“Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love; and then for the second time in the history of the world, humanity will have discovered fire.”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Painting the Stars is Living the Questions’ new series celebrating the communion of science and faith and exploring the promise of an evolutionary Christian spirituality. It features a dozen leading theologians and leaders in the area of evolutionary spirituality and a participant guide by author and evolutionary theologian, Bruce Sanguin. Watch for it in the summer of 2013! Find out more at Living the Questions.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest and philosopher who trained as a paleontologist and geologist. Many of his ideas came into conflict with the Catholic Church, particularly regarding the doctrine of Original Sin, his views concerning the origin of humanity, and his teaching of evolutionary theory. To limit his influence, the French Jesuits sent him as far away as they could, which at the time was China. Little did they know that he would fall in with a group of scientists who were on the verge of an archaeological breakthrough: the discovery of Peking Man (which only enhanced Teilhard’s reputation). For his work and publications, he was reprimanded, his works were condemned by the Holy Office, and he remained in relative obscurity during his lifetime.
Bernard Brandon Scott doesn’t need a personal God — he needs people…
“I get people who say, ‘Well, don’t you need a personal God?’ I don’t have a problem with God language; I have a problem with the reification of God language. God language is the way we talk about these ultimate values, for me. I don’t need a personal God. I DO need other people to relate to — and it’s that relationship with other people that is God. Now, that won’t pass the creedal test, but I’m not worried.”
“Reification” = from Latin res “thing” + facere “to make.” Reification can be loosely translated as “thing-making;” the turning of something abstract into a concrete thing or object.
Also known as concretism (or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness), reification is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a concrete thing something which is not concrete, but merely an idea. For example: if the phrase “fighting for justice” is taken literally, justice would be reified.
– adapted from Wikipedia
Bernard Brandon Scott is Darbeth Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary in Oklahoma. He is a charter member of The Jesus Seminar, co-chair of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, and a consultant to the American Bible Society experimental film translations. He is the author of a number of books, including Re-Imagine the World, Hear Then the Parable, and The Trouble with Resurrection.
“If God is the ground of being, as I believe God is, then the only way you and I can worship God is by having the courage to be all that we can be — in the infinite variety of our humanity. Whether we are male or female, gay or straight, transgender or bisexual, white or black or yellow or brown, left-handed or right-handed, brilliant or not quite so brilliant.
No matter what the human difference is, you have something to offer in your own being. Nobody else can offer what you have to offer. And, the only way you can worship God is by daring to be all that you can be and not be bound by the fears of yesterday.”
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The retired Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, John Shelby Spong is one of the featured contributors in several Living the Questions series. He is a columnist and author of over sixteen books including Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and Why Christianity Must Change or Die. Lecturer at Harvard, Humanist of the Year, and a guest on numerous national television broadcasts including The Today Show, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and Larry King Live, Bishop Spong continues to write and lecture around the world. His newest book is The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.
Ever feel like Jesus has been kidnapped by the Christian Right and discarded by the Secular Left? Then you need Saving Jesus, a 12-session DVD-based exploration of a credible Jesus for the third millennium — now available for home use! This remarkable series features nearly 30 thought leaders at the forefront of Progressive Christianity, including Marcus Borg, Diana Butler Bass, John Dominic Crossan, Yvette Flunder, Matthew Fox, Amy-Jill Levine, Brian McLaren, Stephen Patterson, Helen Prejean, John Shelby Spong, & more!
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Robin Meyers believes that the resuscitation of Jesus’ body is less important than the idea of resurrection as a credible and meaningful principle for living:
“Resurrection is not about ‘beam me up, Scotty!’ It’s not about molecules disappearing and then reappearing. All that is hocus pocus. We don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore. We don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. We should not believe in ‘beam me up, Scotty’ as an explanation for Easter.”
- Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers in “Saving Jesus Redux” from www.livingthequestions.com
For this and more provocative challenges to “pop” Christianity, check out the DVD series “Saving Jesus Redux,” 50% off the Home Edition now thru Easter, 2013. Simply create an account at www.livingthequestions.com and enter coupon code sjhe50fb
Robin Meyers is a United Church of Christ pastor, Professor of Rhetoric, and author of “Why the Christian Right is Wrong,” “Saving Jesus from the Church,” and “The Underground Church.” You’ll find Robin in LtQ’s “Saving Jesus Redux,” “LtQ2,” and Living the Questions’ upcoming series on the origin and use of the Bible.
Not only is Original Sin NOT in the Bible, Elie Wiesel says that Original Sin is alien to Jewish thinking (and therefore alien to Jesus’ way of thinking). Let’s ditch the whole thing, shall we?
Matthew Fox says, “Jesus never heard of ‘Original Sin’.” The term wasn’t even used until the 4th century, so it’s “strange to run a church, a gathering, an ekklesia — supposedly on behalf of Jesus — when one of its main dogmatic tenets, Original Sin, never occurred to Jesus.” Sadly, Western Christianity is dependent on and chronically “attached to Original Sin — but what they’re really attached to is St. Augustine. The fact is that most Westerners believe more in Augustine (and his preoccupation with sex) than they do in Jesus.”
Matthew Fox is an author, educator, activist, and Episcopal priest. His books include Original Blessing, Creation Spirituality and The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. He appears in a number of Living the Questions DVD series including Living the Questions 2.0 and Saving Jesus Redux
Liberation is about “being on a journey, being in a movement.” It’s “the process of coming into an awareness that there is definitely a better life for people to be had. Not just for myself but for all of us. The Church should be part of that. And where it is not, it is not the Church.”
And whether it’s the Church or each of us as individuals, it’s about “doing the right thing day after day after day and moment after moment. It really is doing it every day. I cannot say it often enough: treating people fairly, decently – respecting them for who they are – knowing that none of us is perfect.”
Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes is an an ordained American Baptist clergywoman and scholar whose areas of expertise include Christian ethics and womanist theology. She appears in a number of Living the Questions DVD programs. In 2013, Townes is moving from Yale University to become dean of Vanderbilt University Divinity School.