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Showing posts from May, 2013

faith like a mustard seed

This is the story of a mustard seed.  On January 22, 2013, as part of a spiritual formation course I was teaching (based on the book, The Good and Beautiful God) a small group of us planted mustard seeds.  It was an activity which was supposed to help demonstrate the nature of faith.  I provided small plastic cups, black earth (not rich, extra nutrified potting soil, but just simple black dirt), and mustard seeds.  Most people took 2 or 3 or 4 seeds, just to make sure that at least one of them would sprout.  I opted for just one lone mustard seed, buried it in its black grave, watered it, and set it in a window which caught the afternoon sun in the middle of a Montreal winter.

Within 5 days, a wee sprout popped out of the ground, a welcome sign of life.  I continued to check it almost daily, watering it when it was dry, making sure it was getting enough sunlight, and placing it out of reach of the cat's inquisitive claws and teeth.  We went away for a week in February (a house si…

Jesus and sexuality

A few days ago, I gave a talk entitled Jesus and Sexuality.  Well, that's what I set out to talk about, but the emphasis shifted slightly as I began to read the relevant biblical passages. Let me explain. Sexual identity and gender issues are hot topics these days so I thought it would be a good idea to see what Jesus has to say about all this stuff.  Alas, Jesus does not spend a whole lot of time on the topic.  An obvious oversight on his part, one would think, since there were people engaged in all kinds of "questionable" sexual practices in his day (temple prostitution, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage) pretty similar to our times.  But Jesus doesn't really address any of these issues, not even when the religious leaders thrust a prostitute in front of him, allegedly caught in the act, and try to force him to take a position. And when he talks to a woman who is living with a man who is not her husband, the topic turns away from immorality to the longing for…

shame

Let's talk about shame.  You know those places in our lives where we feel ugly, stupid, useless, imperfect, slow, and lazy?  Those things we don't like to talk about?  Those are the places where shame can live.  In general, I am not a person who carries a lot of shame.  For the most part, I love the gift that is my life and bounce joyously into each new day (well, in the mornings I usually drag myself around sluggishly for a few hours, but by mid-afternoon I am close to bouncing).  However, the past few months I have felt a growing dread and dis-ease; it was shame and I didn't even know I was carrying it.  I finally realised it about 2 weeks ago when I saw it in another human being and identified with it.  Now, we all know that shame is counterproductive which is why none of us consciously goes the store, picks up a giant box of shame, pays for it with a flourish, and then displays it proudly in our lives.  No, shame likes to hide and it convinces us that we should hide ou…

indirect learning

Hans Urs von Balthasar is "my guy."  And by this I mean that the Swiss theologian is at the core of my doctoral studies.  Frankly, a lot of the time I don't get what he's saying.  His ridiculously broad base of knowledge in pretty much every field of the humanities leaves me in the dust.  Nevertheless, when I am reading one of his more than 60 books, every few pages or so I come across something that strikes at the heart of the matter and I utter a "Yes!" and feel a slight shift in my thinking, like another piece of the puzzle falling into place.  More recently, I have begun to read a series of articles by 15 scholars compiled into a book entitled:  How Balthasar Changed my Mind.  This companion to Balthasar's writing has been delightful because of its easy, accessible style, and its ability to break Balthasar's incredible theological contribution into bite-sized pieces. It is written by scholars who, in essence, invite you to sit with them while t…