A flash of silver amidst the Gold | Relax–

If you like the occasional zing! of swords in church, you’d like the Roman Catholic rite.  I’ve never looked into any meaning of anything to do with the Knights of Columbus, other than …

Source: A flash of silver amidst the Gold | Relax–

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Christian Kung Fu

A Daily Slog


Kung Fu is a word that conjures up images of deadly acrobatics. But the word simply means extended effort. Not part of the definition, but critical to it, is the idea of humility. To subject yourself to authority, to subject yourself to long and intense effort toward a goal requires humility in its fullest sense. And that does not merely mean being self-effacing.

Humility is simply knowing who you are.

In today’s Gospel, Paul is writing to the Corinthians about his preaching to them. After talking about how he handed to them what had been handed to him (A master, student, student becomes master, gets his own students, kind of relationship – a staple of virtually every “kung fu” movie) he talks about how the resurrected Christ appeared to the apostles and then:

Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the Apostles, not fit to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.

Now that seems to be the type of humility most people think about – especially the aberrant understanding of Christian humility, a breast pounding mea culpa. But, read what he says next:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.

Paul understands who he is. He owns where he came from, he owns his present status as Apostle, and he owns the efficacy of God’s work in and through him. And he understands that achieving anything of worth involves a daily slog:

Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.

For anyone that has studied a martial art, anyone that has spent hours mastering the piano or other instrument, anyone that has applied themselves diligently over time to achieve a level of skill, the idea of kung fu or slogging through is understood. As it was put by Leonardo da Vinci:

“Oh God, Thou sellest all good things to men at the price of effort.”

Quick aside – This line grabbed my attention:

Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.

It would seem that our current cultural measurement of human value is not quite in sync with that of Jesus.



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Tick Tock Universe

Routine Spontaneity


I had an instructor in a martial art give me a book titled “The Power of Limits”. Among other things the book talked about the Golden Mean, aka the Golden Ratio, which you can find in every building or artifact of nature that people unanimously find to be beautiful. One of the underlying arguments of the book was that limits are foundational to creativity and beauty. As Chesterton noted, “Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.”

The cover of the book had this on it.6980c4de59088d97ba14db777fdbf530

Whether the constraint is a sheet of paper, a canvas, a building, clay, marble – there is a decision, conscious or not, to limit oneself, and then create within that limit. Some creativity specifically employs a temporal constraint – music for example. If you google it, you will find articles on the Golden Mean and music.

In the back story to the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien describes the creation of the universe in terms of music, a composition, a chorus. The first time I read his creation story I thought it somewhat banal. Now I think it’s genius. Mostly because if the Creator stops making music – the music stops.

The rhythms of our life are limits. Sunrise, sunset. Spring, summer, fall, winter. Sleep, wake, work, rest, sleep. Birth, growth, decline, death. Mundane repetition. I suppose it is not surprising that the universe is sometimes viewed in terms of clockwork. The old clocks, with their gears and springs, weights and chains, are ornate and beautiful. Marvelous.

But the universe is not a clockwork. It is not based on the idea of a clock. The idea of a clock is only useful because it accepts that part of the universe that repeats with a certain majestic sameness, and echoes as through a mirror darkly, the source of everything.

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The Torn Curtain

Breaking Out or Breaking In?


There is an Ignatian practice called the Daily Examen in which one looks back over their day and more or less takes stock of how they did. I’ve read several different guides for this practice, and many begin with, “Come into God’s presence.” One version struck me, it said “Recall that you are in the presence of God.”

So, last night, I didn’t get past that step. I started thinking about the difference between coming into God’s presence, sort of like walking into a church or something, vs remembering that you are always in God’s presence. Sort of like realizing I am always in church, but distracted. Then I hear bells and remember where I am.

I started thinking about the veil being torn in two in the Temple at the moment of Christ’s death on the cross – the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of us rabble. I remember being told the barrier between us and God had been removed. I had this image of God escaping from his little tabernacle out into the world. The Kingdom of God is at hand indeed. Of course this is not theologically accurate… or is it? Not that God was trapped of course, but the sense of separation is certainly thematic. If the High Priest had to go into the Holy of Holies, there is certainly the idea that God was in there, and not out here.

When the veil was torn, did it simply mean we could all enter the Holy of Holies? Or did it mean that the Holy of Holies exploded out to fill the world? That we are all in God’s temple right now, wherever we are? “Recall that you are in God’s presence.”

I then thought about how frail my response is to the money lenders in the courtyard of the temple. Then I fell asleep.

Response to Daily Prompt Frail

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Black Lives Matter

Yes. Yes they do.

"When does a statement of fact become a slogan?" "When it becomes associated with a movement."

“When does a statement of fact become a slogan?” “When it becomes associated with a movement.”

As I am a bit slow on the uptake, when I first heard the phrase, “Black lives matter,” my first thought was, “All lives matter.” Yet, somehow it felt wrong when I said it. If all lives matter, then black lives do matter. So, why my immediate dismissal of the phrase?

I have since realized there is a specific movement that has taken this statement of fact as a slogan, as the identity of their movement.

In the ensuing days after the shootings in Dallas, the Black Lives Matter movement was implicitly blamed for the shootings. Former Mayor Giuliani has publicly stated that the movement is racist. And of course we have now had a petition to formally list this group as a terrorist organization in wake of the specific targeting of police officers.

Yet the march in Dallas was organized by Reverend Jeff Hood, who has no apparent ties to that movement and is a white Baptist minister. And so we see how quickly a statement of fact is co-opted and politicized. Perceived power bases attract those seeking power. Lots of angry emotional people are a ready-made power base. And currently there are lots of angry emotional people. In the stampede for power, Truth is also a victim.

And what is the truth? Black lives do matter. Stop saying “All lives matter.” Don’t say “Asian lives matter, white lives matter, black lives matter.” To do so is to tacitly dismiss the idea that black lives matter.

No one has felt the need to state “White lives matter.” But quite apparently someone felt the need to say, “Black Lives Matter.” In response, start saying, “Yes they do.” Own the truth of that statement. Let it seep in. Recognize a plea for help when you hear one. Stand in solidarity with your fellow man. Ignore the politics, don’t be manipulated. It’s a true statement. Recognize it. Respond in love.


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Proper Behavior Along The Way

Today’s Readings:

If you are not at home you are not truly at rest. Even when on a vacation, even for relaxation, there comes a time when we return home. How often have you heard, “I had to come home from vacation in order to get some rest.”?

Some rules for the road: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live.” We are told by Amos that then the Lord will be with you. Not a bad traveling companion. “Hate evil and love good and let justice prevail at the gate,” he says, and then the Lord will have pity on the remnant of Joseph. There is a reason why there is a plant called the wandering Jew. We are on The Way if we “let justice surge like water and goodness like an unfailing stream.” Living water – a necessity on the journey.

Jesus, while traveling, attracted to him demons in the territory of the Gadarenes. Attracted to him? Yes. The came from the tombs to meet him, he did not call them – they had a compulsion – they knew who He was. In fear and trembling they approached and asked, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”

The appointed time.

What will we do at our appointed time, the time when our status as tourist ends? Will we come home, recognizing the grace, the living water for which we have been willing conduits? Or will we run panicked to destruction?


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“What Sort of Man…”

The Son of Man

Today’s readings:

There was a storm at sea, and their master was asleep. They woke him in fear and Jesus “rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” And they marveled.

What sort of men were they? Were they the same sort as those Amos addressed in Am 3:1-8, 11-12? They did not have the sense of the wind and the water. They did not hear the lion roar nor the trumpet sound.

What sort of man was Jesus? The sort that the wind and sea obey, and the sort that the people do not hear. To obey means at its root, to listen. Will we hear? Not if we are not listening.

We have been given notice – “prepare to meet your God, O Israel.”


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