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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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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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