Archive for the ‘Living the Questions 2.0’ Category

In Memory of Marcus: March 11, 1942 – January 21, 2015   1 comment

A memorial celebrating the life and influence of Marcus Borg will be held on Sunday, March 22nd, 2015. This public service of remembrance will be at 2pm at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. As a modest tribute to Borg’s contribution to “Living the Questions,” we offer this clip of Marcus demonstrating a body prayer for your own devotional and memorial use in concert with those celebrating in Oregon this weekend (excerpted from “Living the Questions: An Introduction to Progressive Christianity”).

 

God Does Not Explain   Leave a comment

Kushner_God Comforts

“The time has come and is long-since past” to abandon “the idea that God is ‘in control’.” It is an idea “so troublesome as to be utterly useless. But to think of the Divine as that power called love, the one who “suffers with” and comforts the afflicted regardless of the outcome, has spiritual integrity born of real life experience.”

In Rabbi Harold S Kushner’s “book, The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm, the rabbi notes that ‘in times of trouble, God does not explain, God comforts.’ Through grace, suffering makes compassion possible, and what is more central to the life of faith than striving to be more compassionate?”

Book Cover high res— from “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity” by David M Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy

“Most people in church grew up listening to those who claimed to have all the answers. Who knew that the questions were more interesting, that ‘living’ them is true faithfulness. Felten and Procter-Murphy have given the class such superb resources that no one is in a hurry to graduate.”

— Dr. Robin R. Meyers, Senior Minister, Mayflower Congregational UCC Church; Professor of Rhetoric, Oklahoma City University

Unbound from Yesterday’s Fears…   1 comment

Spong Ground of Being

“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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NLS_Spong6_Jan27_03

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. 

Jesus never heard of “Original Sin”   4 comments

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?

Fox Original Sin

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 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 

HRC taps Living the Questions contributors to promote LGBTQ rights   Leave a comment

Episcopal Priest Winnie Varghese speaks at the 2011 Clergy Call (image from HRC website)

May 22nd – 24th saw hundreds of faith leaders from all 50 states participating in the Human Rights Campaign’s Clergy Call for Justice and Equality for 2011.  Among the leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. to support legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, to ban employment discrimination against LGBT people, and protect students from discrimination and bullying were three of people’s favorite contributors to a number of the Living the Questions DVD series. They included Bishop Minerva Carcaño, episcopal leader of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Winnie Varghese, Priest in charge at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in the Bowery in New York City, and Bishop Yvette Flunder, Senior Pastor of City of Refuge Community Church UCC in San Francisco.

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At a Press Conference at the HRC event on May 24th, Bishop Carcaño said:

Bishop Minerva Carcaño was one of the Living the Questions contributors participating at Clergy Call 2011 (image from HRC's website)

“Hate and violence against persons, whether it is bullying in our schools, the taunting and violating of a person’s privacy to the point of humiliating that person and destroying his or her sense of self worth and belonging, to beatings and even murder on our streets or on the outskirts of our towns, all because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, cannot be left unchallenged or unconquered.  Such violence against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers is a violation of all that is good within us, and destroys the inherent human dignity of all of us.” Read the bishop’s complete statement HERE.

Bishop Flunder added, “Too many are being murdered, too many are being bullied, too many have committed suicide!”  In her own remarks, Flunder reminded those gathered that,

Bishop Yvette Flunder (at podium) speaks at HRC's 2011 "Clergy Call" (image from HRC video)

“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people should have the right to be treated fairly in the workplace. Currently, Federal law provides legal protection against employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability, but NOT sexual orientation or gender identity. Still in 30 states across America it is still legal to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation and in 38 states it is still legal to fire someone for being transgender. Say it with me, we have work to do!”

In Living the Questions’ “Dream, Think, Be, Do” (see video above) and LtQ2, Bishop Flunder says,

“I have come to believe that true faith in the Church means essentially not gradually moving toward the margin.  True faith is when we take a great leap toward the margin.  And the question is, in our time, who is most marginalized by Church and society?  And right now, what I have come to call the last real blind spot on the body of Christ is the inclusion, the affirmation, and celebration of same gender loving and transgender people in the Church.  And I believe that it would be remarkably liberating for the Church to find itself full of extravagant grace and radical inclusivity.”

More on the HRC event HERE.

In related news, a new HRC poll shows that a majority of Christians support LGBT Equality. Check out the poll results HERE.

Jesus is Coming. Look Busy!   2 comments

LtQ2 contributor Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing speaks for many rational followers of Jesus when she acknowledges that the rapture is nothing but fear-based spiritual abuse. Calling it the “rapture racket,” she points out how the rapture industry preys on desperate people frightened by unscrupulous and misguided teachers.  In Episode 13 of Living the Questions 2, “Debunking the Rapture,” Prof. Rossing gives an overview of her book, “The Rapture Exposed.” Make sure to check out the clip below — before it’s too late!

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Sadly, even a lot of non-fundamentalist Christians are allowed to believe a soft version of the rapture claptrap (59% of Americans according to a 2003 poll by Time magazine). Many clergy run scared on the subject and can’t come right out and say that not only is the rapture not going to happen on this or that date, it’s not going to happen EVER. To do so would commit one to the study of historical context and a critical reading of scripture that might very well call into question many of people’s simplistic ideas about their faith.

What’s it going to be?  Jesus said love your enemies — unless they don’t believe the right things. Then Jesus is coming back to torture and kill them with extreme prejudice. God is love — unless you’re gay or lesbian and then God thinks you’re an abomination to be “cured” or killed.

The bottom line is that the whole idea of the rapture and the literal and violent apocalyptic second-coming is not only un-Christian but a betrayal of Jesus’ core teachings.

While there is absolutely nothing to fear from the ravings of apocalyptic preachers and fundamentalist personalities, their ridiculous claims continue to erode whatever reputation Christianity still has among thinking people. The challenge for 21st century followers of Jesus will continue to be one of offering an alternative to the fear and violence embraced by so much of the Church. The overall responsibility of disciples today is to bearers of hope and reconciliation to a troubled world;  doing our part to realize peace and bring healing to the nations, one person at a time.

Living the Questions contributor, Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing

Barbara R. Rossing is professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where she has taught since 1994. She appears in both Living the Questions 2 and Dream, Think, Be, Do.

You can also see Prof. Rossing being interviewed on May 19th’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell. Video Link HERE

The “Love Wins” Hellabelloo   8 comments

hellabelloo
noun [in sing.] informal
1. irrational tantrums among evangelical Christians over Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins”: that’s quite a hellabelloo over Rob’s new book!
2. a commotion over “the tiddlywinks and peccadilloes of religion” (Fosdick); a fuss

The evangelical blogosphere is all aflutter over Rob Bell’s soon-to-be-unleashed book “Love Wins.”

Having perused an advance copy, we can say that what’s news in evangelical circles is downright passé to most mainline and progressive Christians. For many evangelicals, heaven and hell are at the heart of their so-called “good news,” resting in the comfort that their told-you-so reward is all the more satisfying in the knowledge that countless others are being punished for eternity by an all-loving but sadistic God.

On a practical level, Bell is messing with the evangelical “business model.” Promising a reward in heaven or threatening people with torture in Hell keeps plenty of butts in the seats of countless mega-churches. But more than that, Bell is threatening the very core of evangelical Christianity’s purpose. Denying Hell’s existence leaves evangelicals to wonder, “Why be a Christian?” After all, what’s their understanding of the gospel if it’s not simply glorified fire insurance? Could Jesus’ life and teachings amount to something more than a Get Out of Hell Free card? We progressives like to think so.

In a recent interview for Living the Questions’ new “Saving Jesus Redux,” Diana Butler Bass echoes Bell’s concern that the Church has put too much emphasis on “right beliefs.” Whether the topic be Hell or Jesus, the old understandings have got to go:

“And I think the shift from having faith in Jesus to having beliefs about Jesus was a negative thing for the Church. And to have a person’s orthodoxy, a person’s right relationship with God tested on the nature of what we believe about something is deeply troubling to me. And it’s troubling to me as a Christian; it’s troubling to me as a post-modern person; and I just don’t think it works anymore. I think that we are coming to a different place in our understandings of Jesus and that believing about Jesus is beginning to be replaced by having an experience of Jesus. And I hope that that shift continues. It’s time to leave beliefs about Christianity, in the past.”

Despite the Bell-inspired tantrums (dare we say a hellabelloo?) on display among conservative Christians, there’s nothing they can do about the reality that Christianity is a-changin’ – and it’s not a new phenomenon. Even back in 1922, Harry Emerson Fosdick observed noisy fundamentalists arguing over inane points of “right belief” and asked, “What can you do with folks like this who, in the face of colossal issues, play with the tiddlywinks and peccadilloes of religion?”

So, while blogger John Piper recently tweeted, “Farewell, Rob Bell,” we offer a hearty “Welcome, Rob Bell!” Welcome to a Christianity that has left behind the fear-based, exclusive, and literalistic burdens of right belief in favor of a gospel that is open, inclusive, and grace-filled. It’s a way of following Jesus that you might even say is hell-bent — on naming and mending the injustices and hells that people suffer this side of death.

Welcome, Rob Bell!

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