Tag Archives: The Bible

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.

Ep68 Commitments, Happiness, Love and Having Kids



Reacting to why actor Seth Rogen says he and his wife don’t want kids, Father Len explains the relationship between making commitments, happiness, love, and having kids.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • “It’s not an easy haul having kids. You can’t be narcissistic. You have to give yourself over to parenting. Kids have got to be the priority.” – Howard Stern
  • God asks of us that our lives be life-giving.
  • Living life for yourself, free from commitments, is an immature definition of happiness.
  • Commitments lead to greater happiness. Lack of commitments lead to greater unhappiness.
  • You’ll never find yourself through your feelings and aspirations. What defines you is your commitments.
  • “Without being bound to the fulfillment of our promises, we would never be able to keep our identities; we would be condemned to wander helplessly and without direction in the darkness of each person’s lonely heart, caught in its contradictions and equivocations.”-Hannah Arendt
  • Being unable to settle on something means not being settled ever.
  • People willing to commit to marriage and having children almost always test out happier than those who don’t.
  • The world tells us self-fulfillment comes from being free of commitments. Truth says fulfillment comes after commitments.
  • People who avoid commitments and constantly pursue pleasure in pursuit of an easy life tend to end up bitter and unhappy.
  • Christ challenges us to not to choose the easy way, to make a sacrifice and give ourselves away.
  • Life is not supposed to be easy, but rather a great adventure.
  • Pursuing pleasure as happiness always ends up in unhappiness.
  • Each year since 1972, there has been a gradual decline in people’s overall happiness in the United States. This despite the average person spending 22% more on eating out and entertainment, living in homes that have doubled in size, having huge screen TVs, access to the Internet, and social media.
  • The moral question is not whether you should or should not have kids. The moral question is why you would not want to have children.
  • Religion challenges us to look at everything in life and decide what kind of life we want to have.
  • Once you fall in love, you can’t help but want to give yourself away. That’s what real love feels like.
  • God’s perpetual command is to make an offering of our lives, to give ourselves away.
  • Those who don’t know the power of commitment are yet to know what love is.
  • God is a trickster who tricks people into falling in love and willing to sacrifice everything for those they love.

Ep63 Bible Symbols Revealed and Explained-Part 3 Oils



Father Len reveals how oils and their fragrances help fulfill God’s intention for religion and worship to be carnal and sensuous experiences.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Previous Bible symbols episodes: Ep45 Water, Ep56 Trees

Ep62 The Dangers of Anger



Father Len reveals his 30 year battle with anger and explains why it’s like a cancer that can destroy you unless you learn how to respond to it.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len responds to an email from the mother of a 15-year-old daughter who became depressed and filled with rage over the death of George Floyd.
  • Father Len reveals that anger has been one of his most common sins throughout his life.
  • Research has shown that nothing rots your body like anger.
  • “Anger is rottenness to your bones.” – Proverbs
  • “Anger disintegrates community.” – Proverbs
  • “A hot tempered man stirs up dissension.” – Proverbs
  • Anger destroys wisdom and the ability to make wise choices.
  • “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick tempered man displays foolishness, even after he cools down.” – Proverbs
  • Anger is blinding. When you’re angry, you always think you’re completely right.
  • Anger distorts your view of situations, yourself, your view of the world, and your view of your family. It can make you really stupid.
  • “A hot tempered man must pay a penalty. If you rescue him, you’ll just have to do it again and again and again.” – Proverbs
  • Anger is very addictive. It’s like the cocaine of emotions.
  • Anger feeds on itself. Anger begets anger.
  • Anger often obscures truth and leads to denial.
  • COVID 19 has become an excuse for anger about almost everything.
  • When you’re angry, it’s very difficult to recognize that you may be the problem.
  • Sometimes anger is love in motion to a threat to someone you love.
  • “Be angry, but sin not.” – St. Paul
  • “He that is angry without cause, sins. He who is not angry when there is cause, sins.” – St. John Chrysostom
  • The best response to anger is prayer, self-examination, self-discipline, and sacrifice.
  • Unreasonable impatience is the hotbed of vices.
  • Anger tends to focus you on the problem and obscures the solution.
  • Studies have shown that compassionate people are better at defining boundaries of unacceptable behavior.
  • “Compassion is the strong man’s tool. Anger is the weak man’s tool.” – Father Len

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.

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.

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.

Ep54 Humility is a Superpower



Father Len explains why humility is the foundation for success in life.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • There is an epidemic of narcissism in our current culture fueled by social media.
  • Humility is the cure for narcissism.
  • Father Len discusses the dangers of ego and self-obsession by comparing the psyche of movie stars to people in prison.
  • Father Len shares the story of three superstars, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, who joined the Miami Heat NBA basketball team thinking winning a championship would be easy with all their talent. Turns out it wasn’t so easy until humility became a key ingredient of the team.
  • Human beings are very communal and emotions run through a community faster than a virus.
  • Because of our communal nature, it turns out that when people see other people behaving morally or immorally, it’s likely they will mirror that behavior.
  • Father Len shares the story of how tiny Butler University is able to compete and win against the much larger major powers in college basketball because of its team culture of humility.
  • “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit” – sign on former president Ronald Reagan’s desk
  • Ego destroys community because it traps people in a prison of self-obsession.
  • Humility is not low self-esteem. It’s low self-preoccupation.
  • The less we are preoccupied with thinking about ourselves the more room we have in our heads and hearts to think of others.
  • Humility helps us connect emotionally with others.
  • “Humility is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age” by Edward D Hess & Katherine Ludwig
  • Pride causes more problems than it solves.
  • Humility is the gateway to an open mind because it allows us to process information without being defensive and reacting in fear.
  • Humility allows us to see and accept reality.
  • Humility inspires success.
  • Success in life without humility can ruin you.
  • The Bible is filled with stories about how God hates pride and arrogance and how and why humility makes us true human beings.
  • The Bible says all those in heaven have humility written across their foreheads indicating the ultimate victory belongs to the humble.
  • The proud want glory for themselves, not for the community, not for the business, not for the team, and not for God.
  • Intelligence is not just being able to think and learn, but also the ability to unlearn and rethink. That requires humility.
  • “Prayer is unlearning what the world has taught you.” – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
  • We should feel as much joy in learning that we’re wrong as we felt in learning a truth.
  • “I have this voice in my head telling me 20% of everything I think is right might be wrong.” – Father Len
  • “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.” – Dr Stephen R Covey
  • “Think Again: the Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” by Adam Grant

Ep52 Dying to Live



Father Len reveals the path to a happy, healthy, and holy life involves multiple deaths and funerals.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len shares the story of an alcoholic to illustrate the consequences of denying death in life.
  • The “gospel of prosperity,” which professes that if you’re good God will give you health and stuff throughout your life without sacrifice, is a hoax.
  • To get to happy and holy requires doing a lot of funerals.
  • Change is easy, transitions are hard.
  • Every change in life involves a death. Every step forward involves a loss.
  • Money can be like steroids for your worst vices.
  • It is dangerous not to accept the many deaths and funerals required to get to a better life.
  • People want change in their lives, but what they can’t stand is the transition to the change.
  • The way of the cross means dying to your ego, selfishness, greed, and fears; dying to all those things that prevent the fullness of life.
  • The opposite of the way of the cross is a constant need and desire for more – more wealth, more security, more stuff – and a constant fear of losing anything we have which actually makes us prisoners of fear and greed.
  • The spiritual life is not about addition, but subtraction. The way of the cross is the way of subtraction.
  • Christ shows us that the way of life is through the cross.
  • “Litany of Humility” Prayer
  • The spiritual life is this choice between death and life. It’s kind of a trick question. Those who choose a type of death, dying to things like hate, selfishness, fear, addictions, and their own agenda are choosing life. Those who choose life as it is right now will experience no change, no growth, no increase in love or compassion. What they’re really choosing is death.
  • “If you die before you die, when you die, you will not die.” – Sign at the Monastery of St. Paul in Greece.
  • TED Talk from Jia Jiang about conquering fear by dying to it: “What I learned from 100 days of rejection”
  • Dying to fear sets us free.
  • There are lots of funerals on the bridge to happiness.

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.