Don’t Take Pentecost So Literally


I was born and raised in California where Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco are prominent cities. Rivers flowing within the state’s borders include the San Joaquin and Merced. The Golden State is famous for the El Camino Real, the wandering trail linking the twenty-one Roman Catholic missions founded by Father Junípero Serra between 1769-1823.

History proclaims a lesson in Spanish nearly everywhere in California. I went to school by Sacramento, the town of the sacrament. My grandparents owned a farm near the Merced River, the river of mercy. In elementary school, learning Spanish was required. Though not as extensive as the proverbial 3 Rs of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, we studied the language of Father Serra and those famous missions.

I was lousy at Spanish, even after escaping the elementary years. At most, I can count to ten:  uno, dos, trace, cuatro, cinco . . . Continue reading →

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My Flawed Views on Abortion

chalkboardI was ordained four years after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Several months following my United Methodist-approved call to “preach the good news,” I sat in a sparse room with a woman who had been assaulted. It was just the two of us. I do not recall her words. I do not recall my responses. I do not recall what I prayed.

The silence I remember.

The knowing that I knew nothing, I remember.

Gazing through the decades, I am fairly confident we never talked about abortions. And yet abortion may have been one of the grim topics she would be forced to consider. How could she heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually? How often would the police question her and make her relive the terror? Among her family and friends, who should she tell or not tell about the horror? The questions—the what ifs, the why mes, the now whats—must have been awful for her.

Does any abortion ever occur in a good circumstance? Continue reading →

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The Unknown

unknown godAccording to the seventeenth chapter of Acts, Paul stood at Athens’ Areopagus and challenged the Greeks about worshipping an “unknown God.” In a city and an era where many gods were worshipped, Paul had stumbled onto a local altar with words claiming allegiance to that “unknown” deity.

I’m impressed by Paul’s first-century speech in Acts. With rousing philosophical arguments, he out-Greeked the Greeks. Paul’s blunt exhortation about worshipping the one true God of his faith versus the many false Gods of their culture was faithful and persuasive.

The God Paul proclaimed was not unknown! God was real, and could never be understood by creating shrines of gold or silver. In a smattering of verses, the author of Acts had Paul recount creation, alluding to Adam and Eden, and declaring a confidence in a God that has “fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness . . .” The past was obvious. The future was set. All things were known.

How dare anyone worship an unknown God!

And yet I do. Continue reading →

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