Don Edwards Literary Memorial

September 7, 2006

“Faith is a gift”

I got up early this morning, LeRoy, to watch the sunrise. Didn’t happen. The weather here in Ajijic, Mexico, has changed. During this rainy season, normally it rains at night but during the day it is bright and dry, often spectacular sunrises. Some say this is the normal condition, rain all the time. Others say that this is a peculiar condition due to global warming.

But while I was waiting in vain for a splendid sunrise, clouds everywhere, probably going to rain all day, I wondered about a phrase we were brought up with. So I researched it a little and here it is.

Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”

When we were Brothers, this was drummed into us. Faith is a gift. So, I assume, belief in the entire dogmatic contents of the “Baltimore Catechism” is required in order to belong to the Roman Catholic fraternity. Catholics who don’t go to mass or who don’t participate in various sacraments, are referred as “lapsed” Catholics. I qualify, I guess. But my lack of qualification to the club does not in the least perturb my conscience. I know right from wrong.

I know it is a bad thing to kill. I know that the Commandments are good guidelines to not do bad things, and I know and believe the basic messages of the gospels: take care of the poor, the children, and the beatitudes from the sermon on the mount:

• Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
• Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land.
• Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
• Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
• Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
• Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
• Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
• Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

How can you argue against these guidelines for living a virtuous life?

Nothing here about politics. Nothing about persecution of some other culture’s version of Allah or God. Not even the famous Jesus quote…“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” though that is good advice too.

So my basic beliefs in Jesus’ principles of life are intact. But since most “dogma” has historical implications and often has nothing to do with the spirit of the gospels, well….

I am now researching the origins of anti-semetism. Even in Antioch around the end of the second century, there are movements, though mostly doctrinal, mostly whether or not Gentile Christians need to keep the diatery laws, be circumcised, need to worship in the synagogue

Later, around 388 AD, the time of my next “diologue” with my friend, Otto Rand, the biship of Antioch, St. Chrysostom, writes letters exhorting Christians not to attend any synagogue ritual, not to revert to Judaism, letters which have phrases like “perfidious Jews,” and Even Augustine, while tolerant of Jews, denounces contact with them.


It is 3:53 PM on Friday, and I am in mourning. I just found out Brother Sixtus Robert Smith died. Of course I knew he was close. But he was among the two or three persons in my life who made a major difference. I will write a memoriam in the next few days.

Filed under: DON POSTS — Don @ 1:43 pm

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