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An Interview with Elaine Pagels

Westar

In this one-on-one interview, bestselling author and MacArthur Prize recipient Elaine Pagels tells a wide-ranging story. She explains how Billy Graham’s preaching sparked her interest in religion, and talks of her early encounters with Gnostic texts and with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Through the interconnections between the personal and professional, Pagels addresses the problem of how we are to define Christianity meaningfully in ancient and modern times.

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Study Guide for the book Zealot, by Reza Aslan

The material we are exploring is controversial; the subject matter is often tied to deeply held beliefs. The intention of this study guide is not to change your mind but to challenge your beliefs. That is, our initial objective is not to believe what the author proposes but to be open to consider the validity of his proposition. In so doing, we empower our beliefs through the dynamics of our evolution of consciousness — the purpose of this discussion group.

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God in the Belly

Full of God, full to birthing,
Mary howls: head back, hair tossed,
Hands skyward with joy
That wrongs are about to be righted,
Salvation’s about to be sighted.

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Topics: Fiction and Poetry. 8 Points: Point 6: Peace and Justice. Seasons & Special Events: Christmas. Ages: Adult, Teen, and Young Adult. Texts: Luke. Prayers: Invocation. Resource Types: Meditations and Spiritual Journey Reflections.
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The Isaiah Plan

If you’re an overweight fundamentalist Christian, the Daniel Plan is for you.  Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback megachurch, fit this plus-sized demographic until he came up with a new twist on his religion.  Basing his weight-loss …

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Holy Families, Outrageous Possibilities

How do you see the Holy Family? What do they look like? “Ordinary”?—what does that mean? Iconic? A nativity scene or an artist’s impression? Surrounded by shepherds and angels and animals, or isolated and on the run from Herod—or from dubious family members still unsure of Joseph’s wisdom in marrying Mary? Perhaps you see a pageant—a filmstrip of images one after the other, screening numerous family scenes and mythologies and narratives. Hold them in your mind’s eye…

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Religious Freedom and Religious Privilege: a musing on the difference

The Supreme Court of the US is now considering a case from Greece, NY, in which
the town board started its meetings with sectarian Christian prayers.
 Lower courts disallowed them as violations of the clause in the Constitution …

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Clean Up After Your God

Religions, like puppy owners, often don’t do a good job of scooping up the messes they leave behind. But that’s not a compelling enough reason to give up on either your God or your dog.

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Guns, Fear, and Power

Beyond the stats, beyond the grief, beyond the finger-pointing, beyond the “culture wars” lies the solution to eleven thousand deaths by gunfire per year in the United States.

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Try-Alls and Tribulations: Interfaith Etiquette

Perhaps being a souljourner requires the same willingness to look foolish that is required in order to learn a language. I remember the crazy stuff I said when I was studying Spanish in Mexico years ago. I certainly embarrassed myself – and turned others beet-red a time or two, as well. But as long as I showed humility and a willingness to get it right the next time, people seemed to cut me lots of slack. Perhaps the most important ingredients in etiquette are genuine openness, curiosity, and an attitude, if not yet a correct appearance, of respect.

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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: Adult Curriculum, Articles, and Interfaith.

Dying for a Drink

We worked all day. Dad and Rachel were on one team, Father Crespi and I were on another, refilling tanks, cleaning up trash around them, and placing new ones. Five new blue flags, marking the new tanks, waved defiantly against the demon of thirst, and fluttered in the breeze over the desert at sundown that evening. The crew enjoyed a dinner at Rachel’s house prepared by the Women’s Society of the Federated Church.

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