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What is Progressive Christianity?

Today we examine “Progressive” Christianity. In particular, what is “Progressive Christianity”? Including what that term is most widely understood to mean today, how that label is evolving, and how we can still build a community around it. As well as what it might imply to situate one’s self amongst “Progressive Christians” in today’s growing post-modern context. We will also be exploring whether there can be any “hope” in progressive ideas about Christianity. As well as why it can be nice to have progressive communities around to help facilitate conversation with others of similar mind, background, and experience.

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Songs in Sacred Community- Be There for Others

A sacred community, if it is to be an authentic representation of the life and teachings of Jesus for today, needs to express its concerned opposition in both words, worship and actions, to injustice, violence and corruption – just as Jesus did. There is truth in the statement that “Jesus confronts more than he comforts.” When sacred communities look to the needs of its members in preference to the needs of non- members something is not quite right. The church is one of those organisations which exists for people who do not belong to it. As Jesus was a man for others, so the church is to be there for others.

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Jim Burklo’s Book of Common Prayer- Liturgical Elements

We are here to praise and enjoy God with body and soul, mind and heart, with song and word, with hands and feet.
We are here to give because of the abundance God has given us, to share with each other, and to receive, because God has created us to depend on each other.
We are here to celebrate the differences that otherwise might divide us: differences of age, of body, of culture, of opinion, of ability, of religious conviction.
We are here to put things in perspective: to celebrate what matters, to laugh about things we take too seriously, to cry about things that truly touch our hearts.
So may it be this morning: Amen!

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Ritual in Progressive Christianity

When we look at Christianity in particular, there are three issues to address: the role of the sacraments of baptism and communion in the future, new ritual created by and for small progressive groups, and thirdly, ritual that would be inviting to all people, regardless of religion.

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Beyond Ritual – a Life of Prayer and Action

Bonhoeffer believed that in the future a religionless Christianity—stripped of its religious garments—would be limited to two things: prayer and action.3 He believed that through these two acts Christians would learn to see the world from a new perspective, with the eyes of those at the bottom of society—the people that Matthew called “the least of these.” For Bonhoeffer, prayer—especially intercessory prayer—becomes important because it creates a powerful sense of empathy and solidarity with the people one brings before God. This, in turn, motivates one to engage in “righteous” action—the seeking of justice in human society.

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Leadership Learnings from “Down Under” (Part 1)

In the mid 1980’s I was invited to be the ministerial leadership for the Uniting Church of Australia in Frankston, Victoria. This congregation taught me a great deal about the church as community.

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A Joyful Path Children’s Curriculum Year Two- Intro Video

In A Joyful Path, Year Two, we focus on some of the main tenets of Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, giving our children the foundation they need to walk the path of Jesus in today’s world. It has stories and affirmations written to help children clarify their own personal beliefs while staying open to the wisdom of other traditions.

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Pop Prophets and Religious Pluralism- A Review of Natural Mystics

A review by Jim Burklo of NATURAL MYSTICS: The Prophetic Lives of Bob Marley and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan by Varun Soni

Varun Soni argues that Khan and Marley, among other artists at present and in the recent past, situate themselves in long lineages of religious prophecy while expressing prophetic traditions in distinct ways that reflect cultural globalization and technological advances. Music is a more powerful medium for prophecy than ever before, now that it has the potential for instantaneous global reach. Varun names this phenomenon “pop-propheticism”, characterized by canonical recitation (referencing ancient lines of prophetic utterance), mystical intoxication with the Divine (whether through spiritual practices or by ingesting mind-altering substances), musical fusion (stretching traditional musical boundaries to reach new audiences), media proliferation (taking advantage of new and emerging communication channels), economic commodification (making the most of the global musical marketplace), and political appropriation (putting music consciously in the service of social change).

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The Belief Confusion

Probably few questions have led to more argument and more pain in modern religious life than the question, “Do you believe?” Today the question usually implies acceding to certain intellectual propositions. The tragedy is that the question is usually misapplied if we look closely at how certain concepts were used in our sacred texts.

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In Praise of Doubt

If our beliefs prevent our search
For new and different creeds;
Let us beware of narrow views
Where dogma often breeds;
With new, exciting facts we learn
Much love can come about;
Yes! Those who grow in their beliefs
Can sing in praise of doubt.

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How Important are our Beliefs?

It’s interesting to see what Jesus thought about beliefs. Jesus, in his parable of the Good Samaritan, makes it clear that the righteous one is not the Pharisee or the lawyer, who are learned and who know about the law, correct belief, or so on. The righteous one is the one who cares for his neighbor, who reaches out to the stranger in need.

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Along the Way

The Right Moral Way has not changed over time and remains psychologically sound. In a “Psychology Today” article entitled ‘The (Only) Seven Spiritual Principles We Need to Succeed’, Karl Albrecht reveals traditional key values for moral living that are still crucial in contemporary times.

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Adiaphora

Two perspectives are changing recently among progressive Christians that dilute the concentration on “getting to heaven,” the most common definition of “salvation.” First, fewer people still believe in hell, that is, that an all-loving God would condemn anyone to eternal suffering and separation from God. (It is curious that the belief in heaven persists even among many who don’t really believe in hell.) A more important change in thought is that God’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ is all-inclusive, meant for everyone, whether or not heaven or an afterlife of any sort exists. Diminishing is the view that there will be a sorting-out process depending upon each person’s “right beliefs.”

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Belief that Brings Life

To believe, or give assent to, a fixed set of beliefs, such as, “I believe in God the father almighty….,” or the inerrency of the Bible is to cut off the possibility of growth. If you have all the answers you are not open to new thoughts or questions. Communicating with a fundamentalist is very difficult, and we are all fundamentalist in a variety of ways. But Leonard Cohen reminds us that “there is a crack in everything, that’s where the light comes in.”

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Beyond Belief: Spiritual Practice as the Focus of Christian Community

Dogma and doctrine should not get in the way of practicing Love, who is God. Doctrines can be interesting: they help us understand the origins and background of our religion. But repeating creeds is not the price of admission into Christianity. Instead of caring whether the story of Jesus’ resurrection was a fact or a myth, let’s look in the story for inspiration to turn from the way of death to the way of life. Let’s care about our neighbors without jobs or health insurance, face the resentment in our hearts that needs to be released, become activist citizens, and learn to bring our careers in alignment with our highest values. Let’s gather in churches, soup kitchens, work-places, living rooms, and cafés to support each other in doing things that matter, and let go of old doctrines that don’t.

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