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29 August 2007: Why Should People Pay Any Attention to the Christian Church on Sexual Matters?

In recent decades the primary battles that have been fought in the Christian Church have not been about theology, but about issues of human sexuality. Huge debates polarize the Church on whether priesthood will be limited to males; the morality of birth control and abortion; who has the right to decide on what birth control …

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Q & A:

I attended your recent lectures in Austin and realize I forgot to ask you a question that has been increasingly on my mind: How does the concept of "worship" figure into your vision of a new Christianity? For a long time I have felt that God doesn't need my worship or praise, and to think that God does need my worship and adoration seems silly. (I think that "worship" and "adoration" are different from feeling a sense of gratitude and connection to God.)

My church has been having some serious discussions regarding worship changes and I've heard some folks say that worship shouldn't be about us — it's simply about praising God. Well, I think that worship is very much about me and about the other worshipers as well — it's about drawing us closer to God, about the community called the church, about inspiring us to care for others, etc. Creeds that I can't say, prayers of confession that beat people up, hymns focused on atonement messages, and an emphasis on liturgy and ritual over spirituality only impede my relationship to God. Am I just spoiled and self-centered to want a more meaningful and more relevant worship experience?

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22 August 2007: The Fourth Fundamental: Miracles and the Resurrection, Part IV

The idea that one can raise a deceased person to life entered the biblical story in two narratives from the Elijah-Elisha cycle of stories. It is then picked up and repeated in the gospel tradition. Was this meant to be read literally? Did Jesus really raise the dead? Is it biologically possible to bring back …

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Q & A:

I have enjoyed your writing for some time. As a

devotee of the philosopher Spinoza, I would be interested in your comments on

this very special man.

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15 August 2007: The Fourth Fundamental: Miracles and the Resurrection, Part III

In this series we first sought to identify the places in the Bible where miracles seem to appear in groups. There are only three: The Moses-Joshua cycle of stories, the Elijah-Elisha cycle and the Jesus-Apostles cycle. We then raised the question of whether there might be a connection between these three biblical collections. To destabilize …

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Q & A:

Why is the Friday before Easter called "Good Friday"? Where did the term originate?

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8 August 2007: The Fourth Fundamental: The Nature Miracles were not meant to be read as Events of History, Part II

In fundamentalist religion there are a number of strange claims made that arise primarily out of a lack of biblical knowledge. One of them is the claim that the miracles of Jesus, described in the gospels, are proof of his divinity. Only because he is the divine son of God, they say, are these miracles …

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Q & A:

What is your knowledge of the number of priests in the

Episcopal Church who are gay and openly accepted, versus those

whose ministry is rejected because of their gay identity?

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1 August 2007: Miracles and the Resurrection The Fourth Fundamental, Part I

I return this week to our running series on the Five Fundamentals, that supposedly irreducible set of principles that believers were told had to be accepted as literally true if one wanted to be called a Christian. It was from the publication of these five fundamentals between the years 1910-1915, in a series of widely …

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Q & A:

I have just finished reading Jesus for the Non-Religious, which I

found to be as informative and challenging as all your prior

books. I have struggled with Jesus' Resurrection as far back as

I can remember, and have read keenly what you have to say on

this subject. It has been several years since I read

Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, but I recall that you said you

did not know what actually happened, but that you believed

something profound must have occurred to ignite a movement that

put its early followers at grave risk - and attracted billions

of people over two millennia. In your latest book, your

thinking appears to have changed somewhat, with a greater

emphasis on the theory that Jesus' Resurrection evolved as part

of a grief-coping mechanism

used by his disciples. Am I missing something here? I look

forward to your next book in 2009.

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25 July 2007: Flavius Josephus, Judas Iscariot and Anti-Semitism

During this summer I have read Flavius Josephus’ history of the first century war fought between the Romans and the Jews. That war began in Galilee in 66 C.E. and ended in 73 with the suicide of the last Jewish defenders in a fortress southeast of Jerusalem called Masada. The crucial moment in that war …

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Q & A:

Your credentials are outstanding and I thoroughly

enjoyed your recent recap of events on your lecture tour of

Norway and Sweden. The poem by Tor Littmark that you included

in one column was deep and moving. I wish I could share it with

ALL my friends and relatives. You must, however, have

encountered more than a little backlash from the complaining

conservative evangelical elements in both countries or did they

just roll over and play dead?

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18 July 2007: On Spending Three Days with DignityUSA

“My name is Sam Sinnett and I am a gay Catholic.” These words, reminiscent of the way members introduce themselves at AA meetings, opened a luncheon at a gathering of DignityUSA, a national support and advocacy organization for homosexual members of the Roman Catholic Church. Sinnett, a retired businessman from St. Louis, was completing his …

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Q & A:

I'm a regular poster on your forum and one of the issues

brought up was regarding the right to bear arms. Should the

government make it illegal for a citizen to own a gun? Are more

gun ownerships good or not, in your opinion? I'm sure you've

noticed by now that we often stray from your essays which we so

look forward to reading. I'd say you inspire free thought.

Thank you so much for your contribution.

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11 July 2007: In Praise of the United Church of Christ

Throughout the course of my professional career I have always been impressed by that faith community which calls itself the United Church of Christ or the Congregational Church. It came into being in its present incarnation 1957 with a merger between the Evangelical and Reformed Churches and the Congregational Christian Churches. On the Evangelical and …

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Q & A:

Can you please comment on Communion? I'm a church-going Christian, and I don't feel like a sinner or that Jesus died for me. I have read all your books, but I'm confused about why I receive "the body and blood" of Jesus. It's got to be more than remembrance. Can you share your thoughts on it?

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4 July 2007: Examining Politics in America on our 231st Birthday

As our nation pauses to celebrate its birthday many things vie for our people’s attention. There is the drain of human life and treasure in the ill-begotten, mismanaged war in Iraq; the emotional and divisive debate over reforming immigration; the growing gap between the rich and the poor with the top ten per cent of …

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Q & A:

I have sung in church choirs all my life and still enjoy it.

However, in some of the music, especially Scandinavian music and

often at Christmas time, the lyrics frequently include this

comment, "Christ is coming soon." Can you tell me where this

idea has arisen? It seems to be a rather peculiar tenet.

Read the Answer...

27 June 2007: This is Not the Word of the Lord!

I went to my own parish church on a Sunday in June. The music was excellent. The sermon delivered by the Rev. Dr. James Jones, an honorary and part time member of the staff of St. Peter’s Church in Morristown, New Jersey, was one of the best I have heard in years. The summer congregation …

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Q & A:

Where can I find the hymns, etc. written to express the beliefs your

writings have developed?

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