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Stepping out with the Sacred: Progressive Engaging the Divine, Part 2

Part 2 of the Presentation given by Val Webb at the Common Dreams 2, Melbourne Australia.  In progressive religious thinking, old images of God have been retired and new metaphors for the Divine within the universe, whether Energy, Presence, Spirit, Sacred, Ground of Being, Life, have become more authentic for a scientific world. Yet, in a multi-faith world, we cannot speak of the Sacred infusing the universe without recognizing It as that sought and described in all religions. How do we engage this Divine within the world, or the Divine engage us, if at all, in a multi-faith world? How do human beings step out with the Sacred in everyday life across countries, cultures, and religious persuasions?

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Fred’s Full Presentation from the Common Dreams 2 Conference – Are We Living the Progressive Faith, or Are We Just Dreaming?

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.

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I Want to be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth

A Memoir

In Brenda Peterson’s unusual memoir, fundamentalism meets deep ecology. The author’s childhood in the high Sierra with her forest ranger father led her to embrace the entire natural world, while her Southern Baptist relatives prepared eagerly and busily to leave this world. Peterson survived fierce sword drill competitions demanding total recall of the Scriptures and awkward dinner table questions (Will Rapture take the cat, too?) only to find that environmentalists with prophecies of doom can also be Endtimers. Peterson paints such a hilarious, loving portrait of each world that the reader, too, may want to be Left Behind. Her clever take on the “Left Behind” phenomenon in the book’s title isn’t just a gentle refutation of an escapist religious prophecy. It’s an appeal for something more inclusive than the idea that true believers will one day be swept up midair and whisked off to an eternal paradise, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves.

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Western Christianity Must Change or Remain Irrelevant

I believe that the current state of traditional western Christianity may be comparable to the state of first century Judaism (as it is depicted in the Gospels). And now, as then, critique, deconstruction, and renovation are needed. Jesus’ continuity and discontinuity within his faith tradition, his deconstruction for the purpose of reconstruction, are paradigmatic for emerging, progressive Christianity.

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Converting Christians to the Way of Jesus

Renewing the institutional church that has settled for some lesser version of Christianity shaped by our Western/American sense of comfort and security, governed by rewards and punishments, fixated on getting beliefs correct, and oriented around feel-good, self-glorifying, God wants you to be happy and prosperous teaching, is a very difficult and slow process.

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To Have and to Have Not

Luke’s Jesus seems to be saying, pay attention to how you are listening to the message. Are you receptive (fertile); rocky (rejecting); thorny (resisting); or dry (uninterested)? Because . . . but here the non-sequitur called “to have and have not” throws us off the track. The Jesus Seminar scholars suggest that “Luke presumably wants the reader to know that those who grasp at the initial stages of faith will be given more to understand as they mature” (The Five Gospels p. 307).

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Jesus: Magician or Liberator?

For 21st Century Christianity, the question is, which interpretation makes the most sense? Magic and miracle, or liberation from injustice? Scholars and commentators are often accused of reading 21st Century world views back into 1st Century writings.

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Evolution: The Next Step

As a Christian who is centred on the spiritual aspect rather than on literal doctrinal interpretations, I see no conflict between evolution and my faith. In fact a realisation about how humanity is evolving shows me an inspiring path ahead. I personally see the evolutionary process as an expression of God. (In saying this I am not assuming anything about the nature of God which I personally have come to understand in a mystical sense.) But before considering the moral and spiritual implications let us consider briefly how this evolutionary process has developed. There seems to be a large consensus on four distinctive steps.

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The Salvation of Religion: From Beliefs to Knowledge

Much has been written and countless discussions have ensued in recent years about the seemingly inevitable decline of Christianity and rise of secularism in America in the 21st century, which is along the lines of what happened in Europe in the mid 20th century.

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Uncertainty is Trust’s Shadow

Catholics and other Christians misunderstand and misrepresent Jesus, as will be explained, if they believe he “happens to be God” and to be literally human and divine. They should renounce such ideas, because only in a mythological story can Christ be presented as divine. Such myths are not factual or historical, but were written to express convictions about the commitment of a transcendent God. ?

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What Is the Redemptive Meaning of Jesus’ Death?

Jesus became a scapegoat to put an end to all scapegoating; he became a sacrifice to put an end to that whole system of offering up the innocent victim. Spiritually, socially, and psychologically humans have always needed to find some way to deal with sin and guilt. Historically, humanity has employed sacrificial systems to that end. In ancient systems of religion human sacrifices were offered to placate the deity (such as the firstborn, the virgin, the only child, etc., but never the adult man; these were mostly, if not all, patriarchal cultures). In the evolution of religious consciousness animals took the place of humans.

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From History To Mystery, The Life And Teachings Of The Historical Jesus

This book explores the quest for the Historical Jesus and seeks to discover the original meanings of his teachings, in particular his kingdom of God teachings. You will learn about the last 200 years of Jesus research, including the Jesus Seminar. The author discusses Gnosticism, The Gospel of Thomas, The Secret Gospel of Mark, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene along with the four canonical gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The author spends much of her time investigating the Parables of Jesus. In the parables, Jesus preaches about “the kingdom of God.” This concept is taught by Jesus on two levels. One for the masses and one for his inner circle. The uncovering the “secret teachings” of the parables is very illuminating and inspirational. Whether you are a seminary student, pastor, educator, or layperson; this is a must read on the subject of the historical teachings of Jesus! The book was written by a respected scholar in Historical Christianity, Dr. Lisa Morris.

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The Path of Jesus Means Inclusion of All

Jesus, obviously, saw everyone as “being created in The Imagio Dei” (“The Image and Likeness of God”). He saw everyone as having worth and dignity before God.

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Christianity isn’t News

How Christianity not being news is actually a large portion of its very strength.The truth is… Christianity isn’t news. I don’t mean in modern terms either; I mean in ancient terms. Christianity isn’t news, and it never really was. When Christianity came along, it was literally nothing new. The amount of parallels between Christianity and various other religions around the world (the oldest of course dating back to Ancient Egypt or even earlier) is astonishing.;Nothing in the Bible was original. Almost every last item attributed exclusively to Jesus, for example, including the things he said or did (or anything that happened to him), can be readily traced back to another source far more ancient than Christianity or the birth of Christ.

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Four Historic Intellectual and Cultural Sensibilities-

Negotiating the Religious, Secular, Eclectic and Integral Perspectives

By: Rich Lang. It seems to me that one might find folks who have a dialectical relationship with any two, three or four of these historical sensibilities and value orientations within progressive Christianity. I’m going to guess that progressive Christianity can mean very different things to different people, depending upon whether they are primary engaged in the pre-modern/modern dialectic, the modern/post-modern dialectic, the post-modern/trans-modern dialectic, or are seeking to reconcile all four historical sensibilities (religious, secular, eclectic and integral) within a dialogical and paradoxical whole. I wonder if the future of Christianity (and other religions and ideologies) in the pluralist society and global age” is one of constructing a critically reflective and constructive dialogue between the pre-modern, modern, post-modern and trans-modern sensibilities, all of which make a powerful claim upon our common human nature and resonate with our richly diverse experience.

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