Daily Devotional 5-30-2012

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
All this is from God, troche who reconciled us to himself through Christ, ed and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, store in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Thought for the Day: In the fascinating book, The Master and His Emissary, neurological psychologist Iain McGilchrist, describes an ongoing evolutionary battle between the two hemispheres of the human brain. The right hemisphere is responsible for empathy, the subtleties of relationship, faith, and emotional reactions to speech, sound and music. It’s our sensitive side. The left hemisphere is responsible for math, motor control, and the “re-presentation” of life in words. It’s our reality perceptor.

McGilchrist claims the two hemispheres are in constant competition, and that one of the left hemisphere’s strengths is its ability to declare itself dominant. Hence, the history of humankind, especially of the 20th century, is the history of the left hemisphere’s ability with math, tools, computers, and verbal thinking, to the point that left-hemisphere thinking has become institutionalized. The left hemisphere of our brains has been in control the last several thousand years, so that we now live in a world of its construct: mechanized, manipulative and competitive. It is an unsustainable model. The right hemisphere’s capacities for empathy and compassion have been marginalized.

Obviously, this has been a model for self-destruction. We need to reconcile the two halves of our brain as God has reconciled humanity to God’s self, so that our incredible capacity for technological innovation is tempered by an equal amount of empathy and compassion for each other and our planet. We are living half a life when we ignore our right-hemisphere’s request to allow God’s reconciliation to make a change in our behavior.

Prayer: Remind me constantly, merciful Lord, of my Christ-like capacity for compassion and love. May I re-present the world through Christ, spreading the message of reconciliation by displaying in my life, endless and unceasing compassion for my brothers, sisters, and this glorious planet. Amen.

Daily Devotional 5-29-2012

Scripture: Esther 3:6 (NRSV)
“So, having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

Thought for the Day: 
The book of Esther tells the story of the Persian King Xerxes I, his young Jewish (unbeknownst to him) wife Esther, and two of the King’s closest advisors, Haman and Mordecai. Through a fascinating, twisted and completely ego-driven series of events (the entire book is only about 10 pages long and an intense read—check it out), Haman hatches a plot to have all the Jews in the kingdom murdered. The genocidal act is only averted by Esther’s intervention (in an ironic twist that becomes apparent after reading the story).

Haman’s ire isn’t about religious differences though, it’s about his perception that his human power has been disrespected, for Mordecai, an equal in status of Haman, refuses to bow to Haman, even though King Xerxes has proclaimed all should prostrate themselves before Haman. So Haman goes on an ego-driven tirade that almost causes the elimination of an entire population.

The recent massacre of over 100 people by the Syrian government–nearly an entire village–has frightening parallels to the events described in the Book of Esther 2500 years ago. The Syrian government fights because it’s authority has been questioned, ruthlessly eliminating anyone who fights for freedom. But an authority that is maintained by fear and intolerance is not a true authority and can never be held. Eventually, God rasies an Esther and a Mordecai. It’s disconcerting that humans continue to wield power through oppression and murder, rather than recognizing that a position of authority is a gift and responsibility to serve the least of us, not a right to viciously attack those think differently.

Prayer: 
Merciful God, you are the only authority, and to you I pledge my soul and my life. Through you, Holy One, may we all learn the Divine traits of compassion, love, and mercy, so that our petty human differences might be settled without resorting to intolerance and mass murder. Amen.