Pause to Wonder

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

— Albert Einstein

9 Years

Today, my special lady friend and I have been joined in Holy matrimony for nine years. Her presence in my life makes evident to me everyday that God is very close, very real, and overflowing with endless love. I feel gratitude in this moment that has no limit. Thanks, sweetie for being who you are!

(Editorial note: my wife is not topless in that photo. just a strapless dress is all.)

Starbucks Sucks

I’m not a big coffee shop kind of guy. I make my coffee (usually Peete’s) at home and that’s pretty much the end of it. When I do get coffee at a coffee shop, like a Starbucks, I typically just order the drip coffee, so it’s not any kind of major advantage for me to rock a coffee shop.

This past Monday morning I met a friend for coffee at a Starbucks. It was pretty close to my daughters school, so I dropped her off and got to the ‘Bucks about an hour early, figuring surely they’d have wifi. I remember seeing something about how if you buy a drink, you could get free wifi access. So I ordered my drink and asked how I could get access to the network. It turns out, according to the kind woman behind the counter, you can only get “free” access if you buy a $5 gift card, leave the store to sign onto a separate network, enter the code on the gift card, return to the store in order to take advantage of your two free hours of WIFI paradise. What a bunch of bullshit.

First, why any coffee shop doesn’t have free wifi is completely beyond me. Paying for wifi is like paying to plug your laptop into the socket or using the bathroom. And secondly, this whole system that Starbucks has cooked up is beyond ridiculous. Maybe it’s just me, but their coffee isn’t so good that I’ll seek out a Starbucks over another coffee shop that had free wifi. I’d rather drink Circle K coffee if it meant I could also partake in some wireless world wide web.

In protest, maybe I’ll compile a list of coffee establishments in the Gilbert area with free wifi. First shop off the top of my head is Liberty Market in downtown Gilbert. Any others?

Knowledge of Good and Evil

When we lead with our judgments, love will seldom happen. If the mind that needs to make moral judgments about everything is the master instead of the servant, religion is almost always corrupted.

Some would think that is the whole meaning of Christianity, to be able to decide who’s going to heaven and who isn’t. This is much more a search for control than it is a seach for truth, love or God. It has to do with ego, which needs to pigeonhole everything to give itself that sense of “I know” and “I am in control of the data.”

I guess God knew that such would be the direction that religion would take. So God said, “Don’t do it. Don’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” What he’s trying to keep us from is a lust for certitude, an undue need for explanation, resolution and answers. Frankly, it makes biblical faith impossible.

— Richard Rohr, Things Hidden

Accept and Give Thanks

The great commandment is not “thou shalt be right.” The great commandment is to be “in love.” Be inside the great compassion, the great stream, the great river. As others have rightly said, all that is needed is surrender and gratitude. Our job is simply to thank God for being part of it all. All the burdens we carry are not just ours. The sin that comes up in us is not just our sin; it is the sin of the world. The joy that comes up in us is not just our personal joy; it is the joy of all creation. All we can do is accept and give thanks.

— Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

The Myth of “Biblical Marriage”

Coming out of the elections on November 4th, amazingly, the issues of the day don’t seem to be revolving around Obama’s election as much as they are violently ricocheting within the debate of what constitutes marriage in our society today. The passing of Prop 8 in California, with similar props passing in a few other states, has ignited the debate to a level never before seen.

I’ve had several conversations with social conservatives over the course of the last few months and they’ve all gone something like this:

……rolling…….

SC: I’m voting no on prop 102 or prop 8.
ZL: Yeah, why’s that?
SC: Because we need to protect traditional marriage.
ZL: Yeah? What’s your definition of marriage?
SC: It’s between one man and one woman.
ZL: Says who?
SC: God, that’s who.
ZL: When did God tell you that?
SC: When I read it in the Bible.

……and scene. (actually the conversation would go on, but for the purposes of this post, i’m making an edit)

After having several these kinds of conversations, I’ve come to the conclusion this is not an issue of whether or not “Biblical marriage” is at stake here. It is painfully obvious that as a society, Christians included, we’ve already discarded many attributes of the culture of marriage we find in the Biblical text. “Biblical marriage” has already been run through the meat grinder and even Christians can take much credit for the way marriage is now packaged.

When my wife and I were married, we were married in a church that required us to undergo pre-marital counseling. If we had refused, the church would not have agreed marry us. This was a very good thing, in my opinion, and it was completely within their right to do so. Holly and I found it very helpful and I’d always recommend engaged couples to do the same. But let’s imagine for a moment if I were to announce in one of the counseling sessions that not only was I marrying Holly, but that I had also arranged to marry another woman from the church who’s father I had made an arrangement with. Yeah, that sounds crazy right? But because I was not an elder of the church, I could have cited the many examples of marriage in the Bible to support that my request was totally appropriate. Obviously polygamy is frowned upon by our current set of laws, but if we are talking about what constitutes “Biblical” marriage, then I think it’s valid point. Not only was polygamy accepted, but it was also typical for young teens to marry as well.

Another example would be how many churches today don’t hesitate to marry people who have been divorced for reasons other than adultery. By doing so, they’ve taken it upon themselves to redefine what the Bible constitutes as a valid marriage. It’s ironic that there’s so much talk about redefining traditional marriage without being honest about how the Church has already set about to make their own tweaks on what is and isn’t allowed.

What’s interesting is that there seems to be a endless fervor when addressing same-sex marriage equality but not the same passion for legislating the illegality of other types of heterosexual marriage that could just as easily be deemed “unBiblical.”

In the end, we must be honest about how the cultural backdrop, or setting we find ourselves in has an enormous influence on what we kinds of behavior we see as acceptable. If Christians today want to be honest, we can all agree that the culture of marriage the Bible depicts throughout is not ideal. And if one wants to back up their argument against same-sex marriage on the grounds of biblical marriage, then they can’t just take the parts of the Bible they find agreeable and ditch the rest. A friend of mine recently made the point that when we use the word “Biblical” as an adjective, we should pause and truly wrestle with what that really means.