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About R-J Heijmen

R-J Heijmen is the Senior Assistant Rector for Education, Stewardship and Student Ministries at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, TX. Previous to that, R-J lived in New York City for 10 years, where he led one of the largest youth ministries in Manhattan and planted a church. He and his wife Jaime have two boys, Jackson, 10 and Spencer 8.

http://stmartinsepiscopal.org/heijmen.php

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    Forgiveness Is Greece’s (and Germany’s) Only Hope

    Forgiveness Is Greece’s (and Germany’s) Only Hope

    Central to Christianity is the notion that, at the end of the day, forgiveness is humanity’s only hope. Not performance, or improvement, or willpower, or wishful thinking, but absolution – “nothing but the blood of Jesus,” as the old hymn goes. Apparently, this idea holds in financial markets as well, or so a piece in yesterday’s New York Times claims.

    “Germans Forget Postwar History Lesson on Debt Relief in Greece Crisis” is the title, and here are some of the money quotes:

    As negotiations between Greece and its creditors stumbled toward breakdown, culminating in a sound rejection on Sunday by Greek voters…

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    Chris Farley and the Tragedy of Splitting

    I just watched the trailer for the upcoming Chris Farley documentary and nearly bawled on my desk. His work was a huge part of my childhood and, for my money, there have never been better SNL skits than Matt Foley or funnier movies than Tommy Boy. What a tragic loss.

    The trailer revealed that this poor man fell victim to what some have called “splitting”: the living of two lives, ever more separated – one an idealized, “super” version of self and the other a dark brew of one’s less admirable traits (what Paul Zahl refers to as “the boys in the basement”). Chris Farley always had to be “Chris Farley.” He couldn’t find a space to let down, tell the truth, not be funny,  and even as the expectations on his better self ramped up, the appetites of his shadow self increased in step, and finally claimed him. No one can be “on” all the time.

    Chris was killed by the law of fame, and not God’s Law, but the lesson still holds. As long as we attempt to find approval and peace by living up to some unattainable ideal, we will inevitably split. The hope of the Gospel is that our darker self will be brought into the light, where it can be forgiven, loved, embraced, and integrated. Only grace moves us towards wholeness, a miracle which Christopher Crosby Farley never experienced.

    The 21 Beheaded Egyptians Make Me Proud to Be a Christian

    The 21 Beheaded Egyptians Make Me Proud to Be a Christian

    From Cairo to Rome and beyond, the reaction to the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS has been swift and profound: anger and condemnation, sadness and solidarity. Yet, as I have thought over this horrific event, another emotion has swelled within in me: pride. For while the Islamic State considers itself to be following in the footsteps of its religious founder and leader (see here,  here and here), the 21 Egyptians were undoubtedly following in the footsteps of theirs.

    “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent…

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    Serial, Contradictions, and the Jesus Stories

    Serial, Contradictions, and the Jesus Stories

    The Gospels are full of contradictions. There, I said it. Take, for example, the differing accounts of the resurrection. In Matthew, the two Marys – Magdelene and Jesus’ mom – are at the empty tomb, greeted by an earthquake and an angel. In Luke, Joanna and other unnamed females are added to the mix, and they see two angels, rather than one. According to John, it is Mary Magdelene only, and after running to fetch Peter and John (the author), she sees Jesus, although she mistakes him at first for a gardener. Mark ends most strangely, with the two Marys and someone…

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    Ebola, “Friends” and the Reasons We Give

    Ebola, “Friends” and the Reasons We Give

    Tim Keller has said that a Christian is someone who knows that they need to repent not only for the wrong things they do, but for the reasons they do the right things. That is to say, whatever we do, no matter how seemingly altruistic, almost always has some sort of selfish motivation mixed in – as Joey points out to Phoebe in “The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS” (or so my wife tells me). Who would’ve thought that Joey Tribbiani would subscribe to what Calvin (following Sts. Augustine and Paul) called “total depravity”?

    Further illustrating this point was a recent…

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    The Power of Negative Thinking

    The Power of Negative Thinking

    The 8am service on the Sunday before Labor Day was not well attended, and the rain didn’t help. Honestly, I was only there because I am paid to be. Then came the first reading, from the prophet Jeremiah:

    “I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation.Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.”

    Great. Thanks Jerry. That’s super-helpful. Just what I need for a little…

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    Joan Rivers Fought the Law…

    Joan Rivers Fought the Law…

    If you’re like me (and I hope you’re not), then the name Joan Rivers meant little more to you than “that horribly plastic old woman who can’t think of anything better to do than provide red carpet snark for E!”. Which is why, as news of her passing spread last week (having occurred during a “minor elective procedure”) it seemed at best trivial and at worst ironic, especially in light of other recent celebrity comic deaths.

    And then I saw this video, from April 1967…

    … and I had the following thoughts:

    1. Joan Rivers used to look like a human being!

    2. Wow. She’s really…

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    NYC Preview: I’m New Here. I Don’t Know Anyone. And What the &%*! Is Going On?

    NYC Preview: I’m New Here. I Don’t Know Anyone. And What the &%*! Is Going On?

    Recently, one of my current coworkers, whom we shall call Will, made a confession to me about his first Mockingbird Conference. A friend of mine, with whom Will worked at the time, had convinced him to come along, and so, after flying into LaGuardia, Will found himself in the backseat of my car on our way into Manhattan. Listening in on the front seat conversation between my friend and I (both Episcopal priests), which was undoubtedly, shall we say, “salty,” the following thoughts ran through Will’s head: “Who are these guys? What are they talking about? Are they even Christians?!…

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    Laughing in Church (But Apparently Not on Craigslist)

    Laughing in Church (But Apparently Not on Craigslist)

    Last weekend we bought my wife a new (used) car. Her old(er) one was getting a bit small for our growing boys, and was quickly approaching 100,000 miles (at which point it would become more difficult to sell), so we bit the bullet and took the plunge.

    Now we have a 12 year-old, 99k-mile car to get off our hands. It’s in excellent shape, by the way. New timing belt and everything, if you happen to be in the market.

    On Sunday evening I posted a for-sale ad on Craigslist. Wanting to separate myself from the herd, I spent some time crafting…

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    Andre Dubus III on Tragedy and Happiness in America

    Andre Dubus III on Tragedy and Happiness in America

    From his interview yesterday on the Diane Rehm show, starting at about the 3:30 mark:

    AD3: “Frankly, I have this belief (that) if you scratch the surface of any human being, across the country, across the world, at any moment of any day, even right this moment, everybody’s in some kind of trouble. It’s normal. It’s just part of human existence. I think that in America, we freak out about that. I think we’ve been sold a bill of goods, that we think we’re supposed to be happy all the time, especially if we’re successful.”

    DR: “It’s in the constitution!”

    AD3: “Yeah. ‘Life, liberty…

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    Jesus (and TAL): Give Cash to Poor People

    Jesus (and TAL): Give Cash to Poor People

    “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6.30).

    Of all Jesus’ commandments which his followers expressly disobey (my personal fave being Matthew 6:1 where he instructs his audience “not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them”–ironically enough, the lectionary reading for Ash Wednesday(!)), his instruction that we should “give to all who ask” is, perhaps, the one against which we have built the strongest fortification. In fact, if one were to reconstruct Jesus’ teaching on generosity based on the actions and teachings…

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    Jeremy Lin Crushed by the Law of Linsanity

    Jeremy Lin Crushed by the Law of Linsanity

    You gotta love Jeremy Lin, and I say that not only as a recently minted Houstonian who is looking forward to some serious Harden/Howard/Parsons beatdowns. In an article posted yesterday, ESPN reports on Lin’s unusual candor before a crowd of Taiwanese (presumably) Christian youth:

    Lin went as far to say that he experienced “emptiness, confusion and misery” at points last season. “The one thing I learned was how empty fame and worldly success really are. … The desire for success never stopped,” Lin said. “If the voice that you listen to the most isn’t God’s voice, then eventually you will experience that…

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