World WReligion Wednesday: Dhammakaya Buddhist Temple Has Room For 1 Million

One of my favorite quotes about faith is, “All truth is God’s truth.” Saint Augustine said it. It gives joy to discovering the realities of some truth in various religions. For example, the focus on inner peace in Buddhism is a real asset. I don’t agree with Buddhism as a whole, but I cherish the appreciation for peace. There is something to be learned there. Anyhow, Buddhism now has a temple with room for a million people! Check it out!

Dhammakaya Temple by Constantinos Catsoulis on 500px

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Middle East Monday: How powerful is YOUR passport?

I lived in Israel and the Palestinian Territories for three years: 2006-2009. I knew there was a global inequity regarding the utility of certain passports. I knew mine was more of a door-opener than many. This reality was made painfully obvious by the restrictions placed upon the Palestinians I lived amongst. Most of them were unable to LEAVE the Palestinian Territories at all. They couldn’t go into Israel proper, they couldn’t get visas to other nations, and this greatly influenced their worldview, their concept of identity, and their sense of injustice.

Likewise, when I was in Baghdad in 2011, I talked with a number of people with a similar problem. However, for many of them, it was a matter of emigration. They wanted to leave Baghdad and they could not get a visa etc to do so. Thus, they were stuck in a war zone. That is absolutely awful. Can you imagine the sense of powerlessness, desperation, and hopelessness one might feel? Daily, friends and family are dying from acts of war and terrorism. You worry about your family, your kids’ safety, and your family’s income in the state of national instability. Not only that, you are exhausted from the daily journey of normal activities which could find you unwittingly at a bomb site, harmed or even dead. That is a very rough life.

Ironically, the following infographic doesn’t represent the Palestinian Territories! That is a further indicator of the lack of awareness about the issues therein.

So, wherever you are from, be thankful for the mobility you have – even if it is limited. Moreover, open your mind to have more compassion and understanding for those who are without some of the simple options you take for granted.

ALSO, what are you going to do with YOUR passport? It’s a key, you know. A key to new places, new spaces, new faces. It’s a courier train, taking your ideas from your norm to someone else’s norm. It’s a library that flies. It’s a thing of wonder, possibility, and beauty.

It’s a pass to other ports. Enjoy it. 🙂

 

A Song for a Baby Now in Heaven

I’ve had many friends experience miscarriages, two experience the death of their three year old to a disease, and then there’s the following story from a woman I don’t know directly, but is a friend of friends. All of these stories have the ability to yank that fetus–like soft spot in your soul and twist it until you feel squished by grief. The death of a child often rips at one’s emotions in a particularly unjust way. It’s the innocence kids display. It’s the hope they carry, the newness, the dreams of generations so freshly in motion. It’s their seeming inability to do much to protect themselves. Babies, with all their wide-eyed wonder, are profound and precious.

Yet, even on the borders of such grief and pain, it is possible to hold hands with True Hope. God is here. He is real, living, and caring. He offers to meet us in our deepest wounds and show us the truth – especially regarding how much He truly loves us, loves babies, and that such horror is not His desire for us. On the contrary, there is a real enemy named “Satan” who roots much of his identity in stealing, killing, and destroying. God, in His radical power, still loves and still comforts, even when things do not go by our hopes or His.

If you have lost a child, I am so sorry. If you are in any form of grief, I send you a hug. You are not alone. May God speak a fresh message to you today as you listen to this song:

My little giant in the heavenlies

 

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Middle East Monday: Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube

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Me, Andrew, and Lina in Baghdad in 2011

 

Andrew White is a dear friend of mine. He is the person who invited me to go to Baghdad with him in 2011, and we went! We share a deep love for Iraq, the Middle East, hope for the nations, peacemaking, absurdity, and revolutionary risk-taking (otherwise known as “faith”).

If you would like to see him speak in person, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

 

Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube.

Growing

Growing

It’s day two of Advent. Today, I’m thinking about growing. Jesus brought us light years forward in our potential maturity of perspective by simply being born. We get to discover the reality of those truths together.

Moreover, as Elizabeth was to Mary, we get to be a place of solace, vulnerability, and support for our friends as they prepare to birth their dreams (and God’s dreams too). This is beautiful.