Links to my Books

Links to My Writings

Meditations on Maintenance for the Kindle
Memoirs of a Super Criminal for the Kindle, Nook
One Year in the Mountains for the Kindle, Nook
Adventures of Erkulys & Uryon for the Kindle and Nook

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Epiphany is the time when the three wise men came and gave gifts to the Messiah. It is the origin of gift giving at the Christmas time. Some forms of Christianity still practice the giving of gifts on January 6th, instead of on Christmas day. It is an interesting story nestled in the second chapter of Matthew.
The Greek for the “wise men” is “magoi apo anatolon.” Literally it translates: magi from where the stars rise. The word “anatolon” which is often translated as “the east” is used repeatedly in reference to the rising of the star which the magi are following to find the Messiah. The Magi from the east saw the star in the east and followed it. The word anatolon has both the connotation of “rising” and “east.” Stars rise in the east and set in the west. Anatolon serves both as a geographical location and an action. The magi from the anatolon are searching for the Messiah by following the star’s anatolon. This is their realm of knowledge, expertise and location. They are successful in their venture and find the Messiah.

Are the Magi magicians, scientists of the day, crackpots, or representatives of other faiths? All of those scenarios have been presented in the literature at one time or another. Not much is known about whom these individuals are; who or what they represent exactly. The biblical account is silent. Christian tradition has assigned them names and places of honor. And the general designation of “wise men”, which may in light of the silence be the best designation, leaves much to the imagination. They were not questioned by the local authorities but rather accepted as valid emissaries on a mission. When they arrive at the side of the Messiah they are not questioned by the mother Mary but accepted.

What is the point of the story? This story only appears in the Gospel of Matthew. This gospel is largely concerned with proving that Jesus is the Messiah. The first chapter is devoted to two themes, first, to the lineage of Jesus back to the King David and the founder of Judaism ,Abraham; and second, to the miracle conception of the Messiah. The second chapter shows the secular rulers rejection of the “King of the Jews” but the acceptance of the “King of the Jews” by the “wise men.” The second chapter also shows an “exodus” event not unlike that of Israel in the time of their beginnings.
So what is the point of the story of the Magi?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Big History

In the recent issue of Discover, I read an interview that dealt with the theme: Big History. As far as I understand the concept it is putting human history into context of universal history. Human history is only a subset of a much larger history that include the environment that allowed mammals to develop, the cosmos that allowed a planet to develop with such an ecology that supports life... back to the beginning.

I had this thought. Before everything that is there was truly limitless possibility. It is like a blank piece of paper before the first line is drawn; but once that first line is drawn it both reveal what picture may develop and also begins to limit what possible picture may take shape and with each line more limits are placed, until finally a finished product is revealed. As the cosmos go, before the Big Bang there were no limits, no natural or physical laws. But once "Bang" happened then limits were placed: atomic structure and shape, thermal dynamics, gravity, electromagnetism... more and more limits were put into place until life emerged. And limits are placed on life through ecology, DNA, intelligence.

But at what point can we step back from the paper and see the picture, how much of the outline needs to be revealed before we can understand the contours of the overall structure and shape of the picture developing before us? How many details need to be sketched in before the limiting effect is in fact a revealing effect? Or is there no grand picture emerging from the chaos turned order of the cosmos which has brought about life and awareness?

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The following is an excerpt from a document called, "Million Words." It is where I let my mind wander and fingers flow. It is were I practice my art of the wordsmithing. Someday I will write a million words (I am only around a few hundred thousand so far.) And so I share with you a walk down a rabbit trail.

(Written Before 02/15/2008)

I stood staring at my keys, forgetting what I was doing. Move ahead it will all come back to you. Look like you have purpose and keep moving. It does not matter where, just move, decide. Fool those staring at you. Keep acting with purpose. Why do I have my keys out?

Oh yeah going home at the end of the day. But to what home… I am lost in a sea of humanity and cannot find my mind. I am lost, completely alone and all that I put my hand to turns to rubbish. I am lost and alone; I am the existential dilemma incarnate.

I walk to and fro upon the streets and some think I am a beggar, others think I am a directed and confident soul. Some ignore me as I walk by and others are disgusted at my stench. Each breath is putrid rot and I enjoy the taste of the bile in my throat. Will they see my in time to stop?

I put the keys down on the counter as I enter the door. I put the bags of mass produced food like substance on the floor, perhaps the dog will put them away, or shall I? How did I get home? When I turn off my brain, my body can move on automatic and get me through the day. But when I turn it on, all that I see is kaleidoscopically and chaotically churning colors before my mind and I want to jump in and swim in those magical colors, but I fear I will drown. And so I snack every thirty minutes to give my self an excuse to not go insane. “Must wait thirty minutes after eating before you can swim,” is my mantra to sanity.

Why should I hold so dearly to my sanity when it is obvious no one else does?
Why do I have to pretend to be sane when it would be so much easier to be myself?
Ah, liberation of the artist’s soul!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Emerging or Post Christian

I have recently read Phyllis Tickle's "The Great Emergence," which of course brought a flood of thoughts into my head. First, let me talk about the book a little and then about the thoughts which is sparked.

The book is... well, light in some areas and thought-provoking in others. The book attempts to cover the last two thousand years in history, western history that is. Western history with an eye towards trends in religious thought and development. The book itself is an easy read, although her sentence structure and thought processes are a bit muddled at times. Towards the end of the book it begins to play out and the themes she creates earlier on in the book finally emerge. I am not sure if it is the best book on the subject but it is an adequate introduction. Because church history is my area of study, I felt it was lacking in some areas. I don't think she misrepresented church history, but she does not give a detailed account. OK, now to the subject of the book.

The book looks back at the last two thousand years of history and brings out a trend or cycle. Every 500 years, roughly speaking, there is an event that radically changes the face of the western world, and specifically the church. Of course we are coming up or in the midst of the next five hundred year mark and so the book attempts to flesh out current trends of the course of the next five hundred years. So here is a break down of the last four cycles:

1.0-500 Christ: the birth of Christianity which ushered in a new religion that over the next five hundred years became the dominant religion.

2. 500-1000 Holy Roman Church: with the fall of the Roman Empire and Rome itself, there was an economic, political and religious vacuum which the church was able to step in and take control of. With the birth of monasteries, western thought and culture was preserved and carried forward.

3. 1000-1500 The Great Schism: The eastern church and the western church split over theological and ideological themes. This is the when the west flourished in thought and development, especially as the crusades brought back knowledge from the east.

4. 1500- 2000: The Great Reformation: The church had become authoritarian and oppressive. Scholarship had moved beyond the church as a final authority. People, Martin Luther in particular, stood against the church, calling for reform. What happened was the creation of Protestantism and its thousands of denominations where the Bible became the final authority, not church dogma.

And now, 2000- present: What is being called The Great Emergence. What it is and who is involved, or what effects it will have over time is still unknown.

My thoughts:
This book fails to take into account the other forces that were at work in each of the epochs. Martin Luther was a success not because of his ideas alone, but because he had the backing of German princes who tired of the Church tithing them to death and the Holy Roman Empire taxing them to death. The advent of western science and shifts in technology combined with the emergence of a middle class which could rival the Nobility in wealth and power all called for a shift to occur. Martin Luther has just become the rally cry of the religious historians. But the history of that time period is much more complex.

The book does give credit to modern shifts in science, technology and world views. But when we stand so close in history to the events, it is hard to tell which events will be the hallmarks of the age and which will pass quietly into the past. Certainly tomorrow a greater event can occur that overshadows anything over the last hundred years. Or perhaps Christ will return and the whole question will be mute.

It appears that things happen every five hundred years to shake up the world and what settles out is different than what was before. That which shakes the world is hard to define. Science, technology and culture are all shifting. In the west, eastern ideas about religion, life, and death are forcing people to think differently. In the east, Christianity and western economic and political thought are forcing people to change their worldviews. And the realization that we are one people all inhabiting the same planet is having a major impact on the world. As the west moves towards post-Christian thoughts and practices, it is incorporating ideas from the east but also from science. And what is emerging is spreading that new gospel in new ways through technology. It is there in the blending that I think the next flower will blossom. I think this new epoch will emerge out of a blending of east/west, science/religion and the break down of dualism. Philosophy, theology and politics will all have to be rethought in light of new technology and new responsibility towards the whole. It is not us/them, or you/me... but rather we. This new thought will include the greater environment as part of the human being.

Another theme which is overlooked in the book is that each epoch is also ushered in with violence. That which was before does not want to change into that which is coming and so lashes out violently to stop the change. The usual response is to lash back with self defense and often violence, as well to bring in the radical change. History settles out and forgets the names and faces of the dead on both sides. Today war still rages. But how does that warfare fit into changing times and thoughts? And who is waging the war: the old stalwarts refusing to change, or the revolutionaries helping to emerge a new worldview? This is one of those moments when we stand too close in time to know what history will say in the future about today.

What will emerge will blend the threads of the current trends into a new fabric of reality that will greatly challenge and frustrate that which was. It cannot be just the continuation of what was, but must be an internal change with external consequences. And again, beccause we stand so close, it is hard to say what or who will force that change; but change is occurring.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Garbage day and economic justice

Tuesday is garbage day. Not that big of a day unless you forget to take the can to the street and it is extra full. But I also think that it is a sign of the times.

I remember as a kid garbage day was a big deal. The big white truck would roll up with two guys holding on to the back for dear life. The truck would stop at the cans: one, two or three metal cans all piled with bags, boxes and loose garbage. The men would jump off the back of the truck, toss the garbage into the back, pull a lever and press a button. Then the truck would whirl and whine and an arm would somehow push all that garbage up inside... I mean what action! and those brave men holding on to the truck as it sped down the road to the next house.

And then sometime in high school the trucks went robotic.

Now a big arm drops down, grabs the one big green plastic can and scoops it up dumping its contents straight into the top of the truck. Very smooth and efficient. And if you have more than will fit in the one can... perhaps your neighbor has a little room, or wait until next week, or wait until the city has a special clean up day.

But even all of that is not the point.

With the new fancy robotic arm trucks, the work force diminished by two thirds. Now all you need is a driver. So what happened to the two men who risked life and limb on the back of the truck? Now that we don't pay for them, do we get a discount rate on garbage pick up? No, because the city had to buy new trucks and matching cans. But certainly by now the trucks have been paid off. And there is the rub... with technology and the workplace, technology and economic growth, technology and societal development. I am not anti-technology. I just think we need to use some wisdom when it comes to incorporating technology into our lives.

The idea of introducing technology into the workplace, or society as a whole is to save time. At work, time is money. Save time to save money. Does that money saved make it down the ladder to the consumer, or just into the pocketbooks of the CEO, managers and board members? Business is business. I would hope that good business is wise business. But it appears that good business is concerned less with its workforce, its effect on society and the environment, than with profit margins. Can we have just and responsible business within capitalism?

Let us return to the garbage men. Cities are not businesses, they are people gathered together to join in creating a better place through mutual consent, work and cooperation. A city is more than just buildings, politicians and people. A city is a commune. And above all shouldn't the city be more concerned with its people then with anything else? So does laying off two thirds of the garbage men help the people in general or harm them? How do we evaluate this question? Are one hundred people out of work worth saving millions of dollars? Have those savings even really taken place? What is the long term result? Would I pay higher taxes to insure that a neighbor or myself stays employed? Perhaps not... but does the promised savings of technology really come through? Who can I ask?

Maybe, just maybe, rolling the can out to the street should not be a moment of philosophical reflection. Maybe it is just garbage day. But if I don't think these thoughts and ask these questions then who will?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growing Strong

Growth has always been a viable metaphor for the spiritual life. If it is the growth of a plant from seed to tree or of a child moving towards adulthood, the idea of growth has always been applicable to the spiritual life. I have a nine year old daughter and a ten month old baby boy. Both of them are at completely different developmental stages, and yet someday they will both be adults. The spiritual life is much the same way. We may be just beginning the growth cycle of a spiritually maturing being or we may be well on our way. Either way the steps of development may be similar for all of us, just like childhood development is similar for all children. Here it is important to make a distinction. I say it is “similar” for all children; for everyone develops and matures along their own lines becoming a diverse group of adults. The spiritual life follows suit. We learn to pray, but our prayers will be different; we learn to serve, but choose different ways to be servants in life. There is a similarity to growth which creates a united community in shared commonalities, but our differences foster diverse communities.

The point I would like to move towards is that growth brings change and maturity which include new challenges. My nine year old knows how to walk, my ten month old will learn that skill in the next few months. My nine year old does not need to relearn that skill, she knows it and can move towards the next challenges of running or biking. Spiritually speaking, growth is similar. Once we learn a spiritual skill, we don’t have to keep going back and relearning it. It is time to put that skill to use, to develop it further and allow it to lead to other challenges where we need to grow. If you have mastered the discipline of prayer as intercession, then perhaps it is time to explore prayer as meditation or discernment. If you have mastered serving as an usher, perhaps it is time to challenge yourself to serve as a reader.

A good place to start is knowing where you are. Take some time to make an inventory of your spiritual skills. Ask the following questions: How am I using these skills for my community? How can I further these skills as I grow? What challenges in growth am I facing now?

Another exciting exercise is to create a spiritual autobiography where you can track your growth in the spirit. Make sure you list special moments such as baptism, confirmation, reaffirmation retreats or service projects, that have had an impact on your spiritual life. This autobiography can then be used as a tool to see trends, movements and growth in your own spiritual life. Perhaps it will open you to see ways in which you have been moving that you did not recognize before.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Value: Economics or Meaning

This is a thought which I have had recently. It is one that is still in development and so a little shy on concrete principles or proof. At some point in human history we started to see each other, and by extension ourselves, as commodities. Our value and worth became coached in economic terms. A person's worth became tied to their economic potential. Success became gaged by ownership of possessions and their economic value. When did that shift occur? Or was it even a shift or just a natural extension of the industrial revolution's effects on human society? Certainly having the ability to provide both support and safety have been long sought after skills by both men and women. But wasn't that skill honed within a community all trying to advance the good of all for the advancement for the good of the individual?

I think perhaps the difference now is that the good of the individual overrides the good of the community. I will run the best and cheapest business in order to outsell and undercut my competitors and drive them out of business so that I will succeed. This last statement is all about the individual's ability to provide by out-performing. They are not bringing value and worth to the community, only cheapening the business class. Not that healthy competition is bad, it just needs to be balanced with a little community mindedness. Why do I need to open a new store if two already exist in the community that sell the same thing, just to try to drive them out of the market and show how "good" I am at business? Where is the value in that?

At this point perhaps I need to let the original thought simmer for a bit longer before I ramble on and on and turn it into a muddled mess. I guess the question (or thought) is why do we let economics dictate our worth and value, and not some other aspect of life?