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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.

Read the Answer...

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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20 June 2007: The Lambeth Conference of 2008 and the Curious Behavior of the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Honorable and Most Reverend Rowan Williams, announced recently that he would not invite the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, to attend the Lambeth Conference scheduled for the year 2008 in England. It was the latest in a series of decisions made by this …

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Q & A:

Protestant churches in the U.S. seem to believe in a "second coming of

Christ." What do you believe?

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13 June 2007: The Third Fundamental: The Substitution by Death of Jesus on the Cross Brings Salvation, Part III

Like the first two of the five Fundamentals that we have thus far examined, this third one has also become not just unbelievable but bizarre to modern ears. Yet it remains so powerful that it still shapes the liturgy of Churches across the spectrum from the Roman Catholics to the Pentecostals. The words: “Jesus died …

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Q & A:

The idea of calling God "He" bothers me. Although I had a loving father, in

my 28 years of teaching I have come in contact with many who were abusive.

One year, a grandmother came in for a parent conference and revealed that

her granddaughter's father, under the guise of saying goodnight prayers with

his daughter, sexually abused her for years. I wonder how this girl will be

able to receive God's message when she continually hears God referred to as

"He"? Even the hymns are filled with references to "Him." Fortunately, our

current pastors use "God" — not the pronoun — and few in the

church have noticed. I write on behalf of all the girls of this world who,

like my beloved student, have been hurt deeply by their fathers.

Read the Answer...

6 June 2007: The Third Fundamental: The Substitution by Death of Jesus on the Cross Brings Salvation, Part II

Last week we began our analysis of the third fundamental that traditional Christians stated, in the Tractarian Movement in the early years of the 20th century, was basic to a proper understanding of Christianity. It focused on what Christians came to call “the doctrine of the Atonement.” In many ways it proclaims a barbaric understanding …

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Q & A:

The idea of calling God "He" bothers me. Although I had a loving father, in

my 28 years of teaching I have come in contact with many who were abusive.

One year, a grandmother came in for a parent conference and revealed that

her granddaughter's father, under the guise of saying goodnight prayers with

his daughter, sexually abused her for years. I wonder how this girl will be

able to receive God's message when she continually hears God referred to as

"He"? Even the hymns are filled with references to "Him." Fortunately, our

current pastors use "God" — not the pronoun — and few in the

church have noticed. I write on behalf of all the girls of this world who,

like my beloved student, have been hurt deeply by their fathers.

Read the Answer...

30 May 2007: The Substitutionary Death of Jesus on the Cross Alone Brings Salvation: Part One

It is hard in our generation to put into a single sentence the substance of the Third Fundamental that traditional Christians, at the beginning of the 20th century, said was essential to the Christian faith. Officially, it is referred to as “The doctrine of the substitutionary atonement through God’s grace and human faith.” Those words …

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Q & A:

I once worshiped and sang in a parish that was presided over by a

brilliant gay priest who preached against gays. I knew he was gay; I knew

his sub rosa partner well. Like so many people, I remained silent about his

homophobic preaching since I believed (and still do) that one's sexuality

and personal life are just that — personal. I was disturbed as he

cemented a "traditional, conservative" parish, based on the primacy of men,

the unsuitability of women for the priesthood and other policy roles in the

Church, a hypocritical disdain for homosexuals, and stunningly beautiful

liturgy and music. Then an Anglican bishop at the Lambeth Conference said

he was appalled and called the Church heretical for allowing a Native

American priest to celebrate the Mass in his own language and use the

language's word for Great Spirit as a translation for God. That did it for

me. I could no longer associate with a view of the world and the deity that

was essentially — although the parishioners would never have seen that

— fundamentalist. I left that church — and all organized

Christianity — after that.

I applaud your quest. Reading your columns and editorials is now my only

connection with active Christianity. Thank you.

Read the Answer...

23 May 2007: The Death of Jerry Falwell

He represented everything that repels me about religion. He was closed-minded, bigoted and abusive as religious people tend to be when they believe that they possess God’s truth. Yet, I never disliked this man. He tapped into something in the American psyche that, had he not done so, I believe, someone else, perhaps worse, would …

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Q & A:

A brief note from a South African who has benefited from your e-mailed

articles. Thank you for spelling out a different theological approach so

clearly and sincerely. I will be obtaining your new book as soon as it

becomes available here.

I have become rather sad and angry about the way in which clergy and church

lay leaders have sold members down the river for so many years. People have

not been encouraged to question, doubt, and debate, but have been presented

with a party line and told to believe it or else! The average church member

has never been exposed to the theological teaching you and many theological

schools present. Certainly in South Africa, the majority of Christians are

fundamentalist/evangelical types, who are totally dismissive of anyone who

thinks differently. I find it more and more difficult to minister to my

congregations with integrity, and look forward to retiring in a few years

time!

Read the Answer...

16 May 2007: SA Weekend in Minneapolis with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus

“I’m not afraid of your Yahweh, I’m not afraid of your Allah, I’m not afraid of your Jesus, But I am afraid of what you do in the name of your God” Dear Friends, These were the words of one of the pieces of music featured recently in a concert in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was …

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Q & A:

Given that the authors of the gospels were Jewish, why were the Jews instead of the Romans vilified and held

responsible for the death of Jesus? Making Jews responsible for Jesus" death justified incredible violence against the

Jews.

Read the Answer...

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