Tag Archives: God

Ep59 Understanding the Language of God



Responding to a listener’s question about whether God’s teachings are black and white, Father Len explains why it’s difficult for us to fully understand the language of God’s love.

Highlights, Ideas and Wisdom

  • God’s morality and teachings are black and white and pure because God is love, without ego and without corruption.
  • Our interpretation of God’s morality and teachings is often wrong because it is viewed through the prisms of our egos and agendas.
  • Father Len illustrates the dangers of interpreting God’s word through ego by pointing out how wrong the Jews were in their interpretations of the Bible’s prophecies about Christ’s purpose on earth.
  • Jesus interprets morality and laws from the perspective of love.
  • Father Len points out that Jesus welcomed prostitutes and adulterers in his life knowing that prostitution and adultery are wrong because that’s what love does.
  • Love perfects us.
  • The Bible tells us that anyone who does not love and proclaims that they know God is a liar.
  • Our black and white view of morality often errs on the side of being harsh and judgmental, void of love.
  • Black and white morality can be very seductive because we can proclaim it to be justice, but without compassion it can be very wrong.
  • There are two kinds of moral extremes: black and white and relativism. Both are based a lot on ego.
  • Moral relativism is morality based solely on personal feelings and choice usually driven by ego or agenda.
  • Reacting to immoral behavior with love forces us to have empathy and compassion.
  • Father Len uses the Bible’s various perspectives on slavery to illustrate how God is constantly trying to help us evolve in our morality understanding we can’t always accept the whole truth all at once.
  • Fully understanding God’s language of love and morality is a lifelong process.

Ep56 Bible Symbols Revealed and Explained-Part 2 Trees



Father Len reveals that trees are symbols for God and human beings and trees represent the most important choices we make in life.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Trees are the third most common thing mentioned in the Bible.
  • God loves trees and gives them a ring every year on their birthdays.
  • Trees are places where human beings choose to worship or reject God.
  • There is a tree present at every major event in the Bible.
  • Every major character in the Bible is associated with a type of tree.
  • The only thing Jesus ever harmed was a tree that produced no fruit.
  • The Bible begins and ends with the “tree of life” and trees are present throughout the Bible.
  • The story of human history is choosing between two trees: the tree of life and the tree of good and selfishness.
  • There are two types of food. One gives us physical life. The other gives us spiritual life.
  • If we eat the fruit of the tree of good and selfishness we are cut off from the covenant with God and disconnected from the source of life.
  • The temptation to eat the fruit of the tree of good and selfishness is the promise of the power to define what is good and evil for ourselves rather than God.
  • We don’t have to earn the fruit from the tree of life. God gives it freely to us.
  • When anybody makes a commitment to God in the Bible there’s always a tree, an altar, and water present.
  • The tree of good and selfishness often appears in the form of an Idol in the Bible. The Idol is a false tree we create to define our own version of morality.
  • The Hebrews called idols “luxuriant trees” representing the pursuit of power, sex, and money for happiness. The Hebrew letters for “luxuriant tree” cleverly spell Garden of Eden backwards.
  • Addictions always promise happiness, but in the end leave us destroyed.
  • Trees in the Bible symbolize commitments and altars represent the rituals around the commitments.
  • The spiritual life in the Bible is pictured as a tree that must push its roots down deep to find the water of life necessary to produce good fruit in all seasons of life.
  • Jesus’ cross is called a tree in the Bible representing the tree of life. That’s why there is one cross next to or above the altar in every Catholic Church. It’s a reminder of the tree we should be eating from each day for eternal life.

Ep55 What Is Salvation?



Father Len reveals the meaning of the salvation God seeks for all of us.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Salvation is about freedom and belonging and being saved from harm.
  • Freedom doesn’t mean doing whatever selfish thing you want to do. That’s merely a form of slavery to the ego.
  • Salvation is freedom to be with and for others. It’s a whole lot of dying to your ego.
  • Salvation is not just about me being free. It’s about me and everybody else becoming free. I’m not free unless you’re free.
  • There is an unease in human beings, an innate desire to escape from freedom. Sometimes being confined is less fearful than being loosed. Being restricted can feel better than being free because freedom means choices and choices and choices. And, choices can be difficult.
  • Human beings really want freedom and structure. Structure that makes it possible for us to be free and at the same time feel safe.
  • “The Fear of Freedom” by Erich Fromm
  • Freedom without structure is just chaos. It’s emptiness.
  • The Catholic Mass is a prayer for the order in the kingdom of God, not the order created by human structures or capricious living.
  • There’s always this tug-of-war in the human heart between freedom and safety, between freedom and structure, between chaos and order.
  • Salvation is just another word for freedom, but it’s freedom with structure.
  • Totalitarian lifestyles and their appeal are created by the fear of freedom without structure.
  • God gives us the law to grant us freedom with structure that liberates our spirit for the service of love and community.
  • The ultimate place of freedom and order is heaven where everyone is completely free, but not self-absorbed.
  • Jesus came to show us the way to salvation; freedom from our ultimate enemies of hate, injustice, selfishness, and ego.
  • There is no such thing as personal salvation. Salvation is always tied to belonging to a family and community and everyone in the family and community being free.
  • Salvation is a mix of freedom, structure, responsibility, and belonging.
  • Catholics believe three things are needed for salvation.
    • Repentance: leaving our old life and slavery to our sins behind.
    • Trust and faith in God.
    • Baptism and the new life it brings.
  • Nowhere in the Bible does God save an individual. God always saves a community.

Ep51 Why Did God Create Us?



Father Len reveals three reasons God created us with some illustrative and inspiring stories and a funny Twinkies analogy.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len reviews the two creation stories in the Bible.
  • Everyone is born an Earthling and we only become true human beings when we can love to the point of death.
  • We are meant to evolve into a relationship of unconditional love with God, other people, and creation itself.
  • Pagan myths trace their creation to something grand and declare their superiority to other people and their origin.
  • In Christianity, we have this idea of a Trinity. God is a Trinity: lover, beloved, and love itself. We are created by perfect loving relationship, a Trinity for relationship.
  • God is pure unconditional, self-sacrificing, and self-giving love.
  • Baltimore Catechism question: “Why did God make you?” Answer: “God made me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this world and be happy with him forever in heaven.”
  • Heaven is a place of ultimate community and unconditional love. Where we’re all completely different, but united together. Hell is the opposite, to live by and for only one’s self.
  • In Heaven, we’ll be together as one as grapes in wine. Shedding our selfishness like grapes shedding their skins. We’ll become one without losing our uniqueness, totally united, just as grapes in wine.
  • Christ sums up all of his teachings this way: “love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and your neighbor as yourself.”
  • God is not a rule keeper handing out punishment for misbehaving. We inflict our own punishment when we choose only to think of ourselves.
  • We’re created for relationship and love, work and responsibility, worship and freedom.
  • Our sin or our holiness affects creation and how we relate to each other.
  • People who live in long and loving relationships live longer, are happier and healthier.
  • It is better for your health to eat a Twinkie with friends than a salad by yourself.
  • People who live life having a purpose beyond themselves live longer, happier and more satisfying lives.

Ep49 Howard Stern’s Religion Dilemma



Father Len responds to Howard’s conflicted thoughts and feelings about faith and religion and his strong desire to figure out what he believes about the existence of God. 

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • “Howard Stern Comes Again” by Howard Stern
  • Exploring the mysteries of life puts us on the road to wisdom.
  • Curiosity is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Humanity tends to pervert most things like politics, nature, marriage, and religion.
  • Religion is mandated to try to clean up the corrupting impulses of human beings.
  • Spirituality is not an alternative to hypocrisy in religion. Spiritual integrity is dependent on what each individual declares it to be. Spirituality is accountable only to the individual. Religion is accountable to God. Spirituality is not a meaningful alternative to religion.
  • Our brains are hardwired to seek meaning and connection with God.
  • “Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science And the Biology of Belief” by  Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, Vince Rause
  • The fact that there are sociopaths in religion and business and schools doesn’t invalidate religion any more than it does business and education.
  • You don’t enter religion because you’re perfect. You enter religion as a way to become a better person.
  • Howard wonders if all the hours he spent studying Scripture as a kid were a waste of time and why his parents, who weren’t living a spiritual life, would make him do that.
  • Parents who preach religion to their kids, but don’t practice it, introduce their children to a life of hypocrisy.
  • Howard struggles to understand the meaning of the Bible story of Abraham, Sarah and their “miracle” son Isaac.
  • Mothers tend to be the teachers of faith to their children, but if they see their fathers not practicing religion, they probably won’t either.
  • Wrestling with difficult to understand passages in the Bible helps develop the skill of looking at things differently and discovering their true meaning.
  • Real faith and religion are often best demonstrated by the elderly.
  • Howard wonders if logic will help him decide whether to believe in God.
  • Human beings seldom make decisions based on logic.
  • The Dunning-Kruger Effect states that “dumb” people think they are smarter than they are and truly smart people are awed by how much they need to learn.
  • “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucius
  • “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” – Charles Darwin
  • “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – William Shakespeare
  • The greatest scientists in history used logic and faith to come to their belief in God.
  • The greatest mystery of all is God. Even the Angels in the Bible, when seeing God, kept repeating, you are different, you are different, you are different. There is no way to adequately define God.
  • Heaven is this community of unconditional love that narcissists are unlikely to understand because in their world everything is about them.

Ep48 God is a Trickster



Father Len reveals how and why God uses loving trickery to expose truth and help us understand and live our purpose.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explores the common theme in the religious mythologies presented in Joseph Campbell’s “Power of Myth” that first got him thinking about God as a trickster back when he was in junior high school.
  • The trickster in every religious mythology is a rebel who is creative and helps humanity in unexpected, backwards and upside down ways.
  • The theme of the trickster God, the God who turns things upside down, is also present in the Bible.
  • Father Len shares the story of Moses, the coward with a stuttering problem who becomes the greatest prophet in the Old Testament to illustrate God’s unexpected, upside down, and backwards ways.
  • The Bible tells us God’s ways and wisdom don’t necessarily follow straight lines or human logic with lines like: “Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard what God has in store for us.”
  • Father Len shares his theory on why God loves to play the trickster.
  • The mystery of God means we can never truly understand the infinite. The God of infinite love and infinite possibilities.
  • Truth can be very tricky.
  • Father Len shares a Native American religious myth to illustrate why God sends us tricksters in life.
  • When God created the world, he gave every single creature a gift that must be shared for creation to work properly.
  • We crave clarity. We demand things be either horizontal or vertical, hot or cold, black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. But, God provides ambiguity and less clear lines that must be fully explored with an open mind to be understood.
  • God is willing to forgive what we consider unforgivable.
  • Father Len uses stories about the “Feast of Fools” and the “Feast of the Ass” to illustrate the value of tricksters in religion and life.
  • We need tricksters and fools to keep us from getting trapped in our orthodoxy and thinking we have the answer to everything in life.
  • There is real danger in orthodoxy that boxes God into simple neat little answers.
  • The heart of any civilization is its spirituality.
  • God sends us people like Francis, Dorothy Day, and Catherine Doherty who seem foolish and silly at first, but in actuality they are tricksters sent by God to expose truth.
  • Tricksters have this sacred role to help us laugh at ourselves, see the world from different perspectives and expose hypocrisy and foolishness and our spiritual rigor mortis.
  • Christ is the ultimate trickster and holy fool. He does everything in unexpected ways. He destroys our enemies by making them our brothers and sisters. That’s a great trick. He destroys death by welcoming death. That’s unexpected.
  • God is the trickster who’s always overturning our ways.
  • Habits have a way of deadening the impressions from our experiences, causing even the holiest of things to become superficial or lost.
  • When things happen in our lives appear to be silly or foolish, could it be the trickster God trying to help us see what is real and true?

Ep45 Bible Symbols Revealed and Explained-Part 1 Water



Father Len reveals what water symbolizes and why it shows up so often in the Bible.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • The Bible contains many symbols that God repeats over and over again.
  • The symbols help us understand what it means to be a human being.
  • Many symbols in the Bible end up becoming part of the way Christians worship.
  • In the Bible, water always symbolizes change, a change in consciousness as we are becoming who we’re meant to be.
  • There’s always some sort of death associated with each change as we give up something of our old selves in the process.
  • Father Len explains what Catholic Christian worship rituals involving water symbolize.

Ep40 Doubt Can Be a Virtue



Father Len reveals how doubts and questions about how God works in the world lead to wisdom and faith.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explains the difference between doubt that is healthy and holy and doubt that is not healthy or holy.
  • True faith is believing in a God of love and impossibilities.
  • Doubt can be a blessing or a curse. Doubt about how God is working in your life and why is a blessing. Doubt about God’s love and your relationship with God is a curse.
  • “Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” – Paul Tillich
  • “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” – Francis Bacon
  • Doubt can be a great friend of the truth.
  • Real learning occurs when we allow doubts and questions to arise.
  • The Greek word for doubt means two separate views. So, doubt is being torn apart by seeing two opposite things and trying to reconcile them.
  • “Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” – Khalil Gibran
  • Jesus allows and encourages people to challenge and question him throughout the Bible. Jesus is comfortable with questions because he wants them to lead to wisdom and certainty.
  • “People should question what’s going on in the world, question church authority, but not question that they’re in an unbreakable relationship with God.” – Father Len

Ep33 The Relationship between Grit and Success



Father Len explores how grit helps us get through difficult times and succeed in life.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explains why he is grateful for the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Father Len explains how the pandemic helps reveal the existence of God and why God allows suffering in the world.
  • Father Len introduces the spiritual virtue of grit and illustrates how and why it helps us mature as human beings and succeed in life.
  • Father Len explains the dangers of living life as a “perfect fragile.”
  • Father Len explodes the myth of “talent” as the primary predictor of success in life.
  • Grit in the religious world is fortitude. It’s one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Grit is learned and earned through sacrifice, pain, and a little bit of suffering.
  • “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth
  • Life is sacrifice.
  • Father Len offers concrete ways to increase grit and determination.
  • Father Len shares the moving story of Adm. James Stockdale and how grit helped him and his fellow prisoners survive years in a Vietnam War concentration camp.
  • “The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero” by Timothy Egan
  • “Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined” by Scott Barry Kaufman

Ep31 What Death and Funerals Teach Us about Life



Father Len and Irish explore the life-changing benefits of death and funerals.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len shares his moving and powerful tradition for commemorating the victims and heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and what it reveals about life and death.
  • Father Len explains how funerals make us better human beings.
  • Father Len spells out the difference between a funeral and a “celebration of life.”
  • Father Len tells the story of how comedian Garry Shandling’s parent’s decision not to allow him to attend his older brother’s funeral screwed him up.
  • Father Len shares the story of what comedian Stephen Colbert learned from his mother at his father’s funeral.
  • Funerals are incredibly healthy because they provide closure, a sense of meaning, and a perspective on what’s really important and enduring in life.
  • “Something about death makes us wise—we suddenly become high-minded, forgiving and focused on the best in people. How can we do better at seeing living people through the “eulogy lens”? – Tim Urban Twitter: @waitbutwhy
  • Funerals reveal human connection and the value and importance of community.
  • Father Len tells the story of a funeral for a young father’s dad that revealed what kind of dad he wanted to be for his three boys.
  • Funerals are an essential tool for passing on important values from one generation to the next.
  • Funeral rituals have been around for 10,000 years as a means to say goodbye, mourn what has been lost and to forgive.