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    • Community Christian Church, Springfield
    • Dr. Roger Ray holds masters and doctoral degrees in divinity from Vanderbilt University as well as a bachelors in philosophy from Murray State University. He was a 2004 Merriell Fellow at Harvard Divinity School. Dr. Ray is a regular opinion writer for the Springfield News-Leader. He is also the author of “Progressive Faith and Practice” and “Progressive Conversations” (available on Amazon) and various journal and magazine columns. Dr. Rays' sermons have been published in several professional journals and popular collections. He had 28 years of experience in pastoral ministry before becoming the founding pastor of Community Christian Church in August of 2008.

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Patriots or Traitors?

Though Gandhi and MLK are lauded as great social heroes in our day, during their lifetimes they were often put in jail and were regarded as enemies of the state. To be honest about some of the people currently regarded in the USA as being traitors or at least being guilty of espionage, we should wonder if they will one day be regarded as heroic whistleblowers?

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Of Unicorns and Alternative Facts

The laudable stated goal of the new Biden administration to bring unity to the red and the blue factions of America is obviously necessary, but it is a steep hill to climb.

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After the Insurrection Failed

America is horrified and embarrassed but not many of us are shocked. The failed insurrection that took place on Wednesday, January 6th, was planned, orchestrated, inspired, and incited by our president who recently lost re-election and who has been desperate to hold onto power even if he had to destroy democracy to do so.

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Reasons for Hope (2021 and Beyond)

The promise of new technologies is huge but the risk of lapsing into a world dominated by the few who are wealthy while most are relegated to a peasant class similar to the Dark Ages is very real.

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The Forest is Full of Socialists

I have two points to make today. The first is very practical and the second is deeply philosophical.

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Meet Me at the Corner of Compassion and You’re Not that Special

The late Marcus Borg is credited with describing the historical Jesus as being the teacher of radical compassion. In this time when it appears, as Paul Krugman has recently published, our culture of selfishness is killing us, it is vital that we take up that mission of teaching radical compassion.

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When (If) We Gather

Economists are predicting that one in six restaurants will be permanently closed as a result of the pandemic. Sadly, when progressive congregations emerge from our current sabbatical or at least our retreat to online only services, the casualty rate may be much higher than what has hit the restaurant business.

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Reuniting a Once Great People

How did wearing a mask to avoid spreading the Covid virus become a politically partisan issue? It has become apparent that one of the most difficult tasks ahead of the USA is learning again how to disagree without dividing the nation.

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Waging Peace

At the end of World War I, there was a hope that this had been the “war to end all wars.” Armistice Day was established to celebrate the agreements that they hoped would lead to an eternity of peace on the planet earth. It was only 30 years before the world was plunged into another global conflict that claimed even more lives.

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When the Voting Ends

by Rev. David Katya Ketchum

Now is not only a moment to celebrate, but a moment to rededicate ourselves to creating a future where kindness and compassion, justice and wisdom, are not only possible, but real.

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When the NRA is Too Liberal

The directors of the FBI and DHS have warned Congress that white supremacist, anarchist, and other armed militias pose a significant threat to American security. Our nation, unlike our peers in western democracies, has been held hostage to the gun industry which appears to be motivated by profits to the exclusion of concern about human life. It is up to us to reverse that priority and stem the accelerating rate of gun deaths in America.

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Power begets Power (the killing of Breonna Taylor)

Power begets power and institutions that are rife with power will increasingly resist change, reform, or moral responsibility. An excellent example of this is the perception that protesting police killings and violence as being inherently “anti-police” just as protesting the Catholic Church’s history of hiding pedophilia as well as the rape and forced abortions common among nuns in their relationships with priests is decried as being “anti-Catholic.”

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In Search of a Better American Myth

A civilization’s shared myths account for why things are the way they are. They can bolster loyalty to a religion or a nation, and they can excuse class and race privilege.

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Faith and Probability

Faith is typically based on “belief” and science is based on objective research and analysis. In this address, written for the Malvern (United Kingdom) Science and Faith conference, Dr. Ray discusses the concept of “evidence based faith,” attempting to rank our beliefs based on Bayes’ Theorem of probability analysis.

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Ordinary people with Extraordinary Vision

The late Congressman John Lewis wrote what could be his own eulogy in the essay he wrote to be published posthumously in the New York Times. He called on “ordinary people” to be willing to get into “good trouble.” Of course, the sins of racism, oppression, and enslavement were not creations of black culture.

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The Politics of Food

Politics and profit have tremendous influence over which foods we eat, especially the poor because almost all government agricultural subsidies go to beef, dairy, and grain production and less than 1% supports growing green vegetables and fruits.

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A Memorial for the Confederacy

While protests verge on becoming riots in our city streets in response to multiple murders of unarmed black men at the hands of our cities’ police, we must focus on how to pull racism out of our culture by the roots.

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A Universal Basic Income

Labor Day is an American substitute for the International Workers Day, celebrated on May 1. Americans of the early 20th century associated organize labor with communism and sought to suppress union organizing while applauding the contributions of laborers to our country.

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Imagining a Post-Covid-19 New and Improved World

170 Danish scholars from 5 universities came together to consider how the world needs to change post covid-19. They make five crucial suggestions:

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What Makes Us Human?

Wwe have to make choices to be more “human” as we care for those who are physically at risk, those who are unemployed, impoverished, and without either shelter or access to healthcare. Evolution didn’t happen once thousands of years ago, it is something that must be renewed daily or we are in danger of slipping back into more primitive if not reptilian ways of thinking.

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Fake News: Being informed in a time of propaganda

We really are not in the same boat but we surely are in the same storm. The pandemic is very inconvenient for the people who get to keep their jobs, income, health insurance, and home. But those who are now unemployed, uninsured, evicted or facing foreclosure are in another kind of boat and it is in danger of sinking.

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A Silent Pandemic

Opioid overdoses increased by 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May making addiction and overdose deaths a silent pandemic within the viral pandemic. To respond to this crisis, today’s message is a panel presentation from our pastor, a physician who is an addiction specialist, and a psychologist who specializes in suicide prevention and addiction.

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What is the Nature of the Mystery otherwise known as God?

When we begin to give up the formal, creedal faith of our youth, accepting that no religion is entirely true and no sacred text was actually written by God, many people will abandon the journey of faith entirely.

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Could You Be A Sociopath?

The anti-mask vs pro-mask divide in this stage of the global pandemic becomes an interesting litmus test for either an empathetic world view or a kind of apologetic for being something of a sociopath.

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Just War, War Crimes, War is a Crime, War is a Racquet

Far too often, patriotism is expressed as enthusiasm for wars as if the battlefield was the only way to become a hero or to find virtue when, in almost every case, the opposite is true.

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Progressive Faith and Practice

Covid-19 will also have a casualty count among congregations. Which churches will survive into the 21st century and, frankly, which ones really shouldn’t? If loneliness is the number one form of suffering in the western world, surely the connections made in a faith community should be a major solution to that isolation.

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Every Barking Dog

Many progressive people, maybe even especially progressive clergy, are often so afraid of criticism that they keep their most passionate beliefs to themselves. This is especially true for those of us who live in deeply conservative areas dominated by traditional forms of religion.

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The Ten Commandments of Logic

Logic and faith should be partners! A healthy spirituality does not deny reality but rather interrogates and interprets reality. We are not seeking to escape this world to be transported into an imaginary “other” world but rather to logically, ethically, lovingly transform the only world we know into a better, more compassionate world. For faith communities to be relevant in the emerging world, we must embrace an evidence based approach to our spirituality that is defined by critical thinking and a fearlessly prophetic scrutiny of our own beliefs.

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I Can’t Breathe (Racism in America)

“I can’t breathe.” Eric Garner’s last words were echoed this week by George Floyd as his life slipped away. The challenge for us is not to become inured by repetition. This time there was an arrest but immediately the coroner started the cover up saying that Floyd just happened to die from other causes while Derek Chauvin was kneeling on his neck.

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The Debt We Owe to the Truth

Every lie incurs a debt to the truth that must eventually be paid. This was initially said of Russian lies about the Chernobyl disaster but it certain applies to lies told about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the cover up in Catholic and Protestant churches about pedophilia, Boeing’s cover up of the failures of the 737 Max.

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What Mom Really Wants: Equal Rights

We are taking a wide angle view of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, from being relegated to carrying water and fire wood in the third world where female genital mutilation and sex trafficking are still common to the USA where, sadly sex trafficking is also common, but there is also religious oppression, a glass ceiling, and a sorely lacking representation in the houses of government.

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A New Economy for a post-Covid world

May 1 is the international workers’ holiday but this year, in light of the pandemic, more consideration needs to be given to the very nature of the economy beyond the traditional rivalry between owners and laborers.

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The Talk Revisited

Prejudice is its own logic, or, at least, it is impervious to logic, evidence, or critical thinking. This week we’ll consider the irrational beliefs behind many of our prejudices.

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The Resurrection of the Earth (Easter Sermon)

The pandemic is almost all that is mentioned in the news and it certainly occupies much of our emotional and mental energy. Sadly, however, the Covid-19 virus might not be the most dangerous thing going on in the world right now.

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Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

As we try to learn the skills of staying home, maintaining distance, and the disciplines that prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, that means that some of us are very isolated, living alone with almost no face to face contact with anyone.

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The End of the Status Quo

The world as we have known it no longer exists. This pandemic will end, realistically, however, the virus will remain and will be held at bay, largely by a vaccine that will have to be repeated as the virus evolves every year. Still, when it is safe to go back to church and to restaurants, movies and music venues, not all of them will have survived.

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