Polite Self-Censorship No Environment for Free Speech

Charlie Hebdo’s editorial staff rebuffed yet again by over two hundred prominent guests at a Manhattan literary gala hosted by the PEN American Center. Following the 7 January, 2015 murders of nine read more

Connecting with “Prospects”

If “touches” are the many thousands whom your church touches in any way, “prospects” are touches whom you stimulate to take some interest in who you are as a faith community and what you do, especially in mission and ministering to people. Take it as a given that, at this point, they aren’t the least interested in how you worship, the traditions you observe, who presides at your altar, the quality of your facilities, or your history. If that’s all you have to tell them, you are lost.

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Jeb vs. Francis

Just when I had concluded that Jeb Bush was the likely Republican nominee for president in 2016, he said something that dumbfounded me: “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope. And I’d like to see what [the pope] says as it relates to climate change and how that connects to these broader, deeper issues before I pass judgment. But I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm. ” (New York Times, June 17, 2015)

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What Matters Most – Stand Up

Stand up for what you believe, but also measure what you believe, not by public opinion or profit, but by what is right in everyone’s eyes. By what benefits the whole of society and what tries to involve everyone in the process of change that is sometimes necessary to do the right thing.

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Time – A Path of Endless Change

To ponder our future development and a human evolution
Gives us pause to envision a needed “saving Earth” solution

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Walking Boldly Amidst the Storms – Based on Matthew 14:22-33

A troubling storm has engulfed the disciples. On a rickety fisherman’s boat in the early morning hours, a violent storm with terrible winds has surrounded them. The NRSV says their boat was battered, King James says it was tossed, the NIV says it was buffeted; whatever term you prefer, the boat is getting beaten up.

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The Jesus Fatwah: Love Your (Muslim) Neighbor as Yourself

Much of what passes as information about Islam is weed-like disinformation rooted in stereotype and watered by fear. In The Jesus Fatwah, Islamic and Christian scholars offer reliable information about what Muslims believe, how they live out their faith, and how we all can be about building relationships across the lines of faith.

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30 Days of Paul Reading Challenge

  Have you been meaning to read (or re-read) Paul’s letters? Join us for the‪#‎30daysofPaul‬ challenge! Earlier this week on the Westar Institute Ethics & Early Christianity blog, we posted a 30-day plan for how to read …

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Rethinking Membership Development

A day did exist when a church could grow and thrive by opening its doors on Sunday and welcoming whoever arrived. Knowing how to welcome regulars and visitors was as much evangelism as a congregation needed to do. That day ended long ago. Nowadays, most churches don’t have enough visitors to offset the inevitable attrition that happens when people die, move out of town, or lose interest. And “regular attendance” now means one or two Sundays a month, not three or four.

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We’re All Connected

In my pocket, all my waking day, I carry a device that enables me to communicate instantly with practically anyone around the globe. I’m a cog in a vast international system of manufacturing, trade, and consumption. Sure, we’re all connected in these ways. But in our face-to-face encounters with other people, or when we walk in wilderness and commune personally with other living beings, we sense this connection in a much deeper way.

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The Radical Abandonment of Self-interest

Civilization defines justice as retribution – payback; an eye for an eye. But the deeper meaning of justice is distributive: the rain falls on the good, the bad, and the ugly without partiality. Civilization does not use that definition except in cases where there is clearly injustice if partiality enters the picture.

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God Without Religion

Disillusioned with organized religion, some people escape into New Age movements, and others retreat from spirituality altogether. A more satisfying and transformative option is to embark on a quest to discover God on your own. Using time-tested tools of spiritual investigation, you can examine your present beliefs, explore the nature of God and your sense of self and ultimately expand your identity.

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Something Divinely Providential about Our Deaths

I think we got off on the wrong foot, believing that death came into the world because of sin. If there is something divinely providential about our lives, there must be something divinely providential about our deaths. In the language of the previous post, “The Universe in Your Soul,” the cosmos that begat life must have also begat death.

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Our Nag Hammadi Predicament

How can we achieve the sense of cosmic multidimensionality expressed in the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi in 1945? For each of us in our 21st century world this is our predicament. What is expressed …

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Can This Woman Make Evangelical Christianity Sane Again?

Rachel Held Evans has been called “the most polarizing woman in Evangelicalism.” She is a New York Times bestselling author of three books and a popular blog in which she wrestles honestly with the cruelties and contradictions in her Christian tradition from the standpoint of a loving insider on a quest to understand God and goodness more deeply. In this interview by Valerie Tarico, Held Evans discusses both the book and her broader faith journey.

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Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources

We’re overusing the earth’s finite resources, and yet excessive consumption is failing to improve our lives. In Enough Is Enough, Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill lay out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth—an economy where the goal is not more but enough.

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Religion & Politics

Our gods are more a part of us than we realize. We pattern our thoughts and actions after them. Only by understanding how we have defined them can we begin to understand the underlying forces that make …

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In Defense of Cherry Picking the Bible

People accuse each other of cherry picking sacred texts, as if the term was an insult. But for those seeking to honor the quest of the Bible writers or to raise healthy children within a Christian tradition, that is precisely the right approach.

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