Perfecting Love

If God is love, then God is something we do, rather than somebody or something we try to believe in. If God is love, then God is a relationship, and not a Guy in the Sky or some other kind of supernatural entity. If God is love, God is nothing to fear. If God is love, when we really love someone – even of another religion, or of no religion at all – God is in that relationship, blessing it. So these three words wipe away all the theological debates about science and common sense versus religion. These three words sweep away the problem of evil, the perennial conundrum of how an all-powerful God could love people while allowing horrible things to happen to them. If God is love, then God is not in charge of the universe. Love is extremely powerful, but it is not directive. Love does not force anybody to do anything, nor to force anything to do anything to anybody. If God is love, then God is omni-attractive, not omni-potent.

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The Things We Do For Jesus! – a sermon on the Baptism of Jesus

There’s a definition of what it means to be a priest that has always daunted me. A priest it has been said is “a keeper of the mysteries; a keeper of the sacred mysteries of our faith. People often confuse the idea of mystery with the idea of secret. But I can assure you that as a keeper of the mysteries of the faith it is neither my job nor any other priest’s job to keep the mysteries of our faith a secret.

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“Becoming Magi” (Epiphany Sunday Sermon Video)

“The greatest Epiphany is the discovery of the LIght within ourselves.” Watch as Rev. Salvatore Sapienza, pastor of Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ, explains the symbolic meaning of the journey of the Magi.

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After the Patriarchy Falls

In Terry Crews book on Manhood, he talks about targeting high profile sexual predators in order to end patriarchy is like trying to cut a tree down by cutting the leaves. Toxic masculinity is a part of our culture and we need to lay the axe to the trunk of that tree, rooting out the male privilege that has been the source of victimization of women for centuries. Perhaps the current backward trend in our nation is the retreat that will force us to find the activation energy necessary to bring about the fall of the patriarchy.

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Creationist Christians and Science

Recently, Arizona’s state school board narrowly defeated the effort of creationist Christians to alter science standards and open the door for a literal interpretation of the Bible being taught alongside evolution. Some of the advisers advocating for creationism were referred to as “Young Earthers” in the news. What exactly does that mean? 

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God Can’t

How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils

Hurting people ask heart-felt questions about God and suffering. Some “answers” they receive appeal to mystery: “God’s ways are not our ways”. Some answers say God allows evil for a greater purpose. Some say evil is God’s punishment.

Not only do the usual answers fail, they don’t support the truth God loves everyone all the time. God Can’t gives a believable answer to why a good and powerful doesn’t prevent evil.

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Borg and Compassion

I just finished “Unbelievable” and found many things in the book that I was unaware that I believed. I am curious to know how you feel about/reconcile people who are truly evil or unrepentantly evil like child abusers/pornographers. I can deal with people whose belief systems are different than mine but not with people who purposefully hurt other people, especially children. Some even believe it is their right to do so.
How can we love these people wastefully?


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The Inward Journey, the Outward Gaze

Progressive Mysticism with Julian of Norwich

Theologian Karl Barth once counseled, “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” In graduate school over 40 years ago, I heard a modification of Barth’s wisdom, “The preacher should have the New York Times in one hand and the Bible in the other.” This advice surely applies to the spiritual seeker and social activist as well. We must have our eyes trained on eternity while boldly living in our time and place. Touching eternity, the cosmic wisdom of God, grants perspective and hope in the moral arc of history. But the wide perspective – our hope in God’s arc of justice – is of value only if it guides our pathway in responding to the unique challenges of our time.

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Christmastide* Greetings

I hope you’ve been having a restful and reflective season. And, I realize that, for many of us, this has been a difficult season – whether simply feeling the weight of national and global tensions and tragedies, or the pain often borne uniquely in our immediate context.

I carried this paradox with me in my conversation with my dear friend Alexander John Shaia yesterday. It was our final Make Advent Great Again dialogue, and it’s too good not to share with you

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Church Confession

I am the church, and this is my confession.  My last confession was 500 years ago.  I have oppressed women and kept them out of leadership positions.  I have oppressed gay and lesbian people.  I have judged people pointlessly for having normal sexual urges and relationships, treating sex like a disease instead of lifting it up as a precious gift from God. 

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Fighting Destructive Chaos…with Christmas Carols?

Like many people, I am absolutely appalled by the ugly, hateful and destructive chaos emerging in this country. I have also wondered what I, a retired Oakland High School English teacher and Berkeley pastor, now living in a small town on the Oregon coast, could do to somehow change the dialogue and direction as to where the nation is going.

I hope to do so through … Christmas carols!

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God’s Trans-affirming Love

How does the church and God feel about transgender people? Will they go to hell?

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Praying a New Story

“Praying a New Story” offers a way of seeing and being in the presence of an “everywhere” God” – in all, through all, never absent, always nears.

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If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics

These are new prayers for a new age. They spark the spiritual imagination back to life and reorient us to a mystical unity with the universe, Spirit, and all of creation.

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“Flash Choirs” of Carolers Encouraged to Combat Destructive Chaos

Robert O’Sullivan, a retired high school English teacher and pastor, has called for “flash choirs” of Christmas carolers to assemble frequently at the White House and throughout the land, using carol verses old and new to combat destructive chaos and remind people that Christians should work for peace, justice, care of the earth, equality and love, especially as it applies to the most vulnerable.

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The Way of Thomas: Insights for Spiritual Living from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

Want spiritual transformation, but turned off by dogmatic religion? Discover the original, mystical teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas, the most important book left out of the Bible.

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Progressive Christianity and the Church?- BRUNCHtalks 9

Together, learning to be LOVE in the world! As we explore the connections between Progressive Christianity and the Church, Brian McLaren’s question: “What if Churches became schools of LOVE?” provides insights into the church’s task to become communities where we can learn to become the most LOVING version of ourselves. This is the last of our BRUNCHtalks for this summer. We have explored what it means to be Progressive in approach: Christ-like in action. 

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Prayer in the Context of Progressive Christianity

I’m puzzled about prayer in the context of Progressive Christianity which has replaced the interventionist God “up-there” or “out-there” with the God-within. The typical (conventional) church service liturgy invariably includes an “Intercessions” segment. What meaning does this (segment) have in the context of “progressive” thinking? Should it be abandoned?

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