LtQ Keynote in Canada, Eh?   Leave a comment

EE 2015 poster

David Felten, author and co-creator of Living the Questions, joins author, storyteller, and professional firebrand Peter Rollins presenting keynote addresses at this year’s Epiphany Explorations in Victoria, British Columbia.

Since 2003, First Metropolitan United Church has organized this eclectic mix of presentations, music, and visual arts. The conference includes stimulating and provocative presentations by prominent theologians, authors and writers from many Christian denominations, as well as speakers on social justice issues. Topics include church renewal, recent findings of theological scholarship, contemporary understandings of faith, as well as opportunities for spiritual nurture.

For more info on the Conference, CLICK HERE. For info on livestreaming the conference, CLICK HERE

Nashashibi on Mercy   Leave a comment

Nashashibi mercy

With the recent terror attacks in Paris and Africa, it becomes all the more important to be vigilant in not letting Radical Islamists destroy the reputation of Islam. Creating a world at peace requires seeking understanding and building relationships with those whom we may not have had much interaction — especially those who are dehumanized and excluded by voices of hate and bigotry.

The Jesus Fatwah is a five-session DVD and web-based series that will introduce you to Islam through input from both Muslim and Christian scholars and provide a reader’s guide that will help you gain a broad understanding of what Islam is, what it’s not, and how you and your community can resist the urge to demonize your Muslim neighbors out of fear and unfamiliarity.

One of the contributors to The Jesus Fatwah is Dr. Rami Nashashibi, Visiting Assistant Professor in Sociology of Religion and Muslim Studies at Chicago Theological Seminary and Executive Director of Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Named one of the “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, Nashashibi is a straight-forward and passionate voice of reason in the midst of often heated Islamophobic arguments. In The Jesus Fatwah, Nashashibi offers insights into the practice of Islam that are a catalyst for conversations about the common values held by Christians, Muslims, and Americans of all faiths.

“The way the vast majority of Muslims understand Islam revolves around the prophetic values of mercy, compassion, humility, and service. The idea of mercy in and of itself is so supreme in Islam that every chapter in the Qur’an (with the exception of one), begins with “In the name of God most gracious, most merciful.” There’s a prophetic kind of understanding that out of all the attributes of God — the most giving, the most loving, the most just — that out of all those characteristics the most supreme characteristic is mercy. And that’s how Muslims are supposed to think of the divine. Since every human being is so utterly in need of God’s mercy, that’s really the driving ethos of the Muslim community. If you want mercy, be merciful.”

– Rami Nashashibi

CLICK HERE to view a video trailer and for more information on The Jesus Fatwah

NashashibiDr. Rami Nashashibi  has served as the Executive Director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) since its incorporation as a nonprofit in January 1997. He has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago and has lectured across the United States, Europe, and Asia on a range of topics related to American Muslim identity, community activism and social justice issues, and is a recipient of several prestigious community service and organizing honors. In August of 2014, he began as Visiting Assistant Professor in Sociology of Religion and Muslim Studies at Chicago Theological Seminary. His work with IMAN have been featured on many national and international media outlets including the BBC, PBS and the Chicago Tribune. Follow him at @RamiNashashibi

Christmas Carol Challenge   Leave a comment

St_Mark iconThe Challenge went out the week before Christmas: Does anybody know a good Christmas carol based on Mark’s version of Jesus’ birth? But alas, Mark doesn’t have a “birth narrative” on which to base a Christmas carol. So, we challenged LtQers to come up with a carol anyway!

Thanks to Dennis Ryle, Squire John, and Marian L Shatto for their contributions. They’ll all be receiving their very own copy of LtQ’s popular alternative Christmas Pageant, “Matt and Lucy’s Version Births.”

Below, in no particular order, are their three verses, each sung to the tune of St. Louis (The original tune to “O Little Town of Bethlehem”). Now all we need is a catchy title!

A Christmas Carol According to Mark

Tune: St. Louis (O Little Town of Bethlehem)

Mark’s Christmas tale begins with John
who comes to show the way,
“Make straight God’s paths and change your hearts;
Come, embrace this brand new day.”
“I baptise you with water;
It is enough for now.
Be ready, though, for one who comes
the Spirit to bestow.”  (Dennis Ryle)

O little town of Nazareth,
how unknown you really are.
You host no tale of Jesus’ birth,
nor star, nor wise ones, mark.
In all your roads and laneways,
no light is shining bright,
no hope, no fear, and all the years
will just ignore your plight. (Squire John)

In Nazareth did Jesus grow,
A child in Galilee.
Sepphoris was just down the road;
the slaughter did he see?
Two thousand crucifixions,
a town wiped from the earth –
This horror to his preaching of non-violence
did give birth. (Marian L Shatto)

And the original verse that kicked off the challenge…

Of Jesus’ birth we have no news,
No details or anecdotes.
It likely was a normal birth,
at home with a midwife’s coax.
In Nazareth it happened.
Where else could it have been?
For Jesus was a Nazarene
No father’s name is given. (David Felten)

Thanks for all your great Facebook comments and encouragement — and be sure to check out George Stuart’s Advent and Christmas hymns/carols for next year (see previous posts). Thanks, everyone; and a Happy Christmas!

Christmas Carols Based on Mark’s Birth Narrative   Leave a comment

Anybody know a good Christmas carol based on Mark’s version of Jesus’ birth? You don’t? Well maybe we should write one! How’s this?

“The No News Good News”

A Christmas Carol According to Mark
Tune: St. Louis (O Little Town of Bethlehem)

Of Jesus’ birth we have no news,
No details or anecdotes.
It likely was a normal birth,
at home with a midwife’s coax.
In Nazareth it happened.
Where else could it have been?
For Jesus was a Nazarene
No father’s name is given.

So whaddya say? Do you have a verse or two in you? We’re looking for a progressive theological perspective, inclusive language, and acknowledgement that Mark didn’t know a thing about Jesus’ birth (unusual or not).

Post your entries on the Living the Questions Facebook page and we’ll choose a favorite (using highly subjective criteria). The winner(s) will receive a free copy of our children’s Christmas Pageant program, “Matt and Lucy’s Version Births.” Let’s hear what you’ve got!

Two more BRAND NEW Carols from OZ   Leave a comment

Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic responses, shares, and praise for George Stuart’s lyrics! In response, George has written two BRAND NEW sets of lyrics.  More Christmas than Advent, one is to the tune of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and the other is to the tune “The First Nowell.”

In keeping with LtQ’s encouragement to actually read the birth narratives in the Bible (see our “Version Births” Christmas Pageant for children), these carols stick to each gospel’s unique story without blurring the lines.

We think you’ll find the theological perspective, the inclusive language, the social justice bent, and the keeping of the two stories separate as refreshing as we have.

Thank you, George!

Matthew’s Story

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: Mendelssohn (77.77 D with Refrain) 
“Hark the herald angels sing”

As we ponder Christmas tales,
And a hope that never fails,
We give thanks for all new birth,
Wondrous miracle of earth;
Jesus, helpless, meek and mild;
New born baby, undefiled;
Mary’s, Joseph’s great delight;
Jesus grows to be ‘The Light’;
In his human-ness we see
What our lives can truly be.

Ancient stories set the stage
For this humble Jewish sage;
Wise men come; look for a king
With the precious gifts they bring;
Herod was perplexed when told
What their searching could unfold;
Blameless infants must be killed;
Scripture thus, can be fulfilled;
Modern Herods work against
All that loving has commenced.

In a house is where they find
Jesus, born of humankind;
Frankincense and myrrh and gold
Are their gifts; and we behold
Jesus and his star so bright
Shines for us each day and night;
So for infants born today
Stars shine brightly as they play.
Deeds of love are gifts we bring;
Joyful praises we now sing.

Luke’s story

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: The First Nowell  (Meter: Irregular)  
“The First Noel”

When Christmas comes it brings great joy;
This story of a baby boy;
These tales that tell of this new birth;
The miracle of Mother Earth;
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

No room was found for this young maid;
She felt alone and quite afraid;
A shed was where his birth took place;
It was unclean, a sad disgrace;
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

Some shepherds woke and searched to find
A baby born to humankind;
They felt at home where herds would feed;
These outcasts were the lowest breed.
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

So all are welcome to the stall;
For us, this is the gospel call.
We join to lift the chorus swell;
For God is here; Emmanuel.
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

 

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

Lyrics by George Stuart. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Without any further permission, the lyrics herein can be copied, stored or printed for public worship or private devotions, screened through a data projector or projected by an overhead projector, as required.

When the lyrics are used, acknowledgement of the author is requested.

There is however, a strict copyright prohibition regarding copying any of the lyrics in any way whatsoever for re-sale.

Seriously. A New (and Singable) Advent Hymn   1 comment

More and more, practitioners of Progressive Christianity are speaking out about the beloved but threadbare hymns in current denominational hymnals. Most are intolerable. The rest are downright counter-productive to the foundations of 21st century faith. As George Stuart has noted, these traditional hymns use lyrics and words that “express ideas which singers no longer enthusiastically or wholeheartedly endorse,” resulting in “much personal irritation” from “a growing and significant number of people.” The result has been Stuart’s efforts to use traditional hymn tunes to be the vehicles of contemporary, progressive Christian ideas.

“I write my alternative lyrics particularly for many of the older members of congregations who have grown up in the church and love the many old tunes they have sung over the years, but who now find that the traditional words are no longer meaningful, helpful or even tolerable.”

— George Stuart

As Bishop John Shelby Spong says that Stuart’s work “meets a critical demand. It is terrific,” here’s just one example of Stuart’s poetry: an Advent hymn called “The Search for Hope.”

The Search for Hope

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: Darwall (66.66.88)
[“Rejoice, the Lord Is King” #715 in the United Methodist Hymnal]

1. We search for lasting hope
To help us face each day,
To give us reason to pursue a different way.
In Christ we see
A way to go through ‘high’ and ‘low’
And set us free.

2. Sometimes the hope we want
Is difficult to find;
It falls to us to foster it in heart and mind.
In Christ we know
A path to tread through peace and dread
And help us grow.

3. When others seem to break
When hope seems at an end,
We may be able to give hope
just as a friend.
In Christ we share
A call to be in ministry,
To love and care.

4. Hope brings us back to life
In hope we can proceed;
God of the future calls to us if we but heed.
In Christ we view
How God can reign in our domain;
Make all things new.

5. This Christmas brings new hope
For justice, peace, goodwill;
This Advent time may bring with it a secret thrill.
With Jesus born
New hope can be reality
With each new dawn.

 

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

Lyrics by George Stuart. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Without any further permission, the lyrics herein can be copied, stored or printed for public worship or private devotions, screened through a data projector or projected by an overhead projector, as required.

When the lyrics are used, acknowledgement of the author is requested.

There is however, a strict copyright prohibition regarding copying any of the lyrics in any way whatsoever for re-sale.

 

An Apocalyptic Advent to You and Yours   2 comments

“Apocalyptic Awakening”

By Bruce Sanguin (from If Darwin Prayed)

O Holy One,
we are a sleepy lot,
slow to stir to the calling of the cosmos,
deaf to the cries of the Earth
and the forgotten ones,
human and other-than-human.

We distract ourselves
with trivialities that have become idols;
while the sun and the moon darken,
and the stars fall from the skies,
we are mesmerized by the market’s alluring power,
eyes unflinchingly fixed upon the naval of our own net worth.

“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,”
cries the prophet,
or at least tear open our hearts, pry open our eyes,
and end this slumber that blocks out pain,
but with it, wonder.

Our hope, O Holy One, is found in eyes wide open,
in hearts linked in common cause,
in small gestures of compassion,
and in alertness to your coming,
again and again.
As fire kindles brushwood
and causes water to boil,
so we await to be set on fire
with hope and gospel passion.

“Apocalyptic Awakening” can be found in Sanguin’s book, If Darwin Prayed, available by clicking HERE

Bruce Sanguin_scarf

Rev. Bruce Sanguin is a leader in evolutionary Christianity, teaching evolutionary theology and practice with a passion for updating the theology and practice of the church in light of the reality of evolutionary processes and the creative impulse of the universe. He lives in Vancouver. Find more of his writing HERE

 

PtS logo white frameFor more of Bruce’s insights, check out Living the Questions series “Painting the Stars,” a DVD/web-based curriculum exploring the interface of Science, Religion, and an Evolving Faith. CLICK HERE (or on the graphic at left) for more information. 

 

 

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