Humility VS. Justice

“It is no humility to think that you are a sinner when you really are a sinner.  But whenever a man is conscious of having done many great deeds but does not imagine that he is something great in himself, that is true humility. … That man is truly humble who does exalted deeds but, in his own mind, sees himself as lowly.  However, in his ineffable loving-kindness, God welcomes and receives not only the humble-minded but also those who have the prudence to confess their sins.  Because they are so disposed toward him, he is gracious and kind to them.

To learn how good it is not to imagine that you are something great picture to yourself two chariots.  For one, yoke together a team consisting of justice and arrogance; for the other, a team of sin and humility.  You will see that the chariot pulled by the team which includes sin outstrips the team which includes justice.  Sin does not win the race because of its own power, but because of the strength of its yokemate, humility.  The losing team is not beaten because justice is weak, but because of the weight and mass of arrogance.  So humility, by its surpassing loftiness, overcome the heaviness of sin and is the first to rise up to God.  In the same manner, because of its great weight and mass, pride can overcome the lightness of justice and easily drag it down to earth.” 


The Quantum Natures of Mind & Matter and Body and Soul

We have, I believe, come to think in such dualistic terms that we lost sight of a basic understanding of what it is to be human.  The dualism is expressed in various ways – soul and body, spiritual and physical, mind and matter – but it always involves seeing things as dipolar opposites in an adversarial dialectic

But if we go back to Genesis and the creation of the world, we come to realize that all of these things – soul, body, human spirituality, human physicality, mind and matter all belong to the CREATED world.  They all are part of what God called into existence when He spoke that which is “not God” into being.   None of those human attributes are eternal, but all belong to the temporal created world.

The physical and the non-physical are not separate realities but both belong to this “not God” created universe.   Consciousness, self awareness, intelligence and conscience all belong to the created order. They are not just constructs of the Bible and religion, but belong to the reality which science itself studies – that which came into being at the Big Bang.   They exist in the matrix of time and space.  Any theory of evolution or of the origins of humanity must also be able to explain the how and why of intelligence, of consciousness, of self awareness, of intelligence, and the relationship of the mind to the brain, and the self to the body. 

This is not mere metaphysics but belongs to science proper since all of these things can be observed and tested.  The reality of the universe is that quantum type thinking applies not only to the wave/particle relationship, but to the spiritual and the physical, the mental and the gray matter, the self and the body, the soul and the body, time and space,  and even the divine and the human.

At some level all of these attributes interface, and communicate back and forth between the realms they represent.  We do experience mental and spiritual things in our bodies, and can medically detect their effects on our bodies.  Dualism is thus an inadequate  way to comprehend the universe.  God created everything visible and invisible – it all is created and in this sense mind, soul, body, spiritual, physical are of the same substance – that which God created, “not God.” 

John Polkinghorne wrote:  “There is only one stuff in the world (not two – the material and the mental), but it can occur in two contrasting states (material and mental phases, a physicist would say) which explain our perception of the difference between mind and matter.”

Thomas Nagel wrote:  “The strange truth seems to be that certain complex, biologically generated physical systems, of which each of us in an example, have rich nonphysical properties.  An integrated theory of reality must account for this, and I believe that if and when it arrives… it will alter our conception of the universe as radically as anything has to date.”

Amen.  It is a thinking whose time is coming and it will bring about a more theistic understanding of the universe despite what some think.

See also my Why is it Creation VERSUS Evolution?

The Gerasene/Gaderene Demoniac

     Luke 8:26-39      (20th Sunday after Pentecost)   

When Christ gets off the boat in this foreign land who is it that meets Him?   A man possessed by a demon is the only one to confrontationally greet Jesus when he comes ashore – no crowd of believers or curiosity seekers bothers to assemble or to welcome Him.  There is only evil ominously awaiting those who land here.   The desolate scene is like that of a zombie movie – the humans are nowhere to be found; only a crazed and violent demoniac comes out to meet Jesus at the shore.  And this demoniac who is totally out of his mind knows who Jesus is – the son of the Most High God, and even knows His name – Jesus.   Jesus is known in these parts though a malevolent force will keep people away from seeking out the son of God.

It does turn out that there is a crowd hiding in the scene – the man is possessed not by a demon but by a legion of demons.   These demons beg Jesus to let them leave His presence, and He grants them leave.  The demons enter into a herd of swine so spooking them that they run off a cliff into a lake and are drowned.

Now comes the crowd out to see Jesus, and they note the former demoniac, whom they all avoided because of his physical strength and demonic insanity, sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus.  This man is the same one whom the demons often drove berserk into the wilderness.  He is no longer satanically insane but has his humanity restored.

And the reaction of the crowd?    Total terror.   They ask Jesus to leave.  Whose behavior is unreasonable and insane now?  Somehow a world in which a man can be possessed by demons and is a deranged lunatic is less terrifying to them then having someone who can overcome such psychopathological powers.

Jesus sends the legion of demons away and restores one man to mental/spiritual health.  The crowd sends Jesus away preferring a world without the likes of Him and thus embracing insanity and irrational powers.

The man naturally wants to stay with Jesus – and be protected from all dark demonic powers.   But Jesus sends him away – back to his own house – to be a witness to what God had done through Jesus.   The lone man who had greeted Jesus when he arrived on the Gadarene shore is not invited to travel with Jesus, but is sent to talk to the very people who sent his Savior away about Jesus.

Of Saints, Heroes and Greatness

Sermon notes for All Saints Sunday  2004

Who do we consider great?  Who are our heroes?  What is a saint? 

National/worldly ideas regarding great men:

President Reagan  –   greatness.  The right man at the right time with the right ideas.   Many feel he was exactly what America needed at that moment.  A symbol, a visionary, who to some extent is responsible for the fall of communism.  A great American. 

 D-Day  –   heroes.   All who served our country that day were heroes.  But many who were killed before even landing on the beach, or before firing a shot, or before doing anything, probably would not see themselves as heroes.  Those who survived see those who died and remained on the beach as heroes.    AA hero isn=t one who dies for his country, but one who makes the other man die for his.@   Men of valor and courage, self-sacrifice.

“A Carnal kinship leads to death, kinship to Christ to eternity.”

“Our society seems to have no aim but unlimited economic growth.”

 All Saints Day – holiness as the idea of greatness

Jesus said to the disciples, “‘What were you arguing about on the road?’  But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.”  (Mark 9:33-34)

 Christianity is not mostly about national power and domination, it is not about possessing and exploiting others or the world=s resources, it is about love for God and neighbor.  “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).

 All saints day –   there are heroes among the saints, there are men of greatness, but there also were people of great humility, and sanctifiers of life, revealers of beauty, those who made God present – not merely as power and judge, but in the humility and love of Christ and the least of the brethren.   Greatness consists not in dominating others but in having dominion over one’s self and one’s passions.

One can be a great human being without being holy.  But in the Church at least every holy person (=saint) is great.  “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”  (John 14:12).