the full-text of the New Testament—and one of the only Bibles organized in chronological order and including explanatory annotations that give readers a more informed understanding of the Scriptureread more
Genesis 4:1-16; Romans 2:1-24, 12:14-21; Mark 3:31-35. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has clearly stated that so far as the U.S. government is concerned, crimes against humanity were committed by the president of Syria and his agents….Is there a war?read more
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These grand words are etched in the American consciousness, and serve as a preamble of sorts to the Constitution’s subsequent ideal goal of “a more perfect union.” With the recent split Supreme Court decisions over voting rights and marriage equality, along with and passage of an immigration reform bill in the Senate that naysayers declare is DOA in the House of Representatives, it would appear that while progress has been made, we clearly remain a work in progress, as well.
As we prepare to celebrate our Independence Day holiday this year the fireworks have been set off a little early with the debate over the intelligence surveillance practices of the so-called Patriot Act by a government that was established of, by and for the people. Call them heroes or traitors, whistleblowers or hack-tivists, there are also a growing number of anti-authoritarian tech geeks who claim to be motivated less by notoriety than a certain principled conscience to which they claim to have pledged a higher allegiance.
So, what is the nature of “natural” or “divinely-bestowed” rights? What of human conscience, earthly authority, and more? And – for those of us who might consider ourselves both a red-blooded American and Christian of one sort or other — what might constitute a “Christian” conscience, based on a Jesus life-ethic?
You can find the latest commentary Here.read more
Once upon a time, political conservatives in America were stereotyped as hard-headed realists, and liberals were described as ungrounded dreamers. How times have changed!read more
If Jesus died for anything, he laid down his life like most social prophets and martyrs as a complete and utter refutation and relinquishment of any vestiges of earthly kingdoms. Whatever the subsequent followers of the donkey king would retrospectively make of him, he was regarded by the powers that be as nothing more than a nuisance. As more than one biblical scholar has pointed out, the real significance of Jesus’ crucifixion lay in the fact that anyone subsequently noticed and cared about the execution of a nobody. Yet it is the way of a nobody — not a somebody — that has so often altered the way of an otherwise weary world.read more
JOHN MARK, the gospel novel written by Christopher Epting, came to life in Jerusalem. While on a sabbatical there at St. George’s College, he felt inspired to enter more deeply into the biblical story by focusing his mind and heart on the very first gospel ever to be written, the one attributed to St. Mark. But who was this Saint? And how did he come to create a literary masterpiece that would open the door for others, for Matthew, Luke and John, to follow?read more
When we look at the entire story of Jesus, including his teachings as well as his life, it seems clear his path always presumed a spiritual death before one could experience new life or rebirth. His hodos required a death to the old before there could be a birthto a new way of seeing, a new way of understanding and experiencing life.read more
Traditionally this is a time to learn from our mistakes and commit ourselves to do differently in the new year. I wonder what resolutions Jesus would have made? For some, it may seem shocking to suggest that …read more
This past Saturday night, my wife Roberta and I stood with a group of people on Hollywood Boulevard, holding flickering candles. Passers-by might have assumed we were Christmas caroling. But we were holding a vigil for the …read more
But the loss of their key center and probably the main leadership and overall strength of the movement opened the way for Pauline Christian influence which is clear particularly in Luke (both his Gospel and Acts).read more
The great dividing line for two religions and the relationship between them is the period of 66-70 CE, which ended in the destruction of both Jerusalem and the great “Second Temple”. For Jews of the time this destroyed the political, economic and religious organization of Israel….read more
Now there are at least two major types of people who do take seriously what is said in the New Testament (NT), which I’m summarizing here as “the Gospel.” Here are the two types, for our purposes in this very brief summary of NT understanding as it relates to who wrote the books…read more
The common dream most people have of one day having more than they already have seems to have remained as fleeting and elusive as ever. Meanwhile, the gross disparity and widening gap in this country between the haves and the have-nots has reached a point where an oligarchy of corporate interests posing as individuals shape public opinion and outspend each other as never before in partisan attempts to buy an election.read more
The back story to the Tower of Babel myth is that the orignial plans called for anything but babble. But where once humankind may have all spoken the same language with one unifying plan to build a place all could dwell and abide one another, it has long since ever been the case. “We live in a pluri-verse, not a uni-verse,” says Raimon Panikkar. Ours is a pluralistic age in which we have many different and opposing – even sometimes mutually incompatible — worldviews that threaten planetary human coexistence. In the midst of such chaos and confusion, how can we tolerate each other’s differences? Or, some might ask, should we even try? I consider myself a very tolerant person! The only people I cannot abide are ignorant and intolerant bigots! Does that make me intolerant as well, or merely principled? What would constitute a forbearance of principled intolerance, with a leniency of spirit? Here’s John Bennison’s latest Commentary from Words and Ways.read more
Jesus’ parables tell us how use our creativity to subvert the putative rulers of Earth. Jesus got into trouble for suggesting that the way to assure that all of the people have food to eat is to share whatever they have. And don’t assume that your traditional enemy has no soul. The very powers that are supposed to have your best interest at heart will pass you by on the other side of the road while you die in the ditch (“The Good Samaritan” Luke 10:30-35). To love your enemies is to have no enemies.read more
The ancient Olympic games were a series of athletic competitions between city-states. The results determined who were the winners, and who were the losers. But during the games, any conflict between the warring states was forbidden. If ever there was a time when that Olympic torch should be lit and never be extinguished, perhaps this is it. But how? It seems international good sportsmanship inside the stadium can only be assured by heavy security on the outside; where unruly competing self-interests would seek to turn winning at all cost into a blood sport. The previous Words & Ways commentary explored a foolish kind of wisdom once espoused by a Galilean sage through his teaching, the parables he told, and even the seeming absurdity found in his miracles (see “The Foolishness of Jesus”). It is this same Jesus tradition that also proposes such counter-cultural notions that one can “win by losing,” and “the last shall be first.” Here’s John Bennison’s latest commentary from Words & Ways.read more
“Take sides, because neutrality always serves the oppressor and never the oppressed. Your silence will always be interpreted as consent. There is no honor in remaining neutral in matters of ethical importance. Always taking the middle ground doesn’t make you smart, it doesn’t make you fair, it doesn’t make you balanced, and it certainly doesn’t make you innocent.”read more
Listen to progressive Christian blogger Christian Grostic’s insightful sermon at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, OH.read more