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    • James Burklo
    • Rev. Jim Burklo is the Senior Associate Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at the University of Southern California. An ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, he is the author of seven published books on progressive Christianity, his latest book is “Tenderly Calling: An Invitation to the Way of Jesus “(St Johann Press, 2021). His weekly blog, “Musings”, has a global readership. He serves on the board of ProgressiveChristiansUniting.org and is an honorary advisor and frequent content contributor for ProgressiveChristianity.org.

When Will We Ever Learn?

When will we ever learn? It is time to get serious about studying current events and the history that has led up to them. So that we don’t make the mistakes we made in Afghanistan – and Iraq and Central America and Vietnam – ever again.

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But or And?

What brings us closer together around the communion table of divine love? What drives us apart? But or And, Against or Through, For or With?

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Good Questions (can change the world)

What would happen if other faithful people began to ask questions instead of arguing with answers they don’t like?  What would happen if we followed St. Paul’s advice and stopped returning evil for evil?  What would happen if we asked serious questions instead of behaving defensively in response to religious or political bombast?

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What They Are Saying About Us

Fundamentalist leaders used to describe progressive Christians as a shrinking heretical sect, if they noticed us at all.  Now they condemn us as an existential threat to the survival of evangelicalism.  Their rhetoric should inspire in us a healthy vigilance, as America drifts into deeper polarization and ominous threats of violence. 

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Finding the middle we can walk together

How can we stop the hate and bring the far right & left together to find the middle we can walk together and work for the USA’s survival?

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Blessing of Smart Phones

  Not long ago, I “mused” about my new friend at USC, Shane Cole – whom I refer to affectionately as a “digital Mennonite”.  He’s founding a student club he is calling “Digital Detox” – to promote a radically …

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United, Undivided

We are all Americans – of all ethnicities, cultures, and political persuasions.  We won’t allow ourselves to be divided.  We stand up, speak out, and we vote for preserving our democracy through free and fair elections to express the will of our majority, so that we can secure liberty and justice for all.

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Beginners’ Mind for Christians

Wisdom not much different than what St Benedict, a founder of Christian monasticism, observed about the contemplative life:  “Always we begin again.” Or what the 20th century Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, wrote about prayer:  “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners.”
 

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Love is Simple, And..

Simply put, love is attention.  It is not complicated to pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and urges.  It is not rocket science to stop, sit, and listen to another person who needs your time and focus. 

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Twists and Turns: Celebrating Vulnerability

What is sacrificed at the altar of transactional relationships?  Vulnerability.  You don’t want folks to see the twists and turns of your life that might un-burnish your reputation.  But without vulnerability, there’s no real friendship. 

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Tenderly Calling: An Invitation to the Way of Jesus

Jim Burklo attunes the reader to Jesus’ voice in “Tenderly Calling”. It is an invitation for those starting the path of Jesus, as well as for those setting out afresh. He invites the reader into the depths of the Bible’s transformative myth and poetry, into the practices of Christian contemplation, and into action, building the kingdom of heaven and earth.

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Undoubtedly Supportive

The St Thomas Collective provides a safe community for Biola students/alumni who find themselves doubting, frustrated, and spiritually homeless.

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Love Language for progressive church worship

These three words sum up progressive Christian theology. They represent a turning point in the evolution of human understanding of Ultimate Reality.  The Bible starts with Superman-In-The-Sky and ends with agape – unconditional love – as the identity of the Divine.

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Donkey Wisdom for Palm Sunday

Jesus may have been humble. But in the last couple of months, I’ve learned a thing or two about donkeys. And I can say this: Jesus wasn’t humble because he rode into town on a donkey. A donkey is as noble an animal as any horse.

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Finding the right church

I want to be a Christian and I want to show my daughter who God is and can be, but I’m at a loss. Do I stay where I am or do I join a less Christian church? Either way I will feel like an outsider.

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The Spiritual Discipline of Skepticism

There are many questions that mainstream science can’t answer, at least at the moment.  Ethical and moral questions, such as: who should get the Covid vaccine first?  And how can such a prioritization be made understandable and acceptable to the public?

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LENT for Progressive Christians

Let us feast on simple pleasures, and fast from all that gets our bodies and souls out of balance.

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Psalms For Now

PSALMS – interpreted by Jim Burklo. Use freely with attribution

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Salvation for All

Are we “saved” together, or “saved” separately? It is certainly a living question for Christians to ponder, but it is worth asking in the context of other religions – or in that of no religion at all.  Are we “all in the same boat”, or not? 

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Stations of the Cross: Confronting and Contemplating Climate Change

A practice for individuals and churches

You can “walk” these stations by practicing one station per day, from March 20 through Good Friday, April 2 – or at any other time or manner during Lent (Ash Wednesday, February 17, until Easter Sunday, April 4).  

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Begging Your Pardon: A musing on mercy

So as this nightmarish era in American politics comes to an end, let us get spiritually prepared to temper justice with mercy – for the sake of the Love who is God, for the sake of democracy, and for the sake of us all.

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A Call to Action: Progressive Christians Defend the Vote

A lot of us are overwhelmed by the very high volume of this election.  And this isn’t just about a certain candidate’s decibel level.  We’re talking about the inner volume of political narratives roaring through our minds.  We need to prepare spiritually for the likely electoral debacle ahead.

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Contemplating the Cross

A spiritual practice for a crucial era

In churches, I often find myself contemplating the cross.  It is a kind of “visio divina” – another way of climbing Guigo’s ladder, through seeing.  It becomes the means of focus, and the focus itself, of worship.  It centers and guides me toward the life-giving Love that is God….

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Real Patriotism in a Troubled Election

We must have a plan - before, during, and after...

  There are literally hundreds of compelling public-policy based reasons for voting for Joe Biden and the Democrats in the upcoming election. But there is one reason that stands out far, far beyond all others: Donald J. …

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The Soul of America: A meditation on the spiritual foundation of the USA

In this election season, let us pray that our candidates speak in the rhetoric of this spiritual humility – for a change. America has a soul. Our nation’s heart is still burning to express our transcendent values through the structures of our society.

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Fighting Racism with Umlaut Restoration

A way to de-center "white centering"...

With a group of extended family members, all white, I’m in a book study group focused on “Me and White Racism” by Layla Saad. Together we’re reflecting on the ways we are personally implicated. It’s not a wallow in white guilt, but rather a bracing, clarifying look at what is, so that we can begin to see what could be.

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My Resources for Churches

(and everyone else!)

Every so often, I put out a “musing” that is a guide to my writings and videos. It’s that time when churches make plans for their program year, so this is a good moment to share links to my materials for worship, study, and spiritual practice.  Use freely.  All I ask is attribution!

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Is “progressive” an aspiration or an appellation?

By identifying ourselves and our churches explicitly as “progressive”, we have lifted our perspective on the faith to a much higher level of public awareness.  Our efforts have legitimized our understanding of Christianity, making it much more accessible to the growing number of Christians who yearn for an alternative way to understand and walk the way of Jesus.

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Dreams in a Time of Pandemic

And who are you, in this identity-shattering era through which we’re living?  Journaling your dreams and sharing them with others might help you answer that question….

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Staring at Bread: Making communion a spiritual practice

Annually, for several years, I visited the monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a beautiful compound north of downtown Tucson. I was amazed at the physical, mental, and spiritual liveliness of these mostly older women, and the level of their engagement with the world despite their mostly cloistered way of life.

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The People’s Pandemic Eucharist

Covid-19 has separated us from our officially-sanctioned holy places and sacred things.  The members of our church in Los Angeles yearn to get back to our beloved worship space.  But we are seizing this opportunity to turn the church inside out.  We are finding the sacred in the relationships we maintain with each other on computer screens, in the elements of communion we assemble from donuts and crackers and orange juice and coffee, and in the urban, indoor, and natural environments that have become our sanctuaries.

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My People: A Lamentation on Racism

Black lives matter.  Not at the expense of other lives.  By affirming that Black lives matter in this moment in history, all lives matter more. It is worth reflecting on why and how this is true.

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Sighs Too Deep

  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”  (St Paul, Romans 8: 26) I …

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Wisdom Calls

Wisdom is paying attention while refraining from the assumption that you understand everything about what you are observing.  Indeed, in order to pay full attention, we must release our grasp on what we do know, so that we make room in our hearts and minds for further knowledge. 

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Jesuses I Have Known

How mental illness reveals the truth of Christianity

After many such encounters, I began to realize that the seemingly random and disconnected utterances of people in psychosis often had very deep significance.  Their expressions were profound reflections of their subjective experience, windows into the souls of us all.  We take our inner lives for granted, not examining the structure of the psyche, until there is a breakdown.  Then its contents are revealed, and we get a look at its structure.   This inner architecture is amazing, but it’s not neat, tidy, and rational, so it can be a scary discovery.

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Deeper Attention: The Soul of Charles Darwin

To know something new requires un-knowing that you know it all.  Darwin’s epiphanies deliver the reader into this place of un-knowing, which opens us to the knowledge of what lies beyond.

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