Log in | Sign up | Contact us | Cancel my account | Get help

Essay Archives View as a list

14 June 2012: “Think Different—Accept Uncertainty” Part XII: Are the Miracles of Jesus Miracles or Interpretive Signs?

Last week, we began to look at the miracles attributed to Jesus in the gospels.  Most of them are familiar stories to those of us raised in the Christian faith.  When I was a young child growing up in North Carolina, I was taught that the miracles were both demonstrations of Jesus’ divinity as well …

Read More…

Q & A:

You spoke one winter at the Fountains Methodist Church in Fountain Hills, AZ.  My daughter-in-law, Sandy, and I had the pleasure of attending and meeting you there as well.  Ever since then I have been reading your books, starting with your Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and you make so much sense to this aging adult.  I also look forward to your weekly articles since I subscribe to your web site and learn so much from them.

I was raised Catholic, although my mother had been a Presbyterian and couldn’t quite accept the tenets of Catholicism.  Yet she insisted that my sister and I attend catechism classes on Saturdays and Sundays taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame.  Their lurid stories about death, torture and hell traumatized me and I had nightmares about dying and going to hell in which the nuns assured us that there was a clock that didn’t “tick-tock” as most clocks do, but said, “Never, never, never.”   I vowed that if I ever married, it certainly wouldn’t be to a Roman Catholic….but I married an Irish-Catholic, wouldn’t you know?  My husband had a massive heart attack in 1967 and died in our 23rd year of marriage.  Following his death, I became an Episcopalian where all the color and beauty of the Catholic mass, which I had learned to love, was there but without the rigidity and negativity of the Roman rite.

Now I am 89 years old and know that already I’ve been living on borrowed time and so I have searched your excellent books about a life beyond the grave.  In the meanwhile, I have been infatuated with a very dear physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku.  I heard him being interviewed by CSPAN-2 last October 3rd.  He talked about there being 11 different dimensions in our universe, but we haven’t been able to communicate with any of them yet.  He suggested that perhaps when we die, God takes that tiny spark which was our life and puts us into another dimension where we live on into eternity.  Somehow I was less fearful of death if such a thing were so.  Meanwhile, I can’t believe in a three-tiered world with “heaven” above, the earth beneath and “hell” somewhere underground.  Yet I yearn to be with my eldest son, Terry, who died in 2001 of melanoma which I believe he contracted having been stationed in an office for the US Navy in Da Nang where our forces sprayed Agent Orange every day in the jungles outside of the city.  He had to have been breathing that stuff all of the time that whole year.  I have lost a husband, a sister and my parents but there is nothing compared to my having lost my dearest son.  I long to be with him.  I know it’s asking a lot and I know that you do believe we live beyond this earthly existence….but where?  Will I ever see my son again?  Thank you so much for all of your wonderful books and for your weekly articles on-line and for just YOU being YOU!

Read the Answer...

7 June 2012: “Think Different-Accept Uncertainty” Part XI: Beginning a Probe of the Miracles Attributed to Jesus

Deconstruction is always easier to do than reconstruction, but it is not nearly so important.  It is never enough to say who or what Christ is not, but we must move on to say who or what Christ is.  The task is complicated, however, by the very fact that the Jesus story, as related in …

Read More…

Q & A:

The scholar philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, defined God as the “Uncaused Cause” and “the Prime Mover.”  I keep wondering what came before the Big Bang – what do you think?

 

 

 

Read the Answer...

31 May 2012: Remembering My Mentors Part III: Janet Robinson, Bible Teacher

Her name was Janet Robinson and I met her shortly after my 12th birthday.  She was a member of my church and active as a Sunday school teacher.  She was an unmarried lady in her late forties or early fifties.  She was a stocky, heavy-set woman, but no one would have referred to her as …

Read More…

Q & A:

When did Jesus become a Catholic?

Read the Answer...

24 May 2012: “Think Different – Accept Uncertainty” Part X: The Christ – He Is Not the Savior of the Fallen

In my studies of the origins of life and its evolution, I have become convinced that the traditional and primitive claim that involves the concept of “original sin” has got to go!  This mythological misunderstanding was based on the assumption that human life began perfect, but that we had our perfection destroyed by our disobedience, …

Read More…

Q & A:

How do I respond to people who fear that I am going to hell because I don't believe in hell?

 

 

 

 

Read the Answer...

17 May 2012: Conflicting Emotion: Pride in the President, Shame at the Response of Many Church Leaders

When the President of the United States, announced his support for gay marriage, the political landscape began to roil and I was filled with two quite opposite sets of emotions. First, there were the positive feelings.  There was enormous joy when I thought of what this would mean to close friends of mine who have …

Read More…

Q & A:

How do you get around the common requirement of calling yourself a Christian unless you believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead?  If you don’t believe that why don’t you call yourself a Unitarian-Universalist?

Read the Answer...

10 May 2012: A Meditation on the Meaning of a Brief Life

They were a very happy young couple. Both the wife and the husband were successful professionally. They had worked hard to achieve this success, postponing much of what young adults think of as fun in order to pursue their goals. They were in their early thirties when they met, fell in love and decided to …

Read More…

Q & A:

What is your view on the “Great Commission” for Christians?

 

 

Read the Answer...

3 May 2012: The Vatican vs. the Nuns

Perhaps it takes a political campaign to reveal the fault lines in both our nation and in institutional religion.  At least that is what appears to be happening in current American politics.  The political season has a way of loosening latent fears, exciting the extremists and bringing silliness to the political arena.  We have watched …

Read More…

Q & A:

This has been a most unusual day for me.  I picked up Vincent Bugliosi’s new book, Divinity of Doubt, at the library.  I agree with Bugliosi, whom I do not know.  I defined myself before reading this book as a spiritual atheist, but now I think the term agnostic is more suitable.  Until today, I always felt I had to know, but in reality I do not see how that is possible.  I do not know if there is a God or there is not a God.  I am much more comfortable with uncertainty than the certainty expressed in the Christian religion and creeds.  I have been reading a book on Spiritual Literacy by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat that gathers spiritual expressions from many different literary sources.  It is quite refreshing.  I do not need to know.  I am at peace. I experience joy on the things I learn that resonate with my own spirit.

 

Read the Answer...

26 April 2012: “Think Different – Accept Uncertainty” Part IX: What is the Human Reality Our Ancestors Called Original Sin?

What does it mean to be human?  What does it mean to be alive?  Why are we constituted the way we are?  What was there and what is there about our humanity that caused our ancestors to develop a mythological understanding of human life, portraying it as fallen and infected with what they called “original …

Read More…

Q & A:

I would guess that this letter could be, or has been, duplicated in its essence by many who have written to you.  Recently, I began reading The Sins of Scripture, having asked those same questions, without receiving authoritative answers, for over 50 years.  Not once, in all that time, have I ever found a church person, deacon, minister or other who has ever understood why I was asking curly questions.  Year after year, first in the UK for 32 years and then in New Zealand, I have hoped to find someone who will give me straight answers, explain the inconsistencies - and not let God cop out of the bad stuff.  Finally, I have found someone who thinks like me, but is wise enough not just to have the questions, but the answers as well.  You have changed my Christian life from one who has dragged along under the cloud of “Ah well, I suppose there are some things we’re not meant to understand, I’ll just keep plodding along” to “Halleluia, the sun has come out and NOW I know where I’m going.”  Please accept my deepest thanks for your unbelievable courage in daring to speak the truth.  It can’t have been easy and I am sure you will have many critics and even enemies but if those blind would only see, they would realize that you are their kindest friend.  I am wholly and sincerely grateful to have found God again in a guise I can relate to and serve.

Read the Answer...

19 April 2012: The Retirement of Rowan Williams – The Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Dr. Rowan Williams, has recently announced his plans to retire at year’s end. This announcement was greeted with little notice or emotion.  This fact may be attributed to the declining influence in the Western world of religion in general and of Christianity in particular or …

Read More…

Q & A:

I am hoping you can answer my question.  The thing is, I have been very worried for some time and even more so now.  I've heard and read some parts (from various websites) of Revelations.  I'm a 27-year old man, nearly 28, and I'm scared!  I'm scared that the world will end! I hope that I don't sound silly, but then again I hope I'm worrying about nothing.  With 2012 being repeatedly said to be the end constantly, I guess it grinds you down eventually and I see many natural disasters, wars, economic failures and nuclear weapons, divisions between countries.  I want to live free of these constant worries, but the way of the world is really getting me down.  I'm half full of optimism and the rest is filled with fear and despair.  I do hope you can get back to me.  I have been watching you on YouTube and have found your words to be so comforting.

Read the Answer...

12 April 2012: On Being Honored by the Jesus Seminar

In the early spring of this year the Jesus Seminar paid me a special tribute at its meeting held in Salem, Oregon.  First, I was invited to give two lectures to the assembled hosts of scholars and guests on “Changing the Christian Paradigm from Salvation to Wholeness.”  Next, I was featured in an hour long, …

Read More…

Q & A:

In regard to the later additions to the Jesus story in each of the gospels, can these be traced to the source “Q?” I have heard of this source, but do not know much about it.  I would appreciate some explanation of what “Q” is and what you think in regard to my question.

 

Read the Answer...

In Need of a Good Word?

We encourage you to show your support for positive and progressive Christian views by becoming a part of Bishop Spong's growing online community. You'll receive a new column each week on topics in social justice and spirituality that matter most.

Join the Movement

Free Q&A Email

Sign up for Bishop Spong's FREE weekly Q&A email.

Browse by Date

Browse our monthly archives:

Connect on Facebook