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22 January 2015: Part XXXVIII Matthew – The First Confirmation Class

Most people are not aware that Judaism, at the time of Jesus, had become a missionary, conversion-oriented religion. People all over the Roman Empire were finding their way into synagogues and many of them were deciding to convert. This movement was large enough that the Jewish authorities had to develop a program for the incorporation …

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Q & A:

My question is: What is the soul? Is it separate from the body and what happens to it when we die? I really enjoy your books, but have not yet found the answer. None of us around the table here seem to know.

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15 January 2015: Part XXXVII Matthew – The Impact of Deuteronomy on the Journey of Jesus to Jerusalem

When the Transfiguration experience was over, Matthew tells us that Jesus and his disciples came down from that mountain. It had been a transformative experience for the disciples, Matthew suggests, because they had seen a new dimension of Jesus’ life opening before them. He has been portrayed in the Transfiguration story as the “New Temple,” …

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Q & A:

It has been said that we do not know who or what God is. In light of that, do you believe that Jesus had a different concept of God, particularly since he referred to him as “Abba” and seemed to expect that his prayers would be answered?

 

 

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8 January 2015: Part XXXVI Matthew: The Execution of John the Baptist: History, Myth or Midrash?

  Salome was a dancer, she danced before the king. She wiggled and she wobbled and she shook most everything. The king said, “Salome, there’ll be no scandal here!” Salome said, “To heck with that” and kicked the chandelier! That bit of doggerel is from a song sung at church camp in my youth. It …

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Q & A:

I am thoroughly enjoying your weekly study on the Gospel of Matthew. I feel it would make a wonderful Bible study in the church. Are you planning to collect these weekly reflections (series) into a printed book and, if so, when might it be published? I encourage you to consider this possibility...it would make a terrific resource for a church or college library. Thank you.

Also, I am currently reading the book The Mind Behind the Gospels: A Commentary to Matthew 1-14 by Herbert Basser. Are you familiar with this title? I am finding it a superb line-by-line commentary on Matthew.

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1 January 2015: Part XXXV Matthew – Getting Back in Touch with our Source

I return this week to our study of Matthew’s gospel after a rather long hiatus, which allowed me the opportunity to address other pressing topics such as my visit to a Nazi Concentration Camp in what is now The Czech Republic, an analysis of the impact of communism on Eastern Europe and finally, what it …

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Q & A:

Are you familiar with Phyllis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence and her analysis of where we are in terms of the 500-year cycle of “great” changes? Does it make sense to you? Does “Emergent Christianity” seem to be the wave of the future for faith? Will its impact be primarily on the established church or will it be a new form of faith altogether?

 

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24 December 2014: A Letter to my Community of Readers

Dear Friends: As the calendar in the year 2014 dictates this column should arrive at your email address at about 2:00 o’clock A.M. Eastern Standard Time on December 25th. I have a fantasy that all of my east coast readers in the United States set their alarms for 2:00 A.M. each week so that they …

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Q & A:

I am trying to find a version of the book of St. Thomas, which that apparently was left out of later versions of the Bible. Was this St. Thomas the same as St. Thomas of Aquinas? Can you advise on how to find this version?

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18 December 2014: “Fear Not” – The Message of Christmas in a Frightened World

Christmas will dawn in 2014 in a world gripped by a growing sense of fear. We have recently experienced that pervasive emotion in almost every phase of our life in the United States. The content of that fear has struck our citizens in successive waves: a possible worldwide epidemic, a renewed war in the Middle …

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Q & A:

Specifically what should I do to “live fully, love wastefully and be all that I can be?”

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11 December 2014: Standing on the Boundary Between Death and Life. Charles Robinson 1931-2014 R.I.P.

His name was Charles. His wife of 57 years, and now his widow, was named Cynthia. He was a lawyer who, after ten years and with a wife and three small children, gave up the practice of law to follow his heart. He became an artist of some note and an illustrator of many books. …

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Q & A:

Bishop Spong spoke at Clemson United Methodist Church in Clemson, SC. He asked if we had questions. We were to write them down and get them to him. Situations arose that prevented getting my question to him. This is my question, because it is a question that my granddaughter asks regularly: WHAT is God?

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4 December 2014: Insights from Behind the Iron Curtain

I made my second trip in the last two years behind what was once known as the Iron Curtain recently. There I saw the impact of communism that had been imposed by force of arms on these countries. I also saw what has happened since communism’s fall in the latter years of the 20th century. …

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Q & A:

I read your essays and have read some of your books and have enjoyed both. You certainly give us a lot to think about and a new way of viewing our faith, which I appreciate so much. However, I was wondering, given your analysis of our current liturgy, what would be your ideal look like for an Episcopal Eucharist? Would you start over and rewrite it completely or just replace some of the verbiage in some of the prayers/creeds?

 

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27 November 2014: Do Our Seminaries Prepare Clergy for Today’s World?

Writing about the Theological School at Drew University this past week caused me to think about theological education in general and my own theological education in particular. I loved the experience I had at the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in Virginia (VTS), but a year after graduating I realized that the gap between what my seminary …

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Q & A:

I have read your book Eternal Life: A New Vision with great interest and have found in it much to which I can relate. Apart from a brief mention of childhood prayers (which frightened you because of their association with death) you do not say whether we should pray to this God of yours whom we should strive to find deep within ourselves. Theologians like John Bowker, however, hold that prayer is essential and holds the key to growing into a knowledge of God – whatever we mean by that term. Your thoughts on this subject please.

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20 November 2014: The School of Theology at Drew University Installs Javier Viera as its New Dean

From time to time, I have an experience inside organized Christianity that is filled with such excitement that it creates in me the hope that there might be a genuine future for the Christian faith. Most frequently this experience takes the form of hearing that someone with some authority within institutional Christianity actually sees, actually …

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Q & A:

On your recommendation, I read Carl Jung’s book, The Answer to Job, and as you said, it is a difficult book – the language is not the easiest nor is the conclusion. What comes across to me is that the God portrayed has some really big issues with his self-image. Since your recommendation was a response to my question if God has both good and evil, then must I conclude that the divine encompasses both? Yet, you often refer to God as the source of love, but isn’t it the hard truth that God is also the source of hate and evil? Perhaps the unique thing about being human is that we can actually choose which of God’s qualities we nurture. I think there is an Indian saying that the side of God (good/evil) that becomes the strongest in you is the one you feed. So my belief is that our quest is maybe to give God the answer God cannot give to Godself – namely which of God’s sides is the better one? I can see that this is perhaps the conclusion that Jung drew. God needs man and woman to become human – not the other way around.

 

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