easter thoughts

Image by Leonard John Matthews via Flickr

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.


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54 thoughts on “easter thoughts”

  1. I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.

    Wise words – thanks for posting. Happy Easter.

    1. Be happy and do good—yes. Auschwitz and cancer will never be beautiful in any time. I certainly agree that humankind has not fathomed ultimate reality. That’s why they should stop pretending they have—an activity most likely to occur in pews and pulpits. “Eternity in the hearts of men”—probably empty blather.

      Expressed by a friend of mine regarding Kevin’s post. I tend to side with him.

      Opinions like Kevin’s bother me because IMO they don’t look at the other side of the coin.

      1. Hmmmm..presuming to know God’s will? You believe that the “whole picture” of reality can ever be humanly comprehensible? Hell we don’t even “know” what gravity or light really “is”.

        He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

        Auschwitz? Cancer? You examine the brush-strokes and fail to see the painting.

        “…thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined. -JRR Tolkien

      2. Dave,

        you use “They” when you describe “humankind” as if you stand outside of it… hmmmm

  2. Hi Tom,

    Just a couple of questions regarding your post.

    Would you explain the correlation between the Simon and Garfunkel song and Easter?

    Would you explain how a man of evidence is also a man of faith?

    I’ve often heard the saying, “Faith is the evidence of things unseen.” When I interpret this saying, I find faith is a lack of evidence. When there is no evidence there is faith.

    I don’t claim to have the definitive answers, especially after watching a National Geograpich episode regarding the shroud of Turan and the cloth of Onan. A remarkable use of modern science and technology to find answers.


    1. When you think of it, wasn’t one of Christ’s purposes on earth to experience the “human experience” for himself? A time to be born. A time to die. To live and see what we live and see, and show us God’s purpose in it all?

      BTW. This is a passage from Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. S+G appropriated it for their song.

  3. Tom,

    Fair enough on the song and Christ comparison, I rather like it.

    How about you as a professional man of evidence also being a personal man of faith?

    I don’t understand Kevin’s post.

    Why was the burden on man necessary?

    If man can’t fathom what God has done from beginning to end is that man’s fault? We are limited by our intellect.

    If some men can fathom and others can’t, should the others that can’t be condemned?

  4. I think Dave’s post is a joke post. The reference to Onan’s cloth is the clue. I did google it several ways, found nothing. If I am wrong, I apologize to Dave.

    In any case, evidence renders unto Caesar and faith goes to the Divine, to all of us this is individual and gives meaning to the day-to-day.

    Thanks for a space to think good thoughts,
    Ann T.

    1. faith doesn’t have to be blind or without ‘evidence’ in it’s own way. Another name for miracles is “signs.” The problem with ‘signs’ though is they usually only make sense after the fact 🙂 AND if you choose to see them at all.

      1. Dear Paul & tgace,
        Oh, dear, when I left last time there were 12 comments and I am behind.

        I don’t believe faith is blind either. I was attempting to answer the question of investigation into crime with the divine plan question.

        Actually I think blind faith is not a good use of our talent. We are supposed to be on quest. . . my words will fall short for this, I suspect.

        Thanks for responding,
        Ann T.

  5. My bad. The episode was on the History Channel. It’s known as the burial face cloth (used at the time as Jewish tradition in burial).

    A brief mention is made correlating it to the shroud. The location of the burial face cloth is supposed to be in a city in Spain. I can’t remember the name of the city.

    It’s called the cloth of _________________.

    There is significant reference to it in John 19:31-42 and John 11:44. The references pertain to the burial face cloth of Lazarus and of Jesus.

    Tom, still waiting for your answer on being both a man of faith and of evidence.

    1. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21)

      Evidence is for the physical world Dave.

      1. Tom,

        So, without scientific proof of another world you insert faith as your proof. Therefore basing your belief on lack of evidence.

        Have you experienced the nonphysical world? If so, in what way?

  6. My first post was also from Ecclesiastes 3, to help put the Simon and Garfunkel lyrics in context.

    I also caught that show on the Shroud of Turin – “The Real Face of Jesus,” a pretty interesting example of evidence supporting faith. They referenced “The Cloth of Oviedo” in that show. (A cloth of Onan joke might even get by Dennis Miller).

  7. Hey Dave,

    What’s with the cross examination?

    The sentiment, regardless of the source, is what matters. I don’t see how this is the right ‘season’ or ‘field’ to question someone’s life philosophy. This kind of discussion might be better done via email.

    1. Paul,

      Perhaps I misunderstand the purpose of a blog. I thought the idea was to express thoughts. Since there is a reply to someone’s comments I thought the idea was to explore their comment.

      I was invited to the site and figured it was because of the questions, exploration of statements, and not accepting someone elses views unquestionably.

      If Tom would prefer I not do this here then he should let me know.

      This is the first blog I’ve participated in. I don’t know if Topica is a blog.

      I’m not very computer or internet savvy.


      1. Who mentioned Topica?

        Ask away, Tom’s a big boy for sure.

        My point is this: If you are going to argue basically for the “If I can’t prove it with science, then it isn’t real” position at every response, then there is no discussion, it’s a defense (in the academic sense). In this Socratic type of dialogue the roles are not equitable.

        Putting someone in a position to defend their life philosophy, publicly and in their own ‘house’ I’d guess you’d say, based on a post as a holiday sentiment is in poor taste IMO. That’s why the suggestion to make your inquiry via private email. I’m sure you wouldn’t accept an invite to someone’s house for Easter dinner then pursue this line of discussion over the ham and sweet potatoes. Based on the civil language of your postes, you seem to have some sense of manners.

        As you say, we’re expressing opinions, and this is mine.

  8. I believe Dave and I already “went around” on this topic on the Topica board. As a matter of fact it was over the meaning of the video clip from Secondhand Lions after which I named this blog.

    “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most.
    That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything;
    that power and money, money and power mean nothing;
    that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies.
    You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.
    You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.”

    So I will repost what I said there here:

    Its been my experience that seeking the “truth” (in the spiritual sense)is as much about faith as it is fact.

    Ive seen many bitter and sour people who have spent too much of themselves in worrying about what is “true”….I have seen many things that people are capable of doing to each other and it has left me far from naive. I’m not preaching “sunshine and daisy’s”. However, as I see things, reality and “truth” in human terms is different from “evidence” or scientific truth/fact. Human belief in things such as love, courage, freedom, justice, good prevailing over evil, etc.. on an individual basis is more about what we choose to believe.

    No triumph of the human spirit was ever founded in cynicism. We all believe in something and our beliefs, rightly or wrongly held , are the lens through which we live out or lives. I think the writers point in that passage is about choosing our “lens”. I tend to side with the writer…thats the sort of world I want to live in.

    1. A response from a friend I shared this post with. I like his logic here.

      If I were God and wanted there to be proof for my existence (say, in order to prevent doubters from feeling anguish or to reduce religious wars), I would install a neon sign stretching from Mars to Saturn, proclaiming, “I’m God, and I’m real.” This shroud business is old and I believe much more discredited than you’re making it sound, but come on: if there finally were a scrap of empirical evidence, isn’t this, well, a little flimsy? Paul’s 53 rule for miracles: They need to have panache, style, grandeur. There’s something petty about anything of real significance pivoting on two-thousand-year-old dirty linen. Part of being omnipotent is being an omni-good communicator. God, were he not a dangerous fiction, could get the message across better, and without a trace of ambiguity.

      I once told you about David Hume on miracles. His basic idea is that, for a miracle to be acceptable, its being false would have to be more unlikely, more miraculous, than its being true. So which is more unlikely? That this is a fraud whose method hasn’t quite been figured out, or that the creator of the universe singed his image on a sheet? By the way, if you travel through churches and museums overseas, Europe is littered with relics claiming to be divine in some way when they couldn’t possibly be. For example, if you added up all the slivers of the True Cross found in reliquaries, you’d have a whole forest, not the remains of a lone Roman execution device. Credulity is even more out of control than usual in this particular area.

      Religion and science can’t be symbiotic. Science prizes evidence. The fundamental message in religion is that one doesn’t need evidence; indeed, it’s more virtuous when you believe fervently in the absence of evidence, which is why religion is such a reliable recipe for intolerance and bloodshed. Anyway, remember your Good Book. Christians aren’t supposed to fret over proof, logic, reason, etc. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (1 Corinthians 3: 18-19)

      I realize if you chose to believe as you do, so be it.

      1. Shrouds? Miracles? Space Signs?

        If there was no faith there would be no living in this world. We couldn’t even eat hash with safety. ~Josh Billings, His Complete Works, 1888

  9. Dave,

    Being ‘civil’ in words without any sense of respecting the timing/tone of the message is just icing on a crap cake… rude is rude.

  10. Since this discussion has taken a turn away from the sentiment anyway let’s throw this log on the fire:

    There is a MAJOR issue with trying to compare what is called “religion” with an all encompassing definition and making such generalizations about blind devotion and unquestioning following…

    There was a time when “religion” was synonymous with ‘government’ (as in a “Church” was the “State”). So, the way that people viewed ‘religion’ was not the way it is viewed/discussed today (at least by people who are willing to make that time distinction). That alone skews some of the ‘scientific’ discrediting of the validity of religion/faith.

    There is also the contextuallity of translation and transliteration to consider. We use the word “love” VERY differently than the Greeks did (one of the first languages that the Bible was translated into and later translated from) so it is always up to the interpret to make the call – and possibly screw up the original intent/meaning… again something that time and ignorance of the original culture will cause misinterpretations and oversimplifications…

    For example:

    The common ‘childrens’ version of Jonas an the Whale is based on a translation problem because the original ‘whale’ was not a ‘whale’ but a ‘fish’ of unknown origins. Modern scholars argue (fairly persuasively too) that the ‘whale’ was actually a constellation that Jonas would have been stranded under during a time of the year that was known as being in the ‘belly of the whale (or fish)’ by ancient mariners of the time/culture.

    Now science has helped clarify – not disprove – an old ‘myth’ that is rooted in a faith work. I’m glad that scientists are willing to explore and discover possible origins to help clarify the ‘root tales.’

    1. I wouldn’t say science later proved this story. The science was already there. The writer of the story already new of the constellation. This opinion is based on me accepting your “belly of the whale” cultural relevance.

      1. Dave,

        By that statement are you saying that ‘science’ and ‘faith’ were already reconciled as far back as the days of the Old Testament? If that’s what you’re saying, you’re pretty far off.

        I never said that it was ‘proven’ by science Dave, I simply said that the possible clarification of a ‘realistic’ origin to a long accepted version of a story. You can’t ‘prove’ something as old as this story in light of the lack of empirical evidence. All you can do is come to a reasonable explanation that ‘makes sense’ and is possible.

        Science has been useful in ‘proving’ many ‘myths’ actually. For example it was believed that the city of Alexandria was lost forever, but some hearty explorers with gumption, FAITH, and investigative/scientific methods discovered its real location from ‘mythical’ clues.

        Same for the location of the city of Troy.

  11. Kevin,

    I wouldn’t worry about be accused of ‘one sided arguments’ when the argument against religion/faith is being presented by someone who doesn’t recognize pretty standard Judeo/Christian references like Ecc.3 and/or the name of the Shroud/Cloth reference.

    Kevin Says:
    April 7, 2010 at 1:56 am
    That was not my one-sided blather it was
    Ecclesiastes 3:10-13. I should have included the reference.

    1. When I was a child, I spoke as a child. When I became a man, I abandoned such foolish things.

      Let’s see, who said that?

      Where is it written?

      Maybe Paul has the answer. I await your words on wisdom, oh great one. lol


      1. Dave this is dwindling down to pettiness very quickly.

        You decided to challenge the beliefs on a person’s blog when the original intent was a holiday sentiment. Then you proceeded to use ‘civil’ words in rude manners.

        I’m not going to enter into a ‘who’s line is it’ quiz show with you. The question isn’t whether i know my quotes. I made a critical observation about your lack apparent lack of biblical/religious text after making an accusation about ‘one sided arguments’…

        Whether I pass/fail your ‘quiz’ or not isn’t going to erase your apparent lack of ‘both sided’ training.

  12. Normally I’m not one to reference/site Wikipedia but this is a fairly equitable/balanced and neutral representation of the science/religion issue:

    The interesting thing I took from it is the line about how ‘Science’ is more pragmatic and interested in proving ‘facts’ than it is in finding ‘truth’ – which has been left to philosophical studies…

    Based on that premise, “Theology” (Study of God/gods/religion/faith) and “Philsophy” (Study of Fundamental problems like existence, values, reason…) would then be cousins in the pursuit of ‘truth’ in some way and require a certain level of “Faith” when the evidence stops pouring in, but neither of them would be considered “Science” because of the goal/purpose.

    They both may use ‘scientific methods’ but would only be loosely considered ‘science.’

    BTW, I just watched a special on the B.L.A.S.T. telescope launch on PBS and one of the Physicists on the team was arguing (pleasantly) with an Astronomer and colleague about the existence of God…

    So, how does a man of pure science reconcile his faith and profession? He just does….

    1. The problem seems to be that many “non-believers” think that we faithful believe that “God” means some white dude with a long beard and crown sitting on a throne in the clouds somewhere.

      1. Exactly, that’s the generalization that seems permissible when criticising people who have a belief based on something other than ‘science.’

        In the real world there is no ‘one way’ or ‘one system’ of anything.

        Even in ‘science’ there reaches a point of ‘faith’ that certain things are ‘real.’

        There is also the ‘margin of error’ and ‘plus/minus’ factor that is considered in experimentation and study…

        Seems philosophy is not as forgiving as ‘pure science’ is nor does it have an allowance for ‘real’

  13. Dear tgace and everyone,
    I will offer this forward and then let it go. My family was arguing one of the old chestnuts, ‘free will v. predestination’ over a dinner table. I have a very quiet aunt who isn’t listened to much. She snagged me afterward.

    ‘When you argue free will v. predestination, you’re arguing within the reference of time’, she said. ‘God is outside of time. He sees all time. Predestination and free will aren’t contradictory outside of time.’

    It explains many things to me. Many of these arguments we make on faith, belief, and so forth, sit within a framework that just isn’t big enough. My faith in verities is absolute and I have big arguments with religion. But my aunt had a good warning for me and many others, most of whom, at the time at least, were not ready to listen.

    Ann T.

    1. LOL So, even when we assume to see the ‘big picture’ people of faith will defer to the idea that the picture is bigger than we can perceive… (and I am not poking fun at you or your aunt.

      I just (and I mean JUST) got done watching a PBS special that I DVR’ed called 400 Years of the Telescope that sort of hinted at exactly that kind of humility in the face of the vastness of the Cosmos by scientists…

    1. Miss the forrest for the trees much?? If perfection is required in any human endeavor for an organization, thought, philosophy to have merit than your world must be a very depressing place.

      1. Sounds like your trying to set me up as a straw man (a man easy to knock over).

        I don’t expect perfection of myself, anyone or anything. However, I strive for perfection.

        No, I don’t feel I miss the forest for the trees much.

    2. True Dave, and some of the things that look like ‘mistakes’ or ‘errors’ or ‘bad’ in the moment of creation sometimes are the essential elements to what makes a work of art brilliant or common.

      That said, in the Cosmic ‘picture’ it’s hubris to try to judge the quality of the brush strokes in the infinitesimally small span of human time – Like Ann’s Aunt pointed out it’s really a matter of perspective and ours is too minute to really ‘see’ what the truly bigger picture.

      Look to your own martial/asian wisdoms and the Taoist tale of the old farmer and you’ll see the same sentiment.

  14. Actually Tom I feel believers in God have their own perception of what God is to them.

    Ask ten people to draw a straight line and I’m sure we’ll get ten different straight lines.

    I find the progression of this whole discussion quite interesting.

    I merely asked Tom what the correlation of the song was to Christ (actually liked his answer).

    Also, how a professional man of evidence is also a man of faith.

    IMO, the latter question was answered vaguely for me.

    I’m not trying to change anyone’s belief system or “enlighten” anyone. I like to understand how people arrive at their conclusions. I like to try to understand their thought process. In doing so, I feel I become more tolerant and accepting of their belief.

    1. Tolerance and Acceptance… My issue (and mine alone) wasn’t with the line of discussion you were engaged in, but the timing and setting.

      I’ve said it before so I don’t know how you can miss it, but I found this discussion out of place and ‘rude’ since we are in the season of Easter AND you are essentially challenging (academically mind you) a person’s faith publicly.

      Thus, my comment about ‘civil’ words vs. Polite manners.

      I would hope that by now you would have more ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ for the Christian season of Easter to take this discussion to private email or wait for a later time to take up the discussion.

      That’s my point in the end.

      1. Paul,

        Are you as upset with the public school system as you are with me?

        When I went to school we had Christmas and Easter breaks. Now they’re called winter and spring breaks.

        Isn’t that rude to the public to go secular with traditional Christian holidays?

        My perception is I don’t think it’s being rude. It’s a great opportunity for a Christian to stick to his faith and say why. What better time than to celebrate a glorious day in the Christian religion?

  15. Dave,


    As a teacher, I ‘get’ why a government/public institution: It’s an attempt to show respect to the diverse religions and cultures not related to Christian holidays or culture. Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Passover, Chanukah, and O Bon come to mind off the top of my head. As a public institution, sure, it’s fair to reduce/remove any sense of ‘institutional prejudice’ that favors a certain religion over another. That’s what it’s about for them.

    I’m not upset with you Dave. I think what you did/do is rude. It’s not a day it’s a series of days for Christian/Catholics first off. Second, what hubris to put yourself in the position of ‘inquisitor.’

    You can think it’s not rude, and that’s your ‘perception’ for sure.

    How would you perceive me walking into a Black Belt test you were running and questioning every technique, every instructional approach, and every custom/courtesy you use as you are attempting to conduct your activity?

    Would it be ‘rude’ to begin questioning someones religious perceptions while they are at their loved ones funeral or at their own wedding? How about while at Sabbath dinner as a guest in a Jewish home?

    I know you don’t get the internet thing, but whether it’s ‘digital’ or ‘physical’ this is someone else’s ‘home’ and, as you say, you are a guest here by invitation. Would you ask such questions in the same way at Easter Dinner in a physical house?

    That is meant as a rhetorical question for you to think about Dave, I REALLY don’t want an answer because I don’t need one. It’s more important, I think, that you understand why someone else might see your chosen timing and context as rude and ‘respect’ their perception with more respectful actions.

    This is my last on this one. I’m pretty sure my position is clear.

    Dave B wrote:


    Are you as upset with the public school system as you are with me?

    When I went to school we had Christmas and Easter breaks. Now they’re called winter and spring breaks.

    Isn’t that rude to the public to go secular with traditional Christian holidays?

    My perception is I don’t think it’s being rude. It’s a great opportunity for a Christian to stick to his faith and say why. What better time than to celebrate a glorious day in the Christian religion?

    1. Thats a pretty good definition Dave. Blogs can “be” different things depending on the authors intent. Mine started as a “repository” of thoughts, resources and ideas focused on the concept of “Warriorship”. It has since kind of developed into a free flow diary focused on topics that interest me around a “warriorship” core.

      I personally don’t care what people post in the comments. If it interests me I will engage.

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