Justifying the Inexcusable

An economic system is nothing more than the agreed upon method of distributing resources. Any nation can change their economic system if it isn’t working for the best interests of the majority of the citizens. Our economic system has become much worse since Dorothy Day called it a “filthy rotten system” almost a century ago. We don’t have to accept it. In fact, we must not.

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Prayer Changes Us – BRUNCHtalks 7

As our images of God expand, we must move beyond praying to an elsewhere god. All of life is lived in the midst of Divinity. The life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth point to the reality that Divinity is LOVE. All life is lived in the midst of Love. Prayer is seeking connection to Divinity/Love. Prayer changes us, changing us, changes creation, and so prayer changes the ONE in whom we live, and breathe, and have our being.

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Three Deadly Sins of Public Discourse

The USA is suffering a partisan divide that now rivals the years of the Civil Rights Movement and the protests of the war in Vietnam. In order to heal our divided nation, conservatives and liberals must learn to both talk to one another and to sincerely listen. But mere civility will not save us unless we avoid logical pitfalls in our public conversation. This sermon outlines three: the problem of epistemology, of false equivalence, and what-about-ism. Take this as a short course in philosophical reasoning.

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Confessions of a Recovering Progressive

Description: Progress is the de facto religion in the industrial world. But something has changed in America, and beyond. What happens when we progressives ‘lose the faith’?

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The End of Providence

While much of traditional Judaism, Christianity, and Islam profess a belief in a God who is a person, a person with a will, emotions, and preferences and that God is in control of history. Progressive people of faith tend to eschew this kind of supernatural theism. As St Teresa said, God has no hands in this world but our hands, no feet but our feet. The universe is capricious but we are moral actors. Meaning, love, purpose, happen when we make them happen.

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Jesus ain’t no super-hero!

The anonymous gospel storyteller that we call Mark, provides us with the shortest of the four gospels — just 16 brief chapters. But don’t let that fool you. The writer of this account of the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth packs more action into his short gospel than any of the racy novels, spy thrillers, mystery novels or tell all biographies that you can find today on Amazon. Today’s reading occurs barely half way through our anonymous storyteller’s account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and already Jesus has: been baptized in the river Jordan and been tempted in the wilderness by the evilest of villains, Satan himself.

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? PRAYER ? – BRUNCHtalks 6

When you no longer imagine the LOVE that we call God as an elsewhere-god, a personified deity who manipulates creation to fulfill our wishes, what becomes of prayer? Our BRUNCHtalks continue to explore what it means to say we are “Progressive in approach: Christ-like in action.” Some technical oversights meant that part two of our talk was not recorded. However, part one is intact and you can view the video of Richard Rohr on Prayer as A State of Communion here which lead us into part two’s discussion.

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Making Family Joyful Again

The holidays lie ahead of us bringing family gatherings that hold promise of ideal loving encounters and the potential for disastrous or even violent exchanges. This sermon considers the two extremes of domestic violence and unattainable Norman Rockwell holiday by encouraging people to follow the advice from AA: Don’t tell me how sick you have been. Tell me how well you want to become. 

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Haud Ignota Loquor (Speak not of what is not known)

Generations before the birth of Jesus, Virgil wrote in the Aeneid the solemn advice that we should not speak of what cannot be or what is not known. We would all be a lot better off if religions of all stripes had followed that advice. The world’s great faiths offer moral insight and direction (though even that should be critically received) but this wisdom is encrusted with magical thinking and unsubstantiated truth claims that have little or no bearing on the real world. Progressives seek to reveal the wisdom of faith without passing along the neurotic or false claims of our traditional faith.

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God is too big for just one religion

Joseph Campbell taught that all religions are true as long as they are taken poetically and metaphorically. However, when we try to take a religious text as being historically or factually “true,” then they all become false. God doesn’t write books. While we may wish for absolute truths, the fact of our spiritual lives is that we have to think critically and morally interrogate our beliefs constantly as we navigate our way between truth and “fake news.”

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All Saints – Giving thanks for the Divine in One-another!

All Saints’ Day is a day for remembering.  The word saint simply means “holy”. In the New Testament, all those who believe and were baptized were referred to as saints. It wasn’t until round about the third century that the church began using the word saint to refer to those who had been martyred for the faith. Over time these martyred saints were held up for veneration and people used to pray to them to intercede on their behalf. I’m not going to go into all of the institutional abuses that led Martin Luther and the later reformers to abolish the veneration of the saints. Except to say, that while the Reformation put an end to the veneration of the saints in the protestant churches, it did not abolish the concept of sainthood.

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Cancers Grow from Within

Though art and movies usually portray villains as being hideous, the truth is that the most evil temptations are usually irresistibly attractive. Israeli scholar, Yuval Noah Harari, has written about how we are drifting towards fascism in the west, not by conscious decisions, but by being tempted towards tribal power and justification of prejudice. To avoid fascism, we have to be aware that we really don’t want to go down that path, even when our personal tribe might have momentary successes.

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Exercising Empathy

Empathy is more than sympathy, it involves a deeper understanding of, and even the ability to anticipate the feelings of another person. There are two kinds of religion, the personal piety sort whose goal is to avoid punishment and attain reward, and the empathic journey of faith that seeks to be a blessing to others, even those who are not yet born. Maybe there is really only one kind of religion because, as this sermon argues, religion without empathy is really just self-service with rituals.

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Demanding Answers from the Universe

Telling ourselves that “everything happens for a reason” may be comforting but there is a minority voice in the Bible that screams out that it “just ain’t so!” In Job, Ecclesiastes, and much of the Proverbs, we find a rational counter argument to other witnesses that insist that God is active in human history and that there is a divine plan that justifies human suffering. This progressive church chooses to accept that Job got it right. Things don’t happen for a reason unless we can choose to bring meaning to the events.

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An Overdue Second Bill of Rights

F. D. Roosevelt recognized that the original bill of rights, that guaranteed certain political freedoms, would not be enough to make all American’s free with a similar bill of rights that would guarantee economic independence. Of the eight amendments he proposed in 1944, seven are still waiting to be implemented. The progressive movement is not dead but it has been too slow to gain ground. We really need to pick up FDR’s banner and run with it!

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Jesus Matters – BRUNCHtalks 5

Jesus MATTERS – BRUNCHtalks 5
by Rev. Dawn Hutchings

Audio only click here

Moving beyond the sacrificial interpretation of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth to explore a progressive way of following Jesus. Jesus’ way of being provides hope for 21st century christian communities who embrace the LOVE we meet in the stories about Jesus that have been handed down to us. Can christian communities provide a space where people can gather together to learn how to love?

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Following Jesus is for Losers

This Sunday Rev. Meyers preaches from the Gospel according to Mark, chapter chapter 8 verses 27 thru 38, a passage known as “Peter’s Declaration about Jesus.” Recorded Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 from the pulpit of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church in Oklahoma City.

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Faith Defined by Radical Compassion

Molly Tibbetts was murdered by an undocumented immigrant farm worker. When her death was being used to promote the building of a wall along our border with Mexico and a stepped up deportation policy, Molly’s father wrote an op-ed asking for compassion and sanity. The spiritual practice of compassion is not simply a matter of civility and good manners but requires that we make sacrifices of our comfort or even our safety.

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