Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021
Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed! Funeral services will be held at St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ and at St. Paul’s, Richmond, VA. Dates and times will be announced as soon as they are available

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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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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Anti-Abortion “Outing”

The people who want to make abortion illegal have just been “outed” for a profound inconsistency. Donald Trump, shooting from the hip, suggested that since abortion is murder, women who have abortions should be punished accordingly. The outcry from conservative culture warriors was immediate. Almost all anti-abortion campaigners oppose such criminalization, because they know that advocating for it would create a huge backlash against their efforts.

The right to choose whether or not to have an abortion is the mother of all rights. If you can’t be guaranteed the liberty to sort out something so intensely personal for yourself, what area of anybody’s life is secure from government intrusion? It is not a matter that can be put to a vote. God gave women sovereignty over their own bodies. So abortion is a matter to be decided solely by a woman through her God-given conscience.

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The Mindful Mirror of Passion Week

“Mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” … It could have been at the mouth of one of the shallow caves carved by Nature out of the limestone cliffs of Mount Quarantania, facing Jericho on the Jordan River and the Dead Sea to the southeast, that Jesus sat to gaze at forty dawns in the wilderness before he began his ministry. This 40-day season of Lent invites us to join Jesus in practicing mindfulness as he did in the desert.

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The Good Samaritan Tax Lawyer

Taxes are the way that people of faith care for the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens, by funding our government’s social safety-net services. Charity through faith communities and other groups is a vital supplement, but no replacement, for the role we give our government in meeting critical human needs. For instance, Bread for the World, an evangelical Christian charity, estimates that the dollar value of all charitable food donations in the US adds up to only 6% of what the federal government spends on feeding hungry Americans through programs like EBT/Food Stamps and federally-subsidized school lunches.

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Mindful Prayer

In my own experience, the best thing I can do for my friends is to listen to them. If I’m doing too much of the talking, then I’m not adequately listening. And when I listen, I do best if I really listen: just be present in silence and give my friend my full, compassionate, truly interested attention. The fourth century Christian mystic, Gregory of Nyssa, said that “we consider becoming God’s friend the only thing worthy of honor and desire.” Mindful prayer is being God’s friend, and letting God be a friend to us: simply being, attentively, with each others’ being.

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Voting: A Call to Action for Congregations

Voting is liturgical. It’s a ritual expression of love for others when we vote for candidates and for ballot propositions that help to assure the welfare of our vulnerable fellow citizens. Our votes are forms of tithes or offerings that deserve blessing or dedication in worship. By lifting up voting in worship, we take it to heart and commit ourselves to participate. With voter turnout in a steep decline in recent years, congregations are needed more than ever to make a difference. The time to plan election-related events in our churches is now!

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 23: Accessing Sacred Guidance

>We all have moments when we have to make tough decisions quickly, and sometimes the way is not clear. How will we recognize the highest good when split-second decisions are needed? And how do we prepare children for the inevitable difficult decisions they will face? The answer to both questions is practice. We can’t expect to understand inner guidance in a crisis if we haven’t listened for guidance any other time in our lives. Every day presents opportunities to feel for the right direction. Every decision we make should be made with soul intuition and not just mental reasoning. Children can learn to feel for inner guidance and use that understanding in all life’s challenges. Your true self is a spiritual being housed in a human being. If we can access the voice of our true selves, the guidance we are looking for will always be available.

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State of the Union: Progressive Christianity

I’m here to give a version of this State of the Union that gives at least a hint of how things are going with this movement globally. And I do it to offer you spiritual encouragement and enrichment. Because understanding our religious identity feeds our spirituality. Knowing who we are in the realm of faith and spirituality helps us to express our religious experiences. And being able to express our spirituality helps us to experience it in our hearts. Language follows experience, but it also induces and inspires experience as well. It’s a feedback loop that helps us keep the faith and feel the presence of God.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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The Power of Ritual

At its best, Christianity is a vessel for carrying the most potent moments of our lives. At its best, the faith does not impose on us a dogma to recite or a doctrine to which we must give assent. Rather, at its best, it gives us a sanctuary in which we can contemplate the turning-points in our lives, become mindful of our emotions, and reflect on the meanings we find in our stories. Our religion gives us a language to use to express the significance of the events of our lives. Our religion is not prescriptive, but rather is a means for us to be descriptive about what matters to us, and why.

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