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Why Atheists and Religions are Wrong

For the Oxford Philosophical Society 2014 Review

I shall argue in this essay that without the mind’s faculty of imagination there would be no philosophy, no art, no music, no mathematics, no science, no religions, and no freedom of choice; that the attempts of religions to limit its expression to habits of identity, aided by the atheistic belief, now common in secular societies, that it must be applied only to material discovery, is the cause of their conflict and religious terrorism; that the crisis in modern education is similarly caused and may be similarly resolved; that the natural function of this faculty is to find manifold ways for minds to communicate, as is demonstrated by its manifestations, as described above; finally, that it is not limited to human minds, for the history of philosophy, which is also the history of humankind, would not be as it is if this were true.

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Intimate Silence: the Spirituality of Desert Preservation

We come to the desert at least as much for what is not here as much as for what is. Monastics of every religion are drawn to it. Moses encountered God in a bush on a desert mountain. The first theologians of Christianity were known as the Desert Fathers. In wilderness they prayed, meditated, contemplated – uncluttering their hearts and minds in an uncluttered space. Mohammed went to a desert cave and there he waited until the Angel Gabriel dictated the Koran to him. Around the same time, Buddhist monks retreated to the mountainous deserts of Central Asia to meditate.

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An aging maverick, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has no regrets

At 82, retired and enjoying life, Bishop John Shelby Spong doesn’t have to be the liberal enfant terrible whose pronouncements for gay rights and against traditional dogmas once scandalized Christendom.

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Four Yogas in the Life of Church

Sometimes issues need to be reframed, and it can often be helpful to look outside one’s own tradition for a framework. So for those who may be struggling with similar misunderstandings in their congregations, I offer the Four Yogas as a lens through which to see things differently.

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The central problem of ‘rampant evil’ and a ‘loving God’?

How do we pray to God – who seems not to be God, merciful, loving and delivering – for countless women and men in deepest need? How do we move from thanksgiving for our own lives to intercession for those who innocently suffer destitution or even mass atrocity? As if we would stand with Aaron as he ‘stands between the living and the dead’ to halt the plague (Numbers 16:48), while knowing that at countless times the plague, the tragic agonies, do not stop for so many women, men and children…continuing ‘holocausts’…

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I Had No Idea Your Blog Was Gay

One of my reasons for writing my blog is to share what I’ve learned and am learning spiritually with other progressive Christians. It’s not a “gay blog” (though there’d be nothing wrong with that!) but the blog of a progressive Christian.

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Why Isn’t Ferguson the Start of a New Civil Rights Movement?

What’s interesting is that, unlike their predecessors in previous civil rights battles, they don’t appear to be leading the protestors or generating an organizational network to create a larger movement.

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Introducing Jesus for the Non-Relgious to France

How can those of us living in the 21st century understand the Jesus of history? We think very differently from the way the people who wrote the New Testament in the first century thought. Can we any longer believe, for example, that when Jesus entered this world his arrival was announced by a star that appeared newly in the heavens or that his birth was heralded by angels breaking through the midnight sky to sing to hillside shepherds? Can we, who both understand genetics and know that women have an egg-cell, still believe that his mother was a virgin and his father the Holy Spirit?

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Church Music

The lyrics of the hymns and praise and worship songs of the church are, outside of the Bible, the way most people establish their belief system, which is reflected in the way they think about and live their faith. The lyrics may be good or bad, perceptive or trite, and may or may not teach sound theological concepts. Christians should carefully consider what they are singing because it shapes their theological perspective whether they realize it or not.

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Thoughts About Music

I have a friend, he’s a medical doctor and has probably seen some pretty moving things during his years of practice. But he once told me that the only time he has cried in the past ten years was while listening to Bach’s Mass in B minor. That confirms for me what I already knew, that music can move the soul like nothing else in this world can. So the natural question is how can that reality be leveraged for spiritual purposes within sacred community? And this is not a new idea. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians written nearly two thousand years ago, he urged his friends to “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”

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Music in Sacred Community

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” So wrote the famed philosopher, Nietzsche. I believe that music in sacred community is the medium which allows us to feel and to express our deepest emotions: joy, lament, awe and thanksgiving. Music in sacred community binds us together. Studies have shown that groups who make music together feel a certain kinship with each other, and leave that time of singing or drumming, playing instruments, etc. with their endorphins dancing, and their bodies humming with better health and vibrations. Surely when all of this is enhanced by words of hymns or songs, we can know that we have participated in a rich experience which has fed our souls.

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Music Moments

Such a captivating experience is not limited by the type or setting of the music. Classical, pop, bluegrass, jazz, country, blues, to name common Western music, all have the capacity to release an energy within us, previously pent up, but now free. That release can and does happen to anyone, any time, any place. Music is one of the great equalizers of persons. No matter who you are, you are susceptible to this unfathomed power. What is going on here?

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