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Epiphany: More than changing light bulbs

“Sin” is not about sex, or petty transgression. “Sin” is about the seduction of power-over others; of the gratification of having what others cannot have.

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Topics: Bibles and Bible Study, Early Christianity, Jesus Studies, and Progressive Christianity 101. 8 Points: Eight points. Seasons & Special Events: Epiphany. Ages: Adult. Texts: Amos, Deuteronomy, Luke, Mark, Matthew, Philippians, Psalms, and Romans. Resource Types: Articles.

When Gaspar Went Missing – A Commentary for Twelfth Night

It has long been a family tradition to mark the days of Advent and Christmastide seasons with the wood-carved characters appearing in our little crèche one by one, week after week, like unfolding scenes in a two-act drama. But the year one of the three wise men was nowhere to be found when it came for him to enter stage left not only got me wondering about his whereabouts, but what he could have possibly been up to.  Such speculation, I would suggest, may be no less credible than Matthew’s fanciful, retrospective tale.

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Topics: Bibles and Bible Study, Early Christianity, and Fiction and Poetry. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus and Point 6: Peace and Justice. Seasons & Special Events: Christmas. Ages: Adult. Texts: Matthew. Resource Types: Articles.

Occupy Christmas, or, What’s in a Word? – A Christmas Commentary on John’s Prologue

“The divine word and wisdom became human, and made itself at home among us.”  So begins the Prologue to John’s gospel, with a far loftier and esoteric version of Jesus’ nativity than any birth in a barnyard. But more so, John’s introduction to a good news gospel reaches across the ages to not only give new meanings to the words he uses to describe the incarnate word of God; but gives fresh insight into some of our own vernacular, and how we might even redefine Christ’s mass ourselves.

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My Five Lessons from “On Faith”

It was five years ago this month that we launched On Faith. The idea was to inform and educate about all faiths (and no faith) and to initiate an on-going discussion about the role of religion, values and ethics in our daily lives.

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Good News, Bad News: An Amnesty Gospel for Advent

There’s two sides to every story, and there’s often some good news and bad news. Is the Gospel all good news? That depends. This Advent commentary considers the implications of rethinking and retelling the Christmas story.

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The Coming of Jesus – An Answer to Prayer?

A look at how Christians today still want the kind of physical power Messiah that the Jews hoped for and who will change the world for us, when the actual need is for a spiritual change within ourselves and for us to respond to a vision and a challenge.

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A Voice in the Wilderness

The underlying assumption in this study of Luke (and eventually Acts and the authentic letters of Paul) is that Luke wrote his gospel and his account of the Acts of the Apostles as a subversive counter to Roman oppression, and the Roman imperial theology that proclaimed Cesar (whether Augustus or Tiberias) as the son of God.  The voice of John the Baptist screamed from the edges of civilization about “repentance” until Herod Antipas had had enough.

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Toward a New Cosmology: Advent 2011

In a parody of the story of Caesar’s birth, Jesus of Nazareth was heralded by angels, and born of a virgin.  We can still hope for direct action against oppressive Empire and for distributive justice-compassion; against a greed world and for a share world; against zero-sum gaming of every system devised by humanity, and for a radical abandonment of self-interest.

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Occupy Thanksgiving

On Adequacy, Abundance and Excess

In the disequilibrium that defines this moment in time, how do we all reconstitute a life-affirming balance between those needs and wants with which we all struggle?

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Spiritual But Not Religious? Come Talk to Me

As a professor of religious studies I can relate to some degree. I, too, have found myself an unwitting listener to the personal and sometimes bizarre reflections of total strangers on airplanes, who seem to believe that the word “religious” in my job title means I am someone good to talk to.

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Leaders or Obstructionist?

The question that I ask is, in this rapidly changing world, where has the church been and where will it be in the future? What we do know is that in the sixties, some clergy were in the streets, marching for civil rights but it was a small percentage. Many of them lost their churches as a result. More clergy preached about what they thought Jesus would want us to do about the Vietnam War, and their actions caused one of the largest exoduses in church history. Clergy learned that there were consequences in taking a conscientious stand. Today they are learning that lesson all over again when taking a stand for full inclusion for gays and lesbians in the life of the church. And, based on my limited survey, most of them are “tip-toeing” around the Occupiers protests. Denominations are once again being split by righteousness. 

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Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally

We can usefully consider the problem posed by the Bible for theologians and church leaders under three categories: the world behind the text, the world within the text, and the world in front of the text. 

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