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Preaching with Heart, Mind, and Spirit

Preaching is, first of all, an act of the heart. In the biblical tradition, the heart is center of experience and decision-making. It embraces the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. It is embodied and incarnational as well as intellectual. Good preaching moves the preacher and congregation alike. The pastor dances with the text through his or her bodily movements as well as lively ideas. The goal of the sermon is not to provide a final destination, but as philosopher Alfred North Whitehead says, to invite congregants to be part of an “adventure of the spirit.”

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Theology From Exile Volume III: The Year of Mark

The political, social, spiritual, and economic history of most of the Western world has been defined by the belief articulated in the literal application of John’s gospel to personal and social piety. If Christianity is to survive with any relevance to postmodern, twenty-first century realities, the theology of condemnation and substitutionary atonement associated with the fourth gospel has to be scrapped. Not only is the future of Christianity at stake. This theology threatens the further evolution of human consciousness, and life as humanity has known it thus far on Planet Earth.

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Why Preach?

When I was in the process of getting a master’s degree in sacred music, I had to take several classes offered at the theology school. One class, I don’t remember which one, assigned a paper entitled “Why Preach?” I really struggled with the assignment. As a future minister of music, preaching was not what I intended to do. As far as I was concerned, a preacher preached – that’s what church was – church on Sunday always included a sermon delivered by the minister. There was no alternative; each church service included preaching. The question, therefore, stumped me.

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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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