Reconciling False Divisions

A Series exploring the Shared Abrahamic roots of Three Faith Traditions, Part I: Jewish Roots

A Presbyterian politician who wants to be the leader of the free world claims to have written a great book; second only to the Bible. He has promised to “protect Christianity,” and ban all Muslims outside the United States from entering. It remains unclear if he expects all radical Jihadists to self-profess at the border; instead of — say — swearing to be as Presbyterian as he is.

Beneath the superficiality of such political idiocy, an appreciative consideration of the shared Abrahamic roots of three great faith traditions might be helpful in finding ways to reconcile the false divisions that the most strident voices of ignorance seem to propagate.

This is the first in a series of commentaries that attempt in some small way to make such a modest attempt. It begins where it all began; with Jewish roots and the mythic Hebrew character of Abraham.

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Progressive Christianity is Not an Oxymoron

They said I was… a radical. a liberal. anti-American. a tree hugger. a peacenik. a socialist. a progressive. But I was just following Jesus. Contrary to what some may tell you, progressive Christianity is not an oxymoron. …

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Halle-Allah-lujia! Wheaton Reaps a Whirlwind

  The word “God” in the English version of the Christian Bible is rendered in the Arabic version as “Allah”. But Allah and Allah are two different entities, according to evangelical Wheaton College, which recently suspended one …

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Captain Moroni and Divine Revelation

We can hope that the standoff in Oregon ends with cool heads prevailing and no bloodshed. But the threat that Christian jihadism poses to America is very real. Our country is in danger at least as much from home-grown anti-government terrorism as is from the foreign sort.

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How the “I’m Special” Confirmation Bias Ruins the Bible

The bumper sticker that jokingly says, “God loves us all, but I’m His favorite,” points to a much bigger problem that absolutely ruins much of what we read, (or, more precisely, interpret) from the Bible. Everybody wants …

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The Wise Man’s Confession

What wisdom I have
Awakens me to my blindness.
I cannot see light itself:
What I know of light
Is only an alluring shadow
Of what it is and does.

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Unto Us a Child Is Born

The Brief Observance of a Holy Nativity

Even non-theists and progressive Christian types love to sing Christmas carols. And, as the British atheist, Alain de Botton, once said, “Religions are intermittently too useful, effective and intelligent to be abandoned to the religious alone.” The annual observance of one holy nativity is the perennial reminder to respect and beatify the dignity and sacredness of every birth, everywhere.

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Why Humanity Is Redeemed by the Cross

This might sound rather odd coming from somebody who identifies herself as a contemplative Christian, but I just have to say the whole theological premise that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins never made sense to me. I …

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Since Muslims Feel Pressure to Do It….

Since American Muslims are being pressured to root out extremists in their midst, and to publicly denounce terrorism done in the name of their faith, Christians in America ought to do the same. We should do it …

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Cognitive Dissonance?

  “Cognitive dissonance…” I’ve heard that phrase several times over the years. But, it was only a few months ago that I took the time to see what it actually meant. Consulting the Google, I found it is …

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Christmas in Egypt

On Jesus’ fifth birthday, living in Egypt, his parents announced that they were going on an outing. “We’ve got something to show you,” said Mary to Jesus.

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Are we Christians or “Biblicans?”

In this article, I would like to point out 3 crucial problems that arise when one begins with “plain truths” about the book rather than the Christ, the Logos, the “structuring principle of reality.” (John 1:1–5)

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National Public Radio for the Mind

At our Wednesday mindfulness meditation practice group here at USC, which is part of our Mindful.USC.edu initiative, I start our sessions with a very short introduction to the practice, and end the 30 minutes of silence with a time for the students and staff who attend to share about how their practice is going. At a recent session, I shared an observation that came to me while I was meditating. “It seems to me that mindfulness practice is a lot like National Public Radio.

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All I Want for Christmas Is an AK-47

When the Reason for the Season Goes Missing

This is the season Christian faith communities of every sort prepare in one way or another to observe the nativity of something deemed to be holy and salvific. We recall ancient prophecies that foretell a “prince of peace, and wonderful counselor” comes around each year with a message to save us from ourselves. (Isaiah 9:6)
Once born into a world of violence and terror not unlike our own, the message remains unchanged. Regrettably, so too has been the obstinate ways in which we have collectively refused to live with one another in response to that message.

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Heaven on Earth

A Thanksgiving Reflection in the Midst of a Terrorized World

Like many others, the Thanksgiving holiday is another reason I love the autumn season. The occasion gives us the allocation of a few fleeting moments to pause and express appreciation for whatever we have, but only for the time being.

In a world either terrorized or abused by those who have little regard for it, it has become downright dangerous and nearly complicit, to encourage the illusory notion of any sweet by-and-by; expecially for those who can’t seem to wait for it. If there is to be any knockin’ on heaven’s door, the place is always here, and the time is always now.

Since none of us can imagine with any certainty whatsoever that unknown reality from whence we have all come, all we can really know is what is. And, considering all those most authentic, very earthy and non-religious parables Jesus used to try to describe a “reign of God” – or, if you prefer, “kingdom of heaven” – they all seemed to be very much of this earth, and the stuff of daily life.

I do not believe in any afterlife of my own. And I’m done with any notion of a heaven that is anywhere else than on the face of this earth; with whatever we make of it, and for the time being. The poet, Robert Browning, once wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” The painfully obvious fact that we have so utterly failed to grasp such a paradise, does not yet mean we should hold back our reach of it.

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Microaffection

MICROAFFECTION: a subtle but endearing or comforting comment or action directed at others that is often unintentional or unconsciously affirms their worth and dignity, without any hint of condescension

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Fear Not

Our love for one another allows us to face our fears together. Trust God and love one another.

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Holy Jealousy

Jealously is holy if it moves us to be better people. Jealousy is holy if it inspires one religious community to mimic the good things that other faith communities do.

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