From My Reading

“As Christians, we need to make it a top priority to care for God’s creation and the abundance it is meant to provide for all of God’s children – especially the poorest and most vulnerable – now and in future generations.  In some cases, that may mean denominations, congregations, and churches officially pledging to meet Paris [climate accord] targets with their own facilities and operations. It should also mean continued pressure on political leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to commit to the goals. We also need to continue to make the moral and spiritual case for global climate action and environmental justice.  As God’s children, we are called to treat the Earth – our only home and a sacred gift from our Creator – with the love and respect it deserves” (Jim Wallis in Sojourner magazine, August, 2017).

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“As we all are well aware, we live in a divided and divisive time.  We have always had our differences, but in the U.S. today, and in many other countries, there is a polarization that cuts right through, leaving us fearful, angry suspicious.  Underneath, many of our most divisive arguments are a disagreement about which is better – – deep or wide.  Should we hunker down with the people who look and think like we do? Or should we embrace the diversity and internationalism of the age?

Fortunately, the answer to this question is right here in this song [the hymn Deep and Wide].  All we have to do is listen for the most important word.  It’s not “deep.” But it’s not “wide” either. It’s “and.” There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide. Not deep “or” wide.” Not deep “but” wide.  Certainly not deep “versus” wide. A fountain flowing deep “and” wide.” For people of faith, this fountain represents the depth and breadth of God’s love for us. . . . Scripture tells us we were created in the image of God, suggesting that we, too, were meant to be both deep and wide.  Deep engagement with faith and wide engagement with others are not only compatible but complementary, reinforcing each other”  (Dr. Charles Green, professor psychology at Hope College in Holland, MI, speaking to the graduating class of 2017, published in News from Hope College, Summer, 2017 ).

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Jesus’ story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and his story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) are both wonderful illustrations of how Jesus turns a spirituality of climbing, achieving, and perfection upside down. In both stories, the ones who have done it wrong and are humble about it (the younger son and the tax collector) are the ones who are forgiven, transformed, and rewarded. Those who are proud of how they have done everything right—but also feel superior to others, or feel they are now entitled—are not open to God’s blessing.

This is Jesus’ Great Reversal theme. He turns religion on its head. We thought we came to God by doing it right, and lo and behold, surprise of surprises, we come to God by doing it wrong—and growing because of it! The only things strong enough to break open our heart are things like pain, mistakes, unjust suffering, tragedy, failure, and the general absurdity of life. I wish it were not so, but it clearly is.Fortunately, life will lead us to the edge of our own resources through such events. We must be led to an experience or situation that we cannot fix or control or understand. That’s where faith begins. Up to that moment it has just been religion! Only on the other side do you know that everything has been preparation” (Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation for  August 3, 2017).

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“I see our history in a rather long perspective.  Twenty billion years of this universe.  Six billion years of the solar system. Four and seven-tenths billion years of the earth.  Three billion years of life on earth. Three million years of human life. Ten thousand years of civilization. And then a trivial two hundred years of the Industrial Revolution to bring us to the edge of self-distinction” (George Wald, “Therefore Choose Life” in The Sun, August, 2017.)

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