Essay Archives View as a list
1 October 2015: An Open Letter To the Moderator of the United Church of Canada: The Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell
Dear Moderator Cantwell, I write with some alarm at what is happening in the United Church of Canada, a church that I have long admired. I recall your history. Your church decided that women were not to be excluded from ordination long before the first woman ever applied. In 1988 your church proclaimed that homosexual …
Thanks so much for sharing your scholarship with us and expressing it so that we can understand it.
I only wish the main-stream churches thought they could share this kind of scholarship with the congregations. When I was a student at Chapel Hill I had lots of religious questions, since I came out of a pretty strict family. I went over to the Religion Department and talked to Dr. Bernard Boyd and then changed my major to religion. Within three weeks of understanding how the Bible was written, a big load was lifted. Now 50 years later, there is still no talk/discussion of the information I learned that made such a difference for me and I think it would for other people, who can no longer believe the Bible literally. I assume that seminarians learn all of this, but they hesitate to present it because it might offend someone in the congregation and they surely don’t want to lose members. (In my adult Sunday school class at our Methodist Church, I presented Living the Question series, which I thought was excellent).
24 September 2015: Re-Creating Easter II: Who Stood in the Center of the Easter Moment?
Who was the person who stood in the center of the most dramatic moment in Christian history, the experience we call Easter? Who was it who first saw the meaning of Jesus as the one who transcended all human limits and barriers, including finitude? Who was it who opened the eyes of others to see …
17 September 2015: Re-Creating Easter Part I: The Background
It was the noted author Jim Bishop, more than a generation ago, who first created a series of books that chronicled the minute-by-minute narratives of what turned out to be crucial events in world history. One thinks of such titles as The Day Lincoln Was Shot or The Day Christ Died. Later, Fox News commentator …
I would like to have you give us your perspective and ideas regarding all the violence in the Middle East, ISIS, the anti-Semitism in France, the emergence of neo-Nazism, the various belief systems within the Muslim faith and the ludicrous statements by politicians on the right, Speaker John Boehner especially, how can he even think like that? (He went to Xavier University – a Jesuit University – which surprises me greatly)
Thank you…I am grateful for your vision and wisdom. I have read most of your books and have been reading your column since at least 2006 (if my memory serves me well) and have greatly appreciated them and found them helpful for me in my journey of faith.
10 September 2015: A Wedding that Changed a Community
The couple stood holding hands before the altar where they would soon take their vows to “love, honor and cherish” each other forever. The congregation was in place ready to witness these vows and filling almost every seat. The organist was playing the music associated with “Holy Matrimony.” Everything was ready. This much anticipated event …
3 September 2015: Windsor, England – A Confrontation Over the Meaning of Resurrection
On one stop near the end of my lecture tour of Europe during this summer, I confronted a person whose question drove me back to the series I had been developing in this column about what the Bible actually says about the resurrection of Jesus. It thus helped me to re-orient myself to the discussion …
27 August 2015: Engaging the Established Presbyterian Church of Scotland
“Resurrection-Denying Preacher to Return to Scotland.” That was the headline of a story published in the Glasgow Herald about a week before I was scheduled to lecture in the Cairns Church in Milngavie, a constituent member of the established Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Senior Pastor of that church, the Rev. Andrew Frater, together with …
In First Corinthians 15:3 Paul says, “He died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” While I believe the doctrine of substitutionary atonement has warped Christian teaching at least since St. Anselm. I see that this statement of Paul’s forms a reasonable basis for it.
What do you think Paul had in mind in writing these words?
20 August 2015: Paris in the Spring – Part II, The Book Launch
We continue today the chronicle of how my books came to be published in French. In Part I, I described how the translator and the publisher came together. Today I want to look at what happened after that connection was made. With the help of stories in magazines such as Evangele & Liberte and Le …
Since and shortly before retiring from corporate life some 15 years ago, I have read prolifically...attending to certain subjects, previously far removed from my radar...eastern faiths, Christianity, evolution and philosophy. From Osho to Camus, CS Lewis to Tolstoy, Alan Watts to Einstein, John P. Meier to Marcus Borg, Pascal to Voltaire and countless others in between. In recent weeks I have come upon and then devoured your book Why Christianity Must Change or Die. It is clear to me that this book is the singularly most important book of all that came before it. This is to thank you profoundly for giving voice to my own thoughts which troubled me, but could not be fleshed out as vividly and convincingly as you have done.
Throughout my personal journey of “Awakening,” I’ve maintained a list of phrases and life-lessons which most resonated. The words are perhaps 20% my own, 40% paraphrased and 40% direct plagiarizing. The most recent entries (not in chronological sequence here) are from your text and serve to remind and encourage me and all readers that human evolution is still underway, especially as regards to the Christian faith and particularly how today we can view, admire, worship and give eternal thanks to the Nazarene for his teachings and perhaps most of all for his example. I am forever in your debt sir.
13 August 2015: Paris in the Late Spring: Part I, A Publication
Imagine waking up on your birthday in Paris, France. It is mid-June, the air is fresh, and the sun is warm. You can smell the croissants baking. You are in the company of your wife, the person with whom you share your life so completely and with whom you are still deeply in love. That …
6 August 2015: Understanding Ireland’s Vote Approving Same-Sex Marriage
Her name is Muriel. She is the 86 year-old widow of an Irish farmer living near the city of Kilkenny in the southern part of the Irish Republic. She is the mother of seven children, six sons and one daughter. Her youngest son, Peter, now runs the family’s cattle farm, making this family’s economic life …
I wanted to let you know how much your books and writings have meant to me over the years. I promised my mom, a very devout Catholic, on her death bed that I would not give up on God even though so much of what I have always been taught has been along the lines of fantastical stories that seemed so hard to swallow. Thinking, probing or studying has felt much like the scene from The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy gets to peek behind the curtain at the Wizard…so disappointing! I am trying to give my children something they can cling to for hope in times of sadness or struggle in their lives, but they are now far too educated to take literal church teaching seriously. I believe the answers are unknowable, but I think that physicists are close to getting a glimpse and I think you too, are on the right track and to borrow a biblical metaphor, I see you as a courageous voice of truth in the wilderness. Keep on keeping on.
30 July 2015: Thoughts on Baptizing Chapman Thomas Brinegar
This past summer in a lovely chapel quite literally on the coast of Maine, I had the pleasure of baptizing Chapman Thomas Brinegar. A baptism is something I hardly ever do as a bishop, but this baby was the son of very close friends, making my participation in it possible. I used the baptismal liturgy …
My name is Sharan Melters. I am a Dutchman, 67 years old, married and living in Haarlem, a small city near Amsterdam. I studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. After finishing my studies, I worked for 40 years as a teacher at the University of Rotterdam (Hogeschool of Rotterdam). Among other things, I taught the students about violence, love relationships and child abuse, which are my areas of expertise.
Let me explain why I am writing this letter to you. After a so-called “near death experience,” I embraced a spiritual religious perspective and started to read as many of the books about the subject as I possibly could, including yours.
I think it is a pity that relatively few of my fellow Dutchmen are acquainted with your work. I am motivated to change this situation by translating your books into our language. In the meantime, I finished the translation of Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and A New Christianity for a New World. Before I started to study your writings, I translated Melissa Rafael, The Female Face of God in Auschwitz and John Hospes, An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis.
I hope that you will appreciate and encourage my effort to enlighten the Dutch public with your post-rational inspiring reading of the Jesus story. In the meantime, it would be dishonest to keep silence about the fact that I struggled a lot with your point of view concerning evil (A New Christianity for a New World, pages 166-170). Please let me explain. You wrote, “So evil needs to be embraced and transformed as part of our quest for wholeness.” It startled me to read this and I did not understand your motivation. Embracing child abuse to become whole? Embracing the Holocaust to become whole? It is difficult to digest your opinion about this matter. But maybe I misunderstood. You would do me a favor writing a response to this letter of mine.
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