Tillich’s Challenge: The Search for New Vocabulary

Part One

We started by asking if we could replace the word god with the word love. We have seen that both words are not easily defined or understood. And yet, given the importance of finding common ground, I think that at least for the time being, we should give it a try and replace the word god with the word love in the context of humanist/Christian dialogue. Christians can talk about god all they want when talking among themselves, just as humanists can deny god all they want when talking among themselves. But when talking to each other, using the word love, as exemplified by the Samaritan, would be a helpful way to begin the dialogue. If we can agree on love, then will follow the awareness that indeed we have much more in common.

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King’s dream of “the beloved community” extends to your community, too.

Martin Luther King articulated his dream of wanting every town and city throughout the world “Building the Beloved Community.” The King Center explains the concept:

“In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”

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A Prayer to NoOneUpThere

I first discovered the Reverend David Keighley and his poem “Leaving Home” years ago in a newsletter published by Bishop John Shelby Spong. I read “Leaving Home” every Friday as part of my early morning quiet time, when I do prayers (Progressive Christian style), relevant readings, and prep for the day. I always look forward to my weekly time reviewing “Leaving Home.” It helps me realize that I am not in this alone as I try to paddle upstream and show people an alternative to the church’s fourth-century approach to living in the twenty-first century.

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My Year of Preaching with Donald Trump

As a theologian and minister, how can I not address these weekly rants by the President in my sermons? How can I not stand up and denounce xenophobia? His bullying discourse and reprehensible behavior? How can I not stand up for justice and compassion for the broken, the marginalized, and the forgotten people of this world? How can I not remind people that an “eye for an eye” is attitude that will leave all of us blind, and that a nation only thrives when all its citizens are thriving?

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Reading the Gospels as midrash

  Question & Answer   Ginny from Reno, Nevada asks: Question: Why is it so important to you to view the Gospels as “midrash” rather than as history? Answer: Rev. Mark Sandlin   Dear Ginny, It’s not …

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Recycling Our Lives, Recycling Our Religion

How can we re-use, re-purpose, recycle, reduce, and even compost the incidents and memories and experiences and trajectories of our lives into a new narrative that serves us and others better?

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“In the Bleak Midwinter” — New Verse to Old Carol

This carol features words by 19th century English poet Christina Rossetti which were set to music by composer Gustav Holst.

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Jesus as Critic of Hypocrisy, Then and Now

The very lifestyle chosen by Jesus showed little concern for the separateness purity required. Jesus was a practicing Jew who observed the Sabbath and kosher requirements; but he objected to the pride, self-righteousness, and pettiness of criticisms by scribes and Pharisees as he emphasized serving God through ethical action more than ritual observance. Jesus did not criticize purity in temple worship; however, extending temple purity to normal life resulted in focus on oneself rather than on ethical behavior toward others. His emphasis was on serving God through actions that recognized the rule of God now and helped prepare for complete realization of God’s sovereignty and justice in the future. Present and future depended on actions now.

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Why Progressives Need God: An Ethical Defence Of Monotheism

Environmental destruction, poverty in the midst of obscene wealth, one war after another. Our biggest crises are getting worse. Secularism makes this inevitable by denying any moral authority higher than the ruling classes. By contrast, religious traditions offer accounts of who made us, for what purpose and how we should live, but whilst some are more constructive than others it is only monotheism, defined as divine harmony, that provides the philosophical and ethical framework necessary for people to lead better lives. Drawing on cultural analysis, political philosophy, Christian apologetics and theodicy the author shows why, in order to resolve our crises, progressives need to reaffirm the goodness of the natural environment as a blessing from a good god.

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Spiritual Acceptance

  Acceptance is saying “what is is.” Acceptance The more we fight with reality, the less smoothly our lives go. The spiritual word for “not fighting with reality” is acceptance. (The religious word is surrender.) The more …

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Rolling The Stone Away: LGBTQI Elders Meet The Next Generation Of Christian Activists At A Watershed Conference

Five hundred years after Martin Luther’s reform, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people, and allies celebrated fifty years of valiant efforts to make churches Christian—that is, welcoming, inclusive, and just.

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Spiritual Care in Changing Times: Initial Glimpses from Theological Education

By Wendy Cadge and Beth Stroud for Huffington Post

Chaplains and spiritual caregivers sit with people in distress, support the grieving, care for the dead, and coordinate local religious leaders — all in the face of the kind of suffering that leaves most of us at a loss for words. Where and how do they learn how to help?

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Lessons in Political Theology from Jerusalem

On Wednesday (12/6/17), President Trump announced a dramatic change in Middle East policy by declaring the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Most Israelis were thrilled. The government of Israel declared Jerusalem to be its eternal capital in 1980. What is important to note about this declaration is that it is an expression of Jewish nationalism. The claim has little support in Jewish history or from Jewish scriptures.

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Sermon: Us, Evolution, and the Universe

Everyone in this room shares 99% of their DNA with everyone else. And 98.8% with chimps. And 50% with bananas. How can that be? Well, most of our DNA contains instruction on cell reproduction, a process that all living things share. But it’s that 1% that differentiates us- blue eyes and brown, a big nose, a little nose, 5’6” and 6’5”. And 4% of that one per cent is from our Neanderthal cousins. Homo Sapiens who stayed in Africa never met Neanderthal and so have none of that DNA. The rest of us do.

Given these facts, certain questions arise. The first question is: who are we?? What are we??

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The Gifts of the Magi Are Always Here

Myths are traditional stories told in every culture, oftentimes with much of the historical basis lost over time. Myths are our collective story of what our lives mean and how to thrive. Jean Houston, scholar, author and philosopher active in the “human potentials movement” says, “Myths are more than old tales; they are ‘codes and roads and maps.’ Where we wind up on life’s journey depends on the map we carry with us.”

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Where Charity and Love Prevail: The Matthew 25 Solidarity Test

When people express opinions about a particular issue, I always look to see how charitable they are in this. Do they take the concerns of others seriously and try their best to get to the bottom of it? Or do they simply dismiss their concerns outright without getting involved? That is often a clue as to whether their opinions are in line with Christian discipleship.

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Gospel Americana, the music at Thad’s

Thad’s Band plucks the heartstrings with tunes that evoke real-life spiritual experience. The lyrics, peppered with oblique biblical references, invite the listener to explore their many possible meanings. Thad’s Band vibrates the essence of progressive Christianity, lyrically liberating the faith from the confines of dead dogma. Like the kin-dom of heaven that’s coming but already here, Thad’s Band is the present future of music for progressive worship.

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Robin Meyers Interview: Do you call yourself a Christian?

ProgressiveChristianity.org’s Interview with Robin Meyers: Do you call yourself a Christian?,

Robin Meyers is Senior Minister of the Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.

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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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Watch Night with Simeon and Anna: Recommit to Racial Justice in 2018

By Leah D. Schade for Patheos

As a white clergy person, I had to learn the history of the Watch Night tradition. While it began with the Moravians in 1733, the service took on special significance for African Americans on the eve of January 1, 1863. That was when Abraham Lincoln designated that the Emancipation Proclamation would become law.
Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ecopreacher/2017/12/watch-night-simeon-anna-racial-justice/#4EvjxC2kIZbv1SzG.99

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I Want to Die

I want to talk about the words I want used when my heart and brain stop working. I want people to say, “Bil died!” Please don’t say, “Bil passed.” I don’t like that word being used to describe what I was born to do—die.

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Bubble Up Faith

Perhaps adding bubble blowing to your spiritual practice will help you remember that doubt is a part of faith, and allow yourself to glimmer and gleam, like bubbles, as you move through life.

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Try a Little Kindness: The Politics of Engagement

I was walking with a good friend about a month ago and another white supremacist rally was in the news. “Joe, what can we do about these people?” I asked. “How do we change their hate filled values?”

“We love them,” Joe responded. “Engage with them. Stop demonizing them. That was Martin Luther King’s approach to such people.”

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Church, State, and Compassion

In a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center, 23% of Americans said they have no religious affiliation, up from 16% in 2007. In 2017, 59% said it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values, an increase of 7% in three years. Fewer than 40% of Americans report attending church on a weekly basis, but that number is probably inflated according to church leaders, who say fewer than 20% are in church on any given Sunday.

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Poetry Makes Life Last Longer

Poetry Makes Life Last Longer

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 02:00 AM PST

“The breakers steady crash…”

The end of a year seems a good time to reflect on time: what shortens it, what stretches it. The beginning of this year I eagerly read most of Alan Burdick’s Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation (2017). Though I recommend it, I found the text sometimes contradicted the title as I trudged through scientific studies and jargon.

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A time of gathering

“Come Again?” …we ask meaning, “tell me one more time, I didn’t quite get your message.” …Come again?
And God, the creator, by whatever name we summon does.

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What does the Advent season call us to do in troubled times?

A Trump presidency is what I can best depict as a “disastrous opportunity,” because it encourages an intersectional dialogue as well as activism against potential erosion if not dismantling of decades-long civil rights gains. Americans on the margins have the most to lose in a country pivoting away from their full protections and participation in a multicultural democracy.

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For Black Women, Being Called the Democrats’ ‘Backbone’ Is No Compliment

Black women voters in the recent Alabama U.S. Senate race are being thanked for “saving” the state from Republican candidate Roy Moore, a homophobe, slavery apologist, and accused pedophile. And we’re all now are being lauded as “the backbone” of the Democratic Party.

As a voting bloc, black women in Alabama didn’t just suddenly emerge for Democratic candidate Doug Jones. What hubris to think they did and not for themselves. We always have had agency and voting-mobilization strategies to support our candidates. The turnout that Alabama and the nation witnessed derives from a history of battling voter suppression that the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote in 1920, didn’t protect us from.

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The Darkness of the Womb: #MeToo and the Black Madonna

by Jasmin Morrell

In this season, I drink in silence whenever I have the opportunity to engage it, whenever I become aware that I need it. No matter how hard I try each year to create space around the holidays, to be less busy, to say no to overload, I find myself craving even more simplicity, more presence offered and received. In the past week I arrived an entire day early to not one, but two different appointments and had to ruefully smile at myself for allowing my calendar descend into chaos. And in those moments, after something has fallen through the cracks, I take a breath and let the silence do its work. It’s interesting what happens then: sometimes grief’s sinewy fingers tighten around my throat; sometimes my thoughts continue to race and that spot just between my eyebrows feels achy and tight; sometimes love warms my belly and bleeds into my fingertips; sometimes joy feels like a sunrise in my chest.

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Thank God you were born!

Or thank the cosmos! Or evolution! Or your parents! Or “to whom it may concern”!

“Thank God you were born” is the message I often write on birthday cards or Facebook birthday messages. I intend it as my own thanksgiving for the birth of the person I’m greeting, but I realize it could be understood as a spiritual directive to the recipient as well.

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As Legends Go: Conceiving of a Holy Nativity

For anyone who might still want to hold out that Jesus is still the reason for the season, the obvious question is why? If there’s any lingering claim to Jesus’ divinity by way of a virgin birth that could actually result in some sort of redemption for this weary old world, I might be all for it. But that’s an ancient hope, borne of a fanciful legend, whose fruition will take more than singing some beloved old carols, all the while debating whether or not to spike the eggnog.

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A Challenge to the Religions of Abraham

As human consciousness slowly developed over its evolutionary period, a high level of perception was the result but there remained a deficiency. That level of perception was incomplete. Humans were left unable to comprehend certain realities. One was the importance of their relationship to the biosphere of the planet. Within that biosphere there is a layer that allows all life to exist. Another; it did not provide comprehension of the importance of their relationship to planetary nonlife. The Abrahamic religions in their time attempted to address these issues. Care for the earth as a provider, care for each other, and an Apocalypse at the end well served their purpose. We now find that this religious understanding was far too simplistic and that the Abrahamic simplicity is coming back to haunt us. The reality is that we are facing the possibility of a Sixth Extinction. It is a reality of our own doing. Planet Earth is under siege. Judaism, Christianity and Islam urgently need to address this human consciousness deficit issue. The time has come for them come together with an intra religious configuration wherein all life and non-life on Planet Earth is able to find its universal meaning.

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Jesus Between Birth and 30

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman - by Ed Taylor

Between Birth and 30

Unfortunately, the Gospels do not provide us with much information about Jesus’ early life.

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Outside the Box: Rethinking Holiday Charitable Giving

By Erin Wathen for Patheos

So, where to give? Find organizations that are credible, that do good work, and have low overhead to make the most of your giving. You also want to support efforts that work with people, and have a physical presence in the areas they serve–and are not just handing out band-aids (literal and figurative) for nice Christmas photo opps. Here are some ideas. Find the one that fits you– and the person you want to gift this season–and go nuts. Spiced, holiday nuts of course.

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“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”—New Verses to Beloved Carol

“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” is a 19th century American carol created in the context of war which addresses its horror directly.

Despite this, it offers hope and a plea for peace.

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Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming—New Verses for Advent/Christmas Carol

This beloved carol originated in a 16th century German monastery. Legend
has it that a monk was inspired to create it after a Christmas Eve forest walk during
which he saw a blooming rose. The imagery is based on Isaiah 11:1 referring to
the Branch of Jesse, a central Messianic symbol: “There shall come forth a shoot
from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”

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