Resistance Bible Study

(This is the introduction to a weekly Bible study I’m starting for students at USC. A few days ago, I finished reading a remarkable little book that my dear cousin Judy sent me: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder, a Yale history professor who incisively diagnoses the present danger posed by Trump and the Republicans to the survival of democracy in this country, and offers prescriptions for action. I closed the book, took a deep breath, and resolved to do something new and different toward that end. This “Resistance Bible Study” is the result. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes! Any “musings” readers wishing to do their own version of this, please go for it – and keep me posted, too.)

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Race, Drugs, and Prisons

The War on Drugs has failed to reduce drug use but it has succeeded in the original plan of the Nixon administration which was to incarcerate minorities and political dissidents. In a magazine interview in 2016, John Ehrlichman confessed, “Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

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What do you see as the ideal church?

If you were the moderator of the United Church of Canada with no restrictions… what would the church look like? What do you see as the perfect/ideal United Church of Canada?

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Why ‘Works’ Are Necessary

A recent Pew Research Center poll has reopened the old debate about faith vs works–the line of scrimmage of the Protestant Reformation. Whereas Martin Luther and the heirs of the Reformation have always held that it is through faith alone that salvation occurs, many Protestants and Catholics today have a blended view of the role faith and works–at least, according to this poll (“works” is defined differently by different denominations, but could refer to any effort on the part of humankind, whether it is doing good deeds or following any religious prescription that guarantees that God will act a certain way after we do it).

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Heeding messages. Whose messages?

This article about messaging is in three parts:

• Part One: Michelangelo’s Biblical Errancy
• Part Two: Meaning and Message Are Intertwined
• Part Three: Asking You to Choose to Believe in Awe

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Undaunted Grace

The earth turns, seasons turn,
and we turn homeward, seeking
a place we’ve never been.

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It’s Probably About Sex

Sexual mores evolve from generation to generation. We cannot reasonably assume that religion sets the rules for sexual relationships, after all, the preponderance of biblical references to marriage praise and promote polygamy. We must strive to find what is true, just, merciful, and liberating in our search for sexual ethics.

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An A-Theist Goes to Church?

Some folks might find it strange that an A-Theist even bothers to go to church where there is a great deal of talk about an UpThere God who isn’t UpThere—as far as he’s concerned. Wouldn’t it be easier just to stay home and do something more interesting? It seems so hypocritical to waste time hearing about God, Jesus, the Trinity, and all that other dogma and doctrine when you don’t believe any of it.

As many of you know, I call myself an A-Theist, but I still go to church every Sunday. There are myriad reasons why I go, but first let me clarify what I mean by hyphenating this word. In my mind, A-Theist has a very different meaning than the word atheist. I am not against the idea of there being a Higher Power, or as Paul Tillich—one of the great theologians in the twentieth century—defines it, “the ground of all being.”

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10 years ago a young Episcopal priest named Jimmy Bartz started an emergent mission church called Thads in Los Angeles. He wanted it to reach a multi-generational community of churched and unchurched people. Hunter Perrin and I began writing original music for the church not really knowing what would be acceptable but having to create music for the sermon each week. Hunter is a Texas guitarist and I am a singer heavily influenced by early southern R&B. We were encouraged to be original and no one tried to edit our musical approach so we wrote freely from what we loved and our musical influences came through in the songs. Other like minded musicians joined us and we became the Thads Band. Over the years the good songs have became the basis for the church hymnal and this website. The writing continues. We play what we’ve come to call Gospel Americana. Its a blend of gospel spirit and American roots music. ~Ian Jack, The Thad’s Band

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This Is Eternal Life

This idea that a part of us somehow persists after death implies some sort of immortality, or eternal life, doesn’t it? I don’t think there are many cultures or religions which profess that a part of us does live on after physical death, but only temporarily. In most belief systems the soul, or whatever you want to call it, is, by definition, immortal.

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Beneath the Surface: What difference does it make how we interpret this little story?

A sermon for Pentecost 10A – Matthew 14:22-33 and 1 Kings19:9-18

After a splendid month-long vacation, I have returned to work as two mad men toss rhetoric into the ether that is designed to to strike fear of a nuclear holocaust into the hearts of people everywhere. Looking at Sunday’s readings: 1 Kings 19:9-18 in which Elijah hears the still small voice of God and Matthew 14:22-33 in which Jesus walks on water. Somehow, this sermon that I preached three years ago seems appropriate to repost so as to encourage us all to look beneath the surface of what we see, hear, and read! Shalom…

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Church of Nice or Church of Nasty?

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

There is much disparaging blather about the modern Catholic Church being the “Church of Nice” but what’s the alternative? Church of Nasty?

The problem with these two extremes is that they really do exist and they reveal the faults of the two sides of Catholicism. The modernists are the Church of Nice while the traditionalists are the Church of Nasty.

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Listen Beyond the Tweets to the Deep Peace of the Still Small Voice

On this quiet summer morning, I arise to find the airwaves clamouring with the sound of Tweets. As news of war and rumours of war penetrates my consciousness and awaken me to the surreal clamouring of madmen who hold the power of life and death in the grasp of their tiny hands, it is so very tempting to give in to the cynicism of the talking heads.

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Excuse me, this is important, I need you to pay attention. I’m here! I AM right here!

A sermon on Eternal Life

To approach intimacy with the One Who Is Was and Every More Shall Be LOVE, is life eternal. To make LOVE with the Sacred, the Divine, the HOLY ONE, is life eternal. Life without limits. Light beyond Light. Light that penetrates our distractions. A light that shines on the beauty and the pain of life; all life with an intimacy that opens us to a way of being that is eternal. I AM here. YAHWEH. I AM WHO AM.

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Videos featuring four pioneers in Jewish-Christian dialogue

These short videos chronicle the contributions of four pioneers in Jewish-Christian dialogue efforts of the last several decades. Featured here are Dr. Edward Kessler (England), Sr. Charlotte Klein NDS (Germany), Dr. Victor Goldbloom (Canada) and Sr. Mary Boys SNJM (USA).

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John 3:16 incomplete without 1st John 3:16

I have friends who seem to think believing that Jesus died for them is all they need to do. Some of them even treat other people badly and when I say something to them about being more Christian they just quote John 3:16 to me. What are your thoughts?

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Spirituality Beyond Theism

All religions combine belief with behaviors but the crucial divide between traditionalists and progressives comes down to this: Traditionalists emphasize right belief while progressives emphasize ethical behavior. Many of us have given up on orthodoxy to become entirely devoted to orthopraxy.

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Nearly 1,000 People of Faith and Religious Leaders Urge Senators to Protect Comprehensive, Affordable Health Care

Washington, D.C.—As lawmakers debate plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), people of faith and religious leaders are speaking out in defense of “comprehensive, affordable health care for all.” In a statement released today, nearly 1,000 people of faith and religious leaders proclaim that “stripping access to health care from millions of people is immoral and unjust.”

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