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The Final Deadline: What Death Has Taught Me about Life

“Too often we postpone life, as if there were no deadline.” As a writer, Chris Glaser experiences deadlines as friendly reminders that something has to be accomplished by a given time. Glaser views death as The Final Deadline, one that insists we “get it” or “get it done”—whatever “it” is—during our lifetimes.

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A God of Sensations

But there is another way I believe God and spirit may be experienced: kinesthetically. It is primal and pre-rational, our first encounter with something beyond ourselves. It begins in our mother’s womb, immersed in embryonic fluids, nourished and protected by our mother’s flesh. We feel the pulsing of her heart. On a men’s retreat, I heard the Franciscan Richard Rohr speculate that men’s love of drumming may come from that early memory of our mother’s heartbeat.

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“Blessed Are the Job-Creators…”

More enervated than inspired by this year’s campaign season, I thought of writing a parody of Jesus’ Beatitudes (you know, “Blessed are the job creators…”) or maybe collect Jesus’ sayings about the way things are and the way things should be and place them in contemporary U.S. contexts (such as the parable of the laborers in the vineyard whose time cards differed but whose pay was the same)…

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Ayn Rand Was Consistent

Individualism vs Collectivism

I would say that belief in either God or spirituality goes hand in hand with collectivism. Spirituality is about “the whole enchilada.”

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Spiritual Care for the Liberated

We, Too, Need a Verse to Chant

The first sermon in which I included gay people by name among “the least of these” for whom Jesus cared, my text was the story from Acts of Paul and Silas in prison. An earthquake frees them, and the jail keeper prepares to take his own life, thinking they have escaped. But Paul shouts out, “Do not be afraid, for we are all here.” That was my sermon title, and I explained that despite their liberation, they take time to convert the jail keeper, recognizing he too is imprisoned. I’d like to think that, almost to the day that I gave that sermon 40 years ago, I still have some of that youthful idealism.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Progressive Christian Reflections

Despite four central theological affirmations to the contrary—Creation, Incarnation, Resurrection, and the church as the Body of Christ—Christians got it in their heads that the body was not a locus for divinity.

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The Boy with Green Hair

As a boy, I was sometimes left to entertain myself on Saturday afternoons. Watching TV, I happened onto a film that touched my experience even before I could name it. I knew I was different and was pained by my difference because, like most children, I wanted to be like everyone else.

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“For God’s Sake, Chill!”

William Countryman points out in his book Dirt, Greed, and Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today that people in biblical times lived with an understanding of limited resources—there was only so much to go around. Thus greed was the greatest sin, because to desire something for oneself was to take it away from somebody else.

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My Dog Ate My Scripture

On the eve of our flight to San Francisco so that I might serve as interim pastor in 2006, my late dog Calvin (himself an author) devoured most of a huge hardbound thousand-page concordance of the Bible. He ingested so many biblical references that he was still exegeting them on the grassy lawns of Park Merced for days after our arrival!

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Seeing Things as if for the First Time

In his novel Zorba the Greek, the Greek author and lifelong spiritual seeker Nikos Kazantzakis observed that poets, artists, and visionaries see things “as if for the first time.” The narrator’s friend Zorba, based on an acquaintance of …

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Hang-Gliding and Mudwrestling: The Spiritual Life

I believe it’s in the Bible that we find people and a God willing to wrestle with one another. The spirituality of the Bible is more mudwrestling than hang-gliding, from the depiction of a God who wrestles mud into human shapes in Jewish scriptures to the depiction of creation itself groaning in childbirth in Christian scriptures.

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Peace in Jerusalem

I thought for sure I would live long enough to see peace come to Israel.

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Wounded Healers

Henri once wrote that the “J. M.” in the middle of his name could stand for “Just Me.” He believed that the minister (again, every Christian) was called to live a life offered to others. The autobiography or memoir is said to have first appeared in The Confessions of Saint Augustine, and spiritual autobiography has long had a place as a means of doing theology. I lead workshops and retreats on spiritual autobiographical writing, encouraging participants to tell their stories.

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“Our Mother…”

Before it became common to avoid its gender specificity, I long ago changed the “Our Father” to “God, Mother and Father of us all…” in my daily recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. “Father” as a metaphor did not contain all of God’s attributes, in my experience. And, I must confess, the metaphor of “Mother” contained the divine attributes I found most positive.

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The Temple of God’s Wounds

Every Holy Week for many years I have travelled to The Temple of God’s Wounds, a small book written in 1951 by the Anglican Bishop of Bombay, ‘Will Quinlan’ nee William Quinlan Lash, a mystic.

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Richard Dawkins Has More Faith Than I Do

Famed evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins is one of those atheists who inspire faith in me even while dissin’ it. I found a recent New York Times interview of him by Michael Powell more uplifting than that week’s religious articles. Of course that’s because most media coverage of religion highlights faults more than insights. 

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