Why God is the Perfect Author

 

bible-1850859_640

“None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when—like the artists of every age—captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colours and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you.”- Saint John Paul II, Letter to Artists

Not many people know how much work goes into creating a wonderful story. Whether we are writing a novel or making a movie or a painting or a play, we are creating new worlds. This process, known as “worldbuilding,” involves a lot of research and  creativity. Whenever I work on a story I’m writing, I am basically reliving the creation from Genesis.

I realize that not everyone who reads this believes in God, but it’s hard to argue that this beautiful universe that we live in came to be by mere chance. All the stars, galaxies, and planets we see when we look at pictures of space aren’t just floating balls of gas and rock. To me, they are works of art. The vastness of space reminds us that there is more to life than just our petty squabbles and the problems in our world.

Zoom down to our tiny planet and think about what this world could’ve been. I heard it said somewhere that if our planet was placed just the tiniest bit closer or the tiniest bit further from the sun, it would be uninhabitable. We are given this beautiful world with huge oceans and all sorts of different environments and climates. Variety is the spice of life.

Which begs the first question: Why do natural disasters happen?

It’s part of the worldbuilding. Earthquakes led to creating the continents. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires all clear out parts of nature, but new things grow from the destruction. Climate change is definitely a factor, but we’ve been doing a lot of damage to the ozone layer since the Industrial Revolution. There is nothing new under the sun.

God doesn’t plan for these disasters to happen. He just allows them to be a “plot twist” in our lives. Some people look at the devastation and question how God could exist. The answer is found in His best creation: our fellow human beings.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Rita, I have seen more good people than bad get the spotlight on the news. Disasters have a way of either bringing out the best in us or the worst in us. The good news is that God created humans with the power to choose how we feel.

Which leads to Inevitable Question #2: Why do bad people exist? Why do terrorists keep attacking? Why do we constantly hear about people acting in such atrocious ways? If God created each and every person on this planet, why are there so many bad people?

Once again, it goes back to choices. God gives everyone the power to choose and choices and the consequences of these choices shape the stories of our lives. One great example can be seen in the Marvel Netflix series Daredevil. Both Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk were people who grew up in New York City and had difficult circumstances in their childhoods. However, one chose to retaliate by doing something evil (even if it meant protecting the ones he loves) and the other was put into the care of good people (even if he did have a jerk for a mentor). Wilson Fisk’s choices led to him becoming the head of the largest crime organization in the city. Matt Murdock chose to become a lawyer to defend the helpless and later chose to be a vigilante when the law wasn’t enough to take down the bad guys.

People are raised in circumstances that shape who they become. Each person has the capacity to change and rise above whatever hardships they experienced, but some choose to stay where they are. The key here is what we choose.

It’s a bit hard to wrap your head around the idea that believing in God leads to having a life with better choices and more freedom, but that’s how a good story goes. Remember how in Star Wars when Luke chooses to trust in the Force instead of the computer that was targeting the exhaust port in the Death Star? Star Wars isn’t a perfect parallel for a faith-filled life, but I do like how being a Jedi relies on having faith and being detached from consuming emotions.

What exactly is the point of this ramble? To quote the Doctor, “we are all stories in the end.” I know this post might sound crazy, but I just want to show you that this universe, this world, and each and every single person gives evidence that there is a Creator. So much work goes into creating a story. So much work gets put into creating a world and all the characters and conflicts in a work of fiction. The world that we live in is no different.

Yes, I'm A Christian AND…?

Jesus_und_Petrus_Matthäus_4.18-20

By now you’ve probably heard of this viral video from Buzzfeed. There are many, many awful things about this video, but honestly what I dislike the most about this video is just how bland the Christianity is. So yeah, you’re Christian and you like Beyonce and you’re not judgmental and you’re queer, blah blah blah.

Lemme ask you a question brought up in yesterday’s Gospels: Who do you say Jesus really is? Because if you don’t give the same answer Peter did…well, as they say in Texas, “Lord have mercy and bless your heart.”

WARNING: MAJOR CATHOLIC BRAGGING AHEAD. 

One wonderful thing about being Catholic is that there’s this beautiful phrase called “both/and.” As in we are Catholic AND we’re human beings like everyone else on this planet. I found this wonderful infograph on a Catholic tumblog that pretty much explains how Catholics see the world.

So Catholics are Christian but…unlike Protestant denominations, we believe that salvation is gained through both faith and works, which means accepting God’s gift of grace and cooperating with Him. Grace is the spirit that inspires us to go out into the world and helping the poor and needy. We believe that we can receive forgiveness from our sins both directly from God in prayer and through the Sacrament of Confession. We are people that are good because we are created in God’s image and sinful because we’ll always be in need for forgiveness.

What are we? We are a people who are free to make our own choices and obliged to choose what is good and right. We understand the world through religion and science. We can explain that the world was both divinely created and had natural evolution. We are a church made of traditionalists like Peter who remind us of what our core values are and visionaries like Paul who want to help make the church better.

What do we want the world to know about the Catholic faith? That the greatest commandment is to love God and to love all. We love our neighbors, our enemies, and ourselves. That our religion is based on Scripture and tradition. That we take the Bible as literature and interpret it spiritually for theology and ethics. We mediate on God’s word because it’s prayer and also study it because it’s history as well as theology. That we believe in a God who is a father and a king and his Son and the Holy Spirit and…I might as well just copy and paste the Nicene Creed at this point.

Finally, who do we say that Jesus is?

As Peter said, “You are the Christ.” “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

 

So lemme ask you: “Yes, you are a Christian, but who do you say Jesus is?”

My Voice: A Poem

My Voice: A Poem

When I was a child, my voice sang songs of wanderlust

Wanting to go into other worlds and have adventures

Then life took an unexpected turn

And I found adventure on a West Coast dust bowl

My voice began telling stories and longing for love

Love found me, but fled just as quickly

As I journeyed onward to a land of cowboys and football

Where my voice relished in expressing itself

Singing along to music made from teenage dreams

And then a dream came true: I found a home

The seeds of childhood finally sprung to life

Under the glow of a golden sun shining over a white tent

My voice sang love songs to the shining sun

and the bright red star that shined at night

But this home was only temporary

As I left the golden sun and bright red star behind

My voice began to fade

Lost without the safety net of the dream come true

I became like a doll, with many people trying to put their voices in me

Until the Son came out on a dreary, rainy spring day

And walked with me as I healed

In dark autumn nights, my voice sang new songs

Gaining the strength of an Amazon, a warrior, a Slayer

When spring came around again, my voice found a new home

I learned to laugh and love and live again

Now I learn how to speak His voice,

Learning the melody of the Word Incarnate

Because He is the one who gave me my voice

Easter! A Progress Report

So Lent didn’t turn out the way I thought it would be. There were a lot of struggles, but also a lot of lessons learned along the way. 

The wonderful thing about Easter is that it’s a time of celebration and redemption, to remember that death isn’t the end-all, be-all. At Mass, Catholics renew their baptismal vows. It reminds us of what we chose to believe in and what we are all striving for.

To make a long blog post short, I know I should’ve done better in my daily updates. But I am happy with what I did write. And there will be more writing to come for this blog in the future. During Lent, I learned a lot about humility and patience and during Easter, I will put what I learned to practice.

Sneak preview: I will be doing a series of posts called “Eat, Pray, Love: The Catholic Version.” Watch the trailer for the movie and you’ll get a hint as to why I’m going to do this. I will tell you right now that I’m not gonna go to Italy or India or Bali. Come back to this blog Thursday and join me on my journey.

Lent Day 42 and 43: The Answer To Everything

Here’s a funny observation I made back in Advent of 2011

Interesting connection b/w Matthew’s family tree and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…Matthew mentions the number 14 three times to represent the number of generations b/w Abraham and David, David to the Babylonian Exile, and the Exile to the birth of Our Lord. 14 generations pass in between these 3 huge events in Hebrew history…14×3=42.

So why am I talking about Christmas so early in the year?

Because you can’t have Christmas without Easter. And vice versa. During this season of Lent, we look for hope within the desert, waiting for the rain to come and make the flowers bloom. Even when the worst of humanity shows itself, the best of humanity rises out of the ashes and shows the world that there is good.

I don’t know where this came from, but I heard it said that a life is defined by the line between the year of your birth and the year of your death. What’s unique about Jesus was that he was literally born to die. But the good news is that death isn’t the end of the story. To quote one of my favorite songs: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Christ’s life began and ended…but three days later, there’s a new beginning.

Lent Day 41: Blood Moon

It’s no coincidence that Passover and Holy Week take place around the same time. Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his apostles the night before his death, after all.

But what if I told you that there was another connection between Passover of this year and the day that Jesus died?

EWTN sometimes airs this documentary called Star of Bethlehem around the time of Advent or Christmas because it talks about whether or not the Star of Bethlehem was real and if so, what exactly it was. (Spoilers: The Star of Bethlehem was real. Watch the documentary and find out how.)

But this documentary also shows something else: what the sky looked like (astronomically speaking) on the day that Jesus died. It’s revealed that on the day Jesus died, a lunar eclipse occurred.

A lunar eclipse occurring shortly after the start of Passover. The blood of the lamb washing over a pure white surface. Sounds familiar.

God’s timing can be seriously uncanny sometimes.

Lent Day 39: No Greater Disappointment

Recently, I met someone who told me “There is no greater disappointment than Christ on the cross.”

I want you to meditate on what that exactly means.

Jesus is God made flesh, 100% God and 100% human. So when you look at a crucifix, realize that it’s God experiencing death. God the Son was dead. No apocalypse, no crime, and no betrayal could hurt more than the idea of God the Son suffering, bleeding, being publicly humiliated.

What does that mean for us?

To quote a Chris Sligh song: “Everything is a lesser pain compared to You.”

No matter what in your life has happened to you or what you’re going through, God will understand because He experienced it. Maybe He didn’t experience it the way you specifically did, but like us, he was betrayed by someone he thought he could trust. Like us, He suffered humiliation when He did nothing wrong. Like us, He was abandoned by those he loved except for a small number of family and friends.

Offer your disappointments, struggles, and pain to the Lord. He will give you rest with time. It won’t happen right away, but I can promise you that it will happen.

Lent Day 38: The Voice In the Silence

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Many a Catholic identifies this as a refrain to a familiar psalm.

But what is God’s voice? We can’t exactly hear it!

Maybe the reason we can’t hear it is because we’re not listening to it. But we’re not the only ones. There’s a famous passage about Elijah trying to find God in 1 Kings 19: 11-12

‘Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.’

The last four words in this verse are more well known as “a still small voice.”

Mother Teresa said that “In the silence of our hearts, God speaks.”

Holy Week is a period that consists of more silence than celebration after Palm Sunday. The readings are more solemn and many people spend time meditating on Jesus’s passion and death.

But how can we distinguish God’s voice from other voices, even in the silence of our hearts?

It starts by knowing what God would say. 9 times out of 10, what God wants is pretty much the opposite of what the world says would make us happy. And Satan, Father of Lies that he is, tries to make us think that he is God’s voice by offering us everything we think we want on a silver platter.

Tucker Max, famous for being the epitome of frat boy dreams everywhere, says “The devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for.”

While God wants to give us what makes us happy, a lot of the time, what God wants to give us is not something we expect. It’s often the last thing we expect. Think of all the Bible stories you know. It usually starts with a reluctant hero who at first thinks he can’t, but decides to do God’s will anyway. Okay, that’s also part of the Hero’s Journey, but you get my point. There’s a reason why people always say “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

Today, I want you to spend time in silent meditation and I pray that you hear God’s voice during this Lenten season.

Lent Day 36: National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! The Catholic Gentleman posted a blog about some Catholic poets you may not have heard of or may not have known were Catholic. But for this blog, I’m going to list off some saints who also wrote poetry and tell you some things about them.

St. Therese of Liseux: One of my favorite saints (as I have mentioned), St. Therese’s best known work is her autobiography Story of a Soul and being an inspiration to Mother Teresa. She is also one of the few female Doctors of the Church. However, she also wrote poems and plays and even got to act in the plays she wrote. One particular play had her in the role of Joan of Arc. 

(Photo courtesy of maidofheaven.com)

St. Theresa of Avila: Another female Doctor of the Church, St. Theresa of Avila was one of the great Catholic mystics. She founded the Carmelite order and loved contemplative prayer. Her most well-known work is The Interior Castle

St. John of the Cross: Ever heard of the term “dark night of the soul”? St. John of the Cross came up with that term. He was one of the co-founders of the Carmelites and good friends with St. Theresa. He’s also another Doctor of the Church. 

St. Robert Southwell: A Jesuit martyr from the 14th century, St. Robert Southwell was a missionary in post-Reformation England. 

St. Ephriam: He was a deacon and came from Syria. Most of his writings were intended to be sung as hymns.

St. Francis: No introduction necessary. Where do you think Pope Francis chose his name from? St. Francis’s most well-known poem is the “Canticle of the Sun.”

St. Hildegard of Bingen: A Benedictine abbess who was talented in a lot of areas. She founded 2 monestaries and wrote what is said to be the oldest morality play.

Click on the links provided or Google search these saints. What do you think of their poetry? Do you know any other Catholic poets? Or poets from other denominations? Please tell me!

Lent Day 26: Temporary Home

Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten Reflection today reminds me of a CS Lewis quote:

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

I had the chance to visit my alma mater yesterday, a place that I called home for four years. But I knew that eventually, I had to graduate and move on. I couldn’t stay there forever, even though I really loved being a student. And every high school student can attest to the fact that no matter how much they liked or hated high school, there was always a point that they knew that the high school life was only temporary.

There’s always a point in our lives where we wonder “Is this all that there is? Isn’t there more to life?” I know that it’s something a lot of motivational speakers and self-help writers say. But it is a question we all ask. It’s why people wonder if there’s life on other planets. It’s why we try and gain new experiences. It’s why we try to find satisfaction in things that ultimately can’t satisfy us in the long run.

We were created for Heaven, but we were given life on Earth as a preparation. Why we’re not in Heaven in the first place is a mystery.

It’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz. We are put into this strange world with the desire to find home and we learn a lot about ourselves along the way. And what some don’t realize is that everyone has the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God, just like how Dorothy didn’t realize that her red slippers were her key home all along.

Having a personal relationship with God comes from following God’s will. However, following God’s will isn’t a cure-all, nor is it easy. Finding home never is.