The Gardener

In today’s Gospel reading from John 20:12-15 we read: “But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to he … [Read more...]

Is Pluralism Compatible with Secularism?

I'm just thinking out loud. Is Pluralism compatible with Secularism? You might be thinking, well, aren't they pretty much the same? Isn't a Pluralist society, where each is able to practice the religion of their choosing, the same as a society where there is no official religion?Oxford defines Secularism, from the Latin for 'world,' as being that which is not connected with religion, or the separation between church and state.On the other hand, Oxford defines Pluralism as "a condition or … [Read more...]

From Punjab to British Columbia

Today on 'Experience the Sacred: Where Spirit Meets World in Vancouver' the radio show I host with a few other collaborators, I interviewed three members of the Sikh community who volunteer with Guru Nanak's Free Kitchen, a weekly soup kitchen that sets up on the corner of Main and Hastings here in the city.What amazes me about the Sikhs is their devotion to selfless service. They put on fundraisers, blood drives, feed the homeless etc. They are also passionate advocates of Interfaith … [Read more...]

Lost in Lent

About a week before Lent began, I took a retreat to a Benedictine monastery in central Washington. Unlike several of the other monasteries I have visited, this particular monastery was located in a more suburban setting, and, founded as a small college, the monastery is now a bustling university.I went hoping for some silence, writing time and immersion in the familiar rhythms of the monastic liturgy. When I arrived, however, the first thing I noticed when I got out of the car, was how loud … [Read more...]

The Tower of Silence

I recently did an interview with three Zoroastrians who live here in Vancouver. As I was preparing for the interview, I learned the fascinating history of the death rituals practiced by ancient and some modern Zoroastrian communities.Briefly, Zoroastrians are followers of the teachings of the prophet Zarathustra, or Zoroaster in Greek, who is thought to have lived some time between 1,500 and 650 BCE. They are probably the first monotheistic religions with a great reverence for the elements, … [Read more...]

Homily: Living Symbols

[Homily delivered Feb. 26, 2017 to Saint Margaret Cedar-Cottage Anglican Church.]At 4:13 AM I stumbled in the pale darkness to my choir stall. When I finally looked up through the west facing window of the chapel at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in northwestern Oregon, a glowing full moon was setting through a light haze. The monks began to chant the early morning Divine Office of Vigils, a ritual that unfolds day after day, month after month, and year after year in monasteries all over … [Read more...]

Two Takes on the Decline of Religion

Krista Tippett, the gifted radio journalist who hosts the popular On Being radio show and blog, recently published an article in the Jesuit America Magazine. The article is an optimistic assessment of the future of religion in the hands of an increasingly irreligious generation we all know as “Millennials.”While many are wringing their hands at the decline of religious identity and church attendance among nearly 1/3 of those under 30, Tippett boldly proclaims: “The new nonreligious may be the … [Read more...]

Sacred Groves

In the beginning, the tree of life emerged as a tiny seedling. Soon, it branched out into everything we call living: microbes, fungi, plants, animals, and humans.We evolved with trees.Perhaps they lowered our primate ancestors down from their bows and nudged us toward the savanna.But trees never left us; they continued to provide us with food, fodder, shelter, tools, medicine, and stories.They began to appear in our dreams.They began to populate our stories.It was here, … [Read more...]

Unanswered Questions in Scorsese’s ‘Silence’

 Summary (Spoiler Alert)Martin Scorsese, himself a Catholic, recently released his film version of Shūsaku Endō's 1966 novel Silence. The novel is set in 17th century Japan, where Jesuit Priests Sebastião Rodrigues (played by Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garrpe (played by Adam Driver), are smuggled into Japan to care for the Kakure Kirishitan “Hidden Christians” that have been driven underground by the hostile Shogunate of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the year 1639. The Priest … [Read more...]

Theodicy in ‘The 100’

Vancouver has recently seen a very unusual arctic front that has not only dropped several inches of snow, but has plunged temperatures below freezing, turning streets and sidewalks into slick ice skating rinks. and leaving city officials totally unprepared for even a basic response.In this winter weather, before the holidays, I spent a lot of time inside binge watching a TV series on Netflix called "The 100." Though the post-apocalyptic sci-fi is set in Northeastern United States, it was … [Read more...]