Monday, March 24, 2008

In the World, Not of It

The concept of being "in the world, not of it" is one that many Christians strive to do. It is impossible for most of us, yet we try.

Today I am editing a course that my company has put together for the Joshua Center ( The Joshua Center focuses on helping the children who suffer from Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome, as well as their families and others who interact with the children. They're an amazing non-profit, and they do a ton of great work on a very limited budget. It's a true labor of love!

As I read the course, it talks about how children with Asperger syndrome live "in their own world, but within ours." How similar that sounded to me!

Since Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, I started thinking about whether we are called to be autistic related to the worldly, and it seems like a good comparison. I know that this is something I struggle with, because we're constantly bombarded with materialism, instant pleasure, and trying to keep up with the Joneses. But we're supposed to be autistic towards that, ignoring it as we live in the world that Jesus handed us.

I probably should have made this into a parable (I probably will later on), but I just read it a second ago, and felt compelled to write something...which is good since I've been a slacker lately!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day! An annual rite of drunken debauchery. In celebration of a...Christian holy leader? I know I'm not the first to be

So what are we really celebrating? Irish culture. I don't have a problem with that. In fact, I've always enjoyed St. Patrick's Day celebrations. I think that in moderation it's all in good fun, but why do we have to do so in the name of a Christian saint? Why can't it be Irish Day?

Of course, this isn't a first. We often have the same complaints about Easter and Christmas. That a rabbit and a fat man in a red suit take away from the true meaning. But in each of those cases, I would reverse my view. For those that treat Easter and Christmas as secular holidays, that's okay, because there are enough pageants, plays, songs, TV shows, etc. to remind even the most thick headed people what the holiday is really celebrating.

But not St. Patty's. The word "saint" is the only reference at all to the fact that it's a Christian-based holiday.

I'm not Catholic. I struggle mightily with the concepts of "sainthood." But that doesn't change the fact that I acknowledge Saints as the most influential men and women in the history of Christianity, except of course for Jesus himself.

Does Judaism or Islam have a day in which they venerate one of the great historical leaders with massive amounts of alcohol, a parade, and some people vomiting late in the evening? Not that I am aware of.

So can we take some time...even just a few minutes, and remember what we are really celebrating. Maybe we can be a bit more respectful of those great men and women who have come before us and laid the groundwork for our faith and our relationship with God and Christ.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Two Shepherds

Two shepherds were watching over a flock together. When they woke up one morning, one of the sheep was missing.

"We should go searching for it," the first shepherd said, but his friend said, "Who knows what happened? We can do nothing."

The next morning the two shepherds realized another sheep was missing.

"Two nights in a row! Now we have go look for the sheep," the first shepherd said, but his friend said, "Who knows what happened? We can do nothing."

When night came the first shepherd stayed awake to keep watch on the flock, while the second shepherd fell asleep. In the very early hours of the morning the shepherd caught a poor man sneaking in amongst the flock. Having captured the thief he yelled to the second shepherd, "Wake up! I told you we should have gone in search. Look! I have caught the thief!"

"Please," the poor man said, "I stole your two sheep, but I had to feed my family."

"Silence!" the second shepherd said, now fully awake. "You are a thief. You will be punished severely for this."

The first shepherd stepped forward and said to his friend, "What right do you have to judge this man? You chose to sleep while I kept watch. You have no authority over what becomes of him. You care so little for this flock, you no longer have a place watching over these sheep."

Having dismissed the second shepherd, the first turned to the poor man and said, "If you are willing to take this man's role, not only will I forgive you, but you will also be able to feed your family."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Ungrateful Woman

Tonight I read a story that is apparently a Zen parable. I was just sure I knew what the end was going to be, but when we got to the end, I was sorely disappointed. I felt it was absolutely the wrong message to send. So tonight, I'm changing that parable around into something that I feel is still applicable to Zen teaching, but more Christian in the ultimate moral.

A rich woman took two attendants with her when she went shopping. The rain poured down while she was shopping. When she exited the store, the sidewalks were flooded.

"Help me!" she yelled at her attendants, but both of their hands were full of sacks and boxes. "You worthless servants," she yelled, slapping at them.

Two men were walking by. The first one saw this woman and was disgusted by the way she was acting. The second walked over to her, lifted her onto his back and carried her to her vehicle. The woman refused to thank the man as she left.

As the two men walked on, the first said to his friend, "Why did you help that woman? Not only was she rude to you, but her behavior was despicable!"

"Why are you so upset by her?" the second man said. "Didn't you realize I did not do that to help the rich woman, I did it to relieve the suffering of her attendants. The rich have the power to help themselves, but the poor need others to help them."