Beatitudes for the 21st Century

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.

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Rage to Ecstasy: Praying the Psalms

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.

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The Tree of Life

An analysis of The Tree of Life as it relates to the Book of Job. Why do the righteous suffer?

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How accurate is the Bible?

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?

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Creating a Difference with Claremont School of Theology

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.

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How Idolatry Affects Us Today

  Question and Answer   Question: Kay from St. Louis, writes: What do you mean when you speak about idolatry among Christians?      Answer: By Matthew Fox   Thank you for your question, Kay. This is …

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My Name is Lilith

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.

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What a Joke: These Stories Never Actually Happened! – a sermon for the First Sunday in Lent

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7, Matthew 4:1-11

Each year as Lent approaches, I find myself flirting with the idea of giving up Lent for Lent. Lent is just too much work. For centuries, during Lent the church has emphasized so many concepts that seem alien to the 21st century mind. Each year during Lent preachers are required to undertake the unenviable task of unpacking unpopular, seemingly antiquated concepts in an effort to encourage the contemporary churchgoer to entertain the equally antiquated rituals of Lent. I mean Christmas and Easter might attract a few more people to our sanctuary, but how do you attract people with talk about repentance or fasting? Just look at our readings for this morning. Temptation is the order for toady. Eve and Adam succumbing to temptation, the Apostle Paul prattling on, heaping condemnation upon the first parents for having given in to temptation, and then Jesus himself resisting temptation from non-other than the Devil. Not exactly cheery stuff designed to bring comfort on a cold damp winter morning, where apart from the time change, there are very few signs of a longed for spring.

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How my thinking has changed.

This idea of God has a long history, which the remarkable scholar and ex-nun, Karen Armstrong has written up as “The History of God”. God is an idea that has played an extremely important centering role in our evolving culture. God became the ultimate point of reference. It was the idea of God as creator of the universe that led to the rise of modern science, as mediaeval theologians tried to discover what they called ‘the ways of God’ by conducting experiments. It was they who laid the foundations of today’s empirical science.
But also associated with this idea of God were the values of love, compassion, honesty and truth. These make such moral demands of us that they transcend us. And though the idea of God had its beginning in our mythological past it remains, therefore, a useful symbol for our highest values. Even the New Testament asserts. “God is love”.

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An Unorthodox Faith: A New Reformation in a Postmodern World

“An Unorthodox Faith” proposes an alternative to traditional Christian creeds and theology with a simpler humanist theology of love and compassion. It explores the implications for faith and ethics based on the proposition that “God is love”—not a loving supernatural being, but, more radically, frail human love itself. The book deconstructs traditional images of God as cosmic creator and occasional interventionist, the apocalyptic image of Christ, the image of the Holy Spirit as a supernatural being, medieval images of heaven and hell, ancient doctrines of sin and atonement, and contemporary beliefs in resurrection and eternal life. When all of these concepts are removed from traditional Christianity, what remains is a deeply spiritual humanism of service and social action—a way of living that reflects the words and deeds of the historical Jesus.

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Progressive Lectionary

Reading Bishop Spong and Marcus Borg primarily, along with “Ministry Matters” and other readings, has lead me to believe if we attach the “Common Lectionary” to our Hebrew founders (as Bishop Spong has done) we have a better shot at arriving at the inner soul end point we desire.

This Lectionary is based on the belief that the new fundamentals should be taught.

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The First Commandment Shall Be Last

Part 5 of the series, What Makes a Christian?

When Jesus said, “The last shall be first and the first shall be last,” I highly doubt He meant that the first and Greatest Commandment should be the last thing on our list of things to do.

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Sin of Sodom: A Case of Denial

We’ve been robbed of the power of the story of Sodom. It should be a strong companion to Matthew 25:31-46, which also gives dire warnings for those who do not serve Jesus by feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger and the other Works of Mercy. It’s a path that ends in destruction.

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The Law Hangs in the Balance of Love

Part 4 of the series, What Makes a Christian?

Sometimes our greatest breach with Scripture is not when we outright contradict it–it’s what we choose to prioritize, diminish or outright ignore. There is a time for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We need to put first things first and second things second.

Much of Christianity focuses on salvation plans and doctrinal ideas.

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John D. Crossan Quote on Biblical Literalism

“My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are dumb enough to take the literally.”

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Christianity and Fundamentalism in today’s world

Why is Christianity growing in its fundamentalist forms and dying where it tries to engage the thought of the present world?

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Reflections: Theological Memoirs #9: Jesus

Reflection Number 9: Jesus

Tall. Long, light brown hair. Blue eyes. A calming gaze with an outstretched teaching arm. More likely than not, this is how westerners imagine Jesus. Contrast that with the reality. Jesus, like most men of his time, probably weighed about 110 pounds, stood little over 5 feet tall, and would not have lived much past 40. Popular Mechanics recently offered us an image of a swarthy Jesus with curly Afro type hair and a facial appearance that to me seems much like a Neanderthal. Google it and have a look. That, most likely, is the real Jesus. Whatever doctrinal belief you may hold about the man, he was a man, and that’s what he looked like. Personally, it brings a smile to my face to understand that when I talk to or about Jesus, it’s this little Jewish guy that I have in mind.

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The Two Gospels

I recently heard a Christmas Eve sermon titled “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” recited entirely in rhymed couplets and delivered without a manuscript. Running for nearly eleven minutes, it was quite a remarkable feat.

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