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29 October 2015: Re-Creating Easter VI: The Dawning of the Resurrection

We have now explored our sources, looking where we could beneath the literal words of the biblical texts. We have come to four conclusions. First, whatever the Easter moment was Peter appears to be the person who stood at the center of it. He was the first to “see” or to embrace this new reality. …

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Q & A:

I do not know what is meant by the term “Ground of All Being” used by Paul Tillich and you. I do not get a concept of what the term means. I need someone to explain it to me in more understandable terms.

I have read all of Marcus Borg’s books and can understand his terminology of Panentheism, but am lost on what is meant by “Ground of All Being.”

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22 October 2015: Re-Creating Easter V: How did Easter Dawn? What was the Context?

We are told, but only in Luke’s gospel, that when Cleopas and his traveling companion returned from Emmaus to Jerusalem to share their experience of the risen Christ with the disciples, they used these provocative words: “He was made known to us in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35). These interpretive words, written some …

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Q & A:

It may have been 1980 when the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero made headlines that I became interested in liberation theology only to see the concept crushed by Papal orders and brutal military suppression. I had a life to live, however, and a family to support so problems so far away did not occupy much of my thinking then and for the next twenty to thirty years. But during those years I was also dismayed at the retrenchment of the Vatican on so many social needs issues and was shocked that the attitude of the church had trumped piety over social action.

So now in 2015 under Pope Francis, we have the beatification of Oscar Romero (hopefully soon to be Saint Romero) and the appointment of Gerhard Ludwig Muller to Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the renewed interest in the writings of Gustavo Gutierrez. This is great news for not only Latin America, but for all of us, religious and secular, concerned with preferential treatment for the poor. Would you give us your blessings on this change (philosophy, attitude, imperative) knowing that we will continue to fight for justice regardless of attitudes around us, but we are interested in your opinions?

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15 October 2015: Re-Creating Easter IV When? The Question of Time

Life-changing “revelations” may well be timeless, but the one receiving these revelations is always bound in time. These insights invade time at a particular moment. We seek now to discover just when it was that the meaning of Easter first broke into human consciousness. The original Easter story provides us with some time references but, …

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Q & A:

I was listening to an audible.com book created through the Great Courses that addressed Books that Changed the World. During one of the discussed books (the Book of Job), the professor stated that the best translation of the Bible books was the King James Version. I was taken aback by this. From my earlier studies, I learned from Dr. Ehrman that the King James translators failed to work off the oldest of the known copies of ancient manuscripts; hence, we must assume that the King James Version might not be as accurate as one might expect. Have you come to a conclusion on which published Bible is the more accurate reflection of ancient Bible books?

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8 October 2015: Re-Creating Easter III: Where? The Location in which Easter Dawned

Revelation and insight do not occur in a vacuum. They always come through a person. They have the effect of expanding the being of the recipient by opening his or her eyes to a dimension of reality always present, but usually unperceived. They are not supernatural happenings, but are, as Paul Tillich says, “depth experiences …

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Q & A:

  1. What does it actually mean to you to be a Christian? Given the choice, why do you choose to “be” Christian versus not?
  2. Are the doctrines/creeds of Christianity important to you? If so, which ones? And why? How much can you “not believe” and still “be” Christian? Is there anything that is essential to believe to maintain the integrity of the religion?
  3. If you could create an entirely new religion right now – a brand new faith with new scripture, new traditions, new practices that reflected the totality of your consciousness, your hopes for the world, your understanding of God, your understanding of humanity, your realization of Love, what is the most essential to you in life, etc. – would this religion look different from Christianity? In what ways would it be the same? In what ways would it differ?

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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 …

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Q & A:

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).

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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 …

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Q & A:

I have been reading Mircea Eliade's Cosmos and History. What do you make of his premise that religious ritual is analogous to primitive practices meant to evoke a mythical time when God was physically present?

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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 …

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Q & A:

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.

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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 …

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Q & A:

What are angels?

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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 …

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Q & A:

Why is it that religions, notably Christianity and Islam, want to convert all non-believers into their particular fold?

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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 …

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Q & A:

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?

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