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Theology of Academy Award Best Picture Nominees: (The Curious Case of Benjamin STAUBLOG: Theology of Academy Award Best Picture Nominees: (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Frost/Nixon. Milk. The Reader. Slumdog Millionaire)

Theology of Academy Award Best Picture Nominees: (The Curious Case of Benjamin STAUBLOG: Theology of Academy Award Best Picture Nominees: (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Frost/Nixon. Milk. The Reader. Slumdog Millionaire)

A discussion of the theology of the five nominees for Academy Awards

iClick here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

Theology of Academy Award Best Picture Nominees: (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Frost/Nixon. Milk. The Reader. Slumdog Millionaire)

In the Best Picture category. Hosted by Dick Staub with guests Gregory Wright Managing Editor of HollywoodJesus.com and Past the Popcorn, Jennie Spohr film critic, ordained Presbyterian clergy and Dr. Jeff Keuss a professor at SPU and an engaging interpreter of theology in popular culture.

Listen to this podcast: “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2009

    Posted in Staublog in February 21, 2009 by | No Comments »

    John Updike Quotes By and About.

    John Updike Quotes By and About.

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

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    John Updike Quotes By and About.

    You know you are getting old when the icons of your youth die. So it is with John Updike, who died this week and whose life and writing was always there during my life. Here are a few quotes I collected over the years.

    From earliest childhood I was charmed by the materials of my craft, by pencils and paper and, later, by the typewriter and the entire apparatus of printing. To condense from one’s memories and fantasies and small discoveries dark marks on paper which become handsomely reproducible many times over still seems to me, after nearly 30 years concerned with the making of books, a magical act, and a delightful technical process. To distribute oneself thus, as a kind of confetti shower falling upon the heads and shoulders of mankind out of bookstores and the pages of magazines is surely a great privilege and a defiance of the usual earthbound laws whereby human beings make themselves known to one another.” John Updike,on writing, NYT January 28, 2009

    Updike fulfilled “Stendhal’s classic definition of a novel as ‘a mirror that strolls along a highway,’ reflecting both the ‘blue of the skies’ and ‘the mud puddles underfoot.” MICHIKO KAKUTANI NYT January 28, 2009

    Of nothing but me. . . I sing, lacking another song. John Updike,on radical self absorption, MIDPOINT, CANTO I, 1969 December 18, 2008

    John Updike is the great genial sorcerer of American letters. His output alone (60 books, almost 40 of them novels or story collections) has been supernatural. More wizardly still is the ingenuity of his prose. He has now written tens of thousands of sentences, many of them tiny miracles of transubstantiation whereby some hitherto overlooked datum of the human or natural world from the anatomical to the zoological, the socio-economic to the spiritual emerges, as if for the first time, in the complete‚­ness of its actual being. Sam Tanenhaus, on The Witches of Eastwick, NYT Book Review October 25, 2008

    The stories revealed the mind of an artist on whom nothing is lost, for whom seeing is fused with the most filigreed turns of language. Updike is a potent stylist, but of a particular kind — less psychological (though he is psychological too), less analytical (though he is frequently that), than visual and painterly. His effects are of sheen and shadow, color and form, spine and splay, hair and haunch. Cynthia Ozick, novelist on early Updike as read in the New Yorker, NYT November 30, 2003

    My main debt, which may not be evident, is to Hemingway; it was he who showed us all how much tension and complexity unalloyed dialogue can convey, and how much poetry lurks in the simplest nouns and predicates. John Updike, in Cynthia Ozick’s review of his early work, NYT November 30, 2003

    While his male characters pursue sex with dogged zeal be it with a neighbor’s wife, a colleague or a prostitute they also suffer from a spiritual hunger, a craving, if not for God then for some reassurance that there is something between them and the abyss they can glimpse just beyond the familiar world with “its signals and buildings and cars and bricks.” Michiko Kakutani, spiritual hunger in early updike, NYT November 21, 2003

    I feel I am closest to God when writing. You’re singing praises. You’re describing the world, as it is. And even if the passages turn out sordid or depressing, there’s something holy about the truth. John Updike, commenting when interviewed for NPR’s ‘Tell Me A Story,’ as reflected upon by the host, Marjorie Leet Ford, March 31, 2003

    Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news, or a Last Judgement not subject to pages of holier-than-Thou second guessing in the New York Review of Books. John Updike, on today’s snobbish, elite, dismissiveness of religion, Self-Consciousness Memoirs, December 31, 1989

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 28, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Transcendent Joy In a Cold Tragic Christmas

    Transcendent Joy In a Cold Tragic Christmas

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    Transcendent Joy

    When last I posted I was reflecting on the belak midwinter here on the island. As As I prepared my comments on “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room,” picking up on the theme of “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” it was 12 to 24‚º outside and the bleakness extended beyond the weather

    On the island Jordan Griffin’s snowboarding accident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

    These events follow other recent tragedies on our island: Dana Mullan died while resting on a couch watching a movie with her kids. Darlene Pohl, slumped over and died just moments before landing in Seattle on a commercial flight. Anthony Richardson and others have died unexpectedly.

    The economic slump has hit the island hard too. Rosario, the largest resort on Orcas, closed in October, leaving 200+ people out of work. Real estate and construction have slumped badly hitting our working population & Wall Street has reduced the portfolio of many retirees who call Orcas home.

    When you live on a small island as we do, you feel these events very personally. We’re all connected and therefore all affected.

    So when I announce joy to the world this Christmas Season, I am announcing joy to the world of Orcas Island, which at that moment is reeling from losses.What do you say in such a moment that does not trivialize our losses, but rather hits them head on?

    What is this transcendent Christmas Joy?

    1) Christmas joy transcends circumstances

    Joy transcends circumstances ~ Happiness is circumstantial, but joy is not.

    Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “For happiness one needs security,
    But joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.”

    Joy can be made richer by sorrow Kahlil Gibran observed this: “joy and sorrow are inseparable. . .together they come; and when one sits alone with you . . remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

    Christmas is God’s wake-up call: JOY has arrived & it is the kind of joy that can transcends SORROW

    Joy comes from within, its source is internal not external ~ it is spiritual not circumstantial. This joy is like a lake fed by underground sprints. This joy is found only one place ~ in the one who offers springs of living water, the one who offers the bread of life ~ This joy is only found in Jesus Christ.

    2) Christmas joy is a person: Jesus Christ

    The angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

    We are joyful because God has heard our cry. Isaiah prophesied: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

    Christmas reminds us that god hears the cries of his people. Jesus is “Emmanuel,” which means God With Us. Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us.

    God has heard our cry & the cries of the whole world. The angels signaled the universal nature of God’s good news, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

    George W. Truett reminds us that Christ was born in the first century, yet he belongs to all centuries. “He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries.”

    Best of all, in Jesus, God has entered our mess. He was born in a stable ~came as a baby ~ lived the human life ~ Experienced our joys and sorrows.

    He delivered his good news HIMSELF through his son Jesus. He did not fly to earth on a corporate jet. Did not demand a place in a royal palace¢â‚¬¦He took his place with the down trodden ~ He was born in a simple, rugged stable surrounded by the domestic animals of the working poor.

    He then went to the streets to love drunkards ~lepers ~ the blind ~
    A woman caught in the act of adultery; he went to a man trapped in his love 0f money.

    He came to announce in the words of the old gospel song, “Come Ye Disconsolate ~ Where ere Ye Languish¢â‚¬¦Earth Has No Sorrow That Heaven Cannot Heal!”

    In Jesus death on the cross God broke the cycle of sin and began to restore all that unraveled in the fall and so the Christmas carol proclaims, “No more let sins and sorrows grow: Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, far as, far as, the curse is found.”

    3) Christmas joy is costly joy

    He came to earth because he loves us, “He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders, of His love.

    Such Love deserves a loving response. “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

    Christmas Joy Is available ONLY to those who prepare him room¢â‚¬¦In the first century here was no room in the inn and there was no room in many hearts¢â‚¬¦ Herod, the self-righteous Pharisees wanted nothing to do with this Jesus. As John said, “The light came into the world ~ men loved darkness rather than light.”

    Christmas joy cost Jesus his life and if we want Christmas Joy~ it will cost us our lives as well. If Jesus Christ marks the central transition in history why would we expect he would occupy anything other then the central transitional point in our personal life.

    So Karl Barth reminds us, “Here is the good news of Christmas. He who was born on Christmas Day and stands by you, without thinking of himself for one moment. He does not demand anything from you; he demands you.

    As the Hymn the bleak midwinter asks:

    “What can I give him, Poor as I am?
    If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb,
    If I were a wise man I would do my part,
    Yet what I can I give Him? I’ll give him My Heart.”

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 27, 2009 by | No Comments »

    Staublogs 2008

    Staublogs 2008

    Staublog April to December 2008

    The Deceits of Wealth

    Bonhoeffer: The Times Aren’t a Changing

    The ways we miss our lives

    I’ve Been Thinking.”

    The Eagle and the Chickens ~ A Parable

    Palin & The Power of the Small Ones

    IN MEMORIAM: The Magical Chorus & Dave Scholer

    The Intellectual & Spiritual Task at Hand & The Next Generation

    Tony Snow: Blessings arrive in unexpected packages.

    Rekindling The The Joy of Humans Together

    Love the One You’re With & The Last Lecture.

    Holiday in Hellmouth: A Little & Useful Exercise in Belief & Disbelief

    Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis, God & Hollywood

    Sir Ken Robinson. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”

    Sunny Day On Orcas Island ~ Cloudy Day for Evangelicals

    Mothers Quotes

    Dehumanizing Work

    TIME 100 Most Influential?

    Miley’s Lessons

    The Whole Point

    Connection. Caring. Wholeness..

    Email Overload?.

    Art Helping People See God.

    Three stories from the New Yorker on Reading & Meeting Interesting People for a Living; The Marvel of Comics; Men and their Toys.

    OBIT Tribute to Charlton Heston.

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Stunning Orcas Island (1st Announcement!).

    Staublog January to March 2008
    Religion When God has Left the Building

    At Easter: A CS Lewis Poem: Love’s As Warm As Tears

    Humans on A Rainy Orcas Sunday Afternoon

    Guestblogger. Bruce Herman: An Open Letter to Artists

    DS INTERVIEW: William F Buckley after Crossan-Craig debate.

    Oscars 2007. Misty Twilight of the Soul

    Jesus WEPT: Wife Swap, The Age of American Unreason, Africa & The Demise of Christianity

    Moving to a Small Island

    Spirit Of Sundance 2008

    Art the Language of the Soul: Sundance 08

    Christians @ Sundance

    When I Was a Child

    Glimmers Of Artistic Hope

    For Your Best In 2008

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in December 31, 2008 by | No Comments »

    A Cold Tragic Christmas Threatens Joy.

    A Cold Tragic  Christmas Threatens Joy.

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    A Cold Christmas Threatens Joy.

    It is 12⼠outside ~ a bleak midwinter morning if ever there was one.

    It is Christmas week and Sunday the fourth candle of advent will be lit at Orcas Island Community Church.

    I will speak on “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room,” picking up on the theme of “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”

    Last Monday Mark felt severe pains in his chest and was airlifted off the island for a life-saving surgery removing a cholesterol blockage from an artery. Scary, but the amazing news is on Monday he plans on being back at work baking his scrumptious goodies at his popular coffee shop/bakery.

    Wednesday afternoon Jordan went snowboarding and while doing a flip landed wrong on his neck leaving him numb from the neck down. It was a windy, blustery evening and the medical airlift helicopter couldn’t fly in the high winds. A Coast Guard helicopter tried and after one failed attempt at touching down, managed heroically to pick Jordan of and airlift him to Harborview hospital in Seattle.

    Emergency medical flights carry only the patient, so Jordan’s mother Rachel and other family members had to wait for the next ferry and make their way on icy, snowy roads to Seattle ~ they arrived in Seattle four hours after Jordan did. Tests and surgery the next morning revealed that a vertebra in Jordan’s neck was shattered and his spinal cord severed. His chances of ever walking again are slim.

    These events follow other recent tragedies on the island: Dana, a mom in her 30’s with three young boys and an adoring husband died while resting on a couch watching a movie with her kids. Darlene Pohl, a vivacious young woman who served the teens of the island through our local “Fun House,” slumped over and died just moments before landing in Seattle on a commercial flight.

    The economic slump has hit the island hard too. Rosario, the largest resort on Orcas, closed in October, leaving 200+ people out of work. Real estate and construction have slumped badly hitting the working population and Wall Street has decimated the portfolio of many retirees who call Orcas home.

    When you live on a small island as I do, you feel these events very personally. We’re all connected and therefore all affected.

    So when I announce joy to the world on Christmas Sunday, I am announcing joy to the world of Orcas Island, which at this moment is reeling from losses.

    What do you say in such a moment that does not trivialize our losses, but rather hits them head on? What would YOU say? More of my thoughts in a day or so.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    Posted in Staublog in December 20, 2008 by | No Comments »

    The Deceits of Wealth

    The Deceits of  Wealth

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    The Deceits of Wealth

    Tolstoy said, “if wealth is created by deceit such as trade that separates people or dishonest money handling or some other temptation, then this wealth, even if some has been given to charity, is much worse than any theft or robbery for which people are punished in a court of law.”

    Does this refer to?
    ~ Credit extended to people who can’t really afford to buy a house?
    ~ Allowing that same person to refinance so they can buy a new car or the latest electronics, remodel or eat out more?
    ~ Borrowers who enter into such a transaction?
    ~ Companies manufacturing with cheap laborers who are working in unsafe, unhealthy conditions?
    ~ Consumers buying those products because they are cheaper, though they know about the sweatshops that produced them?
    ~ Corporate executives taking disproportionate salaries and benefits while cutting back health care benefits for their employees?
    ~ Stockholders celebrating great returns when they come on the back of inferior products, cheaply made by unethical manufacturers?
    ~Corporate officers and stockholders celebrating returns generated by executives and producers and artists creating dehumanizing media that exploits sex, violence and the worst in us?
    ~ Distributing that same media content to younger consumers, bypassing their parents in the process?
    ~ Unions that negotiate higher wages and benefits for workers in industries or with companies that are failing to produce results?
    ~ Charities that benefit from wealth created by any or all of the above?
    ~ Making money the desire of our heart, instead of first and foremost desiring to love God and each other more perfectly?

    Does it refer to all of us?

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in December 11, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Bonhoeffer: The Times Aren’t a Changing

    Bonhoeffer: The Times Aren’t a Changing

    Bonhoeffer: The Times Aren’t a Changing

    Last night the theme of The Kindlings Muse @ Earl Palmer Ministries was “Poems from Prison: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Prophet and Poet.”

    Each month Rev. Palmer selects a book thoughtful people should read and last night it was refreshing to see dozens of new copies of Bonhoeffer’s “Letters and Papers from Prison” scattered throughout the attentive audience.

    I was particularly taken by a comment made by Sandy, a busy mom getting a rare night out. Reading Bonhoeffer put her life and circumstances in perspective. Whenever you think times are getting too dark, reading a little Bonhoeffer might be a useful antidote.

    In our current economic and geopolitical crisis it is useful to be reminded that as much as things change, in many ways they stay the same. What Bonhoeffer believed about his era could be said of ours. “Surely there has never been a generation in the course of human history with so little ground under its feet as our own.”

    His “Cost of Discipleship” and “Life Together” had already been published and he was a young theologian on the rise, yet this man of reflective mind and sensitive heart left the safety of America to return to Germany to take his stand with the confessing church against the threats of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. This decision led to his imprisonment in 1943 and hanging in 1945 just a day before the British liberated his fellow prisoners. (Please see Bruce Hermann’s amazing painting “Elegy for Bonhoeffer)

    For Bonhoeffer, his commitment to costly discipleship left him no choice but to stand on principal ~ he had written, “the responsible man seeks to make his whole life a response to the question and call of God.”

    He believed that God seeks man more than we seek God and in prison came to the realization that imprisonment was a useful metaphor for understanding Advent, where “one waits and hopes and potters about, but in the end what we do is of little consequence, for the door is shut and can only be opened from the outside.”

    With the incarnation, the word becoming flesh, God came from outside the world and unlocked the door from the outside.

    Bonhoeffer’s deep spirituality was forged in a gritty daily life of realistic discipleship. As much as he was in touch with God, he was rooted in his fallen humanity and you see this clearly in his poem, “Who Am I?” where he wrestles with the contrast between the positive ways he is perceived and his awareness of his own fallenness.

    As a matter of fact the depth of his spirituality made him more aware of his sin and released him to a deep solidarity with fallen sinners saying, “for Christians and heathens alike Christ hangeth dead.”

    His last moments in this life were spent leading a chapel service in prison. When the executioners called out, “come with us,” he comforted an English prisoner Payne Best with these words, “this is the end, for me the beginning of life.”

    Read Bonhoeffer and self-pity will melt away as you enter the presence of a man who faced the dark uncertainties of his age with dignity, grace and a full awareness of his human frailty.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in December 2, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Thanksgiving Thoughts

    Thanksgiving Thoughts

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    During this Thanksgiving Season we at CFC give thanks for faithful friends like you who make our ministry possible. Please accept this collection as our way of partnering with you in reflecting on God’s goodness. Dick Staub

    Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Psalm 79:13

    The worse moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. G. K. Chesterton

    Jesus took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Matthew 15

    I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy. Anne Frank Diaries
    And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3: 17

    How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child’s personality. A child is resentful, negative–or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people. Sir John Marks Templeton

    And when Jesus had given thanks, he broke the bread and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
    I Corinthians 11:24

    We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. Thornton Wilder

    It is therefore recommended¢â‚¬¦to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor. Samuel Adams November 1, 1777

    If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. Meister Eckhart

    Oh give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done.
    I Chronicles 16:7-36

    What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? Erma Bombeck

    It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. But a thankful heart hath a continual feast. W.J. Cameron

    Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it –William Arthur Ward

    Give Thanks
    With a
    Grateful Heart

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2006

    Posted in Staublog in November 23, 2008 by | No Comments »

    The ways we miss our lives

    The ways we miss our lives

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

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    The ways we miss our lives

    TODAY I bring you some observations about a modern dilemma, a reminder of an ancient story and the connection between the two.

    A Modern Dilemma.

    In one of his novels, the late Walker Percy talks about a character who suddenly realizes that he is living a fallen life instead of a fully human life. “How did it happen that now for the first time in his life he could see everything so clearly? Not once had he been present for his life. So his life had passed like a dream. Is it possible for people to miss their lives in the same way one misses a plane?”

    I don’t know anybody who does not at one time or another ask if they are missing something essential in life.

    Poet Randall Jarrell observed, “the ways we miss our lives are life.”

    If a fully human life is spiritual, intellectual, creative, relational, moral and physical, any diminishment of our potential in any one, some or all of those spheres of life are the ways we are missing our own life.

    The negative in the world try to convince us that we do not actually bear the image of God, that we do not possess extraordinary potential. Imagine if Fred Astaire had paid attention to the conclusions of the judges at his first screen test.
    “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Can dance a little.”

    Reaching our potential requires that we believe such possibility resides within us, but it also requires recognizing the warring factions within us. We need a savior to defeat the darkness within.

    Most people intuitively understand there is a transcendent life. Those who are fortunate realize one day that the source of these glimmers of hope and nagging yearnings is spiritual. Nicholas Berdyaev describes the source, “all beauty in the world is either a memory of Paradise or a prophecy of the transfigured world.”

    If I am to find a fuller life, I must find God.

    An Ancient Story
    In the first century there was a man who was missing his life because he was deaf and mute. He had never spoken a word nor heard a sound. He could not participate in the vibrant conversations all around him. He did not hear the music at parties, nor the newborn cry of his first child, nor the birds singing on warm cloudless Mediterranean days. He could not hear the call to worship at the Temple, could not repeat the prayers every devout Jew was called to offer each day.

    Somehow he learned that a miracle worker and prophet Jesus, was passing through the village. So decided to go check this out. He had tried everything else ~ what did he have to lose?

    When they met we are told simply this: “Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.”

    Perhaps the man did not know the silence and pain in his life was caused by a sinister darkness residing in his soul.

    Others clearly understood. In the 1st century people believed that whatever does not lead to a vibrant life is from the dark side, ruled over by Beelzebub.

    Jesus said that just as Beelzebub rules the kingdom of darkness, he, Jesus, rules the kingdom of light, an empire more powerful than the dark side. He told people they must choose. Jesus said, “if you are not for me you are against me.”

    A woman in the crowd called out praises to Jesus mother Mary. She said, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” Jesus said instead the enlightened should praise God =that true blessings come to those “who hear the word of God and obey it.”

    A Connection
    The old puritan Jonathan Edwards said, “The heart of man is naturally prone to sin. The weight of the soul is naturally that way, as the stone by its weight tends to go downward. And saints have a great tendency to sin.”

    The darkness of sin keeps us from fulfilling our potential and the busyness and distractions of daily life divert our attention from what matters.

    Leo Tolstoy put it this way. “When there is no sun, you can see limitless stars in the sky. You are certain they exist. When the sun rises, you can no longer see them. In the same way, you cannot see God when you are blinded by the temptations of the world. Yet you know God exists, and He will reveal Himself in you¢â‚¬¦ The activity of people who do not understand the true meaning of life is always directed at the struggle of existence, acquiring more wealth and pleasures, and not getting rid of their sufferings and preparing for eternal life. The more people are busy with this in their daily lives, the less time they will have for the only true pleasure that man has, love.”

    We miss our lives in our own unique ways, but when we miss our lives it is always because of some subtle yielding to the dark side.

    Turn to the light, obey and become fully human.

    We need to be released from the darkness (“Jesus was driving out a demon’) and we need to nurture the light (hear the word of God and obey it.”)

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in November 6, 2008 by | No Comments »

    I’ve Been Thinking

    I’ve Been Thinking

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    I’ve Been Thinking

    I’ve been thinking about how Carl Jung said he never met a patient over 40 whose problems did not go back to the fear of approaching death. I realize this is another of many ways the over 40 and under 40’s are different and why we need intergenerational community to keep us older folks full of life and younger grounded.

    I’ve been thinking about 17th century German mystic Angelus Silesius and how his keen mind was balanced with his warmth of heart. It is said of him that he managed serenity & joy through “the spiritual detachment of his brilliant mind, capable of reaping all the benefits of education, preferment, and social or ecclesiastical structures can offer, without allowing them to dwarf the life of the spirit.” I’ve been realizing in my own experience that the life of the spirit is corroborated by my mind, but cannot be apprehended by the mind alone. We have been made intelligent beings¢â‚¬¦but we are also spiritual beings¢â‚¬¦I’ve been learning that when spiritual attainment is confined to the intellect-the spirit suffers.

    I’ve been thinking about how this mix of mind and receptivity to spirit creates open space for wonder, and is a reason Jesus said we needed to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. I’m reminded of Arnold Bennett saying “the only way to write a great book is to write it with the eyes of a child who sees things for the first time.”

    I’ve been thinking about true joy and how Frederick Buechner said, “Happiness shows up pretty much where you would expect it to a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy on the other hand is as notoriously unpredictable as the one who bequeaths it.”

    I’ve been thinking about the appeal of the monastic and a promotion I received for a book about the emergent generation’s interest in it. It said this generation is “buzzing” about monasticism. I don’t think the monastics buzzed or wrote & marketed books to add to their numbers.

    I’ve been thinking about the mix of sorrow in joy in the pursuit of God and how Friedrich von Hugel got it right when he said, “Religion has never made me happy; it’s no use shutting your eyes to the fact that the deeper you go, the more alone you will find yourself¢â‚¬¦Religion has never made me comfy. I have been in the desert ten years. All deepened life is deepened suffering, deepened dreariness, deeper joy. Suffering and Joy. The final note of religion is joy.”

    I’ve been thinking about the joy I am experiencing living on a small island. I’m thinking about how essential quietness is in getting my day started right and how Silesius said, “The voice of God is heard: Listen within and seek; Were you but always silent, He’d never cease to speak.”

    I’ve been thinking about KindlingsFest and how glad I am to offer you the opportunity to be on the island with me each July so we can get better acquanted and I can share the wonder of this place with you, my friends.

    This is a bit of what I’ve been thinking.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW

  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com


  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in September 25, 2008 by | No Comments »