Tag Archives: Judaism

Ep69 Becoming Truly Free



Father Len explains what it takes to become truly free and how the common American understanding of freedom leads to selfishness and narcissism.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Freedom involves being free from something in order to be free to become something.
  • The American Revolution was about becoming free from the tyranny of a king and the injustices and oppression of a political system.
  • 70% of Americans say they are free or mostly free.
  • Two thirds of Americans define freedom as being “free to do whatever I want.”
  • Being “free to do whatever I want” is an immature definition of freedom and the least likely to lead to happiness.
  • Being “free to do whatever I want” is a form of tyranny that allows you to intrude on the life and liberty of others.
  • “The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos” by Sohrab Ahmari
  • We create laws to set the parameters for a working society.
  • To be free theologically means that we are always working on freedom. Working to become more free from the tyranny of selfishness, oppression, and injustice.
  • When the people of a country define freedom as selfishness, it will always be divided and destroyed.
  • People who report the highest level of happiness tend to be religious and meditate regularly.
  • People who report the most freedom from moral constraints tend to be the least happy.
  • “Suicide, A Study in Sociology” by Emile Durkheim
  • The really hard part of becoming more free is wrestling with our own egos and recognizing when we’re being selfish.
  • Christians who believe giving up liberties for the sake of others makes them less free don’t understand the freedom of the cross of Christ.

Ep60 The History of Marriage and What Makes It Work



Father Len explores the history of marriage, our changing attitudes and expectations about it, God’s expectations for marriage, and what makes marriage so difficult yet so worthwhile.

Highlights, Ideas and Wisdom

  • Ancient marriages were rarely about love and had little to do with religion. Marriages were pragmatic contracts between families about such things as wealth, political alliances, childbearing, and, for poor and working-class families, acquiring a work partner.
  • Christ revolutionized expectations for marriage. Declaring it to be about unity, love, and becoming a true human being, having nothing to do with legal rights.
  • Modern expectations for marriage revolve around happiness. Finding the one person that’s going to make me happy until they don’t. Then, it’s time to find a new partner.
  • Marriage is a pathway to becoming the image of God, the image of love.
  • Marriage involves a death, dying to ego and selfishness.
  • “True love doesn’t make up for all your faults. True love exposes all your faults.” – Dante Alighieri
  • You can’t work on your faults until they’re exposed.
  • True love demands constant sacrifice.
  • Marriage is about sacrificing your ego and learning to think as two rather than one.
  • Unmarried people often have difficulty thinking about other people because they don’t have to.
  • Marriage is a way to holiness because it is about the way of self-sacrificing love.
  • God can save you, but your spouse gets you in the best shape to be saved.
  • Marriage gets you ready for heaven.
  • Marriage is about sacrificing everything for the sake of love.

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.

Ep21 “Crazy” and “Annoying” People



Father Len reveals how distancing yourself from “crazy” and “annoying” people in your life can separate you from parts of yourself that need attention.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • There are multiple stories in the Bible that reveal how distancing yourself from people in your life causes you to lose part of yourself.
  • Father Len explains the “sin of distancing” and how it affects us.
  • The problems we have with people in our lives often reveal problems we have within ourselves.
  • When we build walls around ourselves to avoid problems, we pay a price.
  • It’s easy to hate people from a distance.
  • Arguments and disagreements with people in our lives can be incredibly healthy because they can help us recognize and force us to deal with our own issues.
  • Life is supposed to break our hearts at times. When we experience pain and frustration we develop humility and the ability to love.
  • A whole heart is a broken heart. Distancing ourselves from “crazy” and “annoying” people will keep us safe, but we won’t have whole hearts.

Ep10 What is religion?



Religion has been with us since the beginning of human history. Father Len explains what it is and what it always has been.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Religion is a binding of a relationship and commitment to God and other people.
  • Religion can be traced all the way back to the Stone Age, Paleolithic and Neolithic times.
  • Early religion was a mix of storytelling, music, art, architecture, astrology, and ritual that brought people together, unified them and tied them to a common purpose.
  • Stone Age caves were like churches often containing the same 32 symbols that are believed to be a hieroglyphic response to God.
  • Religion is not a monologue from God. Religion is a dialogue between us and God with us responding to God.
  • There’s good religion and bad religion. Good religion is one that binds us together and to God. Bad religion is just a structural form for coercion that often divides us.
  • Good religion is both educational and unifying. It helps us discover the presence of God in our daily lives.
  • Human beings have forever been trying to answer this call from a mysterious thing we call God that binds us together and directs our lives.
  • There have been cultural experiments without God in countries like Soviet Russia and Communist China. These experiments in atheism haven’t gone so well and led to lots of bloodshed and millions of deaths.
  • Atheism’s failures can be traced to the lack of a higher moral code beyond human reasoning.
  • We like to proclaim ourselves as rational, but we’re not. We’re really good at coming up with excuses to justify our behavior.
  • Atheism says there is no source of justice beyond “how I view things.” In religion, we say God is the source of justice and our behavior will be judged by God.
  • Atheism is a type of religion. It may take more faith to believe that “I am the measure of morality” than the faith it takes to believe in God.
  • Taking the Lord’s name in vain is to misuse religion for power, wealth, or violence. To commit evil in the name of God.
  • There’s good Scripture and bad Scripture. When you think God is telling you to do something that is not in the Bible, that’s bad Scripture.
  • Father Len explains how to choose a religion and why not to choose a religion.
  • Love is not just an emotion. Love is also a type of reasoning.
  • Father Len shares a fun MacMillan family dinner table conversation to answer the question, “should you choose a religion for your child?”
  • Religion is incredibly human because it’s constantly seeking the deep connections we all crave and need in this life.

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.