On the 50th Anniversary of Thomas Merton’s Death

Monday, December 10th marks the 50th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s death—which has now been confirmed as a martyr’s death by the recent solid and important investigative study, The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton by Hugh Turley and David Marin (as well as by my own encounters over the years with three CIA agents who were in Southeast Asia at the time).

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An evening with Michelle

First Lady Michelle Obama swept into Beantown Saturday as part of the national book tour promoting her memoir “Becoming” that was held at the TD Garden. The evening before the event, my spouse and I were gifted front row seats.

OMG! the event was simply magical. And, the audience was wildly excited.

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Darkness In The Light: Depression During the Holidays

Regardless of whether it is seasonal, situational or clinical, the experience is one of disconnection – from life. You identify as the Outsider, not belonging anywhere. The brain says you “should” feel differently, but you don’t. There is nothing more bleak than being alone “in the cold,” left out, hungry and lost in the dark while you look around and see others are gathered around the fire – the flames of life – sharing happiness, family, joy, peace and friendship.

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Indubious Video – See Sharp

“We call upon the tonal vibration of the Earth to bring us clarity, vision, and a broadened perspective. We humble ourselves to the power of the planet and ask for guidance through these trying times. As we gather in greater numbers as gentle shepherds of the Earth, and cultivate of our birthright of inner magic, we heal our ancestral wounds and usher in a brand new way to See Sharp.”

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Tree of Life

verything is interrelated, and dynamic, in ceaseless change, and anything that seems unchanging is illusory. Those of us who are “good, civil and kind” must lean in to change history’s trajectory. God’s kingdom come!

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Timely New Verses for “Joy to the World”

These timely new verses seek to update the spirit and language of the carol to today’s earth, “torn with strife,” while reflecting the Old Testament insight that nature sings joyously in honor of the creator.

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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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The Shape of Christmas

My mind is a maze with the turns of the journey

The wise men wandered while aimed at the star

Their ears had the form of the wings of the angels

Attuned to the music they sang from afar

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Will you join us in this quest to enliven Christianity for the sake of all Creation?

********** Review of 2018 **********

When you give, we are able to continue to create meaningful children’s curriculum that has the power to shape the future of our world by impacting thousands of communities worldwide. When you give, we are able to maintain a website that is a global community and open source for progressive Christians everywhere. When you give, we are able to support authors, activists, leaders, teachers, liturgists, musicians and theologians to share their explorations and creations with a global audience. When you give, we are able to partner and work closely with other organizations making sure to support the movement — and not just our place in it. We are leading dynamic explorations in theology and sharing expansive and relevant ways to practice devotion.

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I Pray Anyway PLAYbook

Discussion and Workshop for I Pray Anyway: Devotions for the Ambivalent

PLAYbook for I Pray Anyway: Devotions for the Ambivalent is a creative, thought provoking guide/curriculum based on the book I PrayY Anyway: Devotions for the Ambivalent by Joyce Wilson-Sanford.

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St. Nicholas Is Too Old and Too Tired to Defeat the Selling Power of Santa Claus!

Today: the Feast of St. Nicholas, the ancient precursor to the modern Santa Claus, will pass without much ado. Some will try to encourage us to resurrect St. Nicholas to save us all from Santa’s powers for we have gone astray.  To those well meaning souls who would rid Christmas of its flagrant consumerism, I can only offer up a feeble, “Baa Humbug!”

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The Other Lectionary’s Sundays 2019

This suggested ‘southern hemisphere’ Lectionary (with a few Resources added) is being offered in parallel to, or even replacement of, the RCL which is in standard use by many. The idea behind it is it gives a choice on some days/Sundays of the year for the more ‘progressive’. But perhaps more than that, it is an attempt to be ‘landscape real’.

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New Creation with Matthew Fox (Video) + A Community Offering for You This Holiday Season

Hi friend,Are you looking for community on the way to Christmas?

Make Advent Great Again just might be what you’re looking for.

We’re back to compassionately struggle – not against some fabricated ‘war on Christmas,’ but against the steady dehumanization that attempt to desecrate God’s image in the face of each other – the war on Advent.

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The New Science of Natural Spirituality

Lisa Miller, professor at Columbia University, is a leading researcher into the new scientific field of “natural spirituality”, which she describes in her 2015 book, The Spiritual Child. There are now separate neurophysiological metrics for the human relationship with the transcendent, a realm that until recently was folded into psychology and sociology. Miller has popularized awareness of spirituality as a distinct developmental process, to be taken as seriously by parents and scientists as physical and psychological growth.

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The Resistance Bible Study Podcast

Friend and frequent contributor to ProgressiveChristianity.org,  Rabbi Brian, has compiled conversations with 12 of his Biblically literate friends in a series of podcasts that both delight and educate.

Join Rabbi Brian as he talks to Reverend Jim Burklo, Dr. Tracy Hartman, Rev. Irene Monroe, Pastor John Pavlovitz and more as he seeks to find out what the bible is and how to use it to fight oppression.

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Tao Te Ching: The Book of the Way and Its Power

The Tao Te Ching was written 2,500 years ago, yet it speaks directly and powerfully to our contemporary lives. Why are our lives so difficult? How can we return to a place of harmony and balance? What is our true and essential nature? Who are we really? These are the kinds of questions the Tao Te Ching asks—and answers.

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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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True Inclusion Creating Communities of Radical Embrace

So your church website says you’re welcoming, a rainbow flag flies out front, worship uses gender-inclusive language, and you make sure you greet the stranger next to you on Sunday mornings. But is all of that really enough? And what if those welcoming gestures actually keep visitors from returning and exclude dozens of other groups or people in your community?

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Mysticism and Social Action: The Spirituality of Howard Thurman

Activism is at the heart of progressive theology. The way of Jesus is both personal and social. Jesus’ embodiment of prophetic spirituality was reflected in his welcome of the marginalized, affirmation of women, expansion of the scope of salvation and ethical concern to include foreigners and the disinherited, and challenge to narrow purity codes which promoted exclusion. Jesus proclaimed that the “spirit of the Lord” was upon him, and this meant the healing of the social order as well as people’s religious lives.

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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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Before the Morning Star

For Mary Ellen Kilsby
Before the morning star, I bore the Word from the womb

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Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #9

Thesis #9 – Perhaps the most significant and ubiquitous anxiety-compensatory move is to transfer the urge for continued living from the physical realm to the symbolic realm; the organismic urge for continued living becomes channeled into the urge for immortality in the symbolic realm.

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Advent

What is coming we yearn to know
As fallen leaves herald winter snow
Will what comes be worth the wait ?
Will past hungers our future sate?

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Grow Your Heart Two Sizes this Season

Whatever you’re celebrating this month, I encourage you to look around in awe at the many ways we connect with something bigger than ourselves. There is beauty in all of it. In embracing the dark of the solstice and the darkness in us. In rededicating ourselves to a sacred path through eight candlelit nights. In celebrating the light of the world being born in the most unexpected place.

I have found expanding my spiritual city particularly helpful when dealing with feelings of grief which seem to surface during the holidays, even if your loss is several years old. In the past two weeks I have borrowed practices from Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity to bolster myself.

Perhaps it sounds scrooge-like to you to talk of needing to buttress ourselves for merriment. Today I think of it as acknowledging reality. Most of us carry a sadness of some sort with us into this season. Most of us don’t always feel joyful and triumphant during December. That doesn’t make us Grinches. It just makes us human.

So how do we help our hearts grow two sizes bigger when they still feel broken? We get still and we listen. We drop the things that make us crazy. Actually, I’ve found I can keep doing the things if I drop my unrealistic expectations about them.

Set some boundaries for yourself and guard them closely.

Christmas cards have always made me crazy—from picking the “perfect” picture to managing to get them in the mail on time (never happens). This year I gave myself one hour. One hour to cull through my photos from the past year, pick a few that had each of us in them, and email them out to my kids for approval (teenagers, if you don’t know, are very picky about the photos parents share). I thought there was approximately a 10% chance that they would both give my draft a thumbs up. Lo and behold, they both loved it. I hit send on the order with 10 minutes to spare. I mailed them all out earlier this week and realized I still had a few people on my list. Without sweating the horror of my mistake (I.e, my humanity), I reordered a few extras, on which I will write “Happy New Year” and send them out after Christmas. I am not at all stressed about this turn of events.

My other crazy maker? Gifts. Well, not the gifts per se, but my pursuit of perfect presents. Again, I set a boundary for myself (inspired by Glennon Melton who did the same). I decided I would be done with all shopping by the end of the first week of December. I visited a couple of my favorite local shops (Pondicheri and Body Mind & Soul) then started ordering online with abandon. As in, my husband sent me a text asking if my credit card had been stolen. I did not let myself obsess over the possibility of the items going on sale tomorrow. I did not hold out for free shipping. I did not second guess myself. I make a list, and I didn’t waste time checking it twice. Like the snafu with the card quantity, I didn’t do it perfectly. I realized I had forgotten a couple of folks and joyfully (and quickly) took care of theirs this week. No sweat.

And the spiritual practices I mentioned earlier?

Two weeks before Christmas, I visited the Houston Ayurveda Center for an abyhanga (hot oil massage) and steam to help myself embody the serenity I hoped to bring to the season. While not exactly Hindu, Ayurveda—yoga’s sister science—was born in the deep spiritual soil of India. Each treatment begins with a Sanskrit invocation, bringing a sense of sacred to the experience.

A week later, I was blessed to attend The Service of the Longest Night at my home church, Chapelwood UMC. Coinciding roughly with the Winter solstice, this annual gathering reminds us that there is hope in the midst of grief. I have attended every year since my sister Angie died almost three years ago, and it’s become a spiritual touchstone of the Christmas season for me.

Finally, a poem from the Jewish prayerbook Gates of Prayer made its way to me via my grief support group. An unlikely companion for holiday inspiration, the words remind me of the constancy of grief. But in the simple repetition of “We remember them,” I felt the bonds of grief loosening their grip on me. In remembering (rather than suppressing or denying) those we’ve lost, we can become freer to celebrate with those loved ones still with us. For those of you also struggling with loss this season, I’m including the poem here.

Wherever this season finds you, whatever loss that is heavy on your heart, there is still much to celebrate. Notice the celebrations around you, both the familiar and the foreign, for they are all reflections of God.

Namaste. Shalom. Merry Christmas.

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Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians

The stories of LGBT+ Christians are not untold, but have often been unheard by faith leaders and communities. While so much of the conversation about LGBT+ inclusion has focused on theology and ideology, few have actually interacted with the raw, real stories and experiences of LGBT+ Christians. In this volume, LGBT+ Christian activist and theologian Brandan Robertson has brought together stories of LGBT+ Christians from around the world combined with his theological insights to create a powerful book that will challenge, convict, and inspire readers from all theological backgrounds to examine their posture and message toward the LGBT+ community and embrace the revival that the Holy Spirit is igniting among queer Christians around the world.

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Publications from “Progressive” Australian and New Zealand Authors

Publications from “Progressive” Australian and New Zealand Authors

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Who We Are – Gungor Video

Growing up as a Christian and an American, I always had a sense that I was on the good team. I was told our country was founded on ideals like freedom and justice for all. I was told our faith in Jesus led us to be the salt and light of the world. We were the sheep, not the goats. We were the ones who welcomed the stranger. Took care of the widow and the orphan.

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Theology From Exile Volume I: The Year of Luke 2nd Edition: Commentary on the Revised Common Lectionary for an Emerging Church

The struggle for distributive justice-compassion continues into the first quarter of the twenty-first century and beyond in what may become a post-democratic world order. Whether Jewish-Christian scriptures continue to be relevant to contemporary “spiritual not religious” folk may determine what becomes of “Christianity.” This second edition of The Year of Luke is a valuable, contemporary resource for progressive preaching, teaching, Bible study, and resistance, grounded in postmodern biblical scholarship of Karen Armstrong, the late Marcus J. Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and the Westar Institute’s Jesus Seminar, as well as the transforming work of Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, whose theology of Creation Spirituality has reclaimed Catholic mysticism for postmodern cosmology.

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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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PATHWAYS Theological Education

An Online Institute for Progressive Christian Theology

PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc., is a Progressive Christian learning community seeking to empower transformative leadership for justice and peace within and beyond the church by engaging heart and mind to consider what it means to know, love and serve God in today’s changing world. 

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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 Stories

Have you ever wanted to hang out with Mary and Joseph, or Jesus and the disciples? What would it have been like to be a fly on the wall, or hiding unnoticed in a corner as some of the most familiar and beloved scenes played out? In this intriguing collection of short stories (and one novella), John Mabry allows us to do just that. With vivid and often delightful prose, he brings these compact Gospel stories to expanded, breathing life. Teeming with conflict, emotion, and humor, these stories reveal the humanity behind the Bible’s characters like nothing you’ve read before.

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Kicking Back Against Homophobia

“What does it mean to be queer and what does that say about your relationship with God?” An interview with Pamela Lightsey.

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Terrorism: Playing with Numbers

I was in a debate recently with some friends about the NFL protests over police brutality. Some folks were saying there are no structural injustices in the police force. Rather, they argued there are some isolated “bad apples” who do bad things. The incidents may be bad, but the number of them is not statistically large when you look at a nation of 300 million (I’m paraphrasing a bit here).

Numbers can be funny. You can get them to say all sorts of things.

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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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Kissing in the Chapel, Praying in the Frat House: Wrestling with Faith and College

Wrestling with Faith and College

College is a time to learn, explore, and grow, but what does faith have to do with it? In this collection of essays, gifted writers in their twenties and early thirties reflect on their college years by telling stories—some hilarious, some heart-wrenching—on the intersection of faith and college.

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