I’m Not With Stupid Anymore

Fascism, A Warning, Madeline Albright’s new book, asks us to seriously consider how many familiar elements of the growth of fascism in 20th century Europe are now evident in 21st century America. This is a sobering matter that demands that spiritual people to take it seriously. Bonhoeffer wrote in his letters from prison that stupidity made it possible for fascism to rise in Germany but isn’t it really complacency? And though Russia meddle in the American election in 2016, they did not hack our voting machines, they just appealed to our fear and racism and that was enough to alter the course of an election and of history. It is time for us to decide that we are “not with stupid anymore.”

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The Ghost Community (the one everyone talks about, but no one has ever seen)

The author of Acts describes (in the form of early church propaganda) an almost utopian beginning of the church. Of course, Luke was not there, and his musings are more imagination than history, but he gives voice to a vision that many of us have shared: the good community where everyone shares their belongings, and everyone has what they need. Like ghosts, everyone talks about an egalitarian society but few of us have ever seen it work for more than a flash in history. Still, we know that our present economic system is doomed to failure and something much more fair must emerge.

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The Brave New World

When science fiction writers describe the future, they tend to see the world going in one of two directions: one possibility is a life made easier through technology and the other sees a growing gulf between the super-rich and the majority of the world living with poverty, hunger, illness, and ignorance. The truth is that it could go either way, but unbridled capitalism will almost certainly lead to a horrible dystopian future that no sane person would want. To avoid that path, people of conscience must organize, unionize, network and collaborate to shape a moral universe for our coming generations.

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Prophets and Martyrs

This week we mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Last month was the 50th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre and this June we will reach the 50th anniversary of the killing of Robert Kennedy. These events remembered within the martyr account in the gospel’s passion narrative give us reason to look more deeply into the meaning of Easter, beyond a childish hope for eternal life, there is the challenge to be a prophet who refuses to be afraid.

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Religious Myth and Faithful Reality (From Idols to Ideas)

Looked at honestly, the Bible contains a good deal of “fake news,” stories created to justify things that might have embarrassed the priestly editors of the more ancient strata of the scriptures. The progressive church has to lead the way in being honest about scholarship and history.

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A Progressive Christian Look at John 3:

What is it about John 3:16 that has made it the “go to” Bible chapter and verse for Evangelical Christians? Watch as Rev. Salvatore Sapienza, pastor of Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ, gives us a Progressive Christian view of John 3:16.

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Commandments or Helpful Guidelines?

Unlike the generations who came before us, our religion no longer includes either the carrot of heaven or the threat of hell. Now, relieved of divine obligation and fear, we are left to choose to be good people because that is who we have chosen to be, and to sacrifice and work to create a good society because that is preferable to the alternative.

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On Being Woke

Beyond all of the political and policy issues around the Russian hacking of the 2016 election, there remains the embarrassing moral awareness that this was not a hacking of voting machines or the electronics of media agencies. The Russians appealed to the prejudices of voters. They stoked belief in conspiracy theories rooted in hatred of Hillary Clinton. Our vulnerability to being led around by our ignorance and vitriol is a spiritual issue and not a complimentary one. It is time for us to awaken to a deeper connection to the truth.

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Kicking the Darkness Until it Bleeds Daylight

This is the sermon I delivered in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass murder just over five years ago. I offer it again today after the same horror has been visited upon us again.

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Love is All You Need (Domestic Abuse Unplugged)

Though adherents of virtually all religions will claim that love is central to their belief system, the unfortunate fact is that religious indoctrination usually comes with a healthy dose of patriarchy, misogyny, as well as homophobia and nationalism. This lays the foundation for a culture that often encourages, defends, protects, and lies about domestic violence. Our words shape our thinking. Our thinking shapes our culture. Our culture tolerates a horrifying rate of domestic violence that is begging for us to change.

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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Black History month requires a serious reflection on the state of racism in America. Why can’t we all get along? Probably because progress has been far too slow and the media and the white majority is far too satisfied with the status quo.

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Abortion’s Place in Ethical Thinking

Catholics and Evangelicals have been relatively silent about the #MeToo movement because they have tended to view the entire topic of ethics through the single lens of abortion. The Trump administration is getting a pass on many moral fronts because of his ability to appoint anti-abortion justices and because of his visible and verbal support of pro-life groups. This sermon, the 4th in a 4 part series on the #MeToo movement, implores Catholics and Evangelicals to rethink the primacy of abortion advocacy and to add their voices to the creation of a more ethical world for women.

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#TimesUp

This is the second in a four part series on the #MeToo movement.

This is the second in a four part series on the #MeToo movement. This one, “#Time’s Up” addresses the hope for dramatic change in the nature of male and female coupling and the dangers inherent in allowing the revolution to lose its ethical moorings.

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The Power Hidden in a Choice

The two-faced Roman god, Janus, was often portrayed as a door with one face looking toward where you have been and the other looking towards where you are going. New Year’s Day ushers us into the month of January, named for Janus, symbolically suggesting that we are leaving an old year and entering a new one. Which seems like a good idea, especially this year, as long as we don’t drag our anger, resentment, and hurt from 2017 into 2018.

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If I Lose My Faith

In Alabama’s special election this week, more than 70% of white voters, most of whom are church going Christians, voted for a known racist, homophobe, xenophobe, Islamophobe, who was very credibly charged with multiple counts of pedophilia. There is a serious disconnect between the message of the gospels and public ethic on display here, a gap we must insist upon closing.

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David Ketchum: Telling the Truth About the Afterlife

Due to an unexpected flight cancelation, Roger Ray was not able to get to Springfield to deliver this sermon so he asked his friend and associate pastor to deliver it in his absence. The content addresses the religious and philosophical acceptance of mortality rather than asserting the existence of a personal and individual afterlife. This message is not going to be easy for everyone to hear but it deserves to be considered by both progressive people of faith and those who hold to more traditional beliefs.

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Thanksgiving as a Myth of Origin

Thanksgiving fits neatly into the “sacred feast” of the sort of the Hebrew Passover feast. Thanksgiving ties us to American history, family history, and religious devotion while denying actual history, especially as it relates to the relationship between Native Americans and the northern European invaders who stole their land and tried to extinguish their culture while killing off most of their population. Americans need to come to an honest awareness of our history, both the parts we can be proud of and the parts that call for confession and penance. The past does not have to be prelude. We can choose to help create a greater America.

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The Profanity of ‘Thoughts and Prayers’

Offering our “thoughts and prayers” in a crisis can be an expression of sincere empathy but when you are capable of doing more and all you do is offer your thoughts and prayers then we quickly realize that such words are reflective of hollow hypocrisy. Prayer can be very helpful to our spiritual journey but as the African proverb teaches, “when you pray, move your feet.” We pray to change the one who prays so that we will do all that we can to meaningfully respond to the many crises we see happening all around us.

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