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18 December 2008: The Origins of the Bible, Part XVIII: Amos, The Prophet Who Transformed God Into Justice

Not every character in the Bible starts out to be a hero. Indeed, one of the great themes of biblical literature is that it is the meek and the lowly who become the channels through which God is known in new ways. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is portrayed as expressing this theme in the …

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Q & A:

If the roots of the Christ story are indeed in Egyptian mythology (according to Tom Harpur's book The Pagan Christ) or the continuation of Jewish Epic History (according to your Jesus for the Non-Religious) then who were the writers of the gospels? How did they acquire the expertise to make such a complex adaptation and

what drove them, in spite of the risk of persecution, to adapt these myths to the person of Jesus of Nazareth, either as if this person was an historical figure, or if he never existed?

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11 December 2008: Splinter Episcopalians: Giving Gravitas to Trivia

Ari Goldman, the former religion editor of The New York Times (and not coincidentally my favorite secular religion newspaper writer in America during my active career), once told me that the only way he could get a religion story on the front page of the Times was to combine religion with sex. I thought of …

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Q & A:

How do we really know what Jesus said? They get so much wrong. Is it not a house of cards?

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4 December 2008: The Origins of the Bible, Part XVII: Hosea – The Prophet Who Changed God’s Name to Love

Hosea is probably my favorite of all the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures. His story is so real and so compelling and his expansion of the meaning of God was so closely tied to his personal domestic situation as to make his witness unforgettable. The story line is not always clear in the text, but …

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Q & A:

I receive your newsletter and have read several of your books, so I am familiar with your work and so appreciate all that you bring to your readers. I am encouraged and nurtured by your teachings. I am presently reading Honest Prayer, which was not easy to find. The book is giving me new insight and excitement about the Lord's Prayer, and I wonder if you have considered a new edition? If you were to write it today, would you change it in any way? I am part of a group of women who meet on Sunday mornings at our church to discuss a book we have chosen to read individually, chapter by chapter. One of the topics we have studied is prayer. Honest Prayer is just what we need to read and talk about to open our understanding of God and of the practice of prayer. For some time now I have had the feeling that much about my prayer life has involved superstition about who God is and what God will do in regard to prayer. In reading your books I am growing and maturing spiritually and I thank you for sharing your life with your readers.

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27 November 2008: The Origins of the Bible, Part XVI: Daniel

History is not well served by the way the Bible is organized. For example, the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy), which seems to tell a continuous story, was actually written over a period of about five hundred years and describes events that occurred over as long a time frame as fourteen hundred years. Yet it is always read …

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Q & A:

I am an Anglican, but having accepted the concept of a non-theistic God, I feel uncomfortable attending church with all its outdated forms of worship. To leave the church, however, is to lose my "church family" and the human contact, as well as my part in the church's ministries, all essential to the expression of God's love. What shall I do?

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6 November 2008: George Will and the Episcopal Church Ignorance Masquerading as Journalism

George F. Will, a columnist and regular political pundit on George Stephanopoulos’ Sunday morning ABC talk show, is a doctrinaire, but not an unthinking, political conservative. He did in fact endorse Barack Obama for the presidency this fall, being turned off from the McCain-Palin ticket for many reasons, Sarah Palin being one of them. He …

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Q & A:

Why are you now making financial commentary (see The Drama on Wall Street) when your qualifications speak to religious issues?

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2 October 2008: The Origins of the Bible, Part XIII: II Isaiah — The Figure of the “Servant”

If I were to ask an ordinary group of people, even church people, to tell me about the message of the prophet we call II Isaiah, I suspect I would be greeted by a glassy-eyed stare. Yet if I were to ask the same group if they had ever heard or even sung in a …

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Q & A:

Why is the current Catholic Church position on transsexualism so dreadful, so lacking in compassion?

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16 July 2008: Opportunity Time: The Memoirs of Governor Linwood Holton of Virginia

An autobiography entitled Opportunity Time, written by A. Linwood Holton, the Republican Governor of Virginia from 1970-74, has just been released by the University of Virginia Press. When I first read the notice of this book’s publication, a flood of memories overwhelmed me. I lived in Virginia during his governorship, serving as rector of the …

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Q & A:

A couple of years ago, I preached at our local (Grace

Episcopal Church in Bath, Maine) trying to communicate

biblical scholarship and truth and their relationship to

our contemporary society. After the service a fellow

retired priest said, "You wouldn't last two weeks!" I

haven't been asked to preach since... is that common

today?

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9 July 2008: The Lambeth Conference 2008: Expect Heat, Not Light

The bishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion, together with invited ecumenical and interfaith guests, will convene on the campus of the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, on Wednesday, July 16. This gathering is called “The Lambeth Conference,” because it was originally held in Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, just …

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Q & A:

How do you believe there is an actual God rather than just

principles by which the universe operates? I feel like everyone has

the equivalent of a radio receiver in their brain and almost everyone

can at least get static on the "God channel" for lack of a better

analogy. They at least know there is really something there because

they can hear the static or maybe even hear a bar or two of music once

in a while. Other people have really good reception and can actually

tune into the God channel and have a dynamic experience. I, however,

don't even get static. All my life people have been telling me that I

can use the radio receiver in my brain to listen to someone far away

and hear the music of life. But because I don't even get static, I

have no way of knowing whether they are lying to me and just want to

control my actions, or whether they are delusional and truly believe

there is something there even though there isn't, or whether there

really is something there but my tuner/receiver isn't sensitive enough

to pick it up. I can tune in mathematics, physics, chemistry; all

these things I can believe in even when I don't understand all the

math behind the physics. But I can't tune in "God." My question is,

"How do I do that? How do I get any kind of reception?"

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2 July 2008: New Mexico: Learning About a Minority Culture in a Majority World

It is historically very difficult for a majority culture to understand the emotions felt by a minority culture living in the same land. In the 1850s a group of white citizens asked Frederick Douglass, a freed slave, to speak at a 4th of July celebration in Pennsylvania. He declined, saying “What does your 4th of …

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Q & A:

How do you answer questions about Jesus Christ

returning to earth in a second coming?

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25 June 2008: Beauty, Wonder and Excitement in New Mexico

I am now convinced that there are no sunsets more beautiful than those that blaze through the evening sky in New Mexico. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of the New Mexico desert with its high sky against mountains that rise to 7,000 feet in the Santa Fe-Los Alamos area that makes these sunsets so exquisite. …

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Q & A:

You continue to write articles that both excite and

amaze me. My respect for you, as I have often said, started when you

were my bishop in the Diocese of Newark. Every time I heard you speak

you challenged me and widened my spiritual world. I find today that

often in my prayers I fall back into the humanizing of God to assist

me in relating in some way. When I watch our church being torn apart,

however, I realize how limiting my humanizing is. In your columns I

see in the Episcopal Church a way to a new Christianity and that

enables me to enter my parish and celebrate the Eucharist interpreting

what I hear said so that worship becomes much more personal for me.

I feel that the Church must believe what we say every Sunday, "Thou

shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and

with all thy soul. This is the first great commandment and the second

is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these

two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

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