God of the Living

Luke 20:27-38 – The 25th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, November 6, 2016

“Some Sadducees, who deny that there’s a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked . . .” (Luke 20:27)

debateSome Sadducees, who deny that there’s a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked . . .

For a moment, forget those ancient religious leaders and their long-ago queries. I’m still upset from watching the presidential debates.

Neither candidate answered much of anything, and ignored most questions to instead spout prepared bullet points about their wonderful policies or to sling well-practiced jabs at their opponent’s nation-ruining agenda.


catBoth candidates rehearsed quips, rejoinders, put-downs, one-liners, trash-talk, and gotcha comments long before a moderator posed a first question. Like a cartoon cat at the proverbial mouse hole in the wall, the candidates were eager to pounce.

In a national debate for the highest office in the land, both candidates dread a public meltdown while hoping their opponent does or says something stupid, crass, or embarrassing that will become a viral video and the worst kind of social media bon mot.

Substance is abandoned.

Information obscured.

Facts are negotiable.

My head hurts. Continue reading →

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The Specificity of Zacchaeus

Luke 19:1-10 – The 24th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 30, 2016

“When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, ‘Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.’” (Luke 19:5)

zacchaeusI live in Fresno, California’s fifth most populous city. It’s closer to more National Parks than any other major city in the United States.

Even though my legal name is Lawrence, Larry is preferred. If called Lawrence, a bit of me cringes with childish guilt. When in trouble as a kid—say, for “hypothetically” cleaning my room by shoving toys, books, and other childhood paraphernalia under the bed—my parents shouted, “Lawrence George Patten, come here!”

Speaking of names, it’s PattEn rather than PattOn. I call it the “Curse of the General,” since the World War II officer has more name recognition (and more Oscar-winning films) than anyone on the “E” side of the genealogy. Continue reading →

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Do Something Religious

Luke 18:9-14 – The 23rd Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 23, 2016

“Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust . . .” (Luke 18:9)

balloonsSome folks were on a hot air balloon ride, touring the countryside while suspended in a large wicker basket.

Cars appeared to be toys, humans looked like tiny figures in a video game. Hundreds of feet above the ground, they ooohhed and ahhhhed while the balloon climbed into the blue. Introductions were done informally and one of the passengers happened to be a minister.

Unfortunately the young lad piloting the balloon didn’t inspire confidence in the paying customers. He seemed a lackadaisical surfer dude with nothing better to do with his time. The waves weren’t any good today, might as well take the balloon up.

Problems started . . . perhaps a faulty burner or unexpected gust of wind. The balloon lost elevation. The pilot panicked. He had no idea what to do, but—whew—everything returned to normal in seconds. However, the group remained anxious and agitated.

A passenger implored the minister, “Do something religious!” Continue reading →

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