“Blessed are those who mourn”—not those who are spiritually comfortable

Have you heard the expression, “God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable”? It does not originate from Jesus or from Monty Python’s cult classic Life of Brian, for that matter; rather, it originates from journalism. According to blogger Tim Stewart, journalists referenced it in terms of the “watchdog” role that they felt newspapers were obligated to have. To journalists, the “afflicted” were the victims of crime or corruption in the big city. The “comfortable” were the fat cats in… Read more

Droning on about Drones in Warfare: To Use or Not to Use? That is the Question

Science fiction often gives us a sense of the future, as a Complex article notes. Britain’s Ministry of Defence alluded to science fiction’s The Terminator in its discussion of drone warfare back in 2011, according to the UK’s Guardian.  As noted in The Guardian, The report warns of the dangers of an “incremental and involuntary journey towards a Terminator-like reality”, referring to James Cameron’s 1984 movie, in which humans are hunted by robotic killing machines…“It is essential that before unmanned… Read more

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”—not those with spiritual bravado

I suppose it is easy for many people to feel a sense of superhuman capability when entering the New Year. After all, a new year of life brings confidence and hope and new beginnings. Couple this with the American “can do anything” attitude and one can feel like Superman or Superwoman. A sense of optimism and an unconquerable spirit certainly have their place and can be of great help when facing significant obstacles and overwhelming odds. Against this backdrop, it might… Read more

Laugh in the New Year

Laughter is good for one’s well-being, as some researches will tell you. But not any kind of laughter, I’m sure. Mocking, cynical and disbelieving laughter only poison one’s being. Laughter bound up with joy, gladness and thanksgiving are very powerful forces. Just think of the following text: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22; ESV). I was reminded of this reality when reflecting upon the lives of Sarah and Abraham in… Read more

The Neglected God Calls Us to Reach Out to the Neglected at Christmas: God with Us and Them—Immanuel

You have heard the saying, “Misery loves company.” How about loneliness, or is that a contradiction in terms? Still, I thought I would reflect upon the subject given that Christmas is likely one of the loneliest days of the year. How can this be given that Christmas is considered perhaps the most joyous and communal holiday for a great number of people across the world? No doubt, all the emphasis on joy and community highlights all the more the social… Read more

Tis the Season All Year Round: “Collective Atheism” and the Collective Good

By Paul Louis Metzger and John W. Morehead* “Tis the season to be jolly,” as the Christmas carol line goes, not hostile. Yet hostility over the public display of religious symbols and public speech regarding religion bound up with Christmas has often put a damper on the season festivities. This year during the holiday season, an irreligious invocation at a civic gathering in Florida has stoked the fires again. Can we make a Christmas and New Year’s resolution that religious… Read more

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

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!… Read more

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

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… Read more

“Hunger Games” and Birds of a Mockingjay Feather

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… Read more

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

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… Read more

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