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26 January 2012: “Think Different – Accept Uncertainty” Part II

A recent letter from an Anglican priest in Canada revealed what this priest believes to be the dire straits into which Christianity has fallen in that gentle land to our north.  “So many of the churches are empty,” he wrote, “and the people who are left are old and tired.  Clergy do their best, but …

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Q & A:

Why has there only been ONE BEING such as Jesus?  If you say, “human life is evolving into higher and higher levels of consciousness,” why do we always reference ONLY back to Jesus ALONE?  If God is Christ and IS in us, I imagine (in us the same way as he was in Christ), why always the reference back SOLELY to Christ?  In a way it seems exclusive to me.  I see the story of Jesus as an attempt to explain divinity found within the human being.  Why not take that experience to other humans as well.  I imagine Jesus is not a perfect human being.  I have met Jesus-type persons in people like you, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Aquinas, De Mello, John O’Donohue, my neighbor down the street, a tennis pro.  Barrier breakers opening understandings to us all.  Have we frozen Jesus in the same way as the creeds have frozen the experience we seek?  Thanks for all you are and all you do.

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19 January 2012: “Think Different – Accept Uncertainty”

I recently read Walter Isaacson’s provocative and fascinating biography of Steve Jobs, the founder of the Apple Corporation.  He was innovative, iconoclastic, weird and a genius.  He built his company not only into a successful giant, but made it the highest valued company in the entire world.  One of Steve Job’s secrets was that he …

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Q & A:

I want to know about the other gospels - the ones that did not make it into the official canon of Holy Scripture.  When were they written?  Can we get any insight into Jesus from them?

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12 January 2012: My Second Great Mentor: David Watt Yates (1904-1967)

His name was David Watt Yates.  As an Episcopal priest he fought for the integration of the races in North Carolina in the 1940’s!  He was a conscientious objector during World War II even in the face of such compelling moral issues as theories of the “Master Race” and the reality of the Holocaust.  He …

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Q & A:

Are you sure that animals are not self-conscious?  Can an animal that shows “compassion” to another creature (such as a dolphin assisting a drowning human) not have a sense of self?

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5 January 2012: The Monolithic Conservatism of the American Heartland Is Not So Monolithic!

There are times when one’s perceptions are challenged and one’s stereotypical prejudices are shattered.  This happened to me in recent days when I fulfilled invitations to speak in three cities that one thinks of as traditional, heartland cities.  They were Birmingham, Alabama, Tupelo, Mississippi, and Kansas City, Missouri.  I share with my readers these experiences …

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Q & A:

I am often disheartened by the mind set of some Christians—the mentality of which I used to be part—that they alone seem to possess the truth.  It becomes impossible then to discuss Christianity or have any sort of theological discussion “beyond theism.”  With all of the variations of Christianity telling them that believing these doctrines – the Virgin Birth, the resurrection, etc, is a prerequisite to being a disciple, how does one go about asking questions about God without offending or frightening the “truth bearers?”

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29 December 2011: An Open Letter to a Political Leader Newt Gingrich and to a Religious Leader Pat Robertson

A note to my readers:  This column ran first in the fall of 2010 or about 15 months ago in this exact form.  It was not regarded as controversial.  The political situation in America, however, has shifted dramatically in those 15 months making this column read very differently in the present context.  I suspect it …

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Q & A:

What biblical texts have you chosen for your funeral?

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22 December 2011: Christpower

A Note to my Readers: Many years ago, in 1974 to be specific, for the sermon at the Christmas Eve Midnight service at St. Paul’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, I sought to redefine Jesus through the medium of poetry.  I could, even then, no longer see him with credibility as the incarnation of a supernatural …

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Q & A:

I am a member of a group of (progressive) Christians and Jews who have been studying the New Testament.  We began with Mark and are now into Matthew and have been guided along the way by several of your books, including Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism.  Our question is this: why do you claim that Matthew’s gospel, in particular, is a nightmare for literalists?  Why Matthew more than the others?  Thank you and thank you for making me believe I am a Christian after all.

 

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15 December 2011: Harrisena Community Church in Lake George New York: A Story Worth Telling

This church was built in 1866 by John J. Harris to be used as an Episcopal summer chapel serving vacationers in the Lake George, New York area.  In 1869 it was deeded to the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Glen Falls, New York.  It was closed in 1883.  It re-opened in …

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Q & A:

I just want to say that the writings of Bishop Spong have been such a gift.  They give me hope when I tend to think there is no hope that God can be imagined in ways different from institutional Christianity.  I am a firm Christian but know that our thinking can be so limited.  Bishop Spong’s writings echoed so many of the ideas that have become part of my faith journey.  It was so wonderful to see them in his books and columns.  I did not feel so alone.  His ideas have nurtured my spirituality in so many ways that I cannot even begin to express.  I am so grateful for the Spirit in him that he has shared with so many.

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8 December 2011: A Walk Down Memory Lane in England with My Wife

It was a nostalgic trip down memory lane for my wife Christine.  It turned out to be a moment of insight into life itself.  For that reason alone I share this experience with my readers. On a recent trip to Switzerland and Italy, we added a couple of days in England, the land of Christine’s …

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Q & A:

What do we mean by the word “faith?”  People, who would dismiss us as anti-intellectual, ridicule faith with the presumption that it means believing in things that are hard to believe in or believing in things that are contrary to known facts.  I know this is not what we Christians mean by that word (outside the evangelical fringe), but I don’t have good words to explain it. Can you help?

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1 December 2011: What Do Christian Symbols Mean in a Land Where Christianity is No Longer Practiced?

Italy is a Roman Catholic country!  That was stated time after time as we journeyed through Florence, Tuscany and the Cinque Terre.  The signs of this faith tradition were everywhere.  The major tourist attractions in Italy, ranging from the Vatican to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, to the storied museums of the land in which …

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Q & A:

Let me say that you are such an inspiration to me!  Your courage to disintegrate the veneer and debris which surrounds God, Jesus and the Gospel has been rockin’ my world!  I love it!  Thank you!

I’m wondering if you are familiar with Eckhart Tolle.  You both come from divergent perspectives, but I see a lot of similarities.  Just wondered if you could offer a word or two concerning how you feel about the teachings.  Thanks!

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24 November 2011: The Super Committee Fails – Disgust is Rampant!

There was a sense of disgust, followed by feelings of despair when the super committee formed to deal with the budget deficit failed to accomplish anything.  This committee had been given enormous legislative power.  Any conclusion to which they agreed would go to the Senate and House of Representatives to be voted up or down …

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Q & A:

I do enjoy all your books.  I’ve just finished Eternal Life and my question is-OK, now how do we pray?  If we “walk into God” and it’s internal, how do we address prayers?  Thanks so much.  You have changed my thinking about theology-and I’ve spent my adult life as a Christian educator.

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