Sunday’s Spiritual Spin: Klatuu, Barada, Necktie…

sunday’s Spiritual Spin

I am thankful for the Trinity Knot. Looks like this and I think it’s pretty cool:

Of course, there is the obvious connection here, on a Sunday, for me, a Chaplain.

For those not of an orthodox Christian persuasion, the Trinity is a doctrine (teaching) about God and Who He is, based on the Scripture. The shortest explanation is: One God, Three Persons. Saint Patrick used the seamrag (Shamrock) as a picture. In the Bible, Jesus refers to Himself as The Son (of Man, usually) and always refers to God as His Father (one exception: on the cross, He says “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” but I digress). Both are described in term of divinity. There are also passages that refer to The Holy Spirit, also in terms of divinity. It’s called a mystery, because mere mortal minds cannot adequately describe God. But we do what we can.

It helps me to think of such doctrines/teachings like scientific theories. Doctrine:theology::theory:science–that is to say, doctrine is to theology what theory is to science–our best guess at accurately describing reality with the evidence we have available. Not always gonna work out, but hey, we keep at it.

Obviously, as a theologian (yes, I am a member of TA–Theologian’s Anonymous) this knot has a lot of meaning for me. And since it is a particularly unusual knot in a tie, I often get comments about it, which gives me all kinds of segues into topics I really like talking about: namely, God.



You can tie it such that, with a striped tie, or one with a stripe/pattern in it (like the one shown), you get three “rays” or “spokes” from the center point. That would look kind of like this.





Or you can tie it so that you get a triangle, kind of like this.

But as you might see, it really depends on exactly how carefully the knot is tied and the exact  pattern for the stripe.



OK, now that you’re interested, here’s a video/link to show you how it’s done.

Sunday’s Spiritual Spin: Underwear

sunday’s Spiritual Spin

I am thankful for skivvies. Undies. Unmentionables. Underwear.

Gaak! What are you talking about…on a Sunday? How you gonna spin this?!

So glad you asked. Underwear makes a wonderful picture…an analogy, if you will (or even if you won’t) of our personal time (prayer & bible study) with God.

Huh? Well, it’s something most folks never see, save perhaps those closest to us. It covers private areas. And is frequently…personalized. So go ahead and see what analogies you have for the boxers, boxer briefs, tighty whiteys, underoos, well you get the picture (I hope)…no one prays or studies exactly like anyone else. It is an intimate time with God and how you relate to Him is very personal. Being…intimate, it affects the way you walk. Go ahead and think about that. Can cover embarrassing moments (I’ll let you figure that out too.)

Even (especially?) when you’re wearing something over it. Be it shorts, slacks, or skirts; your attitude, perspective, or your mask for public viewing.

Sadly, there are those who also “go commando”, which in this little picture, means they have no covering. No intimate relationship with the Lord. And that is really sad.

If you think there aren’t any graphics here for a reason, you’d be right.

Scout Sunday

sunday’s Spiritual Spin

I am thankful that it is Scout Sunday, the Sunday of the week commemorating the foundation of the Boy Scouts of America.

Scouting was founded with some basic assumptions about what constitutes good character–and for over a century, the program has proven that there’s something to those assumptions.

One of the most basic assumptions is that a Scout’s first duty is to God; that a Scout is Reverent. The BSA doesn’t go any farther than that in terms of “dictating policy” about one’s beliefs. A belief in a Creator/God of some sort is required but beyond that, spirituality is a personal pursuit that has group effects & consequences.Actually, just like every other personal belief out there: they all have public/interactive consequences. (Get off the bunny trail, save it for later…)

I admit to being biased. I am a theologian and an ordained Chaplain. OK, actually everyone is a theologian, I happen to have some training in that particular field. Without speeding off into the sunset on the bunny trail I avoided above, let me simply say that our spiritual beliefs have profound effects on our behavior, especially toward others.

I am thankful the BSA still considers spirituality to be important. It is, sadly, the weakest link in a chain of programs, philosophies, and policies that are otherwise very strong. Citizenship, for example, is a huge component of Scouting, as is physical, mental and emotional well being. And the programs are fairly tightly woven to promote those ideas. But in fear of stepping on toes, there’s a general “hands-off” kind of attitude when it comes to the spiritual side of things. Not so thankful about that in principle. In practice, however, it certainly does give me a drum to beat, a hobby horse to ride, etc. etc. Everyone has spiritual, existential questions; where are the leaders and mentors to guide that search for answers? To answer by asking other questions and setting forth a challenge to find answers? (OK, OK, I’m getting off the horse…)

In the spirit of full disclosure, it must be known that I am also an Eagle Scout, and have over 30 years with this fine organization. So, yeah, a little biased.

Mirror, Mirror II

sunday’s Spiritual Spin

I am thankful that all mirrors are reflective, and that not all of them are made of glass, plastic & mylar.

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:23-25)

Mirrors reflect what’s in them–they show us what we look like. They show us places we cannot physically see. And sometimes, it takes more than one mirror to do the job: for example, I cannot see the back of my neck without at least two mirrors, and then it’s not the best angle and all that.

In a similar fashion, ‘Scripture shows us what we really look like, whether a believer or non-believer. (Sadly, the two categories are not interchangeable, although folks all too often mix them up. But’s that’s for another post.)


Hard questions and Harder Answers

I am thankful for wisdom & common sense. Governor Huckabee answers a hard question in light of the heinous actions in CT this past weekend. But his answers are harder than the question…do we really want answers? Do we want to look into the mirror Gov. Huckabee puts up for us? Dare we as a society honestly consider what we might see?

Don’t be questioning/blaming God when evil happens if you don’t want Him in your public forum.



Evidence for Evil

I am thankful for a worldview that allows for, nay, actively promotes, the idea that evil exists. Having been in the mental health industry as a therapist for nearly two decades, I have a grasp on what mental illness is, as well as what evil is. (I spent a great deal of time working with abuse victims.) And today’s mass murders in the Newtown, CT elementary school is evidence for evil.

I am thankful for a God Who is Good. “But how can a ‘good god’ allow such evil?” Precisely because He is good. Huh? He ‘allows’ evil the same way He ‘allows’ humans to exercise free will. We are given the ability to discern good from evil (conscience–literally ‘with knowledge’). We can choose good (God being the Ultimate Good) or not. The shooter chose not. As have millions of people since the invention of people, whether on the intimate, personal scale of the abusers with whose victims I worked, or on the grand, mindnumbing scale of Hilter, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.

In a like fashion, millions of people have chosen good, but they don’t tend to make the evening (or all day) news.

Having a worldview that encompasses good and evil makes dealing with such atrocities as today’s massacre the littlest bit easier philosophically and spiritually. Not so much emotionally. I haven’t been watching the “talking heads” in the media very closely, but based on past experience, I’m betting they’re all looking for “evidence of mental instability”–because evil doesn’t exist in their paradigm and they need to make some sense of this event. Could instability be a factor? Absolutely. Could. I don’t know all the facts. Neither do the talking heads. But said heads won’t even consider the possibility of just plain ol’ evil. (Please, if anyone can point me to any of the national media that is open to this, pass it along.) Murdering your own mother is evil, too. Just to be clear. Going that far out of your way to try to murder everyone with whom she had contact (and perhaps cared for?) goes way beyond “that’s just sick”–it takes evil to the next level.

I am also thankful that the Good God I know, I know also to be Just. And I believe that the shooter has been tried in the Highest Court. And I am most decidedly not going to try to guess what He as The Judge decided either. He very explicitly says that’s His job and His job alone. None of the rest of us are qualified to sit in His chair. I get in enough trouble with Him for the times I try to sit in His chair for other reasons. So I am thankful that He is also Merciful. Which means I have to allow for the fact that He know more than I do about this situation and can deal with/has dealt with the shooter with Perfect Justice and Mercy. In Perfect Wisdom and Perfect Love.

None of which I have and none of which I feel for the shooter. And frankly, right now,  I don’t much like the idea that He might extend Mercy. And I’m OK with that because I’m not Him.

I am thankful I don’t have His job. And the people said, “Amen!”

On Thankfulness

I am thankful for to the prompt? desire? to begin this blog for sharing my ideas about being thankful and developing an attitude of gratitude. I have a growing list of individual items for which I am thankful–like the gorgeous cardinal eating from the feeder right outside my window as I type. I’m thankful for the touch typing classes I had in high school that allow me to write while enjoying the birds outside. And for spell check because my typing ain’t all that great.

The experiment is evidently taking root. When I sat down, I was completely clueless about what I would post and that was frustrating. I have literal pages of ideas in a little notebook I carry with me for capturing those ideas. (I’m even worse at thumb typing on my Galaxy Tablet than I am on a regular keyboard, handwriting is much faster at this point.) And I was stressing just the littlest bit about posting something with my “usual” Sunday spiritual spin. Although to be  honest, I’m not sure how well I’ve done at that; have to look.

Maybe part of the challenge with writer’s block is that i’m using three different methods of writing: handwriting, standard keyboarding and thumb keying. (Is there a word for that? Texting style?) Anyway, while the three obviously use the same muscles–there are only so many in my hands after all–they are used in very different ways, so the muscle memory and the feelings/thoughts/mood that each produce are different. And that can be a good thing. I can tap into different perspectives, as it were, just by changing the scribing process. I know from working them both that handwriting and keyboarding are different experiences and trigger the creative juices, such as they are, differently. Just hadn’t considered it in a long while.

Ah…now there’s a pileated woodpecker hammering at the suet…

Here’s the spiritual spin for this Sunday then: I am thankful not only for the beautiful birds outside, the quietude to enjoy them, the technology to share it with you–and thankful for you, Dear Reader!–I am above all thankful for Him Who created such wonders: the cardinal, the woodpecker, the dear Reader…

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world, He shines in all that’s fair; in the rustling grass I hear Him pass; He speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad![5]
From Wikipedia. The linked footnote is theirs.