During the past several years I have had the habit of writing down a summary of any speech or lecture that touches my heart and leaves an impression on me. All the speeches and lectures found here touched my heart. I took the time to write them down because I didn’t want those voices to vanish in the air. Also I realized that writing down a summary of a speech gave me the opportunity to meditate it further, thus letting it sink deeper within my mind.

All these speakers challenge us to see the big picture of life, and live an authentic life of meaning. We should not remain blind, nor should we allow the blind people to lead us. We are born with the freedom to live a fruitful life, and we need to claim that freedom. All the speakers here are deeply and truly religious and spiritual, but none of them are fundamentalists. Having their foundation in the inherited spiritual tradition, they all have developed a vision that embraces all humanity. With their anchor in God, they have the ability to see a brother or a sister in any fellow human being regardless of their color or race or creed. Although they all belong to the Christian religious tradition, they have the courage to bluntly and fearlessly criticize the blindness and hypocrisy manifested at all levels in their own religion.

The speakers include well-known bishops such as Geevarghese Mar Osthathios and Thomas Mar Makarios, and well-known theologians such as Dr. Wesley Ariarajah and Dr. Valsan Thambu.

Sales Info

Order copies from here

If you order ten or more copies, you are eligible for a discount. Email me first for a coupon code.

How to use this book

1. You can read this for yourself

2. You can lead a class using a chapter, or all participants may read a chapter from here first, and then have a discussion based on it.

Contents

Introduction
1. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios
God: Communal or Universal?
2. Mathews Mar Barnabas
Be Perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect!
3. Thomas Mar Makarios
Let God Work!
Facing Crisis with God
The Saints’ Standard
4. Yakob Mar Iraneus
Growing to Sainthood
5. Zacharias Mar Nicholovos
Our Mission: To Serve or to Preserve?
6. Geevarghese Mar Coorilos
Paulos Mar Gregorios: A Challenge to us
Let us be a Blessing to All!
Message from the Cross
7. Yuhanon Mor Meletius
Dare to Think!
8. Alexios Mar Eusebius
What Happens at Death?
9. Rev. Dr. Valson Thambu
Influence of Religion on Man
10. Rev. Dr. Lawrence Johnson
Religious Pluralism: A Historical Perspective
11. Prof. M. P. Mathai
Non-violent Alternatives to Terrorism
What is behind Saintliness?
12. Dr. Wesley Ariarajah
Walking with God in a Pluralistic World.
13. Rev. Fr. Varghese Varghese
Woes to the Church!
14. Rev. Dr. Bijesh Philip
The Good is Crucified

 

A Sample Chapter from the Book

What Happens at Death?

Alexios Mar Eusebius
In Houston on June 4, 2011

Today we remember a servant of God who lived among us and passed on to the Lord’s presence. In this context, I like to speak about death. Where are the dead people? Once we die, where are we? What do we know about the coming world? What will we be like when we are there?

There are people who can answer this question without any doubt based on some passages from the Bible or on some other documents. But if you ask me this question, I must admit that I am ignorant of it. I don’t know where we will be when we die.   But there are some things we know surely well about how we might be when we die. 

Before I was born into this world, I was first formed within the body of my mother. I was inside a very safe place, where I was provided with whatever I needed. That was the first stage of my existence. Once I was grown enough, I couldn’t live there anymore, and I was sent out of there to this world. This is the second stage of my existence. But my life does not end here either. It will continue to a third stage, and then later to a fourth stage. Let us call the third stage the spiritual world and the fourth one, heaven. Our life in this world is just one of the stages in our existence. We did not begin at birth and we will not end at death either.

It looks like we are very much like the butterflies, which have four stages in its existence as well.  A butterfly begins as an egg, then it becomes a caterpillar, then a pupa, and finally a butterfly. Our life inside the mother’s womb is similar to that of an egg. Our present life is similar to that of a caterpillar. Our coming life could be like that of the pupa. But finally we will emerge as glorious beings like a butterfly.

This metaphor helps us to answer various questions about our existence. The very first question one might ask is this: why do we have to go through these four stages?  Well, why does a butterfly have four stages? That is its nature. That is how God has planned its existence. A butterfly has to go through three stages of growth before becoming a butterfly. We are in our second stage, very much like a caterpillar, living our life on this earth. After being here for some time, we move to our pupa stage. A pupa doesn’t look like a living being in the eyes of a caterpillar. Within this apparently dead pupa happens further development and growth. Death is nothing but this transfer to this pupa stage for us.  We don’t know what happens to us in that stage. All we know is that we are not going to be in that stage for ever. We will have a resurrection which makes us emerge like butterflies as transformed and glorious beings.

Each of the succeeding stages is more complex than the preceding one. An egg is the simplest. A caterpillar is more complex, a pupa is still more complex, and finally a butterfly is the most complex. Our life in the mother’s body is the simplest, and much more complex is our life in this world. Even more complex is our life in the coming world. The most complex is our life in the heavenly stage.  The complexity of a certain stage cannot be comprehended from the view of the previous stage. When I was in my mother’s body, I couldn’t comprehend my present life. My present life was unimaginable to me when I was inside my mother. My present experience of life is so much different from how I experienced life then.  Similarly we can’t even imagine our life in the next stage. All we can say is that it will be totally different from our present existence. 

This point was made clear by our Lord Jesus Christ. Once some Sadducees approached our Lord with a tricky question to test him. A woman marries a man who dies leaving her with no children to carry on the family name. So along comes the younger brother who marries her and then dies leaving her with no children. Then another brother and another one and another until she has married all seven brothers who all die leaving her childless. And the natural question is, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? Jesus answered,

"The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called 'Lord' the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." Luke 20: 34-38

Jesus made it clear that our life in the next stage is not anything like our life now. We have marriage here, but there is no marriage in the coming world. We have gender difference here, but we will be like angels in the next stage. All are alive in God’s eyes. That is how God is the God of Abraham, and at the same time, the God of those who are alive. Although Abraham appears dead to us, he is alive in God’s eyes.

To conclude, although we don’t know a lot of things about our life after death, we are sure of one thing: death is really not death. Although we appear to die, we really continue to live in a different way.  It is with this faith and hope that we live our present life.