Jesus rises up whenever the conspiracy of love rises up, whenever compassionate and courageous acts of the kingdom of God are present, whenever the reign of love is made manifest in this life. Following Jesus is a response to his call to establish justice and peace in the world.read more
After searching for an opening Easter Acclamation that is progressive and cosmic in nature, and finding nothing that went where I’d like to take the congregation, I decided I’d just have to write one.
This acclamation/invocation draws on themes found in the Gospel of Thomas, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard von Bingen, Teilhard de Chardin, and Thomas Berry. I also hope is has some of the poetic flare of that great earth mystic, Saint John (Muir) of the Mountains.read more
Today marks the first Sunday of Lent, a time of self-reflection and lament. It is often considered a season of darkness. Something I am all too familiar with. The season of Lent reminds me of walking a labyrinth. A labyrinth is a path that requires you to go in and come out the same way in which you entered. It is a journey towards the center, then back out again, into the world to which you came. You cannot skip the part you did not like, or go around a difficult feeling, you must return the exact way you entered. But, even though the path does not change, you have, and in this we find new life.read more
Reinhold Niebuhr’s brother, H. Richard, argued for faithfulness to the example of Jesus’s nonviolence, while Reinhold believed this was naive and unrealistic in an imperfect world. H. Richard was the purist to the Christian faith, believing that following the Golden Rule, no matter the consequences, is what Jesus and God called us to do — the success of the mission being in God’s hands rather than our own. Reinhold, however, looked at the more practical side of things, substituting his or the world’s idea of what was possible and changing his ethics accordingly. H. Richard thus trusted more in the providential moral arc of history as M.L. King, Jr. , would call it rather than a realist’s version of what humans believe is attainable given their corrupt nature. In essence, H. Richard focused on the power of God’s grace to transform our spirits and the world for the better, while Reinhold accepted a more cynical view of our ability to be radically changed as a specie.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
I distinguish between the “gift” of celibacy and the “call” to celibacy, which I will come to later in this post.
The gift of celibacy is a debatable proposition. Is someone “blessed” with that gift or simply avoiding intimate relationships? Is it a rejection of God’s gift of sexuality and more broadly sensuality and embodiment, or a prioritizing of one’s energy and involvement and commitment?read more
When it comes to doctrine, we progressive Christians have nothing for which to apologize. We don’t believe the old dogma that gets in the way of kindness, inclusion, science, and common sense. No wonder, then, that few of us know much about “apologetics”, a major preoccupation of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who memorize answers to the dozens of common objections to their doctrines.read more
On November 8, 58% of voting-age citizens cast ballots in the presidential election. In 2008, when Obama was elected, 64% cast ballots. When all the ballots are counted, Clinton will have won the popular vote by at least a million. Trump won the electoral college by squeaking ahead in some of the swing states: he was only 68,236 ahead in Pennsylvania, for example.read more
esus taught that lust is as bad as adultery. Covetousness is as bad as theft. Anger is as bad as murder. His was an “argumentum ad absurdum” against anybody claiming to be morally pure, which was a real social problem in Israel in his time. The wealthy, leisured Pharisees used countless fussy purity codes to bludgeon into submission the mass of common people who could not afford the time and money to comply.read more
tation, salute it and say: “I salute all those Americans who risked their lives for my right to vote!”
Ask your friends and family members, or in a ritual in worship, asking parishioners: “With which hand will you be voting on November 8?” Take that hand and hold it with yours, and say: “May love (or the love that is God) guide your hand to vote for the common good!”read more
Another way that religion can do a body good is through the mindfulness practices that are embedded in it. It’s no news that it’s part of Buddhism. But for most Christians, it may come as a surprise to find that it has always been integral to contemplative prayer. You can’t confess the truth of your heart unless you know what’s in it.read more
WEBSITE AND TICKETS COMING SOON! EMBRACE FESTIVAL is a 3 day, international, sacred community and social transformation event, which will be held May 4-6, 2017 in beautiful downtown Portland, Oregon for those wishing to positively transform their …read more
The 15th century North Indian poet-singer-saint, Kabir, lived in a time of great tension between two major religions. He honored and bridged both with his bhakti devotional songs. He was claimed by the Hindus to be a Hindu and by the Muslims to be a Muslim. He both inspired and confused both camps with his mystical lyricism. He confounded them even in the legend of his death. The Hindus wanted to burn his body, and the Muslims wanted to bury him. When they looked under the garlands of flowers that had been placed on top of his body, they saw that his body was gone. The Hindus burned half the flowers, the Muslims buried the other half.
One of the five pillars of Islamic practice is the expectation that every Muslim will make hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a lifetime. For some Muslims, making hajj is an arduous and very expensive journey.
But if your mind is your Mecca, why would you not make the journey to self-awareness every day?read more
Every time I enter into mindful prayer, I start by gazing into a mirror, dimly. A dim inner mirror, gazed at with dim inner eyes. Slowly I polish the mirror with loving, open, non-judgmental attention. My inner eyes begin to adjust and focus. And I begin to see not just the face I expect or want to see, but the whole picture of my thoughts, sensations, and urges – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Warts and stray hairs and happy smile and all! Behind the eyes that appear in the mirror I begin to awaken to the subtle eyes of the One who is doing the seeing. And then we begin to see, face to face…read more
In “The Spiritual Child”, psychologist Lisa Miller presents the next big idea in psychology: the science and the power of spirituality. She explains the clear, scientific link between spirituality and health and shows that children who have a positive, active relationship to spirituality:
* are 40% less likely to use and abuse substances
* are 60% less likely to be depressed as teenagers
* are 80% less likely to have dangerous or unprotected sex
* have significantly more positive markers for thriving including an increased sense of meaning and purpose, and high levels of academic success.
Meaning plays an essential role in religion. Clearly understanding this role and applying meaning in sacred dimensions can significantly increase the meaning-yielding power of our Christian faith. It is possible and advisable to place meaning at the center of our faith. Perhaps Meaning-Centered Christianity is an appropriate guidepost for the new Progressive Christianity.read more