The root word for both mind and heart in biblical Hebrew is the same (leb). In biblical Greek, the word for heart (kardia) often stands for mind as well. These simple facts, embedded in the very roots of biblical language, suggest that engaging both mind and heart is essential in the biblical faith.
When Jesus asserts, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt 5:8), the benefits he envisions likely are connected as much to intellectual integrity as emotional wholesomeness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Christians who make such strident calls for “purity” in our culture were as interested in promoting intellectual honesty as they were in rectifying what they consider to be moral perversions? Jesus observes, “the truth shall set you free.” Within the freedom and illumination brought by intellectual honesty, I wonder how many “perversions” would be seen to be natural and honorable (such as homosexuality), and how many practices that are deemed culturally acceptable would be seen to be perverted (such as denying health care to the working poor)?
Our special guest this week at Darkwood Brew, Michael Dowd, has devoted his life to helping people “see God” through keeping intellectual integrity at the heart of their faith. In his book, “Thank God for Evolution,” Dowd argues compellingly that religion and science can be mutually enriching forces, providing a solid moral, ethical, and spiritual foundation for our lives. Dowd’s work has been praised by Nobel laureates in the scientific community and religious leaders alike. His message expands the horizon of what is possible for self, for relationships, and for our world.
What I find particularly interesting in Dowd’s work is that he’s moved well beyond the creation-versus-evolution debates (yawn!) and is asking, essentially, if evolution is a “given,” how does this knowledge change our theology and beliefs, and how do these changes in theological perspective change our lives? You may not agree with each and every one of Dowd’s perspectives, but if you’re like me, you’ll find that he dishes out much rich food for thought.
As an added benefit, Dowd will not simply be coming to us over Skype, but will be physically present at Common Grounds Coffeehouse where Darkwood Brew is held! After Darkwood Brew, he’ll be speaking at Countryside Community Church (7 pm CST) for an event sponsored by their Center for Faith Studies. Unfortunately, that event won’t be streamed over the internet – but you can catch him at Darkwood Brew this Sunday!
BTW, if you’re still dealing with the Creation vs. Evolution debate, here’s a fun link to a video created at the Grand Canyon a couple years ago by CrossWalk America and Renegade Cinema (a film making group affiliated with Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ). If you look closely, you’ll see a weird, bearded guy in a hat that looks suspiciously like yours truly, and two girls who look suspiciously like my daughters!
Finally, our Pneuma Divina passage for this Sunday is an unusual one. Try reading it below a few times, then asking yourself, “How do Jesus’ words resonate with my life experience?” (Either that or, “What the heck is going on here?!”) We’ll find at Darkwood Brew that they may have something curious to say about purity of heart and mind, and with the interplay between science and religion.
Pneuma Divina Passage: Matthew 12:43-45
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. 12:44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 12:45 Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”