Monthly Archives: April 2020

Ep7 Defining God is Really Hard

Father Len explains that we don’t have the words or understanding to accurately define God, but our brains are hardwired to seek the divine.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Some notion of the divine has existed in every culture since the beginning of time.
  • Brain studies have shown that human beings are hardwired to think about God.
  • Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief” by Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, Vince Rause
  • Accurately defining God is impossible for human beings. No description of God is ever perfect.
  • We try to describe God in human terms like God is love, God is like a father, and God is like a Shepherd. God is all these things, but way more.
  • Mystics over time have described God this way: “You are different, you are different, you are different. No thing in creation is an accurate image of God.”
  • In the Bible, when angels go to heaven they describe God like this: “You are holy, you are holy, you are holy.” In this case, the word holy means different.
  • God is always speaking to us. Human beings long to reply to this divine thing.
  • God is among us and through us, but not part of creation. Creation is not God.
  • The Bible says God is neither male nor female. The reference to “God the Father” does not mean God is a man. It describes God’s relationship with us likening it to the relationship between a loving parent and their child.
  • Augustine described God as “the lover, the beloved, and love itself” and alternately “the giver of the gift, the receiver of the gift, and the gift itself.”
  • Julian of Norwich described God this way: “God is creator, redeemer, and sanctifier.”
  • All of life has an element of mystery and surprise. Studies have shown that even couples married for 50 years, who know each other so well they can communicate through grunts, whistles, and glares, are surprised and mystified 15% of the time by something they learn about their spouse. We
  • Human beings are meant for relationship. Relationship with each other, creation, and God. No human being can satisfy all our relationship needs. Only God can fulfill these needs.
  • “In the beginning God created man in His own image, and man has been trying to repay the favor ever since.” – Voltaire

Ep6 Wrestling with Money

Father Len helps listener Sarah grapple with her relationship with her money and how much of it to give to charity.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len introduces the biblical concept of “poor in spirit” from the Gospel of Matthew 5:3.
  • “Poor in spirit” doesn’t mean that you’re actually poor. It does mean money has no control over you and it’s not your primary source of joy and self-worth.
  • Father Len shares the story of an elderly couple with a net worth of $50 million to illustrate the effect of being “poor in spirit.”
  • Father Len describes the relationship Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates have with their money and their charitable giving to help listener Sarah grapple with how much she should give to charity.
  • Father Len explains why he loves the image he saw as a kid of a tiny box containing all of Mahatma Gandhi’s material possessions when he died.
  • It’s irresponsible not to save money for retirement. Otherwise, you can become a burden to other people. Morally, you don’t have that right.
  • Assessing your real relationship with money is about honestly recognizing why you do what you do with it.
  • There isn’t a mathematical formula for how much money to give to charity. It’s living a life of “poverty in spirit.” It’s balancing the responsibilities we have of taking care of ourselves and making the world a better place.

Ep5 The Good of Coronavirus and Other Evils

Father Len helps us wrestle with evil. What is it? Why is there evil in the world? How can the consequences of evil help us mature and become better and more complete human beings?

Highlights, Ideas, & Wisdom

  • Father Len explains why the Corona virus crisis demands that we wrestle with God about what is evil and why there is evil in the world in hopes that this pandemic will become a species changing event.
  • Father Len introduces us to theodicy, the theology that grapples with evil and why an all good and loving God permits evil in our world.
  • Father Len shares “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” The story of a man whose pain, suffering and loss from the death of his best friend cause him to look deep into the purpose of life and how to become a complete human being.
  • Father Len explores the theology of St. Irenaeus that looks at evil to find the ultimate goodness of God.
  • Humanity is born innocent, but immature. We have work to do to become mature and complete human beings.
  • We don’t get to define goodness for ourselves. Only God can define what is good.
  • Maturing is a complex process. It requires that we experience the pain we inflict upon ourselves by going after the wrong things to make us happy. We must come to understand what is evil, evil’s consequences and die to our selfishness.
  • God did not cause the Corona virus, but God can use it to make us better people.
  • The coronavirus demonstrates how interconnected we are in this world. What happens in China affects us no matter where we are in the world. A problem in one part of the world becomes a problem for all of us. We’re waking up to the fact that either we survive together or we fall apart.
  • There are two types of evil. Moral evil and natural evil.
  • Moral evil is the things we do to each other. Often, without knowing or thinking about it. A good example is texting while driving. We’ve trained ourselves not to care about the accident it might cause and the pain, suffering, and loss it can inflict on other people.
  • Natural evils are things like the coronavirus, earthquakes, and floods.
  • St. Irenaeus would say the coronavirus itself is not evil. What is evil is the way we respond to it. If we deny its danger and existence, think only of our own well-being, endanger others, or be unwilling to come together as a community to battle the virus, that’s evil.
  • The coronavirus offers us a source of bane and enlightenment. For some of us it will be a source of spiritual enlightenment and help us to become more mature human beings. For others, the experience will be dismissed or quickly forgotten.