Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Tag

Save 50% on Saving Jesus Redux Curriculum Edition   Leave a comment

SJ2 LogoSPECIAL LIMITED TIME OFFER

Save 50% on Saving Jesus Redux Curriculum Edition now through Tuesday March 24th when ordering online at www.livingthequestions.com!

Ever feel like Jesus has been kidnapped by the Christian Right and discarded by the Secular Left? Saving Jesus Redux is total revision of Living the Questions’ popular 12-session DVD-based small group exploration of a credible Jesus for the third millennium. New contributors including Brian McLaren, Diana Butler Bass, and Robin Meyers join Marcus Borg, Walter Brueggemann, John Dominic Crossan, Matthew Fox, Amy-Jill Levine, and a host of others for a conversation around the relevance of Jesus for today.

The 12-session curriculum edition program includes a printable participant reader/study guide with background readings and discussion questions. The basic format for each 1 – 1½ hour session includes conversation around the readings, a 30-minute video segment and guided discussion.

Saving Jesus Redux Curriculum Edition is licensed for small group use and includes a two-disc DVD set and one year renewable subscription to the downloadable study materials. List Price = $250.00 plus s/h.

Use coupon code SJR5CC before March 24th to receive 50% off the list price.

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Offer Expires: March 24, 2015

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!

Bishop Spong on the First Easter   1 comment

“There is no question in my mind that had there not been some transforming experience that happened to the disciples after the death of Jesus that convinced them that he had conquered the boundary of human death there would be no Christianity.  But what people don’t understand is that the idea that that experience meant the resuscitation of a body that could walk physically out of a tomb on the third day after crucifixion is a very late developing tradition.  You will not find it in Paul; you will not find it in Mark.  Most people are surprised to know that in the first gospel, Mark, written in the early seventies, that no where does the risen Christ ever appear in Mark to anybody!  It’s only in the late gospels that he not only appears but offers his flesh to be inspected and eats and walks and talks and interprets scripture; it’s a very late development in the tradition.  There is a powerful Easter experience that starts the whole Christian faith, transforms the disciples, changes them from cowards who had forsaken him and fled and brought them back into being heroic followers of this Jesus —  changed the way they understood God so that whatever that Easter experience was they could never again think of God without seeing Jesus as part of that definition.  They could never again see Jesus without feeling that God was part of that definition.  Something incredibly powerful happened but it had nothing to do with the resuscitation of the body.”

— Bishop John Shelby Spong in Saving Jesus Redux (available at livingthequestions.com)

NLS_Spong6_Jan27_03The 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. 

Oy Vey Maria! The Virgin Birth as Mistake, Marketing, and Major Distraction   Leave a comment

Living the Questions’ co-author, David Felten, is on Huffington Post with a blogpost for Christmas. Check it out by clicking HERE or on the “Mary & Jesus” graphic.

__________________________

2013Creatista-MaryAndJesus-

Mary and Jesus ©2013 Creatista/Scott Griessel. Used by Permission.

“There really is something about Mary.

Catholics aren’t the only ones who harbor a measure of devotion to Jesus’ mother that can sometimes border on the fanatic. But Mary can be a bit of problem. From the church’s doctrinal expectations about believing in the literal virgin birth to the political realities of women’s reproductive choices, beliefs and notions about the person and role of Mary are right below the surface in many peoples’ subconscious…”

To read more, click HERE…

Painting the Stars: Science, Religion, & an Evolving Faith   2 comments

PtS logo white frameThe 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.

“Fabulous!”
— Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution

“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.

THEMES
1. Toward Healing the RiftPtS HE white frame
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

CONTRIBUTORS
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 

Ken Columbus?   1 comment

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

“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

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