Category: Ethics and Social Justice
Back in February, I remarked that Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind should be required reading for anyone who spends time on social media, particularly those who like to go to war over ideas. I said that this is a book for our cultural moment if ever there was one. […]
All across the nation today, there will be ceremonies commemorating National Aboriginal Day (or what will soon be National Indigenous People’s Day, according to Justin Trudeau). There will be dancing and singing and regalia and official speeches by important people in city centers from sea to sea to sea. […]
I get it. You don’t hate LGBTQ people. You sincerely do want to love them as best as you can. If possible, you’d even like to fully affirm them. And maybe, if it were left entirely up to you and to your own intuitions, you’d already be affirming them. But you’re a Christian.[Read More...]
How do people mature? Does it just happen automatically as we grow, or are there things we can do to aid maturity? And do christians mature in any different way from other people? Three stages in maturity Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg said that there are three basic stages in maturity, particularly in relation to moral development1. … Continue reading Is this how to mature as a christian?
As the pastor of a Mennonite church, people are often surprised by how often I quote Catholic sources. Yet, they have played an important part of my faith journey, […]
That title is quite a mouthful, isn’t it? And doesn’t it over-reach by suggesting that empowering entrepreneurs is a solution to poverty? Consider systemic racism in North America, conflict in Israel-Palestine, famine in South Sudan, violence in Congo, and other ills at home and around the world. The causes of poverty are so many and so far-reaching, that business solutions alone are not enough. We need multiple solutions, including the creativity and energy of entrepreneurs. Read More ›
Therefore God lifted him high, and granted freely to him the name above every name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee would bend, in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and every tongue constent. —— So began today’s morning reading in the prayer book that I sometimes use. […]
Sunday afternoon I left my husband with seed packets of Zinnias and Dahlias and walked up, across the yard, to look for a spade in our overflowing garage. The planting of those flowers, four packets, was what I requested for Mother’s Day this year.
I don’t know why planting seems, for me, an impossible task. Maybe it’s that simple act of letting go and watching the impossible seed fall into darkness; maybe it’s the familiar struggle of facing an unknown future. Whatever it is, my husband plants the garden each year and I, in time, tend it.
Walking up from the garden, across the green expanse of lawn, I looked over at our neighbor’s yard. They have a small, fenced in, vegetable garden and the wife, Ann, has a separate flower garden. Their garden, like most in early spring, is a miracle waiting to happen – a tilled expanse of soil, a pregnant pause. My eyes saw the emptiness there, the open waiting space, but in my mind I remembered the Zinnias.
During our first summer here, we planted a good-sized vegetable garden filled with the practical means of nutrition. Our neighbors did the same in their fenced-in plot, but around the outside edge of the fence grew large, splashy, red, purple and pink flowers – a fiesta of color that started blooming in late summer and stood strong into the fall.
Oh how I envied Miss. Ann's Zinnias. I eyed her flowers hungrily and finally, in September as the flowers were beginning to fade, asked if I might over and cut a bunch. From that moment on, I was hooked.
The following summer, I bought a packet of seeds and grew my own riot of reds and pinks. I cut them and filled our house with vases. I carried them to friends’ houses. Everyone loved the Zinnias.
Then, last year, we made a farm stand for selling fresh, free-range chicken eggs. I again planted my Zinnias (or rather, my husband did) and, when they grew and bloomed, I started cutting large happy bunches of purples and pinks, oranges and yellows and selling them in old tin cans at the farm stand for $1 each.
It was a real steal for fresh cut flowers and they flew off of the farm stand’s two tilted shelves. A friend suggested I should charge more. But I refrained.
I was already making a profit, but, what’s more, I know what it’s like to not be able to afford fresh flowers. I know, also, how beauty feeds the soul. I also know the feeling of finding a wonderful deal, how it opens our hearts and minds, makes us feel the expansive mystery of goodness and provision in the world that’s so often buried in layer after layer of unmet need.
I wanted people to feel what I felt in my garden, the sensation of wonder and delight, the absurdity of so much color available for mere ornamentation.
Returning to the garden with the trowel in hand that Sunday afternoon, I thought, the kingdom of God is like those Zinnias. The Kingdom of God – heaven in our midst – blazes and waves in the place where it is planted. It attracts the eye, captures the heart, fills those who are awake enough to notice, with longing. The Kingdom of God is like a packet of seeds, bought for $1.49, that yields one hundred fold. The kingdom of God is color cut and watered in an old tin can, bright joy on the side of the road bought with a handful of change – a deal too good to be true.
The American Dream seeks prosperity.Jesus says "Woe to you who are rich."The American Dream says work hard and you will succeed.Jesus says "Seek the kingdom and you will be given what you need."The American Dream believes in freedom.Jesus says "Blessed are you who are persecuted."The American Dream supports keeping what you earn.Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor."
I spent part of this morning on sin. Not actively sinning, I should hasten to add, although I probably accrued a few transgressions to the old ledger along the way, possibly even before breakfast. But let’s leave that aside, shall we? […]