Archive for the ‘livingthequestions’ Tag

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.

 

New “Jesus Fatwah” Trailer   Leave a comment

Fatwah n. a spiritually instructive opinion, usually given as the answer to a question about religious law.

When asked to name the greatest commandment, Jesus issued a fatwah: “Love God with every fiber of your being and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Living the Questions is proud to introduce our newest DVD series, “The Jesus Fatwah,” a dynamic 5-session program that takes Jesus’ admonition to love our neighbors as we love ourselves seriously — even (and in these tense times, especially) if that neighbor is Muslim.

A "Jesus Fatwah" class at Dayspring United Methodist in Tempe, Arizona had over 120 participants (including the Imam and 15 members of a local mosque)

A “Jesus Fatwah” class at Dayspring United Methodist in Tempe, Arizona had over 120 participants (including the Imam and 15 members of a local mosque) [October 2014]

“The Jesus Fatwah” is an engaging catalyst for conversation about resisting the Islamophobia that is rampant and, in many segments of our society, growing stronger. With nearly 20 Muslim and Christian contributors and a helpful participant guide written by author and pastor, Rev. Ben Daniel (author of The Search for Truth About Islam: A Christian Pastor Separates Fact from Fiction), “The Jesus Fatwah” is a perfect vehicle for educating those unfamiliar with Islam about the basics of the faith and how, as followers of Jesus, we are compelled to reach out in love to our Muslim neighbors. The downloadable participant guide includes discussion questions to maximize your group’s experience.

CLICK HERE for information on how to purchase your copy of “The Jesus Fatwah”

FLASH GIVEAWAY: Win ALL FIVE of LtQ’s Most Popular Programs!   1 comment

Fb_promo_5HEs

FLASH GIVEAWAY!  Go to Living the Questions’ Facebook page for your chance  to win home editions of ALL FIVE of LtQs most popular programs.That’s a bundle of LtQ worth over $250! Find the graphic (pictured above) on our timeline and simply press “Like” and “Share” to your own timeline.

This promo begins on Friday, August 22nd and ends on Sunday, August 24th at midnight (MST). On Monday, a winner will be chosen randomly from those who have “Liked” and “Shared” this post between now and Sunday night. Good luck and thanks for your support!

CLICK HERE to go to the LtQ Facebook page. 

You Can Get the Bible to Say Whatever You Want   2 comments

For people determined to get Divine approval for their beliefs and actions, it’s not hard to get the Bible to say whatever you want it to say. You can find justification for just about anything you’d like to do and rationale for hating just about anyone you want to hate. And it’s just those kinds of manipulative shenanigans that have turned a lot of people off to any kind of serious practice of the Christian faith — and much of it is the fault of those who have ceded the serious reading of the Bible to people who have a reactionary agenda. Professor Mark George makes an earnest appeal to those who have neglected their responsibility to engage with a text that is too important to ignore:

 

I’m almost to the point of begging everyone I see who wants to listen to me talk about Bible, “Read the Bible. READ the Bible.” I did some teaching on the ten commandments and ten commandments monuments recently with some folks who were working in their churches and they’re active and they have long history of this. One or two people said, “Y’know I’ve never actually read the ten commandments.” I see the plaques on the walls and I know about them and hear about them all the time, but I’ve never actually sat down and read them.” And I said, “Yeah, and you probably didn’t know there’s one in Exodus and one in Deuteronomy. And they’re MOSTLY the same. But even to say they’re mostly the same raises some questions. Did you know that Jews have a different ordering than Christians have?

It made me remember that we’ve GOT to read these texts. There’s lots in the texts that I don’t like. They challenge my modern sensibilities. But if I don’t read them, if I don’t study them, if I don’t talk about them, if I don’t OWN the texts in my tradition, someone else will. And they’re going to talk about them in ways that I disagree with. But since I don’t know them, I won’t know what to do with them.

If you do actually start reading it, you might see the Bible for what it really is. You might start thinking critically, entertaining dangerous ideas, and the next thing you know you might find yourself having to rethink your faith in light of science, the modern world, and the needs of people in the 21st century.

 

mark georgeMark K. George teaches Hebrew Bible at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. His publications include Israel’s Tabernacle as Social Space (SBL, 2009) along with entries and chapters in edited books and articles in academic journals. He is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Dr. George is a featured contributor in Living the Questions‘ upcoming series on the origins of the Bible.

“A Harvest of Quirkiness”   Leave a comment

 

Back by popular demand!
A repost of “A Harvest of Quirkiness”
by Bruce Sanguin

Gracious God,
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
of differentness,
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.

— 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.

PtS logo white frameFor 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)

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

 

John Jacobson, facilitator of the New Smyrna Beach Theology Club says,
“This course is a masterpiece. The content, editing and graphics are beyond first rate. Congratulations to all.” 

50% off on Borg & Crossan LtQ Curriculum   Leave a comment

FLBorgCrossan

Join preeminent New Testament scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan in exploring the worlds of Jesus and Paul in two thought-provoking and informative studies from Living the Questions! 

50% OFF THE CURRICULUM EDITION OF BOTH 
FIRST LIGHT 
& ECLIPSING EMPIRE
NOW THROUGH MARCH 9th 

FirstLight_finalFilmed in High-Definition on location throughout the Galilee and Jerusalem, First Light is a 12-session DVD and web-based study of the historical Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

The downloadable Participant Guide written by John Dominic Crossan: 

It is all I have to say about Jesus after half a century of study–in succinct summary.

Ecllipsing_EmpireEclipsing Empire is a 12-session DVD and web-based study that follows Marcus Borg and Dom Crossan through Turkey as they trace the Apostle Paul’s footsteps throughout the Roman Empire. Explore fresh insights into Paul’s message of the Kingdom of God, its challenge to Roman imperial theology, and the apostle’s radical relevance for today.

Participant Guide written by John Dominic Crossan. Filmed in High-Definition across Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

50% OFF THE CURRICULUM EDITION OF 
FIRST LIGHT 
& ECLIPSING EMPIRE
NOW THROUGH MARCH 9th 

Order the Curriculum Edition of First Light and/or Eclipsing Empire now through March 9th via the Living the Questions webstore and receive 50% off each program’s $250.00 USD list price!

HOW TO ORDER: To place an order for First Light please click here and place your order using coupon code: FL5CE or to place and order for Eclipsing Empire please click here and place your order with coupon code EE5CE. Only one coupon may be entered per transaction. If you would like to order both at the discounted price, please email us prior to placing your order.          

Small Print: Offer not valid on previous orders and cannot be applied to bundled curriculum pricing. 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. You are welcome to share this offer with others by using the “Forward email” link below.

OFFER EXPIRES MARCH 9th, 2014

Preview the series with these video trailers:

Jesus Didn’t Give a Rip about Heaven   Leave a comment

Morwood PtS posterThere’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!

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