A Harvest of Quirkiness (CLICK HERE for HD version on VIMEO)
how can creation sing your praises,
except with the red wings of blackbirds
flashing across blue sky,
and the croak and splash of frogs
playing hide-and-seek in the ponds?
How can the firmament proclaim your handiwork,
except in the wagging tail of a puppy,
and the focused attention of a toddler
soaking in the wonder of it all?
How can the heavens proclaim your glory,
except through a morning sun rising upon gold-green grass,
lighting up the face of lovers as Earth spins them
once more into a new day?
Your beauty and goodness, O Immanent One,
requires Earth’s diversity
and our own wildness,
breaking down – and out of –
the monotony of prescribed patterns,
choosing rather to take our place
in the dancing procession
the variegated life of Christ finding expression
in this body of the church
and the bodies of our kin-creatures.
Make a harvest, O Holy One,
of our quirkiness,
that we might be your radiant presence.
– from If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics, by Bruce Sanguin
Each session of LtQ’s DVD curriculum, Painting the Stars, concludes with a reading from Bruce Sanguin’s collection of prayers and liturgical resources published in his book “If Darwin Prayed.” This prayer, “A Harvest of Quirkiness” was produced by Scott Griessel of Creatista and is read by Sara Jackson. Happy New Year!
For more on Living the Questions and Painting the Stars, including DVD/web-based curriculum and home editions, CLICK HERE (or on the graphic at left)
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.
There’s no small amount of confusion around the notion of heaven and the Kingdom of God. Much of it probably derives from the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew writes to a Jewish audience for whom the word “God” is unutterable, so he changes “Kingdom of God” to “Kingdom of Heaven.” In the Gospels according to Mark and Luke (and Thomas), Jesus’ expressed purpose is to embody and proclaim the Kingdom of God as a lived reality here and now – “not in some heaven, light years away.” So “The kingdom of heaven,” (to use Matthew’s designation) isn’t about an otherworldly heaven – it isn’t a concept of the afterlife at all.
As Dave Tomlinson says in his book, How to Be a Bad Christian (and a Better Human Being),
It’s a “state of consciousness – a different way of looking at the world, a transformed awareness that anyone may sense from time to time. Every truly joyful (I don’t mean ‘religious’) experience is a taste of heaven. Every kindness is a taste of heaven. Every loving partnership, every real friendship is a taste of heaven. Every expression of beauty, every new discovery is a taste of heaven. Every selfless act, every attempt to create justice, every hungry mouth fed, every homeless person welcomed, every difference celebrated is a taste of heaven.”
The real danger comes when Christians become “so heavenly-minded that they’re no earthly good.” Again, Tomlinson says,
“There is a stream of otherworldly spirituality within Christianity that tells us not to feel too much at home in this world; that we are exiles or aliens here, awaiting removal to our true home in heaven. I think this is mistaken. Yes, of course, there are things in the world that we shouldn’t feel at home with – injustice, poverty, prejudice, greed, abuse, disease and the like – but it is these things that are alien and need to be eradicated, evicted and exiled.”
In Living the Questions’ new series on Science, Evolution, and an Evolving Faith, Painting the Stars, Australian theologian Michael Morwood says,
“It is my utter conviction that the dream ‑ the intensity ‑ of Jesus of Nazareth had nothing to do with people getting to Heaven. It’s about the Kingdom of God. It’s about the here. It’s about the now. It’s about us being empowered by the presence of the divine with us; that the Jesus story is our story. The Jesus reality is the divine emerging in the human, giving voice to that ‘presence’ in the universe and on this planet ‑ and saying, ‘This is what it is to be human.’”
It’s not about getting to some otherworldly heaven, but about how we embody the Jesus story in our own lives, here and now. May the coming New Year offer us all opportunities to live out the Jesus story wherever we find ourselves!
In celebration of Christmas, purchase any LtQ curriculum edition today or tomorrow (12.10.13 & 12.11.13) and get 50% off! To place your order, simply go to our LtQ website, log in to your member account, and add the curriculum edition program(s) to your shopping cart. Then enter coupon code C5CE into the coupon code field on your shopping cart page to receive this special holiday discount.
To be directed to our complete curriculum listings page, please CLICK HERE.
Please Note: You must be logged in to your member account when placing your order/entering the coupon code for the coupon code to be recognized and the discount to be deducted. If you do not have a member account set up, please do so at Create an Account prior to placing your order.
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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT LTQ AND MANY THANKS FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!
The first reviews are in and Living the Questions’ new Painting the Stars series is receiving kudos as the new catalyst for dynamic and liberating conversations about the communion of science and faith — all around the world.
Featuring over a dozen leading theologians and progressive thinkers, the seven-session program explores the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality that has been gaining momentum in thoughtful circles of Christians across the globe. The challenging and engaging participant reader was written especially for this program by evolutionary theologian Bruce Sanguin. When you purchase the curriculum edition, you receive a code to access the downloadable/printable overview and reader. The downloadable material also includes a facilitator guide, detailed discussion questions coordinated with the video segments, and original prayers/poems written for each session by Michael Morwood. The basic format for each 1-1 1/2 hour session includes conversation around the readings, a 20-minute video presentation and guided discussion. Click HERE for info on purchasing the curriculum edition.
“This course is a masterpiece. The content, editing and graphics are beyond first rate. Congratulations to all.”
– John Jacobson, Facilitator – New Smyrna Beach Theology Club
Painting the Stars is also available as a Home Edition licensed for private home viewing only. Each of the seven episodes runs approx. 20 minutes. Please note that, when purchasing the home edition, none of the downloadable material is accessible and the videos are not to be used in group settings.
1. Toward Healing the Rift
2. A Renaissance of Wonder
3. Getting Genesis Wrong
4. An Evolving Faith
5. Evolutionary Christianity
6. Imagining a Future
7. An Evolving Spirituality: Mysticism
Philip Clayton, Michael Dowd, Rachel Held Evans, Matthew Fox, Catherine Keller, Megan McKenna, Michael Morwood, Jan Phillips, Barbara Rossing, Bruce Sanguin, Bernard Brandon Scott, John Shelby Spong, Gretta Vosper
I just completed facilitating Painting the Stars with a group of fifteen. It was a wonderful experience for all concerned. The presenters, the visuals on the DVD, the discussion-provoking questions were all typical LtQ quality. What I wanted to convey particularly was the light that I saw go on in the eyes of several participants at several points during the class. It is a rare and special thing to watch a fellow seeker “get it.” Thank you! – M. Mathews
It’s Still About Conquest
About the best we can say of Christopher Columbus anymore is that he was a cheapskate. On his 1492 voyage, he promised a reward to whoever spotted land first. Hooray for sailor Rodrigo de Triana, right? Nope. Columbus claimed he had seen a “glow” the night before and gave the reward to himself.
The bottom line is that what we know now about the man should be enough to make even the most ardent “Knight of Columbus” feel ashamed – and it’s not PC revisionism of Columbus’ reputation, either. His own journals and logs reveal a man who, even by the standards of his own day, was more opportunistic monster than heroic explorer.
The one who many still celebrate for “discovering” America was, in fact, a heartless slave trader who brutalized and enslaved whole villages in an effort to lessen the effects of his failure to find a new trade route to the Indies.
As it turns out, the “Columbus sailed the ocean blue” song we sang as children needs a few new verses. One might be about how he murdered countless natives. Another might be how he also dealt in child prostitution, giving his sailors the perk of 9 and 10 year old girls for their amusement. His reputation was so grim that, upon the approach of any Europeans, natives poisoned their own children and then committed suicide rather than face whatever torture was in store for them.
But he was not totally without scruples. Because the Catholic church forbade enslaving of Christians, he made sure not to baptize any of the natives he was selling into slavery.
Columbus’ own contemporaries despised him. As governor of Santo Domingo on Hispaniola, he was a despot who kept all the profits for himself, A number of attempts were made on his life and at one point he was actually arrested and sent back to Spain in chains for crimes against humanity. Good thing for him he brought a lot of gold and bought off the King and Queen, who pardoned him so he could get back to work.
We’ve got universities, companies, networks, rivers, whole countries named after this man. But most folks don’t have a clue as to the real nature of who he was and the horrific nature of his actions. Any claim he might have once had to being a brave explorer is eclipsed by the reality of the inhumanity he visited upon his fellow humans.
Like many holidays that involve a day off for Americans, most people either don’t care or downplay the origin of the celebration of Columbus Day. Good thing he was a Christian! Imagine how bad he would’ve been if he wasn’t following Jesus.
Considering Jesus’ summary of the Jewish Law and Prophets: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” it begs the question: how do we get from Jesus to Columbus? Or from Jesus to Jim Jones? Or from Jesus to any of us, for that matter?
A part of the reason is because Christianity has, for nearly two millennia, functioned out of an imperialistic mindset. Bent on conquering the other more than “loving” the other (along with the warped sense that coercing people into belief was a form of loving them…), Christianity has helped make tyrants like Columbus possible. For much of its history, the only thing Jesus would recognize about Christianity is that it functions with the same MO as the Roman economic, political, and military machine that led to his execution.
Jesus was pretty clear about the principle of “Loving your neighbor as yourself.” He even clarified that this included one’s enemies. In Romans, Paul even looked at it from the other direction: “If it hurts your neighbor, don’t do it.”
But 2000 years of putting “conquering in Jesus’ name” at the top of your list is a hard habit to break. Being “right” and showing others how “wrong” they are is still at the heart of many people’s core Christian beliefs.
“Answers in Genesis” Times Square Billboard
In keeping with their usual adolescent taunts of those with whom they disagree, Ken Ham and the folks at Answers in Genesis have invested in a billboard (see photo at left) that says way more about their having been compromised by imperialist culture than anything about Jesus. Their “To our atheist friends: Thank God You’re Wrong” message is not love. It’s not neighborly. It’s shallow, arrogant, and reinforces the very un-Jesusy notion that Christianity is about being right. Plus, it’s just downright embarrassing.
If our “friends” at Answers in Genesis were really paying attention to Jesus’ teachings instead of trying to conquer “the other,” they would be seeking ways to enter into conversation rather than taking very expensive cheap shots at their perceived enemies. If they were paying attention they would know that even Carl Sagan, poster child for atheists everywhere, said “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”
Even atheists know that in the final analysis, it’s about love! And isn’t that the starting point for any conversation that moves us forward as a community, as a civilization?
Despite what we learned as children, we know now that Columbus in large part used Christianity as a means toward satiating his personal greed for power and influence. Sadly, Christians like those at “Answers in Genesis” still function out of a similar imperialist mindset. Despite what many of us learned as children, Christianity is not about us-vs-them, conquering “the other,” and triumphing over “false” ideas. It’s about love – and not a rainbows and unicorns kind of superficial love – but a love that does the hard work of engaging those with whom we disagree for the shared purpose of working toward the common good.
Christians were originally called “people of the way,” people who followed the example of Jesus in making love of neighbor (and enemy) a way of life. As followers of Jesus, can we ever recover from thousands of years of having been compromised by dualism, violence, and the lust for power? Maybe we could start with a blogpost that cleverly disses our “friends” at Answers in Genesis by comparing them and their motives to Columbus’ reign of terror. Or maybe not.
Click HERE to see Eric Kasum’s article on Huffington Post about boycotting the celebration of Columbus Day