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The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic- A Book Review

Review by Fred Plumer

I must admit, however, that I am truly excited about recommending John Shelby Spong’s newest book, The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic. At times this book feels more like a detective novel than a scholarly work. Spong starts with his desire to figure out how the unusual book came to be, who was the author and why was it written. Like a who done it mystery, it is almost impossible not to be drawn into his investigation as he sorts through the clues.

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A Joyful Path, Children’s Curriculum, Year Two, Ages 6-10, FOR IN-HOME

In A Joyful Path, Year Two, we focused on some of the main tenets of Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, giving our children the foundation they need to understand the basics of this path, to clarify their own personal beliefs and be able to discuss those with others, while at the same time showing what it means to walk the path of Jesus in today’s world.

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A Joyful Path, Children’s Curriculum, Year Two, Ages 6-10, For SMALL GROUPS

In A Joyful Path, Year Two, we focused on some of the main tenets of Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, giving our children the foundation they need to understand the basics of this path, to clarify their own personal beliefs and be able to discuss those with others, while at the same time showing what it means to walk the path of Jesus in today’s world.

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A Joyful Path, Children’s Curriculum, Year Two, Ages 6-10, For SINGLE CLASSROOM GROUPS

In A Joyful Path, Year Two, we focused on some of the main tenets of Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, giving our children the foundation they need to understand the basics of this path, to clarify their own personal beliefs and be able to discuss those with others, while at the same time showing what it means to walk the path of Jesus in today’s world.

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A Joyful Path, Children’s Curriculum, Year Two, Ages 6-10, For MULTI-CLASSROOMS

In A Joyful Path, Year Two, we focused on some of the main tenets of Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, giving our children the foundation they need to understand the basics of this path, to clarify their own personal beliefs and be able to discuss those with others, while at the same time showing what it means to walk the path of Jesus in today’s world.

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Face To Faith: Three Crucial Testimonies of Friendship Across Religious Divides

Huffington Post Blog

Originally posted here at the Huffington Post   In most communities around the world, religious diversity is a fact — Hindus live next to Muslims, Mormons next atheists, Jews with Christians. One of the great tests of the …

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Writing Scripture: History to Story to Theology to New Story; Repeat

Why may the majority of scholars be right, that the Bible is not a reliable book of history, although much of its historical sections are indeed based on actual events and real places in the larger picture?

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The Three Secrets of Aging

The Three Secrets of Aging suggests instead that our final stage of life offers an astounding new evolutionary process: an initiation into an entirely new stage of life, a transformation of self and consciousness, and a revelation of a new – and sacred – world right where we are.

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Birth and Death, Marriage and Divorce, Life and Disease, Vitality and Old Age, Ebullie- sermon video

Community Christian Church of Springfield

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.

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The Easter Way of Jesus: A Modern Day Via Dolorosa

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.

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Can I Teach My Children To Turn The Other Cheek?

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.

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Spiritual Affirmation Poster – Inclusion

Spiritual Affirmation Poster for children from our children’s curriculum, A Joyful Path.
The whole world is home, and we are a divine family.

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A cuckoo in the holy nest

The real Jesus - dare we look at the real Jesus...?

A cuckoo in the holy nest, can I admit to what I see? A Jesus who is rough and hard, a normal bloke like you and me, a Jesus who could moan a bit, a Jesus who …

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Dust and Ashes

The Gift of Mortality

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)

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John Mark: A Gospel Novel

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?

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Topics: Jesus Studies. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus. Seasons & Special Events: Easter. Ages: Young Adult. Texts: Mark. Rituals: Lent. Resource Types: Books.

A Lenten Journey

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.

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Q and A with the President: 2-8-13

Do You Consider Yourselves Followers of Jesus Even Though He Came for the Jews?

Do you consider yourselves as followers of Jesus even though he came for the Jews, the lost sheep of Israel, and not to the Gentile dogs?

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