Saturday, December 23, 2006

Festive Photo

Merry Christmas all!

Here's a picture of my little New England-style house, decked out in some simple decorations to mark the Lord's coming.

There are candles in the windows and a wreath on the door -- and falling snow to surround this humble home in stillness.

What kind of decorations do you enjoy putting up for the holidays?

May you feel peace in your heart!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pure God, adulterated God...or both?

Sometimes, sitting on my high horse (an Irish expression), I reason that our definition of God is not adequate. We must be missing something far greater and unfathomable because our minds are so small and inadequate in the face of such immensity.

But what if we shed our prejudiced and partisan views of God? Tried to figure out a bigger picture. Maybe our human-faced God is so endearing to so many of us, that we would only lose our way, sever the connection.

I spotted this quote from Martin Buber on Daniel Silliman's literary site. It's worth reading to gain some insight on the terrible and precious bargain we've entered into with God.

"...Generations of men have laid the burden of their anxious lives upon this word..."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Learning Tolerance from Kids

If you've ever spent time with kids, you know that the things they say and do are genuine -- unfiltered and from the heart. (OK, sometimes that's good; sometimes that can be embarrassing!)

The good part of that is, because of their naturally open minds and hearts, they're eager to learn about new ideas and traditions.

Yeah -- we adults can learn a lot from kids.

For example, earlier in December, as both Christmas and Hanukkah approached, a group of Holocaust deniers were meeting in Tehran to spout hate for Jews and Israel. At the same time that was happening, I spent time with my niece and nephew, two Catholic kids, reading a book about Hanukkah.

Their openness to and respect for this unfamiliar religious tradition filled me with hope for the future. It was a good contrast to what was happening on the other side of the world -- a victory over closed minds and hate.
Please read more in my December 18th column on United Press International. And, as always, I'd love to read your thoughts and views.

Peace, and happy holidays to all!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Have a Merry Buddhist Christmas

I've got the perfect idea for an extra special Christmas card! Include Buddhist contemplations on how to grow love in our hearts -- even for, as my grandpa used to say, the "PITAs" in our lives. (PITA=pain in the ass.) Here are the contemplations in abbreviated form. To read more about them, click on the link below to my column:

  • Think of everybody you meet as your mother/father/sister/brother
  • Ponder the kindnesses of others
  • Repay those kindnesses
  • Forgive others' "annoying" traits...instead focus on their delightful side
  • Be compassionate by feeling others' pain
  • Stay committed to practicing kindness; it'll change you.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Today's Pharisees -- Blocking Union with God

Back in Jesus' time, Pharisees, a very learned and devoted sect in Judaism, observed their religion to the letter of the law. Good for them!

Problem was they expected everyone else to be fanatics, too, and they condemned ordinary people if they didn't measure up to certain standards. They thought they were the most insightful and correct interpreters of Moses' laws.

Jesus, on the other hand, was all about showing people how to cut through the red tape and make a deeper, more heartfelt connection with God. JC was a spirit man, not so much a law man. So, when he came up against these Pharisees, he was very critical of them, calling them hypocrites who lay down heavy burdens on believers. I think Jesus was trying to say that those burdens get in the way of true communion with God.

The Pharisees live on. Today, it seems that there are plenty of modern-day Pharisees around us -- in all religions and in every part of our suffering planet. The ones I am most familiar with are those who run the Catholic Church. They can't seem to stop telling us how innately sinful and bad we are -- and setting up barriers to fulfilling our relationship with God.

Please take a minute to read my latest column, Rethinking Gays in Heaven, at United Press International, and let me know how you feel.