Book Release Announcement

I am happy to announce that my book is now available on and other online retailers! I think the subject matter of the book represents a pretty important paradigm shift for faith.  If you are interested in serious discussions of faith, or just like supporting indie authors, please read on:

Pre-Sale Purchases:  From now until March 23 is the critical pre-sale period: Amazon will deliver all of the orders it receives when the pre-sale period is over. Amazon tests the marketplace during that period to determine how many copies to keep in stock.  If enough sales are made, they will stock up and the book will be listed in the future as, “in stock, ships in one day,” rather than, “temporarily out of stock, ships in two weeks,” which might discourage some people from buying it.  Also, all sales in that period are treated as occurring on the day they are shipped, so it is my best opportunity to make a religious bestseller list (the chances are nonetheless very small). 

Reviews: Reviews (positive, of course) on Amazon and, God willing, newspapers and journals, are absolutely critical.  Reviews give people the confidence to buy a book and help the book appear higher in searches. Please consider posting a review.  It would really help!

Buzz: And, of course, please talk it up. If you know someone who might be interested, please let them know where to find the book - especially scientifically-minded people of faith.  Be warned; it may not appeal to those who have (and are lucky to have) an unquestioning faith.  As the subtitle implies, it is a hard-minded look at the claims of faith and not every one of them survives the scrutiny.  It is geared more toward people who are, on some level, disappointed with organized religion and the current level of discussion of religion but who are still looking.

Profits:  I am not going to get rich by your efforts.  The price is set by Amazon and I will make about one dollar from the sale of each print book. It would have to break records just to recoup my cost. This was a labor of love.

I hope you like it!

Consolation Series - Part 42 - Psalm 71 - You Are My Rock and My Fortress

In you, Yahweh, I take refuge.
Never let me be disappointed.
Deliver me in your righteousness, and rescue me.
Turn your ear to me, and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge to which I may always go.
Give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
For you are my hope, Lord Yahweh,
my confidence from my youth.
I have relied on you from the womb.
You are he who took me out of my mother’s womb.
I will always praise you.
I am a marvel to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth shall be filled with your praise,
with your honor all day long.
Don’t reject me in my old age.
Don’t forsake me when my strength fails.
 For my enemies talk about me.
Those who watch for my soul conspire together,
 saying, “God has forsaken him.
Pursue and take him, for no one will rescue him.”
 God, don’t be far from me.
My God, hurry to help me.
 Let my accusers be disappointed and consumed.
Let them be covered with disgrace and scorn who want to harm me.
 But I will always hope,
and will add to all of your praise.
My mouth will tell about your righteousness,
and of your salvation all day,
though I don’t know its full measure.
I will come with the mighty acts of the Lord Yahweh.
I will make mention of your righteousness, even of yours alone.
God, you have taught me from my youth.
Until now, I have declared your wondrous works.
Yes, even when I am old and gray-haired, God, don’t forsake me,
until I have declared your strength to the next generation,
your might to everyone who is to come.
Your righteousness also, God, reaches to the heavens;
you have done great things.
God, who is like you?
You, who have shown us many and bitter troubles,
you will let me live.
You will bring us up again from the depths of the earth.
Increase my honor
and comfort me again.
 I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God.
I sing praises to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel.
My lips shall shout for joy!
My soul, which you have redeemed, sings praises to you!
My tongue will also talk about your righteousness all day long,
for they are disappointed, and they are confounded,
who want to harm me.

Psalm 71

Consolation Series - Part 41 - Psalm 70

Hurry, God, to deliver me.
Come quickly to help me, Yahweh.
Let them be disappointed and confounded who seek my soul.
Let those who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
Let them be turned because of their shame
who say, “Aha! Aha!”
Let all those who seek you rejoice and be glad in you.
Let those who love your salvation continually say,
Let God be exalted!”
But I am poor and needy.
Come to me quickly, God.
You are my help and my deliverer.
Yahweh, don’t delay.

Psalm 70

Consolation Series - Part 40 - Isaiah 49 - I Have Engraved You in the Palms of My Hands

Now Yahweh, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, says to bring Jacob again to him,
and to gather Israel to him,
for I am honorable in Yahweh’s eyes,
and my God has become my strength.
Indeed, he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and to restore the preserved of Israel.
I will also give you as a light to the nations,
that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.”
Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One,
says to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and rise up,
princes, and they shall worship,
because of Yahweh who is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Yahweh says, “I have answered you in an acceptable time.
I have helped you in a day of salvation.
I will preserve you and give you for a covenant of the people,
to raise up the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritage,
saying to those who are bound, ‘Come out!’;
to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves!’
“They shall feed along the paths,
and their pasture shall be on all treeless heights.
They shall not hunger nor thirst;
neither shall the heat nor sun strike them:
for he who has mercy on them will lead them.
He will guide them by springs of water.
I will make all my mountains a road,
and my highways shall be exalted.
Behold, these shall come from afar,
and behold, these from the north and from the west;
and these from the land of Sinim.”
Sing, heavens, and be joyful, earth!
Break out into singing, mountains,
for Yahweh has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his afflicted.

 But Zion said, “Yahweh has forsaken me,
and the Lord has forgotten me.”
“No,” Yahweh, answers, “can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Yes, these may forget,
yet I will not forget you!
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
Your walls are continually before me.
Your children hurry.
Your destroyers and those who devastated you will leave you.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
all these gather themselves together, and come to you.
As I live,” says Yahweh, “you shall surely clothe yourself with them all as with an ornament,
and dress yourself with them, like a bride.
“For, as for your waste and your desolate places,
and your land that has been destroyed,
surely now that land will be too small for the inhabitants,
and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
The children of your bereavement will say in your ears,
‘This place is too small for me.
Give me a place to live in.’
Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has conceived these for me, since I have been bereaved of my children
and am alone, an exile, and wandering back and forth?
Who has brought these up?
Behold, I was left alone. Where were these?’ ”

The Lord Yahweh says, “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations,
and lift up my banner to the peoples.
They shall bring your sons in their bosom,
and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
Kings shall be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth.
Then you will know that I am Yahweh;
and those who wait for me shall not be disappointed.”

Shall the plunder be taken from the mighty,
or the lawful captives be delivered?
“Yes,” Yahweh says, “even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
and the plunder retrieved from the fierce,
for I will contend with him who contends with you
and I will save your children.
Then all flesh shall know that I, Yahweh, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Isaiah 49:5-26

February 26, 2017 - Awake

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?'
or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?'
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil."

Matthew 6:24-34

It is a shame that this passage is so often interpreted to mean that God will magically provide for our physical needs and intervene in practical, measurable ways if only we act and believe correctly.

What is truly remarkable about this passage is it similarities to Buddhism. 

Buddhism, like Jesus in this passage, promises to relieve suffering not with intervention, but simply with the recognition that by worrying, catastrophizing, and regretting how things were or could have been, we increase suffering and its hold over us. 

Buddhism, like Jesus in this passage, notes that the past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist – all that is real is occurring on the knife’s edge of this moment.  That affirmation is more than a philosophical riddle like the sound of one hand clapping – it is a realization that can allow us to release regret about the past and anxiety about the future and live in complete awareness in the moment, being fully awake to all of its beauty and miraculousness.

Image courtesy

Consolation Series - Part 39 - Psalm 69

Save me, God,
for the waters have come up to my neck!
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold.
I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying.
My throat is dry.
My eyes fail looking for my God.
Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head.
Those who want to cut me off, being my enemies wrongfully, are mighty.
I have to restore what I didn’t take away.
God, you know my foolishness.
My sins aren’t hidden from you.
Don’t let those who wait for you be shamed through me, Lord.
Don’t let those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, God of Israel.
Because for your sake, I have borne reproach.
Shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother’s children.
For the zeal of your house consumes me.
The reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
When I wept and I fasted,
that was to my reproach.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
Those who sit in the gate talk about me.
I am the song of the drunkards.
But as for me, my prayer is to you, Yahweh, in an acceptable time.
God, in the abundance of your loving kindness, answer me in the truth of your salvation.
Deliver me out of the mire, and don’t let me sink.
Let me be delivered from those who hate me, and out of the deep waters.
Don’t let the flood waters overwhelm me,
neither let the deep swallow me up.
Don’t let the pit shut its mouth on me.
Answer me, Yahweh, for your loving kindness is good.
According to the multitude of your tender mercies, turn to me.
Don’t hide your face from your servant,
for I am in distress.
Answer me speedily!
Draw near to my soul and redeem it.
Ransom me because of my enemies.
You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor.
My adversaries are all before you.
Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness.
I looked for some to take pity, but there was none;
for comforters, but I found none.
They also gave me poison for my food.
In my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.
Let your salvation, God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
For Yahweh hears the needy,
and doesn’t despise his captive people.
Let heaven and earth praise him;
the seas, and everything that moves therein!
For God will save Zion, and build the cities of Judah.
They shall settle there, and own it.
The children also of his servants shall inherit it.
Those who love his name shall dwell therein.

Psalm 69:1-21,29, 30, 33-36

The Gospel writers associated Jesus very closely with this psalm.  When he overturned the money-changers’ tables in the Temple, his apostles remembered a line from this psalm:

For the zeal of your house consumes me

And as he hung on the Cross, they noted that Jesus was given only vinegar to drink.

This words of this psalm are beautiful in their promise of God’s attention and sympathy.  But it is made even more beautiful in his connections to the story of Jesus.  God is not only aware of our suffering, but experiences it first-hand.  

Image: Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet 

Consolation Series - Part 38 - Psalm 84

How lovely are your dwellings, Yahweh!
My soul longs, and even faints for the courts of Yahweh.
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Yes, the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young,
near your altars, Yahweh of Armies, my King, and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house.
They are always praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on a pilgrimage.
Passing through the valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs.
Yes, the autumn rain covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength.
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
Yahweh, hear my prayer.
Listen, God of Jacob.

Behold, God our shield,
look at the face of your anointed.
 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand I have chosen for myself
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,
than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For Yahweh God is a sun and a shield.
Yahweh will give grace and glory.
He withholds no good thing from those who walk blamelessly.
Yahweh, blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Psalm 84

Consolation Series - Part 37 - Psalm 65

To you, silence is praise, God, in Zion.
Vows shall be performed to you.
 O, Listener to prayer,
all flesh will come to you.
My misdeeds overwhelmed me,
but you atoned for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one whom you choose and cause to come near,
that he may live in your courts.
We will be filled with the goodness of your house,
your holy temple.
By awesome deeds of righteousness, you answer us,
God of our salvation.
You who are the hope of all the ends of the earth,
of those who are far away on the sea.
By your power, you form the mountains,
having armed yourself with strength.
You still the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
They also who dwell in faraway places are afraid at your wonders.
You call the morning’s dawn and the evening with songs of joy.
You visit the earth, and water it.
You greatly enrich it.
The river of God is full of water.
You provide them grain, for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows.
You level its ridges.
You soften it with showers.
You bless it with a crop.
You crown the year with your bounty.
Your carts overflow with abundance.
The wilderness grasslands overflow.
The hills are clothed with gladness.
The pastures are covered with flocks.
The valleys also are clothed with grain.
They shout for joy!
They also sing.

Psalm 65

Consolation Series - Part 36 - Psalm 63

God, you are my God.
I will earnestly seek you.
My soul thirsts for you.
My flesh longs for you,
in a dry and weary land, where there is no water.
So I have seen you in the sanctuary,
watching your power and your glory.
Because your loving kindness is better than life,
my lips shall praise you.
So I will bless you while I live.
I will lift up my hands in your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with the richest food.
My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you on my bed,
and think about you in the night watches.
 For you have been my help.
I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings.
My soul stays close to you.
Your right hand holds me up.

Psalm 63:1-8

Consolation Series - Part 35 - Psalm 59

Deliver me from my enemies, my God.
Set me on high from those who rise up against me.
Rise up, behold, and help me!
Oh, my Strength, I watch for you,
for God is my high tower.
My God will go before me with his loving kindness.
But I will sing of your strength.
Yes, I will sing aloud of your loving kindness in the morning.
For you have been my high tower,
a refuge in the day of my distress.
To you, my strength, I will sing praises.
For God is my high tower, the God of my mercy.

Psalm 59:1, 4, 9, 10, 16, 17

Consolation Series - Part 34 - Psalm 57

Be merciful to me, God, be merciful to me,
for my soul takes refuge in you.
Yes, in the shadow of your wings, I will take refuge,
until disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who accomplishes my requests for me.
He will send from heaven, and save me,
he rebukes the one who is pursuing me.

God will send out his loving kindness and his truth.
My soul is among lions.
That pant for the sons of men,
whose teeth are spears and arrows,
and their tongue a sharp sword.
Be exalted, God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be above all the earth!

They have prepared a net for my steps.
My soul is bowed down.
They dig a pit before me.
They fall into the middle of it themselves.

My heart is steadfast, God.
My heart is steadfast.
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises.
Wake up, my glory! Wake up, lute and harp!
I will wake up the dawn.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, among the peoples.
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your great loving kindness reaches to the heavens,
and your truth to the skies.
Be exalted, God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 57

Consolation Series - Part 33 - Psalm 46 - Be Still and Know That I Am God

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes,
though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas;
though its waters roar and are troubled,
though the mountains tremble with their swelling.

There is a river, the streams of which make the city of God glad,
the holy place of the tents of the Most High.
God is within her. She shall not be moved.
God will help her at dawn.
The nations raged. The kingdoms were moved.
He lifted his voice and the earth melted.
Yahweh of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, see Yahweh’s works,
what desolations he has made in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth.
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear.
He burns the chariots in the fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.”
 Yahweh of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 46

Image: Chile's Mount Calpuco

Consolation Series - Part 32 - Psalm 42 - Deep Calls Upon Deep

As the deer yearns for the streams of water,
so my soul yearns after you, God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while they continually ask me, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me,
how I used to go with the crowd, and led them to God’s house,
with the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping a holy day.
Why are you in despair, my soul?
Why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God!
For I shall still praise him for the saving help of his presence.
My God, my soul is in despair within me.
Therefore, I remember you from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon, from the hill Mizar.
Deep calls to deep,
at the noise of your channels.
All your waves and your breakers have swept over me.

Yahweh will command his loving kindness in the daytime.
In the night his song shall be with me:
a prayer to the God of my life.
I will ask God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a sword in my bones, my adversaries reproach me,
while they continually ask me, “Where is your God?”
Why are you in despair, my soul?
Why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God! For I shall still praise him,
the saving help of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 42

Consolation Series - Part 31 - Psalm 39

I said, “I will watch my ways, so that I don’t offend with my tongue.
I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before me.”
I was mute with silence.
I held my peace, even from good.
My sorrow was stirred.
My heart was hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned.
I spoke with my tongue:
“Yahweh, show me my end,
what is the measure of my days.
Let me know how frail I am.
Behold, you have made my days hand widths.
My lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely every man stands as a breath.”

“Surely every man walks like a shadow.
Surely, they busy themselves in vain.
He heaps up, and doesn’t know who shall gather.
Now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in you.
Deliver me from all my transgressions.
Don’t make me the reproach of the foolish.
I was mute.
I didn’t open my mouth,
because you did it.
 Remove your scourge away from me.
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
 When you rebuke and correct man for iniquity,
you consume his wealth like a moth.
Surely every man is but a breath.”

“Hear my prayer, Yahweh, and give ear to my cry.
Don’t be silent at my tears.
For I am a stranger with you,
a foreigner, as all my fathers were.
Oh, spare me, that I may recover strength,
before I go away and exist no more.”

Psalm 39

Consolation Series - Part 30 - Psalm 13

How long, Yahweh?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart every day?
How long shall my enemy triumph over me?
Behold, and answer me, Yahweh, my God.
Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him;”
lest my adversaries rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your loving kindness.
My heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to Yahweh,
because he has been good to me.

Psalm 13