A Still Mind | Writing

After the frog jumps

Ripples fade, becoming still.

Fallen Autumn Leaves.


Patience, Grasshopper--

Waking up in hard to do.

Sit. Walk. That is all.


Seeing mind’s drama

like struggling in quicksand.

Stillness of winter.


Mind’s nature is knowing

Wisdom’s, emptiness.

Emptiness knows.

Not two, not two.


Early morning deer wanders

past my tent.

Our campground,

her dining room.


Snowy wood, two roads.

Taking neither, I come to

see where I am now.


Research Papers

The papers below were part of my work towards my Master of Divinity degree at the Wake Forest University Divinity School. The are written to be accessible, and should be of interest to many people. Feel free to read, share, discuss and cite them, but please don't plagiarize. All papers are in PDF format, © Hal Schnee.

Modern Judaism’s Encounter with Zen

     Modern Judaism is many things. It is a religion, a worldview and belief system, a set of rules, holidays, and observances, an ethnicity, a culture, an identity, a community, and much more. But one thing it usually is not is a spiritual practice. Many Jews today feel a need for something that their tradition is not providing, and are looking to Zen and other Eastern traditions for fulfillment. . . The research for this paper sought to examine the phenomenon of Jews becoming involved in Zen and to understand the reasons and the results of this involvement. . .

This Is My Body; This Is My Blood:
Jesus’ Interpretation of the Passover

     It is 14-Nissan-30. Your beloved teacher instructs you to find a special place to prepare to celebrate the Passover; all occurs just as he predicts. You are seated with your colleagues when your teacher—as he often has—says and does something shocking and unexpected:

22) While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23)Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24) He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25) Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:22-25, NRSV)

     What could he mean by this? What have you just taken part in? Jesus has redefined the traditional symbols of Passover in surprising, possibly abhorrent ways. . .

Consequences of Faith:
Paul’s Struggle with God, Faith, and Israel

     Paul is deeply grieved. He says so himself. His revelation on the road to Damascus has led him to a new interpretation of God’s will. But most of his people—the Jews—hold fast to the old ways. And Paul, addressing the Gentile Christians in Rome, says:

     I have a great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart...for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; (Romans 9:2-4, NRSV)

    Paul’s new view of salvation seems at odds with the covenant promise God made with God’s people, the Jews—most of them have rejected salvation through Jesus Christ, but God previously promised them salvation. How can this be?  Has God changed the rules? Paul struggles with not only the fate of his people, but the consistency of God. . .

The Theology of Henry David Thoreau

     A great deal has been written about Henry David Thoreau. As time has passed, it seems that he has only grown in his popularity and acclaim. Even a brief look at the available literature reveals that much of the writing about him simply gushes with praise, raising him beyond sainthood into the realm of an American angel. With all the Thoreau hagiography, it can be difficult to find the truly biographical. But still, there are plenty of serious scholars who present honest and balanced views of Thoreau’s life, work, and thought.
     For this paper, however, I wanted to head in a different direction. Rather than reporting on the dizzying array of scholarship about Thoreau’s life, the present work is aimed at understanding his beliefs—what was the theology of Henry David Thoreau? This report attempts to answer this question by examining both scholarship about Thoreau and his own writings, teasing out his beliefs as much as possible. . .