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About that time, John the Baptist first appeared, proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea: 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 This is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, when he says: 'The voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness: Make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'“ 4 John wore clothing made...

Calling his twelve disciples to him, Jesus gave them authority over foul spirits, so that they could drive them out, as well as the power of curing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: First Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebediah, and his brother...

About the same time, Jesus walked through the corn-fields one Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and began to pick some ears of wheat and eat them. 2 But, when the Pharisees saw this, they said: “Look! your disciples are doing what it is not allowable to do on a Sabbath!” 3 “Have not you read,” replied Jesus, “what David did, when he and...

Oh, Captain, My Captain! The film The Dead Poet's Society inspired a generation of young creatives with its refrain of "Carpe Diem" (seize the day). Robin Williams (aka Professor John Keating) urged his students to make your lives extraordinary while standing memorably before a school photograph of alumni who had long become "worm's meat". Yet most of us live decidedly unextraordinary lives, while licking...

Thanks to Bill Moyer's excellent 1988 documentary of Joseph Campbell, called The Power of Myth (likely available at your local library), the scholar Campbell became a myth-guru famous for his dictum that we should "follow our bliss": If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life...

Back in the late 1980s, the comedian (now U.S. Senator) Al Franken created the memorable character of Stuart Smalley, a mock self-help guru with a show called Daily Affirmations. Franken lampooned the self-help craze and affirmation trend of the '80s and early '90s with such classic lines as "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." The problem that...

The late M. Scott Peck begins his wildly successful bestseller The Road Less Traveled with the following pronouncement: Life is difficult. This is the great truth, one of the greatest truths---it is a great truth because once we see this truth, we transcend it. Peck's train of thought finds its lineage in the Buddha's 4 Noble Truths, the first of which is: all...

In Albert Camus' novel The Plague, there is a curious character named Tarrou who organizes the volunteer sanitary teams in the city of Oran, a town afflicted by the bubonic plague. He also assists the lead doctor in his rounds helping patients. Tarrou does this for no other reason he says than his code of morals, which he defines as "common decency". A little...

William James once remarked that while scientists often possess no religious creed, their temper is devout. In other words, most scientists are deeply awed by the majesty of the universe. Thus they approach their work in a way that is earnest, patient, and humble before the face of the world's grand complexity---regardless of whether or not they possess a religious faith. These days...

In the world of Progressive Christianity and the SBNR (in its various forms), there seems to be a growing belief that we are on the cusp of a new age of spiritual enlightenment. This has engendered an enthusiasm much like in the 1960s, when the "spiritual but not religious" of that time thought they were ushering in the Age of Aquarius---a time when...

 After talking about the Buddhist statue controversy at St. Mary's South Brisbane, we were reminded of just how many similar teachings and attitudes exist between Jesus and Buddha. One of the most prominent behaviors which these two prophets share is that neither one wrote anything down. By today's standards (where everyone seems to be writing about every triviality under the sun, and then...

There is one thing that many scientists and orthodox Christians share: that is, a dislike of contradictions. That an electron can appear as either a particle or a wave is as disturbing to the scientist, as the mystical phrase You are God and not God is to the evangelical Baptist. Literal Bible readers take extraordinary flights of fancy to erase the many contradictions of...

After professional provocateur Christopher Hitchens published God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything he became the patron saint of 21st century atheism. But was Hitchens really an atheist? Here at LivingHour.org we always suspected no; that Hitchen's diatribes were directed toward simply the literal sects of religion and those who anthropomorphize God as an old man in the clouds, living in a...

In China, there is the legend of the three laughing monks. They are also today sometimes referred to as the three laughing saints (but of course in a very SBNR way). The monks only ever did one thing: on entering a new village, they would stand in the market place and start laughing. They would laugh with their whole being (mind, body, heart,...

The Dalai Lama of Tibet is said to have an extraordinary laugh, one that rises frequently and joyfully from deep within his body. This is something we don't attribute to Jesus much: laughter. We get so caught up with Jesus's end game and the "man of sorrows" image that we lose sight of how much fun he must have been to be around. After...