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Some Thoughts on Loving Kindness

Can kindness save the world? That is the question I posed as I reflected on the theme of ‘transforming the world through loving kindness.’ Are we really talking about changing the world through small acts of kindness, perhaps from one stranger to another? If so, are we discussing a movement like London’s ‘Kindness Offensive,’ known for orchestrating large-scale ‘random acts of kindness?’ Although kindness is an important virtue, and the world is all the better for it, can friendly, gentle, caring, considerate, and helpful people change the entrenched systems of domination, poverty, and violence that we face in our neighborhoods, nation, and the global community? Kindness may give pleasure to others and make us feel better in return, but I suspect that transforming the world will require more than simple acts of kindness that lift someone’s spirits.

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Who or What Is God?

The word God evokes highest aspirations. It suggests the whole, and what makes me whole. It delivers me into the rich darkness of mystery, the allure of the unknown. It provokes possibility. It aims beyond what I can explain. The word God invites me beyond what I can imagine. The word God hints at the personality of the universe. It touches me with all-surpassing Love. The word God invokes curiosity, creativity. My uncertainty about what the word God means spins me into a healthy, humbling disequilibrium. It leaves me giddy.

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Marcus J. Borg 1942-2015

He was one of the giants in the Christian faith during the last 25 years, widely read, widely known and widely respected. He was a quiet man, humble and unassuming, yet simultaneously he was brilliant, provocative and stretching.

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O Sapientia — Wisdom’s Feast

The butterfly lives in a seamless realm, a matrix, poetically in the palm of God/dess’s hand, not alien or estranged. Is it possible for us to find that kind of confidence, or trust in the nature of the Universe itself? Let’s take a moment or two to think about Wisdom, and our place in the Universe. What kind of liturgy, or worship experience, would celebrate the kind of inclusive, nurturing community the butterfly knows without thinking about it?

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Seven Things We Forget When Our Resolutions Fail

Our resolutions fail around the sixth day of January—or maybe the fifteenth if we’re really disciplined and really imaginative and really motivated—not because our inner child/artist/ is injured, or because we don’t actually want to change.

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Transforming our Lives

The New Year is as good a time as any to work on the transformation of our lives. And isn’t that what life is really all about – transformation. We all go through the usual transformations from being a child, to a teenager, a young adult, a mature middle aged person, and then to become life’s senior citizens.

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Transformation by Touch – Reiki Healing Touch as a Spiritual Practice

The body is inspired, and the spirit is embodied. That affirmation describes the heart of today’s holistic spirituality. Long before dualism infected Christianity, the Christian movement believed in the healing energy of touch. Jesus touched people and transformed cells as well as souls and social position. A woman with a flow of blood touched Jesus, and energy flowed from Jesus to her that transformed her physical and spiritual health, and liberated her from social stigma. (Mark 5:24-34) A few decades later, the apostle Paul described the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, alive, holy, and transparent to divine inspiration. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20) The Christian movement saw the flow of divine energy from God to us and from one person to another as inherent in the natural processes of cause and effect, and not an external supernatural violation of the laws of nature. The early Christians believed that we lived in wonderful world and that the body was spirit-filled and reflective of divine wisdom.

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Eve, Adam, and Self Transformation

The theme for this month’s e-bulletin is transforming our lives. Probably the most famous statement of self transformation in western culture is the Yahwist narrative of Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. The story describes what we might call a negative transformation- the pair “fell” from a state of childlike innocence and were banished from paradise. Understanding that transformation, however, can help us to reverse it. Here’s the story.

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Transformation

Jesus called on people to change. Not just a little, but dramatically. The ‘kingdom of God’ is the term Jesus used to express his vision of a profound transformation of human beings and human institutions—social, political, economic and religious—to fully express the character and nature of God—a God of love. To accomplish this vision, Jesus worked toward the creation of a new kind of community dedicated to values of compassion, generosity, peace, and justice. He was creating a movement for change, a people engaged in a vast conspiracy of love.

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The Need to Transform

I find it fascinating that an institution which at its very core is about transformation, does all it can to resist change. Ironically from its earliest manifestations, the Christian path has always been about transformation. The Jesus story is first and foremost about changing our perspective, our purpose and ultimately our lives. What else but transformation could the story of a poor peasant who becomes a respected rabbi, a teacher of a new way of living, mean? How else can we interpret the intent of Jesus’ actual teachings like breaking down social barriers, forgiving our enemies and loving abundantly without qualifications than with steps to an inner and social transformation? What could being spiritually born again mean other than transformation? What does the symbol of resurrection mean other than transformation?

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The Bible as Personal Transformation Guide

The Bible is, in my mind, the best witness the Western World had to the evolution of human consciousness. That is a story in itself – I’m working on the book. However, what is true on the grand scale of one tradition’s journey toward wholeness is also true as a map for our personal growth. We can see the ages and stages of our own lives against the background of the biblical story. I will touch on some main points.

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Honoring Dr. Marcus Borg

We are sad to share that Marcus Borg passed away on January 21, 2015. He was a brave leader in the Progressive Christian movement and his work helped many people on their spiritual journey. He was an honorary advisor for ProgressiveChristianity.org for over 15 years, a dear friend and respected colleague. He will be greatly missed. Our loving thoughts and condolences go out to his friends, fans, and family. To honor his life and service to the movement, we created a short and simple tribute.

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Memorial to a Beloved Advisor, and Friend – Marcus Borg

Marcus became one of our most active Honorary Advisors, making suggestions and contributions over the years. We ended up several times at the same conferences and we usually found time to catch up on things from books to family. He never hesitated to let me know when he felt we had published something that was incorrect or with which he disagreed. We always appreciated his input. Marcus and I did have an ongoing, energetic conversation about the role of reciting ancient creeds which made statements we no longer believed, but we finally managed to agree to disagree. Those things are easy when you respect and love someone.

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Some Assembly Required: A Church Without God

I thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday Assembly. Clearly it addresses a felt need of many people for a community without religious content. I sensed that some folks were there in reaction against religion, but it looked like most were just looking for a wholesome community with which to connect.

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Vivekananda’s Contribution to Christian Religious Pluralism

(This is the speech I gave at a commemoration of the birthday of Swami Vivekananda at the Vedanta Society in Hollywood on 1-11-15.) Dear Vedanta friends, I share in the reverence that you hold for Swami Vivekananda, …

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The Spiritual Power Of An Open Mind

When our spiritual journey is authentic, it opens us to a depth of wisdom we are unable to imagine when we take those first steps on the journey to a deeper life. I have learned that our individual spiritual journey is often very similar to those who walked the spiritual path ahead of us. Because of that simple reality, they have much to teach us if we are willing to empty our personal ego and listen to their wisdom with an open mind.

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Faith Trends I See in 2015

In the spirit of Janus, I ended the year looking backward at a world in disarray and forward at three faith movements I expect in 2015.

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So What Have You Noticed? What Have You Learned About Life?

As any true mystic will tell you, if your goal is to become fully human, the spiritual window you use to view the world must include two important spiritual questions. The first being what have you noticed and the second, what have you learned?

To effectively answer these simple questions, we first have to transform our consciousness and learn to see into the depths of reality. Stated simply, we have to learn to “see the real world”, not the world our ego expects to “see”.

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