Raymond J. Lawrence Jr. This is powerful book if you want to get an overview of the Christian influence on today’s sexual ethics and sexuality. Sexual Liberation is mostly an account of how wrong Christianity has been about sex over the centuries. Raymond Lawrence is the Director of Pastoral Care at New York Presbyterian Hospital at the Columbia University Medical Center. He brings years of scholarly and life experience to his writing.read more
In these perilous times when the very survival of the human species is at stake, there is a desperate need for wisdom to provide guidance. The sacred literature of the world’s major religious traditions is a source for such wisdom, but it has largely been misinterpreted and misunderstood, and, thus, instead of being a source for wisdom, it has been a source for confusion and conflict. The ancient scriptures, for the most part, were written in a language which is quite different from ordinary language. It is a mythological language, which is symbolic, and therefore its meaning is hidden. In the Bible, for example, there are many narratives that appear to be historical, but they are history that has been mythologized, and therefore their surface meaning is not their real meaning. Clyde Edward Brown clearly illustrates that the correct interpretation of the world’s religious texts would lead to a different concept of religion. Instead of belief in the literal truth of texts that have been misinterpreted, the emphasis would be on having those religious values, such as social and economic justice, which are common to all religions.read more
It is time to challenge traditional understandings of God in order to create a twenty-first century faith. We have to say goodbye to the Sunday school God and find new ways of thinking about God.
This is not an exercise in theory, but an effort to take the practice of life seriously. In fact, a twenty-first century faith is an open, dynamic and courageous attitude toward life. It presumes that God is found not in the sky, but in the midst of life. It begins with experience, our shared experience. While experience is not everything, it is a good starting point. It is what we know.
Much has been written on the plight of women in Indian society, but this book presents an effective practical response to the appalling injustices – and a model of hope for agencies and programs for oppressed women around the world. This book recounts the true story of “Maher”, a remarkable project and centre for battered women and children located near Pune, India. Founded in 1997, the project has provided refuge to more than 1250 women, half of whom might otherwise have been murdered, committed suicide, or starved to death. Maher is an interfaith community that honours all religions and strongly repudiates caste distinctions – making it a rare beacon shining new hope upon some of the gravest problems in India and around the world. The book is rich with stories – poignant first-hand accounts by women and children whose lives have been transformed by the Maher project. Later chapters explore the larger implications of this pioneering work, with guidance for implementing similar projects elsewhere. Written in a concise narrative style, “Women Healing Women in India” is an easy and compelling read.read more
In Paul Among the People, Sarah Ruden explores the meanings of his words and shows how they might have affected readers in his own time and culture. She describes as well how his writings represented the new church as an alternative to old ways of thinking, feeling, and living.read more
Biblical Christianity is bankrupt. I use ‘bankrupt’ in the exact sense of the term. A business that goes bankrupt still has value and is capable of producing useful goods or services. It still has an inventory and trained professionals in its employ. Until the day insolvency is declared, it also usually has a façade—a bright and upbeat demeanor by which its clients and the community at large assume it to be relatively healthy. The only thing wrong is that a bankrupt business is no longer able to accomplish its purpose: to be successful. It is precisely in this sense that I suggest Bible-centered faith is bankrupt.read more
By: Gary Wiburn. Last week I spoke of our defining identity here at First Presbyterian as being four things: a Christ-Centered faith, a place of Creative Celebration, of Compassionate Caring, and Inclusive Community. These are some of the primary ways in which we understand ourselves as a Center for Progressive Christianity, which means nothing less than trying to embrace the essential teachings of Jesus.read more
The truth of the matter is that the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are filled with violence, divisiveness, condemnation. So, too, are they filled with passages that condone the destruction of property and persons of other belief systems and nationalities. True, too, is the reality that such content can, and as Jones has reminded us, will be used for appalling purposes. The pastor in Florida is only doing what he believes his God expects him to do. It’s a God he would deny for no one. Not for his president, Barak Obama, who pleaded with him on behalf of Americans around the world, not to go ahead with his plan. Not for his evangelical brother in the faith, Rick Warren, who has called it a “cowardly act”. Not for any “progressive” Christian like me or Diana Butler Bass who drives a car with a COEXIST bumper sticker on it, each of the letters formed from the symbol of a different religionread more
Over the last fifteen years I listened to a growing number of troubled clergy who are in conflicted and or dying churches. (I believe there is a connection.) Sometimes the battles are over “LBGT” issues and other times it may be about politics. But far more often, the conflict is rooted in theology, Christology and ideology. Frankly, with rare exceptions, clergy cannot freely teach what they learned in seminary or more importantly, what they have come to believe about their own understanding of the Christian religion, the Bible or their faith. The resultant message is often mixed or muddled and almost always without passion.read more
Ironically, author Anne Rice may have been more of a Christian yesterday than she ever was, when she announced, on Facebook, that she was quitting Christianity and renouncing any claim to the title “Christian.”read more
Should I abandon my tradition because liberal and moderate religion serves to justify the extremes? Is my participation in this religious institution providing legitimacy and credibility for fundamentalism, violence, oppression and bigotry done in the name of religion? I’m studying to be a minister in this tradition. It’s called Unitarian Universalism. Am I guilty by association? Should I jump ship? What do you think?read more
Hear the rumble of Christian hypocrisy. The evangelist who says the Haiti earthquake is retribution for sin is at least true to his religion.
We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate:
a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, unpremeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery.read more
In Coming Back to Earth, Geering concludes that the most credible scenario for Christianity s future depends on accepting the Gaia concept as a powerful modern myth that will sustain individual humans spiritually, and our planetary home ecologically.read more
Jack Spong has attempted to rescue the Bible from fundamentalism and Marcus Borg has encouraged us to read the Bible again for the first time. However, the Bible remains a problematic text for religious progressives, including Christians and people from other faith traditions. This presentation will acknowledge the constraints on the capacity of the Bible to function in the post-Christian global era, but also imagine some ways in which the Bible may make a constructive contribution to progressive religious communities in the future.read more
At the recent Southern Baptist Convention which met in Orlando, a theme reiterated throughout the meeting was the “lostness” of the world. Consider the following quotes, taken from an article in the Western Recorder by Editor Todd Deaton titled: SBC takes ‘fresh look’ at nation’s lostness:
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary, declared: “We need to be looking forward with an aggressive agenda to penetrate lostness around the world and in North America.”read more
This word, used for centuries to justify an anti-gay posture, has been badly translated and even more poorly understood.read more
We come to this moment in time, called by a very long list of voices, and it has been many, many years, decades, even centuries, that those voices have been calling us. Over the course of the next years, we must find again that inspiration that was the spark for what has been an incredible journey toward wholeness but one that has, ironically, continued to fragment and judge, to deny rights and oppress.read more
I have hope that something very special is happening in our world and I would like the Christian tradition to be part of that positive, evolutionary change. But I believe there are things that progressive leaders, progressive teachers and progressive Churches, have to do immediately, if that we are going to have a chance to make it work.read more