We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, August 9. 2013
Well, as close to an angel as I have ever identified.
Like most angels, she just looked like an ordinary middle-aged person. Unremarkable, unmemorable. Angels are simply messengers, aren't they? They aren't gods, and they don't have wings. The wings in angel images are symbols.
Tuesday morning at 10:30 I was sitting in the Maggie's HQ between meetings and conferences, with all doors and windows open to the soft summer breeze and enjoying a nice Partagas - I'm the boss so I do what I want - when I hear a knock on the open outside door. "Hello."
"Come on in," I say. "Pardon my cigar smoke. What can I do for you?"
"Nothing," she said tentatively. "I've never done anything like this before, but I felt had to. Are you (my name)? "Yes, I am. Who are you?" She gave her name to me.
I was pleasant, she was too. She said she hoped I did not mind, but the Lord had asked her twice, in prayer, to pray for me by name and to remind me that God loved me. She had no idea who I was, but googled my name, located me, and walked in my open door on the chance I would be there.
I told her that, far from intruding on me, she was like an angelic apparition. She had driven 20 miles to deliver me a message. I told her that I had lost both of my parents in the past few months, was grieving in my various ways but was not feeling disconnected from God.
She gave me a light hug, said "The Lord wants you to know that he loves you", and walked back out to her car. A silver Camry.
I told Mrs. BD that I had had a visitation from an angel. No, I am not insane. As I thought about it over the past couple of days, I began to realize that grief had indeed distanced me from God - not out of anger or anything stupid like that, but just by preoccupation with my own feelings, self-involvement.
Sunday, March 31. 2013
My pastor quoted from Tim Keller's new book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters in his New Year's sermon yesterday.
He called Keller a prophet. (He refers to anyone who speaks difficult, deep Truths as "speaking prophetically.") On the subject of even good things becoming false idols, he used these Keller quotes which I took from an Amazon review:
If you happen to be in NYC on a Sunday, you could do worse than to visit his Redeemer Presbyterian Church. (It's a church, ie not a fancy building but a congregation of God-seekers and worshippers.) They have five worship locations in Manhattan.
Pastor Keller usually preaches at their 6 pm service at the Hunter College auditorium.
Friday, March 29. 2013
Good Friday is a Christian day for prayer and reflection - not that every day is not.
A quote from Kevin McCullough:
Image: El Greco, 1695
Thursday, March 28. 2013
"The Last Supper" is thought to have been a Passover seder. That supper was the source of Communion: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again."
In our church, we remember this event with a group Passover supper on Maundy (Middle English, "holy") Thursday, eaten in silence. No wine, though, as a consideration to the abstinent.
Below, Bassano's Last Supper (1542), depicting the reaction to Jesus' prediction that one of them would betray him.
Sunday, March 24. 2013
Luke 19: 28-40
28After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29When he had come near Bethpage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, Why are you untying it? just say this, The Lord needs it.32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, Why are you untying the colt? 34They said, The Lord needs it. 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying, Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven! 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, Teacher, order your disciples to stop. 40He answered, I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.
Sunday, February 24. 2013
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Wednesday, February 13. 2013
Today is Ash Wednesday.
6:1 "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 6:2 "So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 6:4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:5 "And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:16 "And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 6:18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 6:20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Saturday, February 2. 2013
I stumbled into this interesting, somewhat scholarly essay: WHAT IS RELIGION? by Prof. Thomas A. Idinopulos. A quote:
Tuesday, January 22. 2013
In the past two weeks, I have spoken with two people who have been stunned by this book: Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife.
It sounds like memories of a delirium to me, but who am I to gainsay a Harvard neurosurgeon?
Saturday, December 29. 2012
At Acton, The ‘Small’ God Who Brought Heaven Down to Earth. A quote:
Monday, December 24. 2012
I have attempted to lure readers with some Christmastime totty ( I just do not have it in me to post any half-nude hunky guys in Christmas outfits for our gal readers), but I would suppose that most Christians are now either frantic with last-minute gift- or food-shopping, or preparing for evening church services.
The B team will be out of range, skiing and cavorting in beautiful snow and invigorationg cold for a week after Christmas, but I have pre-posted mostly to keep my generous paycheck coming from Maggie's.
So perhaps only our Jewish, Hindu, Ba'hai, Buddhist, and Muslim friends will be reading this post, but that's fine with me.
Top pic of global warming is via Pirate. Pic of the super-special Christmas present below is probably from Theo but I am not sure.
In my view, the Christmas Eve candlelight service is not to be missed, even though I do not think of Christmastime as a particularly holy day in the church calendar. Christmas is a magical, miracle, beautiful time, but not too holy really, as least in the Protestant tradition.
The prayer: Be born in us today.
Our family doesn't do gifts, but we will assemble to church tonight to squeeze in, and will host a fine Christmas feast for 32 tomorrow at the Barrister homestead. The feast is the gift, bringing home-made foods are the gifts to eachother. Family, friends, and neighbors, coat and tie dress code including the youth, plenty of eggnog and good wines but no Festivus Pole.
First, Mead's annual Yule Log post. One quote:
Indeed. FYI, Prof, I may be an older Ivy-Leaguer but I read a Bible verse each morning, contemplate it, and pray. Before the morning coffee. As I always say, it has never harmed me to follow that discipline. Find a church tonight, you agnostics and atheists and unbelievers, etc. It won't hurt you at all.
Second, an excellent essay our loyal reader Buddy found: Is America Becoming a Pagan Kingdom?
Saturday, December 8. 2012
The earlier written narrative of the Maccabean revolt against Hellenization and outlawing Jewish worship differs in emphasis from the later “official” Jewish take on the result.
The portion of the Apocrypha (biblical era writings not included in the Jewish Bible) dealing with the events does not mention a miracle of one day’s sanctified oil for the Menorah lasting 8 days. The Book of Maccabees speaks, instead, of eight days of rejoicing the victory to substitute for the eight days of the Torah requirement to celebrate Sukkot, which were missed due to the fighting. The eight days celebration of Chanukah (i.e., rededication) became a custom for every year.
Several centuries later, in the Babylonian Talmud (finalized approx. 5th century, Common Era) interpreting Jewish law and customs, the narrative takes on a new twist, emphasis on G-d’s “miracle” of the oil, which downplays the emphasis on the accomplishment of mens’ arms to retrieve the Temple and Judaism from Hellenistic extinction.
What had happened?: The fall of the Temple and the dispersal (Diaspora) of surviving Jews. No longer having a state, Jews had to survive through craft or accommodation (different than assimilation) to the religion and politics of the states they lived within and not by emphasizing their abilities to fight, not to mention win, when persecuted.
The rise of Zionism in the late 1800s and early 1900s emphasized Jews’ ability to fight and win, and to deserve and have a state to protect Jews from thousands of years of oppression, persecution, and murder, based on thousands of years of roots, presence, worship, investment, hard work, and unceasing yearning for Israel. The more secular Zionists’ pragmatic emphasis stood in stark contrast to the more pacifist or accomodationist teachings that had dominated for almost two millennia.
Today, although a small minority within Israel still cling to illusions of a “miracle” of Palestinians and Muslims transforming their hate into peace, a larger proportion of Jews in the US and Europe – less existentially threatened – cling to such illusions. In Israel and elsewhere, Jews light the eight lights of the Menorah with the extra “helper” light, but the emphasized meaning behind the ritual differs. Adherence to G-d may have given Jews the internal strength to fight and survive, but it was not (as during the Exodus) G-d who directly intervened.
Regardless of this difference, the overriding and more important thing that unites Jews is that regardless of how to get there, either way requires faith and hope. Without faith and hope, necessary for resilience, Jews would not have had reason, cohesion or the internal strength to survive the depredations and challenges to existence of the past two-thousand years since the fall of the Temple to the Romans. Hatikva, Israel's national anthem, means The Hope.
As long as the heart within
Our hope is not yet missing,
Chanukah starts tonight. Come celebrate the miracle of endurance and survival.
The Credo, by Zionist poet Saul Tchernichovsky:
Laugh at all my silly dreams!
Tuesday, December 4. 2012
The Lord never promised us a rose garden. From Dr. Bob's post on Healing Faith:
Sunday, December 2. 2012
Readers know that, at Maggie's Farm, we delight in both the religious and the secular hedonistic aspects of Advent and Christmas.
The hedonistic, fun aspects of the season are residues of the Roman Saturnalia. At Maggie's, we love our invitations to Christmas cocktail parties. The fathers of the church were clever to recycle popular pagan feast days by pinning Christian feast days on top of them (eg Easter, Christmas).
Our Puritan New England ancestors hated Christmas and banned its celebration for many years. Pagan and Papist.
The best Advent sermon I ever heard was preached by a lady pastor. She used the metaphor of pregnancy - "expecting" - for the possibility of Christ's spirit growing in our hearts and the expectation of that miracle.
On the topic of birth and re-birth, I still feel that A Christmas Carol combines the religious joy and the secular pleasures of Christmas better than anything else. Scrooge becomes a re-born Christian and experiences all of the emotional turmoil and joys of it. Psychoanalysis before it existed.
Of course Dickens' short novel is worth reading, but the only version worth watching is the 1951 Alastair Sim version. It is better than the Dickens.
Whether Jewish, Moslem, Christian, Hindu, atheist, or whatever, if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye you are probably subhuman.
We should air-drop dvds of it across Islam, including Euroland. Might do them some good.
Sunday, August 19. 2012
When Moses ascended Mount Sinai for forty days to receive the Ten Commandments, G-d's Law, the Hebrews were fearful he wouldn't return and created a Golden Calf to worship and party. When Moses descended, in anger he smashed the tablets. G-d has not decided 'what to do with you,' and requires the Hebrews to abandon their former ways and corruptions of living as slaves in Egypt. G-d instructed Moses to again climb Mount Sinai to receive a replacement. Forty days later, during which time Moses asked of G-d to forgive the Hebrews' sin he was instructed that the Israelites repent of their weakness and faithfully observe certain holy days. Moses returned with the Ten Commandments and G-d's forgiveness.
The first day of Elul is the second time Moses went up on Mount Sinai, and 40-days later, when Moses returns, Yom Kippur, is when our fate is sealed based upon our acts.
It is not our sins toward G-d that most matters but our sins toward each other. A central reading during Yom Kippur is from Isaiah in which it is not our pieties that earn us G-d's favor but how we treat each other, particularly those more in need. Before our sins toward G-d can be forgiven, we must first earnestly strive for the fine balance of G-d's earthly standards of justice and mercy.
As distinct from holy days, like the Sabbath, during Elul we do not cease the work that can distract from our focus on G-d's way, or dress up to enter a sanctuary and pray our devotions as we would in entering the Lord's palace. We continue our mundane activities while our Lord is consciously invited into our fields to see how we daily live, correct and improve ourselves.
Sunday, July 15. 2012
They are dying, and not very slowly. We have often posted on this topic. The reason is obvious: these churches have been co-opted, captured by soft or firm Lefties who have replaced the search for Truth for political attitudes. People want God, but they are delivering pet funerals.
I suppose you could call that one aspect of "the long march through the institutions." Non-profits and other sorts of do-gooder organizations are vulnerable to being corrupted by that sort of activism because they often attract a certain sort of person.
My Protestant church is bursting at the seams with tons of young couples and tons of little kids. I know our pastors pretty well, but have no idea what they think about any political or otherwise controversial topic. Nor do I care, because they view their job as one of saving souls through Christ and that's what they do. Lots of people hunger for that.
There are many reasons people take two hours on Sunday morning to go to church, but politics and trendy silliness are not among them.
From Akasie: What Ails the Episcopalians - Its numbers and coffers shrinking, the church votes for pet funerals but offers little to the traditional faithful:
Re the latter, so much for mission work, I guess. "Gee, I'm sorry we told you about Jesus"! My view of ministry is simple. Preach the Word to all, visit the sick, inspire the marrying and comfort the bereaved. Mostly, preach the Word of God. What people decide to do with the lessons should be no concern of churches.
Sunday, June 3. 2012
The entirety of Reinhold Niebuhr's serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
Wednesday, April 18. 2012
(Photos tear at emotions. I purposely do not include any images in this post as emotions are far from enough to convey the individual stories or the brutalities.)
At sundown today begins the annual observance of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day. There are many museums, plaques, books that let today’s visitors get a glimpse of the horrors and the heroes of that time. As one passes through and on, what is often missed is the individual stories, the lost hopes and potentials, the personal exertions, the evils that were so common among men and women of many nationalities. The Nazis could not have killed so many without the work of those in conquered countries, some coerced, some bribed, some for their own salvation, many because of rife anti-Semitism. The Yad Veshem museum and memorials, including to Righteous Gentiles, outside Jerusalem, is a major repository of these individual stories. Visit the website.
The Holocaust needs to be remembered and restudied in every generation just because of its scale, and because of what it says about the thin veneer that separates now from then and now from recurrence. (It is not by coincidence that the week after Yom Hashoah is the celebration of Israel's Independence Day, Yom Ha'atzmaut.)
Below is a piece I wrote in 2006 that includes first-person accounts of what happened in a village near where much of my family perished.
Continue reading "Yom Hashoah"
Sunday, April 8. 2012
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
Image: William Blake's Resurrection
Saturday, April 7. 2012
The commandment was preached by Jesus at the seder, the day before his crucifixion and death. From John's Gospel, Chapter 13:
31Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
32If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
33Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Friday, April 6. 2012
Jesus Arrested: "Am I not to drink the cup?"
After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, For whom are you looking? 5They answered, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus replied, I am he. Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesus said to them, I am he, they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7Again he asked them, For whom are you looking? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. 8Jesus answered, I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go. 9This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me. 10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave's name was Malchus. 11Jesus said to Peter, Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?
12 So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. 13First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.
Peter denies knowing Jesus
15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. 17The woman said to Peter, You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you? He said, I am not. 18Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing round it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
The rest of the story is below the fold -
Continue reading "Good Friday: John 18"
(I've been away this week, so unable to compose a new post, but this one from several years ago is appropriate.)
Tonight is the first night of Passover, and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 also began on Passover.
Rabbi David Hartman wrote:
So we repeat:
Passover Seder Symbols Song
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Tuesday, April 3. 2012
Is a life without some form of spiritual (I hate that word) communion a half-dead, or dead, life? Many who partake of it would say that it is. Christ offered "life in abundance" (John 10:10) - and he did not mean toys, money, entertainment, comforts, food, or trinkets.
We got on this topic of communion at my men's Bible group on Friday (we were reading Mark 14 - a key chapter in the NT).
I thought I had recalled that the communion had first been a reference to the communal meal at the end of the early house churchs' worships, of which, of course, bread and wine were part. A "love feast." A communion with Christ, or with brethren? Both, I'd suppose. It's all the same.
The Eucharist ("Thanksgiving") as a formal church ceremony and a sacrament to the Catholics emerged hundreds of years later. The communal, celebratory meal became a symbolic meal and then, in the Catholic Church, a miraculous meal as was made official dogma at the Council of Trent in the 1500s.
(In my Protestant church we do both the symbolic meal and a serious, carb-packed breakfast spread afterwards which I term "the cocktail party." No vino, however - because it's too early in the day for most of us.)
Christ's simple instructions, followed by the "Do this in remembrance of me" at the last supper (Passover) were altered versions of the Passover traditions, in which, in claiming His New Covenant of salvation and anticipating his death and resurrection, Christ related it to himself (I will not get into the topic of the Trinity because it's over my head, nor will I get into the symbolic cannibalistic imagery).
So a question we had in mind was whether the remembrance is for every meal, for communal meals, for special times like Passover (which my church celebrates with a traditional Passover meal, in silence), for church ceremonies - or even whether it might apply to our Bible study's coffee - but not to confuse Dunkin' Donuts with the church's Welch's Grape Juice. We also wondered whether the tone is best solemn, or celebratory (our church does the solemn).
As a Protestant, I tend to think Christ was asking to be remembered at every meal with brethren. However, I have been wrong often. I'd welcome any enlightenment on these topics from readers because I am probably wrong about much of this.
Most Protestants use these words, quoting Paul:
Sunday, April 1. 2012