Beware the Holy Banana Peel

banana peel oopsThe photographer wanted cheesecake. Some skin. A flash of teen flesh.

I refused.

How about angling your glasses so they are crooked on your nose or make a silly face?

Still I refused. What was the Joker’s ominous question in 2008’s Dark Knight? “Why be so serious?” But then I was so serious. (Hey, I’m probably still too serious.)

Way, way back in high school I was voted “funniest” in my graduating class. We selected the usual categories: “most likely to succeed,” “best looking” and “cutest couple.” I was class clown. Please note, I never included this honor on my college application forms, but I was proud of the designation. I knew why I’d won. During my senior year, a friend and I followed our high school’s intercom announcements with humorous weekly predictions about upcoming sporting events. We joked about the basketball or football team to encourage students to attend the games.

We were actually funny. Well, sometimes! Continue reading →

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No Miracle at the Mormon Church

Mormon Temple
Awe-inspiring skies over the Temple at my neighborhood Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

There was no miracle.

Years ago, soon after departing fulltime church work and its weekly sermonizing, meetings-in-the-evening, annual-reports-to-the-denomination obligations, I avoided getting hauled into the net of Mormonism.

I have my own private doubts about Biblical miracles. Sorry, it’s true. But as a Christian, I haven’t spent much time defending or denying that Jesus preformed miracles. I’m also not overly interested if Buddha or Krishna were involved with miracles. Regardless of which religion, please deliver me from explaining the—according to Mirriam-Webster’s 10th edition—“extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”

However, I like that the word “miracle” is from the Latin, miraculum. A wonder, a marvel.

But Jesus walking on water? Water into wine? No, I’m too modern, too cynical, and too analytical to embrace miracles. I know that Jesus—like Muhammad after or all the Jewish Biblical prophets and priests before—lived in a time when miracles were part of daily life. Last month, my wall calendar noted a “total lunar eclipse” on the same Monday we celebrated Martin Luther King Day. Many witnessed the moon’s “disappearance.” Once, it would have been a divine intervention, an omen, or a miracle. Instead, eclipses have become predictable and understandable events. They are on our calendars! Though we 21st century dwellers know less than we think, we do know the hows and whys for lots of stuff. Continue reading →

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Jesus’ Homecoming, Part 2

faith on the edgeIt is that moment.

Jesus continued to sit in his hometown synagogue on the Sabbath while those in the crowded worship space gazed at him. He’d finished reading Isaiah, but the hopeful words echo, if not in the room, then certainly in their hearts.

No one whispered. Not a cough. Several held their breath. All eyes remained wide open.

The synagogue thrummed with expectation.

“Today,” Jesus said, “this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

So far, the scripture he read has been safe. Isaiah’s call for the release of the captives and sight to the blind resonated with Jesus’ neighbors. As Jews with long memories, they had a history of captivity. Their ancestors wept by the waters of Babylon. As Jews of today, Rome’s empire oppressed them. They seethed about taxes and cowered when a Roman sword was drawn. But some day they’d be free. On some tomorrow all would clearly see, literally and figuratively. Not now, but soon.

But Jesus had more to say. His next words didn’t inspire once-upon-a-time dreams or somewhere-over-the-rainbow longings, but confronted the pettiness and arrogance of every soul in the stuffy synagogue. Continue reading →

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