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Transfiguring Into Jesus

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Luke 9.28-36 (CEB)
About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him. They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus’ departure, which he would achieve in Jerusalem. Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him. 

As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it’s good that we’re here. We should construct three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—but he didn’t know what he was saying. Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them. As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe. 

Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Even as the voice spoke, Jesus was found alone. They…

A Quantum of Surrender

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Mark 1.9-13
About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.” 
At once the Spirit forcedJesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

After the Holy Spirit descends upon him, Jesus makes a beeline for solitude. Look closely at Mark’s language. “AT ONCE the Spirit FORCED Jesus out into the wilderness.” It’s as if Mark senses that as the heaven’s opened and the Holy Spirit descended, Jesus underwent a fundamental change of being

Mark is, of course, playing a bit of a literary game here. By sending Jesus out into the wilderness, he reminds his Jewish readers of their people’s own time in the wilderness. He is also not-so-…

Swing Away!

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Luke 6.27-38
27 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. 31 Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you. 

32 “If you love those who love you, why should you be commended? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, why should you be commended? Even sinners do that. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, why should you be commended? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid back in full. 35 Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to…

Spirituality Trees

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After our discussions about postmodernism and cultural relativism, I’ve been thinking about the roots of faith, both my own and in general. What I am discovering is that personally, a few core beliefs form the roots of my current spirituality tree, the trunk of which is simply love my neighbor. 

Over the decades I have also pruned many ideas to make space for new growth. That’s a pretty natural part of any spiritual journey, I think, but it’s occurred to me that postmodern faith is like a spirituality tree.

Subjectively (see what I did there?), trees are one of the coolest lifeforms in the universe. From a tiny seed, these majestic beings spend their very long lives constantly embracing the sky. Yet, the boughs of leaves we see outstretched to a welcoming firmament only exist because of the root structure mostly hidden underground.

Without a secured root system, the tree might wither and die. At the very least, an insufficient root system will stunt the tree’s growth, because roots not o…

Progressive, Postmodern Christianity Part 3: Unconditional Love

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Progressive, Postmodern Christianity Part 2: "Progressive" Christianity

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Last week, we began discussing postmodernism, which demands a more subjective approach to the overarching stories that connect us as human beings. These epic tales—think the creation of the universe in the Enuma ElishGenesisThe Gospel of John, Big Bang or String theories—are called metanarratives. For postmodern religion, this means a more accepting, pluralistic tone. I’m not sure that postmodern religion’s demand for subjectivity and the idea that non-Christians are eternally tormented in Hell are compatible.

So, people of postmodern faith are not typically “my way or the highway to Hell.” (See what I did there?) There are a diversity of beliefs at work in postmodern religions. For example, within postmodern Christianity, which I think is somewhat inappropriately called “progressive” Christianity, some people believe in the need for “salvation,” and others don’t. Living with, accepting, even while we do not understand, each other’s belief systems should be the goal. I’ll also add …

Progressive, Postmodern Christianity Part 1: I Remain Incredulous

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31JAN “There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” ― Harold Pinter

“Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives.” 
― Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

My mom was a terrific cook. She started sharing her skills with me when I was very young and she began simply, with scrambled eggs. Throw some eggs in a dish, beat them up, cook them and voilá, delicious food! 

Of course, a couple of cooked eggs isn’t that exciting. Once I got the hang of not overcooking them, Mom taught me how to add seasoning. Salt and pepper always make a dish more interesting. Then, I started to add chives, salmon, different types of cheeses. I still add a little milk and then beat them fluffy. As I gained experience, I took ideas from different recipes I discovered and mashed them up into some…