Reflection Masthead
Issue 125 - Living Provisionally - July 2015

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Culture Wars?
  At the end of June, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling recognizing gay marriage.   We do not expect all our readers to share the same opinion about this significant and contro-versial ruling.(Even your two writers do not share the same opinion!)
  We do commend to your consideration a refreshing editorial published in the Catholic magazine, America. While the editors clearly do not applaud the ruling, they do call for an end to "culture war" as the model for Christian witness, and echo Archbishop Wilton Gregory's call for a "dialogue of human encounter" rather than the clash of human arguments. 
  The editors remind us all that humility is a Christian virtue - including the humility to admit that we don't know all the answers. 
       --- Jan and Bill 

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

104-Into Self Into God

107-First Home

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


114-Simple Acts 

116-Kentucky Epiphany 

119-Christmas Mystery  


121-Radical Amazement 

122-St.John's Bible 

123-We're Back 

124-Botanical Garden

Link to all past issues   


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Some of my peers might remember the Rubik's Cube, a popular 3-D combination puzzle with 519 quintillion possible positions of the red, white, blue, orange, yellow and green squares. Why am I thinking about a Rubik's Cube?! Maybe because for the last six months, I've been living in the alternative, much like a puzzle. Nothing is certain. From January till now we have been in a variable state of extreme downsizing: staging a house, selling, moving to a temporary apartment, buying a house, moving, and having an estate sale.

Moving. Now I can't find the spatula. It's in storage. What can I Rolling Pin use for an alternative? Where's the rolling pin? A shelf liner roll made a good substitute in a pinch. Peach cobbler crust turned out just like Marie Callender's. I don't need a wooden rolling pin.

<Sigh> My cardiologist asked how I've been able to keep my sanity. "A healthy spiritual life and good sense of humor" was the key, I said. He scribbled that down in his notes. Actually, reaching the goal, for me, is like the ride on the Champs Elysee at the conclusion of Le Tour de France. After a grueling journey, one thing is certain. The win is sweet. The triumph is conquering the unknowns or, alternately, dismissing their importance. 

Sometimes we just have to let go of illusory certainties and useless things. The reward is freedom - freedom from meaningless 'stuff' and clutter. Mother Teresa - or somebody I know not who - said, "If you have two umbrellas, you have one more than you need." Who really needs an alternative umbrella? Really?

- Jan


In Praise of Uncertainty


"Fishermen, like the rest of humankind, will talk relentlessly and authoritatively about what they understand least." - Ted Leeson*

I remembered these words while reading about the photos sent back this month by the New Horizons space probe. In a blog post entitled "The Eye-Popping Astonishment of Pluto," veteran science journalist Corey Powell wrote, "In short, there is far more diversity, activity, and complexity in the solar system than anyone expected just a week ago. Nature continues to surprise us.... It may sound hyperbolic, but it is fair to say that our hard-won knowledge about how planets behave has been rendered instantly obsolete-or at least revealed as woefully incomplete."

In the face of so much mystery, why do we humans talk so "relentlessly and authoritatively" about things we don't understand? Physician and poet Brian Volck, in a thoughtful essay about the sometimes-tense relationship between faith and the sciences, decries fundamentalism as "a disease of malignant certainty, [which] blinds dismissive antitheists ... as much as young earth creationists."

In our civic life, as well as in our churches, such malignant certainty breeds only conflict and violence. Although the Apostle Paul was no stranger to making authoritative pronouncements, he could also step back and acknowledge the grand mystery that confronts us all this side of eternity: "Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles.... Now I can know only imperfectly" (I Cor 13:12 [JB].

Would that all the shouters - and shooters - would do the same.  Volck concludes his essay by writing, "Rightly practiced, both faith and the sciences end not in certainty but in awe, wonder, gratitude, even love. I know no better place to end."

                                              -- Bill


*Ted Leeson, The Habit of Rivers: Reflections on Trout Streams and Fly Fishing (Penguin, 1995), 16


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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries 
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