"For Jesus, as for all people in Bible times, the 'heart' was not a pulsating organ inside your chest to be strengthened by exercise and a good diet or cured by the cardiologist's tool kit. The heart is your truest self. The heart is the part of you that feels, delights, grieves, desires. The heart is the 'imagination,' the place inside where we conceive, where we make connections, where we dream. The heart is the place where you exercise your freedom, where you decide, the mechanism that chooses what to do this evening, whom you will marry, whether to lie or not, how to respond to a crisis. The heart is the sphere where we meet God, or avoid meeting God.

"So what is a 'pure heart'? The Greek word katharoi implies being clean, unpolluted, with a hint that what is pure was not always pure, but has been purified, cleansed, washed out, and hung up to dry. A 'catharsis' (derived from katharoi) is an emotional resolution (as when a story reaches its climax and the reader has a rush of realization); the Oxford English Dictionary somewhat less elegantly defines 'catharsis' as 'a purgation, especially the evacuation of the bowels.' The pure heart would be a heart that has been emptied of what is unclean, purged of what no longer belongs.

" 'Blessed are the pure in heart.' It may be helpful to think of purity in two ways. There is a purity that looks like simplicity, focus, single-mindedness; and there is a purity that looks like goodness, cleanness, holiness — and the two are not unrelated. And neither is championed in our culture. Soren Kierkegaard wrote a duly famous book entitled Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing. The human predicament is that we let ourselves get frittered away in multiple directions, trying to be and do everything, when we were made for just one thing, for the one thing that finally matters: God. The pure, like a racehorse, need 'blinders' to block out their peripheral vision, so they keep their eyes on the one goal, straight ahead, the finish line.”