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New Religious Movements

From the Introduction to A Master Level Thesis:  For the impatient, the world is a frustrating place. We see, with the clarity of youth, what is needed in a given situation and we express this need many …

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The Human Faces of God

What should thoughtful Christians do with texts that propose God is pleased by human sacrifice or that God commanded Israel to commit acts of genocide?  What about texts that contain historical errors or predictions that have gone unfulfilled long beyond their expiration dates?  In The Human Faces of God Thom Stark moves beyond notions of inerrancy in order to confront such problematic texts and open up a conversation about new ways they can be used in service of the church and its moral witness today.  Readers looking for an academically informed yet accessible discussion of the Bible’s thorniest texts wil find it a thought-provoking and indispensable resource. 

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Here Before Us – A Christmas Song

Tune: In Dulci Jubilo
1. Our world cries out to be reborn:
a world of pain, all tossed and torn.
Babies born to mothers
scarce old enough to yet conceive,
like Jesus born to Mary,
so young, so fearful, so naive;
he was there before us,
Jesus born that way.
2. Our world cries out to be reborn:
where power abused is now the norm.
Leaders lead with violence
where life and innocence are slain,
as Herod murdered children
through fear of challenge in his reign;
Christ was there before us,
Jesus lived that day.
3. Our world of greed must free itself
from worship of material wealth.
Kings brought gifts to Jesus
and laid their treasure at his feet;
but he grew rich in spirit,
in poverty he was complete.
He was there before us,
there to show the Way.
4. Our world saw light on Christmas Day
when love drew breath amid the hay.
In the Bible pages
full of long-remembered tales,
through metaphor and story
the truth of Christmas still prevails:
Jesus is before us,
here to show the Way.
Jesus is before us,
he is here to stay!
Chris Avis Nov 2010
Notes and suggestions
The tempo should be a little slower than for ‘Good Christian men rejoice’, to suit the reflective nature of the words.
In some verses, lines 4 and/or 5 have an extra syllable compared to the usual length, requiring the original first note of affected lines to be sung as two crotchets instead of a single minim. This is a simple modification musically and should pose no problem.
The extra two lines at the end of verse 4 repeat the tune of the previous two lines, perhaps with a suitable rallentando.
If this is sung by a choir, the following suggestions might be useful, though probably inadvisable for congregational singing!
1. It could be effective to sing verse 2 a semitone lower, returning to ‘normal’ for verse 3.
2. Similarly, the more upbeat feel of the last verse might be enhanced by singing it in a higher key.

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Resource Types: Hymns and Music.

Is Progressive The New Liberal?

Is “progressive” the new liberal? The word progressive is frequently used these days referring to “non-fundamentalist” churches.  I used it as a theme for our Lenten sermon series: Progressive Christianity takes a fresh look at traditions and rituals. You may see the word used in newspaper and magazine articles.  What does it mean?  Is progressive simply the “new liberal”?  My perspective is yes and no. “Progressive Christianity” does not lend itself easily to definition.  It is more of a movement; a path; an approach than a belief system. It is often more interested in spirituality than religion. Unlike the “liberal churches” of the 1960’s and later, it is not necessarily closely aligned with one political perspective.  So how might we describe “progressive” Christianity?

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A Different Clergy Voice

This month I write with a sad and heavy heart. Five young men have died due to suicide. The common thread between them is that they were young, Gay and experiencing harsh harassment and devastating discrimination from their peers. Current statistics inform us that 9 out of 10 Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual and Transgendered Young People experience such dehumanizing and demoralizing treatment every day. We are informed, also, that they are 30% more likely to commit suicide than their peers.

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Does the Historical Jesus Matter? Testing good theology

This coming weekend will be marked by a 25th anniversary gathering and celebration for the important scholarly enterprise known as the Jesus Seminar. A good time to ask what difference it makes when the Jesus of history turns out to be considerably more interesting than the myth-encrusted Christ created by the church over the centuries. Or does it make any difference at all?

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The Tea Party: It’s Worse Than You Think

A debate has raged over the last 18 months as to whether the tea party movement is racist…I propose to put this debate to rest. The tea party is racist. Its followers have deployed a brilliant strategy to deflect charges of racism by using a form of the legislative provision known as…

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Political wish list: Honest talk about economics, empire, and energy

There’s no shortage of political blather in this year’s mid-term election campaigns, but most of us yearn for substantive discussion of the serious problems we face. What should the politicians be discussing? The University of Texas at Austin asked faculty members who teach about politics “to analyze, examine and provide their perspectives” on key political issues for the university’s web site, with new essays posted each weekday throughout the campaign season.

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Your God, My God, or Our God

Thoughts about the thing we call God.

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Topics: Devotional. Resource Types: Articles.

Who Is Progressive Christianity For?

This article raises the question of whether Progressive Christianity is primarily for those who have been brought up or spent some time in a traditional Christian setting and now moved beyond that, or is it equally for those without a church background.  It goes on to consider how we can we connect with the unchurched and how we encourage them and empower them to take the first step for them in their faith journey.

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We Ask Your Blessing: 100 Prayers for Campus Occasions

A collection of prayers offered on various occasions by religious leaders on campuses all across America. When something important happens and a diverse community gathers in response, when praying seems the natural thing to do, what can be said? Particularly on the private campuses, the task of finding just the right words falls to chaplains and deans of religious life. Here are one hundred prayers, offered by twenty-six college and university chaplains, which can be read for private devotions or studied as expressions of hope for the spiritual unity of the whole human family.

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Topics: The Younger Generation and Worship & Liturgy. Ages: Adult. Resource Types: Books.

The Authentic Gospel of Jesus

In his new book, acclaimed religious scholar Geza Vermes subjects all the sayings of Jesus to brilliantly informed scrutiny. Profoundly aware of the limits of our knowledge but immersed in what we do have—both the “official” gospels …

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Topics: Theology & Religious Education. Ages: Adult. Resource Types: Books.


A New Climate Change for Theology

Climate change promises monumental changes to human and other planetary life in the next generations. Yet government, business, and individuals have been largely in denial of the possibility that global warming may put our species on the road to extinction. Further, says Sallie McFague, we have failed to see the real root of our behavioral troubles in an economic model that actually reflects distorted religious views of the person. At its heart, she maintains, global warming occurs because we lack an appropriate understanding of ourselves as inextricably bound to the planet and its systems.
A New Climate for Theology not only traces the distorted notion of unlimited desire that fuels our market system; it also paints an alternative idea of what being human means and what a just and sustainable economy might mean. Convincing, specific, and wise, McFague argues for an alternative economic order and for our relational identity as part of an unfolding universe that expresses divine love and human freedom. It is a view that can inspire real change, an altered lifestyle, and a form of Christian discipleship and desire appropriate to who we really are.

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Resource Types: Books.

A New Reformation

In Fox’s new book called “A New Reformation!” he proclaims that we are in fact confronted with two churches: one expressed by the image of the Punitive Father, personified by a rigidly hierarchical church structure, repression of the feminine, spreading of homophobia and the elimination of internal dissent; and the other expressed by the feminine figure of Wisdom, personified by a Mother/Father God of justice and compassion. It is time for Christians to choose whom it will follow: an angry exclusionary god or the loving open path of wisdom.

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