Category Archives: religion
On Sunday, many of us munched hot cross buns or searched for chocolate eggs while we pondered the mysteries of the day. Easter is a time for minds open to new possibilities. On the same day, scientists at CERN restarted the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and sent protons hurtling both directions around 27 kilometer-long parallel pipes while they pondered the mysteries of the day. Such an event is a time for minds open to new possibilities.
Physicists wait with impatient attentiveness to see what happens when the particles collide. They hope the LHC provides experimental evidence to support theories to explain some of our universe’s unknowns and puzzles. The Standard Model of particle physics—“the current best description there is of the subatomic world”— explains only about 5% of the universe.
People ponder the complexities of Easter with impatient attentiveness. We must rely on contradictory Bible stories as our best evidence, and they are unscientific and insufficient, at best. Do they explain even 5% of what Easter is all about?
I enjoy the association between the LHC and Easter. For minds open to new possibilities, they are hail fellows well-met.
The Standard Model
The Standard Model explains how the basic building blocks of matter interact, governed by four fundamental forces
It is a Good Friday to remember that sorrow is joy’s twin.
“On Joy and Sorrow” from The Prophet —Khalil Gibran
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
“Faith and fear have something in common. They both ask us to believe something will happen that we cannot see.” —Joel Osteen
Why is it so easy to accept fear-based dire predictions, but so difficult to believe in faith-based hope?
Why is there such societal pressure to go with fear instead of faith? Why are we so resistant to the idea of looking like a hopeful fool?
Joel Osteen has a point. Maybe the odds are 50/50 in any given situation? Maybe we should run with the faith option instead of succumbing to the grip of fear?
Maybe we’ll end up saying “I had faith that would happen,” instead of “I was afraid that would happen.”
“Onward” by Donald Smith © 2014
In Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, Dr. Eben Alexander describes the near-death experience (NDE) that granted him a glimpse of heaven. The circumstances of his brush with death differ from those of other people who reported NDE visions of heaven. In most cases, the patients’ hearts stop, or they stop breathing, but the part of their brains capable of creating visions remains functional. In Dr. Alexander’s case, bacterial meningitis shut down that vital visioning part of his brain.
Before his rare and serious illness, Dr. Alexander relied on a purely scientific view of the world. He did not give credence to near-death visions of heaven, because he credited the brain with, somehow or other, sparking the realistic images.
Then this man of science lost brain function and found an expanded view of life. After he made his unprecedented and unexpected complete recovery, he wrote about the spectacular experience.
Many aspects of his story warrant attention, but I particularly liked the phrases of reassurance he received from a beautiful heavenly girl:
“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.
You have nothing to fear.
There is nothing you can do wrong.”
No matter what any of us think of heaven—whether we think of it as a place, or a vibration, or a state of mind, or a figment of the imagination, or a threat wielded by organized religion to scare people into being “good”—no matter what any of us think, we can still choose to settle those phrases into our hearts as truths.
That one simple act would make the world a happier place, I think.
“In my past view, spiritual wasn’t a word that I would have employed during a scientific conversation. Now I believe it is a word that we cannot afford to leave out.”
—Eben Alexander, M.D.
I have never seen an unhappy person at a church bazaar. They just make people smile, and that’s something to think about.
When I finish writing this post, I will wrap up the shortbread cookies I baked this week, put some used books in a box, filter through some of the jewelry I don’t wear any more, and I will head over to help set up for tomorrow’s church bazaar.
Last weekend I spent Saturday morning walking from church to church on a long street in my neighbourhood where the United, Anglican and Catholic churches all hold their bazaars on the same day. They’ve been doing this for years, so “Bazaar Day” is a community event and a much bigger financial success for all three.
Churches hold bazaars as fundraisers, of course, but the annual events offer much more than money to the congregation. They are community-building events and a chance for everyone to smile and get into the holiday spirit.
Bazaars are joyful for many reasons. They offer:
- a chance to meet and greet people from the neighbourhood they don’t see at other times of the year,
- homemade strawberry jam,
- the possibility that you will find the spoon to replace the missing one from your cutlery or a glass to replace the broken one from your favourite wine set,
- an opportunity to refresh holiday decor with the affordable crafts prepared by the talented contributors to bazaars,
- a mixing of generations, old and young,
- the blessing of eating other people’s baking,
- books, (!)
- and a delicious lunch, that includes homemade pie.
If you need a smile, look up your local church bazaars and give yourself the gift of a smiley day.