Organized Acts of Pasta

Recently we posted a story about Matt Tribe, of Ogden, Utah, engaging in Random Acts of Pasta.

Now we bring you a story about organized acts of pasta.

Ten years ago, Bruno Serato, the chef and owner of the Anaheim White House Restaurant, a fine Italian restaurant in Anaheim, California, visited the local Boys and Girls Club with his mother, Caterina. When he saw a young boy eating potato chips, the director of the club explained to him that this was the boy’s dinner.

Caterina’s response to the situation: “Bruno, you must give them pasta!”

In Serato’s words, “You better listen to Mama! Mama is always right!”

And so began an organized pasta charity that today feeds 1,200 motel kids every night. Serato named the charity after his mother: Caterina’s Club.

Bruno Serato with children and pasta!

Bruno Serato with children and pasta!

More recently, Serato began a new initiative.

Feeding motel kids was good. But even better would be to get their families into a real home. And so began a new initiative to pay first and last month rent for families who can afford the rent, but are stuck in hotels because they cannot pull together that much money all at once.

You can read all about it at Yahoo News: “New hope for motel kids

This is a charity that helps families to help themselves. And it was founded by a man who arrived in America from Italy in 1980 with just $200 in his pocket.

To watch the videos about Bruno Serato’s charitable work, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events

Aliens vs. Advent: Swedenborg’s 1758 Book on Extraterrestrial Life

Aliens are very popular these days.

Not that we’ve ever actually seen a real one. (No, I don’t go for all the UFO stuff.)

But just try to tell Hollywood that!

E.T., The Extraterrestrial

E.T., The Extraterrestrial

Aliens!

Aliens!

To judge by the movie releases, the galaxy is packed with aliens! And though Steven Spielberg’s endearing E.T. captured millions of hearts in the 1980s, aliens are usually bad guys. Alien vs. Predator (2004), Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), Cowboys and Aliens (2011). The list goes on.

Today, in honor of the season, I bring you a new cosmic drama: Aliens vs. Advent!

The plot is rooted in thousands of years of debate over extraterrestrial life. In ancient Greek culture alone, philosophers such as Anaximander, Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus argued that there are infinite worlds, and therefore room for infinite races of intelligent beings on an infinite number of planets.

However, the more famous philosophers Plato and Aristotle argued that our earth is the unique center of the cosmos, and that earth-dwellers are the only race of intelligent beings in the universe.

Similar debates played out in other ancient cultures.

Enter Christianity.

For more on aliens, Christianity, and Swedenborg, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Science, Philosophy, and History

Random Acts of Pasta

Matt Tribe, of Ogden, Utah, was one of the lucky 1,000 people who managed to purchase a promotional “Never Ending Pasta Pass” from the Olive Garden Italian restaurant chain for $100. It entitled the bearer to all-you-can-eat pasta meals, complete with sides and a drink, for seven weeks.

As reported in an article at Consumerist.com, people who scored one of these passes used them for everything from stuffing their own bellies to making a quick (and illegal) profit by selling them for several times what they paid.

Not Matt Tribe.

Yes, he did use his Pasta Pass on himself fourteen times.

But after checking with Olive Garden’s customer relations department to make sure he could use it for take-out, he did something very different with his Pasta Pass:

He used it to give meals to 125 random friends, family members, acquaintances, and total strangers, including a number of homeless people.

Random Acts of Pasta, Matt Tribe

Random Acts of Pasta

Naturally, his Random Acts of Pasta video went viral. And naturally, there were grinchy naysayers who claimed that it was all just a hoax and an Olive Garden publicity stunt. But as reported at People.com, Olive Garden itself has stated that its only role was to sell him the Pasta Pass and happily fulfill his orders—which aligned with Olive Garden’s own program of donating food to local food banks.

Yes, of course, Olive Garden got some great publicity.

But more than that, Matt Tribe experienced the joy of devoting several weeks of his life to doing good deeds for over 100 people. And over 100 people enjoyed being on the receiving end of a Random Act of Pasta.

Check out Tribe’s own telling of the story at www.randomactsofpasta.com.

To watch the Random Acts of Pasta video, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events

Is Heaven Physical? Can Angels Play Tennis?

Diagram of an atom (not to scale)

Diagram of an atom (not to scale)

In a comment on my recent article, “The Afterlife: It’s Not as Different as you Think!” a reader named Richard Neer responded to my statement that angels go through their daily life in much the same way we do here on earth. He said:

Does this statement not imply the afterlife is comprised of corporeal, physical matter attributes, having properties of a physical existence? And if so, how is it possible, where, on what plane of existence? After all, you can’t play tennis and hit a ball which does not exist with a racquet that does not physically exist either. These statements empirically define a physical world.

I’ll reproduce Richard’s full comment in a minute, and give a fuller response. Here’s the short version:

As described by scientist, philosopher, and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) there are three overall levels of reality:

  1. divine reality (God)
  2. spiritual reality (the spiritual world and the human mind)
  3. material reality (the physical world, including the human body)

Each of these three levels of reality has its own type of substance:

  1. divine substance (which is God’s love)
  2. spiritual substance (the stuff the spiritual world is made of)
  3. physical matter (the stuff the physical universe is made of)

We’ll skip over divine reality for now. It’s beyond our human experience anyway.

This leaves spiritual and physical reality. Each of these has its own substance. And we humans have two sets of senses adapted to these two kinds of substance:

  1. our physical senses
  2. our spiritual senses

When our physical senses are active, we sense and feel physical objects.

When our spiritual senses are active, we sense and feel spiritual objects—which look, sound, smell, taste, and feel the same to our spiritual senses as physical objects do to our physical senses.

So even though the spiritual world is not made of physical matter, it is a real and solid world, in which we live very human lives.

Let’s look at all of this more closely.

For more on the solidity of spiritual reality, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Science, Philosophy, and History, The Afterlife

Is Racism Equal-Opportunity?

I recently received an email asking these general questions:

  1. Why are whites held to a different standard than other races when it comes to racism?
  2. If people of other races can celebrate their own race, and form organizations based on their race and ethnicity, why can’t whites?
  3. If some white people choose to value and stick with their own race, where does that leave them spiritually?

Racial issues are a political and social powder keg—as the events currently unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri attest. This is a spiritual blog, not a political one, so I’ll do my best to avoid pure politics. However, I do have to dip into political and social issues to some extent in order to answer these questions.

So here goes:

Barack & Michelle Obama with Guy Scott & Charlotte Harland-Scott

Barack & Michelle Obama with Guy Scott & Charlotte Harland-Scott

I see no problem spiritually with valuing the characteristics and company of one’s own racial and ethnic group, or with creating groups and organizations based on one’s own race and ethnicity.

It becomes a problem, however, when one’s own group is considered better than other racial and ethnic groups to the extent that others are looked down upon in comparison with one’s own group. And it becomes a major problem when people of other racial and ethnic groups are disrespected, mistreated, or targeted due to the perceived superiority of one’s own group.

God created the different races for a reason. If we disrespect other races, we are disrespecting God.

For more on whites, race, and spirituality, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events

The Afterlife: It’s Not as Different as you Think!

Throughout the ages, the afterlife has been pictured in many different ways—more ways than we can possibly list here. Christians alone have pictured heaven as:

  • The endless pleasure of intelligent and witty conversation with other angels
  • Perpetual feasting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve Apostles
  • Relaxing in the everlasting springtime of garden paradises while breathing in the fragrant odors of beautiful flowers and enjoying the delicate taste of delectable fruits
  • Ruling over the masses as fabulously wealthy and powerful kings and queens
  • Praising and glorifying God to all eternity in vast, ornate cathedrals, complete with powerful organ music and inspiring hymns sung with thousands of fellow worshipers

In more recent years, under the influence of near-death experiences together with the mystical strains of various eastern religions, conceptions of the afterlife have grown even more fantastic. One account has us flying on the wings of giant psychedelic butterflies through vast Technicolor panoramas. Or, as inhabitants of the astral realms, we may be seen as diaphanous beings of light wafting around and through one another as we engage in mysterious dances that manifest the harmony of the spheres.

Now, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with any of these activities. For the most part, they’re harmless enough—though I’m not so sure about all those kings and queens! And I have it on good authority that whatever our idea of the afterlife may be, we’re given the opportunity to try it out after we die, and see how we like it.

Even for people who have a less fantastical idea of what the afterlife might be like, I suspect that it’s common to think that death will bring about huge changes in our life.

Perhaps it will.

But I’m here to tell you that the afterlife will not be as different as you think. In fact, in the ways that count the most, the afterlife will be a seamless continuation of whatever your life has been here.

That should get us to thinking about just what we’re doing with our life here on earth.

Let’s look at the afterlife based on:

  1. the Bible,
  2. rational thought, and
  3. human experience.

For more on the rather ordinary afterlife, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Afterlife

Is Sex Before Marriage Forbidden in the Bible?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Kimberly:

Hi Lee! I was wondering if sex before marriage is forbidden in the Bible. . . and if it is, why? I have a hard time understanding what could be so destructive about two people who genuinely care about each other having safe sex. I’ve been leaning towards the thought that sin is anything that keeps you away from God’s love. . . if this is true, then how would premarital sex fit into the equation? If you’re not hurting anybody, can it be so wrong? What about having multiple partners?

Just for the record, this is the same Kimberly who posed the Spiritual Conundrum that I responded to in the article, “It’s not fair that God made some people incredibly beautiful, and others just average!

Sex is a highly sensitive subject these days. Saying almost anything clear and definite about it is bound to offend somebody.

But . . . Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life is not designed to win any popularity contests. It’s intended to offer a deeper Biblical and spiritual understanding of many issues that we face in today’s world. So we’ll just charge right into it—and you, dear reader, can make up your own mind.

The reality is that the Bible is nowhere near as clear about sex before marriage as many Christians seem to think it is. In fact, though the Bible does generally condemn sexual immorality, there is no clear prohibition against premarital sex in the Bible.

So the short answer to Kimberly’s question is:

No, sex before marriage is not forbidden in the Bible.

No matter how upsetting this may be to some people with traditional moral values, that’s the fact of the matter

However . . . before you jump right into the sack, there’s more to it than that . . .

For more on the Bible and premarital sex, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex, Marriage, Relationships, The Bible Re-Viewed

Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh, Ebola, and the Real Meaning of Christ Dying for Our Sins

Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, 1956-2014

Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, 1956-2014

On August 19, 2014, Ameyo Adadevoh died of Ebola in an isolation ward in Lagos, Nigeria.

Her death was not in vain.

Professionally, she was known as Dr. Stella Adadevoh. It was her quick thinking and heroic actions that saved her country from the fate of the neighboring West African nations of Guinea, Libera, and Sierra Leone, where thousands of people have died from Ebola, and the disease still rages on.

Nigeria, by contrast, had only twenty cases of Ebola and eight deaths. It was declared Ebola-free on October 20.

Dr. Adadevoh gave her life to save her country from the ravages of Ebola. For that, she has become a hero in Nigeria.

For us elsewhere in the world, her story not only tells an inspiring tale of human triumph even in death; it also offers a human example of the real meaning of the statement in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that “Christ died for our sins.”

For more on Dr. Adadevo and her Christ-like sacrifice, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Current Events

Why is Evil Sexier than Good?

Julian McMahon as Victor von Doom in The Fantastic Four

Julian McMahon as Victor von Doom in The Fantastic Four

Now, don’t tell me you haven’t had the same thought. Sweetness and light is all very wonderful. But for some real excitement, nothing beats the dark and dangerous.

At least, that’s the message of popular culture—and someone must be eating it up! Certainly there are good-looking good guys and gals in popular movies and novels. But if the hero is very sexy, the villain is even sexier.

On the male side of the ledger, the villain has that brooding, swaggering, bad-boy persona. He’s the one that the women swarm around. They’re magnetically attracted to him like moths to a flame—and he uses them for his pleasure just as fast as they come.

On the female side of the ledger, all eyes snap to the femme fatale. She’s incredibly sexy, she knows it, and she flaunts it. She wraps infatuated men around her finger until they’ve served her wicked purposes, then tosses them aside all battered and broken up.

Cinematographers know all about it. They know that if they made a movie with nothing but good guys, it would fall flat at the box office. So they spice it up with sex, violence, and villains, and the crowds flock to see it.

Why?

Yes, we know that the bad guys will end out dead or in prison. We know that the wicked woman will be thrown to the dogs before the final credits roll. We can justify it to ourselves by saying we just want to see the crooks get their comeuppance.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that there’s more to it than that.

Why do we keep coming back for more sex, more violence, more murder, and mayhem?

Why are we humans so fascinated with evil?

For more on the attractiveness of evil, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth

Why did God Wait So Long to Come Down as Christ?

Here is part of a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Achilles:

Why would God wait to come down as Christ and not do that from the outset? It’s as if God woke up one day and said – you know – this isn’t working – I better go down there myself – if you want something done right – do it yourself – which is ludicrous…

Thanks again for the great question, Achilles!

For the full Spiritual Conundrum, see the previous article, “Can God Fail?” In that article, I took up this question: Can God—who is timeless, all-knowing, and omnipotent—fail to accomplish something that God sets out to do?

In this article, I’ll take up the remaining question in the Spiritual Conundrum that Achilles submitted: Why did God wait so many thousands of years to come down to earth as Jesus Christ instead of doing so right from the start?

Here is the basic answer:

There’s a right time (and a lot of wrong times) for everything. God waited until the right time to come to earth as Jesus Christ.

Why was two thousand years ago the right time?

Like many other topics covered here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life in response to readers’ questions, this is a huge topic! We can’t possibly cover every aspect of it in one article. But here are a few key points that we can cover:

  1. Humanity goes through spiritual stages.
  2. God comes to us when we are at a low ebb because:
    • Before that we won’t listen to or accept God,
    • Before that we are not ready to understand God’s message, and
    • That’s when God can face and overcome all human evil.
  3. When God became human, it turned the tide of human history.

Let’s dig into it.

For more on God’s timing, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Earlier Posts
Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly, Fryeburg, Maine, August 2012

Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly

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