Christmas Cheer

Last night, Christmas eve, I went to church with my family.

It was a very normal white suburban north-american church, with a stage, spotlights, electric guitars, and a way-too-often out-of-sync PowerPoint with the song lyrics. Fun times for a good Christian family.

The pastor told a few anecdotes in order to try to explain Christmas, and God’s love, and how Jesus is God’s gift to us.

One of them was about a housewife who one day felt burnt-out by washing the same dishes all the time and decided to leave her family and go be independent somewhere. Like a prodigal son but, instead of a rebellious teenager, a burnt-out housewife who dared to be independent. Her husband would call her and her children would ask her to come back, and plead, and she would refuse. Eventually he hired a private detective, found her, and went to pick her up. He found her living above a restaurant, where she would work doing dishes. She followed him back home without a word. At home, she told him that he said that he cared and asked all this time, but, in the end, she was only sure of how much he cared once he bothered to actually go the distance and pick her up himself. The pastor said this is like God, who sent messages to humanity for several centuries, and humanity did not respond, until God decided to come himself in the incarnation of Jesus.

He even talked about sin, in a second metaphor, of how sin is like garbage we carry with us, which smells, and we try to hide it from people, but we can’t hide it forever. We hide that garbage in our basement for years and it fills our house with stench, and people start noticing and keeping away from us. We ourselves can’t even get close to it anymore. Then Jesus, our savior, offers to take it out for free. I didn’t relate a whole lot since I don’t have a basement, I don’t care a lot about what people think, and “Jesus can do it for free” sounds too much like a good business deal, but I trust that people there could relate and it somehow edified them a bit.

Putting aside the patriarchal and low-key misogyny overtones, the suburban worry of what people might think of you and your house, and the business deal catch of God’s Grace, I appreciate how the pastor still preached a message of a loving God who came down to display a tangible love in the incarnation, a God we can go to, regardless how ashamed or distant we feel, trusting that he will accept us and cleanse us, if only we are humble enough to admit it and invite him in.

Still, I wish he had preached the whole message.

This Gospel, the good news of the action of God in History, humbling himself, taking our sins upon himself, living life with us and suffering our death for us, continuing in steadfast loving-kindness and always ready to forgive, doesn’t end in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

We are invited to be one with Jesus, and we are called Christian only because we imitate him. The Church – all true Christians everywhere – is supposed to be the incarnation of God on Earth after Jesus of Nazareth.

In other words, if you’re a Christian, Christmas is not a time for you to simply celebrate what God did for you 2000 years ago.

Christmas is a time for you to remember you are invited to do the same. Honestly, that, if you do not do the same, you have very little reason to call yourself Christian.

So, like the Almighty God who became a poor child, humble yourself to be among those who would be considered “less” than you, and leave your privileges behind for the sake of people.

Confess your sins to the people you sinned against, and ask their forgiveness before you ask God’s. Be someone whom people will always know they can confess to, someone who will always be there to forgive.

Love in action, not just in word.

Love as Christ loved you.

Merry Christmas!

Lament for our Mother

I was too young when the divorce happened.

Mother and Father loved each other,

People say I got my mom’s body and my dad’s spirit.

 

Once upon a time we celebrated them.

Our old houses and temples, buried in Canaanite deserts, still tell the history:

Walls full of pictures and inscriptions cherishing our Parents’ love: The Fertility Goddess and the Lord of the Mountain. Earth and Heaven, Asherah and El.

Ashtoreth and Yaweh.

I don’t know why they fought, nor why he threw all her stuff out of his house.

I mean, isn’t everything their house?

All I know is my Brothers and Sisters insist that our Father is the one who provides everything.

They say we should just forget Mother.

That our Parent is One, only One.

 

To my brothers, Mother is either a silent servant

Who does Father’s will,

Or a whoring serpent

who bites his Son’s heel.

 

Oh Mother, Mother, Mother,

We feed from your breast while we taint your seas.

Oh Mother, Mother, Mother,

We haven’t seen Father in two thousand years. But my brothers and sisters worship him. Yes, only him. To him all power and honor and glory, to him who will redeem us from you, he who will come and burn you, destroy you, to create a new you, in which there won’t be you, but only Him.

You who gestate us, you who are ever one with us, that we may be one with him.

Oh Father, our jealous Father,

Thou who art in Heaven,

Have mercy.

 

Yet, maybe…

 

It just might be,

My brothers and sisters are wrong.

If Father and Mother divorced, how can they both be

Dancing, Together

In me?

 


Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

Pause, look back, move forward

I published my first post on this blog in 2015 (here). Today, two years and a few months later, I find myself attempting to put together so many of the thoughts, ideas, experiences and transformations I had since. I am writing down a series of posts for the next few weeks where I will unpack some of the ways I have come to understand religion, spirituality, life, church, God, salvation, society, myself, others, etc. I will speak of politics and poetry, the dead rising and the living un-living.

As I read my old posts, specially that first one, I see much has changed. Today I actually watch Netflix, and I am more confident in poetry. My favorite philosophy is not Nietzsche’s, but I still think gazing into the abyss is of prime importance. I haven’t gotten much better with my guitar, but I also haven’t given up.

Much is still the same. I am still me. I still need this blog to digest thoughts, organize them by writing them down; owning my own words, hoping for feedback from friends and strangers who read them.

Today I updated the blog’s theme and layout, making it much nicer. See our front page! On the top right you can see a menu where you can search posts by author/category – I share this space with Gabe and Xavier, who also muse theology.

These posts I am preparing are really a very long post that I will publish in 4 parts or more. It is for everyone, including me, who is trying to make sense of “hey, Lucas, c’mon, what the heck do you actually believe in?”. If you don’t know me, I am trying to make sense of being an Agnostic Christian Existentialist with Anarchist and Socialist leanings. As usual I may raise more questions than answers. As usual my attempt of organization may look more like a bee-hive of ideas: it looks like they’re all over the place, zooming everywhere, but you can trust they are working together.

Anyhow, if you are a bible-believing Christian, religious, or just spiritual, or even outright atheist; if you are conservative, or a socialist, or a liberal; if you care a lot about politics, or if you wish people cared less about it; if you know me, or if we became friends at a party one night and added each other on Facebook and then never saw each other again, but, somehow, you are reading this, I invite you to browse through, read, and, hopefully, connect and share what you have to say, too.

Peace : )

Charlottesville and the Cross: On Identity.

As a Christian, I have come to understand that proper theology includes understanding Self, God, and Neighbor. I invite you to read this text with these things in mind.

Lu, do you think we can record that song on your phone right now?

Sure!

With our beers in hand, sitting in that old basement while some friends smoked outside, we set things up to record a song. One of the verses she sang has made me smile for the past two years:

“Pathmaker, there is no road!

Only Atman, only Soul.

This is our great truth:

I am You.”

What does that mean? It is difficult to unpack. It is about identity.

A  while ago I saw a Facebook post which asked people to answer the question “Who are you?” without mentioning nationality, religion, race, gender, or profession. You may want to give yourself some time and think about it. Who are you? Continue reading Charlottesville and the Cross: On Identity.

Weightless Love

While looking through Facebook memories, I recently came across an old heated argument. The comments were filled with hate. In fact, the phrase “I HATE YOU!” was strewn throughout.

Of course, the proper Christian response to hate is love, or the Christian platitude “I love you in Jesus.” Like clockwork, that love-phrase was said each time a hateful comment appeared.

“I love you.”

Such simple words. It’s a paradox, really: deep meaning imbedded in a simple phrase.

I believe we’ve been fooled by this simplicity. We declare love to strangers without thought or concern for love’s profundity.

Making matters worse is our social media context. It’s easier than ever to say “I love you” or “I hate you.” We don’t need to see people’s faces or know their voices, yet we love and hate them–people we barely know or don’t know at all.

Looking through this old status, I asked myself: is there something deeper and unspoken going on? Continue reading Weightless Love

A Humble Theology

The other day I had an interesting conversation with an anti-religious person and an atheist–both were curious about my studies in theology. I approached the discussion cautiously, not assuming possession of solid theological truth. After all, I am but a man and can only form ideas and theories of what God is.

At one point, the conversation was interrupted by another friend’s stance on predestination. The two gentlemen–the anti-religious person and the atheist–quickly turned from sincerely curious to sternly objectional.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this. Conversations between religious and non-religious people often turn to debates over doctrinal issues, straying from the humbling mystery that is God.

In the past, I debated over doctrine, like my friend–defending my tradition’s theology. I would argue and argue until I turned blue with rage, failing to understand why anyone could disagree with what was clearly absolute truth. But then, humility hit me in the face.  Continue reading A Humble Theology

Easter Reflection: On Mortality, Knowledge, and Strangeness.

“How strange it is to be anything at all!”, exclaims Jeff Mangum in one of my favorite songs.

It is a rather strange thing, indeed, to exist.  Maybe you don’t think so, you might think you have the answers for why we are here and where we are going, walking around with a “road map to life“. That’s ok. Personally, I find it eerie, upsetting, and rather awkward, that without your consent, without a choice, you were brought to existence, born from parents you did not choose, in a country you did not choose, taught and indoctrinated with customs and ideas about everything without ever been given a second to pause and think twice. Time keeps pushing you forward whether you like it or not, with every single choice you make remaining forever a part of your history, impacting you and others around you in infinite collaterality. Everyone who was here before you experienced this constant pressure from time, too. Everything they taught you was the best way they managed to figure out what exactly is going on, but not everyone concluded the same things, and who knows who is right?

Time never gives you a second chance. If you pay attention, you will notice decay and mortality all around you. Flowers blooming and withering, your own body changing, loved ones dying. Opportunities lost. Nothing can ever be undone, only reconciled. Offenses can never be taken aback, only forgiven.

It’s easy to feel insecure. Continue reading Easter Reflection: On Mortality, Knowledge, and Strangeness.

“Lord, who is my neighbour?”

It was a cold, Sunday night in late February. My wife and I exited an evening service at church to snow-covered steps, in an ongoing snowstorm.

“Wow! That fell fast!” I exclaimed

“Yeah, must be 20 centimetres,” said my wife–Esther–as we carefully made our way down the steps, towards the small parking lot attached to church.

Our car sat covered in snow, above it and around it. I opened the car door and reached for the snow removal stick to wipe snow off the car. My wife entered our 2001 Toyota Corolla to heat it up.

While wiping the snow away in the minus 15 cold, I thought back to a prayer request during church for the Arab refuges crossing the Canadian border from the States. I couldn’t imagine crossing the border in mid winter, especially in a snowstorm. Continue reading “Lord, who is my neighbour?”

Today it rained

Yesterday, together with some of my dearest friends, we laughed and drank to celebrate the day I was born. We told our stories, and we talked about the things we care for. We became closer, as we knew each other better, as we exposed and uncovered pieces of ourselves, as our lives became part of each other’s. We talked about how we had come to know ourselves better in the past years, by living, and paying close attention to Life, and to what it tells us. All that we had unlearned, all that we had discovered.

This morning I woke up, and spent my day answering a few questions to my professor, so he could grade whether I understood the things he spent the semester trying to teach. Later in the afternoon, I went to class where groups of students discussed their answers, and we all finally gave our papers with notes to the professor. We had discussed the way in which one can study religion. How a religious experience can be understood, and, mostly, how it can’t. Really, we discussed how we cannot understand most things, but that in University we need to pretend we do. In Church we need to pretend we do. The Government needs to pretend it does. We all pretend we do, even though we don’t.

We have to pretend, because it’s really scary to not know. Continue reading Today it rained

Christian Responsibility and The Hope of Another World: On Politics

The world has seen the inauguration of an American president whose online supporting community proudly calls “the absolute madman”. The world has also seen, in the past decades, the same country engaging in vicious forms of capitalism that subjugate and exploit poorer countries’ workers, accompanied with more bombing and killing than any other country, terrorizing and decimating families across the globe. The world has seen this country’s public debate overtaken by questions of police violence, constant shootings and gun control, racial struggles, LGBTQ movements, feminism, privilege, and revolts against the acclaimed 1% richest of the world in times of economical unrest. With all this struggle, being “politically correct” became pejorative, and increasingly labels like “liberal” and “conservative” are tossed back and forth in a constant polarization. All of it with the USA as some sort of symbol for several other countries, with its liberal and conservative, left and right dichotomy being reflected back by them, with a rising tension everywhere between those who push for one side and the other: the stereotypical religious white fascist defending traditional family and good values, versus the colored women and queer socialists who attempt to claim their rights for choice and equality. All of it being led by smart educated people on both sides, who are followed by uneducated, unquestioning parroting masses unable to break the dichotomy, unable to think that maybe, just maybe, it’s possible to agree with one point and disagree with another without defending indefensible party positions.

Amidst this global chaos, of which America is the eye of the storm, I see some Christians affirm each other by saying it is all going to be OK. That their citizenship is in heaven alone, so none of this is their business, they can sit back and mind their lives.

It makes me want to cuss, badly. Continue reading Christian Responsibility and The Hope of Another World: On Politics