstop123

Hope in a hardware store

By Alicia von Stamwitz

A new immigrant to the United States must enter public areas with caution, alert to hidden dangers. It’s a lesson I learned at a young age when my mother was bullied by a stranger in a grocery store.

So when I spot a Mexican man in a Home Depot store in St. Louis, I am not surprised that he looks anxious, shifting his weight from one foot to another. He’s short — maybe five feet tall in his heavy work boots — with a bushy black moustache. His furtive glances at the overhead signs tell me he does not read English.

I slow my cart, remembering a frightening experience from my childhood.

“Look at the treetops, Alicia!” my mother says as we creep along on shaded streets in our new station wagon. “The American oak trees are so tall and the branches are so wide that they meet at the top, like friends hugging each other.” She speaks to me in Spanish, but she is fluent in English thanks to her American teachers in Cuba. And thanks to American television, I have learned English fast.

We stop at a grocery store and push our cart up and down every aisle. “It’s expensive here,” she whispers in Spanish. As we wait in the checkout line, I notice the man behind us is watching my mother. He takes a step forward and says in a low voice, “What are you doing here?” My mother looks up, startled. “I — I am shopping.” Her English is perfect, but her voice is high, as if she is asking a question.

“You do not belong here,” the man growls. My mother turns to the cashier and holds out a coupon. But the cashier does not take the coupon; her eyes are fixed on the man. Everyone is looking at him. “Go back to where you came from, spic,” he hisses. The word hits my ears hard, like the word “spit.” Nobody moves at first, not even my mother. But when the man pushes past me to force her out of the narrow aisle, she turns to run and pulls me after her. When we are safely inside our car, I push down all four locks. My mother is trembling as we pull away.

This happened over 50 years ago. I want to believe things are better now, but I fear they are worse.

A long minute has passed, and the Mexican man in the home improvement store has not moved. I am about to step forward to help translate when a burly employee in an orange apron appears beside him. I tense. But the employee is a good man. You can see things like this at a glance. The way he ducks his head to meet the Mexican man’s lowered eyes. The way he nods encouragingly and speaks softly. I let out a breath. I did not realize I was holding it.

He gives me hope, this employee. I want to thank him when he is done helping the Mexican man. I want to remember that he and others like him have more collective power than any politician, even a demagogue.

On the way home, I look up at the treetops and repeat my mother’s words, like a poem or a prayer.

Alicia von Stamwitz is a writer and editor in St. Louis.