PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY in our time has emerged through two related but distinct processes. One is a process of paring away: Christians, over the last couple of centuries, have realized that many elements of our Western culture are not essential to – or even compatible with – Christian life and belief, and we have sought to shed them. We have looked hard at the false claims of government absolutism, of slavery, of racism, misogyny and homophobia and have rejected them.read more
In the grip of the grief, rage, and fear that were evoked by the September 11 attack on the United States, many people turned to God. Churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques were filled with worshipers seeking comfort and meaning in the wake of the tragedy. Seeking God in moments of extreme distress may be a healthy instinct, but such behavior has a dark side.read more
How should science and theology be related to each other? How does our
scientific knowledge fit or not fit with what we think we know about
God and the sacred? Author Graham Kelder surveys recent publications dealng with science and spirituality.
The Church of Sweden’s situation in its Western European context could be described by statistics. However, I want to start with my own experience. Deep in my memory, I have an experience of physical and existential pain. It is also a story of challenges and vocation.read more
When Alexander Pope wrote about the dangers of a little learning, he might not have had the Bible in mind. In the eighteenth century, few people realized or cared that Christians who knew the Bible primarily through what they heard in church were absorbing a prejudice against the Jews. What they learned from the Bible strengthened their spiritual well being by convincing them of their moral superiority to the Jews. Their sense of superiority was all the justification Christians needed for pogroms, expulsions, forced conversions, and violence directed toward Jewish people. The question for progressive Christians today is this: Can we learn from the Bible without perpetuating antisemitism? As an attempt to come to grips with that question, I will focus on one particular story, the account of the wise men following a star to Bethlehem.read more
Who was Charles Moulton? His name is not a household word but his creation is. Moulton is the man who in 1941 launched the career of a comic strip character who was know as Wonder Woman. Moulton was a psychologist. He was also the inventor of the lie detector. In an autobiographical note in the Wonder Women Archives Vol. 2, he describes himself as “an early feminist,” who believed that “a woman’s rightful place was as a world leader, not servant or helpmate.”read more
The Bible–with all its strangeness, weirdness, and contradictions; its
metaphors, ironies and stupidities, its untidiness, its sprawling
nature, its boisterousness–is
well suited to this a more democratic definition of ‘authority.’
Some people have problems with metaphors. The poet John Brehm had one of these metaphorically challenged people in a freshman class that was studying Matthew Arnold’s classic nineteenth-century poem Dover Beach, which likens the decline of organized religion to the outgoing tide of the “Sea of Faith”. To her complaint that the expression confused her, the teacher gently asked what confused her about it.
“I mean, is it a real sea?” she asked.
“You mean, is it a real body of water that you could point to on a map or visit on vacation?”
“Yes,” she said. “Is it a real sea?”read more
If I’m myself sceptical about being an energiser, it will be abundantly clear to all of you that I am most certainly not a New Englander. It has been one of the real pluses of my involvement with TCPC over almost ten years now that I have had the opportunity to get to know progressive Christians from many different parts of the US; but in particular people from New England. I am not a total stranger here. But in a sense part of what that has done is to make me very aware of how our territories are each distinct; and of how different church, Christianity, and religion more widely are in North America, when compared with Britain.read more
You often hear about believers who have a crisis of faith, but what of the skeptics among us who have a crisis of doubt? For years we skeptics have decisively refuted the metaphysical claims of the great religions and scoffed at the pretensions of newfangled spiritual fashions. But then our doubt is suddenly shaken by an unbidden mystical experience. The power of this direct cognition of ultimate reality, beyond word or image, is undeniable. But does it prove the existence of God?read more
One important insight made possible by that dual perspective is our ability to see creation as an evolving process rather than an accomplished fact. All the powers of space and time and matter and energy are in continual relationship, shaping physical reality across the myriad eons and light-years, and simultaneously inviting us to ponder the sacred reality we infer to be its source.read more
he First Congregational Church of Berkeley (FCCB) has a tradition of welcoming diverse viewpoints and accepting into our community anyone sincerely seeking spiritual growth through the Christian tradition. Over the years we had developed a way of helping people to understand who we are. A member might describe FCCB by saying: “We don’t require members to be baptized, don’t demand a dogmatic set of beliefs, and don’t treat the bible as a literally historical account of events.” Although we could differentiate ourselves from other churches in this way, our consensus as a congregation had migrated more to what we are not, than to what we are. So, we set out on a journey as a congregation to find our center again.read more