SONGS about SUFFERING & HURTING:
- Life Ain’t Always Beautiful by Gary Allan (country): https://youtu.be/0VDNMtn0t2A
- Let’s Hurt Tonight by OneRepublic (pop): https://youtu.be/8wGN7D03Nho
- Up by Shania Twain (country/pop): https://youtu.be/-FMhUNSIxks
- Skyscraper by Demi Lovato (pop): https://youtu.be/r_8ydghbGSg
- The Cure for Pain by Jon Foreman (folk/poo): https://youtu.be/-2EJ_wXIwuE
- Everybody Hurts by REM (pop): https://youtu.be/5rOiW_xY-kc
- Into the Sea (Its Gonna Be Okay) by Tasha Layton (Christian): https://youtu.be/8HznXBBCdBE
- Hurts by Emeli Sande (pop): https://youtu.be/9TqUlGyWSEk
- Hurt by Johnny Cash (country): https://youtu.be/8AHCfZTRGiI
- Pain by Three Days Grace (pop/rock): https://youtu.be/Ud4HuAzHEUc
- Love Hurts by Nazareth (pop/rock): https://youtu.be/soDZBW-1P04
- Let It Hurt by Rascal Flatts (country): https://youtu.be/AIslcAtrWvs
- Hurt by Christina Aguilera (pop): https://youtu.be/wwCykGDEp7M
- Via Dolorosa by Sandy Pattti (Christian): https://youtu.be/vCrE3gK7reA
SONGS about HEALING & HOPE:
- Rise Up by Andra Day (pop/R&B): https://youtu.be/lwgr_IMeEgA
- I’ll Stand by You by Pretenders (rock): https://youtu.be/nobHZ3nOp38
- Stronger by Kelly Clarkson (country): https://youtu.be/Xn676-fLq7I
- Rise by Katy Perry (pop): https://youtu.be/hdw1uKiTI5c
- The Comeback by Danny Gokey (Christian): https://youtu.be/Qvr64VsNT-s
- Fight Song by Rachel Platten (pop): https://youtu.be/xo1VInw-SKc
- Hero by Mariah Carey (pop): https://youtu.be/0IA3ZvCkRkQ
- Another in the Fire by Hillsong (Christian): https://youtu.be/zmNc0L7Ac5c
- When You Believe by Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey (pop): https://youtu.be/LKaXY4IdZ40
- Firework by Katy Perry (pop): https://youtu.be/QGJuMBdaqIw
- I’m Still Standing by Elton John (pop): https://youtu.be/ZHwVBirqD2s
- The Show Must Go On by Queen (rock): https://youtu.be/6J1FmJzuhPU
- Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey (pop/rock): https://youtu.be/VcjzHMhBtf0
- Rise by Danny Gokey (Christian): https://youtu.be/TJS42sKrM8c
- Brave by Sara Bareilles (pop): https://youtu.be/tJYpZKU81lc
- Keep Holding On by Avril Lavigne (pop): https://youtu.be/wyzBOH24oZA
- You Raise Me Up rendition by Josh Grobanm (classic): https://youtu.be/aJxrX42WcjQ
- I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor (pop/R&B): https://youtu.be/6dYWe1c3OyU
- Move Keep Walkin’ by TobyMac (Christian): https://youtu.be/MX1G71WK-FA
- You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up) by Josh Groban (pop): https://youtu.be/EGLSk3AVcUU
WAGE PEACE — Judyth Hill
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and
flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Play music; memorize the words for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
as the out breath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Interrelationship – Thich Nhat Hanh
You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.
I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.
GOD’S PART in SUFFERING (from Book of Job):
Excerpt from commentary by BibleProject (full article: https://bibleproject.com/articles/gods-gives-job-tour-wise-world/)
… Job claimed that God has fallen asleep at the wheel in running the universe, and because of this divine neglect he’s had to endure unjust suffering. God’s response is indirect, and it shows how his attention is actually on every single detail of the operations of the universe. In fact, God is privy to all kinds of perspectives and details that Job has never even imagined and never will…
As it turns out, Job doesn’t know as much as he thought, even about the world he lives in and should be familiar with. … God has made his first point. Job’s many accusations of divine neglect or incompetence have failed. As it turns out, God is intimately familiar with every molecule and creature in his world and knows more about them than Job can comprehend. This is an important moment in the story so far. Whatever reasons God has for having allowed Job’s suffering, neglect is not a viable option.
Job never does find out why he suffered and neither does the reader. The goal of the book was never to offer us that information
… This means all of our claims to evaluate God’s rule over human history are always limited, and will therefore fall short. I don’t have a wide enough vantage point to accuse God of incompetence, and I never will.
God responds again, this time inviting Job to take up the divine throne and run the universe for a day. Let Job enforce the strict “retribution principle” he thinks God ought to use in directing the cosmos: “Clothe yourself with honor and majesty. Pour out your anger to overflowing, And look on everyone who is proud, and make him low. Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him, and tread down the wicked where they stand.”
Job will find the task impossible. It would require a second-by-second micromanagement approach that would essentially result in no more human beings on the planet. Job doesn’t know what he’s asking for when he demands that God uses the strict principle of retribution to reward every good deed and punish every bad one. In theory it sounds right, but in execution, it would create a universe where no human would ever have a chance for trial and error or, more importantly, for growth and change.
… Apparently, God’s world is ordered enough for the human project to flourish, but chaos has not been eradicated entirely from God’s world. The tohu-va-vohu (Hebrew for “formless and void” in Gen 1:2
Genesis 1:2) wilderness wasteland of Genesis 1 wasn’t eliminated when God made the world. Rather, a space for garden-order was carved out and given over to humans who were commissioned to spread that divine order further out. Leviathan is out there, raw and dangerous, and you just might encounter it. It has the power to wreak havoc on your life, but what you cannot conclude from a run-in with Leviathan is that God is punishing you, or that this creature is evil. Neither is the case. You just bumped into Leviathan, and it unleashed chaos, tooth, and claw into your life, and your body…
Hebrew Bible scholar John Walton puts it this way in his commentary on Job: God’s answer to Job does not explain why righteous people suffer, because the cosmos is not designed to prevent righteous people from suffering. Job questioned God’s design, and God responded that Job had insufficient knowledge to do so. Job questioned God’s justice, and God responded that Job needs to trust him, and that he should not arrogantly think that God can be domesticated to conform to Job’s feeble perceptions of how the cosmos should run. God asks for trust, not understanding, and states the cosmos is founded on his wisdom, not his justice. [adapted quote]
Human pain and suffering does not always happen as a clear consequence of anyone’s sin. There may be a reason, but there may not be. God himself said that Job’s suffering was not warranted for “any reason” (Job 2:3. The conversation with the satan certainly did not provide a reason. That dialogue simply set the stage for the real question of the book: Does God operate the universe according to the principle of retribution?
The answer to this story is no. Sometimes terrible things happen for no reason discernible to any human. The point is that God’s world is very good, but it’s not perfect, or always safe. It has order and beauty, but it’s also wild and sometimes dangerous, like the two fantastic creatures he avows. So back to the big question of Job’s or anyone’s suffering: why is there suffering in the world? Whether from earthquakes, or wild animals, or from one another? God doesn’t explain why. He says we live in an incredibly complex, amazing world that at this stage at least, is not designed to prevent suffering.
…. So, the book doesn’t unlock the puzzle of why bad things happen to good people. Rather, it does invite us to trust God’s wisdom when we encounter suffering rather than trying to figure out the “reasons” for it.
When we search for reasons, we tend to either simplify God like the friends or, like Job, accuse God based on limited evidence. The book invites us to honestly bring our pain and grief to God and to trust that he cares, realizing that he knows exactly what he’s doing.
PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENTS about HUMAN SUFFERING and GOD’s ROLE
Excerpts from chapter 13 of Biblical Wisdom Literature by Joseph Koterski (the Great Courses):
“We don’t know how it’s going to turn out, Job doesn’t know how its going to turn out. One of the problems that is presented by life as wellas text of Job, how God in his goodness could allow innocent suffering at all. Or hos God can permit those situations in which there is massive sufferings. We might think of famines. We might think of various forms of genocide, whether it be the Holocaust in Germany, whether it be the Armenian genocide, or some of the ones that seem to be happening now. Or even just the massive wars. The Book of Job poses this sort of problem in that opening scene … not trying to give historical perspective but to ask this philosophical problem. These Biblical wisdom books, Job in versy special way, as that part of the Bible that is most philosophical, that it’s a kind of philosophical debate within Israel in which various opositions will be explored and examined, including the divine position, in so far as this is divine revelation…
[Liebniz] has established for us some of the important terms. These three claims that God is all powerful, that God is all knowing, and that God is all good are crucial to the problem… And then of course the problem is more than just the triangle, you have to work in the way in which human freedom is related to these three parts of the internal attributes of God.
If there is nothing cannot God cannot do, because he is all powerful, if there is God does not know because he is omniscient, and if there is no limit to God’s mercy, because he is all good, why are there instances of suffering that are outrageous in their extent and disproportionate to anything we might reasonably expect?
[Koterski’s opinion] … this is a world that God made for a certain precise purpose, I think the purpose was to have creatures like ourselves capable of freedom, but that freedom with which we’re made will make it so that there will be destructions, there will be sometimes the opportunities to operate badly as well as to operate well, that this is the risk of freedom.
Hartshorne and other process thinkers [philosophers] have argued that apparently we simply need to change our picture of God. In regard to one of those three attributes, something has got to give. Should it be God’s knowledge? Should it be God’s power? Should it be God’s justice? … For myself, I think It does grave notion to the idea of God… [Koterski opinion]I would try to make the argument is incoherent philosophically … it is fundamentally at odds with the view of God that is presented by the Bible and by the mainstream traditions of Judaism and Christianity…
Rabbi Harold Kushner [author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People] … repudiates the notion that suffering is a punishment by God for anyone’s misdeeds. He also … rejects … the view that God sometimes uses suffering to teach people some important lessons. … Instead Rabbi Kushner holds that suffering is simply an intrinsic part of the world that God created, but that it is by random chance that one person suffers and another does not … there was no particular design to it. … Furthermore, Kushner holds that human beings are unique in this world by virtue of having the power to make free choices, and that God refuses to intervene in these choices … [Koterski opinion] Kushner is probably quite right in saying that our freedom is protected by the fact that God allows us to do what we do… Kushner does agree that God can grant us sufficient strength to deal with the troubles in our life, and yes, it does make sense to pray.
C.S.Lewis … second chapter The Problem of Pain … general outline of his views can be sketched in the following way:
- First point. The free choices that we make on all soprts of issues large and small wouldn’t be free unless our actions have consequences…
- Secondly, for actions to have their consequneces, there needs to be a world with stable natural laws, that govern how one thing interacts with another…
- Third thing, the action on one being on the other may well cause injury, may well cause suffering.
- Fourth, it will not do to have divine agency interfering with the consequences all the time … to prevent the suffering that occurs when some beinghs interact with other beings, for instance when a volcano buries a town, when a lion kills its prey, or when a microbe infects aperson with some disease, or when an armed robber kills an innocent bystander …
- Fifth point, in short, for God to have created a world in which he chose there to be beings endowed with the power of freedom of choice, God has also chosen to allow any numbers of innocent suffering.
- Sixth, it is not that God does not know any of this … nor is it that God couldn’t do something about any one of them … God can do, and frequently has done, miracles … in this respect … the highest level of goodness is free choice. So what this system does is that God in his goodness has made a creature that is in, this respect, like himself, this creature possesses free choice, and that’s a greater good, even though there are going to be some defects and clashes at other levels.
What an argument like this does is put the problem of evil and of suffering into a certain pserpective that can give us a sense of why God, in general, allows suffering. … It does not try to answer the question why this person or that person or some other has as much suffering as any one of these individuals might. To try to answer the particular problems and personal problems, religion is needed. Real prayer. Good friends. Solid spiritual counsel. We need to have that assistance to get through it. … CS Lewis gives us the bigger picture, why there is suffering in the world, not why I am suffering….
Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world. ― Nadeem Aslam
To understand just one life you have to swallow the world … do you wonder, then, that I was a heavy child? ― Salman Rushdie
The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. — Yasutani Roshi
When we help another, we are helped. If we harm another, we harm ourselves. Perhaps harder to grasp—if we harm ourselves, we harm the whole universe. ― Rachel Wooten
… nature is interconnections.― Lisa Kemmerer
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. — Rev. Dr. Martin Liuther King, Jr.
Love is wise; hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet. ― Bertrand Russell
Interbeing is the understanding that nothing exists separately from anything else. We are all interconnected. By taking care of another person, you take care of yourself. By taking care of yourself, you take care of the other person. Happiness and safety are not individual matters. If you suffer, I suffer. If you are not safe, I am not safe. There is no way for me to be truly happy if you are suffering. If you can smile, I can smile too. The understanding of interbeing is very important. It helps us to remove the illusion of loneliness, and transform the anger that comes from the feeling of separation. — Thich Nhat Hanh
In today’s interconnected and globalized world, it is now commonplace for people of dissimilar world views, faiths and races to live side by side. It is a matter of great urgency, therefore, that we find ways to cooperate with one another in a spirit of mutual acceptance and respect. — Dalai Lama
DIRECT, STRUCTURAL, and CULTURAL FORMS of VIOLENCE & PEACE
Often referred to as the “Father of Peace Studies,” Norwegian theorist Johan Galtung has developed a three pronged typology of violence that represents how a confluence of malleable factors merge in particular cultural/historical moments to shape the conditions for the promotion of violence (and, by inference, peace) to function as normative.
- Direct Violence represents behaviors that serve to threaten life itself and/or to diminish one’s capacity to meet basic human needs. Examples include killing, maiming, bullying, sexual assault, and emotional manipulation.
- Structural Violence represents the systematic ways in which some groups are hindered from equal access to opportunities, goods, and services that enable the fulfillment of basic human needs. These can be formal as in legal structures that enforce marginalization (such as apartheid in South Africa) or they could be culturally functional but without legal mandate (such as limited access to education or health care for marginalized groups).
- Cultural Violence represents the existence of prevailing or prominent social norms that make direct and structural violence seem “natural” or “right” or at least acceptable. For example, the belief that Africans are primitive and intellectually inferior to Caucasians gave sanction to the African slave trade. Galtung’s understanding of cultural violence helps explain how prominent beliefs can become so embedded in a given culture that they function as absolute and inevitable and are reproduced uncritically across generations.
From Rev Gail Doktor’s notes:
Galtung’s definition of lasting peace is built on individual, structural, and cultural aspects of peace.
- Individual peace seeks to preserve life itself and promote human and planetary flourishing.
- Structural peace represents the systematic ways that all groups have equal access to opportunities, goods, and services that enable the fulfillment of basic human needs.
- Cultural peace signifies the existence of prevailing, persistent social norms that make the hallmarks of individual and structural peace seem ‘natural’, ‘right’, or ‘good’.
I and THOU: Relational
… I and Thou, is a book by Martin Buber,….— Wikipedia,com
… Buber’s main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways:
- The attitude of the “I” towards an “It”, towards an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience.
- The attitude of the “I” towards “Thou”, in a relationship in which the other is not separated by discrete bounds.
One of the major themes of the book is that human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships. In Buber’s view, all of our relationships bring us ultimately into relationship with God, who is the Eternal Thou. Martin Buber said that every time someone says Thou, they are indirectly addressing God. People can address God as Thou or as God, Buber emphasized how, “You need God in order to be, and God needs you for that which is the meaning of your life.”
One of the major themes of the book is that human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships. In Buber’s view, all of our relationships bring us ultimately into relationship with God, who is the Eternal Thou. Martin Buber said that every time someone says Thou, they are indirectly addressing God. People can address God as Thou or as God, Buber emphasized how, “You need God in order to be, and God needs you for that which is the meaning of your life.”
Buber explains that humans are defined by two word pairs: I–It and I–Thou.
The “It” of I–It refers to the world of experience and sensation. I–It describes entities as discrete objects drawn from a defined set (e.g., he, she or any other objective entity defined by what makes it measurably different from other entities). It can be said that “I” have as many distinct and different relationships with each “It” as there are “Its” in one’s life. Fundamentally, “It” refers to the world as we experience it.
By contrast, the word pair I–Thou describes the world of relations. This is the “I” that does not objectify any “It” but rather acknowledges a living relationship. I–Thou relationships are sustained in the spirit and mind of an “I” for however long the feeling or idea of relationship is the dominant mode of perception. A person sitting next to a complete stranger on a park bench may enter into an “I–Thou” relationship with the stranger merely by beginning to think positively about people in general. The stranger is a person as well, and gets instantaneously drawn into a mental or spiritual relationship with the person whose positive thoughts necessarily include the stranger as a member of the set of persons about whom positive thoughts are directed. It is not necessary for the stranger to have any idea that he is being drawn into an “I–Thou” relationship for such a relationship to arise. But what is crucial to understand is the word pair “I–Thou” can refer to a relationship with a tree, the sky, or the park bench itself as much as it can refer to the relationship between two individuals. The essential character of “I–Thou” is the abandonment of the world of sensation, the melting of the between, so that the relationship with another “I” is foremost.
INTERBEING: Inter-connection as a Buddhist concept articultaed by Thich Nhat Hanh
… Rather than signifying a lack or a void, [Thich Nhat Hanh] took emptiness to be a state of inextricable and fundamental interconnectedness in which it is impossible to identify a single, separate entity. — thedewdrop.cpm
Below is an excerpt from the chapter on INTERBEING from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, The Art of Living.
Imagine, for a moment, a beautiful flower. That flower might be an orchid or a rose, or even a simple little daisy growing beside a path. Looking into a flower, we can see that it is full of life. It contains soil, rain, and sunshine. It is also full of clouds, oceans, and minerals. It is even full of space and time. In fact, the whole cosmos is present in this one little flower. If we took out just one of these “non-flower” elements, the flower would not be there. Without the soil’s nutrients, the flower could not grow. Without rain and sunshine, the flower would die. And if we removed all the non-flower elements, there would be nothing substantive left that we could call a “flower.” So our observation tells us that the flower is full of the whole cosmos, while at the same time it is empty of a separate self-existence. The flower cannot exist by itself alone.
We too are full of so many things and yet empty of a separate self. Like the flower, we contain earth, water, air, sunlight, and warmth. We contain space and consciousness. We contain our ancestors, our parents and grandparents, education, food, and culture. The whole cosmos has come together to create the wonderful manifestation that we are. If we remove any of these “non-us” elements, we will find there is no “us” left.
Emptiness does not mean nothingness. Saying that we are empty does not mean that we do not exist. No matter if something is full or empty, that thing clearly needs to be there in the first place. When we say a cup is empty, the cup must be there in order to be empty. When we say that we are empty, it means that we must be there in order to be empty of a permanent, separate self.
About thirty years ago I was looking for an English word to describe our deep interconnection with everything else. I liked the word “togetherness,” but I finally came up with the word “interbeing.” The verb “to be” can be misleading, because we cannot be by ourselves, alone. “To be” is always to “inter-be.” If we combine the prefix “inter” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, “inter-be.” To inter-be reflects reality more accurately. We inter-are with one another and with all life.
There is a biologist named Lewis Thomas, whose work I appreciate very much. He describes how our human bodies are “shared, rented, and occupied” by countless other tiny organisms, without whom we couldn’t “move a muscle, drum a finger, or think a thought.” Our body is a community, and the trillions of non-human cells in our body are even more numerous than the human cells. Without them, we could not be here in this moment. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to think, to feel, or to speak. There are, he says, no solitary beings. The whole planet is one giant, living, breathing cell, with all its working parts linked in symbiosis.
We can observe emptiness and interbeing everywhere in our daily life. If we look at a child, it’s easy to see the child’s mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, in her. The way she looks, the way she acts, the things she says. Even her skills and talents are the same as her parents’. If at times we cannot understand why the child is acting a certain way, it is helpful to remember that she is not a separate selfentity. She is a continuation. Her parents and ancestors are inside her. When she walks and talks, they walk and talk as well. Looking into the child, we can be in touch with her parents and ancestors, but equally, looking into the parent, we can see the child. We do not exist independently. We inter-are. Everything relies on everything else in the cosmos in order to manifest—whether a star, a cloud, a flower, a tree, or you and me.
I remember one time when I was in London, doing walking meditation along the street, and I saw a book displayed in a bookshop window with the title My Mother, Myself. I didn’t buy the book because I felt I already knew what was inside. It’s true that each one of us is a continuation of our mother; we are our mother. And so whenever we are angry at our mother or father, we are also being angry at ourselves. Whatever we do, our parents are doing it with us. This may be hard to accept, but it’s the truth. We can’t say we don’t want to have anything to do with our parents. They are in us, and we are in them. We are the continuation of all our ancestors. Thanks to impermanence, we have a chance to transform our inheritance in a beautiful direction.
Every time I offer incense or prostrate before the altar in my hermitage, I do not do this as an individual self but as a whole lineage. Whenever I walk, sit, eat, or practice calligraphy, I do so with the awareness that all my ancestors are within me in that moment. I am their continuation. Whatever I am doing, the energy of mindfulness enables me to do it as “us,” not as “me.” When I hold a calligraphy brush, I know I cannot remove my father from my hand. I know I cannot remove my mother or my ancestors from me. They are present in all my cells, in my gestures, in my capacity to draw a beautiful circle. Nor can I remove my spiritual teachers from my hand. They are there in the peace, concentration, and mindfulness I enjoy as I make the circle. We are all drawing the circle together. There is no separate self doing it. While practicing calligraphy, I touch the profound insight of no self. It becomes a deep practice of meditation.
Whether we’re at work or at home, we can practice to see all our ancestors and teachers present in our actions. We can see their presence when we express a talent or skill they have transmitted to us. We can see their hands in ours as we prepare a meal or wash the dishes. We can experience profound connection and free ourselves from the idea that we are a separate self.
- Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
- Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.
- Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering, including personal contact, visits, images, and sounds. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.
- Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
- Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your anger and hatred and the nature of the persons who have caused your anger and hatred.
- Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.
- Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
- Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.
- Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
- Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realize your ideal of compassion.
- Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.
- Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
- Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body only as an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of the Way. (For brothers and sisters who are not monks and nuns:) Sexual expression should not take place without love and a long-term commitment. In sexual relationships, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.
SONG: Michael Jackson: Earth: https://youtu.be/XAi3VTSdTxU
POEM: Elaine Equi: Earth (excerpt): A long time we were separate, O Earth, but now you have returned to me.
SONG: Michael Jackson: Earth:
QUOTE: CS Lewis: Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
SONG: Give by LeAnn Rimes: https://youtu.be/vALhBgHC_FE
POEM: Kahlil Gibran: On Giving (excerpt): Then said a rich man, Speak to us of Giving. And he answered: You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give… And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty. There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes. He smiles upon the earth.
QUOTE: CS Lewis: To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
Love is the bridge between you and everything. — Rumi
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return. – Natalie Cole
Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Love, in the New Testament, is not something you feel; it is something you do….Love seeks the well-being of others and is embodied in concrete efforts in their behalf. — Francis Taylor Gench
- SONGS about LOVE:
- Christmas Hallelujah performed by Caleb and Kelsey (adapted from Leonard Cohen’s anthem): https://youtu.be/V9ORdDGgzu8
- What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (blues/rock): https://youtu.be/CWzrABouyeE
- One Day by Matisyahu (Jewish rock): https://youtu.be/WRmBChQjZPs
- One Love by Bob Marley ft Manu Chao (rock/raggae): https://youtu.be/4xjPODksI08
- Give Love by MC Yoga (rock/rap): https://youtu.be/rpVUih5nY9g
- Shine It All Around by Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation (rock): https://youtu.be/fJoarBi19QM
- Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher by Jackie Wilson (rock):https://youtu.be/mzDVaKRApcg
- Grateful: A Love Song to the World by Empty Hands Music (rap): https://youtu.be/sO2o98Zpzg8
- Ain’t No Mountain High by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (rock): https://youtu.be/-C_3eYj-pOM
- Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts (country): https://youtu.be/8-vZlrBYLSU
- All for Love by Bryan Adam, Rod Stewart & Sting (rock):: https://youtu.be/n-AB7RJpOjY
- Amazing by One EskimO (wolrd music/ballad): https://youtu.be/_OwUIIeuw8w
- Love Is My Religion by Ziggy Marley (raggae): https://youtu.be/r-eXYJnV3V4
- Love Like This by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/Br1q_i1RHPU
- Can You Feel the Love Tonight by Elton John (ballad): https://youtu.be/lFYBLwb3I84
- Union by Black-Eyed Peas & Sting (rock/rap): https://youtu.be/rT_-Ln7eWpw
- I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner (rock): https://youtu.be/4jA-_g_iSY0
- You Say by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/sIaT8Jl2zpI
- God Only Knows by The Beach Boys (rock): https://youtu.be/AOMyS78o5YI
- Unconditionally by Katy Perry (rock): https://youtu.be/XjwZAa2EjKA
- Best of My Love by The Emotions (soul): https://youtu.be/B-Tb80rmPt4
- Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran (pop): https://youtu.be/lp-EO5I60KA
- We Are Here by Alicia Keyes (pop): https://youtu.be/HrKmDgk8Edg
- I Swear by All-4-One (rock): https://youtu.be/25rL-ooWICU
- I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston (rock):https://youtu.be/3JWTaaS7LdU=
- Live Like Youy’ve Loved by Hawk Nelson (Christian):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_r47Xhkf20
- I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith (rock): https://youtu.be/JkK8g6FMEXE
- Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers (rock): https://youtu.be/qiiyq2xrSI0
- I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder (rock): https://youtu.be/1bGOgY1CmiU
- Tonight I Celebrate My Love for You by Roberta Slack & Peabo Bryson (pop): https://youtu.be/4t0Xo3-Ga_4
- Just the Way Your Are by Billy Joel (rock): https://youtu.be/tJWM5FmZyqU
DANCE— Wendell Berry
… And I love you
as I love the dance that brings you
out of the multitude
in which you come and go.
Love changes, and in change is true.
I GOT KIN — Hafiz
So that your own heart
So God will think,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Because that is the purest
TOUCHED By An ANGEL
— Maya Angelou
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
Where there is love there is life. – Mahatma Gandhi
The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. – Dalai Lama
Love is more than a noun – it is a verb; it is more than a feeling – it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing.– William Arthur Ward
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. — Rumi
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.– C.S. Lewis
… But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it! ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
The ancient Hebrew word “ahava” that is often translated as “love” in the Bible has a unique meaning too. Sadly, this amazing Hebrew word is hidden behind the nonchalant English term that everyone uses for everything. … Love or “ahava” in the Hebraic mind is very different in today’s culture. In the Hebrew, love is connected directly with action and obedience. Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary defines ahava as “to have affection, sexually or otherwise, love, like, to befriend, to be intimate.” It brings to mind the idea of longing for or breathing for another. Hebraically ahava is a verb and a noun, it is an act of doing. Ahava is not just a feeling. — Daniel Rendelman
Nothing God ever does, or ever did, or ever will do, is separate from the love of God. — A.W.Tozer
… the action and behavior produced by love is distinctly countercultural. … In a society where so much is presented in terms of “self”—self-awareness, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-image, self-realization—to present a way of existence in which a person lives for the other in a life of loving self-sacrifice will be highly provocative. Following the one who gave his life as a sacrifice for us will be humbling and undoubtedly costly in terms of human recognition and progress in life as secular society defines it.— zondervanacademic.com
I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
In the end we discover that to love and let go can be the same thing.— Jack Kornfield
Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. – Rumi
You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth. – William W. Purkey
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.
Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart. – Washington Irving
Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third. – Marge Piercy
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. – Zora Neale Hurston
The chance to love and be loved exists no matter where you are. – Oprah Winfrey
No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens, Dr. Marigold
MEDITATION on LOVE
— Howard Thurman
I’m continuing our thinking togetherabout the meaning of love. And today, I want to read a few verses from Moffatt’s translation of the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.
Love is very patient, very kind. Love knows no jealousy. Love makes no parade, gives itself no airs, is never rude, never selfish, never irritated,never resentful. Love is never glad when others go wrong. Love is gladdened by goodness, always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient.
The working definition that we are using is this– love is the experience of being dealt with at a point in oneself that is beyond all the good and beyond all the evil. To love is to deal with another person at a point in him that is beyond all the good and beyond all the evil.
There is something in the experience which has with it always a note of security, of emotional security. And security in its simplest terms means the experience of having one’s needs satisfied. And whoever is able to satisfy one’s needs, simple needs or complex needs, the response, because of this sense of satisfaction, is in terms of not only dependence but in terms of trust, in terms of confidence, in terms of affection, in terms of love.
It is for this reason that religion insists that God loves man and that it is man’s experience of the love of God which in the first instance enables him to be able to love anyone. I wonder if you take for granted the fact that so many of your own basic needs are satisfied by life. And if you take this for granted, then your attitude towards life may not be one of responsibility, of responsiveness, of reverence, of gratitude. It may be an attitude that is simply callous.
You may decide, for instance, that you elate the fresh air that you breathe and the cool water that you drink and all of the other simple creature ways by which your needs are satisfied. But if you reflect upon your total experience of life in this regard, then your attitude towards life will be one of reverence and towards the creator of life one of trust and confidence.
For the Upcoming 4th Sunday of Advent (and the week that follows) Focused on Love
ADVENT CANDLE-LIGHTING BLESSING— Maren Tirabassi(excerpt, full article with multiple liturgies: https://pilgrimwr.unitingchurch.org.au/?p=7304)
In our church and homes
we gather around wreaths
to pray our lost hopes, broken peace, limited joys, and love so hard to find and share in this season …
We affirm that our candles mean
we claim the power to call this season Advent, when God’s light comes into the world and nothing can overcome it.
We light the candles of hope, peace, and joy.
We now light the candle of love even when many things dim our sparkling
eg loneliness, racism, queer bashing, body shaming
God’s love illuminates hatred and a compassionate heart
and brightens the path to the birth of Christ.
Emmanuel, God be with us in the week to come lighting hope, peace, joy and love on the wick of our lives, so that we may shine on our world your unconditional welcome to all. Amen.
HANUKKAH BLESSING — from hias.org
Hanukkah 2022 will begin in the evening of Sunday,. Dec 18
and ends in the evening of Monday, Dec 26. Recite or sing these blessings as you light the Hanukkiyah each night during Hanukkah:
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b-mitzvotav, v-tzivanu l’hadlik ner
Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes us holy through Your commandments,
and commands us to light the Hanukkah lights.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu v-imoteinu ba- yamim ha-heim
Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in their
days at this season.
On the first night of Hanukkah add this blessing:
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu v-ki’y’manu v-higianu la-z’man ha-zeh.
Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling
us to reach this season
HANUKKAH 101 (excerpts) — full article: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hanukkah-101/
Hanukkah, or the Festival of Rededication, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. Although it is a late addition to the Jewish liturgical calendar, the eight-day festival of Hanukkah has become a beloved and joyous holiday. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and usually takes place in December, at the time of year when the days are shortest in the northern hemisphere.Historical Origins of Hanukkah
Beginning in 167 BCE, the Jews of Judea rose up in revolt against the oppression of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire. The military leader of the first phase of the revolt was Judah the Maccabee, the eldest son of the priest Mattityahu (Mattathias). In the autumn of 164, Judah and his followers were able to capture the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been turned into a pagan shrine. They cleansed it and rededicated it to Israel’s God. This event was observed in an eight-day celebration, which was patterned on Sukkot, the autumn festival of huts. Much later rabbinic tradition ascribes the length of the festival to a miraculous small amount of oil that burned for eight days.How to Celebrate Hanukkah at Home
Much of the activity of Hanukkah takes place at home. Central to the holiday is the lighting of the hanukkiah or menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum to which one candle is added on each night of the holiday until it is ablaze with light on the eighth night. In commemoration of the legendary cruse of oil, it is traditional to eat foods fried in oil. The most familiar Hanukkah foods are the European (Ashkenazi) potato pancakes, or latkes, and the Israeli favorite, jelly donuts, or sufganiyot. The tradition developed in Europe to give small amounts of money as well as nuts and raisins to children at this time. Under the influence of Christmas, which takes place around the same time of year, Hanukkah has evolved into the central gift-giving holiday in the Jewish calendar in the Western world.Celebrating Hanukkah in the Community
Since Hanukkah is not biblically ordained, the liturgy for the holiday is not well developed. It is actually a quite minor festival. However, it has become one of the most beloved of Jewish holidays. In an act of defiance against those in the past and in the present who would root out Jewish practice, the observance of Hanukkah has assumed a visible community aspect. Jews will often gather for communal celebrations and public candle lighting. At such celebrations, Hanukkah songs are sung and traditional games such as dreidel are played.Hanukkah’s Theology and Themes
Like Passover, Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the liberation from oppression. It also provides a strong argument in favor of freedom of worship and religion. In spite of the human action that is commemorated, never far from the surface is the theology that the liberation was possible only thanks to the miraculous support of the Divine.
Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.
– Frederick Buechner
I talk to God but the sky is empty. ― Sylvia Plath
I think the trouble with me is lack of faith… often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address. – C.S. Lewis
We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty! ― Douglas Adams
Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one. ― Voltaire
Who among us has not experienced insecurity, loss and even doubts on their journey of faith?… We’ve all experienced this, me too. – Pope Francis
… the Old Testament, which is where many of the questions (and questioners) are. The Old Testament proves that God honors questioners. Remember, grumpy Job emerges as the hero of that book, not his theologically defensive friends. — Philip Yancey
Songs about DOUBTS & QUESTIONS:
- No Doubt About It by We The Kingdom (Christian): https://youtu.be/JCvKzyj2Tu8
- Lost in Doubt by Fame on Fire (pop): https://youtu.be/uTJjQ3QX3Y8
- Shadow of a Doubt by Bonnie Raitt (country): https://youtu.be/CRA8u93sOWs
- Doubt by Twenty-One Pilots (rap/spoken word): https://youtu.be/MEiVnNNpJLA
- Forgiven by Alanis Morisette (pop): https://youtu.be/-9DnL-TlyJw
- Sense of Doubt by David Bowie (instrumental): https://youtu.be/ENqheXKftbo
- No Doubt About Love by Kenny Loggins (country): https://youtu.be/usDtyKAfHjw
- Hand to Hold by JJ Heller (pop): https://youtu.be/n88EHf_ocoQ
- Remove This Doubt by Diana Ross & The Supremes (rock/soul): https://youtu.be/7qnQ9bZAMLo
- The Angel of Doubt by Punch Brothers (folk): https://youtu.be/9PibO0h7Hrg
- Lay Your Doubts & Fears Aside from Semele, HWV 58, Act II Scene III: No. 32 (Jupiter) (opera): https://youtu.be/a9nyBhLiumw
- Dyin Day by Anias Mitchell (folk/country): https://youtu.be/X1KG7jsaTrM
- Ain’t No Doubt About It by Wilson Pickett (rock/soul): https://youtu.be/CdjbvwJ4NHg
- Don’t Speak by No Doubt (pop): https://youtu.be/TR3Vdo5etCQ
- First by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/RbWQV3OiRqA
- Who Could Ever Doubt My Love? By Diana Ross and the Supremes (soul/rock): https://youtu.be/4yaUE3L5Ex4
- Doubt by Joywave (pop): https://youtu.be/rTfGoa4p_EQ
- Doubt by Mary J Blige (R&B/soul): https://youtu.be/NUE5r4Mzf80
- Doubt Me Now by Cody Johnson (country): https://youtu.be/CdPmRNl3a6E
- No Doubt by Robin Gibb (rock): https://youtu.be/il0ugK6Doo0
- Raise a Hallelujah by Jonathan and Melissa Helser (Christian): https://youtu.be/awkO61T6i0k
- Laughing With by Regina Spektor (pop): https://youtu.be/-pxRXP3w-sQ
- Doubt by The Cure (rock): https://youtu.be/X2iHXlCShmY
- If You Find Yourself in Love by Belle & Sebastien (pop): https://youtu.be/de8OlR7G1xU
- Shadow of a Doubt by Roxette (rock): https://youtu.be/NMwbdiKzd4U
- When In Doubt by Punch Brothers (folk instrumental): https://youtu.be/cjBQT8GKf80
- No Doubt About It by Bay City Rollers (pop/rock): https://youtu.be/oPPERfmIpzE
- This Is the House that Doubt Built by A Day to Remember (hard rock/punk rock): https://youtu.be/9xjb9rvi7Js
- A Little Doubt Goes a Long Way by Reel Big Fish Band (zydeco/cajun): https://youtu.be/aLDgVieHIOM
- Shadow of a Doubt by Asia (rock): https://youtu.be/ZfKnjoShJTc
- Monolith of Doubt by After Forever (metal rock): https://youtu.be/rnNQpPW6ofc
- Without a Doubt by The Roots (rap, caution: explicit lyrics): https://youtu.be/IJJzRWO72Po
- Debate Exposes Doubt by Death Cab for Cutie (indie/rock): https://youtu.be/0E83Fvd5rFA
|A Sonnet for St. Thomas the Apostle|
— Malcolm Guite
“We do not know… how can we know the way?”
Courageous master of the awkward question,
You spoke the words the others dared not say
And cut through their evasion and abstraction.
Oh doubting Thomas, father of my faith,
You put your finger on the nub of things
We cannot love some disembodied wraith,
But flesh and blood must be our king of kings.
Your teaching is to touch, embrace, anoint,
Feel after Him and find Him in the flesh.
Because He loved your awkward counter-point
The Word has heard and granted you your wish.
Oh place my hands with yours, help me divine
The wounded God whose wounds are healing mine.
QUESTIONING: An Act of Faith
When I speak to college students, I challenge them to find a single argument against God in the older agnostics (Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, David Hume) or the newer ones (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) that is not already included in books like Psalms, Job, Habakkuk, and Lamentations. I have respect for a God who not only gives us the freedom to reject him, but also includes the arguments we can use in the Bible. God seems rather doubt-tolerant, actually. — Philip Yancey
In other words, no matter how strong our faith is, at some point we may experience doubt. But instead of being a sign of weakness, doubt can actually be something that causes us to dig deeper into our relationship with God, and can even make our faith stronger. — Jesse Carey
Certainty is so often overrated. This is especially the case when it comes to faith, or other imponderables. — Julia Baird
Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith… Sometimes I think it is my mission to bring faith to the faithless, and doubt to the faithful. – Paul Tillich
Belief in God does not exempt us from feelings of abandonment by God. Praising God does not inoculate us from doubts about God. – Eugene Peterson
Surely… we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety. – John Calvin
I do not believe there ever existed a Christian yet, who did not now and then doubt his interest in Jesus. I think, when a man says, “I never doubt,” it is quite time for us to doubt him. – Charles Spurgeon
The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions, and we become smug like the Pharisee who listed all his considerable virtues, and thanked God that he was not like other men… Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.”– Madeleine L’Engle
When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate… I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer. – Brennan Manning
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt. – Dallas Willard
All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it, tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself – you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.‘ — C. S. Lewis
I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me—that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. — Anne Lamott
Who among us—everybody, everybody!—who among us has not experienced insecurity, loss and even doubts on their journey of faith? Everyone! We’ve all experienced this, me too. It is part of the journey of faith, it is part of our lives. This should not surprise us, because we are human beings, marked by fragility and limitations. We are all weak, we all have limits: do not panic. We all have them … If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. — Pope Francis
Darkness is such that I really do not see—neither with my mind nor with my reason—the place of God in my soul is blank—There is no God in me—when the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God … The torture and pain I can’t explain. — St. Mother Teresa
For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God. — Martin Luther
The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble … Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise amid overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints. — Charles Spurgeon
If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation. ― Yann Martel
COMMENTARY on THOMAS as a DOUBTER
Here’s my simple contention about this passage: Thomas is not so much a doubter as he is a realist. Think about it. Everything we know about Thomas up to this point suggests that he is forthright, genuine, and even courageous …
Thomas, I would contend, is at heart a pragmatist, one who likes his truth straight up and who relentlessly takes stock of the situation before making a decision. …
Which leads me to believe that what changes when Thomas is confronted by the risen Lord is not that he is no longer a doubter – he never really was – and certainly not his realism. No, what changes is his perception of reality itself. Of what is possible. Of what God can do. Even of what God can do through him….
Jesus comes and takes his mocking words and turns them back on him, not to humiliate or scold him, but simply to confront him with the possibility that his reality was too small, his vision of what is possible too limited. And when Jesus calls him to faith, he’s actually inviting him to enter into a whole new world. …
And this issue of having too small a vision of reality is what I find interesting. Because I also fall into a worldview governed by limitations and am tempted to call that “realism.” Which is when I need to have the community remind me of a grander vision. A vision not defined by failure but possibility, not governed by scarcity but by abundance, not ruled by remembered offenses but set free by forgiveness and reconciliation …
There are, I suspect, a lot of Thomases in our congregations…. who should not have to surrender their sense of realism, but instead be invited to a whole new reality that God created — David Lose
So, two things I noticed and wondered about when reading this passage.
First, Thomas only asks to see what the other disciples have already seen. … Thomas asks for no extraordinary proof to move his extraordinary doubt, but only requests what the others had already been given.
Second, is Thomas’ reaction one of doubt or realism? Might it be that Thomas was, above all else, a realist? And that reality had come as never before ….— David Lose
This week’s gospel lection offers us a secret room, and, with it, an invitation to touch, to cross more deeply into Jesus’ story and our own… History has labeled this disciple Doubting Thomas, as if his uncertainty were the most memorable thing about this follower of Jesus who, elsewhere, is the first to step up and say he is willing to die with him Yet Jesus, as is his way, gives Thomas what he needs — Jan Richardson
I was reminded that in the story of the raising of Lazarus, Thomas is the one—the only one—who steps forward and expresses his willingness to die with Jesus. In this week’s reading, Thomas once again crosses into a place where others have not ventured: into the very flesh of the risen Christ… The wounds of the risen Christ are not a prison; they are a passage. Thomas’s hand in Christ’s side is not some bizarre, morbid probe: it is a union, and a reminder that in taking flesh, Christ wed himself to us.— Jan Richardson
Inventory ― Dorothy Parker
Four be the things
I am wiser to know:
a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things
I’d been better without:
freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things
I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and
Three be the things
I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope
and a sock in the eye.
We learn from failure, not from success! ― Bram Stoker
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. ― René Descartes
Doubt everything. Find your own light. ― Gautama Buddha
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.― William Shakespeare
To deny, to believe, and to doubt absolutely — this is for man what running is for a horse. – Blaise Pascal
Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.
― George Carlin
Doubt as sin. — Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be sin. One is supposed to be cast into belief without reason, by a miracle, and from then on to swim in it as in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements: even a glance towards land, even the thought that one perhaps exists for something else as well as swimming, even the slightest impulse of our amphibious nature — is sin! And notice that all this means that the foundation of belief and all reflection on its origin is likewise excluded as sinful. What is wanted are blindness and intoxication and an eternal song over the waves in which reason has drowned. ― Friedrich Nietzsche
I like the scientific spirit—the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine—it always keeps the way beyond open—always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake—after a wrong guess. ― Walt Whitman
And your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perhaps bewildered and embarrased, perhaps also protesting. But don’t give in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every single time, and the day will come when, instead of being a destroyer, it will become one of your best workers–perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones that are building your life. ― Rainer Maria Rilke
THE GIFT of DOUBT —from Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister (Penguin Random House)
As Voltaire remarked, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
The problem is that certitude seduces us. It enables us to believe that what was said to be true is true because someone else said so. It simply cuts off thought. It arrests discussion in midflight. And yet we yearn for it with a passion. We spend endless, sleepless nights grappling with intellectual options in order to wiggle them into a satisfying kind of certainty without so much as a scintilla of evidence.
Rulers of all stripe and type dispense certainties—theirs—with great abandon. They do whatever it takes—define cultural dogmas, assert organizational doctrines, impose decrees, and use power, force and penal systems—to suppress the ideas of anyone who dares to question them. Ideas, after all, are dangerous things. Ideas have brought down as many myths and mysteries as they have toppled kingdoms.
But there is another way to live that runs hot and bright through darkness. There are always some in every population who know that life is not meant to be about certainty. Life, they realize, is about possibility. They see certitude as a direction but not an end.
Doubt is what shakes our arrogance and makes us look again at what we have never really looked at before. Without doubt there is little room for faith in anything. What we accept without question we will live without morality. It is in populations like this that monarchs become dictators and spiritual leaders become charlatans and knowledge becomes myth.
An ancient people tell the story of sending out two shamans to study their holy mountain so that they could know what their gods expected of them. The first shaman came back from the north side of the mountain to tell them that it was covered with fruit trees, a sign that their god would always bless them abundantly. The second shaman came back from the south side of the mountain to tell the people that it was barren and covered with rock, a sign that their god would always be with them but intended them to take care of themselves. So, which shaman was right? If both, then it is dangerous to dogmatize either position.
It is doubt, not certitude, that enables us to believe, because it requires us to think deeply about an entire subject, and not simply depend on the side of reality that is on our side of the mountain. Only when we look beyond absolutes to understand every level of life can we possibly live life to the fullest, with the deepest kind of insight, with the greatest degree of compassion for others.
Voltaire was right, of course. Certainty is comfortable but always unlikely and forever disruptive. As life changes so must our explanation and response to it.
The Blessing of Thomas
— Maren Tirabassi
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” — John 20:29b
Blessed are the ones, says Thomas,
to those who listen to him, this eastertide,
who don’t need a sanctuary to worship God.
Blessed are those who don’t need a choir to hear holy music,
and who don’t need to sit in a pew
to open their hearts in prayer,
and who don’t need a stained glass window,
or a preacher or even bread and cup
to find the good news.
Blessed are those who really touch
even with gloves on,
who really smile with a mask,
who can be kind on Facetime or Zoom,
who follow a livestream to find Jesus alive.
But also blessed is the Thomas in every one of us
who acknowledges our longing
to hold someone’s real warm hand
not just the story of a hand
that reaches out to someone else, and who wants to feel
not Jesus’ long-ago bleeding side
(we congratulate ourselves about that)
but at least to feel side by side
with other Christians
in order to be side by side with Christ.
Blessed is the Thomas in all of us, who lives with doubts and hopes,
and learns to let go of all expectations
when waiting to meet God.