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29 September 2011: Troy Davis and the Debate over Capital Punishment

Wednesday, September 21, was a consciousness-raising day in the United States.  It is always a conscious-raising occasion when a high profile public execution is about to take place.  The people of this country favor the death penalty for murder, the polls tell us, by about a 64 per cent majority, but there is a deep …

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Q & A:

I read the account of Joseph in one of your recent columns.  I have also read previous opinions of yours in regard to the biblical character of St. Joseph and it seems you think he did not exist.  If so, who was Jesus’ father, assuming you also do not accept the myth of the virgin birth?  You also point out that Jesus has several siblings.  They must have had a father.  What is your opinion?

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22 September 2011: Walter Cameron Righter 1923-2011: A Great Bishop

He was one of the most courageous men I have ever known.  He lived out the stereotypical strength of character that he inherited from his German ancestors.  Even though people experienced him as kind and gentle, on his broad shoulders the Episcopal Church’s struggle to achieve equality for its gay and lesbian members literally pivoted …

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Q & A:

Thank you for your comments on the tragic happening in Norway.  It brought to my mind this question:  Was Adolph Hitler simply a madman with egocentric ideas or did WWII and the Holocaust simply exhibit the extreme end to what centuries of anti-Semitism, wars between rival nations and ambitions of tyrannical national leaders could lead to in Christendom?

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15 September 2011: Signs Appear That the Toxic Political Atmosphere in America is Beginning to Lift

The president has made his dramatic appeal to a joint session of congress for a jobs bill and the Republican House of Representatives leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor appear to be receptive at least to some of his ideas. The first Republican presidential debate is now history. The candidates were consistently negative about all …

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Q & A:

My name is Victor Fuentes, I live in Ottawa, Canada.  I am a graduated lay minister of the United Church of Canada, originally from Central America.  I have read some of your books and I have a lot of  admiration for your contemporary interpretation of the Bible.  I would like to know if I can get a transcript from your lecture on The Terrible Texts of the Bible (Burke Lecture).  I am going back to my country and I would like to reproduce the lecture in Spanish with your authorization.  Thank you.

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8 September 2011: The Gladstone Library – A Final Visit

In the United Kingdom about ten miles from the ancient Roman city of Chester, inside the northern edge of a country called Wales, is located an institution that calls itself “The Gladstone Library.”  It also serves as a conference center, run by a board of trustees and loosely related to the Anglican Church.  This library …

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Q & A:

We appreciate that you don’t want to throw out the Bible, but rather to “rescue it” and focus on its message of love.  Do you think there will ever be a day when the Bible will include not only the Old Testament and the New Testament, but also the “Newest Testament” that might reflect modern Christian thought?

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1 September 2011: Political Gridlock and Presidential Politics

As I watch political gridlock creating recession in the United States, I find myself at a loss for words.  It does not help that I have just finished reading William D. Cohan’s book House of Cards, based on the collapse of Bear Stearns in 2008.  In that book, I discovered that the behavior of many …

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Q & A:

I heard you speak in Charlotte last October at Myers Park Baptist Church and thoroughly appreciated you and your books.  I have bought two sweet young pygmy goats to help me with the weeding on our four acres.  I have never had anything more than a dog or a cat as a pet so this is an adventure of sorts.  I know many folks raised around livestock do not have the same appreciation that I do for this inquisitive, alert creature.  I have even started a goat blog to share our experiences. (Don’t worry, I am a middle school counselor during most of the year and my husband is in law enforcement. - we do have other things to do in our life!)  My concern is how the Bible characterizes goats as opposed to sheep. Don’t laugh, okay, laugh if you must…but I don’t think from what I’ve found they are getting a fair personality assessment.  YOU are the man I’d like to hear from about how this negative reputation for goats in the bible came to be. I bet it’s another of man’s distortions or perceptions at the time scripture was written.  I’d love to see your response to this—wonder if your audience would be interested.  I enclose a picture of my goats for your enjoyment.  Keep on with your marvelous work.

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25 August 2011: Meditation on Turning 80 in London

I marked the 80th anniversary of my birth in Green’s Restaurant, Duke Street in London this summer.  What I thought was to be a quiet, romantic dinner with my wife Christine was jarred a bit when we arrived at the restaurant and were told “Your table for five is ready.”  Five, I thought, who are …

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Q & A:

As a cleric, you can’t be expected to understand the technicalities of architecture and engineering, but crashing planes into skyscrapers would never be enough to cause them to collapse straight down.  Those three buildings were demolished by pre-set charges.  When the American people finally realize that, they will also realize that the entire deficit was manipulated by the (privately owned) Federal Reserve Bank.  Both invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were deliberately manipulated for the oil barons.  We have made the world a playground for the rich.  Men invented money and it is usury which is constantly making the rich richer and the poor poorer.  When that situation applied in France a couple of centuries ago, the result was calamity for the wealthy.   Can you hope that God will intervene to change things?

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18 August 2011: Lecturing in the Church of Scotland

To come to Scotland is to come to that mysterious land of clans with their identifying tartans and clan warfare; to a nation that forced the English to build Hadrian’s Wall, and to a land that still harbors deep independent feelings that cause Scotland’s membership in the United Kingdom still to be publicly debated.  It …

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Q & A:

Week after week in the liturgy we have “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”  How do you, as a progressive Christian scholar, understand this?

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11 August 2011: The Lecture Tour of Germany, Part III: Marburg

Our task and the agenda for the third day of our lecture tour of Germany was to go to the city of Marburg where the University of Marburg is located.  This was a particularly exciting opportunity for me because Rudolf Bultmann, the man I regard as the greatest New Testament scholar of the 21st century, …

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Q & A:

This is a question I have been asked a number of times and I would love to know the answer.  You often mention that the gospels were written at different times and are able to quote the time line as to which gospel was written first, who copied off whom and approximately when and many other details.

Can you tell me the background behind these insights?  I have had this discussion with several people and they immediately dismiss my assertions, but unfortunately I do not have the further information to continue the debate.  Was this new insight due to biblical study or was some of the original script subject to carbon dating?  I would love to know.

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4 August 2011: The Lecture Tour of Germany, Part II: Gottingen

My lecture tour of Germany was joined from the very beginning by a unique Frenchman named Raymond Rakower, who accepted Gerhard Klein’s invitation to come to Germany and to accompany us.  Gerhard Klein has been the translator into German for four of my books.  Ray Rakower was his French counterpart, who has translated two of …

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Q & A:

Thanks for your excellent work.  Would you please comment on Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins in regard to its internal validity and its potential to change the debate which involves your work?

 

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28 July 2011: The Tragedy in Norway and Its Meaning

My heart aches for Norway.  I have visited that country where I lectured in a large Lutheran Church in downtown Oslo and admired some of Norway’s most creative clergy.  I have also felt the reaction of Norway’s ecclesiastically conservative Christian leaders who seem to believe that preserving yesterday’s truth, not engaging the world, is their …

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Q & A:

Have you read the recent book by Rob Bell “Love Wins,” containing his thoughts on heaven and hell? He is a pastor in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area.

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