Tillich’s Challenge: The Search for New Vocabulary

Part One

We started by asking if we could replace the word god with the word love. We have seen that both words are not easily defined or understood. And yet, given the importance of finding common ground, I think that at least for the time being, we should give it a try and replace the word god with the word love in the context of humanist/Christian dialogue. Christians can talk about god all they want when talking among themselves, just as humanists can deny god all they want when talking among themselves. But when talking to each other, using the word love, as exemplified by the Samaritan, would be a helpful way to begin the dialogue. If we can agree on love, then will follow the awareness that indeed we have much more in common.

read more

King’s dream of “the beloved community” extends to your community, too.

Martin Luther King articulated his dream of wanting every town and city throughout the world “Building the Beloved Community.” The King Center explains the concept:

“In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”

read more

My Year of Preaching with Donald Trump

As a theologian and minister, how can I not address these weekly rants by the President in my sermons? How can I not stand up and denounce xenophobia? His bullying discourse and reprehensible behavior? How can I not stand up for justice and compassion for the broken, the marginalized, and the forgotten people of this world? How can I not remind people that an “eye for an eye” is attitude that will leave all of us blind, and that a nation only thrives when all its citizens are thriving?

read more

Recycling Our Lives, Recycling Our Religion

How can we re-use, re-purpose, recycle, reduce, and even compost the incidents and memories and experiences and trajectories of our lives into a new narrative that serves us and others better?

read more

Jesus as Critic of Hypocrisy, Then and Now

The very lifestyle chosen by Jesus showed little concern for the separateness purity required. Jesus was a practicing Jew who observed the Sabbath and kosher requirements; but he objected to the pride, self-righteousness, and pettiness of criticisms by scribes and Pharisees as he emphasized serving God through ethical action more than ritual observance. Jesus did not criticize purity in temple worship; however, extending temple purity to normal life resulted in focus on oneself rather than on ethical behavior toward others. His emphasis was on serving God through actions that recognized the rule of God now and helped prepare for complete realization of God’s sovereignty and justice in the future. Present and future depended on actions now.

read more

Rolling The Stone Away: LGBTQI Elders Meet The Next Generation Of Christian Activists At A Watershed Conference

Five hundred years after Martin Luther’s reform, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people, and allies celebrated fifty years of valiant efforts to make churches Christian—that is, welcoming, inclusive, and just.

read more

Spiritual Care in Changing Times: Initial Glimpses from Theological Education

By Wendy Cadge and Beth Stroud for Huffington Post

Chaplains and spiritual caregivers sit with people in distress, support the grieving, care for the dead, and coordinate local religious leaders — all in the face of the kind of suffering that leaves most of us at a loss for words. Where and how do they learn how to help?

read more

Lessons in Political Theology from Jerusalem

On Wednesday (12/6/17), President Trump announced a dramatic change in Middle East policy by declaring the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Most Israelis were thrilled. The government of Israel declared Jerusalem to be its eternal capital in 1980. What is important to note about this declaration is that it is an expression of Jewish nationalism. The claim has little support in Jewish history or from Jewish scriptures.

read more

Where Charity and Love Prevail: The Matthew 25 Solidarity Test

When people express opinions about a particular issue, I always look to see how charitable they are in this. Do they take the concerns of others seriously and try their best to get to the bottom of it? Or do they simply dismiss their concerns outright without getting involved? That is often a clue as to whether their opinions are in line with Christian discipleship.

read more

Gospel Americana, the music at Thad’s

Thad’s Band plucks the heartstrings with tunes that evoke real-life spiritual experience. The lyrics, peppered with oblique biblical references, invite the listener to explore their many possible meanings. Thad’s Band vibrates the essence of progressive Christianity, lyrically liberating the faith from the confines of dead dogma. Like the kin-dom of heaven that’s coming but already here, Thad’s Band is the present future of music for progressive worship.

read more

The Power Hidden in a Choice

The two-faced Roman god, Janus, was often portrayed as a door with one face looking toward where you have been and the other looking towards where you are going. New Year’s Day ushers us into the month of January, named for Janus, symbolically suggesting that we are leaving an old year and entering a new one. Which seems like a good idea, especially this year, as long as we don’t drag our anger, resentment, and hurt from 2017 into 2018.

read more

Watch Night with Simeon and Anna: Recommit to Racial Justice in 2018

By Leah D. Schade for Patheos

As a white clergy person, I had to learn the history of the Watch Night tradition. While it began with the Moravians in 1733, the service took on special significance for African Americans on the eve of January 1, 1863. That was when Abraham Lincoln designated that the Emancipation Proclamation would become law.
Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ecopreacher/2017/12/watch-night-simeon-anna-racial-justice/#4EvjxC2kIZbv1SzG.99

read more

I Want to Die

I want to talk about the words I want used when my heart and brain stop working. I want people to say, “Bil died!” Please don’t say, “Bil passed.” I don’t like that word being used to describe what I was born to do—die.

read more

Try a Little Kindness: The Politics of Engagement

I was walking with a good friend about a month ago and another white supremacist rally was in the news. “Joe, what can we do about these people?” I asked. “How do we change their hate filled values?”

“We love them,” Joe responded. “Engage with them. Stop demonizing them. That was Martin Luther King’s approach to such people.”

read more

Church, State, and Compassion

In a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center, 23% of Americans said they have no religious affiliation, up from 16% in 2007. In 2017, 59% said it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values, an increase of 7% in three years. Fewer than 40% of Americans report attending church on a weekly basis, but that number is probably inflated according to church leaders, who say fewer than 20% are in church on any given Sunday.

read more

What does the Advent season call us to do in troubled times?

A Trump presidency is what I can best depict as a “disastrous opportunity,” because it encourages an intersectional dialogue as well as activism against potential erosion if not dismantling of decades-long civil rights gains. Americans on the margins have the most to lose in a country pivoting away from their full protections and participation in a multicultural democracy.

read more

For Black Women, Being Called the Democrats’ ‘Backbone’ Is No Compliment

Black women voters in the recent Alabama U.S. Senate race are being thanked for “saving” the state from Republican candidate Roy Moore, a homophobe, slavery apologist, and accused pedophile. And we’re all now are being lauded as “the backbone” of the Democratic Party.

As a voting bloc, black women in Alabama didn’t just suddenly emerge for Democratic candidate Doug Jones. What hubris to think they did and not for themselves. We always have had agency and voting-mobilization strategies to support our candidates. The turnout that Alabama and the nation witnessed derives from a history of battling voter suppression that the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote in 1920, didn’t protect us from.

read more

Thank God you were born!

Or thank the cosmos! Or evolution! Or your parents! Or “to whom it may concern”!

“Thank God you were born” is the message I often write on birthday cards or Facebook birthday messages. I intend it as my own thanksgiving for the birth of the person I’m greeting, but I realize it could be understood as a spiritual directive to the recipient as well.

read more