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Oct 30 14

evolution, pope francis – nothing new to see here

by + Alan

Alright folks, let’s move it right along, nothing new to see here. Get back to your homes and lives. The sky’s not falling. Goooood Lord!

There’s a thing going around about how Pope Francis said something about the big bang and evolution being something Christians should be open to, that what science deduces isn’t incompatible with our faith. Ooooo K. How not in the loop are a lot of people? This is nothing new at all. The Catholic Church hasn’t taken a hard stand on “when” and “how” God created everything in quite some time. That He did create it, sure. The mechanics of said creation, not so much.

I, for one, am glad about it.

I’ll tell you a little story. When I was 12 (nearly 13 but still 12) I came to a point of faith in God, in Jesus, the formalities of which were worked out through and in the Catholic Church. I went through a period of “instruction” about the basics of the faith before being baptized in 1980. I actually remember one of my early questions to Fr. Killian was something like this:  “Is there any problem with me believing in evolution?” Maybe it was more involved, but that was the gist of the question. Yes, at 12. And it was an important question to me, probably in ways I didn’t even yet fully understand.

I’m grateful about how he answered that question – very moderately. I can’t remember his exact words, but basically, “no problem – the important thing is that we understand that He created everything, however that particularly happened.” Good answer.

The Bible is not a history book. The Bible is not a science book. The Bible is not primarily a rule book. We get these things wrong, well, most of the time.

I don’t have to understand Scripture literally to believe that it is Scripture – that it was, in effect, written by God through men, to guide us back to Himself, back to the kind of Life He created us to live, with and in Him. 6 days – 6 billion years – these things aren’t on my “necessary” list. And frankly, I don’t understand how/why it gets to that place for so many of my siblings in Christ.

I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen.

This, ultimately, is what matters. Very possibly some day, we will understand the how and why – all the particulars. Right now, that’s not really happening. We can, though, observe the created reality, appreciate it, “read” it, and learn what we can from and about it. I will also say this, though. That cannot be the end. Seen and unseen. It’s big. Reality is huge – much more complex and massive than we are able to fully comprehend at the moment.

Don’t be afraid. That’s in the Bible, a lot. Don’t fear that somehow if some Christians get the idea in their heads that somehow, God used/worked through a process of evolution to get us where we are, that they will then slide down some slippery slope into paganism. Many of us have no problem with this. It doesn’t erode away our faith. It doesn’t cause us to turn into atheists. Do not be afraid.

I’ll end with a little word for Scientists:  Folks, stop trying to be philosophers. It’s outside your purview. Stick to the “seen.” That’s what science is all about – the observable – empirical data. When your theories cause you to say things like, “therefore, there is no God,” or, “therefore, since we can only see and observe the physical, nothing beyond that can exist,” you have ceased to be scientific.

Alright, that’s enough of that. Peace to all in this house.

Sep 27 14

peanut and the sadness of loss

by + Alan

Since both my wife and my daughter, Meaghan, have said certain things about it in the public arena, I thought I’d take the mystery out of it. Our beautiful daughter, who is soon to be married to her fiance, was also with child – early stages. I say “was” – yesterday, she found out she had lost the baby — she was calling “him” Peanut (I say “him” because Meaghan wanted a boy).

Yes, this is a very private thing. It’s a family thing. It’s kind of out there in pieces, though, so I thought it would be good to explain. She and Nick are very sad. We are all sad. We prayed that it wouldn’t be true, but the world is a very broken place. We still believe that God loves us, but things still don’t always turn out the way we want, or even the way we pray. If you don’t yet know this, you will.

Like I said, things don’t always run the course you have planned out in your head, or in your heart. My daughter living with her boyfriend and becoming pregnant before she was married was not my perfect plan. I learned to love past “my plan.” I began to learn how to just love – just be calm – just listen and not preach – just a lot of things. I’m still learning.

Honestly, the idea of having a Grandchild wasn’t altogether real to me. It was settling in, though. I know things like this happen. I know the first trimester is the risky time. I know this kind of loss is “easier” than if the child were to have been born, but it was still a child, and that child is no longer alive… in this world.

That tiny baby was my first Grandchild. He is now in the arms of Jesus. HE said, “let the little children come to me… for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” I believe that. I even believe that that little one knows more than we do at this point, and that he can even pray for us. Weird to some of you, I know, but this is what I believe. If there’s anything to be glad about, it’s possibly that he didn’t have to experience the pain and turbulent brokenness of this world – that his eyes saw only God – that he was never corrupted any more than the small stain of original sin, which was mercifully washed away in and by the Love of his Father.

We’re basically fine. If you pray, pray for Meaghan and Nick. They will also be fine, and they will have other children, but they’ll have to work through this.

Father, strengthen them – give them Your Peace and Comfort. Receive this tiny child into the Fullness of Your Presence, Your Reality.

Peanut, pray for your Mommy and Daddy – pray for all of us.


Aug 15 14

that’s a bad way to live

by + Alan

I’ve been roaming around among my old blog posts lately and found this tidbit. I think it’s worth sharing. This is back when I was apparently riding the leading edge of the waive. Of course big Tom makes an appearance. Originally posted on November 26, 2002…


… I also had a very good conversation with my friend Steve last night. We meet in a coffee house on Monday nights to talk spiritual life stuff. That’s not just high and lofty things that have no connection to our walking around – that’s holistic life in the spirit. We’ve been discussing a Thomas Merton quote that deals really with the core of what it means to be a Christian – the center of the spiritual life – Love. I put this quote on the Vine last week – I’ll quote it again here. We’ve had two good solid hours of rich encouraging discussion out of this one quote. I think we’ll stay on it for a while.

Love in fact is the spiritual life, and without it all the other exercises of the spirit, however lofty, are emptied of content and become mere illusions. The more lofty they are, the more dangerous the illusion.

Love, of course, means something much more than mere sentiment, much more than token favors and perfunctory almsdeeds. Love means an interior and spiritual identification with one’s brother, so that he is not regarded as an “object” to “which” one “does good.” The fact is that good done to another as to an object is of little or no spiritual value.

Love takes one’s neighbor as one’s other self, and loves him with all the immense humility and discretion and reserve and reverence, without which no one can presume to enter into the sanctuary of another’s subjectivity. From such love all authoritarian brutality, all exploitation, domineering and condescension must necessarily be absent.

Our talk last night centered around the mistaken notion of what it means to live the Christian life that many of us have had. We have made it all about “believing the right things” and “doing the right things.” We live our lives focused on finding out how to be good and making sure that we can observe ourselves being that way. We have to measure our progress at all times so we can be sure that we are progressing. We become spiritual “fighter pilots” who’s goal is the targeting and destruction of all the bad things and problems we see (in ourselves and in others). We spend vast amounts of energy lining up the sights on the enemy targets, we pull the trigger, and then what? I’m not sure the target is really destroyed for one thing. But then we are old soldiers walking around without a war to fight it – stuck in that mode.

That’s a bad way to live. That’s not what we’re called to when we are called to inhabit Christ and be inhabited by Him. We are called to Love. We are called to Union. That is all. In these things is all we need. If we make it our business to put ourselves in the place of “getting wet” under the waterfall, the waterfall gets us wet. We just need to go about putting ourselves in the place of being where the water is. The river flows where it flows. Our deal is to get ourselves into the river so that the flow takes us where it goes.

Now, I’m not talking about hooky spooky overly charismatic stuff. I’m just using analogies to explain something. We need to focus ourselves on the every-day cultivation of our union with God in Jesus. That’s what we need to be about. If we do that, His Love will grow in us, His Spirit will transform us – that’s what it’s all about. Worrying about doing the right things all the time is destructive. I will not take that back. I just said it with great thought and I fully know the implications of what I just said and I will not take it back. Wow, I need to stop. I’ll write the book later.