Inspired by the films of Terrence Malick and the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, the film tells the story of a young woman who is dealing with an intense case of spiritual doubt that has been building within her for quite some time. Plagued with nightmares, she arises early one morning, says a prayer by candlelight, and goes downstairs for a cup of tea and to quietly reflect on recent events. At this moment, we flashback to a worship service at her church. In a moment of frustration, she storms out, and is followed by a friend who confronts her and reminds her that doubt, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.read more
As we seek to move beyond the tired binaries of Left and Right, let’s find ourselves in the fusion coalition that invites us to reconsider our prejudices and find common cause with our neighbors as we move forward together in doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.read more
We got bells! We got arches! Well, really now . . . Arches ‘n Bells is a skit, play, dialogue, monologue, reader’s theater, and litany provider for churches and faith communities. Our writers focus on producing high-quality resources from a progressive, grace-centered angle. All the stuff is downloadable for you to print and use. Oh . . . and we’re about fun too. Anybody going to the site should be able to see that. What’s more is that these works are intergenerational—they work with kids, teens, adults, and various subsections of a faith community’s demographics.read more
History can be a tough teacher for all of us. The Protestant Reformation has had its dark side. We could all easily look at the specks in each others’ eyes while neglecting the boulders in our own. Every church denomination has manifested the full range of human failings. Yes, the Reformers broke new and important ground that has enriched all of us; they also re-discovered many of the same sins all over again and perhaps generated new problems that were not there before. Every new moment begins with freshness and purity. After a while, we see the same old corruption, prejudice, appeals to power, gravitation toward money and political posturing creep into it. The act of reformation has to be ongoing.read more
When I was a child, the word God was one of those words that adults either used in vain or in hushed tones. Outbursts of anger always included the word God. Strange and mysterious circumstances often resulted in the word God being used in hushed tones. I remember the very first movie I was ever taken to see. Bambi may have been a Disney movie, but when the shot that killed Bambi’s mother rang out, as far as my mother was concerned, I broke one of the ten commandments when I shouted, “Oh my God.” Mom warned me that when we got home there would be dire consequences for this offence which confused me to no end, because before the movie began, they did what they always did in back in the 1960’s, they played, “God save the Queen” as we all stood to attention. God’s name being sung out incurred no dire consequences.read more
There are differences within diversity. This issue scratches below the superficial veneer of diversity and is an eerie reminder of how minority groups are often pitted against one another.read more
Over 3,000 people joined the #womensmarch in North County San Diego from the San Marcos Civic Center to Palomar College. The Rev. Madison Shockley is the pastor of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ.read more
Each spring break, I lead a group of University of Southern California students down to “baja Arizona” for a week to experience the humanitarian realities along the US side of the border with Mexico. We meet with progressive Christian activists – many of whom have been working for decades to prevent migrant deaths, assist migrants with practical help and legal representation, and advocate for legislative and administrative reform of our broken US immigration system.read more
I hear people quote 2 Timothy 3.16* as their way to “prove” the Bible is historically accurate and should be obeyed in every way. With all the violence and out-dated rules in the Bible, this interpretation seems hard to justify. Is there another way to read this?read more
This abundance of youth resources – collected from around the world – is very encouraging in terms of the future.read more
I recently read that longer lived people tend to challenge themselves physically or mentally, and reading the first essay, “A Note on Progress,” tells me that this book will surely extend my life by a year. As I read and re-read the chapter, I confess my broken knowledge. Yet Teilhard’s erudition is made tenable by exquisite phrasing and enlarging metaphors. It is from this chapter that I take the title of this post.read more
I once believed that a loving and holy God would send people to an eternal hell if they didn’t believe and accept Jesus Christ before they died. For 35 years I preached, evangelized, pastored and taught this message, and many other evangelical Christian messages, to thousands of people in S.E. Asia, Canada and Australia.read more
Reinhold Niebuhr’s brother, H. Richard, argued for faithfulness to the example of Jesus’s nonviolence, while Reinhold believed this was naive and unrealistic in an imperfect world. H. Richard was the purist to the Christian faith, believing that following the Golden Rule, no matter the consequences, is what Jesus and God called us to do — the success of the mission being in God’s hands rather than our own. Reinhold, however, looked at the more practical side of things, substituting his or the world’s idea of what was possible and changing his ethics accordingly. H. Richard thus trusted more in the providential moral arc of history as M.L. King, Jr. , would call it rather than a realist’s version of what humans believe is attainable given their corrupt nature. In essence, H. Richard focused on the power of God’s grace to transform our spirits and the world for the better, while Reinhold accepted a more cynical view of our ability to be radically changed as a specie.read more
Dear God, help us to welcome our fears and respond with caring and courage as individuals and as a community. Dear Jesus, we would like to be a community you would be proud of as we struggle to live up to your inspiration and follow your guidance. Dear Spirit, help us build the heart to heart bonds so that we can trust our way into being in this together.read more
Ironically, the culturally normative, protestant work ethic mandates we ought not let the world see our troubles. Let me advise a more spiritual, human approach. When you are angry, be angry. When you are sad, be sad. When you feel broken, feel broken. I’m not talking about indulging any of these feeling or taking out your feelings on others. I’m talking about being honest.read more
As we know from church conflicts, anger can destabilize a system.
When an angry voice erupts at a gathering, some other voices get angry, too, either because they share the angry person’s anger or because they find the anger repellant and having to deal with it makes them angry.read more
Watch what happens to most of the D&D when the theistic god of yesterday is promoted to encompass the entire universe. One can no longer think about a small Master Puppeteer but more in terms of a force that some call Creation or Ground of All Being. This force has no gender, sexuality, children, color, or religion. It’s simply there, everywhere, creating.read more
n this St. Patrick’s Day it is fitting to receive a blessing from a grand Irishman whose writing reaches into my soul. Followers of this blog know that John O’Donohue is one of my favourite sages.
I am indebted to a follower of the blog for sending me this podcast of Krista Tripett’s interview of John O’Donohue recorded shortly before his death in 2008. O’Donohue’s words continue to open my soul.read more
… what can we do to counter the current wave of populism before society splits further, and we end up being ruled by a bunch of fascist like Trump-types in all of Western Europe. Many people are asking themselves these days, and the answer isn’t easily found. But we can start by realizing that we must overlook the traditional class distinctions and socioeconomic divides, and look at how you go about uniting and including all parts of society.read more
All maps are subjective. They frame the selected information they offer to their viewers. By such framing, they tell stories, advance arguments. For those of us who study religion, necessarily concerned with how humans create and employ categories, maps serve as useful examples of that practice—maps on religion, doubly so.read more
Claremont School of Theology is United Methodist in origin and affiliation; and ecumenical and interreligious in spirit. Students are nurtured by Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason and are prepared for lives of ministry, leadership, and service. Graduates are prepared to become agents of transformation and healing in churches, local communities, schools, non-profit institutions, and the world at large.read more
In honor of Black History Month, I’ve asked a number of friends and colleagues to contribute guests posts sharing their wisdom about how to live in a world where so much is shifting, and so much stays exactly the same. I encourage you to let these words sink in. – Mikeread more
Timely and timeless, this retelling of the story of the world’s first woman in her own voice resurrects a lost feminine archetype in the midst of what is arguably the most powerful uprising of women in recent history.
Women looking for the source of their power not found in the temptress/helpmate archetype of Eve, will ind it in this lavishly illustrated picture book, written for children but relevant to the adult work of gender reconciliation and equality. Rooted in the theology and mythology of both Judaic and Christian traditions, this story of a woman demonized for her strength traces gender and the birth of patriarchy back to the dawn of time using the simple language of story rather than theory.read more
Teilhard de Chardin (yes, I’m still reading him) writes, “However personal and incommunicable it may be at its root and origin, Reflection can only be developed in communion with others. It is essentially a social phenomenon.” I would add, a social phenomenon over time, a communion of saints over the ages. In another context, he writes, “Coherence and fecundity, the two criteria of truth.”*read more
Hold on to what is good,
Even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it’s a long way from here.
~Pueblo Prayerread more
hile A Beautiful Silence deals with themes of faith, it was never considered a “faith-based” or “Christian” film. They set out to reach people from all walks of life, from all faiths. The film does not provide easy answers. The wrestle with God – the dark night of the soul – is never pretty. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope in the end which they believe that the audience will respond to.read more