I Wonder as I Wander (Appalachia)

Words and Music collected by John Jacob Niles Revised words by Tina Datsko de Sanchez

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus our Rabbi did teach that we try 
To love one another, no you and no I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

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Reverence and Relevance – First Sunday of Advent

On this first Sunday of Advent, consider the new that is coming. Take some time to discover what you are most missing in your life – and then give that thing away. Where you long for a friend to support you, instead be the friend who calls another to find out if they are well. When you long to know peace, instead be the non-anxious presence during times of tension. Where you long for community and connection, be the heartbeat of whatever group you are with. When you long to feel less afraid, be the hand that reaches out with generosity. When you long to know your presence here matters, be the gift of welcoming.

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Progressives must have a litmus test to secure the grassroots

Progressives must be strategic & opportunistic to make this year an electoral wave
If Progressives want to change America, if Progressives wish to reverse the juggernaut that is effectively destroying the middle-class, it is time to do the work the right way, and to support policies Americans can see will help their everyday lives. Nothing else will convince the voters to give up the status quo. They want folks who will fight for them not only with words but with deeds.

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Some Virgins and a Rabbi meet Sophia: a sermon on the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids and Sophia

The parable of the ten, what??? Bridesmaids??? Really, ten bridesmaids, it sounds like the set up for some elaborate joke. Ten bridesmaids were waiting for a bridegroom, they waited so long that they fell asleep! I don’t know, you fill in the rest! I’ve never been much good at telling jokes, I’m more of a storyteller. Part of the fun of a story is the journey itself, but when you tell a joke you have to worry about punch lines. I tend to forget punch lines, or if I do remember them, I usually manage to mess them up and loose the laugh. So, there were these ten bridesmaids waiting for a bridegroom. Five of the bridesmaids were wise and five of the bridesmaids were foolish. The wise bridesmaids brought along some extra oil for their lamps, the foolish bridesmaids did not. Long before the bridegroom arrived all ten of the bridesmaids fell asleep. Yada yada yada!

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Women’s Task Force Calls for Religious and Spiritual Communities to Stand With Survivors and Stop Sexual Violence

By Elizabeth Ursic, Parliament of World's Religions

The Parliament of the World’s Religions Stands With Victim-Survivors of Sexualized Violence, Women’s Task Force Calls for Religious and Spiritual Communities to End Sexual Abuse

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God Is Radical Love

Radical love stops a stranger on the street
and invites her to God’s eternal banquet.

Radical love stays up all night,
plotting ways to make you laugh.

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How Toxic Shame Turns Evangelization Into Abuse

Toxic shame is one of the most powerful forces in human culture.

It is commonly discussed in therapy and self-help circles. People also regularly talk about the “guilt and shame” of cultural Christianity, especially as it relates to sexuality.

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Shymma video from Gaza won 1st place in the 2016 Global Peace Song Awards music video contest

Shymaa, a little 4 yr old girl who laid in a comma in a GAZA hospital, during the summer of 2014. She would recover to find her entire family was murdered during an Israeli bombing. Her story sparked the 2 Unite All benefit album with 30 world famed musicians like Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Stewart Copeland, Philip Lawrence (Bruno Mars) and the Love All Love Wins / UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) movement.

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Paul for the People: John Dominic Crossan Imagines a “Letter to the Americans” in His New Video Series

By Peter Laarman for Religion Dispatches

Crossan follows 201o’s “The Challenge of Jesus” with the newly released “The Challenge of Paul,” available free of charge to up to 1,000 congregations, colleges, or seminaries.

Intrigued by the idea of bringing high-end critical pedagogy to the people, I asked Crossan how his passion for biblical studies led him to want to engage with laypeople – and what that experience has been like.

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For Christ’s Sake! It’s Not About God!

– a sermon on the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25: 14-30

We all know full well that millions and millions are suffering and dying and yet to protect ourselves we bury what has been given to us, because we are afraid of being consumed by the wicked master who will surely banish us into the darkness if we do not keep safe what we have been given. We dare not risk loosing anything at all, lest we end up in the outer darkness weeping and gnashing our teeth.

So, for the most part we play it safe and we don’t take any risks and we spend our lives living in fear of that wicked master. If I had to draw a line between the wicked slave-master and some character, I wouldn’t have that line end up with God. Indeed, I’m sure that the wicked master is not God.

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Learning to Welcome the Dark: Advent 1

By Leah Schade for Patheos

I invite you during this Advent season to spend some time with darkness, even if it scares you a little. I’m not saying you have to plunge in the deep end and risk your safety. Try dipping toe in the shallow end at first. When the sun goes down, don’t immediately turn on the lights. Don’t turn on the t.v. Put away your glowing cell phone. Sit in the darkness for a while. Try it just for 10 minutes at first. Maybe 30 minutes if you’re feeling brave.

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Devil’s Whisper Music Video

from Raury's new Album "All We Need"

“Devil’s Whisper” taken from Raury’s new album ALL WE NEED.

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A Review of John Shelby Spong’s “Unbelievable”

By Zachary Houle

Once in awhile, a book comes along that completely shatters your Christian world view… Unbelievable basically takes all you think you knew about the church and the Bible, and aims to turn everything on its head.

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My black lesbian body is a target for police brutality

The reality of unarmed African American women- LBTQ, gender nonconforming and straight- being beaten, profiled, sexually violated and murdered by law enforcement officials with alarming regularity is too often ignored – especially with the focus of police brutality on our males.

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You Are God: The True Teachings of Jesus

By Brandon West

In this article we will explore how the true teachings of Jesus can be summed up by three little words: you are God. Some missionaries came to my house the other day and I was given the opportunity to come face to face with the religious mind, to discover their relationship to God, and to remember my own (non-voluntary) experience with religion.

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“Wake, Awake for Night Is Flying”—New Verses for Advent Hymn

The words and music of this famous German hymn were created by Lutheran Pastor Philip Nicolai at a sad time in his ministry. During the winter of 1597-8, over 1300 people died of the plague in the small village of Unna, near Dortmund, where he pastored. He officiated at many
funerals, as many as 30 a day.

In a preface to its publication with other hymns and meditations he said he wished “to leave [them] behind me (if God should call me from this world) as a token of my peaceful, joyful, Christian departure, or (if God should spare me in health) to comfort other sufferers whom He should also visit with the pestilence.”

The hymn draws richly from biblical sources, including images from the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) and the Book of Revelation.

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Tracee Ellis Ross Has A Message That All Women Need To Hear

Tracee Ellis Ross has accomplished many of her dreams ― and even won some of the highest honors her industry has to offer ― but it takes just one sentence for someone to make her feel diminished.

In an inspiring speech for Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit, the “Black-ish” star opened up about the way some people respond to her being a 45-year-old woman who is not married and does not have kids.

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If I Called Myself a “Christian”

  A Call for a New Christology   You can read and/or print a pdf copy of this commentary Here. NOTE: An earlier 2-part Words & Ways commentary in 2011 approached the question posed in the title, …

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Feast if the Transfiguration ‘A’

  It is good for us to be here. Be attentive. The Webster Dictionary defines an ‘aha moment’ as a point in time when one has a sudden insight or realization and I would add, a mystical …

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The Arts of Ritual

  Recently, my daughter, Liz Burklo, invited me to speak with a group of the social work student interns she supervises. She wanted me to equip them with skills in conducting rituals that can serve the communities …

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Hollywood, the Christian Church, and Sexual Abuse

Over the past weeks the masks have been ripped off the faces of many famous and powerful men, exposing sexual assault, harassment and conduct unbecoming to anyone who has a shred of decency.

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Addendum to book: Sixth Extinction ?

In recent years biosphere degradation has been forcing many scientists and nonscientists to focus
attention on the interacting dangers within the relationship between our human species and this
planet. Many are concluding that we humans have become an ecological force contrary to
biosphere stabilization and that this is so serious it could lead to our extinction. Renowned
physicist, Stephen Hawking is now sounding the alarm. He has even predicted that we have
less than 600 years before the planet turns into, as he describes it; “a sizzling fireball.”

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Robin Meyers Interview: What theological shifts have shaped your story?

Interview with Robin Meyers, Senior Minister of the Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.

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The Connection Between Climate Change and Gun Control

From the perspective of political theology, the issues of climate change and gun control are related in two ways. The first linkage is that progressive Christians need no promptings on these issues. By massive numbers they know that God is calling on them to enact laws to control guns and to take actions that help to wean the country away from carbon producing energy.

These issues also tell us something important about how many Conservative Christians think about political issues.

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Thanksgiving as a Myth of Origin

Thanksgiving fits neatly into the “sacred feast” of the sort of the Hebrew Passover feast. Thanksgiving ties us to American history, family history, and religious devotion while denying actual history, especially as it relates to the relationship between Native Americans and the northern European invaders who stole their land and tried to extinguish their culture while killing off most of their population. Americans need to come to an honest awareness of our history, both the parts we can be proud of and the parts that call for confession and penance. The past does not have to be prelude. We can choose to help create a greater America.

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Wild Horses: The Last was First to Ride, Here Is What We Found

By Kimberly Stover for Patheos

  “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away Wild, wild horses we’ll ride them some day.” –The Rolling Stones I’ve always been in love with horses. The thought of riding a horse into the wild excites my spirit …

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What’s Fundamental to a Fundamentalist?

The term “fundamentalism” was first coined in relation to the Christian Fundamentalist movements which originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They largely came out of American and British Protestantism. In particular, the series of books called The Fundamentals, published in 1910-1915, gave the movement its name.

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Is the sense of self an illusion?

Would you comment from your Christian perspective on the Buddhist assertion that we have no separate self or separate existence because we cannot understand who we are without understanding who we aren’t, and our separate existence is known only because of everything we are? Is the sense of self an illusion?

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Cherry Picking Religion – Roy Moore’s Twisting of Faith

By Rabiah Ahmed for Patheos

The Roy Moore scandal grows everyday; there are more accusers, more accounts of disturbing behavior. But even as the evidence mounts, Moore’s defenders remain steadfast. What is most striking is the language used by his supporters to say that Moore’s predation upon minors was not only unremarkable, but somehow ordained by God.

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The Soul of Christmas

With his trademark blend of storytelling, faith, and psychological insight, New York Times bestselling author Thomas Moore turns his poetic attention to the most enduring story of them all: the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Carefully and lovingly, he looks at passages from the Gospels, both canonical and non-canonical, comparing them to archetypal stories and ancient myths in order to understand his own beliefs and to gaze in wonder at the Holy Child.

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God: A Human History

In Zealot, Reza Aslan replaced the staid, well-worn portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth with a startling new image of the man in all his contradictions. In his new book, Aslan takes on a subject even more immense: God, writ large.

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2 Takeaways from Pope Francis Statement on Capital Punishment

Pope Francis recently made bold comments on capital punishment. He called it “contrary to the gospel” and flat out “inadmissible.” In these words, we are seeing the culmination of what’s been building over the course of several pontificates—John Paul II, especially, but other popes, as well.

There are, at least, two developments happening in Church teaching that I see:

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The American Empire

In a speech Robert Gates gave as Secretary of Defense in the second Bush administration, he let on that the United States’ navy is larger than the next thirteen navies combined. Again, eleven of those thirteen countries are our allies. The U.S. currently has 800 military bases around the world in eighty-five countries. 250,000 military personnel staff those bases for an annual cost of 156 billion dollars.

This global military presence is unique in history, and its existence speaks louder than the hypocritical words of American exceptionalism that we seek no advantage for ourselves, that our military presence throughout the world is only there for the good of others. As recent history suggests, we use this unprecedented military power to move from enemy to enemy in an attempt to shape the world in our interests.

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Sermon: God and the Universe

It’s that old approach that St Anselm wrote about in the 11th c, fides quarens intellectum, faith seeking understanding. It’s important to distinguish faith and belief. Faith is an attitude of trust, and belief is trying to make sense of that attitude. What you believe is serious, but not too serious. Karl Barth, who wrote many, many books, including his voluminous Church Dogmatics, once commented that the angels would have a good laugh when they saw him pushing a wheelbarrow full of his books through the pearly gate. That we all agree in our belief is not the point. Each of us is seeking understanding. Agreement is not the point. Openness and respect is.

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Why Christianity Is No Longer Believable – And How We Can Change That

Pre-order John Shelby Spong’s final book, "Unbelievable"

Five hundred years after Martin Luther and his Ninety-Five Theses ushered in the Reformation, bestselling author and controversial bishop and teacher John Shelby Spong delivers twelve forward-thinking theses to spark a new reformation to reinvigorate Christianity and ensure its future.

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Roy Moore? Pardon me, I thought you were Joseph.

An Alabama politician just compared Judge Roy Moore’s “dating” of teenagers to the relationship of an adult Joseph to a teenaged Mary. What does the Bible actually say about Joseph and Mary’s ages?

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