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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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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!read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more