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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 …
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?
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 …
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 …
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.
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 …
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?
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 …
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 …
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 …
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
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 …
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?"
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 …
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. …
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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