Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Sunlit Streams of Water

Sunlit Streams of Water 

Sunlit Streams of Water is a devotional that celebrates religious naturalism.  This book captures the symbolism of “sunlight,” “streams,” and “water.”  Its themes represent the life, energy, power, and rebirth shown in the sun.  Sunlight appears as the completion of the Creator’s great work.  Streams declare the passage of time, while water is the new birth as it flows into the vast oceans of life.  Much of this symbolism shows a pathway to our hearts.  But water itself represents not only birth, but also fertility, and refreshment.  It symbolizes life itself, and is used for purification and healing, alleviation of suffering, and redemption.  In Christianity it’s the symbol of baptism while the Holy Spirit is often depicted as celestial fire.  But to a religious naturalist nature in all its manifestations – sky, moon, stars, mountains, hills, valleys, trees, flora and fauna are Holy.  Scientific inquiry and the arts are prerequisites on which all reality is best interpreted.

Belief in Religious Naturalism
The author’s beliefs are a testimony to Transcendentalism with a faith in nature. In this treatise nature is paramount in people’s lives. Natural phenomena always played a vital role. Every aspect of nature is important to mankind’s thinking and actions.  Our mind, body, and soul are guided by nature. People shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that nature was separate from them, for they are intricately interrelated with its soul. Nature’s beauty is blended with all natural gifts.  “Nature is All in All,” and embraces every aspect of life.

To embrace the All in All is having an appreciation of the Creator’s manifestations.  The heavenly bodies - the sun, moon, and stars, known and unknown planets traversing the sky are phenomenal.  The trees, plants, oceans, rivers, streams, mountains, hills and valleys speak in their own language while buffeted by the wind.  So are the seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter with their distinct moods.  Sometimes it’s calm, beautiful, and glorious. Occasionally there are hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and forest fires.

But birds, reptiles, fishes, and animals of all sorts inhabit the earth living in the air, land, or sea.  They breed, feed, and exist in an unpredictable reality.  These creatures are provided for by nature.  People breathe fresh air, pick fruits, feast on delicious foods, and drink refreshing water; build cozy houses from trees, light fires to cook meals, and dress warmly in winter months with nature’s bounty.
These manifestations are only a part of the Eternal Essence that’s within, above, below, and around us.  To personalize such an Essence is only a metaphor.  It, S/he is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, immanent, and Transcendent.  No words could adequately describe the sum of this all-encompassing Reality.
@ (Dfurstane) Website

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Lost Art of Scripture

The Lost Art of Scripture 

Karen Armstrong’s The Lost Art of Scripture analyzes scripture from the major religions of the world.  By so doing she discussed the concept of God.  Is God immanent, omniscient, and omnipotent?  Certainly, God is infinite and beyond description.  The human concept of God is quite limited.  Our definition of this Ultimate Presence humankind can’t begin to comprehend.  It’s as though God doesn’t even exist.  People can’t begin to define this Reality.

Another interesting aspect of Armstrong’s work is the recognition that all faith traditions e.g., Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and indigenous religious, all profess the major tenet of the Golden Rule.  People ought to do unto others as they wish to be done to themselves.  These faiths uphold the tradition of how to live compassionately in the world.
Throughout the text Armstrong stresses the tension that exists between a right and left brain dichotomy.  The right brain is myth - poetry, and music.  Ancient scripture was transmitted orally.  It was dramatized, and acted out for groups.  In the past there weren’t books or scriptural sources like the canons that were recorded later.  Eventually scripture was codified, no longer was it only to be committed to memory.  The Quran itself means “recitation.”  When Muhammad received these sutras he was told to recite them.  It was long after his death that these same sutras were recalled, and formed the basis of the Islamic cannon.

As for the right brain there were ramifications that didn’t sit too well.  By the 18th century the emphasis was on rational thinking.  Religious critics began looking at the discoveries in science as a way of interpreting scripture.  Many of the scientific humanists saw scripture as untrue.  Their myths were considered falsehoods.  These critics concluded the stories of the Hebrew bible and the Quran were untrue and ought to be dismissed.  But Armstrong pointed out that myths and science have different roles in our understanding.  These approaches accomplish special goals.  That’s why Armstrong explained that some theologians brought understanding to myths through midrash.  Verses are often strung together to give them meaning.  That’s why it’s necessary when reading scripture theologians and lay readers alike should take a holistic approach to find its meaning.         

Monday, July 20, 2020

One's Own Bias

One’s Own Bias

Imagine our beliefs
They may make sense to us
But they are only our perspectives
They can be personal, culturally based
But still they are impractical

Many of us are carried away by our emotions
We cry, laugh, and cheer
About situations that touch us deeply
But why are we this way?
It’s because we are emotional beings

Many of our tastes are based on our desires
Why do we long for certain things?
These could be a whim, a fancy,
Something that pops up
And just sweeps us off of our feet

Yet such a feeling could be triggered
By a beautiful sunrise in the sky
That touches us deeply
But all of this depends on our taste,
Our mental attitude, and it’s very personal

“God, help us realize that we have personal biases that are subjective.  Let us be aware of these feelings, but enable us to know that they aren’t necessarily true.”
@ (Dfurstane) Website

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Hail to the Sun!

Hail to the Sun!

Sunlight glitters
It’s reflected from water
Shimmering in streams
Making summer surreal

O what a beautiful sun!
That warms our hearts
Making plants grow
And gracing us with its presence

The sun is like a generator
It heats up the atmosphere
Thrilling us with its brilliance
And enlivens our lives

O the sun is a ubiquitous light
That makes us happy in the summer
Even when it’s hot and sticky
Yes, people simply love sunlight
Its beams generate life
Affects our mood
And we can’t hide from it

The sun is good for health reasons
But still people have to be careful
For they could get sunburn
And later develop skin cancer
So be sure to use sun screen
When strolling outside this summer

“Good God, thank you for the blessing of sunlight.  Help us to enjoy its light, and make us cognizant of the precautions we ought to take while basking in this gift.”
@ (Dfurstane) Website

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Bread of Life

The Bread of Life

Jesus gave thanks, consecrated the bread and wine, and presented his body and blood as spiritual nourishment to his apostles, and for the salvation of all (Jn. 6:53-58).  This Eucharist renews the same sacrifice Christ made upon the cross.  The ritual sacrifice under the Old Law was the sign of the covenant between God and his people.  In the New Testament the sacrifice achieves perfection through Christ.  This Eucharist is therefore celebrated as a memorial of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.  At the Mass Christ is sacramentally present.  He offers his sacrifice in the union with the church; for this reason we call the Eucharist the sacrifice of the church.

The Eucharist is a Sacrament

The Eucharist is a sacrament because Christ offers himself to the Father in the Mass just as he did on the cross, but the offering is made through the consecratory action of the priest.

What does the Eucharist do?

1.      Unites the recipient to Christ,
2.      Gives life - “a true food” (Jn. 6:54),
3.      Shares in the life of Christ – eternal life (Jn. 6:58; Mt. 5:23-24; Jn. 3:19-24),
4.      Builds up Christ’s mystical body – the church (1 Cor. 10:16-17; Jn. 17:2021),
5.      And serves as a heavenly banquet (1 Cor. 11:26; Mt. 26:29; Lk. 14:16; 2 Pet. 3:13).

Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary explained that the Eucharist is also known as the Lord’s Supper.  This is a Christian sacrament that honors the actions of Jesus at the last supper.  It is reported in all the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus took bread and blessed it (Mk. 14:22-24).  This partaking of the Eucharist is called Holy Communion.  In Greek eucharistia means “thanksgiving” - the sacrament in which Christ is really present under the appearances of bread and wine.  Other names for the Eucharist are:  Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the table of the Lord, the breaking of the bread, the unbloody sacrifice, our daily bread, the most blessed sacrament, the sacrifice of praise, and agape.  However the Eucharist is a sign of unity, a bond of charity, and a paschal banquet.

@ (Dfurstane) Website

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Embracing Ultimate Reality

Embracing Ultimate Reality

To embrace the All in All
Is having an appreciation
Of Our Creator’s manifestations 
The heavenly bodies - the sun, moon,
And stars, known and unknown planets
Traversing the sky is phenomenal 
The trees, plants, oceans, rivers,
Streams, mountains, hills and valleys
Speak in their own language
While buffeted by the wind 
So are the seasons – spring,
Summer, autumn, and winter
With their distinct moods 
Sometimes it’s calm, serene, and glorious
Occasionally there are hurricanes,
Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and forest fires

But birds, reptiles, fishes, and animals of all sorts
Inhabit the earth in the air, land, and sea 
They breed, feed, and live in this Reality 
And these creatures are provided for by nature 
People breathe fresh air, pick fruits,
Feast on delicious delicacies, drink refreshing water
Build cozy houses with the wood of  trees,
Light fires to cook their meals,
And dress warmly
In the winter months with nature’s bounty.

These manifestations are only a part
Of the Eternal Essence
That’s within, above, below, and around us 
To personalize this Reality is a metaphor. 
S/he’s omniscient, omnipresent,
Omnipotent, immanent, and transcendent 
No words can adequately describe
The sum of this all-encompassing nature

“Ever living Creator, help us to appreciate nature in all its abundance.  Let us persevere in being good stewards of planet earth.”
@ (Dfurstane) Website

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Depths of Truth

The Depths of Truth

Truth is unity that expresses itself
At micro and macro levels 
All things and beings
Are interrelated and interdependent 
This reality is fundamental
To every community, society, and culture 
So people depend on labels - book, pen, car, pig, cow,
Food, drink, ocean, lake, river, mountain, valley, house, etc; 
Dimensions – line, triangle, pyramid, cube, oblong, sphere, etc;
And dualism – true/false, long/short, happy/sad,
 Hot/cold, wet/dry, tall/short, Chinese yin/yang, etc,
 As they journey in this world 
And use their five senses –
Sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch to do so

“Ultimate Reality, help us to understand the depths of truth more fully that we may live authentic lives.”
@ (Dfurstane) Website

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Supreme Light

The Supreme Light

Light is a pure reality. 
It has no distractions,
And is the ultimate in fulfillment 
It symbolizes the Eternal Essence of the Universe,
And refers to the Oneness of God, Allah, Brahma, and Dao 

The teachings of faiths show
Believers ascending towards this Supreme Light 
The sacred texts, saints, gurus, priests, rabbis, and imams
Teach about love to embrace this reality. 
These themes are prominent in the Holy Scriptures, Hebrew Bible,
Talmud, Old and New Testaments, Koran,
Vedas, Upanishads, and other canonical books 

But these scriptures all refer to the Supreme Light
In uniquely different ways 
The monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islamic beliefs
Teach how believers could achieve eternal life in Heaven. 
Eastern faith traditions explain the role of karma –
What believers sow they will reap in the afterlife 
Their reality comes in the form of various stages of rebirth
In achieving the Oneness of Hinduism’s Brahma,
Or nirvana in Buddhism

“Ultimate Reality, help us to be guided by this all-encompassing light.  Let your light enlighten our hearts and minds.”
@ (Dfurstane) Website     


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Live with Compassion

Live with Compassion

People must love in humility.  By so doing they will find personal freedom, comforting joy, while caring for others on their spiritual journey.  These are qualitative moments because they will be embracing their true life’s calling.  With pureness of living they will be like missionaries in a flourishing garden.  Henri-Frédéric Amiel (18211881), a Swiss moral philosopher and critic said, “There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self.”  This could be achieved by having an open mind about love.  However it’s wise to live under God’s protection while engaging with others in the community.

James A. Baldwin (19241987), a novelist, essayist, and playwright wrote, “The question which one asks oneself begins, at least, to illuminate the world, and becomes one’s key to the experience to others.”  With this self-introspection people have to be free from guilt by having inner freedom.  Christians experience the joys of evangelizing and touching lives.  It’s the Holy Spirit within us as we express our God-given gifts to people.  This message is found in the abiding truths of his Word.  It bears witness to believers’ affairs as they live.

A Quiet Joy

To be faith-filled means experiencing a quiet joy.  Most Christians are happy people who show their happiness to those they meet.  They sing praises, shine forth their light, and are excited about life.  By being touched by the supernatural hand of God they have lives of abundance.  These blessings come by prayer and perseverance in their daily lives.  Albert Einstein (18791955), a German-born theoretical physicist wrote, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”  A Christian’s belief is in faith. He or she puts their thoughts in actions and works.  Aesop (620 BC564 BC), an ancient Greek fabulist said,” “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” Christian believers live by giving thanks, and praise to God for his blessings.

St. Teresa (19101997), a Roman Catholic religious missionary said, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”  St. Teresa and the Sisters of Charity found great joy by working with the poor.  Their mission continues to be a witness to the poor people of everyday life.  They knew human frailties and are willing to do their best to relieve suffering.  Sisters of Charity brought dignity to forgotten people, and their main focus wasn’t only the downtrodden, but exploited people.  To these sisters money and power are false idols, and their answer was to live simply.  The distribution of material wealth to the least among them mattered.  This was what they taught about compassionate living.  By performing such deeds Christians are contemplative.  Max Lucado (b. 1955), a bestselling Christian author and preacher said, “The meaning of life.  The wasted years of life.  God answers the mess of life with one word: ‘grace.’”  In the end it isn’t the dirt and squalor, deprivation, or laws, but God’s ‘grace’ that means everything.

@ (Dfurstane) Website              

Friday, July 3, 2020

Independence Day (U.S.A)

Independence Day (U.S.A)

It’s July 4th
Let’s celebrate this special day
For it’s the day of America’s Independence
So let us be mindful
To thank God for these blessings

Sadly our beloved nation
Is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
There’s civil unrest
As Black Lives Matter takes to the streets
Protests have arisen over Confederate monuments
But with all these problems
Let Americans reach out compassionately
To heal these afflictions in our land

America’s Independence was first proposed
By Richard Henry Lee of Virginia
That led to the declaration of Independence from Great Britain
From that time on there were celebrations
But now with social problems in our land
People are wearing masks, practicing social distancing
And there will be limited fireworks, and gun-salutes
To commemorate this special day
But the spirit of the nation lives on

“God, continue to guide America.  Let’s glorify her achievements.  And let the nation’s universal goals embrace freedom for all – young, old, male, female, black, white, religious, and non-religious with equanimity for all people including LGBTQ+.  Regardless, let American creed, color, national origin, and beliefs help us to be beacons of hope in the world.”
@ (Dfurstane) Website   

Thursday, July 2, 2020


The letters - LGBTQIA
Means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual or Allied
But why fuss over who they are?
In all ways they are unique
They come in the same colors –
Black, white, brown, yellow, and red
In races in every country
They live in our communities –
Towns, cities, villages, or the suburbs
Dwelling in homes, apartments, igloos, or huts
LGBTQIA enjoy similar foods –
German, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, African, or Native American
And worship in Churches, Mosques, Temples, or Synagogues
But their beliefs differ based on who they are
Still they are just as devout and patriotic
Like those who are themselves straight
So let’s stop looking only at differences
And honor our similarities
Let’s reach out with love and compassion
To those who some people tend to demonize
For LGBTQIA are born this way
And although different they have similar beliefs
God in all his wisdom
Have made them the way they are
“Divine Protector, let’s celebrate our diversity by giving thanks for your creation. Help us to live in peace with all men and women in the world.”
@ (Dfurstane) Website