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I Belong, Therefore I Am

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.

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  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 …

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Make Your Mind Your Mecca

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?

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Face to Face

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…

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The Spiritual Child

The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving

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.

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The Heart of Christianity: Personalization and Meaning

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.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Isaac

We’ve all heard the expression, “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” but the information about Isaac in Genesis certainly places him in a subordinate position to his father, Abraham, and his son, Jacob.

The first mention of Isaac was when God told Sarah that she would give birth to a son and that she should name him Isaac (which means “he laughs,” a reference to Abraham laughing when God promised him a son). Abraham, who was one hundred years old when Isaac was born, followed God’s command and named his son Isaac.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Tower of Confusion

Genesis 10:5 claims the land was divided according to tongues, but Genesis 11:1 insists that everyone on earth spoke the same language. If we believe the biblical account of the flood, then everyone was dead except Noah, his wife, their sons and their sons’ wives. Therefore, everyone was a descendant of this one family. If that is true, of course, everyone spoke the same language. If you do not accept the flood story as literal, then there were more likely multiple languages prior to the building of the Tower of Babel.

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Skits for Worship: Little Words That Matter

Against or Through? With or For? But or And?

Skits for worship

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Mindfulness is Love

If I were to condense a definition of mindfulness into a single word, agape would be the one.

Every time I teach a five-week mindfulness course for students and staff at USC, I introduce the class with a simple definition of the state we are trying to reach in the practice: a loving awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges in the present moment, while letting go of judgments about them.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Does the Genesis Flood Story Hold Water?

The Genesis account of the flood was written by two Israelites (the Priestly account and the non-Priestly version) who were trying to tell a story that would help their fellow Jews better understand their place in the world. If a myth about a flood covering the earth and killing everyone and everything except for one man and his family and a select number of animals accomplished that goal, then it may be worthy. But the vengeful God who decided he had made a mistake so he wanted to start over is not my idea of God. A God who would destroy the world and its inhabitants – except for one “righteous” man and his family (who may not have been righteous) and a handful of animal species – is not worthy of worship.

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A Conspiracy of Love: Following Jesus in a Postmodern World

Today, the churches of the Global North are in decline and younger generations no longer seek meaning there. Traditional “church Christianity” is gradually giving way to some new way of faithful living. From a Nazi prison cell, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer imagined a future “religionless Christianity” consisting of contemplative prayer and righteous action in the secular world.

A Conspiracy of Love presents the contours of such a faith based on the “way” of Jesus. It calls us to become troublemakers, revolutionaries, seekers of change, and agents of transformation engaged in conspiracies of love to establish justice and peace in a postmodern world. It offers many different people–those who remain in the church,those who have left, and those who have never ventured near–with a life of faith that is meaningful, intelligent, and passionate.

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How to Love People But Hate It When They Say “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”

“Love the sinner, but hate the sin.”

This phrase has been used countless times by some Christians to pretend to offer welcome to LGBT people while condemning the natural consequence of the way God made them. It speaks for a shallow kind of love at most: one that claims to be okay with a person’s same-sex orientation while stigmatizing its fulfillment. This noxious phrase also summarizes the underlying attitude of many people of other religions towards sexual minorities.

It is a phrase whose time has come – and gone. More than ever, it needs to be excised from the vocabulary of faith, once and for all, as it pertains to homosexuality.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – God Deserves Our Best: The Story of Cain and Abel

The first sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis is the story of Cain and Abel. The rest of the chapter is genealogy.

Let’s examine the Genesis story and then see if we can ascertain why it was included in the Bible.

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Body and Soul

Many saints of the Church’s history appear to have had contempt for their own bodies. The mortifications to which they subjected their flesh are incomprehensibly grotesque to Christians today. It is hard to reconstruct the cultural milieu in which these mortifications had meaning and purpose. There is a lingering disdain of the body still evident in most branches of the faith, and it is problematic. For too long we have viewed our faith as just a head-trip. We Christians need to take better care of the rest of ourselves, and to embody our spirituality more fully.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – God Can Use Imperfect People – Part Two

Yes, God uses imperfect people. As 1 Peter 4:10 says, we should serve with whatever gift we have received.

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Allies for Atheists: Why and How?

In the US, now is a better time to be an atheist than ever. A serious candidate for the presidency has declared on national television that he does not believe in God. The percentage of declared atheists and religiously unaffiliated people in America has risen substantially in recent years. To lack or reject religion is becoming considerably more socially acceptable.

That’s why the non-religious, and avowed atheists in particular, need theistic allies to defend them, more than ever.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – God Can Use Imperfect People – Part One

I am abundantly aware that God can do remarkable things with less than perfect people. Noah supposedly had “blameless behavior,” but after the flood, he got drunk on the wine he produced and, although he may not have been aware due to his drunken stupor, may have had sexual relations with one of his sons. Later in Hebrew Scriptures, we meet other imperfect people who were used by God: Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Samson was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, David was an adulterer and murderer, Elijah was suicidal, and Abram.

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