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

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mark 1:1-13

Mark 1:1-13
The first thing that strikes me about this Gospel is the lack of a birth narrative: no manger, no angels or shepherds, no nativity scene at all. The first words are a quote from Isaiah, and that quote is not even about Jesus, but rather about John the Baptist. John is the forerunner to Jesus. I get the impression that the first reading audience already knew the story and these two characters. Perhaps they knew John and Jesus from first hand experience and therefore there is no need for a nativity or even a genealogy. There is not yet a need to establish a lineage or identity, it is safely assumed.

But the story of Jesus begins with a back-story, that of John the Baptist. He, John, is the one sent to prepare the way for Jesus and he did so through baptism in water. And the character of John is well known and well understood. He is one of those prophets living in the desert, you know the ones who “wore clothes made of camels hair, with leather belt about his waist, and he ate locust and wild honey” not the tame temple prophet who for a price would give you a nice safe prophetic utterance. No, John was a wild-man on the fringe of society, uncontrollable and far too honest for polite society. And yet a man like that could draw the crowds. He is a thorn in the side of the “institution” and yet a cult hero to the masses. Perhaps?

And then Jesus came and was baptized. God speaks in words and actions, a dove, the sign of peace, and words: “you are my son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” Peace, love, and pleasure* are the hallmarks of the God/Jesus relationship. And as John gave water so Jesus will give the spirit who passes the hallmarks of God onto the believers’ relationship: peace, love, and pleasure.

The path laid out in Isaiah the Prophet continues through John the Baptist to Jesus, but before Jesus can begin the journey he is ushered into the desert for forty days being tempted. This gospel does not extrapolate on what the temptations were only that it happened immediately after the baptism. That holds true for many believers still today, or for many who set out to do good works. Once one turns towards the Good it seems life, or the devil, steps in to put up blocks and temptations away from the path towards the Good. And yet if one looks closely one will see that the angels are ministering even in the midst of wild animals. Baptism prepares one for the life ahead, and angels are there to preserve the way in the wilderness. But only faith can carry one through to the end. Do you see the angels ministering in your desert experiences? Is life drawing you towards temptations that will undermine the life of peace, love and pleasure that you have set out on?

* A note on pleasure: In today’s culture of addiction and instant gratification pleasure is often confused with a sex, drugs and rock & roll life style. But here we see Jesus pleases God, that is, Jesus brings pleasure to God. It is not about self-pleasure and gratification, but about bringing pleasure, pleasing, others. It is asking the questions: how can I make those around me happy and healthy? I am pleased with myself when others are pleased with me. When I do a good job I know it because it has made some one else’s life easier, more meaningful and more pleasurable. As the Gospel of Mark unfolds we see the actions of Jesus in healing, comforting and teaching that aids others in a more fulfilling life, that is what brings pleasure to God. Jesus is faithful to his message of peace, love and compassion. That brings true pleasure to others, and to God.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mark, First Words

I started my reading with the Gospel according to Mark for a number of reasons. I know that it was the earliest gospel account and served, somewhat, as an outline for Luke and Matthew. So I thought it would be a good warm up run and introduction to the “real” gospels. But, in truth, the actual reason was that I did not like this short, unadorned, unembellished, simple and boring book. I just wanted to get it out of the way, over and done.
But as I worked my way through it and pondered its simplicity and succinctness I came to love this account of the life of Jesus. For all the reasons I shunned it, I now enjoyed it. It is self contained, consistent, simple and to the point. Mark holds together from beginning to end in ways the other gospels do not.
It tells a story, a story of faith being fulfilled by the outsider but missed by the insider. It is a challenge to perceived authority by true authority. It is the development of an ideal in tension with culture, religion and politics. It is a modern story of stereotypes, cultural norms and conflicts of the soul.
I find the Gospel according to Mark to be more than just a simple story, but rather a complex story of faith challenging my own perceived notions of authority, religiosity and faith. But I only found that truth by approaching it as an outsider, surprised by the Jesus of compassion.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reflections on 2012 Readings

I made 2012 the year of the Gospels. I divided the year into quarters and studied one Gospel in each of the three-month quarters. I read each Gospel three times, once per month. In the first reading, I read it independently to let the book speak to me, as it stands alone. The second reading, I read it in conjunction with notes, commentary, and aids to deepen the experience. During the third reading, I reflected upon the first two readings allowing the spirit to speak inwardly as I worked towards understanding and meaning.

I learned much about the Gospels as literature, history, narrative, but mostly as books of faith. I attempted to keep my own academic past from intruding on my readings. I strove to approach the Gospels with open and new eyes. In that process, I found much that I had forgotten, much that I needed to learn and a story of Jesus that was new. Removing, as best as possible, the theological and ecclesiastical expectations allowed me to find a Jesus who was out of the ordinary and fresh.

This blog is an attempt to capture my thoughts, insights and reflections upon this new Jesus. My plan is to post two or three times weekly a short reflection upon a Gospel chapter or section. I will try not to lapse into academic jargon or wax philosophical which is my nature but rather to keep the posts reflective and simple.

I welcome comments and questions. I encourage an active readership. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Coming soon, a whole new direction for this blog containing regular postings, a steady theme (with the occasional aside) and heartfelt introspection.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Art Show

October 5th 5-8 PM, I will be showing my newest art work at Trinity Episcopal Church across from Pocatello High School. If you are going to be around please stop by.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Guest writer Contributes a Poem: Altar

               Her trinkets and personal possessions scattered the
tattered chest
                Treasures brought back from her spiritual quest…
                Young Buddha heard the late night drums and the Ying Yang symbol draped her neck as she
wandered amidst songs to Hare Krishna
                Hippy Highway heard the gentle jingles from angels ‘round her ankle and the soothing
incense smells cradled her to sleep.
                And here I am enthralled by the story of her scattered altar
                This sister who I may have passed late at night looking for a warm fire and sweet sounds
of a lilting mandolin
                Who knew my heart was still floating freely in the magical bitter roots and an occasional, “We love you!” chorus
                As I vowed to nestle collected wares from my own spiritual adventure
                So sacred and divine as this carefully traded scarf that once adorned my dreaded hair whispers those memories
                Of the peace I longed for chanted in those rhythmic drums
                And soothing yoga over-looking the expansive valley
                As I delicately place the lotus and energetic rocks upon my tapestry of moons
and stars
                a top my own tattered chest that contently becomes the altar I bow to.

Copyright Heather Corbet 2006