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Showing posts from October, 2010

All Saints 2010

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All Saints 2010

Death and what happens to our human “selves,” our consciousness, our soul, is one of the great mysteries that all peoples have tried to understand. One moment a person is breathing, their heart beating and body warm, sharing life with us. And then something passes, they are still, grow cold, the light leaves their eyes, and they do not respond to any of our entreaties. All animals feel pain, and social animals feel social pain. We mourn the loss of those we know, and wonder what it means for us.

In Mexico, Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), November 2, links ancient indigenous practices and imagery to the Catholic feast of All Souls. In Roman Catholic doctrine, souls which are not condemned to hell but who still need some purgation as a result of earthly sins, spend time in Purgatory or “limbo.” So on the day of the dead, those departed who are still “in play” are invited back into the world. Altars are built to honor the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, an…

A Mighty Fortress

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Reformation Sunday
October 31

Psalm 46

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther attempted to open a public theological dialogue about reforming the practice of the church. One of the results was the Reformation, as social, political, and ideological conflicts divided the Western church. Different branches of the Protestant tradition emphasize different ideas about the Christian faith: the primacy of grace, the distinction between law and gospel, the sovereignty of God, the freedom of the Christian.

The readings for today touch on these themes, which the reformers would assert are not theirs alone, but true for all Christians. Perhaps the most enduring and most radical notion was the reformers’ return to the Bible, translating scripture into modern languages.

Reading and hearing the actual words of scripture... Of course, this has produced some bizarre, idiosyncratic interpretations. But this has also been eye-opening and liberating for uncounted millions, for the church, and for the whole p…