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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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17 November 2011: Studying Christian Art in Florence Italy

The Florence Museum, known in Italy as the Musei Firenze, is best known for the massive marble statue of the youthful King David sculpted by Michelangelo.  Housed in the section of the museum known as the Galleria dell’Accademia, this magnificent work of rare genius was accomplished with meticulous detail designed to reveal the beauty and …

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Q & A:

Please comment on war.  Probably we all hate war and no one hates it more than those who must fight in it, but what must we do when invaded by a Hitler or when Japan bombs a Pearl Harbor?

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10 November 2011: Facing the Political Realities of Institutional Church Life in the Launch of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World

On November 8, 2011, my publisher, Harper-Collins, released my newest book under the title Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World.  The date of a book’s release is always a significant day in the life of an author, not unlike, I can at least imagine, the way a mother must feel when she gives birth …

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Q & A:

I have just finished Stephen Patterson’s excellent article in “The Fourth R” (thank you for turning me on to this great publication) entitled Was the Resurrection Christianity’s Big Bang? Much of the article reminded me of your arguments concerning how the original Jesus experience was interpreted through the Jewish tradition and liturgy of the first century.

Patterson refers to the second prayer of the Eighteen Benedictions from the traditional Jewish liturgy (Blessed be you, O Lord, who makes the dead to live), serving as a critical lens through which the earliest confession regarding the resurrection surfaced. Would you please comment on this idea?  What are these Eighteen Benedictions and how sure are we that they date back to the first century, making up an important part of the context that found meaning in Jesus’ life and death?

By the way our summer book club at the First Presbyterian Church of Hastings, Nebraska just finished a lively and rewarding study of Jesus for the Non-Religious.  Thanks for your good work and leadership.

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3 November 2011: The European Economy and Germany’s Role in Re-Shaping it in the 21st Century

One of the signs of our radically interdependent world is that the economic problems of Europe have become the primary catalyst in the American stock market fluctuations over the past few months.  We have thus become quite familiar with talk of Greece’s default, with downgrades on Italian banks and with constant rumors of the collapse …

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Q & A:

Your writing has been an answer to a lifetime of doctrinal searching...and that is not hyperbole!  Raised by a traditional, but very liberal Lutheran pastor father and mother, I was eventually ordained and am recently retired.  I thank you for the three books, which I highly recommend that people read sequentially...This Hebrew Lord, Liberating the Gospels and Jesus for the Non-Religious.  These books have finally let me "land" my Christology after all these years!  My question:  Though I am very comfortable with the whole concept of the panentheistic being "in whom I live and move and have my being,” I find myself continually wanting to worship and praise and live in THANKSGIVING and GRATITUDE for all that I have and all that I experience.  Is it not strange not to direct this "thank you" to an anthropomorphic being (this shows my traditional influences)?  Sometimes I feel like I am sending out “thank you” notes with no addresses.  As we approach Thanksgiving, I am encouraged to ask you how you handle this personally, if I might.  I would so appreciate your thoughts on this.  Thank you again for your immensely helpful work.

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27 October 2011: Why I Wrote “Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World”

Several years ago, while in England, I was invited to participate on a two-hour television program hosted by Melvin Bragg, now Sir Melvin Bragg, on the UK’s ITV channel. The topic was the future of religion in general and of Christianity in particular.  There were three other panelists one of whom was Christopher Hitchens, well …

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Q & A:

Thank you for your series on the origins of both the Old and New Testaments.  I find your explanations and interpretations very valuable.  My question is as follows:  I notice you refer to the authors of the gospels by the name of the person to whom the “book” is attributed.  Does the gospel “according to Mark” mean something like the gospel description that came from the community or communities that identified with the disciple named Mark or possibly some other Mark?  Most of my early education in fundamentalism held that the disciple named Mark wrote down all of his experiences into what is now called the Gospel of Mark and it was most accurately translated into the King James version of 1611.  My perception is now that some person or persons educated in the Greek language was/were the scribe(s) who recorded a collection of oral stories containing some accuracies and a lot of distorted memories all with an agenda (or agendas) of some kind.

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20 October 2011: My First Mentor: Robert Littlefield Crandall

One of my favorite characters in the New Testament is an obscure man named Andrew.  While he is supposed to be one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, there is no content attached to his name in the first three gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke, other than the fact that he was the brother of …

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Q & A:

I've just finished reading your book, Eternal Life and just before that Jesus for the Non-Religious. My spiritual seeking had taken me away from Christianity to traditional philosophies such as Advita (literally means non-duality). However, since being introduced to your work, I have a renewed desire to look deeper into my own faith tradition for the truth that Jesus was trying to convey to humanity, whereas in the past, I had all but given up on the Bible.

The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas seems to be more in tune with the mystical experience of the Jesus/God experience you talk about in your new book.  Could you please give us your take on this gospel?

“I am the one who comes from what is whole.  I was given from the things of my father.  For this reason I say, if one is whole, one will be filled with light but, if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness.  Whoever has ears should hear.  There is light within a man of light and it shines on the whole world.  If it does not shine, it is darkness.”  Jesus - Gospel of Thomas.

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12 October 2011: Richard Dawkins and His Challenge to Christianity

Recently, the New York Times ran a major interview with Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford University under the banner headline of “A Knack for Bashing Orthodoxy.”  This world famous professor is now better known for his attacks on what he believes is the religious expression he calls Christianity than he is for his obviously brilliant …

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Q & A:

Since giving up the theistic God that I had for most of my life (I'm 71+) and its attendant dualism, it is as though I have had all the pieces, but they never fit together before.  Frankly, it was so easy to change that I wonder why I never arrived there before.  The paradox and ambiguity that so troubled me before no longer seem to be of concern.

I am finding that another result of this new relationship is that I am also experiencing a much greater sense of responsibility for reaching out to those around me, friends and otherwise.  Is this a response that I am correctly perceiving?  Second, I wonder if there is now continuing reason to believe in the efficacy of intercessory prayer.  If so, would you speculate about how it might work?

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6 October 2011: Phyllis’ Garden Revisited (10/14/2011 Update)

A Note from the Publisher: This article (originally published on 10/6/2011) was updated on 10/14/2011 with information on the current whereabouts of Phyllis Weller.  Please read on… We went to see Phyllis when we were in the United Kingdom this past summer.  Some of you will remember Phyllis for I have written about her before.  …

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Q & A:

I would like to know how you reconcile the story of Creation with the scientific view.  I find it impossible to believe that the earth and everything else was created in seven days, but if I don’t believe it I begin to doubt everything.

 

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