Tell Me What You Want

The First Sunday of Lent

This week we encounter Jesus while he is tempted by the devil in the wilderness. I imagine most readers have their own picture of what Jesus looked like, and it’s a safe bet most of us envision a human male. Likewise, most readers will have at least a rough idea of what the wilderness in Palestine/Israel looks like – perhaps fueled by Hollywood Bible epics. But how do we picture the devil in this story? Is Jesus arguing with a man with horns and a tail and dressed in a red suit? Was Jesus talking to a six-inch figure who stood on his shoulder and smoked a cigar like George Burns?


Last Sunday I wrote about God’s response in the book of Job, a book at its core about human suffering. Yet In a week full of suffering locally (the Berkeley balcony collapse) and nationally (the white supremacist terrorist attack in Charleston), my own response to scripture followed an intellectual interest instead of addressing real suffering in the world. As a follow-up post this week I choose to sit with and consider the suffering caused by the atrocity in Charleston.

The Ascension (There He Goes Again…)

It is evening and it is dark. Zen Master Man Gong sits in his room. His attendant appears, perhaps with a blanket or some cool water for the revered teacher. In this routine moment Man Gong poses a sharp dharma question to his attendant – “which is the true light, the candle or its reflection?” The student responds by blowing out the candle, returning the challenge to his teacher.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

In this week’s epistle John gives us beautiful and inspirational language about the nature of God and the place of Jesus Christ in God’s plan for the world. To me the language is at once inspiring and uplifting, but also vague and bereft of specifics. It paints a wonderful of the cosmic order, but feels removed from the life and teachings of Jesus. How is it specifically that God’s love should transform our lives?

Third Sunday of Easter

This week we encounter Jesus and Bodhidharma, two central characters in Christianity and Zen, coming back to life. Jesus died and came to life again on the third day; Bodhidharma died and was seen alive three years later wearing only one shoe.