Interview with Robin Meyers – Is there a future for church?

These interviews were conducted by ProgressiveChristianity.org at a Westar meeting as part of a series on Christianity, spirituality, religion, church, God, Jesus, sacred community, social justice, youth, and social transformation. More to come soon!

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Islamophobia: misinformation and blatant lies

Lots of people are worked up with fear and misinformation. Sometimes it seems that facts just don’t matter anymore. But don’t give up! Keep paying your dues to the reality club and keep your Islamophobia decoder ring handy. Don’t let people who are taken in by every anti-Muslim snake-oil salesman that comes around derail your commitment to what I think Jesus would want us to do: to treat “the other” with respect and dignity. Practice hospitality. Build genuine relationships with those who are excluded or lied about. And maybe, “all of a sudden,” a whole new world will emerge.

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How can Progressive Humanism Counter Islamism’s Corrosive Divisiveness?

By George Suchett-Kaye for Conatus

Externally, we must also support the brave dissidents who found themselves trapped within the confines of committed Islam. They find themselves in the position that Galileo was in, centuries ago – facing a clerical system that would not listen and would not tolerate. Arabic thought brought back Greek philosophy to the West through the translation movement that started in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. Greek philosophical works were translated into Arabic, and were subsequently augmented with Islamic science and philosophy. With the Christian conquest of Spain, Sicily and Jerusalem, in the 11th century, these writings were translated into Latin and found their way into European cultures. Let us now “return the favour” and deliver Humanism and Progressive thought to the East, because both our civilisations depend on it.

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100 Year Old Sewing Dresses and Planting Gospel Seeds

Eva Bossenberger is 100 years old. Eva, who has enjoyed sewing since she was a child, makes dresses to pack in Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. She prays that every girl who receives a dress will hear the Gospel and come to know Jesus as her Savior. Learn

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“Who Do You Say I AM?” – Jesus IS? – Part 3

We cannot un-know what we have learned. In the past one-hundred years biblical scholarship has exploded. In the halls of academia, in the seminaries of mainline denominations the quest for knowledge about Jesus has born so very much fruit. Now thanks to the explosions of the information age, information that was once reserved to the carefully initiated, is available to everyone. Wander into your local bookstore, or turn on your computer and you will discover more information than any one person could ever digest on the subject of Jesus. And yet, despite more than 2000 years of scholarship, theologizing, speculating, preaching, and teaching, the question, put on the lips of Jesus by the anonymous gospel-storyteller that we call Matthew, remains a daunting question to answer.

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Who Do You Say that I AM? Part 2

Matthew 16:13-28

  This sermon is the second in a series of three sermons responding to questions about Jesus’ identity. You can explore the part one here Part Two of this exploration of Jesus’ identity includes three reflections interspersed …

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Who Do You Say that I AM? Part 1

Matthew 16:13-20 and Romans 12: 1-8 – a sermon

“Who do you say that I Am?” For most of my life I have been trying to figure out who I think Jesus was and is. Your very presence here on a beautiful summer morning, suggests to me that many of you have also tried to figure out who Jesus was and is. From time to time, I suspect that most of us have believed that we have worked it out; that we know just who Jesus is. But Jesus, just like every person we have ever known and or ever loved, Jesus keeps changing on us.

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Hate. No. Radical Love. Always.

The other side – no matter how vile, how much they hate me – are human beings. Stereotyping and dehumanizing them is wrong. Causing harm to them is wrong. Period.

No matter how wrong someone is, we must not treat them inhumanely.

They might be the problem. They might shout at us. They might threaten us. But hate is never the solution.

Hate is a narrowing; it makes the table more and more narrow, inviting fewer and fewer people to be with us. Love invites more people to join us.

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Treasure Map: Christians United in the Search

For 2,000+ years, Christians have studied the words of Jesus, the Apostles, Ancient Israelite prophets, psalmists and lawmakers in the Bible. We have been locked in theological debate over the meaning of life and how to achieve the union with God we so desire.

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That Time a Woman Stood up in Church and Called Me a Muslim

By Bert Montgomery for Patheos

When my friend Sue first met Tom, whom she would eventually marry, he was introduced to her as a Sunday School teacher at a Baptist church. Her immediate response was, “you don’t look like a Baptist Sunday School teacher!”

Sue had a mental template, a way of categorizing what Baptist Sunday School teachers should look, dress, and act like. Tom didn’t fit any of those things. Her mind scrambled to categorize him so she could know how she should speak to him, how she should relate to him. But, in her mind’s filing system, Tom was not anywhere close to her “Sunday School teacher” box. (By the way, Tom was, and still is, a Sunday School teacher at a Baptist church; and he still doesn’t look the part).

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Reclaiming My Time: Maxine Waters, The Sabbath and High Holy Days

n late July, California Rep. Maxine Waters’ “reclaiming my time” became the rallying cry heard round the world. Manifestos emerged as women and people of color discerned the ways in which time has been historically stolen from them.

Memes are now a fact of life; they direct and shape how we consume information. Yet we seldom ask why they become ubiquitous. Some are so sensational they require no explanation for their virality. Others, like Waters’ mantra, invite us to consider a deeper message beyond click bait.

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An American President and two State Governors

like toddlers with no sense of ….

So here we are: the summer of 2017 with the arctic ice melting, the temperatures rising, the oceans rising and acidifying…. From the beginning of known human history, we wanted better lives, longer lives, happier lives. We used our gifts to reach for what we wanted, like toddlers, with no sense of the bigger world around us, no notion of the consequences of our actions. No awareness of the unfathomable complexity and the perfection of balance represented by the environment we inhabit.

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Urdu-language Multifaith Golden Rule Poster

This Urdu-language multifaith poster featuring Golden Rule texts in 13 religions is published by Scarboro Missions with support from members of the Urdu-speaking community in Canada and around the world. The Urdu language originated in India in the thirteenth century as a blending of languages – chiefly Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit along with many local dialects. Urdu eventually developed as a language of culture, poetry and song. Upon the partition of India in 1947, Urdu became the official language of Pakistan and remains prevalent in India due to its linguistic similarity to Hindi and the immense popularity of Bollywood films. Today, nearly one billion people understand spoken Urdu, not only in South Asia but also in the Middle East, Europe, North America and other parts of the world as a result of large-scale migration from the Indian subcontinent.

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Faith Communities Rise in Support of Housing for the Homeless: Talking points for religious leaders

(I wrote this in my role with the campaign in Los Angeles to get neighborhood acceptance for permanent supportive housing projects, now funded by our recent successful campaign for City Measure HHH, which provides $1.2 billion for construction of thousands of units. It was one thing to convince voters to pass this ambitious proposal; it is quite another to convince citizens to support the construction of such units in their neighborhoods. We are mounting a sub-campaign to enlist religious leaders and communities to help lead this effort. These talking points also may be useful in other cities which are struggling to address the crisis of homelessness.)

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The Challenge of Community: Sermon by Rev. Roger Ray

The comedian, Dave Berry, observed that if the person you are with is kind to you but mean to the waiter, the person you are with is not a good person. For progressive communities to thrive and gain influence both in the world of religion and in public policy, we simply must stop engaging in liberal cannibalism and find ways to lovingly network with people who are something other than a perfect match with our own beliefs and opinions. Michael Moore has predicted a 2020 win Donald Trump, not because he deserves to be re-elected but because of the fractured nature of progressives in America. We really must do better.

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FaithandReason® presents The Challenge of Paul, featuring John Dominic Crossan

The D. L. Dykes, Jr. Foundation (DLDF), producers of FaithandReason®, will distribute, free of charge, The Challenge of Paul, an extraordinary video learning experience with John Dominic Crossan (Themes 1 and 2, plus a digital resource guide – a $150 value) to 1,000 or more churches across the country.

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The relevancy of The Old Testament today

Are there parts of the Old Testament that are said to be relevant today and why?

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Is God punishing Texas & Florida for the governments they elected or … ?

Many in the Right Wing fringe blamed Hurricane Sandy and other disasters on gays and Liberals. Could it be time to analyze why Texas and Florida are the two states that God sent Hurricanes to decimate this season?

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Spiritual but Not Religious Should Be a Phase in Life, Not a Way of Life

By Inas Younis for Patheos

Do you identify as spiritual but not religious? If so, you are certainly not alone.

According to a recent Pew Research report, one-fifth of the adult population describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated. That’s a 15 percent increase from five years ago, and the percentage goes higher the younger you are. The “I am spiritual but not religious,” trend is the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S.

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USA’s First Certified Slaughter-free Dairy Opens at Gita Nagari

At the European Leaders’ Meetings this fall, ISKCON leaders from all over Europe discussed a common dilemma for devotees today: do we drink milk, an important staple of the ISKCON diet? Or do we avoid it, since today’s store-bought milk supports the slaughter industry?

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How You Become Like Your Enemies

I think this is what Jesus was warning us about when he told us to turn the other cheek. A punch in the cheek seems to demand a punch on the cheek in return. However, whether you “win” or not by punching the other person, the other side has controlled you and gotten you to play their game. Play this out long term, and you realize there is no winning as life simply deteriorates into an endless game of king of the hill where no one stays on top for long.

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What “Men on Boats” tell us about American History

“Men on Boats” is more than just a belly of laughs about ten men in four boats surveying an uncharted canyon. “Men on Boats” is an eye-opening and provocative comedy/drama about the polemics of white cisgender male power and privilege to conquer the wilderness girded by their unflinching God-given belief in the 19th-century doctrine of Manifest Destiny to do so. Also, these men had the power and privilege to write America’s history of exploring westward to spread “democracy” by conquering anything and anyone in their way.

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Resistance Bible Study

(This is the introduction to a weekly Bible study I’m starting for students at USC. A few days ago, I finished reading a remarkable little book that my dear cousin Judy sent me: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder, a Yale history professor who incisively diagnoses the present danger posed by Trump and the Republicans to the survival of democracy in this country, and offers prescriptions for action. I closed the book, took a deep breath, and resolved to do something new and different toward that end. This “Resistance Bible Study” is the result. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes! Any “musings” readers wishing to do their own version of this, please go for it – and keep me posted, too.)

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Selma 50th Anniversary Pilgrimage

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson, in an historic address to Congress, said: “At times history and fate meet in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago in Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.”

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Robin Meyers Interview: What social justice issues matter most to you?

These interviews were conducted by ProgressiveChristianity.org at a Westar meeting as part of a series on Christianity, spirituality, religion, church, God, Jesus, sacred community, social justice, youth, and social transformation. More to come soon!

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Race, Drugs, and Prisons

The War on Drugs has failed to reduce drug use but it has succeeded in the original plan of the Nixon administration which was to incarcerate minorities and political dissidents. In a magazine interview in 2016, John Ehrlichman confessed, “Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

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What do you see as the ideal church?

If you were the moderator of the United Church of Canada with no restrictions… what would the church look like? What do you see as the perfect/ideal United Church of Canada?

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The Gospel Is Not Good News For Everyone

By Alexis James Waggoner for Sojourners

I’ve been operating under a false assumption. An unexamined theology, of my own making, that I have been forced to confront: The gospel is good news, but it is not good news for all. At least not in the way we want it to be.

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How to Respect Patient’s Religious Beliefs During Treatment

By Adventist University Academic Resource

In times of illness and injury, many people turn to religion and spirituality for comfort and healing. So it makes sense that these parts of a person’s life should be incorporated into their care. The good news is that there’s growing support in the medical community to address religious and spiritual issues in patient care. In fact, organizations like the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and American Nursing Association have stressed the need for greater understanding of a patient’s belief systems, particularly when dealing with treatment options and end-of-life issues.

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Support LGBTQ students with these resources

86% of LGBTQ students report being harassed at school. Jewlyes Gutierrez, a transgender teenager, reported bullying to her vice-principal for two years without recourse. Pushed to physically defend herself, she faced criminal assault charges while her two attackers only received suspensions.

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Broken for Good

BROKEN FOR GOOD takes the general public on a wild ride into the upside down world of nonprofit management. Hailed as both provocative and uplifting BFG uses an “emperor has no clothes” approach to confront the “crazy-making” that’s paralyzed the charitable sector for the past fifty years. Relying on vivid story-telling BROKEN FOR GOOD “challenges the existing order of things” inspiring society to solve global problems by first transforming the nonprofits in whom they invest.

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Spiritual Care During Times of Disaster

Spiritual health can often be a casualty of war in times of unprecedented upheaval and change. There are a number of shifts that occur in times of disaster in regards to an individual’s faith, beliefs and spiritual practices. I think sometimes this can get neglected or overlooked, especially by mainstream media coverage, and yet it is every bit as important as our emotional and physical well-being. People not only seek the basic survival needs – shelter, safety, water, food, sanitation and sleep – but they also yearn to make meaning of what is happening in relation to God and in relation to each other.

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Why ‘Works’ Are Necessary

A recent Pew Research Center poll has reopened the old debate about faith vs works–the line of scrimmage of the Protestant Reformation. Whereas Martin Luther and the heirs of the Reformation have always held that it is through faith alone that salvation occurs, many Protestants and Catholics today have a blended view of the role faith and works–at least, according to this poll (“works” is defined differently by different denominations, but could refer to any effort on the part of humankind, whether it is doing good deeds or following any religious prescription that guarantees that God will act a certain way after we do it).

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The World in a State of Extreme Transition

By Schuyler Brown and Daniel Pinchbeck for HighExistence

Communication is the tool we use to navigate change in this perishable, impermanent world. We talk about what’s happening and what’s coming. We use words to rally and activate citizens; to inform and educate people; to alleviate or aggravate fears, depending on our intentions. Humans use language to make sense of things — even those things that are happening at a scale beyond our grasp. As Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” And so, while it may seem like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic (let’s hope not!), reevaluating the language of climate change can offer a fresh perspective on where we are and where we’re headed.

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Hurricane Harvey’s Homosexual Problem?

Since the intentional misreading of the Sodom and Gomorrah story in Genesis 19 in the Bible where the twin cities were supposedly destroyed because of homosexual depravity, the causes of natural disasters always find ways to be placed on the backs of LGBTQ Americans. It has become an easy go-to explanation. And, usually by Bible-thumping religious conservatives, or, in Ann Coulter’s case, a worn out right-wing conservative pundit needing free publicity by any means necessary.

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Meaningful Work AND Meaningful Salaries!

The weakness of the labor unions in our day has eroded the wages, health care benefits, job security, retirement programs, and even the safety of the workplace. When labor unions were growing, spiritual communities articulated the causes labor supported but in our era the church has been far too silent on labor issues. It isn’t just for union members that we need to find our prophetic voice, it is for the whole population because we all benefit when salaries are increased and the challenges of economic vulnerability in retirement, illness, and unemployment.

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