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Showing posts from June, 2015

All Means All… Except for you… Oh, and you too—and I’m not so crazy about you in the corner, either. But otherwise, yeah, all means all.

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We’ve been having an ongoing discussion in our church about how to describe ourselves to people we meet. Compared to my somewhat horrendous past experiences with churches, I find our church to be very different. Nobody ever believes that when I tell him or her so. Just the word “church” conjures images of hardwood bench seats and people dressed in fancy clothes, holding Bibles or hymnals while a preacher tells everyone why they’re unworthy of God’s love and going to Hell—except for the chosen, of course, and for some reason, I’m never in the chosen. Sound familiar?

Then of course we have the hurdle of being not just any old church, but a Christian church. So now we’ve got Joel Osteen, Creflo A. Dollar and every white-male on conservative television or in the Tea Party to contend with. However, these people don’t say or do anything that Jesus would remotely understand as part of his teaching. If flight had existed in the 1st Century, I doubt Jesus would have asked his followers for a $3…

The Tao of Christianity

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The main principle of Taoism is the idea of being in harmony with the Tao, which means “way” or “principle”. Tao is also the thing that is the source of and force behind everything that exists. When we live in harmony with the Tao—when we are people of The Way, we are flexible and agile, enjoying the ride as if we’re floating down a lazy river on an inner tube. We don’t fight the current. We go with it, knowing that the journey is what the ride is all about.

The early followers of Jesus were called “people of The Way,” and I’ve always thought that Jesus was a perfect example of one who lived in harmony with the source and force behind all things, the one and only Tao—God. Jesus went wherever God led him. This often meant he went against the flow of the prevailing culture. The same is true for people who follow Jesus today. The Tao Jesus teaches us is a way of compassion, universal love and acceptance, and a responsibility to care for each other, especially those discarded by society. P…

The Song of God, Part 1

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Recently, a fragment of an Early Bronze Age pithos (a large clay storage jar) was discovered in Israel. The fragment is at least 5,000 years old and depicts a musical performance. The scene was made by rolling a cylindrical seal in the clay. When I was a kid, I had a Play-Doh set that came with a little roller wheel. I’d smush the Play-Doh out flat then roll the wheel across it to make an imprint. Little did I know I was replicating one of our most ancient technologies.
 As ancient as the rolling seal is, music is even older. Archaeologists have found evidence of musical instruments dating back 60,000 years. It is likely that humans began mimicking the sounds of nature hundreds of thousands of years ago, although whether or not that can be considered music is a matter of debate. For many historians and psychologists, music requires intentionality. Simply mimicking a sound is not music, although one could argue it is intentional.

What I find theologically interesting about this discuss…

Monday Meditation

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We recognize
that we are unleavened bread,
O God.

We come to you today
asking you to be
our spiritual yeast.

Give us the words,
the songs,
the prayers,
the thought and actions
we need
to raise our consciousness.

We realize that living into the Christ—
that becoming
a more enlightened,
and enlightening being,
takes work.
We must do our part
to make room for you
to do yours.

Connect us more deeply
to your presence
around and within us.

Raise our spirits
so we might raise the spirits
of the world.

Help us see
and be
your love
in the midst of the world’s turmoil.

Change us,
O Eternal Consciousness,
so we might the change the world.
Amen.

What is Real? The Trial of Jesus as Spiritual Revelation

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There is a very interesting conversation that takes place in The Gospel of John, 18.28-38. It is a conversation about the nature of reality. Pilate’s final question to Jesus, “What is truth” couldn’t be more profound. Read in its appropriate mystical context, this is a question not about legal perceptions, but about how we as human beings perceive reality. It’s essentially a quantum physics question, although neither Jesus nor Pilate could have known that.

However, because of his incredible spiritual tuning, Jesus did understand that the reality of the world is more dynamic—and more susceptible to massive changes, than we believe. In his time, his people—the Jewish people, were living under Roman occupation. They largely accepted the consequences of this reality, although occasional armed skirmishes showed they didn’t necessarily like it. Jesus, who is much more highly attuned to God than anyone else around him, sees through this. He sees “reality” as purely temporal, and something tha…

Death is Not a Sin, part 2

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Every story in the Bible has at least two layers: a layer based somewhat, but not necessarily accurately, in history, and a layer meant to convey a spiritual ideal. When we read about death in scripture, on one level it is about the physical death of something, but on another it is about the human things we must allow to pass as we become ever more spiritually attuned to the universe around us.

The idea that death is a punishment for the transgressions of our species can be traced back at least to St. Augustine, who misinterpreted the Bible because he read it out of its historical Jewish context. He was also a literalist who entirely missed the spiritual overtones. This still happens today. If you search the web for a string like “death and sin” you’ll find all sorts of horrible interpretations of Romans 6.23 (“The wages of sin is death”).

What Paul is talking about, though, is a spiritual disconnect. The natural entropy of life is not a sin. The message Paul is trying to convey is that…

Death is Not a Sin, part 1

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For a long time, Christianity has been preoccupied with the idea of sin, which is sometimes called “the doctrine of sin.” This is unfortunate because doctrines tend to be codified and turned into unbreakable rules. Doctrine becomes dogma (something that is incontrovertibly true), and dogma is the death of discussion. What “sin” is—in particular the idea of “original sin” and what it has caused, has become dogma for the majority of Christianity.

The two main schools of thought about sin are typically called “federal hardship” and “natural headship”. Both of them have to do with Adam’s supposed transgression. In the federal hardship idea, Adam is representative of the entire human race. His sin (not obeying God’s command to leave the tree of the knowledge of good and evil alone) is punished by death. In this too-patriarchal model of Christianity, God’s punishment for Adam is as the head of all humans and thus becomes a judicial punishment for all humans throughout eternity.

The other prev…