Reading Between The Lines, Adult Curriculum (Electronic and Hard Copy)

Reading Between The Lines is a lectionary based life-centered biblical resource designed for small group youth and adult education in church and home, for individual study or as an aid to preachers. One of the texts from the Revised Common Lectionary is chosen each Sunday. The exploration begins with encountering the story found in the biblical text. The focus then shifts to how this story is happening in the world around us. Finally the questions turn toward how the story is an event in the lives of the people in the group. The journey through the text seeks life-giving questions that wait to be lived.

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Credo Novum by Andrew Walton

I trust
One Eternal Presence,
God of Scripture,
the I am and I will be,
Creative force of the universe, the Source of life.

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Faith And Reason 360 Episode 15: The Stages of Spiritual Maturity Part 2, featuring Richard Rohr

In the development of our existence, we search to transcend basic levels of consciousness. We can experience a reality beyond our own body and self image. Fear about how we are perceived can cause us to hide parts of ourselves, and to project them onto those who belong to other groups.

In Part 2 of our series featuring audio from Father Richard Rohr’s lecture “The Human Spirit,” Ann and Debo discuss moving beyond fear, projection versus authenticity, and self-examination as the work of responsible humans.

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In This Life

While hiding in the failed hope of evading murder at the hands of the Nazis, Ann Frank was able to write in her diary that she believed that people were basically good and that peace would return to the world. This is a helpful statement of faith now that we are living through a dangerously turbulent time that threatens to see a return to fascism in countries that have formerly loved democracy. This season of history will pass and perhaps, if we are patient and compassionate, we can help it to pass a bit more quickly.

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Nationalism, World Cup and Jesus

What does it mean to be a patriot?

Does it mean wearing a jersey with your favorite team’s colors? Does it mean waving the flag? Does it mean painting your face? Or hanging it from your front porch?

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Prince Ea: This Is Who You Are

I wish every Human Being on Earth could watch this! There are so many labels, identities, cultures, religions, and even political affiliations that we can use to divide us. But our connection is so simple and greater than all these. Energy is who you truly are and energy is how we know we are one.

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Discrimination or Discernment in the name of Religious Expression

Postscript of an Independence Day Observance

What happens when the discernment of one citizen’s religious beliefs are deemed to be discriminatory; infringing upon the civil liberties and rights of another citizen? In fact, what constitutes any set of beliefs as “religious,” with the constitutional protections accorded it?

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Christians need be Christian and the Church to be The Church

No argument: the Christian church was complacent about standing up to Hitler and the holocaust. But … in the United States, it also failed to stand up to Vietnam. It has tolerated racism, slavery, lynching, torture, and the death penalty. It is substantially failing to stand up to climate change. And now, it is failing to stand up to Trump’s immorality, enrichment of the wealthy, military buildup, and trashing of the environment. What should our expectations be? I’m not convinced that saying “thank you” to God is adequate.

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Be Subject to the Governing Authorities

Within the last few days, Attorney General Sessions and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders each invoked biblical authority to justify the separation of parents and children seeking entry into the country. The reference was to Paul’s letter to the Jewish Christians in Rome to whom he advised “be subject to the governing authorities”, who are put there by God. Through the ages, this phrase has been used by slave owners to justify slavery, by Nazis to justify extermination, by Royalists in pre-revolution America to insist on loyalty to the king, and by just about anyone who wanted to promote dictatorship.

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Love, please. Love please. Please, love. Please love.

I am doing my part as I am certain you are doing yours. And, the state of the world right now requires us to double down and do more. So, let us pepper the world in a myriad of small, little, unsexy ways of being more loving, compassionate, caring, long-suffering, kind, humble, gentle, virtuous?

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BRUNCHtalks2 – Progressive in Approach

Whenever we try to articulate what God IS, language fails us. For the most part, the institutional church has defined God with words and expected that members of the institution will confess loyalty to those words. Many of the words, with which the institution has traditionally described God, craft an image of God as a supernatural being up there or out there who is responsible for creation and from time to time interferes in the workings of creation. As we continue to learn more and more about the magnitude of creation, both in time and space, our traditional words about God seem even more puny. While some respond to our ever-expanding knowledge about creation by attempting to make our notions of God fit into the tight little containers that were crafted by our ancestors, some are seeking new ways to speak of the CREATOR OF ALL THAT IS, WAS OR EVER SHALL BE. How might a progressive approach to religion enable us to expand our images of the Divine MYSTERY?

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FAQ’s for Churches

http://tcpc.blogs.com/musings/2017/09/resistance-bible-study.html

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Escape from Suffering

The 4 noble truths of Buddhism provide an path out of the suffering that defines human existence. Seeking the middle way is a spiritual goal that should be familiar to persons of all faith backgrounds, helping us to find a healthy way through a culture that is always pushed towards the extremes of consumerism, hoarding, addiction, pornography, and partisan bickering.

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Building community around humanistic values.

Would it be fair for me to promote the notion that you – a self-declared atheist leading a United Church of Canada congregation – and your church are generally promoting humanist values as well as providing the community benefits that churches normally provide?

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Progressives & Democrats must be strategic if we are to win 2018

It is important that we point out problems we all perceive within the Democratic Party or within Progressive groups that fall out of scope with the tenets of the party or Progressive values.

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The Rich Fool and the Bigger Barn Economy

  And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of …

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Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study

Millennials seeking a new approach to spirituality, those who identify with the “emerging church” identified by Marcus Borg and others, anyone interested in Christ’s Jewishness and the elimination of anti-Jewish bias from Bible study, and women, LGBTs, and others who seek a Biblical approach that overcomes insistence on obedience to questionable Old Testament commands will be intrigued by the new book by Edward G. Simmons.

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On Being Awake

The Christian life is a call to a discipline. It is an undertaking. Sometimes it takes us where we do not want to go, to do difficult things while we are there, and then sometimes to suffer. The alternative is to remain asleep, to persist in indifference, to surrender hope. We can still do that, we can still abdicate our moral and spiritual responsibilities and call ourselves Americans. Many today are doing just that. But if we do that, what we cannot call ourselves are followers of Jesus.

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Video with Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastor

Nadia Bolz-Weber saw a spiritual longing in friends who didn’t fit into the typical church. So the Evangelical Lutheran pastor created a new one, The House for All SInners and Saints, which allows parishioners from all walks of life to embrace failures and surround themselves with acceptance, love, and grace.

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Did I Just Say That?

Do you ever hear words emanating from your lips, and instantly while the words break from your mouth you think, “Did I really just say that??” You are still in the nanosecond of surprise, when you discover you probably have a small list of sentences or phrases you could never have imagined uttering. If you look back on those experiences that were the catalysts for such words, you notice a powerful tapestry – threads that make life sometimes unbearable and yet at other times so amazingly awe-inspiring – and everything in between.

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How White Male Privilege Leads to Fragility and Violence

Society can be tough on white males these days, especially if you are a white male with a conscience. White males have had a disproportionate amount of power for a very long time. The rest of society is clamoring for justice and equality. And rightly so. We are becoming increasingly aware of just how much power and privilege white men have had and just how much that power has been abused.

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Imagining a World Where Love is the Way (HT Bishop Curry)

By Morgan Guyton

n his sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invites all of us to “imagine a world where love is the way.” So I thought I would take a minute to do that. I will say that my first instinct sadly is to dismiss it as an overly flimsy concept reserved for a shallow Beatles song, a fake, feel-good, liberal “revolution.”

But a world where love is the way is actually a lot harder and more complex than a world where my team wins everything since we claim to be the team on love’s side. A world where love is the way is a world where empathy is not a zero sum game. It’s a world in which disagreements are not resolved through the categorically invalidating ad hominem attacks of postmodernity. It’s a world where nobody gets shot because somebody else was feeling afraid, where nobody gets mocked for crying, and where nobody’s feelings are more or less important than anyone else’s. It’s a world where the goal is not to make our enemies shut up and disappear but to sit at a table together and see each other fully.

A world where love is the way doesn’t dismiss nuance, nor does it use “nuance” to wave away uncomfortable truths. It doesn’t oversimplify the parties in one historical conflict as being identical to the parties in any other historical conflict. It doesn’t tell people that their humanity can be explained away by academic theories or sacred texts. It doesn’t apply labels to entire populations universally like terrorist or imperialist though it does recognize the existence of systemic realities like white supremacy, patriarchy, and colonialism that cannot be adjudicated individualistically. It doesn’t see suicide bombs as any more or less tragic than missiles from F-15’s, though it does recognize the reality of power differentials. In a world where love is the way, nobody is dehumanized and nobody is shielded from facing the truth.

A world where love is the way does not have gated communities or walls to shut one group of people out so that another group of people can deny them as neighbors. It doesn’t marginalize suffering but allows the widest possible community to absorb and shoulder it together. In this kind of world, no one ever says, “I am not my brother’s keeper.” No one tries to write anyone else out of the story. In a world where love is the way, every story matters and stories that haven’t mattered are prioritized as a result.
There are plenty of ways that I fall short of that kind of world. Creating it would not be nearly as glamorous or emotionally satisfying as getting off on the outrage porn that has saturated everything today. But it’s never too late to engage in the tiny, banal acts of love that are infinitely powerful when they’re all gathered together by the God who is love. In every given moment, we are invited to resist the enemy who makes us all enemies and follow the lead of the savior who is our perfect model of the love that always takes sides and always works to create the best possible world for everyone.

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Cain in the Land of Nod


The Judeo-Christian story of creation is assumed by biblical literalists to be an accurate, historical representation of the beginning of the universe, with Adam and Eve firmly ensconced as the first human beings to inhabit the earth, and the Garden of Eden as the first habitat. Those who accept this as literal fact are faced with numerous challenges, and in this essay I will focus on one of the most common… the origin of Cain’s wife, whom he meets in a foreign land known as “Nod,” to which he is banished for the crime of killing his brother. To address this issue, I will focus on Genesis 4: 9- 17 (RSV):

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The Changing Face of Death

The other day, I officiated at a funeral, though we don’t use that word much anymore. Calling such events celebrations of a life is much more popular. The word funeral reeks of morbidity.

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Kissing in the Chapel, Praying in the Frat House

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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The Power of a Daily Practice

We all know yoga is good for us, but what are the real benefits of having a daily practice? From dealing with stress to spiritual transformation, Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., explains the profound changes that come from a regular yoga practice.

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An American Creed

There have been visionary voices in America throughout our history (Jefferson, Paine, Whitman, Emerson, Sojourner Truth, Douglas, Thoreau) who described America in terms of equality, freedom, justice, and civil rights, and even though the vision has never been entirely realized we have made a lot of progress on many fronts, progress that is, very regrettably, presently at grave risk of being lost. Now is no time for progressive thinkers to consider international escape or domestic surrender. Now is a time when people who are spiritually awake must stand and fight (through voting, demonstrations, protests, and possibly . . . revolution) to defend a vision of America about which we can be honestly patriotic.

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Independence Day Celebration for Whom?

When patriotism is narrowly defined, as it is today, it can only be accepted and exhibited within the constraints of its own intolerance, and narrow worldview, like Trump’s travel ban (a.ka. Muslim Ban), upheld last week by SCOTUS in a 5-4 decision.

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Secure Borders in a Christian Contest

Jesus commanded us to “love one another.” A lot of Christians today talk about having “secure borders” in response to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

Loving one another and having secure borders are not necessarily opposites—but they can be.

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Presbyterian Church Makes History, Adopts Official Pro-LGBTQ Stances at Biennial Conference

By Shane Stahl for Freedom For All Americans

On Wednesday, June 20, the Presbyterian Church took a historic step by voting unanimously to accept three Overtures submitted at their biennial conference in Missouri. The Overtures both celebrate LGBTQ people of faith and speak out against religious freedom being used to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

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Central America and the U.S. Immigration Mess

Many Christians like to think of themselves as political realists, people who separate their religious beliefs from their political positions. Religion is about salvation. Politics is about attaining economic and ideological gains.

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Wake Up Jeezus! Wake Up!

Mark 4:35-41

The raging storms are all around us. Racism, poverty, disease, and violence; four winds that howl so ferociously that all we can hear is the sound of people’s fears as we see the very real possibility that the bottom might just fall out of the small craft we have fashioned to navigate the troubled waters that lie ahead.

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Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #5

Thesis #5 – Death fear refers to a response to concrete, actual and relatively immediate threats to life. Death anxiety refers to a more prolonged, smoldering response to the cognitive awareness of our vulnerable mortal condition. The heightened physical state of freeze/fight/flight condition in response to actual threat corresponds to death fear, whereas that same state brought on by imagination corresponds to death anxiety. Death fear calls forth active response and the heightened physical state is quelled by action. Death anxiety is potentially ubiquitous and the heightened physical state is quelled only by the regular employment of psychological defense mechanisms.

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Help Me Understand

I’ve written several posts about a book on Zen Buddhism I’ve just completed reading. I found myself becoming quieter and quieter as I read a brief section each day during morning prayer. Part of it was that Zen was telling me to shut up, just be. And part of it was that the whole enterprise had the effect of a Zen koan like “the sound of one hand clapping” to still the mind.

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Campfires For Conviviality

I’m working on starting an initiative on campus at USC to create the conditions for more conviviality, friendship, and compassion on campus. The symbol and the focus of this effort is the campfire. I hope it is something that catches on in churches and other settings as well!

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Because We Are All Connected

3 things: 1) We are all connected. 2) All partisan, racial, gender, religious, and national divisions are forms of deception and manipulation. 3) Spiritual people want to remain meaningfully engaged in changing the world without becoming a part of the problem. We may rise above the fray and maintain our centered and sane peace.

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