For Where Your Bling Is…

Jesus was not a cardiologist. And yet, I would guess that many modern cardiologists, along with the majority of people, would agree with this long-ago statement from Matthew 6:21:

For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.

Did Jesus really say it? The Jesus Seminar scholars, a loose-knit group of academics that have rigorously examined Jesus’ words in the Gospels (and who challenge readers to realize some of Jesus’ statements may have been “invented” by the Gospel writers), had mixed reactions to this verse.

A version of these verses also appears in Luke 12:33-34 and the Gospel of Thomas 76:3. Did Jesus say it? There’s no doubt that scholars can debate its veracity. But I believe the statement; those brief words can rattle and rekindle my faith.

Belief believes.

I recall when a friend called to tell me he was scheduled for a procedure in the near future. An angiogram. There might be more if blockage was found, including a stent placed in one or more of his arteries. He and his cardiologist had been monitoring some cardiac aberrations and it was past time to take a closer look.

I think my friend was afraid. (I would be too.) Continue reading →

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Boiling Down the Commandments

In Mel Brooks’ 1981 film History of the World-Part 1, Moses strides down the mountain with three stone tablets.

“God gave us fifteen—”

Oops! Moses (played of course by Brooks) dropped one. It shattered. Hmmm?

“God gives us ten commandments.”

Charlton Heston, surely closer to Moses’ appearance than Mel Brooks, witnessed the commandments being created, word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase. A holy fire blazed and cut each rock-bound letter. How many people are more familiar with Cecille B. DeMille’s 1956 The Ten Commandments than the Bible’s top ten list? I mean, isn’t DeMille’s film really a documentary?

Long ago, at my regional United Methodist annual conference, with a thousand clergy and laity in a tense debate over the values of faith, a young pastor stood and declared that all churches should have the Ten Commandments visibly posted in the sanctuary. Every parishioner, every Sunday, would be reminded of God’s laws.

With loudspeakers amplifying his voice, he declared, “It should be exactly as the Bible said!” Continue reading →

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Waking Up to Another (and Another) Death in America

From 1992’s Unforgiven.*

It was a week of bullets.

Like last week. Like last year. Like last decade. And the decade before that. Like when a Democrat was president. Like when a Republican was president.

A person about my age,

In his sixties, on the playing fields of youth,

On a bright blue early morning in Virginia,

Started shooting.

And shooting. Were the early reports really true? Was the man with two guns and hundreds of bullets targeting Republicans serving in Congress?

The bright blue bruise of a day had just begun, for on the west coast a solitary man in a UPS uniform entered his former employers in San Francisco and opened fire. He shot and killed three. Wounded two. And then he squeezed the trigger one last time. He won’t be answering any questions about why he took this gruesome action.

Two lone men. Right coast. Left coast. Two “mass shootings.”

And yet not alone.

For no reason other than seeking a city that infrequently makes the national media—and a city I’ve visited—I searched the news about Albuquerque, New Mexico. On June 5, I learned that two men had been shot. Another “mass shooting”—meaning multiple victims. But I could’ve found others wounded or killed elsewhere. In the last 72 hours (I started these words on June 16, 2017), there were 29 mass shootings in America. Continue reading →

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