MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

Posts Tagged ‘Peace

Prayers For Paris

with one comment

Prayers For Paris

Praying for Paris… Praying for France… Praying for peace…

Written by MattAndJojang

November 15, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , , , ,

A Day of Fasting and Prayer

with 2 comments

Day of Prayer

Praying for peace today…

Written by MattAndJojang

September 7, 2013 at 8:35 am

Finding Peace

with 4 comments

Photo: George Duncan

Photo: George Duncan

Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.

~ Jean Vanier

Written by MattAndJojang

March 28, 2013 at 9:24 am

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , , , ,

Promise

with 2 comments

jeremiah 29_

 

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

~Jeremiah 29:11

Written by MattAndJojang

January 30, 2013 at 9:32 am

Just Because You Love Jesus Doesn’t Mean You Have to Disrespect the Buddha, Dishonor Muhammad or Disregard Moses

leave a comment »

Photo: Josh Kenzer/Flickr

On this 11th anniversary of 9/11, it’s a good day for us to look back and assess the damage.

The damage to buildings long been accounted for, and much has been rebuilt. The damage to the economy has also been debated and estimated — and replaced by new, greater, primarily self-inflicted economic wounds.

The damage to families is, of course, impossible to assess or quantify. It can only be mourned.

But there’s another impact of those attacks that is still too seldom tallied: how our religious communities have turned from their deepest teachings and values of peace and reconciliation, and have too often become possessed, we might say, by spirits of fear, revenge, isolation and hostility.

As a Christian, I’ve certainly seen it and felt it in the Christian community, expressed often in a sense that the more you love Jesus, the more inhospitable you’ll be toward other faiths. “Don’t let them build mosques or temples on our turf,” some say. “Don’t let them express their difference in dress or ritual,” others suggest. “Require them to conform to our holidays and cultural codes,” others demand.

This turn toward hostility has disturbed me, so a few years ago I began studying it more in earnest. My research led me to the underlying relationships among religious hostility, religious solidarity and religious identity. Today, the results of my research and reflection go public in a new book (“Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?“), and among many conclusions, one stands out — one that I hope my fellow Christians can hear and ponder.

To be a strong Christian does not mean you have to have a strong antipathy toward other faiths and their leaders.

To be hostile rather than hospitable, in fact, makes you a worse Christian, not a better one.

To be respectful, curious, humble, inquisitive and hospitable to people of other faiths makes you a better Christian — meaning a more Christ-like one. To love your neighbor means, at the very least, not to discriminate against him, not to dehumanize him, not to insult him or what he holds dear, not to act as if God made a mistake in giving him a place in this world.

Put more positively, to love your neighbor of another faith means to seek to understand her, to learn to see the world from her perspective, to stand with her, as it were, so that you can feel what she feels and maybe even come to understand why she loves what she loves.

In the book I recount a conversation I shared over lunch with an imam who became a good friend in the weeks after 9/11. We each shared what it was we loved about our religions and their founders. He went first, and then as I was sharing, he interrupted me. “I have never heard a Christian share what he loves about his faith,” he told me. “I have only heard my fellow Muslims tell me what Christians believe. It is so different to hear it from you.”

I knew what he meant.

What would happen if more of us, whatever our religious tradition, extracted ourselves from the vicious cycles of offense and revenge, hurt and resentment, misunderstanding and counter-misunderstanding, rumor and innuendo? One thing is certain: We would become more faithful to the vision of our founders, not less. May that be so.

~ Brian McLaren

Written by MattAndJojang

September 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

Focus on the Wonders of the Universe

with 2 comments

Photo: Roger Gordon

 

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race.

~ Rachel Carson

Written by MattAndJojang

June 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , , , , ,

QUIET PLEASE: Why the Sounds of Silence Nourish our Mind and Body

with 4 comments

Photo : Jeff Turner / Flickr

George Prochnik would like the world to put a sock in it. He makes his case in a new book, In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise (Doubleday, $26). Here he explains himself (using his indoor voice):

Jackhammers. Leaf blowers. Car alarms. The aggravating, tinny sound coming out of iPod earphones. We’ve become so accustomed to noise, there’s almost an ingrained prejudice against the idea that silence might be beneficial. If you tell someone to be quiet, you sound like an old man. But it’s never been more essential to find sustainable quiet. Silence focuses us, brings us closer to the people around us, improves our health, and is a key to lasting peace and contentment.

We need to excite people about the sounds you start to hear if you merely quiet things down a little. During a Japanese tea ceremony, the smallest sounds become a kind of artistry — the clacking spoons on a bowl, the edges of a kimono brushing against the floor. In ancient times, even those who entered a Zen garden without being in a silent frame of mind — samurai warriors, even — were seduced into silence.

We have different samurai today: televisions blaring at high volume, restaurants assaulting our ears with deafening music. It’s okay to socialize with friends in a way that doesn’t revolve around noise. At work and at home, we need to find places that are escapes from the world of sound. That’s not as difficult as you might think. It may involve good earplugs (I favor blue Hearos from the Xtreme Protection Series), though you want it to be more encompassing. Find a fountain or a place where water flows. Falling water not only masks noise; it has acoustic properties that are psychologically beneficial.

In deaf communities, attentiveness is heightened in almost every aspect of life. If two deaf people are walking together, using sign language, they constantly watch out for each other and protect each other by holding the other in their gaze. They are connected yet also keenly aware of their surroundings. Even deaf teenagers! We in the hearing world can learn from them. If we remove the overwhelming blasts of noise, we become aware of an extraordinarily rich world around us — of little rustling sounds and the patter of footsteps, of bird songs and ice cracking. It’s astonishing how beautiful things sound when you can really listen.

~ Interview by David Hochman, Reader’s Digest May 2010 edition

Written by MattAndJojang

April 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Contentment

with 2 comments

Photo: Nicole Raisin Stern/Flickr

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.

~ Psalm 37:25

Written by MattAndJojang

April 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Competing Visions of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth Are Not Mutually Exclusive

leave a comment »

Photo: Ibrahim Iujazen/Flickr

In his Time magazine article, “Heaven Can’t Wait,” Jon Meacham contrasts two seemingly competing visions of heaven in contemporary Christianity. One prominent view envisions heaven as the ethereal place one goes when one dies. Images of winged angels, celestial music, golden thrones, pearly gates, and streets of gold variously occupy this vision of the hereafter. Heaven is conceived of as a future paradise of eternal rest filled with peace, light, and love. Everlasting life is seen as an eternal abode in the heavenly realm with God and the angels.

A second well-known view envisions heaven as how you live your life. This standpoint appeals to a younger generation motivated by causes and inspired by heaven to make a positive difference in the world. Guided by this outlook, these young evangelical Christians see themselves as agents of heaven on earth engaged in social justice and peacemaking. For this activist generation, heaven demands stewardship on earth in daily living.

According to New Testament scholar N.T. Wright, heaven is not a future destination but rather God’s dimension in our ordinary life on the earth. For Wright, the hope of a new heaven and a new earth along with the New Jerusalem coming from God in the Book of Revelation should invite work in the world for justice. Wright emphasizes the biblical hope of the bodily resurrection and new creation in the New Testament.

Meacham asserts that early Christians did not understand heaven in the same way as those who now envision a heavenly paradise after death but rather envisioned heaven as a two-step process. First, the soul left the body to a place of rest and peace. Second, a bodily resurrection into a new heaven and a new earth would bring God’s kingdom to earth. Meacham concludes that Christians have largely departed from these concrete beliefs about heaven by Jesus and his contemporaries. For Meacham, Wright and others are bringing this emphasis on the bodily resurrection and the New Jerusalem back to contemporary Christianity. The implication is an active Christianity bringing the Kingdom to earth.

Yet, these two competing visions of heaven and the hereafter need not be mutually exclusive. A vision of heavenly bliss and celestial paradise after death is a compelling way to describe what early Christians saw as the first — temporary — stage of heaven. Immediately after death one returns to God and enters paradise. Notwithstanding, the entire biblical account points to hope in a bodily resurrection and a new eternal life with God in the New Jerusalem. Life with God on earth will be exalted. According to the New Testament, heaven is not the final destination but rather a temporary holding place before the end of the world. One can easily hold these two visions of heaven in tension in one’s faith.

Meacham implies, however, that one cannot believe in heaven as the eternal place of rest and vindication and also work for social justice as an imperative. Thus, according to some, the image of heaven as a future paradise pacifies Christians, most especially the poor and marginalized.

Critics of African American slave religion, for instance, argue that it was otherworldly, escapist, and compensatory. The black spirituals demonstrate the rich imagery of heaven and the hereafter in slave religion as release and vindication in another life. These images of heaven no doubt enabled black slaves to endure hardship and dehumanization. Yet, black slaves also believed in imminent liberation on earth as in the biblical Exodus. They hoped for concrete material and spiritual liberation from bondage in the now.

Rebellious black slave insurrectionist Nat Turner, for example, asserted that blacks should fight for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth through revolt. African American Christian slaves held in balance the hope of paradise in another life and the equally significant hope of heaven on earth. They were able to resist slavery in myriad ways by believing in the God of both the hereafter and the present. Thus, black slave religion was both otherworldly and this-worldly. Slaves embraced the hope of a heavenly paradise after death that would vindicate them and erase the pain of the present life. Yet, they also hoped in imminent liberation on earth and the belief that God would initiate a new era of peace and freedom for blacks here in America.

~Karl Lampley

Written by MattAndJojang

April 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

My One Desire

with 2 comments

Illustration: Thomas Merton

I have only one desire, and that is the desire for solitude—to disappear into God, to be submerged in His peace, to be lost in the secret of His Face.

~ Thomas Merton

Written by MattAndJojang

January 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm