Showing posts from 2016

Prophetic-Preacher vs. Poetic-Pastor

The minister, like the church, has various duties. But two duties rule absolutely supreme. These two supreme duties serve as the conduits through which all of the other ministerial duties flow. These two job supreme duties are 1.) preaching and 2.) pastoring. Preaching is based on the model of another P word, the Prophet. The Prophet literally means “God’s voice” or “God’s messenger.” The Prophet in the Hebrew Bible, aka the Old Testament, is a figure who having been given a message from God cannot help but to shout that message to the world around him or her. John the Baptist is also referred to as a Prophet who prepares the way for Jesus. The Prophet is basically God’s megaphone through which God tells the truth to the masses. The Preacher is basically the Protestant equivalent of a modern-day prophet. In fact, the traditional, Evangelical teaching I grew up with claims that the need for the Prophet ended with the completion of the Bible, God's "final word.&qu

Political Diversity & Jesus' Non-Negotiables

We live in such a polarized society. It has only gotten worse this election season. Or it has merely been highlighted more, I am not sure. But it seems things have gotten so bad that we’ve taken political persuasion and have given it essential, almost religious importance and meaning. In other words, it has gotten so bad that for many people, if someone holds to a different political philosophy, they are wrong in the eyes of God. For some Democrats, for example, it is a sin to be a Republican, it seems. And vice versa. For some Republicans, it is a sin to be a Democrat. In fact, we have proof of this. In a San Diego church, a church bulletin included a flyer that said, “It is a mortal sin to vote Democrat… Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell.” Now, if Democrats went to church, you might find a similar thing the other way. As much as I am of a political persuasion, and I will not, I will never share with you which from this pul

Quabbin Giants of Progressive Religion

So today I wanted to delve into a little local history. Local Universalist history, to be exact. You may know or you may not know but this area, from New Salem to Richmond, NH is rich with Universalist and progressive Christian history. I highlight “rich.” The reason is that it is the last name of the person I begin my talk with. Caleb Rich. Did you know that the first Universalist church in America was founded in 1778 just down the road in Warwick, Mass? That’s right, while for some reason the Universalist church in Gloucester has for a long time officially gotten the label “first Universalist church in America,” it was Rev. Caleb Rich’s church that according to the history books is the first. Caleb Rich was born some 50 miles Southeast from here in Sutton, Mass, below Worcester, in 1750. Both of his parents were Congregationalists in Caleb’s early years, but his father converted to the Baptist tradition. Caleb would eventually follow the Baptist way as well, albeit not f

The Bible as Epic Poem

I want to share with you how I view the Bible. Next week, I will give an overview of the Bible, focusing on the historical development of the Bible. When I was a younger person, into my 20’s, if I were asked how do you see the Bible, I would have answered I see it as the literal Word of God. I would have quoted I Timothy 3:16 which says All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. I would have insisted the Bible was inerrant, without error. So that everything the Bible declared was true and truth, and the way things really happened. I would have said the Bible is both a map for our salvation and a newspaper declaring the good news. If I had to classify the Bible in my personal library it would have been placed most certainly in the non-fiction section, the Bible being the most non-fiction texts there are. After I experienced a crisis of faith in my mid-20’s, I came to see things in a different light. I sojou

Danger: The Path from Ideals to Ideology

READING: Matthew 26:6- Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” REFLECTION: “Danger: From Ideals to Ideology” Jesus in our scripture is being extravagantly cared for. He is a man who is facing death, death on a cross. He knows this. His disciples have been told but don’t believe it. The woman in the narr

Non-Clinging, Politics, & Jesus

There is a Buddhist teaching I am thinking about a lot these days. It is called anupadana. It means non-clinging, or non-attachment. It i s  based on the idea that clinging or grasping onto things or ideas, holding on to them too tightly, is an obstacle to being all we can be. Upadana, clinging or grasping onto things or ideas, prevents us from individually and collectively applying the truth of love in our lives. Buddhism lays out four forms of clinging or grasping, four kinds of unhealthy attachments. There is senses-based attachment. Renowned Buddhist teacher Buddasa states, this means “clinging to attractive and desirable sense objects.” Our six senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking – attach onto what is pleasurable. We want to see beautiful things, we want to hear beautiful sounds, we want to smell fragrant things, we want to taste delicious food, we want to touch pleasant things, we want to think good thoughts. At a certain level, these

Absolutism is Not Progressive or Revolutionary

I know what absolutism is and feels like. I grew up in a religion that owned it. I was taught early on if a person didn't think, believe, declare the same faith as we did, they did not fully belong and were bound for hell. Yes, they had a choice. They could join us or go to hell - literally. We are seeing this kind of absolutism at play in some of Bernie Sanders supporters today. But it must be made clear - absolutism is not progressive or revolutionary. It is actually regressive and reactionary. It is also exactly what radical Republicans want both from us and for themselves. They want us to be absolutists so in a battle of absolutes they win - and surely they will win. What can be more progressive than to see we do not own the truth but can sit down, learn from each other, and construct a platform together that speaks to our hopes and dreams for the nation? What can be more revolutionary than to say we will see the best in each person, even those we hate, those we see as ou

Politics: America's New & Favorite Cult

Have you noticed that politics in America is becoming more a religion than a means to govern? Politics is no longer a means to an end, but the end, the aim, the goal. It is no longer how will this political party and it representatives help us build at a better place, it is how this personality-politician will win, fix it all, and make us feel better. Faith in and devotion to personalities has replaced researching policy and voting based on what best aligns with one's view of government. Instead of seeing politics as the art of deliberately building a platform on which to build a better government and place, we see it as supporting the personality who we like the most and/or who thinks 100%  just like we do. We see this most clearly in the illogical, post-primary devotion to Bernie Sanders, what I will call the Bernie or Bust Party. I speak as a primary Bernie Sanders supporter. I truly felt and feel that his social democratic philosophy and platform is what this country ne