Giving to God: Making Sense of Everything Else

“Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” — Matthew 22:15-21

What is yours? What is mine? These are the questions at the heart of paying taxes, of living in society, of being made in the image of God. In the previous post, I exhorted the paying of taxes, and the social goods that that accomplishes. But Jesus says more than that; he twists the Pharisees’ question back on to them. What does it mean to give what is God’s back to God?

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Meaning in Death

“To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.” — Hamlet
Continuing a recent theme, we must pause to question whether there is any meaning in death. Death — that closure of possibilities; Death — that last enemy to be defeated. Whether it is embraced in a stoicism or a philosophical release of the soul from the body (à la Socrates) or it is shuddered at and avoided (à la Hamlet), it is the inevitable end of humankind. It is experience throughout life in the deaths of others. Is it darkness? Can one die with dignity? Is avoiding death the purpose of health and modern medicine? These are just a few of the questions.

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Death and Resurrection

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“Death has been swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?”– 1 Corinthians 15:54-55

Death as the closure of possibilities, death as the impossibility at the end of my experience, silences. All projects end, all desires fulfilled or otherwise cease, all hopes expire, all dreams fade into the ontological nothingness that is death. It is the last enemy, and in many ways, the only enemy. All threat, all power, is an invocation of the threat of death, all power is the calling forth of death into life. But what would it mean to call life into death?

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Goals for 2015

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“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Like a post before, this one will be a little different. Today, I want to go over my fifteen goals for 2015! These goals are not to create a sense of shame at the end of the year if they are not accomplished, but they are to dream and to inspire. Goals are gifts we can give ourselves; let’s never punish ourselves with our goals.

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Gratitude and the Shape of a Worldview

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It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. — Abraham Lincoln, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” 1863

Today is a great day. In the land of my forefathers, today is a day of gratitude, thanksgiving, and all sorts of food. Today is a day where families gather, good food is prepared communally, served, and eaten together. Around a common table, people will often express in words things they are grateful for. In that regard, it is a special day, but it is a practice we could and perhaps should do regularly.

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…and From Dying Unprepared

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“From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from
violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and
unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us.” — The Great Litany

 Continuing the theme from last week’s final post, I want to talk about death again. Not as the great and existential horror that looms at the end of the line for all of us, but as the friend that greets us and leads us into the unknown, into rest, and into the undiscovered country. Today, I want to talk about dying prepared, dying well, dying full of days and in community.

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