About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Bridge of Hope

This iconic ancient bridge is called Stari Most (in translation - Old Bridge) and it gave a name to the city which grew around it. The city is called Mostar - Bridgetown in English. The bridge was built by an Ottoman (Turkish) architect in the XVI century. Its 70 feet tall single arch spans the gorge of the river Neretva in Herzegovina. Years ago, as a teenager, I walked across this bridge when my family visited what was then Yugoslavia for lovely Adriatic holidays. I still vividly remember Mostar and its bridge; I was in Europe, but the smells, the sounds, the sights offered me the magic of the Orient.
    Unfortunately here I must correct myself. I crossed that bridge, but it was not the bridge which you see on this picture. Just few years after our visit, xenophobic, islamophobic madness broke up in Yugoslavia. Weak, opportunistic, vile politicians woke narrowminded nationalism, utilized some old pseudo-Christian prejudices against Islam and instigated a civil war accompanied with horrific genocide. One of the side casualties of this war was also this historic architectural marvel. It was shelled and fell down to the river.
    Thankfully, that was not the end of the story. People around the world learned about some of the worst atrocities, diplomats got involved, NATO finally intervened and stopped the ugly fratricide. Instigators were ousted, captured, jailed, prosecuted and sentenced at the international criminal court. Eventually international organizations such as World Bank, European Union, Aga Khan Trust (Muslim Cultural Organization), UNESCO (United Nations’ Education and Culture Arm) together rebuilt the bridge as a powerful symbol of inclusivity and hope. We all must stand against rude and brute politicians who want to divide people, nations, religions, races .... Come this Sunday to celebrate the promise and hope of bridge building.


Magic and Moral Code

Forget voodoo dolls if you wish - the proper Biblical and Ancient Near East curses were written on bowls and then ceremoniously smashed. That might be the reason we have in the Bible so many allusions to the wicked being broken, smashed or crashed into pieces. Blessings on the other hand were bestowed with the laying of hands and more important blessings were sealed with ceremonial feasts.
    In the formal religious setting, blessings and curses were collected into lists and became one of the sources of the religious moral code. The Hebrew Bible contains substantial lists of curses and blessings for instance in Deuteronomy 27-28. Jesus (or an early church) also composed such lists of blessings and curses. They are called Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew 5 and Blessings and Woes in the Gospel of Luke 6. They tell us what is under Jesus’ blessing and what is being cursed.
    If we extrapolate Jesus’ blessings and curses into our current idioms it could be quite a surprising reading! Blessed are the poor and those who advocate for them, the downtrodden and those who help them, those who are passionate about social justice, those who strive for civil rights and those who do not act with violence. Cursed, on the other hand, are the selfish plutocrats, the gluttons of power, the vainglorious “celebrities” and the arrogant bullies.
    Don’t Jesus’ blessings and curses outline a quite clear and coherent divine moral code? What would you prefer: to be cursed or blessed by Jesus? Smashed to pieces by God or entertained at God’s table? 


Prudent Simplicity

Be cautious like a snake and innocent as a dove, my father quoted to me Matthew 10:16b as I went into the ministry, shortly before I departed for seminary. Soon, I gained my share of the first-hand experiences with the totalitarian secret police and their techniques of interrogation, threats and blackmail.
    This biblical verse came to me quite naturally when I was preparing our November 9th post-election vigil. And I thought of it again while planning the service of ordination and installation of the church officers this Sunday. Those trustees, elders and deacons will lead us in uncertain, turbulent and probably quite dark times.
    I researched the biblical passage in the original Greek; I also looked it up in different translations. I referenced several commentaries and checked the linguistic and theological dictionaries. I also came across a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. exactly on the same passage. It was titled "A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart". Thus I discovered a different MLK than I had known before from media and from school. This was not a courageous justice fighter and rousing public orator but rather a caring pastor thoughtfully equipping the faithful of his church in the ongoing struggles for justice.
    I cannot slavishly repeat that sermon this Sunday; it would not be true to the spirit of MLK. In the almost 60 years since it was delivered, the world has changed (the struggle for justice is not over, but it has shifted) and our biblical and theological understanding has also changed (deepened). But that sermon remains a powerful inspiration and encouragement pointing us in the right direction, to the roots of our faith. There, in the Bible and in our faith in God, is the reliable source of courage and strength to resist prejudice and hatred and for the fearless struggle for justice.


Epiphany Gifts

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh - these are three well known gifts of Epiphany which the Magi presented to baby Jesus. But the Epiphany story itself brings gifts also to its audience, its listeners or readers; three spiritual gifts, as if they were intended for us today!
    Magi are misty figures, their story is clearly legendary but it is also radical, if not outright revolutionary. The magi emphatically came from a foreign land. We are not told precisely where they hailed from, but we know enough to surmise their origins as being somewhere in today’s Iran. Further, their very titles Magi (singular Magus) hint they were high ranking officials of Zoroastrian religion. And finally we are told that they observed and fallowed star/s.
    Our cultural and especially political climate these days might be dimmed with ignorance, xenophobia, denial of reason/science and with suspicion if not outright hatred towards non Judeo-Christian religions. And here, in one biblical story, we are presented with this powerful refutation of all this alt-right nonsense.
    At the beginning of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew, we hear about these strange and mysterious foreigners from Iran and with them we recognize the biblical nod towards their foreign religion, and the appreciation of their insight which we would now call the science of astronomy. This story sets the stage for the rest of the Gospel of Matthew and presents us with true Epiphany Gifts - appreciation of strangers, respect to other religions, and embrace of science.
     Come to celebrate with us these divine gifts of Epiphany.