Tag Archives: God

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.

Ep29 Winning, Gratitude, Happiness, and Jesus



Father Len explores the relationship between gratitude, happiness, and finding the presence of God in everyday life.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • The custom of athletes and entertainers thanking Jesus after winning games and awards inspired this episode.
  • Father Len uses the ancient Jewish feast that celebrates the birthdays of trees to reveal the importance and value of gratitude.
  • Gratitude helps prevent narcissism and entitlement.
  • Gratitude helps us grow and mature as true human beings.
  • Gratitude makes us happy.
  • Gratitude improves our health.
  • Gratitude makes us more compassionate.
  • “It’s impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” – Naomi Williams
  • Father Len introduces “The Daily Examen” gratitude exercise created by St. Ignatius.

Ep28 Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?



Father Len and Irish grapple with the mystery of God’s intention for sickness and suffering in our lives.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Irish shares his gut wrenching experiences with his youngest son’s heart attack and multiple kidney failures.
  • Father Len tells the story of his father finding joy late in life after contracting ALS.
  • Health, wealth, and personal achievements aren’t necessarily what makes life beautiful.
  • Father Len shares neurosurgeon Eben Alexander’s revelations from a rare illness and near death experience that turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.
  • “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” by Eben Alexander
  • Father Len shares the stories of suffering and sickness that caused St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Julian of Norwich to become great Saints.
  • “Revelations of Divine Love” by St. Julian of Norwich
  • We discover God in our difficulties.
  • “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer man is wasting away, our inner man is being renewed every day.” St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 4:16
  • Where did we get the idea that if we’re good, God is obligated to bring us health?
  • “There’s this fear that if we don’t have health and wealth and popularity, somehow our life is cursed. Maybe, like my dad, life becomes blessed because of sickness.” – Father Len
  • Sickness teaches us how precious and frail life really is.
  • When someone dies, even though we know life is temporary, it’s always a shock.
  • The fact that we’re shocked by death means there’s something in us that says life should be full and death is wrong. There’s something in us that says sickness is wrong because we are meant for a full life. Maybe we’re not going to have that life here. Heaven is where we’ll have the absolute fullness of life.
  • Joy can exist alongside sickness and suffering. Happiness can’t. Happiness is external. It depends on things like how we look, what kind of car we drive, and how much money we have. Joy is internal.
  • “In life, we have to trust in someone or something. We can’t go through life without trusting. Everybody has to trust in something, even in the midst of loss and suffering. I trust that the God of life will bring greater life.” – Father Len

Ep25 Tour of Hell



Father Len takes us on a tour of hell exploring its origin and history providing glimpses of heaven along the way.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Hell can be hot and cold.
  • Hell is complete separation from God.
  • Heaven is complete union with God.
  • God is the source of life, love, community, justice, and compassion.
  • Hell is being separated from life, love, and community.
  • God offers life and love to all people as a free gift, but that doesn’t mean all people accept the gift.
  • Hell is often associated with fire, but in the Bible it is also depicted as a cold and lonely place.
  • The image of fire is also connected to heaven in the Bible.
  • Could it be that the fire of heaven and hell is the same, the fire of God’s love?
  • Life is a matter of preparing to live in the fire of God’s love or forever rejecting it.
  • If you live your life with hatred and selfishness, maybe pure love is something that you can’t stand.
  • People can create their own hell right here on earth. It’s not just an imaginary place where we might end up.
  • You separate yourself from God when you fail to live a life of love.
  • God wants everybody united in heaven, but that doesn’t mean everybody will be in heaven.
  • “The gates of hell are locked from the inside” – CS Lewis
  • Hell is something we create by our own choices, not something created by God.
  • God permits those who reject community, justice, compassion, and love, which is God, to live in the hell they create.
  • The images of heaven and hell help point our lives in the right direction.
  • Hell is a choice of selfishness and cruelty over love.
  • The gates of heaven are always open for those who love.