Bury

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Bury: (v) to put or hide under ground.

Everyone loves a good resurrection. No one wants to bury anything, to see if it can be awakened.

Yes, for a resurrection to occur or even for a revival to be plausible, we have to admit something is dead–and bury it.

How do we decide if something is dead?

It doesn’t have a pulse.

There’s a good sign. The lack of a pulse is a pretty clear indication that something should be buried.

It doesn’t have breath.

We find ourselves staring at it instead of experiencing conversation, with enthusiastic ideas spurting forth.

It starts turning gray.

Yes, even when things are valuable, you need to make sure they don’t turn old.

It decays.

And as it starts to fall apart, it stinks. Maturity is when we stop pretending that something isn’t smelling up the joint, and we talk about how bad it reeks.

It’s not responsive.

The world is going on around it, and there is no acceptance, realization, acknowledgment or participation.

It’s in the way.

Because it does not offer contribution, it clutters.

There are many things in our society which are dead and need to be buried, but we keep them around because we have a flag to commemorate them, a sanctuary to revere them or an office building to house them.

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Ave Maria

Ave Maria (n): a prayer to the Virgin Mary used in Catholic worship. The first line is adapted from Luke 1:28. dictionary with letter A

Everyone pretty much insists that they are not bound to be politically correct, even as they correctly utter everything politically.

I understand political correctness. Having a sensitivity for other people’s feelings, ideas, talent and faith is always a noble adventure. And actually, there are very few times when we should make a stand over some issue or terminology simply to prove our point.

I am not Catholic.

Yet when I sat down to write a novel on the life of Jesus, where he shares his own story, and I was compelled to fill in the missing years which are not normally spoken of in historical or scriptural writings, I ran headlong into the character of Mary of Nazareth.

You have billions of people in the world who believe that she was not only the mother of Jesus but also divine herself.

So rather than playing it safe, keeping a Catholic approach to her character, or disregarding those traditions in favor of a Protestant approach, I decided to research it as a writer.

What do we really know about the life of this woman?

My study opened up a vista of possibilities.

  1. She was probably a girl in her early teens, living in abstract poverty, when she found herself pregnant, believing deep in her heart that it was due to the bidding of an angel of the Lord.
  2. In sharing her story, she risked being stoned.
  3. She had the faith that her betrothed, Joseph, would come around and love her and protect her instead of becoming her primary accuser.
  4. She birthed her child in what might be considered some of the worst possible circumstances.
  5. Within two years she was forced into exile in Egypt to avoid having her son murdered.
  6. She returned to her home town, where the rumors of her pregnancy were still circling about.
  7. By my count, she had a total of seven children, counting the names of the ones listed in the Gospels. (Now, I know the Catholics believe these to be cousins, but to each his own.)
  8. She had to deal with her oldest son deciding to leave home, walking away from the family business.
  9. She mistakenly thought he may have turned crazy, and sent her other children out to get him, only to have him turn his back on the whole family to pursue his mission.
  10. She found herself in front of a cross, staring up into the bleeding and dying countenance of her beloved first-born.
  11. She was there to witness the resurrection.
  12. And she was present for the founding of the church that bore the name of her son of promise.

My research unveiled the character of a woman who was powerful, enduring, confused, pondering and finally, faithful.

Honestly, when I got finished, all I could say was … “Ave Maria.”

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Apologetics

dictionary with letter A

Apologetics (n.): reasoned arguments defending a theory or belief.

Living in a world that wants to debate the power of argument and argue over the rules of debate, I find myself retreating in self-defense.

It isn’t that I’m afraid to make a stand, nor that I lack evidence of a personal nature on what I hold dear. It’s just that when I am limited to the power of mere articulation, I lose the majority of the beauty of my human emotion and faith.

We are not better people when we are convincing. For after all, Adolph Hitler was able to make a case for his Super Race.

What makes us viable and appealing is the stream of evidence which oozes from our pores as the proof of what lies within.

So a politician who is jaded and angry off-camera fails to convince me of his or her sincerity.

A corporation which revels in its slick advertising, capturing a market, is not nearly as appealing to me as one which takes responsibility for inferior products and sets in motion the research to improve.

And the religionist who mocks the simplicity of a child-like faith in favor of a theology with so many twists and turns that it produces a pretzel logic is not the mind of God to my weary ears.

Here’s what I want to know:

  • Can you tell me the truth?
  • Is it working for you?
  • What can you share with me that confirms that assertion?

Many centuries ago, a blind man who was healed by an itinerant preacher was mocked by the intellectuals of his day because the so-called miracle didn’t make any sense nor follow any acceptable form of religious practice.

His response was precious.

He said, “I don’t know about all your opinions and learned ways. All I know is that once I was blind, but now I see.”

Amen.

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Apologetic

dictionary with letter A

Apologetic (adj.) admitting and showing regret for a wrongdoing.

In my opinion, saying “I’m sorry” is only effective when it comes from the lips of an explorer instead of a captured criminal.

We live in a time when people do and say ridiculous things, and then are compelled by our media to stand in front of a microphone and mouth some sort of anemic confession of weakness, waiting for the news cycle to lose interest in them.

If they don’t do this, we assume they’re perniciously evil and should be shunned from the next barn-raising.

Yet an apology is probably the most powerful tool in human relationships. It is the glue that holds pieces together which are mismatched, but still strong because of the bond.

Still, an apology, like any other misused virtue, becomes nearly sinister when it is coerced and turned from the beauty of repentance to the aggravating death-march to compliance.

It reminds me of the parents who stand around and require their child to say “thank you” when you give the little one a candy bar. You become the victim of their insistence as the child, with chocolate dripping down his cheek, reluctantly mutters what is assumed to be words of gratitude.

How can we teach ourselves that an apology does not diminish, but rather, accentuates, our status?

I don’t know.

But there is a wise adage which states, “Except you repent, you will perish.”

To the human mind that seems unlikely. So what does perish?

What we lose in this transaction, because we have not used our own cognition to apologize, is the peace of mind and trust we have in others to be sincere–which can cause us to become angry, unforgiving souls … if we don’t believe them.

 

 

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Apolitical

dictionary with letter A

Apolitical (adj.): not interested or involved in politics.

I made the mistake of claiming to be apolitical in the midst of a group of people who were energized by the conflict we call the American election process.

They looked on me with disdain. The kinder ones began to reason with me, saying that I had no right to comment on the world around me if I was not going to participate in the quagmire.

It’s not that I have anything against the American system, nor that I wish to pursue some other foreign derivation. It’s just that I decided years ago that once something does not work, the most merciful thing you can do is abandon it and give it a decent burial.

For instance, I once had a lovely clock radio. At the time it was the pride of my possessions. It was easy to read, easy to set and had a powerful speaker which enabled the AM/FM radio to ring out with almost stereo clarity.

One day it stopped working. Completely. I considered getting it fixed, but was informed that it would cost more than the instrument was worth.

Being a stubborn sort, I kept it plugged in the wall with the hopes of resurrection. Even after the third day passed, I still persisted in dreaming of its return.

It didn’t.

One day a friend came into my home, saw the clock radio and asked my why it was still plugged into the wall, considering that it was doing nothing. I explained my allegiance, preference, hopes and dreams.

He squinted at me in disbelief and commented, “Go buy yourself a damn radio that works.”

His words pierced my soul.

I don’t know whether it was the sternness or the logic that awakened a spirit of reality, but I did it.

It was so refreshing to have a working clock radio that I soon forgot my old friend.

  • I am intent on changing my world.
  • I just know that politics … is broken.

 

 

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Antakya

dictionary with letter A

Antakya: Turkish name for Antioch.

Antioch.

The Good Book tells us that Antioch was the first city where people were referred to as Christians.

The fledgling movement that continued to adhere to the teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was struggling to find an identity.

Rejected by Judaism, much too simplistic for the Greek philosophers and comically peaceful for the raging Romans, these followers of the Nazarene were literally a people with no country.

So when they were ridiculed in Antioch for having no personal identity or unique awareness of themselves, but instead being “little christs,” rather than taking hubris to the accusation, they decided to adopt it as the namesake of their cause.

It has endured for two thousand years.

And even though nowadays the term “Christian” doesn’t mean much, it still lets us know that Jesus is in there somewhere.

Although I would welcome a new term and have adopted the word “Jesonian” to represent my appreciation for the universal concepts of the Carpenter-turned-community-organizer, I am still in awe of how these simple, gentle folk in Antioch decided to embrace a criticism and make it their own instead of bristling and demanding equal rights and respect.

Yes, the name itself is really the personification of the enduring belief. And that belief is this:

If you love yourself and you love people, eventually, after all the insanity has quieted down, you will have a voice.

 

 

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Agonize

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Agonize: (v) to undergo great mental anguish through worrying about something.

Really?

I’m sorry. I always try to empathize with my fellow-men and women, but sometimes the causes and circumstances that promote frustration and agonizing concern just escape me.

Early on in my life I came up with a simple principle:

There is only one day which is totally beyond my control: the day I die. And all the imitators of that experience can be dodged, as if they were bullets.

There you go.

It reminds me of the words of Jesus when he told his friends, the disciples, that their buddy, Lazarus, was sick but that he wasn’t going to die.

The truth is, he did die.

But traveling to see him, to prepare for a resurrection, it would have been of little use to weep, fuss and agonize over his temporary termination. So Jesus told them it was “all cool.”

Now, I’m not talking about an optimistic attitude, which is often devoid of needed reality and focus. (In other words, people who always “look on the bright side of life” can be quickly dimmed by a single rain cloud.) But it is a needed perspective.

There are three forces that will work for us if we are aware of our own surroundings:

1. Mother Nature. She just has a way of doing things, and if you learn her ways, you’ve got the first four digits of the “pick six” in the lottery.

2. Fellow humans. Contrary to most of the television programs, the vast majority of humanity does not consist of pimps, thieves and serial killers. People actually do help more often than not.

3. God. God has no reason to do anything but support his children. The only thing we have to remember is, this grace is bestowed to the humble.

Agonize if you want–but I will save that single moment of uncontrollable worry for my own death, and fight it off … until it’s absolutely mandatory.