The Hunt

We call the hunt for God religion. In reality, however, it is God who is hunting for us.

God and his posse comitatus have sallied forth from the Kingdom of Heaven and into the Valley of Tears in hot pursuit of each of us . The rescue mission is afoot. Help is on its way. It has been afoot since Adam and Eve, like foolish children, ran away from their home with God in the Garden of Eden and took us with them into the Valley of Tears.

Thank you, Lord, for coming to help us out of our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears.

The Holy Spirit is tugging at our souls. The curious are following the tug back to its source. Along the way back to the source of the tug, the curious are exploring the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. Are you curious?

 

What is the greatest threat to our salvation? How did God Neutralize it?

In order to apply a solution, it is first necessary to identify the problem. To answer a question, it is first necessary to hear the question. To apply a treatment, it is first necessary to diagnose the pathology. What is the problem that Chrisitanity is trying to solve? What is the solution that Christianity offers to solve the problem? Hint: It has something to do with the passage of the new Exodus through the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of Death, the worst and the last of our crosses and into the kingdom of God, the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey .

The #1 problem in the world today is that our understanding of God is superficial. We are lightweights in our understanding of God. God is a stranger to us and nobody follows a stranger . What are you doing to transform lightweights into heavyweights? What are you doing to transform a stranger into a friend - us into lovers of God?

Our misunderstanding of God is the Greatest Threat to our Salvation

What is the greatest threat to our salvation? Our misunderstanding of God is the greatest threat to our salvation. The serpent is exploiting a flaw in our understanding of our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears to generate virulent anti-God propaganda. In this way, he muddles our understanding of God.

What exactly makes our predicament in the Valley of Tears dire?

Our perception of what makes our predicament in the Valley of Tears dire

Many and merciless are the crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears. Their sharp teeth chew us up into bits and pieces. Mastication, in our view, is the problem. We want God to eradicate our crosses or to extricate us from the Valley of Tears. We want God to rescue us now - immediately. We brook no delay.

God's perception of what makes our predicament in the Valley of Tears dire

The problem in the view of God is not our circumstances but our empty hearts - hearts empty of love. God is not interested in making godlessness into a better, more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God. The difference between godless people and People of God is in the content of their hearts. We are living our lives in the Valley of Tears on the level of the most hideous and miserable of loveless beast. God wants us to jump up - to ascend - to his level. "Fill us at daybreak with your mercy, that all our days we may sing for joy." . God wants us to fill our empty hearts with love . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . God endowed us with the capacity to love. In this way, God made us in his own image and likeness . The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. As the fidelity of our resemblance to God grows, we become children of God. Love deifies us. "What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God."  (St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1756). Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid ? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? Doesn't God have our backs? His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their house. His love for us is the lifeline that God throws to us who are tossed overboard in the stormy sea after our ship is sunk. Grab hold. Hold tight. Never release your grip. This is the good news of great joy.

How the Serpent Exploits our Misdiagnosis of our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears to Broadcast virulent anti-God propaganda

The many and merciless crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears have tongues as well as teeth. Their tongues are as sharp as their teeth. The sharp tongues of our crosses taunt us, saying "Despair! Abandon hope! You are alone and forsaken. Nobody is coming to rescue you. Where is your Savior now ?" While we are nailed alive to our crosses as a live worm is impaled on a sharp hook and no Savior is in sight, it is a struggle to believe that God exists and that he loves us. "Isn't it foolish to place our trust in a Savior who doesn't save - a Redeemer who doesn't redeem - a false God who does not rescue us." It is akin to a warrior trusting in a weapon that does not work in the exigencies of war.

The serpent is subtle indeed . The serpent is making this argument to us. A loving God would rescue us immediately from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. He would either eliminate our crosses or extricate us from the Valley of Tears and return us to paradise immediately. He would not insert a delay between the the gift of life and the gift of paradise. Delivery of the two gifts would be simultaneous not sequential and would not be interrupted by a delay during which we stew for a lifetime in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of brine. A truly loving God would not lollygag while our crosses are chewing us up into bits and pieces. He would forthwith intervene. The fact that God does not rescue us immediately is persuasive evidence that strongly suggests that God does not exist or that God does not love us. The failure of God to rescue us immediately from the teeth of our crosses is a powerful engines of doubt about both the existence and the love of God.

To neutralize the serpent's anti-God propaganda, Jesus Commandeered a Cross - the Agent of Our Woe - Reconfigured it and from it demonstrated that God exists and loves us Dearly

To neutralize the srpent's anti-god propaganda, Jesus commandeered a cross - the agent of our woe. He reconfigured it. He turned off the broadcast of the serpent's anti-God propaganda. Then he used his Cross to amplify the signal from God that carries the message of his everlasting love of us . From the platform of the Cross, Jesus published the good news of great joy. He put the "similitude" of God on display before us for us to behold. From the platform of the Cross, he proved that God exists and that God loves us dearly.

God let our evil punctuate the body of Jesus with bloody wounds. His bloody wounds were question marks. They marked a mystery. 'What would be his response to the evil we did to him?' At the time that our evil opened bloody wounds in his body, the response that they would trigger from him was a mystery to us. The reasonable expectation was that the evil we did to him would trigger his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" . Thankfully, he did not respond in kind . He changed the tone of the conversation .

His love for us made his reaction to the evil we did to him asymmetric - radically asymmetric. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He and his love for us survived the evil we did to him. Wow! He arose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the indisputable proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. It showed us the indisputable proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love . His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it.

Isn't it good news of great joy for us to know with certainty that God is head over heals in love with us? Doesn't the demonstration that Jesus produced of his love for us on the Cross neutralize the serpent's anti-God propaganda?

Whose testimony do we believe: 1) The anti-God propaganda of the serpent that tells us that God does not exist or that he does not love us 2) or the demonstration that God performed from the Cross showing us that he does exist and that he does love us. We are the jury. Whom do we believe?

Reconciliation

The trick to a proper understanding of God is to reconcile the delay in our rescue from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears and a God who is head over heals in love with us. The two ideas appear to be irreconciable. In fact, they are not. There is an explanation.

The Challenge of the Cross

We want God to eliminate our crosses in the Valley of Tears or extricate us from it now. God, however, does not. God wants us to deny ourselves, pick up and carry our crosses . There is a difference in opinions. His prevails.

God presents us with the challenge of the cross because the only way to deny ourselves, to pick up and to carry our crosses is to fill our hearts with love. Love turns us into superman with the strength to succeed in the challenge of the cross. Our crosses teach us to love. God does not eradicate our crosses or evacuate us from the Valley of Tears immediately in the hope that we discover the sublimity and utility of love. We can let our crosses crush us under their unbearable weight. Or we can cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go. The choice on how to deal with our crosses is ours. Only People of God can succeed in the challenge of the Cross. Succeeding in the challenge of the Cross is the only victory that matters to God. His Son succeeded. How about you?

The Technology Jesus Transported from heaven to earth to help us succeed in the Challenge of the Cross

If God did not do something to mitigate the sourness of the Valley of Tears when he paid us a visit, his visit would have been a colossal waste of time. It wasn't a waste of time.

Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. The hearts of people of God are filling up with love - love that overflows the brim not like the dewfall but like a rushing, gushing waterfall. Only love transforms them into superman with the strength to deny themselves, pick up and carry their crosses.

The Son of God did not transport and demonstrate pie-in-the-sky, head-in-the-clouds technology. He transported and demonstrated down-to-earth, practical technology. We can use it today, not just tomorrow, profitably. It is relevant to this world not just to the next.

Furthermore, the technology is platform agnostic. It works whether you are a Roman Catholic, other Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Pagan, Atheist, Saint, Sinner or something else. It is open source technology. It is catholic in the broadest sense of the word. No religion has a monopoly over it. Furthermore, no conditions need to be satisfied before it can be used.

God endowed us with the capacity to love. In this way, God made us in his own image and likeness . Our hearts are vessels that we can fill to the brim with love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. As the fidelity of our resemblance to God grows, we become children of God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . "What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God."  (St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1756). 

Indeed, it is radical technology. Because love has the property of buoyancy, a heart filled to the brim with love serves as a flotation device. It is a hot air balloon that lifts us up and out of the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. Love is the helium of the heart. The technology allows each of us to ascend from the level of the most miserable and hideous of loveless beast to the level of God.

The technology deifies us.

The Music of Christianity

Do you hear the gurgling sound of hearts filling up with love? It is the music of Christianity. Listen to the music of Christianity. Sing in its chorus!

The brevity of life is proof of the mercy of God. Only a misanthropic god would make us stew in the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears for more than a lifetime.

Stewing in the Valley of Tears defangs the serpent

Besides teaching us that love is in our self-interest, are there any other benefits to stewing in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears for a lifetime like pickles marinating in toxic brine? Yes. God's purpose is multi-layered.

Defanging the Serpent. Stewing in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears defangs the serpent. The serpent testified we become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . God testified that, without God, we perish . Our first hand experience with the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears defangs the serpent. It drains the serpent's illusion of its power to deceive. The toxic truth is the sledgehammer that shatters the illusion conjured up by the serpent that sugarcoated the Valley of Tears. It shatters the illusion as a hammer shatters glass. We learn from the toxic truth that, contrary to the testimony of the serpent, we do not become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . Without God, we perish . The toxic truth of the Valley of Tears reduces the credibility of the serpent to zero.

The Good News of Great Joy

God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as he delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than he was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

Stewing in the Valley of Tears Ensures that We will not fumble the gift of Paradise

Besides teaching us that love is in our self-interest, are there any other benefits to stewing in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears for a lifetime like pickles marinating in toxic brine? Yes. God's purpose is multi-layered.

The fail-safe. God installed a fail-safe into his rescue plan . God had a backup plan. There was a Plan B in case we failed in filling our hearts with love. Stewing in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears decreases to near zero the likelihood that we will let the gift of paradise slip through our fingers when God delivers it to us. Its delivery is ineluctable. The only question is whether we will let the gift of paradise slip through our fingers as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did, as Eve did, as Adam did and as the prodigal son did. Stewing in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears innoculates us against the disease of post delivery paradise opt-out (PDPOO). Our baptism in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears vaccinates us against original sin - against a repetition of the mistake of Adam and Eve. The prodigal son will never go back to the pig sty. Neither will we. When the gift of paradise is given to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball. Because we have personal experience with the toxic truth of Valley of Tears, it is highly unlikely that we will ever return to the shithole.

Settling the Confusion about the Identity of God

Many false, inaccurate and conflicting pictures of God circulate through the minds of the children of Adam and Eve. The multiplicity of pictures creates confusion. “This is God” some say as they point to their favorite picture of God. Others point to a different picture and say, “No, this is God.” The controversy goes on ad infinitum. Because of the confusion, the most Holy Trinity desired to set the record straight once and forever. They decided to clear the air. They decided to give us the gift of the definitive picture of God - a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. They decided to dispatch Jesus to earth from heaven to put the "similitude" of God before us for us to behold.

Low Fidelity Human-Made Representations of the Reality of God

The high fidelity representation of the reality of God contained in his radically asymmetric answer to the evil we did to him is the definitive representation of God - an authentic, first-class representation of God. Its high fidelity is unmatched by the many low fidelity representations of God made by human hands . In fact, God banned us from making representations of him in the first place because of the low fidelity of human made representations . Better no representation than an inaccurate representation.   All lesser representations of God, therefore, must yield to the representation God gave us in his radically asymmetric answer to the evil we did to him.

 

What is a Christian? What is Christianity?

The business of Christianity is seminal. Christianity plants the seeds of love into the hearts of the children of Adam and Eve. The seeds turn into trees so that, in the orchards of Christianity - the new Gardens of Eden, many can enjoy the fruits of love .

If you bypass the heart - if you circumvent it, you are not doing Christianity. Christianity is a religion that passes through the heart on its way to God. If it doesn't pass through the heart, it is not Christianity. It is an impostor. Beware of impostors. The test of genuine Christianity is the passage through the heart.

Behavior is the fruit of the heart. The heart is the engine of our behavior. A heart empty of love produces different behavior than a heart filled with love . To rule our behavior, fill our empty hearts with love . When we bypass the heart and try to regulate our behavior by the promulgation of laws, we fail. Why? Our faculty of obedience is broken. We have known that it is broken since the age of Adam and Eve. The heart sits on a precipice that marks the limit of authority. We can approach the precipice but can go no farther. When we try to go beyond the heart to work directly on behavior, we fall off the precipice and into the sea like Gadarene swine . Our behavior is ruled indirectly through the heart . Better to treat the pathology that produces our symptoms than just the symptoms themselves. Take care of the causes in order to cure the effects.

The Buoyancy of Love

Jesus's yoke is easy and his burden, light because the yoke of Jesus is love and love has the property of buoyancy. God endowed us with the capacity to love. In this way, God made us in his own image and likeness . The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . A Christian is a person whose heart is filling up with love - a love that overflows the brim not like the dewfall but like a gushing, rushing waterfall. Because love has the property of buoyancy, a heart filled to the brim with love serves as a flotation device. It is a hot air balloon that lifts us up and out of the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. The bouyancy of love causes us to ascend from the level of the most hideous and miserable of loveless beast to the level of our loving God - from the cellar to the penthouse. Love deifies us.

Do you hear the gurgling sound of hearts filling up with love? Listen to the music of Christianity. Sing in its chorus!

The Source of Our Certainity that God Loves Us

How do we know that God loves us? How can we be sure? Our certainty arises from his asymmetric reaction to the evil we did to him. Behold the bloody wounds that our evil opened in his body! We behold them now whenever a priest holds up the body and blood of Jesus during the sacrifice of a Mass. His bloody wounds are question marks. They mark a mystery. 'How will our God respond to the evil we did to him?' At the time that our evil opened bloody wounds in his body, the response that they would trigger from him was a mystery to us. The reasonable expectation was that the evil we did to him would trigger his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" . Thankfully, he did not respond in kind . He changed the tone of the conversation . His love for us made his reaction to the evil we did to him asymmetric - radically asymmetric. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He and his love for us survived the evil we did to him. Wow! He arose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the indisputable proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. It showed us the indisputable proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love . His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it. God is the indissoluble marriage of power and love - absolute and perfect. His power built paradise for us. However, his love for us makes paradise sweet. His power demands respect. His love, however, demands love.

The Love Note

God expressed his love for us by sending us a love note. Jesus is the expression of God's love for us. God composed a love note to us in heaven, delivered it to us at Bethlehem, published its genuineness in the violent collision between Jesus, our Savior, and the evil we did to him, and propagates it to us whenever a priest says a Mass. The love note is the foundation of Christianity. Have you read the love note? Can you wrap your head around the fact that God expressed his love for us by sending us a love note? Doesn't this fact boggle your mind? Have you contemplated the implications? Wow! The love note is the greatest act of philanthropy ever done in the history of humanity. Never underestimate the generosity of God. Moreover, the genuineness of the love note - its provenance - its proof of authenticity - was irrefutably established when the love note survived the baptism of evil into which we immersed it. His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" . The survival of his love for us is apocalyptic. God let us baptize him in evil because God wanted us to know that he is head over heels in love with us despite the evil we did to him. Not even the evil we did to him can change his mind. Why?  Knowing that God loves us makes a difference - it makes all of the difference in the world. "What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God."  (St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1756). Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid ? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? Doesn't God have our backs? His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. Illusion is not. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their house. His love for us is the lifeline that God throws to us who are tossed overboard in the stormy sea after our ship is sunk. Grab hold. Hold tight. Never release your grip. This is the good news of great joy.

Jesus paid us a visit to introduce us to the currency of love and to establish the economy of paradise for us here on the earth

The economy of paradise is based on the currency of love. With ordinary currency, the more we spend, the poorer we get. It is a paradox, but with the currency of love, the more we spend, the richer we get. God paid us a visit at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet known as the Middle East more than two thousand years ago to introduce us to the currency of love and to establish the economy of paradise for us here on the earth.

Love is the ladder on which we climb out of the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears and into Paradise.

The Cross of Christ is the apotheosis of love.

Rally 'round the Cross!

The Cross of Christ is the flag that the most Holy Trinity planted in the middle of his passion, death and resurrection to rally Christians to the Son of God. Rally 'round the Cross!

To catch a glimpse of the better, brighter and more beautiful world outside and beyond the walls of the crosses that besiege us in the Valley of Tears , climb the tree as Zacchaeus climbed the tree . Pull your feet out of the toxic quagmire of the Valley of Tears, shake off the mud and climb the tree. The Cross of Christ is the tree. It is the tree of life .

The Cross of Christ is a Three-Dimensional Revelation

The Cross of Christ is not a one-dimensional revelation. The Cross of Christ is not a two-dimensional revelation. The Cross of Christ is a three-dimensional revelation.

In other words, it holds three gallons of meaning.

One gallon of meaning is held in the Crucifixion on the near side of the Cross.

One gallon of meaning is held in the Resurrection on the far side of the Cross.

One gallon of meaning is held in the beautiful, symbiotic dance of question and answer that weaves its way through his bloody wounds like to connect the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation - the most apocalyptic conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God since Moses and God conversed at the burning bush on Mount Horeb ! In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Autobiography of God was written - the Self-Portrait of God was painted.

Unfortunately, many who contemplate the Cross have only a one gallon tank. A one gallon tank cannot handle three gallons of meaning. Does your tank have the capacity to hold the full meaning of the Cross?

Reality does not exist in a single layer. Reality has depth. Its depth comes from the existence of multiple layers - a stack of layers. Furthermore, different stories are unfolding on different layers of reality. Sometimes multiple layers of reality are connected; sometimes they are not. The ability to see the connection and the disconnection between layers of reality is a valuable gift. Where is your focus? Are you focused on the natural world or the supernatural world? Did Jesus pay us a visit to make a difference in the natural world, in the supernatural world or in both?

If God did not do something to mitigate the sourness of the Valley of Tears when he paid us a visit, his visit was a colossal waste of time. Note, it wasn't. Can you articulate what God did to mitigate the sourness of the Valley of Tears when he paid us a visit?

The Love Note diluted the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears in the same way that sugar cubes dilute the bitterness of a cup of coffee.

The Technology Jesus Transported from Heaven to Earth

Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe.

 

How is a Christian made?

Love begets love.

The goal of Jesus is to get each of us to fall in love with him. Jesus has loved us since the day he he made us He is head over heals in love with us. He wants us to fall in love with him. Jesus is a steamroller in pursuit of his goal. Anything that gets in the way of his goal is rolled over. If you are not helping him achieve his goal, get out of his way.

Do you frolic with God ? God established holy places to define the escape route that takes the new exodus through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of Death, the worst and the last of our crosses and into the kingdom of God, the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey . He defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church and entrusted the map to the Church. He gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The Church has the map and knows the way! Only at the holy places do we engage the Sacred Truth and experience personal intimacy with our God. A holy place is where lovers meet - us and our God . At the holy places, we rendezvous and frolic with our God. The holy places are oasis of paradise that decorate the hostile desert of godlessness like the jewels of a beautiful necklace. They form the needle of a compass that always points in the direction of God. Only by moving from holy place to holy place can we be sure that we are heading in the right direction. Therefore, make haste to the holy places. Make haste! Sit at his feet . Rest your head on his bosom . Keep God company. Put yourselves in His presence . Frolic with him. Be transformed!

Our God paid us a visit at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet known as the Middle East more than two thousand years ago. Now, our God invites us to visit him. Visits take place at the holy places that define the escape route of the new exodus. At the holy places we enter the presence of the God who loves us. Love begets love.

How to Transform a Sinner into a Saint

To transform a sinner into a saint, there is no shortcut - there is no easy way - there is no substitute for falling in love with God. When we fall in love with God, we change our behavior to please our lover. For us, it is seldom love at first sight. Rarely is love instantaneous. We need to be wooed. Our God needs to court us. We often play hard to get. God, however, has loved us since the day he he made us . In fact, to express his love for us, God sent us a love note . The love note that God sent to us is the greatest of the holy places . God beguiles us at the holy places that define the escape route of the new exodus. The only way to fall in love with God is by frolicking with him at the holy places. The holy places are where lovers meet - us and our God. No frolicking; no falling in love; no transformation.

The Monopoly of Christianity

Christianity is God's unique approach to changing our behavior. The methodology is proprietary to Christianity. Christianity has a monopoly over it.

Let us juxtapose Christianity's approach to changing our behavior against the approach of a government. The methodology of governments is quite different than Christianity's. It is based on the raw exercise of power - overwhelming omnipotence vis-a-vis the individual. Governments legislate and exercise police powers. Governments promulgate laws to change our behavior. “We command; you obey.” is their paradigm.

To change our behavior, what is the methodology of Christianity? What is the approach of Jesus Christ?

In the eyes of Jesus, the path to a change in our behavior is through our hearts. Jesus is not interested in making godlessness, through legislation, into a better, more hospitable place for godless people to live. Jesus wants to turn godless people into people of God. Jesus does not work from the ‘outside in’. Jesus works from the ‘inside out’ (Matthew 15: 11-20). The kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:20-21) “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35 ). “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26). Harden not your hearts (Hebrews 3:15). Jesus wants us to fill our hearts to the brim with love - a love that overflows the brim not like the dewfall but like the gushing waterfall. The perfect morality is a morality that fills the heart to the brim with love. You cannot get a better morality than a heart filled to the brim with love (1 Corinthians 13). We are born in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). God endowed us with the capacity to love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is the fidelity of our resemblance to God. When we fill our hearts with love, we become a high fidelity representation of the reality of God (Matthew 7:16-20) (Numbers 12:8). We become the leaven of the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:33). We become agents of God - ambassadors from God to our neighbors.

Regulating our behavior through the promulgation of laws does not change our hearts. Changing our hearts regulates our behavior.

To change our behavior, Jesus wants us to fall in love with him (Matthew 22:36-40). WHEN WE FALL IN LOVE WITH GOD, WE CHANGE OUR BEHAVIOR TO PLEASE OUR LOVER. Getting us to fall in love with God is the methodology of Jesus.

Why, therefore, do so many subscribers to Christianity try to take a shortcut to change our behavior that bypasses the heart? Why do so many mimic governments and adopt their methodology? It is easier to issue legislation to change our behavior. It is harder - much harder - to change our hearts. Many subscribers to Christianity prefer the easy way to the hard way. They prefer the wide gate and the broad road that leads to a change in our behavior (Matthew 7:13-14). They have no clue about how to proceed through the narrow gate - the gate that Jesus recommended.

How does Jesus get us to fall in love with him?

Exposure to God gets us to fall in love with him . Introduction, courtship and wooing is the process. We “waste” time with him. Jesus invites us to rendezvous with him and frolic with him at the holy places that he established to define the escape route that takes the new exodus through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of Death, the worst and the last of our crosses (1 Corinthians 15:26) and into the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:27). Only at the holy places do we engage the Sacred Truth and experience personal intimacy with our God. The holy places are where lovers meet - us and our God (Jeremiah 31:3). The holy places are oasis of paradise that decorate the hostile desert of godlessness like the jewels of a beautiful necklace. They form the needle of a compass that always points in the direction of God. Only by moving from holy place to holy place can we be sure that we are heading in the right direction. Therefore, make haste to the holy places. Make haste! Sit at his feet (Luke 10:38-42). Rest your head on his bosom (John 13:23). Keep God company. Put yourselves in His presence (Matthew 6:33). Frolic with him. Be transformed!

No frolicking with God at the Holy Places; no falling in love with him; no transformation.

Promulgating laws to regulate our behavior is not the methodology of Christianity. If you want to promulgate laws, join a government. If you want to do Christianity, put the children of Adam and Eve into a position where they can have a close encounter with our God. Our job, the job of the Church, is to transform settlers who are roosting in the Valley of Tears into pilgrims passing through it - to get them to the holy places where the children of Adam and Eve are exposed to God. The job of Jesus is to change our behavior through love - to transform sinners into saints. The process of salvation goes off the rails when the Church arrogates to itself the job that God reserved for himself and neglects the job God delegated to it.

The escape of the new exodus from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect (Matthew 23:13). "Nobody left behind" is the motto of the escape of the new exodus. "Neither saint nor sinner Luke 15." Therefore, our job - the job of the Church - is to facilitate the escape not to frustrate it, filter it or foul it up Isaiah 57:14 .

An unhealthy tension exists in the Church today between two hostile camps: 1) the fissionists and 2) the fusionists. The fissionists want to tear things down. The fusionists want to build things up. They want to plant the seed of love in the hearts of the children of Adam and Eve and reap the fruit of love. The fissionist, on the other hand, bypass the heart. They do not care whether the heart is charged or discharged with love.

Portable Holy Places

Take God with you. Abandon him not for a moment. Meditate on his law day and night . Pray without ceasing . Take no vacation from God. Frolic with God without interruption. Nature abhors a vacuum . The void within you will be filled. Fill it with God before it gets filled with junk. A portable Holy Place is your shield against sin. It protects the pilgrim who has picked up the roots he had sunk deep into the toxic soil of the Valley of Tears and is gingerly passing through it.

The escape of the new exodus from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect . "Nobody left behind" is the motto of the escape. "Neither saint nor sinner ." Therefore, the job of the Church is to facilitate the escape not to frustrate it, filter it or foul it up .

Each of us is different. In the body of Christ are a variety of different organs. Every organ is not a heart . In the body of Christ we see unity not uniformity . Though different, each organ of the body of Christ cooperates. The diversity of organs does not stop the body of Christ from working. In fact, diversity is necessary for the body of Christ to work properly. We are brothers and sisters of the escape, companions in the new exodus. We are marching through the Valley of Tears hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm together as one family to the rhythmic beat of the loving heart of our living God!

To the lifeboats! To the lifeboats! Abandon ship! Abandon ship!

The ship of godlessness is sinking . A rescue mission is in progress. The rescue mission, however, is not to save the ship. The rescue mission is to save the passengers.   God is not interested in making godlessness into a better, more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God.

During the exigency, our job is to get the children of Adam and Eve into the lifeboats. In the lifeboats, God will transform them from sinners into saints.

The Job of the Church is to transform settlers into pilgrims; The job of God is to transform sinners into saints

Settlers are roosting in the Valley of Tears. Pilgrims are passing through it, across the Red Sea of Death, the worst and the last of our crosses and into the kingdom of God, the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey . The job of the Church is limited. The job of the Church is to transform settlers into pilgrims. The Church does its job by testifying as a witness testifies to the truth. All truth? No. Much is true. However, much that is true is irrelevant. The truth that matters is the subset of truth that shatters the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness and the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise. The sledgehammer of truth shatters the two illusions as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. The job of God is to transform sinners into saints. We don't transform ourselves from sinners into saints. The Church does not transform us. Only God transforms us from sinners into saints and this takes place at the holy places that define the escape route. The process of salvation goes off the rails when the Church arrogates to itself the job God reserved for himself and neglects the job God delegated to it. There is no substitute for frolicking with God at the holy places. There is no shortcut. When we fall in love with God, we change our behavior to please our lover. The only way to fall in love with God is by frolicking with him at the holy places that define the escape route.

The Trail of Discovery

For more than two thousand years, the Church has explored the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. Surely, during its exploration, the Church has discovered a thing or two about the nature of God. Surely, the Church remembers the trails it took to the location of its discoveries. The Church's discoveries, however, are not our discoveries. The Church fails us when it just shows us its discoveries and not its trails. The scientific method holds that by exploring the same trails that the Church explored, the children of Adam and Eve ought to make the same discoveries. Therefore, if the Church does not show us the trails by which it reached their discoveries, it is best to be dubious about their discoveries. The importance for the Church to show us the trails that it explored that led it to its discoveries cannot be overestimated. When a Church attempts to shove doctrine down the throats of the children of Adam and Eve against their wills by dint of authority, their gag reflex is triggered. They regurgitate it. When the children of Adam and Eve discover the doctrine for themselves by dint of their own exploration, they swallow it hook, line and sinker. Same doctrine; different methodology; different result.

That the Son of God did the Crucifixion tells us in no uncertain terms that there is nothing He won’t do for us. Nothing. He did the Crucifixion for sinners. Think what He is willing to do for saints!

The Good News of Great Joy

God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as he delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than he was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

The Sweetness of Paradise

The Son of God paid us a visit at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet called the Middle East more than two thousand years ago to put on a demonstration of God. Jesus did not just tell us about God in words. God is a chatterbox. However, if you expect God to use words, you will be disappointed. The language of God is reality. The meaning of words is fickle. The meaning of reality is not. God is the artist who painted the masterpiece of reality on the canvas of our rationality in the pigments of truth. He showed us God. The demonstration eliminated any and all ambiguity about the nature of God. The Son of God could have picked any venue to put on his demonstration of God. So his choice of venues was surprising - radically unexpected. The venue that he picked was the platform of the Cross. From the platform of the Cross, Jesus revealed the sweetness of paradise to the inhabitants of the Valley of Tears. He diluted the bitterness of the Valley of Tears as sugar cubes dilute the bitterness of a cup of coffee. What is the sweetness of paradise? We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He arose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the indisputable proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. It showed us the indisputable proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love . His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it. God is the indissoluble marriage of power and love - absolute and perfect. His power built paradise for us. However, his love for us makes paradise sweet. His power demands respect. His love, however, demands love.

Asymmetry is the Hallmark of God

Even though we did evil to him, God still wants to do good to us. Wow! We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. Because God still loves is, God still wants to rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. He did not pull his offer of paradise off the table. He did not cancel his plan to lead us through the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of Death and back to our home with him and his Holy Family in Paradise. The evil that we did to him ought to have rendered us ineligible for his gifts. It ought to have disqualified us. But it did not. God continues to love us nonetheless .

Frolicking with God

Transformation is a process. It is the fruit of frolicking with God. In the process of frolicking with God, the children of Adam and Eve learn to govern themselves. We don't transform ourselves. The Church does not transform us. Only God transforms us and this takes place as we frolic with him. The Church fails when it arrogates to itself the role of God - when it usurps God - when it elbows God out of the conversation - when it deposes God - when it tries to take a shortcut to transformation by substituting the methodology of regulation for the process of frolicking with God. There is no substitute for going through the process of frolicking with God. Nothing else works. The Church is the usher who shows us to our seats. God, however, is the star of the show. The Church goes off the rails when it starts to think that it is the star of the show - when it thinks it is a king who rules us and abandons its role as witness who testifies to the truth about God to us. Therefore, the job of the Church is limited. The job of the Church is to get the children of Adam and Eve into the process of frolicking with God so God can do the work of transformation. Getting the children of Adam and Eve into the process is achieved by revelation not regulation. Make known the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness. [Note: The sourness of godlessness is autodidactic; it makes itself known. The sweetness of paradise is not autodidactic in the Valley of Tears. Only revelation makes it known.] The potential difference between the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness is the engine that creates the current of salvation. The current of salvation is a mighty river that flows through the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of Death and into the kingdom of God, the promised land, the land of milk and honey. The mighty river of truth sweeps us off our feet and carries us to our salvation. Only the recalcitrant few try to swim against it.

The #1 problem in the world today is that our understanding of God is superficial. We are lightweights in our understanding of God. God is a stranger to us and nobody follows a stranger . The goal of evangelization is to deepen our understanding of God - to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God. Why? The knowledge of God transforms us. Engagement and personal intimacy with the Sacred Truth is the solution to the world's #1 problem.

God built an escape route that passes through the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of Death and into his kingdom - the promised land - the land of milk and honey. He defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church and entrusted the map to the Church. He gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The Church has the map and knows the way!

We experience personal intimacy and engagement with the Sacred Truth at the holy places that define the escape route. The holy places form the needle of a compass that always points in the direction of God. Only by moving from holy place to holy place can we be sure that we are heading in the right direction. Therefore, make haste to the holy places. Make haste! Sit at his feet. Rest your head on his bosom . Keep God company. Put yourselves in His presence . Be transformed!

We have explored the continents. We have explored beneath the seas. We have explored outer space. We have explored the genetic constituents of our very being. Yet, mankind’s greatest adventure and grandest enterprise is our exploration of the inner workings of the mind of God. Have you climbed into and explored the mind of God? As we explore, God reveals his nature to us - the darkness of our understanding of God is illuminated in a glorious burst of epiphany - the veil of the temple is rent in twain from the top to the bottom and Jesus steps through the rent in the veil to introduce God to us. In our exploration is the apocalypse. During our exploration, we acquire the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God transforms us. No exploration; no transformation.

The Myth of the Full-Fledged Christian

Unlike coffee, there is no such thing as an instant Christian. It takes time to make a Christian. We do not become Christian overnight. A human being develops from a baby in the womb through other stages of life including infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. A similar framework of development takes place in the thinking of a Christian. A Christian whose thinking is not quite up to speed with the thinking of the self-styled orthodox Christian is still a Christian for the same reason that a baby in the womb is still a human being.

Can you articulate the excellence of God? Do you have the words? How about the basis on which the excellence of God rests?

Many Christians are all bark and no bole. Their bark identifies them as Christian but the bole of their Christianity is hollow. It lacks a core. It is important for a Christian to have a core. Why? The core of Christianity contains the knowledge of God and the knowledge of God transforms us. Is your Christianity all bark and no bole? There is a simple test. Articulate the excellence of God. Put the excellence of God into words. Then articulate the basis on which the excellence of God rests. Can you do it?

The dervish whirls. Why?

Dervishes whirl . Why? Our clerics advocate that we, Christians, whirl from sacrament to sacrament as well. 'Go to Mass!' 'Go to Confession!' They tell us. Yet, few of them tell us why. They don't have the words. Without the why, the practice of Christianity has become a dull and perfunctory routine - monotonous. Moreover, without the why, fewer and fewer are whirling. Christianity is a spinning top winding down. The engines that moves us along the escape route through the Valley of Tears and into the kingdom of God are knocking and sputtering, starving for fuel . Our clergy have failed us. We no longer know why we whirl. We have forgotten. The fuel for our escape through the Valley of Tears and into the kingdom of God is the truth. The truth is the fuel for our rationality. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . When fueled by the the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusion, our rationality leads us astray. Yet, our fuel supply has been cut off. We have become strangers to the truth. The truth is no longer fueling our rationality. Without the truth, our escape is stuck in the doldrums. No progress is being made to the promised land. The sour truth is the engine that pushes us to the exit of godlessness. The sweet truth is the engine that pulls us to the entrance of paradise. Between the exit of the Valley of Tears and the entrance to the promised land, the land of milk and honey, is the Red Sea of Death. Standing like a colossus in the Red Sea of Death - at the nexus between the exit of godlessness and the entrance of paradise - is Jesus. Through his bloody wounds the great leap is made from time to eternity . He is the way . "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." .. Our clerics prefer the role of king to the role of witness. They have abandoned their role as witnesses. Instead of testifying as witnesses to the truth, our clergy are trying to rule us as petty despots. Regulation, not revelation, has become their stock-in-trade. Morality is not the truth that moves the new exodus on the escape route from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land, the land of milk and honey. Morality is the effect of escaping not its cause. Morality is the crown of glory that adorns the heads of Christians who have joined the new exodus. Only the truth moves the new exodus. Only the truth - both sweeet and sour - generates the current of salvation. To get the escape through the Valley of Tears and into the kingdom of God going again, it is time to learn the difference between morality and the truth, both the sweet truth of paradise and the sour truth of the Valley of Tears.

How do we handle sinners who desire to join our hunt for God? What is the protocol? What obstacles do we throw in their way? Do we demand circumcision? Or do we welcome them? Is their desire to join the hunt for God enough for us to open the door for them and let them in?

Participation is the domain of the Church; Transformation is God's

Participation in the escape through the Valley of Tears - and only partipation - transforms sinners into saints. We do not transform ourselves. The Church does not transform us. Only God transforms us and he does so at the holy places that define the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land.

Nobody is listening to the Radio Station

What good is a radio station to which nobody is listening?

The records in its record collection vary along a spectrum from duds to hits. The radio station could play the hits if it wanted to but it only plays the duds. The disc jockeys at the radio station are encouraged by management to only play the duds. Nobody at the radio station is concerned about the relationship between the duds that it is playing and the size of its audience. They do not care about the audience. They claim to care but they really do not.

The old president of the radio station retires. His name was Benedict. A new president takes over. His name is Francis.

Francis tells his disc jockeys that they do not have to play the duds 24/7. They may play the hits. In fact, it is important to play the hits.

But a faction of listeners, disc jockeys and middle management at the radio station object to the change in format. They want to continue to play the duds that are driving the audience to other radio stations. They don't care about the size of the audience - whether it shrinks or grows. They only want to play the duds. They want to put their worst foot forward. They want to serve the bad wine before the good wine .

The new president understands that to build audience a change in format is needed. The ears of the audience must be developed before they are ready to appreciate the duds. Build audience with the hits and then develop their appreciation of the duds.

Do we invest our limited resources more profitably in the tail or in the dog?

Have you ever tried to look up and down at the same time? It cannot be done. So, which do we do first? Which is the priority? What is more important? 1) to look up at God or 2) to look down at us? The choice is ours. We decide for ourselves the direction in which we look, up or down. Tell us. Are you an "up" Christian or a "down" Christian? What percentage of your total investment in Christianity do you put into looking up at God and his nature (Faith)? What percentage of your total investment in Christianity do you put into looking down at us and our behavior (Works)?

Works are the fruit of faith . The size of faith is measured by the size of works . Faith is the dog. Works are the tail. The dog wags the tail not vice versa. Faith is the cause. Works are the effect. Inspire faith and works will surely follow as the day follows the night. It is not reasonable to expect the children of Adam and Eve to behave as a Christian behaves until after they become a Christian. Therefore, which is the more important investment? 1) investing in "becoming a Christian" or 2) investing in "behaving as a Christian behaves"? Do we invest in the tail or the dog?

In the Church are two dueling camps. One camp is squarely behind regulation. The other camp is squarely behind revelation. Which is the priority?

We can try to become witnesses to the truth about God so we can testify about the sweetness of paradise based on first-hand knowledge of God, that is, personal intimacy and involvement with the Sacred Truth ourselves.

Or we can try to become kings who rule their neighbors - petty despots who use the royal scepter of sin to whack our souls over the head until they are black, blue, battered, bruised and bleeding.

You cannot be both. You cannot be witness and king .

In which direction do we look first? Up or down? Who do we want to become? Witnesses or kings? Which does the world need more and why?

Evangelization is akin to mountain climbing a sheer cliff. The best advice is, 'don't look down'.

A tale of two priests

Has anyone read, 'A Tale of Two Priests'? One was the best of priests; the other was the worst of priests.

Both priests had received the Great Commission . But each priest executed his mission in a different way. One priest tended to look down at the behavior of the children of Adam and Eve. The other priest tended to look up at the nature of God. Note that it is impossible to look up and to look down at the same time.

The priest who tended to look down at our behvaior was into regulation. He acted like a king trying to rule us. He called us sinners. He said we were deviants who strayed from the moral code. We were guilty of non-compliance. Our behavior was intrinsiucally evil. He invited us to enter his Church so he could lecture us more on the vileness of our behavior. For our own good, he said, he continuously whacked our souls over the head until they were black, blue, battered, bruised and bleeding. He offered to be our tour guide as we explored the wretchedness of our souls.

The priest who tended to look up at the nature of God was into revelation. He claimed to be a witness who testified to the truth about God. He said his God continued to love us even though we tortured and killed him. He said his God was our God. He said our God gave us proof of the indestructibility and immensity of his love for us. The proof was given to us from the platform of the Cross. He said his proof was irrefutable. He said our God was head over heels in love with us despite the evil we did to him. He wanted us to go on a hunt for God in order to get to know him. He offered to be our tour guide as we explored the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. He claimed the Holy Spirit was tugging at our souls and that the curious are following the tug back to its source. He asked if we were curious?

Which priest had the better appeal? The priest who looked down at us and focused on our behavior or the priest who looked up at God and focused on his nature? The priest who was obsessed with sin or the priest who was obsessed with God? Which is more important: regulation or revelation? What transforms saints into sinners: knowledge of the nature of God or a hectoring, browbeating priest?

What is the golden ratio? What percentage of our resources ought the Church devote to the regulation of our behavior and what percentage to the revelation of the nature of God? Upon what ratio do we allocate subject matter to the conversation?

The Science of Christianity

The science of Christiany distinguishes between Micro-Christianity and Macro-Christianity. Micro-Christianity is the study of being a Christian, that is, believing and behaving as a Christian believes and behaves. Macro-Christianity is the study of becoming a Christian. It is the study of the Big Picture of Christianity. The Big Picture of Christianity is the escape of the new Exodus through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land, the land of milk and honey. We cannot reasonably expect a person to behave as a Christian behaves or believe as a Christian believes until after the person has become a Christian. Being a Christian is different than becoming a Christian. Being a Christian is a status. When the status of Christian is attained, a person behaves as a Christian behaves and believes as a Christian believes. Becoming a Christian is a process. As a process, becoming a Christian has a beginning, middle and an end. The end of the process is being a Christian. The beginning and middle of the process is participating in the new Exodus. The holy places that define the escape route of the new Exodus are classrooms at which the great Rabbi himself, Jesus, teaches his students. He turns them into Christians. We don't turn ourselves into Christians. Our clergy does not turn us into Christians. Only God turns us into Christians and he does so at the Holy Places that define the escape route of the new Exodus. In order to become a Christian, it is necessary to sit as Mary sat at the Lord's feet - to partipate in the new Exodus. Our goal is to escape from the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. The effect of escaping is to become a Christian. Let us not confuse cause and effect. The Church's responsibility is participation in the escape. God's responsibility is transformation. Church, get the children of Adam and Eve to the Holy Places and then get out of the way so God can do his work.

The Church has misallocated its resources. It devotes almost all its resource to Micro-Christianity and almost none to Macro-Christianity. As a result of the misallocation , the escape is sputtering and stalling. Fewer and fewer are going to Mass. None are going to Confession. Marriages are falling apart. Mothers are murdering their babies. The priesthood is going extinct . The trend is downward and accelerating. The only sacrament holding its own is the sacrament of extreme unction and this is so only because the dying have little choice. The thermometer that gauges the temperature of the body of Christ is the practice of Christianity. By this measure, the patient is dying.

Going on safari for ourselves

Christians do not just read about going on safari. They go on safari. They explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God for themselves. Christianity is field work not classroom work. Each of us must be the pilot of our own soul. Each of us must discover God for ourselves. We cannot subcontract the job to another. We cannot delegate it. We cannot send the work offshore to be done by low wage workers in a foreign land. It cannot be done vicariously. No one else can do it for us not even our Church. Seeking God is a unique, idiosyncratic, personal experience. There is no substitute for going through it. Why? In the process of seeking God, we acquire the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God transforms us. Unless we do it ourselves, we cannot be transformed.

Religion is a Hunt not a Handout

The job of the Church is to introduce the children of Adam and Eve to the great questions of life and to point out the location of the answers - to suggest to them where they ought to cast their nets . The job of the children of Adam and Eve is to search the location for the answers - to find the Easter eggs. An Easter Egg hunt is ruined when the Easter Eggs are handed out to the participants. Therefore, respect the hunt. Let the children of Adam and Eve discover the treasure for themselves. Don't rob them of the thrill of discovery. What is the methodology for successful evangelization? Raise the proper questions. Point out the source material where the answers can be found. Let us discover the answers for ourselves. This is the methodology of successful evangelization.

One of the great questions of life deals with the Red Sea of Death. What is your plan to pass through it? Have you even thought about the challenge of death, the worst and the last of our crosses ?

Fear not! The Script Is Already Written.

Indeed, the Valley of Tears is a scary place. Yet, fear not. Isn't the script already written? Have you not read the script? Will our immutable God rewrite the script? The exodus of the Jews is a powerful allegory that the genius of God embedded into the history of humanity to inform us about the destiny of the children of Adam and Eve who participate in the new exodus. The Jews made their escape through the hostile desert. So, too, Christians. We are making our escape through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of Death and into the kingdom of God, the promised land - the land of milk and honey. Standing like a colossus in the middle of the Red Sea of Death is Jesus. He stands at the nexus between the exit of godlessness and the entrance of paradise. Through his bloody wounds the great leap is made from time to eternity . He is the way . "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." . The new exodus is marching hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm together as one family to the rhythmic beat of the loving heart of our living God! Together, we are engaged in the hunt for God. We hunt for him and he hunts for us. In the script, the Red Sea of Death is parted for us. Rejoice and be glad!

If you do not introduce yourself to him now - if you do make his acquaintance - what makes you think he will be there for you when you need him to part the Red Sea of Death for you ? Participate in the new exodus. Climb into and explore the mind of God at the holy places that define the escape route. Join the hunt for God. The train to paradise is leaving the station. All aboard! All aboard! It is the last train. There is no next train. So, board now while you have the chance .

How do we climb into and explore the inner workings of the mind of God?

God has established trailheads in many places upon the earth from which we start our journey through the inner workings of the mind of God. We explore from here to there. The trailheads are clues that God has left with us on which we base our conclusions about the nature of God. We reverse engineer the clues to discover the content of the mind of God. Are you curious? The Holy Spirit is tugging at our souls. The curious are following the tug back to its source. Along the way back to the source of the tug, the curious are exploring the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. The question that clerics ought to be asking the children of Adam and Eve is this: "Have you entered and explored the inner workings of the mind of God? Have you taken part in the adventure?" A good cleric knows the trail heads of the best trails that take us through the mind of God. A good cleric is a tour guide who knows the sights to see as we explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God.

Exploration of the inner workings of the mind of God takes place at the Holy Places that define the escape route

God built an escape route through the Valley of Tears from godlessness to paradise, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church, and gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. At the holy places that define the escape route, we climb into and explore the inner workings of the mind of God.

Shattering the Illusions with the Sledgehammer of Truth

Illusions hide the truth from us. They distort our perception of reality. The truth is the fuel of our rationality. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . When fueled by the the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusion, our rationality leads us astray. There are two illusions. Both are the work of the serpent. One illusion sugarcoats the sourness of the Valley of Tears. The other illusion camouflages the sweetness of paradise. Evangelization is the procees of shattering the illusions with the sledgehammer of truth. The sledgehammer of truth shatters the illusions as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. We appeal to the children of Adam and Eve with the truth. We fuel their rationality with the truth.

Our God is the artist who paints on the canvas of our rationality in the pigments of truth.

 

Jesus took his recommendation to fill our hearts to the brim with love - to make the cup of love overflow like a waterfall - from the sidestream to the mainstream.

Why does God let us stew for a lifetime in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine?

The solution to the problem of evil

Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God in the Garden of Eden and took us with them into the Valley of Tears. The Valley of Tears sucks. Happiness was exchanged for misery. The Valley of Tears is as foul as Eden was fair - as hostile as Eden was hospitable. The Valley of Tears is a classroom in which the pedagogy is cruel - brutally cruel . As we pass through the Valley of Tears, we eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction . The rod is not spared on the children of Adam and Eve in the Valley of Tears. Spare the rod and spoil the children .

"Why do you delay your rescue of us, o Lord ?" "Why does God tarry?" For reasons not revealed to us - until now - God lets us stew in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears for a lifetime like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine.

Our baptism in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears does not seem to be a solution to our "problem". It seems to be the "problem" itself. Yet, God makes lemonade out of lemons. God's conception of our "problem" is different than our conception of our "problem" so God's conception of our rescue is different than our conception of our rescue . We want God to eliminate our crosses. God, however, has other ideas. God is not interested in making godlessness into a better, more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God. Our baptism in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears, despite its brutality, is crucial to achieving the transformation that God desires.

How so?

God endowed us with the faculty of rationality. Although our faculty of obedience is broken, our faculty of rationality works and works well. So, to rescue us, God appeals to our faculty of rationality not to our faculty of obedience. He appeals to our faculty of rationality with the truth. The truth is the fuel of our rationality. When fueled by the the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusion, our rationality leads us astray. God knows that, as rational creatures, we behave in a predictable manner. We follow a pattern. It is not a complicated pattern. Sourness repels us. We flee from it. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. Hence, the truth can drive us. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . Our dire predicament supplies the kinetic energy that pushes us to the exit of the Valley of Tears. It is one of two engines that generates the current of salvation. The other engine is the sweetness of paradise. [Let me note now but discuss later that the sweetness of paradise supplies the kinetic energy that pulls us to the entrance of paradise. Between the exit of the Valley of Tears and the entrance to the promised land, the land of milk and honey, is the Red Sea of Death. Standing like a colossus in the Red Sea of Death - at the nexus between the exit of godlessness and the entrance of paradise - is Jesus. Through his bloody wounds the great leap is made from time to eternity . He is the way . "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." .]

To rescue us, God could simply drag us back from the Valley of Tears to paradise against our wills over our protests kicking and screaming like recalcitrant children by dint of omnipotence. God, however, respects the sovereignty of our wills. We are self-governing creatures - autocrats of our own souls - via the gift of God. Even though an expedition of exploration into the Valley of Tears is contrary to our self-interest, God is unwilling to turn paradise into a prison, himself into our warden and us into his prisoners to keep us in paradise. A cage is still a cage no matter how gilded. God does not want to transform us into his pets; he wants us to transform ourselves into his peers - into sons and daughters of God. God sees our disobedience - Adam and Eve's decision to investigate for themselves the conflict in the testimony - whether the truth lies in God's testimony or in the testimony of the serpent - as a golden opportunity to accomplish so much more for us. So God's rescue plan is multifaceted. It has many layers. Let us unpeel and inspect some of the layers of God's rescue plan as a chef unpeels and inspects the layers of an onion.

1) Defanging the Serpent. Stewing in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears defangs the serpent. The serpent testified we become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . God testified that, without God, we perish . Our first hand experience with the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears defangs the serpent. It drains the serpent's illusion of its power to deceive. The toxic truth is the sledgehammer that shatters the illusion conjured up by the serpent that sugarcoated the Valley of Tears. It shatters the illusion as a hammer shatters glass. We learn from the toxic truth that, contrary to the testimony of the serpent, we do not become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . Without God, we perish . The toxic truth of the Valley of Tears reduces the credibility of the serpent to zero.

2) Inflating our hearts with Love by presenting us with the Challenge of the Cross. Our conception of rescue is different than God's conception of rescue . We want God to eliminate our crosses. God, however, does not. God wants us to deny ourselves, pick up and carry our crosses . There is a difference in opinions. His prevails. God challenges us to deny ourselves and to pick up and carry our crosses because the only way to succeed in doing so is to fill our hearts to the brim with love. God endowed us with the capacity to love. In this way, God made us in his own image and likeness . Our hearts are vessels that we can fill to the brim with love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . Love and love alone turns us into superman with the strength to pick up and carry our crosses. The challenge of the cross turns godless people into people of God. The hearts of people of God are filled to the brim with love. No crosses; no transformation. Without hearts filled to the brim with love, we do not rise to the level of God. We live our lives on the level of the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts.

3) The fail-safe. God installed a fail-safe into his rescue plan . Stewing in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears decreases to near zero the likelihood that we will let the gift of paradise slip through our fingers when God delivers it to us. Its delivery is ineluctable. The only question is whether we will let the gift of paradise slip through our fingers as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did, as Eve did, as Adam did and as the prodigal son did. Stewing in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears innoculates us against the disease of post delivery paradise opt-out (PDPOO). Our baptism in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears vaccinates us against original sin - against a repetition of the mistake of Adam and Eve. The prodigal son will never go back to the pig sty. Neither will we. When the gift of paradise is given to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball. Because we have personal experience with the toxic truth of Valley of Tears, it is highly unlikely that we will ever return to the shithole.

Inauguration Day

On Inauguration Day, Jesus re-established the kingdom of God upon the earth. The apocalypse took place. Jesus revealed the sweetness of paradise to us. Jesus rested the foundation of the kingdom of God upon the Cross of Christ. From the platform of the Cross, God deposed the serpent from his earthly throne and began his unchallengeable reign.

The Sign of the Cross

Begin your prayer life with the Sign of the Cross. The Sign of the Cross is the first step in a series of steps that take you through the Valley of Tears and into the kingdom of God. Proceed step by step. Run the bases. Surely, asking you to pray the Sign of the Cross is not asking you too much? It is just sixteen (16) words. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." It is a short prayer - easy to memorize - easy to say. Yet, it is packed with meaning. Meaning spills over the brim of its words as a waterfall spills majestically over a cliff .

The Valley of Tears is the Vessel that holds the toxic truth in which we are Baptized

"But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able."

Better to be pilgrims passing through the Valley of Tears than settlers roosting in it. Why? Is the Valley of Tears really that bad?

There is no shortcut by which we can avoid the Valley of Tears. It is not a Maginot Line that we can go around. There is no bridge over it or tunnel under it. We pass through it whether we like it or not. In the Valley of Tears, we run the gauntlet. The meat passes through the grinder. The grist passes through the mill. The prodigal son passes through the pig sty. In the Valley of Tears, the children of Adam and Eve are baptized in the toxic truth. They stew in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears for a lifetime like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine. No exceptions.

Why?

The pathways of persuasion are different. We can arrive at the truth by 1) accepting the testimony of a witness about it (i.e. obedience) or 2) by conducting our own investigation into it ourselves. The best and most effective pathway of persuasion is investigation. First hand experience with the truth for ourselves - personal intimacy and involvement with the truth - is the king of persuasion . Learning the truth through the testimony of a witness is a far weaker pathway of persuasion even when the witness who testifies is God. The problem with investigation is the cost of acquiring the truth. When the truth is toxic, the cost of acquiring it by conducting our own investigation is high. Adam and Eve were confronted with conflicting testimony. The serpent testified that we become gods, without God, in the Valley of Tears . God testified that without God in the Valley of Tears, we perish . To figure out whose testimony was true, Adam and Eve decided to conduct their own investigation. This was their choice. Either way - either acquisition of the truth by investigaton or by obedience - leads to the same conclusion about the Valley of Tears. So God lets us put our fingers into the flames of the Valley of Tears to learn for ourselves that the fire is hot. First hand, personal experience with the toxic truth for ourselves shatters the serpent's sugarcoating of the Valley of Tears as the blow of a sledgehammer shatters glass. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" .

Open your eyes to our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears.

The Valley of Tears is as foul as Eden was fair - as hostile as Eden was hospitable. The Valley of Tears is a classroom in which the pedagogy is cruel - brutally cruel . As we pass through the Valley of Tears, we eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction . The rod is not spared on the children of Adam and Eve in the Valley of Tears. Spare the rod and spoil the children .

Behind us in hot pursuit is the army of the new Pharaoh. It is the hammer. The hammer is driving us through the Valley of Tears.

The Valley of Tears is a minefield of crosses whose sharp teeth chew us up into bits and pieces and whose sharp tongues broadcast virulent anti-God propaganda. As the sharp teeth of our crosses chew us up, their sharp tongues taunt us, saying "You are alone and forsaken." "Nobody is coming to rescue you." "Where is your Savior now?" While we are nailed alive to our crosses and no Savior is in sight, it is difficult to conceive that our God is real let alone our savior . "Are we fools? We place our trust in a Savior who doesn't save - a Redeemer who doesn't redeem - a false God who does not rescue us." The anti-God argument of our crosses makes sense. It appeals to our rationality. Why are the taunts of our crosses highly persuasive? The taunts from the tongues of our crosses are highly persuasive because our conception of our problem is different than God's perception of our problem so our perception of rescue is different than God's conception of rescue . We want God to eliminate our crosses. God, however, does not. God wants us to deny ourselves, pick up and carry our crosses . There is a difference in opinions. His prevails.

In front of us blocking our way is the anvil. The anvil is the Red Sea of Death. The Red Sea of Death stands between us and the promised land, the land of milk and honey.

The only variable under our control is do we go it alone or in the company of Jesus ?

Without a miracle, our destiny is to be crushed between the hammer and anvil. Without a Savior, we are doomed.

Tuning into the Wavelength of God

How do we tune into the same wavelength as God?

How do we synch our wills with God's will so our wills resonate at the same frequency as God's?

What prayer do we address to God that best fits in with God's mission to rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears?

God wants us to focus less on the heaviness of our circumstances and more on the "strength" to pick our circumstances up and carry them. The transformation that God wants is not in our circumstances but in ourselves. Pray God, therefore, to grant you the "strength" to deny yourself, to pick up your crosses and carry them. Love and love alone lightens the load. So pray God for a heart filled to the brim with love.

To the lifeboats! To the lifeboats! Abandon ship! Abandon ship!

The ship of godlessness is sinking . A rescue mission is in progress. The rescue mission, however, is not to save the ship. The rescue mission is to save the passengers.  

God, however, is not interested in making godlessness into a better, more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God.

What is the secret to picking up and carrying our crosses ? How can we do what God wants us to do? Is it even possible for us to pick up our crosses and carry them?

God does not advocate that we suffer. God advocates that we love. The serpent is the advocate of our suffering. Do not confuse the two.

The Technology Jesus Transported from Heaven to Earth That Enables us to pick up and carry our crosses.

Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe.

The Son of God did not transport and demonstrate pie-in-the-sky, head-in-the-clouds technology. He transported and demonstrated down-to-earth, practical technology. We can use it today, not just tomorrow, profitably. It is relevant to this world not just to the next.

Furthermore, the technology is platform agnostic. It works whether you are a Roman Catholic, other Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Pagan, Atheist, Saint, Sinner or something else. It is open source technology. It is catholic in the broadest sense of the word. No religion has a monopoly over it. Furthermore, no conditions need to be satisfied before it can be used.

Indeed, it is radical technology. Because love has the property of buoyancy, a heart filled to the brim with love serves as a flotation device. It is a hot air balloon that lifts us up and out of the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. Love is the helium of the heart. The technology allows each of us to ascend from the level of the most miserable and hideous of loveless beast to the level of God. The technology deifies us. God endowed us with the capacity to love. In this way, God made us in his own image and likeness . Our hearts are vessels that we can fill to the brim with love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" .

When you are in the mouth of your cross, its sharp teeth are chewing you up into bits and pieces, your savior is no where in sight and salvation does not appear imminent, what do you do? You hang from your cross as Jesus hung from his. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe.

God installed a fail-safe in his plan to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears

Stewing in the Toxic Truth of the Valley of Tears decreases to near zero the likelihood that we will let the gift of paradise slip through our fingers when God delivers it to us. The prodigal son will never go back to the pig sty. Neither will we. When the gift of paradise is given to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball. We have personal experience with the toxic truth of Valley of Tears so, in all probability, we will never return to the shithole.

The Church has the map and knows the way!

Jesus paid the ransom that purchased our freedom from captivity under the yoke of Pharaoh. Payment of the ransom, however, only marks the completion of the first stage of his mission to rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. It set in motion the second and final stage. Payment of the ransom turned slaves into refugees - prisoners into fugitives - settlers into pilgrims. The platform of the Cross was the candelstick on which Jesus, by paying the ransom, set the bonfire of love to inform us about a better place to live than in the toxic truth of the Valley of Tears. In the second stage of the rescue mission, therefore, we are making our escape from the minions of the new Pharaoh who are pursuing us, through the minefield of crosses that besiege us in the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of death and into the promised land, the land of milk and honey. We are not out of the woods yet. Our escape is not a cakewalk. Now is not the time for celebration. The new Exodus is on the run.

The investment that Jesus made into the rescue mission was exorbitant. Furthermore, he made the investiment out of his own pocket. He did not fund the investment from his unlimited divine resources. He funded the investment from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He went all in. He has never paid more for anything else.

The exorbitancy of his investment in the rescue mission makes it highly unlikely that he would abandon us before our rescue is complete. He will see the rescue mission through to its end
- until we set foot into the promised land .

Having purchased our freedom, Jesus, like Moses, is now helping us to make our escape. To facilitate our escape, Jesus built an escape route through the Valley of Tears, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church, and gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape through the Valley of Tears is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The Church has the map and knows the way!

Simultaneous Delivery

God delivered the gift of life and the gift of paradise simultaneouly to Lucifer, to the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer, to Eve, to Adam and to the prodigal son.

Sequential Delivery

To the children of Adam and Eve, God delivers the gift of life and the gift of paradise sequentially. God inserted a delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise. We call the delay the Valley of Tears. We stew in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine for a lifetime.

Why is Rescue Delayed?

Why? Why the change in God's gift-giving policy? Why isn't rescue immediate? Why does God let us stew in the sour truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine? What the f%#k is going on?

God's conception of Rescue is different than Our Conception of Rescue

Our conception of rescue is different than God's conception of rescue . We want God to eliminate our crosses. God, however, does not. God wants us to pick up and carry our crosses . There is a difference in opinions. His prevails.

Having experienced the pig sty, the prodigal son will never return there. Neither will we. When the gift of paradise is given to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did, as Eve did, as Adam did and as the prodigal son did. Having tasted for ourselves the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears for ourselves, we know better. God lets us put our fingers in the flames to learn for ourselves that the fire is hot.

Why does God want us to pick up and carry our crossses?

What benefit do we derive from picking up and carrying our crosses ? There is only one way to pick up and carry a cross. God wants us to discover the way. Only love gives us the strength to pick up and carry our crosses. Without filling our hearts to the brim with love, our crosses crush us under their oppresive weight and stop our progress to paradise dead in its tracks. God challenges us with our crosses to teach us to love.

The Rungs of the Ladder of Truth

To catch a glimpse of the better, brighter and more beautiful world outside and beyond the walls of the crosses that besiege us in the Valley of Tears , climb the tree as Zacchaeus climbed the tree . Pull your feet out of the toxic quagmire of the Valley of Tears, shake off the mud and climb the tree. The Cross of Christ is the tree. It is the tree of life . The Cross of Christ is a three runged ladder. The rungs of the ladder are 1) the Crucifixion, 2) his bloody wounds and 3) the Resurrection are the three rungs of the ladder. We climb the Cross of Christ to ascend above our own crosses to catch a glimpse of the sweetness of paradise from here on earth . Jesus is the sweetness of paradise. To catch a glimpse of Jesus, climb the tree. Climb the Cross of Christ.

The First Rung of the Ladder

Climb onto the first rung of the ladder to behold the evil we did to him. From the first rung, behold the Crucifixion on the near side of the Cross of Christ. The Crucifixion is the exorbitant price he paid to demonstrate the magnitude and duration of his love for us. He paid the price out of his own pocket. He did not pay the price from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the price from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else. The price he paid is the proof of how dear we are to him. The serpent did not pay a price for us. Jesus did and the price he paid was exorbitant.

The Second Rung of the Ladder

Climb onto the second rung of the ladder to behold the punctuation marks that our evil opened in his body. From the second rung, behold his bloody wounds. His bloody wounds are question marks. They turn the Crucifixion into our question to Jesus and the Resurrecton into his answer to us. They mark a mystery. 'How will our God respond to the evil we did to him?' At the time that our evil opened bloody wounds in his body, the response that they would trigger from him was a mystery to us. The reasonable expectation was that the evil we did to him would trigger his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" . Thankfully, he did not respond in kind . He changed the tone of the conversation .

The Third Rung of the Ladder

Climb onto the third rung of the ladder to behold that his love for us survived the evil we did to him. From the third rung, behold the Resurrection on the far side of the Cross of Christ. His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. It survived. He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . The bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart is unquenchable. Not even the evil we did to him can extinguish the flame or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place.

Climb as Zacchaeus climbed. As we climb each rung of the ladder, we discover the answer to the question, 'Who is God?' The identity of God is revealed to us by the three rungs of the Cross of Christ. When we ascend the Cross of Christ, we break open the lid of our coffins, rise from the dead, enter the glorious light and behold a better, brighter and more beautiful world.

Breakthroughs in the Science of Love

Love is more than an emotion. Love has two components that can be measured: 1) scope and 2) magnitude. To measure love, data from the answers to two questions are needed.

1) [SCOPE] What is the scope of our love? In other words, whom do we love? Is the scope of our love narrow or broad? Whom do we include in and whom do we exclude from the scope of our love? Is our love selfish or sacrificial?

2) [MAGNITUDE] How much are we willing to pay? Is the amount we are willing to pay small or large? Are we generous or parsimonious with our payment?

God endowed us with the capacity to love. In this way, God made us in his own image and likeness . Our hearts are vessels that we can fill to the brim with love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . As our love broadens in scope and grows in magnitude, the closer we come to perfection in love.

Initially, the scope of our love is limited to ourselves (selfish love). We begin at absolute selfishness. God, however, inserted structures into our lives that encourage us to expand the scope of our love (sacrificial love). Family is the first love expanding structure. Inhabiting a family, we learn to expand the scope of our sacrificial love to family members. In a family, we experience a reciprocity of sacrificial love. God inserts various other love expanding structures into our lives such as marriage, team, tribe and Church. By experiencing reciprocity of sacrificial love in these and other love expanding structures, we approach perfection in love. Love begets love.

The good Samaritan is celebrated for expanding the scope of love. He picked up the tab for a stranger in distress. The expansion of the scope of love by the good Samaritan was a breakthrough in the science of love. The good Samaritan raised the bar that marks the upper limit of love .

When it was Jesus's turn, Jesus pushed the envelope. He raised the bar that marks the upper limit of love far higher than the Good Samaritan did.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." . This is the conventional wisdom. Jesus destroyed the conventional wisdom. He obliterated it. He turned conventional wisdom on its head. Jesus showed us a love that was more radical - more extreme - than laying down one's life for our friends. How so? Jesus laid down his life for his enemies. Jesus picked up the tab for us, the very sinners who tortured and murdered him . Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" . Wow! How radical is such love! How extreme! Is no one, not even his enemies, excluded from the scope of his love?

In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, we planted Jesus. And the glorious flower of the Resurrection bloomed. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He arose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the indisputable proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the indisputable proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love .

Love is sacrifice. Selfish love picks up the tab for ourselves. Sacrificial love picks up the tab for others. It is a willingness to pay out of our own pockets the costs for the production of benefits to or the removal of burdens from our neighbors.

Take stock of yourself. What is the scope and magnitude of your love? How much are you willing to pay from your own pocket? For whom?

The homily of a cleric can be rated as 'up', 'down' or' mixed'. A homily is rated 'up' when a homilist looks up at God to enter and explore the inner workings of the mind of God. Only a cleric who has entered and explored the inner workings of the mind of God can speak about what he has discovered. Only then can he say something that illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God. Furthermore, it is not enough to assert conclusions about God. It is necessary to reveal the foundation on which the conclusions rest. A conclusion without a foundation is worthless. The proposition that God is love, while true, is a crippled proposition because it does not have legs to support its truth and opposes its falsehood. Without legs, a crippled proposition is unpersausive. A homily is rated 'down' when a homilist looks down at us and tells us how to behave. A homilist who delivers a 'down' homily tries to promote it by stamping the endorsement of the Church or God or both onto it. Most homilies are 'down' homilies. Most clerics aspire to be kings who rule us. Few homilies are 'up' homilies. Few clerics, apparently, have entered and explored the inner workings of the mind of God and become witnesses to the truth about God. It seems that, as a general rule, clerics prefer to talk about us rather than to talk about God. The better homily, however, is the 'up' homily.

What blessing did Jesus transport from heaven to earth to help us as we pass through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears and into the Kingdom of God?

By Hanging from the Cross, Jesus bestowed a blessing on us whose Utility we can Exploit Here and Now as We pass through the Valley of Tears not just in the hereafter

Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. Love kicks suffering's ass. Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology of filling our hearts to the brim with love. Only love transforms us into a superman with the strength to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was.

Lightening the Load

Love makes our crosses lighter. Love gives our crosses wings. "If a person bears great love in himself, this love gives him wings, as it were, and he can face all life’s troubles more easily because he carries in himself this great light; this is faith: being loved by God and letting oneself be loved by God in Jesus Christ. Letting oneself be loved in this way is the light that helps us to bear our daily burden." .

A cleric who has not entered and explored the inner workings of the mind of God is an unworthy witness who is disqualified from testifying about the truth.

Reverse Engineering the Ten Commandments to Discover the Inner Workings of the Mind of God

Have you ever entered and explored the Mind of God? Religious people enter and explore the mind of God. Are you a religious person? Exploring the mind of God is a vacation from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. Atheists and agnostics miss out on the pleasure. They have no interest in the mind of God. Perfunctory Christians also do little exploring. Yet, God stands at our doors and knocks waiting for us to open the door and sup with him and he with us. God uses the image of "supping" together to tell us that exploring the mind of God is as essential to our survival as eating and drinking. Without consuming food and drink, we die of hunger and thirst. Without exploring the mind of God, death is just as certain.

There are many ways to enter and explore the mind of God. God has established trailheads in many places. Let us start at one particular trailhead, the Ten Commandments. Let us reverse engineer the Ten Commandments to discover the content of the mind of God. Let us look beneath each commandment to try to discover a common pattern - a single substrate on which each is based - a common design from which each of them spring.

1) “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me.” [Love of God]

2) “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” [Love of God]

3) “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” [Love of Yourself]

4) “Honor thy father and mother.” [Love of Parents]

5) “Thou shalt not kill.” [Love of Neighbor]

6) “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” [Love of Spouse]

7) “Thou shalt not steal.” [Love of Neighbor]

8) “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” [Love of Neighbor]

9) “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” [Love of Neighbor]

10) “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” [Love of Neighbor]

As you can see, each of the Ten Commandments is based on love. All of them are particular expressions of Love - instances that arise from the archetype of Love. In the Ten Commandments, God is advocating love to us.

Congratulations! You have entered and explored the mind of God and discovered that the mind of God is love.

P.S. Remember this: Christians do not just read about going on safari. They go on safari. They explore the mystery, majesty and magnifence of God for themselves. Christianity is field work not classroom work. Each of us must be the pilot of our own soul. We cannot subcontract the job to another. We cannot delegate it. No one else can do it for us not even our Church. It cannot be done vicariously. Seeking God is a unique, idiosyncratic, personal experience. There is no substitute for going through it. Why? In the process of seeking God, God transforms us. Unless we do it ourselves, we cannot be transformed.

P.P.S. The Catechism of the Catholic Chursh consists of 920 pages. The Ten Commandments consists of 1 page. Which better illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God? Which is the greater achievement?

P.P.P.S. The Holy Spirit is tugging at our souls. The curious are following the tug back to its source. Are you curious? The question that clerics ought to be asking the children of Adam and Eve is this: "Have you entered and explored the mind of God?" Have you taken part in the adventure?"

The Holy Spirit is tugging at our souls. The curious are following the tug back to its source. Are you curious? The question that clerics ought to be asking the children of Adam and Eve is this: "Have you entered and explored the inner workings of the mind of God?" Have you taken part in the adventure?" A good cleric knows the trail heads of the best trails that take us through the mind of God. A good cleric is a tour guide who knows the sights to see as we explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God.

When a Church functions well, it presents the evidence to the children of Adam and Eve and allows us to draw our own conclusions. It asks life's most important questions. It does not provide the answers but only the basis where we can find the answers for ourselves. A malfunctioning Church attempts to control all aspects of the process of conversion.

A Church that doesn't want you to enter and explore the inner workings of the mind of God for yourself is not a Church to which you want to belong. Why? During the process of exploration, God transforms us. No exploration, no transformation. The Church to which you want to belong is a Church that encourages you to enter and explore the inner workings of the mind of God for yourself.

Clerics talk about formation in the same way that industrial bakers mass produce a million loaves of standardized and tasteless white bread. But God sows with wild yeast and reaps a diverse harvest. God's loaves are sourdough.

Catechesis is entering and exploring the inner workings of the mind of God. It is field work. It is not the memorization of a byzantine codex of rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole.

The magisterium of the Church is the treasure that it has discovered from exploring the inner workings of the mind of God over the course of more than two thousand years. However, just because the Church has discovered the treasure does not mean that we have discovered it as well.

What is Christianity?

Christianity is a treasure map for treasure hunters engaged in a treasure hunt. On the treasure map, a cross marks the spot of the treasure . The treasure enriches our understanding of God. So let us dig it up together and make ourselves rich .

The children of Adam and Eve do not need clerics whose heads are full of rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole. The children of Adam and Eve need clerics whose hearts are filled to the brim with love.

Teaching Us to Govern Ourselves

The job of the Church is not to reign over us as our king. The Church ought to run from the role of petty despot - run away as far and as fast as it can. In the modern world, the children of Adam and Eve have no respect for despots no matter how benign their despotism. We rebel from the philosepher king . "There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands." But, as Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." If the story of Adam and Eve teaches anything, it teaches that our faculty of obedience is broken. The paradigm of authority - obedience is a failed paradigm. So, the job of the Church is to teach us how to govern ourselves. This cannot be done by filling our heads to the brim with rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole. This can only be done by filling our hearts to the brim with love. The Church is failing today because it is concentrating on filling our heads instead of filling our hearts. A new evangelization requires a new emphasis.

What genre of literature is the Word of God ? The Word of God is a love note - a love note from God to us.

Christianity is a religion built upon a love note - a love note from God to us. A love note is the foundation of Christianity.

The Love Note

God composed a love note to us in heaven, delivered it to us at Bethlehem, published it in the violent collision between Jesus, our Savior, and the evil we did to him, and propagates it to us whenever a priest says a Mass.

The Love Note diluted the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears in the same way that sugar cubes dilute the bitterness of a cup of coffee.

The Love Note was sent from God in heaven to us on earth to pay the ransom that the serpent demanded to purchase our freedom from the yoke of Pharaoh. The Love Note was the ransom.

Our Home with God and His Holy Family in Paradise

God's power built paradise for us. God's love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. God established Adam and Eve in paradise. The Garden of Eden is the point and place of our beginning.

The Serpent Kidnapped Us from the Garden of Eden, took us hostage, transplanted us into the Valley of Tears and held us for ransom

The serpent kidnapped Adam and Eve from paradise, took them and their progeny hostage, transplanted them into the Valley of Tears and demanded that God pay a ransom for their release from captivity. The ransom that the serpent demanded was the life of the Son of God . The serpent did not think that God would pay the ransom. He did not think that God's love for sinners was big enough for him to lay down his life for them. To the surprise of the serpent, God paid the ransom .

When Jesus paid the ransom,
Slaves became Refugees


The Son of God laid down his life to purchase our freedom from the yoke of Pharaoh. The payment of the ransom opened the gates of the concentration camp and removed the guards from the watch towers. Payment lifted from our shoulders the yoke of Pharaoh. We were free but still displaced from our home. Therefore, slaves became refugees. After our release from captivity, we became strangers in a hostile land. We still need to pass through the hostile desert - the Valley of Tears - to reach the promised land, the land of milk and honey. We were not out of the woods, yet.

What is the best way to pass through the Valley of Tears and into the Kingdom of God?

Love and love alone is the grease for the wheels of our passage through the Valley of Tears and into the Kingdom of God.

The ransom that the serpent demanded to free us from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh was the life of the Son of God. The size of the ransom was exorbitant. Payment would be contrary to the Son of God's self-interest. It is unreasonable to expect the Son of God to act contrary to his self-interest. Yet, he did. He paid the ransom. Why? Love. The only reason is love. His love for us caused him to pay the ransom. He picked up the tab because he loved us more than he loved himself.

The Price of Freedom

From the framework of the Cross, Jesus put on a demonstration of God. Jesus did not just tell us about God. Jesus showed us God. He laid down his life in payment of the ransom that the serpent demanded for our release from the yoke of Pharaoh . Furthermore, he paid the ransom not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the ransom from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us . He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else . The exorbitant size of the ransom that Jesus paid to purchase our freedom from the yoke of Pharaoh is irrefutable evidence of the exorbitant size of his love for us.

Why is it more difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle ? The illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness is thicker for the rich man than for the poor man. Its thickness makes it harder to shatter. The thicker the sugarcoating, the harder the sledgehammer of truth needs to work.

The False Sense of Security We Derive from Riches

"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" . A rich man thinks that he can exploit his riches to fend off the crosses that beseige us as we pass through the Valley of Tears . His riches can hold the crosses at bay. However, not even a rich man can rescue himself. Even a rich man needs God's help for salvation. The predicament of the rich man is just as dire as the predicament of the poor man. What is the difference? The poor man is better off than the rich man. The poor man, not having the cushion of riches between himself and his crosses, is more aware than the rich man of the direness of his predicament. Riches conjure up the dangerous illusion of safety and of independence from God . A poor man with no resources is much more likely to turn to God than a rich man with resources. A rich man does not spend enough time thinking about his imminent need for the parting of the Red Sea of Death. His resources, no matter how great, will not accomplish such a miracle. Standing like a colossus at the nexus between the entrance of paradise and the exit of godlessness is Jesus. Through his bloody wounds the great leap is made from time to eternity . He is the way . "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." . All of the resources of a rich man are not enough to pay the toll for entry into the kingdom of God. The toll is not found in one's pocket. The toll is found in one's heart. God made us in his own image and likeness . God endowed us with the capacity to love. We can fill our hearts to the brim with love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . A heart filled to the brim with love is the toll for admission into the kingdom of God. God is looking to admit into the kingdom of God children of God - chips off the old block - apples who don't fall far from the tree. Resounding gongs or clashing cymbals need not apply . Their cacophany is not welcome. Love and love alone is the grease for the wheels of out passage through the Valley of Tears and into the Kingdom of God. Love is the key that unlocks the door to paradise.

God made an Investment in Humanity

Jesus paid the exorbitant price of ransoming us from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh while we were still sinners - while we were still unworthy of his love - while we did not deserve it. The payment was not an expense but an investment . He invested not in our status as sinners but in our potential to become saints. Our potential to become saints is hidden under our status as sinners. He looked beyond our status as sinners and saw the upside of his investment. One of his gifts to us is the capacity to love. We can fill our hearts to the brim with love. The greater the love in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God . Our God, who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands, put himself into the hands of the mud to demonstrate to the mud its potential to become sons and daughters of God. How do we become sons and daughters of God? By filling our hearts to the brim with love. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" .

The most Sacred Heart of Jesus overflows with love. His cup runneth over like the dewfall . From him our hearts receive a transfusion of love. The transfusion of love is invigorating. It vivifies us. It brings the dead to life.

The Evil We Did to Him Opened The Mouth of God

In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, we shouted our sharp questions at him with lash, thorns, nails and spear. "Who are you, Jesus?" "Identify yourself!" "Friend or foe?" Thankfully, he did not respond to our sharp questions in kind . Whispering a gentle answer to our sharp questions, he changed the tone of the conversation . The gentleness of his answer was the pearls he threw to the swine - the holy that he threw to the dogs . The evil we did to him opened the mouth of God. The mouth of God is His bloody wounds. Through his bloody wounds, He whispered his gentle answer back to us. "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" . The good news of great joy was preached to us through his bloody wounds. By his bloody wounds we are healed . The truth that illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany passed through his bloody wounds. Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds. Buckets of blood poured through the wounds that our evil opened in his body. On a cataract of blood his very life itself was carried out of his body . But, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds and out of his body. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. The fidelity of our resemblance to God depends on the love we hold in our hearts. The greater the love, the higher the fidelity. By keeping his Most Sacred Heart filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus maintained a perfect resemblance to God. He refused to let our evil transmogrify him into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" . Jesus's whispered answer to our sharp questions was that he was "our friend not our foe - our almighty lover." Our friend does not want to hurt us. He wants to help us as we make our escape through the Valley of Tears.

What is the rock on which Christians rest their confidence (a/k/a faith) that Jesus will rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears?

The mission that God gave his Son to resuce us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears consisted of two parts:

1) Free us from our captivity as slaves under the yoke of Pharaoh, and

2) Help us make our way through the Valley of Tears back to our home with God and his Holy Family in the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey.

Jesus completed the first half of his rescue mission. He paid the serpent the ransom that purchased our freedom. Our confidence (a/k/a faith) that Jesus will finish the rescue mission rests on the fact that he completed its first half. Its first half was the hardest part. The serpent demanded as ransom the life as the Son of God. Jesus paid it. Wow!

Illuminating the darkness of our understanding of God

Divinity paid humanity a visit at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet called the Middle East more than two thousand years ago. During the visit, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom and Jesus stepped through the rent in the veil to introduce God to us . In the introduction, Jesus illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God in glorious bursts of epiphany - some being more apocalyptic than others.

1) He taught us with words. Becoming acquainted with God through what Jesus said is the least apocalyptic way in which Jesus illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God. In other words, it is not the brightest of lights.

2) He ransomed us from our kidnapper, the serpent. He purchased our freedom from the yoke of Pharaoh. Furthermore, He paid the ransom not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the ransom from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else . The RANSOM demanded and paid was the life of the Son of God. The size of the ransom that Jesus paid is persuasive evidence of the size of his love for us. The payment of the ransom is a flood light that powerfully illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God.

3) Jesus uttered his wordless ANSWER to the evil we did to him. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built his ANSWER to the evil we did to him from the framework of the Cross. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed to us the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. Our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. God is still head over heels in love with us despite the evil we did to him. Remarkably, the evil that we did to him did not extinguish the love that burns like a bonfire for us in his most Sacred Heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" . His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it. Wow! The wordless ANSWER Jesus gave to the evil we did to him is the sun that turns the darkness of our understanding of God into day.

What is the Good News of Great Joy?

Can you articulate the Good News of Great Joy? Do you have the words? Don't just say the gospels. Your generality reveals your ignorance. Be specific. Narrow it down.

The good news of great joy was preached to us through his bloody wounds

What is Church?

The Church is marching hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm together as one family to the rhythmic beat of the loving heart of our living God! We are helping each other as we are making our esacape through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land, the land of milk and honey. The Church is a mutual aid society whose purpose is salvation. Church is a place where the reciprocity of love is practiced.

I am your almighty lover. Let your confidence (a/k/a faith) that I shall rescue you from your dire predicament in the Valley of Tears rest upon the verified LOVE NOTE that God sent from heaven to you here on earth. I am a rock. Trust in my proven veracity. Rely on it. I shall never let you down. I shall never disappoint. I am your friend not your foe. I want to help you not hurt you. I am your savior. I am the RANSOM that God sent from heaven to purchase your freedom from the yoke of Pharoah. The ransom was paid. I have set you free from your captivity. You are no longer slaves. All that is left is for you to make your way through the Valley of Tears back to your home with God and his Holy Family in the promised land, the land of milk and honey. To help you to return to your home in paradise, I have built an escape route through the Valley of Tears, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church, and gave the Church the job of facilitating your escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape through the Valley of Tears is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The Church has the map and knows the way!

Why did God capitulate to the serpent's ransom demand?

Why did God pay the ransom that the serpent demanded to purchase our freedom from captivity? What does payment tell us about Jesus?

What inferences can we legitimately make from the size of the ransom payment?

What does the size of the payment that Jesus made to ransom us from the yoke of Pharaoh tell us about the size of his love for us? The price of the ransom was exorbitant. Yet, Jesus, the Son of God, paid the exorbitant ransom out of his own pocket. Furthermore, He paid it not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the ransom from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else . The foundation of our confidence (a/k/a faith) that God will rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears is the payment of the ransom. It is the rock on which Christians rest their faith. Some say that the Son of God ovepaid - that the serpent ripped God off. We, sinners, were not worth the ransom. Jesus, the Son of God, on the other hand, was willing to pay the exorbitant price to ransom us. He thought that we were worth it. Rejoice and be glad! We are worth much to our God! He would not have paid an exorbitant price to ransom us if we were not worth it.

Why did Jesus pay the ransom from the platform of the Cross?

God did not pay the ransom in secret. God paid the ransom openly. Payment of the ransom was published for all to behold on the platform of the Cross. God did not want there to be any ambiguity whatsoever. God wanted us to know how dear we are to him.

The Duration of his love for sinners

His love for sinners, however, cannot just be measured by its amplitude. His love for sinners also has a temporal component. We can infer the duration of his love for sinners from its indestructibility. His love for sinners ought to have faded as we tortured him and ought to have died when we killed him. But it did not. It survived. Its survival is the proof that the duration of his love for us is forever. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . The bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart is unquenchable. Not even the evil we did to him can extinguish the flame or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. The dial that controls his love for sinners is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place.

The Post-Liberation Journey through the Valley of Tears back to our home with God and His holy family in Paradise

The payment of the ransom liberated us from the captivity of the serpent. He set us free. However, the serpent did not return us back to our home with God and his Holy Family in paradise. The serpent merely opened the gates of the concentration camp and removed the guards. When the payment of the ransom was made, our status changed from hostages to displaced refugees now free to find our way back home to paradise. To help us to return to our home in paradise, God built an escape route through the Valley of Tears, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church, and gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape through the Valley of Tears is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The Church has the map and knows the way!

The Gospel within The Gospels

The Gospel within the Gospels is the Gospel without words. It is the subset of the Gospels in which is recorded the violent collision between Jesus, the Son of God, and the evil that we did to him. The violent collision was bigger than the Big Bang and larger than CERN's Large Hadron Collider . In the violence of the collision, the apocalypse took place. In the violent collision, humanity encountered divinity here on earth. During the encounter, Jesus, the Son of God himself, introduced us to the definitive picture of God - a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. The "similitude" of God was put before us for us to behold.

The close encounter between humanity and divinity took place in two rounds. The first round belonged to us. The second round belonged to Jesus. The two rounds were distinct but related. The beautiful, symbiotic dance of question and answer weaved its way through his bloody wounds to connect the first round and the second round of the encounter together into a conversation - the most apocalyptic conversation that has ever taken place between humanity and divinity since Moses and God conversed at the burning bush on Mount Horeb . Are you privy to the conversation?

In the first round of our encounter with divinity, did we roll out the welcome mat for our God? Did we greet him with joyous celebration? Was there singing, dancing, feasting, drinking and rejoicing? Did we treat him as the guest of honor?

No, not quite.

In the first round of our encounter with divinity, we interrogated Jesus. We gave Jesus the third degree. We questioned Jesus. Who are you Jesus? Identify yourself. Friend or foe? We interrogated him with lash, thorns, nails and spear. We baptized him in undiluted evil . We impaled him alive on the Cross as a fisherman insouciantly impales a worm on a hook . We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. [n.b. The Mass is our do-over - our second chance. It is the opportunity that the most Holy Trinity gives us to greet the Son of God as we ought to have greeted him the first time he paid us a visit. The Mass is the time for singing, dancing, feasting, drinking and rejoicing - a time for joyous celebration because Emmanuel is here - God is with us .]

In the second round of our encounter with divinity, Jesus gave us his answer to the evil that we did to him. The Lord of the Vinyard gave his answer to the husbandmen . In his answer, Jesus did not just tell us about God. Jesus showed us God. Jesus put on a demonstration of God. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built his answer to the evil we did to him on the framework of the Cross.

Thankfully, our God is different than us . When evil is done to us, the law of symmetry dictates our response. At the very least, evil pisses us off. It antagonizes us. It earns the evildoers a place on our shit list. It provokes our instinct for justice. It triggers our reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. But not so with God. Not so. Jesus rejected the law of symmetry. He abrogated it. The dictator that rules us does not rule him. He defied the dictator. Jesus refused to encounter us in the same way that we encountered him . He reversed the tone of the encounter . His Answer to the evil we did to him turned the night into day. .

To fully understand the radical asymmetry of the answer that Jesus gave to the evil we did to him, we need to return to heaven before the encounter between divinity and humanity took place here on earth. God our Father composed a love note for us in heaven and delivered it to us on earth at Bethlehem. What genre of literature is the Word of God ? The Word of God is a love note - a love note from God to us. Verification of the veracity of the love note was given to us by Jesus's answer to the evil we did to him. No violent collision; no answer; no verification. The love note was verified when Jesus emerged still alive and still in love with us from the evil baptism in which we drowned him. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed to us the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. Our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. God is still head over heels in love with us despite the evil we did to him. Remarkably, the evil that we did to him did not extinguish the love that burns like a bonfire for us in his most Sacred Heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" . His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it. Wow!

As we pass through life, we occupy various states of being. The top level is the level of God at which our hearts are filled to the brim with love. The bottom level is the level of the beast - the most hideous and miserable of loveless beast. At the level of the beast, our hearts are empty of love. Evil tends to poke holes in our hearts and drains them of love. Jesus simply refused to let the evil we did to him to dislodge him from the level of God and cast him down to the level of the beast . The evil we did to him did not jump the gap between us and him. He erected a firewall. The firewall that Jesus erected was this: He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go. [n.b.. Cling as Jesus clung. A word to the wise is sufficient!] He refused to allow our evil to transmogrify him into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beast.

The Gospel within the Gospels is the source of our confidence (a/k/a faith) in God. It is the rock on which we can confidently rest our faith in him. Why? Only reality is reliable. Smoke and mirrors are not. His love for us is real. Its reality was verified for us in the violent collision between Jesus, Our Savior, and the evil we did to him. God himself gave us proof. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their lives. Build your lives on his love for us. Therefore, rejoice and be glad! Despite the evil we did to him, our God continues to love us nonetheless. Wow! Our God is our almighty lover - our friend not our foe. He wants to help us not to hurt us. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid ? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint?

In the encounter between humanity and divinity, we baptized him in evil. In his answer to the evil we did to him, He baptized us in the knowledge of God.

Does the ear of the Church hear the voice of the sheep?

The Mass was filled with confirmation kids finishing their retreat weekend. It was packed. It was probably the last time that most of them would return to a Church - their last chance to learn something Christian that would help them pass through the Valley of Tears. The homily of the priest today talked about picking up and carrying crosses. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting. I was waiting for the priest to tell them. Alas, he never did. He never told them "how". How do we pick up and carry our crosses? He didn't know. He hadn't a clue. How disappointing! What a disservice to the confirmation kids. The priest was well aware that Jesus hung from his Cross. However, he did not know that Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. He did not know that, from the platform of the Cross, Jesus was revealing the "secret" that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses - that turns us into superman with the strength to succeed in the challenge of the cross. The Church has not established a formal method of feedback for homilies. We in the pews are children who, according to a Church steeped in clericalism, ought to be seen but not heard. "A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of a sheep” , Tywin Lannister said. The ear of the Church does not hear the voice of the sheep. In the eyes of the Church, good information only flows downhill from the top of the Church to the bottom not vice-versa. Pope Pius X hit the nail on the head about how the Church looks down its haughty nose at the sheep when he said: "... the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.. But, "Vox populi, vox Dei" "Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!” - Dr. Seuss

  The Paradigm of Escape is the lens through which Christians view the world - or ought to view the world. Is this your paradigm? If not, what is yours? Do you even have your own paradigm? Do yourself a favor: articulate it! Do not let it hide within you ineffable. Furthermore, does your paradigm take into account the elements that the Paradigm of Escape takes into account? Does your paradigm take into account fewer elements or different elements or more elements? Moreover, with regard to the Paradigm of Escape, which element of the escape do you understand the best and talk about the most? Is your understanding balanced? Or are some aspects of the escape under-emphasized and other aspects over-emphasized?

The Paradigm of Escape is the lens through which Christians view the world - or ought to view the world. Is this your paradigm? If not, what is yours? Do you even have your own paradigm? Do yourself a favor: articulate it! Do not let it hide within you ineffable. Furthermore, does your paradigm take into account the elements that the Paradigm of Escape takes into account? Does your paradigm take into account fewer elements or different elements or more elements? Moreover, with regard to the Paradigm of Escape, which element of the escape do you understand the best and talk about the most? Is your understanding balanced? Or are some aspects of the escape under-emphasized and other aspects over-emphasized?

The Exodus is A Powerful Allegory

The exodus of the Jews is a powerful allegory that the genius of God embedded into the history of humanity to inform us about our place in the Big Picture of life here on earth. The Jews made their escape through the hostile desert. So, too, Christians. We are making our escape through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. The Valley of Tears is our hostile desert - everyone's hostile desert.

Hasn't the script has already been written? Have you not read the script? Will our immutable God rewrite the script?

Is Christianity relevant and important to us today or is it an Anachronism that we would be well-advised to discard?

What is the relevance and importance of Christianity to us today? We stew in the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine. This has been our lot since Adam and Eve, like foolish children, ran away from their home with God in Eden and took us with them into the Valley of Tears. The Valley of Tears is as foul as Eden was fair - as hostile as Eden was hospitable. As we pass through the Valley of Tears, we eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction . The rod is not spared on the children of Adam and Eve in the Valley of Tears. Spare the rod and spoil the children . The Valley of Tears is hostile territory. In the Valley of Tears, we find ourselves behind enemy lines in no man's land . We are in danger. Our predicament in the Valley of Tears is dire. We need to escape. Christianty is relevant and important to us today because Christianity is the best escape route through and out of the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. Christianity is the ladder on which we climb out of the Valley of Tears.

1) The army of the new Egyptians is relentlessly pursuing the new Exodus through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears in an effort to return us to slavery under the yoke of the new Pharaoh, the serpent. [It is the hammer.] Who will keep us out of its clutches?

2) Regardless of our ages, we stand at the threshold of the Red Sea of death. [It is the anvil]. On the far side of the Red Sea of death is the promised land, the land of milk and honey. Who will part the Red Sea of death for us?

3) Without a miracle that parts the Red Sea of death for us, our destiny is to be crushed between the hammer and the anvil. Who will perform the miracle for us?

4) Many and merciless are the crosses that nail themselves to us as we pass through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. What is the best way to handle them? Do we let them crush us under their oppressive weight? Or do we pick them up and carry them? What is the "secret" to picking them up and carrying them?

God built an escape route through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears from godlessness to paradise, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church, and gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The Church has the map and knows the way! I am participating in the new Exodus through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharoah to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land, the land of milk and honey because I know that I cannot save myself. My salvation is from the hands of God. I need God's help. My appreciation of my helplessness is why Chrisitanity makes sense to me. I am utterly dependent on God for my salvation - and so are you .

Am I confident that God will rescue me from my dire predicament in the Valley of Tears? Yes. What is the source of my confidence (a/k/a faith)? My confidence is built on a rock . The foundation of my confidence rests on the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the gospel within the gospels. In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the autobiography of God was written - the self-portrait of God was painted. In the gospel within the gospels, a demonstration of God was done. The identity of God was shown to us from the platform of the Cross. Jesus showed us that God is our almighty lover. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed to us the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. Our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. God is still head over heels in love with us despite the evil we did to him. The evil we did to him did not extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most Sacred Heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it. Wow! The evil we did to him did not jump the gap between us and him. He refused to allow our evil to transmogrify him into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beast.

In refusing to allow evil to transmogrify him from the level of God with a heart filled to the brim with love to the level of the beast with a heart empty of love, Jesus showed us how to handle the crosses that besiege us as we pass through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. This byproduct of his confrontation with our evil is very, very valuable to us here on earth. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. Love kicks suffering's ass. Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology of filling our hearts to the brim with love to enable us to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was.

What is the most important aspect of Christianity and why? The radical asymmetry of Jesus's response to the evil that we did to him is the most important aspect of Christianity. Thankfully, Jesus did not answer us in kind. He changed the tone of the conversation. It does not get any more asymmetric than that, right? Our God continues to love us nonetheless despite the evil we did to him. Our evil tried but failed to tear into bits and pieces the love note that God our Father composed for us in heaven and sent to us at Bethlehem to console us in our misery here in the Valley of Tears. The love note survived the evil we did to him.Wow! "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" . The survival of his love for us tells us that His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . The evil we did to him did not extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most Sacred Heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. It is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it. Knowing with certainity that our God is our almighty lover makes it easier to trust that he will rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears.

Baptism

The waters of baptism represent the Red Sea. The Red Sea is a reminder that the mighty hand of God saves his people from their dire predicament. Baptism is the Christian ceremony during which God reminds us that we will be baptized in the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears. Baptism calls us to prepare ourselves. Jesus himself underwent baptism in preparation for his passion and death . The Valley of Tears is the vessel that holds the hostile truth in which we are baptized. In it, we stew for a lifetime like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine. In the Valley of Tears, God lets us stick our fingers into the flames to learn for ourselves that the fire is hot. God's supreme confidence in the liberating power of the truth - both the hostile truth and the hospitable truth - enabled him to say to us: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . The Valley of Tears is a classroom in which the pedagogy is cruel - brutally cruel but effective. The rod is not spared on the children of Adam and Eve in the Valley of Tears. Spare the rod and spoil the children . As we pass through the Valley of Tears, we eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction . The Valley of Tears is hostile territory. In the Valley of Tears, we find ourselves behind enemy lines - in no man's land . We are in danger. Our predicament in the Valley of Tears is dire. The hostile truth of the Valley of Tears will baptize us whether we like it or not . There is no shortcut by which we can avoid the Valley of Tears. It is not a Maginot Line that we can go around. There is no bridge over it or tunnel under it. We must pass through it. As meat passes through a grinder, we pass through it. As grist passes through a mill, we pass through it. No exceptions. However, there is an escape route through it. God built an escape route through the Valley of Tears from godlessness to paradise, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church, and gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The Church has the map and knows the way! Baptism is also the Christian ceremony during which God renews his promise to rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. God promises to part the Red Sea of death for those who participate in the new Exodus that is making its escape through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land, the land of milk and honey.

The test of a Catholic is movement not behavior or belief. A Catholic moves from the sourness of godlessness to the sweetness of paradise on the Catholic escape route. We are Catholic first with our feet and then with our heads. God built an escape route through the Valley of Tears from godlessness to paradise, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church, and gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect.

The mind’s direction is more important than its progress.
— Joseph Joubert

Chapter 5
Why is Rescue Delayed instead of Immediate?

The Good News of Great Joy

God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as he delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than he was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

God inserted a delay between his gift of life and his gift of paradise. Why?

Simultaneous Delivery

God delivered the gift of life and the gift of paradise simultaneouly to Lucifer, to the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer, to Eve, to Adam and to the prodigal son.

Sequential Delivery

To the children of Adam and Eve, God delivers the gift of life and the gift of paradise sequentially. God inserted a delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise. We call the delay the Valley of Tears. We stew in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine for a lifetime.

Why is Rescue Delayed?

Why? Why the change in God's gift-giving policy? Why isn't rescue immediate? Why does God let us stew in the sour truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine? What the f%#k is going on?

God's conception of Rescue is different than Our Conception of Rescue

Our conception of rescue is different than God's conception of rescue . We want God to eliminate our crosses. God, however, does not. God wants us to pick up and carry our crosses . There is a difference in opinions. His prevails.

Why does God want us to pick up and carry our crossses?

What benefit do we derive from picking up and carrying our crosses ? There is only one way to pick up and carry a cross. God wants us to discover the way. Only love gives us the strength to pick up and carry our crosses. Without filling our hearts to the brim with love, our crosses crush us under their oppresive weight and stop our progress to paradise dead in its tracks. God challenges us with our crosses to teach us to love.

The Technology Jesus Transported from Heaven to Earth

Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe.

The Challenge of Our Crosses

Our crosses poke holes in our hearts when they nail themselves to us. They punctuate our hearts. Buckets of blood pass through the holes and out of our bodies. Our very lives themselves are carried out of our bodies through the holes on a cataract of blood. But what else? What about the important stuff? What about the content of our hearts? Our crosses are the serpent's inquisition . They are his inquisitors. The holes are question marks. Our crosses are putting us to the test. They are interrogating us. They are asking us a question. It is a simple question. What type of creature are you? Who are you? Identify yourself. Are you God or are you a beast?

Our crosses have the malign power to drain our hearts of love. Do we permit them to do so? Do we let our crosses transmogrify us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. Or do we deny ourselves? Do we resist? Do we refuse? Do we defiantly say, 'No!' to our crosses. Do we keep our hearts filled to the brim with love?

The challenge of the Cross is the only significant question that each of us is called upon to answer during the course of our lives. Nothing else matters but the answer to this question. God presents us with the challenge of the Cross as we pass through the Valley of Tears in the hope that we will transform ourselves into creatures who love. He is not interested in transforming us into creatures who follow a book of rules . He is not interested in transforming us into creatures who are obedient. He is not interested in transforming us into a flock of docile sheep . God isn't such a small thinker. He has a higher goal and a bigger plan for us. He is only interested in transforming us into creatures who love - like himself . No challenge; no transformation.

Love deifies us. Therefore, Jesus wants us to download love from the Cross of Christ and, with it, fill our hearts . Download and install. The Cross of Christ is the Github of heaven at which the source code for success in life is kept.

You are trying to fill your pail to the brim with stuff. STOP! Instead, fill your heart to the brim with love.

Chapter 6
Mitigation

Jesus gave us the pedagogy of the Cross
to mitigate the cruelty of
the pedagogy of the Valley of Tears.

The pedagogy of the Valley of Tears is the harsh but effective medicine. The medicine, however, is not without its pernicious side effects. The pedagogy of the Cross addresses the pernicious side effects of the medicine.

Mitigation

Wouldn't a merciful God mitigate the direness of our predicament in the Valley of Tears? Wouldn't a merciful God show us the best way to pass through the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears?

The brevity of life is proof of the mercy of God. Only a misanthropic god would make us stew in the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears for more than a lifetime.

Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. He did not just tell us - he showed us - the best way to deal with our crosses as we pass through the Valley of Tears. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. The Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology of applying love to suffering works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was!

The technology of applying love to suffering is the "grease" that lubricates the wheels of our passage through the Valley of Tears.

The Atomic Bomb of Mitigation

The most powerful tool that we have in our arsenal to mitigate the hostility of the Valley of Tears is the technology of applying love to suffering. The technology of applying love to suffering is the atomic bomb of mitigation. It dilutes the bitterness of godlessness in the same way that sugar cubes dilute the bitterness of a cup of coffee. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. Jesus refused to permit the evil we did to him to transmogrify him into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. He clung to love for us, held tight and refused to let go even though we tortured and killed him. In this way, he maintained his resemblance to God. The greater the love we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . Love is the life preserver that keeps us afloat in the rough waters of our baptism in the Valley of Tears . A word to the wise is sufficient.

What is the best way to pass through the Valley of Tears? Love is the "grease" that lubricates the wheels of our passage through the Valley of Tears. The best way is to love our way throught it. When will the Church start to share this "secret" with the children of Adam and Eve?

What kind of guest was Jesus? Was he an empty-handed guest? Or did he bring a gift when he paid us a visit at and about the city of Jerusalem more than two thousand years ago? Furthermore, was the gift that Jesus transported from heaven to earth to give to the children of Adam and Eve useful to us in this world, the natural world as we pass through the Valley of Tears or was the gift only useful in the next world, the world of the supernatural?

Does the Church realize that it has practical and valuable advice to give the children of Adam and Eve who struggle as they pass through the Valley of Tears - advice that matters here and now not just in the hereafter? The Church has the map and knows the way. It knows the best way to handle the crosses that besiege us. The Church that contemplates the Cross understands the technology of applying love to suffering. Its job is to distribute the technology to the children of Adam and Eve. Get to work!

Chapter 7
The Application of The Theory of Christianity to the Facts

Condolences to Parents Who Lost A Child

I cannot imagine your loss. It would crush me under its unbearable weight. But, please, don't let it crush you. I understand that the magnitude of your loss can make you deeply bitter. It can change you. It can squeeze the love from your hearts. Please, for your own sakes, resist. Do not surrender! Fight back! Have courage and fight back! I may sound trite but I have come to realize late in life that the only way to cope with loss is to cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go. Love is the "grease" that lubricates the wheels of our passage through the Valley of Tears. Love is the secret sauce that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses - only love - nothing else. Therefore, find somebody to love. Hug and kiss each other. Hug and kiss your other children and granchildren. Love your way through this. Continuing to love is the only way to heal the wounds of your loss. Love won't take away your wounds. You will always bear the scar of your loss. But, love will stop the bleedings. Please, for your own sakes. Do not turn your backs on love.

Advice to a Teacher of the Faith

You and I have a different view of Christianity - diametrically different views.

I subscribe to the school of thought that the aim of Christianity is to fill our hearts to the brim with love.

You subscribe to the school of thought that the aim of Christianity is to fill our heads to the brim with the byzantine codex of Catholic rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole.

You subscribe to the pedestrian. I subscribe to the sublime.

One of the goals of Christianity is to stop the propagation of evil. Evil propagates itself, like a wave, across the gap between evildoer and victim, contaminates the victim, and transmogrifies the victim into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beast.

Christianity tries to build a firewall between the evildoer and victim. The firewall that Christianity tries to build is a heart filled to the brim with love not a head filled to the brim with "stuff". "Stuff" doesn't make a good firewall. It does not stop the propagation of evil.

We have two options as we pass through the Valley of Tears.

1) We can allow our crosses to crush us under their unbearable weight. They can squeeze out the love we hold in our hearts as paste is squeezed out of a tube. They can transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts or

2) We can resist. We can deny ourselves. We can fight against our natural, reflexive tendency to release our grip on love when our crosses nail themselves to us. Instead, we can pick them up and carry them (Matthew 16:24).

We pick option 1 or 2. The choice is ours.

Jesus gave us the sweet pedagogy of the Cross to mitigate the cruel pedagogy of the Valley of Tears. The pedagogy of the Cross dilutes the cruelty of the pedagogy of the Valley of Tears in the same way that sugar cubes dilute the bitterness of a cup of coffee.

Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. Only love kicks suffering's a&&. Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology of applying love to suffering. The technology enables us to pick up and carry our crosses (Matthew 16:24). Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was.

When you teach the Catholic faith as you claim to do, teach your pupils to love. Love is the "grease" for the wheels of their passage through the Valley of Tears. If they learn this, you have taught them a valuable lesson - a practical lesson that will help them on their journey through the Valley of Tears.

It is easy for a teacher to teach your students every jot and tittle of the Catholic Church's byzantine codex of rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole. It is harder for a teacher - much harder - to teach your students to love. Why? Only love begets love.

You can try to teach Christianity with words. You can tell your students about Christianity. But this way of teaching Christianity does not succeed. Christianity is taught by demonstration. Christianity is not taught by speaking about it. It is taught by doing it.

Jesus revealed the identity of God to us not by telling us about God. Jesus put on a demonstration of God on and about the platform of the Cross.

God, the author of reality, staged a violent collision between his dearly beloved Son, Jesus, and the evil that we did to him. The violent collision was bigger than the Big Bang and larger than CERN's Large Hadron Collider . The rubric under which we classify the violent collision is the Crucifixion. Incandescent truths erupted from the violent collision that illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. The rubric under which we classify the incandescent truths is the Resurrection.

Show your students Christianity. Don't merely tell them. You teach them nothing if you just tell them.

Chapter 8
What Role Does The Truth Play in the Escape of the New Exodus

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" .

The truth comes in two flavors: 1) sweet and 2) sour, like the chicken at a Chinese restaurant.

The sour truth is the engine that pushes the new exodus to the exit of the Valley of Tears.

The sweet truth is the engine that pulls the new exodus to the entrance of paradise.

The Nexus Between the Sour Truth and the Sweet Truth

The two engines of truth generate the current of salvation. The current of salvation carries us from the sourness of godlessness to the sweetness of paradise. Only a recalcitrant few swim against it. The playing field is not on the level. The "game" is rigged. It is tilted downhill from godlessness to paradise to help us reach our salvation. Standing like a colossus at the nexus between the entrance of paradise and the exit of godlessness is Jesus. Through his bloody wounds the great leap is made from time to eternity . He is the way . "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." .

I am not God. I am not a deputy of God. I do not stand in persona Christi. What I am is a witness to the sweet truth and to the sour. Hearken to my testimony.

The Engines of Truth Drive the New Exodus

The truth is the engine that drives the new exodus along the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. The engines of truth generate the current of salvation. The current of salvation flows from the sourness of godlessness to the sweetness of paradise. The mighty river of truth sweeps us off our feet and carries us to our salvation. Only the recalcitrant few try to swim against it.

On God's palette sit two pigments of truth.

The Sour Truth

The sour truth is the medicine, harsh but effective. For the children of Adam and Eve, the sour truth fills the delay that God inserted between his gift of life and his gift of paradise. The vessel that holds the sour truth is the Valley of Tears . The gift of life marks the beginning of our escape through the Valley of Tears. The gift of paradise marks the end. As we make our escape through the sour truth held by the Valley of Tears, we are baptized . We eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction . Our baptism in the sour truth is the price of admission into paradise, the land flowing with milk and honey .

The Side Effect of the Medicine

The medicine, however, is not without a deleterious side effect. It broadcasts powerful anti-god propaganda into every nook and cranny of the Valley of Tears.

The Sweet Truth

The sweet truth is the sugar that helps the medicine go down . The sweet truth is God's challenge to the serpent's anti-god propaganda. It is the argument that God makes to us in the courtroom of our rationality to dispute the the serpent's anti-god propaganda. The sweet truth helps us to reach the right verdict about God. The sweet truth emerged incandescent from the violent collision that took place between Jesus and the evil we did to him to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. The sweetness of paradise dilutes the sourness of godlessness in the same way that sugar cubes dilute the bitterness of a cup of coffee . The sweet truth mitigates the sourness of godlessness. It blunts the sharp edges of the crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears.

Our rationality is a gift from God. With it, we process the truth. The truth is the fuel of our rationality. When fueled by the the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusion, our rationality leads us astray.

Only reality is reliable. Reality is the rock on which the wise build their lives .

The Behavior of Rational Creatures is Predictable

Rational creatures behave in a predictable manner. We follow a pattern. It is not a complicated pattern. Sweetness attracts us. Honey draws the bees back home to the hive. Sourness repels us. We flee from it. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. Hence, the truth can drive us.

More Sweet Truth; Less Sour Truth

The sour truth pushes us to the exit of godlessness. The sweet truth pulls us to the entrance of paradise. Both - the sweet truth and the sour truth - are engines that generate the current of salvation. Each drives our progress along the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. The two engines are the belt and suspenders that hold up the pants of salvation. They provide a state of double redundancy. Only one is necessary. It is quite rational to pray, therefore, for more sweet truth and less sour truth.

Rescue is Achieved By Applying the Truth to Our Rationality

God rescues us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears by applying the truth to our rationality. We climb out of our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears on the ladder of truth.

God and the serpent are Adversaries in the Courtroom of Our Rationality

We are the jury. The serpent is presenting his evidence. So is God. The evidence conflicts. It is up to us to reach a verdict. The battleground on which God and the serpent are fighting is the battleground of our rationality. The weapon God uses is the truth. The weapon the serpent uses is falsehood . It is fact versus fiction. God presents the facts. The serpent presents the fictions. We are the jury who must distinguish fact versus fiction. The purpose of this exercise is so we can learn the truth for ourselves in the clash of conflicting evidence. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" .

Chapter 9
God Does Not Limit His Expression of the Truth to Words

God is the Artist whose Medium is the Truth

God is quite the chatterbox. He does not shut up. However, he does not typically talk to us in words. If you expect God to use words, you will be disappointed. The language of God is reality. God is the artist who paints the masterpiece of reality on the canvas of our rationality in the pigments of truth. The serpent, on the other hand, sprays graffiti over the canvas, defaces the masterpiece and calls his vandalism art.

The serpent expresses himself in words. God expresses himself in reality. The meaning of words is fickle. The meaning of reality is not.

Words were too fragile a vehicle to convey the Meaning of God from heaven to earth

Words were not used to convey the meaning of God from heaven to earth. They would not survive the journey. Words were too fragile a conveyance to carry the weight of the revelation. The weight would crush them as flat as a pancake and spill their meaning all over the place in an unintelligible mess. Such spillage would create a theological disaster of epic misunderstanding! The revelation, therefore, was conveyed to us by a vehicle much more robust - and dramatic - than words. Instead of words, God, the author of reality, staged a demonstration. He produced a violent collision between his dearly beloved Son, Jesus, and the evil that we did to him. The violent collision was bigger than the Big Bang and larger than CERN's Large Hadron Collider . Incandescent truths about God erupted from the violent collision. The incandescent truths illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. Jesus himself showed us a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. Out of the violent collision, he produced the "similitude" of God for us to behold . He did not just give us a declaration about God. He gave us a demonstration of God. Jesus wrote the Autobiography of God in the violent collision. In the violent collsion, Jesus painted God's self-portrait. The revelation of God's identity did not take place instantaneously out of a singularity. It unfolded deliberately over time in a series of events during the process of its publication. As a process, the revelation had both a beginning and an ending. The revelation began with the Crucifixion. It ended with the Resurrection. Furthermore, God united the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a whole by imposing a structure upon them . The structure of question and answer holds its own meaning that was familiar to and well understood by the children of Adam and Eve. God imposed this structure upon the underlying events. The Crucifixion was the question that we shouted at Jesus. The Resurrection was the gentle answer that Jesus whispered back to us in reply. The structure of question and answer, therefore, tied the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation - the most apocalyptic conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God since Moses and God conversed at the burning bush on Mount Horeb . In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, God introduced himself to us. We make God's acquaintance in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Are you privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection? What did we ask him? What was his answer?

In the Valley of Tears, The Language of Suffering is our Native Tongue

Why did God speak to us in the language of suffering? The only universal language that survived the confounding of language that took place at Babel was the language of suffering. The language of suffering is our native tongue. All creatures who suffer understand it. God took flesh so he could speak to us in our native tongue. He didn't want us to misunderstand his message. The language of suffering is a simple language. It works like this. Nobody signs up to dive headfirst or, for that matter, even dip his toe into the boiling cauldron of suffering unless they are insane or something important outweighs the high cost of suffering. We understand that suffering is an exorbitant price we only willingly pay for something that is extremely dear to us. Jesus paid the exorbitant price because we are extremely dear to Him . The Son of God became one of us - an equal to us in our humanity - a partner with us in our suffering so we could become an equal to him in his divinity - a partner with him in his glory .

Jesus did not write the Autobiography of God in words. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built the Autobiography of God on the framework of the Cross of Christ.

Low Fidelity Human-Made Representations of the Reality of God

The high fidelity representation of the reality of God that Jesus illuminated for us in the bright light of the incandescent truths that erupted from the violent collision between himself and the evil we did to him is the definitive representation of God - an authentic, first-class representation of God. Its high fidelity is unmatched by the many low fidelity representations of God made by human hands . In fact, God banned us from making representations of him in the first place because of the low fidelity of human made representations . Better no representation than an inaccurate representation.   All lesser representations of God, therefore, must yield to the representation God gave us in his autobiography.

Chapter 10
The Problem with Modern Christianity and the Solution

Participation is the domain of the Church; Transformation is God's

Participation in the escape through the Valley of Tears - and only partipation - transforms sinners into saints. We do not transform ourselves. The Church does not transform us. Only God transforms us and he does so at the holy places that define the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land.

The Star of the Show

The clergy are the ushers who shows us to our seats. God, however, is the star of the show. The Church goes off the rails when the clergy start to think that they are the stars of the show.

Is Christianity about "becoming" or about "behaving"? Is there a connection between the "becoming" and the "behaving? Before we behave like a Christian, we must first become a Christian. These are two entitrely different things.

Like dervishes, we whirl with the new exodus from holy place to holy place on the escape route through the Valley of Tears. Fewer and fewer, however, are whirling. Christianity is a spinning top winding down. The practice of Christianity has become a dull and perfunctory routine. The engine that moves us along the escape route is knocking and sputtering, starving for fuel . We have forgotten. Our clergy have failed us. We no longer know why we whirl. The fuel for our escape through the Valley of Tears is the truth. Yet, our fuel supply has been cut off. We have become strangers to the truth. The truth is no longer fueling our rationality. Without the truth, our escape is stuck in the doldrums. No progress is being made to the promised land. The sour truth is the engine that pushes us to the exit of godlessness. The sweet truth is the engine that pulls us to the entrance of paradise. Instead of testifying as witnesses to the truth, our clergy are trying to rule us as petty despots. Regulation, not revelation, has become their stock-in-trade. Morality is not the truth. Morality governs our behavior. However, it does not move the new exodus along the escape route. Only the truth does. To get the escape through the Valley of Tears going again, it is time to learn the difference between morality and the truth, both sweet and sour.

The product and its sales force are inextricably intertwined. When the sales force is rotten, it is not unreasonable for existing and potential customers to conclude that the product being offered for sale is rotten as well. This is so regardless of the unassailable virtue of the manufacturer of the product and especially when the competition has cleaner hands. A bad sales force ruins a good product.

My goal is to succeed in the escape - to make my escape through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharoah to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land - and to help others achieve the same. My goal is not to achieve the status of a full fledged, card-carrying Catholic. Status does not interest me. I do not strive to be a "stepford wife" of the Church. I worry less about my identity as Catholic and more about the identity of Jesus. From my Church, I want more revelation and less regulation. I want a prophet who preaches the truth to me not a king who tries to rule me. More pizzazz; less nitty-gritty. More Mary; less Martha. No change in doctrine; just a change in emphasis - a tweak, nothing more. Can we stop excluding the truth from the conversation? Can we devote at least 25% of the conversation to the truth both sour and sweet? Is 25% too much to ask? It is time to change the ratio of the content of the conversation.

Who is a Christian?

A Christian is a child of Adam and Eve who is making his escape with the new exodus from holy place to holy place on the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land, the land of milk and honey . The servant of the new exodus is the Church; God is its master. The sour truth is pushing us along the escape route to the exit of the Valley of Tears. The sweet truth is pulling us to the entrance of paradise. The sour truth and the sweet truth are engines that generate the current of salvation. The current of salvation flows like a mighty river from the sourness of godlessness to the sweetness of paradise. The mighty river of truth sweeps us off our feet and carries us to our salvation. Only the recalcitrant few try to swim against it. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . Standing like a colossus at the nexus between the entrance of paradise and the exit of godlessness is Jesus. He becons us. Through his bloody wounds the great leap is made from time to eternity . He is the way . "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." . At the holy places that define the Christian escape route, God transforms us from sinners into saints. We do not transform ourselves. The Church does not transform us. Only God transforms us and he does so at the holy places. The transformation, however, is seldom instantaneous. The conception of a fully fledged Christian is a myth . Unlike coffee, there is no such thing as an instant Christian. It takes time to make a Christian. We do not become Christian overnight. A human being develops from a baby in the womb through other stages of life including infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. A similar framework of development takes place in the thinking of a Christian. A Christian whose thinking is not quite up to speed with the thinking of the self-styled orthodox Christian is still a Christian for the same reason that a baby in the womb is still a human being. Furthermore, each of us is different. In the body of Christ are a variety of different organs. Every organ is not a heart . In the body of Christ we see unity not uniformity . Though different, each organ of the body of Christ cooperates.The diversity of organs does not stop the body of Christ from working. We are brothers and sisters of the escape, companions in the new exodus not much different than the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Far better to be pilgrims passing through the Valley of Tears than settlers roosting in it. We are marching through the Valley of Tears hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm together as one family to the rhythmic beat of the loving heart of our living God! Examples of the holy places that define the Catholic escape route are the Mass, Confession, the other sacraments, works of charity, acts of kindness, prayer especially the rosary, Eucharistic adoration, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, fasting, the gathering of two or more together in God's name, bible study, contemplation of God, the hour of death, etc. Some of these holy places are recognized by other Christian communities and by other religions. Subscription to a particular code of morality prescribed by the Church does not define a Christian. Participating in the escape on the Christian escape route defines a Christian. Morality is the effect of becoming a Christian not its cause. Before we can expect one to behave like a Christian, we must first become a Christian.

Do you mind if I tagalong? The anwer of the new exodus is no, we don't mind, feel free to tagalong. May I join you in you lifeboat? The answer is yes, welcome.

The energy that powers the escape is the truth. The truth drives the progress of the new exodus along the escape route. Yet, the Church has stopped preaching the truth. It thinks it still does but it does not. As a result, the escape is sputtering and stalling. Fewer and fewer are going to Mass. None are going to Confession. Marriages are falling apart. Mothers are murdering their babies. The priesthood is going extinct . The trend is downward and accelerating. The only sacrament holding its own is the sacrament of extreme unction and this is so only because the dying have little choice. The thermometer that gauges the temperature of the body of Christ is the practice of Christianity. By this measure, the patient is dying. Instead of preaching the truth, the Church preaches its morbid fascination with morality a/k/a sin. Indeed, morality is important. However, morality is not the truth that drives the new exodus along the escape route. Morality is the effect of becoming a Christian not its cause. Morality is the crown of glory that the children of Adam and Eve wear after they become Christian. The great mistake of the Church is that it expects us to behave like a Christian before we have become a Christian. The Church has gone astray because it tries to make us moral instead of trying to make us Christian. These are two seperate and distinct processes. Yet, the Church cannot make the distinction. Making us Christian is the foundation. Making us moral is the roof. The foundation needs to be built before the roof. There is no other way to proceed. The Church needs to get its act together. It needs to once again preach the truth, both the sweet truth and the sour truth. It needs to once again fuel the escape of the new exodus with the truth.

King Versus Prophet

God did not crown the Church as king to rule us. Indeed, God gave the Church a job. Indeed, the Church's job is important. The job of the Church, however, is not the job of a king but the job of a prophet. God annointed the Church as prophet to reveal the truth to us. A king tells us how to behave. A prophet tells us about God. Revelation, not regulation, is the primary mission and first priority of the Church. The two jobs are as different as night and day. A soothsayer is not a king; a king, not a soothsayer.

Furthermore, God did not put into the hands of the Church the royal scepter of sin to whack our souls over the head in a wicked frenzy until they are black, blue, battered, bruised and bleeding. The instrument that God put into the hands of the Church to do its job as prophet was the sledgehammer of truth. The sledgehammer of truth shatters the illusions conjured up by the serpent as the blow of the hammer shatters glass.

Beware a cleric who claims to be the deputy of God and, on account of his commission, tries to rule you. More often than not they are frauds. They cannot produce their credentials - the bloody wounds that are the residual evidence of sacrificial love - love that survived a baptism in evil. Sacrificial love is the only valid credential. On the other hand, respect the witnesses to the truth. Listen to their testimony. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" .

Chapter 11
The Serpent Buried the Truth Under Illusions

The Serpent Does Not Want Us To Escape from the Valley of Tears

The serpent does not want us to escape from the Valley of Tears. He wants our subjugation in the Valley of Tears not our liberation from it. So he sabotages the engines of truth that generate the current of salvation. He throws a monkey wrench into them. How? The serpent masks the truth with illusions. The serpent conjured up two illusions that obfuscate the truth from us:

1) The serpent sugarcoated the sourness of godlessness with false testimony that we would become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . God testified that we would die .

2) The Serpent broadcasts virulent anti-god propaganda from the crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears to hide the sweetness of paradise from us.

While camouflaged by illusions, the engines of truth lose their power to push and pull the new exodus along the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. The illusions stop our progress to the promised land dead in its tracks.

Chapter 12
Shattering the Illusions

The Sledgehammers of Truth

The sledgehammers of truth shatter the illusions conjured up by the serpent as the blow of the hammer shatters glass. They are the agents and heroes of our salvation. There are two of them, one for each illusion.

Chapter 13
Shattering the Sugarcoating the Serpent poured over the Valley of Tears to hide its Toxicity

Adam and Eve

The story of Adam and Eve is viewed by many as a child’s fairy tale with little or no relevance to us today. Its lesson is judged too simple and, hence, too well-understood, to deserve any further serious contemplation. It is taken for granted. Few sermons are preached about it. Yet, the story of Adam and Eve is the sine qua non to an understanding of our need for rescue from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears.

The Highest Form of Persuasion

God told Adam and Eve that the fire was hot . Yet, Adam and Eve did not listen to God - they did not obey. They only agreed with God that the fire was hot after they put their fingers into the flames . Adam and Eve learned the hostile truth the hard way by experiencing it themselves instead of learning it the easy way by taking God at his word.

Some truth is hostile. God asks us for obedience because learning the truth from him the easy way is less costly to us than learning the truth the hard way through our own investigation of it.

Adam and Eve were Strangers to the Sour Truth Held by the Valley of Tears

Before they opted out of Eden, Adam and Eve were strangers to the sour truth of the Valley of Tears. They had absolutely no personal experience with its toxicity. Their knowledge of it came from hearsay, conflicting testimony about it, God's and the serpent's . In retrospect, it is easy for us back seat drivers and arm chair quaterbacks to say that they ought to have taken God at his word - but only in retrospect. At the time, however, how to resolve the conflict in the testimony was not that clear.

Adam and Eve were Defenseless against Duplicity

Adam and Eve were born and raised in the truth. The existence of falsehood was a hypothetical theory that never even crossed their minds. God made them innocent - without guile . God did not equip them with a defense mechanism against duplicity. To do so would have spoiled their innocence. Nor had such a defense mechanism against duplicity evolved in them. There was no need for skepticism. Before the advent of the serpent, nobody had ever lied to them .

The Serpent Exploited Adam and Eve's Defenselessness

So the serpent exploited their defenselessness. He took advantage of their innocence. He fouled their rationality with an illusion. He sugarcoated the sourness of godlessness. The serpent testified to Adam and Eve that they would become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . The serpent promised them deification in the Valley of Tears.

Deification

Both the serpent and God promise us deification. Only God, however, can deliver.

Adam and Eve Decided to Figure out the Truth for Themselves

Deification or death . Adam and Eve were ill-equiped to resolve the conflict in the testimony. So they decided to figure out the truth for themselves. They decided to conduct their own investigation. Trying to learn the truth for themselves was not an unreasonable course of conduct especially given that this was the first time that they were called upon to resolve testimonial conflict. How else would the jury reach a verdict? Adam and Eve learned the hostile truth about the Valley of Tears the hard way by experiencing it themselves instead of learning it the easy way by taking God at his word.

How did God view Adam and Eve's attempt to resolve the conflict in the testimony?

Did Adam and Eve's fact finding mission offend God? "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . Supremely confident in the liberating power of the truth, God let them conduct their own investigation. He did not stand in the way. He did not stop them. Even though an expedition of exploration into the Valley of Tears was contrary to their self-interest, he was unwilling to turn paradise into a prison, himself into a warden and them into prisoners to keep them in paradise. A cage is still a cage no matter how gilded. Nor did he drag them back to paradise against their wills while they kicked and screamed like recalcitrant children. He let their exercise of free will play out. God knew that in the course of their investigation they would learn the truth and the truth would make them free . They would learn the truth the hard way. Instead of accepting God's word, they would would figure out the truth for themselves.

The Children of Adam and Eve Have Tasted for Themselves the Sour Truth of the Valley of Tears

In contrast to Adam and Eve, the children of Adam and Eve have first hand experience with the sour truth of the Valley of Tears. We stew in it for a lifetime. Our teachers are the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction .

The Fall

Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home in the garden of Eden with God and his Holy Family and took us with them into the Valley of Tears. Happiness was forsaken for misery.

Better Data; Better Verdict

Basing their verdict on bad data about the Valley of Tears caused Adam and Eve to reach the wrong verdict. Adam and Eve did not have enough evidence to render the right verdict. They only knew paradise. They did not know godlessness. They only had the illusion that the serspent conjured up that sugarcoated the sourness of godlessness . The serpent fouled the fuel of truth with illusion. The children of Adam and Eve, therefore, will be given enough evidence to render the right verdict. They will have better data. They will taste for themselves the sourness of godlessness. They will have first hand knowledge of the Valley of Tears. Experience will prepare them. They will know their options.

Heaven's Customer Service Department

Letting us stew in the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine generates all of the complaints about God's rescue plan. Passing through the Valley of Tears keeps the customer service department of paradise busy. More than a few have cursed their bitter experience in the Valley of Tears in the foulest of language and waved their fists against God. The hostile truth of the Valley of Tears is the platform from which many jump to the incorrect conclusion that God is a malicious misanthrope instead of a benevolent philanthropist. Put the blame for our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears, however, on the proper culprit. God did not put us in the Valley of Tears. The serpent did. God started humanity in paradise. At the most, God can be blamed for not extricating us from the Valley of Tears as quickly as we would like. God's rescue of us is too slow. 'What took you so long?' 'Why did you procrastinate?' are our only legitimate complaints against God. Yet, even this complaint is unwarranted. Passing through the Valley of Tears is medicine, harsh but effective. Therefore, God prescribes it. Stewing for a lifetime in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine bears fruit .

Chapter 14
The Treasure of Christianity

Confusion about the Identity of God

Many false, inaccurate and conflicting pictures of God circulate through the minds of the children of Adam and Eve. The multiplicity of pictures creates confusion. “This is God” some say as they point to their favorite picture of God. Others point to a different picture and say, “No, this is God.” The controversy goes on ad infinitum. Because of the confusion, the most Holy Trinity desired to set the record straight once and forever. They decided to clear the air. They decided to give us the gift of the definitive picture of God - a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. They decided to dispatch Jesus to earth from heaven to put the "similitude" of God before us for us to behold.

The reaction of Jesus to the evil we did to him was asymmetrical - radically asymmetrical . The radical asymmetry of his reaction to the evil we did to him is the treasure of Christianity. In his asymmetrical reaction, Jesus revealed the identity of God to us. Jesus did not just declare the identity of God to us in ambiguous words. Jesus demonstrated the identity of God to us in unambiguous deeds. The author of reality showed himself to us in reality itself not just in words that represent reality.

Asymmetry is the distinguishing mark of the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Our question was sharp. We shouted it at him. His answer was gentle. He whispered it back to us. Our question was the night. His answer was the day. Thankfully, he did not respond to our sharp question in kind . He changed the tone of the conversation .

The evil we did to him did not jump the gap between him and us, contaminate him, and transmogrify him into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts.

His love for us survived the evil we did to him.

The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. It is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it.

The evil we did to him did not extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most Sacred Heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree.

Buckets of blood poured through the wounds that our evil opened in his body. On a cataract of blood his very life itself was carried out of his body . But, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds and out of his body. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us.

The core of Christianity is his radically asymmetrical reaction to the evil we did to him. It is not sin. It is not morality. It is not the Church. It is not the sacraments. It is not anything else. The core of Christianity rests in the apocalyptic conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Having acquired the knowledge of God from the apocalyptic conversation between the Crucifixion and rhe Resurrection, Christians are seeking to establish their residency in the kingdom of the gentle God.

The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the foundation on which the edifice of Christianity is built . The edifice of Christianity collapses only when Christians try to build it on a different foundation. As long as it stands on the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the gates of hell will not prevail against it .

In accordance with the law of symmetry, evil propagates itself, like a wave, from evildoer to victim. It jumps the gap between them. How do we stop evil from jumping the gap? How do we repeal the law of symmetry? How do we build a firewall? How do we stop the propagation of evil dead in its tracks?

The Treasure Chest

The knowledge of God, it was decided, would be transported from heaven to earth and into the hands of the children of Adam and Eve . The knowledge of God is the treasure of Christianity. Exposing the children of Adam and Eve to the knowledge of God would neutralize the serpent's anti-god propaganda. Arising from this decision was the question, ‘what package would be appropriate to hold and carry the knowledge of God during its journey?’. Ordinarily, to hold and carry knowledge, knowledge is put into a book or into some other traditional repository of knowledge. However, not in this case. The knowledge of God was so valuable that no ordinary, conventional, no-frills, humdrum repository would have been suitable. A package equal in dignity to its cargo was desired. Indeed, in this case, a treasure chest was needed because the knowledge of God is the most precious of treasures. Therefore, into an extraordinary treasure chest, the knowledge of God was poured. The treasure chest was unique. It lived and breathed and had its own exalted being. Into Jesus, the knowledge of God was poured. During His Visit to us, the Son of God shared the treasure with us. The treasure enriches our understanding of God. With generosity, He made us rich.

The treasure of Christianity illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany.

All representations of the reality of God made by human hands are inferior to the high fidelity representation of the reality of God that Jesus himself gave us in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Therefore, the man-made representations must yield to the God-made representation.

Jesus wrote the Autobiography of God in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The first chapter of the Autobiography of God is the Crucifixion and the final chapter is the Resurrection.

The Publication of the Nature of God Commenced with the Crucifixion and was completed in the Resurrection.

Jesus was the treasure chest. The Crucifixion was the key. The Resurrection was the treasure. At the Cross of Christ, the publication of the nature of God commenced. Publication was completed in the Resurrection. By turning the key in the treasure chest, the sweet truth emerged to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany.

The gravamen of Christianity is found in the Autobiography of God. In the Autobiography of God, the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is recorded. Everything else is obiter dicta.

God poured more and better theology into the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection than into the heads of every apologist, theologian, Doctor of the Church, apostle, monk, abbot, mystic, priest, monsignor, bishop, Cardinal, Pope, hermit and saint who has ever lived or will ever live

Listen first to what Jesus said about himself in his Autobiography before you listen to what others have said about him elsewhere.

Rest your head on the pillow of the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection to sleep the sleep of the angels.

The Crucifixion and the Resurrection are the two sides of the same coin. The coin is the Autobiography of God. The Autobiography of God reveals to us the identity of God - a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. The Crucifixion is our sharp question. The Resurrection is his gentle answer. The connection between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is a conversation - an interrogation to be precise.

The Autobiography of God tells the Story of our Interrogation of God

We gave him the third degree and he confessed - he spilled the beans. He let the cat out of the bag.

Punctuation marks stand between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The Crucifixion is the sharp question we shouted at Jesus. The Resurrection is the gentle answer he whispered back to us. His bloody wounds are the question marks that stand between our question and his answer . Why are his bloody wounds question marks? At the time our evil opened bloody wounds in his body, we did not know the answer Jesus would give us in response to our questions. The answer he would give us to the evil we did to him was - at the time - a mystery. The reasonable expectation was that the evil we did to him would trigger his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" .

Jesus answered our question in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Are you privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection? What did we ask him? What was his answer?

The Dramatic Manner
in Which
God Introduced Himself to Us


A violent collision took place between Jesus, our Savior, and the evil we did to him. The collision was bigger than the Big Bang and larger than CERN's Large Hadron Collider . From the violent collision, truth erupted whose incandescence illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany . The veil of the temple was was rent in twain from the top to the bottom and Jesus stepped through the rent in the veil to introduce God to us . The incandescent truth is the shining jewel that nestles provocatively at the center of the bosom of Christianity.

Can you articulate the truth generated by the violent collision? If not, may I introduce you to it? In the collision, we meet our maker. We make the acquaintance of our God himself.

In the violence of the collision, the Autobiography of God was written - the Self-Portrait of God was painted. The answer to the question, "Who is God?", was given to us by none other than God himself. On and about the platform of the Cross, Jesus demonstrated - not just declared - the identity of God. He did not just tell us. He showed us. Jesus did not write the Autobiography of God in words. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built the Autobiography of God on the framework of the Cross of Christ. From the framework of the Cross, God introduced himself to us.

What genre of literature is the Word of God ? The Word of God is a love note - a love note from God to us. God composed the love note to us in heaven and delivered it to us at Bethlehem. Furthermore, to certify that the love note was genuine not counterfeit, God annexed his oath to the love note. He set his seal upon it. God's oath a/k/a his seal testified that the love note did indeed come from God. What was God's oath? What was his seal? His oath and seal were the violent collision - it verified the truth of the love note.

The beginning of the collision is known as the Crucifixion and the ending, as the Resurrection.

The collision yielded fruit both sour and sweet.

The Crucifixion produced the sour fruit of the collision. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died.

The Resurrection produced the sweet fruit of the collision. We launched a freight train of evil toward him. He saw it coming . Remarkably, he stood in its path. He did not flinch. He did not cower. He did not jump out of the way. He took evil on the chin . He stood firm and, by standing firm, stopped evil's progress dead in its tracks. He suffered and died but evil did not jump the gap between us and him. It did not transmogrify him into the most hideous and the most miserable of loveless beasts. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" . Although we tortured and killed him and he suffered and died, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed to us the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. Our conception of divinity as power is incomplete - flawed. Divinity is also love. God is still head over heels in love with us despite the evil we did to him.

God's power built paradise for us. God's love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power begets respect; but, love begets love.

Incandescent truths erupted from the violent collision between Jesus and the evil we did to him to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. In their light, behold the "similitude" of God .

A demonstration of God - not a declaration about God - revealed to us the "similitude" of God - a high fidelity representation of the reality of God.

Revelation by Demonstration not Declaration

After God decided to transport from heaven to earth the revelation of the nature of God to the children of Adam and Eve, the next question was how to do this. The revelation of the nature of God could have been done by a declaration about God or by a demonstration of God. God rejected revelation by declaration in favor of revelation by demonstration. A demonstration of God took place in the violent collision between Jesus and the evil we did to him. In the demonstration, the nature of God was revealed to us.

The Three Questions whose Answers Every Christian ought to Know

Every Christian ought to know the answers to three questions:

1) What is the treasure chest of Christianity?

2) What was the key that unlocked the treasure chest?

3) What is the treasure of Christianity?

If you do not possess the answers to these questions, your understanding of Christianity is defective.

The insanity of Christianity is Jesus's answer to the evil we did to him

The evil that we did to him did not transform him from our friend into our foe. It did not reduce him from the level of God to the level of the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. He continues to be our friend. He continues to love us nonetheless. He did not pull his offer of paradise off the table. He did not cancel his plan to rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. The evil that we did to him ought to have rendered us ineligible for his gifts. It ought to have disqualified us. But it did not. Hallelujah! God continues to love us nonetheless .

The Radical Asymmetry of God

The science of evil discovered that, within its domain, evil obeys the law of symmetry. Evil begets evil. In accordance with the law of symmetry, evil propagates itself, like a wave, from evildoer to victim. It jumps the gap between them. Evil pokes a hole in our hearts and drains them of love. Evil has the power to transmogrify us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts.

Evil interrogates us. [Note: suffering is a subset of evil.] It demands that we identify ourselves. It insists that we show our credentials. In triggering a reaction from us, evil challenges us to reveal our nature to the world. 'What kind of person are you?' evil asks us. 'Show yourself' evil commands. 'Are you like me?' 'Are you my twin?' 'Are you a chip off the block of evil?' Our instinct instructs us to respond to evil in kind. An evil question begets an evil answer. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot . The law of symmetry propagates the wave of evil like the wind propagates a wildfire.

However, we are born in the image and likeness of God . God endowed us with the capacity to love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. God wants us to fill our hearts to the brim with love . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . When we fill our hearts with love, we become a high fidelity representation of the reality of God . We become agents of God - ambassadors from God to our neighbors.

When we juxtapose God and his creatures, we notice a radical asymmetry . Even though we did evil to him, God still wants to do good to us. Wow! We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. God still wants to rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. He did not pull his offer of paradise off the table. He did not cancel his plan to lead us back to our home with him and his Holy Family in paradise. The evil that we did to him ought to have rendered us ineligible for his gifts. It ought to have disqualified us. But it did not. God continues to love us nonetheless .

Our God is different than us . When evil is done to us, at the very least, it pisses us off. It antagonizes us. It earns the evildoers a place on our shit list. It provokes our instinct for justice. It triggers our reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. But not so with God. Not so. Jesus refused to let the evil we did to him transmogrify him into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. Instead of releasing his grip on love, He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go. He maintained his resemblance to God. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

Jesus rejected the law of symmetry. He overruled it. He cast it aside. His answer to evil's question was different than our answer. When evil challenged Jesus to reveal his identity, Jesus declared that he was not like his interrogator. He declared that he is as different from evil as the day is different from the night . Jesus had the power to squash evil as easily as we squash a tiny bug. He could have answered evil in kind. Yet, he did not. He changed the tone of the conversation. To our sharp question, Jesus gave his gentle answer . Jesus brought a radical asymmetry to the symbiotic dance between question and answer. Radical asymmetry squeezes the ugliness from the dance. It stops the transmission of the disease. Radical asymmetry is the insanity of Christianity . Jesus's answer to evil's question was the antithesis of evil. Thank God his thoughts are not our thoughts - his ways are not our ways .

Firewalls

Christianity, among other things, is a religion that is trying to build firewalls to prevent evil from jumping the gap between the evildoer and victim. Firewalls contain the contagion. They stop the spread of the disease. When we cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go, we build a firewall. Evil cannot transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. Build a Christian and build a firewall. Stop the wildfire of evil from spreading.

What is the treasure of Christianity? The treasure of Christianity is the knowledge of God - a high fidelity representation of the reality of God . It was revealed to us in the Resurrection.

What is the chest that holds the treasure of Christianity? Jesus is the treasure chest of Christianity. Into him was poured the knowledge of God for transportation from heaven to earth and distribution to the children of Adam and Eve.

What is the key that unlocks the treasure chest of Christianity? The Crucifixion was the key. It unlocked the treasure chest and revealed the treasure.

The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands put himself into the hands of the mud to leaven the mud with the yeast of divinity. The yeast of divinity is love .

The Magnitude of His Love for Us

We get a sense of the magnitude of his love for sinners by the magnitude of the price he paid out of his own pocket to publish the proof of his love for us. The price was exorbitant. He paid the exorbitant price not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the exorbitant price from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else . Some say that the Son of God ovepaid - that he was ripped off. We were not worth the payment. He, on the other hand, was willing to pay the price. He thought that we were worth it. Rejoice and be glad! We are worth much to our God! He would not have paid an exorbitant price if we were not worth it.

The Duration of His Love for Us

We get a sense of the duration of his love for sinners from its indestructibility. His love for us ought to have faded as we tortured him and ought to have died when we killed him. But it did not. It survived. Its survival is the proof that the duration of his love for us is forever. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . The bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart is unquenchable. Not even the evil we did to him can extinguish the flame or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree.

The Uniqueness of His Love for Us

We get a sense of the uniqueness of his love for sinners from the matrix out of which the flower of the Resurrection emerged. Nothing grows in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. Nothing. So, when something does grow, we behold a miracle. His love for sinners emerged from the toxic soil of the Crucifixion.

Verification of His Love for Us

Without sacrifice, it is impossible to tell with any certainty whether love is real or counterfeit. Love that survives sacrifice is real. Love that does not is counterfeit. Our God's love for us survived the evil we did to him. This verified his love for us. If his love for us were counterfeit, it would have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. Survival proves his love for us is real.

High Fidelity Representations of the Reality of God

We are born in the image and likeness of God . God endowed us with the capacity to love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. God wants us to fill our hearts to the brim with love . When we fill our hearts with love, we become a high fidelity representation of the reality of God . When we don't love, we stay strangers to God even though we think we are acting on his behalf . When we love, God recognizes himself in us . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" .

What are the Credentials of Divinity?

What distinguishes our genuine God from the many counterfeit gods - the frauds - who try to deceive us? By his bloody wounds, we recognize our God . His bloody wounds are the memorials to sacrificial love. They remind us that his love for us survived the evil we did to him. His bloody wounds are the rainbow of the new covenant between our God and us . His bloody wounds are the credentials of divinity. A person who claims to be God or to stand in persona Christi is an impostor unless he can show you his credentials. Demand a demonstration from any claimant to divinity of his credentials . Expose the frauds. The trappings of the priesthood are not valid credentials. The clerical collar is not a valid credential. Ordination is not a valid credential. All of these things are just lipstick on a pig . The only valid credential is sacrificial love - love that survives the application of evil - love that does not fade as we torture him nor die when we kill him. The only way to distinguish the shepherd and the hireling is by sacrificial love . Nothing else. The shepherd lays down his life for his sheep . Remember that the serpent had no credentials. Jesus, on the other hand, flashed his credentials to us in his passion, death and resurrection. He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go even though we tortured and killed him . Show the serpents without credentials to the door. Welcome only those who can show you their credentials.

Our Almighty Lover

Rejoice and be glad! Despite the evil we did to him, Our God continues to love us nonetheless. Our God is our almighty lover - our friend not our foe. He wants to help us not to hurt us. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid ? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? His love for us is real. Its reality was verified for us in the violent collision between Jesus, Our Savior, and the evil we did to him. God himself gave us proof. Only reality is reliable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their lives. Build your lives on his love for us. He countered the serpent's anti-God propaganda.

How God Conveyed the Magnitude of His Love for Us

'How do we tell them the magnitude of our love for them?' the most Holy Trinity asked themselves. 'We pay them a visit. We let them torture and kill us. We suffer and die. We rise from the dead. And we continue to love them nonetheless. If this does not tell them how much their God loves them, nothing can or will.'

The Distribution of the Knowledge of God

The yeast of divinity is the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God is the treasure of Christianity. Jesus was the treasure chest that held the treasure of Christianity. Into him was deposited the knowledge of God so it could be transported from heaven to earth for distribution to the children of Adam and Eve in a container whose dignity equalled the dignity of the treasure. The God who created us out of the mud with his hands put himself into the hands of the mud to leaven the mud with the yeast of divinity. The Crucifixion was the key. It unlocked the treasure chest. In the Crucifixion, the first chapter of the Autobiography of God was written, the initial brushstrokes of God's self-portrait were painted. In the Resurrection, the treasure of Christianity emerged from the storm clouds of the Crucifixion like lightning to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. In the Resurrection, the last chapter of the Autobiography of God was written, the final brushstrokes of God's self-portrait were painted. When we impaled him on the Cross as a fisherman insouciantly impales a worm on a hook, we inserted the key into the treasure chest, opened it and the knowledge of God emerged. Out of the treasure chest arose a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. Jesus himself revealed God to us. The answer to the question, "Who is God?", was given to us by none other than God himself. Jesus demonstrated for us - not just declared to us - the identity of God. He did not just tell us. He showed us. Jesus did not write the Autobiography of God in words. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built the Autobiography of God on the framework of the Cross of Christ. From the framework of the Cross, God introduced himself to us. We make God's acquaintance in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Are you privy to the conversation? Contact with divinity is made every time we contemplate the incandescent truths that emerged from the violent collision between Jesus and the evil we did to him that illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany.

What is the Treasure of Christianity?

What is the treasure of Christianity? You can probably tell me many things about Christianity. But, I want a specific answer to a specific question. What is the treasure of Christianity?

Jesus is the treasure of Christianity.

Your answer is close to the mark but did not hit it. Your answer is too simplistic. It lacks depth. It does not tell us why Jesus is precious to the children of Adam and Eve. Your answer is flat, one-dimensional. It is the answer of a Christian who does not understand what Jesus revealed to us about God and who does not appreciate how - the precise manner in which - Jesus revealed the nature of God to us.

Then you tell me. What is Jesus's relationship to Christianity if he is not its treasure?

Jesus is the treasure chest of Christianity. Heaven's most precious tresure was placed in the treasure chest and was transported from heaven to earth. What is the treasure?

I am stumped.

Perhaps we can arrive at an answer by approaching it in a different way? Has the treasure chest ever been opened?

Let me guess, yes.

What was the key that opened the treasure chest?

The key?

Yes, what was the key that opened he treasure chest?

I don't know.

Then let me tell you. The key that opened the treasure chest was the Crucifixion. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died.

If the Crucifixion was the key, then what was the treasure?

The treasure is the the knowledge of God - a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. Our knowledge of God -definitive and irrefutable - emerged from the violent collision between the evil we did to him and Jesus.

What truths emerged from the collision?

He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. He did not stay dead nor did he stop loving us. Despite the evil we did to him, Jesus continued to love us nonetheless. The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it. This truth is the treasure of Christianity

Who is God?

Your answer to the question, "Who is God?", is important. Your conception of God greatly influences how you live your life. Therefore, doesn't it make sense to get the answer right? What is you answer? Are you sure that you have the answer right? Perhaps it is time to take a second look at your answer?

To get the answer right, it behooves us to first understand the role that an answer plays in the fundamental unit of thinking, the troika of question, answer and basis. John Donne teaches us that "No man is an island entire of itself". Neither is an answer. An answer is not a solitary creature. It is never alone. Its boon companion is its basis. A question, an answer and its basis dance together as a team in the ballroom of our rationality to give our world meaning. An answer derives its strength from its basis. A weak basis begets a weak answer; a strong basis begets a strong answer; a wishy-washy basis begets a wishy-washy answer. The best answer is the answer with the best basis. The quest for the best answer to a question is, therefore, the quest for the best basis.

So let us think about it. From what source do you derive your knowledge of God? On what foundation do you build your answer to the question, "Who is God?"? Out of what field does your answer grow?

If your answer is not anchored to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, your understanding of Christianity is flawed. Sorry, but the foregoing statement is not hyperbole. You may have been awarded a Ph.D. in Christianity but if you are not privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, your education is defective. In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Autobiography of God was written, the self-portrait of God was painted. In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, God revealed himself to us.

Do some self-examination. What picture of God do you hold in your head? Can you articulate it? Can you articulate its basis? How does it fare in terms of fidelity when it is compared to the picture that God himself gave us in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection - the most apocalyptic conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God since Moses and God conversed at the burning bush on Mount Horeb ?

The best basis for the answer to the question, "Who is God?", is the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Hence, the best answer is derived therefrom.

Trying to divorce the truth about God from the violent collision that took place between Jesus, our Savior, and the evil that we did to him is akin to trying to divorce the light from the lightning bug. It does not work. It cannot be done. It kills both the light and the lightning bug.

Who is God?

Who is God? Jesus himself answered the question in his response to the evil we did to him. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed to us the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. Our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. God is still head over heels in love with us despite the evil we did to him. God's power built paradise for us. God's love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power begets respect; but, love begets love. Love is the honey that lures the bees back home to the hive. The dial that controlls his love for us is in his hands not ours. It is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him could budge it.

The serpent is power without love. God is power with love. Love makes the difference.

The yeast of divinity came to leaven the mud of humanity with the knowledge of God

The knowledge of God neutralizes the serpent's anti-god propaganda.

The Salubrius Effect of Knowing the Benevolent Nature of God

We who have listened to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection can say with the highest degree of confidence that God is our friend not our foe - He is our almighty lover. The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the engine that drives our degree of confidence in him upward to the highest level. Knowing the benevolent nature of God makes it easier for us to trust in him.

Which is The Greater Miracle?

Nothing grows in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. Nothing. It is a barren matrix. So when the flower of the Resurrection sprouted and grew, we beheld a miracle. We planted him in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, yet, the flower of the Resurrection emerged therefrom still alive and still in love with us. The flower of the Resurrection is remediating the toxicity of the soil. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed to us the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant than power. It revealed to us that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Which is the greater miracle? His emerging from the dead still alive or his emerging from the dead still in love with us?

The Ladder of Truth

We climb out of our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears on the ladder of truth.

His Bloody Wounds are a Telescope through which We Catch a Glimpse of Heaven from Here on Earth

His bloody wounds are the telescope that our evil installed in his body. When we look through the telescope of his bloody wounds from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection, we catch a glimpse of heaven from here on earth. The nearsighted only look at the Crucifixion on the near side of his bloody wounds. The farsighted look through his bloody wounds from the Crucifixion on their side to the Resurrection on their far side. Through his bloody wounds, the relationship of question and answer weaves its way to tie the Crucifixion and the Resurrection into a conversation - the most apocalyptic conversation that the children of Adam and Eve have ever had with their God. Are you privy to the conversation? In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the autobiography of God is written. Have you read it?

The "Maleness" of Divinity; the "Femaleness" of Humanity

Why is God depicted as male? Why does the Catholic Church reserve its priesthood to males? The act of reproduction is a powerful allegory that the genius of God embedded into life itself to inform us that God is trying to inseminate us with the knowledge of God. God wants to knock us up - to make us pregnant with the knowledge of God . At the climax of the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Word of God sowed the knowledge of God into the womb of humanity . The climax of the conversation occurred when Jesus emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands put himself into the hands of the mud to leaven the mud with the yeast of divinity. The yeast of divinity is love .

Jesus inseminated the womb of humanity with the knowledge of God. Humanity is now pregnant with the knowledge of God. Jesus knocked humanity up.

Hearts filled to the Brim with Love

God has set up natural communities whose members are predisposed to have hearts filled to the brim with love. Family, marriage, Church are examples of them. Abide in these communities. Build them. Safeguard them.

God elevated us to a level above the beasts . Evil attempts to knock us off the exalted level onto which God elevated us. It tries to reduce us from the level of God to the level of the beast - into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beast.

Transforming the Cucumber not the Vessel that Holds It

God lets us stew in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine. The Valley of Tears is the vessel that holds the toxic brine in which we are cured. In the Valley of Tears, we go through a process of fermentation. In the Valley of Tears, the cucumber is transformed into a pickle. God is not interested in transforming the Valley of Tears into a kinder, gentler and more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God. Therefore, God does not eliminate our crosses. God wants us to pick them up and carry them . We derive value from the exercise. Learning how to pick up and carry our crosses is transformational. No crosses; no transformation.

Question Answer
What is the good news of great joy? The tongues of our crosses are forked. They are lying to us. As their sharp teeth chew us up into bits and pieces, their sharp tongues taunt us saying, "You are alone and forsaken." "Nobody is coming to rescue you." "Where is your savior now?" The taunts of our crosses are highly persuasive. While we are nailed alive to our crosses, it is difficult to conceive that our God is our almighty lover . Yet, we are not alone and forsaken. Our God did not abandon us in our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. Our God is actively engaged in the process of rescuing us. Note: the serpent is not rescuing us. In fact, he is the culprit who deposited us in our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears in the first place.

God is sanity amid the madness - the truth amid the lies.

 

God is the gift giver. He delights in giving his creatures gifts. Among God's gifts are the gift of life and the gift of paradise. God gave Adam and Eve the gift of life and the gift of paradise simultaneously. God, however, gives the children of Adam and Eve the gift of life and the gift of paradise sequentially. With the children of Adam and Eve, God changed the timetable of his gift-giving. He inserted a delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise. During the delay, we stew in the sour truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine. Although the delivery of the gift of paradise is delayed, its delivery is ineluctable. God will not be less generous with us than he was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

Furthermore, rational creatures behave in a predictable manner. We follow a pattern. It is not a complicated pattern. Sweetness attracts us. Honey draws the bees back home to the hive. Sourness repels us. We flee from it. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. Hence, the truth can drive us.

To rescue the children of Adam and Eve from the sour truth of the Valley of Tears, God built an escape route through the Valley of Tears , defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and gave the Church the job of serving the new exodus as the new Moses. The Church has the map and knows the way . The job of the Church is to facilitate the escape not to frustrate it, filter it or foul it up . Note: Before the Church, God relied on the sour truth of the Valley of Tears to rescue us - to make sure we kept the gift of paradise when God delivers it to us. With the advent of Jesus, God offers us an alternative to the sour truth. God offers us the sweet truth to rescue us as well. The sour truth pushes us to the exit of godlessness. The sweet truth pulls us to the entrance of paradise. The truth pushes us and pulls us.

Question
What is religion?
Answer
Religion is the search for the best answers to the fundamental questions of life. We are rational creatures. Questions and answers dance in the ballroom of our rationality as couples dance together on a dance floor. They give our world meaning. They either paint a true or a false picture of the world. Therefore, it is important to get them right. Are you asking the right questions? How good are your answers? Have you figured out which questions are important and which are not? More importantly, what is the source of your answers? From where do you derive them? Are you looking for the answers in the right places? Are your answers based on the truth or upon a weaker, more fragile foundation? Answers to the fundamental questions of life are not found by diving into the dumpsters of sin. Only God supplies the answers to the fundamental questions of life. Therefore, put yourself in the presence of God and listen. Put yourself into the presence of God at the holy places that define the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharoah to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. The answers to the fundamental questions of life are found at the Holy Places of God. God built an escape route through the Valley of Tears , defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and gave the Church the job of serving the new exodus as the new Moses. The Church has the map and knows the way . The job of the Church is to facilitate the escape not to frustrate it, filter it or foul it up . Participation is the job of the Church not transformation. Indeed, participation leads to transformation. But, transformation is the job of God not the Church. Getting the children of Adam and Eve to participate in the escape is the responsibility of the Church. Blame the Church when rates of participation decline . "Nobody left behind" is the motto of the escape. "Neither saint nor sinner ." The life boats are not reserved just for saints . If they were, they would be empty because, by and large, saints are mythical creatures, like Nephilim or centaurs or unicorns or chimera . Everyone is invited to enter the life boats to make their escape. Admission is free. The ticket to the escape is purchased by repentance . But, only God checks your ticket . The Church does not. The Church is not a ticket booth to whom you must show your ticket in order to join the escape. Furthermore, the Church is not a conductor who checks your ticket at some point during the course of the escape. Your ticket is checked only after you have arrived at your destination. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect . The holy places that define the escape route are oasis of paradise that decorate the hostile desert of godlessness like the jewels of a beautiful necklace. At the holy places, close encounters with our living and loving God take place. During a close encounter, God transforms us. We do not transform ourselves. The Church does not transform us. Only God transforms us and he does so at the holy places that define the escape route. The medicine of transformation is found at the holy places and is administered by none other than God himself. The holy places form the needle of a compass that always points in the direction of God. Only by moving from holy place to holy place can we be sure that we are heading in the right direction. Therefore, make haste to the holy places. Make haste! Sit at his feet. Rest your head on his bosom . Keep God company. Put yourselves in His presence .

What is the Most Important of Life's Fundamental Questions?

The most important of all the fundamental question and answer pairs is the pair whose question is, "Who is God?". Can you answer the question? More importantly, upon what do you base your answer? What is your answer and what is its basis? Before you go any farther, jot down the answer and its basis so you can compare your understanding before and after you have heard the good news of great joy. My answer to the question, "Who is God?", is that our God is our friend not our foe, Our God is our almighty lover. My answer is based on the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection - the most apocalyptic conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God since Moses and God conversed at the burning bush on Mount Horeb ! Are you privy to the conversation? In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Autobiography of God was written. Have you read it? In the Autobiography of God, the good news of great joy was preached. Have you heard it? Has the good news of great joy reached your ears? We anchor ourselves to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection as Ulysses anchored himself to the mast. It is the hub and all other aspects of Christianity are the spokes that radiate from it. To prevent any religious disorientation, always make it the point and place of beginning. Always start there. The incandescent truths that emerge from the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection are the sum and summit of the Christian reality. They are the most important truths.

More Zeal Than Understanding

The greatest danger to Christianity is posed by Christians whose zeal for Christianity exceeds their understanding of Christianity. Their zeal is to be admired . Their lack of understanding is to be corrected. Many zealous Christian are not privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection even though it is the most apocalyptic conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God since Moses and God conversed at the burning bush on Mount Horeb ! Are you privy to the conversation? In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the treasure of Christianity is buried . Many zealous Christian, however, have never picked up a shovel, dug up the treasure and made themselves rich. They prefer zealous poverty to a rich understanding of God. They have no clue about either the existence of the treasure or its location. They are ignorant of the three central facts of Christianity:

1) Jesus was the treasure chest,

2) the Crucifixion was the key, and,

3) in the Resurrection was the treasure.


The good news of great joy is found in the treasure chest; yet, many Christians, whose zeal exceeds their understanding, do not have an understanding of precisely what constitutes the good news of great joy and cannot articulate it. When we impaled him on the Cross as a fisherman impales a worm on a hook, we inserted the key into the treasure chest, opened it and the truths that emerged, like the bright flash of lightning, illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. The veil of the temple was was rent in twain from the top to the bottom and Jesus stepped through the rent in the veil to reveal the nature of God to us . The treasure of Christianity is a high fidelity representation of the reality of God given to us by none other than God himself. We beheld, in the opening of the treasure chest, God's answer to the question, "Who is God?". In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, Jesus wrote his Autobiography - he painted his self-portrait. Have you read the Autobiography of God? Have you gazed upon God's self-portrait? The heart and soul of Christianity is the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. It is the hub from which all other aspects of Christianity radiate. We who have listened to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection can say with confidence that God is our friend not our foe - He is our almighty lover. Knowing the benevolent nature of God makes it easier for us to trust in him.

The Treasure Chest of Christianity, Its Key and Its Treasure

Jesus was the treasure chest. The Crucifixion was the key. And the Resurrection was the treasure. The treasure of Christianity is God's self-portrait. It is the Autobiography of God. It is a high fidelity representation of the reality of God given to us by none other than God himself. It is God's answer to the question, "Who is God?". When we impaled him on the Cross as a fisherman impales a worm on a hook, we inserted the key into the treasure chest. It opened and the truths that emerged, like the bright flash of lightning, illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany.