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Dear Rowan, I am delighted that you have agreed to meet with the House of Bishops of the American Episcopal Church in September, even if you appear to be unwilling to come alone. It has seemed strange that you, who have had so much to say about the American Church, have not been willing to …
This week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
television program Compass, hosted by Geraldine
Doogue, ran a production on Interfaith Ministry. It was based on
a book written by Peter Kirkwood and published by ABC Books in
Sydney, Australia. Now I am reading the book — The
Quiet Revolution — and it is an inspiring story
indeed. I had never heard of the Parliament of the World's
Religions, so I am moving into a set of stories completely new
Despite the glamorous report presented through the television
lens, the movement may have much goodwill building to do. Given
that I live in a far-flung part of the world, I feel the need
not to invest too much hope in it yet. On the other hand, this
is no time in the life of the planet to be timid and doubtful.
Perhaps you might comment on the movement and provide some
guidance to those of us unfamiliar with, but not averse to, this
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 …
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?
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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.
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 …
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?
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 …
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.
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 …
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?
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 …
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.
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