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Values to Build a Life On – Part II

Dedication to Religious Traditions Updated with Democratic Values

Few Millennials or Centennials read books. Freshmen in my history classes prefer online assignments with video clips, diagrams, cartoons, and very short narratives. They like online textbooks with chapters that are short with links to interesting visuals. They read books only when they must. The Bible is something that hardly ever interests them at all. Having grown up a Protestant in the Old South’s Bible Belt, it’s hard to believe how knowledge of the Bible and Judeo-Christian history have declined since the mid-20th century.

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Right and Wrong Times and Places

Those who believe there is a right and wrong time and place to protest injustices are those whose privilege keeps them from the injustices. Those who with Rev. Dr. M.L. King, Jr., live by the principle that the right time to do the right thing is now, privileged or not, remind us of the immorality of acquiescence, apathy, indifference, denial, negligence, and procrastination in confronting injustice and evil.

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Political Salesmanship and Christian Morality

  The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ (Matthew 13:13)   Has overt Christian involvement in politics made public …

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…A Bit More Before We Jump In Together

Hello again! In the first installment of this column I wrote a bit about my Mennonite background and the impact it has had on me to live a good part of my young adulthood in Communist Hungary and Socialist Austria. Coming back to America in the last couple years of the Reagan Administration was a real shocker for me, and in many ways I am still adjusting to the changes that took place during those few years.

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Roy Moore? Pardon me, I thought you were Joseph.

An Alabama politician just compared Judge Roy Moore’s “dating” of teenagers to the relationship of an adult Joseph to a teenaged Mary. What does the Bible actually say about Joseph and Mary’s ages?

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Was Einstein a Theist?

…though linguistically, “being” an a-theist (atheist) should be the same thing as not being a theist, this clearly is not always the case. Indeed, even the renowned Unitarian Humanist John H. Dietrich made this very claim: that is, that because he considered himself open minded about the possibility of there being a god he was not an atheist. Though because he saw no evidence for a god, he was not a theist. Dietrich falls victim to the mental contortion of equating denial of existence with proof of non-existence, what he felt was the definition of atheist.

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Bringing God Back

The problem with the Christian church in Western Europe is that it has little or no impact on the society at large. You can’t have an impact if the pews are empty. With the possible exception of Evangelical Protestants, the same trend is occurring in America, though at a slower rate. Museums are in our future too. Millennials are abandoning Christianity in record numbers. Like the people I spoke to in Denmark, they do not reject God but rather Christian doctrine.

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Would Jesus Have an Immigration Policy?

Instead, we should be providing sanctuary for these refugees and immigrants who are fleeing persecution. Whether in our nation, churches, or our homes, we are to show loving-kindness, respect, and care for the well-being of all of our siblings. Isn’t this what we would want others to do for us if the circumstances were reversed? Honestly, isn’t this what Jesus would have us do?

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Interfaith Educational Resources for Young People –Free Online

This abundance of youth resources – collected from around the world – is very encouraging in terms of the future.

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Scriptural Reasoning — a group-based interfaith study of sacred texts

Dear interfaith leaders around the world: Scriptural Reasoning is a process in which small groups of Jews, Christians and Muslims, and sometimes people of other faiths, gather to read and reflect upon short passages from their scriptures. “Opening our sacred texts to others for conversation from the heart, and modeling a fellowship that sees difference as rich and illuminating” fashions a relationship through the medium of sacred writings. Scriptural Reasoning’s well-constructed website includes a number of guides and rich resources, including 24 “Text Bundles” which offer brief scriptural readings from the three Abrahamic religions, with titles such as “Encountering God”, “Abrahamic Hospitality”, “Fasting” and “Refugees.”

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Principles and guidelines for interfaith dialogue

Dear interfaith colleagues around the world: This compendium of concise and handy resources provides insight into the interfaith movement and its treasure chest of wisdom and learning opportunities. This collection explores the goals, types and stages of dialogue and touches on issues such as interfaith etiquette, listening, peace-building, hospitality, respectful presence and dialogue-versus-debate. These principles and guidelines are useful for those who are new to interfaith as well as for veterans of interfaith work.

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Worship Materials: Beginnings and Endings

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

Buried in every beginning is an ending.

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The Teaching and Person of Jesus

Whatever one thinks of Jesus as savior or Son of God, everyone seems agreed that at least he was a teacher. It’s when we begin to ask exactly what he taught, however, that agreement slips away. From one perspective, what Jesus taught is not unique: love one another, know yourself, help the poor. Such advice somehow seems ingrained in the human consciousness, and so unsurprisingly turns up in a variety of religions and philosophies.

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The 10 Most Important Lines From Pope Francis’ Historic Speech to Congress

In a powerful speech to a joint session of Congress Thursday morning, Pope Francis pushed the United States to confront several political issues that tend to divide Republicans and Democrats, including immigration, climate change, the Iran deal, Cuba, poverty, and the death penalty.

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If Jesus Addressed Congress

Second in a Series exploring the relationship between one’s theological framework and political viewpoint …

Earlier this year the Prime Minister of Israel addressed a joint session of Congress. Last week, Pope Francis did the same. Many believed the former had a political ax to grind, and the latter a pastoral message with political points to preach.

For many modern day Christians, Francis embodies many of the teachings and much of the life-style of the Galilean sage. Unless one believes in the highly speculative Second Coming, Jesus will likely never be invited by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to follow Benjamin and Francis, addressing our political leaders. But if we were to draw from the earliest available records of his theological – if not political – perspective, what might Jesus have to say to our elected government officials? Read more.

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ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs”.

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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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Emmaus is Nowhere because Emmaus is Everywhere – Is Christianity Dead?

a sermon for Easter 3A – Luke 24:13-35

We must treat the earth with the same kind of compassion that you would want from creation; the same kind of compassion you would want from the divine. As we travel this road to Emmaus, it becomes less and less important for us to believe in a certain way and vital that we behave with compassion. God is not dead. God is alive and well. God walks with us on the road. God is our companion on the road.

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How to Read the Bible: A Progressive Christian Guide

Here I offer a set of assumptions and suggestions for reading, understanding, and making creative spiritual use of the Bible.

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We’re Never Alone;
“God”* is within us

*DiSSoLaL (Divine Spirit, Source of Life and Love)
RE-PACKAGING DIVINITY: Becoming Divinely Human

I am a quasi retired Spiritual Director and Church Consultant within the United Church of Christ (UCC). I am deeply concerned with the fetters of 4th Century “packaging” of Divinity related to the religious challenges of the 21st Century.

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The Foolishness of Jesus

Wisdom & Foolishness in the Perennial Tradition

Wisdom is often mistaken as knowledge, prudence or pragmatism; whereas foolishness is equally regarded sometimes to be the kind of fool-hearted thing Jesus would have characteristically espoused with many of his confounding ideas about God, God’s ways and how we ought to treat one another. Truth be told, there are plenty of people who consider themselves much too smart to take seriously some of the darn fool things Jesus actually said and meant. But Jesus was no ordinary fool. A Words and Ways Commentary by John Bennison.

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Black Community Poised to Follow Obama’s Leadership on Gay Rights

Two weeks after Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to declare support for marriage equality, we are still gauging the impact of his statement. At first blush, some regarded his evolution as a nonevent, since his …

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How to Read the Bible

2) The Hebrew scriptures, or the Old Testament, represent a religious tradition that is independent of the later Christian faith. The Hebrew scriptures aren’t about Jesus, although the Christian scriptures include many references to the Hebrew scriptures. To honor the fundamental differences between the two sets of scriptures doubles the spiritual significance of the entire Bible.

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Same Bible, Different Verdict On Gay Marriage

When President Obama announced he now supports same-sex marriage, he cited his Christian faith. “The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, …

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Obama Says His Faith Informed His Support for Gay Marriage

In his interview with ABC News, released just this afternoon, President Obama said that his faith played a role in his decision to finally endorse same-sex marriage. He noted that he and his wife Michelle “are both practicing Christians,” …

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The First Liberal

A Secular Look at Jesus' Socio-Political Ideas and How They Became the Basis of Modern Liberalism

Dennis Altman frames a fascinating discussion for both conservatives and liberals. Using Jesus’ teachings as logical arguments unadorned by religious overtones, Altman challenges established notions with eye-opening impact.

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The Capacity and Compunction for Compassion

Beyond any question of ethical and legal right or wrong, reason or rationale, human goodness or human evil, guilt and judgment, worthiness or worthlessness — when all is said and done — does there remain yet a response that is not only possible, but necessary, to acknowledge the dignity and worth of every human being? Do we have both the capacity and compunction to include in the mix some expression of compassion in such tragic stories of brokenness and estrangement, violence and vengeance.

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Pluralism Sunday

  Pluralism Sunday Pluralism isn’t just diversity; it’s something we create out of this diversity. Dr. Diana Eck, founder and director of the Pluralism Project On the first Sunday in May The first Sunday of May is …

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Charter for Compassion

Join us by signing the Charter for Compassion!

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Redefining Christ and Christianity

This report examines an American religious movement called progressive Christianity and what it can tell us about religion in the modern world.

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My Five Lessons from “On Faith”

It was five years ago this month that we launched On Faith. The idea was to inform and educate about all faiths (and no faith) and to initiate an on-going discussion about the role of religion, values and ethics in our daily lives.

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A Different Clergy Voice

This month I write with a sad and heavy heart. Five young men have died due to suicide. The common thread between them is that they were young, Gay and experiencing harsh harassment and devastating discrimination from their peers. Current statistics inform us that 9 out of 10 Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual and Transgendered Young People experience such dehumanizing and demoralizing treatment every day. We are informed, also, that they are 30% more likely to commit suicide than their peers.

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Pluralism Sunday is May 2, 2010

Friends of Christian Pluralism: Pluralism Sunday is on May 2! Get your church or local group to join in the celebration of religious diversity.  On PLURALISM SUNDAY, churches celebrate elements of other world faiths in their sermons, litanies, and music; many feature speakers and singers from other faith traditions. Click more for more information and to sign up your church or group.

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Stepping Out with the Sacred: Progressive Engaging the Divine, Part 1

In progressive religious thinking, old images of God have been retired and new metaphors for the Divine within the universe, whether Energy, Presence, Spirit, Sacred, Ground of Being, Life, have become more authentic for a scientific world. Yet, in a multi-faith world, we cannot speak of the Sacred infusing the universe without recognizing It as that sought and described in all religions. How do we engage this Divine within the world, or the Divine engage us, if at all, in a multi-faith world? How do human beings step out with the Sacred in everyday life across countries, cultures, and religious persuasions?

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The Path of Jesus Means Inclusion of All

Jesus, obviously, saw everyone as “being created in The Imagio Dei” (“The Image and Likeness of God”). He saw everyone as having worth and dignity before God.

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Health Care is a Moral Imperative

Throughout the course of human history, there are times when a nation and its people must speak to moral imperatives — to speak clearly to what is faithful to our American ideals, what is compassionate toward our people and what is right for our country.  As spiritual leaders of diverse religious background and with one voice, we the undersigned appeal to our elected representatives, our President, and elected officials of the State of Indiana to provide affordable and accessible health care for all Americans.

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