Here I write pondering the exaltation of suffering in Christian scripture as a sign of future heavenly exaltation. What do I say to sufferers of other faith traditions? My suffering, our Christian suffering, is privileged?
So why do we continue to have such a fascination with the hell of Dante's imagination? The sad truth is that Dante's hellish vision has been useful in promoting colonizing, crusades and "conversions" for the last 700 years
Jesus loses his life, and he is not the only one to suffer loss. Those he leaves behind lose him, and without him, they lose whatever security they might have felt in the world. After his death, they take refuge by hiding.
Imagine if Bill O'Reilly were the first scribe to translate the gospels. His ideology surely would have compromised or edited the "words of God." Expand that scenario to an army of Bill O'Reilly scribes down through the ages, with different languages, ideologies and prejudices, and we can begin to appreciate the hazards of thinking of the gospels as history remembered rather than history storied.
There is an invitation here to the believer. The one who follows Jesus will follow in his paths of love and compassion, grace and hope. The one who follows Jesus will even "do greater works" than those Jesus accomplished.
Stephen King said "If you haven't read John Sandford yet, you have been missing one of the great summer-read novelists of all time."
And they became known, those early followers of Jesus, for their generosity, for the way they cared for the very least and the lost and for the common good. They became known for their love. They became the Beloved Community.
It doesn't seem that Jesus would deliver that same message -- he certainly didn't to the people of his own time. Perhaps our current debate should not only be about churches affirming gay men and lesbians, but also about the over-abundance of affirming everyone else.
We appreciate life, but we are seduced at the intricacies and unknowns of death. While there is much enjoyment and celebration over health, personal accomplishments, births and birthdays, people the world ponder the 'what ifs' concerning the end of life.
The text is simultaneously a warning about the fast approaching day of doom and an assurance about a possible day of salvation (Acts 4:21). Such day of salvation, however, is contingent upon people calling on the name of the Lord.
There are many conflicts between science and basic Christian beliefs that are irreconcilable. Science is not likely to change to accommodate Christianity. If Christianity changes to accommodate science, it will be difficult to still call it Christianity.
We can glimpse a bit of the historical importance of the crucifixion through early Christian depictions of that event. The absolute earliest visual depictions of Jesus' crucifixion exist in the form of a symbol called the staurogram.
I heard myself say the words and take part in this ritual and it made me physically sick. I couldn't believe that this was the liturgy that this kind, little church had been using for the past decades, maybe longer.
If in one of the most defining religious-political texts of the human species we'd been charged with stewardship of the natural world, not some sort of adolescent, consequence-free control over it, what sort of spiritual understanding would have evolved over the millennia?
Rejoicing against Judaism is -- thank God -- neither the whole nor the primary story of Messiah; it is, however, I'm suggesting, a significant forgotten secondary aspect.
No, the reason I liked Gravity is because it was short. The entire movie clocks in at 85 minutes. I pressed the "play" button on my DVD remote. And an hour-and-a-half later I was back at my job as Jaden Smith's personal assistant.