Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Category Archives: Readings

Excerpt on Christmas from “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving

Reading from “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving Chapter 4 The first Christmas after my mother’s death was the first Christmas I didn’t spend in Sawyer Depot. My grandmother told Aunt Martha and Uncle Alfred that if the family were all together, my mother’s absence would be too Read more →

“I will Light Candles this Christmas” by Howard Thurman

I will light Candles this Christmas; Candles of joy despite all sadness, Candles of hope where despair keeps watch, Candles of courage for fears ever present, Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days, Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens, Candles of love to inspire all my living, Candles that will Read more →

“The Christmas Spirit” by Rev. Jane Rzepka

Newsletters from other churches arrive in the mail every day. So I read them, and they get me to thinking. For example: Ministers’ columns this time of year say one of two things: “The holiday season is a happy time,” or “The holidays are depressing.” The “happy time” school of Read more →

“A Grief at Christmas” by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Again at Christmas did we weave The holly round the Christmas hearth; The silent snow possessed the earth, And calmly fell on Christmas-eve: The yule-clog sparkled keen with frost, No wing of wind the region swept, But over all things brooding slept The quiet sense of something lost. As in Read more →

“On Being a Good Neighbor” by Martin Luther King Jr.

On being a good neighbor – Dr. Martin Luther King On being a good neighbor – Dr. Martin Luther King Thursday, May 17, 2007 And who is my neighbor? Luke 10:29 I should like to talk with you about a good man, whose exemplary life will always be a flashing Read more →

“Shifty” by Chuck Yeager

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you’ve seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 episodes, and Shifty himself is Read more →

“Out of Silence” by Frederick Buechner

So the hymn comes to a close with an unsteady amen, and the organist gestures the choir to sit down. Fresh from breakfast with his wife and children and a quick run through of the Sunday papers, the preacher climbs the steps to the pulpit with his sermon in hand. Read more →

“What is it to be a Christian?” by Henry Ware

To be a Christian is precisely the same thing as to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ. A Disciple, to speak in general terms, is one who acknowledges any one as his teacher, and faithfully follows his instructions. Thus, for example, those, who chose Socrates or Plato for their teacher Read more →

“Where Am I Going” by Thomas Merton

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that Read more →

The Fine Art of Being a Good Guest — by Jeffrey Lockwood

The most important thing that I’ve learned in traveling to more than twenty countries is the art of being a guest. And I’m a particularly fine visitor at the supper table. I’ve consumed live fish in Inner Mongolia, not-quite-coagulated blood sausage on the Tibetan plateau, shredded pig’s ear in China, Read more →

Stories are Medicine — by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Stories are medicine. I have been taken with stories since I heard my first. They have such power; they do not require that we do, be , anything – we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories. Stories engender Read more →

A Man of Peace — by Osho

“A man of peace is not a pacifist, a man of peace is simply a pool of silence. He pulsates a new kind of energy into the world, he sings a new song. He lives in a totally new way; his very way of live is that of grace, that Read more →

My Simple Faith — by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion…. This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine Read more →

Revery by Emily Dickinson

“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do, If bees are few.”

The Rocks are Where they Are — D.T. Suzuki

“The rocks are where they are — this is their will. The rivers flow — this is their will. The birds fly — this is their will. Human beings talk — this is their will. The seasons change, heaven sends down rain or snow, the earth occasionally shakes, the waves Read more →

The Gaps are the Thing — Annie Dillard

“The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit’s one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clefts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; Read more →

Leonard Cohen

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Psalm 92

“It is a joy to give thanks to the Eternal, to sing thy praise, O thou Most High, to proclaim thy goodness in the morning to the sweet music of the lyre. I sing for joy at all that thou hast done.”

The Earth Produces of Itself — From Mark 4

If someone would scatter seed on the ground And would sleep and rise night and day, The seed would sprout and grow. The earth produces of itself First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. When the grain is ripe, the harvest has come.

Follow Your Bliss by Joseph Campbell

“Just sheer life can not be said to have a purpose, because look at all the different purposes it has all over the place. But each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality. How do you do it? My answer Read more →

Who are the Torturers? by the Rev. Bill Schulz

“So who are the torturers? Are they madmen? Deviants? Hardened criminals? Sexual predators? Almost never. In fact, most police and military units weed out the psychological misfits from their midst because they know such people have trouble taking orders. No, the horrible truth is that the vast majority of torturers Read more →

Oneness of Humanity by HH The Dali Lama

“Today’s world requires us to accept the oneness of humanity. In the past, isolated communities could afford to think of one another as fundamentally separate. Some could even exist in total isolation. But nowadays, whatever happens in one region of the world will eventually affect, through a chain reaction, peoples Read more →

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