Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021
Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed! Funeral services will be held at St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ and at St. Paul’s, Richmond, VA. Dates and times will be announced as soon as they are available

Resurrection as Change, Part II

The Emmaus Experience of Transformation

The Emmaus legend is about both the inevitability of change and the possibility of transformation. … In all the swift and varied changes of this world, the elusive goal of converting hearts and minds remains optional.

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Resurrection Is Only Change: A Brief Reflection for the Observance of Good Friday and Easter – Part I

Recently I’ve become aware of some significant changes occurring in the personal lives of some of the folks that gather in our monthly Pathways circle. Some changes are welcome, while some are not. It’s a mixed bag. It all reminds me, once again, of the only constant thing in our lives. It is the progressive changes that continue unabated, with whatever number of days we are each randomly accorded. Me included.

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Reimagining God: An Interview with Lloyd Geering (part 1 of 5) with Ryan Bell

This week I speak with Sir Lloyd Geering, New Zealand theologian and pioneering Christian post-theist. In 1967, Geering was charged with heresy by the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand. He successfully withstood this challenge and has continued writing and speaking about religion and holy texts as a human constructions and words like “God” and “faith” as referents of human self-understanding and growth. He is the author of many books and articles, a few of which can be found in the links below.

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Wisdom Does Not Change: Sages, Saints and Science Share the Way – Part 6

Part 6 of a 6-Part Series - Prioritize, Don’t Pursue

In an online course entitled, “A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment”, Week 1 Video 10: Prioritize but d not pursue Happiness, Rajagopal Raghunathan recommends that for greater fulfillment we should prioritize goals, rather than pursue them. He demonstrates what this means by using sleep as an example. To prioritize sleep we should do what brings a restful night—exercise, good diet and no arguing before bedtime! We cannot find good sleep by simply going to bed and willfully pursuing it; that will likely keep us awake! And this principle can be applied to other dilemmas; Overeaters Anonymous, for example advises members not to pursue weight loss but to prioritize abstinence and working their Twelve Step program. All healing platforms affirm: illumination by any name is a reward for doing what enables it.

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Wisdom Does Not Change: Sages, Saints and Science Share the Way – Part 5

Part 5 of 6-Part Series: Like Drinking Poison

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” (Carrie Fisher). Although the other person won’t die, resentment does poison Good. Yet we guard our resentments against a touch of forgiveness as if our lives depended upon it! In a state of resentment all forgiveness retreats to a mental blank spot. But forgiving is the only way to fully recover from the effects of toxic resentment. Through doctrines and teachings all major faiths advocate for forgiveness as essential for faith fulfillment. In secular life too forgiveness is recognized as necessary for well-being. But forgiveness has not always meant what it does today.

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Wisdom Does Not Change: Sages, Saints and Science Share the Way – Part 4

Part 4 of a 6-Part Series: The Intellect is not Boss

In every waking moment we make choices: mostly with sensible decisions based on coherent information with due consideration for consequences. But intellect alone does not control thinking. Neuroscientists point out that our actual ‘brainpower’ lies in signals between 86 billion unique neurons. Their intricate networks communicate, relay, and integrate signals within and between regions of the brain. These regions function with changing strengths and different information for various purposes. Their electrochemical impulses act and react with a barrage of rational, emotional, social, cultural, environmental, and physiological influences. Galaxies of neural forces evaluate risks and benefits in every choice.

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Wisdom Does Not Change: Sages, Saints and Science Share the Way – Part 3

Part 3 of 6-Part Series: Tapping the Quiet Mind

Tapping the Quiet Mind might be as simple as stepping back from a situation to take a few deep breaths, just zoning out, or the practice of meditation. But one way or another we all need to escape from demands, distractions and disturbances. A Quiet Mind lets us pause to enjoy some peace and quiet. In quietude we become detached from outward thinking to be ‘here’, and relinquish the past and future in favor of ‘now’.

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Wisdom Does Not Change: Sages, Saints and Science Share the Way – Part 2

Part 2 of 6-Part Series: Conscious effort alone does not fulfill us

Our conscious thoughts seek to make sense of life, analyze problems and reach decisions. And they affect how we act: we transfer what we think to those around us. Angry thoughts, for example produce angry interactions. Peaceful minds, however develop peaceful attitudes; and these bring greater fulfillment. But peace cannot be achieved by its conscious pursuit; it is found in a Quiet Mind. Unlike conscious, intellectual thinking that asserts self-interest, the Quiet Mind is a source of ‘Not Self’. Not Self really means Not as Selfish; to think less of yourself and about yourself. And this can bring us fulfillment in ways that transcend intellectualization.

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Wisdom Does Not Change: Sages, Saints and Science Share the Way – Part 1

Part 1 of a 6-Part Series: We are not as in control of our lives as we assume

We experience the sun differently each day; but its heat does not change. In the same way, we experience busy thoughts each day, but wisdom does not change. We use those thoughts to make sense of our various outlooks, but we need our quietude to find wisdom.

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How a “Non-theist” Celebrates “The Holidays,” Part 2

The Christmas holidays are even trickier for those who give even a token nod to a long-held doctrinal claim
of orthodox Christianity; that a theistic god somehow enters into the human story, rather than arising out of
our own consciousness and human imagination.

How then might a self-professed non-theist celebrate the nativity of a Galilean sage from days long gone
by, and call it holy? It lies in an ancient message that – more often than not – runs counter to the cultural
and political climate; but is central to the character and teachings of Jesus.

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Something Old, Something New: How a Non-Theist Celebrates “The Holidays”

Part 1 of 2-Part Article

he Thanksgiving holiday in America is a national observance that has been traditionally framed in a religious context. Whether you like roast turkey or not, one is expected to be thankful for it, and express one’s gratitude to the “Giver” of all good gifts.

For those of us who have enough, or more than enough, it’s all sufficiently palatable; if not theologically problematic to sing the old standard hymn in the face of arms-length hunger and poverty.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – God Can Use Imperfect People – Part Two

Yes, God uses imperfect people. As 1 Peter 4:10 says, we should serve with whatever gift we have received.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – God Can Use Imperfect People – Part One

I am abundantly aware that God can do remarkable things with less than perfect people. Noah supposedly had “blameless behavior,” but after the flood, he got drunk on the wine he produced and, although he may not have been aware due to his drunken stupor, may have had sexual relations with one of his sons. Later in Hebrew Scriptures, we meet other imperfect people who were used by God: Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Samson was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, David was an adulterer and murderer, Elijah was suicidal, and Abram.

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The Bell of Liberty and the Price of Freedom – Part 3

Part 3 of 3-Part Series

If we give up our rights to peaceably gather, protest and to question the motives of our elected officials under the cowardly fear of being labeled unpatriotic, then clearly, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, we deserve neither liberty nor safety. We appear to be on track, as planned, to succumb to the paranoiac and insistent boil of fear and terrorism as feed through the media and those who pull at the strings of power. If this happens and we do not move quickly, then like a frog placed in a pan of cool water on a stovetop…we will not discern the change in the water’s temperature as it is steeped to a boil. Jump, as it (or we) could out of the pan at any time, the frog never does, and thus dies as a result of confusion while in the boiling water.

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The Bell of Liberty and the Price of Freedom – Part 2

Part 2 of 3-Part Series

Once we had known, with clear conviction, the difference between right and wrong. As a people we were taught to protect the weak, right the wronged and fight for freedom. Now however, the moral compass of our heart had been turned, and with this, our minds rebuffed into submission. Values of goodness, which once defined our great nation, were now being defined by powers, we were told, were more wise than ourselves. They knew better and had our best interests at heart. They would protect us from what we were told to fear and what was beyond our capability to understand. We willingly allowed ourselves to be guided into a cauldron of water which was quickly being brought to a boil by flames of fears and fascism.

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The Bell of Liberty and the Price of Freedom – Part 1

(Part 1 of 3)

Once upon a time I was proud to be an American. Now, at the age of 55, I find myself deeply embarrassed to call myself one. The values we once stood for as a country: honor, justice, democracy and freedom, those which I grew up with believing were the sacred hallmark of our great nation, now gag in my throat. Where has it all gone wrong?

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Success and Leaps of Faith: Part 1

Each step of our life’s journey, whether we are aware of it or not, is a series of leaps of faith. Certain moments of our life, seemingly dramatic in nature, serve to punctuate and mark major turning points that define who we believe we are, what we have accomplished, relationships of meaning and opportunities that lead to a particular experience.

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Reconciling False Divisions, Part II

Second in a Series exploring the shared Abrahamic roots of three faith traditions

In a world so filled with forced migration and walls of division, the three Abrahmic faith traditions can share a common pilgrimage of faith over belief. It is an act of trust. Put another way, it is an act of submission that draws one into another kind of journey. In this sense, all children of Abraham are “muslims.”

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