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."

2020/04/30

Touching a leper

Statue at the St. Joseph Church on Moloka'i
In the time of rampant Anti-Catholicism among British as well as American Protestants a faithful son of the Scottish Reformation defended publicly a Roman Catholic priest against the slander by the Congregationalist clergyman.
            It happened in 1890. The defender was the author Robert Louise Stevenson. The Roman Catholic Priest was father Damien of Molokai who recently died and the slanderer was Rev. Charles McEwen Hyde, an elite clergy among Congregationalists who was educated at Union as well as Princeton Seminaries.
            In the center was Father Damien’s selfless work in the leper colony on the island of Moloka‘i. When father Damien came to Moloka‘i the afflicted people were more or less dumped in the secluded Kalaupapa peninsula and left there to die. Damien was deeply moved by the plight of those in the quarantine. He gave himself to them, lifted their spirit, organized the community and made sure that the outside word would not forget about people quarantined there.  While caring for those most vulnerable and shunned by the rest of society he himself was infected with the Hansen’s Disease and eventually died of it.
            Damien was accused by Protestants for being self-appointed, headstrong, reckless and dirty (not hygienic enough) friend of the lepers. R.L. Stevenson defended Damien’s intention, his good heart, his selflessness, his faithfulness to God while his squeamish accuser would not set even a foot in the colony. Writing to Damien’s accuser Stevenson also predicted “if (in future the) world at all remember you, on the day when Father Damien of Molokai shall be named Saint, it will be in virtue of one work: your (slanderous) letter.” That is exactly what happened in 2009 when Father Damien was canonized. 
            This Sunday we will see that Damien had a direct and heavenly model in his endeavor of returning dignity to the sick. This Sunday we will rejoice in Jesus who broke quarantine rules and yet also kept them. But he above all transformed and humanized quarantine rules. Join us in worship of Jesus in quarantine.

And here is the open letter by Robert Louise Stevenson.
St.Joseph church built by Father Damien in Moloka'i his statue is standing next to it.
   

2020/04/23

What Would Jesus Do with his blood?

I have been a minister in America for almost twenty years and I have studied theology and religion for twice as long. But there are still moments of utter bewilderment over some aspects of American religiosity.
           A lady was captured on camera leaving an evangelical megachurch in the middle of a pandemic. She was clearly flouting quarantine rules. When she was challenged by a reporter about the dangers of infection she asserted emphatically and repetitively that nothing could possibly happen to her, because she was “covered in the blood of Jesus”.
         It gave me a pause. What a unique religious statement! It likely came from some feverish evangelical hymn. Still, what a strange and violent religious image! Some Voodoo (or Santeria) blood rituals come to mind but there is hardly enough blood for sprinkling. The closest religious parallel to being covered in blood could be taurobolium. That was an ancient practice in which initiates were showered with the warm blood of a bull which was sacrificed right above them. This ritual was also supposed to give participants astonishing supranatural powers or protection.
        I know that that lady was not covered by any visible physical blood. She meant it metaphorically and she almost certainly never heard about the ancient rituals. But parallels are uncanny.

Join us this Sunday in worship. We will ask: What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do with his blood in the midst of Pandemic? Join us in worship to reject selfish magical potions, join us to rejoice in true self-giving love.

2020/04/15

Hortulanus redivivus (Gardener revived)

Imagine the resurrected Jesus coming to you with a spade or a hoe! That is exactly the image you can find in many medieval paintings, book illuminations and on stain glass windows.
            It goes back to one ephemeral side sentence from the Gospel of John when Mary Magdalene did not recognize the resurrected Jesus and it explains “Supposing him to be the gardener.”
            But it is more than just explaining her mistake, her temporal blindness. It is a beautiful example of early Christian typological exegesis tying together the resurrected Jesus with the story of the Garden of Eden.
            But to me it has an even deeper function. This one sentence connects the Easter message with the beautiful, deep and meaningful ancient mythological tradition of humankind as a caring and gentle gardeners of our beautiful planet.
          This story of hortulanus redivivus will help us celebrate, the second Sunday of Easter, and at the same time Earth Day.

          Let us join our resurrected Lord and recommit ourselves to  cultivating and growing hope in the garden of this beautiful world.
Here is a link for our virtual worship on livestream:
https://livestream.com/rutgerschurchnyc/events/8967087

2020/04/02

Hosanna in 2020

Each Palm Sunday we gather on Broadway in front of our commercial building and then we process to our Sanctuary waving palm branches and shouting Hosanna.
            This year I could not find any palms, but I’ve got these lovely tulips at our local bodega (They still carry flowers even now, bless them!). In the midst of this COVID pandemic we need to stay at home. And thus we cannot gather and shout our Hosanna on Broadway and along the 73rd Street. But we have an even stronger reason to shout our Hosannas in our virtual, electronic worship. Because Hosanna in the original Hebrew is not a sound of rejoicing (as often wrongly perceived). It was, and still is, a desperate pleading for help.
            HOŠIAH (הוֹשִׁ֘יעָ֥ה) - is an intensive causative DO SAVE! DO HELP (US) and NA (נָּ֑א) is an enclitic particle indicating intensity or desperation FINALLY, AFTER ALL, (WE) BESIEGE YOU!
              Hosanna is thus a deeply felt request Do help (us), (we) beg (you)!
            And Jesus did exactly that. He came to Jerusalem to help and save and he started with cleansing the Temple: cleaning religion. And that is what we will do this coming Sunday. We will pray HOSANNA - DO SAVE US, WE BE BEG YOU! And we will let Jesus clean our religion, starting at the center of our faith - our understanding of what Resurrection meant and can mean today. 
Join us in worship this Sunday at our livestream: https://livestream.com/rutgerschurchnyc