Category: Wisdom

“The Zen Of Jesus”

2004-vacation-0951.jpgI had an interesting thought. How might the teachings of Jesus line up with the teachings of Zen Buddhism? I began to search the Gospels for teachings by Jesus on peace, love, contentment and the avoidance of worry among other topics.

Then I figured that there must be others who have had the same thought so I Googled “The Zen of Jesus”. On the first page alone I found six books available on the subjects of “The Zen Teachings Of Jesus” and “Christian Zen”.

I am not advocating doctrinal synchronization among world religions but I am so confident that Jesus truly is “The Way, the Truth and the Life” that I am compelled to present Him as more approachable to individuals hindered by preconceived notions resulting from the toxic rants delivered by a few of his vociferous followers.

There are countless individuals who are struggling so deeply with the trials and tribulations of this life that they aren’t concerned with theological discussions about the afterlife; like, if there even is one.

Jesus said that He was anointed to…

“Proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”                                           Luke 4:18-19 / Isaiah 61:1

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Anyone who is grieving, disenfranchised, marginalized, depressed, ill, confused, in pain and / or simply wondering why they exist would do well to consider examining and meditating on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Even if one is not searching for salvation or eternal life but simply for some meaning to life and relief from the pain that can be so prevalent in our world, Jesus will meet you where you are. I am confident that one will be surprised and even impressed by encountering Jesus apart from the “trappings” of religion and just might find something even deeper and more wonderful than the existential meaning and relief they are seeking.

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“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

2004 vacation 095It is increasingly evident that the American people are becoming disenchanted with our political system and politics in general. I’ve heard from many people who are equally disappointed with both of the major parties yet recognize that third party candidates accomplish nothing more than remove votes from one of the two major monopolies… I mean parties.

There seems to be more concern for the the party than for the good of the American people. There also seems to be greater effort among politicians in maintaining a “job” than achieving progress in the governing process.

Each party and the candidates therein appear to do little more than disparage opponents with acerbic rhetoric, half-truths and out right lies.

What concerns me the most is that the parties and candidates and delegates seem to be mired in a culture of mean-spirited hostility and are either unable or unwilling to make drastic changes to a system that is honest, respectful and bi-partisan. They drank either red Kool-Aid or blue-Kool-Aid and they are thus inextricably fused to their party platforms.

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There is a reason that we have different political parties; we have different opinions and values but just “hocking phlegm-balls” all over people who disagree with us or who embrace different priorities conflicts with the purpose of a democratic republic where everyone has a voice, everyone’s opinions are valued and considered and where solutions for the common good of ALL citizens is the supreme priority. It’s as if we are trapped on George Jetson’s conveyor belt, unable to get off and all I want to do is cry out, “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”

I was inspired to write this post because in one day, two different people voiced there independent frustrations on Facebook both saying essentially the same thing, we are tired of childish rants and raves by idiotic politicians who only do what serves and suits them with no respect for the needs, feelings or opinions of others.

“Commandments, Suggestions & Relationships”

2004 vacation 095(I haven’t posted in a few months but the following thought came to mind. After arriving at my conclusion I figured that it is a good subject to post)

God gave us the Ten Commandments as the foundation of the Law (Torah). As people of faith we need to look at the Law through the lens of God’s heart.

Why did God give us the Law? What does God ultimately want? Does He want our obedience or our love and devotion?  He wants both but how should they be prioritized?

Jesus said that the Law, all of the Law and Prophets, were summed up in the Greatest Commandment, which is, from a human perspective, two commandments intertwined as to be unable to be separated.

Mark 12:30-31                                                                                                                                             “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’”

Relationship is the key. God wants us to love Him first and foremost. He does want our obedience but He wants our obedience to be an outflowing of love and devotion to Him rather than an act of self-protection from divine wrath.

The best way for me to illustrate this concept is as follows…

The seventh commandment instructs us to “not commit adultery”. In our household that has never been stated as a house rule or law. (We don’t really have house rules, just an implied code of conduct developed over years of relationship.)  it would however, be a violation of a vow I took over 30 years ago to be a “true and devoted husband, faithful to her and to her only…”

I have never committed adultery, I have never cheated on my wife. Why have I not committed adultery and why will I not do so? Is it because I do not want to face the consequences of breaking that rule? That could be a secondary motivation but the primary reason that I have not nor will I ever commit adultery is because I love my wife. I am madly in love with her and I could not bear to hurt her, break her heart or betray her.

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While the consequences of such an act would be devastating to me that devastation on my part would be warranted but the pain that my wife would endure would be incomprehensible and I could never recover from knowing that I had inflicted such an atrocity on someone so special and so important to me.

My reason for obeying the no adultery rule or not because it would be a violation of law but because I would be hurting someone I love deeply. Our relationship would at best be damaged and at worst, destroyed.

God wants us to get to know Him on such a level that our adherence to His commands are motivated by love for Him, not of simply doing good.

“In Support of Gun Control”

2004 vacation 095As a moderate conservative, I am not going to make many friends with the insight shared in this post but I can’t ignore the information.

The following is the transcript of a recent conversation I had regarding gun control with my friend, Tom who is a British national.

Tom:   Following the school shooting in Scotland in 1996 a law was passed prohibiting private ownership of handguns throughout the United Kingdom.

Me:      How many school shootings have there been in the UK since that law was implemented?

Tom:   None.

I really like Tom; he is a fine upstanding young man. However, I have been around long enough to know that one should check facts before going public. Here is what I found.

On March 13, 1996 Thomas Watt Hamilton killed 16 students and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School in Dunblane, Scotland. 10 others were also wounded in the attack before Hamilton took his own life.

Following this tragedy public outcry resulted in the implementation of the Firearms Act of 1997 (Amendment No. 2) that prohibits private ownership of handguns with the exception of muzzle loaded and historic handguns. In the 17 years since the implementation of the Firearms Act of 1997 in the United Kingdom there have been no school shootings in that nation.

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Meanwhile, since 1996 there have been 64 school shootings within the United States.

I love America and support the constitution and the right to bear arms. I also support the right of parents and students to rest easy with some assurance of their safety.

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Read more: Timeline of Worldwide School Shootings | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777958.html#ixzz3KftuUivP

My Kingdom for Non-Biased News!

2004 vacation 095While recent videos depicting Muslim Street Patrols attempting to enforce Sharia Law in East London, UK disturbed me I decided that it would be prudent to investigate further before forming an opinion.

The threat of a movement bent on imposing Sharia Law in western nations, particularly the UK and the US appears to be real but to what degree? The majority of Muslims living in the west seem to be peaceful people who enjoy the freedom of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution and the British Human Rights Act. In my experience they are willing to live by the law of the land and accept the rights of others to worship according to their own beliefs and traditions.

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The more I researched, the more I discovered that completely unbiased information on this issue is about as common as the proverbial needle in the haystack. Conservatives highlight instances within the US involving court cases that factor in Sharia Law when the litigants are Muslim and from Islamic nations. Liberals are quick to downplay the same instances as anomalies and nothing more than fuel to feed the fires of unwarranted fear.

Further investigation begged questions as to whether or not such decisions have contradicted US law or not. Navigating the complexities of Constitutional Law is a daunting task, as provisions exist allowing for the enforcement of contracts and obligations established in other nations according to foreign laws.

Attempts in some states – most notably Alabama and Oklahoma – to implement state constitutional amendments prohibiting any foreign law to be factored into US court cases have produced a confusing quagmire of complexity that could actually conflict with the US Constitution.

Any aspect of Sharia Law that conflicts with the US Constitution should not be considered regardless of whom the litigants or defendants might be. If I were arrested in Iran for violating Iranian (Sharia) law what is the likelihood that I would be afforded a trial based on US Law?

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Groups advocating the implementation of Sharia Law in the west are small. However, as I considered that fact, I remembered a question I asked my mom and dad when I was young. My parents were young adults in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s so I asked them what they had thought of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s before the invasions of Europe and Africa began.

They’re response was telling.  “We thought that he was a funny little man with a funny mustache on the other side of the ocean and that the brown-shirts were insignificant gangs of street thugs.”

Everyone should be free to sleep at night – even if it is with one eye open. If someone, anyone would provide an accurate and comprehensive assessment of this complicated issue then perhaps we could sleep with both eyes closed.

 

“When is The Race Card Valid?” (Pt. #1)

 

2004 vacation 095For years I patiently listened to members of ethnic minorities direct accusations of racism against anyone by whom they felt slighted or injured.  Internally, I would roll my eyes saying to myself that their description of the offending slight sounded more like the actions a rude individual might inflict on anyone regardless of race.  However, I would never voice that thought because I am well aware that as a white man it would be disingenuous of me to presume that I can sympathetically speak to their concern.

The tables were turned however, when I was living in Costa Rica and utilizing public transportation.  On one occasion I found myself in a sort of perfect storm.  Late for an appointment I was waiting at a crowded bus stop during rush hour in the middle of a driving rainstorm.  There were no orderly lines; it was a chaotic every-man-for-himself struggle to board the overcrowded buses as they inched there way through the stop.  At one point I was just about to step on to the bus when two people took my place in the bus doorway by knocking me off the step.  My initial reaction was to say to myself indignantly, “They only did that because I’m an American!”

As quickly as the thought entered my mind I remembered the countless complaints I had ignorantly endured by those who had experienced exactly what had just happened to me.

When one stands out or when one is aware of his or her difference from the perceived norm it affects our perception of how the mainstream population treats us.  I knew intellectually that the rude mistreatment I experienced trying to board that bus had nothing at all to do with my skin color or my nationality.  Somebody else wanted to board that bus as badly as I did and I was simply an obstacle – nothing more, nothing less.

It is imperative for all of us regardless of race to center our perspectives and mutually work to first understand the position of our perceived adversaries and second to detach our personal experiences as much as possible from our worldview.  It requires a level of clinical understanding devoid of as much emotion as possible allowing just enough passion to focus on finding solutions to racial insensitivity and injustice.

Granted, despicable acts of racism occur every day against both minorities and whites but solutions lie in collaboration and mutual respect acknowledging that racism has happened and that it continues to happen.  But we all need to take a united stand against it for more headway to be achieved.

Will racism ever be fully eradicated?  Sadly, I don’t think so. As long as man is capable of hatred we will find excuses to hate.  But if we can work together to eradicate the culture of racism then vast improvements can be gained.

Reblog – “The Rules For Being Human”

6a00d83451607369e2016768f42a47970b-150wiThis is a post from my friend Reverend Dr. Robin Duvall (Pictured at right).  He is a compassionate man of God with great insight into navigating this life as a follower of Christ.  Interestingly, these “Rules for Being Human” cross religious lines.  You don’t have to believe in God to benefit from most of these… at least as far as this life is concerned.

http://yliapu.typepad.com/spiritualregurgitations/2014/08/rules-for-being-human-not-a-full-list-but-a-pretty-good-one-nonetheless.html

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