Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Faith: December 2009


GREAT BEND, Kan. - Sometimes something is right in front of your face, and you don't notice it. The Bible repeatedly warns against the sin of "usury" - of charging excessive interest rates. There was a historic consensus among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that charging high interest rates is wrong.

I have sat through hundreds of sermons in my life, and I've never heard this issue mentioned once by a clergyman. The "pelvic" issues seem to be the only issue most pastors want to talk about - abortion, and issues regarding sexuality. The Bible contains thousands of verses that admonish us to help the poor. Yet economic justice simply isn't spoken of much today.

It reminds me of the story of the two monks. One obsessively studied various religious sects, to the point where he would spend hours a day reading and talking about obscure offshoots of mainline religion. His fellow monk got fed up and told him: "Sects, sects, sects, that's all you think about is sects!"

Bah, Humbug!

WICHITA, Kan. - Bah Humbug

I realize, given that the U. S. is involved in two wars, that health care reform is pretty much down the tubes, that the economy has put many people into poverty, and that the Democrats can't find a viable candidate for governor, what one says as a holiday greeting is small potatoes. However, because I live in Wichita and subscribe to the Wichita Eagle, I do read the Opinion Line. According to Opinion Line callers, the War on Christmas has already begun, with people calling for boycotts of stores in which clerks say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." It has occurred to me that this "war" is symptomatic of something larger in the scheme of things in this country. It indicates to me a lack of civility among people who are simply trying to make life easier as they deal with each other in everyday life.

Healing vs. Wounds

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - I have just had spine surgery and am currently in the period of inactivity which recovery requires. In the Oxycodone-induced fog that blankets my days, it's hard to separate one thought from the other. I've been thinking of my good fortune in having had a skillful surgeon; I keep reaching for the phone to call my mother, who died of congestive heart failure over a year ago; and my thoughts return again and again to my dear friend Jan Garton, who committed suicide last month. Healing and hurt seem all mixed up together. As T S Eliot wrote, "These fragments I have shored against my ruins." But fragments are ruins, as well as buttresses. Here are three of mine--but whether they amount to a holding up or a falling down, I do not know:

While I was coming out of anesthesia, I hallucinated that my caregivers were looking down on me through a giant microscope, while I lay at the bottom, in a circle of light. Their gaze seemed a part of the light, which felt both warm and bright, the tangible, visible manifestation of kindness. Their helpfulness seemed to match my helplessness exactly, and I relaxed totally into their care. The revelation of their beneficence seemed a glimpse into the nature of the cosmos itself. I was in good hands! Even now I think back on that vision with exhilaration and a sense of having learned something new and wonderful about reality.

Annual Christmas Essay

HAYS, Kan. - My internal clock tells me that it is time for my almost-annual, semi-curmudgeonly Christmas essay.

There has been the usual tsunami of "Christian-Right" protest items in the newspapers and in e-mail forwardings regarding the secularization of Christmas, the "Happy Holidays" trend (versus "Merry Christmas"), and the like. This wave washes strongly across the High Plains of western Kansas, but I suspect few regions of the U.S. of A. are spared. Perhaps surprisingly, I find myself somewhat in agreement with the "Christian-Right" on this.

It is true that no one has the least idea what day of the year is the true anniversary of the birth of Jesus. The Church designated a day for the celebration, which is reasonable enough, and shrewdly placed it to co-opt the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. One can't blame the Church for being shrewd. If Darwinian principles apply to organizations, there is survival value in shrewdness.

We have more! This page only lists entries in a particular month. We encourage you to look back through our archives in this same category.

The previous archive is Faith: November 2009. The next archive is Faith: January 2010.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Faith: December 2009 section.

The previous archive is Faith: November 2009. The next archive is Faith: January 2010.

The most current posts can always be found on our Front Page.

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