Saturday, March 07, 2009


Comic Art

Heroes and Artists - The Teen Titans

Chuck Patton

Michael Turner

Ale Garza

Mike McKone

George Perez

Technorati Tags:, , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Friday, March 06, 2009


And So, The Debate Continues

If we need any more evidence that the secularization of society is a religion unto itself, then I offer this NYTimes op-ed by Dennis Overbye. He confesses to crying at Obama's inaugural address when he said he would “restore science to its rightful place.” I, frankly, was entirely unaware that science had lost its place anywhere, but that is a policy debate I am not here to have at the moment. Says Overbye:
Science is not a monument of received Truth but something that people do to look for truth.

That endeavor, which has transformed the world in the last few centuries, does indeed teach values. Those values, among others, are honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, openness, accountability and tolerance and indeed hunger for opposing points of view. These are the unabashedly pragmatic working principles that guide the buzzing, testing, poking, probing, argumentative, gossiping, gadgety, joking, dreaming and tendentious cloud of activity — the writer and biologist Lewis Thomas once likened it to an anthill — that is slowly and thoroughly penetrating every nook and cranny of the world.

Nobody appeared in a cloud of smoke and taught scientists these virtues. This behavior simply evolved because it worked.
Oh the presumptive fallacies present in that little bit of rhetoric.

Science is in fact a "monument of received truth," for in studying His creation we learn of the Creator, that dear friends was the very thing that started science inside of Christendom. Creation itself is received truth.

And all those values he claims science teaches, "honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, openness, accountability and tolerance," what makes the valuable? Oh, could it be what Lewis called in The Abolition of Man, "The Tao." Science did not make those things valuable, it indeed uses their value, but it did not make them so.

Nope, our friend Mr. Overbye here sets up some caricature of faith and proceeds to debunk science as the only worthy response, when in fact the science he so loves is built on the shoulders of the real religion he fails to see.

But what is sad to this observer is that Overbye's caricature of faith is far from fictitious. Way too many claim genuine faith in Christ but do so in fashions that give credence to his claims. We supply him with the ammunition he needs to make these specious arguments. Sometimes I fear the caricature Christians outnumber the real Christians.

There is a fight between unfettered, amoral science, and people of faith and values. But the fight has to do with the amorality, not science. Further, when we of faith conduct the fight by merely claiming divine authority for morality, we intensify the struggle. Morality, whether ordained by God for the good of society, or as Lewis thought, something separate from God but which He embodied, exists for the good of us individually and corporately. We simply must learn to make our arguments for it apart from simple claims of divine ordination.

We have to quit being the caricatures they tilt up for the sake of their arguments.

We're losing as it is.

Technorati Tags:,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator


Friday Humor

Direct rip-off of Mostly Cajun:
An engineer engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his dossier and says, “Ah, you’re an engineer. You are in the wrong place.”

So, the engineer reports to the gates of hell and is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements.. After a while, they’ve got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is a pretty popular guy.

One day, God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, “So, how’s it going down there in hell?”

Satan replies, “Hey, things are going great. We’ve got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there’s no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.”

God replies, “What? You’ve got an engineer? That’s a mistake. He should never have gotten down there; send him up here.”

Satan says, “No way.” I like having an engineer on the staff, and I’m keeping him.”

God says, “Send him back up here or I’ll sue.”

Satan laughs uproariously and answers, “Yeah, right. And just where are you going to get a lawyer?”
Best Lawyer joke in a looooooooong time!

Technorati Tags:, , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Was Christ a Winner?

CNS News covers a story about athletic competiton amongst "Christian" schools and a situation that has gotten way, way out of hand. One girls basketball team beat another 100-o and the wining schoo'ls administration asked the coach to apologize, he refused and is now out of work. Said the school:
On its Web site last week, Covenant, a private Christian school, posted a statement regretting the outcome of its Jan. 13 shutout win over Dallas Academy. "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christlike and honorable approach to competition," said the statement, signed by Queal and board chair Todd Doshier.
Said the coach:
"In response to the statement posted on The Covenant School Web site, I do not agree with the apology or the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel embarrassed or ashamed," Grimes wrote in the e-mail, according to the newspaper. "We played the game as it was meant to be played. My values and my beliefs would not allow me to run up the score on any opponent, and it will not allow me to apologize for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity."
At first glance, the whole thing seems ridiculous to me, but if one thinks about it, it gets interesting.

Start with this - what is more humiliating? - to have played your hardest and lost big, or to have your opponent obviously tanking the game and still lose? I, for one, think the latter is far more humiliating. I have actually been through this.

My high school football coach was a great coach (went on to win several Division 3 national championships at Wheaton) and my senior year we had a great (undefeated, ranked #1) team. We shut out two of the opponents on our schedule that year scoring more than 50 points. Some of us on the sidelines took this as an opportunity to play around. We wanted to start switching jerseys and positions - you know offensive tackles playing wide out - that sort of stuff. While we did play the third and in some cases fourth string, we never did anything that would be obviously trying not to run the score up.

Somewhere in the second quarter when our #1 running back crossed the goal line, backwards, coach showed him the showers. We got the message real quick.

Humility is not a denial of our capabilities. Humility is thinking about the other, particularly as more important than yourself. It has nothing to do with winning or losing. Obviously tanking a game is rubbing your opponent's face in their lesser abilities. It is putting your own "sense" of humility first. It is not about asking what your opponent's needs are, it is about aswaging some misplaced guilt at being good.

We tend to forget that God is humble. He is good, competent, powerful, sinless, a winner, and He is humble. Winning, even winning big, does not demonstrate a lack of humility. Thinking that it does shows that one is thinking about winning and losing more than character and your opponent.

Oh, one last comment - In my athletic "career" I have also been the other end of the whole lopsided outcome thing - more than once. One time our opponent just played hard - as did we. We shook hands when it was over, our team took the lessons to practice and we got better. Next time we played them it was a near thing, and the year after that....

The other time the opposition got all showboat-y "trying not to run the score up." That's the one where the fight broke out.

Think about it.

Technorati Tags:, ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator


Illuminated Scripture

Technorati Tags:
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Science, Law, Causation

This NYTimes story is as old as the hills but far more irritating. It is the by now old saw about someone that spent "a lifetime" working with a chemical and in their old age has developed "symptoms" but they cannot get compensation because, well, there is no evidence linking the exposure and the injury.
How many people are caught in the same bind as Mr. Abney, “nobody really knows,” said Rafael Metzger, a California lawyer who specializes in cases involving diseases contracted in the workplace.

“Most workers who have an occupational disease don’t think they have an occupational disease,” Mr. Metzger said, adding that “the few who might think it are mostly not successful” in getting compensation “because there isn’t a robust body of literature to support the claim.”

Mr. Abney’s wife, Anita Susan Abney, is frustrated by the high standard of proof required. “If you’re saying in your study, ‘Yes, the dots have been connected,’ you should be able to say it in a court of law,” Ms. Abney said. “You should be able to say it at all levels.” She added, “I don’t blame it on the doctors, but on the strictness of the research.”
Now be careful and parse that little bit of rhetoric very thoughtfully. It says in essence, "We cannot connect the dots, but my client still ought to get paid." Are we to start using the force of law to transfer money around our society based on suspicion? I mean come on, give me a break!

But that is too obvious a point in this little corker of a propaganda piece. Here is the real matter that I want to address:
Individuals like Mr. Abney are caught between the conflicting imperatives of science and law — and there is a huge gap between what researchers are discovering about environmental contaminants and what they can prove about their impact on disease.
What "conflicting imperative?" What "gap?" Nope the difference is one between correlation and causation. This is a perfectly logical concept shared by science and the law.

Look I have all sorts of sympathy for the health problems being experienced by Mr. Abney and his co-workers. There is little doubt that they are part of some sort of symptomatic cluster. And yes, that cluster corresponds with the presence of the solvent they choose to blame it on. But, there is no causational pathway established, nor, and this is a vital nor, is there the elimination of other environmental factors in the area. Maybe it was dust from cutting the particular alloy they made pipe out of. Maybe it is some local agricultural product. Maybe there is some generations old genetic marker shared by the ill people. The amount of study required to simply eliminate all other corollary factors, let alone prove causation, is mind-boggling.

And so, on what amounts to suspicion, there people would start forcefully moving money around. That dear friends, would spell an end to civility in this nation. After all, I "suspect" everybody owes me money.

Technorati Tags:, ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Tuesday, March 03, 2009



Keith Buhler at Mere Orthodoxy writes that only in Christ can we know what to do with our leisure:
Thus begins Mathew Anger’s nice review of Joseph Pieper’s modern classic, Leisure: The Basis of Culture.

“Drawing on the Western sages, both pagan and Christian, Pieper is careful to make a clear distinction between leisure and idleness. The former refers to the contemplative side of man; the ability to passively receive knowledge and wisdom. This same sort of passivity is at work when we accept God’s grace.”

How many times in the last week has a friend (or have you?) complained of being “too busy”? If Pieper is right, this is not the result of too much activity, but not enough real rest.

“Cut off from the worship of the divine,” says Pieper, “leisure becomes laziness and work inhuman.”

Was thinking about this and decided to check out scriptures about "rest." The results were interesting:
Ps 37:7 - Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

Ps 55:6 - And I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.

Ps 62:7 - On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.

Ps 116:7 - Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

Prov 29:9 - When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.

Isa 14:3 - And it will be in the day when the LORD gives you rest from your pain and turmoil and harsh service in which you have been enslaved,

Matt 11:28-30 - "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."
Looking at all that scripture, it seems to me that God's understanding of rest is not inactivity or leisure, but rather a freedom from worry and concern. Christ promises us an easy yoke and a light load - not the absence thereof.

Keith concludes his post this way:
In contrast, Christian faith (and consequently Christian leisure)
means keeping inane distractions to a reasonable minimum and substituting for them things like reading, creative activities and, most of all, prayer.
I have to disagree in a fashion. Indeed devotional activity is mandatory for true rest; for such it is that allows us to stand in the Lord's presence and know not worry. But those things are not "Christian leisure."

We are sanctified, were are Christians - when we are at leisure, then it is Christian leisure provided we "working out our salvation."

Technorati Tags:,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator


Kitty Kartoons

Related Tags: , , ,

Monday, March 02, 2009


Joyless Church

Blue Fish linked to digital H2O who wrote:
My wife and I were leading a Christian holiday on which I preached through Philippians. During the week I had an alarming number of questions that went like this: "there is lots of joy in God in Philippians and none in my life. Does that mean something is wrong?" Yes it does! In each case I tried to find out what it was.


If I had asked a fifth question it would have been: have you been converted? My justification for doing so would be that I don't think you can say "I have no joy in God in my life, I have never known anything like that" and be certain that you are a Christian. If people genuinely know God, are thrilled by what he has done for them and want to discover what he wants for their life then they can't say that.
I have to agree AND disagree here. First the agreement. There is more to being a Christian than mere intellectual ascent to a set of ideas and principles. That "more" has many, many expressions. There is the "peace that passes all understanding;" there is "baptism in the Holy Spirit;" there is "joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart;" there is sanctification, and there is obedience.

Some people it seems come to this "more" and only develop an intellectual concept of what they come to later - or in some cases never. Some come to the intellectual first and the "more" later, or again not at all. Can someone who comes to the "more" first but never quite gets there with the intellectual said to be a complete Christian? What about the converse?

Which leads me to my disagreement. I am not sure that discovering the "more" will always lead to the "happy, happy, joy, joy" stuff. For such people, and sometimes I think I am one of them, the effort to access the "more" of being in and with Christ is simply that, effort. Exercising the spiritual disciplines will always take effort.

We live in the "already, not yet." Christ has come and we are perfected in His sight, but we remain prone to sin, as such we will always fall short in something. For some they will fall short in intellectual rigor. For some they will fall short in "joy."

A word of advice if you are working with a "joyless" person. If they seem genuine and honest in their pursuit of a life with Christ - do not add to their burden by telling them they fall short in the "joy" thing. Don't ask if they have "been converted." Such is to stand in judgment that God reserves purely for Himself. In such lies pride, and that calls into questions the state of your own "conversion."

Think about it.

Technorati Tags:, , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Sermons and Lessons

Paul Tillich

You Are Accepted

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. - Romans 5:20.

These words of Paul summarize his apostolic experience, his religious message as a whole, and the Christian understanding of life. To discuss these words, or to make them the text of even several sermons, has always seemed impossible to me. I have never dared to use them before. But something has driven me to consider them during the past few months, a desire to give witness to the two facts which appeared to me, in hours of retrospection, as the all-determining facts of our life: the abounding of sin and the greater abounding of grace.

There are few words more strange to most of us than “sin” and “grace.” They are strange, just because they are so well-known. During the centuries they have received distorting connotations, and have lost so much of their genuine power that we must seriously ask ourselves whether we should use them at all, or whether we should discard them as useless tools. But there is a mysterious fact about the great words of our religious tradition: they cannot be replaced. All attempts to make substitutions, including those I have tried myself, have failed to convey the reality that was to be expressed; they have led to shallow and impotent talk. There are no substitutes for words like “sin” and “grace”. But there is a way of rediscovering their meaning, the same way that leads us down into the depth of our human existence. In that depth these words were conceived; and there they gained power for all ages; there they must be found again by each generation, and by each of us for himself. Let us therefore try to penetrate the deeper levels of our life, in order to see whether we can discover in them the realities of which our text speaks.

Have the men of our time still a feeling of the meaning of sin? Do they, and do we, still realize that sin does not mean an immoral act, that “sin” should never be used in the plural, and that not our sins, but rather our sin is the great, all-pervading problem of our life? Do we still know that it is arrogant and erroneous to divide men by calling some “sinners” and others “righteous”? For by way of such a division, we can usually discover that we ourselves do not quite belong to the “sinners”, since we have avoided heavy sins, have made some progress in the control of this or that sin, and have been even humble enough not to call ourselves “righteous”. Are we still able to realize that this kind of thinking and feeling about sin is far removed from what the great religious tradition, both within and outside the Bible, has meant when it speaks of sin?

I should like to suggest another word to you, not as a substitute for the word “sin”, but as a useful clue in the interpretation of the word “sin”: “separation”. Separation is an aspect of the experience of everyone. Perhaps the word “sin” has the same root as the word “asunder”. In any case, sin is separation. To be in the state of sin is to be in the state of separation. And separation is threefold: there is separation among individual lives, separation of a man from himself, and separation of all men from the Ground of Being. This three-fold separation constitutes the state of everything that exists; it is a universal fact; it is the fate of every life. And it is our human fate in a very special sense. For we as men know that we are separated. We not only suffer with all other creatures because of the self-destructive consequences of our separation, but also know why we suffer. We know that we are estranged from something to which we really belong, and with which we should be united. We know that the fate of separation is not merely a natural event like a flash of sudden lightning, but that it is an experience in which we actively participate, in which our whole personality is involved, and that, as fate, it is also guilt. Separation which is fate and guilt constitutes the meaning of the word “sin”. It is this which is the state of our entire existence, from its very beginning to its very end. Such separation is prepared in the mother’s womb, and before that time, in every preceding generation. It is manifest in the special actions of our conscious life. It reaches beyond our graves into all the succeeding generations. It is our existence itself. Existence is separation! Before sin is an act, it is a state.

We can say the same things about grace. For sin and grace are bound to each other. We do not even have a knowledge of sin unless we have already experienced the unity of life, which is grace. And conversely, we could not grasp the meaning of grace without having experienced the separation of life, which is sin. Grace is just as difficult to describe as sin. For some people, grace is the willingness of a divine king and father to forgive over and again the foolishness and weakness of his subjects and children. We must reject such a concept of grace; for it is a merely childish destruction of a human dignity. For others, grace is a magic power in the dark places of the soul, but a power without any significance for practical life, a quickly vanishing and useless idea. For others, grace is the benevolence that we may find beside the cruelty and destructiveness in life. But then, it does not matter whether we say “life goes on”, or whether we say “there is grace in life”; if grace means no more than this, the word should, and will, disappear. For other people, grace indicates the gifts that one has received from nature or society, and the power to do good things with the help of those gifts. But grace is more than gifts. In grace something is overcome; grace occurs “in spite of” something; grace occurs in spite of separation and estrangement. Grace is the reunion of life with life, the reconciliation of the self with itself. Grace is the acceptance of that which is rejected. Grace transforms fate into a meaningful destiny; it changes guilt into confidence and courage. There is something triumphant in the word “grace”: in spite of the abounding of sin grace abounds much more.

And now let us look down into ourselves to discover there the struggle between separation and reunion, between sin and grace, in our relation to others, in our relation to ourselves, and in our relation to the Ground and aim of our being. If our souls respond to the description that I intend to give, words like “sin” and “separation”, “grace” and “reunion”, may have a new meaning for us. But the words themselves are not important. It is the response of the deepest levels of our being that is important. If such a response were to occur among us this moment, we could say that we have known grace.

Who has not, at some time, been lonely in the midst of a social event? The feeling of our separation from the rest of lift is most acute when we are surrounded by it in noise and talk. We realize then much more than in moments of solitude how strange we are to each other, how estranged lift is from lift. Each one of us draws back into himself We cannot penetrate the hidden centre of another individual; nor can that individual pass beyond the shroud that covers our own being. Even the greatest love cannot break through the walls of the self Who has not experienced that disillusionment of all great love? If one were to hurl away his self in complete self surrender, he would become a nothing, without form or strength, a self without self, merely an object of contempt and abuse. Our generation knows more than the generation of our fathers about the hidden hostility in the ground of our souls. Today we know much about the profusive aggressiveness in every being. Today we can confirm what Immanuel Kant, the prophet of human reason and dignity; was honest enough to say: there is something in the misfortune of our best friends which does not displease us. Who amongst us is dishonest enough to deny that this is true also of him? Are we not almost always ready to abuse everybody and everything, although often in a very refined way, for the pleasure of self elevation, for an occasion for boasting, for a moment of lust? To know that we are ready is to know the meaning of the separation of lift from lift, and of “sin abounding”.

The most irrevocable expression of the separation of lift from lift today is the attitude of social groups within nations towards each other, and the attitude of nations themselves to-wards other nations. The walls of distance, in time and space, have been removed by technical progress but the walls of estrangement between heart and heart have been incredibly strengthened. The madness of the German Nazis and the cruelty of the lynching mobs in the South provide too easy an excuse for us to turn our thoughts from our own selves. But let us just consider ourselves and what we feel, when we read, this morning and tonight, that in some sections of Europe all children under the age of three are sick and dying, or that in some sections of Asia millions without homes are freezing and starving to death. The strangeness of lift to lift is evident in the strange fact that we can know all this, and yet can live today, this morning, tonight, as though we were completely ignorant. And I refer to the most sensitive people amongst us. In both mankind and nature, life is separated from life. Estrangement prevails among all things that live. Sin abounds.

It is important to remember that we are not merely separated from each other. For we are also separated from ourselves. Man Against Himself is not merely the title of a book, but rather also indicates the rediscovery of an age-old insight. Man is split within himself. Life moves against itself through aggression, hate, and despair. We are wont to condemn self-love; but what we really mean to condemn is contrary to self-love. It is that mixture of selfishness and self-hate that permanently pursues us, that prevents us from loving others, and that prohibits us from losing ourselves in the love with which we are loved eternally. He who is able to love himself is able to love others also; he who has learned to overcome self-contempt has overcome his contempt for others. But the depth of our separation lies in just the fact that we are not capable of a great and merciful divine love towards ourselves. On the contrary, in each of us there is an instinct of self-destruction, which is as strong as our instinct of self-preservation. In our tendency to abuse and destroy others, there is an open or hidden tendency to abuse and to destroy ourselves. Cruelty towards others is always also cruelty towards ourselves. Nothing is more obvious than the split in both our unconscious life and conscious personality. Without the help of modern psychology, Paul expressed the fact in his famous words, “For I do not do the good I desire, but rather the evil that I do not desire.” And then he continued in words that might well be the motto of all depth psychology: “Now if I should do what I do not wish to do, it is not I that do it, but rather sin which dwells within me.” The apostle sensed a split between his conscious will and his real will, between himself and something strange within and alien to him. He was estranged from himself; and that estrangement he called “sin”. He also called it a strange “law in his limbs”, an irresistible compulsion. How often we commit certain acts in perfect consciousness, yet with the shocking sense that we are being controlled by an alien power! That is the experience of the separation of ourselves from ourselves, which is to say “sin,” whether or not we like to use that word.

Thus, the state of our whole life is estrangement from others and ourselves, because we are estranged from the Ground of our being, because we are estranged from the origin and aim of our life. And we do not know where we have come from, or where we are going. We are separated from the mystery, the depth, and the greatness of our existence. We hear the voice of that depth; but our ears are closed. We feel that something radical, total, and unconditioned is demanded of us; but we rebel against it, try to escape its urgency, and will not accept its promise.

We cannot escape, however. If that something is the Ground of our being, we are bound to it for all eternity, just as we are bound to ourselves and to all other life. We always remain in the power of that from which we are estranged. That fact brings us to the ultimate depth of sin: separated and yet bound, estranged and yet belonging, destroyed and yet preserved, the state which is called despair. Despair means that there is no escape. Despair is “the sickness unto death.” But the terrible thing about the sickness of despair is that we cannot be released, not even through open or hidden suicide. For we all know that we are bound eternally and inescapably to the Ground of our being. The abyss of separation is not always visible. But it has become more visible to our generation than to the preceding generations, because of our feeling of meaninglessness, emptiness, doubt, and cynicism - all expressions of despair, of our separation from the roots and the meaning of our life. Sin in its most profound sense, sin, as despair, abounds amongst us.

“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”, says Paul in the same letter in which he describes the unimaginable power of separation and self-destruction within society and the individual soul. He does not say these words because sentimental interests demand a happy ending for everything tragic. He says them because they describe the most overwhelming and determining experience of his life. In the picture of Jesus as the Christ, which appeared to him at the moment of his greatest separation from other men, from himself and God, he found himself accepted in spite of his being rejected. And when he found that he was accepted, he was able to accept himself and to be reconciled to others. The moment in which grace struck him and overwhelmed him, he was reunited with that to which he belonged, and from which he was estranged in utter strangeness. Do we know what it means to be struck by grace? It does not mean that we suddenly believe that God exists, or that Jesus is the Saviour, or that the Bible contains the truth. To believe that something is, is almost contrary to the meaning of grace. Furthermore, grace does not mean simply that we are making progress in our moral self-control, in our fight against special faults, and in our relationships to men and to society. Moral progress may be a fruit of grace; but it is not grace itself, and it can even prevent us from receiving grace. For there is too often a graceless acceptance of Christian doctrines and a graceless battle against the structures of evil in our personalities. Such a graceless relation to God may lead us by necessity either to arrogance or to despair. It would be better to refuse God and the Christ and the Bible than to accept Them without grace. For if we accept without grace, we do so in the state of separation, and can only succeed in deepening the separation. We cannot transform our lives, unless we allow them to be transformed by that stroke of grace. It happens; or it does not happen. And certainly it does not happen if we try to force it upon ourselves, just as it shall not happen so long as we think, in our self-complacency, that we have no need of it. Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us. It strikes us when year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: “You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!” If that happens to us, we experience grace. After such an experience we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed. In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance.

In the light of this grace we perceive the power of grace in our relation to others and to ourselves. We experience the grace of being able to look frankly into the eyes of another, the miraculous grace of reunion of life with life. We experience the grace of understanding each other’s words. We understand not merely the literal meaning of the words, but also that which lies behind them, even when they are harsh or angry. For even then there is a longing to break through the walls of separation. We experience the grace of being able to accept the life of another, even if it be hostile and harmful to us, for, through grace, we know that it belongs to the same Ground to which we belong, and by which we have been accepted. We experience the grace which is able to overcome the tragic separation of the sexes, of the generations, of the nations, of the races, and even the utter strangeness between man and nature. Sometimes grace appears in all these separations to reunite us with those to whom we belong. For life belongs to life.

And in the light of this grace we perceive the power of grace in our relation to ourselves. We experience moments in which we accept ourselves, because we feel that we have been accepted by that which is greater than we. If only more such moments were given to us! For it is such moments that make us love our life, that make us accept ourselves, not in our goodness and self-complacency, but in our certainty of the eternal meaning of our life. We cannot force ourselves to accept ourselves. We cannot compel anyone to accept himself. But sometimes it happens that we receive the power to say “yes” to ourselves, that peace enters into us and makes us whole, that self-hate and self-contempt disappear, and that our self is reunited with itself. Then we can say that grace has come upon us.

“Sin” and “grace” are strange words; but they are not strange things. We find them whenever we look into ourselves with searching eyes and longing hearts. They determine our life. They abound within us and in all of life. May grace more abound within us!

Technorati Tags:, ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Feed


eXTReMe Tracker

Blogarama - The Blog Directory