Tag Archives: The Bible

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.

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?

Ep43 The Satan and the Mission of The Satan



Father Len reveals the origin of The Satan and why The Satan constantly misrepresents the words of God and tempts us to sin.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len Introduces “The Great Chain of Being,” the theory that describes the hierarchy of creation and reveals that heaven is populated by more than human beings.
  • God created human beings to rule the earth and care for creation.
  • When God created humanity, God charged the Angels he created with the responsibility to guide humanity.
  • “The Satan” is a title given to angels who continue to worship God, but defy God and refuse to serve inferior humans.
  • The word Satan means accuser.
  • The Satan is bent on misguiding and destroying humanity.
  • Father Len tells the Garden of Eden story to illustrate how The Satan induced Adam and Eve to commit humanity’s original sin.
  • Following the sin of Adam and Eve, a recurring prophecy began predicting that a child of a woman would someday become “the snake crusher” to destroy evil and the Satan. That child turned out to be Jesus.
  • Father Len tells the story of King Nebuchadnezzar from the Bible Book of Daniel to illustrate the sin of pride and how the Satan is always trying to decrease our humanity.
  • “The Lord of the Rings” by R.R. Tolkien
  • The Satan, “the accuser,” is constantly pointing out our faults will trying to divide humanity and make us less human.
  • Father Len relates the story of Job who actually becomes more human and a better human through suffering inflicted by the Satan.
  • The Satan frequently tempts us to embrace evil in order to acquire power, glory, and the kingdom.
  • We can’t blame the Satan or the devil for succumbing to evil and becoming less human. We always have a choice.
  • Evil is present in the world, but a true human being is able to say no to it.

Ep42 Only One Thing Will Unite Us



Father Len presents the solution to contention and division in our individual lives and in the world around us.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • “Secretaries rule the world. Never tick off a secretary because they control everything.” – Father Len
  • Unity comes through Christ.
  • The word Catholic means universal.
  • Father Len shares the hope for unity found in the two creation stories in the Bible.
  • We are meant to live in unity with other people, even when there is great diversity.
  • The word devil means divider. The devil is constantly tempting us to be divided against each other and God.
  • Humanity is forever attempting to come up with a source of unity outside of Christ.
  • We end up more divided when we develop external things to bring us together.
  • Ego will always tear us apart.
  • The Bible chronicles humanity’s quest for unity.
  • Father Len shares the Bible story of the Good Samaritan to reveal God’s most important laws.
  • We cannot possibly love God without loving one another.
  • The Catholic Church is the most ethnically diverse movement in human history.
  • Father Len tells the story of what CS Lewis learned about the effect other people and community have on our personalities.
  • Father Len explains why private personal relationships with God are not Christian and not spiritual.
  • God is perfect loving community.
  • The one thing God desires in the Bible is family; that all of us will look at each other as brothers and sisters.
  • Unity is not brought about by conformity.
  • Our relationship with other human beings should be founded on God.
  • The only path to unity is the self-sacrificing love Christ came into the world to model for us.

Ep39 Commitment and Happiness



Father Len explains the relationship between commitment and happiness.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len shares the story of NFL football player Bo Eason and what he learned about commitment from fellow Pro Jerry Rice.
  • “There’s No Plan B for You’re A-Game” by Bo Eason
  • Commitment breeds commitment. Indifference breeds indifference.
  • There are two types of commitment: “even if” and “as long as.” Even if commitment never wavers even when there is trouble, hardship, sickness, sacrifice, and suffering. As long as commitment is always conditional on finding something easier and more pleasurable to do than keeping the commitment, like watching a favorite television show or going to a party.
  • Father Len shares a favorite “even if” commitment story from the Book of Ruth in the Bible.
  • Commitment leads simultaneously to suffering and happiness. Uncommitted people don’t suffer much pain, but surprisingly, it’s the committed people who are willing to suffer that end up happier.
  • TED Talk: “The Surprising Science of Happiness” by Dan Gilbert
  • Irish explains how commitment saved his marriage.
  • Father Len embarrassingly explains how watching the Oprah Winfrey show helped him understand why couples who live together before marriage have double the divorce rate of those who don’t.
  • “If you chase two rabbits… You will not catch either one.” – Russian proverb
  • People who are low on commitment are also low on control over their egos.
  • Bible symbolism: the number seven shows up frequently and is code for complete commitment.
  • Happiness and suffering go together.

Ep37 Fear of God



Father Len reveals what fear of God really means and why it’s awesome.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len uses a story about Avalon the lion from the CS Lewis Chronicles of Narnia collection of books to begin to illustrate what fear of God is and isn’t.
  • Fear of the Lord is one of the top seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Father Len explains the difference between terror and Fear of the Lord.
  • Fear of the Lord is actually about awe and respect.
  • Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
  • Father Len shares a fun personal story about swimming with Dolphins to illustrate what awe feels like.
  • “Be not afraid” is a common greeting from Jesus because he does not take pleasure in people fearing him.
  • God is definitely not a tyrant.
  • Father Len exposes what narcissists fear to explain the difference between healthy and unhealthy fear.
  • Father Len reveals how awe and intrigue helped famous scientists and philosophers like Albert Einstein and Socrates discover the existence of God.
  • The book of Deuteronomy connects the Fear of God to the observance of morality.
  • The real experience of God is unnameable because there is no thing in creation that is like God.
  • Mystic Meister Eckhart would often pray, “God cleanse me of God,” which meant cleanse me of false notions of God.