Sunday, August 3, 2014

Martin gets a haircut

Favorite Scene:

  • Johann von Staupitz (Bruno Ganz):  "Martin, I wanted you to reform the church, not destroy it"
  • Martin Luther (Joseph Fiennes): "When you sent me out so boldly to the change the world that day, did you really think that there would be no cost?"

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Thirst for Attachment (the truth of Tanha)

2014.03.21 thirst for attachment

From my lecture this week:
  • Buddha articulated the second noble truth, the truth of Tanha (thirst, craving, unsatisfied longing, the will to live).
  • Buddhists often use the analogy of a flame to describe the burning desire of Tanha.
  •  Tanha is also a thirst for attachment, ideals, views, opinions, theories, conceptions, beliefs
I am sitting at FIU taking a short break. I realize that my date with a very nice person last week caused me to open a little window of hope in my heart for a romantic attachment, and it quickly released an emotional floodgate, ultimately resulting in depression. It has been a rough week. Now I have to put the genie back into the bottle = let go of any attachment to outcomes and embrace being alone again, or non-attachment.

I have already gone through an excruciating process of letting go of my attachment to “ideals, views, opinions, theories, conceptions, beliefs” as well as ministry and mission. What else? My own personal “hero myth”? …. The Christian missionary action figure who saves the world …. (sigh …smh).

I have to let the thirst for attachment die in me …. How can I reprocess that? How can I change my focus?
This is good, I never thought that Buddhism could be so helpful for me on a personal level.
This reminds me of the conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman in the gospel of John, chapter 4

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Maybe there is more I need to learn about the living water which should, theoretically, be springing up within me.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The 99 and the Lost Shepherd: A Modern Parable

....or maybe postmodern, I really don't know ....

Once open a time, there was a faithful shepherd who lived in a place called Churchville. The Shepherd’s job was to keep watch over one hundred sheep, making sure they had good pastures, clean water and protection from wild predators. He made very little money, but it really did not matter to him, for he lived simply and he truly loved the sheep. The truth is, he would have cared for them for free, such was his love for the flock.

Every night as the shepherd led the flock into the church-pen (there were several church-pens in Churchville) for their protection as they slept, he carefully counted them to make sure that all one hundred were there and none were missing. One night, he counted only ninety and nine. One was missing!

What was the shepherd to do? He didn't want to leave the 99 sheep alone and unprotected, but he worried about the missing one. What if it was in danger? What if it were stuck in a fence, or hanging over a cliff? He spent a terrible night of anxiety.  However rationality and the weight of numbers told him that it was smarter to protect the 99 than it was to put them at risk by leaving to go look for just one lost sheep that had foolishly wandered off.

 The next day, as he led the flock out to graze on the hill sides, he strained his eyes in every direction, looking for the lost sheep, but to no avail. That night, there were still only 99 sheep and he tossed and turned, fighting growling and biting zombie sheep in his nightmares as he searched for the one lost and helpless sheep.

The third night, he could stand it no longer, and after he got the righteous sheep settled for the night, he left and went looking for the lost sheep by the light of the full moon. He remembered an area with underground caverns with many holes and pits that opened up into the caverns called the ‘reelworld.’ As he neared the reelworld, he began to hear the bleating of the lost sheep calling for help. Just as he was about to lower himself down into the pit to go to its rescue, he was attacked by a half dozen of the strongest righteous sheep who had followed him curiously from the sheep pen. “Shepherd! What are you doing? Are you crazy? You cannot go down there, you might get hurt or worse, and we would be left helpless, with no one to feed us and protect us! For you own good, we must take you home.”

So they pulled a bag over his head and tied his hands and dragged him back to the church-pen.

For several days he tried to forget about the lost sheep. He understood the 99’s reasons for fearing the reelworld and for not wanting to risk losing their shepherd. Nevertheless, only with great difficulty was he able to put the lost sheep out of his mind. Finally, he could stand it no longer and decided that, if he was to be worth his salt, he had to try once again to save the lost sheep, if indeed it was still alive. So, again, but this time more quietly and stealthily, he slipped out of the church-pen and went off to find the lost sheep in the reelworld.

This time, he arrived alone at the same location and managed to climb down into the pit of the reelworld where he found the lost sheep, emaciated, dirty and unwashed, but miraculously alive. Rejoicing, he was able to free the sheep, feed it emergency rations that he had brought with him, and climbed out of the pit and set off with the lost sheep over his shoulders back to the church-pen in Churchville.

As the sun was rising, he arrived at the entrance to the church-pen. The way was blocked by some angry looking sheep. “Shepherd! Where have you been? You gave us such a scare!”

“Yes but look,” cried the shepherd, “I have found your sister, the precious lost sheep, and I have brought her home! All the angels in heaven are rejoicing over this one lost sheep that was lost but now is found!”

The angry sheep looked warily at the lost sheep, disheveled and torn, emaciated with matted hair, and they wrinkled their noses in disgust. “She stinks! Who knows what nasty things she has done in the reelworld? She looks like she has parasites! She probably even has STDs! She cannot come in to our church-pen”, she will make us ritually impure!”

The Shepherd looked at them in shock, his mouth dropping open in stunned disbelief.

The 99 sheep rushed the shepherd and tore the lost sheep out of his hands, and drove her away with many harsh blows and nasty words. The lost sheep ran weeping, now more miserable than ever. The shepherd was absolutely broken-hearted. His soul was ripped in half and his whole carefully constructed theological worldview was crashing down around him.

When the 99 sheep returned, they decided to have a serious talk with the shepherd. They exhorted and counseled him, they prophesied to him, they read to him from scripture. They even laid hands upon him and some prayed in tongues over him. One or two sheep even rebuked the devil in him. They decided to pay for him to get counseling and to possibly set him up in a twelve-step accountability program to help cure him of his obsession with lost sheep and the reelworld.

That night, after all had gone to sleep. The shepherd, broken hearted and depressed, managed to slip away one more time. This time as he left, he broke his shepherd’s staff over his knee, and removed his shepherd’s tunic. He renounced his shepherd’s calling and decided to lose himself in the reelworld like the lost sheep that he had formerly sought.

He came to the pit and lowered himself down into the reelworld, where he found there were other lost sheep from other church-pens. He decided to stay with the lost sheep and become one of them, and they welcomed him with open arms and he cared for them in the reelworld, and in return, they lovingly cared for him as well.

Matt 23:13

THE END (for now)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Faith vs. Ideology? What is the difference?

Below is a paragraph that I wrote a couple of years ago when I was reading through some literature about ideology for my dissertation. How can we distinguish between godly faith and political ideology in the public square? 

"How can religious ideology be distinguished from religious faith? Ideology contains certainties; faith contains mysteries. Ideology promotes militancy; faith promotes humility. Ideology must be implemented with energetic human force; faith rests in the providence of God. Ideology produces antagonism between opposing parties; faith produces love for one’s enemy that bridges oppositions."

Holding a political philosophy or ideology is not necessarily wrong, in fact, it may be necessary in order to participate in the public square. But how do we keep our political ideology distinct from our faith? How do we make room for brothers and sisters to share our faith (one faith) but respect them if they choose to identify with the opposing political ideology?  

How do we advocate for our political ideology in the public square without confusing the public about our faith? 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

David Fitch "Christian Nation"

Here is the chapter on the "Christian Nation" from Dave Fitch's book The End of Evangelicalism?

He is focusing on the problem of the merger of Evangelical faith with political ideology. The idea of a Christian Nation is one of the "master signifiers," in his view, that serves as a unifying symbol for the conservative Evangelical political ideology. (Fitch is theologically conservative). His overall point is that by tying Evangelical faith to a political ideology (and even a  political party) which is now in trouble in the public sphere, as the ideology falls on hard times, Evangelical faith falls with it. Especially among the emerging generation of young adults.

I hope this does not sound too harsh, but this particular issue reminds of Jesus' words in Matthew 23:


13 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.
(emphasis mine)
If you would rather download the PDF file and read it, you can access it on my Scrbd account

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sowing in a shattered society

Brian Emmett speaking on "sowing in a shattered society" in San Antonio, Texas in October of 2013. Brian discusses the Daniel paradigm of living in empire and discusses how to be "excentric" people (having a different focus). He also discusses the importance of being discerning about the spiritual influences of technology.


Friday, October 11, 2013


Here is a summary/overview of my dissertation project

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cuba and Brazil,, 1920s to 1930s

This is the PowerPoint that goes with my 10 page overview describing my five year dissertation research project. Enjoy... I know I did!

Catholic Student Movements - Dissertation

This is the 10 page overview and summary for my dissertation defense next Thursday. 

"Catholic Student Movements in Latin America: Cuba and Brazil, 1920s TO 1960s"