Hi Folks, I’ve just uploaded the first edition of a new series of video blogs… or as I call them, Video Rants – check it out – here’s where I will talk about all my academic and theological pet peeves.
Do you feel your life is fragmented, disorganized, chaotic? That your mind is always racing, that the pace of life is overtaking you? Author and lecturer James L. Papandrea helps you simplify your life, reduce stress, and understand your higher purpose by taking inventory and rebuilding the five homes of your life:
Body–a peaceful haven for your soul
Hands–meaningful work that fosters dignity and doesn’t create anxiety
Heart–a welcoming place that nurtures loved ones and a community of friends
Mind–a reflective outlet for creativity
Spirit–a tranquil place of Christian grace
If even one of the homes is unbalanced, harmony and peace can elude you. Contentment and meaning come only with order and structure in all five homes. An integrated workbook walks you through the steps to identifying your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re seriously interested in spiritual growth, changing negatives to positives, and reclaiming your higher purpose, Spiritual Blueprint is for you.
Spiritual Blueprint: The Blog is now available as an eBook on Amazon. If you want to have the entire two years of my blog in one place (especially if you missed a few) here it is at this link:
Thanks for reading, and remember: my new blog, Romesick: The Pilgrimage is coming at the beginning of December, so stay tuned…
Did you know that today is Milvian Bridge Day? October 28th is the day we commemorate the battle at the Milvian Bridge, and the victory that took place exactly 1,700 years ago today.
In the year 312, a general named Maxentius occupied the city of Rome and terrorized its citizens. Coming down from the north, the legions of Constantine approached. Maxentius had the bridges destroyed so Constantine’s army could not enter the city – so Constantine and his men camped outside the city and waited.
Maxentius consulted the pagan soothsayers, who told him that if he went out to meet Constantine in battle, the enemy of Rome would perish. Of course, Maxentius didn’t bother to ask who they meant by “the enemy of Rome.” He did march out to meet Constantine, by constructing a makeshift bridge out of a row of boats tied together.
Meanwhile, Constantine had a dream. In his vision, he saw the monogram of Christ emblazoned on the sky, and heard the voice of God saying, IN THIS SIGN, YOU WILL CONQUER! He put that symbol on the standards of his legions and marched into battle under the banner of Christ. Maxentius was defeated, and drowned in the river. Rome welcomed Constantine as a liberator, and the following year he was able to issue the Edict of Milan, which legalized Christianity, and in fact granted freedom of worship to all religions for the first time in history.
The point is not to glorify Constantine – there are many reasons why he should not be held up as a model Christian, not least of which is the fact that he postponed his baptism until the end of his life, so that he could be free to exercise the emperor’s right of capital punishment – even when the accused was a member of his own family. But in a time when religious freedom is becoming increasingly rare around the world, it’s worth remembering that for “one brief shining moment” (to quote the musical Camelot), there was an empire that gave religious freedom a shot. It didn’t last long because Constantine’s sons got too involved in the battles over heresy within the church, and then the emperor Julian tried to bring back paganism. All this led a later emperor named Theodosius to declare Christianity the only legal religion in the empire and the tables were irreversibly turned.
I know you’ve probably heard all kinds of myths about the emperor Constantine. Some of the worst stories about him are actually true. But he did not invent the doctrine of the Trinity*, he did not decide what books would be in the Bible, he did not write the Nicene Creed, and he did not create a marriage of church and state that made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Theodosius was the one who made Christianity the official religion of the empire, but not until almost 70 years later. So before you think Constantine was the worst thing to happen to the church and the world, think again. Granted, he was no saint (well, I guess he is a saint in the eastern Orthodox tradition), but he was no demon, either.
Milvian Bridge Day also marks the two year anniversary of the Spiritual Blueprint blog, and with that, this blog comes to an end. But a new blog will be launched in about a month, at the beginning of Advent. This new blog will continue the themes of living intentionally, and making life a journey, but will take this to the next level. If life is a journey, why not make it a pilgrimage?
My new blog will be called, Romesick: The Pilgrimage, and will include bite sized bits of spirituality for the daily walk. It will be found at www.Romesick.net (but not yet). I hope you will continue reading…
* If you want to find out how the doctrine of the Trinity really did get clarified, check out my newest book, Trinity 101.
This week’s blog is really just an announcement. My new book, Trinity 101 is out, and available on Amazon.
Trinity 101 is a short, very accessible book that traces the biblical background of the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as the historical development of the doctrine up through the Nicene Creed. It includes a line by line explanation of the Nicene Creed, including (for all the Catholics), the definition of the word, consubstantial.
The book’s website is www.Trinity101.org.
And as usual, there’s a short (1 min.) video teaser. Feel free to spread this around!
When Jesus arrived on the scene, this was John the baptist’s response: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). That’s the theme of this week’s blog.
As you probably know, the Spiritual Blueprint Blog is winding down, and I’m gearing up for my new blog to begin with Advent next month. The Spiritual Blueprint blog has been a great opportunity to follow up on themes from my book, Spiritual Blueprint: How We Live, Work, Love, Play and Pray. It’s also been a great place for me to engage both spirituality and culture, and vent about some of my own pet peeves along the way.
But now I must decrease, and He (Jesus) must increase. What I mean by that is this – it’s been a nice two years doing this blog, but it’s become all about me – my thoughts, my opinions, etc. So it’s time for a switch.
The new blog will be called (drum roll…):
Romesick: The Pilgrimage
Actually, this new blog will continue one of the main themes of Spiritual Blueprint, that life is a journey. But I’m taking that idea to the next level. If life is a journey, make it a pilgrimage. What I mean is that we can approach all of life as a spiritual pilgrimage, and to that end, the new blog will present bite sized bits of spirituality for the daily walk, including prayers, songs, stories, Scripture, quotes from the Church fathers and mothers, photos, movie reviews, and other things to enhance the spirituality of everyday life and generally help people connect with God.
What does Romesick mean, you ask? It’s the feeling I get when I’ve been away from Rome too long – like homesick, only Romesick. But the interesting thing is that although Rome is considered one of the most significant pilgrimage destinations in the world, it started as a place for people who could not get to the holy land. In other words, if you couldn’t go on a pilgrimage to the holy land, you went to Rome instead. Well, maybe we can’t even get to Rome as often as we’d like – maybe we can’t go anywhere at the moment. So the blog will provide a virtual pilgrimage every week. It will focus a lot on Rome, because that’s my own experience, but will also reach back through history to draw from our ancestors in the faith, that “great cloud of witnesses” who cheer us on as we run the race of faith (Hebrews 12:1).
Look for the new blog to be at the website: Romesick.net (it’s not up yet, so don’t go there now). My hope is that the new blog will be more than interesting, it will be useful. It will also be connected to a facebook page for people to participate, and encourage each other – as well as for people who actually do go to Rome to tell us about their experiences. So stay tuned…
If you’re like me, you’ve seen every episode of the show Friends. Not because you let it control your life when it first aired, and you organized your whole existence around making sure you didn’t miss an episode, but because you can still turn on the TV at any time of day and find it on a least two different channels. Of course, we own the DVDs, too, but try not to judge us…
Also, if you’re like me, you know the show so well that you feel like the characters are YOUR friends. And once you get to that point, there’s something comforting about watching the show, even though you know it by heart.
So did you ever notice that sometimes Phoebe speaks Italian, and sometimes she doesn’t? There’s an episode where she calls someone a dirty word in Italian, and then says, “Well I guess Italian is one of the languages you don’t speak.” And there’s an episode where she speaks to Joey’s grandmother in Italian, and surprises herself – apparently she didn’t know she spoke Italian. And then there’s at least one episode where she doesn’t know Italian when Rachel is dating Paolo. This demonstrates something – not about the writers, but about us as an audience.
What it demonstrates is that we are happy and ready to suspend disbelief if it will facilitate our own entertainment. On one level, this is a good thing, because otherwise who could watch a time travel movie? (And if you know me, you know I love anything with time travel in it). But on another level, there’s a danger here, in that we are often too ready to forgive inconsistencies and even ignore reality when someone is telling us what we want to hear.
Apply this principle to the media and politics and you can see why it’s problematic. Normally, I’m the first one to defend Saturday Night Live and it’s particular brand of parody. But last night they made fun of undecided voters. Really, SNL? REALLY?? Actually, I’ve decided whom I’m voting for – but to imply that undecided voters are stupid or uninformed is… well… stupid and uninformed. Maybe those undecided voters are simply not ignoring inconsistencies, and not allowing their preconceived assumptions to let them accept everything their favorite candidate says because he’s telling them what they want to hear.
Here’s to you, undecided voters! I respect you for acknowledging that this election (and any election) is about choosing the lesser of two evils, and that’s not a choice to be made casually. Of course, I hope you vote for my guy, but even if you don’t, you should feel pretty special since all the money and energy the candidates are spending on campaigning – it’s all for you! Seriously, how often does such a small minority get such special treatment?
The truth is, I think there are a lot more undecided voters than the polls suggest (and I think the candidates know that). In fact, I think polls are a joke, because they are automatically skewed by the very fact that some people are polled and others aren’t. The demographic category of people who respond to polls vs. people who do not respond to polls is enough to make all polls invalid. Not to mention the category of people who tell the truth in polls vs. people who don’t tell the truth in polls. Hmmm… maybe we should take a poll to see what percentage of people tell the truth in polls…
P.S. Don’t forget… in a few weeks I will be launching my NEW blog, focused on making every day of our lives a spiritual pilgrimage. More to come…