“Rejoice! Don’t Fear! The Lord Is Near!” A Christmas Meditation

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Based on a Meditation Delivered at Irvington Covenant Church, Portland, Oregon, December 21, 2014 By Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D.When I was a little child, I used to run back and forth throughout the house for hours on end with a towel for a cape exclaiming, “Never fear! Underdog is here!” Don’t worry. I won’t do that this morning. After all, it is supposed to be a brief meditation! Still, the Underdog line bears upon this message: “Rejoice! Don’t fear! The Lord is near!”We live in a c … [Read more...]

“Away in a Manger… Away in a Shack”—Meditations on Paul Young’s “The Shack” this Christmas

Used with permission of the author, William P. Young

You may be familiar with the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger” and the biblical text to which the song alludes: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). But are you familiar with the debate that often ensues concerning the location of Jesus’ birth? Options include a a cave, a barn, a house, and a tower. To this point, I have not come across anyone who believes the Lord was bo … [Read more...]

“Hunger Games” and Birds of a Mockingjay Feather

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The following post may contain spoilers. If you have not seen Hunger Games or have not met President Snow of the Capitol personally, please continue at your own risk.I recently watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. I am fascinated by the way in which the Hunger Games franchise grips the imaginations of so many young people. The theme of the struggle for survival in the face of overwhelming odds stands out to me. Could it be that many children and young of heart (and old of hurt) … [Read more...]

With Palms and Hearts Joined: A Eulogy in Honor of Abbot Kyogen Carlson

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One of the greatest honors I have received is to have been given the responsibility of providing one of the eulogies at Abbot Kyogen Carlson’s memorial service on November 6th 2014. I am grateful to his widow Abbot Gyokuko Carlson (who currently serves as the Kanin, or Director of Dharma Rain Zen Center, where Kyogen also served), and to the rest of my friends at Dharma Rain and the larger Buddhist family. Many things stood out to me that evening at the memorial service as we remembered Kyogen t … [Read more...]

Ode to Eric Garner: “Can You Breathe Now?”

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We often take breathing for granted, unless we are like Eric Garner. His dying words haunt our nation’s conscience:  “I can’t breathe ... I can’t breathe.” Breathing is just something we do. We also take speaking out freely for granted. But I wasn’t taking breathing or speaking or responding freely for granted yesterday at church.People were breathing and responding freely yesterday at church as the preacher preached passionately on Matthew chapter 2. The preacher, Rev. Leroy Barber, was talk … [Read more...]

Why Didn’t God Become a Dog?

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The other day I asked my students in theology why God became a human rather than a dog. The point of the question was to get them to think through the theo-logic and significance of the incarnation.In our generation, we don’t think often of terms like nature and essence; so talk of Jesus being of the same nature as God in his deity and the same nature as us in our humanity does not always seem so important to many. Rather, we are often taken with categories pertaining to existential, p … [Read more...]

Interstellar and Entangled Ethics

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I watched Interstellar over the weekend and reflected on some of the reviews. My favorite review is by David Brooks in The New York Times titled “Love and Gravity.” Brooks highlights themes in the movie that also stood out to me. In a world where people all too often function as if we are still operating in a Newtonian-like framework of cogs and atomistic parts where individuals and their tribes compete for survival, I found the movie refreshing and metaphysically appealing. Here is what Brooks h … [Read more...]


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