Senate Reflection for February 18, 2016

GE has a commercial about the birth of ideas where there is a personified idea that looks like a little ugly monster. It grows into an awkward adolescence and finally matures and flourishes into something beautiful, like the story of the ugly duckling.

In an interview, writer Salman Rushdie says that his famous novel The Satanic Verses is an extended reflection on the question, “How does a new idea come into the world?” He meant for it only to be incidentally about religion but new ideas often come to us in religious terms like revelations, epiphanies and inspiration.

He says that for the birth of a new idea, “you have got two tests.” You have the test of weakness. “When you’re weak,” when your idea is unpopular do you compromise, do you bend, do you give in, do you accommodate?” Do we have enough inner strength to stick by our idea when we are in the losing position?

“And then the test of strength. When you’re strong, are you merciful, are you generous, or are you cruel?” When our idea is finally vindicated, how do we treat those who opposed us or didn’t support or believe in us?

Of course, these tests are not about ideas but rather about us and how we value our new ideas and treat those who support us or not. For that reason, we now turn to prayer.

Heavenly Spirit, by your inspiration and your revelation you bring new ideas into our minds. As we receive these gifts, help us when ideas are young and weak and need us to stand by them. When you provide for their success, help us in our strength always to remain gracious, merciful and generous to those we work with and those we serve. Amen.

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”
Simone Weil

We who are disciples of Christ claim that our purpose on earth is to lay up treasures in heaven. But our actions often belie our words. Many Christians build for themselves fine houses, lay out splendid gardens, construct bathhouses and buy fields. It is small wonder, then, that many pagans refuse to believe what we say. “if their eyes are set on mansions in heaven,” they ask, “why are they building mansions on earth? If they put their words into practice, they would give away riches and live in simple huts.” So these pagans conclude that we do not sincerely believe in the religion we profess; and as a result they refuse to take this religion seriously. You may say that the words of Christ on these matters are too hard for you to follow; and that while your spirit is willing, your flesh is weak. My answer is that the judgement of the pagans about you is more accurate than your judgement of yourself. When the pagans accuse us of hypocrisy, many of us should plead guilty.

Saint John Chrysostom (349-407 AD)

North Carolina pastor confronted by man with rifle – CNN.com

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun…” is apparently with prayer and ministry. Thank you, Pastor Wright, for your fearless and faithful service:

Pastor Larry Wright was talking to his small North Carolina congregation about senseless deaths in his community when a man with a rifle walked into his church.

Source: North Carolina pastor confronted by man with rifle – CNN.com

Pope Francis on forgiveness

A friar in Buenos Aires was gripped with scruples for having forgiven too much. When asked how he resolves this, he said, “I go to the chapel, I look to the Tabernacle, and I say: Lord, forgive me, today I forgave too much, but let it be clear that YOU gave me the bad example.” Let the Church, always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.

Leon Bridges – River

Tip me in your smooth waters
I go in
As a man with many crimes
Come up for air
As my sins flow down the Jordan

Oh, I wanna come near and give ya
Every part of me
But there is blood on my hands
And my lips aren’t clean

Take me to your river
I wanna go
Go on,
Take me to your river
I wanna know

The Moral Failure of Computer Scientists – The Atlantic

In the 1950s, a group of scientists spoke out against the dangers of nuclear weapons. Should cryptographers take on the surveillance state?

Physicist Philip Rogaway charged a group of computer scientists, mathematicians and cryptographers with “moral failure: By allowing the government to construct a massive surveillance apparatus, the field had abused the public trust.”

He compares the creation of digital surveillance to the political use of science in the Manhattan Project and in the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative. Where do engineers and scientists see their roles as having a moral and ethical dimension?

Source: The Moral Failure of Computer Scientists – The Atlantic

“At that time, I will deal with all who oppress you; I will save the lame, and assemble the outcasts; I will give them praise and renown in every land where they were shamed” (Zeph. 3:19).

The Wisdom of Patricia Paiwonski

God wants us to be Happy and He told us how: ‘Love one another!’ Love a snake if the poor thing needs love. Love thy neighbor…. And by ‘love’ He didn’t mean a namby-pamby old-maid love that’s scared to look up from a hymn book for fear of seeing a temptation of the flesh. If God hated flesh, why did He make so much of it? God is not sissy. He made the Grand Canyon and comets coursing through the sky and cyclones and stallions and earthquakes–can a God who can do all that turn around and practically wet His pants just because some little sheila leans over a mite and a man catches a sight of…? You know better, hon–and so do I! When God told us to love, He wasn’t holding out a card on us; He meant it. Love little babies that always need changing and love strong, smelly men so that there will be more babies to love–and in between go on loving because it’s so good to love!

Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land