The Power of Words

If literature is a metaphor for the writer’s experience, as mirror in which that experience is at least partially reflected, it is at the same time a mirror in which the reader can also see his or her experience reflected in a new and potentially transforming way. This is what it is like to search for God in a world where cruelty and pain hide God, Dostoevski says – “How like a winter hath my absence been from thee”; how like seeing a poor woman in a dream with a starving child at her breast; how like Father Zossima kneeling down at the feet of Dmitri Karamazov because he sees that great suffering is in store for him and because he knows, as John Donne did, that suffering is holy. And you and I, his readers, come away from our reading with no more proof of the existence or nonexistence of God than we had before, with no particular moral or message to frame on the wall, but empowered by a new sense of the depths of love and pity and hope that is transmitted to us through Dostoevski’s powerful words.

 

literature

 

Words written fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, can have as much of this power today as ever they had it then to come alive for us and in us and to make us more alive within ourselves. That, I suppose, is the final mystery as well as the final power of words: that not even across great distances of time and space do they ever lose their capacity for becoming incarnate. And when these words tell of virtue and nobility, when they move us closer to that truth and gentleness of spirit by which we become fully human, the reading of them is sacramental; and a library is as holy a place as any temple is holy because through the words which are treasured in it the Word itself becomes flesh again and again and dwells among us and within us, full of grace and truth.

 

– Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember.

Amar al mundo – Merton

He terminado de leer las pruebas de El medio divino del padre Teilhard de Chardin que me ha enviado Harpers.

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Thomas Merton

Ciertamente, hay que amar al mundo, como él dice. Porque Dios amó al mundo y envió a Su Hijo al mundo para salvarlo.

 

Aquí el mundo significa el cosmos, y todo está centrado en Dios, todo Le busca.

 

El cristianismo debería hacernos «más visiblemente humanos», apasionadamente preocupados por todo lo bueno que existe, que quiere crecer en el mundo y que no puede hacerlo sin nosotros.

 

La indiferencia estoica cultivada por un cierto tipo de espiritualidad cristiana es, por tanto, una tentación diabólica y un vaciamiento de piedad, caridad, interés, así como endurecimiento del corazón, regresión y aislamiento.

 

Su preocupación es admirable, así como su indignación porque «los cristianos ya no esperan nada». Es verdad. Nada grande. Pero esperamos todo lo trivial.

 

Nuestra indiferencia con respecto a los verdaderos valores del mundo justifica nuestra banal atracción por sus falsos valores. Cuando olvidamos la Parusía y el Reino de Dios en el mundo, podemos –pensamos– ser hombres de negocios y hacer dinero de manera segura.

 

Los que aman al mundo en sentido equivocado, lo aman por su propio bien, lo explotan por su propio bien. Quienes lo aman verdaderamente, lo desarrollan, trabajan en él por Dios, para que Dios pueda revelarse en él.

 

Los diarios de Thomas Merton

26 de agosto de 1960: IV. 36-37.

Blues de los refugiados

En el 2015, habían 65,3 millones de personas desplazadas forzosamente a nivel mundial, 21,3 millones de refugiados y 10 millones de personas apátridas (fuente: ACNUR).

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AFP PHOTO / ELVIS BARUKCIC vía El Comercio del Perú

 

A veces, sólo la poesía tiene el poder para conmovernos para que actuemos con compasión. No podemos vivir como si no hubiesen millones de personas en todo el mundo que han perdido familia, amigos y hogares. La poesía de W.H. Auden a mí me tocó y por eso la quise compartir acá.

 

Blues de los refugiados – W.H. Auden, marzo 1939

 

Digamos que en esta ciudad viven unos diez millones,

Unos habitan agujeros, otros habitan mansiones.

Pero no hay un lugar para nosotros, mi amor, no hay un lugar para nosotros.

 

Alguna vez tuvimos un país y nos gustaba

Todavía lo podemos encontrar en un atlas.

Pero ahora, no podemos ir allá, mi amor ahora no podemos ir allá.

 

En la parroquia de nuestro pueblo crece un árbol viejo

Que cada primavera florece de nuevo.

Pero los viejos pasaportes no florecen de nuevo, mi amor, los viejos pasaportes no florecen de nuevo.

 

El cónsul azotó la mesa con prepotente gesto:

“Si no tienen pasaportes, “oficialmente” están muertos.

Pero seguimos vivos, mi amor, seguimos vivos.

 

Fui a un comité, me ofrecieron asiento y me escucharon

Y cortésmente me pidieron que volviera el próximo año.

¿Pero qué vamos a hacer hoy mismo, mi amor, qué vamos a hacer hoy mismo?

 

Fui a oír a los políticos, a un orador que argüía:

“Si los recibimos aquí, nos quitarán nuestro pan de cada día”,

Y hablaba de ti y de mí, mi amor, hablaba de ti y de mí.

 

Creí que era un relámpago lo que atronaba sobre mí,

Pero era Hitler sobre Europa, diciendo: “Deben morir”,

Y pensaba en nosotros, mi amor, pensaba en nosotros.

 

Vi un perro que pasaba muy orondo y abrigado,

Vi que una puerta se abría para que pasara un gato,

Pero ellos no eran judíos alemanes, mi amor, ellos no eran judíos alemanes.

 

Bajé a la orilla del mar y me detuve sobre el muelle

Para ver cómo nadaban en su libertad los peces,

Apenas a unos cuantos metros, mi amor, apenas a unos cuantos metros.

 

Caminé por el bosque, vi en los árboles a los pájaros

Que no tienen políticos, y cantan a su agrado,

Pero no eran de la raza humana, mi amor, no eran de la raza humana.

 

Soñé con un edificio que llega hasta el número mil,

Y tenía mil ventanas y sus puertas eran mil,

Y ninguna era para nosotros, mi amor, ninguna era para nosotros.

 

Me paré en mitad de una explanada cuando la nieve caía,

Diez mil soldados marchaban para abajo y para arriba,

buscándonos a ti y a mí, mi amor, buscándonos.

Refugee Blues

In 2015 there were 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, 21.3 million refugees and 10 million stateless people (source: UNHCR).

refugees

Photo credit: images.forbes.com

In some cases, only poetry can touch our souls in a way which leads us to compassionate action. We live in a world with constant refugee crises. Let us not live as if millions of people around the world are not suffering due to lost family, friends and homes.

 

Refugee Blues – W.H. Auden, March 1939

 

Say this city has ten million souls,

Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:

Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

 

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,

Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:

We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

 

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,

Every spring it blossoms anew:

Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

 

The consul banged the table and said,

“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:

But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

 

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;

Asked me politely to return next year:

But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

 

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;

“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:

He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

 

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;

It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”:

O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

 

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,

Saw a door opened and a cat let in:

But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

 

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,

Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:

Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

 

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;

They had no politicians and sang at their ease:

They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

 

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,

A thousand windows and a thousand doors:

Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

 

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;

Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:

Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

What will you do now?

This coming August 14th I will celebrate ten years of full-time mission work in Latin America. Almost ten years ago, at age twenty-two, I was met at the airport outside of Caracas, Venezuela by fellow missionaries. I spent that night inside my very first apartment in Latin America. With a suitcase full of clothes, several books, a few things to remind me of friends and family, I began organizing my new life.

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Anaco, Anzoátegui, Venezuela

So much has happened in the past ten years: I’ve witnessed new births into God’s Kingdom. I’ve helped establish new congregations. I’ve sung at weddings, funerals, and helped expecting parents choose names for their children. I’ve run from armed gunmen and I’ve run into the arms of newfound family and friends. I’ve grown. I’ve cried. I’ve sweat and I’ve suffered.

 

So now what? People ask me, “What will you do now?” To ask, “What will you do now?” is a haunting question in our postmodern, liquid society. Very few people keep a job for very long anymore and many people move around fairly regularly. We expect new seasons in life to bring about important changes on many levels. So, What is my answer? What am I going to do? I would like to continue doing what I am doing now.

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Edo. Amazonas, Venezuela

My desire is to spend the coming years in Latin America as a missionary. This is not because I am somehow overly qualified for the job or never face uncertainties about my vocation. I recently discovered the following truth in a conversation with a friend while on furlough. Confession time. Here it is: I need to be a missionary.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the people of Latin America need me or that somehow the church would feel my absence. Quite the contrary, both friends and family in Latin America would do just fine without me. But I need to be a missionary because I need them – my Latin American friends and family.

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Parque los Chorros, Caracas, Venezuela

You see, mission work isn’t just about teaching – it’s also about learning. It’s not just about helping others, but being helped yourself. It’s about denying yourself certain privileges in order to walk alongside others. It’s about setting aside a part of your self to be transformed into someone different. Mission work changes you.

 

I would dare say that I’ve learned more about myself in the past ten years than I would have if I would have stayed in white, suburban America. Nevertheless, this self-knowledge would be entirely vain and egocentric were it not understood in light of my experience with the risen Lord.

 

You see, Latin Americans teach me about Jesus all the time. I’ve learned more about Jesus in dirty urban slums and in the Amazon than I did from a trip to the Holy Land. I come face to face with Jesus whenever I serve or am served by one of the “least of these”.

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Plaza Bolívar de Chacao, Miranda (East Caracas)

I don’t want to leave Latin America because there is so much more that I have to learn about Jesus. There is so much more that I have to learn about what it means to walk with Him on the asphalt, the dirt roads and through the high grass. I need to hurt, to struggle, to be alone, to be present, to laugh, to cry with my people because it is this pilgrimage together that teaches me who I truly am. It teaches me where I am going and to whom I am going.

 

I’m a missionary in Latin America because I need these people.

Debemos conformarnos

 

5 de diciembre 2015

Dedicado con cariño a la memoria de Eduardo Galeano

cafesucrebolivia

 

Dicen que en el primer mundo todo es mejor. Te pagan más y rinde más. Podés vivir solo y tener tus cosas. Dicen que todo funciona mejor. Menos quilombo. Menos lío.

 

Dicen que en el tercer mundo todo es peor. Te pagan menos y rinde menos. No podés vivir solo y tener tus cosas. Dicen que todo funciona peor. Más quilombo. Más lío.

 

Yo, un ciudadano del primer mundo que vive en el tercer mundo quiere saber dónde está el libro de quejas. Me quiero quejar porque vengo de un lugar dónde hay más y todo es mejor pero aquí, sólo encuentro que la gente tiene más amor para dar, más tiempo para compartir y más sueños para alcanzar.

 

El tiempo no es oro y el dinero no es todo. En el tercer mundo no podemos darnos el lujo de comprar lo más caro. Por eso, debemos conformarnos con procurar lo incomprable: el amor, la alegría y la capacidad de soñar.

 

*Debemos conformarnos fue publicado en Hispaniola, la revista literaria de Sigma Delta Pi de la Universidad Cristiana de Abilene. Un agradecimiento especial a la Dra. Beatriz Walker por su amistad y apoyo.

Jesús, poeta de la compasión

¡Qué hermoso tener un Padre que, para hacernos saber cuánto nos ama, nos cuenta historias que nos agarran desprevenidos, nos sorprenden y nos desarman – removiendo obstáculos que podrían llevarnos a negar su amor para nosotros!

 

Taller de liderazgo Cochabamba Bolivia

 

El Dios de Jesucristo nos enseña con cariño quién es el Dios de compasión en los cielos que quiere hacer su morada entre nosotros acá en la tierra. Jesús no vino enseñando doctrinas abstractas, vino proclamando el amor de Dios que desea cambiar hasta lo más imperceptible de nuestra existencia.

 

Esta semana pasada tuve la bendición de compartir con personas muy queridas en Cochabamba, Bolivia – hermanos y hermanas que a mí me reflejan el amor compasivo de Dios. Fue un tiempo de mucho aprendizaje para mí. Aprendimos juntos en pequeños grupos haciendo exégesis, lectio divina y a través de obras de arte que dibujan el significado de las parábolas. Doy muchas gracias a Dios por el tiempo compartido y por los desafíos que nos llaman a profundizar cada vez más en el misterio que es la vida en Cristo Jesús.

 

¡Qué Dios les siga bendiciendo grandemente para que sus vidas y sus ministerios sean formados por el Dios de compasión que Jesús revela en las parábolas!

My Two Favorite Books

My first all-time favorite book is the Holy Bible. It is made up of Old and New Testaments that give testimony to God’s redeeming action on behalf of all creation. It is the account of God’s love and mercy with a rebellious people who do not deserve His grace. It is through the Scriptures that I can hear God’s voice, learn who I am, what my vocation is and what it means to be like Jesus in His Kingdom while I anxiously await His second coming.

My second all-time favorite book is my passport. It is small but it allows me countless adventures that have shaped who I am today. This book has taken me places I never dreamed of going – rural towns in the Andes Mountains, indigenous villages in the Brazilian Amazon, South American shantytowns, gigantic Latin American capitals. Thanks to this little book, I have learned to communicate in four languages. I have met and interacted with people from literally all over the planet.

I will continue to give away copies of the Bible whenever I can. But sadly, I cannot give anyone a copy of my passport – it would useless to anyone else.

IMG_3732Thanks to my reading of book 1 and my frequent use of book 2, I have spent much time reflecting on what it means for Jonathan Hanegan to be Jesus in today’s world. This Spirit-guided reflection is born out of the reading of Scripture and an experience-with-God. It is also shaped by the living testimony of other brothers and sisters in Christ.

Some people I dearly love have shown some concern regarding the way I see the world. For the moment, we have arrived at different interpretations of Jesus’s exhortation to love our neighbors. We disagree on what it means to pledge allegiance solely to God’s Kingdom. We understand differently our call to be peacemakers in a war-torn world.

I appreciate your concern. I appreciate your patience with me. And I solicit your prayers as I continue to wrestle with what it looks like to be Jesus to everyone I meet.

My website and my Facebook profile are a microcosm of what I think “the good life” is. I share pictures of my family, friends, church activities, books I am reading as well as essays and news articles that I think are important. If you disagree with what I write or post, I ask that you comment respectfully and help me understand what you believe and why it is important to you. If at all possible, let’s do it over coffee!

My prayer is that all I say, do and represent rings true with Jesus’ person, ministry and message of peace, love and reconciliation that our world desperately needs.

Malala and the Dangers of Objectification

objectification

Syllabification: ob·jec·ti·fi·ca·tion
Pronunciation: /əbˌjektəfəˈkāSH(ə)n/

Definition of objectification in English:

noun

The action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object.

 


 

One of the greatest sins of today is the sin of objectification. A brief history lesson will tell us that objectification is a strategy that has been used to promote national and financial interests and even to promote senseless wars.

 

How does objectification work? Objectification: Ziauddin and Malala Yousafzai are Muslims from Afghanistan. They are uneducated, ignorant people who believe in a god that hates women and desires to end “life as we know it” in the U.S.

 

The truth: Ziauddin Yousafzai and Malala Yousafzai are Sunni Muslims from the Swat valley of Afghanistan. Ziauddin is a poet, school owner and an educational activist who speaks out against radical Islam and the terror caused by the Taliban in his native country. Malala spoke out against the Taliban and their decision to not let children attend schools. After receiving numerous threats, she was shot in the face along with two other friends on their way home from school. After a prolonged coma, she made an almost full recovery. She continues her educational activism fighting for human rights and especially for girls who desire to go to school. She won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 10, 2014.

 

Objectification obscures the truth. It reduces people to things. Men and women are often reduced to being simply “threats”. While some men and women represent threats to others – to suggest that an entire religion or people group represent a threat is to be poorly informed.

 

It might not be politically expedient to speak out against the objectification of our fellow human beings. But then again, following Jesus’ call to be peacemakers has not been politically expedient for His disciples throughout the last two-thousand years either.

 

In the last century, the Nazi party objectified the Jewish race when they proclaimed the Aryan race a superior one and the Jewish race to be inferior. Violence and aggressive action was much more easily dealt toward the Jewish people when they lost their status as first-class citizens.

 

In the New Testament, we see that Jesus rejected the idea that Jews should primarily see Samaritans as “half-breeds”. He gently informed the Samaritan woman in John 4 that soon Jews and Samaritans would soon worship together in spirit and truth.

 

When Jesus wanted to tell a piercing story about empty religiosity and hypocrisy, he made the “good guy” a Samaritan. The words “good Samaritan” never went together in the first century Jewish vocabulary before Jesus decided to challenge a common conviction of His day!

 

Jesus healed numerous men and women who had lost their status as such when they became demon-possessed, lame, deaf, blind, lepers and beggars. While many begged for money, others were forced to shout “unclean” at the first sign of others.

 

The Bible tells us that every man and woman on the planet today is the made in the image of God, endowed with the capacity to create, love, forgive and communicate with God and others. While many have chosen to turn their backs on God or to turn to false gods, this does not mean that we should treat them as animals – for they are not.

 

We must love our neighbors (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:34-40 et.al.) and our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) because they have been endowed by their Creator with a unique gift – His very image.

 

If Jesus were still telling parables today, I would not be surprised if today one would be called the Parable of the Good Muslim.

 

Check out a documentary about Malala and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai:

 

 

Malala also wrote a book, I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.

Lecturas bíblicas para recibir a Jesús

Aquí compartimos una guía con lecturas bíblicas, reflexiones y oraciones para dar la bienvenida a Jesús a nuestros corazones y a nuestro mundo.

La palabra «adviento» viene del latín, «adventus» que significa «venida». Es un momento para reflexionar acerca de las tres venidas de Cristo: primero, su venida histórica, segundo, su venida continua a nuestros oscuros y heridos corazones y tercero, su esperada venida al fin de los tiempos en que traerá la sanación a las naciones.

Es hora de alegrarnos por la luz de la esperanza, la gracia y la verdad que Jesús ha traído. También es hora en que podemos lamentar que la oscuridad aún nos apremia por fuera y por adentro. Es hora de gemir con ansias hasta que venga Jesús a tomar su debido lugar entre nosotros. Anhelamos con ansias la hora cuando ya no habrán más enfermedades, opresión, soledad o desesperación. Cuando todo será como tiene que ser, cuando seremos semejantes a nuestro Señor y Salvador Jesús.

Durante el adviento, simplifiquemos nuestras vidas y estemos atentos a Dios mientras entramos en una profunda alegría y una quieta expectativa de la historia que Él mismo está escribiendo.

En la primera semana del adviento estaremos meditando sobre la venida de Jesús a nuestros corazones. Nuestras lecturas y oraciones se tratarán de preparar nuestros corazones para recibir el reino de Dios. En la segunda semana, estaremos explorando la naturaleza del reino. En la tercera semana, veremos quién es Jesús, el Mesías esperado. En la cuarta semana, meditaremos en la encarnación del Hijo de Dios. ¿Qué significa para nosotros que el Verbo se haya hecho carne y haya vivido entre nosotros?

Cada semana contiene una introducción al tema, algunos pasajes para leer y considerar y una oración. El objetivo de estas lecturas es dejar que la Palabra de Dios more en nuestras mentes y transforme nuestros corazones. Por lo tanto, la idea no es leer rápidamente ni tampoco tomar los textos como simple información. A través de una lectura cuidadosa y devocional, una lectio divina, podemos participar de la historia entretejida en el adviento.

Pueden descargar la guía a través del siguiente enlace:

Lecturas bíblicas para recibir a Jesús, el Cristo