In This Life

While hiding in the failed hope of evading murder at the hands of the Nazis, Ann Frank was able to write in her diary that she believed that people were basically good and that peace would return to the world. This is a helpful statement of faith now that we are living through a dangerously turbulent time that threatens to see a return to fascism in countries that have formerly loved democracy. This season of history will pass and perhaps, if we are patient and compassionate, we can help it to pass a bit more quickly.

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Nationalism, World Cup and Jesus

What does it mean to be a patriot?

Does it mean wearing a jersey with your favorite team’s colors? Does it mean waving the flag? Does it mean painting your face? Or hanging it from your front porch?

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BRUNCHtalks2 – Progressive in Approach

Whenever we try to articulate what God IS, language fails us. For the most part, the institutional church has defined God with words and expected that members of the institution will confess loyalty to those words. Many of the words, with which the institution has traditionally described God, craft an image of God as a supernatural being up there or out there who is responsible for creation and from time to time interferes in the workings of creation. As we continue to learn more and more about the magnitude of creation, both in time and space, our traditional words about God seem even more puny. While some respond to our ever-expanding knowledge about creation by attempting to make our notions of God fit into the tight little containers that were crafted by our ancestors, some are seeking new ways to speak of the CREATOR OF ALL THAT IS, WAS OR EVER SHALL BE. How might a progressive approach to religion enable us to expand our images of the Divine MYSTERY?

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Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study

Millennials seeking a new approach to spirituality, those who identify with the “emerging church” identified by Marcus Borg and others, anyone interested in Christ’s Jewishness and the elimination of anti-Jewish bias from Bible study, and women, LGBTs, and others who seek a Biblical approach that overcomes insistence on obedience to questionable Old Testament commands will be intrigued by the new book by Edward G. Simmons.

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On Being Awake

The Christian life is a call to a discipline. It is an undertaking. Sometimes it takes us where we do not want to go, to do difficult things while we are there, and then sometimes to suffer. The alternative is to remain asleep, to persist in indifference, to surrender hope. We can still do that, we can still abdicate our moral and spiritual responsibilities and call ourselves Americans. Many today are doing just that. But if we do that, what we cannot call ourselves are followers of Jesus.

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Video with Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastor

Nadia Bolz-Weber saw a spiritual longing in friends who didn’t fit into the typical church. So the Evangelical Lutheran pastor created a new one, The House for All SInners and Saints, which allows parishioners from all walks of life to embrace failures and surround themselves with acceptance, love, and grace.

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Cain in the Land of Nod


The Judeo-Christian story of creation is assumed by biblical literalists to be an accurate, historical representation of the beginning of the universe, with Adam and Eve firmly ensconced as the first human beings to inhabit the earth, and the Garden of Eden as the first habitat. Those who accept this as literal fact are faced with numerous challenges, and in this essay I will focus on one of the most common… the origin of Cain’s wife, whom he meets in a foreign land known as “Nod,” to which he is banished for the crime of killing his brother. To address this issue, I will focus on Genesis 4: 9- 17 (RSV):

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Presbyterian Church Makes History, Adopts Official Pro-LGBTQ Stances at Biennial Conference

By Shane Stahl for Freedom For All Americans

On Wednesday, June 20, the Presbyterian Church took a historic step by voting unanimously to accept three Overtures submitted at their biennial conference in Missouri. The Overtures both celebrate LGBTQ people of faith and speak out against religious freedom being used to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

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Wake Up Jeezus! Wake Up!

Mark 4:35-41

The raging storms are all around us. Racism, poverty, disease, and violence; four winds that howl so ferociously that all we can hear is the sound of people’s fears as we see the very real possibility that the bottom might just fall out of the small craft we have fashioned to navigate the troubled waters that lie ahead.

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Campfires For Conviviality

I’m working on starting an initiative on campus at USC to create the conditions for more conviviality, friendship, and compassion on campus. The symbol and the focus of this effort is the campfire. I hope it is something that catches on in churches and other settings as well!

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Because We Are All Connected

3 things: 1) We are all connected. 2) All partisan, racial, gender, religious, and national divisions are forms of deception and manipulation. 3) Spiritual people want to remain meaningfully engaged in changing the world without becoming a part of the problem. We may rise above the fray and maintain our centered and sane peace.

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Being Christian in the Twenty-First Century

Being Christian in the Twenty-First Century was written out of a concern for the graying of the church and decline in church affiliation especially among younger generations. It promotes an understanding of Christianity that avoids literalism, dogma, and doctrines—all factors which many believe is driving people away from the church.

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God Needs a New Image

As a clinical chaplain and grief counselor, I am often confronted with images of God that create more suffering than solace when people have experienced a traumatic loss. The question they usually ask is, “Why would a loving God let this happen?” Or they will say, “I thought if I was a faithful Christian and pleased God, nothing bad would ever happen to me, so why did my child die? What did I do wrong?”

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Moon-Walking Bears, Jesus and Nicodemus: a sermon on John 3:1-17

I am indebted to Jim Kast-Keat, a pioneering preacher who inspired me to open this sermon with the video below. I am also indebted to Bishop John Shelby Spong for teaching me more that I can articulate with words. His excellent book The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic opened the Gospel According to John in ways that have helped me to see aspects of the Divine to which I was once blind. Much of the sermon consists of extensive quotes from chapter 9 of Jack’s book.

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A Word of Hope

A couple days ago, I asked my social media friends how they were feeling right now and if they were holding up under the stress of the news. More than 300 people commented. The most often used words were “exhausted,” “angry,” “sad,” “overwhelmed,” and “helpless.”

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Jeff Sessions’ Outrageous Bible Interpretation

Dear Readers: The recent statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, defending the horrific separation of children from refugee parents on the basis of his tortured reading of Romans chapter 13, as well as Donald Trump’s recent statement …

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King David the Louse

King David has long been one of my Biblical heroes—or so I thought. The story of David versus Goliath is a powerful metaphor for facing life’s challenges. The little guy takes on the big and the powerful—and wins.

I always envisioned the great King David as the prototype for who and what the Messiah should be: a powerful leader, admired by all, who would lead the chosen people to achieve the highest standards.

Then I bought the Great Courses DVDs on the Old Testament, which consist of twenty-four thirty-minute lectures by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, a Biblical scholar from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

In lecture sixteen, Dr. Levine talked about who King David really was. That lecture was an eye opener—and not a nice one!

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Hastening Change in the Church

In this episode of Faith And Reason 360 we are honored to welcome author, scholar, and scribe of the popular monthly newsletter “Connections,” Barbara Wendland.

Join us as Barbara discusses the need for a radical update of creed, attitude, and structure in the Christian church, whose practices, Wendland says, are outdated—and this behind-the-times attitude, though revered as traditional by many, comes at the expense of Church success. The world has changed dramatically since the 3rd century; is the Church ready to catch up?

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