The death by suicide of Pastor Rick Warren’s youngest son is not an indication of any spiritual failure. Cancer, depression, mental illness and natural disasters strike among people of faith at the same rate as everyone else. The mortality rate is 100%. We pray, as Kierkegaard said, not to change the One to whom we pray but to change the one who prays. Our spirituality gives us community, encouragement, strength and hope to face the challenges of living in a capricious universe.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
Jesus tells us to not only resist retaliation but to turn the other cheek. While I attempt to humble myself to this calling by listening closer, measuring my words, and remembering that with with God’s help, I am strong enough to let go of my need to be right, I struggling with this concept when it comes to my children.read more
“In this powerful and provocative book, Jim Burklo brings to life the faces of those whom we so easily marginalize, and in the process redefines the spiritual life.” Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, author of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious Worldread more
Second, both Albert’s sought a grand theory. Einstein, a “theory of everything” or the “unified field theory” of physics; Schweitzer the common, most basic ethic for all cultures and humanity. He felt he had discovered it while pondering and traveling (at the key point of insight, on a river amid a herd of hippopotamuses at sunset. One is again reminded of Einstein’s insights sometimes coming amid his imaginary “thought experiments”). The by-then double-doctor (PhD, MD), Schweitzer, reports he had been pondering and writing notes, “….struggling to find the elementary and universal concept of the ethical that I had not discovered in any philosophy…” Then, quite suddenly, “… there flashed upon my mind, unforeseen and unsought, the phrase : “Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben” [“Reverence for Life”]. The iron door had yielded. The path in the thicket had become visible.”read more
If the new “Papa Francisco” (has a nice ring, huh?) can inspire us all, Catholic or not, to greater dedication to the Gospel of Jesus he will have bolstered our faith (in God and/or humanity) and created a better world. (In this I think the non-religious can be included as well, if they are willing…. I’m not at all far from them myself.)read more
Avowed atheist Susan Jacoby recently created a dust up with a recent article in the New York Times Sunday Review entitled, “The Blessings of Atheism.” She wrote in response to all the god-talk that appeared in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown massacre; with all those unanswerable questions or inadequate answers to human suffering and death so often peddled in popular religious belief.
So too, not long ago author and “non-believer,” Christopher Hitchen’s posthumously published his little book Mortality; recounting his rambling thoughts on his own imminent demise; after a terminal diagnosis left him a sufficient number of days to find himself “deported from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.”
But what, or where to, after that? What if this really is all there is?
It seems there has always been the human hankering to imagine all kinds of fanciful notions, in our attempts to recapitulate our mortal existence into something more than it is. Many religious traditions, including centuries of “mainline” orthodox Christianity, employ great mythic stories to describe a life subsumed into something greater than we can either know, or grasp, except by “faith.” Heaven knows, some folks try to better themselves, merely in the hope of a remote possibility there something more, after our death, which is a certainty. But in the end, is it all dust and ashes? And is that OK?
This is the liturgical time of year when many in the Christian tradition undergo a seasonal pilgrimage in which the faithful are reminded at the onset we mortals are nothing more than dust. And so we will one day return to that from whence we came. Then the traditional forty days end with the perennial re-enactment of a passion play commemorating the mortal demise of the one whom Christians even these many centuries later would profess to follow.
Many do so in the hope of some kind of immortality for themselves in some indecipherable form or other; attributing to Jesus a “resurrection” that means the same thing to them as god-like immortality; while others of us may find such imaginings to be not only reasonably implausible, but of less importance than what we take to be of greater significance and meaning in this faith tradition.
Otherwise, the vainglorious hope of immortality can become so enshrouded in our mortal fears that we become – like Lazarus in his early grave – so wrapped up in death that we fail to truly acknowledge and appreciate the gift of our mortality for what it is; nothing more, nor less.
With the certain assurance then that we are but dust and ash, we can ask ourselves if the gift of our mortality is not only enough, but more than enough? And if so, as the psalmist says, how then shall we “number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom?” (Psalm 90:12)read more
I believe there is great value in gaining some understanding of the leading developmental stage theories, and particularly how they relate to one another. This can be valuable for use for oneself as well as it is, often highly so, for working with other people who may have less insight into themselves and less knowledge of either social science findings or spiritual development than you or other “people helpers” do.read more
There are 16 songs in this collection and the language is inspired by Progressive Christian writers such as John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, and Miriam Therese Winter.read more
A popular football star falls in love with an online fantasy girl who doesn’t exist in real life. Unwittingly, he entrusts his heart to what is nothing more than a figment of his imagination, and the cruel hoax by those who would take advantage of his vulnerability and naiveté with an online sport known as “catfishing;” where bottom-feeding predators fabricate online identities, in order to trick people into emotional relationships, or worse. And it’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, because everybody loves somebody sometime. But when the love of his life that never existed dies, who could doubt his feelings of affection were real, despite the fact the object of those affections was not? However, for anyone who might consider love is less a feeling sometimes, and more a vested act of making someone or something else to be of more importance than one’s self, when it comes to Valentines Day, it may be helpful to remember how it all began. Read more.read more
As a Christian, I find myself in a strange position on abortion. I am pro-choice. I have not always been as I have not always considered myself Christian. I was an atheist/deist, pro-lifer in my younger days. …read more
Religion and violence—the two concepts seem incompatible given the emphasis in religion on virtue, love, forgiveness and compassion. Yet many scriptures contain martial images and stories of god-inspired military conquest. The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence confronts this …read more
It seems to me that we live in a violent culture in a violent world that appears to be becoming more violent with time. I admit that I grew up in what was an ideal era under …read more
Do you hunger for skills to improve the quality of your relationships, to deepen your sense of personal empowerment or to simply communicate more effectively? Unfortunately, for centuries our culture has taught us to think and speak …read more
The lack of reasonable restrictions when it comes to guns is rooted in their obvious appeal; leading to their preponderance in staggering numbers in a culture that allows utter unreasonableness to pose under the guise of “protection of freedom” and individual rights. That’s why we will not simply legislate our way out of this one through reasonable debate, a half-baked compromise, or a better argument. As a society, we love our guns, and what they represent.
We love the cheap, readily available and disproportionate amount of personal power guns offer in the hands of everyone and anyone who wants it, for whatever reason. But to the usual rebuttal stricter gun controls will not stop the crazed among us from obtaining their Bushmaster, their bullet-proof vests and ammunition stockpiles, it is a hollow, fallacious argument. But furthermore, I don’t care. We have erred so long on the side of doing nothing, might it not be time to err instead on the side of doing something; regardless of its possible ineffectiveness?
For all of us who have heard the long-standing arguments and endless debate should know by now, one cannot change another’s mind until there is first a change of heart. In this society, it appears we still love our unrestricted right to own and carry a gun more than life itself. Bluntly put, we love our guns more than we love our children. Here is one clergy person’s experiences with potential and actual gun violence over more than three decades.read more
http://www.guardian.co.uk Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the world’s leading spiritual teachers, is a man at great peace even as he predicts the possible collapse of civilisation within 100 years as a result of runaway climate change. …read more
The journey of the magi, and their adoration on bended knee before a newborn peasant who presumably comes to subordinate the Herod’s of this world is a quaint and fanciful tale. But this year, the real exchange of gifts in the City of Angels was a modern day epiphany that suggest we might indeed still find for ourselves new, authentic life in such an otherwise arcane myth. Now the question is whether the meaning and message of Epiphany season will truly shed new light in the bleak midwinter of our discontent.read more
This Study Guide is for the third edition (2011) of the “8 Points” that have both identified and guided ProgressiveChristianity.org (formerly The Center for Progressive Christianity) since the organization’s founding in 1994.read more