To Hate Evil

I believe this is our greatest struggle, especially returning evil with good. I was moved by the following video:

I hoping against all hope that our culture is evolving towards redefining this word tolerance. As mentioned in this short clip, “Tolerance is a cold, dead term…even dismissive.” The video concludes that this ‘problem’ and resolution begins with each of us.
How does change for a better society happen? Leadership. Society needs brave voices both politically and spiritually. Faith promotes the most unlikely solution to this problem that seems to kick against the goads. Found within our human history, an enticing contradiction collided with our hearts and mind. From the revelation at Sinai to its climatic and mysterious fulfillment in an itinerant man, in a G-d, named Jesus. This single and profound thread of repaying evil with good seems to have no place to lay its weary head. Whether upon the Palestinian-Israeli border, Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, or within the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort.Jason-Aldean-fans-flee-the-scene-after-Mandalay-Bay-shooting-in-Las-Vegas-670x454 What good can be considered tribute towards carnage in the hearts imprisoned by faith? Seriously, what would Jesus do? What could we do when killers have committed suicide? How in hell can parents explain this to kids fully informed and influenced by the rabid and biased social media? How can even the highest platform of leadership, the president of the United States, who is disregarded, discounted as ’45’, and devalued as a person by half the country as without virtue or character, inspire leadership? Where do our hearts and America turn from here?

Restrict guns or ‘weapons of war’? Maybe…but that argument, despite America’s heritage and fascination with guns, holds both little promise and very little water.
Promote Conceal and Carry? Maybe…but carrying a gun changes the human psyche for it weighs upon the soul to employ its use. Remember when you first learned to do the Heimlich maneuver or CPR how you felt somehow responsible to save a life in need? Imagine the burden of taking a life – something that is repulsive to our souls. Could one with proper training and attitude help in taking down a shooter at Orlando or Las Vegas, surely that possibility exists however slim. I can only assume adding more fire to the flames of gunplay would only add to the chaos adding only to the victim count as people run in all directions. I would hope our first reaction focused on attending to the wounded and dying.

To be clear, I don’t believe in passivism but cling to a nonviolent perspective; there’s a difference.

Maybe the answer lies unexpectedly between the Palestinian-Israeli culture. It is bred within both cultures to defend what is believed rightfully theirs. From Kindergarten, especially Palestine, the formation of a child’s will is forced to hate. Both sides kill each other without hesitation over a narrow strip of land. I honestly cannot fathom the sadness and regret if the a repentant conscious was awakened to the dignity inherent within both cultures. Unfortunately the violent legacy continues in throwing rocks, spewing lead,  and launching mortars as the genetics of hate and intolerance dictate.

Dare we see the other side of the coin with hope? This is what best depicts the contradiction found hidden in Jesus. First and foremost, is to trust that love has no equal. None. Prayer is also the flipside of distrust. Prayer is a power we cannot understand just like forgiveness. The combination of faith, hope, and love is irresistible to both the human psyche and heart. To trust this power that we cannot feel is the gift patiently waiting to be unveiled within us all. Although we may not understand its practicality, love that is experienced can embrace it. If we just submit to the courage to embrace love then we can begin to redefine tolerance from its cold, dead, dismissive state.

Life, in all forms, is precious. It helps me imagine that I would not exist is G-d stopped hoping for my priorities to return to His higher will. Consider how patient, hopeful, and compassionate this same perspective of Christ who promises to unveil this newness in each and everyone of us when we seek this higher will.

So America is racing towards or running from a new definition of tolerance. We are all patiently given time to reflect or distrust the possibilities of adopting this culture of Heaven.

Remember, the greatest authority we are given is forgiveness not slander, a rock, a mortar, a bullet, or worse. America was solely founded in the hope and trust that our forefathers seeded in community. Community can only come about when we love G-d through our neighbor.

I’m a reminded of the words of Dorothy Day:
We love G-d as much as we love those we love least.

Maybe… that’s how we should redefine tolerance.
Just maybe….that’s how would should also hate evil.

Become new.
Become change.
Become love.

Peace,
Chris

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Forty days to Freedom

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Actually, it wasn’t forty days at all but a need to know why this number is so significant to that little tribe of Jewish nomads who introduced our world to the One True G-d. I encourage you to spend forty minutes of investigation in exploring the concepts of transition and renewal bound to this number. Before long, you may find yourself driven into that wilderness with Jesus who thwarts temptation with the words from the fifth book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy. My friend and guide has further illumined David’s confrontation with Goliath, this malevolent giant surrounded by 6’s (6 cubits high, 6 weapons, and 60 shekels heavier wearing his snakelike, scaly  armor). This very beast of creation who boasted of capturing the Ark of the Covenant and brought it to the temple of Dragon stood and taunted the Israelites during their morning and evening prayers. Yet it was out in this wilderness that David defeats Goliath of Gath (one of five city states of the Philistines) with but a sling and five stones drawn from a brook. Using the smoothest stone, let’s guess and call it the fifth stone, he kills this enormous Philistine by hitting him where we all must keep the Torah, the five books of God’s wisdom.

I’ll let the numbers 5, 666, and 40 stretch your contemplation but let’s not do that on an empty stomach. How about enjoying the five fruits in honor of the Jewish holiday of Tu BiShvat seder.  Here we enjoy fruits in the following order: olives, figs, grapes, dates, and pomegranates. When you eat an olive, it’s bitter and you spit the pit out right away. You’ll then you eat the sweet fig and maybe roll that pit around in your mouth for a little longer. The grapes are sweet yet the seeds are so small.  Sometimes you spit these crunchy little seeds out, swallow them, or get wedged between teeth. However, when you eat a date, the seeds cannot be separated from the fruit and eaten as a whole. Finally, the epitome (sorry couldn’t resist!) of fruits, is the pomegranate, that tempting “apple” of Eden, in which the seed is actually the fruit! This transition from an unwanted pit to actual fruit encourages our transition from Genesis to Deuteronomy (and hopefully the fruits of our labor).

Just a note regarding another seder, the Passover (Pesach), which encourages young and old alike to retell Exodus as if they were there in the dust and commotion. One of the most emphasized themes of this seder is Freedom. In fact one of the four names of Passover is Hag ha-Herut (The Feast of Freedom).

In the end, we are given a chance at faith, to be pushed, driven, tested, and transformed into a renewed retelling of our life in G-d. We begin as rough rocks allowing the water of the Word to wash over us, rounding sharp edges to become that smooth stone hopefully chosen by a (soon to be) King. We must run thirsty into the desert and face our own wilderness and realize our only battle is using the words Jesus himself chose from the living stream of Torah. This Jew, named Jesus, who came “…only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), also claimed to be the fulfillment of Torah. Like the seeds of a date, Jesus cannot be separated from Torah, nor should Christianity not see Torah as a transformative and living gift from G-d. Just as passionately as Jesus wanted to gather the Jews as a hen to her chicks, so must Christianity embrace the Torah beyond its shallow understanding and truly bring a culminating awareness to what the Gospel writers are hoping to convey. Christianity exegetes the seeds from dates without realizing their integral part of the flesh.

Remember, we all must be transformed in Christ. Truly every seed must die, slowly transform, offering unexpected new life, freedom, and flesh for the world. Now consider the seed of a pomegranate…consider true freedom.

Shalom,
Chris