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Finding Meaning in Christmas

This Christmas holiday week I plan to slow down and reflect on the year that has passed. I will set time aside to find some peace, joy, focus, forgiveness, thankfulness, and renewal for my own soul before the next year begins. I want to take some extra time to just be, and breath, and feel gratitude and joy. The best present I may receive this year may simply be the opportunity to be present. And maybe in that presence I will more deeply experience the very presence and Spirit of my own divinity.

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When Jesus Stopped Believing in Santa

The day after the first Shabbat in Advent, Mary and Joseph took Jesus, who was eight years old, To the Great Mall of Bethlehem. There, in the middle of the huge indoor shopping complex, Was a stately …

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Topics: The Younger Generation. 8 Points: Point 5: Non-Dogmatic Searchers. Seasons & Special Events: Advent. Ages: Adult, Teen, and Young Adult. Texts: Matthew. Resource Types: Articles, Meditations, and Poetry.

Church Without God

Musings

What will be the unifying principle behind this community? Is love and mutual support enough to hang it together? Will some distinctive message or activity or ritual be necessary to give the group an identity and a reason to continue gathering? The experiment is just getting started. The evidence and the conclusions are not in. Meanwhile, Bart’s experiment has the attention of secular humanists nationwide. He’s not a theist any more, but he’s not a normal atheist, either.

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Topics: Interfaith Issues & Dialogue. 8 Points: Point 2: Pluralism. Ages: Adult, Teen, and Young Adult. Resource Types: Articles and Interfaith.

Moments Remarked

Quickened by my attention to what surrounded me
As I sat on one of the pale yellow rounded boulders in the creekbed.

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World Religion in America: The Second Generation

American-born Muslim young people, growing up post 9/11, are more marked as just-plain-Muslims than they are as Ismaili or Sunni or Shia or Ahmadjyya or Sufi Muslims. Or Turkish or Syrian or Jordanian or Saudi Muslims. They’ve been thrust into a wide realm of choice by historical circumstance. There’s no one way to do their faith, and for some this opens the door to creative expressions of their religion.

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Topics: Interfaith Issues & Dialogue. 8 Points: Point 2: Pluralism. Seasons & Special Events: Pluralism Sunday. Ages: Adult, Teen, and Young Adult. Resource Types: Articles, Curriculum Supplements, and Interfaith.

Defining Progressive Christianity

An Open-Ended “Creed” for a Progressive Christian

I have often said so-called “progressive Christianity” is a notion forever in search of its own elusive definition; and that’s as good a way of explaining it as we may be able to find. We live in a post-modern world that considers the age of Enlightenment to be a post-facto reality. As such, “progressive” thinking in an age of Reason has pushed the boundaries of nearly every facet of life, except one: those ‘traditional’ or ‘orthodox’ beliefs, based on certain creeds, doctrines and dogma that still dominate what it presumably means to be “Christian.” It hardly needs to be said that it is also why so many one-time believers have outgrown their one-time faith. Calling them merely “lapsed” is misleading. So much has elapsed in the world we have all come to know and take for granted, that the once-dominant Church — — despite all its denominational varieties — has fast become a post-modern relic. Yet any critical examination of how Christian scriptures developed and how the history of the tradition evolved will quickly demonstrate how it has always been in a constant state of flux. Or, if you like, “progression.” It was only when it stopped and got stuck that we traded in the tent for a temple, and snuffed the life out of a movement that is progressive by its very nature. What then would constitute an honest statement of belief for at least this “progressive Christian?”

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Faith

The Greek word for “faith” in the New Testament is pistis, which occurs 243 times. As a noun, pistis is used as a technical term for “forensic evidence.” In other words, faith is not blind; we must investigate to establish the facts. I agree with retired Episcopal bishop, John Shelby Spong, who writes, “My problem has never been my faith. It has always been the literal way that human beings have chosen to articulate that faith.” To many Christians, faith means believing highly suspect claims, which is a problem for me. Thinking isn’t a sin. God created our minds and I’m certain that we were intended to use them.

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Mindful Christianity

Mindful Christianity is mysticism: the experience of a human being in spiritual union with the divine, seeing each other with the same eye. The observer within you, when you are deep in mindfulness meditation, is God. God is lovingly attentive toward your every experience, every feeling, urge, and thought. In mindfulness practice, God notices all of that is going on inside of you, with deep compassion and without judgment.

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Not In My Name

An extremely small percentage of the world’s Muslim population recognizes ISIS as having any sort of authority over their lives. In other words, being Muslim does not equate with ISIS affiliation. We need to stop acting as if the two are interchangeable and start acting out of love, rather than from hate or fear. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). If there is no love, there is no Christianity. Period. There is just an empty label that leaves the world seeing us in ways that will make you cringe.

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Trees and Things that Live

The idea that we humans have been given dominion over the animals, the trees and the waters is just wrong. At some point we are going to have to admit we have been blind to what we have done and are continuing to do. If we do not begin to function in harmony with all Creation, I am afraid Homo sapiens will have a short history on this earth. Even more tragic, we humans will have missed an opportunity to experience an amazing awareness that could have led to a profound, life changing spiritual experience and a very different worldly experience.

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Climate Change, A Vocabulary of Reverence and the Strength of Fragility

For those like me who see Jesus, not as the divine Son of God in our midst, but as a courageous sage and social prophet, and for those of us who see God as other than an all-powerful distant deity – the language of reverence is rooted in the story of existence and the universe itself. That becomes a religious story whispering of a larger meaning of our existence or in Bumbaugh’s words each of us is “a self present in the singularity that produced the emergent universe; a self present at the birth of the stars; a self related through time to every living thing on this planet; a self that contains within it the seeds of a future we cannot imagine in our wildest flights of fantasy.” That non-traditional evolutionary sacred story invites us to stand in awe; and it calls us to create a whole new vocabulary of reverence even as we commit to cherishing and caring for the earth.

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