The season of Lent is traditionally understood to be a time for reflection, contrition, and consideration of the sacrifice Jesus undertook for our sins. It has been, as you know, traditionally recognized for the forty days leading up to Easter. Preceded by Shrove Tuesday, upon which Christians are to prepare to confess their sins, Lent is entered into as a holy season of penitence.read more
What’s on TV Tonight?
Posted: 05 Jan 2017 09:17 AM PST
A scene depicting an American heartland barn dance
by William Medcalf
I didn’t intend to write a series on smart phones and social media. This is a blog about spirituality, religious harmony and related topics, after all. I try to keep on topic. However, given the tumultuous 2016 presidential election, many people have been rethinking how we use these new technologies. Does it serve our faith life? Does it improve our culture and society? Is this really the best way to evangelize? One thing led to another.
I stumbled upon some thoughts that have been sitting with me a long time.read more
This book will not give you answers but help you find answers of your own.read more
Robin Meyers on Progressive Christianity
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
In an online course entitled, “A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment”, Week 1 Video 10: Prioritize but d not pursue Happiness, Rajagopal Raghunathan recommends that for greater fulfillment we should prioritize goals, rather than pursue them. He demonstrates what this means by using sleep as an example. To prioritize sleep we should do what brings a restful night—exercise, good diet and no arguing before bedtime! We cannot find good sleep by simply going to bed and willfully pursuing it; that will likely keep us awake! And this principle can be applied to other dilemmas; Overeaters Anonymous, for example advises members not to pursue weight loss but to prioritize abstinence and working their Twelve Step program. All healing platforms affirm: illumination by any name is a reward for doing what enables it.read more
You can complain that young kids are constantly attached to their smart phones. But you might be better served asking why their lives are so deprived of human interaction that they have been sucked into the internet so strongly. Drive through most US suburbs, cities and small towns, you won’t see kids playing in the yards, families talking on porches or town folk gathering for public entertainment. This is completely antithetical to how humans have always lived. Children grow up desperately lonely and disconnected from others. Along comes the internet and suddenly they can be plugged in to people all over. Can we blame them? Then yes, over time, they lose (or never develop) the skills at interpersonal interaction.read more
What does it mean to live in a liberating, transformative faith community today? We need a different linguistic narrative along with a different set of cultural practices to give expression to this task. This means a new understanding of the Eternal Reality—the reality we call God—a new understanding of community and of the personal moral and ethical choices we make in our everyday lives. This also means new approaches to the language and symbols used in public worship for the Christian community (such as the meaning of communion, the response to scriptural texts, and the words used in sermons, hymns, congregational prayers and other forms of Christian liturgy).read more
First a quote from the January 20, 1961 Inaugural address of John F. Kennedy.
He ended it with the words:
“…. asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
They were prescient words: “here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” Was the new President aware the moment he was speaking of the need for an American response to the ecological challenges facing the Nation? We do not know. However, it all became clear one year later when Rachel Carson published her seminal book Silent Spring. Along with many other Americans, the President too read the book. It had become an instant best-seller and the most provocative book in decades. It began the environmental movement in America.read more
Just now, mindfulness – defined in secular terms, studied scientifically, and practiced ubiquitously – has come fully into the cultural mainstream. Now is the time to rediscover it in the mainstream of Christian faith and practice, in the writings and practices of contemplatives throughout its history. Mindful prayer leads to fresh interpretation of Christian tradition, and reveals the Bible for what it is: not a book of facts, not a fixed set of prescriptions for behavior, but rather a collection of wisdom and poetry and myth made sacred by the ongoing human quest for intimate encounter with the Ultimate Reality.read more
In Amen, Gretta Vosper, United Church minister and author of the controversial bestseller With or Without God, offers us her deeply felt examination of worship beyond conventional prayer, a new tradition built on love and respect rather than on the rituals of ancient beliefs.read more
Partisan hostility is not new but social media has certainly ratcheted up the rhetoric so that we quickly fall into hostile name calling of one another and asserting that every politician we don’t like is just like Hitler. In this time when so many important ethical issues are up in the air we cannot be silent but we should be exacting in our honesty. We need the courage to raise our voices in advocacy and even in protest but we must embrace the spiritual character that asks us to speak the truth in love so that we can persuade rather than alienate those with whom we communicate.read more
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.read more
That we all want to live meaningful, happy lives is self-evident. The question is, how? Finding God in the Body answers this question with action, spiritual practice.
Finding God in the Body draws from the wisdom of the world’s traditions–Buddhism, contemplative Christianity, Judaism, and Twelve-Step spirituality–to present not a smorgasbord, but a synthesized, modern view of embodied spirituality. It turns inward to examine the human condition, meeting personal suffering with heartfelt insight and transformative practice. It steers clear of the wishful thinking, unfounded beliefs, and cynicism that define much of the spirituality genre.
Contrary to the old adage, fences do not necessarily make good neighbors. In our election campaign season this last year, the winning candidate promised to build a wall and have our neighbor pay for it. We’ll see. Now by presidential executive order, an indefinite ban on all refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries entering our country has also been put in place.read more
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.read more