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Ryan Bell’s Year Without God

I thought I’d pretty well covered the territory in a “musing” I wrote a few years ago called “The Varieties of God”, a listing of the many alternatives along the spectrum between traditional theism and atheism. But Ryan Bell has added a new one: provisional atheism. Godlessness for the time being. He’s gone public with this status, and I intend to follow his “Year Without God” blog to see how it goes for him.

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Topics: Atheism, Emerging/Emergent Church, and Theology & Religious Education. 8 Points: Point 3: Inclusive Community and Point 5: Non-Dogmatic Searchers. Seasons & Special Events: Easter and Lent. Ages: Adult, Teen, and Young Adult. Rituals: Lent. Resource Types: Articles and Meditations.

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Holy Spirit

The phrase “God-with-us” is normally ascribed to Jesus, but I like the phrase as a description of God’s spirit. In 1600 CE, Socinianism defined the spirit as “energy flowing from God to man.” I agree with that definition; God’s spirit is a power or an influence.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Trinity

During the fourth century, Christianity digressed from the concept of one God into the vague and mysterious doctrine of the Trinity. The Catholic Church reportedly devised the Trinitarian doctrine to answer the charge of worshipping three gods – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Trinitarianism became a part of the Roman Catholic doctrine as a result of the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 CE.

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Blessing Taxes, Honoring Oaths

The form of the blessing differ, but the essential message is the same: we give thanks to the Love that is God for the good that comes through our taxes. They are a special form of our “offerings” in worship. Many blessings flow from them, and divine guidance is needed for us to have the wisdom to see to it they are spent for the best purposes.

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The “Faith” in Clear Faith

The terms faith and beliefs are sometimes used interchangeably, but I think it is useful to make a distinction between them. Beliefs are things you think are true, like “I believe in God.” “I believe that there is life after death.” These are improvable opinions (or they would be accepted by all as “facts”). A list can be made of beliefs.

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Comparing Fundamental and Progressive Christianity: One Person’s View

I’ve done much thinking of my own. Though not an expert nor having a theological degree (I am a former psychologist), I would like to share the listing I came up with that, to me, contrasts Biblical fundamentalism with what I perceive Progressive Christianity to be. Later in life, my listing may allow room for changes as I continue to grow spiritually.

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The Problem I Have With Easter

All of the great mystics and spiritual teachers like Jesus and Buddha were clear……authentic spiritual growth is not something that can be given to us. No one else can do the work for us. We have to discover, and then embrace, the courage required to take the inner journey; to shine the light of our consciousness into the shadows of our egoic mind. This is not a journey for the feint of heart.

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What Does Easter Mean? (Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18)

The power of life that raised Jesus is accessible and available to all people, even those who have not heard of Jesus. The risen Christ, the cosmic Christ who is Lord of all can take many forms and answer to many names. Our text says that God shows no partiality, that anyone who fears God, and that does not mean to be afraid of God, but anyone who respects and honors God, and anyone who does what is right, anyone who does what is just and good and compassionate shares in the life of the risen Christ.

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Scapegoats and Lightning Rods (Matthew 27:27-44)

The image of a scapegoat recalls a ritual performed by ancient Israel on their holiest day of the year—Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. A goat was chosen by means of casting lots. Actually there were two goats chosen, one was killed as a sin offering to make atonement for the holy place, the other was allowed to live to make atonement for the sins of the people.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 8: Compassion and Selfless Love. Seasons & Special Events: Advent, Holy Week, and Lent. Ages: Adult. Texts: Matthew. Rituals: Communion. Resource Types: Sermons.

“I Am…” – A Reflection for Holy Week

Being a child of God – for Jesus and for the rest of us – is a poetic way of describing our direct, personal engagement with Ultimate Reality. It is an artful expression of ourselves as physically integrated with the divine essence of the cosmos. Being the son or daughter of God does not mean that any of us can leap off the cross in a single bound.

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In Between the Cross and Rising

From the Boundless Life collection

In between the Cross and Rising,
In between our grief and light,
Lie the tombs of hibernation,
Times of inner healing’s might.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. Seasons & Special Events: Easter. Resource Types: Hymns.

Love One Another

Love one another as I love you all;
In others’ needs hear my insistent call.
I bid you wear with me love’s seamless dress,
Welcome the outcast from the wilderness.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus and Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons and Easter. Resource Types: Hymns.

Easter Meditation

From Jim Burklo’s musings of April 2011

Close your eye and relax.
It’s dark. It’s silent. You are limp, unmoving.
You were defeated, destroyed, ruined: crucified, dead, then buried.

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Topics: Devotional and Worship & Liturgy. Seasons & Special Events: Easter. Resource Types: Meditations.

Be careful what you pray for

When we pray come, Lord Jesus Do we mean to say come, you malnourished stranger come, you unwanted migrant come, you ragged child come, you crying crack baby come, you dirty panhandler come, you dying alcoholic come, …

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Praying to God

I sometimes wonder if God ever tires of our prayers. Weekends must be the worst Friday prayers at the mosques Saturday appeals in the synagogues Sunday petitions from the churches. An endless round of requests. Do this, …

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Topics: Fiction and Poetry and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 2: Pluralism and Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: Pluralism Sunday. Ages: Adult. Resource Types: Poetry.

the lord watch over your going out

Do you ever find it odd that worshipers are greeted as they leave the sanctuary? This rite of transition from comfort to challenge. The grasping of hands, a warm smile, a word of encouragement as if to …

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All are welcome

The sign outside the church said “all are welcome.” Perhaps they meant to say all who look like us are welcome, all who think like us are welcome, all who believe like us are welcome, all who …

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Topics: Fiction and Poetry and Sacred Community. 8 Points: Point 3: Inclusive Community. Ages: Adult. Resource Types: Poetry.

The Church’s Seven Deadly Secrets: Identity Theft from Within

There is a strange silence in churches about biblical and theological scholarship. A huge knowledge gap exists between the pulpit and the pew. Consequently, many Christians cannot reconcile their belief system with modernity. Paul Jones explores seven secrets that jeopardize the nature and purpose of the church. These secrets, he asserts, must be exposed to restore the church to vigor and vitality.

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