Travel Advisory


December 10, 2017

The older we get, the more we realize that we are travelers. In our life journeys we move not just from day to day, but from place to place, and from event to event. There are grand discoveries, routine daily chores, great joys and great disappointments. Throughout the whole journey, as we hear so often these days, God travels with us.

Soon, we will again commemorate the biblical journey of Jesus’ parents to Bethlehem. Young people on the road. Their journey leading to the great revelation that would change the course of human history. Matthew’s infancy narrative also describes Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as refugees, fleeing into Egypt to escape the villainy of Herod the Great. Self-centered Herod launched colossal building projects. He ordered great buildings and walls and promised to make Judea Great. Focusing on Jerusalem, he expanded the Second Temple (“Herod’s Temple”) and even slaughtered children to eliminate any possible opposition. Every age has a Herod, determined to make things great, branding “accomplishments” with his own name.

And so for today, the Second Sunday of Advent, my travel advisory for contemporary Christians:

(1) Traveling with “them.” The fundamental reality for most travelers is that we travel with other people. It is easy then to make comparisons and to make judgments. Other travelers can make us feel uncomfortable and occasionally frightened. They do it to us; but we do it to them as well. In truth, however, we may dress strangely and speak in funny ways; but we all have human dignity, equality, and self-worth. We are not just “us” and “them.” We are brothers and sisters. If we travel with the Spirit of Christ, differences in gender, race, and nationality can never allow us to denigrate and condemn the other. Contrary to an old Catholic teaching about gays, for example, no one is innately disordered. God loves all. So should we. We need to welcome and accommodate them.

(2) Travel brings change. Life is not static. Change happens. We either make the best of things and move forward or we regress and die. Nostalgia can be fun for a short time, but do we really want to live in the past? An acquaintance, who is a US Catholic cardinal, told me some time ago how wonderful the 1950’s were and how much he misses those days. I chuckled and said he had a very selective memory. I said I remember the “good old days” as well. I remember having scarlet fever. I remember the petrifying fear of polio and learning that a couple kids in my school were in “iron lungs.” And I remember public drinking fountains marked “for whites only.”

We change and our understandings can and should change. Women are not inferior to men. Protestants do not adhere to a “false religion.” Some of our religious understandings and practices (perhaps) made sense in the Middle Ages but certainly are nonsensical today.

St. Francis Xavier was never in an airplane. He died on December 3, 1552. I read last week that a Catholic group in an effort to “revive the faith” is flying Xavier’s arm to various locations across Canada. The arm even gets a reserved seat on Air Canada. I think they should put the old bone in a box and leave it in baggage claim…..A far better way to revive people’s faith would be for Christians across Canada (and everywhere) to put their living arms around contemporary people who are fearful, depressed, or impoverished. More Christ-like than a fragile old bone.

(3) News travels fast. Yes, news travels fast. Yet not all the news is fit to print. A lot if it these days is phony and dishonest, especially when linked with regressive politics. This morning I read on Facebook that a blog called “Freedom Crossroads — America Love It Or Leave It” announced, with disdain, that former President Barack Obama’s oldest daughter was fired from an internship in Spain this summer. According to Freedom Crossroads, Malia had a “cushy internship” at the Spanish Embassy; but she was fired when she got caught smoking pot.

Another contemporary alternative fact. The truth is: Malia didn’t have an internship at a Spanish embassy this summer. She had an internship in New York City, before attending Harvard. When her internship finished very normally, she went on vacation with her family. No pot involved. Just a lot of nasty falsehood.

As we travel through time and cyberspace, we have an obligation to check facts, and to speak out about and protest those often self-righteous “Christians” who propagate falsehoods and plant seeds of destructive discord.

(4) Traveling with fear. Fear is a part of life. In our human journeys, I suspect most of us have had fearful days that threatened to destabilize or even destroy us. And, in our politically unstable times, new fears are on the horizon. We need to acknowledge our fears but continue the journey and face life with courage. We are not alone. As believers we know that, despite paralyzing problems, we are loved. Love energizes and strengthens. Over the years I have often thought about the thirty years old man from Nazareth, stumbling towards his death, with a cross-beam on his back. Freightened beyond belief…His courage, suffering, and death gives me the courage to continue my journey on difficult days. “Greater love no one has than to lay down one’s life for a friend….”

(5) On a God pilgrimage. We are traveling with God and to God. The most exciting part of our journey. There are of course threatening temptations along the way. The first is to think that God is only for US and only with US. God travels indeed with all kinds of believers and nonbelievers. God is at the heart of all life and all Reality. No group owns God. The second temptation, however, is to act as though we can indeed control God and, like some fundamentalist fanatics found in all religious, use God to condemn and destroy the people we just don’t like and want to condemn and destroy. The temptation to make God in one’s image and likeness.

Safe travels!

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Between now and Christmas, I am asking my readers to consider a donation to keep Another Voice on the Internet. Another Voice is a free service.

Nevertheless, the old fellow who writes and keeps it going has computer upgrades and maintenance expenses, and website and monthly Internet provider costs.

If you would like to contribute, kindly send a US dollar check, made out to John Dick, and send to: Dr. J.A. Dick, Geldenaaksebaan 85A, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium.

If you would like to contribute in euros, through international bank transfer, here is the information you need: BNP Paribas Fortis Bank NV, Warandeberg 3, 1000 Brussels

Account name: John Dick Account number: 230-0392360-15

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For my part, I promise to keep thinking, researching, and writing.

Thank you for helping me to keep Another Voice speaking!

Advent I: PERSPECTIVE


1 December 2017

My reflection for the first Sunday of Advent is about PERSPECTIVE. Who we are, what we do, and who we become are so dependent on how we view and evaluate Reality.

Advent is traditionally about awaiting, and celebrating, the arrival of Jesus. In another perspective it is about what we believe and how we behave as followers of Jesus.

Yes. As we get into the “Holiday Season,” I am all for putting Christ back into Christmas. More importantly — when the message and spirit of Christ are absent in so much highly publicized contemporary “Christian” rhetoric and behavior — I would like to help put Christ back into Christianity. Too many religiously and politically influential people these days are re-writing the Gospel in their own image and likeness. When, for example, people like Franklin Graham and James Dobson proclaim that the current President of the United States was ordained by God. That is a very different perspective and terribly dysfunctional and deceptive.

And so this week end a poetic reflection on perspective.

The British poet, Brian Bilston, is a master at perspective.

Do we look at reality from top to bottom?

Or do we start at the bottom and go up?

Read his poem “Refugees” and please read to the end.

REFUGEES

They have no need of our help

So do not tell me

These haggard faces could belong to you or me

Should life have dealt a different hand

We need to see them for who they really are

Chancers and scroungers

Layabouts and loungers

With bombs up their sleeves

Cut-throats and thieves

They are not

Welcome here

We should make them

Go back to where they came from

They cannot

Share our food

Share our homes

Share our countries

Instead let us

Build a wall to keep them out

It is not okay to say

These are people just like us

A place should only belong to those who are born there

Do not be so stupid to think that

The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)

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Perhaps we can use Advent 2017 to check our own perspectives and our attitudes based on them……

Jack

Throughout the month of December, I am asking my readers to consider a donation to keep Another Voice on the Internet. Another Voice is a free service. Nevertheless, the old fellow who writes and keeps it going has computer upgrades and maintenance expenses, and website and monthly Internet provider costs.

If you would like to contribute, kindly send a US dollar check, made out to John Dick, and send to: Dr. J.A. Dick, Geldenaaksebaan 85A, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium.

If you would like to contribute in euros, through international bank transfer, here is the information you need: BNP Paribas Fortis Bank NV, Warandeberg 3, 1000 Brussels

Account name: John Dick Account number: 230-0392360-15

SWIFT CODE (BIC): GEBABEBB

IBAN: BE83 2300 3923 6015

For my part, I promise to keep thinking, researching, and writing.

Thank you for helping me to keep Another Voice speaking!