I am a big proponent of gratitude.
Acknowledging that I am in favor of gratitude seems silly. Who isn’t in favor of gratitude? In case you were wondering, I also like fresh air, holding sleeping babies in my arms, and freshly-made pie. Of course I am a proponent of gratitude! Gratitude is the basis of every spiritual practice. I have written, made videos, and talked about gratitude for years.
Science can demonstrate positive correlations between gratitude and academic performance. And there are studies that show a link between gratitude and higher levels of immunity.read more
Marching with thousands of joyful, passionate people at the Women’s March in Seattle last weekend and seeing all the causes their signs supported – health care for all, diversity, respect and equal rights for all people, I realized the ultimate expression of all the things we were marching for would look, to me anyway, very much like the Culture of God; like the “Kingdom of Heaven” described by Jesus in the beatitudes. At the march in Seattle and marches around the world, people were intent on creating what they might call a better world, or a world of peace and justice. And if Jesus is right, if the excluded will be blessed by inclusion in the culture of God; if those who take action to make this world more like the culture of God will be blessed for their efforts, then with all due respect to Jesus and the original recorders of his words, I’d like to offer some beatitudes for the 21st century.read more
Listen to Boston Public Radio discussion of the painting and the outrage it has inspired with Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price.read more
When artist Dana Schutz presented “Open Casket,” an abstract painting of Emmett Till’s open casket-the Chicagoan 14 year old African American male teen lynched in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1955- she could not have fathomed the conflagration that erupted.
The painting hangs at the Whitney Museum in New York City but under the daily watchful eye of protestors blocking its view they termed the “black death spectacle.” Some protesters sent letters of grievances to the museum curators requesting the painting be taken down and others have flatly demanded the destruction of it.read more
Nicodemus has understandable cynicism about the realistic expectation that an adult can really make any substantial chance, any more than that an adult could enter his or her mother’s womb a second time. This sermon takes that very real and practical question at face value. Beyond any concerns about life after death, can we, as adults, make a conscious decision to make substantive correction in the course of our lives? And if we can’t, why would anyone bother with religious faith at all?read more
Remember, back in the olden days of late January 2017, when Sean Spicer and a host of other administration cronies promised that Trump was a steadfast ally of LGBT Americans, and that there were no anti-LGBT …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
This is an especially difficult concept for us in the United States. Many of the people who helped form this country tried to solve their problems by simply moving away from people they had difficulties with. This method of dealing with problems is deeply embedded in the American psyche. When people get on your nerves, you can simply “go west” to get a little peace and quiet, a little piece of your own ground, and live with minimal interactions with neighbors. You don’t have to learn to live with difficult people, rather you can just pick the people you want to be with. People first left the problems of Europe behind. When life here got too tense, many continued pioneering westward to get away from everyone. Part of the American Dream is the illusion that you can create and control the bubble you live in. Perhaps this method worked for a couple hundred years until the empty spaces ran out and we were stuck staring eyeball to eyeball with our neighbors, again. Still, the fantasy remains that the individual acting alone is the most advanced and enlightened form of human activity. Yet Christianity has always held that life is about “we” not about “me.”read more
A recent University of Michigan study looked into the curious fact that most people do not change their prejudices when confronted with contrary facts but rather double down on their mistaken beliefs. It seems that John uses blindness as a metaphor for choosing not to see in the account of the man born blind. Both then and now courageous faith asks us to love truth enough to reject prejudice, propaganda, and political lies.read more
Today marks the first Sunday of Lent, a time of self-reflection and lament. It is often considered a season of darkness. Something I am all too familiar with. The season of Lent reminds me of walking a labyrinth. A labyrinth is a path that requires you to go in and come out the same way in which you entered. It is a journey towards the center, then back out again, into the world to which you came. You cannot skip the part you did not like, or go around a difficult feeling, you must return the exact way you entered. But, even though the path does not change, you have, and in this we find new life.read more
Instead, we should be providing sanctuary for these refugees and immigrants who are fleeing persecution. Whether in our nation, churches, or our homes, we are to show loving-kindness, respect, and care for the well-being of all of our siblings. Isn’t this what we would want others to do for us if the circumstances were reversed? Honestly, isn’t this what Jesus would have us do?read more
That’s a gift of the Psalms, that praying them, we feel less alone. Those who wrote the psalms were imperfect, much like us. They didn’t know everything, but they had feelings about everything. And, like us, they had multiple situations and events to have feelings about, some good, even great, some bad, even evil. They reflect the human range of experiences and emotions.read more
I hope that the WooDyne Teapot Satellite makes it into space, in order to stimulate a public conversation about the natural nature of God. As Russell’s teapot moves from the invisible to the visible, so may our concept of God move from empirically-unsupportable supernaturalism to the undeniable reality of reality itself.read more
Interview with Robin Meyers, Senior Minister of the Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.
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!read more
Feminism is liberation, and for that reason we must liberate ourselves from the oppression of capital. “Another feminism” isn’t a slogan, it’s a daily act, simple but strong. It’s transformation, it’s community. It’s freedom.read more
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
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