Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Here’s an article, summarizing research about states of mind in relation to various factors, such as longevity and bigotry. It turns out that self-proclaimed “happy” people can be more judgmental and bigoted than “sad” people. Those who experience sadness may open the heart, more easily, to compassion.

This discovery is not, obviously, an argument in favor of depression or despair. However,  next time you are sad, consider the saying of Jesus: “Blessed are those who mourn,” and allow your sadness to open into compassion.

See this article:

If I’m good, I will prosper…. right? Transactional Faith

What is faith? Many times we get caught up by a transactional view of God. If we are good and do the right thing, we will be happy and God will reward us. Such teachings fail to account for unspeakable tragedy, which is undeserved and cannot be relieved by pat solutions.

This video offers a thought-provoking critique of a transactional kind of faith. What if a deep and loving faith embraces the vulnerability of suffering and encourages free questioning?

The Joy of Jesus, by Doreen Virtue

Here are a few thoughts about Doreen Virtue’s book, The Joy of Jesus, which recounts her recent conversion to Jesus Christ, after having been a successful teacher (of new age spirituality), for some decades. I will list, first, what I find positive and admirable about her message. Secondly, I will make a couple of points in critique in light of Christian tenets.

Here’s what I admire about Doreen Virtue’s personal witness, her message, and her book.

  1. The Courage to Take a Stand: DV has fearlessly and courageously sought the truth. Upon realizing that Jesus is the savior — through a vision, prayer, and study — she has been willing to act upon her faith, even at risk to herself. She gave up her lucrative business, and her status, as a new age spiritual teacher in favor of a Christian evangelism for which she receives comparatively few rewards. This courageous example speaks volumes in favor of the life-changing reality of God that she describes.
  2. The Gospel is for Everybody (Finding/Seeking):  DV honestly and graphically recounts the emptiness (indeed, the torment) of a life that is dedicated to spiritual seeking, for its own sake. In her own career as a successful spiritual teacher (so, she confesses), she tirelessly tried to track down special or esoteric knowledge. Yet, if the prize was forthcoming, the pleasures were temporary and elusive.  She likens the promise of esoteric knowledge to Eve’s temptation: the shiny apple is the secret wisdom that will finally make one like God. Esoteric knowledge — or special wisdom — in new age circles can become a commodity and a badge of superiority.  By contrast, the gospel is at once fully satisfying and freely accessible– (the wisdom revealed to babes). If Christ exhibits the nature of God, then it is God’s nature to be generous, truthful, and forgiving.  We may touch God, in the here and now, and rather than searching, relentlessly and restlessly, for something to make us whole, we may find–and be found by–a limitless and loving God. Healed, we are whole.
  3. Joy: DV reveals, through her conversion, an encounter with Jesus Christ that fills the heart with causeless and boundless joy — no matter one’s trials and tribulations. We are all seeking such joy, aren’t we? As DV shows, through Christ, that joy is real.

Here are some points of critique.

  1. Guilt and Judgment: DV seems to believe that she was duped and deceived by the devil up until her conversion and her meeting with Jesus Christ. Yet, against this self-castigating narrative, it may be urged that the Christian gospel is about forgiveness, which releases one from guilt. In the light of forgiveness, one may see the beauty — and truth — that have been present, even while one has been hindered by various vices and sins.  Surely, DV had lots of good things to say, in her earlier books, even if she made some “mistakes,” when measured against her current standards of belief. While writing her books about angels, and portraying Jesus as an ascended master (rather than as the unique Son of God), DV showed an enthusiasm for spiritual things, and curiosity about various ideas, which inspired many.  These gifts ought not to be so sternly condemned. Guilt toward self, furthermore, gets transmuted into judgment toward others. For instance, DV believes that hell is real and that theological universalism is misguided. So, anyone holding these beliefs, so she judges, must be deceived and duped, just as she used to be. Surely, Jesus embraced theological pluralism, on a number of points, even if he also preached certain universals (such as the Great Commandment). Heterodox opinions do not amount to grave sins.
  2. Biblical Literalism: I honor DV’s respect for the Bible. Yet, to lapse into rote biblical literalism is to take the easy way out when faced by controversial or difficult passages. For instance, DV claims that God (through the Bible) condemns mediumship and witchcraft. Yet, Jesus himself was accused of magic and of being in league with demons. These accusations against Jesus were argued on biblical grounds –which draw upon similar passages (from Deuteronomy) as those on the basis of which DV derives her biblical prohibitions against mediumship. If Jesus (the Son of God)  “broke” such biblical rules himself — or if he was suspected of doing so– then perhaps the biblical rules, here, are liable to be misinterpreted. Could it be that the surface meaning of the Bible needs to be probed, more carefully, so that a deeper truth will emerge? Biblical doctrines about hell are equally complex and open to interpretation.

DV’s book, The Joy of Jesus, is available as a free PDF download on her website.


Asia Bibi : Christian Jailed in Pakistan

Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian

The Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was arrested and jailed in 2009 for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Muhammed. She was sentenced to death.

In fact, Asia Bibi extended hospitality and friendship towards her Muslim coworkers by sharing water and conversation. Rumors then circulated, and false accusations, claiming that she had defamed the prophet of Islam.

Asia Bibi’s case has been appealed. She has been waiting (in jail) for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to hear the case and render a final verdict.

Jesus fought for Spiritual Freedom : Lightworker

Jesus himself was accused of blasphemy for claiming to be united with God. No matter our religion, all of us have the right– like Jesus–to enjoy such intimacy with God. We ought to openly declare or speak about our faith, peacefully, without incurring retribution by a dogmatic orthodoxy or a strident majority.

Not Just about Religion but about Human Rights

While Asia Bibi’s imprisonment involves persecution on religious grounds, her case goes beyond sectarian differences between religions. Instead, the case puts on trial freedom of speech and basic human rights.

Pakistan, a country which claims to protect religious minorities, ought to uphold the freedom of a person (Asia Bibi) to speak and associate freely with Muslims even while practicing her own different culture and mode of faith.  Is one free, respectfully, to declare one’s own faith (as a Christian) without thereby being accused of allegedly insulting the religion of the Muslim majority?  The charge of blasphemy, if it should ever be legitimate, is illegitimate, here.

This case has not to do with protecting a Christian person, merely, but rather with the democratic right of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

More Information about the Asia Bibi Case 

A journalist risked her life so that she could get Asia Bibi’s story. The book can be found here: Blasphemy: A Memoir

Here are updates about her case:

Update Asia Bibi Appeal Pakistan

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Goodbye England’s Rose

Goodbye England’s Rose, by Bernie Taupin and Elton John

The lyrics to this song, a tribute to Princess Di at her funeral (in 1997), remind me of the saying of Jesus: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

In this song, Princess Diana is compared to the “rose of England” who grows in the heart of the people. The rose is also the grace that is placed “where lives are torn apart,” probably a reference to Diana’s activism on behalf of abused and hurt people (e.g., in working with AIDS patients in the 1980s).  Princess Diana had the courage and the caring, as a member of the royal family, to stand with the afflicted, sharing her life, her stature, and her hope.

The rose is the fragrance of love and compassion, which grows in the midst of suffering. The rose is also the memory, in the hearts of people who love her, of a legend and hero. Grace is the fragrance of the rose, which heals and uplifts lives that are torn apart.

The lyrics go on to say: “And you whispered to those in pain/Now you belong to heaven/And the stars spell out your name.”

By exuding the fragrance of compassion to people who are torn apart, the rose (or grace) soothes the soul. The afflicted are welcomed into heaven, a place of joy and well-being, thanks to this grace. Even the stars give honor to those in heaven and to the one who helps them to get there.

This tribute to Princess Di illustrates self-sacrificing love: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Jesus is himself regarded as royalty, as the divine king. By laying down his life for his friends, Jesus stands with those who are hurt, abused, alienated, or in other ways, suffering.

Jesus says (improvising) in effect, “I give my life since Life is abundant. I give my stature so that you who feel unworthy will be raised up. Life can never be killed and lost. Life revives the sick and the suffering. Now, you are enrolled in heaven.”


ARTIST: Elton John
TITLE: Goodbye England’s Rose
Lyrics and Chords

Goodbye England’s rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart

You called out to our country
And you whispered to those in pain
Now you belong to heaven
And the stars spell out your name

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset when the rain set in
And your footsteps will always fall here
Along England’s greenest hills
Your candle’s burned out long before
Your legend ever will

Loveliness we’ve lost
These empty days without your smile
This torch we’ll always carry
For our nation’s golden child

And even though we try
The truth brings us to tears
All our words cannot express
The joy you brought us through the years


Goodbye England’s rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart

Goodbye England’s rose
From a country lost without your soul
Who’ll miss the wings of your compassion
More than you’ll ever know