When I was a child, the word God was one of those words that adults either used in vain or in hushed tones. Outbursts of anger always included the word God. Strange and mysterious circumstances often resulted in the word God being used in hushed tones. I remember the very first movie I was ever taken to see. Bambi may have been a Disney movie, but when the shot that killed Bambi’s mother rang out, as far as my mother was concerned, I broke one of the ten commandments when I shouted, “Oh my God.” Mom warned me that when we got home there would be dire consequences for this offence which confused me to no end, because before the movie began, they did what they always did in back in the 1960’s, they played, “God save the Queen” as we all stood to attention. God’s name being sung out incurred no dire consequences.read more
Dear God, help us to welcome our fears and respond with caring and courage as individuals and as a community. Dear Jesus, we would like to be a community you would be proud of as we struggle to live up to your inspiration and follow your guidance. Dear Spirit, help us build the heart to heart bonds so that we can trust our way into being in this together.read more
A few months ago, I watched two movies on consecutive days, The Big Short and Spotlight. The first was about the so-called great recession and how the big banks knew about- indeed, caused -the bust, the second about the Catholic scandal of priests molesting young boys, as it unfolded in Boston under persistent investigation by Globe reporters. The common theme is that in each case the truth was so contrary to popular belief that, at first, nobody could believe it. The big banks knew- and told no one. The archbishop knew, and told no one. And both succeeded at first because the truth was so shocking and so undermining of the public trust that it simply could not be true. But true it was. That which challenges public perception is ultimately accepted only with the greatest persistence and effort.read more
We offer this timepiece on a day that ushers in a new era for all protectors and people alike. An era that will need music to act as the thread between front lines and front doors.
Stay in the prayer.
We stand with you.
For all our relations.
To every WOMAN near and far, this one’s for you! May we stand in our integrity, our power, our confidence & our purpose, Always. May we remember that WOMEN are collaborators, not competition. May we embrace our uniqueness & rise together, from a place of love and compassion. For, this world needs balance and we hold the key!read more
Each year as Lent approaches, I find myself flirting with the idea of giving up Lent for Lent. Lent is just too much work. For centuries, during Lent the church has emphasized so many concepts that seem alien to the 21st century mind. Each year during Lent preachers are required to undertake the unenviable task of unpacking unpopular, seemingly antiquated concepts in an effort to encourage the contemporary churchgoer to entertain the equally antiquated rituals of Lent. I mean Christmas and Easter might attract a few more people to our sanctuary, but how do you attract people with talk about repentance or fasting? Just look at our readings for this morning. Temptation is the order for toady. Eve and Adam succumbing to temptation, the Apostle Paul prattling on, heaping condemnation upon the first parents for having given in to temptation, and then Jesus himself resisting temptation from non-other than the Devil. Not exactly cheery stuff designed to bring comfort on a cold damp winter morning, where apart from the time change, there are very few signs of a longed for spring.read more
This idea of God has a long history, which the remarkable scholar and ex-nun, Karen Armstrong has written up as “The History of God”. God is an idea that has played an extremely important centering role in our evolving culture. God became the ultimate point of reference. It was the idea of God as creator of the universe that led to the rise of modern science, as mediaeval theologians tried to discover what they called ‘the ways of God’ by conducting experiments. It was they who laid the foundations of today’s empirical science.
But also associated with this idea of God were the values of love, compassion, honesty and truth. These make such moral demands of us that they transcend us. And though the idea of God had its beginning in our mythological past it remains, therefore, a useful symbol for our highest values. Even the New Testament asserts. “God is love”.
This week I speak with Sir Lloyd Geering, New Zealand theologian and pioneering Christian post-theist. In 1967, Geering was charged with heresy by the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand. He successfully withstood this challenge and has continued writing and speaking about religion and holy texts as a human constructions and words like “God” and “faith” as referents of human self-understanding and growth. He is the author of many books and articles, a few of which can be found in the links below.read more
“An Unorthodox Faith” proposes an alternative to traditional Christian creeds and theology with a simpler humanist theology of love and compassion. It explores the implications for faith and ethics based on the proposition that “God is love”—not a loving supernatural being, but, more radically, frail human love itself. The book deconstructs traditional images of God as cosmic creator and occasional interventionist, the apocalyptic image of Christ, the image of the Holy Spirit as a supernatural being, medieval images of heaven and hell, ancient doctrines of sin and atonement, and contemporary beliefs in resurrection and eternal life. When all of these concepts are removed from traditional Christianity, what remains is a deeply spiritual humanism of service and social action—a way of living that reflects the words and deeds of the historical Jesus.read more
He also wept. He spoke truth to power. He taught about wealth and power. He welcomed all manner of people into his presence. He called outliers to be disciples.
Most of all, he acted. Faced with a situation, he did something. He fed hungry people, he healed the sick, he protected the vulnerable. Instead of building an institution, he traveled around. Instead of promulgating doctrines and institutional rules, he took action.read more
What would you do if this was your brother/son/friend? Many of the brave and Peaceful Water Protectors of Standing Rock are now facing serious criminal charges! This is the moment for us to rise and show our gratitude for the people who risked their lives to protect our water.read more
Sometimes our greatest breach with Scripture is not when we outright contradict it–it’s what we choose to prioritize, diminish or outright ignore. There is a time for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We need to put first things first and second things second.
Much of Christianity focuses on salvation plans and doctrinal ideas.read more
Tall. Long, light brown hair. Blue eyes. A calming gaze with an outstretched teaching arm. More likely than not, this is how westerners imagine Jesus. Contrast that with the reality. Jesus, like most men of his time, probably weighed about 110 pounds, stood little over 5 feet tall, and would not have lived much past 40. Popular Mechanics recently offered us an image of a swarthy Jesus with curly Afro type hair and a facial appearance that to me seems much like a Neanderthal. Google it and have a look. That, most likely, is the real Jesus. Whatever doctrinal belief you may hold about the man, he was a man, and that’s what he looked like. Personally, it brings a smile to my face to understand that when I talk to or about Jesus, it’s this little Jewish guy that I have in mind.read more
To church leaders, I say this: Be brave enough to be yourself. Trust in the dignity in which God has created you. Be whatever you are–nerdy, goofy, quirky, young or old, plain or complex. Don’t be trendy. You don’t have to know the latest catch phrases or technology.
Just be you.
That’s all that you can ever give, and honestly, that’s all that anyone ever really wants.read more